This week has been very exciting for us because it is the first Easter we have implemented the Easter Box and Passion Week Candles.  I remember hearing about the Cordell’s Easter Box a few years ago (read Dana’s post below) and thinking that was such a creative and purposeful idea. 
Before I go on, I want to encourage us all to learn from other families who have traditions already in place.  It is okay to duplicate someone’s idea. If their idea works for you then use it!  The point is that whatever you do, it should cause you and your family to fall more in love with Jesus. May we seek humility in this area and not feel as though we have to come up with something out of thin air to call our own for fear of not being the most creative person on the block.  So, be a copycat if it will help you to treasure Christ!
So, I confess!!!  I’m a copycat!!!  But I have a few things to add…
Our neighborhood is always active with children.  It’s either active with children playing basketball in the cul-de-sac, or a few of them in particular enjoy playing inside our home with Nathan.  On the second night of our Easter celebration the kids were still playing inside, so they joined us for our Family Worship time.  We laid out a blanket for the kids to sit on and they attentively watched and listened as we lit our 6 candles (one of them was not lit) and read John 8:12 about Jesus being the light of the world.  We explained that we would blow out one candle each day to represent sin overshadowing the light and it being another day closer to celebrating Jesus’ death, but that Jesus would not stay dead, He would indeed rise and we would light all of the candles again on Easter Sunday!  For it is in his resurrection that we have hope. 
We had a lot of great questions from the kids like, “Why did Jesus have to die?” and “What is sin?”  What an opportunity!  We thoroughly enjoyed shepherding these kids and answering their questions that we pray will one day soon help to change their heart’s disposition toward their Creator.  We sang some songs, but did not get to the Easter Box before the kids had to go home for the evening.  The next day they came back requesting to take part in Family Worship.  What a blessing and encouragement to us.  We’re so thankful that God has helped us to be diligent in planning for Easter this year.  It is because of our obedience to accomplish a few simple “Easter planning” tasks this year that we have been able to share Jesus with the neighborhood kids.
So, may God lavish grace on you as you vision for and carry out any type of family tradition.  And… be on the lookout for those who are hungry and thirsty for the One who will satisfy, and invite them to be a part of your family traditions this year.  It will bless them and give you an overwhelming amount of joy! 

~ julie

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This Spring we will celebrate Easter in a special way, but one of our favorite Spring holidays is celebrating Pentecost. I will share with you about both….

One thing that has been helpful for us to establish our family traditions and holidays is to calendar out planning time for each holiday. At the start of the new year, my husband and I always sit down and write on the calendar (about one week before the anticipated holiday) “plan for ______.” So this year, I know that the Monday before Easter, Danny and I will sit down together after the kids are asleep and plan out that day. Then, I can be prepared with all the necessary materials, and he feels prepared to lead that day.

So….Easter. We love celebrating Easter! For Easter, we always invite a family from our church over for lunch then we go on a “Promise Hunt.” The Promise Hunt consists of 7 bottles each stuffed with colored construction paper with one promise of our coming Messiah found in the Old Testament. Five of the promises are written on orange paper, one on black paper (a prophesy of Christ’s death), and one on yellow paper (a prophesy of Christ’s resurrection). Then we top the bottles with the lids and Danny hides the bottles in the backyard. The kids then proceed to hunt for all the promises, and after collecting them all in their baskets we sit down in our living room to open them and read the promises together. We read the orange promises first, then the black, then the yellow…thus we end with the resurrection of Christ. We enjoy the simplicity of the day with a focus on celebrating Jesus. We are thankful that God always keeps His promises. We are thankful for the promised Christ.

Our Family Traditions Calendar continues. One of our favorite holidays is celebrating Pentecost. It is believed, according to church history, that Pentecost happened about 49 days after Easter. We host a Pentecost Party at our home and invite others who we know would enjoy being thankful for the third person of the Trinity with us- the Holy Spirit! The purpose of our Pentecost Party is to celebrate the outpouring of God’s Spirit and His empowerment to the Church. Our Pentecost party has a decoration theme of red, fire, and wind for the Spirit. We light lots of candles, make spiritual gift wind mobiles, sing songs in different languages, read stories of “old guys” who had unique encounters with the Spirit, and (last year) Danny read Acts 2:1-21 then read excerpts from a book about the New Hebrides revival. After that we spend a good time in prayer together with those present, asking for the Spirit to do a work in our hearts, our church, and our community. It is always a very sweet time that ends with a red “snack” of some sort…last year it was strawberry ice cream (not hot, but red) 🙂

Easter is almost here and a few years ago i felt quite convicted that we made a huge deal of Christmas, but Easter seemed to sort of sneak up on us before we knew it. Christmas is so much fun but let us not forget, Easter is the reason we live!!!! I pray that these ideas spark more ideas in your heart to make Christ the center of all our celebrating! I am so encouraged by many of you who are striving to think and have purposes behind what you do during every day life and extra special days/holidays we celebrate. May God only increase your desire to make much of him with how you live!

Here’s what we do…During Easter, we use two practical things, candles and the Easter Box.

