Friday, March 23, 2012

Time for a New Easter Tradition?

Don't you love how family traditions revive old memories while also creating new ones? Celebrating holidays in the same ways year after year gives us roots and branches all at once--connecting past, present, and future in meaningful, emotion-charged ways. But once in a while, a new idea comes along that begs us to mix it up a little. Several years ago, when a pastor shared an idea his family adopted for Easter, I knew it had to become part of our family's tradition. Along the way, we've added our own personal touches. It's so simple and so powerful, you may wish to adopt it, too. Here's how:

On Good Friday, place a grapevine wreath, symbolizing the Crown of Thorns, around a candle in the center of your table. Light the wick, recalling Jesus's words: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (John 8:12, NIV).

Open your Bible and invite family members to take turns reading aloud the story of the crucifixion, death, and burial of Jesus. (I prefer the Gospel of Matthew for this.)

Lead a family prayer to thank Christ for sacrificing His life for us. Then, extinguish the flame, symbolizing His giving up His spirit.

Leave the candle dark until the third day.

On Easter Sunday, relight the candle to symbolize Jesus's victory over death. Then, invite family members to take turns reading aloud the resurrection story.

Finally, lead a family prayer: "Dear Jesus, we join together today to thank You for ___________________."

It may not be Easter yet, but since Jesus shared the gift of all gifts, why not praise Him together--right here, right now? Fill in the blank above using the comment section below to join the prayer, and please invite others to join as well.

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20, NIV).

Friday, March 16, 2012

Questioning Easter Traditions

In my area, spring weather arrived early this year. Since grass is growing, flowers are blooming, and birds are preparing their nests, I felt inspired to pull Easter decorations out of storage this week.

As I filled my grandmother's heirloom bowl with decorative eggs

and displayed my favorite Beatrix Potter-style porcelain bunny,

I found myself questioning the Easter traditions I've practiced since childhood. What do eggs and rabbits have to do with celebrating Easter anyway?

I began to worry that I had fallen victim to commercialism, that decorating my home with eggs and bunnies meant I'd somehow missed the mark. But then, I flipped through this little book I purchased at a dollar store years ago and stumbled upon page 67.

from Dave Cheadle's Victorian Easter
and the Springtime Celebrations of a Romantic Age

This little verse reminded me that all traditions are empty unless we attach appropriate meaning to them. Signs of spring can speak of Christ to us, if we let them.

Why? Not solely because Christ died on the Cross, although His crucifixion is the greatest sacrifice.

But because the tomb is empty. He rose again. He lives!

So if you visit my home this spring, please don't misjudge my egg and bunny decorations. They are part of my Easter traditions not because of commercialism, but because they help me celebrate a risen Savior, the One who paid the ultimate price to share the ultimate gift--the gift of eternal life!

What Easter traditions do YOU question? Which ones speak to YOUR heart? Others, including me, might wish to adopt your ideas, so please share the gift!

Friday, March 9, 2012

A Book to the Rescue for Tornado Recovery

"In like a lion; out like a lamb." We've all heard that description of March weather, but for many residents of the Midwest this year, the reference to the month's entrance came tragically true with a massive tornado outbreak. I've read reports that 36 twisters touched down across the region on February 29, 2012, killing at least 12 people. Two days later, an estimated 40 more followed, claiming another reported 39 lives.

On Leap Day, 2012, Branson, MO, took a direct hit as a tornado roared down the Highway 76 strip, a popular tourist destination.

The Taneyhills Community Library stood in its path.

Photo courtesy of Branson resident Connie Foster Carter

Compared to devastated communities like Marysville, IN, Taneyhills' damage seems relatively mild. But for the sake of the Branson community, this little library deserves our attention now more than ever.

According to the library's website, it receives no local, state, or federal tax funds. It is financed solely through donations, including support from the Library Club. It is staffed primarily by volunteers.

In a community reeling from the tornado's aftermath, library donations could become scarce.

But we can help!

To support this library, Oak Ridge Boys singer and songwriter Joseph S. Bonsall and Sheaf House Publishers are offering a sweet deal.

For every copy of Bonsall's From My Perspective sold between March 5 and April 5, 2012, he will donate 100% of his royalties to the Taneyhills Community Library. Sheaf House will donate an additional $3.50 per copy and cover shipping and handling.

That means the library will receive $6.54 for each copy sold!

So why not order a new book, enjoy free shipping, and help the recovering Branson community maintain one of its greatest treasures--a public library? Visit the Sheaf House website to learn more by clicking here. Share the gift, folks. That's what it's all about!

Now for some FUN, blog friends--what's YOUR favorite Oak Ridge Boys song?

Friday, March 2, 2012

We Have a Winner!

Today is . . .

*the National Education Association's Read Across America Day

*Dr. Seuss's birthday

*my special friend Wilma M.'s birthday


*the day we learn the winner of the Wee Are Readers photo contest!!!

Every wee reader is a winner in my eyes, and so are adults who take time to share books with children.

A special thanks to all blog subscribers who showed support for childhood literacy by voting. Not an easy job, since these little tykes are all so adorable!

Before we learn who wins, let's take one more look at these sweet little bookworms. Wee Are Readers Photo Parade encore, please!

Entry 1: Linda C.'s grandson

Entry 2: Kristen J. and daughter

Entry 3: Mickie W. and daughter

Entry 4: Kristin H.'s children

Entry 5: Sandra M.'s son

Entry 6: Kristin J.'s daughter

Entry 7: Poppy-Pops and great-granddaughter

Entry 8: Ally B.'s daughters

Entry 9: Kristin H.'s children

Entry 10: Kimberley G.'s children

Entry 11: Kristin H.'s son

Entry 12: Mae M.'s niece and son

Entry 13: Margie M.'s son

Entry 14: Ally B.'s daughters

Entry 15: Holly K.'s daughter

Entry 16: Tia M.'s son

Entry 17: Abby B. and niece

Entry 18: Ally B.'s daughters

Entry 19: Kathy T.'s grandson

Entry 20: Andrew B. and daughter

Entry 21: Ally B.'s daughter

Entry 22: Angie F.'s son

Entry 23: Kaye W.'s grandson

Entry 24: Monicka E.'s sons

Entry 25: Abby B.'s daughter

Entry 26: John C.'s grandchildren

Entry 27: Kathy T.'s grandson

Entry 28: Kathy T.'s grandson

Entry 29: Kathy T.'s grandson

Entry 30: Heather H.'s daughters

Entry 31: Paul B.'s daughter

Entry 32: Shelley C.'s daughter

And now, the moment we've all been waiting for. The entrant who received the most votes, our Wee Are Readers winner is . . .

(Drum roll, please . . . .)

Entry 7: Poppy-Pops and great-granddaughter!!!

Congratulations to Kati H. for submitting the winning entry. She will receive a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card (her choice). WooHoo!

Blog friends, how will you share the gift of literacy today?