I suck at Lent

I don’t know about you, but usually around this time in the Lenten season I feel really bad because I totally suck at Lent.  During the rest of the year I do a fair job with my daily prayer, giving my time, talent and treasure. Maybe I’m just being hard on myself but by week two of Lent I realize how much I’m failing. This year I really thought hard about what I should “give up” for Lent, we all sat at the dining table on Ash Wednesday and decided what each of us would do. We decided as a family to give up pizza, something that we all enjoy a little too often in our house. The kids gave up the usual treats, video games, and I agreed but I still was thinking on something that was a real challenge for me. My husband begged me not to give up caffeine (something I’ve done in the past that obviously didn’t go well) and I begged my daughter not to give up meat (something she’s done in the past that was more penance for me than for her). After the kids went to bed I sat and thought about it some more and then I knew what I needed to give up; I was going to give up an hour of sleep each day. Anyone that knows me could affirm the fact that I’m not a morning person. I planned on waking each morning by 6:00 to spend the hour before the kids got up to read scripture and pray.  The next day my husband woke me up at 5:00am because his back went out and he needed help getting up to go to the bathroom. The rest of the day involved me taking him to the appointments and playing nurse. The following day wasn’t much better and I was up again at 1am with my teething toddler that wouldn’t go back to sleep. Needless to say I was exhausted. This is how it’s been for me the since Ash Wednesday, sleepless nights which result in me sleeping through my alarm. In a way I’m still giving up sleep but I can’t help the feelings of failure. I guess that’s the whole point of Lent, to show us how much we really need God’s mercy. I didn’t come to this conclusion until I saw Father Mike Schmitz’s video about why we fast. Fasting is about just saying “yes” to the Holy Spirit, to ask for help when we are struggling and to use the suffering that we experience to go deeper into our prayers. Yesterday I read a prayer that really helped drive the message in deeper:

Disturb us O Lord when we are too well pleased with ourselves, when our dreams have come true because we dreamed to little, when we arrived safely because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us O Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess we have lost our thirst for the waters of life; having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity. And in our efforts to build a new earth, we have allowed our vision of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, O Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas where storms will show your mastery; where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars.

We ask you to push back the horizons of our hopes; and to push us in the future in strength, courage, hope and love.

Sir Francis Drake wrote this in 1577 before he set out to be the first man to circumnavigate the world and yet it is so true even in modern times. We all have so much and have let materialism (the glamour of evil) take hold of us and distract us from the ultimate treasure, eternal life in heaven. We get comfortable with everyday routine and we forget that it’s in the disturbances that we grow in our faith.  If you are looking to go deeper this Lent please know that it is not too late, I’ll list a few links below with options that friends of mine are participating in and I pray that you are challenged this Lent just as I am because it is in the struggles of life that we are a true witness to God’s beautiful mercy!


Dynamic Catholic – Best Lent Ever “Don’t give up chocolate this Lent

Danielle Bean author of Momnipotent – Daily emails and inspirations.

Ascension Press – Great videos by Father Mike Schmitzs explain the Catholic teachings in a way everyone can understand.




Feeling Embarrassed

“We get embarrassed that our clothes are last year’s fashion, that our vehicle costs less than the neighbor’s, or that our house is smaller than our guest’s. We apologize for the worn carpet, make excuses for the outdated kitchen, or point out specifically why we haven’t updated the counter tops yet but what would happen if we stopped getting embarrassed over the wrong things and started pursuing the right things?” Joshua Becker – Becoming Minimalist

This morning as I lay in bed I was looking at the pile of laundry that has been growing on my bedroom floor since the week before Christmas. I picked up my phone and started to flip through my Facebook feed when I came across a post from Becoming Minimalist that got me thinking about some things. I don’t always pick up my phone right away in the morning but I didn’t sleep well and I was feeling warm all snuggled up. With all of the preparations there are for the holidays I had neglected some of my usual tasks, such as taking care of my own laundry. There was a mix of some clean, some dirty, underneath hid a basket of mismatched socks and random items.  Anytime someone came over I made quick to shut my bedroom door because I was embarrassed that someone would see my mess as they went to use the bathroom which is right across the hall.  I haven’t had time to take care of my pile, everyday presented other tasks that didn’t require me to stay closed into my room but that true fact was I didn’t want to take care of it. I have been procrastinating to say the very least.

Usually after Christmas comes and goes I feel a great sense to purge. Maybe it’s because it feels good to put things back in there place and get rid of the things that don’t belong or maybe it’s because with all the new gifts from Christmas I realize we have too much stuff.  This year, as I look at my huge pile of clothes, my basement that is overflowing with stuff, my kitchen cupboards that hardly close I am feeling a major sense to purge.  I’ve been working a lot on my spiritual life and purging the things that don’t fill me spiritually. I don’t watch television, I’ve changed the types of movies that I watch, music that I listen to, people that I spend my time with but I feel God calling me to do more.  Could this be it?

I admit, I wanted to race right over to Herberger’s after Christmas for the great door buster deals, but then I looked at my growing pile of clothes and realized that I didn’t NEED anything. I wanted to buy some new boots, a few new tops to wear this winter and maybe a pair of jeans. Joshua Becker wrote about being embarrassed over the wrong things.  How embarrassed I felt when I realized that I wanted more when I already have too much. How embarrassed I felt when I thought of those that may not have enough warm clothes to wear let alone a pair of fashionable boots that will keep me warm and make me feel cute. “ What if, instead of being embarrassed over the quality and quantity of our possessions, we became embarrassed over how much money we have spent on our own selfish pursuits?” This sentence struck a chord in me but I got up, out of my warm and cozy bed to make breakfast for the babes. I thought about this while I made eggs and emptied the dishwasher. I thought about how I really needed to start just giving things away. Then I sat down to read Molly her devotion for the day and this is what I read.

“I will bless you with incredible blessings. Genesis 22:17. Have you ever begged your mom or dad to buy you something at the store? Sometimes we think we need more than what we have. But God really has given us all kinds of wonderful things. We have families who love us, friends to play with, food to eat and houses to keep us safe and warm. And we have Jesus in the Eucharist. That’s a lot to be happy about!” – Blessings Everyday

God speaks to me, all the time! Most of the time it sounds like Bumblebee from Transformers, all broken up and from different places but He speaks. I spend so much time putting things away, it is ridiculous. Time that I could be writing, time that I could be playing with my kids, time that could be spent reading meaningful books or in prayer. How could I ignore this message that is so very clear? We all have so much, couldn’t we give some of it up to those who may actually NEED it? What is God calling you to do? Could it be that unexplained desire to go to confession or the unexplained thought you had about spending time in adoration? Those thoughts that pop up and don’t go away are God. When you read something that really hits home, do something about it because that is God calling you to do more.

Update: I donated 2 garbage bags full of just my clothes and have 3 more downstairs of the kids’ clothes to give to friends!