Family of 4

Family of 4

Monday, March 28, 2016

Easter Egg Countdown... An Easter Tradition

Well, I posted a little bit about our Easter countdown yesterday, but thought some of you might like to make your own and thought it would be good to share a few more details.

We used The Jesus Storybook Bible as a continuation of our Jesse Tree Advent calendar that we use at Christmas. There are a total of 16 stories from the birth of Christ (where we stopped at Christmas) to the resurrection of Christ.  So, naturally, I glued 16 Easter eggs in the bottom of a basket and then filled each egg with some little piece of the stories they represented.

Here's my list:

1.  "Heaven Breaks Through" - the story about John the Baptist
     - inside our egg: plastic grasshopper (from a set of toy bugs that we already had)

2.  "Let's Go!" - This story starts off with Jesus in the desert and finishes with Jesus calling Peter, Andrew, James, and John out of their boats to be "fishers of men"
     - inside our egg: tiny fishing net with fish inside (ordered from a dollhouse supply company and then I glued some paper fish inside)

3.  "A Little Girl and a Poor Frail Lady" - The story of Jarius's daughter and the lady that touched Jesus's clothes for healing, from Luke 8
     - inside our egg:  Jesus's robe/clothes (I made these out of felt and hot glue)

4.  "How to Pray" - about the Lord's prayer
     - inside our egg:  a little praying child (ordered from a dollhouse supply company)

5.  "The Singer" - The Sermon on the Mount
     - inside our egg:  a fabric flower and a little blue bird (The flower was a little random tidbit we had lying around and the bird is a little glass bead from my jewelry making days, it was ordered from oriental trading long, long ago)

6.  "The Captain of the Storm" - Jesus calms the storm
     - inside our egg:  a little paper fishing boat  (a sticker bought from Michael's because I couldn't find anything else;  I glued it onto a piece of felt in hopes that it will hold up a little longer)

7.  "Filled Full!" - Feeding the 5,000
     - inside our egg:  a little fishing basket (a sticker that came with the sticker fishing boat mentioned above), two small glass bead fish (from my jewelry making days), and five various pieces of bread ( 2 crescent rolls, a donut, and 2 dinner rolls that came in a set of dollhouse items from Michael's; it was cheaper than ordering online and they were a good size)

8.  "Treasure Hunt!" - the parable of the hidden treasure
     - inside our egg:  a tiny treasure chest (ordered from a dollhouse supply company; this was a bit too small for my taste, but I wasn't about to send it back to the company... more about why below)

9.  "The Friend of Little Children" - Jesus and the children, found in Matthew 18 & 19
     - inside our egg:  a little plastic child (ordered from a dollhouse supply company)

10.  "The Man Who Didn't Have Any Friends (None)" - The story of Zacchaeus
     - inside our egg: a little bottle brush tree (ordered from a dollhouse supply company; I'm sure you can imagine the difficulty of finding a tiny Sycamore tree)

11.  "Running Away" - the parable of the prodigal son
     - inside our egg:  a small pig (purchased from Michael's in the miniatures section)

12.  "Washed With Tears" - a sinful woman anoints Jesus
     - inside our egg: a tiny perfume bottle (purchased from a dollhouse supply company)

13.  "The Servant King" - the last supper
     - inside our egg: a tiny bowl with a tiny bar of soap and a tiny wash cloth (purchased from a dollhouse supply company)

14.  "A Dark Night in the Garden" - the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus is arrested
     - inside our egg: a tiny pair of handcuffs (ordered from a dollhouse supply company)

15.  "The Sun Stops Shining" - the crucifixion
     - inside our egg: a tiny cross (ordered from a dollhouse supply company)

16.  "God's Wonderful Surprise" - the resurrection
     - inside our egg: nothing (the tomb was empty too!)

I glued some of the smallest items onto a piece of felt as to not lose or swallow them... 

I mentioned above that many things were ordered from a dollhouse supply company.  I would like to add that we DID NOT have a good experience with  We had to beg to get the things that we ordered... we paid at the time of order and then it took a couple of phone calls and two weeks just for it to ship.  We paid for priority shipping, which was not done... it's a very long frustrating story, but I would recommend using a different company for sure.  No apologies or compensation were given, the owner lied to my husband about a shipping date over the phone, and there were a LOT of excuses for the problems.  Anyway... it was the first that popped up when I googled, so just to spare you the trouble.  James is making a report to the BBB... it was that yucky.

I hope you enjoy the eggs if you decide to do them next year.  I truly hope this is something we can make a tradition and do each year with our children and then our grandchildren if we are so fortunate.  

