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I am always looking for meaningful ways to teach my kids about Easter. If you are like me it’s pretty easy to let Easter slip by without intentionally pointing your kids to think about Jesus’ death and resurrection and why that makes a difference in our lives. It is a holiday definitely worth putting a little extra thought into as we celebrate that HE IS RISEN! I thought I would share a few ideas and resources I have used with my boys over the past few years here on the blog today…

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*A few years ago we made an Easter grass tomb. Look how little the boys were (2 & 4)! As you can probably tell from the photos, the boys loved this and our kitchen turned into a full construction site before we were done. It was so exciting for them to watch the grass grow and find the stone rolled away and the tomb empty on Easter morning! You can read the full post here.

*This year it is probably too late to make the Easter grass tomb so I think we will make our Easter mountain out of salt dough again. We’ve made one before and the boys loved it too! Noel Piper talks about making an Easter mountain in her book Treasuring God in Our Traditions (such a good book!) and Ashley Ann has a great tutorial here.

*We always love making resurrection rolls. I’m guessing Tiny will be a big fan of these this year!

*We love SEEDS music at our house and they have an Easter album now! Seeds of Easter compiles Seeds Family Worship songs that help you and your family celebrate Easter! Such a good way to get God’s Word in your mind and heart. (If you haven’t heard of Seeds before, make sure you check out their website because they have a free CD download right now!)

*This What’s In the Bible video about the meaning of Easter is so good.

*And we are getting ready to start using our Resurrection Eggs as Easter is quickly approaching. My kids love these! You can get a set at DaySpring and they are generously offering a coupon code just for you! You can take $5 off any $20 purchase at checkout with code 5OFF20 – this is especially awesome as DaySpring just launched their Fill Their Basket Sale! If you combine the coupon with the sale you can get some really great deals to fill up your kid’s Easter baskets. (Note: the Resurrection Eggs are not part of the sale but most of the other items from my last DaySpring giveaway post are included so make sure to check out the sale!)

There you go! If you have any ideas to add to this list leave a comment below so we all can hear!

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  • Jennifer - Did you make the banner hanging on your chalkboard? I love it!ReplyCancel

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  • Jennifer Minor - Did you make the banner hanging on your chalkboard? I love it!ReplyCancel

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  • Jennifer Minor - Did you make the banner hanging on your chalkboard? I love it! JenReplyCancel

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  • Jennifer - I’m sorry for the 3 comments. My computer was doing something crazy! Yikes!ReplyCancel

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I love Easter.

We have never done big Easter baskets with our kids, but I love finding books and other activities to help my kids think about Jesus’ death and resurrection during the Easter season.

Whether you are looking for meaningful gifts for Easter baskets or just a few tools to help point your kids towards Jesus during this season, DaySpring has some great things for kids!

Here are some favorites that I filled my basket with:

Eli’s Best Day Ever Gift Set

Eli’s Best Day Ever | The Tale of Three Trees | God’s Easter Promise

(Great board books! The Tale of Three Trees is my favorite if I had to choose one.)

Happy Easter Color Your Own Stickers | Spring is Here Color Your Own Stickers

Resurrection Eggs

And these last two things were not pictured but are also favorites that would make great gifts! The plush sheep is adorable in her little yellow rain gear. And her name is Cora, so there’s that. The Jesus Storybook Bible is the best children’s Bible ever. If your kids or grand kids don’t have this Bible they need it! It would be the perfect Easter gift.

Really Wooly Cora Plush Sheep

Jesus Storybook Bible

The Resurrection Eggs are my kids’ favorite. I made DIY resurrection eggs when Levi was a toddler but the little items didn’t hold up so we got this set a few years ago. I love that all the objects in each egg are so durable and the kids can play with them. We open one egg each day and read through the Scripture passages in the book (or use the Jesus Storybook Bible too!) during the twelve days leading up to Easter. They are perfect for toddlers like Jake (2 1/2) and so far still keep Levi’s attention (7). Besides the fighting over who gets to open the egg (haha!), I have loved using these with my boys. I also use these every year with my Sunday school kids (preschool) and they love them too!

How about a giveaway?! DaySpring is generously giving away some of these items to THREE of my readers!

