Managing Expectations

Last year, we bought a new minivan while my daughters were away at summer camp.

We hauled all their luggage out to the parking lot on pickup day, and they stood there scanning the rows of vehicles wondering where in the world I parked.

Even when I opened the back door of our new van and told them to load up, they still didn’t understand. One of them asked if I had rented a van just to come pick them up.

It  was quite the surprise.

But now that one surprise has destroyed my kids’ abilities to gauge how excited they should be for any of my surprises.

Sometimes,  by “surprise” I just mean it’s National Doughnut Day and we’re going to Krispy Kreme for some hot doughnuts.  That’s a wonderful treat—-unless you’re expecting something more along the lines of a new car…or Disney World…or something like that

This year when I picked my girls up from  camp, my youngest daughter asked me if  I’d bought a new car again while they were away?  Or maybe a dog?

So, the ice cream cookie sandwiches I had actually bought didn’t quite measure up.

We’re not really a family that loves surprises of any kind.  (Actually, I hate surprises. So, why should I expect my kids to love them?)  But I am slowly learning that if we do have a surprise  we should package it with some expectation boundaries.

Something like:  Okay,  we have  a surprise for you.  It’s not a Disney World surprise, more like a local, nice surprise that you haven’t tried before and also it’s not  a puppy or a car.

We’re managing expectations with birthdays a bit, too.  It goes  like this:

Mom:  What would you like to  put on your birthday  wish list?

Child:  Well, there is one thing….

Mom:  Something that isn’t a dog.

Child:   Oh.  Right.  Well, how about a camera and some craft supplies?

Mom:  I’ll write those down.

I’m getting better at expectation management and expectation clarity with my kids.

Today, though, I was thinking about how my kids can slip into expecting so much, but I seem to slip into expecting so little of God.

I  read again today the account of Thomas the disciple, who needed to  see Jesus’s scars in order  to believe He was alive following t he crucifixion.

But there’s another moment  with Thomas in the Gospels that I love.  Before Jesus died,  just as tensions were rising and the disciples sensed the growing enmity of the religious leaders,  Jesus announced he was going to Judea again–right into the thick of the conflict and the trouble.

Lazarus had died,  and Jesus intended to be with the family.  The  disciples didn’t understand why Jesus would put himself  in danger, but we know why:  His purpose was resurrection for the glory of God.

So, Thomas  said to his fellow disciples: “Let’s go too so that we may die with him” (John 11:16 CSB).

I love how Thomas was ready to die for Jesus.

Beth Moore wrote,

“What a strange mix of loyalty and pessimism. Oddly enough, Thomas never doubted Christ would die. He doubted the most important part of all–that He would rise from the  dead and live again!” (Living Beyond Yourself).

Thomas expected Jesus to die.   He had no trouble expecting the worst.

But He didn’t expect Jesus’s resurrection.

Isn’t that me sometimes? 

In a season of loss, I can begin to expect more loss.  I expect to barely scrape through and survive the mess or the famine.

When there is bad news, I begin to expect more bad news.  More sadness.

Like Thomas, I have no trouble expecting the worst, but I so rarely expect and anticipate the resurrection Christ brings and that  is what needs  to change.  Instead of expecting the worst,  can I learn to  anticipate God’s glory?

I’m so deeply grateful that God is a God of abundance. he does so much more than meet my meager, miserly expectations.

I can never expect Jesus to  give me everything I want or ask for.  He loves me too much for that.

But I can expect this:

His goodness in all things.

His lovingkindness.

His sweetness in the midst of the best and worst of times.

His presence with me at all times.

His provision.

His strength.

His resurrection work, making things new, making things beautiful, filling the things that seem so dead with new life.

This resurrection work is what He is doing now, and it will be His ultimate work in creation,  building an eternal kingdom with no sin or death or pain, transforming all that is dead in this world into the perfection of eternal heaven.

Then the one seated on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new.”  (Revelation 21:5 CSB).

Parenting in light of the resurrection

My son woke up early on Easter morning and he is not a morning person.  He is, instead, a curious combination of early riser plus total  morning grump.

That  means demands, tears, and the request (denied) that we use the tie-dye kits he and his sister received to make “splat shirts” right away, as in before 7 a.m. on Easter Sunday morning.

