Easter Lessons

This year, we went out of our way to do a few more hands-on lessons and Easter preparations with the children. The older they get, of course the more they grasp ~ and it is delightful to hear their own 6, 3, and 2 year old sized insights into why we do the things we do.

On Good Friday, rather than doing our normal homeschooling routine, while the little ones had individual room time (learning to play on their own for a solid hour is a good skill to learn), Gabriel helped me clean the house. We washed windows, cleaned bathrooms, swept floors, mopped floors, did laundry, washed dishes, wiped down cupboards. And while we worked together, we talked about why we were working so hard, and why is this what we chose to do on Good Friday. When I asked Gabriel what he thought, he paused in thought, then profoundly said, “Well, today is the day we remember the whole reason why Jesus came. He came to clean our hearts. So I guess that’s why we should clean our home.” I wanted to just stop the conversation right there, and leave it at that ~ because my kid gets SO much of the Gospel story, and I love hearing his perspective on it. It’s beautiful. But we went on to talk about how Jesus served others, even though He was King of all. We talked about “our people” ~ and who are our neighbors. Gabriel even asked if he could wash my feet when we were done cleaning, because he wanted to bless me and serve me like Jesus.

But I hate to admit, I forgot about the feet-washing, because by the time we were done cleaning the house, the little ones were ready to be done with solitary playtime, and we needed to move on to the phase of dirtying things back up again. Funny how we do that in my line of work: we clean things up so we can make them dirty again!

So after a little lunch, Evangeline was ready for a nap, and the boys & I got out supplies for some crafts that would hold more lessons.

We had already dyed Easter eggs with Grandmama, Auntie, and cousins, complete with super sweet and thoughtful conversations about the metaphors, symbolism, and just plain fun of the tradition. My children and I have talked numerous times this week about the symbolism we can see in the eggs… how they symbolize the rock which closed the tomb, but new life can spring forth from it… how we can take plain eggs and give them new clothing, as we do when we take on new life in Christ… how the yolk in a cracked egg can symbolize the glorious light of Jesus’ resurrection from the dark tomb when He burst forth in glorious array…
Click here to read about Easter Egg traditions throughout the life of the Church, following the Lenten season. Even plain old Wikipedia had some great thought-provoking things about Easter Eggs, or Paschal Eggs. And for some fun nuances on Easter Egg traditions, click here and have some fun with the kids in your life.

Romans 6:4
We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death,
in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead
by the glory of the Father,
we too might walk in newness of life.

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Thanks to Ann Voskamp’s diligent sharing each and every year, I finally felt like my boys were old enough this year to really grasp & enjoy a couple more unique & detailed hands-on projects.

First we had a snack of nuts and figs, while we made a crown of thorns (using a small grapevine wreath and a few dozen coffee-stained toothpicks) and talked a lot about the events of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Three year old Asher was nearly in tears (I love how his forehead crinkles and his chin quivers when he feels genuine sorrow), talking about Jesus being tortured, bleeding, and dying. He finally smiled again when I reminded Him that this was why Jesus came, and this is how He worked to save US from OUR sins. And in his sweet little voice, Asher proclaimed, “I sure love Jesus, Mommy.”

Matthew 27:29
…twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head…

Mark 15:17
…twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on Him.

John 19:2, 5
And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head and arrayed Him in a purple robe. So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe.

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Next we went out on to the back porch and put together our own little Gethsemane. Using a small moss planter (I used this, and don’t let the word “large” fool you!), we filled it with soil. Then we set our tomb carved in the rock in the corner of the garden (I found that aquarium accessories could offer some neat options, like this cichlid stone), before filling the rest of the garden with plants. We used some little succulents we got at a local store along with some pretty decorative moss, and then Gabriel used small smooth stones to make a little pathway through the garden to the tomb. Last of all, the boys went on a stone hunt outside to find something that would serve as a tomb cover.

John 19:41
Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid.

Luke 23:55-56
The women who had come with Him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how His body was laid.Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

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On Good Friday, we used last week’s palm branches and our homemade crown of thorns to decorate our dinner table, when we ate lamb and roasted vegetables and matzo ball soup, along with the Seder plate with all  its elements and plenty of wine.

