Jesus, Bread and Easter: Give the Children Something GOOD to Taste

This has been a crazy Easter season. The day we found out we were having a little boy, we also signed an agreement to sell our house. After devoting my life to a “show-ready” house and battling with the trials of pregnancy, there is nothing I’d love more than a laid back, contemplative Easter season.

Alas, the Lord has other ways to reveal His glory than in stillness alone. He also shows up when we’re doing our jobs, cleaning, schooling, working hard, feeding mouths.

Thursday was just such a day. We had to be out of the house for hours for an inspection. My folks are so gracious and let us come hang out at their place whenever we have to be gone for a showing etc. The night before I’d made dough for bread that has to rise overnight. So, I baked it just before we left and brought it along with us for lunch.

On the way over to my folks, I thought that the crusty bread would be a perfect way to illustrate the whole Easter story and we could still eat it for lunch.

Here’s what we did. We cut the loaf about 1/3 of the way in, then we tore out all the hot delicious innards and ate them.


My kids like it plain, with occasional dips of nutella. I like mine with PB and honey.


While we were doing this we talked about the Last Supper and how Jesus called himself the Bread of Life. How he said things like, “This is my body, broken for you.” The bread tasted wonderfully, as warm bread tends to do. This is an essential part of teaching my kids. If it tastes bad, how can they have a foundation to understand, “Taste and see that the Lord is good…”?

The big part of the bread crust becomes the tomb, the smaller portion becomes the stone that covers the tomb.


We saved a chunk of bread and Eliza fashioned a little man out of it.



When we got home that evening, the kids found sticks from the dead flower bed remnants and we made crosses, tied up with yarn.


It sat on the counter Thursday night, as I pondered how to set it up properly. Today the kids enacted Jesus on the cross and put him in the tomb. Then tonight, I pulled out some river rocks and serving tray and arranged it so that the crosses would stand up. The bread tomb is on a green towel, to look like a small hill.


This is the little “project” that isn’t. It isn’t anything at all, but real life. Real bread that we were making, a real meal that we were eating, to remind us of our real Savior. This isn’t a show put on for kids. This isn’t different from the truth that we live in every single day. This is His body, broken for us.


This is our table where we gather to enjoy gifts from His hand. Won’t you taste and see this Easter? He is GOOD.

singing Hosanna at home with the least of these

Illness is no respecter of holy days. Vomit does not keep a calendar. If it did, I’d be at church on Palm Sunday, not home with a baby and bodily fluids.

Mommas everywhere know the nagging disappointment of missing church, again, because illness has taken captive a little person’s body under your care. It’s especially tough during the holidays. No watching your other children sing their little hearts out in choir. No hugs with friends with that extra tight squeeze to let  each other know you care. No joyous trumpets announcing the coming King. And no palm branches waving with loud Hosannas praising–Jesus.

The desire to be with the people of God, to worship Jesus among them, to receive the preaching of the Word like a fire hose for my thirsty soul–these are good desires. And God delights to give me these gifts for my good and welfare. They are necessary blessings, which he regularly grants and ordains. But they are not what God planned for my Palm Sunday.

This morning, my sanctuary had laundry strewn about from the previous evening’s emesis, an all too perky Christian radio station blaring, and consisted of myself and one pale-faced, somber, little one. Rather than hearing the sweet voices of the children’s loud, “Hosanna!” the Lord received the praise of a weak-voiced thirty-something, whose Hosanna rang with tears and wet hair and slippers.

Elisabeth Elliot said, “This job has been given to me to do. Therefore, it is a gift. Therefore, it is a privilege. Therefore, it is an offering I may make to God. Therefore, it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God’s way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness.”

Can we mommas, at home with sick children, missing the preaching and fellowship of the body, say, “Amen!” to this? Do we believe that God withholds no good thing from us? That He is working this all out in a way that actually draws us deeper into Him and into greater satisfaction and peace? Do we trust that as we give good things to our sick babies at home because we love them that God the Father is giving us a fish, not a serpent, because He loves us all the more?

