Tag Archives: Traditions

Hip Hip HOORAY! It’s Summer Vacay!

Today is the last day of the school year here!! Woo Hoo!! (We survived the first year of middle school!! Now THAT’s something worth celebrating! 😉 )

We’re gonna kick off this summer with a splash! When the girls get home, I’ll have this crate full of water fun waiting for them! I picked up a new slip-n-slide, a bucket full of water balloons, and some water guns…then I blew up a few balloons and made a little “Hip Hip Hooray! It’s Summer Vacay!” sign to finish it off.  Super easy, but lots of fun!

Later this evening we’ll sit down as a family and fill up our Summer Bucket List. We do this every year, and it is always a blast to see how much fun we can cram into our summer together. Plus, making a list and having a loose plan helps me make sure the days don’t just fly by without us taking time to be a bit intentional with our time together. Most of the things on our list won’t cost much money and won’t take a ton of time…we’re not going on any grand vacations this year…but it’s not so much about what we do as much as it’s just that we do some intentional things together.

Want to celebrate summer with us and plan your own summer of family fun? I’m sharing the Summer Vacay print with you, as well as an updated version of our Summer Bucket List. Feel free to print and plan for your own summer fun!

"Hip Hip Hooray! It's Summer Vacay!" LittleHousePrintable_8x10Click here for the Summer Vacay Printable

Summer Bucket List_LittleHousePrintableClick here for the Summer Bucket List Printable

(Looking for ideas for your Summer Bucket List? Check out my post from last year…I listed some ideas to help get you started. 🙂 )

Lent Resources

Lent Resources

It’s the season of Lent now.  And even though I didn’t grow up in a faith community that ever observed Lent (nor am I a part of one that observes it now), I am nonetheless drawn toward this idea of taking time to intentionally focus on Jesus and to prepare my heart for the celebration of Easter.

I know a lot of people give up something as part of Lent…some people fast, others spend extra time in prayer, some people give things away or serve others in some special way.  The idea is to focus on simple living, fasting, and prayer in order to grow closer to God.  I love that.  And it seems like there could be many ways to observe Lent, even if you’re not part of a church or a faith community that corporately observes it.

Maybe you’re a little like me and would like to do something this Lenten season but aren’t really sure what to do or where to start.  Here are some resources I’m using this year in these weeks leading up to Easter:

SheReadsTruthShe Reads Truth, Near The Cross Plan – this is a daily Lent devotional that I am reading along with.  I’ve done several of their other studies, and they are great!  You can access each day’s devotion for free on the website, or you can download the app and purchase the devotions that way.  I will be reading this Lent devotion every morning as a part of my personal quiet time.

ALentToRepent_LargeRectangleA Lent To Repent And Refresh, by Ann Voskamp – I adore Ann.  And she has put together this new, 40-day set of daily prayers to pray during all of Lent. They also double as ornaments that can be hung each day on an Easter Tree.  (Link to the printables is at the bottom of her post) I love this resource.  I will be praying these prayers every day right up until Easter, asking God to draw me closer to Him, repenting of the sin in my heart, and reflecting on all that He has done.

Family Easter Devotions & TraditionsEaster Family Devotions Kit – this is a little kit I put together last year for our family, to help up prepare for Easter.  It’s not necessarily a “Lent” devotion kit (it’s only 14 days of devotions, ideas and activities), but we will be using this again this year in the two weeks leading into Easter to help us focus on Jesus and prepare our hearts for Easter.  Feel free to use parts or all of this kit for your own family if you want! 🙂

 

What does your family do to observe Lent or prepare for Easter?  What is your favorite resource for this season? I’d love to hear some of your thoughts and ideas! 🙂

My Christmas Post

(It’s been a while since I’ve written here. Holidays and school and life piled up and I just haven’t had a lot of time to write, or really had the words to put a cohesive post together.  I think I’m making up for all those missed words with this post 😉  I apologize ahead of time for the wordiness of this post…but it is my one and only Christmas post for this year, then I will try to get back to blogging a little more regularly after the new year 🙂 So here goes…my Christmas post…)

Christmas

Christmas.

If you look at today’s media, take a stroll through the local shopping mall, drive around our neighborhood, or even walk through my own home, it seems that Christmas is a lot about things like twinkling lights and glittery trees, festive music and fun traditions, candy canes and gingerbread, and presents…lots and lots of presents.  There are special church services, festive themed parties, reindeer on rooftops and Santa coming in his sleigh.  It’s exciting. It’s flashy. And it’s so. much. fun!

