5 Ideas for Lent

Ash Wednesday is next week and I, for one, am excited for it! For a lot of people, Lent is about “giving up” something, such as candy, or coffee or whatever. Other people consider the penances of Lent a drudgery. That’s too bad. Lent isn’t about giving up something and then becoming frustrated – or giving up – when you fail. That’s what New Year’s Resolutions are for! Now, I’m not saying not to give up something for Lent. There is an important place for sacrifice and denial, but Lent is WAY more than that.

5 Ideas for Lent

Lent is about renewal!

The beginning of a new year is a time when many people make resolutions to lose weight, to do “this” or don’t do “that.” August and September is the beginning of a new school year and a time when kids (and adults) resolve to make “this year better than last year.” Of course, technically, everyday is a chance for a restart. But Lent is unique. Lent is a time that is especially meant for a spiritual renewal, even more so than the Advent and Christmas Season. Lent is a time to recalibrate our souls and remind ourselves of what and WHO is important in life. And, it is a time to refocus and rekindle (or deepen) our relationship with Jesus and with the Blessed Trinity.

Therefore, the purpose of the “mandates” of Lent, prayer, sacrifice and almsgiving, is to help us go deeper into the truths of our faith and our relationship with Christ, NOT to give us yet “one thing to do or not do” for the next six weeks. Thus, I’d like to invite you to rethink your strategy for Lent this year. If you have been in the habit of giving up something for Lent and it hasn’t worked for ya, how about instead of giving up something, give yourself something. Here are five ideas of things you can give yourself for Lent:

1. Give yourself the gift of Confession.

If you haven’t been to the Sacrament of reconciliation in a while, now would be a good time to go. The Church requires Catholic to go to Confession at least once a year for a reason. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a sacrament of healing and an opportunity to encounter Christ in a very special way.

There are a lot of people who are afraid of going to Confession or who think it is a waste of time. “Why go to confession to a priest when I can tell my sins right to God?” However, confession is a gift from God that gives us special graces, allows us to grow in grace and to come back to Him when we fail. I strongly encourage you to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church in regards to confession. Do the research on why Confession is important. It is really a very important sacrament!

2. Give yourself the gift of the Eucharist.

If you aren’t in the habit of going to daily mass, now would be a great time to start – even if it just one or two days a week – or just on Saturdays. The readings for Lent are just as powerful during the week as they are on Sundays.

There is a lot of focus today about the community aspect of Mass which is important. However, we also must never lose sight of the purpose of the Mass. It is the center and source of our Christian Life! When we receive communion, we receive Jesus Himself. We take Him into our souls and our hearts. What an amazing and profound blessing and gift that is!

3. Give yourself the gift of prayer.

The rosary is a particularly powerful prayer and it is a wonderful way to meditate on the mysteries of Our Lord’s Life, Death and Resurrection. It is even better if you can pray together as a family. Also, many Churches offer the Stations of the Cross each Friday which is a beautiful way to enter one’s self into Our Lord’s suffering. If you can’t do that, try to just spend a few minutes or so reading the Bible and Lectio Divina.

There are also a lot of retreats and devotional booklets that are published for the Lenten Season. If that helps, pick one of those up and use it to help guide your prayer. Better yet, scrap that and just talk to God as you would a friend. He is always ready to listen! It may seem strange at first but we can, and should, speak from our souls and pour out our heart.

4. Give yourself the gift of reflection.

Prayer isn’t all about talking! It is also about listening and reflecting on what God wants to tell us. One way to do this is by jounaling. When you journal, you can certainly write down your prayers. However, you can also write down notes, scriptures, and insights that you get during prayer. You can paste prayer cards and pictures, doodle, and make it your safe and private place of encountering God.

To help you do this, last year I created a Lenten Prayer Journal. It is an unguided prayer journal sprinkled with scripture verses from the Mass readings, blank pages, and a section for specific prayer intentions. It is my heart’s desire that the journal be a comforting and “magical” place for you to grow in your faith and love for God.

