Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Resurrection Joy!! Easter highlights 2014

Happy Easter!!
Oh, the JOY of the Resurrection!!

I have really enjoyed reading so many of your Easter stories (ye who blog) and seeing fun photos of your family all dapper and grinning from ear to ear.  I've also been greatly consoled knowing I'm not the only mama out there who devoured a ghastly amount of chocolate on Sunday.  The feeling of solidarity is much appreciated!! I love you for that!!

I cannot explain just how much I treasure Easter morning, the beginning of a new day, a day when we rise up out of the trenches of Lent, out of our scars and bruising, out of our sorrows and tears, (out of the depths of chocolate deprivation, no??) allowing the glory of Christ's Resurrection to envelope us, to transform us into something brilliant, something more alive, happy and beautiful!  Gloria Deo!!

My alarm chimed early Sunday morning, and for the first time in months, I was happy to rise in eager anticipation of the day. Tiptoeing around the house, there was just enough time for me to assemble breakfast (Pioneer Woman's baked french toast prepped the night before was baked up all yummy - yummy with a side of bacon yummy), and touch up the boys' duds with a sweep of the iron before they came rambling up the stairs.

Is to day the day we've been waiting for?? Is today finally Easter?? Henry questions.
YES!! I proclaim with a ha-uge smile!
He hugs me, hugs the baby and says, This is going to be a great day, Mama!!

The rush-around begins.  Steve cranks up some of our favorite praise songs and an energy of anticipation bubbles over in forms of laughter, teasing and squirming into ties and sport coats. While I pull myself together, the boys saunter in and out of the bathroom, waiting for my thumbs up approval of their ensembles.  I always tell them they look very handsome, just like their dad. Bending down to straighten ties and paste down wild hairs, I see their boyhood wild all scrubbed up fresh, and my heart is pressed with joy.

Everyone always complains about never getting a good family photo at the holidays, but really, my favorite ones are the un-posed and imperfect, so much so, that I wonder why I ever even shout, "Okay, get together, straighten up, stop picking, look heeeeere and smile!"

This is living proof that all of the men in our family ignore pretty much everything I say unless I'm holding a plate of food under their nose or am in labor, and even then.....well, we'll see.
Since there's an overflow of dressy attire from holidays past in the boys' closets, I decided to recycle this year and pull from the stash of old favorites.  With the exception of Charlie, because every baby needs something sweet and newish to wear for Easter, everyone managed to find something that they were content to wear. 
Thank you, Granny, for my new duds.  My mama says I look very handsome!!

At Mass, families poured into the pews, and I couldn't help but steal away from the cross for just a moment to catch a glimpse of all the pastel ruffles, shiny shoes and hair bedecked with braids and bows marching in. Sweetness surrounded me!

I love our parish.  There are so many wonderful families there, families with lots of little ones like ours, who squirm and squeal and bang their heads on the pew during mass. We never feel alone! Steve and I have received so much support and encouragement throughout this pregnancy from all of the moms and dads, especially those of "big" families, who share in our experience.

During the ordinary days of the week, as I weather the typical comments about family size, the sideways disconcerted glances from strangers as my outstretched belly bounces along behind five boys, and the questions concerning whether the life inside of me was a choice or not (surely not, surely that baby is a surprise, because six? Really? Who wants six, let alone 2 or 3 or 4??), it's easy for me to feel alone on the motherhood journey, except on Sundays.  On Sunday my spirit is renewed, thanks to the dear people of our parish who have nothing but excitement to offer.  They are the best support group ever!

Sometimes, I'm tempted to think that people feel the need to ask the list of tactless questions, because being given an answer will help justify the preconceived definition they've already assigned to me, my family, my life.  We live in a society of definitions.  People must be labeled, coded, defined in order for us to know what and how to think of them.  As a mom I sense deeply this disordered habit of labeling and it doesn't sit well with me. 

Which category do you and I fall into?  There's supermom moms, the Martha Stewart moms, overachieving moms and underachieving moms, moms who have traded their careers for diaper duty and story time, mom's who only know how to have babies or moms who are too selfish or broken to have babies.  There's the spoilers who give too much and the selfish ones who don't give enough.  At the end of the day it often feels like too many in this world want to know which one you are, not caring who you are, so that they can slap a label over your heart and call it good.

Jesus never labeled.  He never categorized.  He doesn't now, and he never will.  He calls us only by name, a name that is precious to Him.

Isn't that good news?

More than that, He longs to free us from the old stubborn habit of categorizing our neighbor and instead, give us eyes that see others from a place of real, disinterested love. 
The kind of love that said yes to death in exchange for life, love that hung on the cross by choice - not by circumstance or force. Love that knows nothing for itself, but longs to be everything to and for everyone else.

That's what I'm treasuring this Easter.

