Sunday, March 17, 2013

100 Ways to Celebrate Easter

It is the observance of death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, the celebration of the conquering of death, the remembering of His substitution for our sins...
Happy Easter!
There are so many, many ways to celebrate this wonderful time! Please don't be overwhelmed by the bulk of ideas here. These range from elaborate prep to two-minute commitment. Some of them are specifically for children, but all of them point to the true meaning of this holiday and hopefully bring us closer to the Resurrected One!

Read the Scriptures

1. Read from the Bible about the holy week day by day on the week before Easter. This plan from YouVersion makes that easy.
2. Read through the Gospels during Lent with this plan.
3. These Easter devotions lead you through Lent with Bible readings.
4. These devotions take you through the major events of Christ's life. Another good plan for theweeks before Easter.
5. Read Isaiah 53.

But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;

The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,

And by His stripes we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
6. Read about the first Passover in Exodus 11, 12 and 13.
Your lamb shall be without blemish...Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight.
7. Read Matthew 27 and 28.
8. Read Mark 15 and 16.
9. Read Luke 23 and 24.
10. Read John 18-21.
The ways to incorporate Scripture in your Easter celebrating are pretty much endless! Be sure to leave your favorite Easter scriptures in the comments!

Sing Hymns!
Or, if you're not feeling particularly musical, just read their beautiful words.
11. Not All the Blood of Beasts #242 in the Trinity Hymnal This one goes well with reading about the first Passover (#6 above).
12. Praise the Savior Now and Ever # 243  (all of the hymn numbers are from the Trinity Hymnal)
13. He Was Wounded for Our Transgressions #244 
14. Man of Sorrows! What a Name #246
15. O Sacred Head, Now Wounded #247
16. Ah, Holy Jesus, How Has Thou Offended #248
17. Tis Midnight; and on Olive's Brow #249
18. Throned upon the Awful Tree  #250
19. Beneath the Cross of Jesus #251
20. When I Survey the Wondrous Cross #252
21. There is a Fountain Filled with Blood #253
22. Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed #254
23. O Jesus We Adore Thee #255
24. There is a Green Hill Far Away #256
25. Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted #257
26. Sweet the Moments, Rich in Blessing #258
27. Hark! the Voice of Love and Mercy #259
28. Were You There? #260
29. What Wondrous Love is This #261
30. O Come and Mourn with Me Awhile #262
31. Lift Hight the Cross #263
32. Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross #264
33. Come Ye Faithful Raise the Strain #265
34. The Day of Resurrection! #267
35. Welcome Happy Morning! #268
36. Good Christian Men, Rejoice and Sing! #270
37. Sing, Choirs of New Jerusalem #271
38. O Sons and Daughters, Let Us Sing! #272
39. Jesus Christ is Risen Today #273
40. Thine Be Glory #274
41. The Strife is O'er, the Battle Done #275
42. Up from the Grave He Arose #276
43. Christ the Lord is Risen Today  #277
44. That Easter Day with Joy Was Bright #278
45. Christ Jesus Lay in Death's Strong Bands #279
46.  Christ is Risen from the Dead #280
47. I Know that My Redeemer Lives--Glory Hallelujah! #281
48. Life Up, Lift Up Your Voices Now #282
49. Alleluia! Alleluia! #283
50. This Joyful Eastertide #284
51. Jesus, Lord, Redeemer #285
52. Worship Christ, the Risen King! #286
53. Morning Sun #287
54. Jesus Christ has Triumphed Now #288

Tell the Story
55. We love the Jesus Storybook Bible. What better time to read the stories of Jesus's life (or the whole Bible--that is point--that it's all about Him!) than before Easter?
56. Here's my own simple retelling of the Easter story.
57. Tell the story with Jelly Beans. (!!!)
58. Make your own set of Resurrection Eggs and use them daily to retell the story of the death and Resurrection of our Lord. We've done this, and we love them! We've even been known to hang them on our Jesse Tree to make an Easter tree! (added bonus: cheerful Easter decor)
59. Watch The Prince of Egypt to start a discussion of the original Passover and then lead in to a discussion of how Jesus is our Passover Lamb.

