Easter 2014

Happy Easter from the Armstrongs, 2014 Edition! 
We spent Easter this year at my parents house.  We were able to be home for the days leading up to Easter with family, which is the gift of being at a large Church with lots of pastors on staff!  It's one of the only Sundays all year that we can go to Church together, without him needing to teach or do anything and some years it works out for us to be out of town, but sometimes it doesn't.  This year we were able to get away and it was a big blessing to me especially.  Sundays have been exhausting and hard for me to get everyone around our big Church, so having Trav be off and with us was wonderful!   We changed things up even more and went to the Saturday night service at my parents' church, which was so great for families with young kids.  We were able to enjoy an Easter service without the stress of getting up early, doing the Easter basket thing, trying to get a meal on the table and the house cleaned for the relatives coming later!  We came home and grilled out and then got to bed with the promise of a slow Easter morning before everybody came over.  So much easier than my typical Sunday morning routine! 
We got some quick pics before the sun went down.  It was a beautiful Spring night! 
 And it was Sawyer's first official holiday!  You'd never know it in this pic, but he just got done screaming and was sucking on that paci to beat the band!  Ha!  Cute pic of my sister and her darling family! 
We also decided to try for a quick pic with my parents and their 3 grandkids! At this point there was some serious bribing going on with my kids who were over the picture thing, but this one turned out the best!  In a few months we'll be adding another bundle to this group :) I can only imagine the picture drama with 4!! 
We did get a nice, fairly slow Easter morning.  We had some relatives from our extended family coming for lunch, so my Mom and I were getting things in the oven and we were all cleaning up throughout the morning, but we still had plenty of time to enjoy a Sunday morning singing to our favorite worship songs, reading, sipping our coffee and reflecting on the joy of Resurrection Sunday!  It was wonderful!  
Pretty soon everyone started coming over, including this little cutie pie.  So fun to imagine we are just a few weeks away from a little guy of our own in Travis' arms! 
Sawyer was eagerly anticipating the ham I think  :) 
 My Mom pulled off an incredible spread, we were both exhausted after a week of constant cooking, but it was worth it!  
Love a Sunday to be "off" and just enjoy time together! 
 I'm including this picture because, hello Walker!  Look at that basketball stomach I'm sporting! ha! There's no hiding that baby now :) 
 Celebrating Jesus and the hope that Easter brings with my favorite people! 
I love these two and the pictures that result when I tell them to put their arms around each other...Carter always interprets that as a chance to squeeze Ava! 
 I almost forgot the Easter basket thing with all that was going on, but I got them to sit down and smile for me with the promise of a surprise  :) 
 This is Carter's forced "I'm going to smile but please can we be done so that I can dig into this bucket??"  Classic! 
 Immediately the candy trading began :) 
 We kept Easter pretty low key this year, I didn't even buy a thing for their Easter baskets (my Mom did for me!) but we did spend the week getting our hearts ready for Easter.  
 We used the Resurrection Eggs for the first time this year, which was great!  I thought they were very appropriate for the ages of our kids, you can certainly go as far as you want in detail depending on how old your kids are.  We let the kids open an egg every night before bed and we talked about what each symbol meant as much or as little as they were interested or confused.   By the end Ava could definitely explain each egg and tie it in to the cross and the resurrection, she was all over it this year!  Carter could name most of them but some of them were a little over his head.  We will definitely do this again next year.  They loved it and it was a great way to focus our hearts as a family.  
This is book that I highly recommend if you have little ones.  We've read it for about 3 Easters now and it's one of my favorites.  It does a great job of looking that the events of Holy Week and tying them together.  At the end of the book there are pictures of each event, prompting your kids to retell it and explain what's happening.  I found it at our bookstore, but this is a screen shot from Amazon.  If you have little ones I would encourage you to order it for next year!  
Not that you couldn't read it year round  :)  It's a good one, in addition to the Jesus Storybible or just passages straight from the Bible.  We also watched a few kids movies about the Passover this year, which Ava has been loving especially.  It's amazing the appetite kids have for the things of God!  We just have to be faithful as their parents to share God's Word with them and bring it to life and then the Lord is faithful to take it and plant deep seeds in their hearts.  I've been very convicted lately about speaking truth and trusting God to deliver it and transform hearts.  We don't have to bear the burden of conversion, which is so freeing!  We just have to be obedient and willing to share.  
Our favorite Easter activity as a family is still putting an Easter garden together!  We love the visual picture on our table for weeks, reminding of us the cross, the empty tomb and just how much Jesus loves us.  I can't begin to tell you the precious questions and conversation this has prompted with our kids.  It seemed like such a simple thing to do but it has paid off in eternal ways I believe.  Any chance we can take to make the Gospel come alive for our kids is worth it!  It's also worth it for what it does in my heart too.  

I LOVE Easter and all that it means...There is no one like our Savior Jesus, no one like our God!  It's not just a once a year thing we should observe, the Gospel is worth a daily consideration because it holds such promise and hope for our lives here and into Eternity.  Praying you had a wonderful Easter too!  And if you didn't get to do all that you wanted to with your own kids or family or friends, it's never too late to consider what Jesus did for us on that cross and by overcoming the grave!  
Every Sunday can be Resurrection Sunday!  

"This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."  1 John 4:10

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