Grow Together in Faith With Family Prayer
Praying as a family can be much more than a bedtime ritual.
Gather together and make family prayer dynamic to build strong bonds and weave faith into daily life. Psalm 35:10 exclaims, “Oh Lord, who is like you?” (ESV). God had the Israelites make booths as part of the celebration of Booths or Tabernacles. Solomon sweated as he offered many sacrifices (2 Chronicles 1:6). They involved their whole bodies in worship and prayer. Let your family prayer involve body, mind, and spirit. The acrostic G-R-O- W can help guide us in how and why we should pray together.
G for Gather and Pray
Come together and start talking to God.
Use what grabs the interests of your children, such as a ball. Toss the ball up and say, “We looked up to watch the ball. We start prayer with looking to God and praising Him.”
Bounce the ball and chat about how we hit bottom when we sin, but God forgives us, and we joyfully bounce back up.
Let’s ask for forgiveness.
If you hurt a family member, also say you are sorry. Roll the ball and chat about how God is always with us no matter where we roll along in life. Thank God for His presence. Continue using the ball and relating the motions to prayer.
You can also pray for one another in a simple way called POW-WOWS. That means to Pray over worries and worship over wonders.
Let one person name a worry and a praise or blessing. The person to the right then says a one-sentence prayer for help with the worry and one-sentence praise for the wonder. Short prayers help children stay focused and make it easier for them to pray. Continue until everyone has a turn. It’s amazing how praying for another person evokes concern for the person’s problem and helps them celebrate the joys.
R is for Rejoice
Celebrate answered prayer and praise God.
Note any answered prayer and thank God for those. Blow kisses to God as part of thanking Him. Make it more fun with thanking God for a praise and blowing bubbles into the sky.
Keep a family prayer journal to list prayer needs and check off answers.
Review the journal at times to notice all the prayers God answered, and also note times you waited on God’s timing. Celebrate answers with decorating stones as Ebenezer stones (1 Samuel 7). Ebenezer means stone of help, and celebrated God giving the Israelites victory.
Children can pick them up anytime and thank God for the answers.
Chat about the joy inside your heart that makes you feel close to Jesus even when things go wrong. That’s because we can trust Him and know just as He answered other prayers, He will continue to answer prayers and be with us no matter what happens.
O is for Open Hearts and Minds
Let prayer be a time of unity without criticism.
God loves us all. When you are accepting of what everyone shares, children open up more. They share problems. It’s a time to remember you are all talking to God. It’s also a time to investigate prayer and chat about questions children ask about prayer.
Children are curious and ask many questions.
Rather than pat answers, explore together. When they want to know why God takes so long to answer prayers, you can talk about readiness.
Put out all the ingredients to make cookies or other food. Ask if they prefer to just eat the ingredients so there’s no wait time. They will not like that idea and better understand we and situations have to be ready for God to answer.
Or, ask if they can teach a newborn baby to ride a bicycle. That can bring laughter as babies don’t have long enough legs to reach pedals, balance to sit on the seat, or ability to pedal. They are not ready. God knows when we are ready for answers, so we need to trust His timing.
Look up times God let people keep praying and trusting and times God answered fast (Nehemiah 1:1, 2:1, 2:4-8; Genesis 12:1-2, 15:18-21, 18:10, 21:1). Read what Jesus said about pray and where and when He prayed (Hebrews 5:7, Luke 6:12-13, 22:31-3, John 6:11, Matthew 6:9-11). Seeing how God answered in the Bible and tracking how God interacts in your lives builds faith.
W is for Weave Your Family Prayer Time Into Daily Life
Deuteronomy 6:7-10 reminds us that God wants to be involved in our lives.
Let prayer and sharing faith be part of your ordinary days as well as special times. Make your doorway a prayer-way. In going or coming pray for safety, and thank God for the opportunities both to go, and stay home to be with family.
