Book Review and Sign Off

Dear readers, friends, family and fellow bloggers,

If you have followed this blog for any length of time, you know that I constantly am going on large breaks from posting. I am an inconsistent blogger. I always have been and I’ve come to realize, I always will be. I have three wonderful and crazy kids. They are 10 months, almost 4, and 6 years old. I have a fantastic husband. We are involved in a terrific church. We have two extended families mostly living close by. We have a wonderful private school nearby. We live in one of the most beautiful and rich places in the whole world. We are truly and abundantly blessed.

With all of that, we have come to the realization that in order to raise the best kids we can in this post-modern, secular culture, we need to concentrate on our relationships with them. This takes time and patience, as any parent will testify. However, in the last 50 years, it takes a lot more time and patience. Our grandparents were able to raise large families with much less proactive parenting than we must today. They didn’t have the nearly as many distractions in their lives, technological or otherwise. Up until the 1950s or so, you could send your children off to play and have fun with the other kids around and be sure that your neighbours held similar moral and cultural ideas to your own. You could live simply because, quite simply, that was the only way to live. That is no longer the case.

I have just finished reading “Hold Onto Your Kids” by Vancouver psychologist Dr. Gordon Neufeld. I won’t go into a long review here, except to say that I wish I had read it when it first came out in 2004. It is the only “parenting” book that has ever made complete and total sense of everything. I wish I had listened to my instincts when I first came across his name and theory when Emma was a baby, 5 years ago. I wish I had gotten rid of the baby trainer books right from the start. I wish I had cultivated an intentional attachment village. I wish I had spent less time worrying about things. I hope you will all pick it up at the library or buy a copy or borrow mine and read it. It has changed the way we think. Not since God came into my life have I ever been so transformed by and convicted of anything. For those that have or will read it: it may not be “Biblical” in that there are very few scripture references or mentions of God. But look deeper, between the words into the message. The God of the universe is the God of relationship. He is relationship himself. When you understand that, it makes absolute and total sense.

I am most grateful to God that I have the chance to mend my ways. I am not perfect. Neither is my husband. Or my kids. Or anyone else in our world. Only He is. And he gives us second chances. Every day, every breath, we are redeemed and forgiven. Over and over again. And it is with this grace, this renewal, this beautiful gift, that I sign off from the blogging world. It has been great to share of myself and our family and ideas, but it is not a passion. It is not a requirement for our family. It is not an income-earner. It was a hobby and a sporadic one at that. When I got into a consistent groove, it ate up a lot of time. When I wasn’t consistent, it was constantly simmering in my mind, heaping guilt on my conscience. Of course, that comes from no one else but myself, but as I said, I am not perfect.

And so blogging world, I have left my (minuscule) mark. But that doesn’t matter. I could have left a giant crater or nothing at all and it still wouldn’t matter. God doesn’t look at what we do, He sees what it is our hearts. And we are turning our hearts towards our family, on the firm foundation of our Lord, Jesus Christ. As you meditate upon His awesome sacrifice this Easter season, ask Him, again or for the first time, to be the Lord and Master of your life. To forgive you. To redeem you. To free you. And He will – He is a faithful God, abounding in steadfast love. That’s what the cross is about.

To Him be all glory!

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Resurrection Eggs: Day 11 & 12

Saturday ended up being quite a busy day so we skipped our egg for the day and did them both this evening. It was actually a perfect setup because we attended a different church this morning to witness our nephew’s baptism and the sermon was on the stone being rolled away, the empty tomb, and Jesus’ resurrection.

Egg 11 contained a stone to represent the stone rolled away from the tomb. The story comes from Matthew 27:65-28:4:

Egg 12 was empty!

We read of the angel telling the woman that Jesus has risen from Matthew 28:5-8.

One of E’s favourite things in the Bible is when angels appear to humans. She will excitedly tell you that almost every time, the first thing the angel says is, “Do not be afraid.” I think that goes to show just how powerful, other-worldly, and un-cherub-like angels must truly be.

They coloured a picture from Bible Wonderland and one from Catholic Mom:

Because it was Easter Sunday and a bit of a busy day, we didn’t do a craft, just the colouring. But the services in each church of course reinforced all of the teachings over the past week and a half. E even asked to come up to church in the afternoon instead of going to the nursery with her sister (which she usually does for the second service.) It was a blessed and glorious day.

He is risen! Rejoice and be glad.

