Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Easter or Resurrection Day?

We've been giving lots of thought lately as to what we are going to do this April 16th. As the heart of my home, it is incumbent upon me to think these things through and discuss them with my husband and see what he would prefer to do. So, I've been doing some research.

A few years ago, we saw nothing wrong with celebrating "Easter." We blindly followed in our society's footsteps (and unbeknownst to us, the ancient world's occultic practices) and laid the candy eggs outside our children's doors, making a trail to the much-anticipated baskets sitting on the hearth waiting to be broken into and devoured before going to church.

Shortly after we started homeschooling, we began to question what we were doing. Where did this holiday "Easter" come from and what did all of its trappings have to do with Jesus' death and resurrection? Was it biblical? We knew, of course, that commemorating Jesus' resurrection was biblical, but were we honoring Him in our observance of it? What were we teaching our children about this, the holiest of all days for a true believer?

Some of the answers came quickly... others way too slowly. What we realized is that the church is involved in some very destructive syncretism here... more than that, the church is involved in practices that are no more glorifying to God than a pastor who has an affair, or any other number of gross and heinous sins that we see in our day. Pagan and occultic practices are so closely-linked to the holiday—from the bunny, to the eggs, to the name Easter itself—that the church should drop it altogether. We, as the mothers we are called to be, MUST think this through and realize that to train up godly children, we cannot allow the practices of the seed of the serpent into our homes or our lives for even one nanosecond—in any way shape or form.

A quick Google search on 'Easter' and 'pagan' will turn up dozens of links that would help anyone trying to understand what the Easter holiday is all about, what it actually represents AND worships.

I found this link from ChristianAnswers.net very helpful (and heavily footnoted):

Where did "Easter" get its name? Where did the concept of an Easter egg and bunny originate?

I'll bet that if you didn't know all that information before, you are appalled now and ready to change your practice. Let's proceed:

Where does this leave us when it comes to focusing with our children upon the true meaning of this day? How are we to establish traditions around the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Whose finished work on the cross for us is what gives us life and breath?

We had to change things—drastically—but not as a knee-jerk reaction to what our society and, unfortunately, the church at large, does. Rather, this is a clarification of who we really are: the bride whose Husband gave His life for her. It is a chance to study, to learn, to HONOR the One Who did it all for us; to live simply, separately, and deliberately for Christ.. and teach our children to do the same. (Psalm 78:1-8)

So, here is what we have come up with. I would LOVE to hear your comments, suggestions, and ideas on this issue as we are still in the process of making this the most special day of the year for our children, albeit keeping it VERY simple.

We will, along with our church, be fasting (not the children, unless they choose to on their own) from Good Friday until Resurrection Day morning. We will be reading the story of the crucifixion and the resurrection with our dear friends, the Powells. On Saturday evening, we will watch Messiah: Prophecy Fulfilled and then make Resurrection Day cookies with our children.

  • Resurrection Day cookies recipe is featured on my recipes blog.

  • The recipe includes all of the scriptures needed to tell the story of Jesus' death and resurrection. We'll leave the cookies in the oven (the "sealed tomb") overnight. When we get up Sunday morning, we'll remove the "seal" from the tomb, take the cookies out, give one to everyone, and tell them to take a bite to break our fast. When they bite into the cookie, the children realize that it is hollow inside... just as Jesus' tomb was! What a great visual way to teach our children of the MIRACLE that we celebrate this day! And, hey, they get to tell everybody that they get cookies for breakfast on Resurrection day... homemade ones to boot!

    After Lord's Day worship—which will be a time of great elation because the children REALLY understand why they are worshipping that day—we will feast with the Powells. Lots of great food, fellowship, and fun to remember and celebrate Jesus' victory over Death.

    Monday, March 27, 2006

    Anyone Have a Two-Year-Old-to-English Dictionary?

    Have you ever written down all those cute little things that your children say? I wish I had written down every single one of them, but I don't have the time. I have realized over the last few years how many of those sweet little things I have forgotten. So, I have decided to start keeping a running list on the side of my fridge that allows me to write down all of the things they say...I'll format it on something prettier later....wait, that's part of the reason I'm writing this blog!

    Well, here goes:

    Ds#2's newest word: "Hunormous" (Huge and enormous put together) You use this one when the size of something is so big it absolutely blows your mind!

    Dd#1's: many things she says end with a "y," or "ey," like, "No wanny do," which, of course, means "I don't want to." (She is two after all!) Or she'll say, "All doney Daddy." This, of course, means "All done."

    My personal favorite of dd#1's is what she calls Hot Chocolate: "Hot Sake" (you know, the Japanese hot alcoholic drink!)

    She also says things like: "Buckings" (buttons), "Pockies" (pockets), "Fra-coo" (freckle). She will sometimes even say "Fra-coo Buddy," which, to any astute observer, means "I have a freckle on my belly!" Then there is "Heggy." Heggy is the noodle-y stuff with the tomato sauce on top.

    Funny the way they try so hard to express themselves, isn't it? My nine year old, ds#1, will usually laugh at the way they speak. I know it's hilarious sometimes. And there are times when we all burst out laughing (another way God brings us joy through the blessing of our children). But we try not to laugh at them because they are trying, in their best way possible, to communicate. We want to encourage their attempts at communicating with us.

