Sunday, April 19, 2009

Easter (Take 2) Orthodox Easter Sunday

This was Maddy's first Orthodox Easter Sunday! It's a wonderful service - one of my very favorites. It begins pre-dawn (we didn't quite make it on time!) and continues through the morning as the sun rises, celebrating Christ's resurrection. It's just beautiful!

Maddy did great - even napping a bit during the service to get her through the morning. She was very interested in all the music and the singing and of course, curious to meet all the new people!

Maddy with her Papa and her Daddy

Maddy with Aunt Anna, Aunt Catherine & Daddy

Every year each child gets a balloon and together they release them all just outside the church. It was so fun to get to participate in this tradition for the first time! Maddy loved it!

Checking out her cool balloon

Still enthralled with her balloon

Snuggled into Daddy for some rest

Our Family

After church we came back to Mom and Dad's for a fantastic meal. The Easter meal is one of my favorites - kielbasa and horseradish! Need I say more?!

Anthony with Lee

Maddy with her Baba and her Papa

It was a wonderful day for all of us!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter (Take 1)

We are fortunate to be able to celebrate Easter twice every year - once for American Easter and once for Russian Orthodox Easter. Typically, they fall on different Sundays, usually within a few weeks of each other. So, here it is --- Easter, Take 1!

This year Easter holds an extra special meaning for us. Last year, American Easter Sunday was the day we found out we were pregnant with Maddy. After the loss of the miscarriage, finding out that there was new life inside of me was such an emotional and amazing experience. It was a beautiful reminder that God is always doing a fresh and new thing in our lives. Even in seasons of loss and grief, He is preparing us for seasons of newness and growth. Maddy is our precious reminder of that. And so, spending this year's Easter with her was a very special time for us! We had such a fun time getting all dressed up for church, celebrating Christ's resurrection and all that His death on the cross purchased for us, and enjoying a wonderful day with our family.

Technically, our Easter celebration started on Saturday. We headed over to my mom's for our annual traditions - Easter baskets, Easter egg hunt, and dying eggs. We had a great time! My mom bought Maddy an adorable Easter outfit that was perfect for the occasion.

Easter morning began with church. We got ourselves (and Maddy!) all dressed up and headed to NorthRidge for service. We actually were able to go to church and sit together as a whole family (Mom, Dad, Jess, Mike, Jordan, Marleigh, me, and Anthony - Maddy and Emily were in their much-more-age-appropriate kid classes). Being all together at church like that is a rare occurence these days and it was a wonderful experience! The service was such a beautiful reminder of God's love for us and how He evidenced His love through Christ's death and resurrection. If you're interested, you can watch the entire service here. After church, we stopped to take some pictures of our whole family together.

Mike, Jess, Anth, Maddy, Me, Marleigh, Mom, Jordan, Emily, Dad

A Family Self-Portrait

Then, we headed to the shuttle to take the bus back to our car. We went home to get Maddy a good nap and get together the food that we were bringing to my mom's. In between, Anthony and I took some time to enjoy the beautiful weather - we spread our picnic blanket out in the front yard and relaxed in our Easter best! It was really fun!

Maddy looking out the window on the shuttle bus

me and Anth in our matching aprons
(protecting our pretty Easter clothes)

Then, it was off to Mom's/Grammy's for Easter dinner and family time! We had a wonderful feast of food including ham, lamb, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli cheese casserole, and much more! For dessert, we had cheesecake, brownies, and a yummy apple cake (a new recipe we tried this year). Everything was delicious!!! It was so much fun to be together as a family - we spent time chatting and catching up, taking walks, throwing the ball around, and playing Scrabble. All in all, it was a wonderful day - such a celebration of God's love for us!

Maddy & Mommy

Maddy & Daddy

Maddy with her Aunt Em

Kisses from Aunt Jess!

Maddy with her Aunt Marleigh

Yawning in her Uncle J's arms

Two last pictures to close out our day... Me and Maddy in our Easter best! (Sorry Anth... we didn't actually get any pictures of JUST you! But, he looked so sharp in a light pink shirt and white tie.)

Finally, I just have to share a passage that really spoke to me this Easter. It's from the Message Translation, which is not a literal word translation, but a paraphrase of the original text. I feel it really captures the essence of Easter.
He used his servant body to carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way. His wounds became your healing. You were lost sheep with no idea who you were or where you were going. Now you're named and kept for good by the Shepherd of your souls.
1 Peter 2:24-25