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The Best Way to Explain Easter to my Kindergartner

What is the best way to explain Easter to my sweet kindergartner? She knows the story, she knows Jesus, but I want to help her understand the depth of His choice to go to the cross for us.

 

What is the best way to explain Easter to my kindergartner? She knows the story, she knows Jesus, but I want to help her understand the depth of His choice to go to the cross for us.

We’ve been devotionally traveling through Jesus’s last week, reading about Palm Sunday, discussing how Jesus’s humble entrance into Jerusalem on the donkey fulfilled ancient prophecy.

Can you imagine any of our politicians choosing that entrance?

We read about the Last Supper and Jesus’s washing the feet of the disciples. Discussing the cultural significance is hard with a five-year-old, so I got out a small tub of hot water and washed her feet. She washed mine.

We ended up tickling more than anything, but learned how humbling it is to wash someone’s feet, what a tender act of love it is, demonstrating how to love like Jesus, willing to serve in the humblest manner.

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But when we started talking about the cross, it seemed like she had the words, but missed the message. As I tried to explain Jesus dying, she started rattling off Bible stories from memory.

What is the best way to explain Easter to my kindergartner? She knows the story & Jesus, but I want her to understand the depth of His going to the cross for us

How can I explain Easter to her?

I’m glad she has those stories written on her heart, but we all need to experience Easter every year as a fresh encounter with a sacrifice far beyond what our selfish natures can comprehend.

We all need to encounter Easter as the most tremendous sacrifice the world has ever known. Click To Tweet

So I stopped and decided to explain Easter in a way that would be more relatable for small children. I used a story, like Jesus used to do.

A few days ago, one of your friends was really naughty. Her mother told her to do something that she didn’t want to do. So, she threw a tantrum and was just awful. What should her mom do? She deserves a punishment, doesn’t she?

My sweet girl nodded.

 But punishment is not fun. So would you take her punishment so she doesn’t have to?

She looked at me in shock, her brow furrowing, “No!”

But you love your friend, won’t you help her out?

“That’s not fair! I didn’t do anything!” She whined.

Exactly, neither did Jesus. He never did anything wrong at all, but he took your punishment, my punishment, and the punishment for everyone so we could go to heaven. His sacrifice paid the price for our sinful choices so we can be forgiven.

Romans 5:8 ESV  But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

When we didn’t deserve it, when we can’t ever earn it, Jesus died to set us free.

Her eyes widened and the smallest understanding crept into them, “oh, Mom, I guess, I should think about others, I’ll take her punishment, but I don’t really want to.”

I’m not really going to punish you, but does that help you understand what a tremendous sacrifice Jesus made for you, for us?

When we didn't deserve it, when we couldn't earn it, Jesus took our punishment to set us free. Click To Tweet

For the first time, she asked me to explain Easter, what it meant for Jesus to hang on the cross. We discussed the whipping, the crown of thorns, and the nails that held our Jesus to the cross.

Our day ended with baking resurrection rolls, a neat remembrance that the tomb was empty, Jesus conquered the grave.

I know I’m a forgetful sinner. I have to encounter Christ’s sacrifice and my redemption anew all the time. I have to be brought to my knees over my selfishness, face to face with my weakness so I can better understand the strength of His sacrifice.

As a mother, I just pray to explain Easter and keep Jesus real for her everyday.

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Abiding Love

Can I just have a minute to speak into your soul today? I want to talk to you about the kind of love I hope you had today, the kind of love I hope you have everyday, abiding love.

Can I just have a minute to speak into your soul today? I want to talk to you about the kind of love I hope you had today, the kind of love I hope you have everyday, abiding love.

Abiding love is safe, enduring, permanent, sacrificial love.

Our worship pastor this morning read from John 15, verses about abiding love, the love of the Father that Christ demonstrated for us through his life of purity and sacrifice.

and I just wanted to sit down in the middle of those verses and ABIDE.

Like curve into an cozy chair by the fire, swathed in a rich blanket –

ABIDE – continue, remain, survive, last, persist, stay

I wanted to hang out in those verses, because I never knew how to love purely, without all the human confusion we put into it, until I knew how deeply I am loved by Him.

I was wiping away tears by the time he finished sharing today. God’s love has a way of touching my heart that makes me want to drop everything and just stay in His presence.

John 15:9 ESV  As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.

Christ invited me – you – to abide in His love, the kind of love God has for Christ. I can only look at my daughter and imagine God’s pure love for Christ. I wanted to rest there and be held by His truth.

I wanted to sit down in those verses wrapped in a cozy blanket and rest in His abiding love. Click To Tweet

Can I just have a minute to speak into your soul today? I want to talk to you about the kind of love I hope you had today, the kind of love I hope you have everyday, abiding love.

