As I look back on my blog, I see that I seem to write a post every year during Lent.. I want to be true to that tradition and it has been a while since I posted. I always see Lent as an opportunity to reflect.. to look back and to see how God has been working and to be aware of what He is doing right now.
I don’t even remember the Lent season last year.. probably because I was getting ready to bring my very disabled elderly mother to my home. I brought her here almost exactly one year ago.. It was the day before Easter 2018.. so that was March 31st.. the day after my wedding anniversary.. I was pretty worried about how it would go and that was apparently a prophetic feeling…since it did not go well at all and three weeks later I was frantically looking for a skilled nursing facility that would take her.. I never found one but Kaiser did! What a trial that was.. then we were faced with another even more challenging situation. It was becoming very clear that something was wrong with my husband and I knew I had to face whatever it was.. we found out in May that he has a rare type of dementia..
I have been grieving since that neurology appointment and it is only now that I feel like I can say that I have begun to accept this outcome.. many nights of crying, yelling out to the Lord and feeling sorry for myself followed that diagnosis. We are now living in a “new normal.”
This year for Lent I was hoping to focus on giving up worry and anxiety.. but God seemed to have another plan for me. Instead of trying not to worry or be anxious He began to show me that it was impossible to truly get rid of those things and that I needed to give myself permission to have those feelings and others and to welcome them as part of me.. I never imagined that as an option.. but it has helped tremendously. There is even a name for this.. Welcoming prayer..As I have tried this.. my process is to sit with my feelings, to acknowledge them and not fight them.. to just feel them and when they are less intense, I release them to the Lord.. The result has been more peace and much less fear.
It was a big shift for me to realize that all feelings are legitimate and that I don’t have to deny them or try to kill them.. even the ones I dislike.. that the Lord will enable me to live through the times of sadness, pain, grief, worry, anxiety, fear and anger. I realized at a deep level that I am not defined by these feelings or these times of struggle. We live in a broken world and when the brokenness overwhelms us it is incredibly difficult and impossible to pretend that we are not suffering and hurting.
The take away is that we are loved by God even as we battle the feelings we wish we never had. He is not going to leave us even when our circumstances overwhelm us. So I am living more fully day by day and thanking Him for the good days..or maybe just the good hours or minutes.. Knowing that this journey is full of uncertainty when it comes to our future but that we can be certain of God and His faithfulness.
As a result of my commitment to Lent, I have been doing more Bible reading than I was doing previously. I have a plan that I am following so that is helping. As I read everyday and do a little art in my Lent journal.. God is revealing things to me. I sense that He is answering questions that I did not realize I had..opening up scripture in new ways. This should hardly be news to me since I have been a Bible reader for the last 38 years, but there have been seasons where I could not open it up and I felt dried up and lost. This short season has changed all that.. my spirit is being renewed by focusing on the Lord, His word, my art and desiring to change some bad habits and patterns that keep me from trusting Him fully. My faith feels stronger.. I have more hope and there are some answers to prayer that I believe are coming.
One of the passages that God used during this last week, was from the last chapter of John.. you know the one, where Jesus appears to his disciples after the resurrection and says ” Come and have breakfast.” I have always enjoyed the down to earth flavor of that passage. He fried fish for them.. no sermon.. just food and fellowship. In this same chapter He asks Peter three times if he loves Him. Peter gets a little annoyed but says yes every time. What is this all about? Some people see it linked to Peter’s denial of Jesus.. since that happened three times. I can see that possibility, but I see much more. Jesus answered Peter three times.. He told Peter to feed His lambs, take care of His sheep and feed His sheep. Some translations say tend or shepherd my sheep. What does this mean? For me it means that if I love the Lord I am going to care for, encourage, and comfort His people. There can be no excuse for not doing this including disillusionment, cynicism, and old wounds. It was a word I needed to hear. Anyone who attends church and interacts with other believers long enough will have reasons for pulling away and licking their wounds. Yet if I am understanding this passage correctly, we don’t have that option. “IF YOU LOVE ME…Feed my sheep!” Wow.. I got it Lord and thanks for making it so clear:)
So grateful for a God that reveals Himself through the scriptures and that cares enough about us to communicate with each one of His sheep in a personal way.
