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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.

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! 

Passover 2013

As with the past few Passovers, we celebrated this year on Good Friday.  But our day began, not in Hermanus as it usually does over Easter, but in our own home and in our own home church where we heard a great sermon on the Faith.  I also got to wish my big sister Happy Birthday – the last time her birthday coincided with Good Friday was 2002.  That’s a pretty cool day to share for your birthday!

This year, our Passover came full circle.  We had our first Passover meal at our house as a family way back in 2007 when Kiera and Katie were just 2 and 4 years old!

Here’s Craig and I looking way more than 6 years younger!

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And Katie and Kiera look positively TINY in these photos…

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Since then, we’ve done Passover every year in Hermanus.  We don’t get to take holidays too often, but the long Easter weekend is a brilliant opportunity to head out to Hermanus and spend holiday time with my folks.  So, for the past 5 years, we’ve enjoyed the Passover meal at my parents house.  But this year, with my folks in Israel, we decided to enjoy Passover back home in CT, which gave us an opportunity to invite others to join our table.  This year Craig’s folks came along as well as the Tubmans.

Being in Cape Town, also gave me an opportunity to have fun decorating the table (I didn’t get into the spirit of table decor this Christmas – whatever creative desire may have been lurking around then was channelled into the Passover table!)

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This year I included in the Haggadah (the order of and instruction of the meal) some info as to why we do Passover. 

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It’s something I’ve spoken to on this blog before in previous posts about Passover. Most simply though – the Passover story is about God rescuing his people from slavery in Egypt. He uses Moses to confront Pharaoh. God does indeed rescue his people, specifically after the plague of the death of the firstborn son, when he instructs the Israelites to paint the blood of the lamb on their doorposts. In obedience to Him, the Israelites (and others) who did this would not face death in their home. Instead the angel of death would pass over their homes. The lamb that was slain for the blood on the doors was called the Passover Lamb. This story in the Bible is one of many that foreshadows Jesus. It boils down to the fact that Jesus came to earth to be the Ultimate Passover Lamb. He is referred to as such numerous times in the New Testament. And the symbolism of the traditional Passover meal as practiced by the Jews is remarkable in how it points to Jesus too. So, we like to celebrate this tradition through the eyes of the New Testament – knowing that Jesus, who also most likely shared in a Passover meal with his disciples at the last supper, fulfils everything that the Jewish Passover seder speaks to and hopes for.  It’s not something we feel that all Christians must do – it’s certainly not mandated for Christians in the Bible.  But, we’ve chosen to do it because it really does such a great job of highlighting the fact that God planned for the coming of His Son right from the very beginning. 

As with each year, we blew the shofar (or tried to blow the thing!)

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And as with every year, there were LOTS of giggles and laughs!

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Craig once again did a great job leading us and keeping it light and fun for the kids too.

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Although, you’d swear by the expression of the boys in these two photos that it was super-serious time.

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One thing that went down a treat was the matza – my kids love the stuff!

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Personally, I prefer this food – yummy lamb, potato bake and veggies.  I had nothing to do with any of it.  I was going to do the lamb, but Craig kindly stepped in (good thing too, because it was DELICIOUS!).  Bev made a yummy potato bake and Hayley brought a tray of very tasty roast veg.  I can’t do what she does with veg.  I need lessons!

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After dinner, the kids had to hunt for the “afikomen” – the middle piece of matza that represents Jesus’ body.  These kids were seriously hyped.  Can you see? 

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Mad dash to search happening over here!  The kids went wild. 

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Where oh where is it?

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Where?

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Ah!  Kiera found it.

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Micah was so disappointed that he didn’t find it – he had a little cry.  But he was soon cheerful again when his daddy started back with the programme. 

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We shared in communion after that and soon our meal was over.  But, the fun wasn’t over for the kids.  After dessert, they got to hunt for glow-in-the-dark eggs that Craig spotted at Woolies a while ago and bought for the kids. 

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I had no idea that Ben was pulling that face until I pulled the pics off my phone!  Funny little boy!

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Listening so diligently, these littlies!

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And then?  Off with the hunt!  Look at them.  So sweet!

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They loved the glow-in-the-dark aspect.

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And the UV torches too!

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All in all, the kids and the families had a wonderful time as did we.  What a beautiful evening celebrating the most significant act in history foreshadowed by one pretty amazing story of redemption. 

I hope you have a blessed Easter weekend!

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