Lent is a Time of Rest

At the time of writing this, we are almost two weeks into the Lenten season of 2023. Some people have already given up what they’ve given up for Lent, others are deep into extra prayers, services, and readings; while others are somewhere in between.

In the weeks leading up to Lent I began to feel a sense of anxiety. What book would I read this year, what app was I going to choose to help me stay on track with additional scripture readings, and what was I going to give up for 40 days of torture. My regular daily schedule had already left me feeling overwhelmed, how much more could I take on in the name of Lent? 

I attended a women’s prayer breakfast that focused on preparing for the season of Lent. I started the morning with racing thoughts about how I would ready myself for the holiest season of the liturgical year and ended the day with a sense of peace and surrender.

I was reminded that Lent isn’t about filling my already busy schedule with “holy activities”. Lent is about temporarily, or perhaps permanently removing things from my daily life to make room for being in my own desert time with Jesus. It’s about joining Jesus in remembering through our prayers, fasting, and almsgiving that God is who sustains us. God is who we live for. 

This year for Lent I decided to put aside my false idea that I, or anyone else needed to pack our schedules with activities, no matter how holy they may be. 

In order to be with Jesus in the desert we might need to do less things. 

We might only make it to church for regular weekly Sunday services and Good Friday. It’s alright if we only maintain our regular bible reading and prayer times. So far, slowing down for Lent has allowed me to have more time to engage in reading the book that I’ve chosen and time for reflection. My time isn’t spent trying to attend church concerts, compline services, Easter choir practice, and whatever else I thought needed to be part of the season. There is nothing wrong with any of these activities, they are a beautiful and blessed part of Lent. My point is simply this: it is alright to include rest in our time of Lent

Reflection Questions:

What are you fasting from during Lent? Do you feel its absence has brought you closer to God?

What have you learned about yourself during Lent? 

Is Lent a time of rest for you, or do you sometimes feel overwhelmed with all the seasonal activities? What can you consider removing or reducing from your schedule to make more time for rest?

Home Is My Favourite Place To Be

I haven’t written a blog post since February 2022 and before that I had only posted sporadically during the pandemic. I had so much that I wanted to write about, but during that time the world was extra sensitive. I wasn’t interested in posting something that meant a lot to me, but might upset readers.

Where I live, the majority of pandemic restrictions and mandates were lifted on March 01, 2022. It was a long 2 years, but I can’t complain too much. I hadn’t gotten sick during that time and I didn’t experience the economic hardship that so many people had to live through.

Now that we are almost back to “normal”, I’ve had enough time to reflect on the things that I cherished the most during those two years. It wasn’t difficult to decide: I cherished my home the most.

Home is where I spent over a year working when the government prevented us from being in the office. Home is where I felt safe, it was virus free. Home is where I could get away from all the turmoil that was happening in the world. Home is where I slept for 12-16 hours a day when I was hit with COVID19 in April 2022.

Once the pandemic mandates were lifted and we were once again permitted to go where ever we wanted I still enjoyed coming home. I also realized there were many things I hoped wouldn’t return to “normal”, number one being potlucks. There is nothing I dislike more than potlucks. But sure enough, we weren’t even 2 weeks into enjoying the lifted restrictions and people were already sending invites for potlucks.

Source: Inspirivity, “Home Sweet Home”

I had hoped that we would carry on checking in on people to make sure they are doing alright and asking “do you need anything” and following through with their request. I hoped that virtual meetings and working from home would still remain options for workers.

Now that pandemic mandates and restrictions have been lifted in most places, don’t let the lessons you’ve learned, the self-discovery, and any revelations you had during those two years be forgotten.

What did you learn about yourself during that time?
How did you handle isolation?
What are the activities you missed the most?
Who were the people you missed the most and the least?
Were there social habits that you wished wouldn’t return?
Did you learn new skills or discover new interests?

The pandemic is over, but you’re certainly don’t view or experience the world the same way you did 2 years ago.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…” Ecclesiastes 3:1

Choosing One Word for 2022

I couldn’t decide if I should make a post in January about choosing One Word while people were still in the fantasy stage of listing all the grand things they intended to change about their life in 2022, or wait until February when reality and our usual habits would return.
Eventually I chose to wait until February. So, here I am posting encouragements about setting intentions a month into the new year.

I stopped making new year’s resolutions years ago when I read an article that stated it’s failure rate for many people. I was one of those persons who quickly failed at my resolutions or completely forgot what they were within a month or two of making them.
Choosing one word to focus on throughout the year to help with personal and spiritual growth turned out to be much more fruitful for myself and others.