Yep! We are still in that season.. almost all the way through March until we get to Easter Sunday on the 27th. This is an interesting time of year for my husband and I. We met on the day before Easter in 2001 and got married on the day before Easter in 2002.. we actually picked that day because of the significance of Easter in our relationship.. and of course there is our last name which is Feaster! So this season is a big one for us. We celebrate our anniversary soon at the end of March and the date we met which falls in the middle of April. I try to pay attention to what God is doing since He really got my attention almost 15 years ago when we met. It was a huge change for me to get married again after being widowed and having two bad marriages. The good new is that Steve is the love of my life and we have a really good relationship that continues to grow and thrive.
We’ve been though many trials together starting when we got married and both lost our jobs. It has been a pretty wild ride so far with lots of change and losses. So here we are many grandchildren later.. between us we have 13. Most of them were born during the last 15 years. God did something great when he brought us together, not just for us but for everyone in our families. It has been amazing and I am so thankful. Just a little background for you and some great reminders for me!
So what does God want for Lent? I don’t see this season so much as a time to give up things as a time to give things to God. What I mean is ” what is God after?” That is the question that I keep asking myself and Him. I got the answer this morning after reading the story of Moses not being able to enter the promised land. I have always wondered why that happened.. what did he do that kept him from entering after 40 years in the wilderness. Well.. it was actually pretty simple. He did not obey God. God told him to speak to the rock to bring out water and he struck the rock. But there is more.. he struck the rock in anger and frustration. He was angry with God’s people and he took out his frustration by hitting the rock and acting like he was making water appear. Not only did he decide to handle things in his own way, he made himself the center of things. God told him what to do and after leading Moses for all those years.. I imagine He thought Moses would do it.. that Moses trusted Him enough to speak to that rock calmly.. to show the people that God was providing what they needed.. but he failed and he did not enter the promised land.
Wow! That story totally struck a nerve.. I saw myself all over the place. My own anger and frustration with God’s people, my own desire to control things instead of letting go and doing it His way. Then I discovered what God wanted from me during this season. He made it really simple so I would not forget.. He wants my doubts, fears, and unbelief. These are the things that are under the surface of the anger and frustration. He wants me to trust Him so i can enter the promised land and not just see it from a distance. I am so grateful that He revealed this to me right now.. there is almost a month until Easter. It gives me time to show Him that I am listening to Him. A revelation of this type needs to be followed by acts of obedience that show God that I am taking this seriously. I won’t go into detail but there are things that need to change in my behavior and decisions and attitudes.
So as you seek Him during this season, don’t be afraid to see yourself as you truly are.. He is showing us things so that He can breathe new life into us.. Let’s agree to give Him what He desires for Lent.. Easter is coming soon!
Today is day 11 of Lent. The season is 40 days and lasts until Easter… we are about to enter the second week of Lent officially starting tomorrow. Interestingly as I have started taking this season seriously.. God has been revealing things to me. It seems that the pattern is the same during Lent and actually any other season. Once I decide to eliminate some things that take too much time(and in the end add up to nothing) God moves into the empty space and speaks things I need to hear.
First I decided to spend less time on the computer and that meant getting off Facebook.. then it seemed like He asked me to give up something that I thought was a positive in my life. I sensed the Lord asking me to let go of trying to help people with problems that seemed overwhelming. As a counselor.. that is my work and I understand the support I give people is needed and part of God’s plan for my clients and for me. Outside of this setting.. I can be a type of rescuer.. wanting to fix people and give them lots of my time and energy.. So it was very interesting to realize that I need to have better boundaries in my personal life and trust God with the people who are struggling. He continually reminds me that I have limited energy and He does not want me to be depleted by taking on burdens that don’t belong to me.. This has been a process for me.. it is not something new, but this time He is going deeper and asking more from me.
