Easter 2020 Reflections

I woke up Easter morning feeling a bit sad.  I was sad because I knew we would not be going to Easter church service.  I was sad to not see extended family. I was just generally sad that Easter could not be celebrated in the way we normally would.  And so the first couple hours of Easter morning I had a bit of a pouty attitude. I was mopey and down as I whipped up pancake batter and failed at hash browns.  Side note: if anyone knows the secret to getting really crispy hash browns, please let me know. Mine always turn out drenched in oil and soggy.

This is the true picture of how our Easter morning started.  I write this because this is just further evidence of how special and beautiful Easter truly is.  This girl, who still manages to get in a slump on the most joyous day when we celebrate the Risen King, this girl, needs grace every moment.  Left on my own, I will quickly lose sight of the big picture.

Praise God that he chose to love us forever and to sacrifice his one and only son.  This is truly good news! If it were not for this radical act of love, I would be stuck in my misery over soggy hash browns and changed plans. Thanks to Jesus our day of Easter celebration was not ruined by my poor attitude.  Grace filled in. And our Easter was not like any Easter previous, but it was quiet, intimate, and full of worship. And it was good.

Egg hunt all to himself!

The quarantine is showing me a lot of my shortcomings.  One of them is how dependent I have come to the hustle and bustle of life.  While we sometimes complain about it, I have realized I love a full calendar.  I love rushing from one place to the next and stuffing our days with as much experience, people, food, and laughter.  This is especially true when it comes to holidays. As much as we sometimes dream about a quiet holiday at home, the reality is I love the rush of a full day of celebration and people.  

While there is nothing inherently wrong in this, over the years, it has made my heart numb to why we are celebrating in the first place.  We say Happy Birthday, Jesus and He is Risen! but our hearts and minds are easily distracted by the feasts, gifts, and people all around us.  At least that is the case with my own heart.

This year there were zero distractions.  And initially, my heart could not handle it.  There was no rush to get out the door. No need to iron the dress.  There was no pressure to make some elaborate meal because it was just the three of us.  And with all the normal busyness that typically fills days of celebration, our small family of three was left in our pajamas on the couch in quiet and peaceful worship. 

We were not checking our watches to make sure we made the family Easter brunch in time. We were not scrambling in the kitchen. We were present and at peace and in full awe.  The words of worship felt more crisp. The faces of my husband and son were in clear focus. The truth of the gospel has never felt more real.

This Easter will not be another blur of a holiday full of too many things and obligations, no, Easter 2020 will be the one where we really allowed ourselves the quiet space to sit in the emptiness of the tomb and truly feel the joy of what that means.  

It will be the one where we worshipped on the couch.

The one with the big brunch.

The one where Hudson had an egg hunt all to himself.

The one where we all napped and then soaked in all the amazing online church services we could.

The one where we Face-timed and zoomed with family.

The one where we just sat out at our new fire pit and watched Hudson play.

The one where we ate too much candy and had a simple dinner. 

This Easter I am thankful for the quiet, the extra time, and mostly I am thankful that Jesus rose for us. Even on mornings when we wake up with bad moods and eyes fixed on earthly expectations, God is gracious and loving and meets us where we are.  

Happy Easter! He is Risen! Thankful that this truth remains just as true, regardless of the state of the world. And for that we have a lot to celebrate.

5 Easter At-Home Activities Your Toddler Will Love

Easter celebrations are likely going to feel quite different for most of this year.  There will be no bunny photos or large egg hunts or dressing up in our Sunday’s best for Easter service.  In a lot of ways, Easter this year will be quite simple. They will be quiet, without the rush and bustle and people that usually surround all of our favorite holidays.  And while in some ways this disappoints me; in a lot of ways it is allowing my heart to be even more focused on the reason we celebrate Easter in the first place.  

Taking away the external elements of Easter, we are left with the one thing that truly matters and is forever unchanging: a cross and an empty tomb.  Jesus is alive and we get to be with Him forever! That will never be taken away. That is just as true now during a pandemic as it was before. That will never change.  In a time where everything seems to feel different, this Easter, we have even greater reason to celebrate our great, unchanging Father that loves us SO much. 

