Lent Resources

Ash Wednesday is coming up on March 1, which is just a week away!

I’ve been very much enjoying Word and Table, a podcast about liturgy, sacrament, and the great tradition of Christian worship, which also means that I’m continually wiping tears from my eyes while folding laundry, washing dishes, and making lunches for the little people in our home.  I recently listened to an episode about the Church Calendar, which was fantastic. Historically, Lent was the time that new believers would practice spiritual disciplines in preparation for baptism on Easter Sunday.  They would also learn The Lord’s Prayer and the Creed during this time. A really beautiful thing I only recently learned is that this was something that the entire church would intentionally join them in.  This just makes me love Lent even more.  What a beautiful picture of what Jesus has done for us, what it means to be the body of Christ.

Maybe, like it did for me, reading or remembering this reinvigorates your desire to observe Lent as a family.  Maybe it helps to guide you into the areas you specifically want to focus on.  Maybe you’ve never celebrated Lent before, but you’re going to go ahead and give it a try.  Friend, I encourage you to prayerfully consider how the Lord would have your family observe this season of penitence and preparation as we look forward to Holy Week and Easter.  And, because this is a part of my job now (AMAZING!), I have roped together some resources and some ideas and I’m passing them on to you, with a note of caution:

If you’re anything like me, this can get overwhelming.  There are a fair number of wonderful ideas and practices your family could take up during the Lenten season.  I encourage you (and myself) to be cautious.  Pray. Carefully decide what direction you will take with Lent and choose a few things that serve the purpose of continually directing your heart toward Jesus. These practices are no good to us if they don’t stir in us a grief about and hatred for our sin and raise our gaze to Christ.  So, whatever you choose to do, do it in joy and in freedom that the purpose of our fasting and our praying and our giving is to feel the ache of our brokenness, our deep need for a Savior and to lift our eyes to his beautiful face.
Books for Children
Peter’s First Easter– Walter Wangerin Jr.
Amon’s Adventure: A Family Story for Easter Arnold Ytreeide *We haven’t read this one, but it comes highly recommended and is a book you can read throughout Lent, finishing on EasterSunday. Probably best for ages 7/8 and up.


Books for Adults or Families with Older Children 
Reliving the Passion– Walter Wangerin Jr.
Bread & Wine: Readings for Lent & Easter– Various including Lewis, L’Engle, Nouwen, Chesterton, etc.
Living the Resurrection– Eugene Peterson (an excellent read during holy week!)
The Good of Giving Up: Discovering the Freedom of Lent- Fr. Aaron Damiani *I haven’t had the chance to read this one yet, but we’ll be reading it this year. It is written by a priest in our diocese, and it’s been suggested to us by a few of our friends from his parish.  Includes a section on celebrating Lent with children.


Here’s a Spotify Playlist  of songs for Lent.


Family Worship: Lent is a good time to establish a family routine of prayer and scripture reading together or to continue in an already established routine.  Perhaps you would like to try to learn the Apostle’s Creed or the Lord’s Prayer together.  Consider using a resource to walk through the stations of the cross, following the revised common lectionary readings, or using a Lenten Liturgy
Commit to pray together each day, give special attention to repentance and to praying for the least of these.  Perhaps your family would like to choose a specific group of people to pray for during the season (see more about this in the “almsgiving” section).


Prayer Chain: Create a paper chain with 40 links– You can write names of people on them, things your family is praying for, or scripture passages. Each day take one of the links off during family devotional time and pray for the person or issue on the link.

Prayer Station: Create a prayer station in your home. This can be as simple as a chair with a purple cloth or piece of construction paper taped to it, or you can choose to include a small tray or basket filled with items such as: a children’s Bible, prayer book, small pad of paper and crayons or markers, pictures to color or printed Bible verse cards, brave parents of older children could include a candle (or a battery powered one!).  Ann Voskamp has a beautiful piece about how they use a station like this in their home.


