Creative Ideas for Easter
About the Guest
What are you doing to teach your children the true meaning of Easter? Moms Barbara Rainey and Tracey Eyster tell how they celebrated Easter when their children were young, and share some fun ideas that can help your children embrace the wonder and awe of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Barbara RaineyAfter graduating from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, Barbara joined the staff of Cru® in 1971. With her husband Dennis, whom she married in 1972, the Rainey’s cofounded FamilyLife®, a ministry committed to helping marriages and families survive and thrive in our generation. Barbara is a frequent speaker and guest on FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s award-winning nationally-syndicated daily radio broadcast. She is the author or coauthor of...more
Tracey EysterTracey Eyster is the Founder and Executive Director of MomLife Today. Tenacity and a passion for momlife has fueled her relentless pursuit of following God’s call to speak wisdom and truth into the lives of moms through writing and speaking. Tracey is the mom of two, a teen and a 20 year old and her home is regularly full of their friends as she intentionally invests into their lives. She delights in doing video interviews and exploring momlife with all types of moms. Her first book, Be The Mo...more
Moms Barbara Rainey and Tracey Eyster share some fun ideas for celebrating Easter.
Creative Ideas for Easter
Bob: Easter is still several weeks away; and while retail stores may not have their Easter displays out yet, Barbara Rainey says, “You ought to have Easter on your mind, at your house.”
Barbara: It’s not too early to start thinking about Easter and planning, “What can you do, in your family, to make the celebration of Easter as important as it really is?” Instead of making it kind of an afterthought or, “It’s just a little bit different Sunday,” what can you do to really make this Easter Sunday stand out, among all the other Sundays of the year?
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, February 20th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. We’re going to talk to moms today with a couple of moms about how you can make Easter a more meaningful season at your house this year. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Wednesday edition.
Dennis: Bob, you know back last—well, it was Christmas holiday. We had 12 inches of snow here.
Bob: I remember.
Dennis: I mean, we were without electricity for five days.
Bob: Well, you were out of town for part of those five days; weren’t you?
Dennis: We arrived back at midnight, and it was 40—in the 40’s—
Dennis: —inside the house! [Laughter] Well, in the weeks that followed, I pulled out my chainsaw and got a chance to be “the man”, again, with my chainsaw.
Dennis: And I have a STIHL® chainsaw. Anybody who’s got a chainsaw knows that you’re a real man if you’ve got a STIHL.
Bob: How do you pronounce STIHL?
Dennis: It’s a “steal”—a “steal” or a “still”—alright? It doesn’t matter. [Laughter] Anyway, I was out there; and I’m cutting these trees down that have broken in half and—[imitates the sound of a chainsaw]. Oh, yes! Oh, yes! I was out there doing it, and I ran across something that just sent me back to this time of year. I ran across a plastic Easter egg.
Bob: In your backyard?
Dennis: Yes, in our backyard. Now, we kind of live in the woods. So, the backyard is—
Bob: Kind of goes for a-ways?
Dennis: It—well, it goes for a-ways, but it’s raw.
Dennis: It’s raw. It’s not manicured, okay?
Bob: We call that zero-scaping. That’s what that’s called. Yes. It’s a lovely name for it. [Laughter]
Dennis: And I found this Easter egg, and it harkened me back. We used to have Easter egg hunts—
Dennis: —with our kids, out in the woods. We had sections drawn. We’d invite the whole team over from FamilyLife. We had a section for the under five-year-olds. Then, we had an elementary; and, then, a junior high. Then, we had one for live rabbits and chickens. So, the parents knew that if they went looking in that section there, they were going home with something that was alive. [Laughter] I just had a big smile on my face. I thought, “You know what? There are some great memories to be made”—
Dennis: —“around Easter; but especially, around the message of Easter.” I was just reading about it, here in 1 Corinthians 15. It is the apex. It is the foundation of the Christian message: “If Christ isn’t risen from the dead,” Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15, “then, our faith is in vain,”—his preaching is in vain, Christ hasn’t defeated death; and when we go to a funeral, it’s hopelessness—it really is—but because Christ has defeated death, there is great hope in the message of Easter.
Bob: Your wife, Barbara, has been joining us this week. We’ve been talking about Easter—not because it’s right around the corner—but because we’d like to be focusing on it even a little further out than normal, and have everybody thinking about this season of the year and how you can maximize it.
Barbara’s back with us again today. Welcome back.
Barbara: Thank you, Bob.