In the Sunday mornings at home, the Lord delights to give me bread, not a stone. He feeds me the bread by His Word. He ministers tenderly to my spirit by allowing me to fulfill His commands to the least of these: my sick, small, completely dependent and helpless baby. This child, for whom I would gladly give my life, I am privileged to sacrifice for on these mornings.

The Lord has poured out His wrath on His Son. His Son has sacrificed on my behalf. And it has been granted to me to lovingly care for my children with the strength of love by which Christ endured the cross. That is a powerful love.

So, mommas and daddies, and all those for whom God has ordained a time away from the presence of His people on Sunday or Saturday night, we can take heart in our loving Good Shepherd, who tends to us wherever we are—in our laundry-filled living rooms or rocking little babies, in our slippers or our Sunday clothes.

“He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will gather them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” Isaiah 40:11


hospitality and small children

I’ve been thinking about the joys and challenges of being hospitable with small children at home.

Having toddlers afoot amid home and meal preparations, while expecting a large or small gathering of people, can be a challenge. So much so that many people just don’t do it much at all. But it can also be a great joy and delight.

I have certainly experienced both the difficulties and delights of parenting kids while trying to keep everything picked up and in its place and keep enough gas in my tank so that I’ve got a truly warm welcome for the people walking through the door. The reality is, often I don’t have enough gas in my tank at the arrival of guests. But one thing I’ve always found to be true: God’s grace covers me over and over as friends and family and neighbors and guests enter our home. In my weakness, He is strong and He glorifies His greatness even more because of my tired, broken down reliance on him.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you pursue hospitality with small children at home:

1) Hospitality is a family affair. 2 and 3-year-olds can get a vision for it if you communicate it to them. So, be excited about serving others in your home and they will be too.

2) When you communicate the vision of hospitality to your little kids, make sure you let them know that it is an honor to receive guests, be it family, friends or strangers. Therefore, we seek to treat anyone who enters our home with special honor.

3) Start preparing early with the help of your children. If I know that we’re having a big group over, I begin preparations days in advance and engage the children as much as I possibly can. I let them know why we’re working on getting things in order, or getting food ready, etc. Often this brings on a plethora of teaching opportunities as your children may give you resistance, but it also gives them a wonderful sense of ownership in loving the people who come over.

4) Don’t let parenting and hospitality compete, let them complement. In other words, don’t sacrifice parenting for hospitality or vice versa. If you’re consumed with making your home perfect to the detriment and neglect of your children, that’s a failure all around. Hospitality is an opportunity to teach and better parent your children. Use hospitality to your children’s great benefit.

Or, if you abandon hospitality because it’s just too much work to do it alongside parenting, again, you’re missing the boat. If you’re not hospitable while children are afoot, you cannot bequeath that characteristic to them. And chances are you won’t magically start being hospitable when they turn 8 or 9 or 14 or 15. The pattern will be set.

5) While you can engage your children to help with many things, they can’t help with everything and that’s right and good. They learn by watching. Also, while you do the grown-up jobs, it is another time to teach them to play together peacefully (we aim high and fail often here!).

I often tell the kids they can each pick one toy or book to play with while I set about the grown-up jobs. This is good discipline for them. It helps them to explore all the fun ways you can play with ONE toy. And they often play together, because then they have access to the toys their siblings picked. This keeps messes to a minimum and creativity to the maximum.

6) Expect everything to go wrong. Because it will. You might think the children are playing quietly with their one-toy-a-piece when really they’ve just made a disaster area out of the basement. You may have the bathrooms polished a day in advance, only to have the three-year-old smear toothpaste on the hand towel, wall and floor, while the baby unrolls the toilet paper, again.

You may lay out the best, most inspiring vision for hospitality, only to have your child respond selfishly, with, “but I don’t want anyone else to sit in my chair!” All I can say is, persevere. It’s worth it. They’ll get it eventually. Not perfectly, not all the time, but in bits and pieces, they’ll start to love hospitality, they’ll love loving others, and hopefully they’ll love our hospitable God who inspires and commands it for His people.