Happy Easter!  

The Labor Continues....

I wrote this quite a while back, but never published it.  I feel like now is the time... today, as yesterday I was reminded that I have victory here too.

My heart aches today.  As I sit in my living room in such comfort and surrounded by things that make my life easier, all I can think is... why isn't it easier?  I've been struggling with feelings of inadequacy. Feeling like no matter what I do I will never live up to the standards I've set for myself as a momma. I feel so very responsible for the actions of my children.

My little mister has been having a hard time at Mother's Day Out.  Last Thursday I got the dreaded phone call... We need help, he's having a terrible day, time out isn't working.  I know, believe me.  I am struggling to know what is best for him.  Do I continue to send him to school (which by the way, he loves to go... still gets so excited to be there... and when he hasn't been for a while asks when he can go again) only to be in time out all day long because he cannot control himself -OR- do I keep him at home where sometimes he's better than that, but still often cannot control himself?  He's headstrong, loud, demanding, attention seeking, loud, loving, affectionate, wants to please, loud, and impulsive.  Did I mention that he's loud? To top it all off he's extroverted and I.... well, if you are reading this, you probably know that I am quite the opposite of extroverted.  I'm mostly quiet, sometimes timid and trying to learn to be bold, pretty observant, uber sensitive (like I cry at the drop of a hat), a recovering sometimes still struggling perfectionist, and have a difficult time when people yell at me a lot (hence why loudness is a problem.)  I too can be headstrong, demanding, attention seeking, and impulsive... I wonder where he gets those things?   While I know these characteristics can serve you well in the right situation, how do I help my three year old channel them so that I don't go insane?

I know I am not alone.... I know this momma job is the hardest.  I know I prayed and begged and prayed for it to happen to me... I waited and longed for that precious baby to grow inside my belly and then to be able to welcome him into the world.  It is and still can be so glorious.  I expected it to be hard, I did.  I think I just didn't know what that meant.  I definitely thought I knew how hard it would be.  And I'm not wishing to undo it all... I would never give them back.  God knows it would be my end if I had to.

Ann Voskamp says, "a mother's labor and delivery never ends, and you never stop having to remember to breathe." I think she must be very right, indeed.  Everyday I feel the figurative labor pains of my heart trying to deliver my baby into the hands of the Lord, but I hold tight with such a strong grip because it brings fear and anxiety to let go.  I want so badly to be able to do it "all by myself."  That is the expectation I have placed on my own head.  If my days are not filled with rays of sunshine and happy giggles and compliant children, then I have failed... I am not a good momma.   My children suffer at my hands because I have not given them to the Lord.

P.S.  Behavior at school has improved tremendously... I am so thankful!  Not just for the grown-ups... the teachers that so lovingly care for him while I am not there and for his momma and daddy who were terribly discouraged, but also for the boy.  I can only imagine that he himself may have been the most discouraged of all.  His little boy self is much more pleasant whenever he's had a good day, he knows it, and is proud of the choices that he was able to make.  :)

Sunday, March 27, 2016


Oh, my friends... What a glorious day that Easter represents.  I am so tired right now, but my heart is so full.  We had muffins with our church family, there were two baptisms during our Easter service, drove to my aunt's house for lunch with family, watched our children hunt eggs, drove home, ate dinner, gave baths, and put tired babies to bed.  It was a big day... but something happened to me this morning that I did not expect.  Let me go back a little bit, so you'll understand better....

You see, a couple of years ago James and I decided to start a Christmas tradition around Advent.  You can read about it here.  Last year I dreamed about doing something similar with Easter, but couldn't figure out just how I wanted to do it.  So, this year, I got myself moving early and came up with a plan.  Sort of as a continuation of our Jesse Tree activities, we kept with the Jesus Storybook Bible written by Sally Lloyd-Jones.  There are 16 stories from where we left off at Christmas (we ended with the birth of Jesus) until the resurrection of Jesus.  So, I took 16 plastic eggs, glued them in a basket with some easter grass and put a little piece of each story in the eggs.  On March 12th, we started reading 1 story each night at bedtime and opening the matching egg....  You guys, my 3 year old son knows every story mentioned in the Jesus Storybook Bible.  He was so intrigued by this!! He has always loved reading with us, but his focus was pretty much amazing.  If you know my Andy, you might understand why this sitting still time was a miracle in its self.

All eggs, 1-16 prepped and ready to go!

