Celebrating Mother’s Day

As I consider how I choose to celebrate holidays my goal is to “Redeem the Day”. I desire to teach Christ through the holidays. My question, then, is “How can Christ be honored through celebrating this holiday?” Mother’s Day is not a Biblical holiday, however the concept of honoring your mother is: “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you (Exodus 20:12, NIV)”.The values of Mother’s Day line up easily with biblical teaching.

I can’t demand honor from my children. The command in the Bible is to honor my father and my mother, not to demand honor from my children. My responsibility is to honor my parents and to create an environment for my children that allows them to learn this commandment for themselves. So, how can I honor my parents? It can be a card and flowers. It can be a nice dinner. It can be listening respectfully to a story already told, advice already given (and not asked for), viewpoints I may disagree with and imperfections that irritate. It may be taking a step toward forgiveness and possibly reconciliation. Honor is a transforming discipline that beautifies a person’s character the more it is practiced. But it’s not easy. Mother’s Day is a good opportunity to consider if and how a mother, or mother figure, can be honored. Mother’s Day can also be a very complicated holiday emotionally. I appreciate Amy Young’s message in An Open Letter to Pastors {a non-mom speaks about Mother’s Day} as she seeks to encourage sensitivity to the many unique situations and emotions this holiday can draw out.

As for celebrating the holiday with my family I’ve decided that, as delightful as a “day off” would be while Daddy cares for the boys, I want to celebrate inclusively with my family. Ok, in all honesty, I like to sleep in some if given the chance… I’m so not a morning person! But, for the rest of the time I want to celebrate with my children rather than apart from them.

Here are some fun ideas I’ve seen for celebrating Mother’s Day that should work well with small children. In my mentioning them here I’m bookmarking them for the future, as these are ideas I would like to do but haven’t done yet. Here they are:

  1. A mother’s day journal – This idea from Baby Gizmo Mom’s Best Friend is a wonderful and frugal way to keep mother’s day remembrances through the years! This journal could include a picture of the family each year, a note of appreciation and love from family members, a drawing, and/or perhaps a simple interview “about mom” each year (see #9 below for ideas).

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  1. Having a tea party – It’s nice to sit down, eat finger foods and pretend to be elegant every now and then!
  1. Going out to eat with the family – Go somewhere that’s family friendly! Enjoy not having to cook and clean up, and be sure to tip generously if tipping is involved – thank you to all that work in food services on this day!
  1. Scheduled appreciation activities – Follow this suggestion from Parents.com and schedule some time for hugs! Create a schedule with set times for games, silliness and hugs! One o’clock, time to hop around the table and give mom a hug! Two fifteen, let’s sing “Happy Mother’s Day to You” (to the tune of Happy Birthday)! Three forty-five, now we’ll play “Mother Says”!

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    1. Read a book together – We love books! There are lots of great books out there that focus on a mother loving her children. Here are some that I enjoy and can suggest for Mother’s Day:
      1. Devotion – The books listed above can be used as an easy bridge to talk about God’s love for us. Just as these mothers love their children, our God loves us uniquely and sees us individually (Psalm 139:14, John 10:3,14-15), he loves us with unchanging love (Lamentations 3:22, James 1:17), and he pursues us with his love (Romans 5:8). Some classic devotions from the Scripture that could be chosen for this day are the stories of Eve, Ruth, Hannah, Mary, 1 Corinthians 13, Psalms 139… This short list is not intended to be comprehensive, so I welcome other suggestions!
      1. Appreciation for mothers, grandparents or other mother figures in our lives – Most of us are blessed to have someone in our life that nurtures, guides and/or mentors us that we can show appreciation for. Let’s be thankful for these people! The ways we can find to appreciate people are as diversified as the people we appreciate. Cards, flowers, phone calls, candies, crafts, and meals are classics. Homemade cards can be done ahead of time, too, to offset some of the expense of cards in the store. Other ways to show appreciation could be servicing (cleaning, pulling weeds), creating a home movie, giving a good book, or just spending time together!

