Our Daily Reads

We have been doing a lot of reading aloud together lately. A lot. Maybe it’s because I realized that I really can not split myself up to have one-on-one reading time with each kid every day of the week. So they get lumped together a bit. It is also partly because I like the children to take turns reading aloud to one another. And I want them to each have opportunities to listen to books they love, but also listen to books they don’t love or are not initially drawn to.

Of course I recently poured my soul out to you about our Family Loves here, and books was one of our top three. If my description of my recent purchases and library runs didn’t convince you, allow me to show you through some quick snapshots (sorry for the photo-editing flubs… I’m new at this…) what our current reads are. And yes, I’m pretty serious that we go through a stack as tall as my daughter almost every day. Our daily reads are quite broad, you could say. And we love it

So let me just share with you some of the books we have been reading (and most, we’ve been loving) lately.
The boys want me to point out, however, that this is not a complete list because they didn’t want me to bring down the books currently at their bedsides. I know one of those is The Action Bible because Gabriel has read through that multiple times, and just keeps repeating it! And there are usually a couple Calvin & Hobbes and some Magic Treehouse books stashed by Asher’s pillow.

Those are the books that we tend to read in the morning (just Mommy & the kids), and then a couple of them are what Daddy read aloud to the whole family… the slew of N.D. Wilson and C.S. Lewis, for instance.

This is the stack of seasonal books we picked up at the library recently, which the kids and I have been loving. Books about gardens, spring, animals, Easter, nature, bugs, dirt…
All totally lovable things, and perfect for these sometimes-rainy, sometimes-sunny school days!

And do you want to see some of the things we have yet to read as a family?
Some of these we will do as a family of six at the dinner table in the evening (because the adults always finish our plates first, so Mommy washes the dishes & Daddy reads aloud while the kids keep munching and listen intently).

It looks like kind of a daunting stack, especially when I consider the ones that belong to the county library, because those actually have official due dates… whereas at least the ones from our own little family library here at home don’t have to be completed & returned to the shelf at any specific date!

And honestly, you know, life wouldn’t feel quite rounded out if I didn’t have my own little stash of personal reading on my bedside table for nights and mornings…
I’ve been asked if I would consider reviewing a couple of these, so we’ll see if I end up following through on that or not. 🙂

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What are your current reads?
What are you reading with the children in your life?
What do you like to fall asleep reading at night?
What do you read when you need a laugh, or encouragement, or a quiet moment?
What books would you choose to write a review on, if someone gave you that open opportunity?

Real Beauty

As women, we ache to believe that
real beauty can be found in the midst of imperfection.
We are crying out for permission to lower our standards.
~Myquillyn Smith, The Nesting Place, p47~

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I see beauty all around me.
I see imperfection all around me.

I am looking to my Lord to help me see
not only imperfection in myself,
but beauty in that imperfection.

I am seeking to find joy not only in the work God has given me
but joy in the body He has given me to use for that work.

I am seeking to glorify Him through the imperfections,
rather than to negatively focus on them.

Lord, I believe.
Help Thou my unbelief.

Long-distance and Long-time

Five years ago right now, I found out I was pregnant with my ninth baby, who came on the heels of six consecutive miscarriages.
Five years ago right now, we began the process of building a home out in the country.
Five years ago right now, a friend of mine emailed me a crazy idea.

Boy. That was a busy year.

I now have a four year old Asher to show for that year.
I now have lived in this home, which we had built out in the country, for four years.
I now have participated in sharing a Pregnancy After Loss devotional, our free ebook download, for four years.

So many big things were obviously going on back then, and honestly, they continue to. Sometimes it is hard to see the growth of such blessings. It felt like so much big stuff back then, but when looking through the proper lenses, I can see that God is continuing to do great big things with those very seeds from five years ago. My friend Kristi reminded me this week that it was four years ago that R&R went live. What an exciting day that was for us! And today, she shares a little here about the growing process of our Rainbows & Redemption devotional to give a little special insight to the planting, blooming, and pruning progression.

Later this month, I will get to see Kristi in person for the second time ~ the first time was three years ago. I’ve known her long-distance for 5 1/2 years, as God has taken each of us on similar yet different journeys. We met online when we were both pregnant-after-loss, once: she was pregnant with her little Kyria, I was pregnant with my Peace. Neither of us were having a good time of it at all. We ended up delivering our precious little first trimester babies, three thousand miles apart, that November, in 2009. We have both had more pregnancies since then ~ my Asher and her Caleb were in our bellies while we wrote and edited R&R, so we shared wild roller coasters for months at a time. We have each called one another in moments of panic, straight from our own home bathrooms… because we were either starting to miscarry or had gotten less-than-encouraging blood test results or were worrying our brains to a fritz psycho-analyzing every little twinge and symptom and dream while PAL.

