Welcoming Lent

Welcoming Lent

Here’s my list of must-read Lenten blog posts:

First, see Karen Edmisten’s wonderful omnibus post on A Meaningful Lent.

Then check out Conversion Diary for a Lenten reading discussion.

Kate Wicker has a wonderful list of ideas for observing Lent with children. I’m definitely going to try some of these!

And finally, evlogia on Lenten cleaning:

Simplicity is not a goal in itself. It’s simply helpful. I aim to keep in our possession that which will serve our family, avoiding an amount that dictates servitude towards those things. Being overwhelmed by things soon feels like slavery. We own things, but they do not own us. And simply put, the goal of beauty in our home is to inspire prayer. Why else would it matter?

Before I share my list, I would like to preface it with another thought that I find helpful. I approach my lenten cleaning list with sobriety and absolutely no expectations. So before you become either impressed or discouraged with the details of my lofty list, be aware that I don’t expect to be able to complete all that I have planned. That expectation would be foolishly willful. Instead, I keep with me two simple thoughts:

Don’t expect.

Don’t anticipate.

We can be willful when we anticipate and live our lives with our own expectations of how things should play out. Not that it is wrong to make plans. Obviously, I have a tendency to do so. The truth is that we need to be moving in some purposeful direction and that usually requires the making of resolutions and planning ahead. But to stubbornly cling to our expectations of completing those plans is a matter of willfulness that I strive to avoid. With God as my helper. The rest is up to Him.

And I will only fail if I loose sight of this.

So as I set out to re-work last year’s lenten cleaning list, I reminded myself that this is not a “to-do list.” I don’t know what I will have the strength to do. Rather, this is the direction in which I hope to move for the benefit of my family. With God as my helper, I just might be able to get through some of the projects. But my prayer is that this will only be the case if getting through the list is beneficial for my salvation and that of my family. If not, then I am convinced that my weakness or the trial that hinders me is aimed at the acquisition of humility.


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  • I recall having 4 teething children at once.  I think I had a baby, a two year old, a 6 year old and a 12 year old?  Or it might have been when my eldest daughter finally got her adult front tooth when she was eight.  She had knocked the baby tooth out when she was 3, and it took a long time to come it, and had to cut through the gum completely, since it had been 5 years since a tooth was there.  Anyway, Ibuprofin is my friend during times such as those. 

  • Just a suggestion.  Early on (i.e., with my second child), I developed a pattern of one or at most two lullabies before bed.  I chose one for my oldest (well, actually, she got as many as four), and then one for the second child, and then one for the third child, etc.  That song was [name of child]‘s special song.  But it was just one!  So when that song was sung, it was time for that child to settle down.  Especially when I had to put more than one child to sleep per bedroom (which, come to think of it, was nearly always, in the many places we’ve lived), it was easy for the kids to see the pattern:  prayers for everybody in the room, then each child’s song, in some sensible order (girls first, oldest first, youngest first – it did shift over time), then settle down.  But the added benefit was that when I had night wakers, they got the pattern repeated.  A prayer (if I had it in me), then ONE song, then settle down.  I might not leave the room immediately, but that was the end of the vocal contact.  Hope this helps.  You are making the sacrifices now that will earn you your crown.

  • I used to do basically the same thing: one song and then goodnight. But when we got the flu in November and Sophie just couldn’t settle on her own, I gave in and sang her to sleep. And once that genie was out of the bottle, I never could seem to get it back in. Having got used to being sung to until she falls asleep, it’s hard to figure out how to get her to let me leave before she falls asleep.

    Sophie is a stubborn little soul. She will not stop crying without the verbal contact. In the past few nights I’ve had to carry her out to the office on the other side of the house and have told her she can’t go back to her bed until she stops screaming. The hardest part is that I’m always afraid her crying will wake up Ben and then I’m stuck trying to figure out how to get two children to sleep who will only settle for me (Daddy need not apply). 

    If you have any hints as to how to wean her off so that she will be willing to settle for just one song. Though I’ll wait to try that until she is not feeling sick.