7) Remember that it’s more important to do it wrong than not to do it. Say what?! Yes. Have people over, have everything go wrong with the kids not helping and the house not ready and the coffee unmade. Let people in. Turn down the voice in your head that can’t let go of all the things that are screaming at you as you walk through the house. The spot of who-knows-what under the kitchen chair; the smudges and handprints on the sliding door; the messy bed in your son’s room. Turn that voice OFF!

People have entered your home, you owe all your care and attention to the souls under your roof, not the dish left in the sink. It’s time to be Mary, not Martha.

8) Finally, make sure that even as you teach your children to be hospitable in your and their home, also be hospitable to them. While your children are not guests, they also are not going to be there forever. Take time to serve them and treat them with special honor, just as you want them to do to others. Children who’ve tasted what it’s like to be served and honored selflessly will have a better idea of how to do it for others. And more than that, they are worth it.

I hope you’re encouraged to be hospitable through the years of young children and messy parenting. Let the welcoming and tender care of your loving Father inspire you. He welcomes us because of His great love for us, love that comes at great and unthinkable cost to Himself. What a God we serve.

how children are provoked to anger, and what to do instead

Mark Altrogge at The Blazing Center had this insightful list of ways that children are provoked to anger. It was very helpful for me.

Here’s what he had to say about how children are provoked to anger:

“- By constantly criticizing them and not encouraging them.  When they feel they can never please us enough.
– By having double standards – Do as I say, not as I do.  Expecting them to do things we don’t do, e.g. ask forgiveness, humble themselves, etc.
– By anger and harshness
– By a lack of affection
– By telling them what to do or not do without giving Biblical reasons (e.g., Do it because I said to do it, or because it’s just wrong).
– By being offended at their sin because it bothers us, not because it offends God.
– By comparing them to others (Why can’t you act like your sister?)
– By hypocrisy – acting like a Christian at church but not at home
– By embarrassing them (correcting, mocking or expressing disappointment in them in front of others)
– By always lecturing them and never listening to them
– By disciplining them for childishness or weakness, not for sin
– By failing to ask their forgiveness when we sin against them
– By pride – failing to receive humble correction from our spouses or our children when we sin.
– By self-centered reactions to their sin (How could you do this to ME?)
– By ungracious reactions to their sin (What were you thinking?  Why in the world would you do that?)
– By forgetting that we were (and are) sinners (I would NEVER have done that when I was your age).

May God give us gracious, gentle, humble, affectionate hearts toward our children.”

Reading this makes me pray, pray and pray some more that Jesus would work in my kids’ lives despite their mom’s sins. I thought it would be helpful to turn this list into a positive “to do,” to go along with the “not-to-do.”  Sometimes I do better when I have a target to aim at, not only a boogey man to avoid. Both are good.

So, “Let us consider how to stir up one another (esp. our children) to love and good works.. encouraging one another and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24

Here’s the “how-to version” to stir up our children to love and good works:

– By encouraging them and letting them know how pleased and delighted we are with them. By pointing out the grace of God in their daily life.

– By setting an example in our daily walk with the Lord. Modeling humility. By expecting the same standard out of ourselves as we do out of our children.

– By being loving and brokenhearted when they sin. By sacrificing our own comfort and to-do list for the day to bring them back to fellowship with us and the family.

– By open and tender affection.

– By showing them examples from the Bible that they can understand and identify with to lead them towards the Lord.

– By being brokenhearted (not in a manipulative way) about their sin, because of its offense to God, yet being hopeful for their growth.

– By seeing them as uniquely formed and made by God for a purpose.

– By being consistent in our walk with God and our attitude toward them.

– By honoring them privately and, on occasion, publicly.

– By listening to their side and hearing the heart underneath.

– By bearing with their weaknesses and childishness. By being consistent in discipline for sin.

