Giving for Others with Love: Keeping LOVE in LENT

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“I’m participating in the Keeping LOVE in LENT Blog Link-Up 2013, hosted by Raising (& Teaching) Little Saints, Truly Rich Mom and Arma Dei: Equipping Catholic Families. We’ll be sharing different ways, tips, stories and real-life experiences that will help us focus on Lenten sacrifices, prayer and good deeds, and how to carry them out with LOVE instead of a GRUMBLE. Please scroll down to the end of the post to see the list of link-up entries.”

Last year, Punkin’ was 3 years old and when Lent began, so did the questions.  As she stared intently at an image of the crucifixion that’s part of our parish’s Stations of the Cross, she asked, “‘Cause why He’s up on that thing?”  And when I watched a History Channel program that used the Shroud of Turin to generate a computer graphic of Christ after death, her jaw dropped and she exclaimed, “What?!” and ran from the room.  She ran back a few moments later and asked, “Where’s that Jesus?” so I’m pretty sure she wasn’t scarred. :)  But her questions always highlighted a question of my own: how to explain Lent and its purpose in preparation for Easter?  And so, when I found a similar message to the one below online last year, it jumped out as a motto to help our family emphasize giving for others and keeping love in Lent:

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Our Lenten activity calendar (“40 Days of Good Deeds”) is a help in keeping us focused daily on giving more for others.   In a few weeks, our calender will have us reread Have You Filled a Bucket Today?

This book was written by Carol McCloud, who lives in a smallish Michigan town where I was once a children’s librarian.  Its concept is easy for all ages to grasp: we fill our own imaginary buckets by giving love and help to others, and full buckets make us feel wonderful.  (We also deplete our buckets by being selfish, rude, and hurtful.)  There’s an entire web site devoted to this book’s idea, as well, that offers lots of resources.  It’s a preschool-friendly reminder that when we sacrifice for others, our happiness and contentment grow.  Other activities from our calendar (sending thank you notes, scooping the cat litter, praying for the poor and vulnerable), hopefully, will also keep us centered on giving but also giving with love.

This afternoon, we put together hospitality packs for our local Catholic Family Center.  These are bags of toiletries that are distributed to the homeless in local shelters.

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While we shopped for these supplies, we talked about the kinds of people who would receive them: ordinary people like us, kids like her, moms and dads.  And as we put the bags together today, she spied a purple toothbrush and declared her love and need for it.  I pointed out that she has a toothbrush and this purple one would go to someone who doesn’t have one.  As with any four-year-old, she wasn’t immediately impressed.  But just a few moments later, she carefully discerned which bag should be the lucky recipient of the purple toothbrush and gave a big grin when she settled on one.  Giving can be hard — but giving with love can make us feel great.

How do you keep kids focused on joyful giving?  My great thanks in advance for whatever advice or ideas you want to share!

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Check out the Lent reflections participating in the Keep LOVE in LENT Blog Link-Up 2013! We’ll be sharing different ways, tips, stories and real-life experiences that will help us focus on Lenten sacrifices, prayer and good deeds, and how to carry them out with LOVE instead of a GRUMBLE.

Discover new Catholic Blogs to follow!

 

Equipping CatholicFamilies: Keep LOVE in LENT

Call Her Happy:40 Simple Lenten Activities for Kids

Lenten Love: Little Acts of Love

Building Rocks

Grow the Roses: Keep Love in Lent

Family At The Foot Of The Cross: Loving Service

Catholic Homeschooling Joy: A Lenten Activity

JOY:Keep the Love in Lent

Twenty Tuesday Afternoons: Tuesday # 11: Pancake Tuesday / Keeping Love in Lent

Campfires and Cleats: Why a Failing Lent Really Isn’t

Harrington Harmonies: Make a Lenten Holy Hour

A Mommy of Three:Good Deeds for Lent

Loving the Semi Country Life: Lent:special time to reflect and keep the love in lent

Written By the Finger of God: A 7 Step Lenten Plan

Mommy Bares All: Giving Up and Making Space for Love this Lent

The Irish Lassie Shop: Seek God Everywhere

Hand-Maid with Love: Living Lent, Loving Lent

Words On Heaven: IN THE DESERT FOR 40 DAYS

On The Way Home: Keeping LOVE in Lent

Homeschooling with Joy: Keep Love in Lent

Mountain Grace: Keep Love in Lent

Eyes On Heaven: I am Choosing to Live

Joy Alive in Our Hearts:”God’s Love at Work”

Life of Fortunate Chances: Love is Fun: Keeping Love in Lent

Fifth of Five: Keep the LOVE in Lent

I Blog Jesus: for Praying our Loud!

