Easter.

Easter is one of my favorite holidays. Christmas is awesome because it’s, well, Christmas! But, Easter is special on a whole other level.

Growing up, we had very specific things we did as a family for Easter. We never got Easter baskets filled with gifts, toys, and chocolate. In fact, that whole concept was completely foreign to me and to this day, I don’t understand the reasoning behind it. We would get maybe a chocolate bunny or some Cadbury eggs. That was it. My sister and I might get a new dress and I always wore this ridiculous straw hat with a big, white bow to church Easter morning (whatever happened to the tradition of new dresses and hats for Easter?!). Thursday evening before Easter, our church sometimes did a special service with communion to kind of kick-off the holiday weekend. But, Sunday morning was the big hoopla!

We always started Easter morning with getting ready before the sun rose. I remember it being so utterly pitch black DARK out and wondering why in the world we had to get up so early! We would get all dressed up in our Easter finest and Mom would cart us into the church well before dawn (dad was normally there an hour before we arrived). Then, we would bundle up in our winter clothes and head out into the crisp, Vermont spring air outside the church for a short sunrise service. The view behind our church in Vermont is just completely gorgeous – the sun rising over the mountains and the frost still on the ground. Cold, but beautiful. We would sing hymns and then hurry back inside to get warm and fill up on Easter eggs and breakfast breads. Sunday school was followed by a very special Easter service. I played trumpet back in the day and my favorite memory was this one year, two of us (maybe three?) were on trumpets up in the balcony, hiding behind the little half wall. When the congregation hit the chorus of “Lo in the grave He lay…” we jumped up and joined in – “Up from the grave He arose! With a mighty triumph o’er His foes!…” Literally, we had people thinking the rapture was happening and I think half the congregation just quit singing all together!

After church, we would come home and have a lovely Easter dinner, sometimes with friends over, normally just family. One year, my mom splurged (big time for us!) and made lamb. She tried to use some traditional Jewish herbs and my parents tried to explain to us the significance of such things. I remember it was a great meal and still stands out as a favorite Easter.

Did you notice no mention of the Easter bunny or dyeing eggs?! We dyed eggs maybe twice in my entire life. We never talked about the Easter bunny. And like I said earlier, we never had baskets of any such sort. And you know what? I don’t miss any of it.

Easter is not about, nor has it ever been about, a stupid bunny delivering eggs. I mean, what in the world? Easter is a celebration of the fact that Jesus Christ not only died, but ROSE AGAIN from the dead. He conquered death so we don’t have to worry about it! He took our place on that awful cross and died for us, out of love, even while we were still enemies of Him. It was His purpose in coming and with that sacrifice, we are free.

So, in the future, my ideas for celebrating Easter with my kids include:

  • using one of the days of the week leading up to Easter to do a quasi-sedar meal where we talk through Passover and the significance of everything that happened that night and how it pertains to us today.
  • making resurrection rolls with them — a crescent roll with a marshmallow inside. The basic idea is to talk through the process of baking the roll with the marshmallow inside and then it disappears when it bakes. 
  • simple things like coloring sheets and talking through the Easter story with them.
  • making Easter cards for friends and family.
  • possibly doing like an Easter tree where each egg hung on the branch has a part of the Easter story inside of it.
  • taking time Friday and Saturday to talk about what happened on each day and reading the corresponding story in the Bible.
  • family meal Sunday after church.

Easter is the building block of our Christian faith. Without the facts of what we celebrate this weekend, there would be no reason whatsoever for our faith. It matters greatly that Jesus died – but every other prophet/god has died. What matters most is that He did not stay dead! His sacrifice of Himself was acceptable to God the Father, therefore God raised Him from the dead! Praise the Lamb of God who was slain for us! It is finished – for you and for me!

Happy Easter!

House Rules.

