Fun Ideas for a Christ-Centered Easter

Samara helping Lyza with her Play-Doh creations.

Samara helping Lyza with her Play-Doh creations.

Easter is less than two weeks away. Now, I’m not one to shoot the Easter Bunny or declare that all things fun or yummy like egg hunts and jelly beans need to be banned (certainly not chocolate bunnies!). Still, I do want to be intentional to remind my children that Easter is about an empty tomb that once held Jesus, and to keep our activities focused on Him.

With so little time and even less creativity, I love it when those ultra-creative moms do some of the work for me. So, since I’m not one of those, I thought I’d round up some of their awesomeness and put it in one place. I hope you find some new ways to celebrate Easter this year and perhaps start some lifelong traditions.

TRADITIONS

Resurrection Eggs–There are all sorts of these, but these are my favorite for ages 5 and up.

Grace Garden–I absolutely love this one from Ann Voskamp at aholyexperience.com. Ann says, “So the kids and I, we put our hands into dirt, and we remember our garden fall and His garden grace.” Love it!

Fun Easter Story Cards For a Neighbor–I love these printables from the Happy Home Fairy. Fun for the whole family.

Family Service Jar–Another from the Happy Home Fairy and a great way to encourage kindness. Definitely going to be a new tradition for us.

ACTIVITIES, GAMES, AND CRAFTS

Easter Bingo–Telling the Easter story with symbols and a game for ages 4-7.

The Jesus Tree–There are all kinds of variations on this, but this is simple (Yay for me!) and has a Bible study to go along with it.

Resurrection Scavenger Hunt–My kiddos have always loved scavenger hunts, and this one is one for all ages.

Salt Dough Empty Tomb–A keeper and one we will do this week.

Printable Easter Coloring Pages–I’m a fan of everything from What’s In The Bible and these are no different. When you’re finished, you may just want to get a copy of Jesus is the Good News! to watch together.

Pop-Up Easter Scenes–For those of you who are beyond the coloring pages, these are awesome. I’m okay with just staying between the lines though.

Clothespin Donkey–Just in time for Palm Sunday, little crafters will love this.

Where Is Jesus Watercolor Magic–Always exciting to see the surprise in these.

RECIPES

Resurrection Cookies–Definitely not my favorite cookies, but the kids love them and I love the lessons they learn. Leigh Anne at Your Home Based Mom shows how simple they are.

Resurrection Buns–What kids don’t love these! Easy and fun!

No Bake Empty Tomb Treat–Made with donuts and Oreos. Enough said.

Crown of Thorn Cookies–Another awesome treat that’s simple and delish.

Lamb of God Cupcakes–Seriously, too cute.

Surprise Cross Cake–This is for the serious baker. I will not be making this one, but would be thrilled if any of you volunteered to make it for me. Amazing!

Cross Cake For the Rest of Us–An easier version that I’ve made for Easter dinner many times or at least until Samara threw up red velvet all over my nearly-white bedroom carpet. She hasn’t been able to look at red velvet cake since ;-).

BOOKS

Here’s a short list of some of my favorites. There are so many more, but these are the ones that you’ll never get tired of reading.

Benjamin’s Box: The Story of the Resurrection Eggs–We read this as we do the resurrection eggs.

The Tale of Three Trees: A Traditional Folktale–One of my favorite children’s books ever, we read it anytime of the year.

The Thornbush–primarily for ages 4-8, but tells the story of shame and redemption through the eyes of a thorn bush.

Amon’s Adventure: A Family Story for Easter–This book for the whole family is a traditional read for us. Packed with excitement and great lessons, we get more from it each time we read it.

Well, there you have it–some great ideas from some great moms on the web. I hope you try a few this year, and bookmark this page to keep new ideas right at your fingertips next year. Until then, have an Easter full of the freedom and love of Jesus.

And please share some of your own ideas or pictures with me here or at our Mothers With a Mission Facebook group.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Tough Being a Woman

 

thumb_FullSizeRender-5_1024Thought I’d share this just for fun.

