As I walked through the dollar store in search of everything from saline solution to a belated birthday card,
I passed the Easter basket supplies and couldn’t help but remember the many years of egg hunts and early morning basket fun with all of our kids………….
But before I could even begin to feel a little sad,
I turned down another aisle and bright silk flowers caught my eye.
A different emotion immediately welled up inside me as I stood in front of the only Easter gift I can ever give to Nick and Adrienne.
I picked a couple small bouquets and placed them in my cart.
On the way home, I stopped to visit them.
It’s been a while since I stood there……………..
and I had to take a couple pictures.
I remember thinking, “If anyone is watching me, they are probably worried.”
Who takes photos of tombstones as if they are capturing a new memory with their children?
I didn’t care who happened to see me though;
and to be honest, I didn’t care what they thought if they did.
It was one of those moments when I felt a little anger stir………………
anger towards anyone who would judge a grieving mom or not take time to cherish the meaning of Easter.
Victory Over Death
Most the time I feel compassion for people who don’t accept Jesus as God’s Son,
but yesterday I felt angry.
When you’ve lost a child, Hope carries you the rest of your life;
and I guess yesterday I felt like anyone who doubted the power of the cross was pulling the legs right out from under the One who carries me……………
and when He falls………………
I fall too.
So my camera and my heart both snapped yesterday.
Grief took a turn I wasn’t expecting as I stood and admired the bright flowers on a grey day.
Easter is my bright flower and the empty tomb is its vase.
Doubt the beauty and the power of either one to hold life together after tragedy,
and you might as well be kicking me while I’m down.
Mock Jesus or Christianity,
and you are mocking me.
And that hurts.
I returned home, old flowers in my trunk and an old way of looking at death in my heart.
I felt the power of the resurrection stirred inside of me in a way it hadn’t been stirred in a long, long time.
Like a protective mom, I was ready to stand up to anyone who dared make light of His life, death, and resurrection.
Little did I know, God was planning to visit the very room in which Nick died just a few hours later;
and remind me at an even deeper level of how alive He really is.
I had a photo shoot scheduled for 5.
We were hoping for some outdoor family pics,
but rain brought us all inside for the whole session which is exactly where God wanted us to be.
I fixed up a make-shift studio in the family room that used to be our garage.
The room our town helped transform into a quiet place for Nick to escape the world of visitors in his last few months of life.
The room where friends and family gathered to usher Nick from this world to Heaven…………..
humming as he took his final breath.
I love that room so much and even though I rarely say it out loud, I always feel close to him when I’m there.
As the sweet family arrived, they carried in all sorts of Easter props and we began setting things up.
At one point, the grandmother was asking her little granddaughter to look up as I took a photo and said, “I have a story to tell you when we’re finished.”
I remember thinking, “I’ll bet she has a photo of her son in this same position when he was a little boy,” and I really didn’t think about it any more……………………..
until my camera fell to the ground, and God got my attention.
As I picked it up and began to take photos of this same little girl in a basket of eggs, I realized something was wrong.
When I looked at my preview screen it said, “Wait for camera to quit recording,” and as the photo appeared on my camera, I saw this:
I took several more photos and was slightly panicking as I realized that in the fall my camera had somehow been bumped into “effects” that I didn’t even know it had.
I took a minute to study my camera’s buttons and figured out how to get it back to the proper settings, but I was amazed at the photos my camera had taken that looked like colored pencil drawings…………….
As I showed them to the family, we all noticed Bella was holding an empty Easter egg toward Heaven…………
and that’s when the grandma begin to cry and share her story a little earlier than she had expected.
A story I had never heard even though I have known this sweet lady for many years.
Through her tears, she told me she had lost a baby thirty-two years ago.
Ever since the loss, she has had a magnet on her fridge of a little girl in a blue dress looking up to Heaven………………..
and even though she was never able to see her own baby, this photo has been her way of feeling connected to the life she lost so many years ago.
We knew in that moment that God had created the image she was longing to have of Bella.
Bella looking toward Heaven.
But in God’s mighty way, He created a photo that was not only unique
but also deep in meaning.
The lone empty egg clutched in her hand and aimed toward the sky was like a gift from God saying,
“My Son has risen! The tomb is empty! Death has no power over you!”
Later that evening, the grandma messaged me and I just happened to have my phone on my lap as it buzzed and before I could even open the message, I saw the screen………………….
I had to screenshot this message back to her and tell her about Nick.
And about what 7:11 means to our family.
It was as if Nick was letting us know that Heaven is so close…………………..
and death truly has no sting.
I looked at the photo of Bella again and noticed that a small butterfly was off to the side…………..
a prop Bella had been playing with and must have dropped right there earlier in the shoot.
Another whisper from God…………………
“I want to transform you.”
“I want you to be new!”
Later, Bella’s grandma messaged me and said,
“There’s even more to this story…………….
Bella was born at 7:11!”
Then she wrote these words,
“Crazy thing is, this is the first time in 32 years that I am at peace with the loss of my precious girl.”
That’s the power of the Easter story………………..
The meaning behind empty eggs and an empty tomb.
The reason this Friday is good even though it’s also very sad.
There’s nothing about it we like……………….
but there’s everything about it we need.
Dying to self is the only way to really live forever.
And don’t we all want to live forever?
This morning as I was reading in I Samuel,
my heart was hurting for Hannah.
Longing to have a child for many years, she entered the temple brokenhearted and unable to eat.
As she was crying, something must have happened inside of her because the story goes on to say that after everyone else had finished eating and drinking,
“Hannah stood up.”
I love that image…………………
A broken woman standing up.
I love the thought of Hannah finding a strength I’m not sure she even knew she had,
and I love that in that moment of supernatural strength she made a vow.
A vow that if God gave her a son she would dedicate the baby’s whole life to Him.
I think of Mary at the foot of the cross so many years ago and how she faithfully raised the Son of God and then had to watch Him die such a horrible death.
There came a point on that anything-but-good Friday so long ago that Mary had to choose to stand up and face her anguish head on, trusting God in spite of her pain.
Hannah didn’t know if God would answer her prayer and Mary didn’t know the tomb would be empty in three days,
but they stood up anyway.
We know so much more than Hannah or Mary ever knew,
and I believe we have to stand up today.
I’m praying this morning for all women who are in anguish over any kind of longing or loss.
We have to choose to live.
We have the power to walk on any kind of eggshells this world might throw along our path,
because eggshells simply mean the eggs are empty……………….
and empty eggs should always remind us of the one empty thing that changed this world forever!!
Be transformed today by the power of the Easter story.
Don’t walk one more day without the Hope of Him who conquered death once and for all.
Walk in victory.
You’ve heard this many times before, but I have to say it again,
It’s Friday, but Sunday is coming!
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?
For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power.
But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.
I Cor. 15:55-57