He has Risen!

by | Apr 3, 2024

March has been filled with an anticipation of the changing season but also the heaviness of circumstance.

Townes has grown increasingly more curious about when he was born, mainly due to the fun parties all the kids have at school on their birthdays (which we had a blast at his in February). He asked me once if it was still snowing when he came home from the hospital to which I shared it was Easter, springtime, and beautiful outside.

A few days later he asked how old he was when he came home – my response, simple – two months. He even made an offhanded comment to his Uncle Matt that he grew up at Vanderbilt when he was a baby. And since Ella Jane joined us last year, he often asks to see pictures of himself as a baby and so we carefully share them.

Scott and I decided this is the year.

The year we would have our first intentional conversation with Townes about his birth. One -he is old enough; two – we want to be the first to speak with him about his heart; and three, he was scheduled for another heart biopsy a couple weeks ago (everything looks great, hallelujah!).

Leading up to this conversation, I was so apprehensive, I just couldn’t wrap my mind around how to talk with him. How do you explain such a thing? The conversation felt too big for me to hold.

In preparation, we decided the wisdom was to meet with someone who adores our son and has years and years of experience with children and likely “hard conversations” and coaching parents on how to navigate them.  You will remember this lovely woman because the thought even occurred to me, “maybe she can make me a ‘Sturgeon Star’ too.”

Mrs. Sturgeon provided so much insight, so much encouragement and the best advice: Focus on the JOY.

Of course, doesn’t Scripture encourage us repeatedly and point us joy? (Hello world – the obvious right in front of me all along – no wonder I always had a hard time finding the Golden Egg).   So that even in trails and tribulations (which Vanderbilt was) as a follower of Christ, I have access to joy! (James 1:2)

And I stand here to tell you she was right, and Scott was the ‘Sturgeon Star’ (not me, I was a wilting tulip as Townes sat in my lap, ha, a story for another day). Scott showed Townes pictures from the hospital – fun ones – ones with nurses and Chick-fil-a, ones with his family and our friends, ones of us working and reading, the ones of us holding him.  Scott explained that he had to stay in the hospital a little longer than most other babies because we were waiting on the doctors to make his heart better. And then we shared the homecoming party parade (thanks Aunt Kiki and Uncle Wil) and his heart seemed full, overjoyed.

He hasn’t had any more queries yet, although, I am sure, in time, the questions will come.

While Scott was sharing all this with Townes, I was reminded that there was so much joy in the grief, so much praising in the disappointment, and so much gratefulness in the heartbreak. Perhaps one of the greatest gifts Scott and I experienced to the fullest when we walked out those exit doors of Vanderbilt on our way home as a family for the first time the Thursday before Easter was 1 Peter 1:8-9.

“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an in expressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

Anniversaries have a way of drawing us back in time – to celebration or sorrow. To joy or sadness. To shock or awe. To desperation or jubilation. And sometimes these emotions are tangled together forced to coexist.  

This week has held the weight of events to deeply mourn and a day to celebrate.  We received the news of Townes donor match on March 27th with his transplant surgery occurring in the wee morning hours of March 28th.  I remain thankful for the Lord’s mercy that I have the space for my heart to lament for the loss of a child one day and celebrate that’s child’s priceless gift and legacy on another.  This year, however, March 27th also marked the first anniversary of an unspeakable tragedy where the unfathomable loss of innocent lives occurred in our community. 

This week, this Holy Week, the sadness loomed.

Easter is an annual reminder of the Father’s great love that he would sacrifice his son for our sins (John 3:16) and then raised him from the dead (Matthew 29:5-6).

Jesus conquered death.

He bore not only our sins but our iniquities, and all diseases that day 2000 years ago when he innocently hung on a cross. Each of us so valuable in his eyes that he willingly knew how he was to die and chose to anyway – redemption.

And isn’t it amazing to be sitting on this side of the cross with the ability to confidently wait in anticipation of Sunday when we know the tomb was empty? Have you ever wondered how you would have responded if you were Mary Magdalene who discovered Jesus, your beloved friend, missing? (John 20:1-8)

For the past several years, I have spent considerable time contemplating the different perspectives of the disciples and others present on Good Friday all those years ago when Jesus took his last breath succumbing to death.

