Tag: lent (page 2 of 6)

Easter is Coming

I’m used to feeling like an oddball during Lent—fasting privately and aware, perhaps, of a few other friends from church who spend the weeks leading up to Easter forgoing good things and meditating on what is in us that made the cross necessary. We gather at church on Sundays and sing the “Kyrie Elieson”—”Lord, have mercy upon us”—while our neighbors go about their spring-time business.

But last spring, I saw grief, fear, and uncertainty in the eyes of our neighbors, cashiers, and teachers (as they passed my daughters’ school books through the passenger window of my van). We all felt it: This is not how it’s meant to be. Something has gone horribly wrong.

Easter is Coming, by Tama Fortner | Little Book, Big Story

This spring is, already, gloriously different. Last week I took my daughter with me to the store for the first time in a year. We had dinner with vaccinated family members—indoors, not around the firepit in the driveway. The neighbor I’ve brought groceries every so often told me that she’s almost clear to do her own shopping, and I wanted to cry and hug her right there in her front yard.

Crocuses, snowdrops, chickadees—they’re all going about their usual spring business, but I want to beam when I see them. They are still going! We are still here. We aren’t finished with this pandemic, of course, but we’ve made it this far.

And Easter is coming.

Easter is Coming, by Tama Fortner | Little Book, Big Story

Tama Fortner’s picture book is full of movement, color, and light—it captures all this perfectly. Beginning with the beginning, Easter is Coming follows the story of Scripture from the garden of Eden onward and shows how every chapter of the story points to Jesus’s resurrection—and how even our chapter, now, points back to it.

I am a little in awe of how she manages this—in a board book, no less!—but she succeeds beautifully in showing how Jesus’s death and resurrection is the climax of all Scripture. Wazza Pink’s illustrations give the story texture and a lovely sense of abundance.

We are not out of the woods yet, I know. I know. And it’s tempting to believe that a “return to normal” is the thing our hearts truly long for. But Easter reminds us to set our sights higher: whatever comes next, the cross is behind us, and Jesus’s resurrection is finished, for our sake. The next time we see him will be his true return; he will set all things right. Easter is coming!


Easter is Coming
Tama Fortner; Wazza Pink (2019)

Meals with Jesus

About this time every year, I start looking for family Lent devotionals. And every year I think, Wow, I wish there were more of those. I can find all manner of Advent devotionals, written for readers of all ages, but Lent devotionals are scarce. In fact, looking back at the book reviews on this blog, I couldn’t find a single family devotional that began on Ash Wednesday and ended on Easter.

Imagine, then, my joy at discovering Meals With Jesus.

Meals With Jesus, by Ed Drew | Little Book, Big Story

Ed Drew structures this seven-week devotional around the book of Luke, and follows Jesus through Luke’s account with short readings and activities. This is a versatile book, with reading plans for Lent or any other time of the year, and variations on the questions and games that make them fun for kids of any age. I love how practical and flexible this book is, but my favorite part is Drew’s vision for it:

“Christians are not primarily about an institution, a religion, our habit or a set of behaviors,” he writes in the introduction. “We are about Jesus Christ. As we sit with him at the dinner table, we see who he is: his decision-making, his compassion and his bravery. When we sit with him, we meet the man we spend so long talking about. As we look him square in the eye, we get the chance to make the biggest decisions of our lives. What do we think of him? Do we like him? Do we trust him? Will we dare to follow him?”

This idea of sitting with Jesus and getting to know him is at the heart of Meals With Jesus. It encourages us not just to talk to our kids about Jesus, but to give them the chance, through Scripture, to get to know him for themselves.


Meals With Jesus: A Journey Through Luke’s Gospel for the Whole Family
Ed Drew (2021)


Disclosure: I did receive copies of this for review, but I was not obligated to review this book or compensated for my review in any way. I share this book with you because I love it, not because I was paid to do so.

