Lent begins today. We started the morning with an early morning Ash Wednesday service at church with a small group of friends and then the boys and I came home to talk it all over together through the rest of the morning. We talked about how Lent is a time like Advent when you look forward to an exciting new holiday and when you try to remember some special principles (Advent: hope, expectation, promise....Lent: how life can come from death, how loss and letting go can be good, self discipline) and we refreshed them on the story of Jesus life, death and resurrection.
At naptime we read the first story in one of their children's Bibles after the visitation of the three kings. We'll keep reading the life of Jesus through Advent until we reach the story of Easter itself.
Then we took a little break from all the chatter to dye a tablecloth to use on our dining room table during the Lenten season. The seasonal color of Lent is a deep purple, symbolic of royal dignity, solemnity and penance so, we took a white tablecloth and together the boys stirred it in the sink until it was a deep grapey shade. So pretty. They both had a lot of fun and we have a new decoration to remind us of the time of year we're going through.
I always try to give up something or things for Lent....a form of fasting (the only permissible form at the moment since I'm pregnant) and a way to give up something that in some way distances me from God and allow Him additional connection spots in my life. This year I'm giving up:
- Stress Binging on Bad Foods: This is an embarrassingly wretched behavior I've developed. I get stressed out and instead of (or sometimes in combination with) freaking out, I down a bunch of candy, leftover dessert items, Doritos....etc. Terrible, no good, very bad way. I am going to try to replace this behavior with eating something good for me or drinking water. This is also a subtle way to bless my baby and think charitably of the little one instead of downing toxic levels of less than helpful foods.
- Music to Fill The Spaces: I'm going to give up ambient music from iTunes and playing the radio in the car whenever we drive anywhere. The idea is not at all that music is bad (heaven knows, I love it a lot) but, I think a time of quiet is a good idea. I am hoping it will encourage us to make our own music, help me listen to my kids more and talk to them and just allow a space for peace and silence, the kind of place where scripture tells us the still small voice of God tends to show up.
One of my other goals for Lent is to try to find small ways to work charity into my life with my kids. I think there are some practical, kid accessible ways that we can participate in meaningful charity...taking gifts to neighbors, writing cards and letters for sick friends, picking out a little extra at the grocery store for the local food bank....etc. This is however, one of the weak areas of my Lenten plan. If you have ideas about how to teach kids to give to those in need, do share!