Sunday, March 27, 2016

How We Observe Passover

For the past several years, we have chosen to observe Passover on Easter weekend. It has become a very special time for our crew and is typically the main focus of our Easter (as the Easter bunny doesn't stop at our house.)

 We use a simple step-by-step Passover Seder booklet from VSB has a free download of the booklet as well as a hard copy that you can purchase. You will need one booklet per person (who can read) in your household. This booklet tells you everything you will need, how to set it up and has the complete reading for the seder. It's kid friendly, too.

I've made a very simple Passover plate image that we print, cut out (on the large outer circle) and place on a paper plate for each participant. We also play lovely piano music from Anne Voskamp's website (look for a little music note in the top right corner of her home page). This year, I printed out a few Passover coloring sheets to engage the younger children during the seder. 

We also have a beautiful seder set that was given to us by a dear friend. But let me tell you, we have done our seder with everything from paper plates and plastic cups to sticks representing the shankbone of the lamb. We aren't concerned so much with having everything perfect as we are about having a time to observe the connection between the Old Testament deliverance of the Israelites and the New Testament death, burial and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

And that's what's so amazing about this booklet and the New Testament observance of the Passover: nothing that happened in the Bible is coincidental. The stories are full of symbolism and events that happened thousands of years apart but yet are tied together through God's providence. 

If you are interested in doing a Passover seder with your family, friends or church, you haven't missed out just because Easter is over. The actual Passover is on April 23rd this year. We choose to do it on Easter weekend because we don't do any secular observances of Easter so we like to have this to look forward to instead. 

I know this didn't go into detail of the hows and whys of doing a Passover seder but you can check out the booklet and website for more information. Instead, I hope this posts whets your appetite for learning more!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Mom, Do I Have To?

"Mom, why do have to go to the funeral? Funerals are so sad."

Yes, I was met with this question a couple of days ago as four of my children and I got ready to attend the funeral of a dear southern belle who passed this weekend. Sure, it would be nice to cover up the fact that my children questioned the reason for their required attendance and just make it look like they were willing volunteers but I'm going to be transparent as a parent here... I made them go.

I guess no one is really surprised that some of my children (or any child, for that matter) weren't jumping at the chance to go to a funeral. But maybe you're surprised that I insisted. Well I did, and here's why:

There's a lot of tragedy in this world and far too many lives snuffed out way to soon. But this funeral was for a lovely woman who lived to be 93 years young and she made each of those years count.  I wanted my children to see the impact of a life well lived. I wanted them to see pictures of her throughout her life and to realize that the gray haired people they meet were kids once, too. That they had brothers and sisters and parents.  And that they eventually had wedding days and babies and... life. Full, abundant life.

I wanted them to hear stories from that life. Stories that evoke laughter, fond remembrances and maybe even a few tears.

I wanted them to see that life is to be celebrated and that the end of a life that impacted others for 93 years should be especially marked with a time of pause to reflect on that impact. It is out of respect and reverence that we go to be a part of that time of reflection.

On the flip side, it was important to me that they see that a life well lived leaves a pain well felt. When someone lives their life in a way that focuses so much on others, the shock of moving on without them is hard hitting, even when that someone is ready to go home... even when that someone has lived a full and meaningful life. It's because their life was meaningful that those left behind are left with an indelible mark that brings deep sadness, no matter the circumstances surrounding their passing.

When we're young, it's easy to think that we're immortal and to only focus on the here and now. Attending this very special funeral (which was more of a celebration of life) helped my children see the full circle of life and we all need to be reminded of that. On the way to the service, I pointed out to my kids that everyone they could see in every car on the road would one day die. Everyone here on earth is only wearing a temporary suit that they will one day shed as they pass into eternity. I reminded my kids to think of that day when they trade the earthy for the eternal and to ask themselves how they want to be remembered. What would really matter then? For the friend that just passed, it was her love and devotion to the Lord that persisted in the minds of her family and friends. Her laughter, easy-going temperament and her undying service to others also remained. This was a powerful message for all of us, not just my kids.

It's easy to take the kids to the park, ball games and Chuck E. Cheese. They'll line up for those things, fighting over a seat in the car. Not so much for funerals. But, as a mom, I believe that the lessons learned from a life well lived will far outlast a day at the park or a pocketful of tokens from a pizza place's game room. I have to remember to not always go for the easy. It's in the hard that character is shaped.