Mornings aren’t usually rough, but everyone has a  tough start sometimes.  Mostly, I just shrug ours off and move along.

But this day.  This day was harder on the soul.

It was Easter Sunday morning.  It should be holy and sacred and full of worship in all-the-things.  Worship  in my parenting.  Worship in my daily routine and acts of service for my family.  Worship in the breakfast meal and the dinner preparation.

Good golly, we should have JOY!  Joy, I tell you!

It wasn’t  worship, though.  Or joy.

It was  more chaos  then calm.  A clothing crisis (or two or three) and missing shoes despite instructions that all  children should prepare all outfits the night before.  It was a grumpy four-year-old not wanting to leave the comfort  of the couch.

It was the culmination of a weekend when we had seen sin and attitude and outbursts of anger and fighting.

That’s how I ended up at church on Easter Sunday, trying so hard to psych myself up into feeling all the excitement of celebrating Christ’s resurrection, but actually feeling stretched thin with the realities  of me being not-enough.

It hit me in a wave  of realization as we sang about death losing its sting and about the wonderful cross.

I was  distracted by a teen outgrowing her  clothing, a lost pair of white shoes and a four-year-old who doesn’t like waking up.

Meanwhile, I’m supposed to be worshiping the God of the Universe who died on the cross for my sins and then rose up from the dead!

That’s what started my searching:  What does it look like for the resurrection to impact my parenting?   My home?  My everyday morning routine and beyond?

Christ brings  all the power of the resurrection right into my everyday, ordinary life.

We read in Romans:

But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies [a]through His Spirit who dwells in you (Romans 8:11 NASB).

and in Ephesians:

 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 1:19-20 NLT).

The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is within us!

He can mightily heal what is broken and  He can re-order any mess that seems hopelessly overwhelming.   No way can an “off” morning defeat me, nor should it  distract me.

It also means He brings peace.

After Jesus’s resurrection, He stood in the middle of a room, surrounded by followers, and He said:

“Peace be with you” (John 20:26).

He knew that’s what they needed with all their fear, worry, sorrow, and their deep grief and confusion.  They needed His peace smack dab in the middle of the mess they were in.

He brings the peace of His presence  right  into my life, too.  Right into my craziest morning with the deepest ache for calm and for quiet, He can speak peace.

He can BE my peace.

Parenting in light of the resurrection also brings great value to what we’re doing here.  It means there is salvation for my children.   No one has to stay the same.  And I get to be part of their sanctification.  I get to witness God at work in their lives and hearts.

Not only does Jesus bring peace.  He brings redemption.  He brings strength for me and He brings grace for  my kids as we come face-to-face with sin and how ugly it is.

Because Jesus died and because He arose, my kids can be forgiven.  They can be transformed over time.  The sin that tangles them up now doesn’t have to tangle them up forever, as long as we’re willing to battle together against it .

I’m a mom who needs Easter.  I  need the resurrection to  keep the right perspective.

He came.  He died.  He arose.

Such grace.  Such love.  Such power.  Such hope.

Such peace.

 

Bible Verses and a Prayer about the Resurrection Life

  • Job 19:25 ESV
    For I know that my Redeemer lives,
        and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
  • Isaiah 25:8 ESV
    He will swallow up death forever;
    and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
        and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
        for the Lord has spoken.
  • Luke 24:46-47 ESV
    and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
  • John 11:25-26 ESV
    Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?
  • Romans 6:4 ESV
    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.
  • Romans 6:5 ESV
    For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
  • Romans 8:11 ESV
    If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
  • Romans 8:34 ESV
    Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
  • Romans 10:9 ESV
    because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
  • 1 Corinthians 6:14 ESV
    And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:3-5 ESV
    For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:17 ESV
    And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 ESV
    For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
  • Philippians 3:10 ESV
    that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death
  • 2 Timothy 2:11 ESV
    The saying is trustworthy, for:

    If we have died with him, we will also live with him;

  • 1 Peter 1:3 ESV
    Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
  • 1 Peter 1:21 ESV
    who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

