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Inviting Your Child into the Easter Story

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
March 31, 2023 6:00 am

Inviting Your Child into the Easter Story

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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March 31, 2023 6:00 am

Josh and Christi Straub want to help Christian parents introduce their young children to the story of Jesus Christ’s life, death and resurrection in age-appropriate ways. Exposing kids to the gruesome fact of Christ’s execution is challenging, yet the Straubs believe parents are too quick to fast-forward to the joy of Resurrection Sunday. 


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Listen on your favorite podcast app. When you think about Easter, I wonder what comes to mind. Is it rabbits, chocolate, colored eggs? As Christians, we know there is so much more to Easter. It started with a triumphal parade and anger Jesus had about the misuse of God's temple, the last supper, a brutal death, then a miraculous resurrection. And as adults, that is so much for us to process.

And it's really hard for us to help our kids get into those truths and understand them. So today on Focus on the Family, we're going to explore the Easter story, its relevance to our lives, and how you as a parent can help your kids grab onto it. Thanks for joining us.

I'm John Fuller and your host is Focus President and author Jim Daly. John, the period of time around that first Easter had to be filled with amazing moments. We call it Holy Week, but if you just read it in the scripture, there was a lot going on, a lot of chaos, really. And imagine how the disciples must have felt wondering if Jesus would become the king. Would he take over politically? Would he be the next leader in that way? And then you had Judas betraying him.

You had Peter denying him. There was just a lot of things happening. And it's good for us to understand it and better understand what were the motivations of people and what was happening. You know, we have the benefit of 2,000 years of history. Now we get to look back and we get to see that what Jesus said is true.

I mean, we are, should be envied as a generation. You know, we're not in the midst of it thinking, is he the Messiah? Is he not the Messiah?

I think you can say very definitively Jesus was who he said he was. And we have still people that have lots of questions about Jesus and his significance. And we're going to help answer those questions today, especially for your children, which is so hard for them to kind of connect with. Yeah, what's a bunny rabbit and a colored egg have to do with Easter? So we're looking forward to talking to two great friends about how to speak to your children about Easter. Yeah, Josh and Christie Straub are back in the studio with us. We're so glad to have them. And we always get a great response when we talk with them. They are speakers and podcast hosts and co-founders of Famous at Home. They train leaders in emotional intelligence and really promote healthy families. They're living a healthy family.

They have three kids and Landon, Kennedy and Micah. They know something about the journey that so many of us are on or reflecting back so positively about. One of the books they've written that we'll mention here is Ten Days of the Easter Story of Family Experience Through the Feelings of Holy Week. And we've got copies of that book here. Stop by the show notes for yours or give us a call.

Eight hundred, the letter A and the word family. Josh and Christie, welcome. Thank you. Good to have you back. We love your smiles. I love your smiles. You just look joyful.

I love it. Let me ask you this. John touched on it, but the whole idea of bunny rabbits and eggs. So, you know, for Jean and I, when our boys were younger, we were having this discussion. Do we talk about a rabbit? I mean, really, did the kids grow up thinking we're lying to them? There is no big Easter bunny that's taking care of all this, spiritually speaking.

And, you know, Jean was really great. We did the same thing with the other guy in December, you know, SC. I don't want to blow anybody's cover. But we just weren't, we felt it may not go down well with our boys if we're deceiving them. I mean, even playfully about Santa Claus and maybe the Easter bunny. So we were not big on pretending that these people exist and deliver presents.

But let me, this one, let's just get out of the way. At Easter, how do you begin to clarify this is Jesus and the true story and this is something we do for fun? Well, it is confusing, isn't it? Like, wait, where did bunnies and eggs come into the picture?

And then we're talking about empty tombs and this horrific death. And like, how did these go together? And I think it's hard for, I mean, we're parents raising kids in this generation alongside all of you. How old are your kids just for the listeners?

So Landon's 10, Kennedy's 8, and Micah's just about to be 3. So right there you have a wide variety of understanding. Yeah. And it's very limited understanding for some. Like, it's what even is Easter?

I think. And the reason I think it's so important to us to even have this conversation today is because it really gets the crux of our faith. So if we're, Jim, you're saying if we're like telling them about Easter bunnies and going along with that, and I'm truthfully like, we play along with some of the traditions so that the kids, like there's just a joy in hiding eggs around the house.

