With bunnies, eggs, baskets, candy, it’s easy for the true reason we celebrate Easter to get lost. Here are some easy crafts you can do with your child and then continue to use to explain the resurrection of Jesus and His incredible love for each one of us!
E.A.S.T.E.R. eggs (from MOPS 2016 Easter Meeting, led by Suzanne Campaigne and Kim Baena)
- 6 plastic eggs
- heart (sticker or small item)
- cross (sticker or small item)
- molding clay
- small stone (or bean)
- other craft items to make egg display
- Sharpie marker
- Write one letter of EASTER on each egg. (E on the first egg, A on the second egg, etc.)
- Fill each egg with the cooresponding symbol to tell the Resurrection Story (see image)
- Optional: make a crafty display for your eggs. (One suggestion, like what Suzanne showed at the meeting: take a block of wood, drill 6 holes, attach green pipe cleaner to each egg, stick eggs in the holes in the wood.)
- Tell your children about E.A.S.T.E.R. for years to come!
E: is for EACH of us loved by God.
A: is for A broken world, so He sent His Son.
S: is for our SINS that Jesus took away.
T: is for the TOMB where He lay for 3 whole days.
E: is for the EMPTY tomb when the stone was rolled away.
R: is for the RISEN Lord. Jesus is alive today!
E.A.S.t.E.R. Banner (from MOPS 2015 Easter Meeting, led by Courtney Thomas – wife of Austin Ridge Pastor Brad Thomas)
- Make a banner — we made them out of burlap banners and craft supplies, but you could easily make one out of construction paper.
- Print cards explaining each letter of E.A.S.t.E.R. (see images below) (Hint: in this version, the 1st E stands for 2 things, and the lower case “t” represents the cross.)
- Explain E.A.S.t.E.R. story to your children (and friends, family, neighbors) for years to come. You can see my banner hanging on my front door!
Yesterday we were blessed to hear from one of our fabulous mentor moms, Amy Ezell, about simple ways to love on our kids. One of her tips was developing our children’s character just by reading to them.
If you’re interested in learning more, here are some resource lists that she has compiled. As always, none of this is intended to cause stress or to imply that you SHOULD be doing this. This is just a resource to refer to if you’re looking for it.
Click Click HERE for Amy’s Favorite Children’s Book List of BOOKS OF FAITH, BIBLES, DEVOTIONALS, and CHRISTMAS BOOKS!
On Thursday, January 21, 2016, MOPS welcomed Cherie Werner. By the end of January, a lot of moms are reconsidering our New Years’ resolutions. 75% of people keep their resolutions past the first week. 71% past 2 weeks. And only 64% make it past one month. Losing weight and shaping up are 2 of the top 5 resolutions every year. But Cherie came to talk about a different kind of shaping up – A Spiritual S.H.A.P.E. Up and Thrive!
Spiritually: An intimate relationship requires time spent together. “A woman who has been in the presence of her God over and over again will eventually begin to reflect His light and know His ways and hear His voice.” -Sally Clarkson. Spend time with God. Read or listen to His word. Read a verse, a chapter, a book. Try a reading plan on YouVersion app or check out a blog like She Reads Truth. Listen to whatever is true, pure, and lovely: Worship music, sermons via Podcast, or the Bible. Try reading or listening to Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. Then meditate on what you read or hear. Quiet your mind and ask the Holy Spirit for His perspective and direction. And remember to live for an audience of one!
Next thoughts: How are you growing in your faith during this busy season of motherhood?
Husbands: Here are 6 ways to grow with your husband in 2016.
- Keep romance alive. Date your mate. Even if your date is only in your backyard after the kids go to bed.
- Communicate daily. We all know how hard this can be with kids!
- Respect your husband. Love is not enough. Ask your husband, “What does respect look like for you?”
- Be committed, otherwise known as a covenant keeper.
- Invest in your marriage.
- Have sex!! Men spell love S-E-X.
Next thoughts: What marriage tip could you implement immediately?
Accountability: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: if either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10. God wants us to have accountability and mentorship with other women. Here are 6 qualities to look for when searching and praying for a M.E.N.T.O.R.
M: Motivates you to be more Christ-like.
E: Encourages and equips.
N: Never gives up on you or lets you give up on yourself.
T: Tells you the truth, even when it’s difficult.
O: Open arms to accept you as you are.
R: Really cares about you and your spiritual growth.
Next thoughts: Do you have a mentor or accountability partner in your life? If not, can you list three possible ladies and pursue them? And who are you mentoring?
Parenting: Here are 6 parenting must-dos for 2016.
- Watch your words! They are very powerful.
- Have dinner together.
- Build a legacy.
- Spend time together. Children spell love T-I-M-E.
