Usually, we kick off Lent by making Pray Fast Give jars. But, this year it just didn’t happen. Somehow, our Lenten Liturgical table remained bare, save for a purple cloth, until our three-crosses nature craft adorned it a couple weeks ago. Our Pray Fast Give jars? They waited for me to collect the “perfect” materials to create new ones with this year and to find the “perfect” time to do so with the kids.
Or, rather, they waited for me to remember that only God is perfect. Our Lenten crafts and practices need not be. They must simply be done with love and aimed at honoring our Lord.
Thus it was that, although I had yet to put together an array of beautiful materials to make more visually appealing Pray Fast Give jars this year than we have in years past, I decided to suggest making our traditional jars to the kids anyway on our unexpected “sick day”. My suggestion was met with great enthusiasm. (I had not realized how much the kids had been missing having the jars to drop beans into this year.) So, I rummaged supplies at hand and we set to work.
This year, we decided that instead of each person having their own jar to drop one bean for praying, one bean for fasting and one bean for giving into each day, we would create three jars which we would work together to fill – dropping a bean in one anytime we felt like it after praying, a bean in another anytime we recognized efforts to keep our Lenten promises and a bean in the third anytime we put others before ourselves. That is, we made a “pray” jar, a “fast” jar”, and a “give” jar.
So, I rummaged through our supplies and then we set to work:
The children wrote the words “pray”, “fast’ and “give” on blank white address labels with a Sharpie.
Then, they decorated these with purple Do-A-Dots markers.
They placed the labels on some baby food jars, which had lids they had helped me bang holes into and set the jars on our liturgical table with a plastic container of beans, which we covered in a small purple scarf.
After they did this, they could not help but to want to pray...
... and drop beans into one of the jars before they had even taken off their painting shirts.
Then, they eagerly spent the rest of the day practicing prayer, fasting and giving so they could drop more beans into the jars. In fact, I don’t think I have ever gotten so many huge, spontaneous hugs from my older two as I did the day we made the jars. All day, they kept running to wherever I was and bowling me over with hugs and kisses, saying to one another, “I gave Mommy love. Let’s put a bean in the jar.” It made my day!
What did not make my day was when my youngest – with a little help from his siblings – got a hold of the bean container. Beans went everywhere!
But, you know those sayings about how God draws straight with crooked lines and how only God is perfect? I can attest they are true. He took that very imperfect mess of beans on my floor and used it to help me glorify Him.
Although the children did an honest job trying to help clean up the mess on our floor, many of the beans scattered in crooked paths to hiding places, it seems. So, I have spent the remainder of the week discovering these beans stuck to the souls of my feet as they roll their ways back onto household thruways.
The first few times a stepped on a bean, I grumbled. Then, the Spirit struck me. The jars motivate my children to better attend to their Lenten practices. The escaped beans can do the same for me. Yes, every time I step on a bean now, I smile as a little message goes straight to my heart – pray!
So it is that our 2012 Pray Fast Give Jars (and their runaway beans) are working as a tool for us now.
What tools and traditions are you enjoying with your little ones? Please share in a comment or by linking up anytime this week with your tips, tales, reflections, resource ideas about training up little ones as you heed the call to faith formation in young children.