How good it continues to be to know that I am not alone.

We may be separated by basically the entire United States (she is at the SE corner while I am in the NW corner), but we are still there for one another, especially when it comes to specific niche topics. Things like miscarriage and related babyloss topics. Writing, specifically when it comes to words of encouragement. Homeschooling. Rainbow babies.

I hope to continue sharing life, prayers, and writing with Kristi as time goes on ~ my long-distance and long-time friend.  God grows beautiful things from little seeds. Like babies. And friendships. And books. Blessings.

Irrigating Deserts

The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles,
but to irrigate deserts.

~C. S. Lewis~

http://orig09.deviantart.net/327f/f/2012/004/4/8/stack_of_books_by_shannie57-d4la78r.jpg

We need to take special care to tell stories that are ‘not suitable’ for modernists. The Bible contains dragons, giants, principalities, satyrs, and unicorns. Invariably, these get cleaned up in translation so that modernist evangelicals are not embarrassed by them. In such instances, the liberal is often to be trusted with the text of Scripture over the evangelical, because the evangelical is stuck with the results of his exegesis. If the evangelical wants to have it both ways (e.g. inerrancy and respectability with moderns), then he has a lot of work cut out for him.

~Douglas Wilson, The Case for Classical Christian Education, p. 156~

When you make decisions moment by moment throughout the day, they need to be filtered through two questions: “Is this activity glorifying God and serving Him?” and “Are my first priorities taken care of?” Thinking through these questions is a habit that we deliberately need to foster. … When our priorities get unbalanced, our spiritual life gets out of balance as well. This affects our emotional life, and we get a spiral effect going that can spin into chaos.

~Kim Brenneman, Large Family Logistics, pg316~

Giveaway Winner, #4!!

Like the rest of life, even things like online giveaways don’t always go as you plan or expect! Right after I discovered the winning comment, our power went out… which means no internet (nor lights nor water, etc)… and it did not come back on for over thirteen hours. So, please forgive my tardy post & announcement. We are very joyful to have our power returned today.

Back to the point though!
Yesterday, the day I was supposed to announce the giveaway winner, I realized I had six entries.
And in our game cupboard we happen to have six sided dice (who doesn’t?). 🙂

So a little roll of the dice, and up came:

https://mypurlsofwisdom.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/number4.jpg

Number Four!

Comment number four came from Samantha,
who will soon be receiving a copy of The Loveliness of Christ!

Congratulations, Samantha!

For everyone else, don’t be dismayed ~
I plan to have another giveaway during the Advent season,
which will probably be upon us a lot sooner than we think!

Thanks for participating in Joyful Domesticity’s first giveaway,
and please keep reading & commenting.
May God receive glory for our conversations here.

Not Alone in Grief ~ Giveaway!!

THE GIVEAWAY
IS NOW CLOSED!!

This is a first, I think, for Joyful Domesticity ~ a giveaway!!
Please share this giveaway by sharing this post’s link,
especially if you know someone suffering the grief of miscarriage.

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…~…~…~…

In this you rejoice,
though now for a little while, if necessary,
you have been grieved by various trials,

so that the tested genuineness of your faith—
more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—
may be found to result in praise and glory and honor
at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 1:6-7

My two favorite go-to books for gifting to someone suffering a miscarriage are Samuel Rutherford’s The Loveliness of Christ and Nancy Guthrie’s The One Year Book of Hope. I don’t even know how many copies of those books I have bought and shared with others through the years, but I always figure if the person I give one to already has a copy, at least now I’ve given them a second copy so they too can pay-it-forward and continue the line of encouragement for those who are suffering. When we are in grief, we can feel so isolated & alone ~ but please remember, you are not alone.

Bear one another’s burdens,
and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:2

To enter the giveaway for a chance to win one of these two books, please leave a comment simply sharing whether you would prefer to receive a copy of Rutherford’s book or Guthrie’s book, and whether it would be for yourself or for someone you know.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up
1 Thessalonians 5:11

I will leave the comments open through this week, and randomly choose a comment (blindly picking a number) on Sunday, August 30th ~ I will update the post with the winner, and contact the winner by email so I can arrange to ship your new book to you right away.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
Romans 12:15

Comforting Myself in My Grief

This is my comfort in my affliction,
that Your promise gives me life.
Psalm 119:50

There have been times in my grief where I just needed to do something.
Partly as a distraction of keeping myself busy,
partly as a motherly act of doing something in honor of a child I could not rock or nurse or read to,
partly as a balm for a bleeding & broken part of me that needed tending.