Resurrection Eggs: Day 7 & 8

Tuesday’s egg contained three nails in the form of a cross for Jesus’ crucifixion. We read Matthew 27:31-35.

Pain and suffering are hard topics to talk about with children, especially young children. Somehow, by the grace of God, they understand Jesus’ trials and death. In their own child-like way, they understand how “unfair” it seems that Jesus didn’t do anything wrong and yet was punished. They may not understand politics or deep theology, but they understand punishment. Believe me, when one of my girls gets disciplined unfairly, they understand it! They coloured this picture:

and then we did a “stained glass” cross made with melted crayons:

Yesterday’s egg was a die to show the soldiers casting lots for Jesus’ garments. We read Matthew 27:35

We talked about how games are supposed to be fun but in this case, the soldiers were being very mean. I found this picture for them to colour:

It’s not the greatest illustration but it does was the only page I could find that showed the soldiers’ game. It also happens to show the vinegar drink and the spear wound (which is funny because the spear wound happens after Jesus was already dead, which would be after he was offered a drink…) This was an after-dinner devotion so we didn’t do a craft. Actually, there aren’t many crafts out there that apply to this particular passage! We’ll do another cross craft for the next egg.

Resurrection Eggs: Day 5 & Day 6

Yesterday’s egg contained a whip to illustrate Jesus being flogged by Pilate; we read Matthew 26:11-26:

Today’s egg was a crown of thorns for the soldiers who mocked Jesus; we read Matthew 11:27-31:

We didn’t do colouring pages or crafts for these days as we discussed them at our after-dinner devotions. Yesterday’s sermon was on Luke 22:24-60. (See also Matthew 26:31-35 and 69-74). This passage tells of the Last Supper and how Peter told Jesus he was ready to go with him to prison or death; Jesus tells Peter that before the rooster crows, Peter will deny him three times. Then they go to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. The soldiers come, led by Judas, and arrest Jesus. Peter is enraged and ready to fight and cuts off the ear of the high priest’s servant. Jesus heals the ear and tells Peter, “No more of this!”  Then the soldiers lead Jesus away. Peter follows while the other disciples flee. Three times Peter is recognized as being a follower of Jesus and three times he denies it. Then the rooster crows and Peter remembers Jesus’ words.

It was amazing to see E’s attention completely held by the pastor’s reading of this passage. Because she knew the story, she was totally absorbed in the drama of the story. The pastor then preached on Jesus being completely alone, left by all of his disciples, even his most loyal and faithful like Peter. This is to show that Jesus took on the weight of the world’s sin utterly and completely himself. Jesus, the Christ, is the only means of salvation.

Resurrection Eggs: Day 4

Today’s egg contained hands in prayer to illustrate Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane:

We read the Bible passage from Matthew 26:36-45 and then talked about how Jesus knew he had to obey his Father’s will. We also talked about how sad he was, especially when he found the disciples sleeping.

A few years ago I actually helped E make a little garden with praying Jesus and sleeping disciples:

This year we went a bit simpler. They had a colouring page and pasted Jesus and the disciples down into a night garden:

This was just before dinner again so there wasn’t a snack. The girls lost interest in their colouring pretty quick because they were quite tired from C’s birthday party:

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday and even though we’ve already talked about it, it is a reinforcement to them of what they’ve learned so far. It also prepares us for the coming weekend with Good Friday and Easter Sunday sermons.

Resurrection Eggs: Day 3

Yesterday’s egg contained a cup to illustrate the last supper: We read the Bible passage from Matthew 26:26-27 and then talked about how our church celebrates the Lord’s Supper. Last time I printed a colouring page for E and then had her glue down the names of the disciples on another one (she couldn’t read so it didn’t matter whose name she glued where!)

This year I found this craft which is a replica of Da Vinci’s Last Supper painting. It’s a bit more hands on and both of them could do one together. The girls enjoyed making it with dad:

We did this right before dinner so it was the “last” supper of the day… I had thought of making some unleavened bread for them to try but since C’s birthday party was the next day (today!) I decided to choose my workload.

Resurrection Eggs: Day 2

Today’s egg is for the scheme of Judas Iscariot with the Jewish leaders to betray Jesus. The egg contains a few silver coins:

please ignore my terrible photography...

We read the Bible passage from Matthew 26:14-16 and then talked about it. I printed a colouring page for the girls and they counted out and glued down 30 “pieces of silver”:

lil C insisted on an extra coin - can you spot it?

