Happy Happy Birthday Evie!

On March 28th Evie turned one years old! I'm going to say what everyone says because it's so true... time sure does fly by! This little girl has been such a joy in my life and it's hard to remember life without her!
Happy Birthday
 March 28, 2011

Happy Birthday
 March 28, 2012
We affectionally call Evie "Dolly," so for her 1st birthday I had a Dolly theme. It turned out pretty cute and I had such a fun time making the decorations (with the help of my amazing friend Liselle).

The banner says "Happy Birthday Evie"

Her 1st peek of the cake. Excitement abounds!!! 
 My all-time favorite picture. I just love her expression. She looks like my baby pics here too. 
 Really loving that strawberry cake!
 Clapping with excitement. Oh I love her. 
Present time!!! 

Evie has just started walking!!! Not all the way yet, just 5-6 steps at a time. Oh big girl. 
Brother-sister love. (For the moment. haha). Mekonen calls Evie his "best friend." 

Grandpa "Boppy" and Grandma Magz 

A special birthday letter to Evie from her Daddy...
Dear Eve,
I love you so much. You are a joy in my life every day. Your cute smile and grin always bring a smile to my heart. You have such a commanding way about your little self. You’re content to be by yourself and boss others around. It’s really funny. Your little personality is really blossoming. We think you’ll be a little fireball. You started walking yesterday too.

I hope you look back on this time in your life through pictures and see a family that was being changed
by the grace of God. I hope you can see a Daddy that is learning complete dependence on an invisible, but very real God. 

You are Daddy’s big little girl. I favor you and Meko so much because you are mine. I’ve been teaching Meko to protect you. He tells Mommy that it’s his job to “tect” you – his version of protect. I hope that you two and other siblings that come after will be surprised by the comfort of kinship. I hope our home is “a refuge for your love, a harbor for your deepest prayer. May you come to flourish in the grove, draw ever nearer to You there.”

I pray even now for that you know God as much as you can know him while on this earth. It is difficult
to maintain faith. It is worth more than anything in this world. To know God is the prize of life and very
few maintain it. Many pretend. I pray nothing more for your life than a friendship with God. I pray many other things as well, but all pale in comparison to this.

Your Mom and I call you “Dolly” with much regularity. This name is perfect for some reason. It might not stick over the years, but for now it’s perfect.

I love you.


Easter/Holy Week Plans 2012

I finally nailed down our Holy Week plans for celebrating Easter and thought I'd share them with you! I spent all afternoon compiling our Holy Week "advent" devotions. I found some great adult and older children Easter devotionals, but had to put together my own variation because my kids are much younger and need a much simpler version to grasp. Each year I'm sure I will have things to add and things to delete. But here's our plan for Easter 2012.

I will be making our Easter tree this week and got a set of the Resurrection Eggs to use in our Holy Week Advent. I revamped some of the Resurrection Eggs content to fit our devotions. I used three of our favorite children's story Bibles for our readings. 

My inspiration for our Easter tree comes from Ann Voskamp.

Resurrection Eggs. You can make your own, or buy them online or at most Christian bookstores. I found it easier to buy as the little trinkets might be hard to find. Our awesome friend Aunt Megan Flinn bought these for Mekonen and Evie.

Our 3 Favorite Children's Story Bibles

The Gospel Story Bible
You can actually preview the entire book here. So if you don't own the book you can pull it up, color pictures and everything, and read from there. 

Holy Week
(Family Devotions Tip: When we do family devotions, we do them during dinnertime. In our current stage of life, we find this to be the easiest time to have us all together and our very young children have their hands occupied by eating and aren't squirming around too much! It also works well for us right now as our two kids go to bed at different times. I wrote about wanting to do this tradition here, several months before Mekonen came home).

Each day has a reading from a story Bible, an Easter egg to open with a trinket that goes along with the story, and a picture ornament that goes along with the story. Both the trinket and picture will be hung on the Easter tree, much like our Jesse Tree from Christmas that hung ornaments from the Bible stories leading up to the birth of Jesus.

Day 1- The Triumphant Entry (Sunday, April 1st)
  •  Read The Gospel Story Bible pg. 216-217
  •  Egg- dark blue- little donkey hang on Easter tree
  • Picture of triumphant entry- hang on Easter tree

Day 2- Jesus Cleanses the Temple (Monday, April 2nd)
  • Read The Big Picture Story Bible pg. 288-305
  • Egg- light pink- coins, hang coin picture on Easter tree
  • Picture of Jesus cleansing the temple- hang on Easter tree

Day 3- Jesus Washes the Apostles Feet (Tuesday, April 3rd)
  • Read The Jesus Storybook Bible pg. 286-288 (or The Gospel Story Bible pg. 220-221)
  • Egg- green- cloth, hang on Easter tree
  • Picture of Jesus washing the apostles feet- hang on Easter tree

Day 4- The Last Supper (Wednesday, April 4th)
  • Read The Jesus Storybook Bible pg. 290-292 (or The Gospel Story Bible pg. 222-225)
  • Egg- light purple- wine cup, hang on Easter tree
  • Picture of the Last Supper- hang on Easter tree

Day 5- The Garden of Gethsemane (Thursday, April 5th)
  • Read The Jesus Storybook Bible pg. 294-301 (or The Gospel Story Bible pg. 226-229, or The Big Picture Story Bible pg. 359-363))
  • Egg- orange- praying hands, hang on Easter tree
  • Picture of the Garden of Gethsemane- hang on Easter tree

Day 6- The Crucifixion of Jesus (Friday, April 6th)
  •  Read The Jesus Storybook Bible pg. 302-306 (or The Gospel Story Bible pg. 230-233, or The Big Picture Story Bible pg. 364-373)
  • Egg- yellow- cross, hang on Easter tree
  • Picture of the crucifixion- hang on Easter tree

Day 7- The Burial of Jesus and Darkness Covers the Land (Saturday, April 7th)
  • Read The Jesus Storybook Bible pg. 308 and The Big Picture Story Bible pg. 376-380
  • Egg- pink- stone, hang picture of a stone on Easter tree
  • Picture of the burial of Jesus- hang on Easter tree

Day 8- The Resurrection (Sunday, April 8th)
  • Read The Jesus Storybook Bible pg. 310-317 or shorter The Big Picture Story Bible pg. 385-395 (or The Gospel Story Bible pg. 235-237)
  • Egg- white- empty! Nothing to hang on the Easter tree (or you can make a smiley face ornament to hang for Joy that Jesus has risen)
  • Picture of the risen Jesus- hang on Easter tree
  • Easter Night story time- Read The Big Picture Story Bible pg. 398-411. Great overview of why Jesus came, why He had to die, and the Promises of Scripture. 

 I plan on doing a special Easter breakfast here at home with just our little family. Not sure on the exact Easter breakfast menu yet, but definitely including something sugary and sweet that the kids don't get on a normal day! I thought it would be nice to decorate the table too... and maybe even include some flowers with colors like this!

Here are some craft activities I would like to do with Mekonen. I'm sure I won't get to all of them, but here is an assortment to choose from.
  • Resurrection Play set made out of toilet paper rolls. We will use these to act out the story of Jesus' resurrection. You can print them in black and white and have your kids color them, or print them in color. 
  • Praise Palmpaint or color and make a praise palm, praising God for Who He is (specific character traits of God) and specific things He has done in the life of our family. We will write these on the palm leaf.
  • The Last Supper craft made out of an egg carton. Can be used when doing the family devotional reading on the Last Supper. 
  • Play-dough Easter mountain
  •  Easter story with jelly beans. I just bought the book My Easter Basket by Mary Manz Simon. Here's the activity to do along with it. 
  • Paper plate tomb craft
  • Marble Painitng. "By His wounds we are healed." Isaiah 53:5

We still have not decided on what to do about Easter baskets and gifts. I keep going back and forth on doing them with our kids. If we do decide to them, we won't go overboard with them and will probably let them open them on Saturday instead of Easter Sunday. Our pastor's wife Kacie shared what they do with their kids- they do the "Easter" basket thing as a Spring activity, but not necessarily on Easter. She mentioned that last year they did it on Mother's Day. I thought using them as a spring activity was a fun idea too. I also thought about an idea from my friend Rachel about getting books for our kids on Easter that will encourage their growth spiritually. For example, last year her son got The Jesus Storybook Bible.

