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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Were Made For Friendships

Family Photo copyIt didn’t make sense. It was 11:00 at night. My husband had just gone to bed, and I was shutting down the computer to follow him when a simple picture of friends swept across the screen and loneliness swept through my heart. I turned out the lights and sat in the darkness.

It wasn’t that my friends weren’t there or didn’t care. It was that I was in an emotionally exhausting season and was too overwhelmed to connect like usual. I was struggling on my own, and I felt isolated. I needed the encouraging words of a friend to shed light and remind me that I was not alone.

Maybe it isn’t a picture in the midst of a too full plate that makes you lonely or hurt. Maybe it’s:

  • The cold stares from those moms who think your son is too wild in the church nursery.
  • That all your friends on Facebook have husbands who post praises to their wives and pictures of romantic dinners while yours falls asleep in the chair and you cry alone in bed.
  • That you feel like a terrible mom because you love your kids so much and yet you don’t like them because they’re rude and disrespectful and you’re sure no one else feels that way.

Whatever makes your heart heavy, I want to be that friend whispering into your darkness that you are wonderful and capable and accepted and loved. And that I understand your fears and your doubts because I have them too.

We were not made to go solo. We were made for community.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NLT) 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. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

Here we see that friendship provides greater success, help in need, warmth, strength, and wholeness. I want this and I want it for you.

It’s why I write here. For those of you who only know me by my blog photo, you matter to me. I want you to know that on the other side of your screen, I am here cheering you on. My heart breaks when you feel broken, and it celebrates when you feel joy. Every word I type is my effort to take your hand and say:

“We” is better than me!

And sometimes I need you to take mine because it can be lonely on this side too. The enemy often convinces me that what I do doesn’t matter. That my words are meaningless noise in an already too-busy place. But my writing is not for me. It’s for you. I share my stories and my thoughts to encourage and hopefully inspire you. So I will keep writing when I’m too tired or too busy because maybe it does.

Putting my heart on display for public scrutiny is not easy. With each post, I risk rejection and criticism. But friendship comes with a risk–there can’t be intimacy without vulnerability–and you are worth that. And I know that as we learn to share our broken pieces, we can fit them together to form something beautifully whole.

So, can I ask you to link arms with me in friendship? In a world where people are isolated and alone, will you remember that you don’t have to be? I hope so, and I hope you’ll leave me a message to tell me so. 

 

 

 

 

Self-Care Does Not Equal Self-ISH

Can we just admit it? We moms can be good at playing the martyr. Young or old, it’s as though we’re programmed to believe that if we’re caring for ourselves then we’re neglecting the care of others. I’m guilty. I can convince myself in a heartbeat that my unshaven legs and cancelled doctor appointments are proof of how hard I work for my family rather than the evidence of poor time management.

ID-100233627The fact is, if we believe that self-care is selfish then we have bought into a lie that exhausts us and robs us the joys of motherhood. Self-care is neither selfish nor optional. It is critical to our health and our ability to be who we were created to be and do what we were created to do.

It’s about stewardship, not indulgence. It isn’t going on a shopping spree at the expense of paying the mortgage. It isn’t opting for a spa manicure instead of rocking a sick baby. It’s carving out time in a busy schedule to care for ourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually for the sake of being renewed and restored.

Life’s demands do not have to govern us. Motherhood doesn’t have to drain us. As moms, we need to nurture our children, de-clutter our homes, and feed our families. But we can be more effective when we start with nurturing our own bodies, de-cluttering our minds, and feeding our spirit. Without this, our to-do list grows while our energy shrivels, along with our joy and effectiveness.

I know between carpooling and carschooling (my version of homeschooling many days), we all have too little time, but we still have the freedom to choose our schedule rather than let it dictate our lives. Start small and learn to build more margin into each day for activities that rejuvenate you.

If you’ve been meaning to catch up with an old friend, call her today for a short chat. If you’ve been wanting to wake up earlier to do a short devotion before the day starts, go to bed thirty minutes earlier (yes, even with a sink full of dishes) and do it.

Self-care is not selfish; It’s life-saving and life-giving. It’s not optional, but imperative. Without it, we find ourselves unraveling under the demands of life and unmanaged stress, making us vulnerable to illness, anxiety, and depression–all of which limits our ability to do what we’ve been called to do.

We don’t have to be martyr moms. We make it difficult to enjoy our lives and for others to enjoy us when we choose that path. I believe Jesus came to give us an abundant life (John 10:10), but a long face and exhausted body isn’t the best picture of that abundance.

This is the day. Not some day. Today is the day to choose to recharge your body, renew your mind, and refresh your spirit. You and your family will be glad you did.

So what are you waiting for? Are you guilty of waiting for some day to have more time or more money to really care for yourself as you should? What really keeps you from starting today? 

 

 

 

 

 

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.