Six-year-old Rita and her four-year-old brother, Randy, participated in the annual Saturday morning Easter egg hunt for the first time.
“I’m going to find more eggs than you will?” shouts Rita.
“No, you won’t!” Randy shouts back.
“Okay, kids! Behave and play nice,” says their mom.
The countdown begins for the hunt to start. Three, two, one, and hundreds of children race off to win the prize. The child with the most eggs in the seven age groups will win an adorable live easter bunny.
While the kids seek and find, Rita and Randy’s mom begins conversing with the lady sitting beside her.
“I hope they don’t win,” Elizabeth sighs with a plea.
“Why is that?” inquires the other lady.
“We already have one cat and dog. There’s hardly room for the five of us in our rental house, let alone a rabbit.”
“By the way, my name is Janice. What’s yours?”
“Elizabeth. Nice to meet you, Janice.”
Quietly, Elizabeth begins to confide with Janice, “I’ve been a single mom for two years now, and life is hectic. Don’t need a rabbit to add to the mix,” she sighs with a defeated tone.
“Was it divorce,” Janice asks?
“Yes. My husband left me for his secret girlfriend, ten years younger than me. We sold the house, split the proceeds, and I was forced to rent a much smaller house. He does pay child support, but it’s hard to make ends meet, even though I work.”
“I’m so sorry to hear that. I really am, Elizabeth. I humbly thank the Lord for my marriage and our eleven-year-old daughter. I believe having God as the CenterPoint in a family is the foundation in making a family strong and happy,” Janice states.
“I don’t have time for that religious stuff,” Elizabeth declares.
Janice changes the topic, “Say, I have an idea. If your child wins first prize, my grandparents have a small farm nearby, and you know what? They raise rabbits. I bet they’d be happy to care for your child’s rabbit if they win, and they could visit as often as possible. What do you say?”
“I don’t know,” Elizabeth answers hesitantly. “I hate to intrude or be a burden to anyone.”
“I promise you won’t be intruding or be bothersome. My grandparents will welcome you with open arms.”
“It would take a huge burden off my shoulders. Okay, I’ll accept the invitation, but only if my child wins.”
“Good thing you had a change of heart, Elizabeth. Looks like both of your children won!” Janice shouts.
“Oh my goodness, it looks like your daughter won also!” Elizabeth shrieks.
“Three easter bunnies won all at once, my oh my,” Karen declares.
“Karen, would you call Grandma and tell her we’ll be up in an hour with guests and three rabbits?”
“I thought you said they were your grandparents, but you just called her Grandma.”
“My parents were killed in a car accident when Karen was one. So, she only knows my grandparents, so we call them Grandma and Grandpa. It made it easier when Karen was younger. Someday, I’ll need to explain the details, but I thank God that I have assurance my parents are in heaven with God and His Son, Jesus Christ.”
“How can you be sure of anything, Janice? There are no guarantees in life. It’s a battle every day. I think I believe there’s a God, but Jesus Christ, No Way!” Shouts Elizabeth.
“I’ll explain later when you’re ready to hear, Elizabeth. I sense anger and bitterness in your spirit. When you’re ready, I’ll be happy to share,” Janice consoles her.
“But, this is the Saturday before Easter. Let’s celebrate with lunch at the rabbit farm. Follow me, Elizabeth!” Janice cheerfully commands.
Elizabeth reluctantly drives the twelve miles with the kids and rabbits in the back seat.
“Mom! My rabbit is nibbling my finger,” Randy giggles
“That means he likes you,” states his mom.
“No, the rabbit believes your finger is a carrot and wants to bite it off!” Shouts Rita.
“That wasn’t nice to say, Rita. Now, tell Randy you’re sorry,” yells mom while driving.
“I’m sorry-not!” Rita shouts louder.
“You’re getting to be a rowdy child, Rita. I don’t know what I will do with you,” Elizabeth states in anguish.
“I miss dad and wish Grandma and Grandpa didn’t live so far away,” Rita softly states.
“I know, honey. Your dad does visit you every other weekend, and we do a video chat with Grandma every Sunday afternoon,” Elizabeth tries to console Rita.