Call out a praise to God when you are blessed and pray over anyone who is hurt or facing a challenge. Pray at meals, bedtime, rising up, and anytime. Relate prayer answers and what God showed you today that brought a new lesson. It might be a lesson from nature, words spoken, or the circumstances God allowed for you to see something in a new way.
Genesis 45:5-8 shows us how Joseph knew God was with him and guided him in all circumstances. James 1:5 reminds us that God responds and gives us wisdom when we ask.
Make some prayer maps that show how God, and His Holy Spirit, has guided your life. Draw a timeline and add in times of changes and prayer answers that illustrate God was with you.
When prayer is part of life it will be natural for children to pray and share their faith.
The Institute of Family Studies senior fellow W. Bradford Wilcox with Nicholas Wolfinger concluded “shared prayer is the most powerful predictor of relationship quality among black, Latino, and white couples, more powerful than denomination, religious attendance, or shared religious friendships.”
Another study revealed that prayer benefits the whole family in many of the same ways it benefits couples who pray together. Prayer helps family members address stress and reduce tensions in relationships. Family prayer also builds stronger bonds, develops a sense of family unity, and carries faith into adulthood.
Choose to pray as a family regularly.
Published on Tuesday, May 2, 2023 @ 5:17 PM EDT
How to Reduce Grumbling and Increase Gratitude
Will you take the challenge to stop grumbling for a year? Tricia Goyer’s family did.
It seemed like a good idea when my husband and I decided to challenge our family to try to go a year without grumbling. The why was easy: Grumbling hurts relationships. Grumbling hurts our hearts. Grumbling rejects God’s goodness.
The problem was that the kids could easily see each other’s grumbling problems, but they had a harder time seeing their own struggles. This was especially true when their grumbling went beyond words.
“Grumbling isn’t just muttering and complaining,” I explained one day at the beginning of our year. “It can also be rolling your eyes and giving heavy sighs.”
My teen daughter, Maddie, laughed. “I do that.”
I winked at her. “Yes, and you’re not the only one.”
I suggested we look at the issue another way. “What are some things we’re prone to do when we’re unhappy?” I asked.
I wrote out the words as my children called them out: whining, eye-rolling, mumbling, complaining, criticizing. Looking at the list, we realized that each of us had our own “go-to” way of grumbling.
Why We Grumble
After discovering our personal grumbling styles, the first step in helping my kids to combat their own grumbling was to help them understand where their grumbling came from.
Grumbling usually happens when we expect something to go a certain way, and it doesn’t. Kids can grumble when they expect to have more video game time, but instead they are reminded about chores. They may grumble when their evening is occupied with a difficult homework assignment, or when they don’t get invited to a social event.
We expect one thing and get the opposite. Then we let everyone know how unhappy we are about it. Unfortunately, these small grumbles can build into large resentments and hurt relationships.
Next time you witness your kids grumbling, ask them what their expectation was and whether it was realistic. Most of the time it wasn’t. I’m also learning to work on my own responses when the unexpected happens, even as I try to teach my kids to do the same.
When we want help or feel like the world is stacked against us, we may grumble or complain to get others to do what we want. Playing the victim often causes others to jump to action. This is a bad trap to fall into.
Instead of acting like a victim and grumbling about how hard life is, kids can learn how to politely ask for help. Communicating needs cuts down on grumbles. So when I hear my children grumbling, I say, “Are you trying to ask me for help?” This lets my children know I see their needs, but I expect them to try to get help in a different way than complaining.
A lot of discontent happens at our work, in our homes and in our lives in general. And now, with social media, we share our discontent to anyone paying attention. To make matters worse, our followers even applaud our unhappiness and dissatisfaction as we “keep it real.”
Yet when we come down to it, our grumbling is telling God, “What You’re doing isn’t enough.” We may try to gain attention or sympathy, but our words are always a reflection of our hearts. And sadly, they’re also a reflection of our trust in God — which leads to the second step of training my kids: helping them see how seriously God takes their complaining.