Even though things feel so different, I am very much in the Easter-spirit!  To me, this is what Easter is all about. It is about facing the darkness of the cross, but then it is also about looking past it and seeing the light and hope that lies beyond it.  Jesus’ resurrection is one of the greatest reminders that death and darkness DO NOT get the final word. Death is defeated. There is hope. We will get through this.

This may sound silly to you, but one thing that has helped me to be more focused on the hope of Easter is a week full of Easter-centric activities and crafts with Hudson Boy (21-months)!  Each day this week we did an Easter-themed activity. All of them were very simple and with materials that can mostly be found around the house. These activities absolutely brought some joy to our indoor days & reminded us both of the great hope we have in Jesus! 

With Easter just about a week away, these activities could be a great way to count down the days to Easter Sunday with your kiddos.

Quick side-note: we packed a lot of fun intentional activities into our week, but if you look at all my pictures in this post, you will easily find dust all over our floors. To the mom that struggles with a comparative heart (ME!), don’t worry if it was a week with less hands-on activities. It is all about give and take. This week we did a lot together, but my kitchen and floors and whole house for that matter is a bit of a disaster.

1. WATERCOLOR CROSS ART

I was inspired by the  Resourceful Mama’s tape Resist Cross.  We did not have painter’s tape on hand, so I cut out a cross with construction paper and taped it to the card stock.  Obviously painter’s tape is ideal, but it still worked out for us! This is a great project to do on Good Friday to focus and teach on Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection.  This project is simple and the result is really beautiful with the watercolors. I have ours on our mantle. It has been a really powerful reminder to me all week about how the dark cross does not get the final word.  There are beautiful colors on the other side.  

2. INDOOR EASTER EGG HUNT 

After this egg hunt, all Hudson seems to be able to say is “eg, eg, eg!”  I had saved a handful of plastic eggs from last year’s Easter egg hunt, so used these.  If you are feeling stumped with what to hide in the egg for this random, indoor hunt, you could do a “Resurrection Egg Hunt.”  There are ideas for this type of egg hunt all over, but I was specifically inspired by Meredith over at the blog, Wait ‘Til Your Father Gets Home

For Hudson’s egg hunt, I quickly wrote down what each item represented, along with the correlating Bible verses.  As Hudson gets older, I will use this activity to go through scripture and have a more in-depth discussion on Jesus’ resurrection.  For my 21-month old, it was still a good activity for him to hold each item and for me, in a few, simple words explain to him what the item represented.  This was a great activity that helped make a random indoor egg hunt feel a bit more meaningful.  

Since this one hunt, we have done a few.  Usually with empty eggs. He is obsessed with it and it is a fun way to pass some time. 

3. POM POMS + EGG COLOR SORTING

With those same eggs, we did this color sorting activity.  So simple and great for practicing colors with toddlers! Also, great for fine motor skills, as Hudson tried to pack as many pom poms as he could in a single egg.  We just used our hands to sort pom poms by color, but you could also use plastic tongs or a spoon to really work on those fine motor skills.  

4. CHRIST-CENTERED COLORING PAGES

My favorite resource for free, Christian coloring pages is Christian Preschool Printables.  It is an amazing site with some wonderful + free printables.  I look forward to using this resource even more as Hudson gets more into the preschool years.  He really enjoyed coloring these crosses and immediately started to run out the door to give it to someone.  Coloring pages, like these, are a great thing to have on hand, especially when someone wakes up way too early from their nap!  Coloring in the afternoon with a few snacks seems to sit well with Hudson as a solid afternoon activity. 

5. EGG + BUNNY EARS COOKIE BAKING

To end the week, we spent time with auntie and made Easter sugar cookies.  At this point, I am convinced that Sally’s Baking Addiction has the very best sugar cookie recipe.  I made this same recipe for Valentine’s Day and these Easter ones were just as delicious.  I was totally inspired by the way she used the same cookie cutter to make both eggs and bunny ears. How cute!

