preparing our hearts for Easter

I was a little behind on being intentional with Easter this year. I like to try to do things throughout Lent to help prepare my heart and the boys’ hearts for Easter. But honestly the week after HopeSpoken I could hardly keep my eyes open and all I could think about was taking a nap…so the Easter stuff just came out last week. We have several fun things that we use from DaySpring that you can read about in this post and our collection of Easter books is growing too.

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If you follow me on Instagram (@jessmcclenahan) you already saw a little peek of our newest Easter project this year. Last year we made an Easter mountain out of salt dough. The boys loved that but I wanted to try something new this year. I had seen the idea to make an Easter garden on Pinterest a few times. I never really found a good link with step-by-step directions but just made up my own using this picture and caption.

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We used a 10 inch clay saucer for the base and a 4 inch clay pot for the tomb. I wish I would have found a smaller pot for the tomb because it was hard to mound the dirt around the pot…but we made it work.

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After we got the “mountain” built we sprinkled on grass seed and put a few little rocks from our driveway around the front.

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And then our Easter mountain turned into a full-out construction zone. Gotta love little boys.

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This project would have been so much easier to do outside but it was cold and windy so we were stuck inside. I thought about telling the boys we couldn’t make a mess inside but they were just having so much fun. I may start to see grass popping up through the cracks in my wood floor pretty soon…oh well, I’m pretty sure it was worth the moments of peace that the mess brought.:)

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I bought a 4 inch clay saucer to close the tomb with but Levi insisted that we needed a rock instead. We might need to find a bigger rock though! We planted our grass seed on the 4th and it started popping up on the 9th. Today it was filling in pretty well over most of the mountain. We spray it throughout the day with a spray bottle to keep the grass watered. We still need to make our crosses which we will do this week. I’ll have to take another picture sometime so you can see it all finished.

I was looking for some ideas for my Sunday School class over the weekend and came across this video. Have your kids seen this already? I just loved how Phil Vischer talks about the meaning of Easter and why it is so important. I have been thinking a lot about what it means that Jesus stood under the stream of God’s wrath in my place…that God looked at Jesus and saw all of my sin…all of your sin. That’s a hard thing for me to wrap my own mind around let alone explain to my preschooler. I loved the visual in this video when Jesus was on the cross and how God saw his Son stained with all the sin of the world. What a horrible thing to imagine and yet such a beautiful picture of the gospel and His love for us. I showed this to my Sunday School class today and then Levi and I watched it this afternoon. And then we watched it three more times because he loved it so much. I am praying that it gives me more opportunities to share truth with my kids this week as we continue to talk about Easter.

Jesus is alive!

That’s not just good news…that’s amazing news!

And now I want to go buy the What’s in the Bible? videos. Do you have them?

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  • April 14, 2014 - 9:03 am

    Amanda - We have these videos! They are so great. Your boys would love them!ReplyCancel

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  • April 14, 2014 - 10:48 am

    Missy - Thanks for posting this Jess! The kids loved it!ReplyCancel

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  • April 14, 2014 - 2:44 pm

    Jenae - We have nearly all the WITB videos and Levi would probably love them! Caleb loves them and Noah isn’t quite as crazy about them, probably because they are just a little over his head. Honestly, Kevin and I love them too. I learn so much from watching them (and they are really funny)! :) ReplyCancel

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  • April 15, 2014 - 4:55 pm

    Mary Ann - What a fun project…you are brave to do that with dirt and rice. I have a carpeted dining room so that would be more of a challenge….I will leave that my grandson’s parents to handle. I get anxious when my grandson plays with play dough or putty but I guess I need to be more flexible, right!!! I love your “He is Risen” banner. Your boys are getting so big…they will be the best helpers when you new little one comes along.ReplyCancel

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corn planting

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I got back from Hope Spoken last Sunday and corn planting started the next day. It’s that time of year again. When planting starts the boys think that their daddy needs their help all. the. time. They don’t know how good they have it because their daddy usually lets them tag along quite a bit. They really love when we bring Joel a meal and they get to pack their own lunch boxes and eat in the tractor too. (Adorable lunch boxes from Sarah + Abraham.)

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Griffin was getting a little nervous as the tractor got closer to him.

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Joel loves his boys so well. I love how you can see it on his face as he gets closer to the boys. And his smile is totally back! We are so grateful.

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The boys are already trying to kick me out of the tractor. Griffin gets a little stressed when I sit in his seat and he has to sit on the floor.

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I have no idea what we are going to do when there are three little ones who want to ride in the tractor??

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My boys eat their best meals in the tractor. Isn’t that crazy? They usually eat about twice the amount of food they eat at home…and sometimes mooch off their daddy too.

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I know I’ve said it before but there are a lot of things about farming that are hard for me to get used to…lots of learning to be flexible. But these days of eating dinner all squished in the tractor cab together are so precious. I am so thankful for my little family of farm-loving boys. I know that these will be some of my favorite memories together.

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  • April 8, 2014 - 6:56 am

    Amber - Love these photos. They are precious! My boys think their Daddy can’t get it done without them too! :-) ReplyCancel

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  • April 8, 2014 - 8:16 am

    leiah - Maybe you’ll have a little girl who will prefer to have a tea party at home with you instead of lunch in a tractor. Then it will be something special for the boys.ReplyCancel

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  • April 8, 2014 - 12:46 pm

    Sarah - I just love all your pictures. Farming is tough and being a farm wife is even harder, but it is so worth it..especially when you are raising kids on a farm. I don’t think there is a better place to raise a family!ReplyCancel

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  • April 8, 2014 - 4:14 pm

    Leslie Veer - Hard work makes boys hungry!ReplyCancel

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  • April 9, 2014 - 5:34 pm

    Nicole W - So precious. I wonder if they eat so well in the tractor because they know deep down that if they keep eating, they never have to get out and go home. ;) They want to stretch that time for as long as possible. Love it!ReplyCancel

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  • April 11, 2014 - 11:34 pm

    Selena Bragg - These memories are precious… And as the daughter of a dairy and row-crop farmer, I remember the occasional frustration from my mother when it came to planning events & the such, as a farmer’s schedule begins early in the morn, (& during both planting & harvesting), may go late into the night, esp if rain is coming… However… I love the faith of the farmer & his family. Fully relying on God, season after season, and praying for specific weather conditions to come to your farm, or miss your farm, as they watch that planted seed grow and yield “food” to help feed the world. So.much.faith. So much trust, hope, and love for the farm. Generations of faith and hope passed down. It gives me chills to reflect on my upbringing and the faith of my family with regard to the farm, as well as life. I’m thankful for my farm-raised childhood into adulthood. The countless memories of showing cows, bottle-feeding calves, rounding up cows that got out, watching my dad, uncle, & grandfather pull calves in the middle of the night, helping move equipment to the next field, sandwiches & candy bars in the tractor ;), pallets of bean and corn seed that I was allowed to go pick up once I began driving, “smelling the rain” for which we were so thankful, late nights of hauling hay, riding the spray-coupe with the door open :), riding in the big rig to drop off a load of corn, wheat, or beans, the release of the buddy seat in the combine – sooo comfortable! – And so many more. I now live in the city, & my boys are “city boys” in comparison to my raising. That makes me sad, yet thankful for our life as I know this is where God wants us… I say all that to say – your boys are learning a level of faith from their daddy that few will ever understand, not to mention the memories. At 33 years old, those memories are forever etched in my mind. They will be so thankful for them… Just like me and my sister are for ours. (And over time I’m betting you will love the farm life more and more! ;))

    Thank you for sharing your family, your faith, & your heart. You are beautiful inside and out. Thankful that Joel’s smile is back. :) :) Happy planting!ReplyCancel

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  • April 18, 2014 - 2:31 pm

    Stefanie - I love these pictures! What a great day for your beautiful boys!ReplyCancel

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hope spoken

Over a year ago I got an email from Danielle asking me what I was doing in March 2014. Haha. I can hardly plan a week ahead, let alone a year. She told me about this women’s conference that would be happening in Dallas. A dream that the Lord had placed on Casey, Emily, and Danielle’s hearts. A conference filled with stories of Christ in each of our lives, and how we can use these stories for His glory. Hope spoken. And she wanted me to come and share my story. I remember telling my husband about the email and secretly hoping that he would tell me he wasn’t so sure about the whole thing…I mean, I didn’t even know these people in real life! Instead he looked at me and right away told me I needed to say yes. I was so nervous because speaking in public is a major stretch for me…but speaking at a women’s conference…that was totally out of my comfort zone. After Cora died, as I felt God’s leading to keep writing on my blog, I vividly remember telling Him that I didn’t ever want to pass up an opportunity to share the gospel and His faithfulness in my life. I didn’t want this heartache in my life to be wasted. But I would have never dreamed He would give me an opportunity like this five years later. And I love that my husband is such a big part of that. I am the one that is usually writing and speaking but this is the story the Lord has written for our family. And Joel is the one usually in the background, faithfully leading our family and cheering me on to keep writing and sharing and taking these opportunities that God gives me. I love that about him…a lot.