In clearing out some old files, I came across this poem I wrote back when my youngest girls were toddlers. It’s a true account of a pitifully chaotic day that we all lived to tell about. I hope it makes you smile and reminds you that sometimes the demands of our lives are often proof of our blessings. And despite how tough it is at times, it really is great to be a woman…and wife…and mother…and cook…and chauffeur…and teacher…and referee…and nurse…and, okay you get it. You’re there.

It’s Tough Being a Woman

Ah a moment to sit

On the couch for a bit

With a cup of hot tea in hand.

Wee ones down for a nap,

A good book on my lap

And dinner simmering in a pan.

 

Then my reverie is broken

As harsh words are spoken

From behind a bedroom door.

“Mommy, she hit me!”

“That’s cause she bit me!”

A wail and then a small roar.

 

So I drag myself up

And put down my cup,

Too tired to even mention.

Would either one care

That all this gray hair’s

‘Cause it’s tough being a woman?

 

I’m now in a hurry

To step in as referee

And get back to my tea while it’s hot.

But halfway to the stairs,

Teflon-laden air

Reminds me of an unwatched pot.

 

So I race to the stove,

But the ring of the phone

Quickly stops me in my tracks.

Now children are crying,

And dinner is frying,

And mama is stressed to the max.

 

My son bursts through the door,

Traipsing mud on the floor;

Kind words I just can not summon.

The answering machine blares;

It’s the school, but who cares?

It’s too tough being a woman!

 

Then my two little fighters—

One hitter, one biter

Run by, each wielding a stick.

So I call to my daughter,

“Please go get your father!

And tell him I need him quick!”

 

Next I rant and I fuss,

But, thank God, didn’t cuss

And reveal the heart of this sinner.

I intercept the two

On their way back through

And finally turn off that dinner.

 

Then my husband strolls in

With a bit of a grin

And a little sideways glance.

And says, “Honey, you know

You have quite a glow,

And you’re lookin’ real good in those pants.”

 

It was all I could take;

I let it escape,

And I ended up being the villain.

But why couldn’t they see

There’s only one of me

And, MAN! It’s tough being a woman!

 

Then with all his charm

He reached out his arms

And said, “Why don’t you have a seat?”

“But I’m too far behind…”

He said, “It’ll be fine,

And we can just go out to eat.”

 

Later, the kids in bed,

My hand on their heads,

I thank God for all I’ve been given.

What He gives is enough.

The rest is just stuff,

And MAN! It’s great being a woman.

Putting Sex In Its Place

I could feel his eyes on me. And not with appreciation. Then, only half-joking, he said, “If I ever catch those sweatpants off your body, I’m going to throw them away.”

Umm, since when does he care about fashion? Good luck with that anyway. I like my sweats.

Out loud, though, I laughed and quipped, “They’re comfy. I like ’em,” and went on my way.

Later, as I was tossing them into the hamper, I realized that my husband doesn’t mind my comfy sweats. What he minds is my forgetting to trade them for something sexy and remember him. Lately, I’ve been mopey, he’s been sick, and the calendar has been too full. So needless to say, it has not culminated into a heavenly, lose-your-mind moment.

ID-10076442Instead of falling into his arms at night, I’ve been falling onto my side of the bed thinking, I have to be up in 7 hours. Yeah, I should sleep. I have forgotten that Jon needs me—all of me—just as much as I need sleep. I’ve fallen into the dangerous trap of letting my chaos dictate my choices and letting sex fall from its place at the top of my priorities.

Why does it matter? Because, except in extreme cases, married sex is the tie that binds. As we intertwine our bodies, we also intertwine our hearts. I want that. I want him.

So I’ve decided to tell him more often and put sex back in its place. Maybe you need to, too. Maybe life has gotten a bit chaotic and you’d rather take a long bath or eat leftover Valentine’s chocolate.

Maybe you’ve forgotten that you were a lover before you were a mother. 

What do we do?

1—Talk about it and address the real issue. Tell your husband where you are and what you’re struggling with. Talk about what you need and ask what he needs from you. You might be surprised.

