Taking photos is a tradition that predates my own family—captured moments in time from childhood and from times before I was even born are family heirlooms. When a birthday or holiday appears on the horizon, it is not uncommon for the photo albums and memory boxes to come out from the cupboards and closets to relive times past. Nowadays, I scroll through my phone’s photos for more recent snapshots.
This Easter, I look back again at images of newborn Jenny Inez smiles, burrito-blanketed in pink and blue in the hospital bassinet, and am amazed how my capacity for love increased in that very moment. Her preschool self swings high in one of our past backyards, the wideness of her smile stretching her little face exhibiting the epitome of happiness. She stands with a smaller smile but eyes lit in her white robe moments before following her Lord in baptism. She strikes a pose in color-guard-style, chin up, flag up, practiced smile frozen in time as the Carolina band’s song crescendos then fades.
In front of her loaded car, she smiles with high hopes as she embarks on her journey as a social worker into parts unknown (in that photo, the stuffed animal I gifted her on day one, Buffy Bear, peaks from beneath the lid of her last box, centered in her back
window—all recalled as I look at that photo). In front of our home, she smiles straight into the eyes of her beloved newlywed Donald, their hands clasped, bubbles freeze-framed in the photo, iridescent witnesses of her newest beginning... I look up from the albums and focus on the framed photo of Jenny and me swirling and, of course, smiling on her wedding day.
Every now and then, holiday seasons are supersized. The significance of faith celebrations coincide with family milestones, and both take on special meaning. This past Easter, as the family gathered for the high holy day of celebration, we also brought gifts and sang “Happy Birthday” to daughter Jenny. We put on our Easter finery, sang our hymns of earth-shattering joy, wove our garden flowers onto the resurrection cross, and listened to the fantastic story of a risen Savior conquering death on that early morning long ago that changed creation’s outcome for all who believe. We came home joyful and victorious to put finishing touches on the Sabbath feast we would share with loved ones.
My attention fell on the lemon poppy- seed pound cake—Jenny’s favorite. The pink ceramic cake stand decorated with hearts held the treasured birthday cake, and I placed the candles she would blow out that afternoon. My mind sifted snapshots of time, of Easters past, of birthdays past. Forty-one years ago, on the day after Easter Sunday, my firstborn burst onto the scene, linking the joys of spring’s best holiday with the added joy of becoming a father. Just a few years later, a similar spring day just after Easter saw Jenny’s entrance into this dad’s heart. Just when I thought life could not be any better, she came into our family of five then and proved that the human heart really can expand in incredible ways.
On this Easter Sunday, my spirit sang with the psalmist: “I will praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:14). How else to explain the increase in mind and heart to hold these memories? All this joy?
On Easter Sunday, we listened to the proclamation of our triumphant Lord Jesus bursting from the awfulness of death on a cross into the early morning newness of a conquered tomb and everlasting life. We heard how God’s plan for the salvation of His creation provides promise and assurance to all who believe. We lit those candles and sang and the birthday girl blew them all out, making her wishes. We joined with our own silent wishes for her new year. I experienced all of this in real time with a heart overflowing with joyful gratitude and humble thanksgiving to my Lord and Savior. I will relive these moments as I look back at photographs of my family and read again the images recorded in
scripture of my Jesus. Join me in discovering joy by remembering God’s wonderful works.
Written by Jim Edminson, Editor of Charity & Children