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Anyway, back to the conference. Danielle, Emily and Casey were the sweetest hosts. These are ladies that I have admired from afar through blogs and instagram and it was so great to get to finally meet them in person. They were so gracious and I loved their hearts for each woman attending the conference to feel loved and that above all Jesus would be glorified. Oh, and the conference itself? It was so great. They put so much thought into every detail. The decor, food, music, and speakers…everything was amazing. And I’m pretty sure I ate enough cake pops and drank enough coffee for the rest of the year.

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I loved that these sweet friends (and sister!) came to the conference with me. They were my cheerleaders. These women have walked through some dark, dark days alongside me. I was so thankful that they came to cheer me on and encourage me. They even all came to my sessions and hid on the sides so they wouldn’t make me cry. And I made them work too. They put all my prints (that sweet Heather designed for me) in plastic sleeves so that I could hand them out at my sessions. I have the best friends.

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The weekend was filled with old friends and new friends. I loved being able to get to know women like Jami, Shannon, Carissa, Kimberly, Katie, and so many more. The conference went by way too fast. I wish I would have had more time to spend hearing the hearts of these women. What a blessing they were to me!

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Along with speaking in one of the sessions I also got to lead a small group. These women were so great. I loved listening to their stories and the work God was doing in each one of their lives. I know I learned more from them than they did from me!

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We were asked to pick a word for our session…”the story of ____”. That was a little overwhelming for me. How do I pick just one word? But right away I felt like God gave me the word blessing. It was so crazy because as I prayed about what I was supposed to share at Hope Spoken and how in the world I could narrow down all that the Lord has been teaching me over the past five years into a thirty minute session, I felt like He was speaking to me about true blessing just as much as I was praying He would speak to the hearts of the women attending my session. Because of some circumstances that unfolded in the weeks prior to the conference I needed to preach Truth to myself.  I needed to be reminded of what God’s abundant blessing looks like in my own life. That’s usually how it works when I’ve been asked to speak. The Lord ends up doing a major work in my own heart. And I’m so thankful that He’s not finished with me yet.

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So Saturday I was a conference speaker and Monday I was back to riding in tractors and being a farm wife (a very sleepy farm wife!). That just about makes me want to laugh. I remember in college how much a dreaded each and every speech class. I just knew that public speaking would not be what the Lord had planned for me. The profuse sweating, shaky hands and quivering voice seemed like a pretty good indicator to me. And being a farm wife? I told everyone I knew that I would never marry a farmer or live in the country. Haha. I am so thankful that although we sometimes think that we would do a pretty good job planning out our own lives, the Lord has a much bigger and better plan and purpose for us. And what a blessing it is to see that plan unfold as we keep our eyes on Him. It is not always easy or comfortable…and we don’t always understand His ways…but He graciously leads us with the promise of His abundant blessing over our lives.

For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. John 1:16

Oh, and did you know there is already plans for Hope Spoken 2015? You can find out more details on their Facebook page. Can’t wait!

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  • April 4, 2014 - 7:25 am

    Jennifer B. - I know this isn’t at all what this post was about, but I just wanted to comment how wonderful it is to see your husband’s beautiful smile fully restored. I’m guessing you will never take it for granted now. What a blessing to have it back.ReplyCancel

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  • April 4, 2014 - 9:09 am

    Amanda - As I read your blog post I couldn’t help but think of the biblical heroine, Esther. You two have a lot in common, did you know that? :) Quite and reserved yet chosen by God to be pulled completely out of your comfort zones to do His magnificent will. May God bless you for your faithfulness and may he use your story to bring honor and glory to His name, friend!ReplyCancel

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  • April 6, 2014 - 11:34 am

    Sarah W. - Can’t believe you were in Dallas, and I wasn’t aware. Looks and sounds like an amazing beautiful time.ReplyCancel

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  • April 6, 2014 - 8:28 pm

    Debby Graber - Didn’t see you this morning, but did talk with Joel. I prayed for you each day while you were gone. Your comment about dreading speech class made me think about my sophomore year when I was supposed to do a speech in class and I faked having laryngitis!! I laugh about that now. God has such a sense of humor. I would never have imagined speaking either!ReplyCancel

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  • April 7, 2014 - 1:01 pm

    Mary Ann - I’m so proud of you…the conference sounds wonderful. Your story has unfolded in ways that you could never have imagined. I think it is hard to feel blessed all the time, especially when it takes so much of our hearts to try to see the good that life has to offer and to find a way to be happy when the most unimaginable heartache happens in our lives. Your darling beautiful Cora must be smiling right now knowing her mama shook off her fears and talked in front of all those other women. She would be proud of the lovely woman you are and the amazing mother and wife you are. I love your blog because it is filled with everyday stuff like farming, vacations, kids, activities, etc. but also filled with the love you have for our Lord and Savior. May the Lord’s tenderest of mercys continue to bless you and your familhy. Excited for your new little one!!ReplyCancel

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  • April 7, 2014 - 10:16 pm

    Bethany - I have been watching for a post on Hope Spoken. I wanted to go so badly but wasn’t able to plan for it this year. I most wanted to hear you speak. It looks amazing and I ordered a devotional book from the meeting. I can’t wait to get my hands on it!
    Bless you and your sweet family. I love keeping up with you all.ReplyCancel

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  • April 10, 2014 - 11:20 am

    momoftwo - Just wanted to say a big THANK YOU for sharing your story. You really made me realize that I was putting God in a box. Seems so silly now, but I really was just getting Him out when it fit in with my plans. So backwards! Loved listening to you.ReplyCancel

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easter with dayspring

Just a quick post to let you know that DaySpring has some great Easter items for kids on sale right now. And they are offering my readers a special coupon code…yay!!

We loved all their Easter products but the Easter Wooden Pop-Out Puzzle was Levi’s favorite last year.

Easter Wooden Pop-Out Puzzle

On Sale: $12.74

with code: 9.56

The Story of Easter Magnet Book

On Sale: $10.49

with code: 7.87

Really Woolly Plush Sheep Gift Set

On Sale (March Only): $15

with code: 11.25

Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter - 12 Day Holiday Countdown

 12 Day Holiday Countdown

On Sale: $9.99

with code: 7.49   (does not qualify towards free shipping over $50 purchase)

Make sure you check out DaySpring’s Easter Gifts for Kids. They have lots of fun things to help teach your kids the Easter story or to fill up Easter baskets with! You can find my full review of these products in this post from last year.

DaySpring is also offering my readers 25% off the entire Easter Gifts for Kids section. Use coupon code MacsEaster25 through Friday, April 4, 2014.

disclosure: affiliate links used

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  • March 27, 2014 - 7:34 am

    babykatesmom - Such cute things! The Really Wooly sheep with the yellow hat is named Cora! I’m sure you knew that already :) ReplyCancel

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  • March 27, 2014 - 8:29 am

    Kristin - Hoping your doctor’s appt went well!ReplyCancel

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  • March 28, 2014 - 7:29 am

    Ashley - Hey Jess! Thank you for doing these Daysprings posts! I love that I can buy adorable gifts for my girls that reflect Jesus! When I went to checkout at Daysprings, the code did not give an additional percentage off sales prices. Was it just for regular price items? Just wanted to check!ReplyCancel

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  • March 31, 2014 - 8:06 am

    Mandy @ DaySpring - Hi Ashley! The code should give you 25% off sale prices. The discount is reflected in the far right column. I double checked and it seems to be working– email me with the item you are having an issue with and I’ll look into it for you: mandy b at dayspring dot com. Thanks!ReplyCancel

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  • April 14, 2014 - 12:17 am

    preparing our hearts for Easter » The Macs - […] out last week. We have several fun things that we use from DaySpring that you can read about in this post and our collection of Easter books is growing […]ReplyCancel

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20 weeks

20 weeks

Sunday marked twenty weeks…halfway already! And whoa…this baby is growing, growing, growing…or else my tummy just knows what to do after three babies already. I’m feeling fine besides always thinking I need a nap. But I’m pretty sure that is just part of being a mama, right? I am feeling lots of bubbles and flutters…this baby feels like a mover already. And I think the boys will be able to feel some little kicks soon too…they will be so excited. Griffin has started praying for the baby every night. If we forget he makes sure to let us know. So sweet. And Levi came with me to my last appointment to hear the baby’s heartbeat. He has been begging to come along and it was so special watching his face as he heard that little heartbeat for the first time. My sonogram is next week and we are still holding strong…it’s going to be a surprise! We can’t wait to meet this little one.

