Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I would have to say that this Easter was sweeter than it's ever been. Thanks to my two year old. Unlike years past, when I let the holiday rush by because I was more focused on the logistics of travel and family plans for Easter lunch, this year, I spent less time worrying about the logistics (perhaps because we decided to stay home) and more time focusing on how to tell the Easter story to my children (mainly my two year old, since my 10 month old little girl is probably a little young). I had been polling parents the week before for ideas on how to celebrate and teach the story of Easter to their toddlers. One of the common practices shared among other Christian moms was the idea of the resurrection eggs. You take 12 plastic eggs and fill each one with a symbol that represents Jesus and the Easter story. For example, one egg has 3 nails, representing the nails in his hands and feet. Another nail has a thorn, representing the thorn in his crown. And so on. Honestly, I didn't even get that far. All I did was the egg with the nails in it. It was Good Friday when I sat down to teach him the story. It was late afternoon, after naps, which isn't always the most receptive time or "happy heart" time of the day for him. But God was gracious because that day, He was incredibly sweet and mellow and just seemed to want to spend time with mom. Ellie was still in her crib sleeping, so it was just me and Marshall, seated at our wooden kitchen table, with a few plastic eggs and a big blank sheet of paper and some crayons. I began with drawing the Easter story. I drew the cross and asked him what it was. He knew it, thanks to school and bible study mornings with his teachers. I drew Jesus on the cross. That's when I got hesitant. Would this be too gruesome for a 2 year old? Should I leave out the picture of Jesus on the cross? Should I not talk about the crucifixion. But a good friend who I respect and who works as a full-time nanny and who loves Jesus said to me, "It is never too early to talk about the cross." I believe she is right. She explained that as parents, we are building a foundation for our children right now. What foundation do I want to build? One that says that they get whatever they want? That they should be happy in life? That they can achieve their dreams? No. To me, the most important foundation for my children is that they know that we are sinners saved by grace. That God came down to us and died a gruesome death so that we can be reconciled and restored to a right relationship with him. That to me, is the foundation I want to build for my children above all else. Because everything else is secondary. So I proceeded. I drew Jesus on the cross, explaining the nails in his hands and his feet. Then I showed Marshall actually nails and a hammer. I showed him how they hammered the nails into his hands and his feet and how it was a very sad day. I talked about he cried out to his daddy, asking for help. I talked about how he was hurting and in pain but that he did it for us, for me, for you, for Marshall, for Ellie, for everyone. Because he loves us. I was amazed at how quiet Marshall was through it all. He held the nails in his hands and turned them over in his palm. Then he pointed to his feet and said, "Jesus boo boo." And I said, "that's right, Marshall. Jesus had some boo boo's that hurt very bad. He was very sad and he cried. But he did it for us. Because he loves us." Then, we talked about him dying and taking him off the cross and putting him in the tomb and how that was very sad. And I left him hanging for a bit. "Do you know what happened next, Marshall?" My eyes lit up and his did the same. He seemed to understand that was not all to the story. I drew the tomb with the rock rolled away and an angel on the rock. I explained that when the women went to the tomb to anoint him with oils, he was not there. "Where was Jesus, Marshall?" I said with a smile. And this is what blew me away. He began to sing "He is risen. He is risen." It was a song he had learned in his children's bible study class. I smiled. "Exactly!" And I began to sing with him. The rest of the Easter weekend, I continued to ask him what happened to Jesus. And he would tell me: Jesus had nails in his hands and his feet and he was very sad. He died on the cross. But then, he is risen! I was blown away by how much he could repeat back to me. And maybe that's all it is at this point - repeating words back to me. But that's okay, because he is building a foundation. And that foundation is on the truth that Jesus died for you and me, a sinner's death on calvary, by his blood we are saved. Hallejujah! On Easter Sunday morning during the worship service, I felt a deeper appreciation of the cross and what Jesus did for me. Something about saying it over and over with my little boy made me appreciate it in a deeper way. It is such a simple truth, but so profound. Thank you, Jesus, for what You did on the cross for all of humanity. Thank you for taking our places and dying a death that we could never die and paying the price that we could never pay. And thank you, Lord, for using my little two year old to teach me a greater appreciation of the cross. May Easter continually live on in our hearts...

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