Bible Verses For Those Who Mourn

  • Psalm 23:4 ESV
    Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
        I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
        your rod and your staff,
        they comfort me.
  • Psalm 30:5 ESV
    For his anger is but for a moment,
        and his favor is for a lifetime.
    Weeping may tarry for the night,
        but joy comes with the morning.
  • Psalm 34:18 ESV
    The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
        and saves the crushed in spirit.
  • Psalm 46:1-2 ESV
    God is our refuge and strength,
        a very present[b] help in trouble.
    Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
        though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea
  • Psalm 73:26 ESV
    My flesh and my heart may fail,
        but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
  • Psalm 119:50 ESV
    This is my comfort in my affliction,
        that your promise gives me life.
  • Psalm 147:3 ESV
    He heals the brokenhearted
        and binds up their wounds.
  • Isaiah 53:4 ESV
    Surely he has borne our griefs
        and carried our sorrows;
    yet we esteemed him stricken,
        smitten by God, and afflicted.
  • Lamentations 3:31-33 ESV
    For the Lord will not
        cast off forever,
    32 but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion
        according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
    33 for he does not afflict from his heart
        or grieve the children of men.
  • Matthew 5:4 ESV
    Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
  • 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV
    Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 ESV
    But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
  • Revelation 21:4 ESV
    He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

What caterpillars remember and I sometimes forget

There’s always a rebel.

This cup of caterpillars arrives in the mailbox and I set it up high so we can watch them grow.

And do they ever grow.

Within a few days, they start scaling the walls of the plastic cup and demonstrate their acrobatics by clinging to the lid and hanging upside down.  First one caterpillar, then another.

Every year, this one lone caterpillar delays.  All four of his roommates hang over his head and tuck themselves right up into a chrysalis.

The rebel caterpillar enjoys the food down below, munching at leisure, no more competition for the bug buffet.

Sometimes we wonder if he’ll ever climb on up there already!!

But inevitably he does.  One morning, he pads his way up to the top and drops himself upside down just like the others.  He wraps himself in the brown chrysalis and waits for the change.

Now all five of them hang in their mesh butterfly house, waiting to emerge.  Mostly they rest there, perfectly and completely still.

They look dead.

Totally, completely devoid of all life.

But we move their home just slightly and we see one caterpillar wiggle and squirm inside the chrysalis.

A sign of life now and a sign of life to come.

Could it be these insects know more about hope than we do? 

That even in a season of waiting, a time of rest, a moment of seeming-death, still they cling.  They submit to the dormancy for the beauty that is to come.

Maybe they know there is something more.  That hope and future God promises us, that’s why they climb on up, that’s why they hang themselves right upside down.

Because of what is to come.

And in the middle of the death seasons, the long waits and the God-mandated resting, sometimes we forget this.  We can abandon all hope of future, of promise, of new life and the return of joy.

It’s Holy Week.  Last Sunday, we waved those Palms and we sang, “Hosanna!”  Today, I prepare my heart for Good Friday to come, for Communion and remembrance and meditation on the cross.

I read this morning:

Jesus “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2 ESV).

Jesus knelt in that Garden and He prayed, “not my will, but Yours be done” despite the pain, and the humiliation, the torture, and the death because of the joy to come.

He submitted because of resurrection hope.

And we have this.  That empty tomb is our hope, too.  Our God, who defeated death and the grave, has a plan and a purpose, a hope, a future.  We are never alone.  We are fully loved and redeemed, forgiven and set free.

All that is dead can become life in His hands.  All that is broken can be beautiful.  All that is lost can be found.

He can make all things new.

Even the impossible becomes possible with Him.

That is resurrection joy.

Those caterpillars don’t abandon hope of life.  They don’t linger in that tomb of a chrysalis.  In due season, they push right on out and stretch and dry those wings so they can fly to freedom.

Jesus didn’t die on that cross hopelessly uncertain of the future.  He had his sights set on Sunday morning and the “joy set before Him.”  That’s why He endured that cross.

But we sometimes lose hope.

 

Just like the demon-possessed man who “for a long time …had not lived in a house but among the tombs” (Luke 8:27 ESV). 

He lived life in the tombs.  Maybe the sorrow felt more comfortable than the joy?  Maybe death felt less painful than life?