The one whom Jesus loved, presumably John, and as some believe the only disciple present, watched his mentor, teacher, and friend die not only an unfavorable death but an unjustly one. While John stood witness of Jesus torture have you ever wondered what emotions overtook him as Jesus charged him with the responsibility of looking after, Mary, his mother…was it honor? Fear? An unquestionable, yes? (Reference John 19)

How do you imagine Peter carried out his day knowing that his friend, the one Peter called the Messiah just days prior, who he betrayed not once but three times, was being beaten?  Then Jesus forced to drag the weight of his own death, the cross, towards Golgotha (John 19:17-41).

Was there remorse? Regret? Shame? Was he aware of the unquestionable grace already extended to him? Did he understand that as Jesus bore the weight of the cross on his back, it symbolized the weight of Peter’s betrayal?

Mary, Jesus’ mother, stood witness as her son, the son of God, was slain. I have often pondered from a mother’s perspective what she must have experienced – the excruciating pain. Did her own heart also rupture that day?

Have you ever contemplated why it was the “many women” in Jesus’ life that stood near as he bore the cross according to the gospel accounts of Matthew (27:55), Mark (15:40-41), Luke (23:27), John (19:25). Between the gospels, we can reasonably assume at least 6-8 women were present or watching from a distance as Jesus underwent the crucifixion while his disciples fled in fear of arrest (Mark 14:50)

And this year, I have thought a lot about the Roman soldiers who were present fulfilling their “duty”.  Scripture even tells us that these soldiers were participating in the mockery of Christ but as his death unfolded and the earth shook, they become terrified.  The terror shaking them to a realization they were wrong.

One centurion is quoted in Matthew 27 exclaiming that “Surely he was the son of God.” Did these men feel regret? Did they then live under the weight of a bad decisions? How heavy was the guilt – unbearable?

There are so many people a part of the crucifixion with different stories and responses – to me the accounts of the days leading up to his death on the cross and they crucifixion itself illustrates a picture of human condition.

I see myself in John, Peter, Thomas, Mary, and even the Roman soldiers. Our weaknesses pointing clearly to why I need a Savior.  Why I need Jesus. Do you relate too?

But isn’t the beauty found at the cross where Jesus gave his life for this very thing…the human condition to illustrate our worth, our value, and his great love? Jesus willingly gave up his life to break our chains and lead us into freedom. He so desperately desires a relationship with us that he went into darkness to give us a secure future in eternal life.

And the triumph and hope found because the tomb was empty. Jesus having given us the victory, atoning for our sins and giving us right standing with the Father.

So, as we celebrate this Easter, I am reflecting on Jesus’s pursuit of those who needed him after his death.

  • To Mary Magdalene he appeared and brought victory over despair. (Mark 16:9)
  • To his disciples he brought peace to their fear. (Luke 24:36-43)
  • To Thomas who could never totally believe, he offered gentleness and grace to help him believe. (John 20:26-31)
  • On the road to Emmaus Jesus gives order and understanding to Cleopas and another discipline in their confusion (Luke 24:13-27)
  • To Peter, he replaced his failure with confidence and charged him to lead (John 21)

So I stand in confidence knowing Jesus will continue to pursue me offering me wisdom, revelation and healing along the way. And I know he will do it for you too because He has Risen.

He has Risen Indeed!


Read More 

David & Goliath

David & Goliath

In some ways the beginning of 2023 seems so far away but yet when I realize its #GivingTuesday AGAIN, I am a little stunned. How? It came so fast! And here I find myself yet again, contemplating time. Time is slow. Time is fast. Time sifts me sometimes like a bag of...

The Much More

The Much More

Often over the years, I’ve found myself pondering God’s love, his grace. I’ve asked myself what does it look like to fully experience his love overflowing, to feel as though you are walking in his grace abounding? Have you? I know it happens, Townes’s miracles upon...

A Bushel of Sweetness with a Pinch of Salt

A Bushel of Sweetness with a Pinch of Salt

In some ways, it is hard to believe it’s been two months since Ella Jane made her debut! It has been a sweet sweet time with her, and she has proved to be not only a good, laid back and content baby, but shhhhhh, don’t tell many, a good sleeper too. The first two...

Proud Big Brother

Proud Big Brother

Ella Jane Stephensentered the world on Thursday, July 20thWeight: 8 lbs 2 ozLength: 19 3/4   Townes is proud and smitten with his "baby sister". He has wanted to hold her often and help me feed her a bottle. He frequently places his hand around her tiny...

Leave a comment.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *