"You are so creative!" I have heard that phrase constantly since I was little. DIY, Refashioning, Crafting, Sewing, Woodworking. I love it all! Now I have a place to keep my favorite projects or ideas organized and share them with you!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lent Links and Ideas for Families, Activities and Crafts

So here is, the day before Ash Wednesday and I find myself searching for a way to make Lent more meaningful for my family this year.  I am not Catholic, I am actually ELCA Lutheran and in our church we are not asked to do anything specific for Lent. We don't have to give anything up. Lent is taught as the time to get ready for Easter but not much else was done that I can remember growing up other than attending extra Lenten Services on Wednesday nights and sharing a meal at church on those evenings.
I know all the facts about Lent, the color of Lent is Purple, it lasts 40 days, Ash Wednesday is the start and at the end is Holy Week and Easter. Yet I wanted the message of Lent to go beyond facts in my family this year and focus on God, and becoming closer to him as a family.
Upon reading a bit, I learned many people divide Lent into three actions so to speak. I guess kind of like a Lent checklist.

Fasting, Prayer and Alms giving. 

It is easy to make these empty actions if you don't put thought behind them.

Fasting: Now it most often pops into ones mind as giving something up, most times foods such as chocolate are given up for Lent. Yet when I talked to my 4 year old about giving something up he brought to my attention that is not what it is really about. Funny how you can learn from your children. Giving up chocolate or a video game to prove your devotion to God is not what it is really about. God will love you no more and no less depending on if you are able, or not able to keep your promise of not eating chocolate. Do I need to prove to God that I love him more than chocolate?? I hope not. That is not what fasting is about.

I found this nice article written about fasting and Lent. It helped get me in the right mindset about what fasting is all about. It is not about proving yourself to God like many I think strive to do in their fasting.

Do not give up something that you are going to purge on Easter morning. Your Lenten sacrifice of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups does not make you a better Christian if you eat a bag full of them before sundown on Easter day and forget all about Lent.
God doesn’t want your chocolate, He wants you.
When contemplating your sacrifice, make sure you are growing closer to Him. Maybe you don’t need to give up anything. Maybe you need to give something… namely, yourself.
If you must give up something, give up sin.

We will decide as a family what fasting will mean. Giving up sin to grow closer to God and to bring us closer in Love will have a lot to do with our family fasting.
I am unsure if my kids will be parting with things that are specific, but things that are more intangible are what I would like them to focus on. If they choose to give up something I will let them, but what I hope to work on with them is giving up  things such as selfishness, and rude behavior. These are things that can always be worked on but work really well in the context of Lent and I can add those to my list of things to give up as well. 

One way we will do this is by using a Crown of Thorns.  

I used a woven wreath from the dollar store and had my kids put toothpicks in it to make it into a crown of thorns. Starting tomorrow, when I catch them doing something unselfish like giving up being "first", something my kids fight over every time there is a "first" opportunity, they will get to take a thorn out of the crown of thorns. Hopefully by Easter they will have done enough nice, unselfish, polite things for each other, our family, and for others that the thorns will be gone from the wreath.
This also fits into another the next action of Lent, because by giving up being first they are learning about putting others before themselves.

Serving others or Alms for the Poor:
We can do things during Lent to remember the poor, and to be mindful off all the things we have been given.
One great way to do this is to shed your access. Yes it has an added benifit of a decluttered home, I admit a bit self-serving if you are not careful, I may try this idea, but fear I may end up giving more time to my home than time really spent with God, so we will see what happens at our house. But if you have your mind in the right place it can be a great Lent activity.
The idea is simple, make a list 1-40 of areas in your house that need to be decluttered and tackle one each day. Any items you do not need or want from these areas get donated to an organization who helps the poor.
Click the link to see an example 40 bags in 40 days list and links from somoene who has done it.
We curretly, as a family, collect children's clothes and toy items from friends and family for a foster care store they are trying to start in our community. It is a store where foster parents can shop at anytime for free for the children in their care. We will have an open house all Lent for anyone who wants to drop any children's items by so if you do decide to do the 40 bags in 40 days one of the places you are welcome to drop items off is my house if you are located in our area.

Many Churches have giving projects during Lent.
This is our giving container for Lent.
Through our church we plan on doing 40 quarters in 40 days. The 40 quarters will buy a mosquito net for a person living in Africa to prevent Malaria. 90% of the people who die of Malaria in this reagion of Africa are under the age of 6. The amount of poeple affected by malaria is unbelievable. It amounts to one death every 40 seconds. Our church is part of a campain to help provide mosquito nets for familes in this area.

