What Are You Giving Up For Lent?

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday. As most people know, this is the 40 days period of preparation for Easter with reflection, repentance, and prayer. Most people fast or give up things for Lent. I am not Catholic but I have fasted and given up thing before for Lent as a way to get closer to God. In the past I’ve given up alcohol, reality television, and sweets. I always make it the 40 days. I feel great about myself for having the self-control and will to do so. I have not necessarily felt closer to God in doing these things. Today while I was reading my devotional, I came across this passage:

And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.  -Matthew 6:16-18

And there you have it. I can be honest and say that one of the main reasons I give up things for Lent is because everyone else is doing it. I could tell people what I was giving up and why. Then people would go “oh wow….good luck!” That’s why I never got more than an exercise in self-determination because it wasn’t done in the correct spirit. So this year I’m not giving up anything. I am going to use this period to pray more sincerely and to better my temple. I am going to continue my work on becoming a better Christian and a better person altogether. My walk with Christ i not supposed to be a show but I want people to see Him when they see me and my work. THAT i my focus for the Lenten season.

Are you giving up something for Lent? What is it? What are your preparations before Easter?

A New Beginning….

Today is the First Sunday of the month. The church sermon today was about getting back on track and doing a revival. I know that the pastor was referring to a spiritual revival, but I know that there are so many more aspects to life that folks need to revive. My mind went to wandering about where I am and how I may be falling short. I figure there is no time better than this day to do some self reevaluations and get some things back on track. To do this, I had to look back on my list of goals for the year that I made on New Year’s Day. While this hasn’t been a complete fail, I am a little off where I want to be. I have been making some steps but I love to push myself to near perfection. So here’s where I stand….
Goal #1: The first task was the pass the MS bar exam…..which I failed. I was exactly 6 points away from passing. I just don’t get it. I come SO close to be able to reach out and grab it and can’t get to it. 
Goal #2: Still haven’t got that job yet…..but I have an interview for a great job lined up. Not necessarily in my career path….but it will pay the bills until I get there.
Goal #3: As far as my weight loss goes….I have gained and lost the same 6 pounds since the beginning of the year. Even though I want to lose weight, I have not been motivated enough to actually do something about it for more than 2 weeks at a time.
Goal #4: This is one I am blowing out of the water!! I am reading more than I have been over the past 4 years. I have started a Goodreads book reading challenge and have pledged to read 25 books over the course of this year. I’m 5 down and almost finished with the 6th! Yay!
Goal #5: I am slowly but surely beginning to blog more. This is a challenge because I get intimidated by other people out there. I am starting to find my own voice though….
Goal #6: *sighs* I am not attending church regularly. BUT I have been watching church regularly on Ustream. So I am, by my own standards, making strides. The upside of watching this church on Ustream is that I will be actually setting foot in the doors regularly really soon…..which brings me to…..
Goal #7: I am going to be moving away from Oxford in 2 months!!!!! Whether or not I have a job by the end of my lease, I am going to be moving to the Jackson Metro area. Now if certain job opportunities open up….I will be moving elsewhere. But the time in Oxford is coming to an end.
Now 3 and a possible out of 7 isn’t bad….but I need to get in gear NOW. So this is the updated list for the rest of the year.
Find a job. No way around it. Just has to happen.
Start studying for the Tennessee and Louisiana bar exams. I really feel like that this is a sign that Mississippi is not my final resting place. It’s time to get moving. I thought that I could only take the Mississippi bar 3 times but after this fail attempt, they sent me the paperwork for a retest. I don’t know if I want to go through this with the state of Mississippi again. I will try for reciprocity later in life if I want to come home and practice.
Lose this weight. It’s really getting ridiculous now. I saw a recent picture of myself that made me ask “what happened?” I am starting to have big girl issues….and I am afraid, lol. Tomorrow is the day. No excuses. Just got to get moving.
Continue in my walk with God. It’s one of the few things that is giving me life right now. For the first time in a long time, I am excited about my faith.
How are doing with your New Year’s resolutions? Are you keeping up or falling short?

What Can 40 Days Do For You?

Today is Ash Wednesday. For many, today is the beginning of the Lenten season. Most people usually give up certain things for Lent in order to get closer to God. I have noticed, however, that giving up things for Lent seem to be more about letting people know what you are sacrificing rather than gaining a closer relationship with God. I have participated one time. That was back when I was in law school. I gave up drinking. I knew it was something that I needed to do because I was becoming a binge drinker (law school will do that to you). Those 40 days turned into 6 months. The first 10 days were hard, but after a while I felt that I didn’t need to drink. It was only after 6 months that my roommate fussed, “Girl, it ain’t Lent no more!! Take this shot!!” I had totally forgotten that I could because I didn’t need to. Now I partake in a lovely evening glass of wine, but I can’t even get drunk anymore.

This year, I am going to take a totally different approach to Lent. This 40 days is going to be about getting closer to God through prayer and study. I have a copy of The Purpose Driven Life and the companion journal. I have started and stopped on this book many times throughout the past 5 years!! I don’t know what kept holding me back from it. The farthest I have ever gotten was Day 3. Today I sat and started completely over….determined to see it through. The first lesson of the day was that it all begins with God. The purpose of my life comes from God and not through me. This is the first step….because I am a control freak. Letting go and letting God is hard, but I am learning. God usually prepares people for big things in 40 days….at the end of this book (40 days!) I wonder where my mind will be.

From Trash To Treasure

Psalm 139:14 NIV: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

I have been craving a better spiritual connection and relationship with God. I have had many hangups about the church, but I am learning to let those go. I know that the journey begins and ends with me taking the steps.

I started a devotional bible reading plan on YouVersion.com. I love this website because it has a bible app for my Blackberry and allows me to make notes, bookmark verses and keeping up with my daily readings no matter where I am. Today’s bible verse is the Psalm I quoted above and the topic was “from trash to treasure.” The devotional centered around a piece of old worn out furniture that the author was trying to restore.

You, Lord, have the capability of undoing all my blemishes and mistakes, of taking me back to bare wood again. Better still, You are able to take my gouges and stains–my flaws–and rub and polish them until they’re really the prettiest areas on the desk!
You have done this in my life so many times. I show up in Your garage a mess, but You always see the potential. I wonder if You heave a sigh and, with great determination, begin the project?
That I don’t know. One thing I do know: that You are working; that You are the epitome of patience; that You are skilled–the very best–at refinishing sorry things that might be on the curb ready for the trash truck.
How can I ever thank You for what You have done for me? I can’t. It’s impossible. But You know my thoughts, my heart, the depth of my gratitude. And You see my potential.

There have been too many times that I have felt unworthy, unliked, unloved. I felt that way as I read this devotional. I think that I haven’t ever felt truly comfortable in churches that I have gone to based on the fact that I felt “blemished.” I know that He is bigger than man and will take me flaws and all. If he can works with my flaws and blemishes….maybe I can begin to work with myself in spite of those. I have always dreamed of a picture perfect life for myself. I had everything going in the correct order….but life is not that simple and easy. I have not been able to get past what I feel like are failures and actually live. I have accepted that none of this is a mistake and the things that I am experiencing now are for my benefit. I should not EVER doubt myself again…..because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.