Our cookies, look NOTHING like hers, but we all had a lot of fun making them!  I set up Hudson’s own little decorating station with wax paper and a few cookies already frosted in white for him. This allowed him to spoon some color on to each cookie and shake some sprinkles on.  He was a happy camper with this set up. I intentionally made a really small egg that he called “baby.” This was a fun one for him to decorate and I didn’t mind him eating the whole thing since it was so tiny!! 

There are a few things we did not get to and are hoping to fit in next week!

Other Easter Things To-Do with with Kiddos

  • Dye Easter Eggs! (Excited to try these PAAS Marble ones).  If your Target has a Drive-Up, you should utilize it!  I just made a Target trip the other night and it increased my anxiety times 10. 
  • Easter Photos! No mall bunny photos this year, so hoping to make a spring little set-up in our backyard to get some cute Easter photos of Hudson! 
  • Write Easter Cards to Family!  Holidays are my favorite times to write words of gratitude to those we love most.  I have a mild obsession with Trader Joe’s seasonal cards. Picked these up the other day and I am excited to spend time with Hudson pouring love into each card.  We might not be able to see all of our family members this Easter, but we certainly can show them we are thinking of them. 
  • Easter Play-dough Play!  Planning to make a new batch of play-dough.  I will dye half orange and the other half light pink, so we can use our carrot and bunny cookie cutters! 

And of course, we will be reading all the Easter books on our shelves.  A couple weeks ago, I put a list of our favorite Easter books.  Another one that is not on that list that we have been reading constantly is Here Comes Peter Cottontail!  We have Hudson’s grammy’s version and I love this edition’s illustrations.  This week would also be a great time to delve into the Easter stories in The Jesus Storybook Bible. We keep reading the story, “God’s Wonderful Surprise,” over and over again.  It has been a comfort to both of us this week.  

What are some simple things you are doing with your kids and family this coming week to celebrate the coming hope & joy of Easter?  I would love to get some more ideas + inspiration!

8 Favorite Easter Books for Toddlers

I know the world feels quite different right now, but one of the things that is helping me stay sane with a toddler at home and no park time and no playdates is…books. We always read a lot of books over here and make our weekly Wednesday library trip, but now more than ever, Hudson and I both are dependent on the comfort and joy these repeated stories bring to our days. 

With Easter right around the corner, I wanted to share some of the Easter books we are reading right now at home and some that we don’t currently have on our shelves, but want to! We actually are pretty stocked up on Easter books right now because I checked out a big haul of them from the library in early March, little did I know we wouldn’t be back to the library for a bit. If you don’t have a ton of Easter books, now is a good time to order a couple new favorites to add to your permanent collection! As I write about often, books make the perfect gift and any of these would work perfectly in an Easter basket.

Some of these books on this list are purely fun and the sole purpose of them is in the colorful eggs and the chocolate bunnies.  I also did intentionally choose a few favorites that I personally think do a beautiful job delivering the true reason we celebrate Easter: He Is Risen!  

1. Jesus Rose For Me by Jared Kennedy 

This is the book we are putting in Hudson’s basket this year.  This is a really nice board book with beautiful images. The thing I love most about this book is the amount of details that are included about Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection.  Jesus Rose for Me is absolutely delivering the gospel, but doing it in such a way that little ears can better comprehend. I am all about delivering truth to our kids at a very young age and this book is a beautiful tool to use.  It even includes Bible verses with each story, so this is a great way to incorporate scripture with your little ones. The book is a bit wordier for Hudson’s attention span currently, but I know it will be the perfect gospel-centric book that he will absolutely grow into within the next year.

2. God Gave Us Easter by Lisa Tawn Bergren 

This was the book we put in his Easter basket last year!  I LOVE the God Gave Us series of books.  Again, the stories still are a bit longer for his attention span even now, but I know this will become a favorite.  Through beautiful illustrations and the real curiosity of a little cub, papa cub through natural imagery explains where the true joy of Easter comes from. 

