Apr 17 2014

Keeping Jesus in Easter – Easter Basket

Published by under Easter,history,traditions

 Easter

. . . the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23

(History and Helps for Enjoying Easter Traditions While Teaching Eternal Truths)

Easter occurs on the Sunday after the first full moon following Spring Equinox.  In ancient days, this first moon was a sign to farmers to make sure they planted the first seeds of the season as the cold winter was over and daylight was longer.  Middle Eastern cultures, such as the Hebrews, Arabs, Assyrians and Babylonians, had spring traditions of celebrating the first seedlings of their new crops. They brought them in baskets to temples for a blessing that their gods would continue to bless the crops for the rest of the year.

To Christians, Easter represents the resurrection of Christ. Lent is the season that proceeds Easter and lasts for forty days. During the Lent season, it is expected to give up something such as meat, dairy, eggs, or whatever.. The custom of having a large Easter supper represents the end of the fast. The food was brought to the church in large baskets, thus the connection to treats in Easter baskets today.

The Easter grass comes from the tradition of Dutch children waiting for the delivery of eggs on Easter Sunday. They would keep these eggs in ‘bird nests’ of grass.

  • Easter basket is woven together like the crown of thorns
  • Easter grass is like hay in the manger for baby Jesus
  • Bag of gold or silver covered chocolate coins represent the betrayal of Jesus by Judas
  • Chocolate rooster is a reminder of Peter’s three denials of Jesus
  • One hollow plastic eggs that is empty to represent the empty tomb
  • Marshmallow chicks, bunnies remind us of new life and new birth
  • And always put a cross in the basket.  It can be a chocolate one or possibly one you have made together.  Put the cross in the basket each year with the new gifts to be a reminder of the greatest Gift of all and the amazing Reason we celebrate!! 

photo

(colored egg shells glued on cardboard cross)  

 Screen Shot 2013-03-22 at 11.24.49 PM
 (two sticks wrapped together with yarn)

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Apr 16 2014

Keeping Jesus in Easter – Hiding Eggs

Published by under Easter,history,traditions

easter_egg_hunt[1]

He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. 
Matthew 28:6 

(History and Helps for Enjoying Easter Traditions While Teaching Eternal Truths)

The history of hiding eggs goes back to possibly when the Pagans used eggs in their Spring celebrations. After early Christian influence, the Pagans hid their eggs to avoid persecution.  Another possible reason for hiding eggs is because they were forbidden during Lent, so symbolically they were hidden and found at the end of Lent.

Easter Egg Hunting began in America in the 1700′s when German immigrants brought with them their Osterhase tradition (Easter hare who laid eggs for children to find).

Before you hide the eggs this year, share with your children what we share when we do our Christmas web  that the true meaning of the holiday gets hidden in the activities of the season and we need to hunt for the true meaning – that Jesus died for us and is risen from the dead.  

Christians consider eggs to be ‘the seed of life’ and so they are symbolic of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The egg also might represent the stone that was rolled away from the tomb where Christ was hidden, revealing his Resurrection. And the hunting could be related to the fact that on Sunday morning after the crucifixion, two ladies went to the tomb looking for Jesus’ body, but He wasn’t there.  The angel told the ladies: He is not here; he is risen .  

Put Bible verses in some of the eggs you hide and then gather together to read them all after they are found.  Some suggested verses are:

  • Revelation 21:5  Jesus makes all things new.
  • Galatians 2:20  Jesus Christ lives.
  • Matthew 28:6  Jesus is risen.
  • Song of Solomon 2:12  The flowers appear on the earth.
  • Song of Solomon 2:12 The time of the singing of birds has come
  • Ecclesiastes 3:1 God made everything beautiful
  • Psalm 103:5 God satisfies my mouth with good things.

Make one egg empty like the tomb and give a prize for the one who finds that egg which represents the true message of Easter that Jesus is alive!

As you are outside hunting eggs, notice the signs of spring and repeat the Bible verses above that apply.  Enjoy God’s beautiful world together.

Make Resurrection Rolls with your children – hide marshmallows in crescent rolls and when they are baked, the rolls are empty on the inside, just as the tomb was empty when the ladies went looking for Jesus.

Have fun singing Hooray from “Every Song a Bible Story” (Maranatha Music).  This is a happy song about the empty tomb that children really love. 

