Holy Week 101 for Parents and Kids

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Although we have observed Holy Week in our own way as a family, when I asked my oldest son what he knew about Holy Week, his first question was, “What is Holy Week?” I apparently had never specifically labeled the week with that title, so my question and his response opened up a wonderful conversation about the week leading up to Easter!

Holy Week is extraordinarily significant to Christians and I have always felt strong desire to share all aspects of what Jesus went through in that week with our children. Maybe that is your desire as well. In my post over at Tommy Nelson today, I recorded some of the more relevant questions and answers from the conversation with my son in the hopes that it would be a guide for your own conversation with your child. Think of it as “Holy Week 101!”

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Head over to Tommy Nelson to read the answers to my son’s questions, including:

  • What is Holy Week?
  • What happened to Jesus during Holy Week?
  • What am I supposed to do during Holy Week?

We’ve kept The Story of Easter board book around our house to help introduce the events of this week to our kids at a young age. And we always follow this simple plan with the Jesus Storybook Bible as a family to remember the events leading up to and including Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Do you observe Holy Week as a family? What are some of your favorite traditions?

 

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Experiencing the Cross + Resurrection as a Family

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Remember when I said last week that I had a little surprise I wanted to share in regards to observing Lent and Easter with your family? Well, if you follow me on any social media, then you found out yesterday what that surprise is. But if not, here you go…

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That’s right! My amazing friend, Amanda, author of Truth in the Tinsel and writer at ohAmanda.com, released a brand new ebook yesterday all about experiencing the Cross and Resurrection as a family.

I say “experiencing” because A Sense of the Resurrection is all about creating memorable experiences based on Scripture using the five senses.  It’s about moving from feeling to understanding to believing in our Savior and His great sacrifice for all of us. The ebook contains 12 activities which will lead your family through Jesus’ anointing, the Last Supper, Peter’s denial, the cross, the empty tomb and more. Through it all, your home will be transformed into a memorial to Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Obviously our family has not gone through these activities as the book was just released yesterday! But I did get a sneak peek of this amazing ebook earlier in the week, and here was my response {in tears as I typed, mind you}:

For years, I have searched for ways to make the days leading up to Easter more real, intentional, meaningful for my children. Easter is fun and joyful like Christmas, but Jesus’ betrayal, suffering, and death are a completely different story. With A Sense of the Resurrection, Amanda White has tackled this sensitive topic of eternal importance in a way my children and I will never forget. Scriptures, activities, and discussion questions are well thought out and Amanda encourages each parent to read through it all ahead of time to gauge how best to approach the subject matter with their children. I anticipate this ebook changing so much about how we observe this time of year as a family, as well as our hearts.

Maybe you, like me, have been searching for just the right way to approach the death and resurrection of our Savior with your children. Friends, I truly believe this ebook will be that approach for me and for you.

I would suggest ordering your copy of A Sense of the Resurrection now so you have time to read through it for yourself before presenting it to your children in the weeks leading up to Easter. And don’t rush it. Spread out the 12 activities and let the meaning sink in and God work in all of your hearts.

How do you approach the death and resurrection of Jesus with your children? Or have you, like me, been looking for some help for this important, but difficult subject?

 

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Giving Up My Love Idol

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I could give up coffee. Maybe.

I could give up Facebook.

I could give up all number of things, but that’s not where God has led me this Lenten season.

I’m joining the Love Idol Movement and giving up a love idol in my life. And I’m hoping it’s for more than just 40 days.

What is a love idol? My friend Jennifer, author of Love Idol {releasing April 1!} describes it as this…

Paul wrote to the Cornithians: “These three remain: faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is love.” Yet we take God’s “greatest” and contort it into an idol. We twist our desire for approval into a false god.

So there it is: looking to something or someone other than God for love. For approval. For validation. That something or someone is a love idol.

Mine has been staring me in the face for too long, but I am just SO done with it being what makes or breaks my day. I almost hate to admit it here because my love idol actually has to do with all of you.

Preapproved Blog

I’ve been seeking approval, validation, recognition through the reach of this blog. How many pageviews have there been today? Who is commenting? Why aren’t they commenting? What if I pour my heart out and NOBODY CARES? And what if they do care? Does that matter more than what God has to say about me?!

There it is. Ugly. Vain. A brazen love idol.

