Does God care about lent?

I wrestled with Lenten sacrifices this year. What to give up? What to take on? What is the purpose? Does God really care?

Before I married a Lutheran, I had not heard terms like Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, and Lent. Well, I might have heard them, but they carried no meaning.

Although we’ve attended a Shrove Tuesday supper since my husband and I married, last year was the first time I then followed through with a Lenten sacrifice.

I gave up coffee and fried foods. Although I don’t eat a lot of fried foods, I love them and well, coffee is an everyday companion of mine so both were significant to give up.

I stuck with my commitment and felt it was definitely a time of growing within myself. I found the Lenten season to be much more meaningful as I was reminded daily of Christ’s sacrifice on my behalf.

But this year, I couldn’t decide what to give up. I prayed about it and had lofty aspirations of incorporating a Daniel Fast, but I did not want to set myself up for failure. I thought about giving up coffee and fried foods again, but I just wasn’t feeling it.

I decided that unless I got clear direction, I would not do anything specific for this year.

Then, this Ash Wednesday morning, it came to me. “Daily Sacrifice.” Listening daily to the whispers of the Holy Spirit. Don’t eat that for now,” “do this,” or “go there.” My prayer is that my life will become totally directed by the promptings of the Spirit.

Is lent for us or for God? As with any ritual, I believe we can go through the motions of lent without it having much purpose or meaning, but I also know it can enrich and empower our faith. It can be for both us and God if it accomplishes the intended purpose of deepening our relationship with Him.

I am looking forward to experiencing the work of the Holy Spirit in my life this season and pray that being guided by his presence becomes an automatic response. I am thankful for the exposure to this practice that has caused me to become more reflective of the power of Easter in my life.

Experiencing the holy in everyday moments

I was excited about participating in a “NuDunkers On Pneumatology” online discussion this morning. Pneumatology is just a fancy word for the theologies of the Holy Spirit. With a 4-year-old and a 17-month-old at home, I prepared ahead of time to make sure I would have the perfect quiet atmosphere for the discussion of this fascinating topic.

Yeah right!

Instead of reflective and educated ruminations about the Holy Spirit, I was saying things, “Elsie, get Eli’s underwear off your head.” “Eli, don’t sit on top of Elsie and stop pulling the dog’s ears.” This, all while listening as best I can to an honest and through-provoking discussion about the Holy Spirit.

But this is the beauty of my life; holy moments wrapped in the humdrum of the everyday. My life has many seemingly insignificant moments and yet when I pause and pay attention, I hear the whispers of God in it all. And in my personal experience, that is my pneumatology of the Holy Spirit.

My Pledge

This is my life-creed. It is original to me and therefore copyrighted to me, but feel free to use and post if you feel the reminders here would be helpful in your home or place of work.

“THIS IS MY PLEDGE”

I pledge to care for those around me as though they are my brother, my sister, my father, or mother, for indeed, they are that to someone. If perhaps, they are walking this journey alone, I pledge to demonstrate compassion and kindness with the reality that I might be the encouragement that makes their life worth living.

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Why Jesus Gets a Bad Rap

In a recent conversation, I found that someone I know didn’t have much love for another person I hold dear. I immediately got defensive because I knew that this person really didn’t know my loved one that well. If they could see past the exterior, I believed that they would have a whole new respect and care for the other person.

As with every situation that leaves me feeling unsettled or uncomfortable, I asked myself what I can learn from it.

From that perspective, I thought about how and why Jesus gets a bad rap.

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He knows our name

Well, I have been so busy posting recipe on The Kitchen Chic Muse, that I haven’t posted here. But I’ve had many an inspired moment over the past few weeks. Amidst the chaos and monotony, Eli and Elsie never fail to entertain. As Lee was walking into the kitchen Saturday evening, he spotted this…

Eli wrote his name on the cabinet with permanent marker

Since Eli has learned to write his name, (he still gets it backwards sometimes,) we are finding it everywhere! Lee said, “Oh man, someone scribbled all over this cabinet with a permanent marker!” As I walked over to investigate, it was clear to me that this was much more than scribble, this was a signature. Every time I walk past that cabinet (multiple times daily), I see that name and I think of our precious 3-year-old.

Then the inspiration… I thought of the Scripture verse Isaiah 49:16 where God says, “See, I have engraved you on the palm of my hand.” And I love to think that every time he sees my name, your name, engraved on his hand, he thinks of us. So while we are working, sleeping, playing, our name catches God’s eye and he remembers us. We are not alone; ever.

A few more pictures for fun.

Eli loves being daddy’s helper
Elsie enjoyed “chillin'” in Todd Lake
Elsie and her cousin, Cooper, share their first kiss
We have spent a lot of time around the firepit Lee and Eli built for me for Mother’s Day

Births, Illnesses and 5K’s

What a crazy hectic week and weekend! Besides hosting our first-ever Annual Sadie Rose 5K, my mom, step-dad, Aunt Edie, Aunt Ruth had gone to Edisto Island with my sister, Amy, her husband, Michael, and their kids. Not having them with me to help coordinate the 5K was a big deal. They are always my most loyal Sadie Rose volunteers. (Check out The Sadie Rose Foundation.)

Things were looking good by Thursday as far as the 5K planning. I thought we had it all under control. Then, Friday morning, my brother-in-law, Michael, got sick. Very sick! The family was planning on returning from the beach Saturday, but headed home first thing Friday morning instead. They were 10 hours from home, but thought they could make it back to our area so he could go to our local hospital. With every passing mile, my sister grew more concerned.

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Why God Made Thistles

Our 3-year-old son walked up to the screen door today and whimpered softly, “Mom, why did God make thistles?”

“I’m not sure,” I replied, having often wondered myself why God made nuisances such as thistles, bats, mosquitoes,  mice, and well, you get the picture.

I gathered Eli in my lap. He still upset from planting a bare foot squarely into a sprawling “sticker” in our back yard so I determined to help him find a purpose for the pain. We set out to learn more how thistles affect our environment. What we found was a lot of advertising for “wild thistle honey.”

Aha, there it was. The teachable moment I was looking for. Apparently beekeepers often place hives near patches of uncontrolled thistle plants in the fall of the year and voilà, sweet molasses-like honey abounds.

I explained to Eli how thistles are food for birds and bees and how that helps the bees produce honey. Then, to myself, I thought, “It’s interesting how something that causes a little pain can produce such sweet results. Kind’ve like life it we allow it to be so.”