 

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Apr 15 2014

Keeping Jesus in Easter – Easter Bunny

Published by under Easter,history,traditions

Bunny_in_a_hole_by_cuzvans8er

Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,
1 Cor. 15:3-4

(History and Helps for Enjoying Easter Traditions While Teaching Eternal Truths)

In the 13th century hares and rabbits were symbols of fertility because they reproduce so rapidly. Rabbits were the sacred animal of Eostre, the Anglo Saxon goddess of Spring and fertility.

Germany appears to be responsible for including the hare in Easter customs.  They told tales of the Easter hare, Osterhase, who laid eggs for children to find.  They also baked cakes for Easter in the shape of hares, and we may have them to thank for making the chocolate bunnies and eggs.

A possible reason for the link between the rabbit and the egg comes from the Pagans associating the rabbit with the moon and the egg with the sun.  Easter comes during the spring equinox when day and night are the same length, thus the rabbit and the egg are together.

You can use the bunny as a reminder of the Resurrection.  The bunny stays underground much of the winter and comes out in spring.  And, as the scripture above states, Jesus was in the tomb 3 days and then came out of the tomb alive!

A great book to teach the real meaning of Easter is Easter Bunny, Are You For Real?

Even though the Easter Bunny has nothing to do with Jesus other than the fact that Jesus made bunnies, it can still be just good fun at Easter. And Easter should be a fun, happy time as we celebrate the greatest event in history!!!

1 Timothy 6:17 tells us God gives us all things to enjoy.  So enjoy the chocolate bunnies and eggs :-)

Now, just for fun, watch these Easter Bunny videos clips made by our sons.

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Apr 15 2014

Keeping Jesus in Easter – Coloring Eggs

Published by under Easter,history,traditions

Easter 2006 007

Jesus makes all things new.
Revelation 21:5

(Easter is the time to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, but this message can get lost in the traditional Easter activities or the coming of Spring.  We can use these tangible things to help children understand intangible ideas.)

Eggs have been recognized in most ages and cultures as a symbol of new life.  This caused ancient Rome, Egypt, and Persia to use eggs in celebration of Spring when new life appears on the earth.

Another reason for eggs being special at Spring is because after a long winter food was scare and a fresh egg was a treat.  A reason for boiling the eggs could be because in Medieval Europe, eggs were not eaten during Lent and fresh eggs were boiled or preserved in some manor until it was permissible to eat them.

Christians in the Middle East and in Greece painted eggs bright red to symbolize the blood of Christ.  King Edward I of England had eggs gold leafed or colored as Easter gifts.   In Armenia, hollow eggs were created by piercing the ends with a pin and blowing out the egg. They were then decorated with pictures of Christ and the Virgin Mary.  The most elaborate decorating was in Poland and Ukraine.  This is where the writing on the egg with a wax crayon before coloring it began.  It is called pysanky.

Share with your children these possible reasons behind the coloring of eggs.  Relate it all to the Bible verse above - Jesus makes all things new. 

The eggs remind of us of new life like new chicks, birds, and ducks that come from eggs. Talk about the new life we have when we become a Christian. Point out that before coloring, all the eggs look the same, but after coloring, the eggs are all different and unique just like our lives are with Jesus. 

The coloring reminds us of how beautiful the world is as it comes back to life after the winter as new flowers, leaves, and grass appear on the earth. You can talk of how this is a reminder of Jesus coming back to life on that historical Easter morning over 2000 years ago.

Each color can be used to talk about Jesus:

  • Red is for the blood Jesus shed on the cross for us
  • Green is for the grass and trees He made
  • Blue is for the sky and water He made
  • Yellow is for the sun that shines brightly
  • Orange and pink are for the flowers that are blooming 
  • White is for His cleansing us from all our sins by His taking the punishment for us on the cross
  • Purple is a color for kings and Jesus is the King of kings 

Make coloring eggs a family time.  Don’t worry about the mess; allow everyone to be creative as you relate this activity to the new life we have in Christ!!!

Easter 2006 002

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Apr 14 2014

Keeping Jesus in Easter – History of Easter

Published by under Easter,history

Easter is the time to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, but this usually gets pushed aside by traditional Easter activities such as the Easter Bunny, coloring eggs, egg hunts, etc. Easter comes at springtime and some of our traditions at Easter are actually a part of the pagan Spring celebration.  But that’s ok . . .  we can use these tangible things to help children understand intangible ideas .

