The first time I ever did anything for Lent was when we were in Houghton. A friend who grew up not far from me and who had similar experiences growing up decided to give it a try to help prepare her heart for Easter. I guess that I never really thought about the reason why people gave stuff up and preparing my heart for that celebration seemed like a good motivation. I know that I had friends who would kind of use it as a weight loss plan (one friend was excited about the 5 pounds she lost as a result of giving up sweets for Lent) and I knew I couldn't really give up sweets because I knew that I would be doing it probably with wrong motivation. I don't remember what I gave up that year but there have been a couple of years that I have given up coffee. That has been a challenge each time that I have done it because I love coffee and boy those head aches the first few days are horrible (even if I remembered to try to ween myself off of it coming up to Ash Wednesday). It was great because as I brewed and smelled the coffee I made for Glenn and longed for coffee at various times throughout the day I had opportunities to stop and thank God for the sacrifice that Jesus made for me.
Some years I have done something some years I haven't. Some years I have been more successful at keeping my Lenten promises, some years I haven't. I was really encouraged as I read Ann's blog today that when I fail in keeping my promises it is just a reminder to me of how thankful I am for God's grace:
I have been thinking for a while about what to do for Lent this year and I long to use these 40 days to prepare both my heart and my family for the celebration of Resurrection Sunday. I put out a plea on Facebook for someone to refer me to a family devotional, preferably downloadable, to use as a family. A couple were recommended that I would like to check out (and Ann has some on her blog linked above as well.) As I was thinking and praying about it I really wanted something that would bring us through the full story of the Bible pointing to Christ and I remembered The Story of Hope from Good Soil that we had picked up at ABWE when we were down there for the Medical Missions Interface last summer. It has 40 stories from the Bible focusing on God's redemptive plan. We are excited to go through it as a family over these 40 days.
Now, for me. What am I, personally, going to do for Lent? I have been thinking about it for some time. I read a few blogs today on Lent – Ann's blog, Brad's blog on giving up sin for Lent and a blog by Jason Gray that Brad linked to. They all got me thinking more. Then I was challenged by a girl from church on The City (which is kind of a church version of Facebook, I think, that Missio Church is using) to add 15 minutes of extra focused prayer time every day. Today also I got an email from my Grandma telling me that she had just spent the last hour reading my blog and what a blessing it was to her. God has been prodding me to blog more so I guess that her email was an added push. Today also I chatted with a friend on the phone and it was good to catch up with her and find out how she is doing, which is something that I rarely do but should do more often.
So, what I am doing for Lent? I feel that God wants me to do 3 things daily:
1. Spend an extra 15 minutes of focused time in prayer.
2. Write something for my blog.
3. Connect with a friend, preferably via phone.
None of these are easy things for me but I am excited about what God is going to teach me as I am obedient to Him over these next 40 days.