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Our kitchen island was cleared of all other decorations, and that is where we laid our own little Gethsemane. On Friday evening we closed up the tomb. On Saturday morning we found a little soldier to keep guard outside the tomb. And the children looked forward to seeing what would come of it on Sunday morning.

Matthew 27:59-60, 66
And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. … So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.

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Come Sunday morning, the children came downstairs to find the guard fallen down, the stone moved away, and a piece of linen folded inside the tomb.

Matthew 28:2-8
And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.He is not here, for He has risen, as He said. Come, see the place where He lay.Then go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead, and behold, He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see Him. See, I have told you.”So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell His disciples.

Luke 24:1-12
…On the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb,but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel.And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?He is not here, but has risen. Remember how He told you, while He was still in Galilee,that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.”And they remembered His words,and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles,but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.

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They found a table set for a beautiful little breakfast. Fruit salad, hard boiled eggs with sea salt, mimosas, Easter story cookies, and Easter tomb rolls (the kids had helped me make those all on Saturday, which was really wonderful). Candles and music and the excited rush of gathering and eating and praising God together, singing Christ The Lord Is Risen Today. Gifts for each one at their place ~ books and chocolates.

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Once the morning feasting was done, it came time to don our Easter clothing (clothing is hugely metaphorical and meaningful in Scripture and the history of the Church) ~ even the Easter sermon mentioned this, because we had three baptisms during the service and these Scriptures were emphasized.

Ephesians 4:17-24
Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about Him and were taught in Him, as the truth is in Jesus,to put off your old self,which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Colossians 3:12-17
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Galatians 3:27
 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.


And so we got dressed in new matchy-matchy clothes (and my heart ached in all the heaviest and bestest of ways, because I have been given a family to clothe, and children who can wear sickeningly matchy outfits!), and talked about putting on Christ, putting off our old selves, putting on the new self in newness of life and the beauty of holiness, putting on love above all other things.

And then? Then the party really started. Gabriel pointed out, “there sure is a lot of joy around church and everywhere today!” and I couldn’t help but laugh. Because isn’t that just exactly, precisely the way it should be?! May the joy of the gospel, and of the Resurrected Christ, and of the hope He has given His people, shed forth from your homes, your families, your churches, and your wanderings until He comes again and everything is made new and all is set right.

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To the glory of the Father, amen. Allelulia!

UPDATE on Gardening

My garden is much smaller than the past few years, but it is still lovely. It is green and fresh. I like to see the brown dirt, and I like to keep it free of weeds. The weather we’ve had this year has made gardening a bit more interesting than past gardens I’ve had. We’re nearly a month behind our usual—which makes me wonder if we’ll even get any tomatoes this year. We’ll see. We’re eating delicious salads from my garden now, which we all love. Gabriel is a huge fan of lettuce; it’s the first thing he eats off his plate, and he always wants seconds. He’ll even eat it straight out of the garden with me, but I’m a bit sheepish about it because we’ve got more bugs this year than usual! So I prefer to wash the lettuce three or four times (I’m doggone meticulous, as I prefer not to get my protein from little green bugs…) before eating it myself. To each his own!
Most of my herbs are looking bushy and abundant. Dill, thyme, rosemary, parsley, and chives are thriving—and since we’re starting to get some actual heat occasionally now my basil might soon catch up (the MiracleGrow I’m adding to it helps too).

We will soon be getting sugar snap peas, and they are happily climbing their fence now. Green beans and zucchini will be ready after that, and tomatoes (if we’re lucky) come in right at the end of gardening season here, just when frosts are beginning to touch us in September. There are a few volunteer potato plants that came up from last year’s Yukon Golds, and I left them because their crops are so buttery and delicious! I had over a dozen volunteer Monet Sunflowers too, so I transplanted them into a neat little row. I also have two little strawberry plants this year (Mother’s Day gifts), but the quail got to the berries before I got them covered with a net. Very sad, but true. I will try again some other year, with more plants and netting as soon as I get them in the ground!