Even confessing this now, here, on the first day of Lent, feels freeing, but I know God has led me to lay more down to rid this love idol from my life. And I have a feeling this love idol won’t go away easily, so these will be daily sacrifice:

1. Deleting the blog tracking apps from my phone – there is absolutely NO reason I need to check how many people have visited the blog or commented on the blog when I’m on the go or with my family.

2. Starting my day with God – I have a knee jerk reaction of grabbing my phone the very moment I wake up to see what’s happening in social media. This just sets me up for a day centered around the online world, and I want my whole world to revolve around Jesus. The tweets, posts, emails can wait until I’ve had time to put my heart, mind, soul where they need to be – in His presence.

3. Putting down the phone – This has been a work-in-progress for a while now. It started with boundaries during homeschool. And now I’m feeling the pull for even more. Reading Love Idol as well as Hands-Free Mama – that’s just a recipe for leaving my pursuit of approval in the wrong places behind!

I want to rid my heart of this love idol of numbers and recognition to make room for more of Him – His love, His will, His glory. In her book Holey, Wholly, Holy, Kris Camealy says, “Your life is not just about you – your life is about Christ in you – about the work He can do through you, when you yield to His will.” I’m done being about what I can do and jumping full into what HE can do through me.

PreApproved

Friends, He has pre-approved us. There is nothing we can do to make Him love us more and we don’t need to search for love anywhere else – His love is more enough.

I don’t wanna tell some arrogant story, or let myself believe I’m you. I don’t wanna be a thief who’s stealing your glory. Will you help remind me of what is true? The only hope I’ve got is you. ~Ellie Holcomb, “Only Hope I’ve Got”

I’m taking this Ash Wednesday to repent and reflect on the heart changes I desperately need. Join me? And find the hearts of many other women giving up their love idols poured out over at Jennifer’s blog today. You can add yours if you also feel led!

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My Favorite Lent Resources for the Whole Family

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I wrote last week about the two books I will be using to focus my mind on more of God and the truth that He is FOR me during Lent this year. I’m all about keeping this time of year simple and meaningful, so I considered not sharing any more Lent resources with you as to not be overwhelming. But then I said, “Erin, this is what you do! Tell people things you love and let them figure out what is right for them!”

So here I go, sharing a handful of books and products for you and your family to use to be intentional with your mindset this Lent!

Lent Resources for the Whole Family

Reflective Lent Journal from Naptime Diaries

This gorgeous 40 day, undated journal contains scripture prompts and room to write on each page. Jessi, creator at Naptime Diaries says, “There are four sections to the book – Hope, Follow, Live, & Bless – and the scriptures are intentionally picked to help you grow closer to the Lord as you read different passages from all over the Bible.” If you would like yours in time for Lent this year, please order by 5pm ET TODAY!

Mosaic Bible

I received this Bible a few years ago and was drawn to the gorgeous artwork, but found so much more. Along with the full NLT Bible text, the Mosaic Bible features weekly readings and devotions based on the church seasons, including Lent. I love the insights I gained from the quotes, hymns, poems, and more in this Bible! I’m mentioning it as a Lent resource, but it is wonderful for year-round Scripture meditation.

The Jesus Storybook Bible

I’m sorry if you’re sick of hearing about the Jesus Storybook Bible from me, but I’m not really sorry because I will never stop telling people they MUST have this for their family! With Advent, we spent 25 days reading from it leading up to Christmas, but for Easter, I just did a week lead-up with the kids and it was just right. I made a reading plan for Easter week with the Jesus Storybook Bible complete with simple, but powerful activities and a free printable. And you could always start earlier in the Lenten season and read the whole life of Jesus, too! I think we may do that this year!

Trail to the Tree: An Easter Devotional from Ann Voskamp

I’m a big fan of everything God speaks through Ann, and while I haven’t done this with our family yet, I have it saved for when they boys are a little older. It might be just the right thing for you and your children this year. It includes reflections for each day of lent and printables to make an Easter tree. Ann says she made this because, “Easter is more important than Christmas.” And once again, she is spot on. This devotional is free to all of her blog subscribers, so if you’re already one, it’s at the bottom of the posts you receive in your email. And if you’re not, go subscribe now!

Action Bible Easter Story

The Action Bible is by far the favorite “big kid” Bible in our house, so I’m thrilled to tell you that, right now for a limited time, the Kindle version of the Action Bible Easter Story is FREE! Every house of boys should own the full Action Bible, but this is a great starting point to get your boys interested in this graphic novel/comic book-style Bible storybook AND the most important story of Jesus’s sacrifice to save us. Grab this quick before the price goes back up!

