Plastic Babies in Cinnamon Rolls

It is that time of year again – Lent begins today. There are several churches around town that have great Ash Wednesday services that are family friendly. Our family usually celebrates at another church in our community with friends and neighbors. Some years we have done a special service by ourselves at home, but never before has our Lent observance started so ominously.

In 2010 Vista Parents put out a 40 days of Lent activity and devotion guide for families with preschoolers,elementary students, and teenagers. I think we have a few of those lying around the office if you want one – watch out for the typos. Last year we went high tech using the blog to spend 40 days contemplating wisdom. We dedicated one blog post to examining Lent,and why Vista chooses to encourage families to observe these 40 days before Resurrection Sunday in a more intentional manner. You can find those entires and ideas in our archive under Lent. We will not reblog that info, but this year we will blog even more great ideas and inspiration for families.

As I stated before, the Eisel family started our Lent devotions in a less than worshipful manner.  We only have 3 or 4 nights home together each week at this time of year so we started earlier than Ash Wednesday. It was great timing as we just finished up our Christmas devotion focus a couple weeks ago. (Remember: as we say in Parent Equipping classes, these are goals-not absolutes – no judgments please.) We are using the Lenten Tree devotional by Dean Meador Smith (It is fairly traditional so if that is not your family’s thing – you might want to avoid it).

Day four of our devotions celebrated God among us as a baby and the Man of God by reading John 1:14. We enjoyed a great story along with discussion on Simeon and Anna’s presence at the temple to celebrate who Jesus really was (Luke 2: 21-40). Then the bottom fell out of our spiritual maturity. Horror illuminated our eyes as the page turned to announced that days activity. Silence hung heavy first only to be shyly broken by hesitant snickering. It continued with chuckling that lead to cackle and finally gave way to guffaw – the ending you might have guessed was a lot of rofl.

Mind you, our family has engaged in many Lenten activities over the years  = hot cross buns, prayer pretzels, Resurrection biscuits, Lenten trees, Seder Feasts, and even the alleluia egg. This activity seemed innocent at first but then incredulousness hit us like the cold February wind in Central Ohio: They wanted us buy several small plastic babies and cook them in cinnamon rolls to remind us that God is with us. Message not received – my family could not stop laughing – we chose not to do the activity. I am happy to report that it did spark great conversation about King Cake, Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, church history and cultural anthropology.

It is always so comforting to know that even if our best laid plans go awry, God honors our intentional focus on Him. As you move through the next 40 days as a family, how will you intentionally prepare for Resurrection Sunday? What will be the family devotion success stories and the failures? How will God meet each member of your family with a small shift in focus here, small changes in perspective there, and all the laughter in between?

Pastor Mike has asked Vista to press in during this season: press into new habits, press into new perspectives, press into intentional devotion. We hope to help you, encourage you and laugh with you as every member of the family presses into that intentional devotion together. Join us with your questions, comments and ideas – we promise no cinnamon rolls containing plastic babies.


  1. I remember when I was first introduced to the “king cake” by my New Orleans in-laws. Wow, that was a shocker! They put baby Jesus in a cake and bake him? And really the “cake” is a glorified breakfast roll sprinkled in LSU colors?
    On a serious note, thanks for your thoughts on Lent. I have a lot to learn. =)

  2. I’ll be the crazy heathen who admits to loving everything about King Cake!!! The good people of southern Louisiana make an amazing strawberry cream cheese flavor that is heavenly.
    More importantly, I’m thankful to be engaging Lent this year with my own family. Already it has prompted some great conversations between us.