It is funny to have a garden so small, and yet feel like I hardly have the time or energy to get out there and keep it up. My husband was very wise to limit my garden size this year; I admit that I had foolishly thought I could keep up with my normal garden even amongst the craziness of this year. But no, my husband is wise and I am thankful for his protection. Next year we won’t be able to have a garden at all (maybe—hopefully—the following year!), so I am trying to enjoy the upkeep now while I have it at my fingertips (and under my fingernails!) since I think I’ll miss it next year. Especially the fresh produce.

I am constantly reminded of sins and other such spiritual things while I garden in solitude (usually during naptime, as Gabriel so much wants to help… but it isn’t quite exactly helpful yet…). The reminders of being fruitful. The reminders of how quickly sins—like weeds—can overtake us. The reminders of the good soil and the seeds. So many parables brought to mind, actually! As I pluck out little tiny weeds, I am reminded that I need to pluck out little tiny sins instead of letting them take root and overtake me when I’m not looking. I need to be vigilant in the garden of my heart, as well as the garden in my backyard. I am eager to see good fruit produced in myself, my home, and my Gabriel, just as I am eager to see good produce being harvested from the garden.
Reminders that God loves gardens: He had a garden in Eden, and there is a garden in Paradise. It reminds me to love gardens too. It reminds me how He is such a tender gardener, and how I long to emulate His skill.
So yes, I am gardening. It isn’t as big as usual, and doesn’t carry as much variety as usual, and it won’t keep us stocked with veggies through the year this time… but it’s there, and it’s lovely. It is refreshing and tiring and providing and spiritually edifying.
Thanks be to God.


My garden is still abundant, and I wanted to share pictures of its fruitfulness.
I filled a large bowl with cucumbers, zucchini, crookneck squash, and tomatoes today. I’ve stopped picking peas and beans. I just couldn’t keep up any more. My lettuce is still sweet and tender. Potatoes and onions are going to be ready after a couple of frosty nights. The pumpkins are getting big and round, and just starting to turn orange. My squashes and cukes are slowing down. But the tomatoes are just speeding up! I never thought all these tomatoes would ripen, but we’re getting a little kick of Indian Summer this week, and they’re starting to ripen in droves! I think I may be freezing them by the gallon later this week. 🙂

And surprise, my Victory Rose is starting to bloom again! It has seven (the number of my children!) buds right now, and we’re excited to see how many bloom before we get a heavy freeze.

Monet Sunflowers

How have I not yet mentioned that my garden is edged now with gorgeous, sunny heads?!

These beautiful sunflowers are Monets, courtesy of my friends Jaclynn & Samantha. And now I want to learn how to successfully keep seeds — anyone want to give me some tips? 🙂

Victory’s Rose

This morning I went outside and noticed that Victory’s roses burst into bloom! Aren’t they beautiful?! (Thanks, Jaclynn & Samantha!) The white rose is the Victory Rose, and I am not actually sure what the pink ones are called. The white roses smell like sweet perfume, and are big full blossoms; there are three of them at different stages of blooming. The pink roses are really small, there are lots of them in little clusters, and have occasional little white stripes in their bright pink petals. I love these roses. I love that they are in pots so we can take them with us to our new house once we build it. I love that they are for my children (while the white one is for Victory, I call the other one simply “my babies’ roses”).

I love that when I went out there this morning, the beauty of the roses was not hidden beneath the remaining raindrops left by a storm overnight. In fact, the drops on the petals seemed to make their fragrance stronger and their freshness more profound. It’s almost like the rain beautified something that was already beautiful.

And I thought that was perfect.
Because I needed that reminder today.

Getting Y’all Up-to-Date

I’ve had people asking about our second treatment, so just wanted to update that yes, we did just travel for the second round of the treatment I had three weeks ago. The traveling went pretty well (even though we had to fly through thunderstorms) and we managed to make all our flights, even though we did almost miss one plane and had to run full-speed through an airport to squeak in before they shut the plane’s door. And yes, I survived the flying (including turbulence): I just kept my eyes closed on the planes and sang along to psalms in my head as I listened to Pure Words over and over and over. It kept me sane enough. Yes, the medical treatment went well, and now I am having the proper reaction (eight hives on my arms), so we are praying that my body is reacting internally as it ought to as well. May the Lord be pleased to use this treatment in mighty ways to prepare my body for nurturing children in the future!