- Have meaningful traditions. Traditions are invaluable as they are part of the glue that holds families together. They also give children a sense of security.
- Prepare to eventually let them go! (And prepare them to go.)
Next thoughts: What parenting tip could you implement immediately?
Etcetera: Here are 6 etceteras to do in 2016.
- Invest in yourself and grow. Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who you have received from God. He is in you. 1 Corinthians 6:19.
- Slow down and simplify.
- Do what brings you pleasure.
- Seek professional help if you are overwhelmed. If you’re at the end of your rope, do more than just hold on.
- Eat well.
- What could you do to invest in yourself?
- I will read ___ books in 2016.
- I will listen to ___ Podcast or audio books monthly.
- I will attend __________ conference to develop my passion for _____________.
- How well are you nurturing yourself for your own health? Write down 3 things you will do now for YOU.
Cherie Werner is a mother to 3 daughters (ages 27, 25, & 14). She is passionate about spiritual growth, her husband, and her family. She loves to learn, and believes that the key to true success in relationships is loving others authentically. Cherie is keen on encouraging women in their roles as wives and mothers, It is her desire to help women become aware of the legacy that they want to leave behind by living intentional lives. Writing and speaking is a way for her to share what she has learned along the journey. She serves on the Advisory Boards of Elisa Pulliam’s More to Be and Sally Clarkson’s Whole-hearted & Mom Heart Ministries. Last year she received her certification as a life coach. You can learn more at http://thewerners.org/.
Ridge MOPS kicked off the new year hearing from Brad Thomas, Lead Pastor of Austin Ridge Bible Church. Brad laid out a vision for A Year of Peace.
Peace is freedom from worry and living in joy.
Worry is the inordinate anxiety for something that may or may not occur. We all tend to worry about things we can’t change or do anything about. In fact, on average
- 70% of what we worry about is either in the past or not even able to happen
- 12% of what we worry about is our health
- 10% of what we worry about is people or things we have no control over.
That means only 8% of what we worry about is anything we can even try to affect.
The word “worry” comes from the Old English word that meant “to strangle” and the Greek word that meant “double minded.” So worry is literally a conflicted mind which is strangling you. Worry makes us incapable of being wise.
Joy is not simply happiness. It is not the result of our external circumstances. Joy is an attitude of knowing who is in charge. And of knowing that He is good and all powerful, that He is stronger than your circumstances.
What does Jesus say to do with worry? When worry sets in, get yourself with God. In Luke Chapter 10, when Jesus visits Mary and Martha’s home, as Martha worries about the house being perfect and Mary rests at Jesus’s feet, Jesus says to Martha “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
How can you get yourself with God when worry sets in? Turn to His word. Psalm 34 is a good psalm for when you’re worried.
Verse 4. I sought the Lord, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears. The answer may be “not yet,” but God always answers.
Verse 7. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and delivers them.
Verse 9. Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints, for those who fear Him have no lack! If God’s answer is ‘no’ or ‘not yet,’ then you don’t need it yet.
Verse 18. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
Verse 19. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. Not some. All.
Are you a worrier? Are you an “if only”? You need to know that your joy has nothing to do with your circumstances. In life, something WILL go wrong. Decide now where your joy comes from. If your joy comes from your circumstances, then you WILL be devastated when something goes wrong. What are common “joy stealers”? –
- Living in the past.
- Living in the future. God is the great I am. Not I was or I will be.
- Stress. How do you handle it? What does it look like for you to release stress to the Lord?
- Fear. Fear is the presence of danger or the thought of the presence of danger.
When fear sets in, get yourself with God. It’s hard to be worried when you’re focused on God. How did Daniel survive the lion’s den? Daniel was in a foreign country, harassed, and then there was a law that you couldn’t pray to anyone but the king. But Daniel openly prayed to God. The king loved Daniel but had to give him the punishment of putting him in the lion’s den. The king was torn up about it and didn’t sleep at all that night, even though he was safe and sound. But Daniel, inside the den, slept great. And in the morning, he was still alive. Why did Daniel sleep great in the lion’s den?
How can you get yourself with God when fear sets in? Pray.
Prayer is ongoing dialogue with God. Pray without ceasing. Prayer is not rubbing the lamp for genie wishes.
Setting your mind on Jesus brings joy and worry-free living.
Jesus tells us: If you have your sights set on me, you should not be fearful.
It is impossible for God to be cruel. So, if you are knocked against a rock, know that God has a purpose.
Finally, remember the effect stress and worry will have on your children. Stress and worry can be passed down and modeled. Maybe some of us inherited our current methods of handling stress and worry, but that doesn’t mean we have to pass it down to our children. Do you go to God throughout the day with everything? Or do you go to God when nothing else works?