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  • March 12, 2014 - 10:38 pm

    Ali - I love that you’re holding strong, but if you decide not to…don’t feel bad about it! Just continue praying and you’ll know what’s best for you. I’ll never forget the post on your last sonogram & it was so similar to my story. It really helped me. God bless you and your family & Congrats!!! :) ReplyCancel

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  • March 13, 2014 - 12:14 am

    Sharee - I’ve been reading your blog for a while and I love it. You are so uplifting and so so crafty! I just (9 months ago is just right?) had my final number 4 and despite multiple ultrasounds we stayed strong and waited! While we would have been thrilled with a baby girl, I think it made the surprise of a baby boy that much more exciting. I feel bad saying that. We really would have loved 4 girls! Anyway, I’m happy for you and look forward to new blogs!ReplyCancel

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  • March 13, 2014 - 7:32 am

    Tara Taylor - I have one biological child and did not find out the gender while pregnant. My beautiful daughter turns 15 tomorrow and I still feel not finding out was the best ever. The excitement of hearing the doctor tell my husband and I “it’s a girl” was crazy, crazy. Deep down I thought she was a boy, but even deeper, I was hoping for a girl. Congrats to you and your family.ReplyCancel

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  • March 13, 2014 - 7:55 am

    babykatesmom - Congratulations on reaching the halfway mark! Your belly is adorable & I love that Levi got to go with you to hear the heartbeat – what a special Big Brother thing to do!
    Take care! Praying for your family from Florida :) ReplyCancel

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  • March 13, 2014 - 8:53 am

    flowerpowermomma - Blessings on this sweet baby and the joy it is bringing to your home. How fun for Levi with the heartbeat and adorable that Griffin has a servants heart to pray consistently for the babe.ReplyCancel

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  • March 13, 2014 - 1:19 pm

    amy jupin - you are the cutest preggo momma!
    praying for you, jess!ReplyCancel

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  • March 13, 2014 - 2:55 pm

    creole wisdom - Could you be any cuter? How exciting Baby #4′s birthday will be :) A second daughter or third son will be just the perfect addition.ReplyCancel

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  • March 13, 2014 - 4:40 pm

    Toni :0) - Love the update. We didn’t know for either of our children until the day of arrival and I can tell you, it’s really awesome to wait. I loved being able to say the baby is here and it’s a “Boy” or it’s a “Girl!” Best surprise ever!! Prayers always sent your way. God bless! xoxoReplyCancel

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  • March 14, 2014 - 9:33 am

    Mary Ann - You are such a beautiful mama….I’m excited to see what your baby will be – boy or girl – it is great that you are going to be surprised and what a wonderful surprise it will be. Me and my husband adopted our son, our only child when he was 15 days old. I got the call at my work that Child and Family Services had a little baby for us. So, we didn’t know until that day whether we would get a boy or a girl. He was and still is the light of my life. He and his darling wife had my grandson almost 4 years ago. I feel so blessed to be a grandmother. It is a dream come true. My husband passed away only 18 short months before Braxton was born. I think my husband knows about Braxton and is looking down from heaven with a smile on his face knowing he’s a grandpa and happy that we are taking good care of his grandson.ReplyCancel

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  • March 17, 2014 - 8:28 pm

    Megan - Congrats on the half way mark!!! I have been a long time reader but changed computers and lost a lot of my bookmarked blogs, then one day you popped into my mind and I thought “I wonder if she is pregnant again?” so I Googled your blog and you had just made the announcement a few posts before! So excited for you guys! And I totally agree with the comment above … I will never forget your post after sweet Griffin’s ultrasound. It was so beautiful and open and relatable. I’m excited to see what you are having and pray any anxiety you both face will be swept away by peace from God. He already know what it is, after all. :) ReplyCancel

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  • March 17, 2014 - 11:33 pm

    Melissa Joy - Beautiful, Jess, truly. I would have been 16 weeks if my little girl had lived… and looking at your belly makes me cry… but actually for good reasons. I’m praying for you and your lovely family!ReplyCancel

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  • March 22, 2014 - 9:59 pm

    Amanda - I have been following your blog for a long time now but I have never commented before. I think you are amazing! Your boys are so cute and such fun to follow. Congrats on the new little one on the way.ReplyCancel

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  • April 6, 2014 - 11:33 am

    Sarah W. - You look great! Isn’t it crazy how we show so much faster each time around and how fast the time flies! I wish I was strong enough to wait and have a surprise at the birth too… at first I thought I could… I couldn’t. I’m so excited for your growing family!ReplyCancel

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