Monday, March 26, 2012

Getting Ready for Easter

I am spending this week gathering all of the needed materials for our Easter traditions. I thought I would share our traditions again on here in case anyone else was looking for some great Easter activities. I love the things we do as a family each year for Easter to help our children understand the cross and the resurrection. I love the way it keeps us thinking about the cross throughout the whole week. Most of all I have loved seeing the boys understanding more and more each year.

This Sunday we begin our Lenten Lights devotion written by Noel Piper. Each night we do a short devotion using candles. It is a series of 8 devotions than can be done once a week during the 8 weeks of Lent leading up to Easter or can be done once a day for the week leading up to Easter. We chose the daily for the week leading up to Easter. The devotion centers around 7 candles- I use tea lights on a tray around a cross. One the first night you begin with all 7 candles lit and during the devotion you snuff out one candle. Then night two, you start with only 6 lit and snuff out another, until on Good Friday you snuff out the last candle. Then on the Saturday before Easter, you do not light any candles as Christ has died, his followers were devastated, it appeared darkness and sin had won. Then on Easter Sunday you light all 7 candles again because Jesus, the Light of the World, is Alive!! Sin and death have been defeated. Last year we added a response time for the boys where they drew a picture about the lesson. It was amazing to see how much they clearly understood from the devotion. This year Caleb will write a sentence summary and draw a picture while Noah and Josiah draw pictures. If you are interested in the Lenten Light devotion click here (it's free!).

Last year I read Noel Piper's book Treasuring God in Our Traditions. It is a free PDF if anyone is interested in reading it. I highly recommend it. In her chapter on Easter she has a recipe for playdough that you make and then bake in the shape of a hill, but on the backside of the hill you use a can to create a tomb- so really the hill is hollow. And then on Palm Sunday you create people out of pipe cleaners and each day of the holy week you reenact the part of the story that occurred that day- the triumphant entry, the passover meal and last supper, Jesus in the garden, etc. And on Good Friday you put a cross on the top of your hill and reenact the crucifixion as you read the story from the Bible. Take Jesus down off of the cross and place him in the tomb and roll a stone over the entrance. Then on Saturday night after the kids go to bed, take Jesus out of the tomb and put him somewhere for the kids to find! Place angels at the entrance of the tomb. Last year the boys were more excited about seeing the empty tomb than they were about their Easter baskets! We put the resurrected Jesus with our Lenten Lights so the boys found him when we came in to light all of our candles! I am really looking forward to this project this year and am actually going to incorporate it into our homeschool time. If you are interested, I recommend downloading the book as it has a much better description of what to do!

On Good Friday we will do our Basket full of Blessings.  On Good Friday, we'll go on a rock hunt and gather rocks. Then we'll paint the rocks black to represent our sins which Jesus died for. We like to talk about how our hearts are bad and that sin is not just the bad things we do, but that we need a new heart. Then we put the rocks in the kids' Easter baskets and leave them out. During the day Saturday as we see the rocks, we can talk again about sin and about Jesus' death. Saturday night after the kids are in bed, we'll remove their rocks from their baskets and replace them with treats. Then when they wake up on Sunday morning, the rocks in their baskets have been replaced with blessings! Just like the greatest blessing our redemption and victory over sin!

On Easter Sunday we'll make resurrection rolls for breakfast. These are super easy and a great illustration. Use crescent rolls, marshmallows, melted butter, sugar and cinnamon. Dip the marshmallows in butter and roll them in the sugar and cinnamon- this represents Jesus after he has died and his body was prepared for burial. Then put the marshmallow inside of the crescent roll- make sure to pinch all of the seams so that the marshmallow won't ooze out. This is Jesus in the tomb. Bake the rolls according to the directions on the package. When they are done, open the crescent rolls to reveal and empty tomb! The marshmallow melts into a sugary, gooey yum and the tomb is empty.

That's it! I hope this sparks some ideas for you to use in your families. I am looking forward to a week celebrating the Savior!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A New Year and Still Counting

Life constantly moves and changes, but the Author of Life remains the same. Because He is always good and His glory fills the whole earth, shouldn't every moment be filled with praise? To that end.....

426. spontaneous singing in the backseat

427. warm temperatures

428. sommer

429. her tiny hands clasped together

430. singing bedtime songs

431. family worship

432. the way he is beginning to understand scripture

434. when they wrestle and giggle

435. surprising him for his birthday

436. chinese take-out

437. "wook at dis eden"

438. listening to them praise

439. the way noah remembers a bible story

440. fresh baked yummies

441. a walk with a friend

442. free pancakes

443. sun warm on winter skin

444. hearing thousands praise Him, in many languages, knowing He knows them all

445. being with him at passion

446. when she falls asleep with a paci in each hand

447. the way she nuzzles

448. quiet evening at home

449. water droplets on branches

450. painted faces