Grumbling Dishonors God
Sometimes we grumble because we think it’s no big deal. Yet the Bible refers to grumbling as “faithless complaining.” Both the Old and New Testaments rebuked grumbling, but in Numbers 14:26-30, God shares how truly serious grumbling was to Him. Because of the Israelites grumbling under Moses, they were not allowed to enter the Promised Land. God actually called them a “wicked” community, because He saw what was in their hearts.
Every day we need to pray for God to change us on the inside. God wants us to look to Him with thankfulness for what He’s done for us and what He’s provided, instead of complaining when things don’t work out as we’d hoped. And this is something that must be learned. No one, after all, is naturally thankful.
Grumbling or Gratitude
How do we get our children to stop grumbling? Teach them how to be grateful.
Start a gratitude jar
The first idea I had was to create a gratitude jar.Every time kids grumbled, they had to write something they were thankful for and put it in the jar. But when my kids were in a grumbly mood, forcing them to be thankful just didn’t work.
I figured this out when my teen daughter was annoyed that she had to clean her room. She talked back so many times that she had to put nine slips of paper into the jar. And she still grumbled as she wrote down those nine things she was “thankful” for.
I looked at the jar and those little pieces of paper and knew it was impossible to force someone to be grateful. Sure, she complied, but only outwardly. There was no true gratitude in her heart.
Here’s a better way to use a gratitude jar: Encourage your kids to write notes of gratitude when they are already feeling grateful. Jot down your thankfulness on a piece of paper, and then add it to the jar. The slips of papers then become reminders of life’s blessings. We’ve discovered, as a family, that this works much better.
Gratefulness is evidence of God working within our souls. Taking note of our gratitude reminds our kids that when we are grateful, there’s someone we need to thank: God.
Make gratitude a big deal
Lips that are quick to praise instead of grumble do not appear overnight. So the best way to reinforce gratitude is to catch it when it happens. When you catch one of your kids showing gratitude, praise his or her grateful attitude. The more you do this, the more your children will learn to be thankful.
Also, thank your kids for the things they do, but thank God (over and over again) for who your kids are becoming — and let them hear you. Use kind and thankful words often. If gratitude is a heart issue, we need to speak to our kids’ hearts.
As much as I didn’t want to believe it, when it comes to teaching my kids not to grumble — and to be grateful instead — my ability to practice what I preach is the biggest factor. When I model being grateful, it’s teaching my kids how to do it.
When I catch myself in a grumbly mood, I’m learning to let go of the expectation that life will be easy and comfortable and that everyone will just go along with my plan. And instead I am trusting that what I have now is exactly what God wants me to have. I thank Him in the moment.
Just as we can grumble with words or with an eye-roll, we can be grateful with a whisper of thanks and a smile. When it comes down to it, I want my family to be known more for our gratitude styles than our grumbling styles. And even though it takes daily work, our year of gratitude changed us for the better.
Published on Wednesday, April 26, 2023 @ 8:30 AM EDT
Can We Know the Future? The Lure Within Social Media
The question “can we know the future?” has captivated the human imagination for centuries. Today, social media platforms exploit this fascination, drawing young people towards witchcraft and divination practices.
How would you like to know the future? That question has been tempting humans since the beginning of time. And now, social media has taken that desire for knowledge and used it to lure young people straight into witchcraft.
Divination: Can We Know the Future?
Divination is the practice of seeking knowledge of the future, or the unknown, by supernatural means, and is contained under the larger umbrella of witchcraft. A reader recently shared that she has found herself “addicted to watching Tarot card readers” online. Divination comes in many forms; astrology, Tarot readers, and psychics, just to name a few. But they all claim to do the same thing – give you information about your future.
God’s view of divination is quite different. Many of the nations that surrounded Israel in the Old Testament practiced divination and God repeatedly warned the Israelites to not do the same thing. “…for these nations, which you are about to dispossess, listen to fortune-tellers and to diviners. But as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you to do this.” (Deut. 18:14)
Notice God didn’t say that it wasn’t real. But He has repeatedly told His people it was something they were not to participate with. We can even go back to the tree in the Garden of Eden (Gen 3: 4-6). The one tree God told them to stay away from was “the tree of knowledge of good and evil.” Satan tempted Eve by telling her the knowledge gained from that particular tree would make her “like God.” Satan still tempts people in the same way–by offering knowledge–apart from God.
