Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Lent for Little Ones

This is the first year I've personally observed Lent. As I have said before, I am not Catholic, but I felt the Lord calling me to dig deep this year and start a little early in celebrating His grace, mercy, and promise of abundant and eternal life that He has given us through the Crucifixion and Resurrection. Lent means Spring and in essence it is the church's Spring or time of renewal.

In years past I've observed Holy Week by taking part in events on Good Friday such as the Walk of the Cross. In my home town of Indianola, our church got together every year with another church for this event. We started with a prayer at the first church and began the walk together silently. The men started out carrying the cross. It was built to scale and it was heavy. It usually took three men to carry it, one man at each end and one in the middle. At different points in the walk, others (men, women and youth) were free to trade places with the men that began the walk. Some would sing hymns along the way. It was a time for reflection, and I can't tell you what a deep impression it left on me as a young person. I think the first time I took part in the walk, I was in the fifth grade. I even came back during college to take part in the walk. It meant that much to me. When we got to our church, the men put the cross in the ground between two crosses already erected there, and we had church. Both pastors shared with us from the Bible and their hearts.

My parents also felt that as a family we were to observe and reverence this day through fasting. I'm glad they taught or instilled this within me as a young person. I can honestly say that as a fifth and sixth grader when we first began this tradition, it kept the meaning and importance of the day secure in my mind. And I think it's important to have traditions like this, because it teaches that observing our Lord's sacrifice is important to our families and in our homes, not just within the walls of our church on Sundays.

Which brings me to my post. The one thing I love about the blog world is that you can find and connect with other moms who share a love for the Lord and are actively teaching and training up their children in that love. They have been an inspiration to me, so I'm going to highlight a few of them here. My bloggy friend Jana has shared tutorials for implementing the following projects with little ones.

Hosanna Palms

Hill of Calvary Thoughts on the Hill of Calvary

He Has Risen Rolls

Emma at Charming the Birds From the Trees is observing Lent with her children by helping them in three very specific ways. She is helping her children with daily prayer. She is also teaching her little ones about fasting by having each of them place one of their favorite food items into a basket each day and then emptying the basket in their church's food pantry box on Sunday. And they are learning about alms giving by placing coins in a jar or piggy bank throughout the week and then putting that money in the money box for the poor at their church on Sunday. You can read the entire post here. I thought this was such a wonderful example for very young children. She is teaching them that Lent is not just about giving up something in order to observe and take part in our Lord's sacrifice. It is also about giving more of yourself in order to extend God's love and kindness to those around us. And it inspired me to work with my little ones on this
There is a wonderful woman in our neighborhood named Ms. Mildred. She is a ninety-three year old widow whom lives alone. I met her through Mrs. Ann, another neighbor and friend very dear to our hearts. Mrs. Ann visits her quite often and we, the children and I, have gone with her on occasion to visit. She mentioned how frugal Mrs. Mildred lives, sometimes only opening a can of beans for her supper. So, that got me to thinking, and I decided that the children and I would make her a special care package to take to her. We made homemade veggie soup, rolls, and fresh fruit to take to her, and Trey wanted to take her our flowers. (sweetie pie!) So we did. When she greeted us at the door, Trey said, "Hi Mrs. Mildred we came to visit you." He handed her the flowers and told her that Jesus loves her and scampered right passed her into her home. She was very touched and invited us in. We had a wonderful visit. She wrote us two thank you cards she was so touched by the children's kindness. We have started dropping off little packages to her. It has been a blessing to all of us. And it is helping me to teach them the importance of kindness, and they are enjoying it so much. It blesses me to see them cultivating a loving and giving heart.

And really that is what Lent is all about, preparing our hearts for this season. Not unlike what we do during the Advent season. I came across this post by Sarah Denley that really touched my heart, because I felt like she captured the essence of what I am talking about. She is making it personal, in a tangible everyday way. My two favorite lines in this post are...The extent to which the sacrifice draws me to the foot of the cross is the extent to which it produces holiness in myself. Lenten sacrifice has brought me closer to Golgotha than looking into the eyes of my own daughter. Worth the read!

Also, I have to highlight this post and this post from The Holy Experience of Listening. It is more, I feel for pre-teen and adolescence, but definitely ideas I'm going to hold on to for later.

I hope you find a little something here that will be a blessing to you or inspire you to share with your children. And I hope you're having a blessed Easter season!


ElvisGalx3 said...

Wonderful Post Tif!! You are such a BLESSING!!

Sandra said...

I loved reading this and seeing the pictures. The flower pot tomb was a great idea.