February 19, 2012

Lenten Practices

It seems like we just celebrated Christmas, and here we are only a few days from Ash Wednesday which marks the beginning of Lent in the Christian church.  Today of course is Monday, the day I usually create my gratitude post, and today is no different.  However, I do want to let you know that until Lent concludes with Easter, I will not be posting anything other than this gratitude post once a week. The Lord has been doing some mighty work in my heart and life in recent weeks.  During Lent, I intend to take an even deeper journey so I can focus all my energies on Him and what He is teaching me and directing me to do.  When I return to blogging on a regular basis after Lent, I hope I will be more focused, deliberate, and intent with the purpose of this blog and my life in general.  We have so few moments in this life, and I want all mine to be drops in the bucket of a life that overflows for Him.  As my blog title and caption indicate, I don't want to be passive, shapeless or shiftless.  God has given me gifts and talents, and they WILL be used for his glory.

Do you have any plans for how you will focus on Jesus, the cross, and the empty tomb during the 40 days of Lent ?  Are you giving anything up, or taking on new practices that will help you turn your heart towards Him on a daily basis?  These practices that we participate in take place on each of the 40 days of Lent except Sundays.  I haven't completely formulated all that I plan to do or not do over Lent, (I know, I better hurry as I only have two more days to decide.) but I do know a couple of things.  First of all, I will be fasting Pinterest completely.  The second thing I will be doing is participating with my whole church in our church wide Lenten practices.  Maybe you'd like to join me and my church as we honor the Lord in this way.  This is what our weeks will look like:

Lenten Practices

Mondays - Make No Purchases - Most of us can buy things whenever we need them. Take Mondays to fast purchases of all kinds including lunch out, gasoline, etc.  Plan ahead if you know you are going to need something in particular.  Buy it on Saturday or wait until Tuesday.

Tuesdays - Make a Personal Contact - Our lives can be so busy.  many of us are in such a rush that we don't have time for relationships.  Make a phone call that you've been needing to make, send a hand-written note, meet a neighbor, or have someone over for a meal.

Wednesdays - Fast Noise - For many of us, we are constantly barraged with noise from our TV, radio, or iPod.  Our lives are also bombarded with distratctions through social media and advertisement.  Embrace silence so that God's voice may be loud in your life.  Turn off the car radio, take a break from social media, turn off the television on Wednesdays, and enjoy the quiet. There's no telling what you might hear God say in those moments.

Thursdays - Add an Extra Hour of Sleep - We are designed to need sleep.  Rest is one of the greatest gifts God gives us.  Some of us are exhausted from burning the candle at both ends.  If you can't sleep, lie in bed and read scriptures, pray, or sing.

Fridays - Fast a Food of Your Choice - It is easy to become addicted to sweets, caffeine, and constant eating for emotional reasons or boredom.  Recognize your dependence on God, and be thankful for the things you enjoy by choosing to fast a meal or food of your choice.  When you fast this food choice, turn your focus to God as the supplier of all you need, not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well.

Saturdays - Add an Hour of Physical Activity - (I can tell you right off the bat, that Saturdays are going to be the toughest days for me during Lent!)  When we take care of our bodies we take care of the temple of the Holy Spirit.  Go for a walk, visit a gym, play frisbee or another fun acitivity with your spouse or a friend.  As you do, take time to pray for those who are sick, and thank God for your health.

Sundays - Celebrate in Worship - Attend your church's worship services, and honor God with other Christians.  If you don't regularly attend church, take this opportunity to visit different local churches and pray that God will lead you to a church home where you can worship on a regular basis with other believers.

I hope you will seek God in prayer about what he wants to do in your life during this season of Lent.



And now, I continue my gift counting as I work my way to 2000.

Three gifts found behind a door:

1130.  Additional furniture and wall decor for Dad's room.  I'm trying to make it a little more homey.
1131.  A cabinet full of medicines and first-aid resources
1132.  A church full of fellow believers

Three ways you feel the love of God:

1133.  When he speaks to me directly through scripture
1134.  When he answers prayers clearly and without question
1135.  When I serve others

A gift in losing something, in finding something, in making something:

1136.  I lost 8 pounds this week alone when  I obediently turned back to God's way of eating.  I believe our bodies were created with the mechanism to tell us when to eat and how much to eat.  So, I eat only when my God given stomach starts to growl as it is intended to do when it is empty.  I don't eat too fast, and I quit when the hunger goes away before I am too full.  Our stomachs are designed to tell us when to eat, not our heads, hearts, emotions, or tastebuds.  When I turned my eating habits over to God, and began eating this way I lost 20 pounds, but I found that I had become disobediently eating out of stress recently. I don't really think God is too concerned about WHAT I eat, but he is definitely concerned about WHY and HOW MUCH.  Gluttony does seem to be the acceptable sin among Christians, but it's not acceptable to God. And we were meant to fill our empty hearts with God, not food.  I'm talking to myself here.  This is just a reminder of what God has taught me, and I don't want to ignore it. 
1137.  We have finally found a new pastor, and he has accepted the call.  Yea!
1138.  Progress.  Yes, I'm making progress in a lot of areas.

