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Full disclosure: when my children were young their Lent experiences consisted of eating pancakes for supper on Shrove Tuesday and bearing witness to the growing pile of empty Paczki boxes in the recycle bin. I wasn’t really even aware that Lent was “a thing” until I had a conversation with an unusually cranky Catholic friend ten days into her Lenten chocolate fast.   

But like many parents I’m interested in increasing my understanding of how I and my family might live into and live out of Lent.

Here are four resources we’ll be using this year:    

  • 4 Things I Tell Children the Sunday Before Lent contains child-friendly explanations of several Lenten practices that can be used during worship or to inform conversations at home. This year I’m also going to lay down a purple runner on the dining table for the forty days leading up to Easter.
  • These free Lent Calendar Templates invite all ages to spend time with God each day as they ponder a word or pray for a person while doodling or drawing. “Each mark or stroke of color is a small movement prayer,” says Sybil Macbeth, Praying in Color author and creator of the templates. Want to increase the likelihood of people engaging in this practice? Print copies off and distribute them at church.
  • Speaking of calendars, families with young children will enjoy counting down to Easter with this Simple Paper Chain idea from DWELL Curriculum Coordinator Jill Benson. I love the suggestions that Jill has included for what you might write on each of the strips. 
  • The #CRCLentPhoto challenge provides a fun and meaningful way for parents (and grandparents!) to connect with the kids/teens/young adults in their life by inviting them to take a daily photo that represents for them the word of the day. We did this at Advent using our family’s messaging group, where each morning I post the word of the day. The images that come back offer an interesting insight into how each person views the world and/or experiences God that day. What I love most about #CRCLentPhoto is that it’s an intergenerational activity that is equally engaging for those who are no longer part of a church family.

There you have it: four sugarless ways to spend 40 meaningful days. Paczkis optional.

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