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      1. Plant flowers in garden or pots – On the theme of nurturing growth, this seems like it could be a fun tradition! Mother’s Day could be a day to plant flowers together or get the garden growing.
      1. About “me” interview – Put together some questions to ask the kids about Mom. Here are a few ideas:
        1. How old is mom?
        2. What is mom’s favorite thing to do/ color/ food/ book/ place to visit…?
        3. If you had $1000 to spend for mom on mother’s day, how would you spend it?
        4. What is your favorite thing to do with mom?
        5. How does mom show that she loves you?
        6. If mom were an animal what would she be?
        7. If mom were a superhero what would her powers be?
      1. Spend time together (games, walk, etc.) – These moments where I just have some fun with my kids are so precious. Mother’s Day is a good reminder to just stop and play and watch their eyes light up with joy. I need these times to store away in my memory bank and they do, too!
      1. Don’t forget to take a picture with the kids!

What I actually did for Mother’s Day:

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Fingerprint hearts! So cute! I wrote the names on the left side but used a paper to cover it for privacy in this photo.

I created these cute little fingerprint hearts as gifts for the grandmothers and sent them out with a little card. Actually, I made these for Valentine’s Day, but it’s taken this long to get them sent out!

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We took a picture with me DSC_0949and the kids (I definitely want to make this a tradition, too), and, yes, I was able to sleep in a little bit. At church the boys made these special Mother’s Day cards and they are just so precious. The rest of the day was spent enjoying family time together.

Happy Mother’s Day! And thank you to all those who, in the same spirit as our Lord, seek to mentor and/or encourage those around them, be they small children or grown, who proclaim good news to the afflicted, who bind up the brokenhearted, who proclaim liberty to captives, who release prisoners from darkness, who proclaim the Lord’s favor, who comfort those who mourn, and who seek beauty, joy, and praise. You are greatly appreciated and your worth is immeasurable.

 

Celebrating the Passover – Part 3: Day of

How it all went down:

We had a blast! We will definitely do this in the future. All in all, it probably took about an hour to go through the story with the kids. We started as soon as Daddy got home from work:

Building a pyramid
Building a pyramid
  1. Slavery in Egypt: We pulled out the Mega Bloks and built a “pyramid” together while explaining that the Jewish people were slaves in Egypt and had to work very hard. They enjoyed building with Daddy although we had to work fast since the little one was more focused on deconstructing than building. The pyramid was knocked down soon after completion!
  1. Birth of Moses: Our son loved that we used his teddy bear for baby Moses and spent the rest of the evening calling him, “baby Moses”! We explained that when baby Moses was born his mommy had to hide him because soldiers were trying to find him so we put him in a basket (box) and hid him in the Nile River (a blue blanket). Then we “discovered” him as Pharaoh’s daughter and had to run as Miriam around the table in the kitchen to find his mommy. In the future maybe we could take assigned roles, but it didn’t bother anyone this time to play all the roles.

    "Baby Moses"
    “Baby Moses”
  1. Calling of Moses: Daddy continued to tell the story of how Moses grew up in Pharaoh’s house but then ran away to become a shepherd (this is an abbreviated version, as they get older we can be more detailed), while I stepped out to grab the burning bush. I had envisioned some wonderful Hollywood effects (fan, costumes, lights) but the crinkly paper and flashlight through the vellum paper was exciting enough for toddlers! Keep it simple!!!
  1. Plagues: I wanted to continue a repetition of a conversation between Moses and Pharaoh for each plague – “Moses said, ‘Let my people go!’ and Pharaoh said, ‘No!’”. We remembered to do this between plagues sometimes, but forgot sometimes. I hope next year to be a bit more consistent with this exciting reinforcement!

Plague 1 – Water to Blood: I added a few drops of red food coloring to the bottom of my glass and poured water in. Amazingly, it turned red! The amazement was lost on my eldest who immediately said, “I want to drink that. I want juice!” So, moving quickly along to plague number 2!

Frogs!
Frogs!

Plague 2 – Frogs: They had a lot of fun playing with the paper frogs! They would have played with them quite a bit longer if I stopped there. I just left them all out and moved along with the plagues.