Finding a craft idea for this passage was not easy. I made this one up last year and just re-used it. The girls love glue, E loves to count, and it’s simple enough for lil C to do it without too help. I printed off some Roman coin drawings from here:

I cut them out for the girls and let them go to town with choosing which ones to use on their sheets. Since we did our devotional time right before dinner, we didn’t have a snack. Otherwise we might have had some chocolate coins, although finding ones wrapped in silver foil instead of gold might have been difficult!

Preparing for Easter: Resurrection Eggs

In less than two weeks we will celebrate one of the most significant events in the history of the world and in our Christian faith: Easter. This season and holiday is a solemn yet joyous occasion and is one of my favourite times of the year.

But how do you find the true meaning of it amidst the bunnies, chocolate, baskets, and sales?

It’s easy to celebrate Christmas when you’re a Christian because it seems like the whole world is celebrating something magical and wonderful and spiritual despite the commercialism it is steeped in. But Easter is seemingly more and more about the commercial now and the historical events of Good Friday and Easter Sunday are lost and forgotten. At Christmas, almost everyone seems to know Christmas carols that speak of the baby Jesus. But at Easter, nobody sings Easter carols outside of church. You don’t hear familiar Easter carols on every radio station.

So how do we make it exciting and look forward to it with anticipation? With our two girls, we were looking for ways to make the countdown to Easter a bit like the countdown to Christmas. A few years ago I discovered Resurrection Eggs and have used them each year since. They are a fun, bright, hands-on way to tell the Easter story to children. We do them one each day leading up to Easter (meaning we started yesterday).

from Family Life Today

I’ll be posting each day about our Resurrection Egg devotional time and will be sure to have pictures and links so that you too can try this with your kids.

And most importantly, remember to pray for and with your children. For all of the teaching and time in the world can only truly make a difference when covered in prayer.

Have a blessed day!

Easter Eggs

Today we celebrate the most important event in history. Over the course of the last week and a bit, we have used a cute little tool to help teach our girls about the importance of Easter. They’re called Resurrection Eggs:

from Family Life Today

and we got ours from here. Each day we open an egg or two and talk about the significance of each item inside. Last night we opened the final egg in anticipation of today’s special day. It’s a simple, colourful way to instil in our girls the most significant gift that they have ever received. Amid the colourful hard boiled eggs, chocolate bunnies, Chinese tea eggs, and paper rabbit ears we find a deeper, more meaningful Easter. One that gives us hope and brings us great joy. As my big E will tell you, “Don’t be afraid. He is not here. He is risen!” And little C will answer, “Jesus” when you ask her who rode the donkey. It’s all a part of the command of Deuteronomy 6:6-7.

May you enjoy a blessed Easter full of hope and peace. Jesus is alive!

book ban the second

So after the 90 minutes of chatting in bed Emma finally fell asleep for an hour, I’m sure from complete exhaustion. When I went in after her nap, she was laying amid a pile of books (which she isn’t supposed to have in bed) and a pile of shredded flaps from one of her board books. So it is book ban the sequel, where I took all of her books and put them away on a high shelf for the day. It seems to affect her and she appears to understand why I’m doing it… it’s one of those roles you don’t realize you get to have when you become a parent: the toy/book/everything repairer. I’ve fixed toys of various shapes and sizes suffering from a variety of problems from broken parts to bitten parts to ripped parts to dead batteries to missing pieces. I’ve taped, glued and stapled an assortment of board and paper books and covers. I find it hard to write things off as not worth fixing so I’m constantly trying to do it even when it really is a hopeless case…

We had a great sermon this morning to celebrate Good Friday. If you’re interested, it will soon be posted on our church’s website. We then headed to the golf course for a nice lunch with John’s family. And now Emma is in bed and we’re doing the long overdue chore of cleaning the garage. It’s either nesting instinct or spring cleaning mode. Probably a combination of both. Tedious but needs to get done. I have the desire to be a super organized person, so much so that last month I bought all new spice jars and ordered labels from Mabel’s Labels. I ordered the Neat Freak Combo and this resulted in a complete pantry reorganization and it is now flowing in to other parts of the house… definitely nesting. Or making up for lost time. Or avoiding other tedious things that could get done like cleaning under the oven or balancing the ledger… so glad it’s a long weekend!!