20 Ideas for Lent

Lent is a season of the church that precedes Easter.  It lasts 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday.  Christians observe the season of Lent as a time of fasting and penitence.  It’s a time to focus on Jesus and His sacrifice for each one of us.

It’s during this season that many Christians offer their own sacrifice to the Lord.  They give up something that keeps them from focusing on Jesus.  Or some Christians decide they want to add something during Lent…something that could help bring them closer to the Lord.

Have you decided to sacrifice or add something this Lenten season, but can’t figure out what you want to do?  Below are 20 ideas for Lent.  Maybe one of these will stand out to you and you can give up or add this to your life for the 40 days during Lent.

Give Up Ideas

1. Television         

Maybe you could give up tv all together if that is your addiction, or perhaps you could give up some shows that you tend to watch a little too much.  For me, I have an addiction to cop dramas (Blue Bloods, Hawaii Five-O, MacGyver, SWAT, Seal Team). Just this morning my oldest daughter told me I needed to give up those shows for Lent.  And she was right!  They are addicting!

2. Social Media

Are you spending more time scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, and other social media apps?  I know I waste time on that too!  Give it up for Lent.  Delete those apps from your phone and see how much time you free up.  I bet you will be amazed!

3.  Addictive Foods

What foods are you addicted to?  Sweets?  Desserts?  Sodas?  Meat?  All of these are are hard for me to live without.  I love chocolate too much!  But, this year the two addicting foods for me are desserts and bread.  Now, notice I didn’t say just “food”.  As I talked with the kids at church about this I heard one boy say, “I’m going to give up broccoli.  I hate broccoli!”  Don’t give up something you already dislike.  That’s not really a sacrifice.  Give up something that will be hard for you.

4.  Eating Out

If your family is like mine, and you are gone a lot of nights due to sports practices and games, then you know how easy it is to eat out.  It’s so simple and you don’t have to worry about cooking supper.  Giving up eating out would be extremely difficult for our family, but I believe that we could do it.  And I believe you could do it, too!

5.  Bad Words

Do you find yourself cursing more often that you like?  Give up those bad words and work hard at replacing them with positive words.

6.  Gossip

Let’s all be honest…you know you gossip.  We all do it.  We may not do it intentionally, but we do catch ourselves talking about what others are doing, what they’re wearing, how we can’t believe their kids did that, or why they posted what they did on social media.  See if you can go 40 days without spreading one piece of juicy gossip.

7.  Frivolous Spending

Some of you are addicted to shopping.  Every time you go out you have to buy something, like a new piece of jewelry, a new shirt, those new boots everyone is wearing.  Or maybe you are one of those that has to keep up with the Joneses and every time they buy something new (like a car, house, furniture), you have to buy one, too!   Try your best to avoid the shopping malls.  And if you have an addiction to using your credit card for major purchases, stick it in a Zip-loc bag full of water and freeze it!  It makes it harder to get to!

8.  Smoking/Dipping

This will be a tough one for anyone who has a tobacco addiction, but if you are willing, then I know the Lord will help you through this!

9.  Alcohol

Do you love your alcoholic drinks?  You could give up drinking all together for 40 days or perhaps just cut down on the number of drinks you have during the week.

10.  Arguing

Do you find yourself getting angry at others easily or picking fights with someone for no reason at all?  Try giving up arguing with others and see how your attitude changes!

11.  Complaining

Instead of finding a reason to complain about everything, give it up and replace it with something positive.  This will require you to think before you speak.  Or if you just can’t find anything positive, then work hard, and bite your tongue before you complain.

Things to Add to your Daily Life

12.  Quiet Time with God

Do you struggle with finding the time to spend with the Lord?  Consider waking up a little earlier, or carve out time in the middle of your day to spend with Him, or even use your down time in the evening to dive into His Word.

13.  Prayer

If your prayer life is lacking, commit to making time to pray every day.  Another idea is to write down your prayers to the Lord.

14.  Scripture Verse Memorization

Commit to learning a new Bible verse each day or each week.  Write it down and put it where you can see it and speak it.

15.  Volunteer at Church

If you have been wanting to volunteer at church, but just haven’t gotten around to doing it, make a commitment during Lent to give of your time to help at your church.

16.  Gratitude Journal

Find a notebook to use and write down things you are thankful for each day during Lent.

17.  Exercise

Commit to exercising during Lent.  That doesn’t have to be hard core workouts, either.  You can commit to walking every day during Lent if you want.  Just move and be active.

