Hazy Days

the shadow of the life to come

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Celebrating Jesus this Easter 2014

This year’s Easter weekend was a little different and a lot the same as previous years.  We’ve added and left off, but mostly we’ve stuck to the same traditions of the past few years, namely: resurrection eggs leading up to the Easter weekend, a passover dinner, resurrection cookies, resurrection garden and a special hunt with the wordless book (the last this year – something new and more grown up for next year is my aim!).  

We do a Messianic version of the passover meal.  The Bible says that Jesus is the messiah – the ultimate “passover lamb”.  He gave himself up to cleanse us of our sins.  Going through the passover dinner together, the symbols that point to Jesus are quite amazing.  This year, we had it at our home.  In the 8 years that we’ve done this, we’ve only had it at our house twice before.  It was fun to use our chalkboard wall for the purpose of the passover:

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We did the usual antics and such – Craig does a great job of keeping the evening light and entertaining for the kids, but without losing the depth and meaning. 

Here we all are, trying out the shofar:

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Hey – I managed to get a pretty awesome sound out of it!

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So did Micah.

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And my mom – she’s the queen of the shofar in our family.  And look how relaxed she looks!

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Craig got Kiera to light the candles this time – usually it is the oldest or “honoured” mother – so she felt pretty special to be the representative.

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Searching for the afikomen.  The kids searched hard and there was great disappointment when Kiera found it AGAIN.  By the time she is 12, she is no longer a kid and so this year was her last.

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Mom had bought the kids some glow-in-the-dark eggs from woolies – so that added to the evening fun.

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And we had a great yummy dessert thanks to Craig (and Bev for the family’s recipe!) … Mango Pudding!

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The next day, Saturday, the kids put together their resurrection garden.  It’s a lovely little activity that helps to illustrate the death and resurrection of Jesus.  On the Saturday night, the garden has a closed tomb and is sad and alone.

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When I went to bed, I noticed that our garden had acquired a few Lego people – mourners at the cross and a guard by the tomb!

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Then, the nexxt morning, the children wake up to an open tomb and flowers representing new life and the joy of the gift of Jesus!

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Pretty chuffed kids enjoying their breakfast on Easter Sunday.

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Also on the Saturday night, the kids make resurrection cookies.  These little meringues tell the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection.  Each step in the process of the recipe is accompanied with bible verses that tell the story.

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Once the mixture is in the oven, the kids “seal” the tomb with tape – not to be opened until the next day.

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On Sunday morning, Kiera got to open the last of the Resurrection Eggs – these guys also tell the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection – starting when he entered Jerusalem on a donkey. 

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All these little traditions around Easter time may sound like overkill.  Just writing about them, I’m aware of the branding of “resurrection” to just about every activity.  I can imagine how overwhelming it may all seem to families who don’t have these particular traditions in their home.  Even I feel a tad overwhelmed just writing this all up – it certainly sounds like overkill!  Yet, drop just one of these activities and I would have mutiny on my hands!  The kids talked constantly of resurrection cookies and gardens and eggs and passover dinners and more for weeks coming up to Easter.  Any suggestion of dropping an activity or tradition was met with a solidly negative response.  Absolutely not!  It makes my heart smile.  Because when we came up with all these little traditions (and by ‘came up’, I mean ‘scoured the Internet and stole all the best ideas’) we wanted to establish traditions in our kids’ lives that pointed to Jesus – especially around Christmas and Easter when it’s so easy to surround them with gifts and mythical creatures to create excitement and hype.  We want them to look fondly back on their childhood while remembering how the truths of the gospel were reinforced in some of their happiest memories.  We don’t have to do these things to reinforce the truth of the gospel.  But, as parents, we are called biblically to teach our children and gospel to them.  That can happen just about any way, with or without crafts and such!  It should happen in the normal rhythm of daily life.  It definitely doesn’t need special occasions.  In fact, I’d rather have the “normal rhythm gospel focus” with absolutely no “special occasion gospel focus” than the other way around.  But a mix is good too – which is why, when special occasions do present themselves, we’ve chosen to mark them with these special traditions.

And, who doesn’t like crunchy yummy meringues?

