Today you will be with me in paradise

Jackson and three crosses

Jackson and three crosses

While Jesus suffered, criminals were crucified on either side of His cross. One mocked and insulted Jesus, but the other was riddled with guilt and knew the One with the crown of thorns could give him the freedom he desperately needed.

In the midst of terrible pain, Jesus listened to this criminal’s plea for forgiveness and eternal life. He promised His presence right then, and on into paradise. While paying for all the sins of the world, Jesus was also redeeming the man dying next to him.

We made three cross circle crafts today, to remember that just as Jesus forgave the criminal on the cross, He also forgives us.

Read more about Jesus and the criminal’s conversation in Luke 23:39-43.

Learn more about 2 Weeks 2 the Cross and explore ways to experience Easter in a meaningful way with your family.

Smashing fingers

In a pinch

In a pinch

A painful scream sent me sprinting into my daughter’s bedroom. She turned to me wailing and crying, and it took me a beat to figure out what was wrong.

Lauren stood with her little fingers wedged between a drawer and the dresser, and she couldn’t get them out.

I had sent her into the room a few minutes before to get some socks so we could get ready to go into town. The trip was delayed as I yanked the drawer open and scooped a weeping girl into my arms.

It took numerous kisses and quite a bit of snuggling before the sting started to wear off.

Many of us, right now, are caught in expectations, frustrating circumstances, grief, uncertainty and loneliness. We are stuck in tired routine, fake friendships and marriages barely hanging on.

And yet, we are adept at burying the pain and pasting on a smile, while our fingers pulse from being smashed in the dresser drawer.

All we must do is cry out, just open our mouths and scream. Instead we suck it up and continue to purposely live in the pain.

Why must we pretend, when confession will give us release from the trap we are in?

God is our protector, our strong right arm, our shelter. He is ever waiting for our cry to rise up and defend us against our enemies. He is watching for our movement back to home, ready to run and pull us into His embrace. His forgiveness and grace are ready.

Our Savior has also given us His body here on earth, the church, where there are so many who love us, will stand by us and will see us through.

The only reason I knew Lauren needed my help is because she screamed. Chances are, the person sitting beside us in Sunday School won’t know the depths of our hurt either if we never reveal it.

Take a deep breath, and let it go. Cry out to the Lord for rescue and redemption. He will answer, and come rushing through the door to pry our fingers out of the drawer. He longs to hold us in His arms and remind us of His great love.

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

– 1 Peter 5:7

God also wants us to share our burdens with our spiritual family. Allow them to help, even after release. The consequence and sting of the trap may not leave right away, and we need Christian brothers and sisters to walk with us as we recover.

Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.

– Galatians 6:2