– By asking for forgiveness when we sin against them.

– By humbly receiving correction from our spouse or our children when we sin.

– By reacting to their sin with a concern for their soul.

– By graciously responding to their sin with firmness and lion-hearted love.

– By remembering who we were and who we are: fellow sinners with our children and (hopefully) co-heirs of Jesus with them as well.

teaching children to fear God and trust Him during a storm

We had severe thunderstorms with tornado sightings close by just a couple nights ago.

The kids know what the tornado sirens mean and are simultaneously excited and scared when they hear them.  On Saturday they rushed around grabbing their most beloved stuffed animals before racing downstairs to watch Dave Dahl and the weather radar on channel 5 (Dave is hands-down the best weather guy in the Twin Cities).

The sky turned dark and things seemed very still as we waited for the wind and rain.  Then it was upon us.  I could see our birch tree in front bent over practically in half.

Here’s an opportunity to help our kids fear God and trust Him.  And here’s a list of ways to do that:

1) Affirm that, yes, God is behind this storm.  He created and controls the weather.

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Isaiah 44:24 Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: “I am the LORD, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself..

2) Affirm that, yes, the weather is scary and God is not a pansy God.  He is not gumdrops and sugarplums.  He is to be feared.  He holds our lives and tornadoes in His hands.

Psalm 66:16 Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul.

Psalm 40:3 Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.

3) This storm is an expression of God’s love and grace for those who are in Christ Jesus.  This is not God’s wrath on us, even if it were to topple our home and take our lives.  We are protected from His wrath, because when we trust in Jesus and His work on the cross, we are now counted righteous and beloved in Christ.

Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 5:9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.

4) God is gracious, not only to His children, but to all people.  We can thank Him for His common grace in things like weather radars and tornado sirens and basements and cell phones and flash lights.

Psalm 145:9 The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.

5) As we rightly fear God, we are pushed to trust Him and run to Him for refuge.  Our God is a refuge.  He is an ever-present Help in times of trouble.

Psalm 46:1-3 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

6) Our God, the ever-present Help, hears us as we call to Him in prayer.  What an opportunity for kids to find their comfort in God as they pray to Him amid strong feelings of fear.

Psalm 18:6 In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.

I think the temptation we have as parents is to say to our kids, “It’s ok.  Nothing bad is going to happen.  God will protect us from this storm.”  Which, on the concrete level that kids operate on, is unmistakably false and deep down they know it.

They know that we can’t guarantee that the storm won’t knock our house down.  They’re children, they’re not stupid.

On a deeper level, it’s true, but incomplete.  “Nothing bad is going to happen.. because we trust that even things we feel as bad, God is working for our good for those who love Him.”  And, “God will protect us from this storm.. because we trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins and salvation of our soul even if we were to die tonight.”

My challenge as a parent is to gently show them the true God of the Bible and not make up a God that is palatable for them (or me).  They need to see that God is to be feared and trusted.  They need to be in awe of God as they run to hide in the shadow of His wing.

If they don’t get this when they’re young, making sense of the fearsome acts of the Old Testament may shake their faith as adults.  And Jesus’ bold and penetrating way of talking in the New Testament will be indecipherable for them.

Our children watch us to see how we respond in scary situations.  So, perhaps the biggest thing we can do is give them a peek at what’s going on inside of us.  Let them see that our faith is not theoretical, it’s real.

Here’s a photo of a bad storm from 2 summers ago.  We had to replace our siding, but the kids thought the hail was amazing!!!

a provocative reality for parents

Apart from their own sin nature, it’s almost certain that I will be the single biggest influence of sin in my children’s lives.

What do you think?  Do you own that?

Here’s why I own that and continue parenting with boldness(instead of throwing in the towel in hopelessness): Christ and His work on the Cross makes all the sin that I commit around and against my children an opportunity for them to see the effective and redemptive work of the Savior in their sinful mother’s life.

