photos of the boys getting ready to head off to VBS both yesterday and today. This is Little Brother’s first VBS.
I think I am raising two budding theologians!
A few nights ago at bed time:
Big “Momma we can pray to God or Christ, right they are the same person”
Momma “Yes they are the same”
Little “NO [yelled] not the same. God not born Christmas.”
Tonight at bedtime:
Big: “how old was John The Babpist?”
Momma “when, he was a person, so he was born and got old”
Big “his mom and dad were old like Grandma and Papa. An angle told his dad what to name him, right”
Big “could God make Grand Pat have a baby, if He really wanted to”
I love the innocent of children, and they sure seem to be learning their stuff.
I’ve been thinking about Lent. Not real original I know. Each year as I pass my birthday I think about Lent. Today is Ash Wednesday. I am by no means a teacher, preacher or Biblical scholar much less a theologian; but I’ll share my thoughts anyway. They maybe wrong, but they could be right.
Lent. Sacrifice. What are you giving up this year? The same old story. Conventional Wisdom holds that we sacrifice a beloved vice for the 40 days of Lent (actually 46 days, Sundays do not count) as a personal reminder of Christ’s sacrifice for us. Really? I give up coke or chocolate for 40-some days and THAT is a sacrifice? What a life we lead in 2012 is this Fist World Nation (an idea I touched on here also). Isn’t our idea of sacrifice almost an insult to Christ’s death on the cross? An insult to the martyrs that died for their faith; an insult to people today in other nations that risk life and liberty to practice their faith? I fully acknowledge and respect the practice of Morning Offering and in fact, should disciple my life in this way more. It is a wonderful attitude to live your life in. I also am challenging myself to more fully live a life of, and come to a better place of understanding about “offering my trial up to the Lord” . Again that is such a better attitude to live in than many that people do live in, including me. I know my life and Walk will benefit as a disciple myself more in these attitudes towards life and the daily challenges we all face.
However, I fear Lent has become nothing more than a 2nd set of New Years resolutions. Personal sacrifice, self discipline, is a foundation of any Walk with God or any fellowship with Christ. But it must be authentic, it must be genuine – and that happens, or doesn’t, at the heart level.
I have seen a number of blogs and articles this season echoing my thoughts (see ) . Seeking a deeper experience of Lent, a more serious approach. Simply put I can never sacrifice enough, the martyrs and saints did not sacrifice enough, Christ’s gift of his life is the only ‘good enough’ sacrifice. We do well to offer a personal devotion or to refuse ourselves a favored vice only in that it forces us, or should, to think about Christ and our relationship with God. Nevertheless, we do ourselves a grave disservice and mock Christ when we lazily assume that giving up candy or coke is the true gift we bring to the Cross this season. The gift is our desire, or thoughts, our efforts at self disciple, out desire to be closer to Him; not the simple lack of a habit.
I used to work with a Sister from the Sisters of Loretto and she talked about ADDING for Lent, not subtracting. Adding pray, adding disciple, adding God Time, adding to your walk in a meaningful way. This is what I have been thinking about. Adding to and completing my relationship with God, my walk of faith; where I stand on the march to maturity as a flower. Am I consistently chewing meat or am I simply, occasionally, gulping milk on the run?
So this Lent I am not giving up soda, or TV or candy. What I will be doing is spend the Lenten Season thinking and praying about where I am on the path, as an individual and as a parent responsible for the upbringing and education of two more souls. Where do I stand on the path god has laid out for me? I’ll give you a hint, as a 40 year old cradle Christian I am not where I belong, and I fear as the mother of a 4 year old and 6 year old boy I we are not where we belong. I pray this Season that I grow in God, not that I break my soda habit.
I love books, and seeing as Advent is one of the two most important times in the Christian calendar – it should be no surprise that I collect, for the boys, advent books. Each advent both boys get a new advent book. (Christmas they will get a new Bible or a new verse book, or something like that, but for Advent they get a special “Christmas Story” book).
Many I have fallen in love with, some I just like; but I thought this year, as I unpacked the tub of books (since they go up into the attic with the decorations after the Season) I thought maybe a blog post about the one we have so far would be a nice addition to the Advent Season this year. Remember my boys are still young (4 and 6 this Advent) so our collection is geared at the pre-readers; a lot of board books and rhyme. I MEANT for this to be posted right after the start of Advent, as soon as we got the books out. That did not happen, but here is our Advent collection:
This year I added two new books, trying to take a different approach than simply the stable / manger and the night of the Birth:
So that is our Advent collection to date. The boys have many books for the season that are not Advent, like Curious George Christmas, but these are the meaningful ones. I am already on the look out for next advent. (I also need to search out some Epiphany books for them too, that is another post).