18.  Eat Healthy

Fill your body with healthy foods instead of junk foods.  Add in vegetables and fruits to your meals each day.  Commit to being more conscious of how you eat.

19.  Encourage Others

For each day in Lent, commit to encouraging others in their faith and in their lives.  Pick a different person each day and send them encouraging notes, emails, texts, or simple gifts.  Let them know you are praying for them.

20.  Rest

Isn’t this a hard one?  God commanded us to rest and many times we don’t do well at this.  Commit to getting 8 hours of sleep, or going to bed earlier than normal, or even just commit to sitting down for a few hours at home instead of running around being busy.  Just rest.

No matter what you decide to fast or sacrifice during Lent, remember to pray and ask God for His help.  I will be praying you will have the wisdom to know what to fast and the strength to do it!  May you find God in a big way this Lenten season!

What are you giving up or adding for Lent?  I would love for you to share in the comments below!

What’s Your 700 Wives and 300 Concubines?

Is there something in your life that leads you astray?  Something that turns your heart away from the Lord?

For King Solomon that thing was women.  (If you’re a man reading this, this is where you can insert a joke or a smart comment…lol).

Solomon took over as King of Israel after his father, David, passed away. When he had taken over, God asked Solomon what He should give to him.  Solomon asked for one thing…wisdom.  A pretty smart choice for a king.  And God gave that to Solomon, as well as blessing him with many things.  But, Solomon fell in love with having a lot of nice things, as well as having a lot of wives.

In 1 Kings 11:1-13, we read about Solomon’s love of women.  As he grew older, he began acquiring more and more wives.  The Bible says he had 700 wives and 300 concubines (verse 3).  The bad thing about this, too, was that these women were not Israelite women.  They were from foreign countries…countries that God specifically told the Israelites in Deuteronomy 7:1-6 that they should destroy completely and not intermarry with because this would turn their hearts away from the Lord.

And guess what?

That’s exactly what happened with Solomon.

Verse 4 says, In Solomon’s old age, they turned his heart to worship other gods instead of being completely faithful to the Lord his God, as his father, David, had been.”  Solomon decided to start worshiping the gods of his wives and turned away from worshiping the One and only true God.

It’s easy for us to say how crazy Solomon was for doing this.  Didn’t he know better?  Who would have that many wives?  Why didn’t he listen to God?  Why didn’t he remember what the Lord had said?  We would never do something like that.

Yet we do this very same thing…every day.

We might not have 700 wives and 300 concubines, but we have things or people in our lives that turn our hearts away from the Lord.  To figure out what those things are, you need to spend time in prayer.  Ask God to reveal to you what those things or people are.  When God reveals those to you, first of all repent.  Ask God to forgive you for choosing to devote yourself to other things besides Him.  Then make a conscience effort to turn away from those things and fully commit your heart to following God.  Do your best to stay focused on the Lord.

Lent is coming soon (Ash Wednesday is February 14).  This is a good time to make a sacrifice and give up those things, or you can even choose to add something that can help keep you devoted to God.  If you want to start now you can do a fast.  You can read about my experience when I did this a couple of years ago: Lessons from a 21-Day Fast.

Whatever you do, remember to turn away from your “700 wives and 300 concubines”….those things which pull you away from the Lord.  Turn your heart to the Lord and focus on Him.  God loves you so much and He desires a close relationship with you.  He longs for you to seek Him daily and trust in Him.  Remember His faithfulness to you and do your best to remain faithful to Him.

Looking for ideas on what to sacrifice for Lent?  Check back soon for my list of ideas!

Join My New Weekly Newsletter

Do you dread Mondays?  Maybe you don’t look forward to starting another week of work!

Would you like a little encouragement to get your week started off on the right foot?  I am hoping I can help turn your Monday blues around!

I am so excited to share with you that I am beginning a new weekly newsletter that will give you encouragement for your life.  And I’m calling it….

Weekly Worship and Wisdom

 

 

 

 

 

Each Monday morning you will receive an email from me filled with worship & wisdom!  Each weekly email may be different, but could include things such as:

  • Worship Song for the week  (will include a link to a YouTube video)
  • Scripture Verse for the week
  • Insight into a Bible story or character
  • God Sighting (where I have seen God working in my life or someone else’s)
  • Book or Bible Study recommendations
  • Pinterest Inspiration (Pinterest article that has inspired me)
  • Recent blog posts that have been posted on my website
  • Or anything else that God has placed on my heart to share

If you would like to receive one email a week from me to help you keep your focus on God, then subscribe to my blog!  All you need to do is fill out your first name and email address in the blue subscription box (you can find that box at the end of this article or on the right hand side of my home page). **If you are already a subscriber to my blog, you don’t need to do anything.  You will automatically receive the weekly newsletter.

