40 Things I’m Giving Up For Lent

Lent is the season of time in the Christian church that we take for reflection as we journey up to Holy Week and Easter, which is the week on which the entire Christian faith is built. For many Christians, it is traditional to give up something for Lent, something that isn’t easy to give up, as a form of fasting to grow closer in a relationship with God. Most years, I do this as well. Typically, it ends up being some food-related thing because this woman loves food. I’ve done coffee, Starbucks, chocolate (many times), and I’m pretty sure I gave up cheese one year. As I’ve grown older, giving things up has grown beyond the spectrum of sacrificing a favorite food for the 40 days. Truthfully, there are so many better things to give up. Choose to give up things that will truly help you grow as a follower of Christ and as a human being.  Sure, giving up chocolate is fine, and for many, it feels like a true sacrifice, but I encourage you to dig a little deeper and give up things that will truly help you grow.

As an example, and inspired by the 40 days in Lent, here is a list of 40 (yes, a long list) things that I will do my best to give up this Lenten season. Read more

Why Are Some Christians Fired Up About the Starbucks Red Cup?

 

StarbucksRedCup

The short answer: I have NO idea!

Let me start this post by saying, for those of you that don’t know, I am a Christian. Lutheran, to be more specific.  I was baptized into the church my mom grew up in, and it has been a huge part of my life since the day I was born.  I love God, I believe in Jesus, and I know I am saved by grace.

That being said, I can’t help but rant a little bit about one of the things I’ve been seeing online lately.  For those that don’t know, apparently there are Christians that are livid about the design for the 2015 Starbucks red cup. The red cup is what all hot beverages at Starbucks get served in for the months of November and December to add a little color to the holiday season’s coffee.

I have always loved the red cup.  My first red cup each season is a moment I savor as I sip my skinny peppermint mocha, which is a beverage I only allow myself during red cup season. The red cup is usually a deep shade of red and printed with adorable white holiday designs; snowflakes, sleighs, ornaments, etc.  This year, however, it is this really plain ombre red cup that starts as a deeper red at the bottom (the color I prefer) and fades into an obnoxiously bright red at the top.  Now, I was very disappointed in this cup, as were many others. I didn’t feel like it was nearly as festive as in years past…but that did not send my Christian heart into a wild haze of espresso flavored fury.

Apparently this blank cup made Christians accuse Starbucks of taking away the meaning of Christmas. Removing all of the symbols (I repeat, of snow, sleighs, wintery animals, ornaments, etc) I guess also removed the hope of Jesus’ birth. The pastor that started all of this Starbucks angst even said ” Starbucks REMOVED CHRISTMAS from their cups because they hate Jesus.”

Really….?

You, my dear pastor friend, are the reasons that being a Christian is starting to get a bad reputation rather than a good one.  All of this extremist, “lets get angry and offended about anything, even if it doesn’t have anything to do with us directly” attitude is not what Jesus wants.  It’s not what he would do! How do you expect to be able to spread the Gospel and share God’s love when you are too busy ranting about a cup from a SECULAR company??  There has never been a nativity scene, a cross, or a baby Jesus on the Starbucks cup, so really, this has nothing to do with Christianity or Starbucks hating Jesus. For the love of God (literally), stop making us look bad!

If your Christmas spirit and celebration of the birth of Jesus is solely dependent on secular winter images appearing on your Starbucks cup, maybe you don’t know the true meaning of Christmas..

Starbucks’ claim as to why they designed the cup this way is because people have started doodling on their cups and turning them into works of art. This design allows people to tell their own holiday stories, rather than have the stories Starbucks chooses to tell on the cup.  That’s all fine and dandy; Boring, and less fun and festive, but fine.

My First 2015 Red Cup

My first Red Cup of 2015 being enjoyed while shopping at Target

If you, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, want to spend your holiday ranting and raving about a coffee cup, trying to turn people against this coffee chain and making Christians look bad (or crazy..), that’s you choice.  Me? I will be focused on spreading the joy and love of the holiday season, just like Jesus would want…all the while enjoying my skinny peppermint mocha or a gingerbread latte out of a brightly colored Starbucks Red Cup and thanking the good Lord for creating the coffee bean.

Christian Song of the Week: Blessings

ChristianSongofWeek

Blessings by Laura Story was one of those songs that I heard on the radio and knew right away that I HAD to sing it.  Listening to the lyrics, the song pretty much describes a lot of my life and what I’ve had to go through and deal with.  God blesses us in many ways.  Many times we are so worried about the struggle that we don’t realize it’s a blessing in disguise.

 

 This song  is inspirational and a blessing in and of itself.  Click the link to add it to your collection.  

Why I’m NOT Giving Up Chocolate for Lent

Lent2104

Every year for at least the last 15-ish years (give or take a year or two) I have given something up for Lent.  Being a Lutheran, Lent is a season in our church that is celebrated (is that the right way to say it? Maybe we participate in Lent..we celebrate the end of it) every year, and each year many people give something up for this special season.

