Lent is one of my favorite times of the year. It is a powerful time of reflection, repentance, and change. During Lent we focus on the life, death, and finally the glorious resurrection of Jesus. When we intently think and pray on those things, we cannot stay the same. Lent calls us to strive to love God and our neighbor more. Lent calls us to mourn and rejoice in the crucifiction and resurrection. Lent calls us to be honest about our deepest sins. If we truly celebrate Lent, then on Easter day we will find ourselves resurrected with Jesus, and given the opportunity to start anew.

Typically during Lent we give something up or take something on. I know that I am often guilty of giving something up for shallow reasons. Or because I just felt that I had to. I'll admit that my Lenten practices have often been selfish, and had very little to do with strengthening me as a Christian.

One Lent, I gave up meat under the guise that I wanted to explore my commitment to protecting all of God's creation. This was partially true. I also thought that I could lose some weight, and I think that vegetarians are cool (that's the hipster in me). Another Lent I gave up excessive spending. I genuinely wanted to be less wasteful with my money. But Lent requires that you follow up with your sacrifice. I'm pretty sure that instead of donating all the money I saved that I bought a ridiculously expensive bike that I've ridden less than 50 times. I've had it for 4 years.

So, let me encourage you to think and pray long and hard before you make your Lenten decision. Genuinely reflect on what needs to change in order for you to be a more faithful servant of God and neighbor. And if you need some help, here are a couple of videos to help you think about the amazing things that you can do with your Lenten sacrifice.

These both come from Living Water International which I've mentioned before on this site. My friend Danielle will be going on a trip with them during the Lenten season, and I'm sure if you have more questions about that particular organization she'll be happy to answer them for you! But if that's not your thing, then think about other ways that you can give to others during Lent. Yes it's a time of reflection and change for you, but it's also a time for you to live as Jesus lived and radically serve others. So, here are the videos that (hopefully) will soften your heart to the purpose of Lent:

Lent: Prepare the Way from Living Water International on Vimeo.

Don't fast. from Living Water International on Vimeo.

And here's a great article I read that might help you today on this beautiful Ash Wednesday:

Smudges on the Soul: A Meditation for Ash Wednesday
by Safiyah Fosua

Yet even now, says the LORD, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the LORD, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing. (Joel 2:12-13, NRSV)
I would rather wear the smudge on my forehead than to admit its residence upon my soul. I prefer a crude cross above my eyes to questions about runny mascara and smudged liner. In a place where self-confidence is rewarded and any sign of weakness or emotional predisposition is held suspect, it is difficult to consider actually following the advice of the prophet to return to the Lord with fasting, with weeping and with mourning. It is, however, acceptable — maybe even fashionable to appear in public with a dirty forehead as a sign that I have religion. It is amazing how the symbols of piety, sackcloth and ashes, have been transformed into mask that hides me from myself and circumvents the intent of Ash Wednesday.
Blow the trumpet in Zion, the prophet said. Not the trumpet that signals advance to war, or the trumpet that celebrates victory, but the one that warns trembling penitents that the day of the Lord is coming. Blow the trumpet that warns a penitent like me to wear the smudge of ashes long after her face has been washed and to admit the smudge on the one place that matters to God, her heart.
Blow the trumpet in Zion, the prophet said, and sanctify a fast (Joel 2:15). Hear the sounds of grumbling need in a world where few are filled — and where we are overfilled. Today I am called to push away from the voracious consumption of everything in my path, for at least a little while, in hopes that I might realize something about the equitable distribution of the world's resources before the fast is over.
Rend your hearts and not your garments, the prophet said (Joel 2:13). The gift of the day is personal reflection, a season of confession, and change. Start the arduous journey from shadow to substance, from ritual to reality, from fa├žade to faith. Today, choose the harder course. It is easier to buy new clothing than to mend a soul.
Prayer: Lord, as I begin this year's Lenten Journey, turn my attention to the things that matter most to you. Amen.


Spaghetti Brain

Here's all the craziness going on in my head right now:

  • I went to the aquarium and got to hang out with my awesome BFFs this weekend!

  • I was super sad that the penguin exhibit was closed for construction, but not willing to pay an extra $50 (really $100 b/c I'd have to take my husband with me) to see the penguins in the "Behind the Scenes" tour. It's cheaper to just go back to the aquarium when construction is done.
  • I think it's totally wrong, but I understand why people want otter fur. It's soft!
  • People had their infants there. If your kid can't say sea anemone then they don't need to see one!
  • Some fish have funny teeth (yeah, who knew fish had teeth?!) and it reminded me of this
    • I thought the Oscars were great this year! I loved the way that they announced the Acting awards - it was so sweet to see the nominees reactions as the presenters talked about their great performances.
    • I love Kate Winslet and I'm so glad she won!
    • Today Derek and I have been married for 6 months (that's half a year!). I love him more everyday.
    • We desperately want to move into a real house so I'm commissioning all my LaGrange friends to look for houses for rent for us. If you see one that's even remotely decent tell me about it please!