I love all these things about Christmas.  I really do.  We love to bake cookies and decorate gingerbread houses.  We love watching Christmas movies and driving around looking at Christmas lights.  We love stories about Santa and Frosty and Buddy the Elf.  Christmas is so much fun!

But Christmas can also be quite crazy.

There is a lot to do and a lot to buy…there are places to be and people to see…and lists upon lists upon lists can pile up fast and before I know it the pace quickens to hyper-speed and I barely have time to think, let alone focus on the most important things.

In my head and in my heart, I know that Christmas is about Jesus. But a lot of times, my actions say that Christmas is about everything else and Jesus is just a side thought, just a nativity set on the table or a chorus of Joy to the World in the middle of shopping and wrapping and baking and running around like a crazy person.

This year I’ve been trying to be very intentional about slowing down.  I’ve said no to a lot of events.  I’ve eliminated a couple of things that we usually do every year.  I’ve tried to keep more days blank on the calendar than are full.  It’s been a challenge.  And I can’t say I’ve done a super awesome job of it.  There have still been some very busy days, there have still been some very long lists, and there have still been more than a few moments of stress and chaos.

But intentionally slowing down the pace, intentionally making space in the schedule, has allowed me to intentionally focus on Jesus.  And that has made all the difference.

Isn’t that always what makes all the difference?  Time with Jesus.

And in those slow moments, I’ve been thinking a lot about that first Christmas, trying to imagine that night when Jesus was born.

Have you ever really tried to imagine it?

I know we see the Nativity scene a lot around Christmastime…the pretty little stable with Mary and Joseph looking lovingly at baby Jesus who is laying in a manger that looks a lot like a snuggly cradle.

I love Nativities.

But I’m not sure they quite capture what that night was really like.

Ours certainly doesn’t…

This is our Nativity.  It’s a Veggie Tales classic…we’ve had it for years, ever since the girls were little toddlers and Bob and Larry were daily friends on the tv screen.

I love it. It’s awesome.  It even plays “O Little Town of Bethlehem” when you press the star.  It’s so cute!

But I don’t think the scene in Bethlehem that night was quite so cute.

And I don’t think it looked anything like Christmas does now.

There were no twinkling lights and no glittery trees.  Just another plain old night…just a dirty barn and smelly hay.

There was no festive music or carolers singing outside the stable.  Just the sounds of Mary giving birth, the cries of pain and struggling, and the sounds of the animals bleating and snorting all around her. (Can you even imagine giving birth surrounded by stinky messy animals?!  Umm…ew!)

In those days there were no stories of Frosty or elves or a man in a red suit coming to bring presents…just one old promise that God would send a Messiah, a Present, a Gift that would bring hope to everyone.

But in the years leading up to Jesus’ birth, God had been silent.  No messages from above, no angels or visions of angels, for hundreds of years. Those old stories must have sounded more like fairy tales than truth in those days.

Hope was elusive.  God seemed so far away.

And then Mary sees an angel.  (What was that like?)

And the angel says she is pregnant with God’s Son. (Wait…Huh?)

He says that all those old stories are true and now is the time and she has been chosen and her son will be the Messiah. (Say what?!)

I keep trying to put myself there.  I keep trying to imagine what that was like to be Mary right then.

I know what I probably would have thought… But I’m engaged! What will Joseph say?  He will never believe me. He’ll think I’m crazy.  He’ll leave me. He’ll think I’ve done something awful.  Everyone will think that.  They will never believe this.  What do I say? What will I tell my parents? Do I tell them that God got me pregnant? That sounds insane. No one will believe me. They’ll talk about me. They’ll judge me.  And why me?  I’m not anyone special. I’m not a queen or a princess.  How can I give birth to the King of the Jews?  This doesn’t make any sense.  I don’t understand. This isn’t how they said it would happen. Like this? With me? I just don’t understand. How can this be?

I’m not sure what exactly Mary thought.  I’m not sure how everyone around her reacted to her news or how that made her feel or how hard it must have been.  Did her parents disown her?  Did her friends write her off?  Did her neighbors shun her?

This unwed young girl giving birth in a barn.

It must have been scary.  It must have felt lonely.  It must have been painful.

