Monday, March 3, 2014

Play Dough and Lent

This weekend it dropped 30 degrees in less than an hour.  We had a quick ice storm which kept us inside for the weekend.  Luckily, lurking in the back of the fridge (along with who knows what else) we found some homemade play dough.  And, the boys got right to it.  In fact, it kept them entertained off and on for hours.  

There's nothing that John Paul loves more right now than his big brothers (most of the time).  I'm not so sure that the feeling is mutual as he tries to steal/destroy anything they are playing with, but it's precious to see his adoration for the both of them.  

Being inside all weekend and watching the boys mold and form that play dough into different things gave me plenty of time to think about what to do for Lent which is fast approaching.  Every year I feel that I need to start thinking about it sooner than I did the year before, that I need to seriously just pick one thing and give it my all, that I'll find a way to feel less guilty when I mess up, or that I need to try harder to truly focus on what matters. The problem is, sometimes I don't know what really matters.  I mean, I know I need to make more time for God, but does that mean reading the Bible more?  Or, is it committing to a certain time of prayer or silence, or both?  Is it reading religious books or listening to religious commentary?  Any one of them would be beneficial, but what do I need most?

Then I think about my love/need for sweets - for just a taste after a meal that turns into a full-blown dessert and the unceasing craving for more throughout the day.  Giving that up, if not for everyone, is a sacrifice for me.  But, then there's that little thought in the back of my head saying, "and maybe Lent could be a wonderful way to jump start healthier eating/a bit of weight loss" - is Lent about that?  Not really.  Yet, giving up sweets is still hard for me.

Then, it's the additional do we involve the little ones?  How do I take on doing more for others while making sure I do it peacefully, not just adding more to the plate and furthering the feeling of no peace at all.  

In the end, it typically goes like this: let's take on as much as I feel humanly possible because I know I SHOULD be doing all of these things anyway.  It will be a sacrifice, and not one in which I'm trying to outdo the neighbor, but one in which I know myself well enough to know I need much change in my life.  A week or so in, I feel like I've taken on too much to focus on much more than that very sacrifice...not Christ's, but mine - in the piece of chocolate lingering in the pantry or the workout DVD I've come to abhor and never mind the rosary I said while I was working out to get me through the next set (or three) - that counts, right?

It all just becomes a jumbled mess on my to-do list rather than a reflection on His passion, death and resurrection.  It makes life seem busier (even if it's just my perception) instead of simpler, as I feel Lent should be.  Rather than peace, I feel guilt.  Instead of taking in all that the season has to offer, I focus on what I'm offering it.

Will I probably still give up the sweets?  Will I more than likely commit to getting in more prayer time and even more exercise?  Will I try to find a way to involve my little guys?  Probably so.  However, this time my focus will be on His grace, His peace, and His mercy.  

Without it, I can do none of it - successfully, anyway.  Without truly letting Him mold my life (as the boys were so diligently molding their play dough), nothing I do makes much of a difference.  A turn toward Him, His desire for my vocation, and a Center for my days...that is where the sacrifices, additions and out-of-self thinking will lead me.  Or, it should.  If not, what is this season for?


  1. Ahhh homemade playdough....I make fresh batches of this all the time for my little sister when I go over to my family's house!

    That is an interesting perspective on what to do for Lent!!! I never really thought about how we can be sooo focused on what we are doing or are failing to do that we miss sight of what Lent is really about. I guess it's good to really strive to not only offer things things up and work on things that are hard for us to do, but to make that connection with why we are doing all of these things and offering them up for Christ during Lent. I know a great way to connect these two aspects is through something visible such as a sacrifice bowl or a crown of thorns with little tissues. Every time you achieve something that was hard to do, you can place a tissue on the crown of thorns offering it up for Christ. Growing up, my family always had a homemade crown of thorns that we placed little purple and pink tissues on every time we offered something up or experienced a moment of joy we wanted to give to Jesus. I cheated this year and just bought a wonderful crown of thorns from Hobby Lobby last week. I know as a new family, my husband and I want to use this for Lent....just an idea =)

  2. These pictures are so sweet. I think play dough is really fun for the kids, too, except it always ends up sort of shredded and EVERYWHERE! It was bitterly cold here as well and we had two snow days and then the weekend, so I feel like all my energy is being used for entertaining the littles. Is it Spring YET?

  3. I really loved this post - the pics of your boys are always so full of love!! I just want to reach through the screen and give them a squishy hug. Growing up there was always such a strong emphasis on giving something up, that I didn't really understand or embrace the connection to the cross as a child, so the thought of it still brings about feelings of inadequacy when it comes to sacrifice as an adult. We give up dessert as a family sacrifice, and I try to limit tech stuff to, but personally I've found that the sacrifice of time to take on something deeper bears more fruit in my life, whether it be completing a spiritual reading, saying the Chaplet every day at 3 or making a firm decision to smile and communicate joy more when I'm tempted toward discontent or frustration. The disposition of the heart is a very important element of sacrificial offering - the more sincere we are, the more we give to the Lord, no matter how small the sacrifice is.

  4. I bought the Magnificat's Lenten Companion as well as signing up for Father Barron's lenten emails. The great thing about the Magnificat guide is that each day they have a suggested penance for the day, all of which are simple: picking a person to pray for throughout the day, visitng with an elderly person, skipping a meal, etc. What's neat is that the penance is different each day, but taken as a group they cover all the bases. You can buy it through amazon and download it onto your reader which makes it convenient.

    1. Isn't that companion perfect?! I love how brilliant, yet short the reflections are. And, they always offer a doable sacrifice. I pray you are having a blessed Lent!!