But with this like balance of, and this is what is true. And I think that's the point we wanted to really hammer home with our kids is, and it's not just a story. Like it's a true story, but it's not just a story that we are reading to you. We want you to actually experience what this meant, not just then, but for you now, because this is the centerpiece of our faith. And if we don't, if we see it as a story, or if we just treat it like eggs and, you know, bunnies and chocolate, which is, I mean, all great.

It's fine. But like, how do we make this come alive for you? Right.

Yeah. And I think, you know, for us, you know, one of the principles we hold to is one of the things that Christy's mom would say to them growing up, you know, the Easter Bunny with and with SC as well. There, and this is the phrase is they are pretend, but in our home, we pretend.

And so just that idea of going, Okay, yes, if they ask the question, we pretend, or they're pretend, but we pretend in our home. And I think there's a reality to, we want our children to know the truth. And we want them to understand that the truth sets them free.

Right. And so that's why, you know, yes, you know, and I get the Easter egg in the spring and the springing forth of new life and that, you know, being a representation to, to the resurrection. But I think so often what we do is we bypass the pain of the truth, we bypass the suffering of the truth. And we want to get to the resurrection, Sunday is coming, we use that phrase Sunday is coming. And what we end up doing is, is we pacify things with eggs and, and the pretend stuff that culture brings into play. And then we focus on the good part of the Easter story of going, okay, Sunday's coming, Jesus has rose from the dead.

But what we end up doing is we do, I think we do our kids a disservice by passing over Jesus came to fulfill Passover by passing over the stuff that wasn't so fun. Yeah. Well, and what you're saying, I mean, it's dawning on me that it's such a metaphor for the culture.

Yeah. I mean, really, rather than talk about what's true and the things that are most important in life. Let's eat some chocolate. Let's entertain bunnies and, you know, fake things. But that is too, that's our culture. Is it? Let's, let's, you know, consume to the hilt and not talk about what's most important in life. We just continue that whole fable forward.

Yes. It's so it's just like, you know, this whole, I don't know, there's this culture of like, we medicate pain with, you know, we shop it away, or we eat it away, or we over sugar it away. And it's, it's like we're ingraining in our kids, this, that coping mechanism. And I just think there is such a better way for us to actually walk through with our kids hard things.

And what I what I love what you're accomplishing with the book 10 Days of the Easter story, and you guys, you're so intentional with this is how to get your kids starting right, right from the get go. Emotionally healthy. I so appreciate that because I don't think as parents we, you know, we want them to be in sports, we want them to do these things that demonstrate their physical well being and their physical acuity. And I don't know that I don't think I was as in tune with their emotional health as you guys are coaching parents to be.

And I think man, it should probably start right there. Yeah, emotionally healthy children. So when you look at connecting the Easter story, for them to be emotionally healthy, how does that work? Yeah, well, one of the things we wanted to do was, I mean, we wanted to take the Easter story.

And we wanted to look at what was actually happening, right? You know, researchers show that, you know, thinking, feeling and relating at the same time is where true growth happens. So in other words, if I'm just sitting in a classroom, and I'm hearing somebody lecture, there's a cognitive thing going on. But if there's not great stories, or I'm not emotionally engaged, I'm not as likely to remember what's being taught. That's like a speaker, an effective speaker. An effective speaker is going to share stories, they're going to engage your emotion. And there's thinking, feeling, and then there's also relating, I'm entering into a relationship is why therapy is so effective is because it, you know, or at least good healthy relationships, small groups where you're doing life with people in your church, because there's relational things happening.

And so what we really wanted to do was give parents another tool to be able to take their children through the devotion of Easter, to teach them the truths of Scripture, but then to also help their children enter into that story. And think about what is it that the characters or the people during that week, during that time of life, what were they experiencing? What were they actually feeling?

What was actually going on? And what are ways that you experienced that feeling today? What are ways that you've experienced a lot of hope, like the hope of Palm Sunday, right? And, and the happiness of Palm Sunday, or anger, right? When the Pharisees are angry, and then because Jesus is flipping over the tables, but then Jesus getting angry and flipping over the tables, or the surprise. I mean, you think about the Last Supper, think about the disciples at the Last Supper. What a like mind blowing, like if they had emojis back then the mind blown like emoji, because Jesus shows up and he says, by the way, one of you is going to betray me. Yeah. And they all look at each other like, who?

Who? And what are you talking about? Then, he washes their feet, which is up for a servant to do. He tells them he's going to die and temple being raised in three days.

