It only took WalMart one night to put all of the candy hearts in a half-price basket and transform the aisle marked “seasonal” into an abundant array of jelly beans, chocolate bunnies and marshmallow eggs.  I love the Easter season.  Easter represents the end of winter and the beginning of Spring.  The season is a celebration of the fact that Jesus has provided salvation to everyone who will receive it.  But I think this year will be my favorite Easter ever, because of the days that will lead up to it.  I have never participated in Lent, a time of reflection and a time to give up something in order to focus on Jesus’ sacrifice at the cross. This year I won’t be spending any money on that seasonal aisle in WalMart because I’m giving up sweets for Lent.  I want to use the Lenten season to focus on Jesus and to pray for my family.  We have some serious days ahead – but Sunday’s coming.

My oldest son, Ryan, is headed to M.D. Anderson in Houston today to line up his radiation appointments.  The doctors want to do everything necessary to make sure his cancer is gone.  Ryan and Candice are facing a lot for a young couple, married just last June.  I will focus on praying for his healing and God’s strength for both of them during this season of Lent.   My youngest son, Craig, is making plans for his June wedding to Rachel.  I will pray for them and their future together.  And I will pray that Jim and I will have God’s wisdom, peace and perfect words for our kids and for our ministries.  Ash Wednesday is February 22nd and Easter Sunday is April 8th.  When we attend church this Easter Sunday, Ryan will be done with his treatments, Craig will have made his plans, Jim and I will have continued our ministries – and we will rejoice together in our Savior’s resurrection.  Now you know why I’m looking forward to Easter Sunday 2012.

My theme for the next several weeks is “No Jelly Beans For Janet.”  I love jelly beans – but I love my family and my Lord so much more.  Every time I want to eat something sweet (and trust me that will be OFTEN!) I will refuse what I want and pray for what I need.  I’m not sure which church I will attend on Ash Wednesday, but I will find one.  I hope it is okay for this Baptist to slip into a spot on that pew.  I don’t know much about the observance, so I will have to study.  I have an awful memory from my college years about reaching up to wipe the smudge off a co-worker’s face.  She panicked and ran out of the toy store where we worked and I didn’t know what I had done.  I didn’t understand I was wiping off the “ashes.”  i have a lot to learn before next Wednesday!

I am writing this blog to let you know my plans, in case any of you might care to join me.  Maybe you have a specific reason to focus your prayers as this winter gives way to Spring.  You have about a week to decide.  I’m glad I made this decision now.  I have a small box of Valentines candy to eat before next Wednesday.  (Jim read my last blog post!)  Ryan will have six weeks of radiation, but Easter Sunday is coming – and it will be a great day.  My son will have reached the end of a tough road, my other son will be looking forward to the beginning of a new road, and all of us will know more about the love and provision of God than we did before. 

Thank you for praying.  Please continue.  And if you see me next Wednesday, don’t wipe the smudge off my forehead.  (I’m not going to be Baptist that day.)  And don’t offer me any jelly beans during the Lenten season because I will have to say “no.”  Tony Campolo has a famous Easter sermon called “It’s Friday, But Sunday’s Coming.”  Our “Friday” will be a long, several weeks.  But Sunday’s Coming.  And when it does, I’m going to rejoice in the Lord and eat some jelly beans!

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