Bob: We’ve been talking about a new resource that you have developed that is called “Behold the Lamb”. It’s a wreath that can be placed in your home—on a door, on a wall, on a stand that you put on a coffee table or on an end table somewhere. Attached to the wreath—there are cards, in each packet, that explore the eight “I AM” statements that Jesus made about Himself in the Gospel of John. So, you use this as an Easter devotional during Holy Week; right?
Barbara: That’s right. Yes.
Bob: And today, we’ve asked Tracey Eyster, who heads up our MomLife Today® blog to come in and join us. Tracey, welcome.
Tracey: Hi! Good to be here.
Bob: Nice to have you back with us.
Dennis: She is also the author of Be the Mom, which is all about what we are talking about today.
Bob: Yes, we’re going to talk about ways that moms can get engaged with kids, during this season of year, to help draw attention, not just to the season, but to the message as Dennis was talking about. I say, “Mom’s get involved,” because—let’s just be honest—dads are not going to do the crafting and the baking—
Barbara: That’s right.
Bob: —that’s associated with this.
Dennis: No, they’re going to be good for finding the plastic eggs—the plastic Easter eggs—
Bob: Twenty years later.
Dennis: Twenty years after the event. [Laughter]
Bob: So, I’m just curious when your kids were little, Barbara, were there annual traditions? This is before the days that FamilyLife had created our “Resurrection Eggs”®.
Barbara: That’s right.
Bob: So, you were on your own to come up with ideas. Were there any that you did, year-in and year-out, with your kids?
Barbara: No, there really wasn’t. I’m sad to report. I wish I had come up with some genius idea when my kids were little; but I was too busy, and too tired, and too overwhelmed to come up with a really great idea like I wanted to. We did hide eggs, and we always talked about the Resurrection. We made a big deal of Easter Sunday and celebrating Christ rising from the dead, but I longed for tools. I longed for ideas and things that I could do to really emphasize that truth with our kids.
And you are right. This is for moms because moms are the ones who want those traditions. We’re the ones who want to impart those lessons to our kids, and we need help. We need lots of ideas.
Dennis: “Behold the Lamb” is going to do that.
Dennis: I mean, this is a—
Barbara: Hopefully, it will.
Dennis: This is a resource tool for families—year, after year, after year—to teach the truth about Christ, around the Resurrection season.
Tracey, what about you and your family? What did you guys do?
Tracey: What we used to do—Bill would read the account of Easter, starting with when Jesus entered Jerusalem. Our children would act out whatever he was reading. We have two kids. So, it was sort of this round table acting out. One would be the donkey, and one would be Jesus. Then, somebody would have to run over and throw some palms down. So, it was a massive acting.
But it was interesting because through the years—we didn’t do it ever year—but through the years, you would see that their understanding—and then, they would personally take on and think more about what was happening to Jesus or what was happening to the crowd. It was interesting to watch how their depth of thinking about the Easter story grew as they grew.
Bob: Did you do this all in one sitting, from the Triumphal Entry, all the way through the Resurrection?
Tracey: It was different times—different years—
Tracey: —as I recall, over different parts of the stories. Then, sometimes, it would be: “Wait! We want to act this out.” So, then, they’d jump up; and they’d act that part out.
Bob: That’s cool.
Barbara: Yes. You know, we didn’t ever act out the Easter story. I was thinking this through, but I remember very clearly our kids did act out other things. They loved to do plays. Of course, they always charged Mom and Dad money to come, and sit, and watch them so they could earn a few little coins for their productions; but because we had six, we had a few more characters for the parts.
But I remember, in particular, our kids acting out the stoning of Stephen one year. I totally agree with Tracey in the fact that—when our kids do these little plays and they get into role-playing—they really do learn. I remember when our kids did the stoning of Stephen. Our son was Stephen. He was standing over there, and our other kids all made up rocks out of tin foil balls. They were having such a great time throwing these tin foil balls at our son, Samuel.
But all of a sudden, in the midst of their little play, Samuel’s face totally changed. I’ve never forgotten this moment, but it was like this dawning light of realization came over him. It occurred to him what was really happening—what really happened in the story that Stephen was a martyr and that he died for his faith. I remember so clearly that realization that came over him as he acted that out.
And I know that would be true if kids acted out the Easter story, too. They would understand a little bit deeper what it meant for Jesus to come in on the donkey, what it meant for Him to be betrayed, what it meant for Him to give up His life on the cross for us.
Bob: Did one of your kids actually act out the nailing of another one to a cross?