Overflow: Loving Lent with Little Ones

This Cross I Embrace: Keep LOVE In Lent

Sole Searching Mamma: 15 Ways to Experience a More Meaningful Lent

Catholic All Year: My Biggest Lent Fails and How I Learned Mortification…

Four Little Ones: Keeping Love in Lent

Gaels Crafty Treasures Keeping Love in Lent

Bear Wrongs Patiently: Lent for the Scrupulous

Rosary Mom: Keeping Love in Lent

LoveLetters 7.10: Teacups {Keeping the Love in Lent}

Little Saints in the Making: Keep Love in Lent

Blessed with Full Hands: Keeping love in Lent- Praise Him

Normal Chaos: Our Own Personalized Lenten Journey

These Little Blessings: Gifting Love this Lent

The Cajun Catholic: The our Father; a lenten reflection

Truly Rich Mom: Keeping Love in Lent… Even When It Is Difficult

GATHERING GRACES:Keeping LOVE in LENT

SaIsa Pang Sulyap – Fullness Of His Love

LiturgicalTime: Keeping Love in Lent – Finding Balance

Grace Loves Iggy: love in lent

Sacred Oysters: Empty (Keeping LOVE in LENT)

Tercets:Make Heart Rosary Decades to Pray for Others

The Diary of a Sower: Our Lenten Prayer Tree

Homegrown Catholics: Motivated by my childrens’ activities {Lent}

MyBroken Fiat: Keeping Love in Lent… Barely

Journey to Wisdom: Keeping Love in Lent: Bands of Love

Softening My Heart: An Anniversary Lesson duringLent

 

Author: Regina

I’m a Roman Catholic mom with a family that includes my loving and much-loved husband, three-year-old Punkin', and a wee one on the way. We are blessed! We're inspired by the Magisterium's social teachings, and this blog is meant to flesh out and share our attempts at incorporating these values into our family life as often as possible.

40 Comments

  1. Regina, Love the little story about the purple toothbrush. Such a sweet little reminder for us to thing outside ourselves and focus on others. Lovely activity that you did with your kids.

  2. Pingback: I am Choosing to Live « EyesOnHeaven

  3. Pingback: Keeping Love in Lent… Even When It Is Difficult | Truly Rich Mom

  4. Pingback: IN THE DESERT FOR 40 DAYS « WordsOnHeaven

  5. Pingback: Keep the Love in Lent « JOY

  6. Isn’t amazing how curious the kids are and how anxious they are to learn? This reminds me that I read about a new bible miniseries starting on the History Channel in March. I plan on watching with the kids and hoping they always are curious.

    • Ooo, really? Going to set my TiVo for that one! And you’re so right — the curiosity of kids is infectious. I too hope mine will always be curious. Good Lent to you!

  7. Pingback: Keep Love in Lent | Mountain Grace

  8. She’s not the only one who finds it hard to give something when you really want it! :)

    She’s adorable – thanks for sharing this.

    • Aw, thanks, Amy! For her it’s a toothbrush — for me… Well, the things I want might be bigger or grander but the message of giving up and giving away is one size fits all. Have a blessed Lent!

  9. I love the bucket books and use them at the start of every year. I had been thinking I should get them out this season, too…. I also love your motto of not giving up, but giving more. Beautiful!

    • Neat, Martianne! Children’s books are my first go-to whenever I’m trying to explain anything new to my daughter. And wow! I seriously haven’t read the other bucket books! Thanks so much for using the plural — must check my library! :)

  10. Pingback: Good Deeds for Lent | amommyofthree

  11. Pingback: Lenten Love: Little Acts of Love - Mommy Ginger

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  13. Hi Regina, what a lovely and sweet daughter you are raising! You’re instilling sacrifice and love for others at her young age, that it should come easier and easier as she grows up! Love that she picked the right bag to place the purple toothbrush! Your story brought a smile to my face :) I also saw your book recommendation and placed a hold on it at my library.

    Interesting question at the end. Giving is one thing but “joyful” giving is a whole other thing. It’s tough for kids as well as adults, to be joyful at giving unless they’re focus is on Jesus. And really, it’s all God’s anyways, right? It’s by His Grace that He’s allowing us to use these items in the first place.