At Christmas we light candles for advent. During the season we always talk about how Jesus, the Light of the World was coming into the world to save us from our sinful hearts. Each week as we would light a candle we would turn off all of the lights and say, “Look how much brighter the world is getting. We are getting closer to celebrating his birth.” Then on Christmas morning we would have all of the candles lit and the kids would run downstairs to see that Jesus has been born. We would sing and “blow out the candles”. It was fun. But now, it is Easter. The Light of the World has been with us, and the world did not know Him. So we use candles differently. We set out 6 candles ( I use tea lights and set them on top of our piano). On Palm Sunday we have all 6 candles lit. Each day as we approach good Friday we snuff out a candle…the world is growing dark again. On Good Friday we have a special family worship and have the children sit a few minutes in darkness. It has been very powerful. Then on Easter Sunday morning…”the Lord is Risen! The Lord is Risen indeed!” This is the way we awaken our children, we tell them that He is Alive. Then we run down the stairs to see all of the candles shining bright once again. Thank you Jesus, that never again will we have to sit in darkness!

Each night of the week before Easter we also have a special family worship time, where we do the candles and the Easter Box. The Easter Box is just a box with a lid that we painted and decorated (you can get a cheap box at Michaels or AC Moore). Each night there is something different inside the box. The kids get to open the box nightly and there are objects in the box that tell the story of the last week of Jesus’ life. This has been helpful to our family, to walk the road with him the week before his crucifixion. Here’s what is in the box each night…

Sunday- palm branches (Triumphal Entry) I have one palm branch for each child
Monday- bird figurines and money (Cleansing the Temple) We found some wooden birds at michales and use coins.
Tuesday- pouches with 30 pieces of silver in them (Judas makes plans to betray Jesus) I have some cloth pouches and put 30 nickles in them, again, one for each child.
Wednesday- Bread and Cup (Last Supper). I pained some wooden peices resembling bread and cup, found at Micahels.
Thursday- Rock and Rooster Feather, or picture of Rooster (Gethsemane and Peter’s Denial).
Friday- nails and thorns (Crucifixion). We cut the thorns off of some rose bushes at my parents home. This way they can feel what nails would have felt like and how thorns must have felt in his forehead.
Sat- linen cloth and put it in a tomb (We make a little mock-tomb out of a canister with lid, and put the linen cloth in it)
Sunday- empty tomb! The Lord is Risen!!!! CANDLES ARE ALL LIT!

These are just our ideas. We typically act out the story as a family or have books to go along with the story that i have found at Christian book stores or just in our children’s bibles. We also sing songs each night, pray, and do our scripture memory. As our children are getting older we use the Bible to read instead of picture books.

I am so excited about celebrating Jesus this Easter! Each year this time grows sweeter and sweeter and the questions get deeper and deeper. God truly uses these things in each of our lives to increase our wonder at His sacrifice and love for the gospel!

Longing to behold His glory face to face…

dana cordell

On the birth of Caleb James born Saturday, March 14th at 7:10 p.m.

He weighed 7 pounds and 8 ounces and was 19 inches long

Daddy David, Mommy Amy and Baby Caleb are all home and doing well!

babycalebmosley1


Books! Books! Books!

 Many of you are book lovers, married to men who love books, need books for new chapters of your lives, have series of books you collect, or are always looking for new books or old books for your children.

If you’re like us, my husband, Dan and I, then books can eat at that family budget, and a book here and there ends up adding up and making it hard to figure out where those small amounts are coming from.

I love keeping a list of books that I want to order or read, and Dan does even more so.  It’s nice to have several places to go online to check prices and shipping to make sure you’re getting the best deal and not breaking the budget.  If you do like to add to your family’s library, then I would highly suggest that being a budget line item! It is an investment, and it’s worth it, if budgeted for.

 

Here are some places that we find are great for buying books for our home or for gifts.

Christian Bookstores:

Desiring God

Westminster Bookstore

Sovereign Grace

CBD

Lifeway

The Good Book

 

Discount Books:

Amazon

Add All   (searches all used book stores for the book you’re looking for and compare prices with shipping)

Half Price Books

Book Closeouts

 

How to review a book:  I know my husband is very good at this, and I need to be better so that even in reading, I am protecting my weakness to become misled by clever writing or spend time reading books that are not well written.

How to Read a Book

rules for critical book reviewing

 

 

This site is great for exploring which books to order for a certain topic, and also gives great articles and sermons (so a book might not be needed for what you’re looking for).

DG Resource Library

 

The coming future of books and how we read them: it seems far out, but it’s becoming a huge reality and very popular!

The Kindle

 

Why you might consider having a well stocked children’s library of the classics and your personal favorites:

Article on lead in older books

 

Great Lists of Classic Childrens Books for developing your library or just for inspiration for what to read next with your kids

breaks up books by age groups   

oldies but goodies

By author 

The classics

A great classics forum 

This has some great reviews )

A great monthly resource for reviews each month 

 

** of course your local library is always a great way to read and save expenses!

Written by Betsy Treece

Does anyone else find dozens of dryer sheets in their laundry room and all throughout your house as you fold and put away your clothes? Charissa seems to think they are tissues and continually tries to blow her nose with them. I applaud her ingenuity and her willingness to repurpose items to get more use out of them, but I think there are better uses for used dryer sheets.

