In anticipation

Today I got to do something that I haven't done in a while.  I sat at Barnes and Noble and read.  I love to read, although I'm not currently into reading big books...magazines, cookbooks, idea books, etc.  Material that can be read in segments and don't require cover to cover reading in page order.  I sat with my cup of coffee, a stack of magazines, my cookbook and my idea journal--and a pen.  :)  I quickly put together my meal menus for the coming week and then proceeded to dive into that pile of magazines that contained all kinds of ideas and tips for sewing, decorating, crafting, cooking...

(serious phone camera issues!)

I had other things I could have been doing...running all kinds of errands, but just sitting by myself for an hour sounded so inviting, so I accepted my invitation.  I actually had about an hour and 15 minutes while Joshua was at basketball practice and it went so very quickly!  Even with media open and the Cafe stimuli all around me, it was quiet in terms of my normal world, and it allowed my mind to wander and ponder some things.  Things that I have been pondering for a few weeks now. 

Ash Wednesday is four days is also Benjamin's birthday, so I've been well aware of the countdown for quite some time now.  Lent begins then.  Occasionally there is someone who will assume that the season of Lent is exclusively a Catholic thing...that would mean that Easter is exclusively Catholic too right?  Anyway, Lent is a season in the Liturgical Calendar that is not part of Ordinary time .  Lent is a time when Christians prepare for Easter by observing a period of fasting, repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline. The purpose is to set aside time for reflection on Jesus Christ - his suffering and his sacrifice, his life, death, burial and resurrection.   Not all Christians observe Lent, but it seems that more and more non-Catholic Christians are taking the time to learn a little more about it. I think it is due to things around us reaching such a state of disorder as my friend Lindsay acknowleged a while back.  We are craving order...home, family, health and spiritual order.

As Catholics, we fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday and abstain from meat on all Fridays during Lent.  Fasting as a spriritual growth and sacrifice is biblical (some may argue it is not).  It is also common among Catholics to observe a practice of further fasting during Lent as an additional sacrifice, or offering up other sacrifices during this time.  Since fasting has to do with food, anything else given up is more of a disciplinary sacrifice...but some people still refer to giving up biting their nails as a "fast".  I guess if fingernails are considered nutritional substance...ick!

I find myself in a place right now of desiring much more in my relationship with Jesus, in my walk with Him.  I began to look at Lent in a whole different light.  I've been going about it all wrong all of these years.  For the most part, I've always been pregnant or nursing which allowed me to be exempt from truly fasting...I pretty much took advantage of it mentally and wasn't fully committed.  I looked at giving something up or adding something spiritually beneficial to my day kind of like a New Year's resolution and I tried to stay as committed as I could, but while I was abstaining from pop or coffee or candy, I didn't take advantage of the opportunity to draw closer to Jesus during the times that my "fast" was difficult.  Truthfully, it wasn't ever hard enough...more of an inconvenience than anything else. 

This year, I had been contemplating a couple of different things to "give up" being my time online and the other being a really crummy diet of processed, unhealthy foods.  I pretty much made exceptions for both...blogging, email, allowing fast food or frozen pizza or chicken nuggets when the day or week was crazy busy, basically I was thinking:  "eat less garbage and more wholesome things" which left lots of room for individual interpretation,  etc, etc.  I was genuinely trying to figure out a way to make sure it provided me the opportunity for spiritual growth though.  Then I had a conversation with some friends who were actually considering the same things (for the most part) and I found myself feeling the persuation of positive peer pressure to step it up a notch--or three!  The computer part I thought some more about and prayed about it.  The other I was just immediately on board simply because I felt like our conversation was the answer to my previous prayers about how to go about this fast. 

The more I pondered and read things, the more excited I became about having an amazing and successful Lent, full of what it is supposed to be full of...prayer, fasting and almsgiving.  I read from a nun somewhere that if you give up slathering butter on something and then complain about missing  it the whole time, it's not really a sacrifice.  If you give up slathering butter on everything, but you don't really eat much butter anyway, then it isn't really a sacrifice.  If you give up slathering butter on everything for Lent, but you feel like it's all good because you need to lose weight anyway and this will help, you're really not making much of a sacrifice.  Hmm...that was a lot of food for thought for me.  Quietly and silently I will fast (and sacrifice) without drawing attention to what I am doing.  What I've chosen will be needs to be for me. 

I tend to be an all-or-none kind of person. If I start to do something half-way, I just decide that it isn't for me and I stop.  That's been a hard adjustment for me as I begin to realize that there are lots of things I can't do all the way like I used to.  So I guess, there are some things that I've accepted that I will do sort-of-well, rather than really well.  Unless it's wearing a moisturizer and a sunscreen and foundation makeup which I really can't figure out how to make it a habit to do it, but give me a tinted SPF moisturizer and I'm good to go!  I'm also somewhat of a structured person, so I do well with deadlines and start dates.  It doesn't always make sense to me that I can't bring myself to start doing something beneficial before the official start date.

Begining on Ash Wednesday, I will not turn my computer on until Easter Sunday (OK...maybe after the vigil on Saturday).  I am excited about the time that will be in front of me.  I really do spend way too much time in front of this screen!  If it were alcohol, my family and friends would have intervened by now because I would always be intoxicated.  This is more for me, for preventing destructive behavior, but the timing of Lent is perfect.  I will definitely require strength from the Holy Spirit to stick to my guns about this and not make exceptions. Thanks to my friends for the positive peer pressure that made me decide on a total blackout rather than a partial one.  I can do this!  I know there are going to be a couple of bumps in the road but I am committed and excited to see the good that comes from it.  I thought about journaling about my sacrifices during Lent and blogging about them after EAster.  I haven't reached a conclusion about that.  I think that I may want to have a record of how I grew during those 47 days (we don't practice breaking fast on Sundays), but I also may conclude that I don't need ink to remember.  We'll see.