Giveaway Details:

Each winner will receive: Resurrection Eggs, The Tale of Three Trees, God’s Easter Promise, Spring is Here Color Your Own Stickers, and Happy Easter Color Your Own Stickers

THREE winner chosen at random

ONE entry per person

Giveaway ends Saturday, April 1 at 10PM (CST)

To enter, visit DaySpring and then leave a comment on this post telling me which product you would love to have to help share the joy of Easter with your kids.

Make sure to check back next week because there just might be a coupon code coming your way!

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  • Carley - I’d love the resurrection eggs! Such a fun and tangible way to talk about Easter.ReplyCancel

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  • Erin S - The resurrection eggs are such a neat idea!ReplyCancel

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  • Rachel Newswanger - I like the board book “The Tale of Three Trees”…perfect for all ages..Thank you!ReplyCancel

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  • Hannah Troyer - I’d love to have Resurrection eggs to explore with my three kiddos.ReplyCancel

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  • Lindsay - Oh yes! I’d LOVE some Easter goodies for my *miracle* twins born late last year!!!! I love Dayspring…although I have never purchased anything. Just admiring, really. In a dream world, I’d have the Share Giving Platter, a set of God’s Grace teacups, and resurrection eggs for all my nieces and nephews!! Thanks for the awesome giveaway and post 🙂ReplyCancel

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  • Elizabeth Kelly - The resurrection eggs are perfect for my littles- such a great idea for teaching them about Easter!ReplyCancel

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  • Megan M - I’d love the wooly sheep or the Tale of Three Trees book!!! We use the resurrection eggs and it would be fun to have additional sets so there’s less fighting about who gets to hold the item first! 😂 #keepingitrealReplyCancel

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  • Brady Wilhelm - First off–wait, WHAT? Jake is TWO AND A HALF?!? Seems like he was just born! (not that I know you or him personally, but in blog land, time flies)…….2nd–I would get the Jesus Storybook Bible. I’ve been looking for a good one for my kiddos and can’t find one that’s quite right. Maybe this one would be the perfect fit!ReplyCancel

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  • Kendra - I love the resurrection eggs!ReplyCancel

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  • Kim - A lady in our church introduced us to the “The Tale of Three Trees” book a couple of Easters ago. I had forgotten about it! Thank you for the reminder! I’ll have to borrow the book from her again if I don’t win it here! 😉ReplyCancel

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  • Erin Lockett - So glad to have found your blog on Pinterest 🙂 I love everything from Dayspring! Definitely tough to choose one thing, but I would choose the Tale of Three Trees – my mom use to read this book to me.ReplyCancel

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  • Kim - A lady in our church introduced the “The Tale of Three Trees” book to our family a couple of Easters ago. I had forgotten about that book, and it is such a great book! Thank you for the reminder!ReplyCancel

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  • Lisbeth Van Daalen - The resurrection eggs are such a neat way to share the Easter story! I would love to have them and make it a tradition to use each year with my kids.ReplyCancel

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  • Debbie - I would love to share the resurrection eggs with my grandkids!ReplyCancel

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  • Kari - The Ressurection Eggs ❤✝️ReplyCancel

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  • Jessica H - I know it’s included in this..but the Tale of Three Trees book would be my pick. I’ve read the book, but we don’t have it..and it really is such a neat book with such a meaningful message. What a neat giveaway..I love Easter!!ReplyCancel

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  • Melissa Joy - We love love love the Jesus Storybook Bible around here! I always want more of those so I can share them with people we love. 🙂
    And although I had resurrection eggs when I was a kid, I don’t have a set for my own children! That’s definitely on my wish list.
    I’m also drooling over the I Am plaque with metal rings and cards. I might need that for my kitchen wall. 🙂ReplyCancel

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  • Kim Stephens - Resurrection Eggs! I could see my daughters being really excited about those 🙂ReplyCancel

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  • Rachel Crum - I visited the Day Spring page…Is that all I have to do? I really want Resurrection eggs! I’d actually been looking at buying some!ReplyCancel

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  • Joanne johnson - I would love the Jesus storybook Bible!ReplyCancel

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  • Anne - The Tail of Three TreesReplyCancel

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  • Kimbra DenHartog - The resurrection eggs sound neat!!ReplyCancel

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  • Amy - I would love the resurrection eggs! Such a neat idea and I am not creative enough to make my own :/ And I have a couple little colorers who would love to color stickers!ReplyCancel

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  • Karis Faust - The books!! We have a bunch of Christmas books, but not as many Easter ones.ReplyCancel