But even the scariest, loneliest, most painful things can be doors to the most holy places…God’s glory can shine pretty bright in the darkness.

I keep trying to imagine that first Christmas…

Mary crying, Joseph trying to comfort her…surrounded by the animals, the dirt, the stink, the mess.

But they believed. They believed the angels.  They gave up their own plans of how they thought their life would go to be a part of God’s story.

But the story wasn’t happening the way anyone expected.

I wonder if they ever wondered why it happened the way it did.  Why did the God of the universe come as a baby?  And why in a dirty smelly stable?  The God who birthed the stars and who breathed life into every living thing, He couldn’t at least give them a room for this?  He couldn’t have at least arranged a quiet place, a soft bed, a beautiful setting?  This is supposed to be the moment that all of history was pointing to…this is supposed to be the Big Event, the one thing that would change all things, the event that would forever change the course of history…and it’s happening in a barn? With two outcasts, two nobodies from nowhere special who couldn’t even get a room to sleep in?  It doesn’t make sense.  This wasn’t at all how anyone expected it to happen.

I wonder if Mary ever wondered about that.  I wonder if Joseph ever felt highly inadequate to do this thing he was asked to do…I mean, he couldn’t even get them a room.  The girl he loved was about to have a baby, a very special baby, and all he could manage to get them was a messy old stinky barn?  This baby was God’s only Son and all they could get to lay him in was a feeding trough?

The picture-perfect perfectionist in me shudders at the thought.  This is all wrong.  This is not the pretty picture of a Messiah come to save the world.

This is messy and bloody and loud and not at all the kind of entrance that the Son of God, the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace deserves.

And yet….God comes.

He arrives in the middle of the mess.

He comes right there, in the middle of all the stink and all the dirt, and he arrives like a light bursting through the darkness.

That dirty barn floor became holy ground that night.  Because Jesus was there.

Isn’t that how it still goes today?…Jesus comes to us, right where we are, right where we don’t expect Him, right in the middle of our mess. And all of a sudden, that dirt that we’ve been standing on is holy ground…that mess we’ve been surrounded by is suddenly shining with God’s glory.  Isn’t it always a miracle how that works?  Sure, we can glitter up and light up Christmas as much as we want, we can have the shiniest stars on our trees and the prettiest bows on our gifts, but underneath it all aren’t we all just a bit of a mess?  Aren’t we all just a bit dirty and stinky and downright messy? And yet…Jesus comes to us.  Right here, right where are, just as we are.  Seriously, who can ever get over the miracle of that?!

And there may not have been carolers singing songs of joy outside the stable that night, but there were angels filling the sky! Filling the sky with so much light, shining with the very glory of the Lord, so bright that I’m sure those shepherds had to shade their eyes for the glory of it.  And they sang…they sang the first Christmas song of all: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14)

Oh my goodness, what was that like?!!

He came.  God came!

He said He would come, and He did! It wasn’t at all like anyone thought it would be, but it was completely everything that everyone needed it to be.

God. With. Us.

(Side note: So if your life is nothing like you thought it would be…if things didn’t exactly go the way you thought they would, if everything just looks like a mess, if you’re drowning in sorrow and sadness and Christmas is just plain hard…keep looking, keep waiting, because miracles happen where you least expect them…Jesus comes right in the middle of the dark, in the middle of your hurt, in the middle of everything that seems hopeless, right in the middle of all the mess…and He offers you the one thing you ever only need: Himself.  God with you. You get Jesus, this Christmas and always.  Is there ever a better gift?!)

Jesus came.

And the angels came too…a multitude of them filled the sky!  But they didn’t go to the kings in palaces…not in the town square for all the busybodies to see and hear…not even to the Temple or the priests or the faithful church people.  They went to the fields, to the shepherds, to those left out in the cold.  And they sang Glory to God.  And they told them the way to Jesus…they told them how to find the Messiah.

(Ever wonder if maybe you’re singing glory to all the wrong things in all the wrong places? If maybe there’s someone out there in the cold who just needs to be told the way to Jesus? I’ve been wondering that a lot lately…but maybe that’s another post for another day… 😉 )

That first Christmas.

I just can’t stop thinking about it.

That first Christmas looked nothing like the Christmases we have today.

And yet that first Christmas is what gives purpose and meaning to every Christmas…to every day.

I still love all the lights and baking and fun, all the movies and stories and traditions.

