Author Archive

COVID-19 is a lot more nuanced than you think

March 9th, 2020

Coronavirus is on everyone’s mind – or so it seems.

Scrolling through Facebook reveals the diversity of viewpoints. There are the preppers who are telling everyone “I told you so.” There are the antivaxxers eager to claim conspiracy theories and sell you on elderberry syrup, Vitamin C, and essential oils (sorry folks, not gonna help). There is the “stop freaking out and just wash your hands” contingent who urge common sense. And there are, of course, those who compare COVID to the flu and wonder why nobody freaks out about flu.

I agree wholeheartedly with the advice to not freak out. I agree to wash hands. I agree to stay home when you’re sick. These are common sense measures to be sure.

But with something like COVID, there’s a lot we don’t know. We don’t know how contagious it is. We don’t know when someone is contagious. We don’t even have a clear idea of what mild but contagious looks like. Most of all, we have no idea whether it’s present in our communities and where – and, under current screening guidelines, we won’t know unless someone travels to an endemic area or gets seriously ill.

And that is a problem.

It’s springtime in Kansas, which means it’s the time that Garcia family allergies kick into high gear. Sneezing, coughing, runny noses. Par for the course. But what if this year, allergies and mild or asymptotic COVID (which are reportedly likely in people of our risk profile) are comingled in our family? We could be exposing everyone we see even if I’m taking ordinary “sensible” measures to control allergies.

Thankfully, or not, depending on your perspective, whatever we’ve got is definitely not just allergies. We’ve got fevers along with our coughing. Which means we might have a common cold, we might have influenza (with the flu shots we all got at the beginning of the season explaining our relatively mild cases), or we might have COVID.

Wisdom regarding influenza says stay home until you’ve been fever free for 24 hours without the assistance of fever reducers. But we don’t know much about COVID transmission. We do know that it spreads relatively easily, and in some cases asymptomatically.

So when will it be safe for our family to venture into the wild without putting others at risk? Who knows.

But unless one of us gets seriously ill and has to receive medical treatment (which is less likely since the majority of young, otherwise well people only experience mild cases of COVID), we don’t qualify for testing. Which means we’ve got to assume that it’s COVID and just not do anything?

There isn’t guidance for people like us, people who aren’t particularly concerned for themselves but who would really rather not be a specter of death to their communities.

COVID is just a whole lot more nuanced than the viral Facebook posts and snappy memes would lead you to believe.

There aren’t any easy answers because there’s a whole lot we don’t know.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Challenge Wrap-Up

March 7th, 2020

On her Read-Aloud Revival podcast, Sarah Mackenzie makes no bones about it. She does NOT think Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books make a good first chapter-book read aloud.

They’re too boring, she says. Too much description, not enough action. You’ll lose interest, mom, she says. Listen to the audiobooks read by Cherry Jones, she says.

I’ve pooh-poohed Sarah’s advice regarding Laura since I first heard it. Laura, boring? I listened to my mother read them, then I read them myself over and over, then listened again as my older sister read them aloud to myself and my younger brothers and sister.

Two years ago, when Tirzah Mae was three, I read her Little House in the Big Woods. Last year, we read it again. Was it hard at times? Of course. I dare anyone with four children four and under to find reading chapter books aloud EASY. But it wasn’t because the Laura books are boring.

I still disagree with Mackenzie about reading the Little House books aloud. But I now completely AGREE with her about the magic of Cherry Jones’s narration.

You see, near the end of last year, we had some changes in our life that meant the kids and I were spending at least an extra two hours a week in the car. I know that for some of you, that doesn’t sound like much. But I’m a homebody and even the most extroverted mama is likely to be a bit overwhelmed by loading four children into carseats a minimum of six extra times a week.

I knew we needed something to help us manage that awful extra car time, something to help us escape. Honestly, I needed something to get me out of the pity-party-slash-anger-fest that I was simmering in every time I had to yet again disrupt my life and rush my kids through meals and pack them all in the car and waste all. that. time. in. the. car.

So I looked into audiobooks. I needed something that wasn’t too scary (since our Tirzah Mae is currently a sensitive soul), but that would interest both me AND the children. The Little House books it was.

And, oh. Oh. Oh! Cherry Jones’s narration is just wonderful. Listening to her is a delight (especially when she starts singing along to Pa’s fiddle!)