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  • Mary - My very favorite babysitter EVER just adopted her first baby, and I would love to shower him with some gifts for his first Easter! The resurrection eggs are my favorite — I love celebrating Easter with meaningful (non-bunny) traditions. Thank you for the giveaways!!ReplyCancel

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  • Tiffany Milne - So many sweet way to celebrate the joy of the Easter Promise!! The Tale of Three Trees seems so so sweet I’d love to share it with my four babes!ReplyCancel

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  • Kenzi Harris - I would love the resurrection eggs for my kiddos!ReplyCancel

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  • Lisa Hale - Love all things DaySpring! Would love the puzzle/egg hunt activity and Baby’s First Bible.ReplyCancel

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  • Joni - I love the resurrection eggsReplyCancel

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  • Heidi DeGroot - I would like to try the resurrection eggs with my family. We are Christians but haven’t found a church since moving to a different town almost 5 years ago. My husband and I work a lot of weekends so this would be a good way to tell the story to our kids.ReplyCancel

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  • Jenny Peek - The Tale of Three Trees has been on our to-buy book list for a long while now but the Resurrection Eggs seem really neat also!!ReplyCancel

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  • Kasie Baird - I love the Cora sheep. I recently was pregnant with a baby girl who we were going to name Cora Grace. Sadly, we lost her when I was 14 weeks pregnant. I know she is with Jesus and I love the thought of giving her big sister, Kate, a lamb named Cora for Easter. ❤ReplyCancel

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  • Suzanne - My children would really enjoy Resurrection Eggs. What a great idea!ReplyCancel

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  • Suzanne - My child would love the Resurrection Eggs. What a neat idea.ReplyCancel

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  • mami2jcn - The resurrection eggs would be a hit at our house!ReplyCancel

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  • Jennifer Brown - I would love to read The Tale of Three Trees to my daughters 😊ReplyCancel

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  • Rachel Crum - Resurrection eggs!ReplyCancel

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  • Kimbra DenHartog - The resurrection eggs look neat!!ReplyCancel

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  • Michelle D - Resurrection eggs! We do a simplified 4-egg version at our church, so I like that these cover more details. Happy Easter!ReplyCancel

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  • Hollie - I’d love to have the resurrection eggs to play and learn with my three small kiddos!ReplyCancel

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  • Mackenzie m - Such great ways to celebrate Easter! I think the Resurrection eggs would be a fantastic addition to our family traditions!ReplyCancel

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  • Kathy DeRuischer - I’d love the resurrection eggs for my five little ones!!ReplyCancel

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  • Sarah D - Oh, the eggs would be wonderful! We are just getting to a good age of having a little attention but the tactile learning is huge and these would be so fun!ReplyCancel

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  • Bethany - I’ve heard so many great things about the Storybook Bible but never invested in one – so that is the one thing I would choose!ReplyCancel

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  • Alesia - I would love to share God’s Easter Promise with my nephew!ReplyCancel

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  • Ashley Cook - I’d love to give my nieces the set, I know they’d love the resurrection eggs.ReplyCancel

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  • Savannah garcia - The love these Easter basket ideas! I never do much but I want to be more intentional as my kiddos are getting older. My mom always read the three trees to us when we were little but I would love to have a copy for our family – can’t believe I haven’t gotten one yet!ReplyCancel

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  • Beth - I would love the resurrection eggs for my six year old. I also teach Junior church on a rotating basis and think this would be so great with them, too!ReplyCancel

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  • Mary Ann - Hi Jess. I think I would get the Jesus Storybook Bible for my grandson age 6, almost 7. I take him to church every Sunday and he loves Jesus a lot. I think the bible would be good for him as he is learning to read. Your posts are always so uplifting. I hope and pray that this Easter season is memorable and enjoyable for you, your husband and boys. I love this time of year. All the flowers blooming, the air is crisp and fresh, there is excitement in the laughter of children, new little baby animals to see, and joy in celebration of the Savior Jesus Christ and His loving atonement. In my life the atonement has always helped me when it came to asking for forgiveness. But I have learned that he not only suffered for our sins but also for our heartaches, our disappointments, our grief, our wayward ways, our hopeless moments, our sorrow, our tears of pain. He can and does heal us if we but ask Him. I have felt His redeeming love on so many occasions. Thank you for all you do to help your blogger friends and for inspiring us to try to become a new better person. Your friend in Salt Lake City, Utah!! Cool & Cloudy here today. Snow in the mountains but spring is on its way soon. Take care.ReplyCancel

