Saturday, March 8, 2014

Pray, Fast, Give and... LISTEN! (Plus 14+ Ideas for Family Lenten Activities)

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I’m participating in the Keep LOVE in LENT Blog Link-Up 2014, hosted by the Catholic Bloggers Network, Equipping Catholic Families Campfires and Cleats, Truly Rich Mom, A Slice of Smith Life   and  Home to 4 Kiddos.
We'll be sharing different ways, tips, stories and real-life experiences that will help us focus on  Lenten sacrifices, prayer and good deeds and how to carry them out with LOVE instead of a GRUMBLE.

Pray, fast and give.
 Pray, fast and give.
That's what we are called to do
as we learn, love and live!

Ever since the first year I focused our little ones on the concept of Pray, Fast and Give for Lent, versions of this little ditty have played in my head as Lent approaches and throughout the season.
Flashback to 2010

Earlier this week, I awoke with my little Lenten ditty in my head, eager to attack to-do's and to plan activities for our 2014 Lenten journey.  

However, minutes after waking, I was overcome with nausea and realized - ugh! -  I had caught the bug that I'd been nursing my daughter through over the weekend.  So, it looked the the day had other plans for me.  Or, rather, the Spirit did!

Our Perfectly Imperfect 2012 Lenten Liturgical Table and Pray, Fast, Give Jars

Just before the new calendar year, prayer and thought led me to a word to focus on for the year:  Listen!

I was reminded reminded of this word as I lay sick in bed, listening to my compassionate husband take over household and homeschooling duties for the morning.  With gratitude, I heard Mike put away groceries, prepare bone broth (with a little direction from me), facilitate basic lessons for the children, and, overall, love through service.

As I did so, I thought:  Love and service.  Isn't that what Lent is all about?  Not the number of Lenten activities, traditions and plans I had had buzzing through my head and had planned to map out betwixt other duties before realizing I needed to spend the morning in bed, but love and service!

Simple Lenten Liturgical Table from 2011
Sure, crafts, lessons and traditional to-do's can help us to focus on and learn about Lent.  However, they can also distract us.  They can become noise and clutter.

As I lay there sick the other morning, I heard a caution about this and I listened.

I am still listening...

Does that mean we won't following any of Lenten Journey traditions?  No!  It simply means that before I ask myself, my husband or the children what we might do any given day this Lent, I will ask us all how.  (With love!)  And why?  ( To serve the Lord and others!)  

It also means that should I begin a Lenten activity, lesson or practice with the children and find it going awry, I won't push on, intent to progress through what we started.  Instead, I will pause.  I'll ask myself, how can this moment become more loving?  How can we better serve one another and our Lord in this moment?  Then, I will LISTEN!

Listen and act.

Yes, Pray, Fast, Give and Listen!  That seems to be what Lent has in store for me this year. 

What Traditions and Practices Might We Honor While We Listen

Books and Free Online Resources
We LOVE Holy Heroes!

Undoubtedly, we will snuggle for reading times and take advantage of a myriad of free resources online just as we have done in the past.  

In fact, this year, we've already been enjoying the Holy Heroes Lenten Adventure and, before getting sick myself, I stocked up on Lent and Easter book basket materials at the library.  So this week we snuggled up to have Luke read us God Gave Us Easter and An Easter Prayer while I was struck with laryngitis.  Plus, we enjoyed an audio version of The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure while I turned the pages of a physical copy of the book while I was sick in bed.

Brainstorming and Committing to Lenten Promises 

As a family, we recalled what the Lenten season is about.  While doing so, we also made suggestions to on another about what we might want to fast from or add to our lives in order to decrease habits and actions that don't bring us closer to God and to increase those that do.  Then, each settled on personal Lenten promises to honor.

Burying the Alleluia

Last Year's Alleluia posters unburied and displayed on Easter.

 In fact, after laying in bed sick and resting the other day, I rose to take over the children's care only to have my daughter tell me that, since Lent was beginning this week, we needed to make and hide our Alleluias.  So, the children set to work decorating Alleluia posters that night and the following day they "buried" them in the house.