Eat the Story
60. Tell the story as you make these wonderful Easter Cookies. Each step in the baking process tells a bit of the story and the end result? Empty cookies! Just like the tomb!
61. Make your own Matzah bread--bread that figures heavily into the Jewish celebration of Passover. As you make the bread, tell the story of Jesus' death: he was beaten, pierced and bruised (look at the "bruise" spots as you take the matzah out of the oven.) Then anoint your matzah with oil! The matzah is a perfect example of how the Jewish Passover points to the dead and resurrected Messiah.
62. A hugely meaningful part of our Easter preparations the last few years has been a celebration of a Seder Supper. Here are the foods and litany that we use during our Seder. You can use your homemade matzah (see #61 above).
Here are the foods used for the Seder meal. Feel free to incorporate these items into your meals around Easter as a way to teach the Easter story. 
"You shall teach them diligently to your children, 
and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, 
when you walk by the way, 
when you lie down, 
and when you rise up.
Deuteronomy 6:7
63.  Grape juice or wine--There are traditionally four cups of wine/grape juice that will be used throughout the meal. These are the Cup of Sanctification, the Cup of Deliverance, the Cup of Redemption, and the Cup of Thanksgiving.
64. Romaine Lettuce Salad--After we dip the celery into the salt that symbolizes the Israelites tears, we will pause to eat a salad. The dipping of the vegetable into the salt water could also represent the way that the Israelites dipped the branches into the blood of the lamb to spread it over their doorposts.
65. Matzah bread--Matzah is an unleavened bread that refers to the fact that when the Israelites fled Egypt, they did not have time to let their bread rise. Leaven stands for sin in the Bible, and getting rid of leaven is a big part of the week of Passover. The Matzah bread is a beautiful picture of our Savior, the Bread of Life. He was perfectly sinless. During the Seder meal, the bread is broken, as our Savior was. Matzah bread is traditionally both pierced and striped, as our Savior was before He was crucified. Making Matzah with the kids would be a great way to prepare for the Seder meal both practically and spiritually.
66. Matzah Ball Soup--This would be a good place to pause for the soup made of crushed matzah bread. My mouth is watering just thinking about the combination of the broth and dough!
67. Steamed radishes--After we have tasted the horseradish, which is bitter herbsto symbolize the Israelites bitter enslavement, we will have our steamed radishes. In one of the Christian Haggadahs I linked to above, this is said to also be a reminder that sin can be our bitter enslavement.
68. Haroset is a mixture of apples, raisins, and honey that symbolizes the mortar that the Israelites used to build for the Egyptians. Charoset (HahROset) is a very kid-friendly part of the meal, and this was the whole idea for the seder meal--it is a way to teach our children about the beautiful truths of our faith.
69. Zucchini-stuffed Chicken--During a traditional ceremonial seder, no meat is tasted. A "shank bone" is displayed on the plate to show that a lamb was the central theme of the original Passover. Since there is no temple now, Jews cannot sacrifice a lamb. This bone is spoken of in the meal but not eaten. For a Christian Seder meal, you could display a cross for this bone or use a regular bone. After speaking of the lamb that had to die during the original Passover, the true Lamb of God is a natural subject. Jesus, our Lamb, was crucified for our sins so that we might have eternal life. After this discussion, the chicken can be eaten. (And it gets in my recent infatuation: zucchini!)
70. Deviled Eggs--Hard boiled eggs commemorate the sacrifice of the lamb in the temple. Now they are a symbol of the new life brought by the Lamb.
71. Matzah Rolls--The matzah bread is eaten several times during the meal. If you would like more than the crackerish matzah, you could try these matzah rolls.
72. Chocolate Torte--An unleavened chocolate cake has finished off our Seder meal in the past. (Gotta get that chocolate cake in there, you know?!) Perhaps the dessert could be prefaced with talk of how sweet the Gospel story is--we are saved out of our sin to a sweet relationship with our loving Savior, Jesus, the Passover Lamb.

Decorate with the Story
73. The Easter tree presented above (#58) is only one way you can incorporate branches or a tree into your Easter decorations and celebrations. Ann Voskamp has a lovely Easter tree with cards that walk your family through the Easter story. This is great when your kids are ready to graduate from the Resurrection Eggs!
74. Another Voskamp idea is to plant an Easter garden. This is a reminder of the garden of Gethsemane and of Christ's struggle the night before he was crucified. It is also a peaceful and beautiful decoration for your home!
Candles add to the beauty of this simple potted garden.
75. These Easter Lilies are both a craft and a decoration. And they have some great Easter lore around them as well. 
76. Are your Dogwoods blooming? There is an Easter myth for them and their blooming branches would make a great decoration for your Easter table!

Color the Story
Finding the real story of Easter is a bit hard amongst all the coloring pages of bunnies and eggs (not that bunnies and eggs aren't loads of fun!) but here are a few that could be used for your studies leading up to Easter with your children.
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And a Few More...
86. Have you heard that the History Channel is running a series called "The Bible"? The hubby and I began watching it last night. It's pretty good. Watching these would be a great way to take in a good bit of the Bible in ten hours.

