As we near the end of Holy Week and prepare for the festivities of Easter, the anticipation in our home is growing and growing every day.
Excitement for the meaning behind the celebrations, the feasting & fun planned with family, the new outfits for church, and....of course....the sugar overload.
We have been reading lots of scripture, learning Easter themed poems, and having frequent spontaneous and good discussions as we approach Resurrection Sunday. Our children definitely understand what we are celebrating, and it is so rewarding to see them grasp different aspects of the story and apply what they have learned.
But, let's be honest, the real excitement for them kicks in when we let that theology flow through into the tangible things in our daily life -- the feasting on good food (which for us involves heaps of fried catfish with all the fixings, and honey with gourmet cheese & crackers, 'cause that's what Jesus ate.....well, kind of.... Luke 24:41-43 KJV), the happy fellowship & fun activities. We have a reason to celebrate!
Before all this happy fun-making, however, comes Lent - the season of preparation and contemplation as we prepare ourselves for the Resurrection and reflect on the life and ministry of Christ, and his sacrifice of love for us.
So far we haven't done a whole lot for Lent, other than having a lot of heart to heart conversations with the kids about what Lent is all about, and how the knowledge of what Christ did for us and what He saved us from increases our joy at His Resurrection.
One activity we have implemented, though, is a fun & simple saving up of jelly beans.
The rules are easy -- for every good action / sacrifice the kids get a certain color of jelly bean to go along with what they did. They earn & save them up until Easter. You can choose whatever actions you want to go with each color, and I have changed it slightly every year (we have done it for 2 or 3 years now), but here is what we did this year:
Green: Doing good deeds / Saying kind words to others
Yellow: Noticing others' good deeds
Orange: Getting ready for bed without being told
Red: Having good table manners
Pink: Doing chores without being told
Purple: Saying "Yes Mom" or "Yes Dad"
Black / Blue: Good Bible engagement
(showing attentiveness / asking good questions during family Bible time)
As the children grow older we may alter it to be more centered on sacrifice and spiritual fruit & understanding, but for the little kids we keep it pretty tangible. As a definite side bonus, I get really sweet kids and see some growth in certain areas!
And because we all know that works without faith and grace is for naught, we try to make it at least somewhat theologically applicable by filling up their jars the rest of the way (or at least most of the rest of the way.....) with white jelly beans on Easter morning -- representing the grace of God... without which all our good deeds would be but feeble and pathetic strivings.
We are always on the lookout for great ideas for family traditions, what activities have you enjoyed doing during Lent?