“I just wish everything was how it used to be, that’s all,” Rita shares.
After the short drive, Janice and Elizabeth arrive at the farmhouse, and the first person to greet them is Grandma, followed by Grandpa a few steps behind.
“You must be Elizabeth. Welcome to our quaint farm,” Grandma states as she hugs Elizabeth.
“Thank you for having us over on such short notice. I’m most appreciative,” states Elizabeth.
Grandpa stoops down to talk with the kids. “What is your name, young man?”
“Who’s your friend in the cage?”
“My prize, easter bunny!” Randy yells loudly.
“And young lady, what is your name?”
“That’s a pretty name, Rita. I like it. I suppose that’s your prize, easter bunny,” Grandpa points to the rabbit cage.
“Yes, it is, and you’re supposed to take good care of it so I can come over to visit,” Rita blares childlike.
“You bet. I promise to do just that, and you visit anytime you want. Karen, why don’t you show the kids the prize easter bunnies’ new home?”
“Sure thing, Grandpa. Come on, Rita and Randy, follow me.”
“Let’s go inside the farmhouse, ladies. It’s getting a little chilly out here,” states grandma. “Elizabeth, would you mind setting the table while Janice and I finish preparing lunch? You’ll find the dishes in the cupboard.”
“Oh, I don’t think the kids and I should stay. I don’t want to intrude on your family gathering,” Elizabeth softly states.
“Nonsense! I won’t take no for an answer,” Grandma firmly states. “Besides, you’ll hurt my feelings if you and the kids don’t partake in my farmhouse cooking.”
“Well, if you state it like that, I wouldn’t want to hurt your feelings. We’ll stay, and I’ll set the table,” Elizabeth chuckles, and Janice joins in, knowing full well Grandma was teasing.
As Elizabeth, Rita, and Randy sit at the table about to enjoy a wonderful Saturday afternoon brunch, Grandma asks Grandpa to say grace.
Elizabeth and the kids quietly roll their eyes at each other, wondering what will happen next.
“Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you for the blessings you bestow upon us. We thank you for blessing us with the arrival of our guests, and we thank you for the abundance of food you have blessed us with. Amen.”
“That was a nice prayer, Grandpa. As our guests, Elizabeth, Rita, and Randy, you go first,” Grandma states.
As the plates are being passed around the table, Elizabeth speaks.
“May I ask a question?”
“Of course, dear. What’s on your heart?” Grandma inquires.
“Why do you thank God, or as you say, ‘Heavenly Father’, for things you have that you worked for? What does God have anything to do with what you have?”
Grandpa quickly speaks, “Allow me to answer that. Grandma and I are new born again Christians. We invited Jesus Christ into our hearts and lives when we were as young as your children, Elizabeth. We believe Jesus atoned for our sins and was crucified and buried. We believe God raised Jesus from the dead on the third day, and He now lives in Heaven with God.”
“That sounds complicated, and what is it with this new born Christian thing and atonement for sins?” Elizabeth asks.
Janice shares, “In the Bible, it states we all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. The penalty for sin is death, but Jesus Christ took our place by shedding his blood on the cross. He paid the price for all mankind. It is by His blood that we are washed whiter than snow. All our sins are forgiven and forgotten.”
“Wow! I had never heard a story like that before,” Elizabeth still in unbelief.
Karen speaks, “Even though I’m only eleven, I accepted Jesus three years ago. I know I’ll be in heaven with Jesus forever and not in hell when I die.”
Randy shouts out, “Look! The rabbits are in the front lawn!”
“I installed some new locks on the rabbit cages. They may be a bit tricky to lock, and I bet the rabbits simply bumped the door open,” Grandpa states.
“I guess I didn’t lock the cages securely, so I’ll go and gather them and put them back in, Grandpa,” Karen offers.
“Oh, finish your lunch, dear. The rabbits will be all right. We’ll get them later,” Grandpa comforts Karen.
“I think they should be named the ‘Rascally Rabbits,’ Rita suggests.
Everyone at the table agreed.
After lunch, Janice and Elizabeth offer to wash and dry the dishes while Grandma rests and the kids and Grandpa round up the rabbits.