But I never want to lose sight of why we celebrate.

I want my girls to experience Christmas not as a time of hurry, but a time of slowing down…a time not full of crazy stress, but a time of intentional focus…a time that centers not around presents, but around experiencing the presence of Jesus.

Sometimes it seems hard to give my girls that kind of Christmas.  I have to be intentional.

And I’m not all that perfect at it…at all.

But any time focused on Jesus makes a difference.  Every conversation about His love makes an impression on their hearts.

So as we are busy making memories this Christmas – as we are baking cookies and making ornaments and singing songs and wrapping presents – we will make sure we remember Jesus.

He is Jesus, our Immanuel, God WITH us…with us as we bake those cookies, with us as we sing songs, with us as we wrap presents and sip hot cocoa and watch Christmas movies and light the candles.  He is Jesus…that baby who was God, born in the middle of a mess so that He could be with us in our mess and make a way for us to be lifted out of our mess and made right with God.  Jesus, that Son of God who laid his head down as a tiny baby in a wooden manger; Jesus, who was later hung as a bloody and broken man on a cross; Jesus, who three days later rose from the dead as our triumphant Savior and King, crushing the head of Satan, shattering the dark with everlasting light, becoming all our hope and all our peace and all our joy forever and ever!

And that’s something worth celebrating!

Merry Christmas, everyone!!!

Summer Bucket List {a printable}

The girls only have 7 school days left until summer vacation.  SEVEN!  That means Emma has only 7 days left of elementary school…only 7 days until I officially have a middle-schooler…seriously?!!?  I’m not quite ready to fully embrace that just yet 😉  So let’s just focus on summer for now!

We love summer!  No schoolwork…extra family time…fun excursions…and lots of fun!  I want to slow down this summer, to create memories and embrace the joy of these special days with my girls.  But I know how it goes…if I don’t sit down and at least write down a general plan for the summer, day by day will slide by, life will get busy, and before I know it summer will be over and we will not have done any of the “fun” things that I wanted us to do.

So we are making a “Summer Bucket List.”  We’re going to write out things that we want to do this summer and check them off as we do them.  The purpose is to be intentional as we head into summer and to make time to create memories together.  The purpose is NOT to add more busyness or pressure to our summer plans (I have to remind myself of this 😉 )…if we don’t do everything on the list, that’s ok!  We’re just going to have fun with it…do as much as we can and don’t worry about the rest. 🙂

 

I created a little blank “bucket list” for us to fill out and hang up.  You can download one too if you want and make your own list with your family!  One has just 10 blanks, and one has 20 – choose whichever one works best for you!

Summer Bucket List – 10 blanks

SummerBucketList_10blanks

 

Summer Bucket List – 20 blanks

 

SummerBucketList_20blanks

Not sure what to put on your list?  Here are some ideas I gathered that we are going to use to help us make our list!  Use some of these, or come up with your own!

  • spend a day at the beach
  • go on a hike
  • camp outside
  • camp inside (build a fort in the living room!)
  • have a movie marathon
  • go stargazing
  • go to the zoo
  • have a watergun fight
  • go on a photo adventure (take lots of pictures)
  • make ice cream
  • have a spa day
  • have an epic picnic
  • go roller skating
  • make friendship bracelets
  • go fishing
  • take a road trip
  • make a summer video diary
  • have a pool day
  • find a waterfall
  • spend a day at the lake
  • paint something
  • go to a drive-in movie
  • have a water balloon fight
  • fly a kite
  • have an outdoor movie night in the backyard
  • go on a scavenger hunt
  • have a fondue family night
  • visit a farmers market
  • have a game night
  • build a sandcastle
  • go to the library
  • have a pajama day
  • see the ocean
  • go on a bike ride
  • visit a new place
  • roast marshmallows
  • make flower crowns
  • make milk carton boats and sail them
  • explore new playgrounds
  • go sky-gazing (sit and look at the clouds)

Whatever you do this summer, have fun with your family as you spend some intentional time together!! 🙂

A Last Supper Meal – so we will remember

In Luke 22, Jesus and His disciples were having the Passover Meal together. The Passover Meal was an important tradition.  Each piece of the meal was full of symbolism, full of significance…it helped them remember.  They remembered where they came from, remembered how God rescued them from slavery in Egypt, remembered how God made a way where there was no way through the Red Sea, remembered how the blood of the lambs on the doorposts saved their children from the curse.