Divination Practices Are All Around Us: The Quest to Know the Future
At my local Barnes & Noble, in a wide-open inviting area right off the main aisle entitled “Self-Transformation.” But don’t be fooled. It’s the witchcraft section. The prominent labels of this section include: Chakras/Crystals, Astrology, Divination, Dreams, Books about Tarot, Tarot Cards, Paranormal, AfterLife and Paganism (Witchcraft).
Every time I go, I see young people sitting on the floor in this section, thumbing through these books. They don’t even have to buy them to go looking inside for morsels of information that will send them down a dangerous path.
When you start looking at social media, and what is available to view, it’s even worse. TikTok, which is arguably the most used platform among young people today with more than 113 million U.S. users, has live tarot card readers, psychics and spells – all available to watch at all hours of the day. Users search with hashtags and the number of searches gives you a clue as to how popular certain words or phrases are. The #witch hashtag boasted 23.4B and #tarot 49.1B. That’s “billion.” It’s a staggering number. Especially when you compare with #prayer which was only 8.3B.
What kinds of divination are on social media?
We’ve moved well beyond the days of the horoscopes in the newspaper. Now you can scroll social media and find hundreds of people to follow that will offer daily horoscopes or tell you about how the moon and stars will affect your day. They present these readings as if the moon, stars, and when you were born dictate what happens in your world, which as believers, we know is false.
But truly, when you look at the social media numbers, Tarot is a far bigger concern.
There are countless tarot readers online who read cards live and then those videos are made available on their feeds. Young people can also learn to read them for themselves simply by watching and listening and they can easily buy Tarot cards at local bookstores. This often gives teens the impression that it’s just a fun activity, but some teens may take the information far more seriously or begin to depend on it.
The search for psychics on social media was lower than Tarot, but it still clocks in at 6.8B. You don’t have to be brave enough to wander into that strange parlor downtown anymore. Now, a simple curiosity in the subject can lead teens to quickly and easily view psychics in action. And they just might hear things that make it all seem very real.
Curiosity Can Lead in Dangerous Directions
While there is a very clear desperation for wisdom and understanding present in our culture today, there are also many who might be lured in by simple curiosity.
When we pause and watch a video, or like a post, the social media algorithms quickly offer up more of the same types of content. Curiosity could cause a young person to be inundated with witchcraft in all those forms of divination.
We have a very natural, and human, longing for direction, wisdom and clarity. It’s important for young people to understand that there is nothing wrong with feeling that way. The issue at hand is this: where do you go to seek answers for those honest questions?
Learning to Seek God
God does want to give us wisdom, direction and clarity and promises us in His word that “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5 NIV)
Growing in wisdom and understanding is a life-long pursuit and one that the Lord intends for us to pursue in and through our relationship with Him. All of those forms of divination above are like shortcuts, but they are shortcuts designed by the enemy to derail us and our relationship with God. We can never trust what “the father of lies” offers us (John 8:44).
God brings wisdom to us through many means; reading His Word, fellowship with other believers, worship, and prayer. And the Lord often will give us wisdom and understanding in pieces. Perhaps you keep running across a single Bible verse, and then someone in your home group shares a relevant story, and then, that worship song at church on Sunday mentions the very same thing! God draws us closer and closer to Him with beautiful pieces that only He can put together for us as we pursue Him.
Why doesn’t God tell us the future?
Humans have a tendency to run off and do things on our own.
Think about it. If God told you that you’ll live by the ocean and work at a snow cone shop, it would be pretty straightforward to go do that all on your own. But maybe you were to do that at sixty and you’re twenty. God knows the beginning from the end. He knows the precise timing of everything and most importantly, He is the only one who knows what’s best for us. The Lord leads us step by step out of His gracious kindness towards us.
