Easter has a way of making me feel like I belong. I belong to this body of Christ, this group of people who believe that Christ died on the cross and rose three days later. This holiday has a way of making me feel like the journey is joyous, rewarding, and full of hope. Yes these things are true. 

I've always liked the feeling of belonging. I liked it in elementary school hoping to not be the last kid chosen for a team, I liked it in high school when I felt like I "belonged" with a certain group, as an adult, I still rather enjoy it. :-) Maybe God is using this feeling to deepen my reliance on Him. 

Josh and I are attending a new church. This is the first time in almost 10 years where my husband is not the pastor. Being a pastor's wife gives you a sense you belong, even when you don't know anyone. Going to a new church as a lay-person is different. You actually have to work at getting to know people. You have to reach out and TRY. I'm not always good at this. I'm pretty outgoing when I'm comfortable, but not in large crowds. Put me in a group with 4 or 6 people and I'm good to go, throw me into a church of a thousand and I'm just another fish out of water. 

So, on this Easter Sunday, I know I belong to the greater body of Christ. God is using this situation to teach me things I have yet to learn. I don't like learning. It hurts. 

I know we are in the right place. The teaching at this church is so fulfilling. It is causing me to dig deeper and get to know my God more than I ever have. The worship is such an expression of complete adoration that I have not experienced elsewhere. I am thankful that God has moved us to where he wants us. It just made for a different Easter morning...

No matter where I am on Easter morning, no matter the circumstances of my life, the truth continues. I am a Christ follower.

my suitcase

I went to a viewing at a funeral home today. First off, why do they call it a viewing??? Did I really come to see the person who passed away or did I come to let the family know we were thinking and praying for them? I have a bad taste in my mouth already...

Second, what do you really say at things like that? I felt like I was in an alternate universe today. 

I entered the funeral home (which happens to be at the church I grew up in which is now the new funeral home) and realized I had not been to one of these things since losing Ava. There is something about seeing a shell of a person when you know the person is in a better place. It resembles the person, you can still touch the person, but they are really gone. I remembered wanting to take Ava out of her casket and to hold her one more time. Seeing the body gives me such a wide array of emotions. 

Mostly, it made me want to remember her more vividly today. I drove by her grave site. I talked to her baby brother about her. I told someone I have four kids. I doodled her name on a note pad. Nothing majorly out of the ordinary, it just felt "right."

I had to stop and pick up a prescription for Noah on the way home and ran into his nurse. She lost a daughter 6 years ago. The Lord knew I needed this. She was such an encouragement to me when I was feeling confused and distraught. She talked about how she loves her daughter more now just like she loves her other children more now than she did 6 years ago. It made me realize that I can love Ava more now than I did 4 years ago. I may not know her better than I did, but she has allowed me to know myself better. Probably in ways I never would have. Ways I wish I didn't, at least sometimes.  She said her husband describes grief like a suitcase. Everyone carries one.  Some are bigger, some are smaller. But everyone has to carry their own. I got to thinking about that and thought about how everyone lugs around their suitcase and nobody else can see what's inside. I want people to see inside of mine. I want to put it down, open the rusty latches, and open it wide. I imagine it to be brown, old looking leather, with goldish latches. It is worn, old. It's how I feel on the inside. But I want to open it up and let other people see what's inside. Here is an old shirt, the one I wear when I'm trying to act like I feel okay. Here are an old pair of shoes, the ones I wear when I'm trying to run away from the pain. Here are the heels I wear when I really truly feel like my life is still utterly amazing. Here is the bandana I wear when I know things are gonna get dirty. Cause it's messy here inside of me. Here is the lipstick I wear when I sing the praises of my Savior who has saved me from this ugly life. Here is the whiteining cream I put on my teeth so that I can shine and people can see there still is a light coming from within.  

So my suitcase...it's mine. Filled with grief. Filled with truth. Mine.