 

Plague 3 – Gnats/Lice: skipped

Plague 4 – Flies: My flies got a few smiles from the boys and my two year old leapt into action to catch them (he’s so fast!), but the frogs were still so much more fun…

Plague 5 – Livestock diseased: skipped

Plague 6 – Boils: Hmm… apparently this one was pretty scary. There were some tears when I attempted to put a sticker on my two year old’s arm. Maybe I should have given him the sticker to put on me. I put a few on my arm and we moved along. He wanted a sticker on his arm later, though.

Plague 7 – Thunder and Hail: We dumped out all the “hail” on the boys. They loved it! This was one of the highlights of the day. They threw the paper up in the air and had a lot of fun with it.

Plague 8 – Locusts: skipped

Plague 9 – Darkness: I lit a candle and commented that although we are enjoying playing as we learn about the Exodus, it was a time when many people were suffering a lot. This of course went over their heads but maybe in the future this would open up some discussion about what happened.

Painting the doorpost
Painting the doorpost

Plague 10 – Death of the firstborn: We quickly put the paper on the wall beside our door and squeezed a bit of paint into the disposable cup. Our two year old enjoyed some highly supervised painting beside the door as we told about the Passover lamb and the tenth plague of the death of the firstborn. The little one was very curious about what we were doing and did a little finger-painting! So, we quickly grabbed the wipes and cleaned some fingers, moved the papers up higher, and Daddy told the story of the Israelites leaving Egypt, being followed by Pharaoh, and being trapped by the Sea of Reeds while I quickly set up the hallway.

Parting the Sea
Parting the Sea
  1. Sea of Reeds: I broke the crepe paper holding back the streamers to allow them to fall across the hallway, quickly stuck the pictures of fish on the wall, and laid the sheet on the floor. The story of the parting of the waters was barely finished when my two year old came barreling through the streamers, giggling in delight as the waters parted for him. Then again, and again, and again… he loved it! The little one enjoyed pointing at all the fish on the wall, but he was a bit leery of going through the streamers. He would back up to it, but that’s as far as he got on his own.
Ice cream with honey... mmm...
Ice cream with honey… mmm…
  1. Sinai: While they played in the Sea I scooped up a bit of ice cream with honey. The little one will have to wait till next year, but the two year old was quite happy to sit down for a cold treat. We finished the story telling how Moses led the Israelites to Mt. Sinai to receive the Torah from God. We retold the whole story while we finished up our treat and then they played with the props while I cooked dinner.

All in all it took us about an hour to tell the story to the kids once we started. As they are older and want to interact more with each piece and discussion might happen more I expect this could take longer. But we absolutely want to do it again. It was a lot of fun and they enjoyed interacting with the story. The parting of the sea was the favorite part. It lasted about half an hour (which I was really amazed by!) until our son pulled down the streamers, to the great relief of our little one! They then put all the streamers in the living room and made another “sea”. We told the story again at dinner and at bedtime since he was really excited to talk about it again. Then we cleaned up all the remains of the evening. It was a great way to remember the Passover and we look forward to doing something similar next year!

Celebrating the Passover – Part 2: Preparation

We wanted to tell the story of the Exodus through a toddler-friendly, hands-on, active experience for our children. Many of my ideas came from biblebeltbalabusca.com. The prep work probably took me about three hours. I wanted to do as much as possible before hand so the story would flow smoothly and quickly (short attention spans!). Here’s what I did:

Preparation

1. Slavery in Egypt: Make sure the Mega Bloks are in one location for quick access for building.

2. Birth of Moses: Check to make sure we have a blue blanket and a box accessible in the living room.

My burning bush with tissue paper
My burning bush with tissue paper

3. Calling of Moses: Create a “burning bush”. I cut out a cereal box and glued some green tissue paper to it. I also had some red vellum paper from Joann’s that made lovely “tongues of fire” that I cut and taped to the back of the bush and individual tongues of fire to the front of the bush. I had a flashlight on stand-by for some “special lighting effects”.

4. Plagues: I decided to pick and choose on the plagues to represent since some of them are a bit harder to pull off (maybe in the future), so here’s what we chose:

Plague 1 – Water to blood. I used the ol’ “food coloring in the bottom of the glass” trick. My prep work was to put the food coloring vial in the glass so I would have it available to grab.