    I once posted a question a long time ago, that we are called to unselfishly serve and help others but then, why at a very young age, do we covet things? Little children with their claims “that’s mine!” or babies crying when we take away something they want. It seems were born with the instinct to covet yet it’s counter intuitive to what God calls us to do! Just an observation :)

    Looking forward to reading about your Social Justice work!

    May your Lenten Journey be filled with God’s love and blessings!

    • “It seems were born with the instinct to covet yet it’s counter intuitive to what God calls us to do!” Yes, free will is HARD! :) Thankfully, each new day offers another chance for me to put aside stupid, meaningless desires in favor of a greater good. Let me know if you wind up enjoying Have You Filled a Bucket Today? Blessings to you and your family this Lent!

  14. Your daughter is darling! “Cause why He’s up on that thing?” :)

    That banner is so beautiful – don’t just give up, give more. Thank you for sharing that. God bless you!

  15. Pingback: KEEP LOVE IN LENT “Follow Frenzy”: GROUP 1 « JOY

  16. Hi Regina! :) Thanks for this post — a great reminder for us to give joyfully this Lent, and to teach our kids to do so, too! :) We try to teach our kids to share their blessings with others in small ways, but I think your ideas are a great, concrete way to do so! :) Thanks for adding me to your blogroll, too — I have yet to come up with my own list, since I just moved to WP and am still fixing my blog little by little! :)

    Thank you, too, for joining the link-up! God bless you and yours always! :)

  17. I really like the 40 days of good deeds; I’ll be trying that next year (or maybe sooner)! I have enjoyed perusing your blog and am intrigued by the bookmarks and the posts on social teachings. I am following you now and look forward to reading more.

  18. Thank you so much for including the book, “Have You Filled Your Bucket Today?” We are huge readers around here, and I love to find stories that can be related to the spiritual life, but aren’t overtly religious – we call them “naturally virtuous” stories. Have a blessed Lent!!

  19. Adding the book to my list for my 4.5 year old. :) We’re going to get a bunch of baby supplies and deliver them to our local crisis pregnancy center. I want to help my kids make the connection that “the kids who don’t have anything” or the “mommies who are scared” do exist.

    • That’s awesome, Kim! Wow, you’ve got me thinking — we have an Elizabeth Ministry through our parish and I bet they need some things. Hmm… Thanks for the idea!

  20. This might seem really ridiculous. I’m almost ashamed to admit it, but… I actually teared up a bit when you explained how you were putting together the little packages for others with your daughter, explaining that they were regular families just like you.

    It made me realize how selfish and thoughtless I can sometimes be. I want to make these care packages up now, too, because it’s a perfect way to remind myself (and my son!) that Lent is a time to redirect thoughts away from “me me me” to others. We are here to serve, and we cannot serve unless we first think of others whom we can serve.

    I sincerely cannot thank you enough for this post. It was like an arrow to my heart.

    <3

    Have a blessed Lent.

    • That’s definitely not shameful or ridiculous, Gina — it’s awesome that we can help each other as parents! I’m keeping you and your family in my prayers this Lent. <3

  21. I had a similar experience with my kids, choosing toys to give away. Once they realized that these toys would go to children who didn’t have ANY, they started getting VERY GENEROUS. So much so that I had to bite my tongue a bit. They were giving away things *I* wanted them to have. But then we actually got to go to the day care in Tijuana run by the Missionaries of Charity. My kids got to feed the babies lunch and play with kids their own age and see who would get to play with their toys. It was an amazing experience. We’ve done it twice now, and our playroom is starting to look like its time for another trip. It’s always so wonderful to see how nasally generous children really CAN be.

    • Wow, that’s awesome! Having an in-the-flesh presence with neighbors who are less fortunate is a wonderful way to open some eyes. You’re making me think of ways in which I can do that, too — thank you, thank you!

  22. I love how you’re teaching your daughter to give. Beautiful Lenten practices…and awesome pictures to show them! Thanks for sharing!

  23. oh your daughter sounds so cute!!! i can’t wait until my kids start talking. my daughter is two but she prefers american sign language -_-

    • Haha! That’s great, Grace — we did some sign language with my oldest when she was a baby and then she learned to talk…and hasn’t stopped since. :) BTW, if I didn’t mention this on your site, I love it!

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