Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lent and what goes with it

Bible reading plans, local celebrations, fasting, repentance . . . just to name a few.
About 2 years ago, I began using an app called YouVersion.  It is actually a Bible app with several extras.  One of those added features connects me to several different reading plans, allowing me to daily see a devotional or which chapters of the Bible I should read to complete a "plan" by a certain date or after so many days.  I am currently using 2 - a parenting devotional and a Bible-in-a-year plan. They'll even send me e-mail reminders.  Because Lent was approaching, I received a notice at the bottom of my app asking me, more or less, if I celebrated Lent and if I wanted to browse their reading plans for the occasion. I answered (silently) "no, but I'm interested in seeing what that involves." Browsing the plans, I noticed that one was 46 days.  Strange.  I thought Lent was 40 days.  So I looked it up.  Thanks to google, the answer was at my fingertips - yes, 40 days, not counting Sundays, between Ash Wednesday and the Saturday before Easter.  That clears things up a bit.  But there is more surrounding this holiday.

Here in the Yucatan, the days leading up to it involve something called Carnaval which is like Mardi Gras in New Orleans, LA.  The Evangelical church here is diabolically opposed to this "celebration" as it basically puts the bar and club scene out on the streets of Mérida for several nights.  My hubby reminded me of a conversation we had with a family who saw it as a time to basically get your fun in, then repent on Ash Wednesday, no harm done. Needless to say, we didn't take part in this aspect of Lent.  But it raises my curiosity.  What goes on in the life of these individuals during Lent?

Traditionally, I found out through the trusted Wikipedia site, people are expected to fast in some form, generally giving up meat products at least on the Fridays as well as Ash Wednesday during Lent as a form of penitence.  However, there are several Protestants who also choose to observe some form of fasting during this time through giving up some particular food or habit.  This is done more out of choice than obligation.  Even popular healthy living sites are using this as a motivational tool.  

This morning during breakfast, Dave shared with me and article he received from about this very topic.  In it, the author listed 14 ways to improve your health during the season of Lent not only for observers but also for those wanting to support friend and family members who "do without" during this time.  This peaked my interest.  What could I do?  Some areas mentioned in the article were things we already did - drinking enough water, daily walks, eating 3 servings of fruit a day . . ..  I guess I was feeling gutsy.  I suggested something to Dave and Rebekah during our morning walk.

 "I think I want to give up white flour and sugar." 

Now, this wasn't an out-of-the-blue thing.  Earlier this week I was listening to my missionary friend's thoughts on how her family is eliminating carbs from their diet when they're in the form of white flour and high fructose corn syrup.  They are even trying to eliminate corn in general from their diet because of what it turns into in the body when not expended by daily exercise.  My Mom has also said for years how badly white flour and sugar affect her system.  Of course, if I was choosing to give these things up, that didn't mean my family had to as well.  I just wanted them to know my plans, but that they were welcome to join me if they so chose.  Imagine my surprise at dinner today - lentil soup - when my 13 and 11-year-old kiddos chimed in that they also wanted to participate!  I clearly said NO white flour or sugar, mind you.

So, here begins my/our journey.  There will be major changes, moody days, cravings, and frustrations.  But there will also, hopefully, be a sense of togetherness, improvements in health, more energy (eventually), weight-loss(?) and growth as we investigate and move forward in this new endeavor.

Do you celebrate Lent?  Are you giving up something or adding something healthy to your routine?  Maybe you've tried to give up white flour and sugar - any advice? 

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