He preferred the grave.

And then there’s us

In seasons of waiting, maybe of sorrow, perhaps even of death, do we abandon ourselves to the bitterness and make ourselves cozy among the tombs?

Or do we cling to Christ because of resurrection hope? Do we hold on for dear life to the Savior who defeated death?

Do we hide away in the shadows and settle into the despair or do we run like crazy into His arms when He calls us out of darkness and into light?

So I remember what the caterpillars have known all along: even what seems like death is truly just waiting on new life.

Hold on tight, dear one.  He brings new life.  He brings beauty.  He brings you wings so you can soar.

Originally published April 14, 2014

Want Honesty? Ask a Preschooler

Psalm 51-6

I was the preschool party mom for the day.

Snacks? Check.

Games? Check.

Crafts and activities? Check.

Party success.

I packed up my goodies and the kids grabbed jackets to line up for the end of the day.  I chatted with the restless kids who already stood in line while they waited for classmates to finish up.

So, I was inspired. A game of “I Spy” would help pass the time and keep these preschoolers from losing it in the line.

I Spy something red.

The apple!

I Spy something yellow.

The bus!

I think I’m being too easy on them, so I go in for a tough one.

I Spy something gray

Your hair!

Well, no, my gray hair wasn’t the answer I was looking for, but thanks for pointing that out.

Preschoolers can be so stinkin’ honest.  Gotta love ’em!

Maybe we grow out of it, the honesty.  We start filtering our thoughts and hiding away the trueness and the realness of our emotions, dreams and even disappointments.

Some of it’s healthy.  No one needs to be blurting out the ‘truth’ about hating your friend’s new haircut, after all.

And yet, when it’s with God, why do we still hide?

Why do we fake goodness and pretend to have it all together with Him?  Why do we act generous and humble and keep our real motives hidden deep down?

Why do we hold back from Him when we’re hurt?

I read about Martha in Scripture. We love to pick on her.

Whining Martha. Complaining Martha.

Too busy in the kitchen to listen to Jesus-Martha.

Too worried about her sister to check her own heart and motives-Martha.

Distracted and stressed-Martha.

Yet, there she is, bringing it all to Jesus.

Sure, maybe she slammed the pots and pans around the kitchen for a little bit and maybe she let the oven door slam a few times as she worked herself up into a frenzy.

But eventually she strode right out of that kitchen and told Jesus what had her in a tizzy.

“Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me” (Luke 10:38-42 ESV).

“Do you not care?”

There’s the truth.

Of course He cared.

But when we’re overwhelmed and distracted and trying to handle everything on our own and failing at it all, it’s hard to feel like He cares.

That’s the truth for us sometimes, too.

We see all the ugly bits of Martha’s heart because she laid it all out there.  She was one honest woman, carrying even her worst sin and her pettiness and all of her weakness and dumping the messy lot of it down at Jesus’s feet and asking Him if He even cares about what she’s going through.

She did it when Jesus and His disciples were guests in her home.

She did it again in when her brother, Lazarus, was dead—dead because she sent Jesus a message telling Him that her brother was sick and to hurry to Bethany to heal this dear friend, and Jesus didn’t come for days.  He delayed and Lazarus died.

So Martha took her troubles to Jesus: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. ” (John 11:21 ESV).

Doubts?
Worries?
Fear?
Sin?
Anger?
Disappointment?

Maybe we hide them away because we don’t want to face them ourselves, don’t want to look in that mirror and see the brokenness in our own reflection.

Or maybe we think we can avoid God’s sadness over our failures, that somehow we’ve let Him down and if we just try hard enough, we can get back to that perfect good Christian girl who juggles it all and who stays calm and whom everyone can depend on.

Yet, the Psalmist says:

Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being,
And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.
Psalm 51:6 NASB

Truth from the inside out, that’s what Jesus wants from us.

And, we need not fear how He’ll respond when we leave that mess at His feet.

Martha’ s honesty allowed Jesus to do the greater work in her, to teach her, to grow her faith, to help her know Him more.

Yet, He never lost His temper with her.  He didn’t turn her away or reject her or refuse to help.

He loved her so, and He traded her mess for His mercy.