He tells them to drink of his blood and eat of his body. Like, you're going, what? I mean, just imagine being all the surprise that's happening at the Last Supper. So we, we connect that with surprise and the surprise that they were going through.

And so there's so much happening. And there's so many of these feelings that our kids can relate with on a daily basis. We just put prompts in there and ways that we can start helping our kids experience the feelings that they're having, and connect it to that story. You know, one of the things I'm thinking of, because I didn't grow up in a Christian home. So for me, I was, you know, I didn't have traditions taught to me.

And, you know, I kind of struggled, I'd say more as a teenager trying to grab these concepts. And what you're doing with your children at a younger age, what I love what's happening there, you don't have to get it all done in one fell swoop, you know, asking your three year old, are you ready to receive Jesus? You're laying the groundwork and portraying the truth of Scripture, etc. And I just love that idea of it's like the layers of an onion, you're just creating that first layer for that three year old to understand what's true.

And I think being mindful of that and intentional of that is so good. Christy, you were really honest about the fact that you struggled with the death and resurrection. I could so relate to I mean, I was 15 going, Why would he have to do that? I didn't get it.

What were your struggles as a child? Well, it's like Josh was just saying, like, I mean, it's just this most gruesome, like, you know, we were scared of, I was absolutely, and almost disgusted, like, here's, we'll throw in another feeling word, disgust is it's like, I can't watch that. And you think about as parents, like, we try so hard to protect our kids from what they see on television, on, you know, apps, and all the things. And I think there's a whole generation of parents that are really recognizing how important that is.

And they're really stepping up. But I almost wonder if we've swung the pendulum a bit to the other side where it's like, we're, we're so protecting them what they see. And yet, there's this story about the man that we are to like, give our lives where we're trying to introduce our children to that died this gruesome death, and we are protecting our children from death and like, don't look at that don't see that. And then how do awkward it is to try to explain this to kids, you know, and I remember as a kid myself watching the Jesus movie.

Do you remember this? You know, and like, it gets to that, like, I'm fine. I'm fine. I'm fine.

You're fine. Like, triumphal entry and Palm Sunday, and it's all great. And then you get to this horrible part where they're like, literally nailing his hands. And I remember as a kid, like, actually feeling sick to my stomach. And yet you have to watch this every year as a family, you know, is, and I'm never allowed to watch this stuff. And like, normally, so why are we watching this now? And it just is this very strange introduction to I mean, it's violent. It's gruesome. We don't really see that that often in our protective little bubble worlds that we're trying to, you know, and I think in really pure intention, we're trying to protect children from things that they show them show them really in ways that things that they shouldn't see. And yet, this is important.

So how do we do this? And I just realized how much of a struggle that was for me. And what Josh said, the whole church phrase of like, it's Friday, but Sunday's coming. And I though I get this sentiment, like, yes, we have hope. What about Saturday? Yeah. Like, Saturday was horrible.

Yeah. And if I look at the world right now, we don't know how to sit in a Saturday. And yet I think that's really what it feels like right now. Like, if you look at the state of the world, it's like, God, where are you? And like, I don't really feel a lot of hope right now. Like, it feels like darkness is winning.

And I think that's what Saturday felt like. And I, I think the realization that there is this tolerance that we all need to develop, it's almost like a muscle where we can sit in hard things, and allow them to overwhelm. You know, it's like this tidal wave, I think we're so afraid. I've heard so many people say, to me, like, as we're sitting with them and hard things, you know, in a session, where they'll say, like, I don't want to cry, because I'm afraid if I start, I'll never stop. And I think that's the belief.

And where we get this avoidant thing, we go to sugar and bunnies. Because it's like, if I actually touch upon this feeling, I'm afraid I'll cry, and I'll never stop. And the grief will overwhelm me.

And the truth is actually the opposite. That's why we're so afraid to feel is because we haven't let ourselves and grief really come, it comes in waves. Sadness comes in waves, anger comes in waves, and we actually have to allow it and it has to have a safe outlet. And as parents, that's what we are for our kids, if we allow it. Well, and I appreciate that.

Because again, that's your great strength. That's what the Lord's called you to, it feels to me is helping children particularly to be emotionally healthy, and to talk with them in such a way that they can be. I think the Easter story, again, it can be overwhelming to a child.

I mean, you wanted to get to Sunday quickly, because that's the shazam. That's the big part of the story. It's the Lord being raised from the dead and appearing to people and it cements our faith.