2—Put it on the to-do list. I know, I know, that sounds terribly unromantic! But really, it’s important. Now, not in writing mind you—that would be weird even for this die-hard planner—but if we don’t make a mental note and plan to set aside time and energy for our husbands, then we’ll be drained of both by the end of the day. My husband knows I attack everything on my to-do list, so he periodically pencils his name on it to make sure he also gets attacked ;-).

3—Wear pretty underthings and lingerie that make you feel beautiful. This one thing speaks volumes! Since our husbands are the only ones who ever see our intimate apparel, shouldn’t we give more attention to it than to what the world sees? I understand we all have a different degree of comfort here based on beliefs and body image, but just as putting on a smile makes you feel happier, putting on sexy things makes you feel sexier.

4—Pray about it. Really. God is not nearly as uncomfortable as we are talking about sex. He won’t be shocked or offended by your questions and doubts. He wants us to enjoy married sex. He tells husbands, “…may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated by her love.” (Prov. 5:19 NIV) Seems pretty straightforward to me.

Over the years, I’ve recognized that sex has its seasons just like everything else in marriage. Babies, illnesses, crises—life—all make it easy to neglect this area. But let’s determine to put sex in its rightful place. It’s a beautiful way to enjoy each other, draw closer to each other, and burn a few calories to boot. Not too bad a way to spend our time.

 

 

 

 

Love Letter To My Grown-Up Children

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Kaila and Kieran–Austalia, January 2016

Dear Kieran and Kaila,

I hope you don’t mind that I’m openly sharing this personal peek into my heart. I was going to mail this letter, but then I thought about all the other mamas who are where I am or will be one day and I wondered if they needed words to attach to the jumble of emotions that are inevitably part of this “letting go” process.

I can’t believe this moment took me by surprise. After all, I’ve had two decades to prepare for it. Still, it hit me pretty hard that you two are turning 18 and 21 in just a matter of days. The reality of what that means has left me a bit breathless, and to be honest, a lot scared.

I feel like I’m short on time, and I wonder about all the things I left unsaid and untaught and undone. Never did I think it would be so hard. I always thought moms knew instinctively what to do to settle their babies, and to conquer life for their children, and then to launch their adults, ready to face life’s challenges.

But I quickly found out I was not one of those moms!

I was a blundering mom, trudging my way through every new phase wondering what the right thing to do was. I was sure I was going to have to pay for your counseling sessions one day (thank you for sparing me that expense…so far 🙂 ). Every day, I asked God to parent you because I was certain I was messing it all up on a large scale. It’s okay if you agree. You still turned out amazing despite me.

But here I am again.

Kayla's first day in the world--Feb 8, 1998

Kaila’s first day in the world–Feb 8, 1998

Trudging through.

Scared.

Asking myself questions like,

“Did you know how much I loved you or were you unsure of the priorities of my life?”

“Did I hold you enough while there was still time or did I let my to-do list trump my heart?”

“Did I model to you how to love your spouse and live with their best in front of you, or did you see me seek my own way over Dad’s too often?”

“Did Dad and I prepare you to be a servant in your homes and communities by modeling that or did you see too often that our flesh and selfishness took over?”

“Did we authentically live out our faith before you, or did we cripple your faith with our own weaknesses and doubts?”

“Did Dad and I teach you how to really build a life and a home and give you the tools to do it?”

Those questions and more keep wiggling their way into my consciousness and making me feel a sense of urgency at the disappearing days. I can’t take back the years. I can only pause in this blink of a moment to tell you what I hope you already know, but want to make sure you do.

1—I have failed you and will continue to fail you, but God never will. He is a perfect parent who is never too tired to listen, or too selfish to see what you need, or too insecure to handle all your emotions. He is always good, always kind, always right. He will never let you down. Ever.

2—I’m sorry. I am. You know I could list a gazillion ways I got it wrong. I never meant to. I’ve prayed through the years that the scripture be fulfilled that claims, “Love covers a multitude of sins.” If my love isn’t enough, I know God’s is.