Encouraging our kids to prioritize their relationship with God, and making clear and definite room to really hear Him, is vital. While our children were growing up, my husband and I declared one summer that Sundays would be tech-free. The kids weren’t thrilled but they adapted – they always do! But making space to really be quiet and undistracted is a good practice for us all!
We don’t need to know the future – we need to know Him.
The more we get to know Him, the more we can avoid those temptations to go after insider knowledge – especially knowledge that can lead us into enemy territory.
God does give us glimpses of the future.
He created us in unique and beautiful ways and we can get glimpses of what God has in store for us simply by seeing how He shaped us! For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. (Rom. 11:29 ) and they are inside of us and our kids. Explore as a family the different make-ups and giftings in each of you. (And it’s never too early – or too late – to do this!)
How can you take the strengths and giftings you see and further develop them?
How can you take something that might be a weakness and strengthen it?
God doesn’t waste anything.
Make a practice of looking at how every experience we go through can be beneficial to us. Maybe your child tried a soccer team and it just wasn’t for him. But maybe he did learn how to run faster or maybe he grew in confidence even though it wasn’t for him. God can take anything we do and use it for our good (Rom. 8:28) and our future!
The Bible gives us so many precious assurances. Create a promise wall in your home and add Scriptures to it of meaningful promises to your family members. Then visit it often and allow it to become a prayer wall.
We don’t know what the future looks like, but we know who holds the future.
Published on Tuesday, April 18, 2023 @ 1:59 PM EDT
How to Help Teens with Anxiety
If your teen is experiencing anxiety. You are not alone.
Anxiety is on the rise in teens. According to a recent survey, anxiety has surpassed depression as greater numbers of teens struggle with mental health issues.
While anxiety can be a normal part of being a teen, there is a significant difference between normal worry and intrusive, chronic anxiety.
As parents and caring adults, we desire the best for our kids. We hope they will be happy, healthy, and resilient when facing life’s challenges.
Where is This Anxiety Coming From?
There are many factors contributing to the rise of anxiety.
Let’s start with headlines—our kids face global fears, school pressure, peer pressure, social media fatigue, body issues, to name a few. For some, we can throw overprotective parents into the mix.
Look at the impact and aftereffects of the pandemic—severely disrupting teens’ regular learning and social interaction. Many suffered the loss of their supportive network because of either online learning or limited classroom participation. All of this led to an incredible time of isolation which continues to impact the mental health of our young people.
Adolescence has always been challenging. Add the emergence of social media and the constant pressure of living in a 24/7 digital world to the natural chaos of the teen years. Our teenagers are exposed to a great deal of external anxiety-producing sources.
There are multiple layers of possible anxiety-causing agents.
1. Their Bodies
The physical and emotional changes significantly cause anxiety and stress for many young people.
How They Are Perceived – Every young person has a greater sense of how their peers observe them. While this is a normal development, it can be challenging for some.
Their Performance – This shows up primarily as a fear of not doing well. It is often rooted in a sense of perfectionism that can sometimes come from parental influence, peer pressure, or their internal feeling of wanting to be perfect to avoid conflict or criticism.
In many middle and upper-class communities, according to psychologist Richard Weissbhourd, today’s most “potential ingredient” is the pressure to achieve across academic subjects and a wide range of extracurricular activities, leading to the stress of putting together an impressive college admission packet.
Social Media – Our teens spend countless hours on smartphones texting, messaging, and engaging on social media platforms. Unfortunately, while social media helps teens stay connected and maintain closer ties with friends and family, it can also promote cyberbullying and negatively impact young people’s self-esteem.
Family – Family dynamics such as a divorce, the death of a family member, a recent move, and other events in a teen’s family can produce significant anxiety.
Let’s be honest. All teens experience some anxiety at times. Anxiety comes from a crazy mix of adrenaline and cortisol as a reaction to stress. And most of the time, the stress and anxiety may feel intense, but often, it can be helpful. For example, let’s think about a teen’s typical weekly calendar. They may be facing events like a classroom discussion, music recital, an audition, sporting event, giving a presentation, flirting. Even thinking about asking someone to the school dance can be intense.
