A Mama Makes Attempts At Holy Week {Preparing for Easter}

To celebrate Easter, I do something this year I have never done before. I do Lent.

For Lent, I throw off, disentangle, make lighter. I throw off writing, emails, twitter and television--because that's what Lent is--a quiet time of reflection, of giving up things that get in the way, of turning to the Saviour and looking Him full in the face, only to fully be reminded of our sin and just how much we need him--how much we really need Easter.

I have to ask myself--can Easter really be celebrated any other way? Can we really pack and cram all of the reflection, revelation, soul-enriching, awareness of our sin and need for a Saviour, thanksgiving and rejoicing for His life, death and resurrection into just one day? Really? Because that's how I was raised to celebrate it--the church I grew up in never encouraged families to take more time than Easter Sunday to reflect and celebrate.

So here I am, doing Lent, leading my family quietly {maybe not so quietly?}, Husband so thankful that I have found the resources and made the effort for everyone, teaching them what I have learned.

But while I try to do Lent, while I teach children God's ways, I utterly fail.

He comes home and finds me in the kitchen, spewing words, trying to prepare a special Christian passover meal for all of us. I am the most disorganized person I know--even though I read the ideas and recipes days before, and marinated the lamb overnight, I had taken on too much for such a huge feast in one evening--my accursed genes follow me forever.

It is the worst feeling in the world--as things begin to fall apart, it feels as if the girl that had it all together left my body and some other girl took over--some of our worst flaws we are so helpless over. As Paul said, "What I don't want to do, I do, and what I want to do, I dont do."

Candles lit, worship music playing, I talk through gritted teeth and tell children to just cooperate as we all prepare together. Even the best of Christian activities and the most quiet, stilling music cannot save us.

Only God--only Him on that cross can do that for me and only His presence here will save us.

Husband reminds me to instruct them politely. I nod that he's right, and tell him that he doesn't know what I went through with children today who wouldn't obey and do their work and I feel like a failing Mama.

When I get all wound tight inside I can't seem to stop, and I keep going--I tell him that I figured out why it's so hard for me to instruct, teach, have conversations--why it wears me out so much--I'm an introvert, and my natural bent is to let someone learn on their own, without my input. I want to be alone, doing my own thing. Eldest daughter pipes up with, "Then why in the world did you decide to homeschool us?"

Oh, I wish I had stopped. This tongue of death--sometimes I wish I could cut it off. At this moment, my emotions couldn't be any worse--I have hit rock bottom.

Here I am, consumed with the sins of discontentment, strife, impatience and ingratitude, and I see exactly why I need Easter--why I need His resurrection life so desperately.

Here I am, feeling like a failure, feeling like a victim, and I forget to have a grateful heart for what God has done.

I forget that just a few nights before, during our Lent devotion, Lorna had said she had a question. She was worried about dying and going to heaven, for an infinite amount of time, not know what would happen or what her life would be like there.

And Husband says, "Lorna, you're right--it is a little scary, because heaven is a place we don't know much of, it's a place we've never been to and don't understand the way there, what the journey will be like...

"You know when you were born, you were just a little baby, and you came into this big world, and you were crying and it was scary, but it was great and you were here in this new place, just looking around in wonder?" She nods.

"That's what heaven is like--it is going to be amazing and wonderful. It is something that we don't understand on this side of it--but this side is only one part of life--when you get there, you will have a whole new life and then you will understand."

She told her daddy she gets it now, him at the head of the table, all of us listening to one another and learning.

How could I forget such beauty? How does my heart so easily fester and callous up?

It is late when the feast is finally ready, and we all take our seats.

In preparing the meal in such haste and fury, I am not prepared for what it will do to my heart when my youngest in angel voice shyly asks the first question: "Why are we eating unleavened bread?"

I answer, "We eat Matzah to remind us that the Israelites did not have time for yeast to rise because they had to be ready to move when God said. For us as Christians, it reminds us to live lightly, always ready to go when the call comes...like a thief in the night, Jesus is going to return and we will all go home. We eat matzah because tonight we remember Jesus...bread without yeast, to remember Jesus who was without sin."

Eldest looks straight into my eyes as I talk, and I feel the weight of God's glory all around us--her eyes so alive with His resurrection.

When Husband takes the bread, tears it right into, and I tell the girls, say it in unison and they do: "Because He was broken for us," something just tears my heart wide open.