Bob: You never carried it out to that—
Tracey: They would look at—like a blank space—like that’s where Jesus was.
Bob: Got it.
Tracey: Samara would be Mary. So, they acted out in a different way. I remember Wesley—because he’s a guy and he’s a kid—I can remember some realization for him when it came to the Roman solider because I remember him pretending to have a spear and like he was spearing Jesus’ side. Again, that same thing—like you remember with Samuel. You could see that that was clicking in His head—and he was thinking. Again, I think it brings it to life for them; and it sticks with them.
Bob: At our house, one of the things that Mary Ann did—and this takes us to the kitchen, which is a place where a lot of family memories get made; right?
Bob: Because a lot of food gets made, but she used to do an empty tomb cake. I went online and found that there are recipes for this—and other people have done this. I’m sure—this was pre-internet—but I’m sure that somebody shared this recipe with her, where you make a round cake, you cut the middle of it out, you make a second layer, and you put the second layer over the top with this middle cut out of the first layer. So, now you’ve got this empty tomb inside. You ice the whole thing over; and then, you cut out an opening into the empty part of the cave and put a cookie—a big giant cookie, as the stone, in front of it.
We would have that out, I remember, Easter weekend and would eat it on Easter Sunday, after we’d roll the stone away and verified that there was nothing inside the cake. I don’t remember anybody craving the cake in particular, but it was just a good physical reminder—something that drew the kids’ attention—“What’s that?”—and engaged their imaginations.
I know, Tracey, you’ve talked to some of the folks on the MomLife Today® Facebook® page and asked them for ideas. Were there kitchen-related ideas that you found from them?
Tracey: There were some kitchen-related ideas. One that—it wasn’t on our page, but I found it on another page, where a woman said that—much what you did with the cake—but she made a bunt cake and she cut it in half—
Tracey: —and she sat it down. So, that might make that one a little simpler if someone heard that one.
We also had a mom on the MomLife Today Facebook page that said that they do a formal tea—that her children had gotten a little bit older—and so, some of the things that worked when they were younger weren’t working as well. So, they have a formal tea at her house, which I thought sounded kind of nice.
Bob: Interesting. Did she say that they do it on Easter Sunday or—
Tracey: Easter Sunday. She makes a big deal out of it—invites a lot of different people—so that there is a full table. They have a nice little, formal Easter tea.
Dennis: Speaking of inviting people, I know a number of our listeners, over the years, have gotten involved in what FamilyLife has hosted—“The World’s Largest Neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt”.
Dennis: So, they would host an Easter egg hunt on their property—maybe, in their yard—and they would use the 12 plastic eggs from “Resurrection Eggs” and place them amidst of the other eggs that had prizes in them. Then, get all the kids together and begin to open the various colored eggs that had objects in it that told the story of Easter and shared the Gospel with kids.
Bob: So, some of the eggs had gummy bears, and jelly beans, and all of that in it; right?
Dennis: Yes; but the evidence was immediately eaten, at that point. [Laughter]
Dennis: There was no story to tell there.
Bob: —but if you opened one of these plastic eggs, and instead of jelly beans you found a donkey, then—
Bob: —then, whoever the parent is—would stop and say, “Well, let’s talk about the donkey. Why do you think there’s a donkey in there?” And get a chance to tell the Easter story, using the “Resurrection Eggs”. In fact, our team developed an activity book that is—I was just looking at this—60-some pages with coloring pages. There’s a maze, there are games, and there are all kinds of things you can do that tie in to the “Resurrection Eggs”.
This is on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com. You can download it free. It’s a PDF document. So, you can download and print it out or just thumb through it. Find the ones that work for you, make copies—use them however you want to and engage your kids. Again, this is just a great season of the year to be able to do that.
Dennis: If some of our listeners have ideas, Tracey, wouldn’t you invite them to come to MomLife Today blog?
Tracey: That would be great because, more than anything, on our blog and on the Facebook page, we would like to share ideas and have community together. I know one of the ideas I think in that booklet came from someone a few years ago that had been part of our MomLife Today community. I remember them giving us—as I recall—it had something to do with meringue—making little meringue balls that are hollow so that that would depict the tomb being empty the next day. So, yes, we love to get ideas from our moms. You never can tell when it might show up somewhere.
Bob: Well, and probably the fastest way to get to the MomLife Today blog is to go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click on the link that we have there that will take you right to where the discussion is going on. So, if you’ve got ideas that you want to chime in or if you want to read what other moms are talking about—again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click on the link for the MomLife Today blog.