We listened to Little House in the Big Woods and Farmer Boy in January. In February, in conjunction with Barbara’s Laura Ingalls Wilder Reading Challenge, we hoped to listen to Litte House on the Prairie and On the Banks of Plum Creek but fell just a little short of completing the latter (Praise God for several days where, for one reason or another, I was able to leave the kids home while I did the driving, minimizing the disruption to the whole family!)

As part of Barbara’s challenge, I also read Old Town in the Green Groves by Cynthia Rylant, a fictionalized account of the Ingalls family’s time between On the Banks of Plum Creek and By The Shores of Silver Lake. I am glad that I read it, but I am also glad that Laura chose to skip over that period of her early life in her Little House books. It was a hard, hard time that Rylant only partially succeeds at making seem less difficult. Barbara also read that book this year and reviewed it at her blog – my thoughts were pretty similar to Barbara’s.

Thank you, Barbara, for the past decade(?) hosting the Little House Challenge. I and my children have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to revisit Laura each year. We’ll miss the challenge next year; but I think, thanks to several years of participating (and thanks to discovering Cherry Jones’s wonderful audio narrations of the Little House books), we’re not likely to have seen the last of Laura in our household :-)

Picture Book Highlights (Author COO-CRO)

March 3rd, 2020

Despite being a shorter-than-average month (even with that leap day), February was a productive reading month. I read 83 children’s picture books with an author last name “C”. In large part, I think this was due to my decision to try to spend just a little bit of time with each child individually each day (usually right before their naps). I’ve mostly spent that time reading aloud (what else?) When I don’t have to wait for everyone to be ready to listen together, it makes reading aloud tons easier – and has allowed me to power through a lot more of our picture books. We have maybe 40 or 50 more books to go until we’re done with author last name C – we’ll likely finish those out in March!

Homer by Elisha Cooper

Homer

The dog, Homer, is offered lots of opportunities to go out and do all sorts of interesting things. He’d rather lie on the front porch and watch it all. He delights to hear everyone’s stories of all the exciting things they’ve done, but mostly, he likes to be at home with everyone he loves around him. I can identify. :-)

Petra by Marianna Coppo

Petra

A little rock has great dreams – but what will he become? A simple, short book that’s just right to keep the interest of all four of our little ones (5, 3, 2, and 19 months.)

Little Pig Joins the Band by David Costello

Little Pig Joins the Band

When all his big siblings make a brass band, Little Pig wants to join too, but none of the instruments fit him. He’s able to find his place, though – a much needed place – as band leader, getting them all to play together in time.

What Elephant? by Genevieve Cote

What Elephant?

A cute little story that helps to explain the saying “the elephant in the room.”

The Road Home by Katie Cotton, illustrated by Sarah Jacoby

The Road Home

More a poem than a story, with art that’s visual poetry. Animal mothers invite their children to join them in their tasks before ending with a refrain: “This road is hard, this road is long, this road that leads us home.” And then it ends, “This road is hard, this road is long, but we are not alone. For you are here, and I’m with you… and so this road is home.” Just lovely.

Don’t Be Silly, Mrs. Millie by Judy Cox, illustrated by Joe Mathieu

Don't Be Silly Mrs. Millie!

This is not fine literature, but Mrs. Millie’s silly mis-speaks had my two oldest (5 and 3) roaring with laughter all the way through. Mrs. Millie instructs her students to “hang up your goats” at the beginning of the day and keeps making “mistakes” with rhyming words and sound-alikes all day long. “We have parrot sticks and quackers today!” Very fun.

The Way He Should Go

February 27th, 2020

“Train up a child in the way he should go. Even when he is old, he will not depart from it.” ~Proverbs 22:6 (maybe in the 1994 NIV?)

We sang the proverb along with Steve Green’s “Hide ’em in your heart” album.

I heard the same proverb referenced by all sorts. The self-confident parent, sure they were doing it right. The despairing parent, wondering where they’d gone wrong. The parenting guru, assuring Christian parents that if they followed his patent-pending discipline program they’d be guaranteed their children wouldn’t stray.

What I didn’t frequent hear was what “the way they should go” consists of.

If I had to hazard a guess, based on the context of the conversations I’d heard, I’d guess “the way they should go” was all about moral behavior.

Today, I don’t hear that proverb so frequently.

I wonder if, in part, the fruit of the last generation’s claim on that promise has soured it.