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The open and empty tomb – the sweetest symbol of the sweetest gift from God!

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Another tradition we started about 4 years ago with Kiera we got to do again this year.  When one of our children can read well enough that they’re starting to read chapter books with some fluency, we give them their very own Adult Bible on Resurrection Sunday.  We each write a special message to the child concerned and present it at breakfast time.  Sam has been anticipating his for the past few months – and thank goodness, because I almost forgot this year!  He talked about nothing much else for the weeks coming up to Easter.  Forget eggs, hunts, dinners or cookies.  Sam was interested only in receiving his Bible.  I had no idea that this tradition had left such an impact on him – seeing his sisters receive theirs.  After all, he was only 3 and then 5 when the girls got theirs.  But, I am glad for his enthusiasm.  My prayer is that he will faithfully read it in all his years.

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After breakfast, we did our Wordless Book treasure hunt.  Usually, we do this after church or later in the afternoon, but this year we were heading to Craig’s family for Sunday lunch where the hunt idea was kept low key so as not to confuse the kids with the varying views on Easter. 

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The kids found eggs and chocolate in the wordless book colours and then we went through the poem – each colour representing an aspect of the story of the world.

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Of course, everyone loves the white eggs most!

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Lunch was delicious – very delicious!  Cam and Bron made a wonderful lamb shwarma meal with all sorts of delicious goodies.  Yum yum!

And we all got to meet the newest Hayes – little Maya, born to Murray and Ali (their third child and third daughter).

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Proud grandparents!

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Cousins!

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Awww!  Craig holding babies always makes me all mushy inside!

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A fitting end to a wonderful weekend celebrating new birth through Jesus’ saving gift of life!

For other posts on the various traditions we do around Easter time, including recipes, detailed “how to”s and other ideas, head to the Easter tagged posts (this post that you are reading will appear first – just scroll down and you’ll find the rest):  Easter at  Hazy Days.

December 2013

December 2013 was busy busy busy. We still had school to do:

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As if we hadn’t had enough of renovations, we decided to repaint the playroom, which meant removing all the books off the shelves, priming and painting and then putting everything back.

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Every surface covered, hence school in the first picture at the coffee table…

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The kids had loads of practices for the St James Church annual Carol service.  Finally it was time for the dress rehearsal:

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The same weekend saw us enjoying our last (or is it second last?) Postcards from Bethlehem event – a special carol service especially for age 6 and under.

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Mr Micah originally refused to be a part of it in any way, but then was the first guy up for the photo!

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We celebrated my Dad’s 71st at Café Roux.  IMG_2925

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Katie got her special Book Exchange book from Oz.  Kiera’s never arrived, sadly.

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When Nelson Mandela passed away, the country spent a good two weeks in mourning and celebration of his life.  Cape Town held a special memorial service – free to anyone who could get to the stadium with free tickets.  We took advantage of the free train and bus services and headed off there.  We, being me and the kids, along with the VBs.  We got a little patriotic …

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It was a really special time remembering a man who left an indelible print on the lives of all South Africans.

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The night sky was stunning and served to remind us that no man is as glorious as God himself.

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We left around 9pm as young kids needed to head to bed.  But there was NO transport home.  We didn’t realise that the trains weren’t running until 12pm again – to take the last people home from the memorial at the Cape Town stadium.  So, long story short, we resorted to a rather hair-raising taxi-ride home.  The kids were terrified – the loud swear-word-ridden music, the driver who texted while he swerved between cars and overtook on the left, narrowly missing scraping the taxi on the right – these were just a few of the things that had our kids convinced they were going to die.  It was quite hilarious, actually.  It was one of those situations where you could either freak out or laugh.  Ingrid and I chose to laugh at our kids – except in this photo when we decided to imitate them!  Ingrid is by far the more dramatic one! Smile Kiera’s face is pretty authentic though.  Of course, they LOVE telling this story now.  It’s one of those “the worst decisions make the best stories” scenarios. 

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The fact that I am writing this and that two days later, Craig and I got to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary is testimony to the fact that we survived.  Our anniversary began with gifts from the kids:

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And then a wonderful overnight stay at Monkey Valley, courtesy Craig’s organisational skills.