Many families choose to give something up for Lent– this may be a meal once a week, treats, television, etc.  It is important that no matter what you choose to give up, you explain to your children the reasons we are doing this– to join Christ in his sufferings and to lift our eyes to him. It can help to think of and talk about Advent and Lent as the similar seasons that they are– we are fasting before we feast.  In Advent, we are consciously waiting for the coming Christ, and in Lent, we are actively paying attention to how sinful and empty we are without the risen Christ. Disciplines and practices that we take on during these seasons of waiting (Advent) and penitence (Lent) should always serve to direct our hearts towards Jesus.  

Burying the Alleluia: This hands-on activity can help children understand Lent as a time to mourn and repent of our sin.  Together make alleluia banners– these can be as simple as markers or watercolors on large pieces of paper or as complicated as fabric banners sewn together– the important thing is that this activity can be done together and can provide an opportunity to talk about alleluia– what it means and why we say it, and to discuss why we won’t be saying it in our services during Lent. Together, either on the last Sunday before Ash Wednesday or on Shrove Tuesday, bury the Alleluia banner, either in a box outside or in a closet in your house, in your basement, etc.  Then on Easter morning, get it back out and display it in your house throughout the Easter season.

Sundays are Feast Days: Lent is 40 days plus Sundays. Sundays are always feast days.  Decide together whether you will continue your fast through the Sundays or whether you will choose to feast on the Sundays: if you choose to eat simple meals during Lent, for example, perhaps you would have pancake breakfast on Sundays.

The third spiritual discipline observed during Lent is almsgiving. It can be beneficial to focus on a specific group of people for the entire season, to learn about them and to commit to pray for them.  Some examples include: refugees, the unborn, children in poverty, people in the 10/40 window, orphans, foster children, etc. There are many tangible things that your family could do in addition to monetary donation during Lent to support ministries and organizations that are dedicated to these populations and bountiful resources online to help your family learn about them and pray for them.

Gift Jar: Throughout Lent, place money in a jar to give as a gift on Easter.  Together as a family decide where that money should go.  Some families choose to eat simple meals and put all the money saved in this jar, other families agree to put a portion of any money they receive as gifts in the jar– talk together about how you will give sacrificially during Lent.

40 bags/items in 40 daysGo through your home and collect things that you no longer need (one bag/item each day) and either donate them, or sell them and add the money to your giving jar.

I hope that these resources are helpful to you as you prepare to enter into this season with your family.  If you are interested in more resources, I will be adding ideas and suggestions to this Lent Pinterest Page throughout the rest of the week, so please check that out if you are looking for more ideas.

Maybe this is old news to you, or you have practices your family has treasured practices for celebrating Lent.  I’d love to hear about them!

chart and compass come from thee…

I take the stairs up to our apartment two at a time, trying to shake the cold off and keep from annoying our downstairs neighbors at the same time. I shut the door behind me and the first few notes of that song come greet me like an old friend.

“Jesus, Savior Pilot me…” 

Words I first heard during college, in a little church I fondly remember. How the carpet and the chairs were deep red, reminiscent of the eucharist; how familiar words of blessing would be passed every Sunday morning: The peace of Christ be with you… And also with you; how it was in that place that I learned how to look for and to listen to Jesus in the rhythms of my life.

How very different my life is now than it was when I excitedly made the pilgrimage every Sunday to a place where knowing Jesus wasn’t just something we talked about, but something we practiced. My husband is sitting on the couch with my daughter and they are listening to those same words, that same song.  Her sister is, for now, asleep in her bed. I sink onto the mustardy velour of our vintage couch and my head finds his shoulder. And it might as well be made of kleenex for all the times his shirt has caught my tears. This time is no different. They’re pooling, puddling right there on his shoulder and I’m starting to resemble a raccoon.

“As a mother stills her child

You can hush the oceans wild

Boisterous waves obey thy will

When you say to them, ‘Be still.’

Wondrous Sovereign of the seas, 

Jesus, Savior Pilot me.”