You have heard from others as you have gone on Facebook and invited folks to share ideas. What were some of the other ideas that people had?
Tracey: Well, to me, it wasn’t very surprising that one of the biggest ideas that we heard repeatedly was about “Resurrection Eggs”.
I know, even last year, I was at a homeschool event, speaking. We had a booth there. You would not believe the number of children that were drawn over to our booth because we had “Resurrection Eggs” sitting there. I’m talking—there were five-year-olds that came over, and nine-year-olds that came over, and sixteen-year-olds came over—that started explaining “Resurrection Eggs” to me. So, I can vouch for the fact that a lot of our moms out there enjoy the “Resurrection Eggs”.
I remember there was one mom, Carla, who said that part of what they do, at their home, is they watch movies. So, whether it was Narnia or Passion of the Christ—just as a family, they would watch movies. I know—my family—we used to always watch The Ten Commandments. Then, I carried that on with my children. Then, it’s just a great way to start discussion in the family.
Bob: Of course, you don’t want to watch Passion of the Christ with younger kids because it’s—
Bob: —it’s pretty raw. The JESUS film may be a better option, and there is a JESUS film for kids, too; right?
Dennis: There is; and you can go to our website, again, to find out more information about that.
Bob: And our family—I don’t know if you ever watched any of these—but we’re kind of into movies at our house; right? So, our family would watch The Robe. Have you ever seen the old movie, The Robe?
Barbara: Love the movie The Robe.
Bob: Yes, okay.
Barbara: And Ben-Hur—did you watch Ben-Hur?
Bob: And Barabbas. Anthony Quinn was in the movie, Barabbas, in 1962, I think it was. There was a period of time, in Hollywood, from the late 50s to the early 60s, where they were making biblical epics, all the time. Some of these—The Robe is a stirring film about somebody who finds the robe of Jesus. It’s fictional, but it still engaged the kids to be thinking about that period of history.
Tracey: I did want to add that the—going back to the dinner table—that last year, when we read our “Behold the Lamb” booklets—it was a perfect time because we were all together at the dinner table. We put our wreath, right there, in the kitchen. Our 16- year-old son—he would read it at the dinner table. It made for really good dinner conversation. So, he would take the card over and place it on the wreath. So, definitely, we agree with the whole dinnertime conversation. That’s when you get them. They are ready to talk, then.
Barbara: And I think that’s so cool that Wesley, at 16 years old, was involved in doing this. I mean, we tend to think of these things for our younger kids; but these teenagers need to learn, too. And they’ll get involved. We just need to not be intimidated by their—
Dennis: Well, again, the statements that Christ made about Himself in John: “I am the door,” “I am the good shepherd,” “I am the Messiah,” and then, the last one on Resurrection Day, “I am the Resurrection, the true life.” I mean, what a great opportunity to talk about how Christ—
Well, when our granddaughter, Molly, died, someone sent us a poem that described a grave as a doorway cut in sod. So, a grave can be a great opportunity to teach your kids that it is a doorway, if you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior—that it is a doorway to heaven.
Bob: Barbara, Easter is still weeks away. A lot of folks haven’t even thought about Easter yet. We’re just past Valentine’s Day, and it’s kind of like the last thing on your mind. It’s not going to be until the end of March this year, but you’re suggesting it’s not too early to start engaging on this subject.
Barbara: Well, I have a real desire to help families—believing families—celebrate Easter in a much greater way than we currently do. Most families may get new clothes for their kids. They may do an Easter egg hunt. They go to church on Sunday morning, and then come home, and, then, it’s over. But I would love to see us elevate the celebration of Easter in a much greater way, among those of us who know Christ.
So, I think it’s not too early to start thinking about Easter and planning: “What can you do, in your family, to make the celebration of Easter as important as it really is?” instead of making it kind of an afterthought or, “It’s just a little bit different Sunday.” What can you do to really make this Easter Sunday a real difference-maker in your family? How can you elevate it, within your family? Maybe, invite extended family, invite neighbors; but make Easter Sunday a celebration, all-day. Don’t just go to church, and come home, and go back to the ordinary; but think of some things that you can do to make Easter Sunday stand out among all the other Sundays of the year.
Dennis: If you go back and look in the Old Testament, God placed a great deal of emphasis on the symbols of the Passover and everything that surrounded it. I think He wanted to tie this in to families so that, through those traditions, the true meaning of Easter week—His death, His burial, and then, on the third day, coming back to life—the tomb is empty. Death is defeated. It’s a great way to instruct kids around the true meaning of the Gospel.
