Daniel 9:3 - And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes ~

I am quite good at finding things to give up for Lent ~ sweets, complaining, DIET COKE!!, eating between meals..... The list could potentially go on and on. It has followed me through many years of Lents. It has been the subject of many dinner table conversations since childhood.

"Today is Ash Wednesday. What are you giving up?" Followed by my father's obligatory... peas, my mother's .... eating between meals and the resolve between my sisters and I to give up fighting with one another. Memories of trips to Garavelli's for fish sandwiches on Friday nights or a quick meal of fish sticks and macaroni and cheese. There were also trips to Church and sacrifices made to fill the Lenten Rice bowls.

Memorable ~ yes..... Meaningful ~ at times....

John 3:16 - For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life

How do we create a memorable and meaningful Lenten experience for our families when we struggle to create memorable and meaningful experiences on days not within the Lenten season? We can practice the art of sacrifice, of giving up that extra 30 minutes of screen time or extra snack after dinner. Will these sacrifice bring us closer to God? Will they bring us closer to empathizing and feeling more Christ like? Lent also calls upon us to give of ourselves...to share our gifts and talents with others... to extend ourselves in ways that allows others to view us as Christ like as embrace our spirit of generosity. Alas, even this to some... to many feels like one more thing. There cannot be value when it is one more thing, one more tick on the list.

In this year of Mercy I have decided to give up the burden of guilt, the pervasive feeling of not doing enough, being enough or giving enough. The energy that arises from these feelings cannot be shared with my family, with friends or with others. It drains and depletes. If instead we give of ourselves by praising, appreciating and celebrating others we may find ourselves fulfilled in unforeseen ways. How does this become a shared experience for our families? It makes us whole ~ it joins us as a unit called upon to give to others. How great our gifts might be when given together and shared with many.... In this Lenten season I seek memories made with my family, of gifts given and mercy extended. I wish many blessings upon your family as you discover your own ways to embrace the Lenten season as individuals and families.