Monday, March 7, 2011

Lent Preparations 2011

"Yet even now," declares the Lord,
"Return to me with all your heart, 
with fasting and weeping and morning;
and rend your hearts and not your garments."
Now return to the Lord your God,
for He is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in loving kindness
and relenting of evil.
~Joel 2:12-13

Everyday offers us a chance to grow closer to the Lord.

Ash Wednesday is on March 9th this year.
This week brings the beginning of Lent, a season that calls us to focus on our opportunity to trust and follow Jesus more as Easter approaches.

In honor of Ash Wednesday this week, I have tried to make good use of my earlier motivation to prepare for Lent.  I have been really encouraged to find many friends who are doing the same thing right now.  I have found their ideas and energy to be nothing short of inspirational, especially because I have never focused much on Lenten preparation before.  

The themes of Lent are prayer, fasting and giving.  With that in mind, I have tried to come up with ideas for us to do as a family that incorporate each of those elements in a special way.  


~Prayer Chain Garland:  I know, garlands are usually for Christmas, but this one will be for Easter.  Each day during Lent, the kids and I will write a prayer on a piece of colorful paper and then attach them one by one to make a prayer chain garland.  Depending on the day, we may write down our prayers for other people, a new prayer we learn together or a Bible psalm.  By the time Easter arrives we will have a long, flowing prayer chain garland decorating our living room.  I also like the idea that at the beginning of Lent our decoration will be rather sparse.  As Easter approaches, the decoration of our prayers will become more visible in our home, representing the positive effects of our prayers in the world.
~Jesus Tree coloring pages and Bible stories:  The Jesus Tree  is a beautiful Lenten Bible study idea for kids and families, which I learned about from Jessica at Shower of Roses.  I am not organized enough this year to make a Jesus Tree and ornaments to add to it each day.  But, I love the daily Jesus Tree coloring pages and Bible verses that she has posted for each day during Lent.  They will be a fun afternoon/evening activity for me and the kids as well as a good way to incorporate the stories of Jesus' life and ministry into our daily routine.  

~Prayerful reading: Last year I read Jesus Calling, by missionary Sarah Young, which I received from my mother-in-law.  Longtime visitors of Happily Ever Johnson will remember how much I LOVE this book.  For Lent I am hoping to start reading it again everyday, along with a few focused moments of morning prayer.  What a great way to start the day!


~Food shelf box: I don't expect the kids to notice the absence of meat in our Friday meals during Lent.  Instead, I plan to set out a box marked for a local food shelf.   Before we sit down to dinner each Friday I am going to let the kids go to the pantry and pick out a food item to put into the box.  It will give us the opportunity to talk about how thankful we are for God's blessings and for the chance to be a blessing to others.


~Jar of Beans: This idea comes from an old March edition of Family Fun Magazine that I read recently.  On Ash Wednesday, I am going to set out a large jar of dried beans on our coffee table next to a small, empty easter basket.  Each time one of us does a good deed or something nice to or for another,  he or she will get to go to the jar and move a dried bean from the jar to the basket.  I will explain to the kids that on Easter morning, when Jesus Is Risen, the dried beans will be replaced with jellybeans, representing the new creation we become through Christ: the old is gone and the new has come!  (2 Cor 5:17)

~Spring cleaning, 40 bags in 40 days: 

"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." ~Psalm 51: 10

House cleaning may not be as important at the spiritual cleaning we pray for during Lent, but it may be a great way to bring Lenten themes alive in seasonal chores.  This challenge is also inspired by Jessica at Shower of Roses, as well as several friend who have adopted it.  It is an especially appropriate opportunity for us this year, as we will be welcoming Baby Bear shortly before Easter and have a move to make this summer.  I have charted out a weekly plan of house cleaning during Lent, tackling a different part of our house almost every other day.  Along with the cleaning, the challenge is to pack up 40 bags of stuff over the 40 days to give away or discard.  That seems like a lot right now, and it will certainly require an exercise of generosity and total family participation.  But, I know that once Baby Bear arrives and we are packing for the move, I will be thankful for our Lenten effort.

Some special Lenten activities for us to look forward to include Friday soup suppers after Mass at our church, a very special birthday party for G-Bear on Laetare Sunday, and of course, Baby Bear's arrival sometime before Easter.

May this Lent be a blessed season, drawing us all closer to the Lord as we prepare for Easter.

1 comment:

lotsofjoyfulnoise said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to detail your Lenten preparations. I read this post a year ago (2011), and it has been simmering in my brain since, inspiring me to prepare for Lent in a different way in 2012. I wanted to let you know that, and to let you know that I just linked to this entry in my own "Preparing for Lent" post. Thank you, Queen B!