What Does Good Friday Mean To You?

I’m going to warn you in advance. This is not my usual post. This is more reflective of the holiday we are entering into, so I’m well aware that it won’t be for everyone.

I suspect, even if you aren’t a very “religious” person, that if you ever did the “going to church” thing in your life this particular season brings out the reflectiveness in you. Yes, there’s the secular world of Easter bunnies and Easter egg hunts and more candy than any dentist is comfortable seeing, but for those of us who’ve either been raised in the church or spent some time going, we know the deeper meanings in this holiday.

Last night I performed for the first time in a Maundy Thursday service. Some know this service better by Holy Thursday or Covenant Thursday. Basically, it’s the day of The Last Supper of Christ, spent with his disciples. Although we did a few songs, it was the Negro Spiritual “Were You There” performed with a friend, Acapella in the dark that was the most personally moving. The darkness was symbolic of His death and burial. For those of you who haven’t heard the song before, here’s a lovely version. In fact, if you close your eyes and just listen, it will touch you.

Anyway, as I listened to the scripture readings last night, I found myself reflecting on the disciples, Peter in particular. I found it ironic that Peter was the one who came to Jesus asking about how often he should have to forgive. Peter thought forgiving someone 7 times was a lot back then, and Hebrew law would’ve agreed with him. That was generous! Jesus, however, told him 70 x 7…which back then translated to infinite.

As I thought about his conversation with Jesus that Thursday night when he said (and I believe he meant it) that he would never deny Him, I imagined how devastated he was on that Friday when the rooster crowed. There was no question Peter loved Jesus, but in that moment his fear overwhelmed him. On that day, when his faith was put to the test, he denied Jesus and their relationship.

I wonder if he had nightmares after that, of having denied Jesus for the third time only to hear the rooster crow, remember Jesus’ words and meeting Jesus’ eyes. I imagine the look in Jesus’ eyes was a blend of compassion, forgiveness and hurt. Then I started thinking about my own life.

There was a young girl who I considered to be one of my closest friends back in 5th grade. One day in Science class, while sitting at my lab table with my 3 other partners, she walked by my table. Just as she was passing, her arm shot out and punched me hard in the stomach. My three lab partners were outraged. They wanted to report her to the teacher. I stopped them.

“Why?” one of the boys asked. “She hit you. That’s not right.”

I shrugged. “Don’t. She’s hurting. She just found out her parents are getting divorced.”

“So that makes it okay to hurt you?” the other one asked.

“No,” I answered. “It’s not. But it was easier for her to hurt me than to hurt her parents the way that she feels they’re hurting her.”

Before you think I’m telling you this story to make myself out to be some sort of saint, don’t worry. I’m not egomaniacal. The truth is she hurt my feelings. She betrayed my trust and we were never friends again. I was also fairly young and innocent back then.

As I got older I learned to be less forgiving. More quick to react in kind. More likely to live out the “eye for an eye” concepts. In fact, my inability to forgive nearly cost me a valued friendship just recently. Sadly, the only crime my friend committed was being related to someone who’d hurt me. I should have been able to let it go, but I didn’t. And I talked about it. And talked about it. And talked about it. To her!

She was beyond patient with me, but the time came where she had finally had it. She snapped and said something. Someone innocent paying for the actions of another. Not at all cool. It stopped me in my tracks and made me think. It took months before she was finally ready to talk to me again. I wouldn’t have blamed her if she never did. I was insensitive, thoughtless and hurtful.

Two very different stories, aren’t they? It’s no wonder Jesus said we need to have hearts like children. Time and experience have a way of coloring our perspectives. So I think back to Peter with a better understanding of how humbling it must have been to realize just how much he now needed the forgiveness from his Master. Forgiving the unforgiveable. I bet he thought back to that day when he asked Jesus about it, grateful now, about his answer, realizing just how undeserving he was of that gift in that moment.

More importantly, it made me realize just how hurt Jesus probably was in the moment that Peter denied him, though he knew it was coming. His best friend, denying he even knew him at the biggest trial of his life. Personally, I’m grateful for his forgiving heart and for his sacrifice. Without it, this world would be a hopeless place.

So my question to you guys… What does this holiday mean to you? Do you celebrate Good Friday? There is no judging here. Please don’t misunderstand. These are simply my personal beliefs and not meant to reflect anyone else’s.

Here’s a song that I feel reflects exactly why God is so good.

Love, Loss and Peace

I know I’ve been unusually silent lately, but I’ve been working on two big projects. Hopefully I’ll be able to share details with you guys in a week or two. Believe me when I say that I’ve missed you guys and I can’t wait to get back to blogging with you guys.