Passover.  A meal that helped them remember.

At this particular Passover meal, this Last Supper in Luke 22, Jesus tells them to remember something new…not just the freedom from Egypt or the passing over of the curse of death by the blood on the doorposts. Jesus breaks bread and pours the fruit of the vine and He tells His disciples to eat and to drink and to “do this in remembrance of Me.” (Luke 22:19)  He wanted them – He wants us – to remember Him.

Because everything that the Passover was, everything that it pointed to, everything that it symbolized…Jesus fulfilled.  When His body was broken and His blood was poured, when He laid His life down and then rose back to life again…when Jesus became our spotless lamb, broken and sacrificed for us…every prophecy, every promise, everything was fulfilled.  So when we break the bread that represents His body, and when we pour the drink that represents His blood, we remember – we remember where we came from, we remember how God rescued us from the chains of sin and death, we remember how Jesus made a way where there was no way, we remember that HIS blood covers our sin and saves us from the curse of death.

We remember.

So on the Thursday before Easter – on Maundy Thursday – we gather as a family and have a special meal together.  We call it our “Last Supper” Meal, and it has become a very special tradition for us.

The girls help me make unleavened bread.  We pull out some sparkling grape juice.  We decorate the table and light some candles.  We prepare a special meal.  (This year I tried a new recipe for Maple Glazed Cornish Hens – you can get the recipe here).

I usually try to keep it simple but special.  One of these days I would love to try to make a Christian Passover/Messianic Seder meal, but for now we’ve chosen to just focus on the unleavened bread and juice…and I do love the simplicity of it.

We sit down to eat and we talk about Jesus.  We remember His life, and all the wonderful things He did.  Then we pull out the Bible and Mark begins reading, first from Exodus 11-12.  We talk about the first Passover.  We remember how God rescued the Jews…how He protected their firstborns by the blood of the lambs on the doorposts…how He made a way through the Red Sea.

Then we fast forward to Luke 22, where Jesus is sitting down with His disciples to eat the Passover meal, where they are looking back and remembering that first Passover.  We read about the New Covenant. We talk about Jesus’ body and His blood. We pray and thank God for Jesus, for His sacrifice.

We break the unleavened bread and remember Jesus’ broken body.

We drink the grape juice and remember Jesus’ blood that was poured out.

We do these things and we remember how God rescued us…how He protects us by the blood of Jesus, the Perfect Lamb of God…how He made a way for us to know Him and to be with Him.

Our Last Supper Meal is not perfect.  It’s not super fancy or ritualistic.  But it is very intentional.  We intentionally set aside this time to slow down in the crazy pace of this ever-busy life to focus on Jesus…to remember Him.

 

If you’d like more details about our Last Supper Meal, check out my Easter Family Devotions kit.  All the details for our Last Supper meal is in there, including all the passages we read and links to other great resources.  (I kinda goofed up on the kit, though…I had the Last Supper meal listed for Day 12 (Friday), when it should be for Day 11 (Thursday)…oops!  I’ll fix that for next year.  But really, it doesn’t matter which day you do it…the point is to do something to remember Jesus, and to intentionally point our kids’ hearts toward Him too.)

So whatever it is you do to remember Him, I wish you slow, quiet moments over these next couple of days to draw close to Jesus…to remember His life, to be awed by His love, and to be lavished by His grace.

Happy Easter!

A Crown of Thorns

We have this little tradition that we started last year at Easter…a simple little activity that has become quite significant for us:  a “crown of thorns.”

A Crown of Thorns - a family Easter tradition

(I first read this idea in a post by Ann Voskamp here: Three Bowls & A Crown of Thorns on Holy Week)

I put a little grapevine wreath on the dining room table, right beside our Jesus Tree.  Next to the wreath is a cup of toothpicks.  The wreath is the crown and the toothpicks are the thorns.  Every time we do something that needs forgiveness in these days leading up to Easter – for every sin each day – we pick up a toothpick and add it to the wreath…we add a thorn to the crown.

A Crown of Thorns - a family Easter tradition

We’ve encouraged the girls to pray and talk to God each time they add a thorn…acknowledge that sin, and thank Him for His forgiveness.  We don’t necessarily share each one out loud – it is a personal, between-me-and-God thing – but our wreath is filling up, and I often see the girls quietly adding a “thorn” and bowing their heads – it’s sinking in.  Mark and I are adding our thorns too….every day.  There is just something significant about physically adding each toothpick, acknowledging each sin, realizing the depth of God’s love and forgiveness as I recognize how very far from perfect I really am.

