Today’s post is a guest blog from my dear friend Kassie Phillips. If I were to make a list of people whose lives both challenge and encourage me to believe the Gospel and live a more radical life of love as a result, Kassie and her husband Brian would be at the very top. In the last year, my friends and their three small children moved to Spain. Their stories of learning language and culture aren’t the only things that amaze me, however. You see, Brian and Kassie from the start have made imperfect but very intentional choices about the way they parent in light of the Gospel. A trip to their home when they lived in the states made this abundantly evident as do blog posts, emails, and skype dates today. More recently they’ve began a new tradition as a family to help prepare their hearts for Easter. Kassie was gracious enough to share this below.
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.”
1 John 3:16
First of all, let me just say that I am no expert on Lent. Until last week, all I knew was that you couldn’t eat meat, at least on some days, and there was something about ashes…
So, if you’ve never thought about Lent, you’re not alone, and I’m not far ahead of you.
Recently, we moved to Spain. Although there are very few Christians here, many of the people are Catholic by tradition. Our son, Malaki, attends a Spanish Catholic school. So I’ve been trying to use the traditions and holidays (which they celebrate at school) for our education and encouragement. I think it’s really important to give him a springboard (at home) for his questions and doubts.
It’s been like a treasure hunt. A hunt I’m thankful for because it has caused me to think beyond what is normal for me, and find Jesus in traditions and holidays I’m unfamiliar with. It has certainly freshened my view of Easter, Lent, and Jesus. And I believe that when the kids are older, they will think of these times as sweet memories.
Definition: Lent is a period of 40 days (excluding Sundays, so it’s actually around 46-47 days total) of preparation for Easter. Many people abstain from eating meat on Fridays, or fast for one day/meal each week, others give up something for the entire 40 days. The reason for the fast is to remind us of the sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross.
Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent. That day was especially fascinating to me. It is a day specifically devoted to remembering our need of Jesus’ sacrifice. The ashes symbolize the ashes Old Testament saints wore when they were mourning their sins.
Practically, this is how it has worked for us: first, on Ash Wednesday; our two older kids (3.5, & 5 years old) each chose a toy to put up in the china cabinet until after Easter. I explained to them that it would be difficult, but it would remind them of the sacrifice Jesus made for us when he came down from heaven to die on the cross.
The second thing we did was take a piece of posterboard and draw a calendar. It is a path with one stone per day, from Ash Wednesday, all the way to Easter. (For some great ideas on this, Google: “Lent Calendar for kids”) Each morning at breakfast, we read a story (usually from The Jesus Storybook Bible) and talk about how that story points us to Jesus and his rescue plan. Each day, we fill in one stone with what we learned.
It’s simple. Yesterday we wrote: “Even when Joseph was sad and alone, God was planning a RESCUE!”
By the time we get to Easter, we will have spent 40+ days talking about the great rescue, and preparing to celebrate Easter. Not only should we be ready to celebrate, the kids will know what we are celebrating.