I have never celebrated Lent, but have friends that do including Ash Wednesday which was yesterday and thinking of them I emailed them to tell them how they had blessed me through their actions. It always intrigued me when I was working and some of the girls would come back from lunch with ashes on their foreheads, but not ever enough to think this non-Catholic girl could celebrate Lent.
This year as I read Karen Ehman’s blog about Lent, I began to research what it is all about and whoa why have I been missing this? So what is Lent? It is the 40 days before Easter and excludes Sundays so if you are fasting you can eat those things on Sunday. Lent began yesterday, Ash Wednesday, and ends at sundown on the Saturday evening prior to Easter. It’s a time of self-reflection and repentance and prayer. Don’t we all need that? I sure do.
I am taking a challenge of doing some or all three categories the next month. I can’t wait to see how I have changed in 40 days or 46 since Sundays are added back in. I’m praying about those things to take up and those things to give up to see what has kept me from loving God with all my heart. He has been talking to me a lot lately, and I have not been listening, but I am NOW after some health challenges this week! It’s time to do something to be closer to God and closer to friends and family, and it is time to be healthier.
God has placed this on my heart not to make it a to-do list, because that is exactly where I was headed as I started listing ideas. This is a ‘for-Him list”, not a me to-do list. This is a holy time, it is a time to reflect on who He is, what He has done and who I am in Him.
So back to Karen Ehman. I loved her five ideas for “taking up something”, and yes I am going to use all of them. But I have also come up with many more and hope that you will help me come up with more so we can all use them this year and next. So I hope to have time to share each day what I’m doing – maybe just a picture but something that will keep me ACCOUNTABLE.
Karen’s Ideas (Go read her blog which breaks these categories down)
- Jotting a note
- Grab your phone
- Lighten a load
- Help a stranger
- Serve a servant
I can do all those. Yesterday the first day, I jotted a note to an on-line Bible study friend and sent her a planner. I had bought two. I ran a drawing and when her name was pulled with just Lori on it, I did not even know it was someone I already knew through our studies, but who has become a good friend. Thank You Jesus for blessing us both. I had two planners and she needed one.
Today I am going to “lighten a load” and hopefully some other things like a phone call or a note to someone who I have not taken the time to do in a long time, and I am thinking why not more than one.
So here are a whole bunch of other ideas I have come up with and I know you have many more – so SHARE below please. I have tried to categorize them into “taking something up”, “give something up”, and hey why not do some of both? Why limit ourselves in getting closer to the Lord during this “Holy Season”.
Taking Something Up/Prayer
- Get up 15 minutes early to pray.
- When you say you are going to pray for someone do it then or write it down and do it. How many times do you say I will pray for you, and you do not? I am finding it is easier to say I am praying now, I have prayed or write it down so I don’t forget because I will.
- Take a prayer walk in your neighborhood or at a mall. As you walk, pray for who lives in that house. Pick out something in front so you can associate with that neighbor – like a child’s toy, a flag, beautiful flower beds, horses, etc.. That way you can pray for something specific too. You can read about one of my prayer walks here. I am going on a walk today with my daughter and daughter-in-law and grandsons today in my DIL’s neighborhood and hope I can incorporate this today as we walk.
- Sit outside your child’s school and pray for all the teachers, staff, admin, janitorial help and children.
- Call someone you have not talked to in a long time.
- Write a note of thanks or encouragement.
- Tell someone about Jesus.
- Buy someone’s lunch.
- Meet someone for coffee or have them over for a cup.
- Visit a nursing home or someone in the hospital. Cheer someone up this season.
- Spend more time with your family. Make a genuine effort to find some extra time.
- Verbally say thank you as you are out and about. How long has it been since you thanked a waiter/waitress? We hear so often from some of them how hard their jobs are and most often they don’t even receive tips. It’s sad when a perfect stranger tells you that you made their day. It is sad to hear how grouchy and just mean people can be with their me, me attitudes. Be KIND!
- Start exercising – go for a walk, put on a CD, get on a treadmill.
- Join a Bible study. If you aren’t in church I would love for you to check this one out. I do this in addition to church and these studies will change your life. Check it out. Guess what we are all diversified – women of all faiths all over the world.
- Help an elderly in your neighborhood.
- Only listen to Christian music. You’ll love it once you do. I remember who taught me to love Christian music instead of oldies on the radio – my daughter who was a mere five-year old and now it is all I listen too thirty years later.
- Sit aside a box or sack and pick at least one things a day to donate and donate 40 at the end of Lent. Clear out some of that clutter.
- Say something nice to your kids and spouse every day.
- Be on time.
- Get up early and read some scripture, or end your day earlier and read before you go to sleep.
- Spend some focused time with each of your children, and don’t forget your spouse.
- Look out your window and find something of beauty. Watch the sunrise, put up some bird feeders and enjoy the beautiful birds, sit and gaze at the clouds.
- Do someone else’s chore. Surprise them.
- Forgive someone.
- Gather at the table together and share and reflect.
- Pay it forward in the grocery line or a fast-food line.
- Take your family to church.
- Buy a few fast-food gift cards and give them to the needy.
- No cell phones at the table. Really focus on who you are with.
- Get a journal and journal 40 days of thankfulness/blessings or blog about it which I hope to do.
- Double up on your cooking and take a batch to a friend or neighbor or someone you know who has just come home from a hospital or are shut-ins.
- Clean or organize something every day.
- Do some yard work.
- Read a story to your grandchildren.
- Pick up your grandchild and take him/her for ice cream.
- Give hugs.
- Hold your hubby’s hand.
- Have a date night.
- Light some candles for dinner.
Giving Something Up/Fasting
- Diet soda or soda
- Go shopping and leave the best parking spot for someone else.
- Judging others
- Comparing yourself with others.
- Facebook or Instagram
- Fast Food
- Texting or Talking on the Phone While Driving or even Walking or When sitting down to eat with someone
- Using credit cards
- Cutting off other drivers. Just stop it.
- Speeding. Slow down and save your life and others.
- Following too close. Make room for problems ahead and even from behind.
- Unhealthy snacking