“I have learned to kiss the wave that strikes my face because it pushes me closer to the Lord.” -Charles Spurgeon.
Brad Thomas is the Lead Pastor of Austin Ridge Bible Church.
Merry Christmas, y’all!
This year we were blessed to have 4 experienced moms share their family Christmas traditions with us. They shared some educational traditions, some easy traditions, and even some tradition fails! Above all, they each reminded us to give ourselves grace. Don’t stress. The best traditions are simple and short, especially if you want to keep your littles’ attention. Here’s a quick overview of the traditions they shared and a few extras, too. Take a moment and share your favorite traditions with us on Facebook!
Every Day Traditions #everydaytradition
25 Pockets with the Names of Jesus: 25 pockets made out of fabric or paper, displayed around the house or mantel, each with a different name of Jesus (and sometimes a surprise). The Word, Lamb, Savior, Light of the World, Prince of Peace… Age to start: 1 or 2 years old.
Once a Week Traditions #onceaweektradition
Family Advent Wreath: A wreath with 5 candles. One for each of the 4 Sundays before Christmas and then one for Christmas Day. Maybe keep it on the kitchen table or dining room table. Here is an example of one family’s Advent Wreath from the Houston Moms Blog. Age to start: 1 or 2 years old.
One Day Traditions #onedaytradition
On Christmas morning, talk about the reason we get/give gifts. Gifts symbolize God’s greatest gift – Jesus and how he leads us to eternal life. Have each child pick one gift that they receive and unwrap on Christmas morning, to give to a family in need. This gives you the opportunity to explain to children that we don’t just give away our leftover, used toys that we don’t want anymore, but also our new and highly-desired toys, because God doesn’t give us His leftover blessings – He gives us His best; He gave us His only son. Age to start: 3 or 4 years old.
Simple Traditions that Your Kids Will Remember #keepitsimple
Decorating the Christmas Tree on a specific day (like Saturday after Thanksgiving). Any age!
Our Jesse Tree (or make one with your kids). Any age!
Christmas Tradition Fails (but, hey, maybe these will work better for your family!) #traditionfail
Prophecy envelopes: make 25 envelopes, each holding a piece of paper that has an Old Testament prophecy on one side and the New Testament fulfillment on the other side. Then make your family sit and listen to one each day! What could go wrong? (Apparently this only lasted one year!)
Christmas Nail: Making a Christmas ornament out of a really big nail, like the one that would have been used to crucify Jesus, and linking Christmas to the crucifixion. A little intense, but true. Maybe for older kids?!? One of our 4 experienced-mom speakers, Carrie Runn, said her own daughter called this a tradition fail. But she remembered it, and that’s the point, right moms? (If your nail is still missing, Carrie, you can buy one here for just $4.99!)
Advent Activities #adventactivity
Finding Treasure (Age to start: older preschool)
Supplies (per kid):
- Tin can painted/covered in black (“Can of Darkness”)
- Small treasure boxes (example: shoe box with Dollar Store prizes)
- Flash light (“The Light of Christ”)
Instructions: At night, hide treasure boxes in the house. Turn off all the lights. Hand kids the “can of darkness.” Tell them to use the can to find the treasure. When they can’t (because all the lights are off and the dark can doesn’t help you see in the dark), hand them each a flashlight which will help them see in the dark to find the treasure. Moral: Darkness doesn’t take you to the treasures of heaven, only the light of Christ does.
For more advent activities, check out James Dobson, Christ in Christmas book including activities and songs.
Budget Traditions #budgettradition
When I was growing up, there were a lot of years that my mom and I didn’t have extra money at Christmas time. Being a savvy single mom, she incorporated some traditions that were easy on the wallet.
Epiphany Gifts: One year she told me we were exchanging gifts on Epiphany (Jan 6, also called Three Kings Day) because that’s when the Wise Men brought gifts to Jesus. Turns out her actual motivation was hitting After-Christmas Sales!
Santa Brings the Christmas Tree: When my mom was growing up with 8 siblings, they were also tight on money. Their tradition was that Santa brought the Christmas Tree, which meant my Grandpa could get one on sale on Christmas Eve! He and my Grandma must have stayed up all night decorating it!
So what are your favorite Christmas traditions? Which ones have you tried with your littles this year? Did you have a #everydaytradition that turned into a #traditionfail sometime around December 7? Or December 2? Share with us on Facebook in The Ridge MOPS private Facebook group using the above hashtags!
Above all, remember the tradition your kids will cherish the most is a non-stressed mom who rests in the love of Christ knowing the perfect Christmas has already happened. It’s not in the perfect presents, or perfect decorations, or perfect meal. The perfect Christmas already happened when Jesus was born.
Merry Christmas. We’ll see you back on Thursday, January 7, 2016! (Don’t forget to register!!)