So, I have to admit that one of my guilty TV pleasures is “Wife Swap.” Although, most of the time, I can’t make it through an episode without getting severely frustrated at how some people live! Tonight I watched an episode of “Celebrity Wife Swap” … strange … but anyway – it got me thinking about what our house rules would be like if I had to write them out. And here’s what I’ve come up with:

  1. Our home is characterized by grace. If I want to lead my children to Christ in the future, then they must begin now understanding just a taste of what grace is – an amouse bouche, if you will, of grace. It will leave them wanting more, which will hopefully lead them to Christ.
  2. We parent as partners. We have two different roles and we play off of each other. I cannot survive the day without his help and vice versa. As we’ve grown as a couple and as parents we’ve come into our own as far as our roles go and we’re happy with them. Neither of us do all of anything; we both do at least some of most of it. And we’re both there for the other when we go, “I just can’t do it anymore!”
  3. We may not be structured, but we’re not just carefree, either. I have a schedule for each day – but it’s normally a “I-really-hope-this-gets-done-today” list as opposed to a “do-this-or-die” list. If I sit on the floor and “cook” with Elena for an hour instead of dusting and vacuuming then I guess I’ll just do it tomorrow instead. If Elena doesn’t get out of her PJ’s until 10am, but she’s had breakfast and we’re not going anywhere for the day, then I’m not going to worry too much.
  4. We share our money. Neither of us spends a dime without first asking the other unless it is cash that is specifically given to that person with the purpose of “do with it as you wish.” Otherwise, it’s a no-go. I know what Brian buys; he knows what I buy. We buy what we need, throw in a few “wants” every now and then, and above all, are content with what we have.
  5. We follow the thinking of, “I want to raise my children so that other people enjoy being around them.” I want to be able to bring them to someone else’s home and not be terrified – or embarrassed – by how they are behaving. I want others to go, “Wow, I love being around your children. It’s not stressful – it’s actually enjoyable!” And so far, so good!
  6.  A messy house = a stressful home. Therefore, the house stays clean as much as possible. Elena picks up her own toys and I try to make sure the house is picked up and dishes are done every night before bed. I try to do simple things like actually putting items completely away instead of just setting them on a desk. Or, actually throwing something in the trash right away, no matter how small. And once a week, I organize and arrange the entire house.
  7. Take pictures and fill out the baby books. I’ve started putting pictures into Shutterfly books and making sure my picture frames are filled and hanging up. Elena’s baby book, I’m proud to say, is complete and Joseph’s is basically up-to-date.
  8. Say “I love you” frequently each day. We also try to complement our kids. It’s very easy to get caught up in constantly saying “no” and not taking time to acknowledge the good they do!
  9. We eat twice a day as a family. Nope, we don’t do breakfast together. Ever. None of us are big breakfast people, nor are we morning people. Why make that worse by trying to sit and eat together? Especially since we’re all waking up at different times and have different morning habits! But, we DO have lunch and supper together, as a family, every single day, at the table. We went awhile just eating in front of the TV and honestly, once we started sitting at the table again, Elena’s eating habits and table manners substantially improved. She’s two and she even asks to pray every night, too! Score.
  10. We have “family nights.” I try to make Friday nights our “family night.” Growing up, my mom made homemade pizza every Friday night and I’ve tried to keep that up in my own family. Friday nights, we normally do homemade pizza and a special dessert followed by something as a family, whether it be a movie or games or just playing on the floor. We stay home and we enjoy being together.
  11. We do our best to tie life back into God, the Author of Life. Again, if we want our children to come to know the Lord as Savior, then it is imperative that we show them how He fits into every day living. “Who made that big tree you love so much?” “Where does God live?” “Mommy loves you, but Jesus loves you even more!” “Jesus was a baby once, too, just like Jo-Jo! Except He never did anything wrong! Does Elena do anything wrong sometimes?” “That makes Mommy very sad, but you know what? That makes Jesus sad, too. You don’t want to make Jesus sad, do you?” “Great-Grandpa is with Jesus now. But, someday you’ll get to meet Great-Grandpa! And see Jesus at the same time! Isn’t that exciting?”

These aren’t really “rules” per se, but they are what characterize and shape our home. What shapes yours? 

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