My second oldest asks her question, and I didn't tell her to, but she addresses her Dad--"Daddy, why are we eating bitter herbs?" --her voice so reverent, reminding me that I don't know as much as I think I do. He explains about the bitterness of sins and my heart begins to bleed out.

When eldest daughter asks her question, "Why tonight do we dip our herbs twice?" Husband explains that our fathers wept salty tears {he dips the herb into the salty water}they dipped hyssop branches into the blood of the Passover lamb and marked their doorposts that the Angel of Death would pass over.

For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins.

I watch Husband's hands dipping the herbs into hope, telling us that we can wipe our tears because now we have new life in Christ--He has rebirthed us--and after all the whirlwind of my sin, my desires and my passions, my heart is finally stilled.

But it is really after the last question has been asked that it fully sinks in.

It is when he serves the lamb that my heart slows, the blood stops racing, and I close eyes and just listen as he reads:

"As the Jews needed the blood of the lamb on their doorpost for the angel of death to pass over them, so we need the blood of the lamb on our hearts for the angel of death to pass over our souls. And we have a lamb...as John the Baptist proclaimed, "Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). And he was a voluntary sacrificial lamb for Jesus said, "No one takes my life from me, but I lay it down of my own accord." (John 10:17-18)

"What does that mean? It means that Jesus planned His own sacrifice. It means that Jesus intentionally planted the tree from which His cross would be carved...willingly placed the iron ore in the heart of the earth from which the nails would be cast...voluntarily placed his Judas in the womb of a woman...set in motion the political machinery that would send Pilate to Jerusalem...the ropes used to tie His hands and the soldiers used to lead Him were unnecessary. Had they not been there, had there been no trial, no Pilate, no crowd, the very same crucifixion would have occurred. Had Jesus been forced to nail Himself to the Cross, He would have done it. For it was not the soldiers who killed Him, nor the screams of the mob. It was His devotion to us." (~Max Lucado, God Came Near, pg. 79-81)
I just nod, eyes closed, it's all I can do. I just relent and let Him completely take over.

Little Lilly lifts her glass to clink it against our's as we toast the celebration of His new life, a shy, excited little smile on her face. Husband and I look at one another, the twinkle of hope in our eye.

I wonder why we don't do Lent--this thing that was so hard starting out--all year long.

{For dessert: "New Life"}

John Piper, a man I believe to be doctrinally sound, on Lent: "“Lent” means spring. But it’s more like winter—the last blast of cold before the warm green is here to stay. It reminds us of the flint-faced Christ moving to Jerusalem. O how we need the discipline of Lent!! Break a bad habit before Good Friday! Life is too short to coast. Brake! Stand on the hood. Look! Over there! Don’t say you can’t. We don’t allow that word at our house (Matthew 19:26)."

"Lent or no Lent, not doing some things you feel like doing is the daily pattern for the disciples of Jesus. Yes, daily. “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23)."

From the Desiring God blog: So, How Was Your Easter?--"How can we be Easter people--24/7, 365 days of the year?"...

**A few ideas we are creating around here and some ramblings this week for Easter...thank you in advance, friends, for grace...

{I'm always conservative with Easter baskets and lean more toward Christian celebration than American tradition--if you would like to do this, too--} this year, a Christian book on Easter--one for the little ones and HERE is one for older ones. and for teens?  this study by Adam Hamilton has excellent reviews or this book by Strobel-- {or you can order their own copy of Devotions for Lent--my girls love theirs--a small devotion booklet--go here to order--w/ Amazon 1-day or 2-day shipping, you could have it by Fri.--I'm also lightly sprinkling in some pastel chocolate eggs, a chocolate cross, a stuffed bunny or lamb with ribbon and hand-written bible verse around the neck. You may also place some plastic eggs filled with scripture or you may opt for natural brown hen's eggs with ribbon and a hole-punched scripture attached {this could be a treasure hunt--you could put the scripture reference only and have your little one look them up and read together}? You could also use a filler and place moss found in your yard on top and tuck in some Lilly of the Valley here and there... A sterling silver cross necklace would make a wonderful gift for a tween or teen. The main thing is keeping it simple and centered on Who we are celebrating...

We have made our Grace Garden {go HERE to see Ann's ideas}, and it turned out beautiful--I would like to encourage you to make your own--we had so much fun!--on Friday night, the girls will make catepillars out of wax, wrap in a leaf and tuck under the moss atop our stone tomb and then we will make our butterfly and it will sit atop our Grace Garden on Sunday morning! The girls are so intrigued with a caterpillar's transformation right now, so this works perfect for us!

