I'm not sure what it's been like in your home, but in my home Easter typically felt anything but sacred — holy and set apart. The week leading up to Easter wasn’t spent reflecting on the cross, nor the resurrection; it was focused on finding the perfect new dress for Easter. Instead of implementing creative ways to help my children learn the resurrection story or simply reading it myself, I spent time trying to find the perfect things for their Easter basket. That morning was a whirlwind of going through baskets while trying to get everyone dressed in clothes nicer than what we typically wore on Sunday mornings. And when we arrived — usually late because no one could find their shoes as we were hurrying out the door — the parking lot was so full we had to park far away. So as I would walk into worship to celebrate that “He is risen,” I felt anything but worshipful. I felt distracted by the chaos of the day.
About five years ago, I decided I had enough of giving in to the chaos and decided I wanted more of Jesus. I began observing Lent, which is the span of days leading up to Easter. There isn’t a right or wrong way to approach Lent; it’s simply choosing to be more intentional with loving God and others during the weeks before Easter.
Here are some of the things I’ve done that have helped shift my heart to focusing less on the chaos, and more on Jesus:
Put on Your Oxygen Mask First
One thing we do really well is to make sure others are OK. This comes from such a great place because truly, only beautiful hearts would live so selflessly. I want to challenge you to take the same advice your flight attendant gives you before your airplane takes off: Put on your oxygen mask first and then put the mask on others around you. This is difficult to do because we want to make sure our children, spouses, and other loved ones are well taken care of. However, we have nothing to pour out to them if we’re not filling ourselves up first.
The very best way to do this is to pursue Jesus. Be disciplined and intentional to spend time in His Word and in prayer. Sacred Holidays offers Lenten Bible studies and there is a suggested Lent Bible Reading Plan in Sacred Holidays: Less Chaos, More Jesus. You can find Lent devotional plans if you search "Sacred Holidays" on the YouVersion Bible app. And then, of course, you can find one of LifeWay's devotions or Bible studies that will grow your faith. The point is to find something and dive deep into it. Let God fill your soul before you try to fill others.
Light Those Candles
If you’ve never lit Lenten or Advent candles, this is going to be something you will love. They have engaged my heart so much over the years. You start Lent with seven candles, all lit — because Jesus, the Light of the World, has come! And then each Sunday you blow out another candle as a reminder that we’re nearing the cross. On the Friday before Easter, Good Friday, you blow out the final candle — because, without Christ, we’re without hope.
However, on Sunday, you light all seven candles and celebrate that Jesus Christ is alive! The brightness of these candles is a powerful thing to witness. You will also be able to help those who live in your home and those who visit to visually experience the Easter story.
Fast To Be Focused
A common practice associated with Lent is fasting. Fasting is a Scripture-ordained act of obedience — a means of humbling ourselves before God, drawing closer to Him, and making room for Him to speak and act in our lives.
Often I’ll choose to fast from something that keeps me from spending time with the Lord (such as social media). Some people take a break on Sundays from their fast. Again, the how isn’t as important as the why. Ask the Lord to show you what you should fast from.
Praise Jesus Tree and Confession Station
One of my favorite things we have in our home is our Praise Jesus Tree and confession station during Lent. I set up an area to be a personal reflection spot. I’ll grab some tree branches and put them in a vase. Then I punch holes in paper cutouts and loop string through the holes. I place a sign above the vase that says, “Tell Jesus that you’re thankful for how He brought light into your world as He gives you new life in Him!”
Invite your family and friends who visit your home to write answers to the statement on the cutouts, then hang them on the branches. Next to the tree, I put a stack of blank note cards and another sign that reads: “Write your confession of sin on these cards, then rip up your card and throw it away. Know that God redeems. Know that God considers your sin no more. You’re white as snow in Jesus’ name.”
This is something I just started, but I really love it. Find what works for you! Ask the same God who created the universe to give you creativity to find ways for yourself and those who come through your home to focus on Jesus.
Donate the Dress
This was such a fun new tradition I added last year. Sacred Holidays (the ministry) partnered with His Voice Global (HVG), a non-profit committed to helping vulnerable women and children in Africa. We challenged our followers to choose not to buy a new dress this year but to wear something they already have, and then donate whatever they had planned to spend toward this special fund with HVG. Last year, during the week before Easter, more than $3,500 was given! With the funds given and the help of a local church partner, several women were able to end their lifestyle of prostitution and were provided with food and housing.
You can join the @SacredHolidays #DonateTheDress campaign this year or decide as a family to give your Easter outfit budget to a ministry or a non-profit. You and your family will see the difference your gift can make.
Above all else, remember this is a season to reflect and then celebrate. Traditionally the Lent season is a bit more somber and serious with its focus on sin and repentance. However, we celebrate because we aren’t left to carry our sin. Jesus lived a perfect life, He died for our sins, and He rose again, defeating death and giving us new life in Him!
I encourage you to go and live out Ephesians 5:8, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.” Go celebrate the Light of the World this season and shine your light into your home and world!
This article is adapted from HomeLife Magazine.
Do you enter every holiday wanting it to be meaningful for your family, only to find that it feels chaotic with no direction? Holidays are meant to be more than chaos with glimpses of grace; they are meant to draw us closer to God and one another.
We want all the whimsy and joy the holidays held when we were children before life crowded it out. We want the holidays to reflect our love for Jesus and reveal the grace that has been lavished on us, but life is so busy that setting a game plan just doesn’t happen No more. It’s time to stopping trying to survive the holidays or overindulge the whimsy, and instead live in the abundant life He called us to live.
Sacred Holidays is part book and part resource: meant to help you avoid what has tripped you up in the past and give you insights, tips, and tools to make your holidays less chaotic and more about loving Jesus and others. Don’t let your holidays be marked by regret, whimsy whirlwinds, or survival mindset. Let’s celebrate every holiday together purposefully and worshipfully – loving Jesus and others well in every moment.