It is one of the most JOYOUS and SACRED times for our family–and we use the Lent tree to huddle in close…await with expectation…and fill our hearts with a new sense of hope as we look through the crowds in a busy culture for the risen King.
For those of you wanting to join me in creating a Lent tradition, I have created downloadable ornaments with scripture references so that you can walk your children through Lent year after year. We have 6 children in our home—different ages, different learning styles, different histories whether they came to our family biologically or adoption—and this has brought us together as a family year after year. Our children hear the word “Lent” and they know what this season brings for us as family…devotionals by the rocking chair upstairs, each child taking turns putting an ornament on the tree and that quiet Saturday—where there is no ornament as we wait and wonder after Good Friday. But Sunday comes—and if there is anything sweeter in our home than Christmas morning—it is this!
We have celebrated Lent in our family for over a decade now, and I’m so thankful we started when they were little. If your have teens, let me encourage you—this is just as sweet for the teen years too. You can dig into the stories deeper together—ask them to read the scriptures before gathering as a family—and let them take turns sharing how that scripture on the ornament shines Jesus, foreshadows what is to come and how we can all apply this in our own lives.
For this activity you can simply use the predesigned paper ornaments at first (or always if you love them!) We actually started with real ornaments, and I spent several weeks gathering miniature treasures to represent each Bible story. This took a lot of energy and time—and something I would recommend you doing over the years if and when you need to add a little something different or change things up for your Lent devotional time. God might even speak you as you read a particular scripture and bring a different treasure to make into an ornament to mind.
I have a simple PDF file you can print off, laminate if you wish, add a little string to and you will quickly have ornaments for the Lent season.
EACH day you will have a scripture reading with each ornament. When your children are little–I encourage you to read the scripture before hand and then retell it so they can grasp it according to their age level. As they grow older, they will be able to sit through the entire chapter (or chapters) of reading, and each year you will be amazed at the nuggets the Holy Spirit gives them through each day’s reading.
This year I am putting my “ornaments” on a wooden board (I bought at Walmart in the craft section)–but in the past I’ve put string on them and hung them on branches in a vase for our Lent Tree. I’m just going for something that can be on the wall far from littles pulling it down this year;)
If you decide to use real ornaments and treasures you find one day instead of these printed ones, I have created tags for shipping labels to go on zip lock bags to help you organize, store and easily find the one you need each day through the seasons. All the work has been done FOR YOU as far as the labels go! 10 per sheet 2 in x 4 in. (I bought Office Max’s offbrand and it matches the download template of Avery 8163). But as long as you purchase the 2″x4″ with 10 on a sheet—this should work! Lent-Day 1-10 Labels, Lent-Day 11-20 Labels, Lent-Day 21-30 Labels, Lent-Day 31-40 Labels, HEisALIVE Day 41-42 Labels
Many years I just put sticks in a planter. I would have the kids pick up sticks and we would make a “tree” with them–and talk about how this Lent journey together would be about bringing dead things to life…giving new life and finding the One who gives us the abundant life…
I followed the instructions found in Carol Brazo’s book “No Ordinary Home: The Uncommon Art of Christ-Centered Homemaking” which by the way is a must have in any mommy’s library! Carol Brazo walks you through how to beautifully celebrate the final week of Lent leading up to Holy Week with your children—and this is SURE to be a memory they will forever hold dear in their hearts as they encounter the Savior this powerful week in an amazing way. My favorite is one of her explanations of how she celebrates Easter Sunday…
“Every Easter Sunday I am the first one up. Mark, like the disciples before him, hears those magical words, “He is risen” from the mouth of a woman. The little girls are awakened by their mama’s cries of joy, “He is risen!” and they in turn wake up their brother. Those first words belong to women. They are our gift and our heritage. And every year, as I hear women cry out their joy, a place deep inside me, inside the female part of me, is resurrected and brought to nerve-tingling life. He is risen! He is risen! Wake up and rejoice!”
And so it begins…
On the FIRST day of Lent–you will read the Bible story to your children and your littles will take turns putting the ornaments up on the tree each night. The first ornament: a teeny, tiny mustard seed. Your first scripture reading is short–Matthew 17:20. Short, but not simple. It is about faith. And faith we will need on this journey to the cross.
Matthew 17:20 says, “And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.” Oh Lord, will you give my little ones faith for this journey with us. Oh that Your Holy Spirit would teach us and do a miracle in our hearts this Lent as we travel the Lent Tree journey together…
LentTreeOrnaments. Just print, cut out, laminate and string for your own tree!
IMPORTANT to read if you are doing the Lent Tree too! DO NOT do an ornament on Sundays during Lent! There are 40 ornaments—and there are 40 days of fasting between Ash Wednesday and Lent *IF* you don’t count Sundays! SO—you will do ornaments Monday through Saturday only following Biblical Lent tradition. “When observing fasting or abstinence during Lent, regard must be paid to the fact that Sundays are Feast Days, so there is no fast or abstinence. The days from Ash Wednesday to the day before Easter Sunday, excluding the Sundays, are forty, corresponding to the number of days Christ spent in the wilderness.” So…technically you fast for 6 days and then Sunday is a Feast day where you get to have what you fasted. Lent is a custom not a Biblical requirement–and traditionally you fast for 6 days and on the 7th day you celebrate the resurrection with a Feast day.