Both boys are really enjoying aw Awanas and learning so much. Both have told me they are sad that it meets only once a week. Each night when I pick them up they are full of stories and excited to tell me all about their activities. Big Brother, each night, can recite back to me the story they studied and explain the “importance” of the story to me.
Both boys are excited to do their Awanas school work each day, we treat it as a school subject and cover it daily. This week Big Brother decided he wanted to do two verses to make up for the week he missed while we traveled before Thanksgiving. Also, he only needed two verses to earn his wings; and he has been very motivated to earn his wings.
Thus Big Brother challenged himself to recite both Psalms 118:1 and 1 John 4:19 last night.
1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
1 John 4:19
19 We love because he first loved us.
He accomplished his goal, he learned both verses, recited them and earned his wings (and his first jewel). I am very proud of him; he has recited ten verses atSparks; and can still recite all of them (some with minor prompting).
Both boys are excited to work on their Memory work and Big Brother has been signed off on 5 verses ( John 3:16, 1 John 4:14, Psalms 147:5, 1 Cor 15:3, 1 Cor 15:4) and is now working on Jam 2:10.
Both the boys are in Awanas this fall. And LOVING it. Last night was their 2nnd meeting and both ran in to the building.
Last night was the 2nd week and the boys were certainly excited.
Big Brother recited all of John 3:16 for his leader and earned his vest and his first Book. (They start with a magazine like “first book” that they have to master before they earn their first book and vest).
John 3:16 was the first memory verse Big Brother did this school year, so he was ready for this challenge. According to the way Awana’s has it broken up in the book the verse could take up to 5 weeks to learn.
We’ll work really hard this week on Little Brother’s memory ‘lines” (not full verses) so he can earn his vest, I hope, next week. (he is in Cubbies)
I was actually caught off guard by how proud of Big Brother was when we went into pick him up and saw him in his vest. I think being one of the first in his group (Sparks Kindy level) gives him some confidence since he speech is still a bit delayed behind his peers and I see him struggle sometimes to be part of a larger peer group.
Next up for Big Brother is 1 John 4:14 and we have already started on it. Awanas does not do the full verse, but we are going to. I personally do not see a lot of use in having a child memorize a cite and part of a verse in place of the entire verse, that is just more effort for the child to re-learn later. So while the club uses abbreviated versions of many verses we’ll be doing the full versions.
Recently we have been studying what seems to fit under the title or heading “God by the numbers”. Last week we looked at Exodus and the 10 Commandments. Momma also escaped withOUT Big Brother asking “what is adultery”. This week, Leviticus, we have been looking at 5 ways to show our love for God.
Today to tie it all together, and give them one more revive and hands-on experience we made a poster.
Momma did the prep work then the boys and I taped the items on to the poster and discussed each of them; one of our better discussions, giving examples of each thing (good or bad) and the reason it is important. Reinforcing in God as beloved father that wants time and attention and that genuinely cares.
The 5 ways to Show God we are:
The boys chose where they wanted to hang the poster in the house.
Our family puts an emphasis on nature and the out of doors and the connection to God that can be found in His Creation, and also the call to good stewardship that we are all under. Additionally big open, outdoor spaces are GREAT for active enthusiastic exploring little boys like we are blessed with. So nice when purpose and application mesh so well.
We have taken the boys to Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge before; and this month we took a day trip there again. There is an interactive center (The Prairie Learning Center ) that has many hands on activities for the boys. There are miles of trail, but this year the day proved too hot so our family took a short one and called it good. We keep hoping to get to try one of the longer prairie trails, but the size and skill of the boys and the weather have so far conspired to keep us from trying it.
The boys got to physical explore many Buffalo items; then see, right in front of the car, a live buffalo lumbering across the road in the protected enclosure. Our family did not see any elk, sadly.
Big Brother spotted this guy first!!
So we march on, with the goal in mind of raising good stewards of the land, boys that will be men at ease face to face with animals and not merely looking at them on a computer (or as Daddy would poke me, in a book) able to care for themselves, their families and God’s creation.