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My Mormon Easter

Easter is coming and I’m almost as excited as when I’m waiting for Christmas.

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I have family coming (Annie and Josh and their friends) for Easter weekend, which is, in itself, something to celebrate because our families are spread across the country these days.

AND, it’s General Conference weekend.

For those of you who don’t know about Conference Weekend, it’s going to sound dreadful, but trust me, for Mormons, it’s one of the best weekends of the year.

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Conference weekend is when our Church broadcasts HOURS of meetings featuring talks from our Church leaders.

And, believe me, it’s an event. It happens at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, which is a 1.4 million square foot building that will seat 21,000 guests.

The five conference sessions this weekend will be broadcast live around the world. (You can watch it here and here.)

I’m already wondering what we’re going to learn.

Mostly, I’m excited about the warm, beautiful spirit of Jesus Christ that will fill my house during Easter weekend.

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That spirit begins to seep in as soon as I hear the organ music coming from the colossal 7,667-pipe organ at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City.

This is no ordinary organ. It’s a pipe organ with 160 stops spread over five manuals and pedals.

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And since I don’t have a clue what any of that means, I had to look it up.

I learned a “manual” is basically a keyboard and the pedals are keyboards for your feet. The stops control the pipes 7,000-plus pipes.

All this together makes for some amazing sounds.

Add 360 singers to that from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and it’s quite a musical experience.

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And then there are the speakers – about 30 of them spread out over five two-hour sessions.

(In case you’re worried that all those speakers might be a bit much, we’re heavily into beautiful music too so there are a lot of lovely songs between all those speakers. AND, you get to see some gorgeous displays of spring flowers, a few videos, and even hear some pretty good jokes sometimes.)

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I know, I know. It sounds long and boring — sitting for hours and listening to one Church speaker after another.

But I love listening to words on hope, faith, light and truth, parenting, building strong families and improving marriages, making wise choices, receiving personal revelation, sharing the light of Christ, and becoming a better person.

“Conference,” as we call it, is a uniquely Mormon experience, and being the odd bunch that we are, we relish every moment of it.

When it’s over, we feel some mixed emotions — buoyed up because we’ve been given a heavy dose of counsel and encouragement and spiritual rejuvenation, but sad because we have to turn off our TVs and move out of the warmth of our conference bubble and get back to real life.

While most Christians will be attending Easter services on Sunday, Mormons will be home watching television.

Something about that doesn’t seem right, but for us, it’s a form of united devotion. It happens the first weekends of October and April every year.

This year, it happens to fall on Easter Sunday.

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While it might seem wrong that our chapels will be closed on Easter Sunday this year, we will be tucked into our cozy nests listening to every word from our leaders—all of which will testify of our love and devotion of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer.

In a way, we will get to enjoy the most intimate kind of Easter worship of all – surrounded by our families in the warmth of our homes.

We might not be in our Easter dresses, bonnets and white gloves this Sunday, but you can be sure we will be honoring our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and loving every minute of it.

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Happy Easter.

Change, Family, Religion

Rising After a Fall

 

Today as I left my house to go for a walk in the woods, I noticed the tiny buds on our magnolia tree and a few blossoms.

 

Spring is trying to happen, I thought, as I walked down the driveway, bundled in my fleece jacket and gloves.

 

As I walked along the trail, I saw a robin perched on a limb, its bright color a beautiful contrast to the brown, leafless trees.

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Sure sign of Spring – Robin – Bird (Photo credit: blmiers2)

Spring will come, I thought. After every long, cold winter, spring always comes.

 

It just always seems to take a little longer than we think it should.

 

Like life, so like life.

 

Change, improvement, second chances, sun on our path, light emerging out of darkness — it all comes.

 

It just takes more time than we want.

 

Like my unemployed friend whose full-time job is finding a job.

 

The wait is killing him.

 

“I keep being told to be patient. But, patience doesn’t pay the bills,” he says.

 

True. Waiting can be the hardest part.

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Easter Eggs (Photo credit: .imelda)

On the eve of Easter, I think of those who watched the Savior die on a cross.

 

I can’t fathom the grief, sorrow, and pain they felt watching Him be crucified.

 

That unbearable Friday when He died; that Saturday in the tomb.

 

Those days had to be excruciating for those who loved and worshipped Him.

 

But, then, miraculously, on Sunday, he rose.

 

Like the long-awaited spring, He appeared, giving the world the priceless gift of hope.

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Garden with some tulips and narcissus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I walked along the trail, I thought of all the people I know who have made miraculous comebacks.

 

My brother, so addicted to drugs, we lost hope in him. Drugs enslaved him, and stole the man we knew and loved.

 

We couldn’t see a road back.

 

But, day by difficult and long day, he overcame addictions.

 

He rose after a long, steady fall. And continues to rise every day to fight his battle and reclaim his life.

 

My other brother, diagnosed with vascular disease, and then bitten by a brown recluse spider, lost his leg.

 

An avid boater, fisherman, hunter, brick mason, and handyman, he was suddenly housebound in a wheelchair, unable to walk.

 

He lost his way; thinking his so-called life as an amputee  was no life at all.

 

He felt aimless and without purpose.

 

Until he discovered he was still a dad, a husband, a brother, a son, an uncle, a friend, and that even without a leg, he could love them all fiercely and deeply.

 

He could help the sister through cancer, the brother through addictions, the daughters trying to create their own independent lives, the nephew trying to raise four small children.

 

While his life is not the one he planned or ever envisioned — and neither is his amazing wife’s — they too rise every morning, greet the day with gratitude, and fully live the lives they’ve been given.

 

I nearly cried as I walked this morning, thinking of one beautiful example after another of the people I love who rise after a fall.

 

That is the real meaning of Easter, isn’t it?

 

Just when you think spring will never come, you see a Robin on the grass to remind you that winter is on its way out.

 

Just when you think the phone will never ring with a job offer, it does.

 

Just when you think you or someone else can never recover, you do.

 

Change happens, people make comebacks, life gets better.

Easter is a good reminder of that truth.