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  • Angela N. - I would love the Three trees book!ReplyCancel

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  • Lois L - This Grandma loves to shop DaySpring for my three grandsons! I’m currently considering getting them the Story of Easter – Children’s Activity Book and also the book, God’s Easter Promise.ReplyCancel

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  • Lindsay - I would love to have the resurrection eggs for my girls!ReplyCancel

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  • katherine - I’d love the resurrection eggs!ReplyCancel

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  • Merilee - I would love to add the resurrection eggs to our Easter traditions. Thanks for the giveaway!ReplyCancel

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  • Barbara - I would definitely get the Resurrection eggs and share with my daughter and Sunday School class and the book, The Three Trees! That book looks wonderful! <3ReplyCancel

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  • manda - I would like the tale of three trees.ReplyCancel

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  • Tracy J. - I’ve had my eye on their resurrection eggs for a couple of years! Our daughter is only one, so maybe for next year. 🙂ReplyCancel

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  • Jenny d - The resurrection eggs would be my pick! They love eggs in general but to use them to teach them the Easter story would be amazing. I struggle with teaching my 5 and 1 year old about Jesus’ death and resurrection and it would literally be an answer to my prayers to win this for them this Easter.ReplyCancel

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  • Melissa Philipchalk - I love this post! I’d love your book suggestion The Tale of Three trees – I’m always on the lookout for Christ centered Easter books 🙂ReplyCancel

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  • Bridgette Melton - I have always loved resurrection eggs. I’d love a set of our own.ReplyCancel

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  • Lucy - Resurrection eggsReplyCancel

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  • Gina Zurek - I’d love the resurrection eggs!ReplyCancel

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  • Amanda - I have never seen Resurrection eggs before – how neat! I know my four kiddos would really love those … and I also love The Three Trees story book! Great products, thanks for the giveaway! : )ReplyCancel

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  • Cassie M - I’d love to get a set of the resurrection eggs to share with my kids!ReplyCancel

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  • Suzanne Hines - I have had my eyes on those resurrection eggs for a while! Our nearby Christian bookstore is going out of business and I was hoping they would be discounted, but they had completely sold out! Thanks for doing this giveaway, and I LOVE your photography and decorating skills!ReplyCancel

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  • Vicki - Any of the books would be great!ReplyCancel

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  • Laura - The resurrection eggs would be great for my kids!ReplyCancel

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  • Sarah Macon - I love the Resurrection eggs! I don’t know why I haven’t purchased them!ReplyCancel

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  • Jill Rivera - Easter – I Love You Head to Toe – Inspirational Children’s Gift Set just becasue the Panda Bear is so cute.ReplyCancel

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  • teaching our kids about Easter » The Macs - […] (Note: the Resurrection Eggs are not part of the sale but most of the other items from my last DaySpring giveaway post are included so make sure to check out the […]ReplyCancel

Sunday would have been Cora’s ninth birthday. We made our way to the cemetery after church to release balloons like we always do. Each year the growing bunch of pink balloons fill up a little more space in our van. It’s like the amount of time that has past since we last saw our girl, which is hard to wrap my mind around when some days it still feels like yesterday she was in my arms. The plan was for each of the three boys to release three balloons. I should know by now to hold loosely to my plans. Before we could even get the balloons out of the car at the cemetery, they all tangled together thanks to the unrelenting Kansas wind (which hasn’t let up even as I type this two days later). If you have never been to Kansas you might not understand that this wind is not just a pleasant breeze but something that can actually knock you over, or in this case tangle up all your birthday balloons. My sweet idea of each of the boys releasing three balloons for their sister would not be happening. We tried to get all three boys to hold onto the balloons and release them together but by this time the wind was making Jake cry. I felt like crying too. The balloon ribbons ended up wrapped around Levi’s neck and once Griffin finally freed him, they abruptly flew sideways into the air in a big tangled blob, barely clearing the nearby trees. We all proceeded to sprint to the car to seek shelter. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?

