Monday, April 16, 2012

Easter Celebrations

It's been quite an adventurous, whirlwind, wonderful kind of long week. I truly cherished my 4-day weekend over Easter!

Per usual, our Good Friday service blew our socks off. They encourage our 13,000 attendees to come to the main campus for the services and they split them into 7 {2 Thurs night, 5 on Friday}, and they prepare a solemn time of reflection. Every year the worship & production teams amaze us. 

This year was no different. We all dress in black and we enter quietly and leave quietly. This year the lobby was dim with special lighting, smoke, and eery music that made you feel as though you were really there watching the carpenters make the cross.

Then inside of course it was dark as well and a solemn mood was cast until the orchestra began to play and we were pulled in with singing, dramatic readings, a split-into-4-parts short film, 3 stages with 2 out in the audience, and a powerful song with 14 of our worship leaders joining in and bringing down the house! Then a solemn, quiet, reflective ending and departure.

{pardon the lackluster iPhone pic quality}

The rest of Friday {we'd gone to the 12 noon service} was spent eating lunch at my favorite restaurant near the church's main campus where I rarely get to go anymore {it was delicious and perfect!!}, preparing for our Easter day celebration, me finalizing purchases for Tim's birthday, Tim mowing the yard, and so on. It was a nice day!

Saturday I'll leave to another post as I talk about Tim's birthday. This post will be lengthy enough without adding that into the mix!

Easter Sunday is always phenomenal!!!! We don't see any reason for quiet celebration - after all you cheer and scream for your favorite sports teams. Why people think this is over the top, I do not know. But it always gets my spirits soaring and my heart racing every time I walk into our auditorium for Easter services! It's the exact opposite of Good Friday {as it should be} and we can all barely contain our excitement until our pastor finally shouts "HE IS RISEN" and we jump up screaming, cheering, holding up signs of VICTORY, CELEBRATE, CHRIST IS RISEN, etc. The past two years have included confetti and balloons that explode out of these massive cannon looking things at the front. It's truly a sight to behold, and something to experience at least once in your life!!! 

We love it so much. 

And this year it was the first worship service of our 7th campus, and we broke an overall attendance record of 20,500 people {again that's over 7 campuses and 3-4 services on each campus, so our service had about 2,200 or so} with 260 professions of faith in Christ. 

Wow. Just wow. PRAISE GOD!!!

After that we headed home, finished up preparing food and the house, and then our (Tim's) family started filtering in. 

I'm so thankful for all of Tim's family and the delightful way we got to celebrate with all of the local folks! It meant 17 people (10 adults, 7 kids) in our relatively small house but it was cozy, sweet, and comfortable. 

I thrive in this kind of thing and absolutely loved every second of it despite the craziness and additional stress. Hosting brings out my creativity and love of caring for the people I love. But these are also the times I get the most frustrated about my Fibromyalgia. I refuse to let it define or overcome me, but sometimes, your body just doesn't do what your mind tells it to. My personality conflicts with my body and it frustrates the snot out of me!!

So aside from my body spiraling out of control the next couple of days, it was a joyful celebration! This was the first time in over a year where we gathered without a single person being sick - HOORAY!!!!! I can't begin to explain what a relief this was! There were two in-laws missing because they work in hospital-related fields and had to work, but otherwise all the locals were together again at last. 

Let me tell you, it was special. 

Not only were we all together, but even a couple of major family crises were averted, resolved or mostly resolved, and going better. I also really enjoyed watching hubster love on our nieces and nephews - it's SO great to watch him interact with them! I sometimes think he really has no idea the true effect he has on them. They adore him!!!

I have a ton of pictures from this weekend - and per usual, I'm having a really hard time choosing!

Of course, first off I have to walk you through some of the things I did in our house as we prepared for our guests and the Easter celebration. 

Jelly bean filled eggs at the entrance that we sent home with willing kids

Goldfish cracker "carrots" - my first attempt to do something I'd seen on Pinterest and I loved it! I got so many compliments on them too. :) They were meant to be an appetizer but I ended up sending them home in people's goody bags at the end instead.

