Happy Easter From The Harrells

Thorns from the Garden A gentle reminder of the authentic Easter Story

Every year the boys' school puts on an Easter Bonnet competition. Each year we pull up to the school and see pupils pour out of cars donning bunnies, eggs, grass, & chocolates. A whole lot of time and energy are put into this turnout of pastel colored toppers, whether or not the effort has been on the part of the parent or pupil is fairly evident. We are adamant about not doing our boys' projects for them, so after the first few years of their creations being compared with those of an adult, my boys have sat the last couple years out of the Easter Bonnet competition.

For some reason this year, each was motivated to throw his proverbial hat into the ring. Knowing we could never compete against the peer, whose parent has a whole lot more resources than us, I begrudgingly took the boys to the "Crazy Store," (think American Dollar Store), for craft supplies.

I enlisted the help of an artistic friend, but when we got to the store we just realized it would be too expensive to buy all the frills and components of a winning Easter bonnet. Our artistic auntie gave us a few pointers and we eventually left the store empty handed, but heads filled with ideas. If my boys were going to make an Easter bonnet they were going to have to be creative and resourceful, and they were excited about these prospects.

The evening at home was a flurry of cut outs, glue, audacious plans, and epic failures. It was hot. I was tired. Richard was patient, and the hours rolled on as we each moved from son to son trying to help him make his vision become a reality. Well after dark I was struck by the preciousness of the moment surrounding me...

Aden had long ago retired to his room. Aron had finally given up on trying to make a potted plant stick to the top of his head (a legitimate plant, pot, soil, and flower), and Abe was scrawling away at the Bible verses he had chosen to write on leaves for his bonnet, (he chose a long one). I realized how blessed we were to, "get it." Even though we did not consciously set out to have this exercise illustrate the true purpose of Easter, the boys were subtly making it about the right thing. They were making Easter authentic again.

Without all the commercialism (there's a whole lot less here than in the US), and without all the Easter bunnies, the boys had pushed aside the synthetic and instead reached for the organic.

Each boy had gone into the garden and picked flowers, leaves, and yes, even thorns to make his own illustration of the Easter Story. We did not put the ideas in their heads, so it was very neat to see each boys' own thoughts on Easter depicted outside his mind, and atop his head.

I was proud. I could never have imagined being proud enough of my faith at these ages to don the Easter Bonnets my boys wore into school. I had to push back my own insecurities of them being teased and allow them to boldly represent their Savior. I knew none would win a prize, but man... was I proud of my boys and their all natural Easter Bonnets.

The next morning Aden led his brothers through the gates with a crown of thorns he had woven from the garden. Aron followed, dropping flowers, and soil with every step, and Abe brought up the rear with his bouncy trot and floppy bunny ears, (made from blades of grass) poking out from behind tall grass with Scriptures on them.

At the end of the day it was Aden's crown of thorns that took the number 1 prize for grade 7. We are so thankful for the reminder that it was Jesus Christ's crown of thorns that paid the price, and won us the ultimate prize on Calvary all those years ago. Like the boys' hats, the greatest prize on earth was authentic. It required harder work, but it was made from God's creation and was precious. The prize of Calvary did not come wrapped up the way in which the world had expected, but the Messiah's sacrifice was the only thing the world required.

Pure, Simple, Humble, Authentic, and Holy.

Aden's winning crown of thorns Easter Bonnet

** THANK YOU! ------------------------------------------------------------ Thank you for your continued support of our family serving in South Africa. We could not do any of the Kingdom work we do without you. Because Genesis is a NGO (non-government organization), birthed out of the local church, it is not self sustainable enough to be able to pay our salaries. Therefore, the work we do is entirely able to be accomplished because of your faithful giving through HIM. Thank you for being part of changing lives in South Africa.

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