Mike Ashcroft of MyOneWord describes choosing one word as such: “This process provides clarity by taking all your big plans for life change and narrowing them down into a single focus. Just one word that centers on your character and creates a vision for your future. ”

If you’d like to partake in choosing one word to help live an intentional and focused life, here is some guidance that has helped me over the years.

Start with self-inventory. Be honest with yourself. Ask yourself:

               -Is this something I truly care about?

               -Did I give this prayer and attention, or did I pick this word half hazardly.

               -Am I willing to go through this even if I don’t have support from others?

Do a word dump if you’d like. And create a list of words. Start with a few words, pray over them, reflect, and see if any of them resonate with you.

               -Feel free to break out the dictionary.

               -You can also choose non-English words. Sometimes what you desire can’t be described in English or maybe you speak more than only English, there’s no need to limit yourself linguistically.

It’s best to not make decisions when feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Give yourself time, you don’t have to decide on a word in one day.

Is there something that has been on your heart throughout the past year, events that had an impact on you, were there struggles, setbacks, or achievements that you want to carry into this new year? Are there somethings you wanted to embrace or let go of in your life? These can be used as influences in choosing your one word.

The one word that I have chosen for 2022 is courage. I knew that with this ongoing pandemic and its major disruptions in my life, I have to learn to be courageous and not give into fear and worry while I follow mandates, policies, and the increasing need to be flexible with how I live in this new reality. Courage, I realized, is what is going to help get through this.

What Does Courage Mean to You? - Create An Adaptable Life
My one word for 2022

Please know, there is no right or wrong word to choose. Whatever word you choose for 2022, I hope it blesses you, helps you to grow in character and in your relationship with God and others.

If you’d like to read more about choosing one word, feel free to visit the following websites:

One Word 365

My One Word

Christmas Season Self-Care

This is our second year of Christmas under pandemic restrictions. There has been much news and talk about how to prevent catching the big “C”, but not as much has been said about remembering to take care of your overall body-mind-spirit.

Pandemic life is extra draining. There are concerns about following or not following any mandates that are inplace; figuring out how to turn down holiday invites; and trying to gently let loved ones know you won’t be joining them in person for the holidays out of concerns about public health.
Self-care during the holiday season is important, these are some ways to tend to your body-mind-spirit this holiday season.

Turn Off the News
It’ll be alright if you don’t watch, read, or listen to the news for a few days. What is the worst that will happen if you turned of the news for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day (in Canada)? If you need to know road and weather conditions for safety reasons, there is always the weather network and Google.

Limit Social Media
The holidays is a great time to limit or take a complete breaks from social media. Again, what are you missing out on if you are not on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for two days?
This is a great time to watch or catch up on television series, going to a movie, maybe go for walks, go ice skating, read a good book or magazine, or play board games; engage in anything that your interested in that doesn’t involve social media.
You can always wish people online a Happy Christmas on the 24th and sign off until Christmas day is over.

Take A Nap
The holidays can be a great time to sleep in even if your internal alarm wakes you up at 6:30am thinking it’s a work day. Or reverse it; stay up later than you normally would and use that time to engage in meaningful activities, hanging out with friends and family, or anything that you normally wouldn’t be able to do when you have to get up early for work.

Paying Attention to the Foods and Drinks You Consume
I’m not advocating that anyone diet during Christmas; that’s an instant killer of holiday joy. But I will say that it’s important to be aware of how much alcohol you consume if you can’t hold your liquor. No one likes to be stuck with an annoying drunk, even if it’s family. Be mindful of any health issues you have. If you’re diabetic, remember to stick to your routines. Your body doesn’t give you an exception for get togethers.

Get Outdoors, Get Moving
It’s easy to spend all day in doors eating, talking, and sitting around, but it’s a good idea to get some fresh air. It’s easier to get up and get going if you have an activity planned: going for a walk, snowshoeing, ice skating, or attending outdoor events.

Know When to Say Goodbye
Constantly being around people can be draining and sometimes frustrating. Know your limits. If you know a head of time that you’ll be around people who drain your energy, establish a time limit before hand. Let them know you’re only visiting for 3 or 4 hours. Decide how many days you can realistically handle spending at your families home.
Christmas is not meant to make you miserable and unhappy. That is not how Jesus wants you to spend the day that is meant to honour his birth and arrival here on earth.

The irony of Christmas is that it evolved into a commercial holiday rather than a religious holiday. Make time for Jesus. This goes beyond going to Church on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Take time to personally reflect on the year.
How have you seen God’s presence in your life?
Beside material gifts, what are you most thankful for this Christmas? Make room for one-on-one time between you and God.

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