If you read the post about our preparations for Lent, then you know we had three family goals:
(1) a devotional with the kids every day
(2) a better bedtime prayer and routine
(3) 40 bags in 40 days (decluttering and donating)
Here’s the update:
(1) The devotional: We’ve done the devotional almost every day (not perfect, I know, but a big improvement for us.) The key was switching from evening to afternoon (a more relaxed time at our house, in contrast to a busy bedtime routine with a tired mom and dad). It has also helped that I made two rules: (1) only one devotional is allowed a day (the kids like the book, so before this rule, they would ask for several one day then want to read something else the next), and (2) we have to read them in order (i.e. no flipping through, looking at pictures and arguing about whether we’ve read one before or who gets to pick). We sit down, pick up the book, and read the next one. What a relief to have a simple process at a time of day when we can really enjoy it.
(2) The bedtime prayer: I have found a prayer that works better for us. Our new prayer (which is still a little long, I think…I may take a stanza out soon…) is based on one I found online, then adjusted to fit our kids vocabularies and the things I wanted to emphasize. The original is the fourth one down at this link.
And here’s our version…
Jesus, help my eyes to see
All the good you’ve done for me.
Jesus, help my ears to hear
How I can help others far and near.
Jesus, help my hands to do
Things that are good, like you taught me to.
I love you God. Thanks for loving me.
Help me be the best person I can be.
Since having the kids add items to the end of the prayer was creating issues for us, we have stopped doing that for now, but plan to pick it back up once we’ve established a better rhythm. We have remembered to do this almost every night, but have been a little thrown by some sleep schedule adjustments this week. Again, not perfect…
(3) 40 bags in 40 days: I have to confess that we started this a little before Lent and are approaching it in spurts. So far, we have tackled the following areas:
- my closet (seemed like a fair place to start, before hitting everyone else’s…I want some credit for getting rid of my softest T-shirt, even if it did have about 8 holes in it)
- the garage, including the collection of small appliances we “might be able to get fixed someday” (goodbye, rice cooker that has been broken for over a year!)
- the attic, including lots of furnishings we used in old apartments and just don’t fit our current place
- part of the kitchen (I had replaced all our kids’ plates with BPA free versions several years ago, so why had I stored all the old plastic plates on a high shelf? I honestly have no idea…)
- my computer (so far I have unsubscribed from 7 e-mail lists that were cluttering my inbox on a daily basis…I end up on these lists when we need to make a large purchase and sign up to receive e-mails and a one-time huge discount…I am tired of deleting the daily mailings and have decided clicking “unsubscribe” that many times counts as at least part of a “bag”.)
Anyway, I have read that the best way to do this challenge well is to commit to touching every item in the house. I won’t hit this mark, but I like having the idea in my head. I have also read that you cannot count a bag until it is out of your house, which means our current total tally is five. However, we just received a mailing from an organization that will be visiting our neighborhood mid-March to collect used clothing and household items, and we do have six more bags ready for them. I just need to commit to not looking in those bags again! And of course, we still have many more areas around the house to tackle.
The bottom line is that our efforts have been imperfect, but I hope as the season goes on those efforts will become routines and then eventually habits. (And there has to be some sort of recognition that Easter is being about grace, rather than perfection, right?! I mean, we are trying, but I recognize that I am certainly relying on grace, all the way around…)
Blessings and God’s grace to you and yours too this Lenten season!