(P.S. From now until March 1, 2017 – Ash Wednesday – you can get the printable pdf. version of the journal for only $5, regularly $12. Go here to purchase and download instantly. Go here for a free sample of journal. Go here for the paperback version of the journal on Amazon.)

5. Give yourself the gift of intention.

Finally, above all – no matter what you do the Lent – let it be intentional and focused. Be fully present to your devotions, family or whatever it is you are doing or not doing for Lent. That alone will transform your Lenten experience!

So many of us, myself included, live life too reactionary. We don’t take the time to think things through because we are too busy rushing from activity to activity and responsibility to responsibility. This year, take a few minutes to look at your calendar. What can you delegate, reschedule or remove so that you can give yourself some breathing room and mental space?

Now, let’s support each other.

Tell me, what are you doing for Lent this year? What are you going to do or not do in order to truly deepen your relationship with Jesus and renew your spirit this season? By putting it out there, it will help you stay accountable and give me the opportunity to pray for you!

As for me, I am focusing on the Nineveh 90 challenge. We are only a week in and it is proving to be a challenging and yet powerful experience. It is definitely helping me to be more disciplined in certain areas, that’s for sure! I still may give up something specific on top of this but I haven’t decided yet. 🙂

—————

Was this post helpful? Please help me spread the word and share it with your contacts on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or anywhere else you hang out online. Thanks!

Books Read in February 2016

If you read Monday’s post, you know that last week was CRAZY, and now I feel so behind! That is why I am getting this post out in the 2nd week of March instead of the 1st. 🙂

Books Read in February 2016

Amazingly, I did a fair amount of reading in February:

Trim Healthy Mama – very good!

An Amish Year – very good, too.

Choosing Joy – Like I wrote in the post, this one is a MUST READ

How to Get Honest Reviews – This is an excellent book that I hope to implement soon.

The Healing of Families – I’m still not sure how I feel about this book. There were a lot of good points but there were also some areas where I questioned the theology. I need to process this book a little more before making a final judgement.

Feels Like Love: A Snow Valley Romance – This is a Christmas story and although I know Christmas is over, I read it anyway. It is a cute and clean romance story.

Sugar Detox: Uncovering the Guide to a Healthier Lifestyle… – There were a lot of problems in this book including way too much repetition. It also read too much like a commercial. The concept is good and I have personal experience with sugar as an addiction  and the few recipes at that end that I tried were good but not enough to recommend the book.

How I Sold 80,000 Books – Got lots of great marketing ideas from this book!

Book Publishing for Beginners – This book is okay. There are some good ideas but, and I hate to write this, it was kind of boring. It was basically a play-by-play of a few of his book launches without much else. I wouldn’t recommend this book either.

Yes, I really read all those  nine books this month! Several of those books weren’t very long and I had lots of “pockets” of time where I was able to read for a bit.

Books I’m Planning to Read in March

I am not planning to do much reading in March, per se, unless I have unexpected reading time like I did in February. But here are the few (Not including the bible study):

The Power of Broke – I am reading this for the Blogging for Books review program

The Excellent Wife – I am reading this with some fellow homeschooling moms as a book study. So far, it has been very challenging – in a good way!

Living with Intent: How to Choose Joy and Success, and Change Your Life in 7 Days – I found the book free on Amazon and decided to check it out. The title is certainly interesting. 🙂

What are you reading this month? Do share!

*************

This post contains affiliate links, see my disclosure policy for details.

Tweetable: Books Read in February 2016

A Great Read: Love’s Enduring Gift

Loves Enduring Gift

I am really excited about this: a very dear friend of mine, Catherine Francis, just published her first book, called Love’s Enduring Gift! I’ve had the privilege to help edit the book and I am proud of all the hard work that Catherine put into the book.

So what’s the book about? It is a love-inspired novel focused around two people, Lynn and Scott. Here’s a snippet from Catherine’s website:

The story is about two young people, Lynn and Scott, and how their separate lives came together one sunny morning.  Scott stood and stretched, tired from work… Lynn took the walking path at their work to stretch her legs and continue reading her book.

