Making Space During Lent

Making Space This Lent

With Lent in full swing, I wanted to take some time to reflect on observing Lent this season.  As these next 45 days (give or take) are a season of reflection with a greater eye towards Christ’s life, today I reflect on how I plan to make space for Lent.

I was born and raised Catholic.  Liturgy and the Liturgical Calendar was something I took for granted, and gave no thought to growing up as it was a familiar motion that made sense.  It wasn’t until I left the Catholic Church and joined the Reformed Church that the liturgical calendar had a lasting impact.  My church doesn’t practice liturgy all the time.   I find that despite my church, I still find myself observing certain liturgical practices like Lent.  It’s partially out of habit and partially because I like the tradition and cyclical reminder.

Growing up Lent was always about giving up something. However, today I learned that Lent is never once mentioned in the bible and isn’t even a required practice per the Bible.

Lent is a forty day period (not counting Sundays) in which we mirror Jesus’ time in the wilderness.  I personally love it because it is a time to reflect upon myself and turn my focuses on to God. It’s a time of repentance and honesty.  In Genesis 3:19 (NIV) we are told: “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”  I haven’t been to a formal Ash Wednesday service in years, however I find it beautiful and telling that this sacred day is what kicks Lent off.  Lent is a time in which I reflect upon my own mortality and the reminder of ashes to remind us that we will become dust again is so coming. winterland-free-license-cc0

What I’m Making Space For

This Lent, I’m focusing less on giving up anything and more on making space in my heart.  I’ve found a few podcasts specifically related to Lent that I wanted to share because they not only taught me quite a bit but also have created some new practices for this Lenten season.

  1. Ash Wednesday and Fasting – Sacred Ordinary Days
  2. Lent + Prayer – Sacred Ordinary Days
  3. Lent + Almsgiving – Sacred Ordinary Days
  4. That Sounds Fun Podcast: She Reads Truth & Lent

These four podcast episodes are great if you are trying to learn about lent as well as the observation and practice of such.

This year, I am making space.  I’m making space in my heart for the ascension of Jesus.  I want to make sure I am in the Word of God every. single. day.  Further, I want to learn more effective prayer practices and make that a priority in my life.

I’m working my way through the bible in 2017. Ever day I’m doing assigned reading in this bible: The Daily Bible.  It’s a chronological bible and each day is usually a few chapters of the Bible.  I’m in Deuteronomy and Leviticus right now, and as rough as it is, I’m appreciating the legalism of the books.  As a lawyer, I find these easy to read, however, difficult to truly grasp.

Prayer

My other goal for Lent is to spend more time in prayer. I often feel as if I’m not good at it, or I let life get in the way of it.  How often do we, as humans, feel as if our worries are not big enough to lay at God’s feet? I do this all the time.  However, He is El Roi, the God who Sees Me.  He cares about us so much and wants us to speak to him.  I’m tired of making excuses that I’m not good enough or that I don’t have time.  Thus, this Lent, my priority is to pray at least twice daily and to not make excuses.

Being the avid book lover that I am, I snagged a few books to gain new perspectives on prayer:

  1. Prayer that Works by Jill Briscoe (I saw her speak at If:Gathering and she was the greatest.  I learned so much truth through her!).
  2. Praying God’s Word by Beth Moore
  3. The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson

Regardless of reading these books I am being intentional and cultivating a prayer life.  My goal is to pray in the morning at night.  I enjoy journaling my prayer, so I will attempt to at least do that once a day. winter-road

Making Space in Our Hearts

Another way in which I’m making space is to participate in the Enjoying Jesus study from If:Equip.  Through six weeks, the study is teaching twelve different spiritual practices.  Essentially it’s a study on making space in your heart, and I’m thrilled that it was announced at If:Gathering!

These forty days are a time of reflection and preparation as we prepare for Jesus’ coming.  If you choose to observe Lent, it is so important to make space. How are you making space this Lenten season?  Do you give things up? Do you add something in?

 

February Reads

February was good for my reading life!  Not only did I discover the What Should I Read Next podcast, but I also joined the Modern Mrs. Darcy bookclub and subscribed to her blog.  It was a game changing reading month for me.

Last week I did a post on my 2017 Reading Challenge and this month I was able to cross off five books from that challenge! Below is a list and mini-reviews of my February Reads.

February Reads

February Reads

  1. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Anne Barrows.

    This book is easily in my favorite books of all time category.  It’s not terribly long and is a good-hearted, powerful, read.  I categorize it as a book about books, with history and love thrown in. Writer Juliet Ashton receives a letter from the island town of Guernsey, occupied by the Germans during WWII and decides that this little island is the subject of her next book.  I love the snippets we get into the island occupation, as well as the hilarious reactions to a persnickety lady that lived on the island.  If you enjoy historical fiction, well-written novels, and a little dash of humor, this book is for you!

  2. The Girls by Emma Cline.

    This book got a lot of fame and press, but I have to be honest, I wasn’t terribly impressed with it.  Plot:  Evie Boyd lives in Northern California in the 1960s and becomes a tagalong to a cult.  I think the author was trying to show just how easy it can be to get swept in to something and be in over your head, but I just couldn’t identify with any character.  Evie is whiny and unlikeable.  The writing is eloquent but almost too much.  Finally, there’s a whole modern day plot line that I’m just not sure about in any way, shape or form.

  3. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.

