Easter is in less than two weeks.
I always do something for lent, however this year my life has hardly slowed down enough to get a meal in or a decent night's rest.
I know this has been a busy, emotional season for many of you. Running running running often leaves one crumbling with little time to process...and, I don't know about you, but I need time to ponder all that is around me, because all too often the people and work and experiences become clutter in my life, and I find myself simply clocking in, rather than being.
This season of our life has been busy. So busy, that it looks a tornado hit our house...and, sometimes, I feel a little bit like my wearied soul might just look the same.
With Easter just around the corner, I thought it might be nice to share some activities to do by yourself or as a family, as a way to prepare our hearts during this Lenten season.
These activities are all individual stations from an ash wednesday workshop we hosted a few years ago.
All that's really needed for this activity is a dollar store potato peeler and a bar of soap. One can use carving tools, however, I think the potato peeler might be a safer tool for little ones. I also particularly love using a cuticle trimmer to create details in my soap sculpture.
I love to show my kids how a sculpture can be formed from a plain bar of soap...but not without first carving out some chunks...much like parts of our lives, wouldn't you say?
In his beautiful book, Drops like Stars, Rob Bell describes suffering as the process of creating a beautiful sculpture:
on tour, Rob handed out bars of soap to carve.
|(*original soap image taken from Drops Like Stars by Rob Bell i added the words and tape)|
|(*Rob Bell, Drops like Stars)|
4 But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.
5 Then the word of the Lord came to me. 6 He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel. Jeremiah 18:4-6.
We love hunting for rocks in our house. The little man started bringing home a pebble from his preschool playground everyday when he was tiny...then kindergarten started and he apologized because his new playground had wood chips, so, he would need to start bringing home wood chips. We had a special box where he stored his rock collections and he would go and place each little pebble inside of it. The other day, I pulled out his trundle to find a GIANT landscaping rock in it. Um what?! I asked him where on earth he found this rock...oh, just the local rec. center. again, what? I have no idea how he even got it into our car...I had to explain that rock hunts cannot take place on landscaped property. and I digress.
Our church in Dallas gave us each a rock to place in our pockets to remind us of Christ's time in the wilderness (Matthew 4) and that we are not alone in our own personal wilderness.
Our kids love to hunt for a special rock to keep in their pockets during this season...while it may seem like such a simple idea, the whole outing provides for a way to discuss with our kids the symbolism behind each stone. It is something, as they grow older, that they will remember during their own seasons of wilderness.
Weaving Pot holders
Everyone remembers the fun pot holder looms from childhood. I loved those things, loved how a pile of stretchy fabric bands became a real live pot holder...even though, at eight or ten or however old I was, I didn't cook, had no need for those silly pot holders...I made them like they were going out of style.
As an adult, I think this craft is a simple way of seeing and explaining how God works everything together for our good (Romans 8:28). He takes our story...all of our experiences, our good our horrible...our triumphs and our utter tragedies and he weaves them into a beautiful tapestry. Because, much like the elastic bands in these potholders , there are parts of us that we aren't proud of...there are things that happen that we wish we could take back (for me, it has been my illness and five thousand moves)...and yet, every piece of us makes us who we are, we would not be the same without it. Each strand is needed to create each piece and to make it it's unique self. Weaving a potholder with your kids is a perfect example of life and the beautiful and the horrible things that happen and the parts of our stories that are woven together to make us who we are.
Also, please check out live fashionABLE, see the stories of these beautiful women weavers who are living examples of a beautiful woven life, and please consider purchasing one of their gorgeous scarves to help support them. (Naturally, I am in love with this one.)
While this is a messy activity to do, especially with small children, it is incredibly symbolic. One can liken charcoal to ashes, and with these "ashes" (charcoal) we can create a beautiful piece of artwork.
I like to show that charcoal may have started as something entirely different, but, could not be used to create a beautiful drawing until it was burnt (Job 23:10)
aren't we all burning sticks snatched from the fire?
I'm not really sure what to call this activity. We did something similar at our church in Dallas, and I loved it. It's simple, all that's required is a black sharpie and black fabric like a cheap table cloth (or paper, but fabric is best). Easter is about our Savior coming and dying for our sins, that we might have life (John 3:16-17, Romans 3:23 & 5:18, Isaiah 53, to name a few). I have a really hard time really letting go of my sins, allowing myself to really give them up to the Lord, mostly because I cannot physically hand them to Him. I love how I can physically offer up my transgressions with this activity. Simply write these things down in sharpie on black fabric and they disappear. (psalm 103:12)
Make a Play list
Lastly, make a play list. Music moves me, so, to have a play list of songs to listen to during these activities is incredibly symbolic to me. One of my favorite bloggers, Alison, is married to an equally talented man, who created the most beautiful album of hymns that will move you. You might want to seriously consider adding this album to your music library.
I wish you all a restful Easter week, and I hope you get a chance to try out one of these activities.
The theme of all of them is: making room for Christ to come in and work. In order for the beauty that comes from the transformation to take place, we often must endure the painful sculpting, carving out, weaving, and sometimes a refiner's fire. In the end we will come forth as gold. (or soap. or a potholder).