Resurrection Eggs

When my children were preschoolers we wanted to share the “Greatest Story Ever Told” with them but we wanted to do so in a way that would not frighten them.  Let’s face it, the last hours of our Saviour’s life were wrought with unimaginable pain and suffering.  Even as an adult I had a hard time watching the “Passion of the Christ” movie when it came out in theatres because of the graphic depiction of Jesus’ death on the Cross.  I knew the sensibilities of my children and I knew we needed to be sensitive to telling them the Truth while at the same time being mindful that they were still children with tendencies to have nightmares.  Still, the last week of Jesus’ life must be told and every child needs to hear it, so we used “Resurrection Eggs” to tell the Easter Story.

Some of you may or may not have heard of these. Believe it or not there is quite a bit of controversy regarding the eggs, (some think there is pagan symbolism associated with eggs).  I will not comment on the controversy, as parents you can do the research and make your own decision whether or not you choose to use this method or not.

For those of you who decide to use Resurrection Eggs, you should know there are store-bought Resurrection Eggs that are  available through LifeWay or can be ordered from any Christian bookstore, but we made our own using dollar store plastic eggs and filled them with items that we had around the house.  Again there are several “recipes” on how to fill the eggs, some use 18 eggs rather than the dozen to add more items and more scripture passages.  You can find these recipes online.

Here is our “recipe” for a dozen Resurrection Eggs.  We numbered each of the plastic eggs, filled them with the items listed below and then hid them around the house for the kids to “hunt” for.  When all the eggs were found we started with Egg# 1, opening it and then reading the scripture verse that went with the item and for each subsequent egg until we had read the entire Resurrection Story.

As the children got older of course we “put away childish things” (the eggs) and we read the entire Easter Story from the Bible and we have made it a tradition now to watch one of the many excellent movies on DVD that portray the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.  Every year I still put out the basket of Resurrection Eggs as I decorate the house for Easter and I will smile seeing my grandchildren opening each egg to take a peak inside knowing our family tradition will continue with them.

Egg#1Palm Branch (use a leaf).  Read Matthew 21:8-11.  Jesus rode into Jerusalem.  The people waved branches and shouted, “Hosanna!”

Egg #2Bottle of Perfume (use a perfume sample you can pick up at any cosmetic counter).  Read John 12:2-8.  Mary poured expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet.

Egg#3Piece of bread.  (use a crouton, they don’t get moldy).  Read Matthew 26:26-29.  Jesus shared the Last Supper with His disciples.

Egg#43 dimes.  Read Matthew 26:14-15.  Judas betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.

Egg#5A square of red fabric and/or make a small crown of thorns out of wire.  Read Matthew 27:28-30.  They stripped Jesus and put a scarlet robe and a crown of thorns on Him.

Egg#6A cross.  (you can get wooden crosses for necklaces at craft stores).  Read Matthew 27:31.  They lead Him away to crucify Him.

Egg#7A few nails.  Read Luke 23: 26-34.  Jesus is crucified.

Egg#8Dice.  Read Matthew 27:35.  When they had crucified Him, they divided up His clothes by casting lots.

Egg#9A tiny bag of crushed rock.  Read Matthew 27: 50-51.  When Jesus died, there was a great earthquake.

Egg#10Some whole spices.  Read Luke 23:50-56.  Spices were used to prepare Jesus for burial.

Egg#11A small round rock.  Read Luke 24:1-5.  The stone covering Jesus’ tomb was rolled away.

Egg#12Leave this egg empty.  Read Luke 24:6-8.  He has risen just as He said!

JESUS IS ALIVE!!  GO AND TELL!!

Writing Letters and Envelopes – Another Lost Art

The past two weeks I have been teaching lessons on how to address an envelope and the proper formatting of a business letter.  A task I letter and envelopethought might be covered in two lessons has taken two weeks.  Why?  Because my students have never addressed envelopes nor have they ever written a letter.  Shocked?  I was.

Just like my post the other day of cursive writing becoming a lost art due to technology (texting, computers etc.) letter writing is, in my opinion, going the way of the dinosaurs as well.

