May 2017 S M T W T F S « Apr 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of His will, according to His purpose, which He set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth.
In 1996, as a young wife and expectant mother, God placed in my heart a strong desire to be intentional about the spiritual formation of our children. I enthusiastically attended my first mom’s conference with our oldest daughter still in my womb. I was like a sponge, ready to absorb, read, make, and do whatever it took to become a “godly wife and mom” in this new chapter called motherhood. I found many materials that enhanced my overall philosophy and behaviors as a parent, but I craved a resource that would help me, in a fun and practical way, to lay a spiritual foundation by establishing a family tradition. I wanted a ready-made package I could take home and easily implement as a busy mother. I did not find such a resource.
I attended a seminar by a seasoned mother who encouraged us to develop our own traditions, rather than rely on a product. She shared about her family’s ritual of using tree ornaments to help illustrate a Bible story. Her words were empowering! I was raised in a Korean family, and I was always a good student, so I was well trained in following directions and obeying the experts. I was accustomed to looking to others to instruct me in what to do. It was both novel and freeing for me to discover that the Lord had already blessed me with the essentials for shepherding and discipling my child(ren). My mindset experienced a massive paradigm shift. I returned home and began to pray. I decided to borrow the speaker’s tradition and create something unique for my family.
Spring arrived in Chicago. As a newly married couple, my husband and I sifted through our respective family traditions, deciding what we would keep and what we would change in our new family. It was Lent, and many of our friends were “giving up” things, mostly food items. For health reasons, fasting was not an option during my sixth month of pregnancy. I was disappointed to miss out on this 40 day sacrifice of food for Jesus. I read my Bible and prayed diligently. I made this my Lenten offering, not allowing work, fatigue or circumstance to interfere with my time of communion with Jesus. I wanted the Easter celebration to touch my heart in the transformational way it was designed. I earnestly read through the Bible, starting in Genesis, and calculated my time so that I would read about the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus when Easter arrived.
As a child in Sunday school, I was often taught mere snippets of Bible stories. The lesson typically had a moral theme or highlighted a Biblical character that possessed an important characteristic to emulate. Rarely were we taught the larger context of the stories we studied. Thankfully, my father fostered the discipline of routinely and prayerfully reading through the Bible from beginning to end. Were it not for this discipline, I would have missed the larger purpose of God’s story in the Bible. By the gracious power of the Holy Spirit, I learned that each story was not pointing to a moral theme, or one man’s effort, but to God Himself. Even the most obscure or confusing passage in the Bible points to Christ. The stories reveal the character of God and lay the foundation for understanding His ultimate revelation in the person of Jesus.
WOW! That Easter was different! I wanted to share my epiphany with my family, and I began to connect Bible stories with homemade tree ornaments. I chose stories and passages that alluded to Christ or revealed something about God’s character and His covenant promises. I made frequent visits to the fabric and craft store and found miniature items to illustrate each passage. I used my daughter’s tiny toy dishes to set the ‘Wedding Feast of the Lamb’ table, I glued wooden chopsticks together to make ‘Jacob’s Ladder’, I took a Barbie doll from a Happy Meal, cut her hair, wrapped white ribbon around her entire body, and she became ‘Lazarus Raised from the Dead’. I stored the ornaments in colored plastic eggs that normally held candy, numbered them 1 through 50, and put them in an Easter basket. “The Easter Tree” tradition had begun.
The following Easter, my daughter, who was now a toddler, loved it. She gleefully anticipated searching through the basket for the pastel-colored Easter egg that contained that day’s ornament. She adored hanging the item on the “tree” (that first year, we used branches from the yard that were held in a vase.) She listened as my husband David and I read through the Bible chapter for the day and discussed how it applied to our individual spiritual journeys in that moment. As our family has grown, every year my children enjoy this Easter tradition that walks them through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. The daily lessons emphasize God’s character and His covenant promises, fulfilled to us through Jesus Christ. Each year, I treasure the opportunity to witness my children grow in their knowledge of God’s Word and in their affections for Him. I treasure the evolving discussions of the lessons, as each child shares how the things they learn apply to the circumstances of their lives. One year, we had to go out of town in the middle of Lent, and the children expectantly asked, “We’re taking the Easter Tree with us, right Mom?” The Easter Tree tradition is woven into the fabric of their childhood traditions, and it is a legacy I am grateful to bestow. It has truly aided our family as we grow “in wisdom and revelation to know God more” (Ephesians 5).