The name Easter is from Eostre, an Anglo Saxon goddess of Spring. The resurrection of Jesus coincided with the springtime celebration for this goddess.   Through the years Christians began to incorporate the pagan springtime traditions with their celebration of the Resurrection .  An old English historical writing contains a letter from Pope Gregory to Saint Mellitus, who was then on his way to England to conduct missionary work among the pagan Anglo-Saxons. Pope Gregory suggested that converting heathens would go easier if they were allowed to retain the outward forms of their traditional pagan practices and traditions, while reinterpreting those traditions spiritually towards the Christian God instead of to their pagan “devils”: “to the end that, whilst some gratifications are outwardly permitted them, they may the more easily consent to the inward consolations of the grace of God”.

So use the secular traditions of Easter to help your children understand what Jesus did on the Cross.  Search for ‘Easter’ or the specific tradition at www.trainupthechild.org  for ideas on how to keep Jesus in your Easter activities.

Watch these fun Easter history facts

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Mar 26 2014

Let It Go and Take Time to Look for God’s Smile

God smiles

I will never forget the night some 35 years ago when I was hurrying through Josh’s bath after a long day.  He was being silly and not co-operating.  As I laid him back in the tub to rinse his hair, he said, “Mom, can’t you see God smiling?”  Wow – I wasn’t expecting that comment,  but his delight in the Lord caused me to slow down, let go of my agenda, and desire to spend more time looking for God’s smile with my son.

Check out the recent article at I Take Joy that gives special meaning for moms to the popular and somewhat controversial song, ‘Let It Go’ from the hit movie Frozen. The song also reminds me of the phrase that was popular in Christian circles in the 70′s and 80′s – ‘Let go and let God.’ Sometimes we just need to let go of our our plans for the day and let God bless us as we create memories with our children.

Read the Words of Jesus when the children were brought to him:

Mark 10:13-16 (GW) Some people brought little children to Jesus to have him hold them. But the disciples told the people not to do that. When Jesus saw this, he became irritated. He told them, “Don’t stop the children from coming to me. Children like these are part of the kingdom of God.  I can guarantee this truth: Whoever doesn’t receive the kingdom of God as a little child receives it will never enter it.” Jesus put his arms around the children and blessed them by placing his hands on them.

Jesus always had time for the children.  What do we have to do that even comes close to the responsibilities of the Son of God.  What do we have on our minds that could ever be as trying as what Jesus knew He would be facing.  Yet Jesus took the time to love on the children and I think to even play with them – hence the pictures of Jesus and the children on this site :-)  He even encourages us to be like the children.

We moms need to let things go in order to be in the moment with our children – they don’t stop growing while we are busy doing other things! We need to take advantage of every opportunity to spend time with them, playing, loving, reading, being silly, going for walks, looking at clouds, running through mud puddles, and finding teaching moments in the midst of it all as God smiles down on us.

I am so thankful for the lesson God taught me through Josh that night during bath time. I hate to think of the moments and memories I would have missed  -  I can honestly say I have enjoyed every minute being mom to Josh, Jer, Jon, and Jenny Love for almost 37 years which, by the way, seem to have literally gone by in a blink!

I encourage you to intentionally ‘let go’ of the messy house, the dirty dishes, the unfolded laundry, the phone calls, etc., and go play!! And, as Josh said, look for God’s smile!!!!

Here’s an article, a book, a poem, and a movie quote to inspire you to ‘let it go’:

The Day I stopped saying Hurry Up 

Hands Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do List, and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp What Really Matters!


Building Memories
By Sandra D. Romans

So much to do – I have no time
To listen now, I say,
And hurry back to the chores
That always fill my day.

 No time to listen? A small voice

Seemed to whisper in my ear…
Soon your little ones will be gone
And you’ll wish to hold them near.

I left my broom – the chores undone
And found them under the apple tree.
I held them close and listened while
They shared their love and we built a memory.


from the movie Hook

“Your children love you, they want to play with you. How long do you think that lasts? . . .  We have a few special years with our children, when they’re the ones that want us around. After that you’re going to be running after them for a bit of attention. It’s so fast . . . It’s a few years Peter and it’s over. And you are not being careful. And you are missing it.” 

 

 

 

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Mar 16 2014

St. Patrick’s Day – Why the Celebration?

Did you or your children ever wonder why we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?    I’m not sure what lies behind some of the traditions associated with the day, but the man that the holiday is named for has a story children need to hear.

