Easter Scavenger Hunt


Easter egg hunts were one of my favorite church memories as a child. Plastic eggs filled with chocolate and other treasures dotted the church lawn like they came down with the rain overnight. Hard boiled eggs were dyed by someone’s loving hands and then hid near bushes and trees. Let’s be honest, though, these were the slightly less desirable bounty, left by the big kids for wide eyed preschoolers and toddlers slowed down by wonderment.

Easter egg hunts meant our parents didn’t have to drag us out of bed bleary eyed for Sunrise service. All they had to say was “Happy Easter!” followed by that blessed phrase, “He is Risen!”

We knew what that meant- grace, joy, Easter Breakfast, and you’ve got it- the Egg Hunt.

Stuff like this matters for kids at church.

While the message may not be as overt as the Sunday School lesson or the Children’s Sermon, it does share grace with them in a way that I don’t think our adult brains can comprehend. Eggs-schmeggs, sure, but to a child’s heart this speaks something different –

“I matter in this place.”

“I am seen in the Body of Christ.”

“My presence is not just tolerated, but welcomed and invited here.”

“These people speak my language, and I want to be a part of it.”

This layer of care for our church kids guides hearts to be open. Those little ears (and big ears) hear the message of Christ from your lips and then see the love of the Savior in action. They connect the dots between real life, real truth, real action, real faith and His real Word.

Once I was involved in children’s ministry, as an adult, and then bringing my own kids to church on Easter morning, I found the Great Egg Hunt fun, but lacking. It was special, great for photos and joy-filled church memories, but not quite what I was going for as a teaching moment. There had to be, not a better way, but something different to help direct the kids to the Word in a fun way, with treats, because, you know, Easter. 😉

So, I googled and pinterested the topic to death. I found lots of great ideas and alternatives. Praises to the Lord for creating many ideas, minds, and a zealous Spirit!

I would reference blog posts and idea makers here, but I really scanned about 47 different ideas and decided to create my own.For my own children’s ministry I decided to write my own Easter Scavenger Hunt. I do encourage you to look through Pinterest and search engines for similar blogs and ideas, however, since the origin of the idea for an Easter Scavenger Hunt isn’t mine.

This is an easy and fun alternative to help kids and families connect the treats they receive from your church or family gathering on Easter morning to the Word of Life. Each item in the Hunt is chosen for a specific reason that is linked to a Bible verse, for instance…

Betrayed with a kiss – Hershey kisses
Judas’s payment- silver coins
Romans 5:8 – chocolate cross

And more!

You hide the items for the Hunt around the church or lawn, your house, a park, anywhere, and give families the list of verses to read with the corresponding items.

 

I have attached the PDF of my own Easter Scavenger Hunt to make it easy for you- just print and duplicate!

Easter Scavenger Hunt PDF

If parents are still eating Easter breakfast, ask for volunteers or members of your youth group to help little hands find their treats. I wouldn’t necessarily disclude the youth from this hunt, though. I guarantee those bigger hands are going to want to get in on these treats, and they are an often forgotten age group who like fun and creative ways to learn the Scriptures as well. You could make them work harder to figure out the items by only giving them the verse list. This is especially fun if you’re feeling ornery. You could also give the kids an extra bag of the goodies and tell them to give it to a friend who didn’t get to go to church on Easter morning. You can trim your own hunt to make it smaller, or you could add to it.

Now I want to show up at all your churches and family events to see how you all used the hunt! Please share pictures or stories in the comments section so we can all share in the fun!

Easter joy to you all!

It is by His grace-filled death and resurrection that we are Saved, Redeemed, Set Free, Restored, and Made New. Let’s go share that message with big and little ones everywhere!

Looking to the New Year: Embracing a week of nothingness


That magical week between Christmas and New Years is always one of my favorite times of the whole year.

First, it’s filled with rest.

The busy Advent season rolls into Christmas morning. We enjoy a small and casual church service filled with jolly “Merry Christmas!”-es and “Joy to the World” sung at the top of everyone’s voice, whether they can sing or not. It’s a joyful noise kind of unabashed worship that is rare and wonderful. There’s coffee and Ohio-style coffee cake in long sugary strips. Then we come home. And we sit. We open presents. Sometimes friends and family visit or we visit them. There aren’t any rules or rushing. It’s a week with something we wish most of life held just a little more often…no expectations.

Second, it’s filled with togetherness.

People come and gather around our table or we gather round theirs. There’s munching and new lego sets that require help. There’s iceskating and games and too many baked goods. There’s a book and the last of the Christmas movies that never got watched. There’s wine and snuggles, fluffy blankets, and car trips. Sometimes, there’s nothingness and it feels like a slice of grace and restoration from the Savior Himself.

Third, it’s filled with what’s to come.

It’s that quiet time of contemplation that exists before planning. It’s not hard core we-must-get-stuff-done planning, but it’s that place before it. That time and space where we know we are going to plan some stuff, new stuff needs to happen, life needs to move forward, but nothing needs to be done yet. We get to just think about things without the pressure to act. We get to hope and dream about what’s to come. A little voice says action is coming and it’s coming soon. It feels fresh and filled with energy, but is not pressing. It’s the nudge of New Year’s, not the shove from a life left undone.

I pray you get to enjoy this special week. The space in-between. Jesus lived a span of 33 years between His birth in that stable and His death and resurrection on Easter Morn. The space in-between is purposeful and worthy of a breathe of thanksgiving. Let fill this time of not yet with more and more of Him. Always more of Him.


*To help you fill this New Year with a little more of Him, from today thru Jan. 2 you can get the Kindle version of Think of These: A Study of Philippians 4:8 for just $1.99! See the link below to grab the deal!