Bob: Tracey, in the MomLife Today community, this is a subject—this issue of spiritual development of your children—just comes up over and over again; doesn’t it?
Tracey: It does. And what I would say—when I was listening to Dennis, what I thought was, as a mom, you know your child’s bent. You know what would kind of excite them and stick with them. Even as I was listening to what he was saying, I thought, “So, this year, I’m going to get Wesley to get a big bucket of water, or paint, or something. I’m going to have him stripe our door because I know the way he thinks and what he likes. For him, to be able to do that—he’s just sort of lived out something that he’s heard, year after year, in the Bible.
So, what we like to do—and I would like to do—is just ask all those moms out there: “You know your child. You know their bent. If what would excite your child—is Easter morning, running out there and ripping all those black cloths off the window, and seeing the light, and saying: “He has risen! He has risen!” because you know that is the way your child is made—then, bring that to life for your child!
If you know your child is artsy and wants to sit down and make that cake like Mary Ann used to make and want—so, however your child’s bent is—search the Scriptures for what you know would make Easter come to life for them. And then, go for it! Make something up if you haven’t found it on the internet. And then, let us know about it so we can share it with other moms.
Bob: If you have little boys, go to the part in Scripture where Peter cuts off the ear of the guard because they’ll want to act that scene out over and over again, around the house—
Barbara: —especially, on their brother. [Laughter]
Bob: That’s right. That’s what I’m thinking.
Dennis: Yes, you just want to make sure you’ve got plastic swords.
Bob: That’s right.
Dennis: I mean, they, literally, might take that literally. [Laughter] Well, what we’re really challenging our listeners to do is engage—
Dennis: —and move beyond the Easter basket, with the chocolate bunnies, and some of the candy, that really—I’d like to know where that stuff is made. Some of that candy is just—
Bob: When it was made!
Dennis: Exactly! It has to be a hundred years old—some of it—but move beyond that to the glorious message that: “He is risen!” and, “Your faith is not in vain. He’s alive!” And because of that, He can engage people today—enter their lives and transform them into becoming like He was when He was here.
Bob: Well, and again, if you go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, we’ve got links to a lot of what we’ve talked about here—a lot of the ideas we’ve shared. There’s a link to the MomLife Today blog. So, if you’d like to include your thoughts about how you draw attention to the story of Easter, at your house, during this season, you can do that.
If you want more information about “Resurrection Eggs” and how you can order those—use those this year with your family—you’ll find that at FamilyLifeToday.com, along with the links so that you can download the activity book we talked about—the free PDF download that we have for that—and more information about the “Behold the Lamb” wreath that Barbara Rainey has created this year. All of this is available, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call if you have any questions. If you’d like to order by phone, 1-800-FL-TODAY is our number. That’s 1-800-358-6329—1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”.
You know, our mission, here at FamilyLife, is to provide practical, biblical help for your marriage, for your family, so that you can raise up the next generation to know and love Christ—so that your marriage can be strengthened in the process—and so that your family can be all that God wants it to be. And we appreciate those of you who join us in supporting this ministry and helping to undergird that mission. Your financial gifts help make this daily radio program possible. You cover the cost for producing and syndicating FamilyLife Today each week.
This week, if you can make a donation, of any amount, to help support this ministry, we’d like to say, “Thank you,” by sending you a copy of a book by author and journalist, Lee Strobel. The book is called The Case for Easter. In it, Strobel looks at the medical evidence for Jesus’ death—the evidence of the missing body: “Was Jesus really stolen from the tomb?” “How did He escape?”—and the evidence of the appearances to the disciples and to others. “Is the Resurrection a reality?” That’s what this book addresses.
We’d love to send you a copy, as our way of saying, “Thank you,” this week, when you support FamilyLife Today. Go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the button that says, “I CARE”; and make an online donation. We’ll send you a copy of the book. Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. That’s 1-800-358-6329—1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”. And again, we want to say, “Thanks,” in advance, for your support of the ministry. We appreciate hearing from you.
And we hope you can be back with us tomorrow when we’re going to go back in time. We’re going to hear Dennis Rainey sharing the Easter story with a group of preschool kids. Among those preschool kids are two of my sons—one of whom is now married; and the other, who is about to graduate from college. So, a little time travel tomorrow. Hope you can be here for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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