I wanted to be more creative with the centerpieces but with being so busy lately, I instead went for the cute, simple ideas I put together from Michael's {love that place!}.

Another idea from Pinterest! So fun and everyone loved this simple way to get silverware & napkins in one swoop! 

This table ended up with our kitchen table's bench along one side, but I grabbed the pic before I moved that, whoops! The kids loved the bench!

A sidetable with sugarrrrrrrrrrr 

My crockpot BBQ meatballs

Crockpot mac-n-cheese

My Trader Joe's nitrate/preservative-free ham worked perfectly! And made it so my mother-in-law and I could both eat it without headaches later, woot woot!!

Tim's mom brought homemade rolls and deviled eggs, sis-in-law Diana brought corn casserole, sis-in-law Becca brought scalloped potatoes, bro-in-law Chris brought homemade shrimp dip & crackers, I set out some carrots & hot-n-spicy mustard sauce {despite that I can't tolerate SPICY, this is not that kind of spicy, it just has a kick and it's good!!}, and bro-in-law Paul brought a masterful salad {not pictured}. And it was all delicious!!!! 

Sis-in-law Kandy helped bring some soda and I made my now "famous" strawberry lemonade {thank you Monica!!!!!!} and we had some Trader Joe's sweet tea too. Perfect.

I made Tim a tray of brownies for his birthday and wrote a message for him on it. 

Then I made Tim's family's traditional lamb cake {my first time ever using a Trader Joe's no preservative cake mix, it was good!}. The icing of it became hilarious when I realized I got the drippy kind of icing. I tried pink icing for the eyes but um... runny icing doesn't work on a stand-up lamb. It literally looked like I'd killed it with streaks of pinkish-reddish goop running down the front. Oh dear. After some hysterical laughs with the family, we modified it with some jelly beans for eyes and added some white icing back over the goop. 

Now on to the good stuff! Gotta show off our family! We love them so much and are so thankful for such a great group of people!!!

Me with nieces Hayley and Carrissa

Tim's brother Paul and his family - Becca, Carrissa, Hayley, Natalie, & Ashdyn

Nephew Toby was getting straightened up for pictures by Paul & Becca and this just cracked. me. up. 

Kiddos all looking snazzy!

All the nieces & nephews who live in our area - love them all to pieces!!

Me with Natty & Ash :)

Me with Dan & Sam

A full kitchen makes my heart very happy

Toby hanging out with Grandma

Toby hanging out with cousin Carrissa

A game of basketball was enjoyed
{Tim is going to hate that I'm posting this pic, but it was the best one!}

After hanging outside and it getting cold and windy, the little kiddos were getting a bit antsy so we let them bang on stuff. :) Again, my heart was seriously overflowing....

I dearly love my sister-in-laws and we had some really delightful moments that day. This was one of those hysterical times. Love you Diana & Becca!!!

Tim & his mom - so thankful for their relationship!

Such a fabulous Easter! My heart overflows with joy and love!!!

And... the weekend wasn't over! There's so very much more to tell, but I'm going to save that for a very special post later. Besides, if this gets any longer, it's guaranteed I'll be the only one reading it. ;) 

Hope you all had a very special, wonderful Easter too as you celebrated our risen Savior!


Carol said...

what a delightful share of your Easter, Rochelle. Wonderful family and pictures.

Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell said...

I've never seen a celebration like that but what you said is so true. It really is worthy of a HUGE celebration! It's a remarkable event. :)

The pics of all the kids and family were wonderful, just wonderful!

Mary @ Giving Up On Perfect said...

Okay...I did read that that lamb cake is a family tradition, looks a little creepy! Why? I don't know! I should not be scared of a lamb cake! kind of am.

Way to start off my comment with the positive, right? Well, let me tell you how HUNGRY your food pics made me and how ADORABLE those Pinterest projects are! Seriously, I wanted to do the Goldfish and flatware carrots, too! :)

Also - I think I'd be pretty overwhelmed at your church service, but I'd love to give it a try someday. You're absolutely right. People go crazy over sports and concerts; why not over our Lord?!