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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

For many years my family struggled with whether or not to celebrate holidays like Easter and Christmas and if so how to keep the focus on the Christian aspect of the season and not the commercialized version.

We have gone back and forth between not celebrating at all or going full out and everything in-between. I think the holidays like many other things can be redeemed for the good with a little thought and effort, prayer and focus.

First of all we may seem silly to many, but rarely will you hear us say "Happy Easter!" But you will hear us shouting "Happy Resurrection Day!" or "He is Risen!" Either set the mood for what the day is really about!

One of our favorite traditions actually takes place the evening before Easter when we make Resurrection Cookies.

To be made the evening before Easter.
You need: 1c. whole pecans, 1 tsp. vinegar, 3 egg whites,pinch salt, 1c. sugar, zipper baggie, wooden spoon, tape, Bible.
Preheat oven to 300 BEFORE BEGINNING.

Place pecans in zipper baggie and let children beat them with the wooden spoon to break into small pieces. Explain that after Jesus was arrested He was beaten by the Roman soldiers. Read John 19:1-3.

Let each child smell the vinegar. Put 1 tsp. vinegar into mixing bowl. Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross he was given vinegar to drink. Read John 19:28-30.

Add egg whites to vinegar. Eggs represent life. Explain that Jesus gave His life to give us life. Read John 10:10-11.

Sprinkle a little salt into each child's hand. Let them taste it and brush the rest into the bowl. Explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus' followers, and the bitterness of our own sin. Read Luke 23:27.

So far the ingredients are not very appetizing.
Add 1 c. sugar. Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us. He wants us to know this and how to belong to Him. Read Ps. 34:8 and John 3:16.

Beat with a mixer on high speed for 12 to 15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed. Explain that the color white represents the purity in God's eyes of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus. Read Isaiah 1:18 and John 3:1-3.

Fold in broken nuts. Drop by teaspoons onto wax paper covered cookie sheet. Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus' body was laid. Read Matt. 27:57-60.

Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF.
Give each child a piece of tape and seal the oven door. Explain that Jesus' tomb was sealed. Read Matt.27:65-66.

GO TO BED! Explain that they may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight Jesus' followers were in despair when the tomb was sealed. Read John 16:20 and 22.

On Easter morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie.
Notice the cracked surface and take a bite. The cookies are hollow! On the first Easter Jesus' followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty! Read Matt. 28:1-9

Tell your friends about this treat.

This is a fun one that my middle two boys still love to do(ages 11 & 8) Hopefully it will become Austins favorite too!(16 mos. old!)

Then in the morning before church the kids get their Easter baskets or gifts . This year I found lots of neat little goodies at Oriental Trading Co. Rather than baskets I found cute little tote bags with crosses on them at Oriental Trading. We will fill them up with some of the goodies I purchased there too;

There was so much to choose from; chocolate crosses, bread & fish crackers(these were cute!) footsteps of Jesus gummies and more! They also had a variety of Christian stampers and stickers, beach balls and more!!

This is a fun way to do baskets but still keep it Christ focused. Many of the candies have Bible verses on the wrappers!

This year we will go to church as usual, but after services there is a brunch we are all looking forward to.

When we arrive home we will do our favorite tradition and hunt for Resurrection Eggs!!

I purchased my set over ten years ago from Christian Books
but you can find them pretty much anywhere these days. You can even make them yourself. I found a website that has two kinds. The second is closer to what I have, and I really like that one. My son made the first set at AWANA last night, and while it is pretty neat too, I really like the first set better. My kids never tire of this even as they get older. I have a feeling Austin is going to love this one too!! This will be his first year "hunting" for eggs.

So, these are just a few of the things we do to try to keep the focus where it belongs. We will also watch the "Miracle Maker" which is a really neat clay animation version of Easter.

What are some ways you celebrate?

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