Celebrating Spiritual Birthdays: Ava Edition

I know, I know.  Some of you are thinking, "What's this spiritual birthday nonsense?"  I assure you I'm not just looking for ways to give my kids more presents.  This is about building meaningful ritual into our lives in order to draw us closer to God and closer together as a family. . .and also it's about having an authentic reason to celebrate joy.  Presents optional.

Celebrating Ava's spiritual birthday.
Family dinner.  *See our prayer jar hanging out on the table?

When I was doing a little research for ideas on how to mark Wyatt's acceptance of Jesus's gift of salvation, I discovered this whole idea of spiritual birthdays.  I was kind of annoyed I hadn't thought of it before, but whatever.  I didn't even write down the day Ava turned to me at breakfast and said, "I want Jesus in my heart."  I do know it was just before the annual Perseus meteor shower in August.  After we prayed together that morning, Ava saw God everywhere and in everything, and, to her heart, that meteor shower was like a giant hug straight from God.  The change in her was remarkable, and helped my uneasiness over a three year old making "theological commitments."  All that to say, this year I picked a day in August, and said, "hey Ava, we're celebrating your spiritual birthday tomorrow," to which she replied, "huh?"  All good traditions have to start somewhere, right?

Here's what we did to celebrate:

Celebrating Ava's spiritual birthday.

I bought her a Mylar balloon because I never buy them and the kids always ask for them.  (Curse you, grocery store managers, for clipping those giant balloons all over the store.)  I chose a butterfly for Ava because, like the frog for Wyatt, a butterfly starts out as something small and lowly and goes through an amazing transformation - it is literally made into a new creature.  A new creature!  What hope is bound up in those words!  We can actually shed our old selves and take on a new person of light, peace, and love just by choosing to pursue God out of our brokenness, accepting His gift of forgiveness, and letting Him change us.  I still can't get my head around all that.

Celebrating Ava's spiritual birthday.

I also made her favorite dinner (spaghetti noodles with Parmesan) and a dessert or cake of her choice.  She chose this tasty Lemon-Lime Custard Cake and we stuck in some candles for good measure.

We wrapped everything up by gathering around Ava and laying hands on her in prayer.  Sorry to disappoint, but there wasn't any chanting or weird dancing involved: just sweet prayers of thankfulness for Ava's faith and for another year of growing in Jesus.  Yes, even the baby prayed.  I wish there had been a photo of all of us praying, but I can't imagine how I could get one without cheapening the whole experience.

I am so far from perfect, people.  I yell; I use sarcasm unfairly; I pout when my kids won't eat my cooking.  But I ask their forgiveness every time, and I plead at the feet of Jesus that he would take my meager efforts and transform them into something worthwhile and deep in my children's lives.  I pray that someday these moments when their father and I were purposeful about connection and building each other up will overshadow the moments when we acted more like children ourselves.

Celebrating Ava's spiritual birthday.


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