Do I sin willingly or without shame and grief: no, no, no.  But the grief that accompanies the sin, the confession and repentance and forgiveness that happen, are the primary ways my children will actually be able to see the Gospel with their own eyes.

And I pray that seeing it day after day, reading it in the Word day after day, that they will want to taste it for themselves.  And that God will call them to taste and see that He is good.  That He is sweeter than honey.  That the Person of Jesus is wonderful and terrifying and gracious and uncompromising and more than they could ever exhaustively know.

Yet that they will long for more of the knowledge of God and His Son and will pursue it with the complete devotion of bought and paid for children of the Heavenly Father.

what do you dream for your kids?

We all have hopes for our kids.  

Mine are very big and very small at the same time.

I want big things: that they will know God, love God, serve and worship God and His Son Jesus.

And on the smaller side, I want them just to be better than me.  I want them to master the things I’m not mastering.  I want them to be a better spouse, a better parent, a better person, than I am.  

The hardest and surest way to that happening is for me to be better than I am, by God’s grace.

And probably the majority of my parenting (75%?) is fear-based (mostly God-fearing, but some man-fearing too).  I parent to avoid what I don’t want them to be.  With fear and trembling I realize that without God’s grace and His strong tools of discipline, instruction, and love (ie their parents) my kids will be left to themselves and their sin nature.  

I want to keep parenting in fear (the Godly, right kind).  But I also want to dream great and Godly dreams for my kids.  I want to expect the best and be ready for God’s blessings in their lives.  He is a good God.  He gives good gifts to His children.  

It’s ok to eagerly hope for and expect God’s working in their lives.  And dream big dreams for them.

What are your fears and dreams for your kids?

parents, are you moralists or theologians?

Of course the two aren’t mutually exclusive.  

But what’s your bent when you teach your kids what Christianity is all about?  I admit that it’s easier for me to fall into teaching my kids the moralistic part of Christianity as the main point.

Bruce Ware, Professor of Christian Theology at Southern Seminary, has a new book out called, Big Truths for Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God.  Justin Taylor interviews him about it on his blog.  

Here’s the killer excerpt:

I suspect that most parents are more comfortable teaching their kids Christian ethics (love God, don’t love the world, tell the truth, don’t cheat or steal, etc.) than they are teaching them Christian theology (how can God be three and one? How is Jesus God and man?). Why is it important for parents to learn good theology and pass it on to their kids?

He follows up the question by saying:

The Christian faith is not moralism. Yet, we can (wrongly and dangerously!) pervert the Christian faith into this, in our homes and our churches. Our lists of “do’s” and “don’t’s” can become the sum and substance of our understanding of the Christian faith, and in this self-esteem saturated culture, this ends up redounding to the glory of the “self,” not the glory of God.

How much time do I spend making sure my kids understand the morality of Christianity compared to the time I spend diligently teaching them the truths of who God is, why Jesus came, and the total depravity of man.  We do talk about them, but is it primary?    

Moralism is easy.

It’s easy for grown-ups and kids.  We all know what to do with a rule.  Don’t lie.  Be kind.  Pray often.  Don’t envy.  And then we either feel good about keeping it or we feel good about breaking it.  Or guilty.  But massive weighty truths about God affect us differently.  They actually have the power to transform our mind, our heart, our worldview.

Here’s some truths that Dr. Ware says we all need to embrace, learn and teach:

  • who God is in his eternal fullness as the triune God,
  • who God is as Creator of all that is,
  • who we are as created in his image,
  • what sin is and has done to us,
  • why Christ came, who Christ is,
  • what he accomplished,
  • how we receive the benefits of his work on the cross,
  • what God provides for us to grow as his people,
  • what these communities of faith called “churches” are and what they contribute,
  • and what hope we have for life now and forever

I haven’t read Dr. Ware’s book, so I won’t endorse it.  But the stuff from his interview sure is helpful.  

How do you navigate being a parent-theologian?  It’s a big job isn’t it?!

the designer baby boondoggle

A fertility clinic in LA has finally gone all the way.  

