Lent thoughts from wiser people than me

Lent and I… don’t really get along. I always wind up either…

A) suffering loudly and grumpily
B) being super proud of how I’ve given up things successfully
C) caving two weeks in and throwing in the towel
or D) all of the above.

Basically, Lent always ends up being more about ME than about God. Womp womp. Fortunately, Lent comes again each year, and God will always give me another shot. Someday maybe I will wake up and discover all this struggling has made me a holier person. Stranger things have happened.

Meanwhile, go check out these excellent posts on Lent and suffering:

  • “The White Post. Or Couch” by Mary of Better than Eden
  • “There are constant voices in the world, in the land of blogs, in our own heads, telling us to choose what is more comfortable, what is easier, what is more practical.  Don’t overdo it, they say… If I could encourage you about anything this Lent it would be to take on something real.  Don’t fall for the practical.  Go for the beautiful.”

  • “Not So Great Expectations” by Dwija at House Unseen
  • “It’s not abnormal for there to be frustrations.  No.  That’s how this life IS.  And my job, well, my job is to allow God use those bricks of suffering to pave me a clear path to Him.”

  • “Saying no (to yourself)” by Tsh at The Art of Simple
  • “Think about your default indulgences, the rituals in your life you save for your escape hatch…is there something there you might need to set aside for a short period of time in order to strengthen your soul? Could you benefit from a brief hiatus from that (fill in the blank) in your life?”

And if you start to feel like this is all just too much- join me in reading this post over and over again, because it’s just so full of wisdom: “The secret to not being overwhelmed” by Jen at Conversion Diary.

Talk to me. Do you ROCK at Lent? Do you dread it a bit like me? What helps?

HDYDI: Keep a toddler quiet in the front pew at Mass (717 Day 7!!!!)

Phew! Day 7! We made it. For my final day of blogging homage, I’m going to highlight Team Whitaker. Katheryn is a lovely, outgoing, and sweet mama of six great kiddos. Reading her blog is like stepping into a warm puddle of Texas sunshine- she’s so hospitable, you feel right at home. I especially love her  How Do You Do It (HDYDI) posts. She answers reader questions about everything from how her family celebrates Advent to how she gets all those kids out the door on time every morning to how she organizes her home. I have learned so much from those posts! She’s just a well of practical no-nonsense advice. In honor of Kathryn, I will try my hand at my own HDYDI post!

Hrm, wait a minute. I am but a neophyte at this marriage and parenting game. Hardly in a position to offer advice when I’m still learning every day. But surely there’s something…

Ah. I know. Sometimes parents approach me after Mass, a little bit of awe in their eyes, and ask me how I kept my toddler mostly quiet in a front pew through Mass. They seem amazed that I never had to sprint down the aisle with a screaming tot in tow.

My secret?

Step one: Birth a child who has a bottomless pit for a stomach. Step two: Attend an evening Mass close to her normal supper time. Step three: Let her shovel food into her mouth through the whole Mass.

Problem solved!

Problem solved!

Hahaha, you thought I had a tiny Saint on my hands who loves to pay attention to Mass? Hahahahaha. Still laughing.

I mean, she likes some parts. She really likes it when the cross processes down the aisle. She likes mimicking the priest washing his hands before consecration. And she LOVES the sign of peace. She also has a Mass bag with holy cards on key rings, Catholic soft books and a couple board books. But if you asked her, I’m sure she would say in toddler-ese that she’s only there for the food.

Yep, this will create all sorts of problems down the line when she gets older and we have to start cutting back the snacks at Mass. For now, though, it’s working for us. And that’s good enough for me.

Thanks for hanging with me through all the posts this week, you guys! I have a few ideas jotted down for future posts. Who knows, maybe this blogging thing will become a habit again.

Liturgical Living with a (almost) Two Year Old

Day 6- home stretch now :-). Lately I’ve been reading lots of blogs that talk about liturgical living. I love the idea of celebrating feast days and developing traditions for my family. This post is in honor of all the great blogs out there sharing ideas about how to incorporate more liturgical living into family life. Some of my favorites are Kendra at Catholic All Year, Haley at Carrots for Michaelmas, Sarah at two Os + more, and Lacy at Catholic Icing. Thanks for all you do! You inspire me 🙂

Often I have grand ideas about liturgical living- Recipes! Crafts! Prayers!- and then I remember that Mary isn’t even two yet. She doesn’t really care if her meal has been crafted according to a saintly theme- she just wants to know if there will be cheese and fruit. She doesn’t sit still for long stories or prayers, especially if there’s no book to hold. And our Advent calendar? Well, let’s just say that Mary doesn’t understand the concept of one per day. It was a constant battle of wills in our house until I just gave in and let her put all the little velcro pieces on the calendar at once. Eesh.

No need to throw in the towel altogether though. Even though Mary’s little, she can still participate in a lot- I just need to gear our activities to her level. Here’s what HAS worked for us:

  • Celebrating seasons instead of lots of saints’ feast days. As a toddler, Mary loves routine, so mixing things up all the time for saints’ feast days kind of throws her off. Liturgical seasons like Advent and Lent are more her thing right now. We’ll still observe a few feast days here and there, but we will probably do more when she gets older.
  • Simple songs. Mary loved the ritual of lighting an advent candle and singing an Advent song every night before bed. If we forgot one evening, she was quick to remind us!
  • Board books with religious themes. Mary has Baby’s First Easter, I Am Blessed, and Peek-a-boo Jesus, plus a whole host of Christmas story board books. She requests these often. I also made her a couple soft books from Magnetic Catholic’s Etsy shop. These come with us to Mass every week.

Right now we’re gearing up for Lent in our house. My plans so far are to make a King Cake for Fat Tuesday, cover the crucifixes in the house with purple cloth starting on Ash Wednesday, create a Lenten table centerpiece with a succulent plant and rocks, and sing  Lent song every night before bed. (I’ve spent ages looking for a Lent song that will work for us, and I think this might be the one- “Now Quit Your Care.”) Mary has recently shown great interest in crafts, so I will be hitting up the awesome blogs listed above for coloring sheets and craft ideas. I’ll try to find more Lent and Easter board books for our collection. I’m also hoping to involve her in cooking more, especially on no-meat Fridays. I think that’s enough for now. She’s too little to understand why I would ask her to give something up for Lent. She is cultivating patience and self-denial every day just by being a toddler!

I’m new to liturgical living, so please share with me what works for your family, especially with little ones. Thanks!