    Maybe I'm being too melodramatic, but isn't that what the Lord does for us? He listens, and listens, and listens to our fumbling attempts to communicate with him and communicate His love to others. We try so hard to understand our children. He Who created us does even more than this...He stoops to our level to make us know we've been heard, never belittling us in the process. Sure, we may be humbled by this love, but never humiliated.

    How much more should we, who have been shown His grace and mercy, extend the same to our children?

    Saturday, March 25, 2006


    What is it about the first time your baby calls you "Mama?" I'm on my fourth child, and yet, I will never tire of hearing it.

    After weeks of calling me "Bob" (I'm not sure why), dd#2 (9mo) crawled across the floor to me yesterday and said, "Mama, Mama, Mama." My heart melted and as I picked her up, I told her she could have anything she wanted if she kept calling me "Mama."

    I wonder, how does our Heavenly Father feel when we call Him, "Abba, Father?" Does it warm His heart as it warms mine to hear His child call His name? His Word says He gives liberally to His children when they ask Him (James 1:5). I guess the way I felt when dd#2 called my name was a reflection (however poor) of my carrying the image of the Almighty. Does His heart melt when I am on my knees in prayer? When I reach up to Him and ask for Him to hold me and comfort me, can He just not help Himself, like I did when dd#2 reached out her little hands to me?


    Isn't this part of the reason He gives us children? They are blessings indeed. Blessings brought into our lives to remind us of His grace, His control over every detail, working all things to our good (Romans 8:28).

    Thank you, Father. Please "strengthen me and uphold me with Your righteous right hand" (Is. 41:10) while I raise these children to your glory. My I be drawn ever closer to You in the process. Thank You for giving them to me as blessings to help me catch an even greater picture of Your love for me.

    Thursday, March 23, 2006

    In Pursuit of Just Plain Fruit

    Today, my dear husband and sons (9 and 5 1/2) planted two cherry trees and two cherry bushes along with three blueberry bushes on our land. (We got them from Tim Hensley at Urban Homestead in Bristol. Tim's wife, Donna, assisted when dd#2 was born! We highly recommend them: 276-466-2931.) I am so excited! Anyone who knows me knows that I just adore anything that has cherries on it or in it. My family loves to eat anything that has cherries or blueberries. One of our favorite poems to read aloud as a family is Robert Frost's Blueberries. Great poem. I suggest reading it to your family this summer as you enjoy those delectable fruits in a freshly baked pie! Talk about an easy way to create a love of poetry in your children! Isn't homeschooling great?

    We also planted two varieties of carrots this Monday. An hour later it began to snow. It snowed all day. We, being the novices that we are to raising carrots, thought it would ruin our crop for sure, but two people so far have told us that this only means that the carrots will be sweet! Ooooooh, I can't wait to taste them in a roast, or simply sauteed with some butter! If they are anywhere near as good as the sweet corn we grew last year, we are in for a treat!

    Below are some pics of my dh and sons planting the carrots. In a couple of weeks we will be planting our peas and lettuces on either side of our carrots. Gardening is such an adventure in learning and working together as a family...I highly recommend it if you haven't already done it. A simple way to start is to have a salad garden. Over at Large Family Logistics, Kim Brenneman has listed an easy salad garden to start. There is nothing hard about it. You just simply get out there and get in the dirt and do it. You will be thanking yourself later on when you get to eat the fruit of your labors!

    Let the planting begin

    Daddy helps ds#2 plant

    Make-shift watering can (see instructions below)

    Snow on the carrots—making them sweeter!

    More fruit...

    Very sweet fruit!

    Make-shift Watering Can Story/Instructions
    After planting the carrots, Jim Bob came in and asked if we had a watering can. We do... but we don't know where it is! (Ah, the joys of moving!) So, since necessity is the mother of invention, I came up with this solution (and my children loved it!):

    • Take one milk jug (make sure it's empty), wash out thoroughly.
    • Poke about 25 holes in the curve leading up to the neck of the jug, imitating the holes in a watering can spout.
    • Poke one hole in the top of the handle as a vent
    • Fill with water, replace lid, and...
    • Voila! A watering can!
    Make this one with your children.

    In Pursuit of Spiritual Fruit

    So, what have I been learning lately? Patience, kindness, and control over my emotions and tongue especially in regards to my children.

    When my nine-year-old comes to me and wants to tell me a story and I have three others who want to have my undivided attention at the same time, I've had to practice an incredible amount of patience in being calm and just simply listening.

    Patience. Listening is such a simple thing. It is so kind and loving, but are we always willing to do what it takes to really listen to our children? I thought about this over and over for the last few weeks and realized that the real reason I don't want to give the common courtesy of listening to my children is the plain and simple fact that I am selfish. That's all there is to it: selfishness. What is selfishness rooted in? Pride. The complete arrogance that insists that I am more important than anyone else. It's the pride that keeps me from being the servant to my family that I am called to be. That wretched pride. Lord, please purge me of it. I must call upon the Lord to help me be selfless and giving of myself in this area. But it takes patience to listen. Patience to realize that the person talking to me is not working on my time frame, my agenda. It takes patience to sit down, put everything else aside, and make the other person more important than myself. This is the crux upon which relationships are built. What is more important than building those relationships within our own families? The Lord is glorified when we do this.