In the meantime, last night a close friend of mine shared with me that her favorite uncle is on his death bed. As you all know, hubby’s favorite uncle just passed away recently. Icing on the cake came today when I got an email notifying me that one of my very dear friends passed away today. As she and her daughter were the first to make me feel welcome at my church, I’m deeply saddened.

So for those of you who have lost someone, and those of you struggling with upcoming loss (or even illness), I’d like to share a song that always finds a way to touch my soul. I learned this song back in high school when I sang it for the first time. Since then, it’s been a stabilizing force for me. I love the way this young lady sings this song.

Art Of Prose

Words-
Dive
Onto blank page,
Breathe life,
Create feelings,
Thoughts, universes…

Strong enough
To mold minds,
Empower
Or
Bend wills.
Able to cut deep;
Gently heal.

Words-
Carelessly misplaced,
Recklessly thrown
Easily misread,
Misunderstood.
Choose carefully.

Words ARE Power.

I’ve been insanely busy, but I couldn’t let today, World Poetry Day, go by without finding a way to contribute. Many of my friends are quite brilliant wordsmiths…and I’m always blown away by their ability to impact the world around them simply by tossing words about and carefully placing them in positions they deem will have the biggest impact. Kudos to them.

Green Rivers and Great Food

As a Chicago girl, I’ve developed an obvious love for St Patrick’s Day. On that day, the Chicago River was dyed green and one of the most popular parades took place. I’ve got to say, I miss that. (I was never a green beer girl, but I’d be willing to drink green wine)

ChicagoRiver

Chicago on St Patrick’s day is a sight to behold!

The other thing that has become tradition for me is having corned beef and cabbage. LOVE the stuff. I was spoiled in Chi-town. It’s one of the food meccas of the US, so it wasn’t difficult to find a place that served a tasty plate of the stuff on that particular day. I assumed everywhere else was like Chicago. Florida quickly disabused me of that notion. After having tried corned beef and cabbage at various restaurants to less than stellar results, I decided to take matters into my own hands.

Yep! I searched online for various recipes, found ones that looked interesting and then combined certain recipes to put my own twist on it. Out came the crock pot… The last few years have been much better since I’ve made my own. In fact, tonight, I invited some friends over and we enjoyed wine, cheese and crackers…and Corned Beef and cabbage. Dessert was Key Lime pie.

Corned beef n cabbage

Do you have traditions you enjoy celebrating for St Patrick’s Day? Do you have a favorite food that represents the day for you?

I’ll leave you with some fun music from Celtic Woman. I thought it was fitting…and fun!

A Week Of Death And Color

I know, I know… I’ve been negligent this week. The truth is, life has been a bit crazed. I was called in for jury duty. As I’m a firm believer in the legal system, I didn’t cry overly much. This has been the second time in 3 or so years that my number has been selected. When I called the night before, I truly was hoping that they wouldn’t need me. No such luck. Numbers 1-500+ were expected to report. If you count all the people that submit for excuses prior (or have not regained their legal rights, are not citizens, etc,) you’ll realize that there were probably about 200 people that were actually there that day.

I’m not exactly a legal genius, but the law has always fascinated me, so whenever the opportunity presented itself in high school and college, I took things like Business Law, Discussion and Debate, etc. I’m sure there are some of you reading this that are not at all surprised by this revelation. Why am I telling you this? Because, when you get called for jury duty and you really don’t want to be there for more than a day you cross your fingers and hope that whatever case you land does not say “State v.” whatever the defendant’s name is. That usually means you’ve been selected for some sort of criminal trial.

The first time I was called in to jury duty there was only one case being tried. It was a civil case. A young girl versus an auto insurance company who was trying not to pay damages. 5 lawyers against one 23 year old girl and her attorney. Yes, I got kicked off the case based on my revelation of how my brother had been killed in a motor vehicle accident. Well, not just because he was hit and killed, but because my mother sued…and when I saw all those lawyers and they asked if anyone had any objections to so many attorneys on one side I raised my hand. I told them it felt too much like bullying and that when my mom was going through our situation I hoped she didn’t have to deal with such a situation.  🙂

This time I actually got a criminal trial….and not just any criminal trial. This time was murder. As if that isn’t exciting enough, this was one where the prosecution was seeking the death penalty. My day one was spent with the judge asking us questions, being interviewed as a whole, one-on-one and in small groups. We found out that this was actually day 3 of jury selection. So they’d had 2 other days where they’d narrowed down the count from 200+ to whatever. Yes, I actually made it to day 2, the day they planned to finalize their decisions. I expected to see a bunch of people. It was a huge surprise to find only 69 of us made the cut.