So anyway, thank you for the prayers and for asking about all of this. What a blessing to know that we are loved and prayed for by our brethren.

In other news, music camp begins today at our church, so I will be busy accompanying dozens of little saints on the piano now through Saturday. I’m praying for grace and endurance, so that I will be skillful in aiding these children in their pursuit of musical excellence.

And lastly, I’d been asked to post an August photo of my garden… well, it’s August! And the garden is officially jungle-esque. Upon picking produce last evening and trying to pick some weeds (and pulling out the lettuce that had bolted), I realized that I was feeling fairly overwhelmed by my garden. It is, in fact, a rather large project for little ol’ me. I spoke with my father on the phone (asking about how to get rid of the little pests that are trying to eat my produce before I get it harvested!), he reminded me that it is okay to have a few weeds here and there (I am rather perfectionistic about having a perfectly weed-free garden), and that if I somehow can’t manage to keep up with the harvesting, none of us will go hungry & it’s okay to let the peas get too large or to let a squash rot accidentally. It was a good reminder: and I am working now to “let it go” (my perfectionism). But -oh yes- here is your glimpse at my backyard produce jungle. 🙂

And also: these are two rose bushes we received as a gift after Victory died. They are both about to bloom… and the one on the left is called a Victory Rose. I can’t wait until this bud opens!

Welcome to my Garden

Most things in my garden are looking really well. Still waiting for the beans, squashes, cucumbers, sunflowers, and basil to come up. Everything else is sprouting and growing beautifully. I love my garden.

The little welcome sign my mom gave me this year (last year’s was broken), and Mercy’s little birdbath.

The garden gate, and the view of the garden from the garden gate.

Pretty, tidy little rows of onions and spinach!

Another side view of the garden, and a closeup at my little lettuce heads beginning to form! This is my favorite.

Valiant little rows of peas, almost ready to climb a fence; and a little cluster of carrots (that will need thinned soon).

Nicely spaced beets (however, they still need thinning – so I’ll pop the tiny greens in a salad); and my potato ditch! I’m growing Yukon Gold potatoes, which is very exciting for me. :)

I have found the garden to be some good therapy for me. Nobody stares at me while I weep out there. And I’m not hurting anything but weeds as I use all my body strength to whack at the dirt with my hoe.

Saturday April 17, 2010

  • Sleeping in and relaxing under the covers with husby.
  • The fact that my coffee tasted better today, thanks to running vinegar through the coffee maker yesterday.
  • Watching my husband take dominion of our yard all afternoon.
  • The smell of freshly cut grass.
  • Talking to my mom on the phone.
  • Taking dominion of my home, as well as my body and mind and heart.
  • Planting herbs, and watering the flowers I planted yesterday.
  • Gabriel, when he dumped the watering can over onto himself & was scared out of wits because he was suddenly sopping wet.
  • Gabriel, because he has been living in just a diaper along with socks & shoes ever since that incident – he did not want more clothes on.
  • Weather warm enough to actually have the screen door open today.
  • Baking, baking, baking! Blackberry bars, chocolate bundt cake, and stromboli.
  • New recipes: a pork chop & sweet potatoes dish from last night, and stromboli for tonight.
  • My dad, driving up in my brother’s beat-up old truck with a bed full of sheep manure.
  • Watching my father and husband haul barrow after barrow of manure back to my eagerly awaiting garden plot.
  • The bulbs Steven planted for me last year: the daffodils and hyacinths are gorgeously blooming, and the tulips look about ready to burst into bloom, too.
  • Reading bits from: The Loveliness of Christ, Toward Jerusalem, One Year book of Hope, and Womanly Dominion.
  • Sunshine and a cool breeze.
  • Anticipating having some old friends from college over tonight for dessert.
  • Playing piano & harp, and singing; preparing for worship tomorrow.
  • Anticipating having family over for dinner tomorrow after church.
  • Dilly, curled up on my legs while sitting here on the floor with my laptop.
  • Remembering that God is faithful, and that I am His daughter. And His wife. 🙂