Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Giving up--or adding something--to Lent

Hard to believe that Lent starts one week from today!  I'm still diligently making my Jesus Tree felt pieces; will I finish in time?

Have you been thinking about what you will give up for Lent?  Or some people suggest adding something--like praying the Rosary every day or keeping a prayer journal.  

I'm hoping to add two things to my Lenten schedule:

1) Attend noon Mass every Tuesday at a nearby church.  My kids' school drop-off schedules mean that I can never make morning Mass at our parish.  I was thrilled to learn recently that another parish in our area offers a noon Mass every Tuesday. I plan to be there! 

2) Spend an hour in the adoration chapel at our parish each week.  I was a regular adorer two years ago.  But school and activity schedules changed and I haven't been able to carve out a regular time to visit the chapel.  I've picked out a day and time and am going to schedule the time in my Cozi calendar.  I'm less likely to skip or forget that time if I "carve it in stone" in my online planner/calendar.

I'm hoping to give up one thing during Lent:

1) TV at night.  After everyone has gone to bed, I relax by watching TV.  We don't have cable, so I'm limited to about 10 broadcast channels.  Unfortunately, the programming isn't very good and most of the programs promote values that make me uncomfortable. If I'm truthful with myself, I'm using TV as a passive way to relax at night. But there are much better ways!  So I've filled a basket with good reading material--spiritual stuff, classic novels, stuff that intrigues me and says "read me!"  I'll place the basket near the chair where I relax at night.  Instead of switching on the remote, I'll be picking up a book and filling my mind with good stuff! 

That's it.  Three things I'll be changing during Lent. Only three, because I really need to keep my life simple these days!

How about you?  What are you going to give up or add?  If you need some inspiration, check out Catholic All Year's  Outside the Box: 66 Things to Give Up or Take Up for Lent or Held By His Pierced Hand's 100 Things to Do for Lent.   Then share your "giving up" or "adding" ideas to the comment box below!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Preparing for Lent: Making a felt Jesus Tree

After debating it for several years, then purchasing (and storing!) the kit for a year, I've finally decided to create a felt "Jesus Tree" for my family to use during Lent. We have two small wooden ones (you can read about them here) which I've hung on the kids' bedroom doors, but I thought it might be nice to do something different this year.

If you aren't familiar with the "Jesus Tree," it's a Lenten version of the "Jesse Tree" used during Advent. But the Jesus Tree Biblical readings focus on Jesus' life, ministry, death and resurrection while on earth. Like the Jesse Tree, there is a daily reading. After the reading, children can put a related symbol on their Jesus Tree.

I'm using this kit from Scripture Trees:

Upon opening the package, I realized this is a bit of daunting task to tackle just 10 days before Ash Wednesday!  They are many, many small pieces to cut out and glue together.  So I'll just do my best to finish as many pieces as I can before Lent begins.

To make it less overwhelming, I decided to prepare one sheet of patterns (usually about 6 days) at a time.  With this kit, you pin or tape the paper patterns to various colors of felt, then cut them out and glue some of the pieces together. I cut out the first sheet of patterns today. Here are a few photos of the work in progress:

Here's a photo of several cut pieces, waiting to be glued together. Some pieces have parts or details that need to be glued onto the main piece.  For example, the mountains pictured below are cut out of green felt, then white felt snow caps are glued on top of the green felt.

And a few quick photos of  a completed "dove" ornament for the Jesus Tree:

 I'll try to post updates on my progress as we near Lent.

If you would like to try using a Jesus Tree during Lent this year, there are a few options for creating one. I purchased the Scripture Trees kit from Leaflet Missal.  Unfortunately, it looks like it is out of stock.  However, The Art of Being Mama has some paper patterns that you could color (or have your children color), then cut them out and use them on a paper or felt banner.  Or, if you are artistic, you could try designing your own ornaments. For inspiration, check out the photos and detailed descriptions at the  Shower of Roses blog (scroll down the page to the Jesus Tree paragraph, which has week-by-week links of her Jesus Tree.)  There are also some photos at Under Her Starry Mantel.  There's a list of readings (and symbol ideas) at EasyFunSchool, too.

Have you created and used a Jesus Tree for Lent?  How well did it work?  Please share your ideas and thoughts in the comments section below!