Far too many parents are reaping tears when they felt they had been promised otherwise. They had raised their children according to a good moral standard. They’d raised them to obey. And now those children are chasing all sorts of things their parents taught them to avoid.

I thought of the proverb after a little exchange I had with Tirzah Mae this morning.

Tirzah Mae: “Did you know that Jesus has a heavenly home?”
Me: “Is that so? Can you tell me about Jesus’ heavenly home?”
Tirzah Mae: “Um, no. I don’t really know anything about it, I just heard about it somewhere.”
Me: “Would you like to learn more about it?”
Tirzah Mae nods in assent.
“Where do you think we could find out more?”

And so we were off to John 14 for a little Bible study that touched on the Trinity, heaven, and the exclusivity of Christ.

And that’s what reminded me of Proverbs 22:6. Thomas asks “How will we know the way?” and Jesus answers “I am the way.”

As parents, we have a high call to train up our children. But what way are we training them in? Am I training my children in instantaneous obedience to me? (I wish I could figure that one out!) Am I training them in Judeo-Christian morality? Maybe I’m training them to be nice?

All of those have a place, I think, but I don’t think any of those are what Proverbs 22 refers to when it says to “train up a child in the way he should go.”

Instead of simply training in instantaneous obedience or good moral values or a nebulous sense of kindness, I am called to train my child in Christ. I am called to point my children again and again and again to Christ. Christ as their only hope of righteousness. Christ as their only means of accessing God. Christ as the one who loved them first and enables them to love others. Christ as the way.

And I can have confidence, not that I have somehow guaranteed that my child will never stray (as if that was in my power), but that I have done what I was called to. I will have trained my children in the way they should go, and when Christ calls them to himself, he will keep them to the end.

Don’t Try to Anticipate

February 19th, 2020

Have you been searching through pregnancy blogs for lists of “lifesaver products”? You’ve been reading up on the “must-haves” for newborns too? And don’t even get started on the lists of things to pack in your hospital bag.

Poll your mom friends on Facebook and they’ll each have a different product they absolutely couldn’t have done pregnancy without.

It’s only if they’re moms of many that you’ll start to be able to understand the truth – there’s no way you’ll be able to anticipate which product is going to be your life saver for this particular pregnancy/delivery/baby.

I couldn’t have done it without my lace-up tennies in my pregnancies with Tirzah Mae and Louis. My feet swelled so terribly and got so painful, I needed the extra support. I only wore tennis shoes while hiking during my pregnancy with Beth-Ellen (and I did a decent amount since we traveled to Yellowstone and to the Rockies with Daniel’s family and mine during our second trimester.) This pregnancy? I don’t think I’ve worn tennis shoes even once.

I developed carpal tunnel during my pregnancy with Louis and needed braces. Wearing them each night (and sometimes during the day) made the days bearable. Almost as soon as the pregnancy test was positive with the baby we lost, I needed braces again – and the pain went away as soon as we miscarried. I had no need for braces with Beth-Ellen, and haven’t needed them in this pregnancy either.

I got a ginormous pillow in my third trimester with Beth-Ellen, when my belly made sleep difficult. This time around, I pulled it out in the first trimester, because my hips were doing something weird and I just couldn’t get comfortable. I slept fine all the way through with both Tirzah Mae and Louis.

Support hose were lifesavers for pregnancies 1 through 3. This time around, despite a bit of swelling in my legs, the support hose don’t seem super necessary – but I’ve taken to wearing compression shorts religiously, even to bed.

My hymnal was a sanity-saver for hospitalization #1. I sang it through cover to cover during my eight days of bedrest and the subsequent 26 days with Tirzah Mae in the NICU. Remembering, I brought it along when I was hospitalized with Louis – and barely opened it. On bedrest with Louis and as I prepped for my second unplanned c-section, it was the robes I’d brought from home that kept me grounded. I’m not sure I used anything I’d packed in my hospital bag for Beth-Ellen – not the clothing or the essential oils or the tennis ball thingamajigger or the popsicles.

Newborn Tirzah Mae lived in mama’s Moby wrap. Newborn Louis actually (sometimes) slept in the bassinet insert for our Pack’n’Play. Newborn Beth-Ellen used a swaddle. The elastic binder they gave me after Louis made such a difference in my ability to walk post c-section. It didn’t help the terrible abdominal pain I had after Beth-Ellen. I could not for the life of me understand the mesh panties and peri bottle after the first two – but I totally got it after Beth-Ellen. I spent obscene amounts of time hooked to a hospital grade breast pump with Tirzah Mae and Louis – and never pumped once with Beth-Ellen. It took five years of nearly continuous breastfeeding for me to first need lanolin. I’ve never, despite a super-abundant supply, needed breast pads to deal with leaks. Pantyliners on the other hand? Definitely a sanity saver.