    This book is incredible.  I read it on our vacation in Breckenridge and could not keep my nose out of my kindle at all! Kristin has a way of writing that gets you totally sucked into the story.  This book follows two sisters as they live in German occupied France during World War II.  I adored how humanized a german soldier who billeted with one of the sisters became. I’ve never thought of Nazi’s as people, and unfortunately so many were pulled into Hitler’s ploy despite having pure hearts.  This book made me feel sympathy to a Nazi, so you know the writing is good.  Further, each sister did miraculous and courageous things to bring justice to the marginalized in times of fascism and terror.  There were many cringeworthy moments in this book, however the ending had me weeping tears of joy and sadness.  It’s a beautiful read!

  4. Getting Noticed by Lindsey Teague Moreno.

    This book was a business development book for my Young Living business.  It wasn’t terribly long (it took me half an hour to read on my Kindle).  Lindsey writes about how you can get noticed by effectively using social media.  If you team isn’t very social media based, this book is helpful.  However, for most Happy Oilers (my team) we have many of these resources and strategies to our disposal, so personally it wasn’t a very helpful book to me.

  5. Full Spectrum Success by Jacob Adamo.

    This book is short, sweet, to the point.  If you are looking for high-quality literature, this book is not it.  That being said it breaks down personalities and is insanely helpful if you are building a team and want to promote growth.  I reference this book all the time and it has made me a more effective leader. I know how to communicate with different personality types because of it.

  6. For the Love by Jen Hatmaker.

    Finally, For the Love! This book rocked me to the core.  This book is a series of essays covering everything from religion to Thank You Notes by Jen.  I went between two constants: laughing out loud and being humbled.  The GoodReads review states that this will cause readers to “reimagine Jesus’ grace as a way of life,” and I completely agree.  I think what stuck out with me the most is this: “if it isn’t true for a poor, single, Christian mom in Haiti, it isn’t true.”  This quote challenged everything that Western Christians hold true.  If the gospel doesn’t apply to that single Christian Haitian woman, it isn’t true for me.  Just take a while to ponder that whammy. I love that Jen calls out the evangelical church but in a way that makes me want to grow and challenge my church in the best way.  For example, she makes a point to state that Christians are often the meanest to other Christians.  Why is that?  Why can’t we all come together in solidarity to fill heaven and empty hell?  On a serious note, my favorite non-religious quote from the book is this: “Thank you, Coffee. For everything. You make life possible. I don’t want to make you feel weird, but you are my soul mate. Well done.”  This book rocks and you should all read it!

March ReadsMarch Reads

These books are what I’m reading in March!

  1. Rising Strong by Brene Brown
  2. Emma by Jane Austen
  3. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
  4. A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline
  5. Columbine by Dave Cullen

So, What’s on your reading list for March?

Modern Mrs. Darcy 2017 Reading Challenge

Book and TeaBookworm here.  I love reading.  I have a very active GoodReads account (or did!) and love to keep lists of my reading goals.  Then, law school happened.  For three years, I was lucky if I read 5 books in a year.  In college, I read anywhere from 40-100 books each year.  Law school required so much case law reading and so much of my mental capacity, that it was so hard to find time, energy, or the desire to read.

A New Reading Discovery

Now that I’m a practicing attorney and done with both law school and the bar exam, my old reading habits are back in full force! I have participated in the 2017 Reading Challenge on Goodreads for the past 5 years and then I stumbled upon the Modern Mrs. Darcy blog. Which, by the way.  Where the heck has this been all my life?!

Anne Bogel’s blog is EVERYTHING to my book loving heart. Everything! I am not in to super frilly light reading.  I mean there is a time and a place for it, but I want my books to make me feel real feelings and to challenge me.  The books recommended on Modern Mrs. Darcy cover all genres but all have that substance I’m looking for.  Her podcast: What Should I Read Next? Is everything for my book loving heart!

So, naturally  as I was discovering this blog for the first time, I ended up on her 2017 Reading Challenge Page.  Almost immediately, I decided I was doing it, pinned the images and started making my list.  I am participating in both the Reading for Growth and the Reading for Fun Challenge.  I have created a tentative list that I am sharing below.

Kelsi’s 2017 Reading Challenge:

  1. A book you chose for the cover: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
  2. Un-put-a-down-able: The Girls by Emma Cline
  3. Somewhere You’ve Never Been: Lost in Shangri-La:  A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II by Mitchell Zuckoff
  4.  Re-Read: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (the only Dickens I can stand)
  5. A Juicy Memoir: Bossypants by Tina Fey
  6. A Book About Reading: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows
  7. An Avoided Genre (Self-Help): The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon
  8. A Book You Don’t Want to Admit You’re Dying to Read: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
  9.  Backlist Book:  Stardust by Neil Gaiman
  10. Recommended Read: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
  11. Excited to Buy:  Getting Noticed by Lindsey Teague Moreno
  12. Topic You Already Love (Jesus): For the Love by Jen Hatmaker
  13. Newbury Award Book: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  14. A Book in Translation: 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  15. A Book that is 600+ Pages: Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
  16. Poetry/Play/Essay: Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
  17. Current Events: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevensen
  18. An Immigrant Story: Eva Luna by Isabel Allende
  19. Book Published Before You Were Born: Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler
  20. Three Books by the Same Author (Jane Austen): Emma, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey
  21. #ownvoices / #diversebooks: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  22. Unreliable Narrator: The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
  23. 2017 Award Nominee: TBD
  24. Pulitzer Prize/National Book Award: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

So far, I’ve finished 6 of the 27 books on my list.  I love making book lists and I intentionally try to cross off books that I already own.  I am a self-proclaimed book hoarder, so it’s quite easy to find books to fit these categories.

Is anyone else participating in a reading challenge?  Anyone care to join me on this challenge?  I would love to hear from you!

Reading Challenge