Today is Ash Wednesday, the Christian holy day of fasting, sacrifice and prayer. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lenten period leading up to Easter.

The fasting and sacrifice of comforts may help to grant a perspective of needing God for sustenance, just as Jesus did when he fasted in the desert. Lent also helps us reflect on our shortcomings, and helps us to realize Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice. 

The Lenten season is a great time for us to slow down and reflect on what is truly important to us. You may feel that you’ve done a lot of this over the past year as the global pandemic has forced the whole world to slow down. Even so, Lent can be a good “reset”. It’s a time to be more deliberate and intentional with our daily living. 

Is there something you’ve been wanting to do or incorporate into your daily routine? Lent can be a great time to start. It can be the perfect time to put into practice positive behaviors that could turn into positive habits. 40 days may seem like a long time, but it actually will go quickly, as time seems to move these days. 

Are you in need of a few ideas for inspiration on what to do this Lenten season? Here are a few practices to try.

  1. Start the day with meditation. It’s a great way to really focus, be present, and practice mindfulness. 
  2. Go to church one morning a week (in addition to Sunday service). Spend more time in prayer, and strengthen your faith relationship. 
  3. Start a gratitude journal. Write three things you are thankful for each day. This can be done to start the day with a grateful heart, or at the end of the day before bed. 
  4. Start a prayer list. Pray daily for different individuals in your life for each day of Lent. 
  5. Reach out to someone you lost touch with. Let a family member, neighbor or old friend know you are thinking of them. 
  6. Spend more intentional time with your spouse. Schedule time together to engage in uninterrupted conversation, do a project together or start a new hobby. Devote time to strengthening  your relationship for the next 40 days. 
  7. Take on a family volunteer project. Work at a soup kitchen (check first for Covid guidelines), gather needed items for a local shelter, collect canned goods for a food bank, or donate to a special cause. This is a great time to give back but also gain perspective as a family. 
  8. Move more. Make movement – a walk, a run, a hike, a bike ride, an exercise class – part of your daily routine. The health benefits are great, but it can really boost your mood and also set the stage for a positive habit when Lent is over. 

Maybe you want to “fast” from something this Lent instead. Maybe “giving up” bad habits, negative behaviors or 

  1. Give up social media for Lent. Put down your phone, unplug from the social media landscape and be more present with family and friends.
  2. Comparisons. Quit comparing your life, your job, your house, your size, your journey, to anyone else. Everyone is fighting their own battles; everyone’s journey is their own. Let all the comparing go this Lent. 
  3. Alcohol. Perhaps you like a glass of wine or an ice cold brew to wind down the day. Perhaps you reach for a cocktail when you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed. Or perhaps you’ve had more to drink in the past year as you survived all the stay-at-home orders. Lent could be the perfect time to reset and take a break from alcohol.
  4. Online shopping. It’s so easy today to fill a “shopping cart” from the comfort of your couch. During a pandemic, it was easy to shop online for everything from household products to groceries to those “i didn’t know i needed this” gadget. For the next 40 days, reign in online shopping. If you do need to/ want to shop, support local businesses. It’s a win/win for everyone involved. 

No matter what you chose to do or not do this Lenten season, we hope you are able to live more intentionally for the next 40 days. We hope you are able to prepare yourself, your family and your home for the brighter days ahead, the hope that blooms when Easter arrives.