You will receive your first WWW newsletter on Monday, January 7th.  I hope you will join my newsletter email for some great weekly worship & wisdom!

5 Books to Read in 2018

I love to read.  If you look at my bookshelves you would be able to see that I love books!  2017 was a great year of reading.  I have read the following books and highly recommend you add them to your reading list for 2018!

Fervent:  A Woman’s Battle Plan for Serious, Specific, and Strategic Prayer   (Priscilla Shirer)

If you need encouragement and a plan to help you have a better prayer life, this book is for you.  Priscilla lays out ten areas in our lives where the devil loves to attack.  She gives a strategy for our prayer life to knock the devil out.  Each chapter ends with a call to prayer and Scripture we can use as a prayer, too.  I also love the tear-out prayer cards in the back of the book where you can write down your prayer for each area and post it where you can pray it everyday.  This is an excellent book in helping you fight the devil through prayer.

Discerning the Voice of God:  How to Recognize When God is Speaking  (Priscilla Shirer)

Do you ever wonder if what you are hearing is the voice of God or if it’s just your own thoughts coming through loudly?  In this book, Priscilla takes us through three sections:  realize the way He speaks, recognize the sound of His voice, and remember what He wants to accomplish.  God speaks to everyone and this book will help you discern His voice. I think one of my favorite quotes from this book is, “You don’t need a seminary degree for this…For some reason we have been duped into thinking that God only speaks to certain people and only in ways that the “elite” saints can understand.”  (Shirer, 2007, p. 92).  God speaks to all of us and this book helps us in knowing the voice of God.

Love, Skip, Jump   (Shelene Bryan)

This is a book about the true story of Shelene Bryan and her quest to meet her Compassion International sponsored child.  Shelene is a Hollywood Producer who doubted whether her money was actually being used for helping her sponsored child.  What she finds through this quest is a passion to serve more and do more.  This passion leads to her developing a non-profit organization called Skip1.  This a wonderful story about being the hands and feet of Jesus.

Love Does:  Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World  (Bob Goff)

Bob Goff is a whimsical man who lives life to the fullest.  If you’ve ever heard him speak, then you know this to be true.  In his book, Love Does, he writes his stories of love in action.  Each story is inspiring and encouraging.  I smiled and laughed all the way through this book, and I believe you will, too.

Goliath Must Fall:  Winning the Battle Against Your Giants  (Louie Giglio)

This is Louie’s latest book and it’s phenomenal.  He shares personal stories and Biblical wisdom (focusing on the story of David and Goliath) in helping you knock down the giants in your life.  Some of the giants he discusses are fear, rejection, comfort, anger, and addiction.  He helps us realize how battles are won:  “It is not by the strength of man that battles are won.  It is by the work of God.”  (Giglio, 2017, p. 91).  This book is a must read if you are struggling with any Goliath in your life.

5 Books to Read in 2018

If you would like to read other books I recommend, check out these posts from past years:

Favorite Books of 2016

My Favorite Books of 2015

Adventures: An Advent Devotional for Women

This time of year can get busy and super crazy with all the Christmas gifts to buy, parties to attend, cookies to bake, kids Christmas performances to attend, and so much more.  Sometimes we can lose focus of the main reason we celebrate Christmas.  That’s why I have written an Advent devotion just for you!

Adventures is a great devotional for you to use this Advent season (and it’s free)! This devotion is geared toward women (but men can read it too).  There is a devotion for each day in Advent (Dec. 3-24, 2017). Each day contains a Scripture reading, devotion, worship song, and an Adventure (something you will do each day, some are fun and some are more reflective).  The worship songs are linked to a YouTube video.  Just click on the name of the song (which is in red) and it will take you to the song.  Also, the Adventure for some days is linked to a website.  Just click the red words for those days and it will take you to the site you need.

To download your free copy of this e-book, all you need to do is subscribe to my blog. You’ll see the subscription box at the bottom of this blog post. Just fill in your email address and you’ll be emailed the devotional link to where you can download your own copy!  (Or you can look on the right hand side of this page and fill out the form.  If you are on a phone or tablet, scroll all the way to the bottom where the Adventures book cover image is located to see the subscription box).