For some teens, anxiety can become overwhelming and intrusive. When that happens, it can negatively impact their physical, mental, and spiritual health. It can also hamper their relationships, academic performance, and day-to-day living.
Teens display a wide variety of symptoms when it comes to anxiety. These can range from your child behaving like a cloistered monk (or nun) hiding in their room to a mini version of the Incredible Hulk.
Many times, parents and concerned adults will miss the symptoms of anxiety because teens are often pretty good and hiding their feelings.
As we look behind the curtain at some of the causes of anxiety, the reality is that many young people have too few opportunities to practice and build resilience. More than in previous generations, many teens have all their basic needs met, and they have few opportunities to make mistakes and learn from them. In addition, in some communities, parents are hyper-involved in their teens’ academic and social lives.
As a result, when uncomfortable or difficult situations arise, many teens don’t have the skills to deal with them on their own.
Here are some of the usual symptoms of anxiety:
- Sleep issues, including a shift in sleep patterns
- Constant fears and worries about everyday life
- Extreme self-consciousness or sensitivity to criticism
- Repeated reassurance seeking
- Increased withdrawal or isolation
- Physical complaints, particularly headaches or stomach aches
- Struggles with concentration
- A drop in grades or performance (band, sports, extracurricular activities)
- Refusing to go to school
- Avoiding difficult situations
Parents, along with other caring adults, can help build an environment based on self-worth and value. As a result, teens find security knowing they are profoundly loved and accepted by God, rather than, finding themselves caught in the twin traps of perfectionism and performance. Teens are constantly asking themselves, “Am I good enough?” As adults, we can model how to talk about anxiety and fears from our life and God’s Word.
Please encourage them to talk about their anxiety.
Being able to talk about things that make them anxious can drastically reduce the amount of anxiety your child is experiencing. Talking and listening—not preaching or advice-giving—help you and your teen understand what is going on. When you can gain an understanding of your child’s issue, you can help them manage their anxiety.
Acknowledge their feelings.
Be supportive, not controlling. Your teen’s anxiety is natural, even if what they are anxious about is unlikely to happen. This means that it is essential to acknowledge their anxiety while at the same time letting them know you are confident they will be able to handle it. Our goal is to raise resilient children. Avoid saying something like “try not to worry.” When you respond that way, they may hear that worry is not a valid feeling.
Instead, let them know you understand their feelings and believe in them. Acknowledge and encourage brave behavior.
Help them become more resilient by learning how to handle challenging situations. Have conversations where you discuss responses to challenges your teen will face. Acknowledge that some situations will be anxiety-provoking, but keep them in proper perspective.
Clear the Lines of Communication About Their Life, and Anxiety
Talk about specific situations and encourage them to look at ways to solve their problem or mitigate the situation.
Rather than avoiding their anxieties, help your teen face them and develop coping skills.
The first and most important thing you can do, is model for your kids healthy ways of managing anxiety. Anxious parents might verbalize their worries to their kids, who then take those worries and concerns as their own. Our kids learn that certain situations lead mom and dad to become anxious, which can leave the kids not only feeling their parent’s anxiety but also acting it out.
How do you encourage brave behavior in your child?
One of the easiest things to do is help your child set a small goal for things they might be anxious about. Example: your fourteen-year-old has to give a five-minute book report in front of her class, and she is freaking out. As a baby step, encourage her to practice out loud with no one around, then in front of a mirror, and eventually in front of the family. This gentle, gradual exposure to a stressful event can give her a boost of self-confidence as she prepares for her assignment.
Five Proven Ways You Can be an Encourager
- Teach the benefits of positive self-talk. For example: “I can handle this. I’ve been in scary situations and have gotten through them.” Read Philippians 4:13 together.
- Demonstrate how to be self-compassionate, to appreciate your (and their) uniqueness. For example: “I might do my task differently than other people. This is what works for me.” Look up Mark 12:30-31.
