click here for that post). When I wrote that blog entry, I had a little bit of a problem to overcome: I wanted to share the post with you on the actual day of Epiphany, but I didn't want to let the cat out of the bag on what I had planned! (My wife does occasionally read my blog, you know!) So I simply mentioned that I had something in mind, but didn't say what it was. I wanted to follow up on that and let you know how it turned out!
The big surprise was simply that I had gone to the Christian bookstore and picked up a small gift for each of my family members. I wanted it to be something they would like, but I wanted it to be something that would have a spiritual significance to them, and I wanted it to be something that would last them a long time. That's a tricky proposition, especially when you're talking about a 4-year-old girl, but I'm pretty sure the Holy Spirit was guiding me, because everyone seemed to love what I gave them.
That evening, without telling them what I was going to do, I had everyone sit down on the floor near the Christmas tree, and I explained that Epiphany is the day to celebrate the arrival of the Wise Men (see my previous post for the whole scoop on that). Then I told them that I've been thinking this season about ways to make sure that we find a way to really focus on Jesus in the middle of all of the racket that's going on this time of year (see this post for more on that!) and that I had gotten each of them something special to remind them of Jesus. Then I began to bring out the gifts, one by one.
For my wife, I had bought a small, framed cross, with the words "Trust in Him" written under it; I told her that my hope for her this year is that she would learn even better to trust in God, no matter what is going on. Then I brought out my gift for my 11-year-old son: a book called How To Study Your Bible For Kids by Kay Arthur. Kay Arthur has written a number of successful books on the inductive Bible study method (it's basically what I was always taught, although I didn't know that was what it was called); the book has a storyline and activities and it will be lots of fun for him. And I knew that he truly does care about the Bible and want to know what's in there. Since the book uses the NASB and his regular reading Bible is an NLT (read about his iShine Bible here), I also bought him an inexpensive paperback NASB to use for study times, on the theory that it would be better if he has the translation on hand that the book is written for. I was surprised how excited he was to get it! He loves reading, and I think he's going to have a great time with this book.
My 4-year-old daughter was tricker; I wanted her to have something meaningful, and I didn't want it to be one of those cheap plastic Sunday school prize trinkets up by the register. I settled on something that will last her a little longer: I got her a life-sized velvet cupcake with a surprise inside. She opened the package and was so excited when she saw the cupcake, because she loves cupcakes! It's not instantly apparent that something is inside, so I took it and I said, "You can see this cupcake, right?" She said yes. "If it was a real cupcake, you could taste it, right?" She nodded. "Well, the Word of God says, 'Taste and see that the Lord is good!'" Then I opened it up and showed her the cupcake necklace inside! My wife and I hope to reinforce that Scripture for her every time she wears the necklace until the association is so strong that every time she sees it, she remembers that the Lord is GOOD!
A husband can usually tell he has done a good job when his wife winds up in tears. My wife did! And my kids were excited about their gifts too! We told our little girl that she needs Mama's help with her necklace and that it's only for church and very special occasions until she's older; she's already had the cupcake out this morning, ready to wear it to church! I told my wife that I don't intend to celebrate Epiphany exactly like this every year; I don't want it to turn into another day to anticipate getting some "stuff" and another gift-purchasing burden. But I do want to do something every single year, to remind my kids that Jesus is central to our lives. Santa is gone by December 26th; Jesus is here always!