From his window he saw her walking and decided to investigate the lovely sight that caught his eye.  Oblivious to the attention, Lynn continued her walk until a stranger in her path interrupted her reading.  It’s with this simple beginning that God took and fashioned these two into a relationship that would grow over time and blossom into something beyond their wildest dreams.

I know I am a little biased, but I loved the book and I think you will too. 🙂 I can’t tell you how many times I would forget to edit the book because I would get lost in the story, so I would have to go back and re-read for errors!

You can get the book on Amazon here.

7 Quick Takes: How to Find Free Books Edition

I’m not like most women. I don’t collect shoes or handbags or jewelry. I am pretty ruthless about getting rid of “junk” and am very much a minimalist. I’m not a collector of anything, except for one thing: BOOKS. Lock me in the library or book store and I’m in Heaven. LOL! I love me some books. Four days after getting a Kindle Touch for my birthday I had 50 books downloaded on it. I keep a running list of books that I want to get and read – more than any one person can read in a lifetime. I’m okay with that. 🙂

I’ve been known to pay a good amount of money (mine and others!) on books, but I also like getting them for free. Who wouldn’t? Here are my seven of my favorite places, mostly online, to get free books:

— 1 —

The Library. No brainer here. 🙂 One of the great things about the library is that if your branch doesn’t have the book you want, you can almost always get it through their inter-library system. Of course, the caveat (if you can even call it that), is you have to return the book!

— 2 —

Paperback Swap. If you haven’t discovered Paperback Swap, you should definitely take a look and sign up. The premise is you post the books you want to get rid of, and for each book that gets “ordered” you get a credit that you can use to order a book for yourself.

Two things about Paperback Swap you should know: 1. When you first sign up and post 10 books, you get two “free” credits to get you started with swapping. 2. The person sending the books pays the postage. For example, if you order a book that I have posted, I am the one who will pay the postage. When someone orders a book that you have posted, you pay the postage.

— 3 —

Amazon.com. Duh, right? A quick search on amazon.com for “free kindle ebooks” brings up pages of free ebooks that you can download to your Kindle. Just be warned: there are a lot of erotic ebooks listed, but if you can overlook them there are also a lot of classics and good books listed, too.

— 4 —

eReaderLove.com. This is a blog that lists lots and lots of ebooks that are listed free on amazon.com for a limited time. You can sign up for email updates and get daily notices of what books are available. There are often a lot of romance, historical fiction and horror novels listed if you are interested in those genres.

— 5 —

Openlibrary.org. I actually just discovered this site, and haven’t tried taking out a book out yet, but I did sign up for an account. What openlibrary.org does is allow you to borrow up to five books for two weeks. They have tons of books and an extensive inter-library system.

— 6 —

Book Review Sites. There are several book review sites, such as booksneeze.com, that allow to you get free books in exchange for a written review that you will post on your website and a commercial site, such as amazon.com. There are also websites, like netgalley.com, that don’t require you to write a review.

(The book review sites that I know of are not Catholic, but Protestant sites. If you know of any Catholic Publishers that offer blogger book review programs, please let me know! I’d really love to start reviewing Catholic specific books.)

— 7 —

Directly from Authors. Sometimes authors keep books on hand to give to bloggers or others who are willing to read the book in exchange for a review. I’ve been blessed to have been approached a couple of times by an author to read their book.

Or, if you have a favorite author, you may want to approach him or her and ask if he/she would be willing to give you a copy of their latest book in exchange for a review. I haven’t personally tried this since yet, but I would if I wasn’t back-loaded with reading right now. The worst they can say is no, right?

I have to put in a number 8. Family and friends. Since most people who know me knows I love to read, sometimes they will either pass on a book they liked for me to read, or will let me take one of their books if I ask.

Where do you find your free (or paid for) books? I’d love to know, so please tell me in the comments!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!