Lent progression, or lack thereof

I’ve been writing an essay, as you’ll know if you follow me in any social media sphere or have seen me in real life. I started a Graduate Diploma in Kingdom Theology with the Westminster Theological Centre in September. There has always been a lot of work, but the amount of work tripled after Christmas. They definitely eased us in. It is to be expected, I am aiming to do a degree, part time, mostly remotely, in two years. My last degree was gained in three years with full time study while I lived at the University and that nearly killed me! We’re actually studying three different modules at the moment as well. To say it is a challenge mentally and physically is an understatement.

Between the course and some rather hefty work commitments I haven’t had as much time to put into my Lentan goals as I would have liked. Shocker. The point of Lent, for me, is to free time from our daily grind and distractions to spend more time seeking God’s presence and communicating with Him. Following Lent as it exists today isn’t a Biblical principle, but fasting and nurturing your relationship with God is. The 40 days of course echoes many events in the Bible, which tells of how God’s people try to seek His will and how He tries to show us what it is.

I signed up to a challenge with 40Acts.org.uk which drops and email into my inbox each day for the 4o days of Lent. For a brain like mine that cannot settle on anything for very long, the short insights and challenges are a welcome prompt! I haven’t done them all, and I knew I never would. The idea isn’t to flog oneself but to learn a lesson. Here are the results so far.

Day 1 Create a giving jar. This is easy. I’m trying to stop being a potty mouth. I have pretty much filled it already. Oops. The proceeds will go to the charity I volunteer for: One Can Trust.

Day 2 Cross a social divide.

Day 3 Share your skill. Prompted by a few friends’ examples, I listed my ‘skills’ on Facebook and waited for someone to ask me to do something for them.  A couple of cheeky friends started a debate over my ginger cake baking skills and were trying to determine how they could get me to bake them cakes rather than just sharing the recipe.  I secretly took them at their word and baked for them. The look on their faces when I handed over warm Ginger Cake was priceless!

Day 4 Grab a cuppa.

Day 5 Buy Fairtrade. I do this a lot. Not all the time and not every time I should. It doesn’t help that my husband is really picky about his coffee. But I found a nice brand I knew he would like and I’m weaning him on to it. This was also a timely challenge. I am a Tawny Owl, running a Brownie pack with 24 girls aged between 7 and 10. We have been working towards our World Issues badge looking at the rights of a child, water as a global issue, local charities and fairtrade goods. I organised a Fairtrade Scavenger Hunt at our local Asda and was thoroughly disappointed by the available range of fairtrade goods. The brownies are going to write a letter asking them to stock more!

Day 6 Nurture yourself. I had a long hot bath. And I just soaked. I rarely go anywhere without a book (and at the moment they are all texts for my course). I always have my laptop on when the TV is on (unless it is Sherlock.) One of my unhealthy beliefs systems about God is that I think I have to be making the most of every minute or somehow I am letting him down. For me, having a bath without a book is a big thing. And I loved it.

Day 7 Be spontaneous. In a way I am too spontaneous. I struggle to keep structure and discipline in my life which as a woman with a portfolio career (two part time volunteer jobs and studying part time) I really need to master. I happily bumble off to do things that weren’t on my to-do list all the time. However this task is less about changing lifestyle and more about doing something really random and unplanned in a generous way. Again, I think I am reasonably good at this already, I’m always buying family and friends silly gifts, but not for strangers so I will try that.

Day 8 Donate your holiday. As a person of funemployment I have glorious freedom with how I manage holiday. That said I am regularly chastised by friends, family and mentors for not taking time out or slowing down. I am making sure this year I put in blocks of downtime for myself and because of the health and sanity pickle I have found myself in on a number of occasions because of my lack of resting and relaxing I’m not giving any more up. I think working voluntarily for two charities and doingLighthouse as well as a bunch of other charitable events probably counts for this one.  I’m not saying that to sound like I’m great at giving my time away – I recognise I’m in a very privileged situation at the moment where I have a lot of freedom.

Day 9 Shop Locally. I do this a lot, the frustrated eco warrior/worrier that I am. I took mum to a local garden centre who stock loads of local produce as well as holding a Crop Swap.  We had a lovely lunch of local produce.

Day 10 Go screen free.  This is a constant challenge in our lives. Both my husband and I are gadget reliant so we are going to make a concerted effort on this one again! We’re aware of it, we get better for a while then the lurgy or tiredness hits and we find it so easy to fall into lying about on the sofa either in front of crap telly (Rob) or the laptop (me). We have had back to back colds and flus since our wedding in December and between moving house, working, Rob changing job, me studying, running a growing disciple group, being involved in Church in about 8 other ways, family and friend commitments, working out how to be married, you can see why we fall into bad habits regarding our downtime. We mostly manage Friday night date night, but even that has turned into take away on the sofa. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but we won’t fix the rest overnight. It is a big task – bear with us (and let us say no and don’t get grumpy if we don’t turn up to everything.)

Day 11 Leave your comfort zone.

Day 12 Pass it forward.

Day 13 Pray. The idea here isn’t that Christians don’t already pray, just making something a little more intentional today. I did that.

Day 14 Waste time with others. As per Day 6 I find this quite tough. Jesus did it though and therefore so shall I. Just kicked back with my mum for a while, doing crosswords and blankwords. Twas nice.

Day 15 Send a thank you note.  I haven’t done this one yet, but intend to. A lady at our church writes to me all the time in encouragement and I always say thank you but I know she appreciates tokens too. I’m going to get her a plant for Mothering Sunday as a thank you for being a wise female influence in my life.

Day 16 Organise a swap. Well, I’m helping with our Swish night at church in a few weeks, I’m counting that.

Day 17 Make an emergency kit.

Day 18 Share a joke. What’s brown and sticky? A stick.

Day 19 Love your bags. I get very mad at myself if I leave the house without my bags. I leave them in the car now!

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