Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Keeping LOVE in LENT {link-up}

I’m participating in the Keeping LOVE in LENT Blog Link-Up 2013, hosted by
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.

  I've always been a procrastinator. Yet, people are always saying "I don't know how you do all you do." Lately, I've been saying "I don't know either. It MUST be by the Grace of God."  Honestly, even if it is at the last minute, I've made time for the things that are important.

  Of course, it's been a year since our family has numbered 7, and there are days the grace doesn't feel sufficient. I've had many a good and bad day as most people, and not many are ready to admit their shortcomings. But I do believe it is in our weakness that we've been made strong through Christ Jesus.

  So this Lent, we are challenged to make sure that God's unending grace and love is the reason and reward for the sacrifices we make. Here we are just a week into the Lenten season, and how's it going?

  All I can say is that today… I plucked a toothpick from our crown of thorns, silently, and dismissed myself from the chaos. The big deal is, I usually stay in it like a pot ready to boil over. I chose not to let my "ugly self" take over, and instead took a moment in prayer and reflection. Even parents need to be a part of the rituals they present to their children during Lent. And if I'm lucky, all those darn toothpicks will gone before Easter. That my good deeds and offerings will be a blessing and example for my children.

  What are we doing this Lent? Many have already seen my post "Preparing for Lent 2013", and it's going okay thus far. We just cleaned out a bin for our Sacrifices today. Everything is in place for a season of reading the Word of God, making humble sacrifices, meditating on the Stations of the Cross while we color, and role playing. I am also excited to sew a Rosary Quilt inspired by Intercessories on Etsy. A quilt stitched with a blank rosary chain, to add felt, paper or crocheted beads while praying. This will be great for my toddlers/preschoolers.

  I think it is such a blessing that we have children in this case, that while I prepare them to be honorable to God, I am also finding a new appreciation for my journey. They see my faults like no other, and they lift me up with their smiles, their dancing, their hugs. I desire to be holy for God and for the sake of my family. Despair may have had a hold on my life in the past, but now I am "picking" my battles wisely with the Grace and Mercy of Jesus, my Savior.

  Thanks for spending a moment in my thoughts. If you read this far, you might enjoy the inspiration of those linked below!

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!

Building Rocks (pending)

Friday, February 15, 2013

A ONEderful Year

Happy First Birthday Eddie! My special valentine.

Edward is Born Edward J Michalek 1year

Eddie One Year

Monday, February 11, 2013

Preparing for Lent 2013

Its been several years of the same Lenten activities. I really want to shake it up a bit, revive some old favorites, and such.  Now I have tweens and toddlers that need solid traditions. So while I'm thinking this through, I thought I'd type it out and share it with you too!

My starting point…
2012 Lent Activities
2012 Lent Printables
I’m participating in the Keeping LOVE in LENT Blog Link-Up 2013. More information at the end of this post.

Think of Lent as a time to prepare your soul for true mercy and repentance. These 40 days of sorrow precede our celebration of Holy Week and Easter. It is a good time in the liturgical calendar to be serious with your family's commitment to your Catholic faith. But it doesn't have to be dreaded or mournful. I hope the activities you find here and elsewhere promote the lessons of forgiveness and love, which bring about joy! Make your "Faithful Friday" about giving alms, bible study, prayerful Stations of the Cross, alongside your meatless mealtime.

Gluten Free Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) Celebration

American Catholic: Catholic Roots of Mardi Gras

Brazil's Carnival and New Orleans' Mardi Gras are the same festivity that occurs the week before Lent begins. This year we are studying the (75% Roman Catholic) Brazil, so we will be celebrating with music, dancing and food! Youtube will be our first stop for watching/learning Samba dancing. And a children's movie "Rio." I am sensing the girls will want to wear the masks they made last fall.

Mardi Gras pancakes

Gluten Free Pancakes from Catholic Cuisine (or buy a box)
>Just add the royal gold, purple and green colors to your batter. purple, a symbol of justice; green, representing faith; and gold, to signify power.
Or perhaps: Sweet Potato Pancakes, green onions and purple grapes with sausage.