We don't do Easter baskets from the bunny at my house... we just don't really feel like it is necessary.  Jesus is really all that we need, so we like to keep it simpler.  ( I know... some people think that's just crazy and I could take the time to tell you why we don't do Santa either, but it's a whole different story... )

So, last night, before bed, we ready story #15... "The Sun Stops Shining."  If you are familiar with The Jesus Storybook Bible, then you know this is the story of Jesus dying on the cross.  After we read, we made resurrection cookies.  It was a last minute addition to the evening, but lots of fun and super easy.  

Resurrection Cookies
To be made the night before Easter Sunday
You will need:
1cup whole pecans
1 tsp. vinegar
3 egg whites
A pinch salt
1cup sugar
Zipper bag
Wooden spoon

1. Preheat oven to 300
2. Place pecans in zipper bag and let children beat them with the wooden spoon to break into small pieces. Explain that after Jesus was arrested, the Roman soldiers beat him. Read John 19:1-3.
3. Let each child smell the vinegar. Put 1 tsp. vinegar into mixing bowl. Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross he was given vinegar to drink. Read John 19:28-30.
4. Add egg whites to vinegar. Eggs represent life. Explain that Jesus gave His life to give us life. Read John 10:10-11.
5. Sprinkle a little salt into each child's hand. Let them taste it and brush the rest into the bowl. Explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus' followers, and the bitterness of our own sin. Read Luke 23:27.
6. So far the ingredients are not very appetizing. Add 1c. sugar Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us. He wants us to know and belong to Him. Read Ps. 34:8 and John 3:16.
7. Beat with a mixer on high speed for 12 to 15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed. Explain that the color white represents the purity in God's eyes of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus. Read Isaiah. 1:18 and John 3:1-3.
8. Fold in broken nuts. Drop by teaspoons onto wax paper covered cookie sheet. Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus' body was laid. Read Matt. 27:57-60.
9. Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF. Give each child a piece of tape and seal the oven door. Explain that Jesus' tomb was sealed. Read Matt.27:65-66.
10. Time for bed. Explain that they may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight. Jesus' followers were in despair when the tomb was sealed. Read John 16:20 and 22.
11. On Easter morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie. Notice the cracked surface and take a bite. The cookies are hollow! On the first Easter Jesus' followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty.

Just like #10 says, Andy was a little sad that we ended the night without a cookie... That Jesus was sealed in the tomb.  We explained that when he woke up in the morning that we would check on the cookies, open our last egg, and read our last story.

But this morning, after our resurrection cookie breakfast, we read.... and this is when IT happened.  You see, my sweet husband has been reading a lot this week because I've had a cold that has zapped my voice and made my throat sore.  He was reading the story titled "God's Wonderful Surprise" to our intently listening three year old son (who was not at all bothered that the 16th egg was empty) and our very wiggly one year old daughter (who was trying to destroy our Easter egg count down) and he got choked up.  Yes, that amazing man that I married... the one that was crafted, hand picked, and divinely appointed to be the father of my children... he taught me something today, as he does so many times each day.  He showed his heart for Jesus through his tears over a version of the Bible written for children.  The crack in his voice surprised me.  The tears in his eyes overwhelmed my spirit... in the best way.  He showed me, without one word directed at me, that maybe, in all my "keeping it focused on Jesus" hoopla that I'd lost just a little bit of the significance of this moment.  That maybe in my attempt to keep it simple and real, that I left my Jesus in the tomb.  But folks, He is not there!!  In so many words, I looked for him there this morning, but the angel spoke to me and asked, "What are you doing here?  This is a tomb and tombs are for dead people."  My Jesus wasn't there... He has overcome the grave and I shouldn't search for Him there anymore!  Praise the Lord!  
"'What are you doing here?  This is a tomb and tombs are for dead people.'  The women couldn't speak.  'Jesus isn't dead anymore!' he said.  'He's alive again!'  And their hearts leapt.  And then the angel laughed with such gladness that they felt, for a moment, as if they had woken from a nightmare."
All the eggs opened.  

So many times, with all my good intentions and good behavior, this is exactly what I do... I leave my Jesus in the tomb.  Folks, I don't know about you, but life isn't worth fighting through if Jesus didn't get up and walk out of that grave.  There's no victory in that.  Our pastor said this morning, that EVERYTHING hinges on that truth.  Now, I have to learn how to live like that everyday.  I'm so incredibly thankful for the lesson today.   The reminder not to leave Him behind.  THIS Jesus is the one I want to live for.  THIS Jesus is the one that claimed victory over death and made it so that I too can LIVE victoriously.