It is all a matter of trust. Trusting Him to help those I cannot help. Trusting Him to comfort and encourage the brokenhearted. Trusting that He will bring others into the places I cannot go. So.. I am continuing the journey and asking Him to forgive me for the things He is identifying in my character that I need to give to Him and trusting that this will be a fruitful 40 days…believing that I will see things in a new way by the time we get to Easter!
I have posted a few pictures of my little Lent art journal.. staying in His word and creating art together is rich and a good use of time:)
I spent most of my Christian life never really appreciating Lent. Many churches don’t acknowledge this season and seem to ignore it. I am not sure why but I suspect it has to do with rejecting ritual or tradition. I feel like I was missing something all those years and this year I have embraced Lent in a new way. I started googling Lent and scripture and came up with some very interesting websites. Many of them seem to spring from the more contemplative stream of the faith. As I began exploring and reading things from each site I suddenly saw an opportunity. Traditionally people give up things for Lent and I understand the reasoning behind this.. although admittedly I have not done much giving up during Lent in past years. This year I am joining in with giving something up.. that something is Facebook. I have only been on Facebook for less than a year and I have to admit that I think about giving it up permanently every time I visit the site.. Actually giving up Facebook the first time I was on it.. 5 years ago.. resulted in my starting this blog.. So here I am again thinking that God has a plan for me to do something that I can only understand if I quit that site and free up the time that it takes from my life.
So since yesterday was the official beginning of Lent.. Ash Wednesday.. I stopped visiting the site and sure enough.. here I am back on my blog. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I love writing and I have not been very inspired since I started wasting so much time. I also started an art journal for Lent.. an idea that emerged today and I am very excited about sticking with it for the entire season of Lent. I am journaling a new scripture every day for the 40 days of Lent.
The first day has been inspiring and I hope to draw closer to the Lord as I am faithful to listen each day and create my art journal. This is the type of project anyone can do.. you don’t need artistic talent and you definitely don’t need lots of art supplies. Any little journal or even one that you make yourself will work. At the end of the 40 days you will be able to look at what you have done and realize how far God has taken you by being intentional and focusing on Him every day until Easter.. For my journal, I took watercolor paper and cut it into small rectangles and punched holes in the sides. I tied them together with ribbon and that was all there was to it.. very easy. I hope to do a different type of thing on each page.. giving the scripture reference and a phrase that jumps out at me. I plan to post some pictures of what I am doing as I go along.
So why not do something creative this year and let yourself enjoy Lent. Yes you might have to give something up to make this happen.. but think about how much you will gain in the end. This season only happens once each year and it ends in a celebration of the life God has given us! Preparing for the celebration will bring thankfulness and joy into our hearts and we will have those things to offer up to Him!
We are in the season of Lent..the forty day period before Easter. This year it began on March 9th. I have never been one to pay attention to these seasons..until they are actually happening. So I missed the date Lent started and suddenly realized that it was in progress. I heard people mention that they were giving up things for this period..TV..sugar..alcohol..dessert..etc. Suddenly it seemed important to find something to do to celebrate the season and to recognize it as the time when we are approaching Easter..a very important moment for us as believers.
What did God want from me? I could tell that there was something I needed to give up..suddenly I knew. Worry and anxiety. That was it! Two things that I can live without and would love to give up forever. Worry is the enemy of faith. Anxiety comes in and drives us away from God. I decided to turn away from them during this season..to remember that God was with me whenever the temptation appeared. It is an interesting challenge to give yourself.
Everyday..there is a situation that demands attention and the temptation to worry appears. Suddenly I remember.. I am not doing that right now..I gave this up for the Lord. It feels great when that happens..God moves closer and my faith grows stronger. When we worry we cannot hear His voice..our own thoughts are all-consuming. When we are anxious..He seems to disappear as we turn things over in our minds wondering what will happen.
So..let’s agree to draw near to Him this season in anticipation. To turn away from worry..to decide to believe and trust that He sees..He knows..He will do what He has promised. That great day in history is approaching..the moment when He entered history and did everything for us. Let’s decide to do something for Him..
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”