Do you observe Lent? My earliest memories of observing the Lenten season date back to middle school. I gave up soda and couldn't understand why I had such a bad headache for the first few days! Ever since then, I have tried to observe Lent and see it as a reminder to focus on growing in holiness and faithfulness in anticipation of the Easter resurrection.
A new friend mentioned that she explains Lent to her kids by emphasizing that Jesus was in the desert for 40 days and he was tempted there. And Lent is our own 40 day period of time when we are walking in the desert with Jesus, facing all of the temptations that try to lead us away from Jesus. And I don't know about you, but I have a lot of those temptations! Even as I have been thinking about preparing for Lent, and what I will give up/what I will take on, I find myself becoming susceptible to thinking, "oh, I am going to do X, Y, and Z and I will be so holy!" But truly, X, Y, Z are not about holiness, but about my earthly goals - losing weight, becoming a faster runner, etc.
So, since Lent is marked by "fasting, prayer and almsgiving," I am going to keep it simple and try to focus on simple, specific things so that I can focus on growing closer to Jesus.
We will abstain from meat on Fridays and observe the fasts on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
Fasting: I will give up my beloved soda (I'm looking at you, Diet Coke.)
Prayer: I will get up 30 minutes early for a dedicated prayer and Bible study time.
Almsgiving: I'll do a small version of 40 days, 40 bags, which you can read about here and here. My plan will come in a separate post.
While our toddler is not old enough to fully understand this liturgical season, he is certainly aware of what we do and of our routines - for example, he knows that we either hold hands or make "prayer hands" when we say the blessing before meals, and he can say "Amen" at the end of prayers. We lit our Advent candles at dinner during Advent, and by the end of that season, he knew that was part of the routine. I am hoping that building these habits now will lead to a lifetime of faith. Of course, you never know and I know I can't control everything, but it doesn't hurt to try.
Here's what we will be doing as a family to mark this season:
For prayer, I am planning to try out a prayer chain like this one to build an additional daily prayer into our routine. We will also add a special Bible story time in addition to our pre-nap and pre-bedtime stories. (We like to read around here!). I won't be asking my toddler to fast, and together we will talk about buying food for the food pantry, but I think the main focus for this year with an almost-two year old will be prayer and Jesus. Please pray for me, and I will pray that we will all have a holy Lent that leads us all closer to Jesus!