3—Love others better than they love you. Love without fear of getting hurt or getting behind. Love when it’s hard. Be the one who says, “I’m sorry.” Be the one who forgives first. Be the one who gives in. It may not gain you the promotion, or the recognition or even any appreciation, but it will allow you to live a life without regret.

4—Be patient with me as I release you. I once was your home. My heart beat to keep you alive. It always will. Only, you’re grown-ups now. You don’t need me for survival anymore, but I’ll forget that sometimes. Not because I don’t trust you, but because I’m learning how to trust you to the One who has been the true Sustainer of your lives all along. It’s hard but I’m trying.

Friends always.

Friends always.

5—I am so, so proud of you. You are amazing. There aren’t enough words to fully convey that to you. Of all the things I’ve accomplished in my life, nothing compares to our family collectively and individually. Not because I take the credit. But because you are evidence of a Living God who can and will do what I cannot. He traded my inadequacies for His sufficiency. I asked Him to parent you and He did. The proof is in the fact that you look more like him than you do me.

So, you two, it is with some yearning that I look back on years that went by much too quickly. But I also look with promise into the future that is before you now. You are ready for it. Be patient if I’m a little behind the curve; I’ll get there.

I love you both so much,

Mom

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Kieran-always a snuggler.

Sweet Kaila.

Sweet Kaila.

Turn Failed Resolutions Into ReVolutions That Change Your Life

We’re already past that point in January where most of us have abandoned our New Year’s resolutions and feel defeated by our lack of ability to drop those 10 pounds, start that new project, get our marriages back on track, you name it.

Before you get too discouraged though, let me assure you that you haven’t failed and it’s not too late for a re-do. This time though let’s have a reality check and make sure we’re doing what it takes to see real change rather than just pursuing a phantom wish we hope comes true.

What if instead of a half-hearted resolution, we decide to usher in a revolution?pablo-3

What if instead of making a resolution to lose weight, we revolutionized our approach to health and wellness? What if instead of making a resolution to have a better marriage, we revolutionized the way we treat our husbands? What if we stopped giving in to a defeatist mentality and finally revolutionized the way we see ourselves and determined that this is the year we stop saying we can’t and take the first step toward that thing we always wanted to do?

What if?

Merriam-Webster defines revolution as “a sudden, radical, or complete change” and “a fundamental change in the way of thinking about or visualizing something:  a change of paradigm.”

So how do we start our revolution?

  1. Make a specific plan and make it a real priority. Let’s be clear on this. Our priorities aren’t determined by what we claim, but by how we spend our time. We may claim that our marriage is our priority, but if spend our free time on Facebook rather than on a date with our husbands, we fool ourselves and nothing changes. However, a complete change in how your time is spent will mean a complete change in what you can achieve.
  2. Find someone you trust to hold you accountable and give support. It will be far too easy to quit if you are the only one who knows the plan. Ecclesiastes 2:10 says, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help…”(NLT)
  3. Start today. Mark Twain once said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” Procrastination is the great enemy of great things. I tell my children (and myself regularly) that you can’t course-correct a still object. Don’t be afraid of all the what-ifs of getting off course occasionally. That is far better than standing still and getting nowhere.
  4. Get past the past. Don’t allow past failure or disappointment to define you. Failures are just opportunities to learn a better way and grow. It doesn’t matter that you completely blew it up to this point with your children or nearly bankrupted financially. Life is a series of chapters. Learn from the experience, ask for forgiveness if necessary, and write the next chapter afresh.
  5. Keep the end in sight. Yogi Berra supposedly said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.” Know where you’re going from the start because it will get harder before it gets better. You will reach a plateau and want to quit. But there’s only one thing that guarantees our failure, and that’s quitting. You may need to rest and re-focus, but get back up and get back to work. It’s worth it.

How hard is this? Well I guess that depends on the revolution, but nothing worth having was ever gained effortlessly. But it is not impossible.

You CAN do it!

You’re turn. What in your life is in need of a “sudden, radical, or complete change”? Decide and then start your revolution today.