- Promote assertiveness. How often have you wished you had asked a question about a given situation? If your teen is stuck, let them know it is entirely okay to be assertive and say, “I need some help with this.” You can lead this conversation with reading James 1:5 together.
- Pray encouraging prayers with, and over, them. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17.
- Learn the “biblical mindfulness” principle to help your teen calm their mind. 2 Corinthians 10:5.
Helping Your Kids Feel Safe and Secure
Part of our jobs as parents is to build resilience and self-confidence in our teens and help them recognize their ability to solve problems independently. When our kids feel safe and secure, their resilience muscles become more robust, and they can more effectively deal with the ups and downs of adolescence.
What You Can Do
- Investing time with your teen, preparing meals together, going for walks, and doing exclusive events with them. Try having a particular date with mom or dad or with other family members.
- Having routines and other family rituals can help children feel safe and secure.
- Being involved with a local body of believers with a healthy youth group can significantly improve your teen’s sense of safety and security. In addition, as they grow up around other believers, they can experience the benefits of belonging to a caring community.
Know When It’s Time to Get Help
If you suspect your teen’s anxiety may be getting out of control, this would be a great time to seek professional help.
If your teen:
- Consistently feels nervous, edgy, overwhelmed, and can’t stop worrying
- Is having issues with insomnia or sleeping too much
- Has anxiety that interferes with school, socializing, and everyday activities
Where to go for help:
You are the first line of defense for your kids. Raising children is the most challenging thing you will ever do, but you are not alone. Please reach out to your church, your friends, and your community. God will lead, guide, and direct you.
Check in with your family medical provider. They will be able to assess your teen and provide necessary referrals, recommendations, and resources.
Published on Tuesday, April 11, 2023 @ 3:53 PM EDT
New Ideas for a Christ-Centered Easter
We can connect Easter traditions to the resurrection and share the good news of Christ’s sacrifice.
Are you looking for an alternative to giant bunnies and too much sugar this year? We have some great ideas to help you give your children a Christ-centered Easter.
Eggs have been part of celebrating the resurrection since medieval times when people used the symbolism of the egg for new life. Germans introduced the “Easter Hare” as a mythical creature that laid eggs and gave them to good children. For Christian parents, it’s better to use chicks and eggs to share about new life as the analogy reflects the emergence of Jesus from the empty tomb.
In our family, we created a treasure hunt for each child and let them choose to accept the treasure clues or not as a reminder that it is a choice for us to accept salvation or not. My younger daughter carries on this tradition with her children. We use each Easter activity to reinforce faith and celebrate the resurrection. We even connect God’s extravagant love to colorful baskets.
Baskets of Bread and God’s Love
Baskets are great for celebrating God’s abundant love. Read the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand and the disciples gathering the leftover bread, in John 6:1-13. Jesus fed the hungry people and provided an abundance of tasty food. God loves us so much that he delights in blessing us. As parents, we delight in blessing our children. Just as they scrambled to get all the bread and filled twelve baskets, your children can gather up treasures to fill a basket. Add a basket of bread to your meal to connect the miracle of Jesus multiplying bread and the fish during Easter week of communion.
In that same account of feeding the hungry crowd, Jesus announced, “I am the Bread of Life.” Later, at the feast of Passover, in breaking bread with the disciples on Maundy Thursday, said, “This is my body.” And stated it was a sign of the new covenant (Luke 22:19-20). He gave us the gift of communion the night before he died for us. He loves your children so much!
Theories regarding Easter baskets date back to medieval times with blessing baskets of food and also giving baskets of goodies to celebrate the end of Lent and sacrificing sweets during that time. Switching it up to share God’s love is a great way to weave in John 3:16 and other scriptures about love.
Make Paper Baskets
One square of paper plus one strip for a handle makes a basket. Choose a 12-inch square of cardstock used in scrapbooking that comes in many patterns or colors, or use white paper that children can color before assembling the container. On either side of the paper, children can also add words or symbols related to Easter, to create a story basket. Directions are for a 12-inch square.
