Lent. What do you think of? I’ll be honest, the first thing that comes to mind for me is giving up chocolate, or tv, or booze… some feeble attempt to temporarily give up something that you consider to be no good for you. For what, though? So you can scratch those 40 days off your check list and feel vindicated? In a way, it feels slightly like New Years Resolutions: Part II.
But as we enter into this Lenten season, I wanted more than that. I want to grow closer to Jesus. I want to be pushed out of my comfort zone. I want to give and sacrifice and be uncomfortable. I want to make an impact without an ulterior motive (i.e. giving up ice cream, which would happen to coincide with dieting). Enter: a personalized daily calendar of Lenten offerings.
My sisters and I all put our heads together to create what we feel is a meaningful and challenging calendar of Lenten activities to strive toward accomplishing every day of this holy season. Maddie, my sister who is the creative talent behind Lined Goods, graciously designed this beautiful calendar for us (available for download later in the post, or in her etsy shop). Kaley, Maddie and I group texted and conference-called our way through each day of the calendar, really fine tuning the commitments for each day with the goal of making them universal enough that we believe almost everyone can participate. I hope this is something you print out and hang on your fridge for the next 40ish days as a reminder of each daily sacrifice, challenge or gift that you can practice in continued effort to grow closer to Christ. Take a peek at the calendar and then I’ll break down some of what you see to explain our thought process.
Download the calendar here.
So here’s the lowdown on Lent and how it influenced our calendar…
“Lent is a period of fasting, moderation, and self-denial traditionally observed by Catholics and some Protestant denominations. It begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday. The length of the Lenten fast was established in the 4th century as 46 days (40 days, not counting Sundays).” (Source) With that as the guide for creating our calendar, we tried to include a varied spread of gifts, sacrifices, reflection and fasting throughout the duration of lent. Some things we considered as we made this:
- There are 4 opportunities to donate your possessions to a charity of your choice on “Pack a Bag” days (every other Friday during Lent). We were inspired by the opportunity to reduce our possessions while giving them to others who are in need. You may consider simply donating your bags at the local Goodwill or Salvation Army drop boxes, OR you can find a local charity that could benefit (for instance, if I packed a bag full of baby and maternity items, I could take this to the Women’s Care Center which aids pregnant and new mothers right here in our community).
- There is fasting each week. This should be done with some common sense, and I am not a medical professional, nor do I have much experience with fasting, so I’m not going to give medical advice around this issue. Here’s what I do know. We live in a country where we are extremely blessed with abundant amounts of food and nourishment. Even the hungriest among us eats more than a large percentage of our global population. It should come as no surprise to you that America tops the charts on average daily caloric consumption charts, so to skip a meal or two or three will not kill any of us. However, we all have extenuating health circumstances to be aware of, so please (again) use common sense. I, as a nursing mother, need to keep up my caloric intake to feed my daughter. On fasting days, I will be doing a food fast, but I will allow myself caloric beverages so that I am able to feed her. I’m planning to drink juices and milk those days to nourish my body enough to nourish hers, while still experiencing the hunger that will point me toward God. (This blog post was helpful to me as I endeavor to learn more about and begin practicing spiritual fasting and you may find it helpful also).
- In addition to dietary fasting, we included some other fasting that we think you will find challenging and also very beneficial. Four times during the season of lent, you are asked to “Unplug” and take a social media fast for the day. Again, this falls under the category of making us uncomfortable, forcing ourselves to “go without” something that we are heavily attached to, and spend that time doing something else that would be more beneficial (like prayer, service, or simply plugging in to those around us).
- Tithing above and beyond. Each Sunday we are encouraging participants to give over their weekly tithe. If you follow this plan exactly, you will be giving an additional $105 to your place of worship during the season of Lent. Start by slipping an extra $5 in the plate the first Sunday and each week add $5 until by the last Sunday you’re giving an extra $30. Again, this is supposed to challenge us and push us outside of our comfort zones. We understand that everyone’s financial limitations/abilities are different, so please adjust this to your ability to give. Maybe you throw an extra dollar in the plate. Maybe your ability to give is in the neighborhood of $100 extra per week. Regardless of your level of giving, I encourage you to give sacrificially during this season and see how God blesses you in the process.
I will be doing Instagram Story updates throughout the season to keep up with the “why” behind some of the days and to give support and encouragement for anyone else participating. I sincerely hope this calendar can be a blessing to you. If you love the thought but want to fill in your own activities, Maddie has provided a blank calendar for you to write in your own daily goals. Download here.
Do your best. Set your heart on God. Forget about the chocolate. Do what will draw your heart closer to your maker this season. I’m praying for you and for what the Lord will do through your obedience, sacrifice and selflessness.