This year for Lent, I got serious about making it serious for the kids. Last year, they gave up watching all their movies, except Veggie Tales, because I needed help with an out every so often as our life was in crazy mode. But, what did it really mean? What was/is Lent all about? No meat on Fridays didn’t come as a shock because we observe that 98% of the time throughout the year any way. So, this year, Lent was going to be real. This year, we were all going to grow individually and as a family. To help me out, I sought the great assistance of pinterest.
I found LOTS of really great ideas geared toward kids to help get their heads in to the game. One place in particular, Homegrown Catholics, had a handful of links and ideas to do a Jesus Tree. It is the same concept as the Jesse Tree used during advent, but this is for Lent. You read a passage from the bible each day and place it’s relating ornament on the tree. She has printables that could be used as ornaments to be placed on my own tree (she has links and photos for ideas on trees) and a link to places to order a felt tree and ornaments. I ran out of time to do the felt option, so I bought a cork board and had Lowell draw me a bare tree. Everyday at lunch, we get the next ornament, read the relating scripture, and then place an ornament on the tree. Each of the kids take turns with that part. Here is our tree today, but I haven’t done today’s reading and ornament yet.
Homegrown Catholics had a “Lenten Path” printable, but I stumbled on one I liked better on another site via pinterest so I printed that one, from Catholic Icing, and put it on the fridge. It has a fish symbol on Fridays to remind the kids about no meat, and marks each of the Sundays, that I left white when I colored it in, so they know it is a day of rest from Lent. The child who gets to hang the ornament is the child who gets to move our little magnet one day further up the path toward Easter each day.
Another idea I found is “Sacrifice Beads”. Genius!! I bought black beads at Wal-Mart for under $5. I placed a mason jar I had leftover from making apple butter in the center of a bowl and filled the bowl with the beads around it. I explained to the kids, again, now with a visual, about making a sacrifice for Jesus by doing things we don’t like, or want to do, with a smile on our face. And, at Easter, we will fill the jar with an equivalent to the black beads of something sweet (jelly beans or m&m’s) to show a physical meaning of being rewarded later for our sacrifices now. Can I just talk about HOW MUCH this has saved my life?! My kids jump all over the opportunity to make sacrifices and offer it up. The girls grasp the concept on a greater scale and are making bigger sacrifices for bigger intentions. They all grab a bead, whisper to Jesus what it is they don’t like, or want to do, put it in the jar and go about their way with a smile on their faces. Phillip is a smart kid, but he usually just puts a bead in for saying all his prayers nicely.
The jar is 2/3 full as of today. But, I took this photo a few days in to show one of my friends, so am sharing that here too. Easy peasy.
We have come a long way in understanding lent with these tools. Each of the tools bring more and more conversation to the table. The conversation about Jesus in the desert is on the list of Top Three that come up. I think they enjoy seeing how they are connected with Jesus in so many ways now in doing things similar to what he did 2,000+ years ago. In addition to our tools, the kids gave up all their movies, and sweets as well, this year. As a family, we set out on a mission to do weekly confession and a small holy hour, and to get back in the habit of our nightly family rosary that somehow has become every few nights rosary. We are still working on those ;) I gave up my phone, except to use it as a telephone. With all our extra time without electronics, we have been spending lots of time working on our yard. I got a garden started and Lowell has cleared away two truck loads of overgrown bushes. I work out on the days I don’t feel I spent enough time outside, I have taken up oil pulling, and have found time for reading again! We’re also getting ready to add 10 hens to our current 5 and have become bee keepers as well! (A post about all that coming soon.)
I would say, as I look back on this 20th day, at how far I’ve come, or grown, that I have grown the most in my vocation of motherhood. How many times have I needed to finish one more text before I could pay full attention to my eager kids? Or scroll through that page on amazon for 5 more minutes? I am ashamed to admit: it was too many times. I have noticed more peace, and more patience on my part, and I think we all approve of this fine growth. My phone will remain on the back burner after Easter and I believe a handful of my apps will be gone all together. I enjoy not being a slave to it now that I have my priorities straightened out. As I look forward, I want to strengthen and grow for my husband, too. Being a better mom is good, but these kids consume so much of me that I am sure the poor guy needs a “boost of wife” So, I will be working on ways to let him know I haven’t “forgotten” him as we continue to build up this domestic church, growing, praising and honoring God!
Happy Lenten-Hump Day!