I would love for you to read Adventures during Advent as you wait and prepare for the coming of our Savior.  I hope this new resource I have written will help you keep your focus on Jesus this Advent season.

‘Twas the Evening of Christmas Book Review & Giveaway

'Twas the Evening of ChristmasDo you have any Christmas traditions you remember from your childhood?

One I remember from when I was a little girl and continued with my own children was the reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas every Christmas Eve.  When my girls were little we would get them all snuggled in bed, trying to calm their excitement, and read to them.  It was always the last thing we did with them on Christmas Eve.  Then they would settle down and close their sleepy eyes, ready for morning to come.

I am excited to share a new book you can begin reading to your children or grandchildren on Christmas Eve.  Glenys Nellist has written a wonderful book called ‘Twas the Evening of Christmas.  This book begins with one of my favorite verses from the birth of Jesus,

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news.  It will bring great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you.  He is the Messiah, the Lord.'”    Luke 2:10-11

In this book, Glenys recounts the magnificent story of Jesus’s birth.  From their arrival in Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph were unable to find a normal place to stay, but found refuge in a stable. Shepherds were visited by angels to tell them the good news.  Wisemen followed the star and brought gifts to baby Jesus.  One of the things I love about Glenys’ book is how she calls attention to the animals. The pigeons, cows, doves, mice, oxen, and lambs are all present for the birth of our Savior.  She doesn’t leave out these precious animals who were more than likely present for such a glorious moment.

I read the book to preschool and Kindergarten classes at church.  They all loved it!  When it talked about the animals we stopped and made animal noises (something they quite enjoyed).  When asked if they had ever slept on hay like baby Jesus, they laughed and said, “No, that’s silly!  We sleep on sheets!”  The girls said their favorite part was when the angels came to the shepherds.  They even picked out which angel they loved the best (the illustrations are amazing!).  I think the funniest part was at the end when I asked if they remembered who Jesus’ parents were.  One 3-year old boy said, “Joseph and Judy!”  I laughed so hard at this!  It was a cute moment for sure!

This book is wonderful!  It will make a great bedtime story on Christmas Eve for your little ones.  Go out and grab a copy of this Christmas book for your children!

Or perhaps you can win it!  Zondervan is giving away a copy of ‘Twas the Evening of Christmas”!  To enter this giveaway, just leave a comment below and tell me your favorite part of the Christmas story. (This giveaway is open to residents of the USA only, who have a physical street address…no PO boxes).  Winner will be announced Monday, October 9.

To learn more about the book check out this video on YouTube:  ‘Twas the Evening of Christmas

Glenys’ book is blog hopping!  Next week you can find her book featured on the Purposeful Moms website:  http://purposefulmoms.com/

10 Confessions of a Soccer Mom

I am proud to call myself a soccer mom.

I never thought I would say those words, either.

But here I am, a mom of two girls who have a love for the game of soccer.  They have turned me into a mom who loves the sport just as much as they do.  I look forward to the weekends when I get to cheer on both of them.  And with the love of the sport comes the confessions of a mom who feels the need to show you just how much I love the game and enjoy supporting my daughters.  So here goes my confession…

  1. I get into the game

    I admit it….I really get into the game.  I am a yeller.  I come by it honest, though.  I got it from my mom!  She got into  games when I was a kid and she still does today.  I was also a cheerleader, too, so I love to cheer on others.  You may see me get super excited and scream and yell…A LOT…but know that it’s because I absolutely love sports, no matter what game it is, and I love to be able to cheer on the players, whether I know them or not.  I yell even louder when my children score a goal!  Click on the link to hear me screaming when my oldest daughter scored a goal this past spring:  Goal Scoring Screams.  Even our pastor made a comment in a church service one time saying, “Have you ever watched a game with Vanessa?  She really gets into it!”  Yes I do!

  1. I have been told not to yell my child’s name during a game

    Of course, this comes from both of my children.  They might get a little embarrassed by my yelling.  I am not one of those parents who yell negative things at their kids.  But for some reason, me screaming one of their names and telling them to GO, GO, GO, makes them want to crawl in a hole and hide.  I have to defend myself and tell them I yell their name because I am only encouraging them to GO!  They don’t get it.  Maybe one day when they become parents they will.