But isn’t that life sometimes? We come up with a detailed, beautiful plan–even determining the precise timing–but instead find ourselves in the middle of a big tangled mess. We try to cling to our failed plan, maybe adjusting it a little but not wanting to completely let go. The wind tosses us around and we end up feeling a little like Levi, choked by the tangled up balloons on a horribly windy day. We sometimes get this idea that if we are following Jesus our life should be good and easy. We equate a smooth path with God’s pleasure or blessing and see difficulties as bad. But when our “good” plans fail, when we instead are facing disappointment, sorrow, betrayal or heartache, we feel let down. We wonder where God is and we desperately want to understand what He is doing. I’ve been there, have you?

Here’s the thing about our best made plans and not understanding when God says no. There was a time (and let’s be honest, it still happens) when I asked God for his blessing over my family, home, and career and waited expectantly for him to bring the “good” things, the things I thought were best for me, into my life. I thought I knew what God’s blessing looked like. But in many ways I think I was putting God neatly in a box that made sense to me. I was trusting in a god-of-my-plans. Maybe you have done this too. But do we really want to put God in a box so that we totally understand Him? Do we really want to serve a god who is predictable and always acts the way we are expecting Him to; a god that is no bigger than our limited wisdom and understanding? Or do we want to serve a God whose ways are higher than our ways and thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:9)? A God whose knowledge is too wonderful for us, too lofty for us to attain (Psalm 139:6)? A God who is all-wise, all-good, and all-powerful.

I read this a few weeks ago and loved how straight forward it is,

“God knows what I need. I do not. He sees the future. I cannot. His perspective is eternal. Mine is not.” (The Unwelcoming Gift of Waiting, Vaneetha Risner)

God is not like us and that is such a good thing. Instead of holding onto our plans, what if we would hold onto God? What if we would let go and find shelter in Jesus? What if we would choose to find rest in knowing that He is for us and that His plans are for our good…even if they don’t seem good to us at the time?

Nine years of birthdays without Cora and I still find myself struggling to let go. I still find myself wrestling with God about my plans that I thought were pretty great and the things he has allowed into my life instead. I have to remind myself to stop bossing God around. For me, most of the time it comes down to having a right view of God and remembering that He reigns for my sake and for His glory. I have to choose to trust in who Jesus is above my circumstances and feelings. And sometimes that means being willing to let go of my plans or the outcomes I was hoping for. We can be confident that God is who He says He is and He will always act according to His character. Nine years later and I can tell you without a doubt, He is always faithful and always trustworthy.

Maybe this yearly birthday tradition of releasing balloons is meant to remind me to stop holding onto what seems good to me and instead hold onto my good, good Father.

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  • Sarah - This spoke so deeply to my heart. Thank you, my friend. Love that our sweet girls share a birthday month. xoxo.ReplyCancel

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    Jess Reply:

    Sarah! I love that they share a birthday month as well! So much. Miss you!

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    • Jess - Sarah! I love that they share a birthday month as well! So much. Miss you!ReplyCancel

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  • Lisa Kirkes - Jess ~ Such wise words, beautifully written. I wish I could express myself this well. Thank you for putting my thoughts into words. I’m stopping right now to pray for you and your sweet family.ReplyCancel

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  • Toni :0) - You’re right. Doesn’t seem possible it’s been as long as it has been. I continue to pray for your family and always remember Cora in our Mass intentions. Big hugs to you all. 💜ReplyCancel

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  • Toni :0) - You’re right, doesn’t seem possible it’s been that long already. I continue to pray for your family and will always remember Cora in our Mass intentions. Blessings to your sweet family and big hugs.. 💜ReplyCancel

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  • Jayne - Bless your heart, Jess. It is hard to believe that Cora would have been 9 years old. I’ve been reading your blog since Cora got sick and I remember reading it when she passed into the arms of Jesus. You are so faithful and you are her mama and every year is a milestone for you and your family. Your boys are lucky to have you and Joel as Godly parents.ReplyCancel

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  • andrae - hugs Jess.ReplyCancel

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    Jess Reply:

    Thanks, Andrea! Praying so much for your family right now.

