April 2009

from julie sylvester:
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


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) 🙂