In my first lesson, I posed the question, “When was the last time you wrote a letter?”  My students seemed confused.  “Like to your grandma?…” I added.

“I texted her last night,” said one student.

“I Skyped her two weeks ago,” said another.

“No, that’s not what I mean.”  I chose my words carefully.  “When did you pick up a pen and a piece of paper and write a letter to someone?”

“You mean use “Snail Mail”?”  A light bulb seemed to blink on but then blink immediately off.

It was obvious not one student had written a letter over the past six months and as I probed further, most had NEVER written a formal letter, let alone an informal one to their grandmas.  As one student was quick to point out, what was the point of writing letters that would take a week or more to get somewhere when technology would allow them to immediately connect through social media or Facetime, Skype, text or email?  I couldn’t argue with their logic.

Here in Canada, our postal service is losing billions of dollars because Canadians are not using the service anymore.  The cost of a stamp has increased dramatically over the years, so even those who used to send the obligatory yearly Christmas Card to friends, now uses free e-cards, or sends a generic letter to all their email contacts or just posts a funny graphic on their Facebook page and then posts a new status to read: “Merry Christmas, All!”

I will admit, I don’t even know what a stamp costs.  I only sent a limited number of Christmas Cards through Canada Post this year and since I pay all bills online (and correspond almost exclusively online), I too, have abandoned the Canadian postal service.  Sorry guys!

It had me wondering why the Alberta Educational Curriculum insists that grade nine students be expected to write a formal business letter AND address an envelope correctly for their provincial exam?  Is it a big waste of time to teach it and will the students ever use the information afterwards?

Of course I can answer my own questions…

It is IMPERATIVE students know how to write letters AND address envelopes, and here’s why I think that.

Technology has not connected us as much as actually separated us.  There is no such thing as the “personal touch” anymore.  We hide behind our computer, phone and tablet screens and use texting language that has destroyed our ability to spell and use grammar correctly.  We are limited to 140 characters to express ourselves with this technology.  We never write cursively anymore, mostly everything is in printed font.  My students do not even know how to sign cursively their own names.  It’s sad.

When I pointed out to my students that one day they will have to apply for jobs, and a good cover letter is essential, as is a well written resume, that did seem to leave an impression.  Taking time to send a card or a personalized note hand-written to someone, shows to that person (at least of my generation), that they are worthy of the effort and it is a personal connection, not just a two-second text.  It is a special treat AND I save all cards and letters that have been written to me from my students.  (A big box in my closet gives testimony to my letter/card hoarding.)

Recently, a group of students from my school had to raise support money for a mission trip to Guatemala and one young man decided, along with the form letter from the school, to write a personal letter to each of his prospective contacts.  Of the forty students, he raised all his support plus $500.00 more!  His mom thinks it was because of the “personal letters” he sent.

So, I would like to know what my readers think: is letter-writing a lost art or is it a good skill to know and foster?  (If you need an example of a great letter-writer, look to Apostle Paul…just sayin’ :)

 

 

 

St. Patrick’s Day – Yay or Nay?

St_-Patricks-Day-Festival-Seoul-Korea-2012I will try avoid getting pinched again today, remembering to wear green to commemorate St. Patrick’s Day.  I’m not Irish, nor do I particularly like the colour green as an adornment but teaching in a Junior High School, it’s almost mandatory to “celebrate” this day by wearing obligatory green and accentuating my attire with a shamrock brooch.  It goes without saying, I won’t be attending any festive parades, nor will I indulge in drinking green beer.

People all over the world celebrate the 17th of March to honour St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.  Born in Britain during the 4th century, St. Patrick, was kidnapped when he was a teenager and enslaved by Irish raiders.  He was able to escape after six years and became a priest in Britain but later chose to return to Ireland as a missionary.  According to Irish folklore, he used a shamrock to explain the Christian concept of the Trinity to the Irish.  In spite of continuous opposition from pagan leaders, he continued to evangelize for thirty years while baptizing the newly converted and establishing monasteries, churches and schools.  He died on March 17th, and it is his “death day” we celebrate each year.