Here’s my top 8 list:

1. Scented dryer sheets can be used in drawers, closets, at the bottom of a trash can and in shoes to help eliminate odors. You can also get rid of that old musty smell books get by putting a dryer sheet in a Ziploc bag with the book for a few days. And if your car stinks, put a few sheets under the seats and in a few days your car will be mountain fresh.

2. Scented dryer sheets can also be used as a repellent for mice and insects. If you know of a place they come in, put a few dryer sheets there and your problem will scurry away. You can also put a dryer sheet in your pocket or belt loop (or anywhere else you want) to repel insects while you are outside. I love this because I hate bug spray.

3. Dryer sheets work great for dusting because they actually repel dust.

4. If you have any chrome in your house (or on your vehicle), use the dryer sheet to polish it up.

5. When potting a plant, line the bottom of your pot with a dryer sheet to prevent the soil from falling out.

6. Similar to a sticky lint brush, an old dryer sheet will remove pet hair from clothing and furniture.

7. If you collect enough dryer sheets, you can stuff a pillow with them. Your pillow will smell great and won’t be lumpy like with traditional synthetic stuffing.

8. A wet dryer sheet can be used in the shower to get rid of soap scum. Even though I’m doing a post on how to use dryer sheets, I just found a way to not use dryer sheets that I thought I should share as well. All you have to do is take a small washcloth (like a baby washcloth) or a rag and soak it in fabric softener, then you let it completely dry. Throw it in with your laundry and it’ll keep your cloths soft load after load after load (I’ve heard it can last for 40 loads!). This won’t help your static problem, but you can always throw a balled up wad of aluminum foil in the dryer for that. Happy drying!

Link Love: Creative Ecco-Friendly sites that help with laundry and keeping home!

Most Important to Remember!! 

Going Green and Being Frugal at Home: 

Ecco Friendly Dryer Balls

Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe

Another Homemade Laundry Detergent

Going more natural one cleaner at a time

Shaklee Products: Lots of mom’s swear by this stuff! 

How to fold a fitted sheet

Natural alternative cleaners

Housecleaning on a budget

By Nicole Wilson 

So many families have taught me different things through the years about planning. Even Pastor Sean says all the time, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” This is so true for me when it comes to fighting for a healthier lifestyle and meal planning!

Most of you know I’ve been on a journey to a more “healthy me.” Since May of last year, I’ve had the tremendous blessing of friends gathering around me to work hard toward the disciplines of eating better and working out. Several of us joined the same gym downtown, and it has been so great to always have a partner to go with, be accountable to, etc. while I’m there. It’s just not as much fun when you’re by yourself trying to work out, and the excuses start to bubble up almost instantaneously!

Often, just by looking at someone, you don’t really “see” what they struggle with. Sins are often hidden in the heart. This doesn’t happen to be the case when it comes to overeating. The physical repercussions of gluttony and laziness are revealed right away – it’s sometimes literally all over your face. It’s a different struggle in many ways because of this. Fortunately, with confession, comes forgiveness. God is so faithful. Many women in the church, namely my community group and roommates, have surrounded me with support and given me so much encouragement. Women are praying for me, going to the gym with me, offering ideas for food, and offering general excitement with me every time I get to record another pound lost. It is taking a long time to grow in this area, but God is faithful and He is sustaining me week by week. It is a lot of work, and there are plenty of days that the work doesn’t seem worth it… but when there is a plan for making it work, things are so much easier!

One major thing that has really helped me press on toward my goals is meal planning. There are plenty of weeks that I fail at this, and I can usually tell right away what a mistake it was!

It is extremely helpful when counting calories to make a meal plan for the week, then do the shopping, then pre-prepare as much as I can for the week. I’m able to portion out snacks and can see the balance of the food pyramid much better. It’s always better that way then when I’m standing in front of the refrigerator or pantry at 7:45 a.m., knowing I only have 5 minutes to make a decision for the day in my food choices before heading off to work. On weeks where I’ve failed to plan, I end up blowing it off and settling for another greasy fast food meal… which leaves me dissatisfied in more ways than one, generally. So, whether you’re counting calories or not, help your family, your budget and your time by planning meals, shopping for specifics and preparing ahead of time. It works for me!

Link Love: Here are some helpful online tools that may help to plan your groceries and also save money while keeping track of your intake!

Health: 

Fit Day 

Weight Watchers General Food Point List

Weight Watchers Out to Eat Point Guide

Wholesome Baby Food 

Groceries: 

Eat Better America Coupons 

Eating Well Coupons

I heart CVS

Savvy Dollar

Southern Savers 

Grocery Game

Recipes: 

All Recipes 

Kraft Foods

Food Network

Smitten Kitchen

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Artisan Bread Book