The Lent 2017 Kickoff
Here we are at the beginning of another Lent. I am not sure when my Lenten love affair began, but I can tell you that it is currently in full bloom! I feel energized during this time of sacrifice. The grace of a Christian world praying, fasting and helping others in order to strengthen their relationship with Christ, is exciting! This year, as I contemplated what areas of my life could use a booster shot of faith - 6 ideas came to me. Being the overachiever that I am - instead of picking and choosing, I'm going to do my best to rock all of 6 them!
Prayer with Small Groups
My own reawakening to a life with Christ came about thanks to an amazing small group experience. Finding the right people, material and schedule, provided me an opportunity to connect with God not only on Sundays but also on the night of our meeting (as well as each day I spent with my reading assignments).
The small group gave me something to ACT (Accountability, Community and Teach-ability) upon. While I could always find many reasons not to read for myself, knowing others would be counting on me pushes through all my excuses. Aside from the accountability, I now have a community I am excited to spend time with and that also prepares me to be prepared for our study time. Learning new things also inspired and motivated me; and before long I found I had create daily prayer and reflection habits!
How I Plan to Overachieve in Prayer this Lent
Fasting To Improve my Life
For the past year, I have been hard at work on two areas of my life I had seriously neglected. My health (and weight) and my finances. In April 2016, this lifetime member returned to Weight Watchers after beginning the weight loss journey the year before with my daily Rosary walk and more mindful eating. After some initial success; I am now stuck roughly 5 lbs from my goal weight - but more importantly am feeling stuck in my willpower and lacking the motivation to continue. In addition, I've also been fighting a severe Eczema flare since June - and after applying every topical remedy I can find - know it is time to fight this from the inside.
So, Fast #1 is going to be in an elimination diet which will include not only gluten, dairy and wheat; but now also nuts, my beloved peanut butter and eggs. BRING ON THE AIR DIET! The tracking encouraged by Weight Watchers, which is really key to staying 'on track' (pun intended), will be valuable to helping me pinpoint if there is a food triggering responsible for this itch-fest that has become my life! Why include this in my Lent Plan? Simple, because focusing on what Jesus did for me during these 40 days of Lent; will certainly make not being able to have a PB&J for breakfast a little less dramatic!
Fasting isn't JUST about Food
Fast #2 will be from television. I have offered this one up every year. It is the best way to make more time for what I really want to do this Lent; which is build a stronger relationship with Jesus. This reduction in TV time always helps me eat less too - a win-win for sure!
Not So Secret Almsgiving
While I am well aware that the Bible teaches us to do our good deeds in private; as a blogger there is a part of me that hopes there is a little pass when you are sharing for the good of helping others develop their Lenten plans. I mentioned above that in addition to the health crisis; we also finally had to admit to a serious financial crisis as well. While the Lord has been incredibly generous to my family this year as we work all this out; I wanted to use Lent as a time to push our financial recovery plan even further. Sacrifice in a budget is even harder for me than giving up my favorite foods; so once again I will be clinging to the grace of Lent to strengthen my (ours really, as this is a family mission) resolve.
This idea starts off really as a fast and in the end will convert into alms-giving. Our goal is to look over our budget; and tighten it in places we have been either unaware or unwilling to in the past. We will then donate 10% of whatever we are able to save in the next 40 plus days.
40 Bags for 40 Days
Lastly, as I look around my home, I see clutter. Although I have been actively decluttering for the past 10 years; there still seems to be lots of hot spots needing attention. A blogger friend mentioned White House Black Shutters' 40 Bags in 40 Days declutter challenge, and I immediately knew that was the final piece of my Lenten Overachieving Puzzle!
What about you? Accountability, Community and Teach-ability are wonderful ways for us to connect during Lent. Share you Lenten Plan in the comments; and be sure to visit this month's CWBN Blog Hop!
Truth Hidden in a Rosebush
The story of what I learned about prayer the first time seeking St. Therese's intercession. All I was asking for was help finding a boyfriend, landing a new job and buying a car ... simple request I thought; until I landed in the rosebush!
Read the entire story over on the New Evangelizers!
My Review of an Amazing new Video Series
"I will think of everything, you think only of love Me. Jesus, Mary, I love you. Save Souls"
This has been my new prayer mantra; which I gleamed from this gem with Sr. Faustina Maria.
