Lent is a period of time (40 days, not including Sundays) leading up to Easter Sunday. The forty days represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, where he prayed and fasted, endured temptation and prepared to begin his ministry. We use this period of time to prepare for Easter, to re-focus our lives, so we can grow closer to God. Our lives are filled with distractions that take us away from living a life with Christ. Like Jesus, we all need to take time to pray and listen for God. Lent is a great time to “repent” — to return to God and re-focus our lives to be more in line with Jesus. It’s a 40 day trial run in changing your lifestyle and letting God change your heart. You and your family might try one of these practices for Lent:
FASTING: Some people have been known to go without food for days. But that’s not the only way to fast. You can fast by cutting out some of the things in your life that distract you from God. Some Christians use the whole 40 days to fast from sweets, television, soft drinks, or electronics as a way to purify their bodies and lives. You might skip one meal a day and use that time to pray instead. Or you can give up some activity like worry or reality tv to spend time outside enjoying God’s creation. What do you need to let go of or “fast” from in order to focus on God? What clutters your calendar and life? How can you simplify your life in terms of what you eat, wear or do? (Check out this article for ideas on Family Time Lenten Sacrifices.)
SERVICE: Some Christians take something on for Christ. You can collect food for the needy, volunteer, commit to help a different stranger, co-worker or friend everyday of Lent. Serving others is one way we serve God.
PRAYER: Christians also use Lent as a time of intentional prayer. You can pray while you walk, create music or art as a prayer to God, or savor a time of quiet listening. All can be ways of becoming more in tune with God.
Here’s a devotion you can do tonight with your family.
“Purify me with hyssop and I will be clean;
wash me and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and celebration again;” Psalm 51:7-8a (CEB)
Guilt vs. Grace: We have all dealt with the feeling of guilt. Guilt is a feeling of knowing that you have done
wrong and there may be some type of punishment/consequence coming. But, God always offers us grace. Grace is God’s unearned and unconditional love, a gift given before we do anything good or bad. It is through God’s grace that we understand the guilt is not from God, and if we turn towards God’s love through grace we can move beyond our guilt and sin.
Have you ever been playing outside on a really hot day? You were sweaty, sticky, dirty and maybe even a little bit stinky! Or maybe you spent the day at the beach and you were full of sandy grit and sunscreen? You really were in need and wanted a shower or bath! Why was it so great to take that shower or bath and get clean? How is God’s forgiveness like that really great shower or bath? How do you feel knowing that God’s love and forgiveness are always with you even when you have done wrong?
Connect Activity: Sand Prayer
Supplies: Sand, tray or sandbox to hold sand (could also use salt if sand not available)
Using a sand box or a small tray with a layer of sand. Take time to write the things you feel guilty for in the
sand. As you are doing this, talk to God about why you feel the way that you do and ask for God’s grace to
wash over you. When you are ready, move your hand in the sand over your writing and watch your guilt be
washed away by “God’s grace.”
Posted by Autumn Ward | Blog, Imagine The End, Just A Phase
There I sat, probably with slumped shoulders at this point. Mind totally saturated with gallons of new information, dates, deadlines, fees, dos and don’ts. I had already made a dozen mental to-do lists for the coming weeks, all while still processing the fact that I had to check-in at the “parent” table when we arrived.
And then it happened.
In the final hours of a two-day college freshman orientation whirlwind, I was given a notecard and told to write a few words of wisdom to my son. The notecards would be delivered to the students—to my son—later in September as a surprise.
I thought of my son and felt a burst of renewed energy.
Aww… how sweet!
What a great idea!
But wait! What do I say?
This was kind of a big parent moment. I mean I’ve said lots of things over the years as he’s packed up and headed to sleepovers, a week of camp, a two week mission trip . . . But this was different. This time he’s packing up and beginning his adult journey. He wouldn’t be back after two weeks, or even two months.
All of a sudden, I felt like these were the most important words I would ever say to my son. Ahh . . . the pressure! My shoulders straightened and my focus narrowed. And then I thought, why not remind him of a few things I’ve been telling him all his life?
As I sat there and looked at the words on my card, I saw my son leaving for his first day of kindergarten and me telling him, “Work hard.” God made us to work. In fact, He has good works planned for us. Give everything your best effort just like you’re doing it for God.
I saw him sitting on the edge of his bed, feet dangling, arms crossed and me encouraging him, “Be kind.” Being kind is always the right choice. It’s how we make friends. It’s how we show people God loves them.
I saw him exhausted from not getting enough sleep and me reminding him, “Take care of your self.” God gave us this one body, this one life. It’s your choice to do things, like go to the dentist, eat your veggies, and get alone with God so you can be the best you God made you to be.
I saw him sitting at the kitchen table wrestling with hard choices and me advising him, “Remember who you are.“ Open the door for ladies. Look people in the eye and shake their hand. And above all else, never forget that God made you and He loves you, more than you will ever be able to fully understand. You are His.
Take care of yourself.
Remember who you are.
That’s what I wrote on my 3×5 notecard. That’s what my son will read in a few weeks.
Listen, I know my kids will never remember everything I say to them. Partly because I talk a lot! I’m sure a good portion has become white noise by now. But I do know there are a few things they will always remember because I have chosen to say them over and over and over again.
What few words do you want your kids to remember you saying? Think of your own words of wisdom and began saying them today and the next day and the next day. Your words will be a gift they will carry with them the rest of their lives. Even when they have packed up and moved away, your voice will still be there lovingly coaching them on.
Angels, Shepherds, Wisemen and more! Does your child want to be part of our Family Christmas Service? If your child does not already participate in one of our children’s choirs, and would like to be part of this beloved Family Christmas service, sign up here.
No memorization of lines required! Just dressing in costume and helping tell the story of Jesus’s birth in pantomime. Service is at 5:30 p.m. December 23. There will be several rehearsals beginning in December.