This brings us to the third action of Lent..

   We pray at mealtimes and bedtimes in our home, but we will try to step it up a bit and pray more during lent. One easy way we plan on adding one prayer to the day is by adding a devotion each day during lent. This could not come at a more perfect time. My daughter just got her first Bible at Christmas. We got her the New International Readers Version. It is written in a way that is more simple for early readers. My daughter has a higher reading level than your average 6 year old so she was ready for a real Bible. She has enjoyed learning how to look things up and has requested to do some devotions this week. We have done about one a week since Christmas, but we hope to try to do one when she comes home from school each day during Lent. Each of these devotions has a prayer included.

Prayer Paper Chain
Our church also gave us purple paper to make a prayer chain. Each day we write a prayer on a strip of paper and make it into a link for a paper chain. By the end of Lent we will have 40 prayers.
The devotions I have been doing with the kids have been GREAT! They involve a physical activity, they may take a little bit of pre-planning as far as supplies for some of them, but it is so woth it.  The kids have LOVED them so far. These may not be Lent related specifically but if your goal is to grow closer to God as a family these are great, and the best part... They are FREE!!!

The other set of Devotionals I plan on using together with the activity devotions are these free Lent devotions. They are free also and touch a bit on the prayer, activity, and fasting. I may have to go though each one and make them work for our family, but they are a good way to get focused on the time of Lent and again they are free!

I also found a nice little morning prayer that I wrote on our sliding glass door that is in our dinning area. This way we can see it when we eat breakfast and pray it. We can also pray it anytime we see it. My daugther read it first thing this morning when she came down for breakfast. I never told her to read it. If there are letters someplace you tend to read them. She said she read them last night too. I never said anything about them, until she brought them up. A prayer added to our day without much thought. It will remain there though the Lent season to remind us about Christ and what he did for us and in return what we want to strive to do for him in return.

Sometimes my daughter is a little shy about praying together, I think I am a bit on the touchy feely side with prayers and I think it is too much of a personal thing for her, it can make her uncomfortable to say prayers with me, so I know this is one way I can give her the tools she needs to remember to pray and I am confident she will on her own without me incringing on her personal relationship with God. I am working on giving her a little personal prayer space, yet that doesn't mean I stop praying with her from time to time. Mom's just gotta keep doing those things anyway to let them know how much we love them. I have a feeling if I stopped she might be a bit worried about it. :)

Other Fun Activites We Plan to Do!
Now that we have the meaning behind Lent covered, we can add some fun stuff too!

One awesome craft project we plan on doing is found at this link.
It is a contact paper cross stained window. This is a great project for all three of my kids. Even my two year old can do this project with little help.  I will stick them to the window by the moring prayer when they are finished.

Click below to go to the blog link for a recipe.
We need a couple recipes too!! Did you know...
A Lenten treat Pretzels, originated in Europe during the Middle Ages. A monk was making unleavened bread for Lent with flour and water because eggs, milk and lard were not consumed as part of the Lenten fast. He twisted some of the dough into the shape of people praying with both arms folded across their chests. He decided it would be a perfect treat for children learning to say their prayers. He called the treats pretiola, the Latin word for “little reward.”

I printed out one of these for each of my kids and my 6 year old daughter is already planning a rainbow pattern a different color on each square each day.

Here is our Lent wall where we are going to keep our calendars. I was so proud of my 4 year old, he was able to sound out the word Lent and tell me what letters I needed. It was his first 4 letter word he tried to spell all on his own. He did it!!! He was pretty proud.

We made this set of resurrection eggs last year at Church.
They are numbered 1-12. Inside each is a little trinket that helps tell the story of Jesus death and resurrection. So my plan is to start using these 12 days before Easter for an extra little countdown and devotional. The kids do enjoy these.

Each egg has a little corrisponding piece of scripture to read with it that tells part of the story.

Last year we just used the eggs in the case, but this year I decided to hang our resurrection eggs on the tree in our living room. We just tied some fishing line in a knot and closed it in the egg. Now each day they will have to hunt on the tree for the right numbered egg.
Plus it makes a nice little decoration.

Well that is my plan we will see what happens!
Here is a link to a few more ideas if you need them. I got a lot of activities from this blog so I wanted to share the link to the little projects you can do during Lent with your kids.
This is my list down on here so I have it all in one place, and all my links. Hopping off Pinterst tomorrow so I need all my links someplace. I hope you all find something fun to use out of my rablings.

Happy Lent!

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