What does it mean to be free? What does it mean to simply be?
When I am asked to describe myself, I often reply that I am PWLawyerMom - I am a pastor's wife ("PW"), lawyer, and mom of three amazing kids. PWLawyerMom is an accurate description of my roles in society, but this is not who I am. I've been so consumed with "doing", that I have forgotten what it means to "be". This blog explores my journey as I find the freedom to simply be.
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I did not grow up observing Lent. Now, I love Lent.
Beginning on Ash Wednesday (which is tomorrow), Lent is a season of reflection and preparation before the celebrations of Easter. By observing the 40 days of Lent, Christians replicate Jesus Christ's sacrifice and withdrawal into the desert for 40 days. Lent is marked by fasting, both from food and festivities. It is a time of self-examination and self-denial.
For years, our church has challenged people to not only give up something, but also to take on something. If you have not observed Lent and are trying to decide what to give up, you can look at it a number of ways. You can give up something that you feel like distracts you from your relationship with God (people have given up television, social media, etc.) You can also give up something that you feel like you rely on to much or "need" too much. For example, people sometimes give up soft drinks, desert, etc. By giving up something that you crave, it forces you to turn to God when you would normally turn to something else for comfort. I have also given up things that I believe are detrimental to my soul in the past. For example, one year, I gave up "negative self-talk." The act of sacrifice during Lent helps us focus on the sacrifices of Christ. Historically, some people would fast. I have also had friends that try to fast from a meal each day of Lent.
We also encourage people to "take on" a new habit or discipline. For example, some friends have committed to daily Bible study, daily gratitude, or taking on other habits throughout the season of Lent.
Each week, Sunday is excluded from Lent. This means that you can "indulge" in whatever you give up on Sundays.
This year I am giving up all "electronics" between 6 pm and 9 pm. The only exception is that I can watch a television show with my entire family if they choose to do that for part of our family time. I have found that social media, responding to work emails, online shopping, and similar activities distract me from valuable time with my family. I could also use that time to relax, craft, read, or do other more beneficial activities. I am also "taking on" leading an online Bible study. The study will help me read and reflect on the life of Jesus each day.
Have you observed Lent in the past? If so, what have you given up or taken on? What do you love or dislike about Lent? Have you learned any lessons from the season of Lent?
March 21, 2018by Beth Mabe Gianopulos Category: Devotion“After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God.“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.” Mark 1:14-18 NIV When I was a teenager, I read this passage in awe. I could not comprehend why the disciples would just walk away from everything they knew to follow Jesus. Of course I understood that Jesus was the Son of God, but when I read the passage literally, it sounded like Jesus just walked up to Simon and Andrew and said, “Hi. Nice to meet you. I am the Savior of the World. Follow me.” I couldn’t understand walking away from the life that I knew because I still thought that I was in …
But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in
her heart. The
shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they
had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. Luke 2:19-20 (NIV) When Jesus was born, “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered
them in her heart.” Luke 2:19
(NIV). I imagine that Mary wondered,
“Why was I chosen to be the mother of the savior of the world? Why did God decide to come into the world as
a powerless and helpless infant?” If you
read further in Luke, you will see that as Jesus grows, Mary continues to
ponder. I wonder if at some point she
stopped wondering “why did God choose me?” and started pondering, “how can I be
the best mother I can be to the savior of the world?” If we want to have the heart of Jesus, we must slow down to be present
and see the world that we live in. When
we take time to ponder the sadness and pain we see in the world, the things
that break Jesus’ heart will break our heart.
When my daughter was two years old, we took her to a concert to see a children’s group perform. While my husband was taking my son to the bathroom, I felt Maria go completely still in my lap. I looked at her, and she took a shallow breath. Then, to my horror, she stopped breathing. I began to shake her in an attempt to wake her. Her lips were turning blue, and I stood hysterically screaming, “Does anyone know CPR?” I ran into the hall and found paramedics. They were able to help her breath again, and I collapsed into a crumpled ball on the floor. We later learned that my daughter had a febrile seizure. She had an infection, and her fever had spiked so quickly that her body shut down for a few seconds. In the months that followed, we had to take her to the emergency room for pneumonia. I was so traumatized and terrified that I could not sleep. I was afraid to close my eyes for a minute because I was afraid that she would stop breathing. I somehow believed that if I watched h…