For those of you that don’t know, Lent is the 40 days that lead up to Easter, the celebration of the resurrection of our Lord.

As I got to thinking about what I wanted to give up this year, I went through my list of normal, logical choices to see which one seemed to fit.  Some of my go-to Lenten “sacrifices” are:

  • Chocolate
  • Chips
  • Starbucks
  • Sweets
  • Meat (only did this a year or two, then my need for iron outweighed the sacrifice of meat so I wasn’t allowed to do that anymore)
  • I think I gave up Tumblr one year, back when I was actually active on there

 

Usually my sacrifice ended up being some unhealthy thing in my diet, and sacrificing it on behalf of the Lenten season seemed like a reason that would get the healthy habit to stick.  As I was thinking about this, I came to the conclusion that this was not the right approach at all.  How does giving up chocolate for 40 days relate at all to my relationship with God and Jesus?  How can my “sacrifice” of an over priced latte once or twice a week for a handful of weeks even begin to compare to the sacrifice that Jesus made for us that we are supposed to spend this Lenten season reflecting on??

They don’t..

That’s sort of the realization I had this year, and with that I decided that the thing or things I gave up had to be an emotional sacrifice.  A spiritual sacrifice.  Lent is about getting closer with God.  Spending more time with him, feeling connected.  Does my grande triple skinny vanilla latte put up a barrier between myself and my relationship with the Lord?  No.  Does my giving that up bring me any closer to Him? I’d like to think that the answer to that one is also no.

I made the decision that for Lent this year I am giving up the desires of trying to dictate how my husband chooses to spend his time, and complaining about it when I don’t like his decision.  Based on our 2 months of marriage and the fact that we’ve only been living in the same place for 9 months, I like to highly encourage him to make sure we regularly get some decent time together that isn’t him talking MBA or Wall Street Journal.  Now I don’t think that my desires for this regular quality time is unreasonable by any means, however, I tend to get upset when I don’t feel like he’s making the “right” choices for how to spend his time, and that kills my mood and then the tensions rise…you get the cycle.

So I decided that I’m giving it up.  I should want him to make the decisions about spending time with me taking priority all on his own, right?  For Lent, and hopefully this is the gateway to forever, I’m letting it go.  Letting the Lord lead his heart and mind (and mine as well).   This will also help me get better at forgiveness, understanding, self-control, loving unselfishly..all things that Jesus wants us to live out in our daily lives.

I want Lent to be about growing spiritually; about being a better person with a stronger, more caring heart and a deeper connection with our Savior, who during this Lenten time knew the sacrifice He would make at the end of it.

I came across this article on Tuesday that sort of confirmed that the way my mind was going was appropriate for Lent.  “20 Things to Give Up for Lent” started listing things like guilt, excuses, pride, and worry as the things we should be giving up for Lent (and forever).  Again, things that are true barriers in your relationship with God which make it difficult for you to trust him fully and love Him completely.

Now, I’m not saying that if you’re giving up cupcakes for Lent (that’s another one I did..just remembered) you’re copping out of the whole idea.  Everyone’s journey is different and unique to them and their relationship with God and themselves.  I would encourage you, my friends, to add another thing to the list of your sacrifice this Lenten season.  Give up your chocolate AND give up the self-pity that might come with the body image you have of yourself that led you to sacrifice your favorite sweet to begin with.  Give up Facebook as an addition to giving up gossip.  Get the idea?

 

Whatever your sacrifice, I pray that you use this Lenten season to strengthen your bond with our Lord and to truly feel the spiritual wholeness that comes from understanding the ultimate sacrifice that He gave us.  We celebrate His death, and more importantly, His resurrection.  Thanks be to God!

 

 


Click the image above to see what others are thinking today..

Christian Song of the Week :-) In Christ Alone by Owl City

 

 

ChristianSongofWeekSince I started posting regular “Song of the Week” choices I’ve been trying to decide how to incorporate my Christian music favorites in there, as some of my all time favorite songs are in fact God praising, heart warming and soul fulfilling songs.  After considering a way to incorporate both I decided the best route was to simply start a separate series specifically for Christian song choices.  Rather than posting these along with my regular song of the week posts I thought that Sundays would be a more appropriate time to post these.  So, every Sunday expect another song of the week that is focused on singing praise to God 🙂

 

I’m going to start this one off with one of my all time favorite songs and my favorite version of the recording.  Adam Young, also known as the singer behind Owl City, recorded this beautiful song randomly one evening and I happened to hear it on a Christian radio station one day.  It moved me like very few songs do; so deep and spiritual.  I don’t know what it was about this particular recording…maybe the simplicity of it?  All I know is I can’t find a recording of it anywhere, and that drives me crazy.  There’s no link to iTunes for this.  Just the video below that contains the recording of this song.

I also rummaged through Adam’s blog to find the 3 1/2 year old blog post he wrote after he recorded this.

Enjoy.  My this song touch you like it has touched me.