Which is why it’s no good trying to anticipate what you’ll need for your pregnancy, your delivery, or your new baby. You are different with each pregnancy, your delivery is different, your baby is different.

Anticipate that you won’t have everything you want, that you’ll experience surprises, that you’ll have to adapt on the fly. Anticipate that you’ll spend some money figuring out what the fix is for that unexpected problem. Anticipate that you’ll be searching Amazon or sending your husband to the store to find some elusive product you never would have imagined needing.

Most of all, anticipate that God’s grace will meet you when you find yourself back in the hospital after you thought you were all clear – or when your daughter jumps into your lap and now you can’t move without excruciating pain “down there” – or when all your dreams seem dashed – or when you simply don’t know how to soothe that fussy baby. You can’t anticipate what the problem will be or what product will be your “life-saver”, but you can trust that God will be there amidst the unexpected – and that he will carry you through.

The Paradox of Christ

February 7th, 2020

“Above all, he is unselfish. Perhaps nothing strikes us more than this. Although he clearly believed himself to be divine, he did not put on airs or stand on his dignity. He was never pompous. There was no touch of self-importance in Jesus. He was humble.

It is this paradox that is so amazing, this combination of the self-centeredness of his teaching and the unself-centeredness of his behavior. In thought he put himself first, in deed last. He exhibited both the greatest self-esteem and the greatest self-sacrifice. He knew himself to be the Lord of all, but he became their servant. He said that he would one day come to judge the world, but he washed the feet of his friends.”

~John Stott, Basic Christianity

Nothing struck me quite so strongly as I read Stott’s Basic Christianity as the bolded sentence above. As someone who has believed since she was a young child, I have never really considered the “self-centeredness” of Jesus’ teaching. Of course he was self-centered – he’s God. He ought to be talking about himself. But if he weren’t God, were simply styling himself as God, he would be quite pompous.

Yet his actions aren’t pompous at all. He cares for the poor and needy, embraces outcasts, visits sinners in their homes. He served.

“…Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

~Philippians 2:5-11 (ESV)

This is the paradox of our faith – the God who is so High stooped down so low. He is indeed exactly what every person needs and does not shy away from proclaiming it: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me.” “I am the bread of life.” “I am the living water.” “I am the Good Shepherd.” “I am…” “I am…” “I am…” But, despite being God’s gift to man, he did not act as though he were.

Wow.

Picture Book Highlights (Author COL-CON)

February 3rd, 2020

The kids and I read right around 50 children’s picture books in January (in addition to some nonfiction, some board books, and listening to Cherry Jones narrate Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House in the Big Woods and Farmer Boy.) These are some of the highlights from this month’s reading. We’re going to plug along with authors CON and on in February – but we’re also excited to continue our Laura journey with Little House on the Prairie and maybe On the Banks of Plum Creek as part of Barbara’s final Laura Ingalls Wilder Reading Challenge.

The Winter Wren by Brock Cole

"The Winter Wren"

We’ve read a couple of other whimsical folk-type tales by Brock Cole, but this was my favorite. In it, a boy goes off to wake up Spring, who is sleeping in Winter’s castle. Cole’s illustrations are just delightful and this story very fun.

Rachael Cole

Books by Rachel Cole

I was unfamiliar with Rachael Cole, but fell in love with her City Moon, in which a young child and his mother take a walk through the city at night, watching for the moon. The spare text does a good job of getting inside a child’s mind – and reflects the interactions between mother and child well.

Cole’s second book, Mousie, I will Read to You, illustrates the progression of a child’s reading and the wonder of introducing books to the next generation in a non-didactic way that both parents and children can enjoy (if myself and my children are any indication, that is.) This book lover teared up at the end – but don’t worry, this isn’t sentimental pablum. It’s just delightful.

So far, these are the only picture books Cole has written – but I’ll definitely be watching for more from her.

The Deer Watch by Pat Lowery Collins, illustrated by David Slonim

"The Deer Watch"

A boy wakes up early to get a chance to see deer with his father. Slonim’s thick oil (acrylic?) paintings give wonderful expression to the joy of experiencing nature at dawn. While we certainty don’t experience any scarcity of deer sightings her on the plains like the narrator does on the coasts, the experience of waiting silently for a reticent animal to show itself is certainly common to nature lovers everywhere.