About 385 years after Jesus lived, a boy named Patrick was born in England. When he was 16 years old, he was kidnapped by Irish pirates and taken to Ireland as a slave where he worked as a shepherd.  During this time he was lonely and afraid; this caused him to turn to God and he began to experience the love of Jesus.  After about 6 years as a slave, Patrick escaped, went back to England, and began studying to be a priest.

However, he did not forget Ireland; he had a desire to go back one day and tell them about Jesus.  He did eventually return there as a missionary.  Isn’t that amazing that he would want to go back to the place where he had been enslaved and tell them of God’s love?  What an act of forgiveness! Eventually Patrick was called a saint by the Catholic Church because of his love and kindness to the people of Ireland.

So because Jesus loved Patrick, Patrick was able to forgive the people of Ireland and then he spent his life telling them about Jesus. Patrick died on March 17, 461 and now we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day each March 17.  Please make your children aware in the midst of the stories of leprechauns and the various ways of observing the holiday, that the reason for the activities this week is because Jesus loved and cared for Patrick and then Patrick loved and care for the people who had wronged him.

It is believed that Patrick brought the shamrock plant to Ireland and used the three-leafed plant to illustrate the message of the Trinity. This would be a good time to teach about the Trinity.  Click here for help in sharing the concept with your children.  A good children’s book to illustrate the Trinity is 3 in 1: A Picture of God.

Go outside and look for clover and then pretend to be St. Patrick using a clover to teach the Irish about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Get a shamrock craft at Apples for the Teacher.

You can download a St. Patrick’s Day coloring page at Ministry-to-Children.com

Click here to check out a very informative article about Saint Patrick. 

So as you wear green and celebrate St. Patrick Day, make it a celebration of love and forgiveness from our Triune God.

Ephesians 4:32  And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you. 
John 15:12  This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

 

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Feb 16 2014

Presidents’ Day – Celebrating Two Great Presidents!

Presidents’ Day is intended to honor George Washington and Abraham Lincoln whose birthdays are both in February.  Their birthdays were observed separately until 1971 when Congress decided the two would be combined into one national holiday celebrated on the third Monday of February.

This is a great time to teach your children about the godly character of these two men. God tells us to remember how He dealt with our ancestors: 1 Cor. 10:1 Remember our history, friends, and be warned. All our ancestors were led by the providential Cloud and taken miraculously through the Sea.

George Washington:

Tell about the truthfulness of George Washington even as a young boy in the story of the cherry tree.  Here is a site that tells the story and has printable coloring pictures:

George Washington, sometime before the age of 16, transcribed “Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior In Company and Conversation.” These are good rules to teach your children. This site depicts them in cartoons.

Read at this site and then share with excitement in your own words about how God divinely protected George Washington during the French and Indian War.  You can read the entire account of this in the book  The Bulletproof George Washington

Abraham Lincoln:

Tell why Abraham Lincoln became known as ‘Honest Abe’.  Read about it here and get printable coloring sheets as well.

Read this article about the faith of Abraham Lincoln.  This is what he said before the Battle of Gettysburg” . . . oppressed by the gravity of our affairs, I went to my room one day and locked the door and got down on my knees before almighty God and prayed to Him mightily for victory at Gettysburg. I told Him that this war was His, and our cause His cause . . . Then and there I made a solemn vow to almighty God that if He would stand by our boys at Gettysburg, I would stand by Him. And after that, I don’t know how it was, and I cannot explain it, soon a sweet comfort crept into my soul. The feeling came that God had taken the whole business into His own hands, and that things would go right at Gettysburg. . .” from Abraham Lincoln: The Man & His Faith

Here’s an excellent interactive site for both presidents.

We can use this day to pray for our current president and leaders as well.  They have been placed in their position by God: Daniel 2:21 He changes times and periods of history.He removes kings and establishes them. He gives wisdom to those who are wise and knowledge to those who have insight. Download this coloring sheet that gives suggestions of what to pray for our leaders.

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Feb 11 2014

Am I setting a loving example for my children?

Published by under Love,taking inventory

Are my children observing me . . .

Loving my God:
Mark 12:30 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.

Loving my God’s Word:
Psalm 119:97  Oh, how I love your law!  I think about it all day long.

Loving my family:

1 Peter 3:8  And now this word to all of you: You should be like one big happy family, full of sympathy toward each other, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds.

Romans 12:10 Be devoted to each other like a loving family. Excel in showing respect for each other.

Loving my enemies:
Matthew 5:44    But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!