Think on These on Amazon
Also- plan to join us for our Spring Online Study of James, Good Gifts, starting March 6th! This study has study posts each week AND an optional weekly video segment. Sign up will begin in early February. Follow on your own or gather together a group from your church, your neighborhood, or online from anywhere!

Thankful for you!


Just a note to say today how grateful I am to all of you for reading along, studying the Word diligently, and seeking more of Christ, alongside me. There is so much joy in every piece of life’s journey, as messy as it can be, and I’m thankful to be in this adventure together!

When you recount how thankful you are today, add “Dear Lord…” to the beginning of your phrase and make it a prayer raised up to Him in authenticity.

Dear Lord…I’m so thankful for my family.”

Dear Lord…I’m so thankful for friends and turkey and green bean casserole and board games.”

Dear Lord…I’m so thankful for the freedom of speech and worship and the testimony of you in those around me.”

Dear Lord…I’m so thankful for people who came to work today and sold my forgetful self gluten-free flour cheerfully.”

Dear Lord…for Jesus, and Your Spirit, alive in our hearts, our lives, our homes, our children, our churches, and our futures…just thank you.”

Blessed day, friends at home and friends abroad. Today, where ever you are, may thanksgiving brake forth with your whole heart.

Who’s up for an Advent Photo Challenge?!

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I Love My Shepherd and GraftedHeart are teaming up this Advent season to offer you a photo challenge! This is a fun way to express your faith, get into the Word, and be creative this holiday season.

There are several ways you can participate.

First, download the Advent 2016 Devotions, found at the end of this post, or receive them each day in your inbox by subscribing to the blog. (If you are already subscribed, you are good to go!)  The devotion for each day is about 3-5 sentences long. Short and sweet!

Next, post your Advent 2016 Photo Challenge pictures on social media using #Advent2016, #ilovemyshepherd, and #graftedheart. Here’s some examples of photos you might post on any given day.

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a hot beverage or a mug #Advent2016 #ilovemyshepherd #graftedheart
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someone you love spending the holidays with #Advent2016 #ilovemyshepherd #graftedheart
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wrapping paper #Advent2016 #ilovemyshepherd #graftedheart

Participate as much or as little as you can. If you do decide to participate by posting photos for every day of the challenge and use the hashtags above, you will be entered to win our New Year’s Eve Prize Pack! Check it out…

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Do the challenge by yourself, as a couple, as a family, or offer it through your church or group!

More than anything, we want this to be a stress-free activity to enrich your Advent.

We pray this Advent resource helps you to reflect on the heart of the season and the love of Jesus Christ in your lives and families, as you Make Ready for His coming!

Here’s the link! Looking forward to sharing together  –

Free and downloadable Advent Photo Challenge – Make Ready!

Promises to Keep


My children are promise trackers. If you tell them that we “might” go to visit a friend, it’s as good as complete to them. If you suggest there “may be” dessert in the cupboard, you better have checked the status of the Oreo package before throwing haphazard statements around. Children misunderstand the difference between promises and basic conversation. They often believe that something stated is something as sure and certain as the sun rising each day. Adults should always be cautious about making promises they can’t keep, but it’s also an important skill for children to learn that promises are meant for big things, not Oreos; life happens, and forgiveness reigns where there is trust.

God makes promises to us in the book of Isaiah, over and over again. These are not maybe-there-will-be-Oreo promises. These are big promises.

The virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel… 

But He was pierced for our transgressions…

With righteousness He shall judge the poor…

My servant shall be exalted… 

God tells us clearly in Isaiah that not one thing is missing, not one promise is left out or abandon.

Not one promise is broken.

Hear it for yourself by reading Isaiah 34:14-16 –

And wild animals shall meet with hyenas;
    the wild goat shall cry to his fellow;
indeed, there the night bird settles
    and finds for herself a resting place.

15 There the owl nests and lays
    and hatches and gathers her young in her shadow;
indeed, there the hawks are gathered,
    each one with her mate.
16 Seek and read from the book of the Lord:
    Not one of these shall be missing;
    none shall be without her mate.
For the mouth of the Lord has commanded,
    and his Spirit has gathered them.

While goats and fellows, owls and nests may seem obscure, they couple up. This is how God’s promises work. Verse 16 above brings the obscurity together, reminding us that as we seek and read, our eyes are opened and every promise meets its rightful destination – fulfillment in Christ Jesus.

God does indeed keep His promises…because He gathers.

He gathers prophecies up in His Word and fulfills them all like puzzle pieces clicking together over the course of time. This match here, that match there. We are given the privilege of studying them, finding a promise, seeking its fulfillment in the Word and lifting the pieces up in praise to His name.

We may as parents misspeak. Life may happen and promises might fall by the wayside, but God is completely in control. He reigns over the universe, so life doesn’t get in the way for Him. He is also perfect, so not one promise falls. He is ever-present in all time. He sees the whole of eternity before Him and He plans accordingly.

How often, however, are we like children and try to hold God to promises He never made? How often do we claim He promised worldly treasures, when He really promised just what we need? How often do we rail at Him for our suffering, when He promised to be there with us in it, rather than to give us a life called perfect by our own standards? How often do we demand control in life, when He promised to lead rather than leave us in the white-knuckle life of fear, fighting for control?

God’s message in Isaiah through the gathering of prophecy and fulfillment is this –

He gathers up His promises and holds them tightly for just the proper time. Every Word will be fulfilled. When we can’t see what He’s doing, we lean into His promises that never change.

Not one promise broken. Not one.

Because He gathers.


Exploration:

What kind of plans disappoint children when they are broken? What kind of plans disappoint us, as adults, when they are broken?

How do you differentiate between a plan that is able to be shifted and a promise that can not be broken?

Do you think God differentiates in His word between plans and promises?

What promises of God do you cling to?