Three gifts in shadows:

1139.  My living room where sunlight is casting shadows all over the place
1140.  My puppy coming out of the shadows of his dog house
1141.  A sihlouette cast by the sun at my back

Three gifts found in giving/serving:

1142.  The smile on Dad's face as we look at a scrapbook together
1143.  My parents knowing they aren't alone
1144.  It's even funner to bake when you are giving the goods to someone else.

Three gifts on paper:

1145.  The printed version of the Joy Dare so I can keep a copy with me as I look for God's gifts each day.
1146.  A poem written by my aunt about my dad
1147.  God's Word

Three gifts that were plan B's:

1148.  Nikel finish house numbers instead of the orginally planned painted wood ones
1149.  A detour after church that delayed us and caused us to eat out instead of at home
1150.  Making vegatable soup and a sandwich for my mom instead of going out to eat with her as we originally planned

Would you like to count your blessings?  Join the Joy Dare at A Holy Expereince. And don't forget to deliberatly think about how you might practice Lent this year.  If you decide to join me and my church in our Lenten Practices, I'd love to hear about it!

Grace and peace . . .

P.S. - You might also notice a bit of a change in my blog design.  This is also an attempt to simplify all aspects of my life.  I'm decluttering everything and attempting to be more focused and intentional.

14 comments:

  1. Stephanie,
    This is a very thoughtful post. Thank you for all the suggestions for lent. I was just asking my daughter if she had a good book for me to read during this period that would help focus my attention.
    I support you in prayer as you go deeper in your relationship.
    Blessings,
    ~a

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    1. Always good to hear from you Annesta. I used to never even participate in the observation of Lent, but I think it is a good time to re-focus on what is truly important.

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  2. Stephanie,

    I agree with Annesta, this IS a thoughtful post. You have given me things to think about too. Thank you. I love your Lenten suggestions for each day; I'll have to think about them and decide what to do. I like the new blog header. I'll be praying for you during this 40 day journey.

    Hugs~
    Mary

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    1. Yes, I was excited about the suggestions when they shared these with us at church because I was really unsure of how I was going to observe Lent this year. Glad you found this useful!

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  3. I love your devotion to the Lord, Stephani. This Lenten list excites me--and scares me. ha. I've decided to fast from multi-tasking, although I'm not sure exactly what boundaries I need to set on it (will I still listen to music while driving? yes; will I *try* not to listen to podcasts when I can't sleep? I'll try...).

    Blessings to you, friend, as you dive deeper...

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    1. Yes, scary indeed. As my Sunday school teacher often says, "Say praise the Lord, or say ouch!" I'm saying ouch to the one hour of actvitiy, but it is something I really need in my life. Not listening to the radio in my car will also be a challenge. I listen to a lot of talk radio. Thanks for stopping by Lisa!

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  4. I love your church's lenten list! How wonderful. Thank you for sharing..

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  5. Hi Stephani,
    Thank you for the lovely post. My family has been in a season of fasting which has been such an eye-opening acknowledgement of how little we really need, how we spend our time, how we relate to one another, what's important to God, how to serve Him more fully, and thankfulness. Counting blessings with Ann has been a wonderful exercise. Your churches Lenten Practices are wonderful. I hope to hear what your experiences are during Lent, if you share them on your blog.
    Blessings,
    Laurie

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    1. Thank you Laurie. Hopefully some of the blessings of these Lenten practices will come out in my gratitude posts during Lent, but perhaps also I will be so overwhelmed by what I am learning that after Lent I will be able to create some posts about what God shows me.

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  6. Thank you so much for the Lenten practices suggestions.....I like the idea of having something different each day of the week instead of just giving up one thing for the entire season.....I will definitely be praying about which of these He wants me to participate in during this Lent.....

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  7. I am being convicted in the same way about my blog! If I can't glorify Him with it, more of me less of Him, I won't do it. Thanks for sharing......on the journey with you counting those gifts

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  8. Stephani, as always I love coming here to get an new perspective on things...this post did not disappoint. I would very much like to follow your churches Lenten practices.

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  9. Love your Lenten practice - I think I'll have to try it!

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