…~…~…~…

I have read. and returning to these books, or even just seeing them on my shelf, continues the comfort they have offered…

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I have written. blogs, forum posts, guest posts for various websites, devotional entries, private journals, countless letters to other grieving women – most of whom I have never met…

I have scrapbooked. when my first baby died, I made a scrapbook in her memory from pregnancy and the miscarriage, including pictures of the flowers we received, email quotes, the cards, etc. and someday yet to come I plan to make a “siblings” scrapbook including all thirteen of my children…

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I have sewn. for every child I have carried in my womb, we have bought an arrow to put in a leather quiver in my husband’s study – and I sew a personalized name tag for each arrow with the baby’s name and a Scripture for that child…

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I have painted. for instance, this painting which represents our four children here and the nine who have flown to the gates of glory…

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I have metal stamped. for instance, jewelry (for me as their mommy, and also for their two grandmothers) and tears bottles

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I have gardened. there is something healing about whacking the ground with a hoe when your eyes burn with tears and your body throbs with a combination of physical & emotional & spiritual pain – I had a big vegetable garden at our old home, and while I have not yet had that at our new home, I have a little flower garden (which happens to be excessively overgrown and untidy at the moment) which has roses and a peony in honor of specific babies, as well as a bell and a birdbath in honor of others…

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I have decorated. these children gone too soon still beautify our home and life – when I see Victory’s chimes, Hosanna’s light, Mercy’s rose, Heritage’s flowers, Fidelis’s bell, and my babies’ names in various artwork around my home, I remember that they are still part of our family, still part of our covenant line, still part of God’s good work in our home & life & family & ministry, still honored here and loved tremendously…

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I have kept my babies close. until their decaying bodies are put with my own in the ground once our souls are reunited in the presence of Christ at His wedding feast, they stay close to me, in the sacred space of my own bedroom…

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…~…~…~…

Putting my hands to physical toil and involving my brain in mental energies outside of crying or talking through my feelings, struggles, emotions, dreams (whether broken or yet whole)… that has been a way of seeking comfort myself when needing comfort in my grief.

As one whom his mother comforts,
so I will comfort you;
you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.
Isaiah 66:13

Other people of course do not always fill all the gaps I feel.
I can not always just sit on a street corner with a sign that says, “in grief ~ anything helps” and wait for someone else to fill my hands.
My hands are open to receiving comfort from others.
My hands are folded, my heart bowed low, my conversations continual with my heavenly Father to receive His comfort.
But my hands also often are busied in various ways to comfort myself with tangible things.

Comfort comes in many ways, many forms, many facets. Sharing ideas on what is comforting is just one of those blessed facets.
One of the beautiful things about living in Christ myself and living in a community of His people (both in real life and online) is that these varied aspects of comfort work together in harmony to produce something that can be most balming, most healing, most reaching.

You will increase my greatness
and comfort me again.
Psalm 71:21

So when you are in grief, use your hands.
Fold your hands and lift up the emptiness of your hands ~ in prayer to the Father of all comfort.
Open your hands and be ready to receive ~ open to the comforts that others around you want & try to bestow.
Busy your hands ~ fill those palms and fingers with tangible projects and good things that bless your own broken soul.

Let Your steadfast love comfort me
according to Your promise to Your servant.
Psalm 119:76

Meditating on Psalm 57

This morning I read a nice chunk out of Elyse Fitzpatrick’s book, A Steadfast Heart. It gave me multiple opportunities to think of my grandparents especially, as I know both of them are going through storms in their life as they adjust to new and difficult life situations.

