“Hey J.T.!! What are you giving up for Lent?!”
The boy yelled from the back of the line in hockey skills practice.
“Gum!” J.T. yelled back from the front of the line.
“My brother gave up his goalie skills for Lent,” another boy told my Zachary as this yelling-long-distance conversation concluded.
Zach told me about this conversation as we were loading up in the truck after hockey practice. We have talked some about Lent and about how I’m trying to give up FaceBook. The kids have been good at reminding me about my commitment…especially if they catch me on FB during the day. Zach was surprised to hear his hockey buddies discussing Lent, and what they had given up, and it of course sparked my thinking on what Lent could mean to them. I haven’t pushed them to give anything up, though, and I think it is mainly because I’m still getting my thinking straight.
There is something about doing our lives out loud in front of our kids. Letting them see us working through the process of faith, even when we are just making attempts at something new. Along those lines, I spent some time looking at articles about how to practice Lent as a family. I found some great ideas.
Most of the best ideas are simple ones. Simple things that are used to draw our attention to a specific theme….to preparing for Easter and to meditating on Jesus.
Here are a few ideas, and I’ll list some links at the end:
* Fill a jar with names of family members and friends. Pull a person’s name out every day and pray for them. This could be done at dinner time, or the kids could even pick out a name every morning and pray for that person on their own throughout the day.
* Leave the Bible out on a coffee table as a reminder of doing Lenten readings. This should go beyond just Lent…it made me think about how little the kids see me reading the Bible. I usually read when they are asleep or off to school and things are quiet. I want to be more in their midst with this, though…and I like this idea of having a place where the Bible stays out and open to what we’re reading
* Prepare some simple meals, like soup, and talk about how many people go without food. Spend some time talking about how those people can be helped. If your kids are old enough see about volunteering at a soup kitchen, or find some other way to reach out. Talk about people and ministries who are helping the poor and spend some time praying for these people as you eat the meal.
* I really like this idea….making an “Alleluia” banner (just whatever you like…on a big piece of paper and letting the kids decorate the banner with colors. Just has to say “Alleluia”) and then burying it until Easter. How cool and simple is that?! I know we’re well into Lent, but I think we’re going to do this…
* Oh, and this is very cool: spending Holy Week with just candle light. I’m thinking as well of no electrical *toys* for that week. Could we endure a week of that in this house of gamers?! We’ll see…but the concept on spending the week in candle light is to emphasize that the world is in darkness without Christ. Then, of course on Easter we are back to light. Love this idea.
One of the articles I read made a really good point….don’t worry too much and just live out your Lent practices in front of your kids. They’ll get it. Sometimes we make things more difficult than they have to be. Still….sometimes our kids need a visual, visceral something that helps them understand what this is all about. If nothing else thy get that this is different than other times in the year. They get that we are trying to pay attention.
I don’t know about you, but much of this Lent is preparing my heart for the next Lent. I am spending more time thinking about Jesus’ journey in the wilderness and His journey to the cross, but I am also thinking about what will happen next year. Especially with homeschooling…I think there are some really great possibilities for bringing hte kids into this process and laying a foundation for them of understanding the Gospel. I’m excited about this.
Okay…as promised, here are some links. Each link has lots of other links, so you can find your way to lots of great articles and lots of great ideas on Lent and the family…