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  • Laura - Beautifully written. God has enriched many through Cora even though she spent little time here on earth with your sweet family. We will never understand all of life’s twists, turns, and heartaches until it is our time to meet Jesus.
    I don’t remember how I stumbled on to your story from the very beginning but I do know that you have been an inspiration to me and many others from that time on. God bless you and your family.ReplyCancel

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  • Mary Ann Davis - Reading this post, I was crying and laughing at the same time. Crying because the post is so true and heartfelt. Crying because of your loss and your eternal perspective of Cora. Crying because its hard to want something so badly but yet God knows that there is a different plan. Laughing because of the picture you painted with the wind. Laughing because the boys are so funny and seem to be enjoying their tussle with the balloons and the wind. 9 years…for me it seems just like yesterday but then it seems so long ago. It will be 9 years in August that my husband passed away. He missed meeting my daughter-in-law. He missed being a grandpa to my darling almost 7 year old grandson. But they watch us from heaven and in my belief system, they are closer than we think. Eternity really isn’t that far away. Thank you Jess for this lovely post and for sharing a little bit with us. In my wildest dreams I cannot imagine the loss of your beautiful Cora. But she is ever loved for the love never ever ends!!ReplyCancel

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  • kim b - I am not eloquent with words, I try and keep things short and I always give the long version of the story. I just want to say thank you for always sharing your heart. My daughter Cora was born about 6 months after your daughter Cora. I came across your blog when Joy was listing things on etsy in honor of Cora.
    My daughter injured herself yesterday and was struggling with why her being in pain was part of Gods plan. This post will help me communicate with her and if I can’t express the greatness of His plan I will share this post with her.
    So thank you for helping me teach my daughter to love and trust in God even when we are suffering.ReplyCancel

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  • chrissi - your thoughts. your words. your beautiful children. and your sweet celebration for cora …♥ReplyCancel

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  • Jen - I love this so much friend!! Makes me sad, as Jocelyn will be nine this year too, and I can’t even fathom what you are going through! You and your faith are such a blessing to me. So thankful for a God with the knowledge of the future and better plans and timing than our own! Love you bunches and I am praying for your family always!ReplyCancel

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  • Danielle - Beautifully written, Jess. Your words about putting God in a box, especially spoke to my heart. Trusting God is a day to day process. It is what I want to do with all my heart, but it takes constant effort and is easier some days than others. Trusting Him and letting my plans go sums up my day to day walk with the Lord since my cancer journey, and really since having children. 🙂 I heard a quote on K-LOVE recently that I continue to remind myself several times each day: “God love me so much, that I can trust why He is allowing ‘this’ to happen to me.” Whatever “this” is, may we all be able to give it to God each day and trust His plans, not our own. Continued prayers for you and your sweet family! Love, DanielleReplyCancel

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  • Krystal - Thank you for this post. I love how God brings clarity of who He is out of what we initially see as messes or problems. Praying for your still hurting heart!ReplyCancel

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    Jess Reply:

    Yes! Isn’t that so true! Thank you for your prayers!

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  • Kelly - Thank you for sharing your faith in the midst of the ongoing pain. Your faith in the Lord shines through and He is honored by your testimony. My heart hurts for you, yet I also rejoice in your transparency and the way you continually point others to God. May God wrap you and your family in His comforting arms bringing the peace that transcends all understanding. Thank you for your vulnerability and letting others see how God is working in your life.ReplyCancel

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    Jess Reply:

    Thank your for your sweet words of encouragement, Kelly! They are so appreciated.

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    • Jess - Thank your for your sweet words of encouragement, Kelly! They are so appreciated.ReplyCancel

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  • Melissa Joy - I have not known what to say ever since I read this post.
    But I always think of Cora on her birthday (it’s my dad’s birthday too), and I pray for you.
    I love how God gave you eyes to see His glory through the wind and the tears and the tangled balloon strings. That really spoke to my heart on a day when I needed that.
    God bless you, precious lady.ReplyCancel

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    Jess Reply:

    Thank you, Melissa! Your continued prayers mean so much to us! So thankful that God used this to encourage your heart.

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    • Jess - Thank you, Melissa! Your continued prayers mean so much to us! So thankful that God used this to encourage your heart.ReplyCancel

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I have a house full of boys. Boys are awesome. However, boys do not like hearts and pink and other frilly valentines-y things. At least my boys don’t. But valentines day is super fun so I went searching for some “boy-ish” valentine ideas. After scrolling through Pinterest I came up with a list of ideas that I thought my boys would approve of. They narrowed my list down to whoopee cushions, punch balloons and gum. And all of a sudden valentines day was awesome again. 🙂

These are not my original ideas as I saw various versions of each one on Pinterest but I wanted something more specific to boys that we could pass out to their cousins. So I texted my super talented friend, Jen, and she came up with these awesome tags for each one. Jen is the best and she is even letting me share the printables with you! Thanks, Jen!! Also make sure you check out Jen’s blog because she has some more cute kid valentine ideas!