  1. I always bring a chair to the game, but rarely do I sit in it

    Soccer fields typically provide no place to sit.  A few venues may have one set of bleachers, but usually there is nothing.  Which means you must bring your own chair.  Parents line their chairs along the sidelines and sit down to cheer on their child. I do all of that, but rarely do I sit down in it.  Why?  Well…let’s refer back to number one…I get into the game.  When things are exciting I can’t sit still.  I must move around.  You might see me jumping up and down, pacing the sidelines, or hiding behind another person because I’m too nervous or excited to watch!  The chair is only there if I really need it.

  1. I have been known to yell “Push her back!”

    Soccer is a rough sport.  Girls can get aggressive.  What I think should be a foul, is not.  What I think is not a foul, usually is.  It all depends on the referee.  So, if I see my child getting shoved and pushed around, the mama bear in me comes out.  It’s then that you might hear me yell, “Push her back!  They’re not calling it!”

    I tell my girls to get aggressive, too.  My two children have learned to fight back on the field and not get pushed around.  But, sometimes they want to use their arms and shove.  You can’t do that.  You have to push back with your shoulders.  My youngest has not quite mastered that skill yet.  And that’s the reason she gets many fouls called on her.  In those times, you might hear me (and my husband) yelling at her to “Put your hands down!”  Hopefully she will learn how to use her shoulders better to push back.

  1. I have been known to yell at the referees

    This is not something I do a lot, but usually only do when I believe that the refs aren’t being fair and aren’t calling it both ways.  And before you get the wrong idea, I’m not a “get in your face” kind of parent.  I just might yell from the sidelines something like, “C’mon ref!  That wasn’t a foul!  Call it both ways!”  If the referee ever said anything to me, I would be so mortified and would apologize and then keep my mouth shut.  But, that has never happened, and let’s hope it never will.

  1. I try to encourage, not coach from the sidelines

    At the beginning of every season, the director of our soccer academy tells the parents to please only encourage your child from the sidelines.  Do not try to coach them.  Leave it to them to do the coaching.  We, as parents, need only to yell encouraging words while they are on the field.  It’s also confusing for the players when they are on the field to try to know who they should really listen to. You might tell them one thing, but the coach really wants them to do something else.  We have to remind our children to listen to and respect the coaches.  And I have to remind myself that I am the parent.  I am not the coach.

  1. I’m still learning soccer rules

    Like I said, soccer is a new sport for me.  And even though my children have been playing it for many, many years, there are times when I have to lean over to my husband or friend and say, “What happened?  What did they just call?  Why did they call that?”  I’ll eventually get it all down one day.

  2. I think offsides is the dumbest rule ever

    I have finally learned what it means to be “offsides”.  For those of you non-soccer folks…a player is offsides if they are on the opposing team’s side of the field and are closer to their goal line than the ball and the last opponent.  Basically, you can’t be behind the last defender and have the advantage of scoring.

    I played basketball growing up.  We could be on the opposite side of the court, hurl the ball down to our player on the other end of the court, and they could score without having any defenders around them.  Not so in soccer.

    I get why there is the offsides rule.  Players would just be “hanging around the goal” waiting to score.  Not fair.  I know that.  But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

  1. I’m not a fan of Sunday games

    As a ministry leader, I will say that I am not a fan of Sunday games.  I don’t like the fact that it takes families out of church on Sundays.  The church competes a lot with sports.  And that’s a whole other topic for discussion.  But, mostly, I don’t like Sunday games because I don’t get to see my children play on those days.  I am the Director of Children’s Ministry at my church and my main day is Sunday.  So, when there are games on Sundays (if they are in the morning or late afternoon), I can’t go because I have church services and activities.  And for me that just stinks.  I want to be there to see my children play, but I can’t take off every Sunday to go to their games.

  2. I love our soccer family

    My children played Rec soccer for many years.  It wasn’t until last year that we began playing Academy and Select soccer.  We travel to many different cities every weekend playing games. It’s during those times when you develop relationships with the other parents.  You get to know them well, too.  We have made some wonderful friendships with other parents all because of soccer.  I am so thankful for our soccer family.

As a parent, I will ALWAYS encourage and support my children in whatever sport or extracurricular activity they participate in.  I may get a little into it, but it’s only because I am so proud of my children and because I want them to know that I will always be their biggest fan (no matter how embarrassed they get).  They are my joy and I thank God for the gifts He has given them.

 

Here are some good Scripture verses to share with your child athlete:

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”  Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV)

“I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.”  Philippians 4:13 (NIV)

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  Matthew 19:26 (NIV)

If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”  Mark 9:23 (NIV)