Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Baby Stepping into Lent for the First Time

Baby Steps.

It means setting small, reasonable goals for yourself, one day at a time.  One tiny step at a time.
--Dr. Leo Marvin (What About Bob?)

Yes. Lent can be a bit overwhelming for someone new to the celebration.  Granted, I've been "running  with the big dogs," learning  about faith, liturgy, and holy living by reading Catholic mama blogs--ladies for whom practicing Lent with their whole family is a lifestyle and longtime tradtion.

For me?  Oh! How would I even start?  My children don't even know the meaning of the word! 

Well... Here are my baby steps.  Just two.

1.  Remember each morning what the Lent season is all about, and the purpose for participating in it, in faith:
  • Mortification of the  flesh. Denying fleshly lusts and accepting  suffering to help me learn to bear the wounds and suffering of Jesus.
  • Seek ways to purify my heart, deepen my understanding, strengthen my spirit, and be filled with the Spirit.
  • Focus on prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, praise, and thanksgiving.
I don't dare to make plans for all 40 days. That is not baby steps. It is too overwhelming, and beyond my understanding of how to glorify God. But I can commit to meditating each morning on this season, and writing down the things I will do, one day at a time, to participate in this.  Probably abstaining from sugar (except in the event of a pregnancy hypoglycemic attack, in which I must drink soda and eat candy quickly).  But this morning, that meant not adding any to my cereal.  Writing down prayers and thanks. More study time to build faith.

2. Family devotion.  I do a Bible devotion with my littles each day as our first lesson of the day.  I don't think it's any coincidence that we are smack-dab in the middle of studying "The Life of Christ."  I just signed up for emails from Ann Voskamp so that I can download her free eBook  for family devotions during Lent--which chronicles the life of Christ. It follows the exact same format we used to celebrate our first official family Advent, yet is only 17 devotions. And feeds our preferred art-geared school methods. Not overwhelming. Baby Steps.

But that also means signing off on this post and being even more "giving" and available to the needy that God has placed in my life--namely, my husband and children today.

Okay. Update.  I sat with my three boys to do their devotions for school today. I pointed out that it was Ash Wednesday, and the first day of Lent. I explained what it was all about--all new information.  I explained "almsgiving," prayer, charity, and fasting.  I explained "giving something up" to show God He is more important to us.  I gave them some examples. I explained how some people give up sweets, or soda, or the iPod or video games... by this time their eyeballs were bugging out.  I told them that each day for the next 40 days we were going to honor the Life of Christ, and talk about something we could do to grow in our faith.

Without missing a beat, my 6yo says, "I'll give up school!"  Then my 4yo says, "I'll give up naps!"

I suggested that today, they each choose a toy to give away, to practice being more "giving." (Almsgiving).  Then I suggested that we pray an extra prayer at the end of our lesson. Then I hinted that tomorrow maybe we'll think about giving up the iPod turn for the day, or maybe eating their cereal without sugar, or their PBJ without the J.  I told them we'll talk about it each day and decide on something to help us grow in faith.

Baby steps.

But... for the record, they were willing to give up school for the whole 40 days--without any hesitation at all!


1 comment:

  1. Hah! My kids would happily join yours in giving up school (and so would I!). And today, just for Ash Wednesday, we gave up the J in our PB&J too.

    Baby steps are still a good idea, even a few years in!