You can go HERE, Desiring God blog, to read Noel Piper {John Piper's wife} on Lent and Holy Week--for further inspiration

You can go HERE, to Ann Voskamp's site to get ideas and free printouts for your own Christian Passover meal...

You can go HERE if you are interested in Lent devotions for the rest of this holy week--in preparation for Easter--maybe you would like to print it out to be ready for next year?

Shared with sweet Ann and others at....





and Shanda...


  1. Beautiful post, and so needed. My attitude has been so wrong lately. Enough.

  2. Oh, I love how He just takes over in all of our fumbling and imperfection. I'm clapping now, applauding your heart and your effort. Well done! May those seeds your planting bear much fruit!

  3. wow...all I can say is yo seem pretty organized to me: to put on a table like that and go to all that work. Maybe you are too hard on yourself. Your children are blessed to have a mother who is so faithful in teaching them Godly values.
    thank you for linking with On Your Heart Tuesday

  4. Those moments when I'm preparing something good and wholesome that is meant to up-lift, satan comes in and tries to steal it with moments like that, to make me walk away, give up and not go there - but like you did, I push through - and receive amazing blessings.

    Just like you did!

    What a beautiful Seder Supper - and what a blessing in how everybody played a part! What beautiful faith seeds you are planting!

  5. I so appreciated your truthful account of your anger and frustration while trying to be a "good Christian mother". It happens so often, and yet when it happens in the moment we forget. We feel like its evidence of our failures and ineptness. I loved what you shared that in the midst of the ugliness the truth of "this is why I need Easter" spoke up louder. I love that. Reading your posts and other at walk with Him Wednesday(I have not linked up myself, just been reading, hopefully next week) makes we want to do a passover dinner with my family. Such beautiful inspiration.
    Thanks for sharing.

  6. Alicia and Leah, so well said, my thoughts exactly!
    Nacole, it was a pleasure to soak in and share these moments with you, your confessing of sin, the repentence, the brokeness, the family gathered to do something so ancient, yet so fresh and new, reflecting on our Savior's sacrifice and redemptive love. What a pleasure to read all you share. Delighting with you in our Redeemer's great, glorious, bountiful love this Easter week...

  7. This is life, beautiful new life...and you have me wanting my children to be little ones again so that I can serve life up on a platter the way you have. You've made Jesus real to them, there is no greater accomplishment. Wonderful!

  8. Nacole...Oh I have known those moments...pressing to do... and losing the focus of it all. My husband too had to help me hear myself...change my tone...and I can say...God is faithful. You are doing a beautiful job...no one does it perfect...but as long as we do it humble...we give God a lot of room to come and redeem all. xoxoo

  9. This morning I posted: Why do I keep thinking of new things to do? I need some soul-nourishment.

    KDSullivan tweeted me your way. Thank you for answering my prayer.

    (You may also like: http://wau.org/meditations/current/?/meditations/meditations.asp This is where I go first thing every morning.)

  10. this was beautiful and convicting and I can relate to almost every word. Enjoyed it very much.

  11. Can I confess here???? I had a twitch of a smile as I read this today. Somehow, you described ME with every.single.meal I cook. I'm just known as "the crabby gourmet" and everyone knows not to come near the kitchen until it's served up and ready to eat. I can't explain it, except that I'm less than perfect in the element of cooking, and I can't seem to accept that. All I could hear all the way through your post, Nacole, was "Martha, MARTHA!" We worry so about the food and forget the fellowship, the worship, the thankfulness and the WHY we are doing it in the first place. But you don't need my words here --- you found it all deep within your own soul! Just beautiful, Nacole. Makes me want little ones. . .

  12. Your photos are stunning, and this whole post ushered me right into God's presence. We celebrate a Passover meal every Holy Week as well. Our girls say it's one of their favorite meals of the year -- even with all the strange foods and the multiple glasses of grape juice! :)

    Happy Easter. May You find yourself wrapped up in His presence as you worship the King!

  13. You did such a wonderful job here! I am inspired for next year :) I have never ever thought of a Passover meal, but I have always been so blessed by learning of the Jewish holidays. It brings so much of the truth of the Gospel to life.

    You are so gracious and beautiful. I love your heart. You truly walk in His grace and His light and His love. You bless me so much!

    Love you,


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