So Close by Natalia Colombo

"So Close"

A couple of animals live next to each other, pass every day on their way to work and home from work. But then one day, someone ventures a “Hello” – and their whole lives change. A very simple, sweet book.

See You Soon Moon by Donna Conrad, illustrated by Don Carter

"See You Soon Moon"

A little boy packs up his belongings to go to visit his grandma. He says goodbye to what he leaves behind – but, to his surprise, the moon follows him all the way to Grandma’s house! My children enjoyed Carter’s thick paint on poster-board illustrations – they kept asking if they were birthday cakes (since they strongly resemble the cut-out cakes I make for the kids for their birthdays.)

The Most Important Gift of All by David Conway, illustrated by Karin Littlewood

"The Most Important Gift of All"

A little girl wants to give her baby brother a gift (like all the relatives are), but her grandma tells her that love is the most important gift of all. So the little girl sets off through the savannah to try to find love. A lovely story with lovely illustrations.

What I Spent/What We Ate (2020.01.12)

January 14th, 2020
What I Spent:

Monday, January 6

Sam’s Club $18.23

Sam's Club trip (2020.01.06)

Walmart $51.55

Walmart Trip (2020.01.06)

Thursday, January 9

ALDI $43.90

Aldi Trip (2020.01.09)

Saturday, January 11

Daniel ran by Walmart to pick up an extra gallon of 1% milk for $3.32

Sunday, January 12
Since I haven’t gotten back into a bread-making groove, we dropped by Panera and picked up a loaf of oatmeal bread for with our soup – but I’m counting that in our “dining and entertainment” budget instead of grocery because I feel like it :-)


That’s $117, which is comfortably under my current budget of $123 per week.


What We Ate:

Monday, January 6

Roast Pork, Fried Apples, and Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Roast Pork, Fried Apples, Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Tuesday, January 7

Orange Chicken with stir-fry vegetables over rice, pineapple chunks

Orange chicken with stir-fry vegetables over rice, pineapple chunks

Wednesday, January 8

Pork, Green Chili, and Bean Enchiladas with Corn and Lettuce Salad

Pork, Green Chili, and Bean Enchiladas, Corn, Lettuce Salad

Thursday, January 9

Barbecue Beef over Rice, Broccoli, and Berry Gelatin Salad

Barbecue Beef over Rice, Broccoli, Berry Gelatin Salad

Friday, January 10

We had a long day at the end of a long week and I didn’t feel like cooking. So I didn’t. We ordered pizza instead.

Saturday, January 11

Great Grams’ Spaghetti, Lettuce Salad, and leftover Berry Gelatin Salad

Great Grams' Spaghetti, Lettuce Salad, Berry Gelatin Salad

Sunday, January 12

Lunch: West Virginia Soup with Buttered Oatmeal Bread (from Panera) and Cheddar Cheese Slices

West Virginia Soup with Buttered Bread and Cheddar Cheese Slices

(not pictured)
Supper: Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese with Frozen Vegetables (I don’t remember what kind) and grapes


This represents the first week of my new winter menu cycle – and I managed to get several recipes of Orange Chicken, a pan of enchiladas, a recipe of Great Grams’ Spaghetti, and a recipe of West Virginia Soup in the freezer, which should make things easier for the next time around (and maybe will mean I’ll have time to write up the recipes for here on the blog – well, a woman can hope!)

Tending my little farm

January 10th, 2020

Five years ago, as a newly minted mother of a 4-month-old baby, I read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Farmer Boy and reflected on the chapter “Springtime.”

Laura writes

“There was no time to lose, no time to waste in rest or play. The life of the earth comes up with a rush in the springtime. All the wild seeds of weed and thistle, the sprouts of vine and bush and tree are trying to take the fields. Farmers must fight them with harrow and plow and hoe; they must plant the good seeds quickly.

Almanzo was a little soldier in this great battle.”

I wrote:

“This year… this passage reminds me of [the] springtime of our lives and the great trust that parents are given of sowing seed and cultivating little hearts. It’s easy to be complacent, to assume that children will learn what we want them to learn, that they’ll establish good habits, that there’ll be plenty of time to teach them tomorrow. But the best time to plant a seed and kill a weed is springtime. And the best time to communicate the gospel and establish good habits is early in life.