During the kitchen clean-up, Elizabeth asks Janice, “why isn’t your husband with you and Karen this weekend?”
“Oh, he had to attend an annual weekly conference and will return early tomorrow morning. Karen and I will be meeting him at church. Say, my grandparents have a guest cottage out back. Why don’t you and the kids stay overnight and join us for church tomorrow morning?”
“I think we’ve intruded enough for one day. Your grandparents’ hospitality is beyond nice. I don’t want to wear out the welcome mat by over-extending ourselves,” Elizabeth shares.
“I assure you that you’ll never wear out the welcome mat. By the way, what kind of work do you do, Elizabeth?
“I work at the animal shelter in town. Been there for ten years now. Had it not been for the divorce, I would be graduating from vet school in two years. But, oh well, such is life. I still have the enjoyment of working with cats and dogs.”
“I can’t guarantee anything but had you and your ex had God and Jesus in your lives, and marriage, you may not be divorced now. At least all the big hurdles in life would only be gentle speed bumps. By the way, your kids will love Sunday School, and you’ll love the message given by the Pastor. You really ought to join us tomorrow morning in church,” Janice offers the invitation again.
“Yeah, okay. We’ll go. Your offer sounds too good to be true. I’ll share with Rita and Randy that they will attend Sunday School tomorrow morning. Sounds like you live around here in the country?”
“Yeah, my husband, daughter, and I live about three miles from here. We have a small three-acre farm that we dapple with, more like a hobby farm.”
“But, you were in town for the Easter Egg Hunt.”
“Our small farm community isn’t big enough to sponsor an event like that. So, I drove the twelve miles, no big deal. I go into town at least once a week for shopping and stuff.”
The next morning they all attend the small farmhouse church seating about seventy people. After the worship segment, the Pastor greets the congregation from behind the pulpit.
“As you all know, I attended the Pastor’s conference last week. It is good to be back. I thank our Sunday School teacher, Grandpa Jones, for filling in for me. It’s also good to see my daughter, Karen, and my lovely wife, Janice, again. And after all that fancy hotel cooking, I can hardly wait for Grandma’s fried chicken Sunday dinner.”
The congregation chuckles, and Elizabeth turns around in her pew with eyes wide open and glances at Janice sitting in back of her and gives her a knowing gentle smile.
After the service, with everyone greeting the Pastor outside the church doors, Elizabeth states, “Pastor, you indeed have a small farm community that can keep a secret. Your wife and daughter, not to mention the grandparents, have persuaded my kids and me that we do need God and Jesus in our lives. I look forward to attending your church as often as possible.”
“I look forward to your visits. You and your children are welcome anytime you’re in the area,” the Pastor politely states.
Janice walks up beside Elizabeth. “We were concerned that if you knew my husband, Ken was the local Pastor and Grandpa, the Sunday School teacher, you’d run away. But, we give all the glory to God for touching your heart. Amen.”
“Elizabeth, I understand you wanted to be a vet. Our small farm community has another secret. Our local vet, Dr. Thomas, has an apprentice program. I think it’s four years. If you want to consider coming here every weekend and working with animals, Dr. Thomas will certify you as an official vet after completion. And you can stay at the guest cottage with your kids. What do you say, Elizabeth?” Grandpa asks.
“Are you kidding? This would be a dream come true. Are you sure about this? I don’t want to intrude.”
“Oh, we’ll be okay with your intrusion. After all, you’ll learn to give our rabbits free shots. So, it’s a win-win for everyone,” Grandpa jests.
“Rita and Randy, how would you like to visit your rascally rabbits every weekend and attend Sunday School?”
“Yeah, mom, that would be great!” they shout.
Two Years Later
After two years of tutoring Elizabeth, Dr. Thomas handed the reins to his son, Bart, who had recently graduated from vet school. Bart and Elizabeth became good friends during her final two years of internship. After Elizabeth graduated from the Farm Bureau Vet School, she received her vet and marriage certificate. Bart and Elizabeth tied the knot in a small ceremony at Grandma’s and Grandma’s farmhouse. After the honeymoon, they lived on Bart’s farm, previously his retired dad’s, and raised, would you believe it, rascally rabbits!