Everyday is Easter…Easter Blessings From the Noteworthy Mommy

After the emotional journey to the cross during Holy Week, I was looking forward to Easter. As I got ready on Easter morning I was eagerly anticipating the hymns filled with alleluias, the scripture of promise, the brass quintet trumpeting the good news of a risen Jesus, and the brightness of lilies and colorful Easter outfits. All of these images hold a stark contrast from the quiet, silent, darkness of worship, a mere two days prior on Good Friday. Suddenly my thoughts of Easter celebration were interrupted when I heard the distant wailing of a lawn mower slicing through green grass recently awoken from a winter slumber. I asked myself, “Who would be cutting grass on Easter morning?” On the way to church my thoughts were shaken once again as I passed a huge car show with hundreds of immaculate hot rods on display and spectators spilling into the parking lot from a line a mile long. Again, I asked myself, “Who would have a car show on Easter morning?”

The thought of doing anything but praising our resurrected Savior on Easter got me thinking of the people in our world who don’t know about Jesus. But it also got me thinking how many times I have put worldly things in front of Jesus. Maybe not on Easter Sunday but certainly on other days. A friend posted on social media that every Sunday is Easter when you know Christ as your Savior. I would add that every day is Easter when you know the ending of the story.

But I certainly don’t treat every day as if it were Easter. Worries, social media, to do lists and busy schedules filled with activity consume my thoughts on most days. How many Sundays have I sat in the pew, in the Lord’s house, yet, Jesus did not receive my full attention? My mind wandering, distracted by the outside world. I know that Jesus has forgiven me but I can do a better job of making a concentrated effort of treating each day like it was Easter! That may come in the form of reading a devotional, doing a bible study, attending worship regularly, praying and sharing the good news of Jesus with others. Or finding a church to attend while on vacation and gathering the family together for evening devotions. It may be doing something kind and unexpected for someone else without intending anything in return. I can do better and if you’re still reading this, during this Easter season I challenge my Noteworthy Mommy readers to do better…treat each and everyday like it is Easter! He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

I found this in my daughter’s art table. No fancy paper or script but just the reminder I need each and every day of the year!

An Easter Message From the Noteworthy Mommy

He is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! How vastly different this Easter was compared to last year! Although we had to make reservations at church, participated in Easter worship on Saturday night, wore masks, and were unable to gather with my in-laws, it was a glorious celebration! Through the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior we find hope.

I know my Easter message is a bit late, Easter Sunday has come and gone after all, but don’t forget, it is still Easter. Easter begins with the resurrection of our Lord and extends through Pentecost, so that gives me 50 days to send my readers Easter blessings! Below is a fun Easter activity that kids of all ages will enjoy. Easter Sunday has passed but we continue to celebrate our risen Savior!

Alleluia Shakers– My church has a special tradition of Alleluia Shakers during the Easter season. A basket of Alleluia Shakers for the young members of our congregation are usually found at the entrance to the sanctuary and the children enjoy shaking them every time they hear or sing the word Alleluia. COVID has prevented us from having the basket of shakers at church so my daughter made her own. We decorated a plastic egg and filled it with rice to make our shakers. CLICK HERE to learn how to make a shaker of your own. We are taking them to church throughout the Easter season and proudly shake them in celebration of the good news that Jesus is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! We made extras to share with our home bound friends as part of our Live Generously ministry.

As we begin to see the other side of the pandemic, may you safely gather again with family and friends, rejoice in the fact that favorite activities are being reintroduced into your life and never forget the lessons the past year has taught. Some things may stay forever changed but one thing will never change… Jesus loves you!

A Sunday Filled With Donuts and Alleluias!…Day 34

Before the COVID 19 isolation my husband would often get his girls donuts on Saturday mornings from Donut King, a nearby independent donut shop. Hands down, this place has the best donuts around! Their signature donut is the Chop Suey, a gigantic mound of dough with cinnamon and sweet icing, but our little one thinks the donuts with sprinkles are the best! After being closed for three weeks we were delighted to discover they were opening for the weekend and would be providing curbside service to their loyal customers. In an attempt to support a local favorite, we placed an order online and my husband went to pick it up on Saturday morning. While there he saw some familiar faces from Zion (Lutherans really love their donuts) and was told that some customers waited over an hour for their orders! Over run with a tremendous response from local patrons, the small donut shop was unable to fill all of the orders and he retuned home without any donuts. Although disappointed, I viewed this as glorious news because we want our local businesses around after the quarantine is over! Donut King asked that he return on Sunday morning and our family of three happily enjoyed our favorite fried doughy delights while watching church in our pajamas. 