John 15:16a ESV  You did not choose me, but I chose you . . .

Powerful stuff – Being chosen. We tend to think in this Christian walk that we made some big decision to choose God, but we really just surrendered to His already having chosen us.

He chose us before the formation of the world. While I was a dirty mess of a sinner, I was already CHOSEN, set apart for His purpose.

How differently I have lived since understanding this truth. There is a confidence to knowing I am His beloved daughter.

And I really like that.

But when I heard this verse, I wanted to lean over to my husband and whisper “I chose you.”

John 15:9 ESV  As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.

I my still human way, I’m trying to learn how God has loved me and love him with that kind of love, love that gives up me to serve him.

I chose him the day he proposed in the middle of “an arrest”. I chose him the day we said I do. I choose him the days he is grumpy and selfish. I still choose him when his dreams and mine don’t match.

But I wonder if he really understands how much I choose to remain in his arms, seek his presence, ache for him. Does he understand he can rest in my love?

The confidence I have in Christ is the confidence I want to share with those I love. I want my husband to know my love is abiding love.

He can rest there. It is permanent because it’s God’s love for him through me when I remember to get out of the way.

I try to love my friends with abiding love. They know that I am the soft, squishy place to rest from a prickly world. A place that forgives when feelings are tender and communication gets lost.

I pray that you have Christ’s abiding love, a real love on this day we often celebrate the wrong things, that His love abides in you. I pray you abiding love through friends and family too.

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Fewer Toys make Happier Kids

With ads, and discounts galore, I find it hard not to get caught up in shopping this time of year, but . . . is the key to happier kids actually fewer toys?
With ads, and discounts galore, I find it hard not to get caught up in shopping this time of year, but . . .

is the key to happier kids actually fewer toys?

As Christmas shopping winds up, I’m doing my best to recognize the benefits of fewer toys for my children, but part of me just wants to spoil them rotten.
I want my kids to remember magical holidays filled with gifts and surprises, so it’s hard to balance my desire to watch her and her brothers’ faces light up with joy on Christmas morning with the knowledge that fewer toys is better for them for so many reasons.
But what I’ve found is that the more she has, the less she really plays with them.
As we’ve pared down in preparation for the Christmas onslaught, I’ve watched her truly playing with a few toys, creating worlds inside her head. I’ve seen creativity blossom even more than usual. Having fewer toys has led to her being happier, more able to focus on playing instead of jumping from toy to toy.With ads, and discounts galore, I find it hard not to get caught up in shopping this time of year, but . . . is the key to happier kids actually fewer toys?
Children get so few hours to play once you consider school and activities, family time, baths, dinner, and homework. I need to help her make the most out of play time.
One study I read said that children shouldn’t be formally educated until 7 or 8. They should be given lots of time to play. It is one of the reasons I chose to homeschool. She gets hours to play a day.
Yet, giving her fewer toys is hard. I want her to have a chance to experience everything to decide her own interests, but she needs time to get deep into play with her toys.
Fewer toys allow:
  • her to truly interact and enjoy each toy and instead of toss them in the bottom of a toy box.
  • room for more creativity. She may have to pretend her doll is also a cowboy, but she will be more mentally flexible, open to outside of the box thinking.
  • realistic expectations which makes grateful for her toys.
  • more time for family, friends, books, and playing outside.
  • faster clean up which makes for happier everyone.

In my head, a living room filled with presents makes Christmas magical for my kids, but in my heart, I know I remember baking and singing carols, I remember the traditions and laughter, stories and the feeling of family. I know I don’t remember very many things I got.

This year, there will still be lots of boxes under the tree, but clothes and socks and books and a few treasured toys, but the most important things will happen around it: movie nights and hot cocoa, cookie platters and rocky road fudge, carols and mischievous grandparents.

As Christians especially, don’t we want the focus of this time of year to be joy rather than on things? On Jesus as the only gift we really need?

I think they’ll be happier kids with fewer toys and more of His and my presence.

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Giving Tuesday

I found my heart for Giving Tuesday through these words, "Christ has no body but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours." - Teresa Avila

Today we started Advent, marking days toward the celebration of the greatest gift mankind has ever known, celebrating the birth of Christ. How fitting that this year, today is also Giving Tuesday.

We follow days of gluttony and excess, perhaps self-absorption and consumption with a sweet day of being focused on doing good.

How do you find your heart for Giving Tuesday?

Giving Tuesday only started a few years ago, but is growing as more and more people recognize that we need to focus outside of ourselves.

While, a calendar day set to tell you to give can make it feel compulsory, God doesn’t specify what to give or who to give to, He  just says how – joyfully.