Glass with red food coloring on stand by!
Glass with red food coloring on stand by!

Plague 2 – Frogs. There are lots of tutorials for folding index cards into frogs online. We folded about 15 and put them in a bag. When the kids are older they can help make these.

Origami frogs
Origami frogs

Plague 3 – Gnats/Lice. We skipped this one.

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Flies with pipe cleaner and tissue

Plague 4 – Flies. I twisted a couple of pipe cleaners around a dowel, cut them in two, and added tissue “wings”. Then I tied them to the dowel with a string. All ready to plague my kids!

Plague 5 – Livestock diseased. We skipped this plague. Maybe in the future we could have some stuffed animals get sick.

Plague 6 – Boils. I pulled out some “dot” stickers to have ready.

Ready for quick application
Ready for quick application

Plague 7 – Thunder and Hail. We wadded up a lot of paper (filler paper from some online orders we had made earlier) and put it in a box. I’m sure in the future the boys would be happy to help make “hail” with me.

Crumpled paper for hail
Crumpled paper for hail

Plague 8 – Locusts. We skipped this one.

Plague 9 – Darkness. Since the kids go to bed early we would need to go into the garage or a closet to achieve some darkness. I decided instead to have a candle and match ready to represent this plague.

Ready to apply beside door and paint
Ready to apply beside door and paint

Plague 10 – Death of the firstborn. We cut out large patches of butcher paper to put beside our door. I put painter’s tape on the back so it would be ready to quickly slap in place. I also had some red paint, a small paper cup, and a paintbrush ready.

 

 

 

 

5. Parting of the Sea of Reeds:

Crepe paper across hallway: I’d purchased some crepe paper to hang in our hallway. We have a lovely overhang between our hallway and kitchen that is just perfect for a “wall of water”, so I measured the length and cut pieces of crepe paper to attach to painters tape and hang across the hall. It helped a lot to have some assistance with this so we could roll the crepe paper back and forth to attach it to the tape and cut it at the right length. I then “parted the waters” and used a bit of extra crepe paper to tape it up high since I didn’t want them to play with it until Daddy came home from work the next day and we could tell the story together.

Crepe paper across hallway for Sea of Reeds
Crepe paper across hallway for Sea of Reeds
Parted and taped up high until we're ready
Parted and taped up high until we’re ready

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fish: I printed some fish and colored some of them with my toddler the day before. We didn’t color all of them since there were quite a few. Maybe next year I can start coloring a while before the holiday. I put painter’s tape on the back so I could quickly put them on the wall in the hallway.

Fish papers ready to put on wall with tape
Fish papers ready to put on wall with tape

Sheet: I had a white sheet ready to put on the floor in the hall for a different textual experience. It felt nice and cool to walk on.

6. Coming to Mt. Sinai: This was the final event of the story and we had some vanilla ice cream (to represent the mountain) and honey (to represent the Torah) on hand.

Ok, ready to go!

Celebrating the Passover – Part 1: Intent

The holidays celebrated in the Bible provide insight into God’s character, context to Jesus’ teachings, and are a wonderful opportunity to highlight stories from the Bible. We’ve chosen, for this reason, to celebrate many of the traditional Jewish holidays alongside our other celebrations during the year.

Passover snuck up on me this year! I circled it on the calendar and was thinking, “oh, it’s late April”. Days passed and I suddenly realized, “it’s the day after tomorrow!” Thankfully I had already put a bit of thought into what I wanted to do as I prepared for Easter last month. Normally Passover and Easter will be close together but this year they were a month apart. Passover follows the lunar Jewish calendar, and Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox (however, the Eastern Orthodox Church requires that Easter always follow after Passover, so the date is frequently later in this tradition).

Since Passover and Easter are so closely knit together and usually fall in the same week I’ve chosen to focus on only one major celebratory meal that week. We celebrate a kind of Seder meal at Easter. Maybe in the future we’ll explore doing a light Seder meal during Holy Week as we prepare for Resurrection Sunday, but I rather like the idea of focusing on the events of the Exodus (salvation from slavery in Egypt) prior to focusing on the fulfillment of salvation from slavery to sin through the death and resurrection of Jesus.