Alleluia Shakers– The week before Easter my daughter’s teacher recommended we make Alleluia shakers. My daughter enjoyed making the Alleluia shakers so much we had extras that we shared with family and friends when we delivered Easter meals. And we all enjoyed shaking them every time we said Alleluia on Easter morning! This Sunday Pastor Rouland (our senior pastor) reminded our congregation about Zion’s Alleluia shaker tradition. He suggested various ways one could construct an Alleluia shaker (toilet paper tube, beans, rice, coins) and encouraged everyone to make one if they hadn’t already. Earlier in the week I came across our Alleluia shakers and questioned if I should pack them away. Time got away from me and they remained on the end table next to our couch. Pastor Rouland reminded me that Alleluia shakers aren’t just for Easter. Instead of packing them away with the Easter baskets, continue to shake them as we rejoice and shout Alleluia for our risen Savior, Jesus Christ!

Spring Break Begins With Vintage Toys and Family Game Night…Day 28

This week is spring break at school so we are adding a lot of fun and even more play to our day!

We were supposed to be on our way to Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City. My daughter’s best friend from preschool and her family had reservations at the same time. Neither family told their little ones about the trip so when we arrived the girls would have been surprised to be at Great Wolf Lodge but even more surprised to see each other!!!

The Easter Bunny blessed our daughter with an abundance of goodies so we spent most of the day exploring all of her new acquisitions. I’m highlighting a few things as they are keeping her busy and happy during the quarantine.

Lite-Brite It’s just like you remember, but better than ever! My daughter loves to create art with light using templates and colorful pegs that light up like a neon sign! This retro toy helps build fine motor strength while having fun at the same time! A childhood favorite of mine, Lite-Brite, was born in 1967. But unlike my original, the modern Lite-Brite has cutvthe dies and is now battery powered! It uses LED lights that mast for years and generates little to no heat. It lays flat for storage and has no more power cords or hot incandescent light bulbs that burn out leaving little girls who grew up in the 1970’s and early 1980’s very frustrated! My daughter already had a Lite-Brite but the Easter Bunny brought her new templates that she couldn’t wait to reveal. Part of our day was spent playing with this classic toy.

Silly Putty– Many Easter baskets during my childhood contained an egg of Silly Putty and this year my daughter found two Silly Putty eggs in her basket. Created by accident, Silly Putty made its debut in 1950 around Easter so it was packaged in plastic eggs and continues to come in an egg today. And the $1 price tag hasn’t changed in 70 years. It’s still bouncy and stringy and filled with fun but today’s putty comes in a variety of scents! My daughter got a peaches and vanilla cream set and there are also aroma therapy scents. Crayola is the new Silly Putty manufacturer. CLICK HERE to see all of the variations. CLICK HERE to discover more interesting facts about Silly Putty.

Scribble Scrubbies– One of Crayola’s newest products, we fell in love with Scribble Scrubbies when my daughter was gifted a pet play set for her birthday. You use markers to color and draw on the Scribble Scrubbie animals. Then you scrub them with water and a little brush (included) to wash the color away. Once they are dry you can decorate them all over again. Crayola just released a Wild Safari collection of Scribble Scrubbies and she found three of them in her Easter basket.

Family Game Night- Before the isolation we enjoyed having an occasional Family Game Night. My husband is home from work this week, on furlough, so we decided it was the perfect time to make EVERY night this week a Family Game Night! We began with Sorry, the classic board game and childhood favorite of mine. In the 2013 Edition, several rules were changed from the game I remembered playing as a child. Each player only has three pawns instead of four and a pawn can be moved out from Start upon any number card. It makes the game go faster and I guess the changes occurred because people today have shorter attention spans. However with the quarantine in place families have plenty of of time to play all of the classic board games and that’s exactly what my family of three plan on doing.