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Craig even organised a horse-ride on the beach!  Quite something, since he has never wanted to ride a horse since my mom and I giggled when my mom tried to give him some riding tips on Sally the horse at Klondyke Cherry Farm back in 1993.  He quite enjoyed the ride on Noordhoek beach.  He looks good up there!

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When we got home, we took the kids off to the Grand Parade where the public could leave messages and sign memory books in honour of Nelson Mandela.

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With our sign and a sign that Katie picked up. 

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Photographically, not the best photo ever, but symbolically, so special – to think that 20 years ago this was not a common photo at all…

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Craig’s folks blessed us with a holiday to Sun City in December.  It was a lovely time and the kids were super excited – can you tell?

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Although, they were oftentimes VERY tired…

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We were visited regularly by the Resident Peacock…

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Too Cute Joe-Joe

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And Mr Micah

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Our flight home was cancelled or delayed or something along those lines – this is when technology is very handy:

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Home again to more work in the playroom.  Unpacking!  IMG_3260

This involved some heavy lifting for Craig and Russel:

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Towards the end of the school year, I was invited to a couple of places to speak about Seekers.  One was Cherry’s school in Tokai.  The kids were really sweet and asked a ton of questions.  It was fun chatting with them.

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One Sunday, Craig organised Mango Groove tickets to the the Kirstenbosch open air event especially for his Mango Groove-fan family (he, not so much).

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The Joostes joined us…

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Fun fun fun!

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Finally, the playroom was complete:

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I never receive flowers – well, just about never.  I like them but they’re not on my love language list.  But, in one week, I received three bunches and they were all so beautiful, I took photos (I have a habit of letting flowers die quicker than they should.  But these guys all lasted!)

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Our Lunch Bunch Year End 2013 event was held at Caren’s house.  But with the fun of the slip-and-slide:

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The kids performed some musical items…

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And we watched our 6th annual year-end slide show:

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Lots of smiles and laughs!

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Craig’s company’s year end was a Gatsby Themed evening.  We had fun dressing up…

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Kiera and I got to be narrators, along with Tim, for the Carol Service – we had a bit of a giggle as the narrators were all homeschool representatives in some way or another.  Me as a homeschool mom, Kiera as a current homeschooler and Tim as a former homeschooler (all graduated).

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The cutest kids at the service were these three…

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Aw!  Amy S – looking like an angel.

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Uncle Willy’s again!  As always, a huge hit with the kids and family…

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Christmas Eve saw us doing the usual – our Christmas nativity…

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We kept things low key, with supper on our laps in the lounge and carols by candlelight there too.

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Kirsty brought her boss and friend, Simon.  Funny how since I’ve written Seekers with the main character being Simon – well, now I seem to bump into Simons all over the place!

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Craig was behind the camera for the above shots – and this one too.

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Christmas Morning – Mr Micah excited to be opening his stocking gift (filled with must-haves for the following year like school supplies and such!)

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Christmas lunch at Granny and Gaa’s – here Kiera chats with Gran-Gran…

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Christmas lunch! Yum yum!

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This was a delicious pudding by my mom – the perfect “christmas pudd” for a summery Christmas.

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Down to Hermanus between Christmas and New Year for a short holiday – we didn’t stay for New Year’s like we usually do, thanks to the enormous amount of work still waiting for us at home.  It was still fun, none-the-less:

The kids scored some boogie boards for Christmas from Granny Sally and Grandpa Peter, so off to the beach they went:

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Kiera enjoyed digging herself into the sand.  She’s doing the splits under there – with her legs on the left and right of her body (not front to back).  Ouch!

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Craig made some chocolate flapjacks – yup, the man is on holiday mode when he’s baking or cooking something yummy.

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Scrabble!  Can’t remember who won, but it definitely wasn’t me!

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Katie making mince pies with Granny.

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Oh – right, here’s who won!

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Boys wearing their Christmas socks on their heads!

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New Year’s Eve was a just-us event – so much fun! I was keen for a party, but it’s not fun for the kids to be dumped for the evening.  So, at the last minute we chose to make the evening fun for US.  And it was such fun.  The kids really enjoyed it and I think it’s something we should repeat in years to come, with other families too.