Which is why I am resolving to be a little soldier in this great battle – and to establish my own habits now, while Tirzah Mae is tiny. Now is the perfect time to get into the habit of speaking the gospel to my daughter, the perfect time to steep us both in Scripture songs, the perfect time to live a visibly Christian life around my home.

Because the life of the earth comes up with a rush in the springtime. And I want the life that grows in my daughter to be a good planting.”

Yesterday, I listened to Cherry Jones read this same chapter as we work our way through the audio versions of the classic “Little House” books on our way to and from various activities.

I reflected again on the metaphor of springtime and our young children. Now the mother of four (on the outside – plus one on the inside, one in heaven, and two reintegrated into their biological families), I see even more how tireless the springtime work must be – and how important.

This is springtime. Evil ideologies vie for my children’s minds as we peruse the picture books (in order by author last name) from the library. Corporate interests try to imprint their names and logos into my children’s imaginations, try to get my children to beg for their products, ensuring customers for life. My children’s sin natures spur them to do whatever they want, following the desires of their wicked hearts. Voices from all over encourage my children to follow their hearts.

Weeds, threatening to choke the good seed of the gospel. Weeds, desirous to take over any structure or order I might impose upon my children’s lives.

But this is springtime, and I would rather be fishing, like the naughty boy in Almanzo’s story – I would rather dump my seed in one corner of the field and head off to Facebook or Feedly or whatever my latest amusement might be. Yet I know what happens to that naughty boy’s field. It is overtaken by weeds.

So I must dry the dishwater off my hands and deal with the children who are bickering in the living room. I must drag myself off the couch to deal with the disobedient child (instead of endlessly repeating myself with escalating threats.) I must be a little soldier in this great battle.

God, grant me grace to tend my little farm well.

The Gravity of the Story

December 15th, 2019

“Every family needs to get a lamb – a young lamb, a perfect little boy lamb, a lamb without any problems. Keep the lamb as a part of the family.”

The three-year-olds eagerly reached out their hands to stroke the beautiful oh-so-soft stuffed lamb mat I’d brought in for our lesson. We all imagined having a lamb come to live with us.

“After two weeks, you are to kill the lamb.”

Every eye turned from the lamb to me in horror.

I’d written “Oh boy! How sad!” in my lesson – but the looks on their faces said far more. This was not sad, this was devastating. I started to wonder if parents would be coming to me, wondering what I’d done to tramautize their children so.

But I continued on:

“But this was part of God’s great plan. God decided that the lamb could die instead of the firstborn child. After the lamb was dead, the people were supposed to paint the lamb’s blood on the doors of their houses.

All the people who believed God got a lamb. After two weeks, they killed the lamb and painted its blood on their doorposts.

That night, God sent the angel of death over all of Egypt. If the angel of death saw blood on the door, he passed over that house. But if a house didn’t have blood on the door, the firstborn child died.”

The horror remained, the kids silent in the face of such a terrible thing.

I started keening, only a fraction of what I’m sure was happening across Egypt that night. “All over Egypt, the people who didn’t believe God and didn’t kill a lamb started to wail. Every family’s firstborn child was dead – all except for the ones who had been saved by the blood of the lamb.”

“That’s so sad!” a little boy whispered, almost distraught.

And I recounted how Pharoah at last told the Israelites to go. I retold how God led the people of Israel with a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire.

Their faces brightened.

They tensed as I told them how Pharaoh changed his mind and began the chase.

And their faces showed their elation when God opened the Red Sea so the children of Israel could pass through and then smashed it closed over the Egyptian army.

As for me, I was still struck with the gravity of the Lamb. The story I’ve told so many times I forget the horror. A perfect young lamb, a spotless baby come to live with a human family. One of our own, our companion, dwelling among us. Dead.

All this, so that the firstborn needn’t die.

The first lamb, and the lamb of each Passover thereafter, was chosen by its family – destined by its perfection among the flock to be a sacrifice.

The final Lamb, the one to whom each little lamb points, chose willingly, of his own accord. He made his first sacrifice, to become flesh. He made a second, to dwell among us. And finally, he sacrificed what remained, emptied himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross. Bearing the curse of all mankind, he did so to save the ones he sacrificed to make his brothers.

What a grave and terrible and sobering thought.

What a wonderful and terrible and awesome reality.

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