For more than 15 years, every time someone visited our home during Lent, whether believer or non-believer, they inevitably asked about the Easter Tree displayed on our table. My children became the Tree’s most vocal advocates, and I loved hearing them describe its process and purpose. They would often end up explaining the Bible story linked to the ornament that intrigued our guest. Many young mothers wanted a Tree, and asked where they could buy one. I explained that they would have to make it themselves. They often responded, jokingly, with “What?! But I don’t have the spiritual gift of crafting!” The moms often surrendered the idea altogether, because the time and effort required by the project was overwhelming. Many were new to the faith, and did not feel that they were equipped enough in the Word to take on this task. I felt the loss even more than they, since I knew all they were missing by not doing this for their family!
Single mothers were particularly on my heart, because during the formative years of my older children’s lives, my husband was pursuing his medical training. He was frequently gone, and I could not count on him to “lead.” As the primary caregiver, this was my responsibility. I know from experience that the Easter Tree will be especially useful for single parents.
I prayed and asked God how this tool could be used to bless other families. For some, I took on the gigantic task of making a set of ornaments for them. As a busy mom myself, it quickly became clear that this could not be sustained. The Lord then gave me the idea to adapt the ornament concept into book form. I began the process of converting each Bible passage into an engaging drawing. I used the medium of watercolor to visually captivate both adults and children with each covenant promise. I envisioned each drawing as an appetizer that would entice the reader to the Word, leading him or her to discover new facets of God’s love letter, and ultimately leading each reader toward a deeper knowledge and love for God.
Each of the fifty drawings is linked to a day during Lent and a passage of Scripture. The book is designed to lead the reader or family of readers to the Scriptures. There is value in meditating on the pictures, but the real value comes when the reader goes to the Scripture and prays over each Bible lesson. The passages allocated for each day can be long. I do not expect that the entire selection would be read, especially when the children are young. Families can choose any portion of the scripture on which they want to focus. Our family started by reading a few short verses or using a children’s Bible, but now that my children are older, we have each family member read a chapter until the entire passage is read. The book is structured to give each family the flexibility to utilize the resource in the way they deem appropriate year to year.
“for this reason I bow my knee to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from when the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height – to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3: 14-19)
The primary goal of my book is to help the reader understand more about the person of God and the marvelous riches of the Gospel. As they flip through the pages of The Easter Tree, I want them to become curious enough where they want to read their Bibles. As they grow and engage more with God’s Word, I want the images in The Easter Tree to stir them to love God more. He rules as a welcoming and enabling Lord. He is LOVE. To repent, and thus to come under His lordship, is to be filled with the Holy Spirit. To believe in Him is to have so much of the Lord in you that you overflow. He who believes in Jesus has “a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” Thirsty sinners are challenged to come to Jesus and drink. “He who believes in Me,” says Jesus, “out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:37- 38)
Imagine parents, cuddled up on the couch with their children, looking through the pictures and growing affection for God as they interact with the book and with one another. Imagine families around the table after a meal, reading and sharing their hearts each day in a moment of sanity as they rest in God’s Word. Imagine Jews, Catholics and Protestants paging through these images that reflect our common spiritual heritage. Imagine missionaries, Bible teachers and Sunday School programs utilizing a tool that creatively engages children while proclaiming sound Biblical truths. Imagine people using this tool to establish a new tradition, whereby each year they spend fifty days traveling through an overview of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation.
I imagine my readers having an encounter with Jesus. I imagine that as readers have communion and fellowship with Him and one another, there will be the opportunity to meet and know God more deeply, and to understand ourselves and one another more fully. I pray that this book will cause many Bibles to become less dusty and well-worn.
Beloved, I have been working on this project for five years as an offering. (These years included 2 relocations/moves and 2 adoptions – 4 adoptions if counting each child). The process of study, drawing, and artistry has been an act of worship. As I created each page, I had you in my mind and in my heart. I have been praying for you, that you and your loved ones would be blessed. I look forward to meeting you some day as we persevere to the finish line together, gathering and ushering those we love unto Him. No matter your stage of life, the language you speak, or your level of resources, God’s Word is alive and active. This book is never meant to be a substitute for the Bible, but a tool to entice you back to the Scriptures. May the Gospel go forth.
This book will take your family on a journey to the true meaning of Easter. Along the way, you will unwrap the many layers of God’s wondrous gift and discover afresh His saving love. Fifty captivating paintings, readings and study materials are arranged to share the full Easter story–from Creation to Christ’s return. Easter is a wonderful time to teach your children how to receive and celebrate God’s most amazing gift, Jesus, each day of their lives.
Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.