Bring it to Jesus.  All of it.  Lay it at His feet today.  Don’t be embarrassed.  Don’t be afraid.

The moment you give it to Him is the very moment He can love you through the healing and forgiveness and help you overcome.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

10 Activities to teach kids about the true meaning of Easter

easterI’ve been on a bit of a Mom Quest these past few years.  We’ve never been an Easter bunny family who lines up for pictures at the mall or decorated the house with rabbits, chicks and eggs every spring.

Our goal as parents is to keep the focus on Jesus’ death and resurrection.  That’s what we want our kids to remember, ask questions about, investigate and take to heart this season.

But when you bypass the bunnies in the Wal-Mart aisle, you can end up with Easter looking something like this:

Go to church in a pretty dress.  The end.

I want to teach my kids that Jesus is the Reason for THIS Season, too, and that needs to be a big deal.  Not just preaching at them; engaging them.

So, I’ve collected ideas that we do, some every year, some every few years to keep things new and interesting.  Here are some of our favorite ways to focus on Jesus this holiday with some new additions since last year’s post!!!

Movie time: One of the most amazing discipleship resources we’ve found in the last few years is Phil Vischer’s What’s in the Bible?.   The video series manages to offer an amazingly comprehensive overview of Scripture and answer some of kids’ most-asked questions about God and His Word.  You can find many resources for teaching kids about Scripture on their website.

whats in the bible

Choose a Bible reading plan for your family:  We’ve found that reading the Bible itself together is often far more effective than many children’s devotionals available.  If your kids are still young, of course, then a good children’s Bible or simple book about Easter would be a good place to start.  You can check out The Jesus Storybook Bible for late-preschool to early elementary age children especially.  Now that my kids are old enough, we’ve begun doing more and more Scripture reading as a family from the ‘regular Bible’ (AKA–not a story Bible).  Right now, we’re reading through the book of Mark with my older daughters taking turns reading aloud.

Click here to print the Bible Reading plan:  30 Days in the Book of Mark.

You can also check out shorter plans and devotionals specifically for families in the YouVersion Bible app or you can download a Holy Week Devotional pack with Scripture readings, discussion guides and coloring pages from the What’s in the Bible site here.

Resurrection Eggs:  It’s an oldie but a goodie, a classic that’s been around since I was a kid.  I love the fact that the children drive the discussion in this activity. They open 12 eggs in a specific order.  Each egg holds a symbol of an event in the Passion week.  My kids tell what they think it might be about (the praying hands for the night Jesus prayed in the garden or the coins that Judas received to betray Jesus), and the booklet directs us to Scripture to fill in any blanks. You can buy your own set of pre-made Resurrections here or you can print the pictures that go with the story for free here and use your own plastic eggs.003Empty Tomb Snack: This was so fun and only took a few minutes.  Each of my kids could basically put the pieces of the snack together.  I didn’t tell them what we were making, just gave them directions along the way.  Once they put the Oreo in place, they knew we had made the empty tomb.  Added bonus: Eating a yummy Entenmann’s chocolate doughnut (a secret passion of mine).  You’re supposed to use shredded coconut dyed green for the grass, but coconut isn’t my favorite.  So, I opted for green icing.

011Butterflies: I order a cup of painted lady butterfly caterpillars every year from Insect Lore.  We learn about how butterflies transform while also talking about a long-standing symbol of the resurrection—how the caterpillar goes into the chrysalis and seems to be dead, but then emerges with new life even more beautiful than before.  It’s science and Scripture together at its best.

butterflyResurrection Rolls: This was a new discovery this year and what a treat!  It’s especially good to do on Holy Saturday, talking about preparing Jesus’ body for burial, placing him in the tomb and sealing it up tightly.  When you open the rolls, they are empty inside.  A great surprise for kids.  It’s easy, too, with crescent rolls, melted butter, marshmallows, and cinnamon and sugar.  Bam!  Here are some great step-by-step directions.

 

Resurrection Rolls

 

Easter garden:  This idea has gone viral on my Facebook and Pinterest feeds, so we’ve started planting our own little Easter garden each year.  My daughters and I have the best time setting up our little potted garden.  After all, it feels good to get your hands into a some potting soil in anticipation of spring!  The grass grew very quickly, though, so I’d likely wait until closer to Easter to plant our garden again next year (about a week in advance).  I loved that my kids were asking questions about the three crosses, about the size of the stone covering the tomb, and how it was rolled away.

