With the approach of Easter this year, Justin and I found ourselves reflecting on how easy it is for both ordinary days and special days alike to slip by without making what is central in our faith equally central in our family conversations. Obviously we want our children's days to be marked by joy and laughter and the lighthearted stuff (egg hunts, candy, make-believe, silliness) that we believe should in many ways characterize the early years. And yet, we also believe that the patterns and traditions of our special times as well as our ordinary times are very quickly being established, whether we're being deliberate about it or not. So this year, this Easter, we were given the grace to be a little more intentional, and one of the ways we did this was to make an Easter Garden together. (I'm not the creative type who comes up with such ideas... but this woman is.) The centerpiece of our 'garden', the centerpiece of our table was a Cross, a visual for the kids, and a prompter for the parents, amid much hustle and bustle, to remember, to offer thanks.
With Jake now being four, our conversations have deepened. I'm surprised with the questions that a kid that age asks... and I just hope and pray that I'll be given the grace to answer with wisdom. These past days I was thankful for quiet moments with my firstborn to speak to him about our hopes and prayers for him, to share with him our deepest desire for him.
"There are so many things that we want for you, Jake. We want you to be happy, and healthy, and strong. We want you to be a boy who grows in kindness, in your ability to love your parents and your brother and sister. We're so thankful for the ways that we already see so many of these wonderful things in you, Jake. But do you know that the thing we want most for you, the thing that we pray for more than anything else, is that one day you would be given faith in Jesus. Above all else, Jake, we pray that you would believe that Jesus died for your sins and was raised back to life."
And of course, if this son of mine chooses a different path, if he doesn't one day share my faith, it won't change my love for him one tiny little bit. In fact, there is nothing that any one of my three kids could do that would lessen my love and acceptance of them. That's the truth. And yet, how my heart yearns to see Jake, and Joshua, and Ella Grace come to faith in my Saviour.
Easter Morning - the boys opened cards from Grammy and Grampy Eby, and also awesome little Easter bags from their Aunt Sarah. (In each of the cards from their New York Great-Grandparents was a five dollar bill. They were SO excited!! it boggles my mind how enthused kids are to be given money. Consumerism sure does begin young!)
Some family pictures taken after church.
These pictures of my baby girl have a profound significance for me. The dress she is wearing was hand crocheted by Ella Grace's Great Grandmother Turnbull 33 years ago. Grannie made this for me when I was a baby. My mom has pictures of me wearing it. My Grannie passed away earlier this year... and so this tiny little dress is a piece of my Grannie that I will treasure, and one day, Lord willing, pass down to Ella Grace if she is blessed with a daughter of her own.
Following our morning service, we were so thankful to have a bunch of our West Toronto church family join us for an afternoon of sweet fellowship and yummy food.
We find ourselves at a truly blessed time in church life where many of our church family are newer friends... and this was such a great afternoon to get to know some of these folks better and to grow in friendship with them.
We concluded our Easter weekend with Jill leading us in a few hymns. A moment of vivid grace for me, for a bunch of different reasons, was hearing voices in our living room sing out these words:
Ever since, by faith, I saw the stream, Thy flowing wounds supply, redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die. Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die.