A Crown of Thorns - a family Easter tradition

A Crown of Thorns - a family Easter tradition

It’s a simple activity.  A small tradition.  But we do it to remember.  We do it so that Jesus’ sacrifice, His suffering, doesn’t become mundane or trivial in our hearts.

Because there is nothing mundane about His death.  And there is nothing trivial about His forgiveness.

I think it’s easy to put ourselves in little boxes and say that “all those other sins” are what caused Jesus to really suffer…my sins aren’t that bad…sure, I need forgiveness, but not as much as “that” person.   We play this comparison game, whether to make us feel better about ourselves or maybe so we won’t feel so bad about our own sin.  And we read the story of Jesus’ death and think to ourselves that we would never have yelled “crucify!”  We would never have nailed Him to that tree.  We would never….

And yet.

And yet…we did.

With each angry outburst, with every jealous thought, with each word of gossip, with every little white lie, with each choice made from greed, and with every unkind deed – every single sin, however “small” or “big” we make it in our mind – every. single. one – was torture to Jesus.  He took on ALL of our sins…ALL. Of. Them.  Each one pierced His head, cut through His hands, stabbed through His feet, straight into His breaking broken heart…He took on every single sin, and poured out His very life…because of me.  He died for each of those little thorns I put in this wreath on our table.  He suffered and bled and was tortured…for ME…for MY sins.  So that I could be forgiven.

That’s a big deal.  That’s important.  That’s something I never ever want to lose sight of…I never want to forget.  His death was not just some picture in a storybook – it was bloody and messy and painful and horrible.  But it was also the most beautiful sacrifice, the most selfless love, the most amazing grace.  Jesus willingly took on all my sins and died…for me – then He defeated death and broke the curse of sin…for me.  He did it all…for me…for you…because He loves us so much.

A Crown of Thorns - a family Easter tradition

So today, I’m sure our crown will receive a few more thorns…because daily we fail.  But daily He loves us.  And each time we add a thorn, we remember the immensity of His love and the depth of His forgiveness.

Our sins pierced His brow so His love could pierce our hearts.  He was broken so that we could be made whole.

May we never take for granted this indescribable gift.  May we always remember.  May we always give thanks.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

More ideas on creating meaningful family Easter traditions are in my Easter Family Devotions Kit.  Read the original post here: Creating Traditions That Help Us Remember.  Or go directly to the entire kit here: Easter Family Devotions Kit.

Creating Traditions That Help Us Remember: A Free Easter Family Devotional Kit

At the last supper with His disciples, Jesus told them to “do this to remember me.” (Luke 22:19 NLT)

There’s something significant about traditions, about doing something that means something in order to remember something important.  As a family, we want to create traditions that have significance, that point our hearts to something, to Someone…I want traditions that help us remember.

We’re big about traditions around Christmastime.  We have an Advent calendar and countdown to Christmas, we have special family nights full of fun activities and crafts, we read stories and we sing Christmas songs.  This past Christmas season, we even started a Jesse Tree and added ornaments each day and had a special devotional together every night…we read stories from the Bible leading up to the birth of Jesus. (We used the book, The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp as a guide).  We did all those things because Christmas is a special day…it’s the day we remember Jesus’ birth.

But Easter….for some reason, I’ve never put nearly as much into Easter traditions.  I mean, we color eggs and put out Easter baskets and have Easter egg hunts…but as far as traditions that help us remember what Easter is really about…well, we don’t have many of those.  Last year, I started rethinking how we do Easter.  I wanted to be more intentional.  I wanted my girls to know – to really, truly, deep down KNOW – the meaning of Easter.  And I want them…I want us all…to remember.

So we started small last year.  We added one tradition: A family Last Supper Meal.  I had read about a Christian Passover Meal/Messianic Seder, and was very interested in doing something similar because it has so much significance and meaning to it.  But I wasn’t quite sure if it would work for our family, and I wasn’t really confident enough to properly pull off the whole Passover meal…maybe one day I will try it…but I did want to teach my girls about Passover, and the significance of the Last Supper.  So on the Friday before Easter, we baked unleavened bread and talked about the Last Supper. We read from the Old Testament and learned about Passover, and what it meant. And then we broke bread together and drank sparkling grape juice together and read through the verses in Luke 22 about Jesus’ last meal with His disciples.

baking unleavened bread

It ended up being one of my most favorite nights we’ve ever had as a family.  It’s definitely a tradition that we will continue every year.