Easter Garden

Lamb cupcakes: These cupcakes aren’t just cute, they remind us that Jesus is the lamb of God.  Just top a cupcake with white icing (I’m a cream cheese icing fan, personally) and cover with mini marshmallows and one large marshmallow cut in half for the lamb’s head.  The kids mostly love the cupcake, but it’s also a great opportunity to talk about the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world and why Jesus was the perfect sacrifice.

Lamb cupcakesJelly Bean prayer: This is truly simple and sweet.  I put a handful of jelly beans in a baggie (at least one of each color) and include this little poem to walk my kids through the Gospel.  And I sneak a few of my favorite flavors to eat while I’m packing the bag.  That’s a mom bonus.  Here’s where you can find a free printable for the prayer.013

 

Resurrection Tree: I haven’t tried this one, but Christina Fox over at To Show Them Jesus shows how she makes a Resurrection Tree with her kids during the 40 days of Lent.  She includes the Bible passages they read together and the picture/object they use to create an accompanying ornament to go on their tree.  You can check out her post here.

Of course, we don’t miss out on the basics like going to church and specifically talking about the true meaning of Easter with our kids!

So, how do you teach your kids about Jesus’ death and resurrection during this season?

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2015 Heather King

Why do we call this Friday “Good?”

She asked me why we call it “Good Friday.”  Why “good?”

Why “Happy Easter” or “Happy Resurrection Day?”

What makes this so “happy?”

How could we celebrate this death, this sacrifice, this sadness?  We should be so much more serious and sad, she tells me.1corinthians11

Like the disciples who mourned, like Mary Magdalene crying beside the tomb, surely we should remember this day with tears.

This she asks in confusion.

On Thursday, we ate the bread and drank the cup.

That’s what Jesus said that night in the upper room with disciples scattered around:

This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19 NIV).

So, we remember.

She is thinking of grape juice and crackers, a snack when you’re hungry, but I tell her it’s more than that.

And she asks, why do this?  Why talk about blood–so gross, so morbid and earthy?

It’s too corporeal for holiness and for the sacred places, the striking red against the purity of the righteous life.

Why Mom?

That’s yucky.

I think today about the remembrance of it all and why it matters.

Today is Good Friday.

Last year, Good Friday was also the eight-year anniversary of my dad’s death.

So I sat with my daughter brushing her hair and telling her about my dad: little remembrances here and there and what makes that day special.

Then what makes this a day holy and set apart from other days?  Why Good Friday?1peter2

Because there’s beauty in the remembrance.  There’s honor and power in recollection.

I think this about my dad.  Talking about him makes his life real here and now after death.  It makes it more tangible, relevant.

These daughters of mine who never knew him and only see the pictures in a photo album, mostly after he was sick and didn’t look like the dad I remember, what other way for them to know than for me to tell?

And you just don’t want the anniversary of his death to slip by forgotten because it would be forgetting him.

Is it any different remembering our Savior in this season?

In German, they don’t call this day Good.  They call it Mourning Friday.

But isn’t that the beauty of this day?  That even as we remember Christ’s death, even as we talk about the cross and give it true attention, even as we drink the cup so apt to stain white and we eat the bread broken, even as we tell our children the stories and we say:

This is what He did for us.  Not some pristine ritual, not something pure and clean.  It was bloody and painful.  It was death.  It was hard.  And sacrifice like that was suffering. 

It wasn’t pushed on Him because He was too weak.  Jesus “made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:7-8 NIV).

This is what He chose to do for us because of love so great. 

Love so good.  Love so amazing, so divine…

Even as we say this and tell this to our children, the beauty of remembering the cross isn’t just the Mourning of our Savior, it’s the Good News that the resurrection came.

Why Good?

Why Happy?

I tell her remembering is how we worship, how we give thanks, how we honor His gift to us.

And that gift wasn’t just a trinket wrapped in a package with a bow.

It was good.  Truly good.  The greatest gift at the highest price.