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Clearly, it was much enjoyed – and a great way to end 2013!

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Resurrection Sunday 2013

Driving to church today, I remarked to Craig that we have such a sense of joyous hope.  You know that feeling of anticipation about something you’re certain is going to happen?  Most of humankind experience that to one degree or another, often numerous times in their lives: looking forward to the first day of school or looking forward to a wedding day or new baby or new car or home or whatever. That sense of joy and anticipation is butterflies in the tummy, it’s chest-rising waves of tearful emotion, it’s choking elation.  Today, I realised, that the anticipation of Jesus’ return is the ultimate joyful anticipation. 

Because: it’s the only event that we can look forward to that lasts beyond this world.  Everything else fades.  School passes.  Marriages end, with death in the best of circumstances.  Babies grow, cars break, homes stand empty.  But, Jesus is forever.  Jesus’ promises are forever.  And the hope we have in Him, that all-consuming joyous certain hope is forever.

It makes me want to sing from the mountain tops:

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

And it’s why I made it my Facebook status update this morning along with the rest of the words and the music here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLy8ksqGf9w

For I am His and He is mine – Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

It was that song we listened to this morning as we read the last Scripture in our selection before we “opened” the tomb from our Resurrection Cookies last night.

Micah, was not impressed.  He wanted to eat breakfast and so sat in protest on the other side of the counter, while the others came to break the seal of the tomb.

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You can see their names now – they insisted I write their names on their tape!  Funny kids.

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Once Micah realised that he couldn’t eat breakfast until the oven was free in order to bake buns for breakfast, he came down and played his part with a better attitude!

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Ah!  These guys came out beautifully.  Cracked, like the rocks of the earthquake that struck the land when Jesus died.  Hollow inside, like the empty tomb of Jesus.  And full of bits of almond nuts  –  definitely the best type of nut to include in this recipe.  Tasty and yet not overpowering. 

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We enjoyed chocolate hot cross buns for breakfast.  Unfortunately, they weren’t as nice as they looked.  Which is really sad, because they looked amazing.  They were a bit bitter – milk chocolate would’ve gone down better with my lot!

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Although, Katie really did enjoy them!

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After a beautiful service at St James, we headed to the Hayes Snr’s home – Craig’s folks.  They have the best garden for hiding things.  We started with a hunt of the Resurrection Eggs that we’ve been using for the past few years.  The idea is to open one per day for 12 days before Easter.  Each egg contains a small symbol that tells a little of the Easter story.  For example, the first egg has a little plastic donkey inside – we get to talk about the day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and what this meant.  The other symbols are things like a small cup, a piece of linen, a small rock, a small strip of leather as a whip, a small crown of thorns, a nail and more.  The last egg is empty – representing the empty tomb of the Risen Lord.  This year, like last year, we decided to hide all the eggs and let the kids hunt for them.  What fun! 

I gave Kiera the opportunity to help hide them, since she is 10 now.  She agreed and did a great job of hiding the eggs.

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And then the rest of the Hayes kids came to hunt for them.  Little Phoebe was delighted with the hunt. Seeing her cute face was such a treat.

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Once they’d gathered all 12 eggs, we talked about what the symbols in each egg meant.  They scored a little sweet for every egg they popped into the tray, once we’d finished talking about the symbol

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While we were discussing the meaning of the eggs, Craig hid the chocolate versions in the garden, while Granny came bearing Easter gifts.  Every year she gives the kids a gift of an item of clothing and a chocolate.  Well, the kids were thrilled with their gifts (for the most part!)

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Finally, after a yummy lunch a-la Bev, it was time to hunt for some eggs…

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The kids did really well, but they needed some guidance.  Like this little series of Micah.  Cam pointed him towards the general direction.  Can you see the egg?  It’s that little blueish thing sitting in the leaves to the right of Micah, just below his head level.  Well, don’t worry if you can’t see it, because he couldn’t either!

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With much pointing, he eventually got it…

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Thanks Uncle Cam for pointing it out to me!