    Hope you have a wonderful Monday!



So, apparently I'm bad at blogging. I just never feel like I have enough time to blog, or that I don't have anything to write about that's interesting enough. So I think I might just steal my friend Katie's idea and blog in short little thoughts. I love reading her blog and I like that she posts multiple times a day and I really feel like I would be a much more interesting and successful blogger if I do that. Don't worry Katie, I'm not completely copying you, but imitation is the best form of flattery, right?

And don't worry - I haven't forgotten about my commitment to sustainability! So, I've already blogged about these once, but they've come out with new designs so I wanted to remind you about Envirosax aka the best reusable shopping bags EVER! The new designs are super cute, but I think my new faves are the kids series:

How stinking cute are those?!

And hey, if you head over to the Envirosax blog you can see all the celebrities that carry them too! What's better than being environmentally friendly and super hip like Amy Poehler, Neil Patrick Harris, & Jennifer Anniston? Seriously, if it's good enough for Doogie Howser M.D. then it should be good enough for you!

Happy shopping :)


Faith and Reason

I am a huge NPR fan. If you're in the car with me you'll probably find me listening to my local NPR station with great interest. Or sometimes you might catch me listening to a Pop radio station, but I consider that research because my Thursday night trivia team depends on me to know the popular music questions. But mostly, it's NPR. I find pretty much every story they have fascinating! Even Science Fridays (Oh Ira Flatow I love you) are interesting and I typically have no desire to think about math or science unless I'm forced to.

If you don't already listen to NPR then I highly recommend starting out with the Saturday morning standard Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me because it is hilarious! And interesting. And in case you missed all the outrageous news stories for the week it's a great way to catch up.

But alas, that's not exactly what the point of my blog is today. I wanted to tell you about this great piece that I heard on NPR a few days ago. It's a story about Evolution Weekend in which about 1,000 pastors this upcoming Sunday will proclaim their belief that science and religion don't have to be mutually exclusive. The link above will take you to the article and the recording of the radio broadcast about the article as well.

I think it's a great story because as I Christian I get very frustrated when non-Christians assume that I lack reason, or that I don't believe in science, or that I am an idiot. Frankly, I believe that God created the earth and I have absolutely no idea how God chose to do that. But I do fully understand that evolution has been tested repeatedly and is widely accepted in the world of science to be truth. I also understand that a scientific theory isn't just an idea that some scientists came up with, but in fact an idea that is highly supported by experiments and research and has yet to be disproved. I get all of that. Just because I think God is Creator doesn't mean that I think science is stupid or wrong. If that were true then I would never go to the doctor. But as someone who may one day stand behind a pulpit to preach (not frequently, but occasionally) I certainly hope that people will view me as intelligent, reasonable and faithful. You can have both! In fact, I would say that believing in the intricacy of science helps me have even more faith in how incredible God really is!

So, this isn't supposed to be a soap box or anything, I just wanted to put it out there. I hope you enjoy the article, but if you don't then you should still check out your local NPR station because it really is so awesome!


A brief recap of my life recently

I haven't blogged, but I have been:

  • Working like crazy getting ready for a big event
  • Traveling a bit for a work again
  • Going to trivia on Thursday nights (ok, tonight will be my second night)
  • Named the Vice Chairperson of the Pastor Parish Relations Committee at my church
  • Going to the new church tradition of potluck dinners on Wednesday nights
  • Getting excited about all of the new, amazing, gospel fulfilling stuff that my church is doing now that we've rebuilt
  • Wishing I could spend more time with my husband. Why does he have to work late everynight?!
  • Dreaming about moving into a house. I'm so over this apartment.
  • Wishing I could find a house that's not in the ghetto and in our price range to rent every month
  • Getting my dog Barkley treated for epilepsy. Poor baby.
  • Obsessed with Wheat Thins - I forgot how delicious they are!
  • Super excited for my friend Danielle getting engaged!
  • Jealous of Sara for getting to swim with penguins.
  • Wishing I could be in school again because I'm so much better at school than I am at work.
  • Highly emotional (God bless my husband)
  • Super sleepy
  • A bad wife. I suck at being domestic.
  • Ready for a vacation. Anyone want to donate a vacation to us? I'll take it!

Hope you're having a super great day!

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