3 Ways I Love to Celebrate Lent

“Lent isn’t about forfeiting as much as it’s about formation.” -Ann Voskamp

For those of you who, like me, didn’t grow up celebrating Lent there is much to learn, and much to celebrate. Jesus Christ’s 40 days of fasting in the desert are the spiritual foundation for the season that begins on Ash Wednesday.

Thomas Merton wrote, “Lent is not just a time for squaring conscious accounts: but for realizing what we had perhaps not seen before.”

Lent officially began February 10th, but we know it’s never too late to worship, or to discover new ways to worshipping, even if we didn’t grow up celebrating the Lenten season.

Below are three resources I LOVE and have used. I hope you’ll share yours in the comment section!

{A Free 40 Day Lent Devotional Journey, Ann Voskamp}

 

I’m using Ann Voskamp’s free 40 Day Lent Devotional this year. I wish I’d started on the 10th, but I didn’t, so I will begin where I am.
Here are some quotes on Lent to consider during this season, and every day:
“The goal of fasting is inner unity. This means hearing, but not with the ear; hearing, but not with the understanding; it is hearing with the spirit, with your whole being.” Fr. Thomas Merton
“Lord, have mercy on me! … I make no effort to conceal my wounds. You are my physician, I your patient. You are merciful; I stand in need of mercy.” St. Augustine
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23
Do you have a go-to resource for the Lenten season, or what is one way you choose to prepare your heart for Easter? 

One Simple But Meaningful Gift for Singles this Valentine’s Day

by Cathy Baker @cathysbaker

I’ve been thinking a lot about Hagar lately.

Remember in Genesis 16 when she fled from Sarai? She felt abandoned and probably forgotten by God. She must have felt as if no one saw her, or cared about her, or the baby she was carrying.

This Valentine’s Day, many of you will find your love life to be much like a box of chocolates⎯satisfying, sweet, ooey-gooey on the inside…all yours to enjoy.

For others, it might instead be a day of remembering what was lost, or what could have been. It could be a day when you relate more to Hagar than you ever thought possible.

I remember reading the story of Hagar (Genesis 16) in my early 30’s as a relatively new believer. I wept when I read verse 13. It had only been a handful of years since I was a single mom struggling with similar emotions. But God {game changer} rescued me, and as a result, I could say for the first time, as did Hagar, I have now seen the One who sees me.

It’s because of those single days that my heart goes out to you who may not hear your name called when flowers are delivered to your workplace, or handed your very own box of chocolates to enjoy.

This year, while strolling {okay, stalking} the $1.00 aisle at Target, glass jars with sparkly hearts spoke to me. I didn’t exactly know what I would do with them, but that didn’t stop me from buying several.

After a little thought and prayer, I decided to make a jar filled with seven slips of paper, each with a different promise from God. Seven, because it’s the biblical number for completion. In Christ, we find our completeness⎯not in another person, our children, our homes or anything else. His promises from the Word are active and alive, able to lift the heaviest of hearts.

 

A Gift of God’s Promises

 

 

 

{This is the jar I found at Target but you can use any container.}

{At first I felt a little guilty for not handwriting the promises but then I was reminded that it’s not my hand that holds the power, but His. Click here for a printable copy of the seven promises I’m using.}

 

{I also found these tags in the $1.00 bin at Target.}
 

{On each tag, I’ll write a brief note describing why seven promises were chosen. I’ll also share how much they are loved, especially by their heavenly Father.}

And the best, most precious gift we can to give anyone is prayer. As I head to their home or to the post office to deliver the gifts, I will pray for each of them by name.

 

She [Hagar] gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” Genesis 16:13

Has God placed a Hagar in your life? We have a week to consider how we can love others, single or not, around us this Valentines Day.  

What is one of God’s promises that you would include in the above gift? Please share! 
If you missed Saturday’s post, Edie Melson: A Glimpse Into Her Quiet Time, click here to read it. Be blessed!

When Gratefulness Shows Up in A Jar

The spirit of gratefulness permeates the month of November like none other, and for good reason. Thanksgiving, filled community food pantries, families gathered, memories made, etc.

In celebration, every Monday and Wednesday during November, I’ll share specific and creative ways we can shift gratitude from a feeling to an action.

Today’s project will give us plenty of time to gather all our gratefulness into a glass jar before Thanksgiving. I touched on the subject back in 2013 and felt it was time to bring it up again because I know the impact it made on those who received my gratitude in a jar.

 

 

{Start A “Why I’m Grateful For You” Jar Today}
  • Small Mason jar or any pint-sized jar (based on how many pieces of paper you use)
  • Paper and Pen
  • Ribbon, markers, or peel-off lettering to decorate jar

Cut paper into small tag-size pieces. On each piece of paper, write out one specific reason why you are grateful for that person. The more specific, the better.

It can be something small or seemingly insignificant. Share a memory or a specific way that person makes you feel. You can use a random number of tags to be opened at any time, or…

I made one of these jars for each of my grandmothers a few years before their passing. I gave it to them at Thanksgiving, filled with 31 tags, asking them to read one tag every day in December. They both shared how much it meant to them to read the specific ways they’d blessed my life. I didn’t want there to be any question in their minds as to how much they meant to me, how much I loved them.

Gratitude in action is a beautiful thing.

How can you put your gratitude in action through a “Grateful for You” jar this Thanksgiving?

Congratulations to Heather, the random winner of the tea mug filled with tea, and especially prayers. I just need your address! 🙂

 

Fall Decorating – 16 Ideas!

When I jotted down these fall ideas for this month’s challenge awhile back, this idea made the cut.

My plans included a walk through my yard, a pair of clippers, and lots of photos. But the weather has a way of changing things up, much like the seasons.

So I took to the internet to find ideas much more creative than I could ever dream up — and while there were many, none quite compared to this recent post on Houzz.

In Laura Gaskill’s article, Decorating With Nature in Fall and Winter, she shares sixteen unique and creative ideas, like this one with the clipped branches from a sugar maple tree. It serves to celebrate the season in all its glory like none other. Even the fallen leaves on the floor add to the celebration!

Other natural items used in the article above are feathers, branches (with lights — love!), leaves for natural fall garlands, etc.

Stop by and take a look! All the ideas are on one page so there’s no irritating pauses between clicks.

Enjoy!

 

 

Transitional Staircase by Rockport Architects & Building Designers Priestley + Associates Architecture

Gratitude… Spelled Out By Hand

by Cathy Baker

There is a gratefulness often gone unspoken, relying only on assumptions between two people. Then it’s too late, and assumptions ripen into regrets never fulfilled this side of heaven.

It’s for this reason I decided to bundle six notes of gratitude together to slip into my hubby’s luggage for a recent trip to France. With our 25th wedding anniversary just around the corner {actually, it’s today!)}, it was the perfect opportunity to leave all assumptions behind.

So I purchased a pack of note cards and began writing one for each day he was to be away, spelling out why I’m grateful for him.

Sunday’s card shared what he could expect throughout the week. A Week of Gratefulness, if you will.

Monday focused on how grateful I am for his relationship with Christ, for it is from that relationship that all else flows.

Tuesday through Thursday were specific things I’m grateful for, character-wise, and I ended Friday’s note by sharing how grateful I am for how hard he works. I chose to end the week focused on work because it doesn’t define who he is…it’s simply what he does. And he does it well. He’s one of the hardest workers I know, and for that, I am very grateful.

Did anyone in particular come to mind as you read today’s post? Grab the phone or pen and paper…don’t hesitate another moment…let the gratitude flow. 

You’ll never regret it.

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