I have one more surprise Lent resource to share next week, but until then, here is one last gem I want to mention…

My sweet friend Jennifer has written an important book called Love Idol: Letting Go of Your Need for Approval – And Seeing Yourself Through God’s Eyes. It won’t be available until April 1, but you’re going to want to pre-order it now. Trust me.

While Love Idol isn’t a Lent-specific book, the message and soul-searching found within are very much in line with what Lent is all about – sacrificing the things we hold on to so tightly to have more of Jesus. And I would love for you to join me in the Love Idol Movement this Lent: We are letting go of the love idols that are taking up space in our hearts — space that belong to God alone. You can read more about Jennifer’s heart for this movement on her blog and join the movement on Facebook.

I will end this post with the question I am asking myself and praying about as part of the Love Idol Movement. I would love for you to join me in doing the same and we can come back here next Wednesday, Ash Wednesday, to share the idol we are letting go…

Where do the idols of approval and love lurk in my life? How can I practically and prayerfully give that idol up – for good and for GOD?

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Having An Internal Focus This Lent

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Throughout my whole life, Lent has been a very special, reflective time of year, but it has also been generally focused on external things. Some of these external things have produced great internal change and closeness with Jesus, such as the Daniel Fast I did two different years and my commitment to yell less and pray more last year.

I attended an online class by my friend Jessi last week about walking with Jesus this Lent in a more intentional and meaningful way. That class had me asking God during a run this weekend, “What do you want Lent to be about for me this year? What do you want me to be about for YOU this Lent, God?”

Internal Focus for Lent

The immediate promptings in my soul were twofold:

  1. It needs to be about ALL of me. Me as a whole.
  2. I need to be reminding just how very much He is FOR me.

That is some heavy stuff for me, but Lent is a somber, reflective time. And it culminates in so much joy and hope. I imagine this is just what He wants for me this year, too.

So I haven’t decided to fast in any way yet, but two books just happened to come into my view this past week and they will be helping me keep this internal God-focus for the 40 days of Lent.

Holey_Wholly_Holy full cover

Holey, Wholly, Holy: A Lenten Journey of Refinement, written by the lovely Kris Camealy, is book #1. I’ve had this book sitting on my Kindle shelf just waiting for Lent to roll around and I can’t wait to dive in. I love the imagery of journeying through these 40 days, moving from broken to surrendered to claiming the grace He has for us. Kris has a beautiful heart for Jesus and encouraging others as they walk with Him.

Just today, a companion workbook for Holey, Wholly, Holy was released AND there is an online community of women going through the book this Lent as well!

Book #2 showed up in Kris’ Instagram feed this weekend just hours after God and I had our conversation about my Lent focus. It’s called God for Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and EasterDuring Advent and Christmas, we celebrate that He came to be WITH us, but this FOR us part is really grabbing a hold of me right now.  I’m anxious to read more and embrace this truth with all that I am. If anything proves how much He is FOR me, it is what He endured for me leading up to and on the cross.

Lent begins with Ash Wednesday on March 5th this year and that is when I will start reading through Holey, Wholly, Holy with the online study group. I would love to have you join us!

And to celebrate the release of the companion workbook, Kris is graciously given me one PDF set of the book AND workbook to giveaway here today! Just enter below!

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Easter Week with the Jesus Storybook Bible

{As I’m posting this, the Kindle version of the Jesus Storybook Bible is still only $1.99! Please double-check before you buy as prices change without notice!}

Yes, we also use our most beloved story Bible for Easter as well!


We read through just five stories for this Easter week with the Jesus Storybook Bible, but they are just the right ones to focus our hearts in the right place – Jesus!

I have included a few VERY simple activities & discussion ideas to go along with each reading. Including reading time, you’ll be done in 30 minutes or less each day. There is a printable outline of the week for you to keep as a handy reference as well!

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Here is our plan for the week:

Jesus Storybook Bible Easter Reading Plan

{Click on the image to print}

Tuesday – Read “Washed with tears”

{A sinful woman anoints Jesus, from Mark 14, Luke 7, and John 12}

The story of the sinful woman washing Jesus’ feet is just the best place to start this week. After reading, we will take time to recognize our sinful nature and get on our knees before Jesus to confess those sins and ask for His forgiveness. Our sin is what put Him on the cross, and repenting of that sin at the beginning of this week is cleansing.