An Easter Sunday in Isolation…Separate But Not Alone

This Easter is like no other we have ever experienced. I should have been singing in the choir at our 11:00 service, marking my first Easter singing with the treble choir at church. Instead I sang with my family of three as we sat on the couch in our family room streaming Zion Lutheran Church St. Charles’s worship service through our TV. While COVID 19 shuttered the doors to physical church buildings around the world it did not cancel Easter or close church. It didn’t stop us from getting out our alleluia shakers and saying He is Risen. He is Risen Indeed, Alleluia!

Although this Easter was different in so many ways, at the same time it was oddly familiar. As we sang all of the Easter hymns I grew up with, from the opening hymn, “Jesus Christ Is Risen Today” to “This Is The Feast” to the closing hymn “Christ the Lord is Risen Today; Alleluia,” I was transported back to my childhood. To an Easter where I worshiped with my parents and maternal grandmother at Zion Lutheran Church in Belleville. It could have been any Easter in the early 1980’s. I would have been in elementary school, third, fourth or fifth grade, it doesn’t matter as they would have all been the same. Me wearing a dress that I couldn’t wait to get out of, sitting uncomfortably on the hard pew daydreaming about the Easter eggs, candy and toys that would occupy the rest of my day. But the music always drew me back in. As we sang from the blue LCMS hymnals I hung onto every note. My mother’s beautiful voice, the organ and occasional trumpet, brought me comfort and embraced me with loving arms. God didn’t bless my grandmother with an angelic voice but as a life long Lutheran she belted out each note with Lutheran pride. I admired her tenacity and unwavering love for her church. Although she has been with Jesus for thirty-three years, I felt her presence today as we sang “Now All the Vault of Heaven Resounds.” As my daughter fell asleep in my lap I was transported back to the present, the first Easter in my daughter’s young life that she won’t be able to celebrate with all four of her grandparents. Although we took an Easter meal to both sets of grandparents this weekend and each one had a surprise Easter egg hunt for her in their yard, we weren’t able to be together and that bothered my daughter. It felt weird to be so close to our loved ones, yet so far a part. In keeping with proper social distancing there was no physical contact on our short family visits and no comforting hugs due to COVID 19. This historic time of isolation will change us all. And as a result my five year old daughter will grow up with a greater appreciation for worship and devotion, family dinners and comforting hugs.

Living Generously, Easter Eggs and Holy Saturday

We spent Holy Saturday Living Generously by cooking, filling plates and delivering Easter meals to our parents and to family friends. All are being cautious about going grocery shopping due to their high risk status of contracting COVID 19. After days of isolation my daughter and I were excited to go on a drive where we helped others. Last week we prepared and delivered Easter baskets to my daughter’s BFFs and surprised some special friends with a palm cross. Although we didn’t use Live Generously funds for these outreach opportunities my daughter and I began discussing what we can do to Live Generously in the future.

Easter Eggs– I have many wonderful memories of decorating Easter eggs with my father. When my daughter came along he continued the tradition with her. This year the quarantine kept us from decorating eggs with Pops so our family of three had a night of decorating instead.

Holy Saturday– Today was supposed to be Immanuel Lutheran Church’s annual Easter egg hunt. I had signed my daughter up for the hunt and upon cancellation our sister church contacted me with the exciting news of delivering goodie bags to all of the families who planned on attending. My daughter beamed when she discovered the goodie bag on our front door. One of the gifts in the bag was the book, The Sunday Morning Miracle along with a companion activity book. I enjoyed reading the book to my daughter in preparation for Easter Sunday.

We also watched a short video about Holy Saturday. CLICK HERE to view and we sang the following song… He Hung Upon A Cross.

He hung upon a cross, He hung upon a cross. He hung upon a cross for YOU and ME…

One day when I was lost (ca chicka chicka) He Hunt upon a cross (ca chicka chicka) He hung upon a cross for me.

He bowed His head and died…

They laid Him in a tomb…

He rose on Easter morn…

He’s coming back someday…

CLICK HERE to listen to the song.

