The first time I wrote for HomeLife Magazine, an editor asked me to write about Lent after reading one of my blog posts. At the time, I thought it was interesting that a Baptist magazine would ask an Anglican to write about the practice of Lent. Actually, it made me nervous if I’m honest. I wanted to be honoring to each tradition which can be like walking a tight rope between mountains.

That was several years ago and recently I re-read that article, because you know, I have a stack of copies and I might’ve taken a photo of my first check. As I flipped through the pages, I didn’t realize I was in good company with the words of Jen Hatmaker and Kristen Welch flanking my article. I was a newbie to freelancing and blogging then.

Practicing Lent is like the evolution of writing for me. When I look back, I have to chuckle about how hard I thought it was to give up chocolate or a glass of wine for forty days. Now, I’m asking God to show me what I need to surrender that  I’m holding on to with a death grip. And He’s pulling out the big guns ya’ll.

I mentioned it in my blog post a couple weeks ago but I wasn’t that serious. I actually talked myself out of it until last weekend.

I’m giving up reading books. For forty days. Except for feast days, there is that hope.

I know. It conjures up all kinds of emotions. Fear. Dread. Sadness. Groveling to Jesus. Pretending to be deaf.

That’s the point, right? To give up something that isn’t easy and hurts a little. I’m kind of embarrassed at the realization, really. I think I depend too much on books (cue my family rolling their eyeballs and saying, “Duh” in unison).

I depend on the words of others for inspiration and guidance and for numbing my emotions when I don’t want to deal with something. This isn’t good, I realize that.

Last weekend, I had a private writing retreat at a beach house and I brought 13 books with me. And that doesn’t include the ones loaded on my Kindle.

Maybe I have a little problem?

But here’s the thing. At the last minute, I threw in Lauren Winner’s, Girl Meets God on a whim. It felt like a God-thing. I was almost walking out the door, the van packed and ready when her book came to my mind. I thought there must be something in the content that’s important for inspiration. After all, the last time I read it was fourteen years ago, why would I be thinking about it, right?

Later, nestled in for the evening under blankets, I pulled out her book and forgot that the table of contents was written to the liturgical calendar. So, I opened the chapter on Lent.

Guess what Lauren wrote about in that chapter?

She wrote about how her pastor suggested she give up reading for Lent. She’s practiced the discipline every year since.

Darn it.

It was a God-thing, just not the one I was expecting.

I’ve known for the past few years, afraid really, that God was going to ask me to give up reading books during Lent at some point. Not because he wants me to be miserable but because surrender and sacrifice are the path to wholeness and He knows I want that.

My word is trust this year, did I mention that? Perhaps I’ll look back on this and laugh too.

I wasn’t ready to do it until Margaret Feinberg asked me to join her for the 40 Day #LentChallenge, reading the New Testament through Lent. The timing seems perfect.

With any discipline, success is more probable when practiced in community so I’m inviting you to join us in reading the New Testament (not giving up reading books, don’t worry). Starting March 5, Ash Wednesday, we’re following this reading plan and making it a book club for six weeks. Join us on the Redemptions Beauty Book Club page on Facebook every Wednesday for discussion on what comes to the forefront in the scriptures and link blog posts you’ve written from the content .

Do you include practicing a discipline during Lent? Share your experience in the comments.


In community with Laura, Holley, Jennifer, Emily and Lyli.