87. Reading the Bible in novel form is a very interesting way to get the whole of the Bible in a very chronological way. One thing I loved about this is that some of the stories that we read in the Bible are separate because different people wrote them, but really they overlapped quite a bit. The Book of God gives you a sense of that overlap.
88. We're still talking about how to celebrate Easter here, remember? For me growing up Easter baskets were a big part of the day itself. I really want my kids to have the day center around Jesus (not that Easter baskets are bad!!) so when we do gifts, we usually do something like new Bibles. This year they are getting piano music of great hymns that they can play themselves! I'm excited about these gifts:

Easter Crafts
89. Here's a Resurrection craft for you and the kids that makes the story of Christ's resurrection visual. You could pretty easily translate this into other parts of the story as well.

90. This blogger has a Scripture reading, memory verse and small craft for each day in the week leading up to Easter.
91. I love the idea of mixing a da Vinci art lesson with Easter week as well! This blogger has drawn out Jesus and each of the disciples from da Vinci's The Last Supper so that your kids can color them and cut them out to place around a table. 

92. Think simple for crafts as well! How about collecting leaves and talking about the palm branches that were laid down for Jesus when he rode into Jerusalem?
93. How about printing out a week calendar with boxes and labeling the days of the week and filling in one thing Jesus did on that day leading up to Friday on the cross and Sunday's resurrection?
94. Candles are a good way to mark the passing of time--Putting out seven on Palm Sunday and lighting one more each night at dinner is a good way to prompt discussion on what Christ was doing on that day and on what will come in the days of Holy Week that are ahead.
95. Cut out crosses, decorate your refrigerator, talk about the seriousness of the cross. Cut out tombs, open the stone door, talk about how they are empty!

Last but Not Least
96.. Slow Down...We're going to try that this year with a camping trip. It will be interesting to do our Easter devotionals around the campfire when there is really nothing else that we can do! I'm loving that!
97. Go to Church...Our church has Holy Week services that are just wonderful! If your church doesn't have a service, ask around and see if a friend's church might! At our church these services are a quieter kind of worship--on Good Friday the service ends with the lights going off little by little until only the Jesus candle is left burning while the congregation leaves in silence. It is very powerful.
98. And on Easter morning there are usually sunrise services or special services at different churches. Get involved! See if you can help with the music or the youth or the Sunday School. It's amazing how teaching a lesson will really make it sink into your own heart!
99. Talk about Easter with your kids at random times. See if they have thoughts about it at bed time (they always have a lot to say at bedtime!) or in the car or while you're waiting at the doctor's office.
100. Pray! and Pray some more! Pray for those who do not know the wonder of a Savior who laid down His life for the lost! Repent and ask for increased faith and obedience to take the depth and wonder of Holy Week out into the coming year.

Please leave me your wonderful ideas in the comments...and

Happy Easter!!

(I will be taking the next two weeks off from blogging. It may take you two weeks just to read through this post! I will be praying that you all have a wonderful, Christ-filled holiday!)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Kervens is Home!

I am so excited to announce that they boy I wrote about 
Home with his forever family.
Home with his brothers and sisters.
Home with his neighbors and adoring fans.
Home with his momma and daddy.
It has been such (such) a long journey for them
but here they are 
Thank you, loving Father!

Monday, March 11, 2013

IKEA, How Do I Love Thee?

Let me count the ways:
1. Entryway organization is made easy with EXPEDIT 4-squared shelf with 4 $5 cloth boxes as drawers.
($40 for shelf and $20 for drawers = $60)
2. Instead of plastic drawers (see below) EXPEDIT 8-squared shelf neatens up the oldest's under her bunk space. We also used those $5 boxes as drawers for the oldest's clothes and storage.
($70 for shelf $30 for drawers = $100)

The oldest's clean under-the bunk space.

3. Instead of (broken) plastic drawers for the boy, he now has 3 of the $5 boxes in this EXPEDIT 8-squared shelf. The other three boxes are awaiting baby clothes. (i.e. Adoption!--We don't know when we'll be chosen, so it's good to be ready.)
($70 for shelf and $30 for drawers= $100)
4. On the other side of the boy's and baby's closet is a $20 computer desk that I don't think ikea carries anymore, but it's perfect for the sewing machine.
5. My new white dishes! 
($20 for a set of 18--6 large plates, 6 small plates and 6 bowls)
6. No drip candles from ikea are wonderful!
($8 for 20)
7. I also couldn't find this one when I just looked for it on the ikea website, but we bought this at the beginning of the school year--table and 4 chairs were $129!

