The Candle Window

{sorry for the absence – a nasty head-cold knocked me out for a few days}

I thought I’d show you what we’re doing for a Lenten Activity with Henry.  I decided to do something similar to our “Thank You Window” in November, with a cutout to hangup and an activity to go along with it.  When I was taking down our winter decorations I really didn’t want to take down our window Candlemas/Birthday candles yet and realized that the symbol of the candle as an aid to prayer would be perfect.

So out came my construction paper hoard and I drew out some votive candle shapes on purple paper – because purple is the color of the Lenten Season.

I wanted a religious themed lesson to start sharing with Henry, but Stations of the Cross or something heavy like that seemed a little too much this year.  Then I remembered that I had these books from when I was a kid called “Big Thoughts for Little People: ABC’s to Help You Grow” which is is an ABC book of virtues.

Since I knew we wouldn’t get around to a lesson each night I figured that the 26 letters of the alphabet seemed like a good goal for the season.  Each Letter has a two page illustration, a simple lesson attached to the letter and the questions to ask the child about the picture and lesson and a bible verse.  I’ve found that Henry, at three, can do a pretty good job at understanding and answering these questions.

So every night that we have the time and interest we read a new page, I write the word from the corresponding letter of the alphabet on the construction paper and review the lessons it teaches.  Then Henry gets to put a candle cutout in the window.

We also have “Giant Steps for Little People” which focuses on lessons from the Sermon on the Mount and the 10 Commandments if we actually get through all of “Big Thoughts”.

So that’s that for now!

(p.s. I have the “classic” versions of these and it looks like “Big Thoughts” has been reprinted with new illustrations so I can’t speak to the illustrations in the new version or if anything has changed, but I loved these books growing up).

Lenten Plans with H.

H. is three now – just at the age where he’s starting to understand that there’s something more to these days, but not quite ready to grasp the deeper concepts so planning out Lent and Easter for him has been a balancing act of too much or not enough.  I don’t want underestimate his comprehension, but I also don’t want to spend too much time doing and talking about things he’s not ready for yet.

So here’s our *work in progress* Lenten plans

*Ash Wednesday – Go to church (might not be happening due to a sick H. now) and take down the remaining “winter” decor in the house.  Possibly have him help me put away any lingering snacks in the kitchen.  Print out THIS calendar and start coloring in.

*Start a “good deeds” bean jar.  I like the idea of changing out the beans for jelly beans on Easter – I think it’s a “change” that a 3 year old will be impressed by.  Since H. has no siblings to treat nicely or do things for this will just be a good behavior type of reward system.

*Prayer Window – Much like our “Thank You Window” during November.  I want to encourage a little more family/child prayer by thinking up people/things to pray for each day (or ever couple of days.  We’ll let this lay as it falls.)

*Alms Giving – I’ll plan on picking up a Rice Box at church tomorrow and encourage Henry to help us fill it.  I’m thinking instead of the stickers we sometimes use as a reward for cleaning up, that we’ll give him change to put in his box.

*St. Patrick’s Day – I definitely want to make corned beef and Chocolate Guinness Cake again this year.

*First Day of Spring – I loved having a “spring” day last year, and am looking forward to changing up our nature table.

*Resurrection Garden – I’d really like to set something like this up this year, but I’m not convinced we’re ready yet.  I still have a few more weeks to decide though.

*Holy Week – I’m really considering adding something like this to our mix this.  I’m still not ready to share the full graphic nature of the Stations of the Cross with my preschooler, but I’d like to start to introduce him to the fuller story.

*And of course books – but more to come on that later.

Lenten Plans

Thank you for the love on yesterday’s post, but now for the nitty-gritty.  I’ve been trying to figure out how to better focus my Lenten plans for the last couple of weeks without them turning into “New Year’s Resolutions”.  There are many things I’d still love to challenge myself to give up – my caffeine and sugar habits come to mind immediately, but that’s not something that’s going to strengthen my walk with God this year.  It might be just what I need in years to come, but not this year.

I do love a good list and I found myself wishing there was such a thing for Lent – some easy way to help me narrow down what I was doing while making sure that I was covering all the bases.

So late one night I found myself talking about the Christmas rhyme about “Want, Need, Wear, Read” and thought – Wow – I wish I had something like that for Lent.  Something easy to remember that challenges me to delver a little deeper yet keep things simple at the same time.

So I give you – the Lent Rhyme:

Something to Leave:  This is something to leave behind as we enter into lent – a bad habit, a favorite food, a time consuming activity.  Anything that would challenge you for the better to be without for a while.

Something to Give:  This is the alms giving and charity category.  The focusing giving to others whether it is your (as we hear too much in church sometimes) Time, Treasure or Talents.

Something to Read:  This is, hopefully, self-explanatory.  It can be a book, a daily reading, prayer.  Anything written that will help you grow in your faith or your understanding of it.

Something to Live:  This, ideally, would be a personal focus – think of it like the “Words” everyone likes to pick instead of resolution.  It is something to guide you each day as you encounter your job, your friends, your family and yourself.  This should be a challenge.

For me my Lenten season shapes up to look a little like this:

  • Something to Leave:  An overabundance of food.  I am going to try to eat simpler meals, adhere to our fasts, and challenge myself to really take a good look at food as an excess in our home.
  • Something to Give:  This year I just want to focus on being more charitable all around, but I want to emphasis giving to our church which is something I fail at almost completely.
  • Something to Read:  I have this, this and this on my list of Lenten Reading this year.
  • Something to Live:  I was to live my faith more fully – this is multifaceted.  I want to share my faith with those around me by being open about my beliefs, feasting, fasting, etc. whether that is by being more honest face to face or online.  I want to walk in my faith more completely, including improving my Mass attendance record.

Feel free to use the image above if this gives you ideas for your own Lenten journey and link back and comment to let me know what you’re doing!

    Not a New Year’s Resolution

     I’m very guilty of this – thinking of my Lenten sacrifices in a way that is completely selfish.  I think of the “sacrifices” I can make to help break my caffeine or sugar addictions, sleeping more, having a cleaner house or a certain type of family or personal time.  My often lenten sacrifice takes the form of a New Year’s Resolution, superficial and shallow.

    My Lenten Sacrifice is not for the good of my body or my home or even my time; it is for the good of my soul.  I am called to make a sacrifice that will bring me closer to God.

    The fourth definition of “Sacrifice” is : the thing so surrendered or devoted.  

    Perhaps my Lenten sacrifice should not be my Dr. Pepper habit, or my reading list.  Perhaps my Lenten Sacrifice just needs to be my doubts, my worries and my fears.

    Perhaps my Sacrifice needs to be me.

    *Note:  I just wanted to point out that I don’t think a persons personal decision to give up something like caffeine and sugar or having a reading list or other goals are superficial or shallow.  It’s just a personal path that my Lenten Sacrifices have tended to be very shallow (focused on me and not God), and it’s not a reflection on your personal decisions.  In fact, I’ll be back in a day or two with my own Lent Goals and sacrifices.