And it is, as Paul himself, the apostle said, if Jesus didn't rise from the dead, then our faith is pretty much mute. But that's what it all hinges upon. So as we're teaching our kids this, it can be difficult.

Let me go back to something you mentioned. You said a lot in that statement, but the one thing that I want to punch here is our modern parenting style to kind of keep our kids pain-free, bubble-wrapping them, not just physically, but emotionally too, to where they don't have a dip. It's proving through research that's not a good thing. Kids need appropriate challenges to create resiliency in them. So we speak to that issue of not being too cautious with the kids experiencing some grief and some pain.

Yeah. And I think what ends up happening is, is it comes back to our own parental fears. It comes back to our own story. We don't like anger. Or if we see anger in our kids, we want to just shut it out because I don't want an angry child. I don't want, you know, or anger within us. It triggered something within us from our own childhood, where maybe we were told that anger was a bad emotion.

We're not supposed to feel. So we just pass that onto our kids. And so a lot of times this desire to not want our kids to experience those feelings is coming from our own story. And I think it's important that we look at that story because Romans five is to says to rejoice in suffering.

With suffering comes perseverance and perseverance character and character hope. And, and I think, you know, for us to be able to enter into our children's story, get them to identify what is it that you're feeling? Is it sad? Is it, is it anger? Is it embarrassed?

Is it rejected? Is it fear? What are you experiencing? And to be and to be able to allow our kids to sit in that and to listen to them in that without getting overwhelmed ourselves as parents gives our children the ability to say that it's okay, you have permit. And it's actually a good thing because our ability to experience a wide range of emotion is what leads to emotional and spiritual health. If you shut out the negative or the uncomfortable emotions, you also teach your body to shut out the positive. And that's when we turn to the chocolate and the Netflix and all the other stuff to calm and soothe us.

Yeah. One of the things that you talk about, and you develop and practice is this idea of emotional safety as a family. Some people won't even understand what what you're aiming at there. So describe what emotional safety is within the family. Yeah, I think it more has to do with the posture from which we parent more than the techniques.

Okay. You know, I think we in the day to day we get so caught up in the techniques we have a, as you were talking john earlier, the trying threes, we have a one who's walking into the threes. He it's all about mine. It's all about me.

It's he's getting letting his voice be heard. And I think so often as parents, we get overwhelmed in those moments. And it's all about techniques. Should I spank or not spank? Do I do time ins or timeouts? Do we, you know, do we, you know, breastfeed or bottle feed?

Do we co sleep or not? Because we get so overwhelmed by all these techniques. But the reality is, is that techniques will always change. And one technique that works on one child today won't work on that same child tomorrow. And one technique that works on a child, one child doesn't work on another child.

So techniques will always ebb and flow. And those are one way relationships. It's a one way it's it's a parent. Yeah, it's me as a parent, in, you know, prescribing something or putting something on my child, the posture from which we parent should never change. And the way we describe that is that, you know, first john four says that perfect love cast out fear. And I think anytime that we are leading in fear as a parent, whether it's our parental fears, our parental agenda, whatever that looks like, where we're coming in with a with our own agenda, or we're, you know, shutting our child down because of our own fear, rather than entering into their story. And the way to describe this is leading in grace and following in truth. It's Jesus with the woman at the well, it's Jesus with the woman caught in adultery, he's always showing up with grace, and he's entering their story before he ever reveals who he is.

And I think that's a framework for us as parents to be able to lead in grace with our kids and enter their world and asking questions of what's going on. What's what's going on in your heart right now? What's the disobedience about? What's the disrespect about? Did something happen?

How can I help you? And of course, we want to follow up in truth. There's got to be consequences to disrespect and misbehavior. But I think so often, we're leading in truth. And we're missing the grace component. And to me, emotional safety really is that posture of how do we lead in grace? Well, that is so critical when you talk to 20, 30 somethings and their experience, especially growing up in a Christian home, never feeling like they could get to the bar that's been set, always being somewhat shamed that I wasn't performing well enough. Those are the beginnings of a difficult adulthood, you know, things that you bring in.

And as parents, our job, I believe, before the Lord is to deliver healthy 18, 19 year olds emotionally, right? Let me let me ask you too, Josh, you grew up, I think, experiencing Easter at your grandmother's church. I think you referred to her as Meemaw. I didn't have the Meemaw, but we didn't have extended family.

