Today is Ash Wednesday and as Chris and I talked about it over the weekend I told him that this was always a day that I looked forward to with anticipation. I know that may be a little “odd” because the symbolism behind Ash Wednesday is that it represents the 40 days of fasting that Jesus practiced in the wilderness. Ash Wednesday is the “kick off” to Lent where Christians are reminded to repent and believe in the gospel and receive the mark of the cross on their foreheads from the ashes of last year’s Easter palm branches. I am not a huge fan of fasting although I have done it and realize the importance of it in my spiritual life so my focus during Lent is not on the fasting and the self denial but more on the refocusing and giving of myself.
The past few years I have started a Lenten tradition that I plan to continue in 2015. Instead of giving something up and believe me -I have gone that route some years. I have given up sweet tea which was a big thing when I lived in North Carolina. I have given up chocolate which is a huge thing anytime for me. I have given up salty snacks. I have given up a multitude of things but once I gave up “giving up” and focused on giving instead I have had a deeper connection with what this season should be about for me.
This year I am going to continue to give instead of give up. During Lent I will send 40 letters to 40 different people who I want to tell that I love them. Some years I have gone the homemade card route but this year my time is limited for card making other than my Hospice cards and I don’t want this to be a stressful exercise. Instead I want to honor some of the people in my life who might not realize how much they mean to me.
I found the perfect pad of fold and mail stationary that had the perfect number of 40 which means I can send one out every day in Lent (leaving out the Sundays). They will be easy to carry with me on my travels and small enough that I can just jot a few lines without having to write a novel. I was thrilled when I found these and know that they will be my perfect Lenten letter solution.
I know that not everyone has the same feeling about Lent as I do and that is fine with me but for me it is a time to reflect and perhaps reassess where I am in my life, in my Christian walk and in my outreach to others. Anytime that I can spend a little bit of time trying to improve myself is well worth it.
Do you have any traditions that you do during Lent? Do you give something up? Do you increase your Bible study or church attendance? Do you give up or give? I would love to hear what you do. Please feel free to comment and remember that Comments for a Cause this month goes to Room to Read.
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I like this concept so much–giving rather than giving up. I’m sure the people receiving your letters will be pleased and touched. Great idea and post, Beth Ann!
Thanks, Laura. It has been such a great experience for me for several years and since I love sending (and receiving!) letters it makes total sense to continue to do it. I know it is not everyone’s “thing” and that is okay but it fits me well.. Hope you are well!
I love this tradition!
Once again, you show us how much you care and reflect God’s love by giving to others. I have been on the receiving end of your compassion and care multiple times and am always blessed. You are loved!
Thank you! I feel the love!
I LOVE this idea! I hope you don’t mind if I steal the idea! While I don’t think I’ll get 40 done, I’m going to make an effort to send some notes to some “forgotten” people in my life!
I do not mind one little bit. I am thrilled that you like the idea and I am sure that those you bless with a note will be thrilled to get it. Such a small gesture but so meaningful. Let me know how it goes!
What a great idea, Beth Ann! We’re told to give as well as receive, so this is a wonderful practice. I try to combine giving up with giving as well — I like to set aside three days a week for giving more (maybe doing more Scripture reading, charitable giving, etc.) and three days for giving up (something I like, whether it be an extra cookie or refusing to grumble when asked to do something I want). I think the key is doing something to make this season prayerful!
Debbie—I love your idea as well! Three days a week for giving more and three days for giving up. Those are absolutely fabulous ideas!!! I love it!
I too love your idea and thank you for sharing! I love to handwrite letters and notes, though I am a big “emailer” but there is something about “putting pen to paper”. This may be a stretch but I think “giving up” time to love your neighbor, family, friend and spread the gospel, is definitely appropriate. Thanks again for sharing!
What a great idea! Getting letters are always the best and when you send one you feel so good you made the extra effort! Awesome idea Beth Ann!
Thanks, Alicia! It has been a great thing for me to do and even though this year they won’t be homemade cards like I have done in years past they will still be fun to send and hopefully receive. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by.
What a nice idea. My daughter and I were just talking about how special it is to get a card or note in the mail nowadays as it doesn´t happen very often. Giving means you are giving up some of your time so it means the same. You will enjoy writing the notes as well.
Exactly! It is giving up something in a good way, right? I love getting letters so that makes me want to write more of them.
I just got this via email. It seems to have come without error! I think you fixed the glitch! Happy, blessed Lenten Season to you & yours!
I just read this idea on another site. Wonderful idea! In the past years, I’ve tried to do a little something extra instead of giving something up.
What a wonderful idea! And what a blessing to the receivers. Sounds like a great way to focus on the Lenten season.
This is a fantastic idea. Last year I was the recipient of a similar type letter from a girl that was in the youth group my wife and I led years ago. She was writing 40 letters during Lent to people that had an influence in her life. Her letter to us was both very humbling and rewarding. I’m still contemplating what I’ll do for Lent this year.
That is awesome! I love that you were the recipient of a similar thing! There are so many different ways to observe Lent–there is no wrong way as long as it is part of the journey, right?
[…] “why” box, the words Monsignor Brunkan spoke and my friend Beth Ann, have just cemented the idea that not only do our spoken words matter, but our written words matter […]