Lent – Letting Go and Leaning In


A time of letting go.

A time of preparing.

A space to rest and reflect.

So often overlooked by modern culture.

Sometimes overly strict for perhaps the wrong reasons.

In the history of the Church, Lent is the season before Easter. It is marked by 40 days that precede Resurrection Sunday (excluding Sundays), or about 6 weeks. For many in the Catholic Church, lent became a season of giving up sweets and alcohol. Before Lent begins, on Ash Wednesday, there is one last hurrah on Fat Tuesday. (in French… Mardi Gras, which translated literally means Tuesday Fat). That’s also a reason many children typically receive candy on Easter morning, to mark that the fast from sugar is over. Hopefully the kiddos aren’t also getting a bottle of booze in their basket.

Some people know this information well.

Some might say, “Oh, ya. I kinda recall that.”

Following the tradition of giving up things, I know people who have taken a break from Facebook for Lent. Others who do give up sugar or alcohol. Sometimes people give up other foods like coffee or soda. (Yes, coffee is its own food group. Don’t judge. Also, I’m not giving up my coffee this Lent) I’ve known people who give up one meal a day. If you’re giving something up, let me be the first to encourage you!

In the right idea of Lent, it’s not just about giving something up. Because in that model, it’s all about us. In this busy culture and busy lives that we lead, the giving up of something trivial is easy. No candy, meh, I can handle 40 days. Skipping Starbucks for the home brewed coffee, ya, I can handle that. And in our busy, I’m sure something else will fill that space or perceived need we have.

If it’s not about me and what I’m sacrificing, then where is my focus? It’s more about replacing.  It’s about replacing that activity you would normally do or food you would normally eat to spend more time with Jesus. It’s about journeying through those last weeks and days until he was crucified on the cross. It’s about remembering what He has already accomplished on your behalf and growing your soul closer to Him.

Really, the Lenten Season is a both a giving up of something personal to us and a giving in to something so much greater than us. It’s about surrendering our ways to the The Way. It’s about letting Jesus into our personal, daily, breathing in and breathing out spaces of life. It’s about letting Him guide us and transform us, bringing a true inner peace and understanding in a way that only He can.

So what does that really look like to give up something a little more personal?

That can be a challenge.

Rearranging our schedule to make more time with Jesus? Giving up our old ideas and ways of doing things? Letting go of our expectations and control of how it’s always been done? Letting go of that perfect picture in your head of what life should look like for yourself? Offering our time and lives to be in service to others? Saying yes to the hard things He asks of us? AND inviting Jesus into the process? Trusting even deeper in your inner being that He is there for you?

Yep, that can be a journey.

It’s a journey I’m ready for.

A time to cleanse the old ideas. A time to be refreshed by the one who refreshes.

Are you ready too? I encourage you to take some time and consider what you may let go of so that you receive the grace He desires to pour into the empty space.


May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him,

so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Rom 15:13)


Busy Is Not An Honor Badge

My week has been busy. This year has been busy. My family has been busy. Ministry has been busy.

Life is just busy.

Do you feel it too?

When asked, “how are you?” do you say “Busy!”?

I can match your busy. Any day.

Do you ever find yourself listing out the to-do list for people to justify how busy you are. Or to one-up their busy? And do they reply with how busy they are too?

Are our kids seeing and feeling the hurried busy schedule at home? On the go? At school? At church? What are we telling them is important? To work harder, do more, be more, achieve more? Is that what we want for them?

In a conversation a few months back someone said, “I try not to use the words busy or tired”. Hmmm. She indicated that using those words gave the idea that she didn’t have time to be present in the moment with whomever she was with. She was too busy. Or too tired.

How many times have I said this?

How many times has that caused me to miss out on what’s around me?

How many times has that caused me to not show up mentally and be fully present in the moment?

With my own kids.

With the families I am a pastor for.

With the volunteers I lead.

How can I be fully present and fully engaged with any of them if I am too busy thinking of the to-do list or too tired from being too busy?

That’s a bad, vicious cycle.

Don’t get me wrong. It is good to work hard. It is good to plan, be intentional, follow through. He will equip us for every good work under the sun. But I find a caution with this:

It’s not about us doing more for God,

it’s about us being more with God.

If we are so busy running from activity to activity, trying to fit all of the busy into the finite hours we have, and dragging our children along the whole time, what are we really pointing them towards? What are we telling them is the most important? What are we modeling for them? That it’s good to be busy and fill our days to the point of exhaustion, leaving little or no time to just rest in God. To notice Him around us? To notice the blessings He is showering on us. Are we missing them simply because we’ve kept our head down in the busy?