Griff chose whoopee cushions. Let me tell you that the tooting jokes and pranks have been running wild around here. I guess I can’t be mad about it because it was my idea. Their smiles and giggles are totally worth it. And eventually they will pop, right!?

Griff was trying so hard to make horrible faces at me because he knew I was taking his picture, but then I caught this smile.

I love him and his little preschool handwriting so much. Two kids who can write their own names on their valentines is pretty great! I hope my sister and sister-in-laws don’t hate me too much for sending these home with all the cousins. At least I was smart enough not to send them to school. 🙂

Whoopie Valentine

free printable tags | whoopie cushions | chalk pen | bakers twine

Levi chose punching balloons. Partially because I told him I didn’t think his teacher would appreciate with her whole class of first graders had whoopie cushions. Oh my. He is all about football and tackling and anything physical so these were perfect for him.

Hopefully the first graders will keep them in their bags until they get home. A whole room of kids with punching balloons probably wouldn’t be fun either.

Punch Valentine

free printable tags (cousin / friend) | punch balloons | clear party bags

Jakey chose bubble gum. Mostly because he just wanted to eat it all. He loves gum. If you ever want to make friends with him, just hand him a pack of gum.

Originally I was going to buy those candy tubes and big bubble gum balls but I had these little mini cups and bubblegum on hand already so I just went with what we had. I thought they turned out so cute!

Stuck on You Valentine

free printable tags (cousin / friend) | bubble gum | mini cups | bakers twine

Tomorrow we are hosting our annual cousin valentines party! It should be fun! I meant to post these much earlier so that you had time to use the printables too, but that just didn’t happen. So if you are looking for a last minute idea…here you go! Or just tuck these ideas away for next year and you will be way ahead. Leave a comment or tag me on Instagram (@jessmcclenahan) if you end up using any of the tags. I’d love to see!

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  • Jody - Our school parties were yesterday. Someone in 5th grade gave out punching balloons. I only had to tell one person in the hall not to do hit it on someone’s face…and it was a girl! LolReplyCancel

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  • Mary Ann - Over the years, I have always loved to see your cousin’s Valentine party and then the photos afterward. Your boys are so darling. I hope the party is everything and more than you and the boys had hoped for. ENJOY!!ReplyCancel

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A little over a week ago I got to spend some time with the ladies of Lindsborg Evangelical Covenant Church and speak at their women’s retreat. It was such a sweet time together. It is a pretty incredible privilege to be able to share with others how God has worked and continues to work in my life through sorrow. And then to hear firsthand how He is moving in the lives of others as well?! So amazing! I left feeling so encouraged but if I am honest with you the weeks before were a little rough.

Levi got a bow and arrow for Christmas and he thinks it is the best present ever. Joel put a hay bale in the yard for him to practice shooting at. He is getting pretty good but that didn’t happen without practice. I heard Joel talking to him about keeping his eye on the target. He told Levi that if his eyes started to wander and he lost sight of the hay bale his arrows would go all over the place. It could even be dangerous. Hmmmm….life application, maybe?!

You know, for some reason God continues opening these doors for me to speak and each time I question Him a little because speaking still doesn’t feel like “my thing”. I don’t feel like I’m gifted at speaking, my heart aches as I relive some of the hardest days of my life, the “whys” begin to resurface again, I worry about presenting God’s Truth accurately (which I think is probably a good worry!), and pretty soon I feel like I’ve lost sight of my target–shooting arrows all over the place. Wandering. And while some of those emotions are just part of the ups and downs of grief, it is not a place that I want to stay. I have to refocus, get my eyes back on Jesus and work to keep them there! Each time God proves himself so faithful to equip and give me the strength to do what He has called me to do. Each time as I approach the week or two before I speak, God guides me through his Word and reminds me of how He has walked with me and proven Himself faithful over and over again. I am no seasoned (or even gifted!) speaker but I can tell you that by some miracle, each time, God has given me a message to share and the strength to get up in front of people (and even use a microphone!) and share it.