Good Friday

I fully intended to share a book with you today. I had one picked out that was perfect for Good Friday (how many picture books are perfect for Good Friday?), but when I sat down to proofread it this morning, I realized that I had neglected to photograph the book. Alas! So instead I will share some resources for observing Good Friday at home.

First: this album, recorded by Gateway Hymns, is full of beautiful music for Good Friday.

Second: Perhaps your church already has a Good Friday service, but if not, you’re welcome to join our church’s online service here. Good Friday is one of my favorite services of the year, as it sets up the joy of Easter morning by giving us room to remember both the necessity and the costliness of the Cross. Both Mitch and I got to participate in this service, and I am so grateful for the chance to meditate on Jesus’ death at a time when we feel the effects of the Fall so keenly.

And when Easter morning comes, may yours be filled with joy! This Lenten season has been unlike any I’ve observed before: we have waited, like the disciples, in sorrow and grief, mourning our losses and wondering what will happen next. But the joy of the Resurrection transforms our suffering—its light pierces these dark days like a beacon. When the sun rises on Easter morning, let’s say it together in our homes, God’s people (for now) dispersed, but unified in him: He is risen.

Observing Lent with The Jesus Storybook Bible

What Advent is to Jesus’ birth, Lent is to his death and resurrection. During the 40 days of Lent, we prepare to celebrate Easter by remembering our need for Jesus. We reflect on our mortality, remembering that we are dust, and we reflect on our need for a Savior willing to die in our place. Lent is, perhaps, not so cozy as Advent, but it is beautiful. And it starts tomorrow.

Over the years, I have found many Advent devotionals and a few excellent two-weeks-til-Easter devotionals. But I have found very few books willing to walk our family through the entire season of Lent. I cannot, in fact, think of any.

Observing Lent with Kids and The Jesus Storybook Bible, by Sally Lloyd-Jones | Little Book, Big Story

But Sally Lloyd-Jones has a whole-family guide to observing Lent with kids—and the Jesus Storybook Bible. That’s what we’ll be doing this year, and I wanted to share it today so that you, if you’re into this sort of thing, can join us!

The guide features forty days of readings from the Jesus Storybook Bible, as well as a printable paper chain and coloring pages. This will definitely please the younger set of readers in our house, but I know the older girls will enjoy it as well.

Jesus Storybook Bible, Reading Plan for Lent | Little Book, Big Story
Photo: Sally Lloyd-Jones

You can download the guide from Sally Lloyd-Jones’s website for free by subscribing to her mailing letter.


The Jesus Storybook Bible
Sally Lloyd-Jones; Jago (2007)

Jesus is Risen!

One of the difficulties of telling the Easter story to young readers is the fact that the main character, the Creator of the Universe, dies right in the middle. The story doesn’t end there (praise the Lord!), but that is still a dark moment. Authors might soften it by moving Jesus’ death and all the horror of it off stage, but no author can remove it entirely without crippling the story. They shouldn’t.

Jesus is Risen!, by Agostino Traini | Little Book, Big Story

Agostino Traini (author of The Life of Martin Luther) handles this conundrum thoughtfully and begins Jesus is Risen three days after Jesus’ death. Rather than take readers through Jesus’ life or through the timeline of Holy Week, Traini tells the story of the Resurrection itself, from Easter morning to the arrival of the Holy Spirit.

These passages sometimes read, to me, like an epilogue at the end of the gospels (or like a preface to the book of Acts), so I love reading a book that focuses solely on Jesus resurrected. We get to see the disciples’ bewilderment and Jesus’ kindness as he answers their questions, lets them examine him, and cooks them breakfast.

Jesus is Risen!, by Agostino Traini | Little Book, Big Story

Jesus is Risen! would be a beautiful book to read on Easter morning. It is all joy and delight (with pop-ups!), perfect for sharing over Easter breakfast or, if you roll the way we do, early-morning cookies. (You know it’s a true feast day when it starts with cookies.)

Jesus is Risen!, by Agostino Traini | Little Book, Big Story

And to all of you: Happy Easter! He is risen!


Jesus is Risen!
Agostino Traini (2018)