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Uncle Cam was totally in his element, pointing out all the goodies to the kiddies. 

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Actually, everyone was in their element.

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And there were quite a few adult-people scrambling about in the bushes ‘helping’ the kids too! Smile 

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Finally, dessert was in order for the parents.  Yum yum.  Craig and Cam are tucking into Bev’s famous mango pudding.  They had only eaten lunch as an obligatory intro to the main course – the mango pudding!

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While Katie helped entertain our littlest cousin – Sarah.

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Cam showed Micah how to put his Kinderegg toy together.  So sweet watching and listening to these two figure out the engineering required to make it all work.

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Later that afternoon, the girls got stuck into some Easter crafting. 

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Every year, I try to do an Easter craft to the theme of the Wordless Book.  The idea is to incorporate the colours red, white, green, yellow and black.  Each colour represents a part of the gospel story.  This year, I used a great idea on Shirley Erwee’s site  that suggested using the tried-and-tested crayon and ink art idea for an Easter scene.  Joining that up with the Wordless Book colours, resulted in this:

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Pictures of the Cross of Jesus in white with the colours of the Wordless Book telling the story of the gospel.  I love the vibrancy!  What fun the kids had.

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Granny was game and did some beautiful pictures…

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I tried my hand at a couple too…

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And here is one of Phoebe’s – love it!

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And Katie’s…

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The boys did the same project for Lunch Bunch last week (I was testing it out on them!) so they opted to keep building Lego castles with Dad.  Craig had a ball playing with all his old Lego from when he was Sam’s age.  Fun fun fun!

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We brought the Resurrection Cookies for the family to share.  Yummy, Gaa?

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Yummy indeed!

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We headed home today around 4pm and did the whole bath, bed routine about an hour and a half early.  The kids are bushed!  As I write, it’s just on 7pm and the kids have all been in bed for an hour already.  I could get used to this!

What I hope never to get used to, however, is that awesome sense of joy I referred to at the beginning of this post.  What an amazing gift it is to know Jesus and to be called His own.  Worthy is the Lamb indeed!

Resurrection Cookies 2013

I’m having so much fun looking back on the years we’ve been celebrating Easter with our various traditions – seeing how much the kids have grown and remembering the funny things from each year: priceless!   Saturday night is traditionally Resurrection Cookie night.

The first time we did these was in 2007, but we started recording them here on the blog in 2008.  Aren’t these two munchkins cute?

Here they are in 2009

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2010 

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2011

2012

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And now – 2013:

We’ve finally got these cookies down – in our 6th year!

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And the kids love this exercise!  Sam got totally into it – going full steam with the electric egg beaters.  Kiera’s expression is indicative of her pre-teen scepticism with all things vaguely weird.

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The girls took turn reading passages from the Bible that highlights each step in the cookie-making process – which, in turn, highlights each step in Jesus’ last moments before His death.  Sam was most put out that he has to wait another year before he is allowed to read aloud from the Bible.  Poor kid.  He can read, but still struggles with big words.  Next year boy!

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The joy of meringue!

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Finally – sealing the tomb!  The kids asked that I write their names on their sticky tape – guess there will be absolutely no cheating from me. That oven is staying CLOSED tonight!

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Mr Sambo looking pleased with himself! 

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We will open up the “tomb” tomorrow to reveal the resurrection cookies.  They’re really meringues with bits of almond nuts in them.  But their hollow insides remind us of the empty tomb – so very symbolic of our Lord rising again from the dead and conquering sin.  That really knocks me in the chest when I dwell on it.  We are nothing.  Nothing.  In the grand scheme of things, we human beings are a bunch of narcissistic, self-serving, opinionated slothful conglomeration of cells.  And yet, God DIED for us.  That act alone proves the very thing that everyone believes of themselves:  we are so much more than the mere bunch of high-functioning, yet highly immoral, cells that makes us humans.  We are the very image-bearers of God.  And He loves us so much that He sacrificed Himself to save us from the mess we are.  How can we not but fall at His feet in worship?  

Oh we can … for He rose again.  He conquered death.  He lives and through Him we can live too.   

Thank you, Jesus! 

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