It's a theme when you have my genes. This of course goes for the most obvious interpretation of that: everyone in my family eventually dies, and many of us believe in Jesus.... but that's not what I'm getting at. I think it all began with my brother Mike, back when his voice was still high and we called him Mikey-boy (I stopped calling him that around the time he learned to kill a human in 7 different ways using only his small toe and a paperclip).
On Mondays we would somewhat regularly have Family Home Evenings at our house. For those of you not familiar with the concept, here is an overview of what such an evening looked like:
1. Your dad gets out his recorder and makes you sing along to him playing it.
2. The family prays together (this is often when the younger family members try to make their escape since mom&dad are supposed to have their eyes closed. Never worked for me.)
3. The serious part. This can either consist of a small presentation/lesson prepared by any one of the family members on a subject they deem worthy of discussion, or it's a 'family council' where a new idea is proposed, discussed and voted on.
4. Game/activity time.
Sometimes these evenings were were so torturesome I had to find my inner happy place to make it through, but most of the time it was a lot of fun spending time together as a family, learning from eachother, and building memories. The funnest part about these evenings was that everyone played an important part in them. Everyone would be in charge of one or more of the items listed above, and they responsibilities rotated so that you did something different each week.
One week it was Mike's turn to take care of the serious part of the evening. I think he must have been around 8 or 9 at the time. He came up with the idea to teach us all about Christ's sacrifice for us and what we can learn from it. He worked hard at it: had visual aids, scriptural references, and a clear story outline. He even made a beautiful title board with a picture of Jesus on it and the title of his lesson. The title he gave his lesson was:
Jesus died from Michael.
Example two: Only a short while later, when we had the missionaries over for dinner one night, one of the elders was talking about his family at home and told us that he had one brother. My sister Marissa, without a second's hesitation, turned her head, looked him in the eye and asked: 'Is he dead??'.
Fast forward to present day and a little boy named Max. We took Max to get his medical examination in Amsterdam last week. Part of that exam was an eye check. The doctor made Max focus on a person in a photograph he had hanging on his wall. This person was walking in a field, surrounded by trees, holding a rifle and wearing a rain coat. When the check was finished and Max' vision was pronounced perfect, the doctor asked him 'Who is that person in the picture?', to which Max answered 'He has a gun. It's Jesus.'
When I put Max down for his nap I always tuck him in tight, give him a kiss and a cuddle, and softly whisper into his ear that I love him. This always makes him smile, and want to whisper in my ear as well. Instead of whispering 'I love you mommy', he says 'I KILL YOU!', and happily rolls over to his side, signalling that I may now leave his room.
Then there is one final example. An example that was no doubt fueled by recent Halloween celebrations (see pictures below). Last night I took Max and Elliot up to their room, got their diapers on, and tucked them into their beds. A quick kiss for Elliot did the trick. Max needed a little more because he had become very worried that there were ghosts hiding in his room. We checked the room together to make sure there were no ghostly stow-aways, but still I could tell he wasn't quite reassured of his own safety. Suddenly his face lit up and he shared his idea with me. He asked for his toy gun and added the following words: 'If a ghost comes, I will just ask Jesus to come, and then I'll shoot Jesus dead with my gun, and the ghost will be so scared that it will stay away!'.
I suppose it's my own fault for teaching my kids to use Jesus as an example.
Do you see what I'm talking about? Death and Jesus - it's a theme.
Anyway, here are the Halloween pictures. We had a great night baking sugar cookies, dressing up, going trick-or-treating around the neighborhood, and watching scary movies.