    Kindness. When you think of the type of mother you want to be I'm sure it is not the one that yells or is impatient. When you think of the ideal mother, I'm sure you think of things similar to this: The soft-spoken mother who gently, tenderly takes the time to soothe hurt feelings, bandage a boo-boo, sing sweet lullabies, read Beatrix Potter aloud to her children in what my friend Linda calls "British-Mommy" voice. She is the kind of mother who, again, is selfless, not concerned with her own wants, but rather is concerned with the needs of those in her charge. What is the roadblock here? Why do we struggle so with the ability to be kind? You guessed it, it's the ugly "P word" again: PRIDE. It comes down to this: who am I imitating, Christ or Satan? The sin that got Lucifer thrown out of Heaven was pride—he wanted to be God. He wanted to have things for himself, be served, be glorified. Isn't this the same problem we see in feminism? The desire to be over others, to be in control, to have things for ourselves, to make a name for ourselves? Beware the fleshly monster of Pride; it will steal all your joy in the Lord. "... And he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it" (Matt 10:39). Christ is Who we want to imitate here. If we desire to be kind to our children, and indeed be the kind mother we are called to be, we need look no further than the Book that gives us all the answers that we need: the Bible. Philippians 2:3-8 shows us the example of Christ:

    "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."
    THIS is the type of mother I want to be: Lowly, looking upon my children as better than myself, not wanting to be equal with God (Satan's fatal sin), being of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, humble, obedient in death to self. That's a tall order, surely, if were not for the blood of the Lamb covering me and empowering me to overcome my flesh in order to do this. Kindness, the kindness of Christ, there is no other way than His way to be the kind mother I wish to be.

    Self-control. I sometimes think that if I can master the basics of this one, all the attributes that I desire in being a mom will fall in line. But that isn't true. What is true is seeking Him first and His righteousness, then all these other things will be added: "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33). If we seek HIM first, and HIS righteousness, then we will be given the things we need. I think He will honor self-control as one of our requests. The trouble is (I'm learning), that He provides me with many opportunities for on-the-job-training for this one:

    My 2 year old spills her milk on the hardwood floor. After making a mental note to self never to have hardwoods under a table where I will be feeding small children again, I fight the urge to blame her for being so clumsy, instead of just realizing that she did the best she could with her precious little chubby hands that the Lord has given her at this time in her life. Self control practiced, self control gained.

    My oldest three children want to tell me something all at once (for the fourtieth time today), and the baby is crying because she has a poopie diaper. Suppressing the urge to run screaming from the house with my hair on fire, I pray quietly in my heart for self control and wisdom, then slowly and calmy ask the oldest to go get the diaper changing bin and proceed with changing the diaper while asking all of my children (in a calm voice and with a smile of love on my face) to please take numbers and wait their turn to tell me the important thing they need to tell me. Then, REALLY listen to the important things in their world. Self control practiced, self control gained.

    You get the idea. It's in those little moments of trial and temptation that He refines us, making us more like Christ. That is who I desire to be like. This must be my aim.

    A simple verse we've been memorizing together as a family is Proverbs 16:24: "Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones." As their mother, I must be the first to set this example. Some things, as my friend Noël once told me, "are better caught than taught." Isn't that the truth?!!

    Wednesday, March 22, 2006

    Welcome to Amy Joe Jim Bob

    Since this is my first official blog, I thought I should probably write down what it is I am trying to accomplish by being a blogger. I am no tech-wiz, by any stretch of the imagination. My husband is, which is why I am blogging in this format...he set up the blog for me!

    First, and most importantly, I want to leave a record of my daily growth in the Lord for my children, myself, and any others that it might benefit (Titus 2:3-5). I also, on that note, want to learn from others who are also raising up godly seed for the building of the Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. So, please send in the comments/constructive criticism/encouragement!

    Secondly, I want to record our daily happenings around the "Treehouse," as we affectionately call the Howard Homestead. We are attempting to have a very small farm at this time by gardening much of the food we eat, and (when Jim Bob gets what he wants) by starting with some small livestock (probably beginning with chickens—for eggs, as well as meat). Why would we want to do this? Well, there really are two answers to that question. The first answer is that after much looking for a way for Jim Bob to be able to work with his sons more frequently, and in the process to train them to be men after God's own heart, this seems to fit the bill. AND second, due to the struggles I've had with Acid Reflux, and our oldest son's dairy allergy, we are looking for a better way to eat things that are truly healthy, low-cost, local, and eaten in season when the nutrients are at peak in order to improve my health as well as improve the health of all of the Howards so that we are better equipped to show the love of Christ to each other first, and then to others, so that God is glorified and His Kingdom is built through our family.

    So, welcome to my blog! I am excited about leaving this record, and about getting to know you! I hope and pray that you read and feel encouraged, edified, and educated in all your endeavors!

    With a prayer for blessings in your family,