Count Down Chain
An Old Count Down Chain (We write Pray, Fast, Give challenges for the day inside the loops.)

We have yet to make a paper count down chain to Easter and, surprisingly, the kids have not asked to do so yet.  I might suggest doing so though since it is a great way to get them thinking about more ways to pray, fat and give and also gets some purposeful handwriting practice in!

Count, Pray and Give (with Rice Bowls)

Jack After Counting in 2013
We picked up our Rice Bowls at Ash Wednesday services, but have yet to begin using our free Count Pray and Give printable from last year yet.  Luke says he wants to use his rice bowl in a different way.  The other two think they want to count, pray and give again, though.  So, we'll likely figure out what we're actually doing this year over the weekend.  Either way, the rice bowls will encourage giving!

My Happy Eggers in 2013

Luke has already asked if we can go egging again this year.  So, as Lent transitions into Easter, we may just use the free You've Been Egged printable we shared last year to strike some friends and neighbor's yards!

Exploring Our Senses
Mixing Colors to Make Purple Sensory Squish Bags

With three young children in the house, one of whom has definite sensory challenges, we always integrate sensory activities into life.  This year, that might not mean making Lenten sensory squish bags again, but it will mean exploring senses in some way undoubtedly!

Gospel Dioramas and Crafts

A Make-and-Play Diorama of the Temptation of Jesus from 2010

Following the children, we may make some gospel dioramas and crafts again this year.  Our crafty kids seem to connect with the Word best when it becomes hands on.  And who am I not to listen to their developmental "needs"?

Holy Week Word and Art Evenings

Holy Week Art

Last year, we read different Bible passages each night during the week preceding Easter and made different related art works.  On Sunday, we painted, cut and collaged palm branch shapes.  Monday we did multi-media collages of hair, feet and perfume.  Tuesday was color and collage.  Wednesday was coin rubbings.  Thursday, Friday and Saturday were simple coloring projects and Easter Sunday was happy watercolors.  We will likely do this again.

Maple Syruping

Learning About Maple Syrup in 2013

Technically, maple syrup adventures should come on Pancake Tuesday or before, but, since that did not happen for us this year, we will likely spend one Sabbath enjoying a maple syrup field trip, and, if I can dig it out, we will likely get silly reading and listening to Marsupial Sue Presents "The Runaway Pancake".

Pray, Fast and Give

Pray, Fast and Give Jars from 2010
We've been making Pray, Fast and Give jars for some years now, and the kids have already asked to make some this year.  So, it's in the weekend's plans - should the weekend work that way.

Nature Walks and Twig Crosses

Twig Crosses

Should the weather warm up and the iced over snow melt (or, perhaps, even if it doesn't), we may take our Lenten journey outside for a nature walk followed by three-cross crafting as we have in years past!

Sharing Lenten Love with Animal Friends
Sharing Lenten Love in 2013
Our yard happens to be the only one on our street that still has snow in it that has not melted.  Unfortunately, the snow that is out there is hard and crusty.  Still, we may head out one morning soon to leave a little Lenten love as a kindess to critters as we have in years past.

Stations of the Cross

One of Luke's 2013 Stations Sketches

I had a bad case of laryngitis today and was not feeling well enough to take the children to church for stations nor to read our favorite stations of the cross book The Story of the Cross: The Stations of the Cross for Children here at home.  So, it was YouTube to the rescue!  

As Lent continues, we may use any of the Stations of the Cross resources I rounded up before or some new ones, always keeping special needs in mind as we do.

Keeping Myself Listening with the Spirit Speak Section at the Top

And, as always, we may be finding our rhythm and letting Lent happen, all the while reminding ourselves to keep our hearts soft.   Between bugs, changes in work schedules, opportunities that arise, etc., we become rather arrhythmic at times, but even in our arrhythmmy (how's that for making up words), we can listen with love and service!  So far, the Lenten planner which I made (and shared freely as a printable!) is helping me.  It's not as filled in yet as it could be, yet the scripture at the top and the Spirit Speak box have been a daily reminder to pray and listen!

How have you been praying, fasting, giving and listening so far this Lent? 


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