So I never had that experience. But what was it like being with Meemaw and then Meemaw's attitude toward teaching you about Easter? Yeah, oh my goodness. So I get tears thinking about it. Every Easter Sunday, we would show up at my Meemaw's church. And we wouldn't go to we went to a separate church, but we would show up at my Meemaw's church. And I remember singing the hymns, you know, Christ, the Lord is risen today.

Hallelujah. And, and then we would go to her house and we, you know, find Easter eggs, and we do all these things. But there was such a deep like, you talk about thinking, feeling and relating at the same time, like, I'm welling up in tears thinking about that experiential moment of singing those songs, and going to Easter Sunday service, and engaging in those activities with my family that just connected my faith. And my parents, growing up, were nominal believers.

I mean, we went to church every Sunday, but it wasn't like we were doing devotions every day. And we weren't, you know, but I always believed in my Meemaw was such an anchor for that. And I just really want to encourage families to find those experiences, find those traditions in your family, that will help your kids think, feel and relate. And they'll have a connection point back to a faith connection point back to in their childhood to look back and, and have a similar experience when they're in their 40s to tear up to go, man, my parents showed up for me in this way. They taught me faith in this way. Yeah, you know, sometimes in that parenting role, our judgment gets so clouded that we don't even know that the simple things we're doing now I'm getting teary eyed for you. But those simple things that we do are building incredible foundations for these kids, you know, just stability, being married, loving each other in front of your children, having dinner together at night, having discussion. These aren't difficult things to do just consistency for your kids to see. And then your kid will be 40 and serving the Lord going, wow, what did I have?

That was so special. And I'm so grateful you said that because we so often beat ourselves up, especially over the emotional stuff, because we, we get caught up in the day to day. And I just want to say to parents out there, like, it is hard, it is difficult.

And yet, simply showing up simply doing the exact things you just walked through. It's Deuteronomy six, you know, you're showing up for dinner, you're, you know, you're resolving conflict, you're engaged here. And then when we do mess up, because we will be able to apologize to our kids, just seeking their forgiveness is everything in our relationship. Well, I so appreciate and to hit this again, don't be kind of about tactics be about heart, tactics will change. And the way you do it at eight years old, parenting that eight year old will be different from 15.

So your tactics will change. But the heart is what it's about that grace and truth delivered, man, this time has flown by. I cannot believe it. But for the parents 10 days of the Easter story, start the discussion. This is a great time to do it. If you have that three year old, the eight year old, the 10 year old, the 15 year old, to help them better understand what was going on that week, that we rest everything on that our faith is built upon.

And to help your kids manage and understand those emotions. Boy, you've delivered. Thanks so much for being with us. Thank you for having us. Reach out to focus on the family today to get your copy of 10 days of the Easter story of Family Experience through the Feelings of Holy Week.

When you request that book, be generous as you can. This month, we've been really emphasizing the need we have here, Jim, for monthly sustainers. It helps. It's a really important thing for us, for you to step up and contribute on a monthly basis if you're able to. That smooths out the budget year for us that allows us to know you're with us and we can move confidently ahead in various plans and outreaches. So sign up today to be a monthly sustainer. A gift of any amount will really make a difference.

If you're not able to do that on a monthly basis, then a one time contribution certainly is welcome. And the number is 800, the letter A in the word family, 800-232-6459. Or stop by the show notes for all the details. Also, John, we have a great PDF download or booklet called Coming Home, which describes what it means to have a relationship with Jesus.

And let's just start there. If you're parenting without that foundation, let me just say that's the place to go. And for you to have that personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and then to be able to give that to your children as best as possible, that's our goal for you as well. Yeah, you'll find that little booklet Coming Home at our website, and we're gonna link over to it in the show notes or give us a call.

800, the letter A in the word family. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, we hope you have a great weekend with your family and your church family as well. And then plan to join us on Monday as we hear from Emily Colson. She'll be sharing just a few of the rich lessons she's learned from her son, Max, who has autism. But I can tell you this, that I have watched Max teach us, teach others about love and compassion and kindness and gentleness and patience and joy and perseverance. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. What is building up your teen girl's belief system? And that's the main thing actually that I've gotten from DeBria magazine since I've gotten them, is just how to stay strong in your faith and how to just every day rely on God for everything, even if you're having a wonderfully good day or just an absolute terrible one. Discover how Brio magazine can capture the heart and faith of your teen girl at focusonthefamily.com slash Brio radio.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-03 01:14:18 / 2023-04-03 01:26:39 / 12

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