Like so many of Bergren’s books, this book is a wonderful answer to how to teach kids that the cultural elements of these holidays (eggs, Easter bunny, gifts) are fun and good, but they should never overshadow the true meaning.  Easter baskets and egg hunts point to only a small glimmer of the joy that is found in true relationship with Christ. This book helps reveal this truth and for that I am really thankful. 

3. The Easter Egg by Jan Brett

I discovered this classic book at the library and I am slightly obsessed with the storyline.  This is not a religious Easter book, but the story is heartwarming. It teaches little ones on the importance of small acts of kindness.  The bunny, Hoppi is so concerned with making the most beautiful egg and is inspired by all the beautiful eggs his bunny neighbors are creating.  While trying to figure out how he will decorate his own egg, he ends up helping Mother Robin keep her egg warm. This is how he spends his time and at the end only has the cracked and empty egg shell. Can you guess whose egg was chosen as the winner? Hoppi!

I love how well the storyline shows it is not always about the product we produce, but the intention of our hearts. Love this story, love the illustrations, love Jan Brett. We checked out the hardcover version, but Amazon also has a board book I linked to that is perfect for toddlers! 

4. Happy Easter, Mouse!  by Laura Numeroff

Each holiday, we collect another Mouse book because Hudson is such a fan.  I will admit, the Easter one is not as good as the It’s Pumpkin Day, Mouse!, but it is still a good Easter one for toddlers.  It is a very simple story, so probably best for 2-3 year-olds.  We are currently working on our colors. This is a great book to practice naming each color of egg Mouse finds.  This is an easy book to pair with a small activity or craft revolved around colors and eggs! 

5. A Very Happy Easter Prayer by Bonnie Rickner Jensen

Now more than ever, we need to count our blessings and thank God for the gifts of flowers budding and new life being created. Hudson and I read this book before his nap and it brought me a lot of peace. The words are simple. The illustrations are full of colorful flowers and cute bunnies. During these weird and anxious times, my heart settled as I read these simple words thanking God for all the simple blessings.

6. Happy Easter, Country Bunny by DuBose Heyward

The Country Bunny was my favorite Easter book as a young girl. I can still remember how I felt when my mom would read it to us. I loved it then, and now connect to it on an even deeper level. It is such a timely and relatable story for the modern woman. It is a beautiful picture of balancing motherhood with the dreams of your heart. Mother Cottontail continues to inspire me, and it is the perfect story to share with our little ones to inspire them. I would put the original story here, but since this list is geared towards toddlers, this board book is the better option for toddler-aged kiddos.

7. The Great Easter Race

This is a fun book with all the Sesame Street character partaking in a race on Easter morning. The bunny that joins the race leaves baskets full of each character’s favorite things and in the end, the slow turtle wins the race. The illustrations are colorful with all the recognizable Sesame Street friends. The story also contains more substance than typical stories geared towards toddlers, which I appreciate! If you have a Sesame Street lover, this is a fun book to read together this Easter season.

8. An Easter Egg Hunt for Jesus by Susan Jones

This is a sweet story full of cute forest animals and a valuable lesson that Easter is much more than just an Easter egg hunt. It is about Jesus. Through beautiful illustrations and a sweet storyline, Jones delivers the important message that this time of year is a celebration for Jesus!

The Hope of Easter

Again, I know there are much bigger world issues going on right now, and Easter books are likely not on the top of your list. I get that, but in these uncertain and uneasy time, I am finding a lot of comfort in reading books with H and looking ahead to the hope of Easter (even though it is likely to look quite different this year). These books I selected are the perfect stories to read to our little ones this year to point them to the fact that Easter is not dependent on Easter egg hunts and baskets full of chocolate bunnies. Those are fun, but Easter is much more. As papa polar bear puts it in God Gave Us Easter:

“On Easter, we remember we get to be with Jesus forever.”

And that alone is reason to celebrate.

So, let’s read more books, pray more, and cling more than ever to the hope and promise we know for certain will come Easter morning. In all this uncertainty, the sure promise of Jesus is pulling me through.

Happy reading, friends.