Keeping Lent Simple

Simple lent

I have no business spending time on a blog these days.  Life is very overcomplicated, stressful, and overwhelming at the moment.  Yet, I’m currently in a bit of a rut with my faith, health, and other aspects of my life so it is time to shake things up.  Keeping a record of my efforts is worth some merit, even if it is only for my benefit.  I’ve recently discovered Blessed Is She and have been reading their daily devotions and participating in their twitter chats.  When I heard that they were sponsoring a link-up every Thursday, I figured it was a good time to brush off the blog I started years ago and actually write another post.  So…here goes (please bear with my beginner blogging skills).

I find Lent to be such an interesting season with powerful traditions.  I remember in college hearing the Priest at the Newman center remarking that Ash Wednesday was one of the highest attended Masses despite the fact that it is not considered a Holy Day of Obligation.  Lent resonates with people.  It is a time to refocus and recommit to that which is good.  A time to reflect and renew.

I am in desperately in need of Lent this year.  I know that Lent can be difficult, but I am longing for the discipline and solemnity of Lent.  I’m looking forward to the transformation that can occur if I commit to truly living Lent.

My challenge with making plans is to keep them simple.  I’m an overachiever and I tend to over commit and then am extremely hard on myself when I am unable to live up to my unrealistic expectations.  I’m intentionally keeping my Lenten plan simple and achievable.

Prayer: I’ve ordered the Blessed Is She Lenten Journal and my goal is to spend some quiet time each day reflecting on scripture and recording my thoughts.

Fasting: I know I said I was keeping things simple, but I have a couple things that I need to rid my life of this year.

First, diet coke.  My addiction (yes, addiction) to diet coke is ridiculous.  I’ve committed to quitting several times in my life and have been fairly successful, but eventually I’ll allow myself to have “just one” and then it becomes a habit all over again.  I get headaches if I don’t have one at lunch each day and I’m tired of spending the money on such an unnecessary vice.  Also, its a very unhealthy habit that I’m ready to move on from.

Second, unnecessary purchases.  I’m trying to become more financially responsible this year and I need to stop buying things I “need.”  Time to seriously commit to living simply and paying off debt for good (student loans, I’m ready to be done with you!).

Giving: We are going to try Lenten Sacrifice Beans in our home for the first time this year.  My daughter is 2 and I think she will understand the concept and be motivated to participate.  Of course, mom and dad will be able to earn beans by modeling good deeds at home.  I’m sure little M will LOVE seeing the beans change into Jellybeans or M & Ms on Easter Morning.

We also may do a Lenten calendar similar to this one from Catholic Icing to help us keep track of the days remaining in Lent.

So that’s the plan.  I’ll try to find time to post an update or two, and I hope to do more of the Blessed Is She link ups.

bissisterhood link up_zpskl2jxyy6

KISS: Keep it Simpl(er) Stupid – Family Photos

Ever since M was born, I’ve been using my Nikon Digital SLR camera to take her photos. For the first six months I took a weekly photo of her on our living room floor in front of the big picture window where there is great natural light. Each month we still take a photo (at nine months we are still using the stickers on her belly). I drape a large sheet over her pack and play for a backdrop and wrestle with her to keep her still. I’m not a professional photographer by an means, but some of these photos have turned out pretty awesome.

Yet, part of me feels disappointed that we’ve never had professional photos taken. I have seen the results of other kid’s photo shoots on Facebook and some are remarkable. My mom took me in for photos every 3 months til I was a year old. I knew my at home photo shoots had good results and I didn’t want to spend money to have someone else do what I was doing pretty well. Still, I felt that M and I were missing out by not having the professional photo experience.

So today I dressed her up and took her to the mall to one of the picture studios. I had a coupon and that helped me justify spending money for photos. I told myself that it would be good to have 9 month photos plus with Mother’s Day around the corner the photos would make great gifts for the Grandmas.

You can probably guess what happened. M half smiled for one shots and then began screaming. It was seriously awful – there were tears and that big silent cry that always makes me feel like the worst mother alive. No amount of tickles, singing, animal sounds, or throwing her in the air made any difference. Feeding her puffs didn’t even calm the girl. I ended up being able to take some photos with her, but she isn’t smiling in one single photo. I ended up using the coupon to get prints of the one photo with the half smile and one of me kissing her cheek. It made me feel better to walk out with something to show for the horrifying experience.

My husband said the photos were much better than I thought, but the truth is, the photo I took of her with my iPhone that morning is a much more meaningful keepsake. She’s sitting on the couch with a great big smile on her face and she looks more toddler than baby. I’ll forever remember that photo as the beginning of her transition into toddlerhood.

I’m kicking myself for letting mommy guilt trick me into believing that my own photos weren’t good enough. I’ll forever remember setting up the living room for photo shoots with her in front of the picture window. Those moments are priceless and worth far more than the price I paid for professional photos.

KISS lesson learned: you don’t need to spend money to make and keep memories.