And this year I want to be even more intentional as we lead into Easter.  So I’ve been working on some family devotions that will help us learn more about the life of Jesus and prepare our hearts as we get ready to celebrate the most important event in all of history: Jesus’ Resurrection.

Along with the devotionals, I also designed some pictures that go along with each story.  Then I turned those pictures into ornaments that we will use on a special “tree” that we will add to throughout the two weeks leading up to Easter.  We’re calling it our “Jesus Tree.”

(The Jesus Tree is not my own original concept.  I’ve been reading and researching a lot lately, and I was inspired by others who do similar things with their families…there are really SO many great resources and ideas out there!  You can search Pinterest or Google and find tons of ideas for Easter Trees or Jesus Trees, and lots and lots of resources for Easter devotionals or Lent devotionals.  I was particularly inspired by Ann Voskamp and her blog at annvoskamp.com.  She does an Easter Tree, and she has a GREAT resource on her site with family devotions and pictures for ornaments as well.  You can check her resources out here: Free Family Lent Easter Devotional.)

I ended up deciding to focus on stories from the life of Jesus, so I wrote my own devotions for our family and gathered an assortment of activity ideas, and put them all together in this Easter Family Devotions Kit.   And I’d love to share it with you!  Because maybe – just maybe – I’m not the only mom who struggles with being intentional about celebrating Easter.  Maybe I’m not the only mom who has spent more time picking out pretty dresses and filling Easter baskets than I have picking out meaningful Bible stories to tell my girls and filling their hearts and memories with meaningful traditions that help them truly remember Jesus.  Maybe I’m not the only one who has been so busy just trying to survive life that I have failed to take the time to share HIS life.

I put together this kit for my own family.  I picked stories that I felt would prepare our hearts for Easter, and I designed the ornaments using symbols I thought would help trigger our memory of the stories.  Please feel free to use this kit as a starting point for your own family Easter celebrations.  But also feel free to add to it and personalize it for your own family.

I have provided a lot of different activities in this kit.  But our family will not do all of these activities.  The whole idea is to be intentional about celebrating Easter, but not to make it so busy that we are stressed and exhausted by the time we get to Easter Sunday.  I provided multiple activities so that you could see how easy it is to extend the devotions if you want to.  For our family, we will choose probably two or three activities that work best for our family, or that are most meaningful to us, and focus on doing those.  But most nights, we will simply talk about the Bible story and add our ornament to our Jesus Tree.   So please do not feel like you have to do everything.

The point is not to add more to your already busy family schedule…the point is just to intentionally slow down and focus on what is most important this Easter season. 

Maybe your family is in a season where you can easily do an extra activity every day and it adds meaning and fun to your family, not stress and busyness.  If that’s where you are, great!  Do it! You can even look for more ideas online – there are so many fun ideas out there that can help connect your kids’ hearts to Jesus!

But if your family is in a season that is already busy and full, maybe what works best for you would be to just focus on slowing down long enough to read a Bible story together every night…maybe print the ornaments and just hang one on your Jesus Tree each day and that’s it.  Even just doing that alone will make an impact on your family, by intentionally turning your hearts toward Jesus this Easter season.

So take these ideas, take these resources, and tweak them and make them work for your family, in your season, where you are now.  Even if you just try one thing…just start one tradition this Easter…just one thing that points your family to Jesus…it will make a difference.

What is included in this kit:

  • Directions on how to make a Jesus Tree.
  • 14 Days of Family Devotions – each devotion has a scripture reading, some questions, and a prayer prompt.
  • Set of 14 Jesus Tree Ornaments – these are hand-drawn images, each one corresponds to a Bible story from the devotions.
  • At least 1 extra activity idea per day.  (Crafts, activities, recipes, etc.)
  • Extra Resources – all recipes, craft instructions, and activity directions are included in the kit.
  • A Last Supper Meal – detailed, step-by-step information for making this special meal happen for your family, including a printable for your table decorations.

 

Click HERE to download the complete Easter Family Devotions Kit

 

Wishing you so much joy as you intentionally focus on Jesus this Easter!

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