Celebrating Together

Though Easter was brought about through sacrifice, pain and death, we do not dwell on those things. We remember Jesus' act of love and as Christian parents we try to teach our children about the meaning of sacrifice, but what we celebrate is the resulting beauty of the resurrection. We emphasize the risen Lord, not the one who was in the grave. We happily look forward, not only to eternity spent with Him, but to the advent of Spring in the calendar year. How you celebrate is probably a combination of traditions you were brought up with and your own new ideas.

When I was growing up, we always wore our best clothes on Easter Sunday. My mother, being a seamstress of sorts, often made matching dresses for her and I, while my two older brothers and my father wore suits and ties. At some point during the day, jelly beans were hidden around the house and we were each given a cup. Our job was to find as many jelly beans as we could. My bothers would, more often, return with cups much fuller than mine, but I didn't mind. I think I enjoyed the ham dinner and the desert afterwords more than the jelly beans. We were also given Easter baskets with various candy and chocolate Easter bunnies.

When I became a parent, I thought it would be fun to take the jelly bean hunt to a whole new level and have a treasure hunt. After all, I wasn't a big fan of jelly beans. Several months before Easter I would begin shopping for little toys, candies or other items my girls might like. I would wrap them in tissue paper, gift bags or gift wrap and proceed to hide them all over the house and yard (if the weather allowed). I would make clues which Rebecca and Rachel would have to follow. Sometimes, one clue only led to another clue. But eventually a clue would lead to a gift. This hunt was such a hit that now, Rachel wants me to plan a hunt for her son Quintin. Oh, just twist my arm! 

eggs

There are so many wonderful things families can do together outside of the actual church services. These days many churches host egg hunts and other fun activities making the celebration last from Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday. Here are a few suggestions for making Easter, not just about gifts and candy, but about Jesus.

1. Get "resurrection eggs" and use these to tell the story of Easter.

2. Plan a jelly bean hunt, or a treasure hunt and every time something is found, read a portion of the Easter story from the Bible.

3. Color eggs. While you're doing this fun activity with your kids or grandkids listen to Christian music, or talk about how an egg symbolizes the Triune God, and new life.

4. Plan a nature hike. In the midwest we don't know what the weather will be like, but as long as it is not raining, go to a nearby park or out in your back yard and talk to the kids about God's creation.

5. With your older kids you could watch a classic old movie such as Ben-Hur,  The Greatest Story Ever Told, or The Passion of the Christ (this is very graphic and should only be shown at your discretion). Talk with your children about the movie, ask questions about the portrayals in the movies and how it compares to scripture. Ben-Hur is a fictional account based on the novel by Lew Wallace.

6. Have your kids help prepare the Easter meal. Have them be involved in setting the table, getting out decorations and tossing the salad.

7. When your family is sitting down to eat spend a few moments letting people pray or express things they are grateful for. Gratitude doesn't just have to be for Thanksgiving.

In the comments section below share some of your Easter family traditions and ideas.

God bless you as you celebrate the glory of our Risen Lord.

How to Get out of a Sticky Wicket

Many of you have heard the term, "sticky wicket". See the origin of this term here. I love to say the term with a bit of an English accent and usually say it when referring to a difficult situation. Family dynamics are often a quandary. You feel, as a parent, the need to be in charge and admitting when you mess up proves that you aren't. It becomes a bit of a sticky wicket.

Family

This week on my blog I have been talking about confession. Confession within our families is a hard task. It involves humility and selflessness. But not confessing when we have hurt, maimed and mutilated allows the enemy to create walls and distance between us and those we love most.

When I was a young mom I was incredibly impatient with our two daughters and my husband. I would lose my temper, yell and throw things. Over the years God began to deal with me. He revealed through church, friends and His word how to manage discipline and life without anger. I started apologizing to my kids and my spouse when I would blow up, admitting to them it was wrong and that I was sorry.

