Tag Archives: Lent

Indecision Kills…

Happy Sunday! Why am I coming to you two days late this week? Did I not have anything to say? Oh no, I had too much to say. Then I stalled out trying to decide what to share with you.

It’s an important week. Lent started this last Wednesday, and #EndIt Day 2018 is coming up this Thursday. Both are topics I have covered before (the hyperlinks will take you to those past articles), and both are things I want to talk about again. But since I’ve already covered them, do I have new things to say? So back and forth I went all week, and I ended up writing nothing.

But I don’t want to miss my chance to share these important things with you, so I’m going to hit on both of them briefly and let you all get back to watching the Olympics…

OK, so Wednesday was Ash Wednesday, the official first day of the 2018 Lenten season. As of Wednesday, I didn’t have a clear plan for how I would participate in Lent this year (More indecision! What is with me this week??). One of my friends shared on social media that one of the things she’s doing for Lent this year is giving up her snooze button. That one hit me hard! I’m a hardcore night owl. Given the freedom to set my own schedule, I would probably get my eight hours between 2:00 am and 10:00 am. For as long as I can remember, I have fought to fall asleep every night and fought to get out of bed every morning. I have two alarms set every morning (I occasionally sleep right through the first one), and it’s not unusual for me to hit snooze once or twice, and then to sit in bed and goof around on my phone when I should be getting up and starting my day. I can feel some of you rolling your eyes. I’m pitiful, I know. But it’s cold here, and it’s hard to leave my cozy nest! Clearly this is an area of my life where I can work on self-discipline!

So I borrowed my friend’s genius plan, and I’m giving up my snooze button for Lent. When the alarm goes off, I have to leave my bed. I’m using this “extra” time to spend more time reading the Bible. When my alarm goes off and I feel like growling about it, I stop instead and thank Jesus for his incredible sacrifice, and I offer him my small sacrifice. I’m hoping that this will help me have better sleep habits, sure, but I think the real reward will be the extra time in the word and the increased awareness of what Jesus has done for me.

As usual, I’m participating in the practice of not eating meat on Fridays as well. This isn’t terribly difficult to do, but I enjoy the feeling of being part of this global exercise. I take time on Fridays to pray for the Church around the world – for Christians who are persecuted, for ministers and missionaries, and for aid workers who have given their lives to helping others in the name of Jesus.

Are you participating in Lent? Pop over to the Food Shelf Friday Facebook page and share your Lenten plan. My friend’s idea sparked my plan for this year; your plan could do the same for someone!


The second thing I want to mention this week is the approach of #EndIt Day 2018. The idea behind this day is to raise awareness of the crisis of modern day slavery. As an historian I know all about pre-1860s slavery, and I know we tend to talk about slavery in the past tense. But there are more people living in slavery around the world today than at any time in history. And there are people living in slavery right here in the United States.

The “how” of #EndIt day is to put a big, red X on your hand on Thursday, February 22. When someone asks you about your X, you have the opportunity to let them know about modern slavery, and about the non-profit organizations working to fight this travesty. There are also social media images and banners that you can share to start the conversation with your online friends. Visit the End It Movement website for all the information, links to participating organizations, and social media images to help you spread awareness in your circle. The first step in ending this crisis is to stop the denial with awareness, education, and resources. I’ll be sporting my red X on Thursday, and I hope you do, too!

There you go! I got over the indecision hurdle and gave you information on two important things going on right now! I hope you learned something that will empower you this season!

An Outsider Looks at Lent


This week the world will be partying it up for Mardi Gras before they sober up on Ash Wednesday and enter the Lenten season. I grew up in a branch of Christianity that does not teach or engage in the practice of Lent, but of course I’ve heard bits and pieces about it all my life. I know many Christians, both Catholic and Protestant, who observe Lent, and I have always admired the devotion of those who engage in this holy holiday sincerely. So I went on a quest this week, reading and talking about Lent, searching my Bible, and praying about a way that I can grow in my faith through this 40-day journey.

So, what’s up with Lent?

Lent is the 40-day period leading up to the celebration of Easter, which commemorates the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Lent is 40 days long to symbolically mirror the 40-day period Jesus spent fasting in the wilderness in preparation for his public ministry. 40 is a recurring theme throughout the Bible, and it always represents a period of preparation for change. During the great flood it rained for 40 days and nights. Moses spent 40 days on Mt. Sinai getting the laws from God, and the Israelites roamed the desert for 40 years before God gave them the Promised Land. Saul, David, and Solomon each ruled Israel for 40 years. Jesus fasted 40 days in preparation for his ministry, but he also spent 40 days after his resurrection preparing his Disciples before the ascended into heaven. It is beautiful to realize that a pregnancy, a familiar time of preparation for great change, is 40 weeks.

All most of us “outsiders” know about Lent is giving up something bad, like pop or alcohol (usually grudgingly…), and we’ve heard a lot about eating fish on Fridays. Abstaining from meat one day a week is a corporate fasting practice that binds people together in their common sacrifice. Meat is considered one of the pleasures of life, but fish is allowed as an exception because in the early church, a simple drawing of a fish (you’ve seen them on car bumpers…) was a sign to other believers in a time when Christians were forbidden to practice their faith. Additionally, many of the Apostles were fishermen by trade, and Jesus cooked them a fish dinner after his resurrection. On a goofy side note, I learned that McDonalds invented their Fillet-o-Fish sandwich in response to down hamburger sales during Lent. Vatican II made it allowable to substitute some other sacrifice or good deed for abstaining from meat on Fridays, so it’s not as practiced as it once was, but they still run specials on the Fillet-o-Fish…

I think the point of Lent is to examine your heart and root out areas where you are spoiled by excess. It could be what you consume, or how you spend your time. Examine yourself this week and think about what you might do to prepare your heart, learn greater discipline, and grow in your faith and as a person during this Lenten season. I haven’t decided exactly what my personal plan is, but I think this year I’ll give Lent a try.

Lent/Easter 2016
Tuesday, Feb 9 – Mardi Gras (not a religious holiday, but the last day of gluttony and excess before cracking down during Lent)

Wednesday, Feb 10 – Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Catholics begin Lent by attending church to ask for forgiveness for sins. As a symbol of their grief over their sins, ashes are put on their foreheads in the shape of a cross. Just yesterday I learned that those ashes come from the palm leaves from Palm Sunday the year before – celebration turned to mourning, which reminds me that the inverse is true as well. In Isaiah we read that God gives us beauty for ashes.

Sunday, March 19 – Palm Sunday, the celebration of Christ’s triumphant arrival in Jerusalem a week before the crucifixion.

Friday, March 25 – Good Friday, a somber commemoration of the day Christ was crucified to pay the price for our sins.

Sunday, March 27 – Easter Sunday, commemorating the day that Christ rose from the dead, victorious over death.


Does your family have any Lenten traditions? What are you adding or giving up this year to commemorate Christ’s sacrifice and prepare your heart for Easter? Leave a comment!