Thursday, February 14, 2013

Beginning Lent

Today was Ash Wednesday.  So we did a little fasting, and spent the time with our journals.  We wrote our sins on slips of paper.  You know, the big ones that we struggle with every day, as well as some of the things that crop up throughout the day.  We put them in the repentance box.  We'll add to it as we're convicted.  Perhaps having to add to the box will cause some pausing before unkindness and selfishness are displayed.  Maybe we'll remember the price for those sins. On Good Friday, we'll burn them, and the cost of our redemption will be visible and grace will look extravagant.

But today we began this journey of small changes and more contemplation.  The season that gives us a chance to change to be more like Jesus.  Not that we don't have it every day, but this is a season to intentionally bring things back into balance.  To slow down.  To pray more.

We wrote three columns in our journals.  Pray - Fast - Give.  We wrote down things to pray for in our time that we have freed up by fasting from food or excesses or distractions.  We wrote down what we intend to give up, as well as the more profitable thing with which we plan to replace it.  New habits.  We tried to think of ways to share what God has given us.

Then we laughed.  Because Rose is crazy.  And she decided to give up being crazy for Lent.  I told her how I didn't see how that would work.  But she made her eyes big and wild, and rattled her head around with a great noise, and said that that was the kind of crazy she was giving up.  The extreme crazy things that she does from time to time.  And after that demonstration, we agreed that, perhaps, it was a very good idea after all.  Then I asked what she thought we could give, and she said, "food to the poor!"  I told her that she needed to be more specific.  So she reminded me of the homeless man that often hangs out near a local Walmart and told me that we need to get him some Little Ceasars.  She'd apparently remembered from years ago, when we had nothing else to offer and had gotten him something there.

So today Rose is giving up being crazy for Lent.  And she intends to give "pizza to the poor!"  We'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Our special place

We found Shelter 6 when we couldn't get Shelter 3 for Bella's birthday.  I thought it was kind of sad.  I had planned a Dora the Explorer birthday.  The cupcakes were the right colors and the decorations were in theme.  But the scavenger hunt and activities were not needed and left undone.  Because, it turned out that Shelter 6 is right beside a wide, shallow creek.  We didn't know it was there.  And there's an open grassy area, and a rest room, and a drinking fountain.  And even a cool hollow with large tree roots and hanging vines - a natural fort.  In short, everything children need to be perfectly happy.

Later, we discovered that the trail just across from the shelter was an easy walk to another lovely part of the creek with stairs for access, and just up from that, an old waterworks that looks like a castle, with a waterfall dam, and above that a pristine mountain lake.  Our new favorite walk.

We met friends there.  We take hot dogs in the crockpot.  We make fires in the shelter fireplace and make smores.  We bring hot tea and cocoa.

Last night, we decided to try a rainy day at the shelter.  I even thought maybe we'd try Shelter 3 again to shake it up a little.  But Shelter 6 is our shelter now.  The children insisted on it.  The floors of the shelters were all wet.  I hadn't expected that.  And we hadn't managed to set aside wood in a dry place, so there was no fire, but it was a mild day.  So we brought bags of freshly popped microwave popcorn and a thermos of hot green tea.  We talked and the children played Pokemon cards at the table and even tested out the creek (yes, it was my idea, but they only got their feet wet ;) .  And we breathed in fresh woodsy air.  Then we finished off with a couple of rounds of Crazy Eights.  It was a lovely way to spend an hour and a half just before dark on a wet day.  

We can't wait to do it again.