Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Working on the Harvest: Observing Lent as a Family

Last night, my family had a small Mardi Gras celebration to kick off the season of Lent. Not unlike one last big meal before beginning a diet. We made a festive table with Mardi Gras beads and the kids decorated Mardi Gras masks. Grammy made a New Orleans-style meal of sausage, dirty rice, red beans and rice, shrimp and bread. We discussed what Fat Tuesday meant and how we would entering into the Lent on Ash Wednesday.

I began to teach my children the meaning of the words abstain and fast and sacrifice, but in truth, for me learning the true meaning and value of those words I think will take a lifetime of experience.

I have always been drawn to the season of Lent. A period of reflection, of prayer, of discerning what it is that draws us close to Jesus and what in our life is an obstacle. It is a time when I am most aware of my own spiritual growth (or lack thereof). Prayer, fasting, almsgiving and sacrifice. Entering into the desert with Jesus, bringing my sin to the cross and preparing to celebrate the resurrection, the gift of new life and the grace of forgiveness. Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.

Even as we continue to settle in our new home, work on the needed renovations, get organized and settled into new routines, I am determined to observe this season with the respect and reflection it deserves. IN some small ways, we will walk the way of the cross and I will do my best to teach my children about the Lord's sacrifice and the gift we in turn received.

My little 4-year-old lamb gets it. We read Adam and Eve and she knows "they disobeyed God." She understands that they were no longer allowed to go into the garden. Consequences. Discipline. We read about Jonah and she says "He also disobeyed God" and I point out that after three days in the big fish, Jonah repents, receives forgiveness and is brought back to life to do the work of God on earth and this time he obeys. Will we?

Ann Voskamp has a wonderful devotional for Lent here. I plan to get this iron tree to use as a Lenten tree and either hang  scripture cards and Easter eggs as we do the Ann Voskamp devotion or do the Jesus Tree ornaments and devotion found here, except I'd make them with my Cricuit and paper.

I have also been looking at a Lenten calendar or wreath to mark the days of Lent  and am awed by this wreath created by Ann's son. I'd really like to get that! I imagine serene moments lighting the candle and discussing scripture but then another image of complete chaos interrupts it and that image is probably more like reality in my home.

Another teachable craft is a salt dough crown of thorns, every time the kids make a sacrifice they remove a thorn from the crown. Along the same lines, the Merciful Cross is a good activity as well. You teach about the spiritual works of Mercy and every time you act, you cover a cross with a paper flower. By the end of Lent the cross could be covered up. Character and behavior teaching is an added benefit! I am not sure if I'll get to those this year, but I really like the idea.

For an outdoor activity that I think ties the journey all together, I saw this resurrection garden on Pinterest and think this will be a nice activity to do with the kids in a few weeks. The Lord knows our "garden" (and I use the term very lightly) could use some work!

How are you honoring the Lenten season with your family? I'd love to hear your ideas! For more inspiration, check out my Easter and Lent boards on Pinterest