Wednesday – Read “The Servant King”

{The Last Supper, from Mark 14 and John 13-14}

Many people do a foot-washing ceremony on Thursday to go a long with the Last Supper, but we will do ours on Wednesday along with this reading.

Thursday – Read “A dark night in the garden”

{The Garden of Gethsemane, from Luke 22, Mark 14, John 18}

If possible, read this story in the dark or by candlelight to symbolize the dark garden where Jesus prayed and was betrayed.

Friday – Read “The sun stops shining”

{The Crucifixion, from Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, John 19}

I really want our boys to understand that Jesus’ death on the cross meant for our relationship with God and the tearing of the temple cloth is what stuck out to me. I want them to know talking to God is not just for adults and pastors and priests – Jesus made a way for us to go right to throne of God. I am going to use a red piece of cloth {to symbolize Jesus’ blood AND the temple curtain} and have the boys help me tear it after we read this story.

Saturday – No reading

I chose to not have a reading on Saturday for a couple of reasons. First of all, in the Jesus Storybook Bible, there is no story between the crucifixion and the resurrection! Secondly, the days in between Jesus’ death were filled with uncertainty for his disciples. They were alone with their thoughts, their leader and friend having left them in a horrible way. Saturday will be our day of reflection – a day alone with our thoughts and a day to thank Him for His sacrifice.

Sunday – Read “God’s wonderful surprise”

{The Resurrection, from Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20}

Forget waking up early to open up Christmas presents – THIS is the best gift to unwrap early in the morning! Easter Sunday is not a day to sleep in! Wake up early with plenty of time before your church service to read about the surprise God had in store and celebrate as a family! Sing, make noise, shout for joy – make it a party like none other because JESUS IS ALIVE!

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There are a lot of plans and activities available for this season, so don’t add this to your week if you already have a plan and it is going to stress you out to add more! Usually around these holidays, LESS is actually better! But if you were looking for something simple and powerful to do with your family for Easter this year, I hope this is a blessing to you!

 

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This Mama’s Lenten Journey: Less Yelling, More Praying

Confession: Yelling has become my go-to “solution” for getting my kids to listen.

It feels good to get that off my chest. Lest you think we live as a perfect little family where I speak and the kids hang on my every word, obeying without hesitation, I feel the need to break that dream bubble over your heads.

I really, really don’t like how much yelling has creeped into my parenting and I know Jesus has been nudging me to take a look at how I handle my frustration when the children are being disobedient or disrespectful or just plain not listening.

What to do about it…

Many Christians commit to give something up during the Lent season to more fully understand the feeling of sacrifice, so I could just tell you “I’m giving up yelling at my kids for Lent!” and call it good.

But I know that merely giving up something up for Lent without replacing it with more of Him has not done me much good in the past.

I’ve fasted from different foods in the past, but unless I added in a “more of God” part to my fast, it didn’t mean a whole lot. I had to purposefully spend more time in the Word or in prayer to draw closer to Him during the fast.

So, I AM trying my best to give up yelling at the children during Lent {and beyond}, but I can’t just leave it at that.

This Mama's Lenten Journey

Here’s the plan for my Lenten journey:

I’m gathering Bible verses and prayers to go along with the reasons that usually drive me to raising my voice. I’m using the prayer app Ann suggested {the free lite version for now} to keep the prayers close at hand. It is a great resource for organizing your prayers and setting up reminders to pray for people.

When I feel myself getting to the boiling point, I will take a deep breath, grab the app and find an appropriate prayer for the situation.

THEN, after I have taken my feelings to Jesus first, I will approach my children about the problem, hopefully more calm and more full of Him and His Will for all of us.

I’m getting all emotional as I write this because I want so badly to break free from using yelling to try to get their attention about anything except emergencies. I know Jesus is the only answer to stepping out of my not-so-wonderful way of handling myself. I’m stepping out with great hope on this Lenten journey towards more peace and prayer in our home.

I can’t wait to see how He brings our family closer together and closer to Him during these 40 days, because man, do I love these guys and want them to have the best of me…

Love these boys

Thanks to The Hubby for inspiring me to make my Lenten focus those closest to me – he blessed all of us when he did the same last year!

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What is your plan for Lent this year? Do you usually give something up? How can you add more of Him to your life during these 40 days?

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