There is much debate amongst Evangelical Christians whether or not this day should even be acknowledged because it is predominantly a Catholic religious observance that has evolved into a day of celebrating Irish folklore, culture and national identity.  For those who are not Irish or have any religious affiliation, the day becomes basically a good excuse for a drinking party.

Here’s my opinion, take it or leave it.  Just like Christians observing Halloween, and St. Valentine’s Day and having no trouble with Santa Claus and including a few bunnies at Easter, St. Patrick’s Day falls under a “holiday” category where individuals and families must decide whether or not they want to participate in commemorating a predominantly secular event.  Wearing hearts for Valentine’s Day, or wearing bunny ears for Easter will likely not affect your Christian witness, neither will dressing in green and wearing a shamrock on St. Patrick’s Day.  If you want to evangelize, you might like to point out to those who do not know the symbolism of the shamrock to explain how the Trinity might be represented and you might have a conversation that shows how the shamrock is shaped like the Cross.  Of course that may be stretching the Christian symbolism too far.  My thought is to just enjoy the day like you might have enjoyed “Pi Day” on March 14th by having a piece of pie.  Wear a shamrock on St. Patrick’s Day but stay away from the green beer.  :)

A Lost Art

For the past couple of years I have been teaching at a Christian school.  I can honestly say it is a rewarding and challenging experience and I have been accumulating a storehouse of stories about my times in the front of a classroom.

For instance, in my capacity as the Junior High Language Arts teacher, I have had the pleasure (or pain) of teaching spelling, punctuation and grammar to grade eight and grade nine students.  Most recently I have been trying to prepare my grade nine students for their Language Arts PAT’s (Provincial Exams).

At the start of the year, I was curious how far “back to basics” I needed to go when I asked the question, “Who can tell me what a consonant is?”

One boy raised his hand, “Is that like Africa or Australia?”

I looked increduously at him,”That’s a continent not a consonant!”

Back to basics it is!

One day as I was writing out a few notes for my class on the white board one boy piped up loudly, “Mrs. Dove, I can’t read that!”

I thought that interesting since he was sitting near the front of the class and I was being as neat as possible with my cursive writing.  I looked puzzled and then he explained himself.  “I can’t read handwriting.  If you print it, no problem.”

I was shocked when there was a resounding chorus of “Yeah!” from the rest of the class.

Can’t read cursive writing?  Seriously?

I grew up in the era of chalkboards, typewriters and Gestetners (that’s an “ancient” form of a photocopier that was actually just a duplicating machine, in case you young “whipper-snappers” didn’t know.)  I remember we used to get awards for “Penmanship” in school.  I received quite a few in my elementary years and then in high school I started using an old Olivetti typewriter.  If I made a mistake there was no cutting, pasting, deleting or spell-check.  No sirree.  If I made a typo I had to pull the paper out of the typewriter and use tons of white out, or start all over again.

With the invention of the electric typewriter and then later the computer, I noticed as my keyboarding skills improved my handwriting skills seemed to decline.  “Writing” letters became a thing of the past when emailing letters was quicker and far more convenient thanks to cutting, pasting and the ever-popular spell-check.  Instead of writing, I was now printing because over time I just found it faster to print rather than “write” words if I wasn’t able to use my computer.  Texting also limited my usage of writing cursive letters…but that’s a whole other story…

Based on several conversations with young adults and youth, I have come to the conclusion that this generation of youth and children will likely never feel the need to write cursively.  It will become a lost art.

Is cursive writing a thing of the past and no longer needed?  What do you think?

Would love to hear your insights because next week, I will share how “snail mail” and addressing an envelope is also going the way of the dinosaur.

It Started With a Fish

For well over thirty years I have worked with children and youth either as their Sunday School teacher,blue fish Preschool Director, tutor, Elementary, Junior and Senior High School Teacher, substitute teacher, Children’s Minister, and youth leader.  I told someone recently that I have worked as a teacher with all ages from babies through to College and Career.  God gave me a passion to teach, and I have been blessed to do what I love to do these many, many years.  Still, after all these years I find that there is still more I learn from the kids than they learn from me.  That is just one of the many ways God humbles me.

