Sunday, February 24, 2013

On Lent

My sincere apologies for the long delay in posting.  After moving last month, we celebrated the birthdays of two of ours sons, experienced (as a family) the stomach flu, and then managed to get infected with the powerful, draining seasonal flu bug that has been making its way around the continent.  I went into work on Ash Wednesday feeling like death, but since I was in charge of the day's service calling in sick wasn't an option!

Speaking of, a good Lent to you all!  I didn't observe Lent while growing up, but my own little family has since Matt and I got married (I started when I was in college, thanks to the Lutheran brothers and sisters with whom I went to Bible college for a year).   Every year as Ash Wednesday approaches, we talk about what item or activity we're going to fast for the forty days of Lent.  My boys call it "lenting" (which I laughed at initially, but now find myself using as well instead of the more grammatically-correct options.)  We try to decide what we're going to "lent" by the end of Fat Tuesday (which I've celebrated with pancakes and bacon with some women from my Bible study the past couple of years...also a practice I would encourage!)

Finn, who loves Lent and seems to thrive on the sacrifice the season calls for, "lented" iPods and iPhones (this is a bigger deal than it might seem for a game-playing seven-year-old).  Isaac, weighing it over in his mind, opted for a less drastic (but still loved) item and "lented" bacon. I "lented" TV (a first for me).  And Matt "lented" Facebook (a first for him as well).  I think it would be easier "lenting" one thing or another as a family (packing up the TV for Lent, or all giving up bacon, etc.)  But as we keep bumping up against each other's Lenten fasts it's been amazing to see the graciousness it evokes.  Watching my sons do their best not to tempt each other, having them encourage rather than discourage me in my fasting has been a remarkable means of grace.

I added a practice too, that my kids don't know about.  I've been increasingly aware over the past few months of the harshness (and volume) with which I speak to my kids sometimes.  Having exhausted every excuse in the book for continuing to do so, and being immersed in the first week of Lent's Scriptures, a Lent-appropriate conclusion dawned on me: it's me that needs to change.  Not my kids, and not my circumstances.  Me.  And as I'm apparently unable to change myself, I've (again) asked God for help.  

Which is why I'm meditating on two words over Lent, from the sixth chapter of the book of Micah:

LOVE MERCY.

Love mercy when Ephraim has dumped chocolate milk on the floor I just finished cleaning.
Love mercy when Isaac decides he needs the cars with which his three-year-old brother is playing and the sounds of toddler outrage fill the house.
Love mercy when Finn gets upset at me and locks down into eye-rolling and sullen disrespect.
Love mercy when Matt gets home late from work (definitely still need help on that one).
Love mercy when the boys have, yet again, dawdled their way into a late departure for school in the morning.
Love mercy when I'm tired, there's two days' worth of dishes to do, and the house is being systematically trashed all around me by the energetic play that comes with having three boys.
Love mercy.
Love mercy.
Love mercy.