It’s strange, the things that come back to you. I remembered that back in high school I actually debated the Death Penalty in class. My partner and I were on the pro side. A lot of our research back then centered on Florida (which was not the state I was living in at the time). Oddly enough, I think it was that research that allowed me to better understand the questions the judge asked, as well as enabling me to clearly articulate my point-of-view.

Have you ever considered how important a criminal defense attorney’s body language can be? In those two days, I noticed it. As writers, we tend to be people watchers and analyzers by nature. On day two, when the defense attorney was able to do her voir dire (questions to the jury), I watched as she stood and spoke. She was definitely very conscious of how important facial expressions are. In fact, like actors on stage are told to slightly exaggerate their expressions to ensure all audience members see and understand, she did similar things. Her nods were more pronounced. Things like sympathy, understanding were almost exaggerated, and her verbal cues were definitely clear. Always, if something like having been victimized by crime was being asked…it was followed up with “Is — okay now?” and “I’m so sorry that happened to you!” And when asking if someone felt that such incidents could predispose them to a bias toward her client, she didn’t hesitate to stand behind him in both a figurative and visual show of support. She would place her hands on his shoulders as if silently sending us the message “My client is harmless. See? I’m not afraid to touch him. I support and believe in him wholeheartedly.”

What things have made impacts on you and made you think? Have you ever been called in for jury duty? Was it exciting? Were you actually selected for the case?

As a little side note. Today was my first ever 5K run. I survived! Here’s a before and after picture of us.

My first 5K was a color run!

My first 5K was a color run!

Dipped In Awesome Sauce!

I’ve got some really exciting news to share with you guys! First, my project is done. Now I’ve just got a few touch ups, then on to the next thing. This means I’ll be back to normal in the next day or two with posting regularly and reading everyone’s posts.

Second, I heard from my friend, Ande, at Bring Back Desire. She wanted to let me know that the post I’d repurposed on Making Love v. Having Sex for her had been viewed 981 times so far! Woohoo! I know a big part of that was you guys, so thanks for stopping by, checking it out and commenting!

In fact, I’d like to throw some shout outs to my awesome blogging buddies who showed some love. If you haven’t checked out their blogs yet, click the links to their blogs…you won’t be sorry:

The Cranky Caregiver– Her story on how WordPress has given her an appreciation for a form of writing she’d never cared to explore before.

Jessi Gage– A little bit about her new release Wishing For A Highlander

Phil– The Regular Guy NYC. In this particular post he discusses the things about flying that make him crazy and keep you laughing and nodding.

LJ Kentowski– She’s writing a new book. Here, she’s introducing us to one of the colorful characters in her new piece of work.

Gloria Richard- You’ll just have to read it to understand. Needless to say, she’s definitely a kindred spirit.

Since then I’ve written another post that appealed to her that she’s asked me to repurpose. Needless to say, I’m honored. She is wonderful, and so it what she does. By the way, if you haven’t liked Bring Back Desire on Facebook, you should! Mondays are especially awesome because she does Romantic Music Mondays and she takes requests.

I can’t wait for you guys to see which post I repurpose for her next… And hopefully, soon I’ll have some news to share with you on this project ‘o’ mine.

By the way, was I the only one completely thrown off by the fact that Easter is in March this year?

Own Your Power

Today, as I contemplate that it is International Women’s Day, I’ve been thinking about what makes us so special as women. There are so many things that make me absolutely proud to be a woman. At it’s core, though, I think it boils down to one thing. Resilience. We are very good at recovering. Sometimes it’s a physical thing like child birth while other time’s it’s heart break or loss. Regardless, as a whole, we find ways to regroup, recover and come back stronger. I felt the above music illustrated that super power quite well.

I attempted to put my feelings about women in general into a poem, and this is what I came up with.

beauty_sunshine

Mystique

“The Weaker Sex”
is what we’re called.
Generations
of velvet encased
iron core,
who have held
and nurtured
in body and heart-
souls,
Sons who become
fathers,
daughters to
mothers.
We’ve stood firm,
guardians of the castle
charged with
sacred duty
to mold, guide and nurture,
teach and love.
Dry tears,
kiss away wounds
spiritual and physical.
Healing powers-
steeped in
understanding,
forgiveness and patience.
We hold on if we can,
let go when we must.
kindness, empathy
and knowledge.
Strength is required
to be
“The softer side.”

To all the women out there, I hope you realize how truly strong you are and that you have someone who shares your life who recognizes those superpowers you carry so effortlessly. Today, on International Woman’s Day, I think it’s fair to ask. What do you think makes women unique and/or powerful? What things do you respect the most?

For all you girls…in whichever part of life you happen to fall in…this is for you. Hold your head up. Own your power! You ARE strong.