Thursday, April 12, 2012

Baby's first birthday! Keep icing on the cake please

'Excuse me, what is this blue stuff?'
Almost a year ago I was blogging about the recent birth of my son. Back then, I was a new dad for the second time in 10 years, sleep deprived and groggy. Today, my younger son is a year old, having just celebrated his first birthday on Easter Sunday.

For his first birthday party we came together for a small affair with just my wife’s family and an unfortunate pig. We enjoyed a honey-baked ham and potato salad with typical Southern trimmings – while little Simon had some sort of smashed-up green veggies and yogurt. Mmmmm.

All done with our meals, it was time for the cake.

Son #1's motto: tear into it like Christmas morning
Now, here’s a little history for you. A decade ago, for our first kid’s first birthday party, our local grocery store gave us a free “smash cake” with the purchase of a full-size birthday cake. Micah dug into that sweetness as if his life and happiness depended on it.

When he was finished, he was all smiles, with the blue and red icing smeared across his face. He looked like a tiny Hannibal Lecter in training.

What my wife and I have noticed – and it was apparent very early on – is that our second child is polar opposite from our first child on the personality spectrum. Number one is loud and squirmy; this one is still and quiet (relatively speaking). While the older one jumps in head-first, our new one likes to test the water with his toes.

In this case, the little one tested the frosting. It was sticky, and he didn’t like it.

As you can see from our pics, we’d learned our lesson the first time around, and stripped Simon down to his Huggies for the big event. Turns out, he could have worn his Easter Sunday best.

'Okay, why am I naked?'
One touch of the icing on his finger and he knew this was something he didn’t want any part of. If we wanted to put some of that cake in his mouth, he wasn’t going to object, but he wasn’t going to get it there on his own.

So I have about five minutes of video of my one-year-old, in his birthday suit, in a staring contest with his cake. While this will be a memory we’ll cherish, the video is almost certain not to make the cut on AFV.

I love being a dad, playing ball, giving whisker kisses, wrestling and laughing – sometimes with the kids – but in this case laughing at my new one-year-old, who couldn’t be any less like my 11-year old if he tried. They’re both great kids, and I’m learning the best way to be their dad one day at a time.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Easter gives new life, joyful salvation: He is Risen!

I remember my first Easter egg hunt. I was three years old, and along with about 30 other tots, had a grand time scouring the woods for the hundreds of brightly colored eggs lying hidden amongst the trees.

It was my first real competition, and if I recall correctly, I came home with eight eggs. I was much better at finding them than at actually keeping them in my little basket. Every time I’d bend down to pick up a new egg, I’d spill the others in the pine straw. My mom, bless her heart, kept running along behind me to make sure I scooped up all my fallen prizes.

I didn’t win the egg hunt that day, but it was my first lesson in the wonderment that is Easter.

Of course, back then Easter was mostly about the eggs, the chocolate, and the Easter dress (always pink), which either came from Sears or Pizitz at the tail-end of a day-long shopping adventure. I always knew there was more to the holiday, but as a little girl, that was what really jumped out. That, and the Easter Bunny.

Today, I reflect on a more meaningful Easter. Life can be tougher for an adult than it is for a child, and I think a lot more about the burdens many friends, relatives, and I, share.

The Gospels tell us Jesus made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem riding up the Jericho road on the back of an untainted beast of burden. He arrived as humble royalty, welcomed by the sound of adoration from many of his followers. Then He met with persecution, sentencing, and crucifixion, taking on a much greater burden as the weight of this world, our weight, came crashing down upon Him.

I realize all the more as time goes by how heavy this must have been. It leads me to thankfulness, worship, and repentance, that the untainted Son of Man would take this on for me… and for you.

Today I know how sweet this holiday is for celebrating His resurrection, how He completes me and restores my relationship with Creator God. I am relieved of, and forgiven the weight of my sin, a child of God with a reason to celebrate, and to love.

I hope you have a joyful Easter, free from burden. We worship a Risen King, who makes all things new for us when we believe and confess Him as our Savior.

This Easter, may you experience new life, and joy like the child I was, chasing after eggs with my mom.

“Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we've been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven…” – I Peter 1:3