And the resurrection; that’s our joy.  What better reason to be happy than to know the cross was not the end and the tomb didn’t destroy our hope?

Because of this, we have life everlasting.

And because of that day, we can see any crisis as an opportunity for Him to shine with resurrection power, to resurrect the dead, to defy all expectations and trample all over the circumstantial evidence by doing the impossible.

Yes, this remembering is good.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2014 Heather King

7 Activities to teach kids about Easter

I’ve been on a bit of a Mom Quest these past few years.  We’ve never been an Easter bunny family who lines up for pictures at the mall or decorated the house with rabbits, chicks and eggs every spring.easter

Our goal as parents is to keep the focus on Jesus’ death and resurrection.  That’s what we want our kids to remember, ask questions about, investigate and take to heart this season.

But when you bypass the bunnies in the Wal-Mart aisle, you can end up with Easter looking something like this:

Go to church in a pretty dress.  The end.

I want to teach my kids that Jesus is the Reason for THIS Season, too, and that needs to be a big deal.  Not just preaching at them; engaging them.

So, I’ve collected ideas that we do, some every year, some every few years to keep things new and interesting.  Here are some of our favorite ways to focus on Jesus this holiday:

Resurrection Eggs:  It’s an oldie but a goodie, a classic that’s been around since I was a kid.  I love the fact that the children drive the discussion in this activity. They open 12 eggs in a specific order.  Each egg holds a symbol of an event in the Passion week.  My kids tell what they think it might be about (the praying hands for the night Jesus prayed in the garden or the coins that Judas received to betray Jesus), and the booklet directs us to Scripture to fill in any blanks.003Empty Tomb Snack: This was so fun and only took a few minutes.  Each of my kids could basically put the pieces of the snack together.  I didn’t tell them what we were making, just gave them directions along the way.  Once they put the Oreo in place, they knew we had made the empty tomb.  Added bonus: Eating a yummy Entenmann’s chocolate doughnut (a secret passion of mine).  You’re supposed to use shredded coconut dyed green for the grass, but coconut isn’t my favorite.  So, I opted for green icing.

011Butterflies: I order a cup of painted lady butterfly caterpillars every year from Insect Lore.  We learn about how butterflies transform while also talking about a long-standing symbol of the resurrection—how the caterpillar goes into the chrysalis and seems to be dead, but then emerges with new life even more beautiful than before.  It’s science and Scripture together at its best.

butterflyResurrection Rolls: This was a new discovery this year and what a treat!  It’s especially good to do on Holy Saturday, talking about preparing Jesus’ body for burial, placing him in the tomb and sealing it up tightly.  When you open the rolls, they are empty inside.  A great surprise for kids.  It’s easy, too, with crescent rolls, melted butter, marshmallows, and cinnamon and sugar.  Bam!  Here are some great step-by-step directions.Resurrection RollsLamb cupcakes: These cupcakes aren’t just cute, they remind us that Jesus is the lamb of God.  Just top a cupcake with white icing (I’m a cream cheese icing fan, personally) and cover with mini marshmallows and one large marshmallow cut in half for the lamb’s head.  The kids mostly love the cupcake, but it’s also a great opportunity to talk about the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world and why Jesus was the perfect sacrifice.

Lamb cupcakesJelly Bean prayer: This is truly simple and sweet.  I put a handful of jelly beans in a baggie (at least one of each color) and include this little poem to walk my kids through the Gospel.  And I sneak a few of my favorite flavors to eat while I’m packing the bag.  That’s a mom bonus.  Here’s where you can find a free printable for the prayer.013

Easter garden:  This idea went viral on my Facebook and Pinterest feed last year and instead of just looking at it, I did a unique thing.  I decided to actually make it.  Shocking, I know!  My daughters and I had the best time setting up our little potted garden.  After all, it feels good to get your hands into a some potting soil in anticipation of spring!  The grass grew very quickly, though, so I’d likely wait until closer to Easter to plant our garden again next year.  I loved that my kids were asking questions about the three crosses, about the size of the stone covering the tomb, and how it was rolled away.Easter Garden

Of course, we don’t miss out on the basics.  We go to church and worship on Easter Sunday.  At night, we read from different children’s devotionals or the Bible, walking our kids through what Scripture says about the week of the Passion.