They are now offering “designer babies,” meaning their clients can request certain traits for their babies like dark skin or blue eyes.  The clinic has not yet delivered on this promise, but is offering it nonetheless. 

I get the feeling that when people hear the term “designer babies” they think that the scientists are somehow doing the designing.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  There is one Designer and He has no rival.  

Scientists can no more cause a baby to have green eyes than the man on the moon.  They are not creating or giving babies certain genes, they’re not even modifying genes, they’re simply killing off the embryos that have the unwanted genes.

They used to limit this killing to “extra” babies; for instance the couple who makes 10 embryos, but doesn’t want 10 babies, so they only implant 2.  The rest would be killed.  This has  also involved killing off the embryos that had “defects.”  Like the ones with downs syndrome or a likely hood of disease.  

Now scientists search through embryos for the couples (or singles, to be sure) until they get the combination of eyes, nose and health that is desirable for them.  The scientists aren’t designing the baby with the desired traits, they simply screen the embryos until the desired result is found, then kill off the rest.

The BBC reports:

The science is based on a lab technique called preimplantation genetic diagnosis, or PGD.  This involves testing a cell taken from a very early embryo before it is put into the mother’s womb.

Doctors then select an embryo free from rogue genes – or in this case an embryo with the desired physical traits such as blonde hair and blue eyes – to continue the pregnancy, and discard any others.

The Wall Street Journal seems to misunderstand what is actually being done in PGD.  They say:

While PGD has long been used for the medical purpose of averting life-threatening diseases in children, the science behind it has quietly progressed to the point that it could potentially be used to create designer babies.

Let’s be clear.  PGD is not used to “avert life-threatening diseases in children.”  It is the life-threatening disease.  PGD kills the embryos that show any proclivity to imperfection.  So it is not protecting children.  It is protecting parents from the “hardship” of having a child with imperfection.  

Not only that, PGD doesn’t “create” anything.  It eliminates (scientists like to use the word “selects” cause it sounds better).  I can’t believe the way this is being reported.  As though the slippery slope is just beginning with designer babies.  

Wake up!  We already slid down the slope when we started eliminating the embryos with potential “problems.”  I’m riled up.  Can you tell?

is safety a virtue or vice?

Sometimes I will admit to people, “I’m not a real safety-oriented mom.”  

I hope you aren’t gasping in horror.  But it’s true (although mostly unintentional).  I just don’t think of safety a whole lot.  And it’s not because I’ve never been in proximity to people who have had bad things happen to them, like car accidents or other types of accidents.  I think it’s more of a combination of the way I was raised and what I hope is common sense.  Though I may be wrong on that.

Does knowledge require action?  If I know that kids are safer when wearing a helmet, am I then required (morally) to have them wear one?  And how often is often enough?  When riding bikes?  Scooters?  Running fast?  Always when on pavement?  When riding in a car?  In the home?

For me, I think of helmets as essential when on a high traffic street or when riding a motorcycle.  But it doesn’t seem like a big deal to me to let kids ride their bicycles without one in a neighborhood with minimal, slow-driving traffic.

But is this a legitimate moral line I’ve drawn?  Or just preference?  When does safety become a must?

Should I have child locks on my cupboards?  Should we have a barrier to our pond (although the tall grasses provide a pretty good one.)?  A fence around our yard?  The standard for safety seems to be getting higher and higher.  So much so that I believe our children will be in car seats until they are teens.  I wish I were joking about that.

Should I be viewing high safety standards as a bit of common grace from God that allows us to better protect our children?  Or is it a type of idol that we are enslaved to, giving us a false sense of control in regard to our children’s well-being?  Or maybe it could be either.  

Our parents certainly didn’t have the safety standards we do, but they also lacked the information and equipment.  So how much safety is enough to assuage our consciences that we’ve done enough?  

What are your must-do safety standards?  Do you think a high regard for safety brings glory to God?  What about those who are unconcerned with safety?  Can this view bring glory to God?