I suppose that it is hoping in that very Love that compels one's heart and will to see love multiplied.  For us, the multiplication of love is in family life.  I never thought I would be the mother of six children! But, love can free us from the fear of being stretched by the power of grace in ways we could never imagine.  When we freely choose to live our lives...to give our lives, to make choices and to act every day, as Christ has shown us - from that grace-filled font of pure, disinterested love - the fruits of choosing give of ourselves overflows into our own souls, and into the lives of others in an abundance of inexpressible joy. It's the mystery: in giving we receive!

Christ didn't just conquer sin and capture salvation for all of us by the cross, He won for us the opportunity to be conquerors as well, and to share in His freedom to love as He loves, unlabeled, and undefined. We see one another first and foremost (and desire to be known by others) as children of the King of Love.

Whoops! Didn't mean to pontificate there....!

Shall we par-tay talk instead, yes??
After Mass, we all headed over to Steve's parents for the festivities.  We were spoiled with an incredible meal and delicious wine all served at the most beautiful table set with linens, china and flowers.  Hospitality x 1000!!

And, dessert.  Dessert is really the main course of any holiday, right? See the nest down there? I was head of quality control when it came to the eggs.  Approximately 3/4 of the bag failed to meet Easter cake standards (it was one cracked shell after another) and had to be consumed. By me.  {Visualize cheerleading jump here.}
Since our family fasted from desserts during Lent, the boys requested that I bake something sweet for Easter.  A couple of years ago, I started the tradition of making a special Easter cake, and this year, I found a really beautiful recipe on Pinterest.  It's probably not the best idea to select an overly ambitious project for any holiday, say a picture-perfect confection made by a professional baker...but ya know I've always been a bit delusional when it comes to culinary possibilities in my kitchen.  Many of my attempts at pin-worthy creations end up being eaten by the trash can or substituted with Little Debbie's and ice-cream, but this one, this one is being chalked up as an Easter miracle (cue the angels).

Speaking of sweets, just before lunch, we suddenly realized that Charlie was no where to be found.  And, that's because the had struck gold.  Overwhelmed with delight, Moby was rendered mute with joy...I mean chocolate...by his delectable findings....

Catching him in the action was the best part of our afternoon.  We laughed ourselves to tears!

Steve's mom had stashed away a sack of candy for a scavenger hunt later that afternoon.  By the time we narrowed in on Charlie's location, it was too late, the giant chocolate bunny was already decapitated.  Doesn't he look so innocent?? It's okay, Moby, mama loves a little chocolate appetizer once in a while too.  The stealthful silence, may also be my special contribution to your genetic code, but I don't want to brag about it.
After lunch, the children gathered around the table for a little Christ-centered activity that Steve's mom had prepared, called Resurrection Eggs.  I highly recommend it! Each egg contains an object that is symbolic of an even that took place during Christ's journey to Calvary and leading up to the resurrection.  Included in the kit is a booklet with special readings for families to ponder and discuss.

While rain was in the forecast, the clouds kept the sprinkles contained, and we were all able to enjoy the afternoon hours outside, first with a scavenger hunt prepared by Steve's mom...
She left giant Easter eggs hidden around the yard, and each egg contained clues that the kids had to piece together in order to discover the final prize.  The letters spelled out, FAMILY FUN AT THE ZOO! Bob and Kathy then gave each family tickets to the local zoo as a gift.  Wahoo!! We can't wait to go!
Guess who found the most eggs at the egg hung?? 
Me, a hoarder? I think that's a little harsh. I prefer collector, yeah I'm a collector.

And while the kiddos collected eggs, the adults broke out the golf clubs for a little putting around the back yard.

I have a little abdominal impediment that makes swinging a golf club a sheer impossibility (not to mention that it just looks like that type of strenuous activity might send me into labor), so I took up spectating, with my feet up and my (water) koozie close.  Actually, I'm not a big fan of golf, but had fun watching Steve give his sister, Jen, a few lessons.

Henry discovered that smacking the grass in giant swaths is the most fun thing you can do with a club, and that kept him entertained for a while....
Until he got tired and collapsed into the grass for a little rest before walking the grueling 29 yards back to the house.
What a blessing to share and enjoy such a beautiful day with family!

I hope your day was filled with sweet memories, too!


  1. Oh, Susan - your family is so beautiful!! Those pictures of the boys all dressed up are awesome!! And, little Charlie enjoying his chocolate is priceless - how could anyone get mad at that sweet face?!
    I'm so glad you shared your Easter day with us!!!

  2. I had heard about resurrection eggs, but didn't know exactly what they were. We'll have to try that next year! I was a little afraid of the comments for this current pregnancy, #5, and there have certainly been a few raised brows. Nothing negative though, just curiosity so far! God bless you and your big family!


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