Mug

Confession does not always mean an automatic change in behavior. Often, God allows difficulty to enter our lives to temper us. I know He did in mine. While suffering can cause us to be bitter, we need to choose to whom we are loyal. Bitterness will not make my relationship with God better, nor with my family. I must be pliable clay in the Potter's hands. 

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: ‘Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.’ So I went down to the potter’s house and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.
— Jeremiah 18:1-4

Today, think about your family. Is there someone you need to confess to? Someone who deserves an apology? Did you snip at your husband this morning? Did you yell at your daughter to clean her room? Did you discipline your five year old out of anger and impatience? Go to them and confess. Restore their faith in you and in God. It's worth it to get out of the "sticky wicket."

Every Choice Affects Someone

Monday's post on my faith page talked about sin. The whole point of Jesus being born, living, teaching, dying and rising was to free us from sin; to restore us to a right relationship with God our Heavenly Father. Like ripples on water being part of a family means that we are always affecting or influencing someone else by our choices. As much as we hear the mantra, "It's okay as long as you aren't hurting anyone else," it isn't a realistic statement. Everything we do affects someone else. Everything we don't do affects someone else.

As a wife my choices affect my husband. More accurately my sins affect my husband. I used to think what I ate, what I listened to, what I thought was only affecting me, but it wasn't. When I eat poorly I am more tired. This impacts my relationship with Mark in that I am not able to enjoy evenings together because I am constantly yawning and intimacy gets tossed aside in favor of sleep. Other sins, such as pride, self-absorption and disrespect also affect my marriage.

As a mother, my choices affect my children. The sin of worry and anxiety have led me to more than one emotion filled discourse with my adult daughters. And for the most part that only leads to further frustration and pain, rather than healthy communication. Gluttony, anger and lack of trust in God affect how my daughters relate to me and how I represent Christ to them.

If you are a single person you may be breathing a sigh of relief. "Oh good! I don't have to worry about my choices or my sins affecting other people." But of course you do. If you are living at home, your choice to drink excessively affects your parent(s) every time you stay out late. If you have a job, your choice to not show up on time, affects your boss and your fellow employees. Every choice has a ripple affect and that goes for the good ones as well as the bad ones.

As members of a family, and representatives of Christ, we need to think about how our choices will affect those around us. A choice to sin, or do something against God will have far reaching effects for you and for those you love. Choose to choose wisely; choose to choose love instead of self interest. Make a difference to your spouse, your kids and those around you for good.

Am I at the Opera?

I came from a family that was relatively quiet. I have two older brothers. Jeff is ten years my senior and Kevin is 4 years older than me. Yes, I was the baby and I was a girl. Imagine my brothers' chagrin when they realized something alien came into the house on that day my parents brought me home from the hospital. Jeff was enough older that he didn't pay me much mind, but Kevin, he just wasn't too sure about this crying mess. 

As we grew up in a conservative Christian home, we ate meals together. I have fond memories of sitting around our kitchen table eating. However, I do remember it being very quiet. Maybe it was because I was a girl or maybe it was due to our age differences, but there was hardly any conversation. Just reaching for what we wanted, or a quiet, "Can you pass the butter?" I don't remember talking about school or other family or....well, anything.

But somehow we survived and we all made it to adulthood. I met my husband, Mark in college (and that is another story). The first time I was invited to his home for a meal, I was ill prepared for the event. I did not realize I was going to the opera. When we sat down to eat the delicious meal his mother had prepared I was expecting a meal, much like those at my house....quiet, with little conversation. After we said grace, there was some chit chat as we passed around the food. Slowly there was a rise in the volume and speed of the conversation. I was trying to keep up with the questions being asked of me and the other conversations that were going on at the table. Mind you this is not a huge family. Mark has one married sister, that's it. But all of a sudden I found myself unable to keep up with the voices, all talking at the same time, all trying to be heard. 

