No Guilt Lent

Standard

Lent is a 40 day season of reflection and preparation for the celebration of Easter – Jesus’ resurrection. People that observe lent usually do so by giving up something in their life for 40 days (usually something they want to change – no coffee, sweets, or TV). Our family also has observed Lent by adding something positive to our life – time with God, daily readings, exercise. 40 days is chosen because of Jesus’ 40 days of fasting, prayer, and temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). Does your family or your church observe Lent? We have for the past several years. I’m not this year and I have no guilt.

As you know, I am in the journey of grief for my mom. She passed on January 20 this year. Some days I’m good and other days I’m not. That’s the journey. The idea of adding or taking away anything right now stresses me out. So I let go of Lent in the traditional sense. I am not giving up a TV show (I quit Oprah and Ellen in the past.) I am not skipping sweets (it’s Girl Scout cookie season and some days I just need a Tag A Long.) Besides, the purpose of Lent is reflection and preparation for Easter. I am doing that daily anyway.

Grief has a way of drawing you near to God in a way you never have. I can’t face my day without time with God. Some days it’s a short reading of His Word. Other days, it’s an extended time of prayer, reading, and sitting in His presence. I am reflecting on His gift of eternal life and I cling to the hope that my mom is with Him in heaven. (Not because she was a good person but because she made a decision at one point in her life to accept and believe that Jesus is God’s Son and He died and rose again on our behalf to pay our penalty for sin so that we can live eternally with Him.) The good news of Easter is His gift of salvation – reconnection with God and forgiveness of our sin/disobedience. I reflect daily in God and who He is. Some days my reflection leads me to question why He allowed an event to happen. Some days my reflection leads me to see His presence in my life in a very real way. Both days, I am spending time with God. I am being shaped into His image more and more.

My Lent this year is guilt free and all about reflection and preparation for the hope of Easter. I didn’t have to give up or add something to my life to make this journey. I would be doing this whether it was Lent, 4th of July, or Labor Day. My grief is lining up with the Lenten season so it’s working.

Lent often leads people to develop new habits or rhythms with God. 40 days of a new behavior will help that happen. Allow this Lent to lead you closer to Him and to a place of pure joy and hope on Easter Sunday. Matthew Kelly of Best Lent Ever says,

“It’s not what you give up, it’s who you become.”

The Psalmist of 46:10 says,

“Be still and know that I am God”

Dream Big! Pray Big!

Valentine’s Day Blues

Standard

How was your Valentine’s Day? Holidays can be bittersweet. Mine was bittersweet. Sweet: My dad gave the kids and I Valentine’s cards and chocolate. Bitter: He addressed it from Grandpa to the kids and from Dad to me. Grandma/Mom was missing.

Take time to identify the bitter and the sweet in your Valentine’s Day.

Sweet: Hubby got me a card Bitter: He didn’t sign it

Sweet: Galentine’s Day celebration with friends still happened Bitter: On Zoom

Sweet: Watched a Hallmark movie that made me laugh, cry and smile Bitter: Watched it alone

You get the point. Maybe you are the Valentine’s Fairy in your home. I usually am. I run to the dollar store and get a ton of cheesy items to decorate a table and make the kids a fun pile of red and pink heart decorations. This year, I knew I didn’t have it in me. I talked to the kids in advance and agreed a nice meal would be our Valentine’s Treat this year. (Last year I did the cute cheesy stuff and bought Disney+ instead of gifts.) We had a fabulous meal at a new restaurant in our downtown area. We ate breakfast burritos, omelets, avocado toast and pastries while we attended church on the couch.

By the end of the day, I was tired and (confession) grumpy. I had cried a lot over missing mom and other open wounds in my life. When we went to get take out for dinner, I snapped at my son, started crying and didn’t enjoy the fabulous food. We had bitter and sweet yesterday. I know I am in a season of grief and ups and downs are normal. However, your day may have been bitter and sweet even if you aren’t in grief.

Whatever yesterday looked like, or felt like, for you, know you are loved. You are valued. You are forgiven.

The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: I have loved you with an everlasting love;
    I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” ~ Jeremiah 31:3 NIV

Valentine’s Day is one day. Some call it a Hallmark holiday. Some avoid it altogether. Some celebrate Gal-entine’s Day with their friends. Others sit home and weep over the lack of someone to share life with. Some shower others with love. Some are showered in love. Some shower others and are showered themselves. Whatever happened for you and to you: today, yesterday, and forever, we are all loved with an everlasting love and drawn near with unfailing kindness. God loves you and so do I.

Dream Big! Pray Big!

PJ Zoom

Standard

Who can you zoom in your PJs with? I pondered this question this week and answered it. I had a lazy morning and was in my PJs at 9 am. My writer’s group had started their zoom meeting. I was just popping in for a bit to say hi and pray together. I decided, Pjs were fine. I zoomed in my Pjs. Of course they didn’t care. Most of them were jealous. What I felt was pure acceptance and love.

I am behind in my blogging. If you didn’t know, my mom passed away on January 20. I am grieving. I felt that my next blog needed to be about her. Guess what? I’m not ready to write that blog. Grief is new to me and overwhelming. However, today God reminded me of my PJ zoom. I wanted to share that with you all. You see, you are my PJ friends too. I would wear my PJs with you. My blog is me in my PJs. Being me. Being real. Being vulnerable. Being fun. So, hence the PJ blog.

Who are you PJ friends? Who can pop by your house (pre-Covid of course) and you don’t care how the house looks? Who can you run into at 9 pm at the store when you ran to get one thing while wearing your sweats and you don’t care? Who can you call and share the ugly cry with over the phone (again Covid situation, in person is better)? Who are you PJ friends?

Find them and plan a zoom. Or a social distance hot cocoa and donut party. Friends, we need PJ friends. Come as you are. I come to you as I am. Not sure what to say about my grief journey but ready to hang with you again. I miss you when I don’t blog. I feel like I’m letting us both down. This blog inspires me. This blog allows me to reach out to you from deep within. So to my PJ friends, I’m OK but not great. I will continue to blog. Eventually you will get my mom blog. Not sure when but when I do, I know you will love it. My mom was great! I am better because of her. I am better because of you and this blog. Thank you for reading. Thanks for being my PJ friends.

Dream Big! Pray Big!