In this season of my life, (as a Junior High School teacher, grandma, mom to three adult children AND published author), I work closely with youth everyday.  I have a dynamic group of students who keep me on my toes with questions and insights, and who keep me laughing with their exuberance and sparkle.

Working in a Christian school definitely blesses my life because I can openly share my faith with my students and we can have great theological discussions that not only challenge them but challenges me!

I often remind my students that they should boldly proclaim their faith and stand up for Jesus around their friends, however I too struggle with being bold.  Sometimes I need a reminder that we must have a sense of urgency when we witness to our friends…it is literally a matter of life or death.  Do we truly understand that?

Years ago a passionate seminary student, gave one of the most profound talks I had ever heard to our youth group at church.  Trevor looked out over his youthful audience, took a deep breath and then held up a plastic bag.  Swimming inside the bag filled with some water, was a little blue fish.  Trevor called him, “Little Joe” and proceeded to tell us how Little Joe was a breed of fish that thrived in hot springs.  From B.C. to Alberta, hot springs abound, so we were immediately intrigued by this knowledge.  Trevor said that he had heard that when the fish is removed from the hot springs they tend to change colour if put into cooler water, but the fish will return to it’s natural colour if it is once again returned to hot water.  He said he’d like to test that theory, and proceeded to place the bag with “Little Joe” in a pot-like kettle that he then plugged in.  While waiting for the pot to boil, Trevor proceeded to talk to the students about Heaven and Hell.

Now, admittedly try as I might to concentrate on Trevor’s discourse, my eyes were constantly drawn to that pot of water.  And as the water began to boil, I heard gasps from several girls.  “He’s going to kill that fish!”  one girl whispered to me.  I started to have visions of students going home and describing to their parents what transpired at youth group that night.  I already envisioned irate parents and phone calls and traumatized students never wanting to come back to church ever again.  As the water boiled, more and more students lost interest in what Trevor was saying and I finally spoke up, “Enough is enough, Trevor!  Save the fish!”

Trevor calmly unplugged the boiling pot, looked down at the “Little Joe”, and then said, “Little Joe didn’t change colour.”  Thud.  He didn’t need to say more.  I was mortified.  I dreaded to see the carnage!

Trevor calmly turned and faced the youth, “We’ve been talking about Heaven and Hell.  For those of you who have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you know that at the end of your life you will join Him in Heaven.  However scripture tells us that for those who turn away from God, they are eternally separated from Him and that is what we call Hell.”  Trevor then expounded on what Hell is described as like in scripture: “The fire of hell” (Matt. 5:21); “eternal fire” (Matt. 25:41); “eternal punishment” (Matt. 25:46); “fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:48); “in hell…in torment” (Luke 16:22-24).

Trevor looked over his audience of young listeners.  He had everyone’s attention.  “As much as you were worried about Little Joe being boiled alive in that pot of water,” and he lifted a bag and we saw with great relief Little Joe swimming contentedly in the bag, “Little Joe was never in that boiling water.”

He showed us how he had switched bags without us knowing it.  I gasped at his slight of hand, and then the room was so silent you could hear a pin drop.

“As much as you were worried about a little fish being boiled alive,” Trevor repeated, “how much more should you be concerned about your friends facing eternity in hell?  Doesn’t this give you cause to think about being more bold about sharing your faith with everyone you know?”

Point taken.

That evening in our small groups, the girls were a-buzz about “Little Joe” and I was able to share the gospel as openly as I had ever done before with the girls.  The following week another vibrant speaker gave a clear gospel message at the midweek meeting that built upon what we had discussed the week before.  As a result when the invitation was called, 8 students went forward for the first time and prayed to receive Christ as their Lord and Savior.  Three of those students were from my Gr. 8 small group.  Many more youth rededicated themselves to sharing their faith with their friends.  The following week, 7 more students went forward wanting to follow in believer’s baptism.

And to think, it all started with a fish!