Sometimes it’s even our old ideas or thought patterns that can still keep us in the busy. Or they can wear us down, leaving us feeling tired and worn out. We can do no more for God and don’t have the focus to actually spend time with God.

In another recent conversation I was asked to list out my busy, so they could know what I was doing and make sure I was taking time for myself. After hearing the long list they said, “Well, maybe you can rest on 4th of July”.


I don’t want to just survive these days. I don’t want to stay so busy, head down, completely task driven that I miss the moments. The moments of laughter with my children. The moments of wonder with the littles I get to teach. The moments of joy with friends. I want to show up and be so incredibly present with them. I want to invest in people. I want to be intentional. I want to bring joy.

For me, it’s time to clean out some old thought patterns again. Things that don’t serve me. That are consuming too much of my time. It’s time to lighten the calendar.

It’s time to pause and create more space in my life to just be.

At the end of the day, the end of the year, or the end of a life, busy is not an honor badge I want. I want the moments. I want the laughter ringing in my ears. I want the joy of life. I want the blessings He brings. And I want to be with Him more.

Are you wearing the busy honor badge? Are you ready to set it down? Are you ready to pause?


Experiencing the Joy Filled Life

I have been continually reminded lately at how fast life moves. Projects and plans that seemed months away are now rapidly approaching. I’ve already passed some huge milestones in my career that I had been anticipating for months. What felt like the never-ending winter is giving way to spring. My daughter’s 16th birthday is only two more months away. Right after that both of my boys graduate, one from high school and the other from college. Life is full. It is good.

There have been some hard moments too. There was a day in January when I was looking at all that was coming towards me on the calendar. It completely overwhelmed me and I ended up sitting on the kitchen counter in tears. There have been moments where all I could do was survive the day, hoping it would pass quickly because of the sadness I felt. I don’t like those days so much.

I’ve had a couple a-ha moments in the past few weeks that have caused me to slow down and look at where I’m finding joy. I have been slowly reading a book with other staff members and one paragraph in our current chapter keeps jumping out at me. Peter Scazzero, in The Emotionally Healthy Leader, talks about paying attention to our emotions of the day in order to listen to God. He says this:

Consolations are those experiences that fill us with joy, life, energy, and peace. Desolations are those that drain us and feel like death. Consolations connect us more deeply with God, ourselves, and others. Desolations disconnect us.

This made me really think about what brings me joy, what fills me with peace, and how do those moments and experiences connect me to God. Then I considered those things that just drain me and fill me with anxiety. Those moments that leave me feeling incredibly disconnected not only from God, but also from those around me that I long to be connected with. I don’t want to live in anxiety and fear. I don’t want to be rushing through moments or withholding my time and presence because of fear. I want to make room in my life for more joy. I want to smile and enjoy each moment that He brings me, rather than rushing to the next thing, situation, or person. I want to be present.

The next a-ha moment came during a recent dinner with friends. One person said they really try to never use the word “busy” or “tired”. Wow. Both of those could describe my last several months. Life is full, but I don’t want to be so busy that I miss out on the blessings and joy right in front of me. I don’t want to rush through everything so fast just to arrive completely worn out on the other end, missing all of the good along the way. Missing the people God has placed in my life.

I don’t have all of this figured out yet, because there are really full seasons of life. And as a single mama to two teens at home, well, we’re always going a lot of directions. I don’t want to trade it and I don’t want to rush through it, because they’ll be gone before too long. I don’t want to miss these moments with them because I was too busy and then too tired. I also don’t want to miss moments with friends or not be included in activities because I’m perceived as too busy. Busy is not an honor badge. Busy is not what I want my life to reflect.

I’m working to pause, consider all that is being asked of me, then discern the best use of my time. I’m paying attention to what brings me joy, makes me smile and laugh, and makes me feel alive. Those moments that God brings, I want to hold them close and be incredibly present in them. Life is full and moving fast, but right now, I’m feeling a great sense of peace and joy. I want to be present with people and bring joy to them as well.

I pray that for you too. Consider the moments in your day and how you’re experiencing them. Are there things you need to let go of? Ideas, attitudes, friendships, distractions that pull you deeper into fear, drain you of life, and keep you too busy? Or are you present in this moment, breathing in deeply and sensing peace and joy that can be yours? May you find renewed energy and life as you seek and experience deep joy in your own life and with others.

Spring Table