Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Our family observes the season of Lent. In short, Lent is the forty day period that precedes Easter. [It's actually slightly more than 40 days if you sit down with the calendar and count. That's because Sundays aren't included.]

I've said before that denominationally speaking, our family has been all over the place. I'm not sure if that's good or bad, but personally, I love how it has broadened and enriched my faith and understanding. One of the things I love the most about the liturgical churches we've been a part of is that Easter and Christmas each have a season of focus, preparation, and anticipation (Lent|Advent) leading up to the big day. That season allows me to think, reflect, pray, and take in the fullness of the holy day we're anticipating.

I want my kids to experience that fullness as well. And that means that we do lots of talking and teaching at home.

I collected a few Lenten ideas over the weekend, and you know what? My friends are my BEST resource! One friend, Julie, made a salt dough crown of thorns for her family last year and she shared the recipe with me. The kids and I made one this afternoon and it turned out beautifully. See?

Julie used this with her family last year as a centerpiece on her table and said it was a terrific discussion piece! Anytime she caught her kids doing something thoughtful or kind for someone, she had them pull out one of the toothpicks. You could also remove a toothpick for every day that you honored your Lenten fast (giving something up for Lent is a common practice). The goal is to remove all the toothpicks. The night before Easter, Julie and her family painted their crown and added jewels, transforming it from the crown of thorns to the crown of a triumphant King. The transformed crown became their Easter centerpiece! I L-O-V-E that.

Here's the recipe:
4 cups flour
1 cup salt
Warm water

Mix flour and salt. Add enough warm water to form a stiff dough. Knead until smooth. Divede dough into thirds, and roll into three long ropes. Loosely braid the ropes and form into a circle. Stick toothpicks into the dough throughout the entire crown. Be careful not to embed them too deeply or they can't be pulled out intact. Bake for one hour at 350 or until lightly browned.

[Notes: My "crown" never got quite brown enough on top, so I mixed a little soy sauce and water and brushed it all over it and stuck it back in the oven for a few minutes. I was going for aesthetics! Ha! Julie suggests using one toothpick per kid per day of Lent (you can do the math). She didn't embed enough last year and had to keep filling holes. You can always do that if you need to, and she also suggests wiggling the toothpicks around a bit before baking so that they aren't too difficult to remove once baked.]

I can't tell you how much I LOVE our centerpiece. I might even love it more than our Advent wreath.

I'm not sure what else we'll do as a family during Lent. I'm still thinking through it all.

However, here are some links I want to pass on.

A friend from college is a contributor to this website: Modern Sacred Family. There's some good stuff there!

Janna also has some good thoughts/ideas/books. I love what she says from her "soapbox" because I completely agree with her! She did a MOPS talk about Lent and posted an audio link. I haven't listened to it (yet) but I hope to this week!

Wendy wrote some Lenten devotions for families (you may have to do a search) and has some creative ideas on her blog. I especially want to remember this idea for Good Friday.

Edie (a blogger that I stalk) explains Lent beautifully in this post. If you're curious or unsure about Lent, this post is a great place to start!


*carrie* said...

Wow--what a cool idea. I've never heard of anything like that before! My grandma used to have a special velvet bag that contained various items that helped tell the story of Jesus death and resurrection--I remember a nail and a thorn being among them.

Stephanie Kay said...

What a great idea!

Christi @ Writing the Waves said...

Meredith, I love the crown idea. I think that I might do it too. Although two of my kids are older, I still think that they would enjoy it, and learn from it. (Who wouldn't learn from it?!)

Caylie has always observed Lent (just because she wanted to), but we have never gone to a church that really observed it until now. Caylie decided to give up facebook for Lent this year, and so I told her that I would join her! There's a first time for everything I guess! :)

OhioFamOf4 said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who has experimented with denomination. I think I've been to practically every church in my town and just can't find anything I completely agree with. I do like the liturgical seasons though.

dawn said...

Great helpful post, Meredith! I linked to you today.

Thanks for the follow!

Mollie said...

LOVE the bread braid...HOW COOL!! I might wait until next year to do it!! I love the way you always show such creative ways to teach your children about Jesus!!

I have given up Facebook for Lent...my it is quit nice!! I also gave up COKES...Ugh...that is not fun!! Going good on both though!!

Gretchen said...

Love everything about that centerpiece, from the fasting observance, to the consistent focus, to the redemption for Easter.

Prolly won't get my act together to pull it off this year, but looking forward to next! After all, I'm just getting the Advent thang down. :)