Thursday, February 11, 2016

Preparing Our Home for Lent

   I am a nester.  Thus the name of the blog.  I absolutely love fussing around the house, experimenting with different ways to arrange furniture, new combinations of decorations, adding seasonal touches here and there, just generally making things a little bit special for my family and myself.  It brings me great joy to feel like I have done my best to make my home welcoming and pleasant for anyone who may dwell here.  When I began observing Lent a few years ago, my first question (after I nailed down the fundamentals) was "How do you decorate for Lent?  Is that even allowed?"

   The liturgical color for the season of Lent is purple.  Traditionally, purple is used in the church during seasons of preparation and repentance, so it is also the color of the Advent season.  Okay, I can decorate with purple.  Now what?  Because Lent isn't really a celebratory time, per se, I didn't feel that elaborate decorations were entirely appropriate.  The almighty Pinterest showed lots of people incorporating elements of nature like tree branches without leaves that were sort of symbolic of a waiting for new life, crosses draped with purple fabric, and other items that remind us of Christ's sacrifice.  I hunted through what I had on hand, and here's what I came up with:

   This small dresser is immediately in front of our front door, in the living room.  You have to walk past it to get to almost every room of the house.  That seemed like a good place to set up a small vignette.  I usually decorate with my seasonal items here, so it was a natural choice for Lent as well.  I wanted to keep things simple, in the spirit of the season, but obvious enough to remind even a three year old what this season is about.  

   I started with a natural fiber table runner to ground everything.  It has nice texture for the decorator in me, but the color and roughness of the material lends to the feeling of dry, solemn, needing new life.  I don't have a cross figurine, but I do have this really pretty cross framed art that I draped in some purple fabric.

   I added this hurricane candle holder because lighting a candle always feels spiritual and anticipatory to me.  The candle is sitting in whole coffee beans that I reserve for this purpose (we aren't coffee drinkers). When lit, the heat from the candle makes the hazelnut beans smell great.  I tried to DIY a crown of thorns from a small grapevine wreath and toothpicks.  I must have done alright because Abby Kate instantly recognized it as "the wreath that hurt Jesus."  My favorite decoration, though, and a new element for us this year, is our purple prayer chain.  

   I want to be intentional about incorporating prayer into our Lenten season, as well as a sense of expectation and waiting for Resurrection Sunday.  This was another Pinterest idea, so please don't marvel at my creativity.  I used some purple construction paper to make the chain, and on each link is written the name of a person or concept we will pray for specifically that day, for example, our pastor, neighbors, policemen, family members, and countries that our family is involved with mission work.  

   Each morning we take a link off the chain to discuss and pray.  Not only do we have a reminder of the day's prayer focus, but as the chain grows shorter, we are aware of the nearing Resurrection Celebration!  It took almost no time to assemble, and Abby Kate thought it was super fun to get the link for the day.  If making paper chains is all it takes to get my child invested in the things of the Lord, sign me up.  

   Clearly, Lenten decorations are NOT something that is required to observe or benefit from Lent.  It's just something that I enjoy doing, and I've been surprised and pleased with how seeing our vignette refocuses my mind and reminds me to pray.  Colossians 3:1 urges us to set our minds on things above, and my simple decorations help this visual learner to do just that.  

   Do you have an area that guides your heart back to Christ?  Are there any special reminders you use to set your mind on the things of God?

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