So, how do you teach your kids about Jesus’ death and resurrection during this season?

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2014 Heather King

 

Ask Me More: The Unexpected Ways of Grief, and the Expected Presence of our Savior

Grief has a way of surprising you.

It’s the impish way memory has of trampling in all unexpected and unannounced in moments you least expect and on the most average of days.

It wasn’t ever my dad’s birthday or father’s day or even the anniversary of his death when the sadness came heavy.

No, it was when I walked into the fire station for my four-year-old daughter’s field trip years ago.

A dozen preschoolers clamored for a chance to scramble up into the driver’s seat of the fire engine.  I sucked in my breath, blinked tears out of my eyes and then wiped them off my cheek, trying to look natural, like there was just dust in my eye.

My dad was a firefighter.

I explain this to someone else: that sometimes it’s not the days when you are most prepared for grief that are the hardest.  But it’s the way an unexpected sound or sight or smell can usher in a memory that just knocks the breath right out of you.

She speaks wisdom in return: Better to have those memories that stir up grief than to completely forget.

Yes, how much better not to forget because, given time, Jesus turns those ashes right into beauty and surely we wouldn’t want to miss the sight.

Somehow even the pain and the tears become sweet when we bring them to Jesus and receive the memory not as bitter loss, but as a precious gift that He gives.revelation21

When Mary Magdalene sat outside the empty tomb of Jesus on Resurrection morning, she cried with hopelessness.

Grave-robbers.  Defilers.  Someone had been in there and taken the body of her Lord.

She still called Him, “Lord” even after she’d seen Jesus hang on that cross.  Even when others might have been stunned by the failure of the man they thought was Messiah, still she believes at least this:  He is still Lord.

Somehow she clung to belief and managed to carry it even with her sorrow.  She held on tight to see what God would do.

After the disciples rushed into the tomb, saw the emptiness and ran back to others with the news. still Mary lingered outside the last place she’d seen Jesus.  She “stood outside the tomb crying” (John 20:11).

It’s not to Peter or John that Jesus appears first. He doesn’t rush into the town to show the crowd His resurrected body.

He appears first to this weeping woman at the grave and asks,

“Woman, why are you crying?”  (John 20:15)

Jesus met with her in her despair and asked her to bring the grief to Him.

Maybe her eyes were so cloudy with tears or maybe her brain just couldn’t comprehend the matter, but she thinks Jesus is no more than a gardener.  So, she begs him to tell her where Jesus’ body may have been moved.

He stops her there, not just in her sorrow, but in her accusation and anger, and He reminds her of His presence by just speaking her name– “Mary.”

Did she recognize the way her name sounded when Jesus spoke it?  Did He open her eyes to see what had been veiled before?

Whatever happens, she realizes it’s Jesus Himself, not some gardener laboring over weeds.

“Rabboni!” (Teacher), she yells as she worships a risen Savior.  That becomes her testimony and her joy, “I have seen the Lord!”

And over time, slowly and without me ever knowing when it all happened, the memories I used to meet as a shocking reminder of loss have become like dear friends stopping by for a surprise visit.

I’ve learned, like Mary, that God is present even in the places of sorrow.

I think this as I plug in the record player a friend gave me last week.

She brought me this old technology in a brown carry-case and I’ve toted it home and placed it on my kitchen table.  I pull out records that I couldn’t listen to before, ease one out of its sleeve and place it on the turntable.ask-me-anything-lord_kd

The moment that needle dips down into that first groove, my kids come running to marvel over the mysterious sound.

We listen to some of my dad’s records, and for once I’m not tearful.

It’s sweet.  Like the memories alone keep him present.

And I think, how precious that God walks us through the tears and reminds us of His presence even in the brokenness.

How precious that He calls us by name, that He knows our sorrow and even asks us to bring it to Him by asking, “Woman, why are you crying?

Our Resurrected Savior wipes away tears.  But even more than that, He gives us hope for a future that is forever and ever in His presence.

Want to read more about the questions God asks?
Check out my book, Ask Me Anything, Lord, available in paperback and for the Kindle and nook!

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!
To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King