Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Forty Days: Lenten Renewal

I used to give up candy and then binge on bags of peanut M&Ms on Easter Sunday.

Once, I gave up gum and ended up not chewing it again for two years.

I've given up soda and dessert. As an adult, I've given up alcohol.

I have made these physical "sacrifices," but I prefer to take action, to do something rather than give up something.

Lent 2018 has snuck up on me - it begins next week, on Valentine's Day, in fact, and I needed to sit down and think about how I will honor this sacred time of year.

In our church, we often talk about working inward and working outward. I like the feel of that, and so I have two focuses, one about my mindset and one about turning outward to my community.

Honoring My Husband

Over the past half decade and change (since a certain tiny human made his appearance), I have not necessarily focused as much as I would like on my husband.  We go on date nights. We try to have time together, but, especially in the last year, I realize that a part of me has almost ignored him. 

That's not fair.

We've gotten caught up in the busy-ness of life. We talk about home repairs, about school choices, about weekend plans.  I've slowed down to work on myself, and as the fog has cleared, I can see my husband there, patiently waiting.

In January, I decided that I need to jump back into focusing on building my faith, and the first study I completed was Five Days of Praying for My Husband. 

Towards the end of the plan, I was prompted to make a list of the ten top reasons my husband blesses me.

After I wrapped the brief devotional, I browsed through the additional resources and found Thirty-One Prayers for My Husband. Once I realized that Lent starts next week, I decided that this book would focus me during this season.  I enjoyed taking a structured time to focus on my husband, and I want to build on that.

Giving with Grace

Over the span of just a few years, we needed a lot of help. We bought our house and started making it our own. We had two energetic kids, including one who still would prefer to never sleep.  We began truly building our careers. I lost my mom.

Our community gathered around us and helped.

For the first time in a long while, I feel ready to start giving back with more than a quick donation. 

And so...forty days...forty acts of service.

I am certainly open to suggestions, and I am aware of my own limits.  I want to start small, but I want to start.

For now, the ideas only involve me, but it would simple to bring my children, especially my kindergartner son, into this spirit of giving of ourselves.

I've opened this up to my small book club, and I'll share on social media. I want to hold myself accountable, get ideas for opportunities to serve, and build community in the process.

I'm ready to say THANK YOU to all those who have helped our family over the past several years and begin giving again. 

With these two plans in place, I feel ready to observe this holy time.

How will you focus during this Lenten season?


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