Grace withereth without adversity.
The devil is but God’s master fencer,
to teach us to handle our weapons.
~Samuel Rutherford~

This book uses Psalm 57 as its inspiration, and builds upon the images and principles that David gave us there.
PSALM 57
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,

    for in You my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge,
    till the storms of destruction pass by.
I cry out to God Most High,
    to God who fulfills His purpose for me.
He will send from heaven and save me;
    He will put to shame him who tramples on me. Selah
God will send out His steadfast love and His faithfulness!
My soul is in the midst of lions;
    I lie down amid fiery beasts—
the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows,
    whose tongues are sharp swords.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
    Let Your glory be over all the earth!
They set a net for my steps;
    my soul was bowed down.
They dug a pit in my way,
    but they have fallen into it themselves. Selah
My heart is steadfast, O God,
    my heart is steadfast!
I will sing and make melody!
    Awake, my glory!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
    I will awake the dawn!
I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the peoples;
    I will sing praises to You among the nations.
For Your steadfast love is great to the heavens,
    Your faithfulness to the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
    Let Your glory be over all the earth!

Lay all your loads and your weights by faith upon Christ.
Ease yourself, and let Him bear all.
He can, He does, He will bear you.
~Samuel Rutherford~

It is beautiful to remember what the Lord asks of us in Psalm 57:

to trust in Him
to make our refuge in the shadow of His wings
to cry out to God Most High
to be steadfast of heart
to sing
to give praise
to glorify Him
to make music to Him
to greet the dawn
to praise Him among the peoples
to sing to Him among the nations

Your rock doth not ebb and flow,
but your sea.
~Samuel Rutherford~

And it is comforting to notice what the Lord says He will do in this psalm:

He will be merciful
He performs all things for us
He shall send from heaven to save us
He will reproach the one who would swallow us up
He will send forth His  mercy
He will send forth His truth
He will be exalted
He will be glorified

The floods may swell and roar,
but our ark shall swim above the waters;
it cannot sink, because a Saviour is in it.
~Samuel Rutherford~

Whatever the storms are that you face today, this week, this month, this year… remember that when you belong to the Lord, there is nothing that can separate you from His love. He is the captain of your ship, regardless of the strength of the storm. Even the winds and the waves obey His command! Be steadfast of heart as you cling to Him even in terrible fear, in seasickness, in doubt. He will not leave you, He will not forsake you. He will carry you through the storms.

Second: Resources, Opening My Eyes to See Chronic Suffering

SECOND: RESOURCES, OPENING MY EYES
TO SEE CHRONIC SUFFERING

… … … … …

I wanted to pray but had no idea what to say,
as if struck dumb by my own pain.
Groans became the only language I could use,
if even that,
but I believed it was language enough for God to understand.
~Jerry Sittser, A Grace Disguised, p43~

When the Lord put it on my heart a month or two ago to begin praying more for my friends who have particular chronic suffering (which I myself have experienced in particular, probably smaller, forms), I wanted to know how to find out more. I googled for a lot of things. I went back to some books that encouraged me in my own forms of suffering (like grief or depression) to see how they might (or might not) be pertinent for people with chronic pain, chronic illness, mental illness, etc. I read Scriptures, especially Psalms, with these friends on my heart. I wrote some prayers with them in mind. And most importantly, I asked questions. I emailed my friends (as that is the way I tend to communicate with the majority of people, but particularly with these friends), asking them questions about their suffering, about what they need, about what help they receive, about how their husbands & families & church bodies encourage them. I received a variety of responses, and getting those specific glimpses into the hearts of these women (yes, these are all women who I know with these chronic needs… and all but one are married… all but two have children to care for…) gave me particular insight into how their lives are effected by their various suffering, and how their hearts are both uplifted & downtrodden in turn.

Pain insists upon being attended to.
God whispers to us in our pleasures,
speaks in our conscience,
but shouts in our pains:
it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.
~C.S. Lewis~

Please participate in this conversation, by considering these links and books, by sharing this with people you know who would be challenged or blessed by these things, by commenting here with questions or experiences or additional resources, and by praying for the Lord to work even in your own family to see where suffering is around you—in yourself, in your home, in your neighborhood, in your local church body—and ask Him to grant you whatever particular grace He needs to speak into your heart.

Do you need to humble yourself to receive more assistance? Do you need to embolden yourself to ask for more assistance? Do you need to lower your expectations for what kind of help you need, wisely discerning between needs and desires? Do you need to heighten the demands you put on yourself for seeing where your hands can labor, your prayers can bless, and your gifts can be showered? Ask the Lord to open your eyes and soften your heart in whatever direction would most glorify Him—and ask Him, then, for the strength and fortitude to follow Him with joy!

