Today starts the season of Lent. Every year we discuss and come up with what we are going to "give up". As a kid I always struggled with this, generally cheating and giving up something I was rarely allowed to have anyway, such as gum. I have used lent as an adult much more appropriately. I have given up salt, chips, coffee, soda & various other vices and treats over the years. The coffee one was a nightmare. One year, when we realized we were not attending church as often as we intended, we gave up time. One hour a week to go to mass. Seems silly maybe, but it was what we needed to help give us that extra boost and encouragement not to make excuses. The kids have given up this or that over the years, from light sabers (this was a big deal for that kid that year, I was very impressed) to video games. One year Mr. O gave up something and Miss E did not. He still brings that travesty up. I have spent a lot of time thinking about lent this year. I perused Pinterest and googled aplenty. We have made a number of changes in our everyday life over the last month and I wanted to make some positive changes to our spiritual life as well.
Here is what I came up with and what we are putting into practice as of today. One thing I wanted to develop was our time spent in prayer. We say grace before meals and the kids have all learned their basic prayers and we do say prayers for those we know need them. I wanted us to do more and do it with intention. We compiled a list of people or groups to pray for. I think there were over 60 & I know I have thought of a few more that I want to add into the dish. Every night we will draw out a slip of paper that will tell us for whom/what we will be praying for the following day. Today we are keeping one of our homeschool families in our thoughts and prayers. How cool is that? I can tell you that if we know you in real life, expect to feel our thoughts and prayers one day this season, I'm pretty sure everyone we know made it in the dish in some fashion, be it as an individual or as part of a group.
Another part of what we are doing is what I am calling "Blessing". Every day we will bless our home by cleaning out and getting rid of "stuff". It may be trash, toys, clothes, gadgets - whatever. When we can, those items will go to the Rescue Mission and bless others. Otherwise I suppose it will be our trash bin that gets blessed. 40 days, 40 bags. That is the goal. I wrote up a list of areas and put those into another dish. We will draw out one of those slips each night as well.
Once we have pulled out the slips I wanted to put them in a pretty or special jar or dish. While looking through my cupboards I came across a gift that Ben was given for Christmas this year from a patient. It is an antique ceramic mortar and pestle. It is both beautiful and incredibly special. The story behind it is touching and as I looked at it I realized it would be the prefect reminder of gratitude. Gratitude is also something I wanted to incorporate into this season, but had not figured out just how. The m&p was bought by the mother of Ben's patient. They were in Rome over the Christmas season of 1999/2000 and were there when Pope John Paul was giving a blessing. Daughter and Mom were walking down the Avenue when Mom slipped into an antique store and before daughter could persuade her otherwise, the m&p was bought. I will quote her letter directly as to why she gifted such a beautiful and special piece to my wonderful husband.
"The jesture [sic] on my part in gifting you, is that this be a reminder for you, of the grateful patients who appreciate not just your talents and time...but also the moments you take, with gentle words of caring, to our heart's special needs as humans, who need to know in their time of worry, that their lives have worth to someone else, other than themselves. "
Wow! What a perfect reminder for us all to take the time to care about others, to think of them, pray for them, give to them, be thankful for them. So I made the label "gratitude" and this is where we put the little slips of paper that we have pulled. It will be full of love, prayer and blessings by Easter as I hope our hearts and our home will be too.
If you celebrate the season of Lent, what are some of the things you do?