This month has been a hard one for me because of both the time of year (when Cora was in the hospital) and other normal life things. January and February always seem to have a way of rolling in all gloomy like. I shared with the women at the retreat how the Bible was a lifeline of God’s voice to me as I searched for answers and comfort after Cora died. And you know what? The same has been true in my life again over the past few weeks. It was not by accident that God had me pouring into His Word extra hard as I prepared for the retreat weekend. He knew that I needed to draw near and be reminded that my inmost needs are completely and fully met in Him. My eyes were wandering and my emotions were all over the place. He reminded me that I needed to keep my eyes on Him. God is good like that, isn’t He?! Before I jump too far into this year, getting distracted and pulled by so many other things, I want to remember to look to Jesus. Goodness, I need Him.

I know that January is over and everyone is done making their goals and resolutions for the year but these speaking preparations have reminded me how important it is not to lose sight of Jesus. I thought I would share a few resources with you that have been helpful to me:

If you have been following along since Cora died you know that I love Nancy Guthrie and that The One Year Book of Hope has been such an important tool in my life as I’ve navigated through grief. If you have lost a loved one or are just facing disappointment or heartache this is a great book to use daily.

Last year I found another yearly devotional that I love so much. New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp is packed full of the gospel and is such a great tool to read daily. I will always love The One Year Book of Hope and still pull it out often but this is a new favorite for sure!

This year I committed to read through the Bible. I don’t think I have ever read it all the way through and I wanted that to change. Joel and the boys got me The Daily Bible and I am loving it. I got behind when I was preparing for the retreat so I have some catching up to do! I like having the Bible in my hands to read and mark in but the ESV Bible app has a yearly reading plan and is great too. I use the app occasionally because it will read the passages to you. So helpful if you are doing dishes or driving in the car! You don’t even have to wait until next year…just start now!

Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin is such a great resource if you don’t even know where to start with reading your Bible. She has so many great Bible studies as well!

And lastly, Bible Study Fellowship has been so great for studying God’s Word in depth and with more of a whole Bible perspective and it also keeps me accountable. I love BSF and I can’t say enough about their children’s program (it is amazing!). If you are looking for a Bible study to plug into, see if there is a BSF near you!

Let me just say that of course I don’t use all of these things every day. Don’t feel overwhelmed! These have just been a few things that have worked for me at different times over the past few years. I fail over and over again just like everyone else. But I find that when I am using some of these tools to stay in God’s Word it helps me keep my eyes on Jesus. It helps me “bind my wandering heart to Thee”. I long for the overflow of my life to reflect a deep love for Jesus. That starts by daily connecting with Him.

We all are prone to wander, aren’t we?

What about you? How do you stay in God’s Word and keep your eyes on Him? I’d love to hear!

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  • Brooke in WI - Talk about perfect timing! I’ve been meaning to email and ask about the book you loved so much, that helped with your grief. Some friends of mine lost their young adult son last Thanksgiving (near Garden City actually) in a car accident and it has been crushing. I’ve wanted to send something to them this winter, and this book (couldn’t remember what it was) was on my mind. Thank you!ReplyCancel

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  • Mary Ann - Yes, we all wander. I stay in God’s word by reading His word and trying to take the things I learn to heart. I keep my eyes on Him by serving others, by attending my church meetings, by remembering Him daily. I say prayers daily and try to be the person He knows I can be. But it’s a daily challenge. My favorite song is “Come Thou Fount.” My favorite version is the Tabernacle Choir. I love the last part of the song in the version they sing:
    Oh, to grace how great a debtor
    Daily I’m constrained to be,
    Let that grace now like a fetter
    Bind my wandering heart to Thee:
    Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
    Prone to leave the God I love.
    Here’s my heart, oh, take and seal it,
    Seal it for Thy courts above.

    I want to seal my heart to God. I want to be that person that my parents and my husband will be proud of when I see them again in heaven. I want to be a good influence on my children, especially my almost 7 year old grandson. I want to make a difference. Yes, we all wander away from God but the important thing is that we return to Him and do those things that will seal our hearts to Him. You are a wonderful person Jess. Your blog has given me strength and hope many times. I love to see the photos of your children. Thanks for being an inspiration to many of us.
    P.S. Go to You Tube, search “Tabernacle Choir Come Thou Fount.” Watch the version where the women have on red dresses and they are singing with the orchestra. It is stunning and beautiful and I can feel the power of those beautiful lyrics written over 250 years ago. I love seeing those talented men & women whom I know love our Savior Jesus Christ, singing this song. It never ceases to move me to tears.ReplyCancel

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