Turkey Lettuce Wraps, with Blueberries/Blackberries with mandarin oranges & Kiwi


This year we need to get dirty. We'll dig our hands into some GF DUST CAKE we spotted on Catholic Cuisine. I'll modify using A gluten free box mix, sugar free chocolate pudding and gluten free pretzels (the "arms in prayer" shaped pretzels). After the cake is cooled, have the children break it up, add some pudding and crush the pretzels on top. We'll discuss the dirtiness of sin as we eat, then wash up with our soap bottle, labeled with a quote about repentance from my post in progress HOLY HOUSEHOLD.


Sage Ground Beef with Sautéed Rosemary Red Cabbage, Apple & Onion. Mix Together - mmm delish!


  Ash Wed we begin by taking out our JESUS TREE cards. These I created a few years ago and have been a hit with many families. Each has a picture to go with the bible verse of the day. Take one out, read, discuss and hang up each day (except Sundays) during Lent. They are available for purchase as a digital download here:

Jesus Tree Cards Only

  We will also open up a SACRIFICE BIN to hold at least one item we will promise not to use during Lent. This has been very effective in the past. It is brought back out on Easter morning!

On Ash Wed, Catholics traditionally fast and abstain from meat.  Those of us on a nutritious diet know that fasting isn't for everyone, especially diabetics.  Children under 16 and those with health issues are not required to fast. So while we will abstain from meat on Ash Wed and Fridays during Lent, there are some great choices we will humbly enjoy in small portions. As you can see, these are small servings with no snacks in-between.

>BREAKFAST: Egg white omelets

>LUNCH: Cucumber Canoes w/ Tuna  from The Michalek Kitchen

>SUPPER: Salmon Patties over steamed asparagus and quinoa


Loyola Press: 40 Activities for 40 Days of Lent

Bible Study
Countdowns are the most effective way to teach children when you are awaiting something. That is why we have Our Forever Tree that hosts all of our countdown activities. The Jesus Tree is a printable I created to use as flashcards during the 40 days of Lent. Complete with Bible verse, title and image. Have children hang the cards in a special place after you read them.

You can purchase these as a digital download here:

Jesus Tree Cards Only

Something new this year, we got a sample of The Jesse Box which we will be reviewing. I am very excited about this fun pre-planned way to tell the stories of Jesus to our children in an interactive format. The paper characters are cut by the children, and slid over wood cones. I like that you can reprint the images if they wear out, or to cut again next year. We set the scene together in the quality diorama boxes, and then read the story aloud while they play. It's very family friendly.

It is very similar to the one we have from Catholic Icing which I wrote about in this post.

Stations of the Cross
The Stations of the Cross are such a perfect tool for sharing the story of Jesus' journey towards Mt. Calvary. To aid with a visual, you might consider this Stations of the Cross Printable (avail at the top link)  I created, with directions. As you can see, we have our stations lined up in a prominant place, along with our crown of thorns, Jesus Tree cards, and Stations flash cards. The toothpick thorns will be removed and placed in the center when a sacrifice has been made, or family prayer time is kept. The purple placemat  with the Stations images and prayer is available at Sanctus Simplicitus.

Another Cross activity that was very meaningful for our children was "The Crosses We Carry." They actually carried wood crosses during Lent, then gave them new life during Easter. It is meant to be a humbling experience, and the children grew to love their dirty cross and brought it often to town. What a chance to be a witness!

For my toddlers, they enjoy matching up objects with the Stations pictures. This hands-on activity has been a favorite for a few years. Stored quickly away in a file folder and egg carton. I just reprinted and laminated the cards this week. The ones we have are no longer avail to print for free, but CatholicIcing.com has a few other options. More at The Kids Bulletin .

I encourage everyone to have at least one family visit to confessions. By going together, you set a good example as parents and older kids to the younger ones that this is something we NEED to do. The activities below are great for all ages.
1st Reconciliation Activities (great for review too)
Are You Prepared? Wisdom & Virtue for the last days

Dry Erase Board: Have you children make fingerprints across a sheet of paper as a border. Write "God Wipes Away Our Sins." Laminate and use dry erase markers to write on it and wipe off clean. (from the Our Father VBS lesson)

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. Click on the logo to check it out!

Also, you can follow me and others at the Catholic Bloggers' Network

**NEW HOLY WEEK & EASTER IDEAS will be in another post. Until then, see Holy Week & Easter 2012


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