In opera the term is called imbroglio. It is usually a culminating piece where a number of characters are singing at the same time in a very emotional or fast paced way. So my first encounter with my husband's family was imbroglio. While it was a bit overwhelming, I was rather fascinated by it all. Over the years, I have learned to put my ten cents in (inflation you know) and I am able to take all the conversations in. And the family has grown. Two nephews, our own daughters and now additional in-laws and grandchildren.

Through it all I have come to appreciate family. Large or small, noisy or quiet, imbroglio or solo, it's all good. I am very thankful for the family God gave me, both by blood and marriage. I hope you are able to be thankful for yours as well.

Grand-parenting or Co-parenting?

When did grand-parenting become co-parenting? When did we go from grand to co?  I mean co isn't even an entire word...It doesn't matter, really. When my grandson calls me by the name he chose, he calls me Grandma, not Coma!  There are times, though, at days' end, after co-parenting, I feel like I am in a coma.

 Photo Credit:  Rebecca Trumbull

Photo Credit: Rebecca Trumbull

Back in the day, grandparents visited.  Today, many of us co-parent with our adult children, watching their children, for many reasons ranging from single parenthood and financial hardship to being the only trustworthy choice for daycare.

My grandson, like many boys at age 4 and 5, loves to go to play lands or playgrounds, weather permitting.  Sitting at MacDonald's after we have finished our meal, I watch him run furiously in the play area. I also people watch, a pastime I enjoy.  Often, I see other women, and sometimes men, my age or older looking very tired.  Like me, they've brought their grandchild there as a way to use up time in an otherwise long day, in an otherwise long week.  Let's face it, 18 to 30 year olds are more physically capable of dealing with a 4 year old's incessant questions.

"Grandma, where are we going?"

"Why?"

"Grandma, what are you doing?"

"Why?"

"Grandma, why do I have to take a bath? Why do I have to go potty?  Why do I need to eat? Why can't I have more gum? Why can't we go out for ice cream? Why is that man fat?"

"Grandma, why are you yawning?"

Co-parenting is the new normal. My own daughter, Rachel, is a single mom, working at a coffee shop.  She just makes ends meet and paying for a sitter would be out of the question.  While state aid is often available, many of us would rather watch our grandkids, than put them in a setting where they might fall through the cracks.

 Photo Credit:  Rebecca Trumbull

Photo Credit: Rebecca Trumbull

The love we feel towards our children is immense, but the love we feel towards our grandchildren, at times, exceeds reason. Perhaps what drives us is a desire to nurture and feel needed; perhaps it is a desire for a second chance to do better. Whatever your reasons for becoming a co-parenter rather than just a grandparent, hang in there! God knows your capabilities and your children and grandchildren. He knows you are an essential piece of the puzzle and He is faithful. He will provide strength, love and even continuous, gentle responses to all of those whys.

 

 

Family is like a tree.

There is a beautiful picture that shows a tree standing tall and the words written beside it read, "Family is like branches on a tree. We all grow in different directions, yet our roots remain as one." The very first time I saw that picture, I thought how lovely and how true. Families are made up of so many diverse people. People with various personalities, likes and dislikes; people that we love madly and would even die for, yet the very same people who drive us to the brink of madness.

 Photo Credit:  Rebecca Trumbull

Photo Credit: Rebecca Trumbull

fall tree yellow leaves

Living as a family, or as a community is often a trying experience. You have heard the expression, "Blood is thicker than water",  well it is also sticky, slimy and hard to clean up...not that I speak from personal experience and no, I do not have any bodies buried in my back yard, other than my daughters' childhood guinea pigs. However, the analogy holds true. Families can be loyal, loving and trustworthy, but they can also be the source of great pain and long suffering.

This page is a place for you to come to find camaraderie in the ups and downs of living and loving our families. Are your children young, energetic and you need advice?  Is your husband not the same person you thought you married?  Are you, like me, co-parenting your grandkids? Let's walk this journey together.

Families are complex and full  of layers.  I look forward to exploring them with you.