Those old and comforting words, much older than my experience with them. Still the same as ever they were. An imperfect but helpful picture of the way our Jesus is. These words carry with them memories of frenzied prayers and anxious nights and the peace that comes from trusting. Tonight, their meaning expands for me.  For tonight I have rocked and cuddled, nursed and carried a child in an effort to still her. Patiently, tenderly, holding her close to me so that she knows she is safe, inviting her to give up the struggle and rest. Her eyes open, search, find my face and close again immediately, a serene smile briefly graces her sweet face. She knows me. She knows the safety and comfort of my love, my arms. And I am so imperfect, so frequently impatient and distracted. And yet, he is so constant.

He doesn’t struggle to calm the storms, and his arms aren’t too short to save. He doesn’t mean for me to attempt to navigate hard and ugly and exhausting circumstances on my own. He offers, he expects, to direct me, to carry me, to pilot me. He invites me to surrender. To give up the struggle and lean into the comfort, the peace found in submission.

Oh how very different my life is now. How very much the same my Jesus is. How much older I feel. How much more deeply I feel my need for him.

“Chart and compass come from thee,

Wondrous Sovereign of the Seas,

May I hear you say to me…

Jesus, Savior Pilot me.”


an album review and a giveaway


It’s no secret how much I love folk-pop duo Jenny & Tyler.  This isn’t my first blog post about them, and I’m sure it won’t be my last.  Since I started following Jenny & Tyler’s career during my sophomore year of college, I have been amazed with each new album they release.  This is why I am so excited to share with you that their new EP, For Freedom will drop on 11/12/13, and you do not want to miss it.  For Freedom is a covers EP that Jenny & Tyler have created to support organizations that fight human trafficking.  That’s right. 100% of the proceeds from the sales of this album will go directly to the fight for human freedom and dignity. 

Aside from its great purpose, For Freedom is a fantastic album.  With covers of songs by U2, Coldplay, Louis Armstrong, and The Postal Service, you’re bound to love at least one of the tracks on this album and to find yourself singing along with most of them.  Jenny & Tyler have picked songs that shaped them as artists, and they pay tribute to them in a fun, unique, and musically interesting way.  From the guest vocalists peppered throughout the album to the virtual choir of over 300 voices, this album is a fun and engaging listen from beginning to end.

My favorite track on the album is We Will Become Silhouettes, originally by The Postal Service.  I found myself listening to this one over and over from the first time I listened through.  It’s faithful to the original but feels fresh with Jenny & Tyler’s unique perspective– basically what every good cover should be.  David’s favorite is Simon & Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence.  They released this song about a year ago, and it quickly climbed the singer-songwriter charts on iTunes.  It’s haunting and beautiful, and it includes Jenny’s excellent clarinet skills.  A few other tracks worth mentioning are their cover of Dreams, my favorite Cranberries song–perfect for loud driving sing-alongs; What a Wonderful World, with a special appearance by their sweet baby, Jane, and I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, the track that features both Sara Groves and the virtual choir (is it fair to say I sang with Sara Groves?).

I think I’ve mentioned almost all the tracks, but while you wait with bated breath for the 11/12/13 release date, you can check out Jenny & Tyler’s website for the full track list and for explanations of why they chose the songs they did.

Also, I love this album so much I’ve decided to give a copy away to one of you– as a thank you for taking time to show up here on occasion, because I believe in what Jenny & Tyler are doing with this album, and also because it’s just so dang fun to sing along to.  So, first, scroll up and make sure you’re following this blog, then follow this link (a Rafflecopter giveaway) to enter to win a copy of Jenny & Tyler’s For Freedom EP.

This contest is only open to residents of the US and Canada.  Contest runs 10/30/13-11/4/13.  Winner will be notified via email within 48 hours of the contest end.  If the winner does not claim prize within 24 hours, a second winner will be chosen.  Questions should be directed to lindsey.writes.words(at)gmail(dot)com. This contest is sponsored by me. 

Broken and Grateful

This post is the first in a ten week series called Ten Weeks of Tuesdays If you’re participating, share a link to your post in the comments. 

I recently bought one of those mirror things you mount in your backseat so that you can see your sweet baby’s face in your rearview mirror while you’re driving.  And today, I was driving and thinking. And obviously listening to music.  At a stoplight, my eyes wandered to that rearview mirror and misted over.