Busy Week of Interviews on A Seeking Heart with Allison Gingras
But wait there's more... Here's one to enjoy right now:
All Rights Reserved Allison Gingras 2017
Really. Please don't leave Social Media for Lent. I understand that many people use this hiatus to spend time working on their own personal spiritual growth; and I can completely respect that HOWEVER.... please don't completely disappear for 40 days when social media needs you the most. Okay, I've always had a flair for the dramatic but here's why I am begging you to stay:
'Tis the Season
Lent is a season when many people make a resolution to investigate or rejuvenate a faith life. The internet just happens to be a place many people will turn for guidance and even perhaps seek a community to take the journey with. So, what happens when those who are most likely to post something faith based, could possibly answer questions or would be open to connect as community make a mass exodus off social media during Lent?? There is a risk for missed opportunity to evangelize, catechize and support those seeking meaning through an experience with Christ this Lent.
If You Simply Must
Some alternatives to consider if you still feel called to follow a social media blackout:
How I am Spending My Lent
This year WINE: Women In the The Evangelization is journeying through Lent with the one of a kind: Walk in Her Sandals: Experiencing Christ’s Passion through the Eyes of Women.
You’ve never read a book like this before:
It’s part Bible study, part reflection on women’s special gifts, part prayer and discussion guide . . . all tied together with a fabulous biblical historical mini-novel about women living through the events of Jesus’s passion, death, and resurrection. Reading it will draw you into the experience of Lent in an entirely new way. It will deepen your relationship with Jesus. It will lead you to contemplate your own gifts in light of his work. And it will encourage you to step out into the new year refreshed and empowered to follow the Lord.
CLICK HERE: To Join the WINE LENTEN BOOK CLUB ... including exclusive WINE Lenten email; WINE Enthusiast resources, and to WINE Walk in Her Sandals book and journal bundle. ON Facebook - Search for the WINE Lenten Book Club and join our growing community. We'll be sharing quotes, video, photo challenges and so much more! *Yours truly is honored to be facilitating the online component of this awesome Lenten Book Club!!
All Rights Reserved, Allison Gingras 2017
Book Club description quoted from the WINE website, all rights reserved.
In addition to sharing my faith thoughts on Reconciled To You and chatting away daily on A Seeking Heart with Allison Gingras, I am also blessed to contribute across the web.
Can I Really Trust a Shepherd?
Ben Walther - A Light to the Nations
A Very Unexpected Response
Seek the LORD while he may be found, call him while he is near. Let the scoundrel forsake his way, and the wicked man his thoughts; let him turn to the LORD for mercy; to our God, who is generous in forgiving. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts. ~ Isaiah 55:1-11
The women’s hand was not even completely in the air before the question came bursting forth, and the tears welled in her eyes. “How can we let go of wanting to hear we are forgiven, when we’ve begged for it, but the other person is not willing to extend it. As a human person, I want to hear those words not from God but from the other person.” My heart truly ached as I heard in her voice the depth of her pain and her desperation for an answer.
This exchange came during a recent women’s retreat that I offer on the peace of forgiveness. Although I wished with my all my breaking heart to lavish her with a concrete, “it will be fixed by morning,” response, I knew that was not how this forgiveness thing worked. Nor is our human idea of how things should “play through”, always in line with how God, in His infinite wisdom (Romans 11:33), plans to work things out.
SEARCHING WITH FAITH
While nothing is impossible for God (Luke 1:37), and He could bring about what she so felt was needed to be free of this pain, it would most likely not happen in that way. But why?
God’s ways, as Isaiah taught us so long ago, are not our ways. More importantly, those ways are so above our thinking; we could not even begin to comprehend the “why” of how things are being worked out in our lives, but we are called to believe they are in the hands of God (Psalm 31:15).
This is where faith enters in. Faith believes that God cares so deeply for us and our well-being, that whatever He is allowing in the present circumstances of our lives, He will surely use for our good (Romans 8:28).
As for this sweet woman, along with these powerful and I believe comforting words from Isaiah, I encouraged her to focus on her relationship with God. I prayed that as she discovered He who is “merciful and generous in forgiving”, she would also find that His sustaining and healing grace is enough for her (2 Cor 12:9); and regardless of what that other party ever did or said, she would have a peace that surpasses all understanding (Phil 4:6). For truly, His thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways not ours, but higher, so much higher!
All Rights Reserved, Allison Gingras 2017