2 Corinthians 9:7 ESV  “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

We give because He gave to us.

As a faithful steward of what God has given me, I use Charity Navigator to research charities to make sure they are really doing good things with the money we entrust to them.

And I give prayerfully, I can’t control the gift once it leaves my hands, but sometimes God asks us to have faith in the giving. We give to the struggling single mom who has taken her first baby-steps into Christ, or the homeless man who might not use it wisely. Sometimes God just says give.I found my heart for Giving Tuesday through these words, "Christ has no body but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours." - Teresa of Avila

Thinking about the beautiful watershed of grace covering me in His eyes through the blood of His son, Jesus, how could I not give, to share that joy by being the hands and feet of Christ.

Christ has no body but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours- Teresa of Avila Click To Tweet

I’m reminded of a poem, written in the 1500s by St. Teresa of Avila.

Christ Has No Body

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

I can only pray that people hear Him in my words, see Him in my hands. This poem has written itself across my heart as a reminder of my real place in this world.

If I want the world to see Jesus is real, I have to be their window into who He is.

And I strive to be a better friend, neighbor, mother. I want to be His hands when someone is struggling with a heavy door at the library or His heart when we sat and prayed at Pizza Hut for the person who stole the money out of my wallet,  “if their need was great, that the money bless them, that God would open their heart to Jesus. To help us forgive.”

Even though Giving Tuesday is technically over, giving isn’t a day, or even a season, it is a constant place of knowing what a gift we’ve been given and just wanting to share it.

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The Empty Chair – Have you Missed God’s Invitation?

Have you Missed God's invitation? Left an empty chair at God's feast? An empty chair at our table reminded me I had turned down His invitation.

How it hurts when we crave the presence of someone special in our home and around our table that doesn’t come. How convicting it is to realize that we’ve been the invited, treasured guest who did not come to the feast.

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My sweet stepson is visiting for Fall Break, an all too short five days, into which we’ve crammed pancake breakfasts, a pumpkin patch trip, elaborate dinners, family movie nights, football in the yard, ice cream truck purchases right before dinner, a decadent chocolate cake, and a fishing trip with daddy today complete with picnic lunch at the park.

The kids have created dirt towns in the tree beds and spent hours collecting bugs. They’ve rolled down hills and left rings around the bathtub. Giggles and squeals have filled the house for one perfect fall weekend, even the weather cooperated.

When you can count your minutes together, making the most of them becomes imperative.

But the empty chair has dampened our joy.

His brother didn’t come this weekend. We tearfully hugged him goodbye at the airport in August, and won’t physically hold him again until Christmas.

At 16, his life is growing more complicated between school, JROTC, friends, a back injury, and soon a job. We understand, but nothing can fill his empty chair at the table. He is a special young man whom we love dearly.

Last night, I ached over the popcorn bowl, our secret ‘just us’ routine of burning the midnight oil over our shows and a big bowl of buttery goodness.

Did you leave an empty chair missing God's invitation for your life?

We can almost count the days we will see him before he tackles adulthood and are jealous of every second we lose with him.

I was praying for help with my emotions over the empty chair at our table, the voice absent from our conversations, the un-shared popcorn, when God asked, “How many times were you invited to my table and did not come?”

Ouch! And I imagined how many times God must have mourned over me. Not because I couldn’t come, but because I wouldn’t. I thought about the tiny hurt in my heart, and how large the wound I caused God must have been.

I was reminded of Jesus’ parable of the king who prepared a grand feast to celebrate his son’s wedding, Matthew 22:1-10 and Luke 14:15-24. The king spared no expense preparing the feast, setting the table, and waited and waited. The wedding feast, supposed to be a week of boisterous celebrating, was silent.

Have you ever planned a party and no one came? Food lined the tables and you sat waiting, anxiously watching the road for any sign of your guests? 

Have you Missed God's invitation? Left an empty chair at God's feast? An empty chair at our table reminded me I had turned down His invitation.

Again, parenting has brought me to my knees as I see myself in relation to God: selfish, absorbed in my busyness, missing what God had prepared for me.

Tears sprang to my eyes. How I had grieved God for years in my rebellion! He had a chair just for me. It didn’t matter if the room was full of others. He was jealous for me.

The king didn’t stop setting the table. He kept inviting, waiting on those who would come.

God patiently kept an empty chair waiting for me, knowing I would finally accept His invitation, acknowledging that I need His eternal presence in my present. What a gracious God we serve!

Likewise, as parents, we leave the table set and the door open, arms waiting. He may not be here physically as often as we would like as he explores his own world, but his chair will always be ready for him.

But the chocolate cake probably won’t last, 😉

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