…We laughed, even me,
sincerely and happily,
but yet, I still ached in my soul.
~Ben Palpant, A Small Cup of Light, p97~

Soon I will share responses from the hearts of these women themselves. We will look at some Scriptures and meditate thereon. And then we will also hear, Lord willing, from a couple various church leaders for the perspective that comes on the side of sacrificial service and rallying the body of Christ toward love and good works. But today, let’s look at these links and browse these books—see what you can glean here, whether you are bed-ridden with illness or homebound with suffering, or whether you are strong & equipped to be serving hands filled with grace to those who are, or even whether your own current station in life doesn’t necessarily allow you (honestly) to lend time or finance to the suffering around you but at least to offer prayers and encouragement through words…

My prayer today is that the Lord would prick us by His Spirit, put our roots down amongst our family & church family, grow vibrant blossoms on our vines, and drop our fruit with abandon upon everyone around us. Amen.

One of Jesus’ early and great followers,
the apostle Paul, wrote once that
it is not what we have achieved
but what we are striving for that counts.
~Jerry Sittser, A Grace Disguised, p91~

LINKS FOR THE SUFFERING & THOSE SERVING THE SUFFERING:

http://chroniccurve.tumblr.com/post/14003538415/a-chronic-christmas-gift-ideas-for-the

http://www.accessbiblestudies.com/bible-studies/the-christian-and-chronic-illness/

http://justbetweenus.org/pages/page.asp?page_id=79768

http://sickofmg.blogspot.com/2011/02/dilemma-of-church-and-chronic-illness.html

http://lacedwithgrace.com/church-chronically-ill/

http://restministries.com/category/church-resources/

http://www.faithwriters.com/article-details.php?id=44192

http://restministries.com/

http://www.focusonthefamily.com/lifechallenges/emotional-health/living-with-chronic-pain-and-illness/ministering-effectively-to-the-chronically-ill

http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/200702/200702_108_ChronicIllness.cfm

http://invisibleillnessweek.com/2008/08/10/care-ministry/

http://thedailyprayerblog.blogspot.com/2010/09/prayer-and-chronic-illness.html

http://www.kubik.org/vcm/illness.htm

http://www.shalombewithyou.com/prayer/physical-healing/prayer-for-chronic-illness/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chronic-Illness-Encouragement-for-followers-of-Jesus-Christ/363753660142

http://www.focusonthefamily.com/lifechallenges/emotional-health/living-with-chronic-pain-and-illness/when-we-suffer-a-biblical-perspective-on-chronic-pain-and-illness

http://trustingjesuswithchronicpain.blogspot.com/

http://www.ucg.org/beyond-today/meaningful-hope-for-christians-with-chronic-illnesses

http://www.retropulser.com/

 

SUGGESTED BOOKS FOR VARIOUS TYPES OF (primarily longterm) SUFFERING:

A Cypress Will Grow by Amy Chai

A Place of Healing by Joni Eareckson Tada

A Reluctant Journey by Kristen Grathwol

A Small Cup of Light by Ben Palpant

Be Still, My Soul edited by Nancy Guthrie

Beyond Pain: Job, Jesus, and Joy by Maureen Pratt

Bound by Illness, Freed by Grace by Maureen Brady

Chronic Pain by Rob Prince

Chronic Resilience by Danea Horn

Coping With Chronic Illness by H. Norman Wright

Doing Well at Being Sick by Wendy Wallace

Empty by Cherie Hill

Fibromyalgia: God’s Grace for Chronic Pain Sufferers by Robert Smith

Healing Prayers by Lauren Wilder

Holding on to Hope by Nancy Guthrie

Just Show Up by Kara Tippetts

Living Well With Chronic Illness by Richard Cheu

Mended by Angie Smith

Ministering to those in Chronic Pain by Susan Gerberding

Miserable Joy by Jason Nelson

Mosaic Moments by Lisa Copen

Pain and Providence by Joni Eareckson Tada

Sick and Tired of Feeling Sick and Tired by Paul Donoghue and Mary Siegel

Spurgeon’s Sorrows by Zack Eswine

Struck Down but Not Destroyed by Douglas Wiegand

Suffering and the Sovereignty of God edited by John Piper

The Beauty of Pain by Judy Dillard

The Hardest Peace by Kara Tippetts

The Loveliness of Christ by Samuel Rutherford

The One Year Book of Hope by Nancy Guthrie

The Works of Ann Bradstreet by Ann Bradstreet

What if Your Blessings Came through Raindrops by Laura Story

When The Darkness Will Not Lift by John Piper

You Don’t Look Sick by Joy Selak and Steven Overman

… … … … …

~part of our series, Serving Those in The Church with Chronic Needs~

… … … … …

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.

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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!