As always, I'd love to hear what you do to celebrate Easter! If you have any other fun Easter activities, crafts, games, or traditions, please post them!


What Should Easter Be Like?

Spring is hopefully around the corner and with that, I'm beginning to think ahead a few weeks to the celebration of Easter. I've spent the last two days thinking about Easter, how it's been celebrated in my life in the past, and how the Christian church as a whole, celebrates Easter. Christmas is the beginning with the birth of Jesus, and Easter is the pinnacle of the Christian faith with Jesus dying and rising again! Why then does it seem like we do so much at Christmas, but seem to drop the ball at Easter? After all, if the baby King born in a manger didn't die, and rise again, what kind of god are we following?

Easter should be the highlight, the pinnacle of the Christian church, and I would sadly say, that I fear it is not. In theory and in discussion, yes. But in practice? I would say no. Christmas, the birth of Jesus, outshines Easter by far. But what is Christmas without Easter? It seems that most Christians associate Easter with dressy, uncomfortable outfits, an array of the pastel colors purple, pink, yellow, blue, and green, the "secular" celebrations of baskets and easter bunnies, all culminating with an extra special visit to church on Easter Sunday where the pastor tries to make the "same old story" about Jesus' death and resurrection somehow new and exciting. That is what comes to mind when I think of the Christian church and Easter. And it pains my heart because Jesus is nothing close to being a "same old story." 

Someone said it like this, "it seems like Easter should be a military celebration, a Roman Triumph, a victory parade. Torches burning, bands blaring, pigs roasting on a spit. The God-Man has destroyed our last enemy, death, and has utterly triumphed over every foe. I don’t know quite what this should look like, but I do like what Rober Louis Wilken wrote in First Things:
If Christ is culture, let the sidewalks be lit with fire on Easter Eve, let traffic stop for a column of Christians waving palm branches on a spring morning, let streets be blocked off as the faithful gather for a Corpus Christi procession. Then will others know that there is another city in their midst, another commonwealth, one that has its face, like the face of angels, turned toward the face of God.
I agree that I don't know exactly what this should look like. I'm still in the beginning stages of trying to figure that out in our modern context. I want Easter to be a big deal in our lives. I want my children growing up truly seeing, knowing, and understanding Easter for what it is... a glorious, triumphant celebration of the very essence of our being and relationship with Jesus.... his death and resurrection. I didn't feel that most of my life, and even now don't always truly bathe in the triumphant glory of what Easter really is. But that needs to change, it must change, if I am to present my children with a God they long to follow, a God that captivates their hearts and minds, a God that they see and know as being as awe-inspiring as He truly is.

I've been doing lots of planning and reading on how we can celebrate Easter as a family. As evangelical Christians, I think we tend to run from things like "holy week"(celebrating the entire week leading up to Easter). We run from it for a lot of reasons, I think most particularly due to differing beliefs we might have with others who also use the word "holy week." But really and truly, holy week can and should be walking through the events in Jesus' life in his last days that brought him to the cross to pay our penalty for sin, and then to the great and grand event of his lordship over death by rising again!

Because my children are so young (3 yrs. old and 11 months), a lot of my "kid stuff" will center around hands-on crafts and stories during the day to begin teaching them (specifically Mekonen) the glory that is Jesus. (Oh how hard it is to even bring that down to a simple craft or story, but we have to begin somewhere!) Another thing I am putting together for the two weeks before Easter is an Easter tree, much like the Jesse tree at Christmas. The Jesse Tree at Christmas takes major Bible events that all point towards and lead to, the birth of Jesus. The Easter tree is similar in that it takes the major events in Jesus' life leading up to his death and resurrection. With that I'm putting together a family devotional for the days leading up to Easter. Here is a picture of Ann Voskamp's Easter Tree (on it hang ornaments of pictures corresponding to the events leading to the death and resurrection of Jesus).

Once I have some more things nailed down, I will share them with you. In the meantime, I would love to hear your thoughts on how you are celebrating Easter for what it truly is.