After putting together both of those 8-squared shelves this weekend, I can truly say that I have nothing but respect for ikea furniture. Sure, you have to put it together yourself, but if they made it any easier, it would be magic. I put both of the (pretty big) shelves and popped and zipped all the boxes together in just a couple of hours. Some of their pieces are wood "product" of course, but compared to other stores' inexpensive furniture, theirs is more sturdy, more well made and in my opinion, more attractive.
When you add all of our expenditures up, we have spent quite a bit of money at ikea over the last year, but again, I can tell you, every dime has been worth it! 
Happy shopping!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

DIY Spa Day

I had a few hours to myself over the past few days, and one of the items on my ToDo was a few little spa treatments. I'm pretty bad about taking care of my skin and hair because of my efficiency idol--ok, it's really because of my laziness, but I figured that with hours to get things done, this should take some priority.
So I went on a little hunt on Pinterest and I found a few diy treatments that were super quick and easy and that my sorely depleted pantry had all the ingredients for. (Yes, grocery shopping is on the ToDo as well!)
So here's what you need:

An hour
Olive Oil
Brown Sugar
Baby Oil (or use olive oil)
Hot water
Some kind of lotion

And here's what you can do:

First up, HAIR: For an easy moisturizer for hair measure out about 2 tablespoons of honey and 3 tablespoons of olive oil into a bowl. Heat for 20 seconds in the microwave. Carefully (it might be hot!) work into all of your hair. Leave on hair for 30 or 40 minutes.
Second, FACE: For exfoliation and pore shrinking, combine equal parts salt and honey and gently massage onto face. Leave on face for 15-20 minutes.

Third, FEET: Sugar, brown sugar and oil combine to make a great foot scrub. Combine equal parts sugar and brown sugar and add just enough baby oil/olive oil to make a paste. If using olive oil, feel free to add a few drops of vanilla as well. I used my favorite scent in baby oil.

After letting feet soak in hot/warm water for about 15 minutes, massage foot scrub into feet focusing on the heel. Rinse off, and feel the difference! (BONUS: your hands get scrubbed as well!)

Shower off hair treatment and face treatment. (And bathe as usual.) Then apply lotion all over--I used a coconut oil cream that a dear friend made for me. Especially apply the lotion thickly to feet and then immediately put on socks. Leave the lotion treatment on all day! P.S. I also used the coconut oil as a moisturizer for my face, on recommendation from the friend who gave it to me. It felt great after the exfoliation!
If you have time, treat any acne or blemishes with tea tree oil for a few hours before applying makeup.
Happy spa days!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Creation Museum Part #3

After we were done with the museum on Saturday, we took a drive through Cincinnati. It is a beautiful city with the river and the different areas of town being on different elevations.
I was particularly taken with this one building that was on the other side of the beautiful bridge pictured above.
The building itself extended the curves of the bridge up into the sky.
There was a lot of decorative work on buildings--you can't see it well, but this building has a huge lion's head on a decorative awning at the top.
The youngest napped right through our little self tour of the city and then we woke her up to eat at a restaurant near the stadiums. We finished up the day with a treat of frozen yogurt and then we went back to our hotel for an actual night of sleep.
The next morning we packed, breakfasted and headed home.
This was a great two day trip! Total cost for 2 nights in a hotel, indoor waterpark, museum tickets, 7 meals (for 5 people) and gas was around $500. What we actually got--the learning by experience and the great family time--was priceless.
Check out
of our trip to Cincinnati!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Creation Museum Part #2

Ok, so remember yesterday when I said the kids had three hours at a water park and still were too keyed up to go to sleep until 10pm?
Well, that didn't keep them from being ready and rearing to go at 7am the next morning. So the daddy read to them while I got ready and then we all headed down to the hot breakfast provided by the hotel. After filling our tummies we headed to the main event
The Creation Museum
This was such a great place! If you're at all interested in the science of creation, this is a place you'll want to walk through slowly. And if you have kids, you're going to be constantly torn by the way they excitedly want to run ahead and the way you want to read every word. We were that family, but I think we did well--We'll want to come back when the kids are older, but for the most part, we were able to study and read and keep up the pace.
Oh, and by the way, instead of the $90 we would have paid, with the coupon, we paid $40 for our family. We also spent the extra $14 for the Snakes Alive show.

One part of the museum is dedicated to Noah and his experience building the ark. There is a large room where you can see wax figures working on the ark and how the wood and pitch were used to make a water tight boat. There is also an interactive room where you can put together puzzles and "ask" a wax figure of Noah questions that he really answers! The Creation Museum is now raising money to fund building a life-size ark! They will build it there by the museum. I'm looking forward to seeing that.

In the petting zoo, our favorite animals were the Alpaca. Their funny inquisitive faces really won us over! There were also 
 and a Zorse and a Zeedonk as well--to exemplify that animals can mate within a species and create hybrids, but animals can never be created cross species (example: mating a cat and a dog and creating a new species is impossible.)
We were fascinated by the colorful snakes. We even got a family picture holding one of the pythons!
I definitely recommend the Creation Museum in Cincinnati, OH!
Check out Part #1 of this little adventure HERE.