Loving my neighbors:
Mark 12:31  Love your neighbor as yourself.

Loving my friends:
Proverbs 17:17  A friend loves at all times

 Loving my unresponsive ones:

2 Cor. 12:15   I will gladly spend myself and all I have for your spiritual good, even though it seems that the more I love you, the less you love me.

Loving my animals
Proverbs 12:10   A righteous person cares {even} about the life of his animals,

. . . Just wondering :-)

 

 

 

 

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Feb 09 2014

Origin of Valentine’s Day and Resources for Celebrating with Your Children

As always, we want our children to know the reason for any celebration and see how it might relate to Christ.  Here’s what my research found:

Historical Information

Valentine was a priest near Rome in about 270 AD.  At that time the Roman Emperor Claudius felt that married men made poor soldiers so he abolished marriage.  Valentine  invited young lovers to come to him in secret where he joined them in marriage.  When the emperor heard of this ‘friend of lovers’, he was impressed with his conviction and attempted to convert him to the Roman gods while Valentine attempted to convert the emperor to Christianity.  When Valentine would not renounce Christianity, he was imprisoned.

While in prison, he witnessed to the guards.  One of the guards had adopted a blind girl and asked Valentine if his God could help the daughter see again.  Valentine prayed and the girl was given her sight.  The guard and his whole family believed in Jesus and were baptized.  Valentine fell in love with the girl.  When the emperor heard about Valentine making converts in prison, he was furious and had Valentine beheaded.

Before Valentine died on February 14th, he signed a farewell message to his love and signed it ‘from your Valentine’, a phrase that has lived long after its author died.  Thus began the sending of  Valentines.

Because of Valentine’s dedication to the Lord, he was made a saint by the Catholic church.   The church was seeking to usurp the popularity of the Roman god Lupercus.  At the Lupercusian festival each year around the middle of February, a young man was assigned a woman companion for his ‘pleasure’ until the next year at the festival when he would get a different woman.  The Catholic church was determined to put an end to this 800 year old immoral practice and Valentine seemed to be the ideal candidate to become a ‘lovers’ saint.

How to Share This with Children:

The ruler of Rome, Emperor Claudius, thought there were many gods, but a man named Valentine loved God with all his heart and told people that Jesus is the one true God.  This made the Emperor Claudius very angry so he had Valentine put in jail.  But even in jail, Valentine kept telling people about Jesus.  The guard in the prison had a blind daughter and he asked Valentine if God could heal her.  Valentine prayed for her and God caused her to see again.  The guard and his whole family believed in Jesus after that and loved God with all their hearts.

The emperor was so upset when he heard that Valentine was still telling people about Jesus, that he had him killed.  Before Valentine died he sent a message to the jailer’s daughter whom he had fallen in love with.  He signed the message ‘from your Valentine’ and this is where the sending of ‘Valentines’ began.

Because Valentine loved Jesus so much, the Catholic church named him a ‘saint’ which is what someone is called that loves Jesus and cares about others.  Each year we think about those we love and send them Valentines.  Let’s remember that the first Valentine was sent by a man who loved God with all his heart.

On Valentine’s Day we may get flowers, cards, candy, or other things from friends who love us,  but the very best gift that was sent to show love to us was sent a very long time ago.  It was Jesus who was born to one day die on the cross for the wrong things we have done.  The Bible says ”No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)

Activities:

Emphasize God’s love for them, their love for God, and love for others as you work.

  • Help your children make Valentines for their friends, include any of the following verses on them.  Talk about the verses as you make the cards:

1 John 4:9 God showed how much he loved us by sending his only Son into this wicked world to bring to us eternal  life through his death.
1 John 4:16b:  God is love.
1 John 4:19:  We love because he [God] first loved us
1 John 5:3:  This is love for GOD:  to obey his commands.
John 15:12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
1 John 4:11  Dear friends, since God loved us as much as that, we surely ought to love each other too.

Make a giant heart out of red poster board.  Write Luke 10:27 or Matthew 22:37 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart” on the heart.   Cut it into age-appropriate puzzle pieces.  As you put each piece together say, “that’s not all my heart” until the puzzle is finished.  Then read the verse and encourage the child to say, “God, I love you with all my heart”.  If you have several children you can make two heart puzzles and race to see who can give God all their heart first.

 

Here are other sites to glean from to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your children:

http://ministry-to-children.com/?s=valentine

http://ministry-to-children.com/love-resources/

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