A Life Giving Lent: Lessons Learned in Lent

Release - Version 2

Release* (Encaustic Medium and Collaged Paper on Wood Panel)

As I prepared to enter the Lenten season, I spent a month thinking and praying about how Lent could be a life giving and healing season.  I decided to approach this season of Lent a little differently than in years past.  I wanted this season to be about shalom, balance, wholeness and peace in all aspects of life:  spiritually, mentally, bodily, etc.  I wanted to make space to heal and grieve the loss of friends and loved ones last fall; to grow and improve my health; and to make time to connect more deeply with God, myself, and my husband.  

What did my Lenten season look like?  It started with letting go of those things on which I spend an inordinate amount of time.  I let go of Facebook.  I let go of Twitter.  I let go of Pinterest.  And, hardest of all, I let go of Cell Phone Games.  Letting these things go was truly sacrificial.  They have been my coping tools and what I have used to distract myself from dealing with my emotions and facing the realities of life.

For the first couple of weeks, I felt a bit of withdrawal.  Whenever there was a lull, I would want to check Facebook, send a tweet, or distract myself with a game on my phone.  Instead, I had to deal with the lull, which meant dealing with my grief, dealing with my insecurities, and just facing the realities of life.  I wanted to run, hide, do anything not to face life.  I have realized that being an adult, being a grown up is much harder than I ever knew it would be.  Instead, I would breathe deeply,  Take time to pray, and just rest in being. 

I realized I needed help.  So, I started counseling to work through all the grieving I had expereinced in the Fall and just to recenter myself and find peace. 

Then it was about putting into place practices that would be life giving.  I committed to fun exercise at least once a week and spending more time outside.  I found myself walking at least an hour outside each week, some of which was on the beach, and typically with my husband, Chris. I have continued the discipline of Weight Watchers that I started back in November.

To stretch mentally I began learning Italian and practiced Italian for 28 days straight, with a short break and then more days of Italian.  The short break was to take my hubby for a surprise birthday trip to Disney where we walked 30 miles over the course of three days.  

Also in Lent, I prepared food for the homeless, and began sorting through clothes to donate to those in need.  

This season has felt more focused and more freeing.  I felt a huge release.  I feel more even keeled and at peace than I have in months.  I feel more healthy, a sense of shalom, and a better connection with God, self, and my husband.

Overall, Lent has truly been a gift and a season of preparation.  The months ahead are crazy and event filled, yet this foundational season of Lent has helped prepare me to better weather whatever may come.  

Thankful for taking the time to breathe, reconnect, and grow. 

*About the Artwork:  Many times in life, we allow expectations (both self imposed and of others), structure, and rules to dictate how we do things and to confine our creativity and abundant life.  This painting, Release,  was done this Spring as I began to learn the ancient medium of encaustics, painting with hot wax.  Notice the juxtopsition of the bars/ladder image on the right, representing our striving, our efforts, and what feels like prison in our lives.  They are so prominent they extend beyond the surface.  To the left notice the red splotches that run atop the three adjoining colors.  This side of the piece demonstrates allowing the encaustic medium, the hot pigmented wax to go where it will, embracing what life brings as oppsed to fighting against life.  The Holy Spirit is always wooing and working to reach us and work through us.  We are at our best when we surrender to the Holy Spirit and live in the freedom and power of the Holy Spirit letting love flow through us to not only transform our lives but alos so that others expereince love through us.

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