For you, Malia, I'll post something!
Lent has continued to be a big blessing here in our household, and I hope it has been in yours as well. The crown of thorns poster on our door has gone from this to this:
A lot of the flowers have fallen off (bad off-brand tape!), so it's been "refilled" a few times over.
What gets me the most about this whole thing, as I mentioned before, is that I know what I've put on this door. The rest represents a whole lot of little sacrifices done by the kids that are known only to Jesus. Now I must admit, there are a few that I do know about -- either the sacrifice done was easily noticed, or I came in when they were doing it. I can tell you quite honestly, I don't think there was ever a time in my childhood when I would have done some of the things that they have done. I'm a big "hey! Look at me and the wonderful things I've done!" sort of person, and I still lack the spiritual maturity I'm seeing in the lives of these kids that I have the privilege of raising.
I'm reading several good books, most notably A Little Daily Wisdom: Through the Year with Saint Teresa of Avila (thanks to the recommendation of Julie over at Happy Catholic) and The Weight of Glory by (who else?) C.S. Lewis. If nothing else, his talk entitled "Learning in War-Time" should be required reading for anyone like me who battles fear and anxiety on a regular basis. He covers that so well and fills me with hope every time. I cannot read C.S. Lewis and come away unchanged and unencouraged. One particular part of this talk that I loved best is this:
I spoke just now of fiddling while Rome burns. But to a Christian the true tragedy of Nero must be not that he fiddled while the city was on fire but that he fiddled on the brink of hell... [E]very Christian... must at all times face [the] question... how it is right, or even psychologically possible, for creatures who are every moment advancing either to Heaven or to hell to spend any fraction of the little time allowed them in this world on such comparative trivialities as literature or art, mathematics or biology. If human culture can stand up to that, it can stand up to anything. To admit that we can retain our interest in learning under the shadow of these eternal issues but not under the shadow of [insert fear here] would be to admit that our ears are closed to the voice of reason and very wide open to the voice of our nerves and our mass emotions.
Another huge lesson for me was found in Psalm 73. As I was reading this one morning, I was stunned by how much this Psalm prayed out all my confusion and fears. I was especially stunned by this:
When my heart was grieved
and my spirit embittered,
I was senseless and ignorant;
I was a brute beast before you.
It doesn't get any more clear than this. With all of my ramblings and talking about what might happen, and how unfair it all is, and how can we possibly endure, I have to face the fact that as I do that, I am "senseless and ignorant... a brute beast." Yikes.
Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
And so I'm encouraged to say...
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
May He teach me, and all those who battle fear and anxiety, to "wait in joyful hope for the coming of Our Savior Jesus Christ."
Finally, a visual representation of how the devil uses fear and the imagination to suck the hope and fight out of every believer was made very clear to me when I found this scene from Lord of the Rings (an extended version I had never seen before):
A little bit of fact, and a whole lot of smoke and mirrors with the sole intent of rendering us incapable of fighting. Wow.
Tolkien and Lewis. Two amazing giants of men.