1. Measure and fold the paper into nine even squares, with fold lines three inches from each side.
2. Unfold the square. On two opposite sides cut along the fold lines 4 inches in, just to the first crossline fold. This forms flaps on the two sides.
3. Fold up a flap on one side. Fold in the two squares beside the flap until the two outer corners meet. Glue in place. Repeat for the other side. This forms the basket.
5. Cut a strip of paper to make a handle and glue it in place.
Optional: Instead of glue, use a hole punch and two paper fasteners to put the basket together. Punch a hole in the upper center of a basket side, then through all layers and push the fastener through the holes. Do this on both sides.
Christ-Centered Easter Basket
Make several baskets to decorate every room. Fill them in different ways.
Line one with napkins and fill with rolls, if you make them, for a dinner breadbasket.
Fill with eggs and discuss new life.
Have a new life hunt and use a basket to hold the items. Hunt for new leaves, buds, bird feathers, eggshell pieces, a baby’s finger traced on paper, a caterpillar, new socks, a new blade of grass, seeds, and a flower petal.
Create gratitude baskets with paper and pens for each person to thank Jesus for coming and to place their notes in the basket. Read them as a family to celebrate the resurrection.
Fill the basket with symbols of the Easter story and take turns taking one out and chatting about the Easter story, in age-appropriate words.
Use cinnamon sticks and twist ties to make a cross. The cross was painful but now it’s a sweet reminder of the love of Jesus and God’s power (1 Corinthians 1:18).
Eggs symbolize new life (Romans 6:4).
You can also use egg-shaped rocks with a permanent marker message or symbol (Acts 5:20).
Create a paper butterfly to reflect the transformation of faith (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Coins, symbols of Judas betraying Jesus, can also be used as reminders for being each worth the sacrifice (Colossians 2:14).
Create hearts for love (John 3:16).
A toy lamb and a bouncy ball can be used to show how forgiveness bounces back to having joy (Hebrews 12:2).
Jar of bubbles can be used to blow and shout praises and send them up to God (1 Peter 1:3, Acts 4:33)
Make a Folding Paper Story Lamb
Jesus is called the Lamb of God as a reminder of his sacrifice. Make simple paper lambs that can open to a story or message. Children can draw symbols of the resurrection and parents can write a message to their children inside.
1. Cut a paper strip 2.25 inches by 11 inches.
2. Cut a 2.5-inch circle and scallop the edges.
3. Fold the strip of paper down 2 inches and glue it on the paper circle for the head. Draw ears.
4. Cut a rectangle 1.5 inches by 1.25 inches and color it on a face. Glue only the top part of the face to the head. The bottom part will be a tab to close the lamb.
5. Glue on a piece of cotton ball on the top of the head.
6. Fold the bottom of the paper up 4.25 inches, and again at 3.5 inches. This forms a base.
7. Cut a 3-inch square of green paper for grass. Glue the base of the fold to the grass.
8. The bottom part should slide under the face to close.
9. Decorate the body of the lamb with scallops for the wooly fur and add legs and hoofs.
10. Open the paper and write the story of the resurrection. You can also write a note or add a scripture.
Celebrate Our Greatest Treasure
Another Christ-centered idea is a special treasure hunt for each child. Hold up the first clue and tell your children that eternal life from Jesus is our greatest gift, a treasure He gave us. Share that it is up to each person to accept that gift or not. To celebrate we have a treasure hunt for you. Here’s the first clue and you can choose to take it and hunt for treasures, or not.
Make 3-5 clues for each child. For little ones, snap and print a photo of where to look and cut it into a jigsaw puzzle. For older children, make up clues with rhymes, scriptures, or secret codes for them to decipher. If desired, hide a treasure with each clue, or just with the last clue.
As we mindfully celebrate the resurrection we train up our children in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6).
Published on Saturday, April 8, 2023 @ 9:24 AM EDT