Son reminds me how we can live as Easter people

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Nicholas-13

Parker, 8

Easter blessings! This is one of my favorite holidays, and not just because of the outfits and the candy. Easter is one of my favorite stories. Like all good stories, it is filled with beauty and mystery. There is pain, sacrifice, death. Our hero is triumphant. But above all, to me, Easter is a perfect love story.

One of my favorite Easter memories involves my son Parker. He was about 3 when he heard the crucifixion story at his pre-school. He could not wait to share his news with me. He threw everything into the car, breathless and wide-eyed.

“Mom! Mom! Did you know they killed Jesus?”

I was a little taken aback, I was not aware he would be learning the passion story at daycare.  We’re Methodists so we don’t generally start and end with just the scary part.

“Well, yes, Son. They did. But … there’s more to this story. Did they tell you how it ended? The most important part of this story is that Jesus got back up! He loved you, and me, and God so much, that he was able to get back up. Now he lives in heaven where he watches over us.”

In the words of my sweet pastor, the Rev. David Wiggs, the Easter story is the story wherein Death did not get the final word. Love did. Christ loved us so much, that he died for us. He died so that we may have life everlasting as well! As I see the grass turning green and leaves budding on trees, I am reminded of that new life all around me.

As Christians, spring is a time of renewal for our hearts as well. We have a chance to live as Easter people. But what does that mean, really? I read a devotional recently that focused on ways we can do that. In it, the writer says, “the best way to be a witness is by sharing our personal story; by telling others how the living Christ has shone the light in our darkness; by explaining the difference that letting go and letting God has made in our lives; by testifying how our lives have been touched by resurrection love; and to always do this with gentleness, respect, and courtesy.”

These words spoke to me. One, because the passage encourages us to think about the ways God is working in our lives. Two, it tells us to be encouraging to others with sensitivity and kindness. That is how we as Christians can get it right. Not with threats and hellfire, not with cruelty, but through LOVE.

Parker and I had a little couch time this week to talk about how sad we have been feeling lately. Like me, his misses his grandfather who passed away in January. He misses his sweet Marley dog, his best friend for the last eight years. Things are not quite the same without them here. I loathe that my little son has experienced so much hurt at such an early age. I was 26 before I lost anyone that I truly loved, and it was still so hard to wade through.

I held him and cried. I told him that I think we are grieving. Our hearts hurt because they are gone. That hurt is proportional and a reflection of how much love we have for the ones we lose. I told him my heart’s secret, that there were days when I felt so very selfish, because I just wanted them back. Even though they hurt, even though their bodies didn’t work as well as they should. I know in my heart they are at peace, fishing and swimming in the lake all day. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t do anything to have them here with us again. Selfish.

eggs“But Mommy, that wouldn’t be fair. If they caught a disease, asking them to live with it and hurt forever instead of dying and going to heaven.”

Sweetest boy. And just like that, I see God working in my life.

Parker reminds me that my life is filled with so much good, that the bad things really stick out. I have so much joy, that pain is almost unbearable. I have built up no tolerance for grief.

For me, spring is coming a little more slowly this year. But it is coming. And my son, my precious gift from God, well, he is already living as an Easter person.

A case of mistaken identity reminds me to shine

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Melanie Nichols

green_MelanieNicholas

Melanie Nicholas

 

 

 

 

 

by Melanie Nicholas

I was working late a few nights ago when I received a strange Facebook message.

The message read, “What the hell just happened? I can’t believe it.”

I puzzled over this for a few minutes. The message came on my public Facebook page, the one that I use for work. The sender was a person I did not know. Which in and of itself is not unusual since that page is you know, for the public.

But, the tone of the message was ominous. I worried my page or blogsite had been hacked. Was it spamming people with pornography or sending letters to everyone saying I was stranded abroad and needed people to wire me money immediately?

I looked at the sender’s name again, sure that I did not know him. I opened a new screen and searched for him. His Facebook page emerged, only to show me a picture of a police SWAT team, fully dressed out, armed and ready to bust down my front door.

Hard to believe I know, but I do have my detractors. I even get the occasional piece of hate e-mail. But this, well, this was someone stepping up their game.

I decided to message him back.

“Hi, think you meant to message someone else. I am Melanie Nicholas, the Midland Reporter-Telegram columnist.” I added a big yellow smiley face to the message, I didn’t want to poke that bear.

A minute later he responds with, “Ooops. Sorry.”

I send another smiley face, hoping he knew I didn’t harbor any ill will, silently repeating pleasedon’tshootmepleasedon’tshootme. “No problem,” I wrote back, uber cheerful.

Then a few minutes later, another cryptic missive.

“It’s funny you really look like her.”

Gulp. Look like herrrrrrrrr … .

It’s dark and it’s cold and my house is silent. My imagination begins to run wild. Like wild. Wondering if losing so much weight this year was such a good idea after all. Now I will be a lot easier to wrestle into an unmarked panel van. I hear “It puts the lotion on its skin, or else it gets the hose again” running through my mind, and I make a mental note to sign up for that open carry class I’ve been eyeballing.

I take another peek at my new pen pal’s Facebook page.

“Are you in the SWAT photo?” I asked. You know, in case I need to leave breadcrumbs for the authorities.

I did not find his response comforting.

“Hahahahaha. No.”

It was a few minutes more before I found out my new friend, Andrew, also works in the media. He’s a news talk show host working in Florida.

He was covering a story and with, what I suspect was a simple keyboarding error, had mistaken my Facebook page for that of Melanie Nichols, a local Pensacola activist. It was a little eerie to see a photo of her on his page because for a split second, I thought, “I don’t remember posing for that photo!”

Now, we’re not twins separated at birth or anything. But we do have similar looks. Blond, same hair style, big smiles. Good dressers with a penchant for oversize shades. After doing a little internet stalking of my own, I have come to like Melanie No. 2. She seems funny and articulate, she loves her family, and her twitter handle includes the word “sparkle.” She’s feisty, y’all. On the outside, Melanie Nichols seems to be a person that is happy, that knows what she’s doing in her life!

My sweet dad, relaxing in the shade on our Easter fishing trip in 2014.

My sweet dad, relaxing in the shade on our Easter fishing trip in 2014.

The timing is ironic. Because this is one of those times in my life when I have no idea what direction my life is taking. Does anyone else ever feel that way? That you are so busy or so preoccupied that you are on auto-pilot? I would like to say that I feel this way because of work, church and juggling family life. Those things are manageable with a calendar, crockpot and some laughter.  But I know that this sense of aimless drifting is grief, me feeling unmoored after losing my dad in January. Today is one of those days when I would call him. My house is clean-ish, the kids are at school. I would stretch out on the couch with a cup of coffee and tell him about his grandkids and their latest exploits. My daughter is so much like him, wild, good-looking and all outlaw. I do not like to grieve; hurting … hurts. And my dad would think I was ridiculous to be so sad. But I don’t know how to help it or stop it or even process it. I miss him.

I think he would have gotten a kick out of my random Facebook encounter, and he would tell me to be more like Melanie No. 2. Life is short, it’s made for living. And he liked girls that sparkled best.