“I can’t help but reflect on what it was I almost lost
What it was I wanted, what I got instead
Leaves me broken and grateful”*

I almost feel like I don’t even need to add any more to this post.  Anyone who has read more than one of my blog posts probably knows what happened to me after I finished college. What happened to my dreams and my plans for myself. And I bet some of you are ready to shut off your computer and say, “just get over it.”

But I tried to.

I can’t.

And I don’t want to.

I don’t ever want to forget how I made what was supposed to be service and obedience and mission an idol to my pride.

I don’t want to forget how it hurt to have that deep love for and devotion to something other than Jesus ripped from my heart.

I don’t want to forget how dark it was when my eyes were focused on my pride, and how bright Jesus was when he finally, finally revealed himself.

I always want to remember how, right there, in the middle of my pride and confusion and sadness. Right while I was struggling and crying and praying, Jesus finally answered. When the time was ripe. Just how he wanted to.

I want to remember that it wasn’t in line with my plan.

It didn’t make financial sense, success-oriented life sense, human sense. But it was just what Jesus wanted.

I don’t ever want to forget the joy of living in the good of God’s great gifts. How he heals, protects, provides, and strengthens, even when we have no. idea. where we are going.

I don’t ever want to forget how he turned my wailing into dancing.

I don’t ever want to forget the way that He taught me. So gently, so patiently, so faithfully. That he is good and he is holy and he is enough.

I’m not talking about living in the past. I’m talking about living in the fullness of the faithfulness of God. Every time I look at my daughter, I’m reminded of God’s grace, his faithful discipline, and his great love.  I don’t ever want to slip into thinking that this is commonplace, that I somehow deserved this.

We talk a lot about how God can heal our brokenness. But there are at least a few places in the Bible where things were broken for good. Jesus’ body, for one example.

I don’t want to be afraid of living broken.

“I want to be broken, peaceful, faithful, grateful, grateful”*

*what I thought I wanted, Sara Groves

Favorite Things… Friday?

Ok, so I realize it’s Saturday, but I’m the boss around here, right? I meant to have this done on Saturday, then Sunday, then Monday.   But, well, I have a six month old.  Well, now it’s Tuesday, but, like I said, this is my blog and I can do what I want, right?

This week I…

Read this. post. and cried, obviously: “I’m not telling you to not look at women. Just the opposite. I’m telling you to see women. Really see them. Not just with your eyes, but with your heart.” 

Drooled over these, but ate this instead. Purely because it was easier, and I was crafting, people. It was good, but not as delicious as the cheesecake bars, I’m sure.

Sewed these for Ellie Jo’s crib.

Came across this awesome idea at this wonderful adoption blog.

Have been listening to this.

And watched waaaay too many episodes of Parks and Rec.

Favorite Things Friday

This afternoon, while I was sitting in my cube, eating a strawberry, I decided that I would start something called “Favorite Things Friday.”  I’ve just made it up, so I get to include whatever favorite thing I’m enjoying at the time.  Music. Books. Recipes. Hair Products. Kitchen Appliances. Etc. I can think of no better way to kick off Favorite Things Friday than with some FREE MUSIC by a duo that is very close to my heart.

Meet Jenny & Tyler

I started listening to Jenny & Tyler about 2 years ago.  They agreed to come play a few shows at our college, and I fell in love with them and their music.  Over the last two years they have not only been a favorite band, but they have also become friends.  Em and I recently had the chance to hang out with them in Nashville.  Soon, they will be releasing a new album, and rumor is it’s going to be WONDERFUL.  In anticipation of this release, they’re GIVING AWAY their most recent album, Faint Not and it is PURE. GOLD.  You can get their CD at this link: http://bit.ly/wpvPx5.

In addition to that, they’ve covered Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence,” and it’s available on iTunes. This cover is also PURE GOLD, and all proceeds go to fight human trafficking. you can get “The Sound of Silence” here: http://bit.ly/xLV8X4.

As long as I’m going link crazy, you can check out their website here: http://jennyandtylermusic.com.

Go treat yourself to some honest, refreshing, encouraging music written by two godly, passionate people. Go. Treat Yourself. Thank me later.

Happy Favorite Things Friday.