Good Friday, The Sparkle Egg and Virtual Family Bingo

For the last two years my daughter and I have spent Good Friday attending an Easter event with my parents at a farm near their home. We pet baby bunnies, participate in an egg hunt, have a meet and greet with the Easter Bunny…a few of the many activities at the farm. This year that tradition, along with many others, was unable to take place. But as I reflect on the events that unfolded instead, simple as they may be, this Good Friday, the one spent in isolation, helped my family focus on the Lamb instead of the bunny!

Easter Scavenger Hunt– My daughter and I began our Good Friday with an Easter scavenger hunt. We headed outdoors on this beautiful day in search of the items on the list below.

As we went through the list, collecting the items around our yard, we were reminded of Jesus and the loving sacrifice He made for us.

The Sparkle Egg – This heart warming story about Easter and forgiveness will strike a deep chord with readers of all ages. The Sparkle Egg tradition will help readers and their families grasp the totality of God’s perfect grace. Go to The Sparkle Egg website and read the book for free! Make a Sparkle Egg and draw a picture of something you are holding onto or are ashamed about and put it inside the egg. On Easter morning, remove the paper and when your child opens the empty egg they will be reminded of the gift of complete forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Like the tomb on Easter morning, The Sparkle Egg is empty.

A Surprise Easter Egg Hunt– When we dropped off supplies at Maw Maw and Paw Paw’s house my daughter was thrilled to find they had hidden Easter eggs for her to hunt in their backyard. While keeping proper social distancing we all enjoyed this fun surprise!

Virtual Bingo– Via Zoom my daughter joined her cousins in Georgia for a game of virtual bingo. Virtual daily meetings with family and friends are becoming our norm.

Good Friday Tenebrae Service- Our family of three gathered on the couch and in darkness worshiped together. While worshiping at home we remembered the day that the sun stopped shining as the Light of the World was crucified for the sins of the world. CLICK HERE to watch Zion Lutheran church’s Tenebrae service.

Good Friday With Pastor Rouland and Gary– During the isolation a highlight of our week is watching a special message from our senior pastor, Pastor Rouland and his sidekick Gary. Each week, my daughter laughs out loud as she points to the screen. We ended our day watching their video before bed. CLICK HERE to learn why we call today Good Friday.

Paper Doll Bunnies, Easter Cupcakes and The Living Last Supper…Day 18

Staying home in isolation wasn’t the plan. My husband was supposed to be playing Simon the Zealot in the Living Last Supper at church. He delivered care packages and went shopping for others instead. I thank my husband for being strong for our family. I was supposed to sing in the choir tonight but haven’t left our neighborhood since Palm Sunday. Our daughter was supposed to go to preschool and have fun with her teacher and friends. She had a virtual play date as an alternative and heard the announcement that school would stay virtual for the remainder of the school year. Changed plans, cancellations and delays are the theme in households throughout the world. It brings me comfort to know our family of three is not alone. God is with us, always. Although it might be difficult to see His love through this time of uncertainty, all we have to do is look at the cross and we are immediately reminded of His everlasting love and sacrifice.

Lillian’s teacher provided the directions and supplies for this Good Friday cross project and her daddy helped her make her cross.

Easter Book- The Easter Egg by Jan Brett is a sweet book about a little bunny who wants to decorate the perfect egg for an egg decorating contest. CLICK HERE to read this amazing book online and CLICK HERE to watch a video of Jan Brett introducing her readers to some of the real life animals she used as models in her illustrations.

Bunny Paper Dolls– My mother shared this project with me and this is the year I shared it with my daughter and her friends. CLICK HERE for the bunny and clothing patterns. Trace the patterns on construction paper, cut out and decorate. Don’t forget to give your bunny a cotton-ball tail! Lillian named her bunny Cottontail.

Easter Cupcakes-We made cupcakes to eat on Easter Sunday. My daughter enjoyed decorating and eating them! We used my mom’s delicious buttercream frosting recipe, Nana’s Buttercream Frosting recipe.Jesus Time– We continued watching the Holy Week Lessons shared by our early childhood director. CLICK HERE to watch. CLICK HERE to view last year’s production of The Living Last Supper performed by our church, Zion Lutheran Church.