Things have been kind of quiet around here lately as I have been making room for reflection and prayer during this time of Lent. But I did want to give you an update on how our family is doing Lent this year. My original post on Lent is here.
Not eating out has proven to be a great fast for Calvin. As with our Advent traditions, this has helped him to anticipate the glorious feast day. Every time we drive by a Chick-fil-A, he notes that we will get to eat there again on Easter. (No, we aren't having fast food for Easter dinner!) He asks pretty regularly if it is Easter yet, and he is handling the waiting really well.
Going into this fast, I wasn't even sure why we had chosen eating out, other than that we spend too much money eating out and rely on it for convenience. Going with out take-out or a dinner out on a difficult day has helped me to order my day in so many other ways. I am learning again how to plan better, to find balance and let things go that aren't priorities. In the process, I am somehow managing to get more done while spending more quality time with my boys...some days. Other days, I see how much I need to work on discipline in order to focus on my priorities.
We are doing a couple of things with the boys that seem to be working well. Hobbes is still a little too small to get it, but Calvin is really picking up on what it means to work on our weaknesses. He helped me create a chart at the beginning of Lent that lists some of the good behaviors he needs to work on, such as doing his chores when asked and getting ready for school without whining. He gets a sticker every time he does one of these "good things." I honestly can't believe how well it is going. I can see him becoming aware of these behaviors and really trying to practice them and becoming less whiny in general, even without the promise of a sticker. I have told Calvin that I am also working on practicing some good behaviors, like patience and gratitude, to prepare my heart for Easter.
In addition to the chart, we have also altered our prayer time during Lent. We are using an icon of the crucifixion and some dark blue candles to set out during prayer. (We will pull out the resurrection icon again at Easter.) We have added a time of confession to the beginning of our prayer time, and Calvin asks every evening to pray on his own for God to forgive him for the bad things he does. He has never prayed on his own before! Not to be left out, Hobbes mutters his own version of prayers while my husband is praying, always ending in a clear "Amen." We are also teaching the boys a few Lenten songs. Both boys love singing "Create in Me a Clean Heart."
Teaching the Story
We are using this excellent booklet, which has a symbol and a part of the passion story for each week of Lent. I am also doing a craft each week to go along with the symbol. Calvin really got into the story being acted out on Holy Week last year, and this is another way to familiarize him with it in preparation for those services.
I have also picked up a few Easter books on different reading levels for the boys. I especially like this one, which is full of symbolism for Ash Wednesday and other holy days of Lent. In addition to specifically Easter books, we are reading a lot of books about new life (eggs to birds, caterpillars to butterflies, and one of my all-time favorites, Make Way for Ducklings.) I'd love some other suggestions for Easter books!
Acts of Service
While this is an important part of Lent, we are not focusing specifically on it this year. We have added enough new aspects to the observance of this season. Since we regularly give things away to charity, take meals to friends in need, and make cards and artwork for others, the boys already have experience in this. I will probably add something extra next year, but in the meantime, I hope they are growing up in an atmosphere of generosity, hospitality, and service.
I had worried how well we could bring the boys along on our Lenten observance. (Advent is so much easier and more fun.) But it has been good so far. Maybe I will let you know how it ends at Easter.
Check back for my next post. Number 100! It will be the best book giveaway ever!!!!!