The Essence of Easter

Last year I gave up religion for Lent. Yes you read that right. You can read more about it here. This year you might think I’ve given up writing! I haven’t, I promise. I’ve simply been spending time reflecting and savoring this Lenten season. Which is why this year I didn’t give up anything for Lent, but instead, I was inspired to two friends to give away an item a day. That’s 40 items in 40 days. And with Palm Sunday and Holy Week around the corner, it’s about time to share what I’ve learned from the experience.

Easter is not just a reminder of the incomprehensible sacrifice Jesus made in order to bring us back into relationship with God, but it is also an invitation to enter into the same kind of sacrifice. In Matthew 16:24, Jesus says, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.” What does it mean for us to “take up your cross”? The cross is a symbol of death, a means of execution. So would a modern day reading sound something like this: “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, strap yourself to the electric chair, and follow me.”? Or, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, tie a noose around your neck, and follow me.”?

When you stop to think about it, what a strange thing for Jesus to require in order to be his disciple! But relationship with God has always required death. Initially it required to blood of an sacrificial animal. Jesus’ served as the perfect sacrifice fulfilling the law completely and tearing the curtain that separated us from God for once and for all. But death is still required. The death of our selfish ways, worldly desires, and sinful self. Romans 6:6-7 says, “For we know that our old self was crucified with [Christ] so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.”

So what does it mean to “take up your cross” and be “crucified with Christ”? For me it means focusing more on others and less on myself. For me it means blessing people who maybe don’t “deserve” it but are still God’s children. It means not only giving when I have extra, but even when I don’t have enough. It means showing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control

And it means that just like my old sinful self must take up it’s cross and be crucified with Christ, my new saved self must stay connected with the risen Christ. Because I cannot do anything that looks even remotely Christ-like in my own power! As we approach the final week of Lent and draw closer to Calvary, may we also take up our cross, crucify our old self, grow closer to Christ, and remain connected to him so that our lives ultimately are a reflection of his loving sacrifice, mercy, forgiveness, and grace. Following Christ means serving, suffering, and ultimate sacrifice. Christ gave his life for me and that inspires a response of my life for him.  And isn’t that the essence of Easter!?

Happy Holy Week!

The stack so far (minus 6 items already in new homes). Anyone need some tshirts? Jeans? Shoes? (I have a lot of shoes.) A purse? A rice cooker? Pampered chef cookware?

The stack so far (minus 6 items already in new homes). Anyone need a different wardrobe? A purse? A rice cooker? Pampered chef cookware? Shoes? (I have a lot of shoes.)

We’re All “Undone”.

Stories connect us to one another. In Undone: A Story of Making Peace with an Unexpected Life, Michele Cushatt, a master story teller, welcomes us in to her home and in to her heart to hear her story. Hers was meant to be a neat and tidy life of blessings reaped from service sown to her Lord and Savior. However, divorce, cancer, and unexpected children led to a life unraveled and laying Undone before her very eyes.


Stories connect us to one another. Stories highlight the commonality of human emotion. Joy and disappointment, heartache and hope, pride and embarrassment are feelings we are all too well acquainted with and Undone is a story that contains them all. Michele reveals her story with profound vulnerability and authenticity, which invites her readers to examine their own stories with new levels of the same. Vulnerability isn’t always pretty, but it almost always leads to compassion and intimacy with one another and with God. As Michele puts it, “Sometimes messy is the necessary beginning to the makings of extraordinary (p. 137).” In fact, at the heart of Undone is a call for all towards greater authenticity, to remove the masks that hide our true selves. Undone calls its readers to reveal their heart to a loving God regardless of how broken and battered it is. After all, “Our God is a refuge for the broken, not a shelf for the display of the shiny. No more pride for those who have it all together, or shame for those who don’t (p. 214).”

Stories connect us to one another. Stories connect us through the life lessons learned. Michele seamlessly weaves her stories into the truths taught in Scripture by the Author of each of our stories. Michele shares sacred and holy moments of revelation and redemption between her and her Heavenly Father. Undone challenges us all to examine the life lessons God is tenderly teaching us in our own stories. In the midst of trying to keep an “undone” life pieced together, Michele states, “Peace isn’t a byproduct of control, the payout of a happy conclusion. Peace is the infiltrating, life-giving presence of a very real God. One who loves nothing more than to step into the middle of locked and darkened rooms and impossible circumstances, close enough to touch (p. 57).”

Stories connect is to one another. Michele’s story is both unique and ordinary. It is ordinary in that we have all been touched by the fear of a cancer diagnosis whether a dear friend, family member, or from the lips of our own doctor. It is ordinary in that divorce, even among Christian communities, is sadly more common than not. It is ordinary in that many choose to step up and raise children with no where else to turn. It is ordinary in that everyone who has breath has come to grips with life’s cruelty and unfair ways. The ordinary in the story makes it relateable, for we all know what it’s like to watch our perfectly laid plans fall apart, to feel Undone.

The relateability of the story is precisely what makes it so unique. It is unique in Michele’s willingness to share life’s twists and turns, frailties and failures, disappointments and unrealized dreams. Michele’s story is unique in that in the midst of the pain, Michele finds hope. In the midst of chaos, she finds peace. And in the face of fear, Michele chooses faith. Ultimately, Michele concludes, “Faith is choosing the anchor of your focus. It’s about turning your eyes away from the questions that lead to fear, and instead locking eyes with the one who knows the answers (p. 202).”

So, do not delay. I rarely review or endorse a book, but this is a must read. Because frankly, we are all Undone.