Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spring Break Wednesday--Easter Ideas


If you have been reading this blog for a while, you may remember when I posted about becoming a Christian in 1983. Since that time, the wonder of Easter has been so important to me. As a child, I always knew there was a God... always had a sense of Him, even before He was known to me. I think that's how we are made and knowing that means I want to be really careful to teach my children about the truth of Easter. Today, we start to get ready.

If you are new to this, or are looking for new ideas to help your family understand the truth, there are many things you can use to help you out. Here are some things that work well for us:

-Passion Week Devotional Set for Families: Several years ago, I wrote a devotional set for my family to use each day between Palm Sunday and Easter. It is easy to use and contains all that you need to prepare your family for Easter, no matter how familiar you are with the story itself. Children as young as two can begin to understand the wonder of this holiday and the set is designed to grow with your child.

-Resurrection Eggs: This set created by Family Life is available at your local Christian bookstore and looks like a carton of eggs. Inside, you will find twelve plastic Easter eggs, each holding a small item. The items represent important parts of the Easter story. Indluded is a devotional booklet to help you along.

-Easter Story Cookies: We make these on Good Friday or on Saturday night. The cookies themselves help to teach the story of Easter. Want the recipe? : )

Easter Story Cookies

Ingredients
1 cup pecan halves
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
3 egg whites
1 pinch salt
1 cup white sugar

Directions

1.Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).
2.Place pecans in a resealable plastic baggie. Crush the pecans into small bits. Read John 19:1-3
3.Put 1 teaspoon vinegar into a medium bowl. Read John 19:28-30
4.Add egg whites to the vinegar. Read John 10:10-11
5.Sprinkle salt into the egg whites. Read Luke 23:27
6.So far, the mixture isn't very appetizing. Add 1cup sugar. Read Psalm 34:8 and John 3:16. Beat with mixer on high speed for 12 to 15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed. Read Isaiah 1:18 and John 3:1-3.
7.Fold in broken nuts. Drop by teaspoons onto parchment paper lined baking sheet. Read Matthew 27:57-60.
8.Place cookies in the oven close the door and turn the oven off. Read Matthew 27:65-66.
9.Go to bed. Read John 16:20 and 22.
10.In the morning open the oven and take out the cookies. Read Matthew 28:1-9.
11. Bite into one of the cookies. What do you find inside?

-Hot Cross Buns: I am starting to add this to our Easter celebration this year. Tomorrow, I will make them and we will eat them on Good Friday. The cross on the top is a reminder of the crucifixion of Christ. The history of these bread rolls is varied but I like the added opportunity to teach my children about Good Friday so we will bake them this year. Here is the recipe I will use:

Hot Cross Buns

Ingredients:


FOR THE DOUGH:
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup cold water
1 large egg
1-1/2 tablespoons instant or bread machine yeast
3 cups flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup dried currants
FOR THE EGG WASH:
1 large egg
1 teaspoon water
FOR THE ICING:
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 teaspoons milk

Directions:

1. In a glass 2-cup measuring cup or a small bowl, combine the milk, butter, and sugar and microwave on high until the butter has melted and the milk is just bubbling, about 1 1/2 minutes. Whisk in the water and set the mixture aside until it's lukewarm, about 10 minutes. Whisk in the egg until well blended and set the mixture aside.

2. In a large bowl, mix the yeast, flour, salt, cinnamon, and currants. Add the milk mixture and stir with a wooden spoon or dough whisk until the dough forms a lumpy, sticky mass.

3. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead the dough until it's smooth and elastic, about 3 to 4 minutes (see Kneading Know-how). If the dough is too sticky, you can add more flour as you go. Return the dough to the bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rise at room temperature until it has doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

4. Punch down the dough in the bowl, then transfer it to a floured surface. Cover the dough and let it rest 10 minutes more.


5. Line a small cookie sheet with parchment paper. To form rolls, divide the dough into 12 pieces and shape each piece into a ball. Place the balls about 1 inch apart on the pan. Cover the rolls with a tea towel and let them rise at room temperature until they have doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. Twenty minutes before baking, heat the oven to 375°.

6. Make the egg wash by whisking together the egg and water in a small bowl. Brush the top of each roll with the wash.

7. Bake the rolls until brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer them to a wire rack to cool.

8. In a small bowl, make the icing by whisking together the confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and milk until smooth. Spoon the icing into a Ziploc bag. Snip a corner from the bag and squeeze an icing cross onto each bun. Makes 12 buns.

(From Family Fun Magazine)


You might wonder if we will do Easter baskets or talk about the Easter Bunny. We actually do make Easter baskets, though we keep that pretty minimal. We don't talk much about the Bunny himself... but have let that story float around our house without much discussion. No one has ever asked where the baskets come from, nor do we tell. : ) But we have enjoyed having that fun part of the Easter celebration included in our family time. We also do an Easter Egg Hunt in our backyard and eat a fabulous ham dinner together after church. In our house, church comes before all of it... the baskets will be out, the festivities prepared, but all of it will be dealt with after the service itself.


Last year, my friend Julie encouraged a Salvation Cake recipe that we tried as well. We liked that cake... it was layers of white cake with food coloring added. When you cut into it, you could see the many colors and each one stood for a part of the story. I would love to include the recipe but, honest to goodness, I just can't find it. If you have it or know where it is, put a link in the comments for those who would like to try it.


Today is Wednesday. In two days, we have the opportunity to mark together Jesus' amazing sacrifice. I can tell you that because of His great LOVE, my whole life is different. The path I have taken since 1983 is completely different than the one I had been on before. It is not about giving up things I used to think were important or about keeping myself from things I used to enjoy. Instead, it is about learning about what LOVE looks like... allowing myself to see that even when I feel I am worth little, I have been loved large. When I allowed myself to know that... to feel it... to accept it... the change that came in me was born, not of self-sacrifice, but of gratitude.


This weekend, let's allow ourselves see that this holiday is about far more than coloring eggs or gathering with family. It is about remembering. It is about wonder. It is about being loved when we deserve nothing at all. What amazing lessons to offer our families... life changing, to say the least. For me, it has been life-giving.


Blessings on your day!

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