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To Lent…or Not To Lent

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b45037a73a99965e59ee6b23962e1eeaLent has never been strongly encouraged in the churches I’ve been a part of, but I have participated a few years here and there.  As yesterday came and went, I still couldn’t decide.. “Do Lent?? ..Don’t do Lent??” My main struggle was over my attempt to honestly avoid using it as a form of “Self Help.” I didn’t want to give up something I’d been meaning to cut back on, or use it as motivation to achieve a goal. Getting bikini ready for spring (oh, and Jesus) seemed a bit disingenuous. Maybe you can give up something you love and think of Jesus, but I just usually end up mostly dwelling on “How many days are left??!”

Lent was designed to prepare a follower of Christ for the celebration of Easter. Through prayer and reflection, we sacrifice things in order to identify with the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness without food, water, or companionship. I thought I’d  read the story to see if it sparked an idea for a more intentional practice. What jumps out first is it opens with, “Jesus was led by the Spirit to be tempted in the wilderness.”  He was led there by the Spirit. If I’m going to do Lent, I should at least pause and ask God if it is something He is leading me into.

As soon as the 40 Days were over, the Devil starts in on Jesus by tempting Him to turn stones into bread. He wanted Jesus to lose faith and resolve that God would provide and fully support Him during His journey. When looking for something to give up, we can ask ourselves: 

  • What keeps me from trusting God with my life? …Is it my calendar? Obsessive complaining? My finances?  
  • What things keep me from being grateful or noticing His provision on a daily basis? …Pinterest? Comparison to others? Shopping? TV?

Next the Devil tries to test Jesus’ trust that God will protect Him. I could spend forever on how our culture, myself included, is obsessed with safety and struggle to trust God in this area. We might ask ourselves:

  • What things am I doing on my own because I don’t believe deep down God will come through?…  Am I a workaholic? Can I attempt to give up worry with the words I say to myself and others? Am I too focused on something I want that I don’t have?
  • What crazy things do I do to control situations? How am I holding on too tightly to things and people I love? …What could I stop doing that would teach me to entrust them to God? Do I snoop on Facebook? Do I hover? Is there an outlet I use to channel my fear?

The final temptation is fascinating to me. Jesus knows he has a very tough road ahead of Him. Since He will soon go through great pain and suffering on the cross, the Devil tempts  Jesus with an easier road. He offers Jesus the illusion of a shortcut and wants Him to lose faith that God knows best. We can ask:

  • Where am I distracted from or full-on avoiding the life God is calling me into?
  • What things am I doing or not doing because I am struggling to believe God’s way is best? 

Jesus went straight into the wilderness from His baptism where God told Him, “You are my Son and I love you.” Immediately after, Satan is right there casting doubt on Jesus’ identity.

  • What keeps me from believing I am fully loved by God… Social media? Certain people in my life? Lies I dwell on?
  • What could I add in that would help my heart and mind believe I am His  and fully loved ?  ..Reading, praying, memorizing Scripture.

Lent is not about getting fit, organizing a closet, or checking off the “I read my Bible” box. We have a greater opportunity to identify with Jesus as He struggled to affirm His identity and trust His father with His life before going to the cross.

To Lent..or Not to Lent.  I still need a bit more time to sit with my own questions (welcome to my crazy head). I’ll be late about it, but the end result will be better. If you need ideas, blogger Rachel Held Evans put out 40 Ideas for Lent 2014 you may want to take a look at. I’d love to know what you are giving up or adding in this season.

Photo by: helt enkelt

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Top 25 Love Songs

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Happy Valentine’s Day! Here’s a list of love songs to celebrate with:) There are far too many to choose from but here is a few great ones.

Sparks by Coldplay

Stolen by Dashboard Confessional

Make You Feel My Love by Adele

At Last by Etta James

Dreamlover by Mariah Carey

La Vie En Rose by Louis Armstong

Everything I Do by Bryan Adams (this one goes out to Amber)

Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol

The Way You Look Tonight by Frank Sinatra

When the Stars Go Blue by Ryan Adams

Into the Mystic by Van Morrison

So Are You To Me by Eastmountainsouth (Jody:)

My Girl by Temptations

She Lit a Fire by Lord Huron

Strawberry Wine by Deana Carter

San Francisco by Gregory Alan Isakov

Lover of the Light by Mumford & Sons

I Swear by All 4 One

For Me This is Heaven by Jimmy Eat World

It Matters to Me by Faith Hill

Fools Rush In by Elvis or UB40

Only Love by Ben Howard

California Stars by Billy Bragg & Wilco

Hoppipolla by Sigur Ros

To Be With You by Mr. Big


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Top 25 Breakup Songs

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Single Awareness Day is around the corner! Below is a list of my favorite breakup songs for all my blue Valentines out there. These gems (I might be guilty of playing out, through tears, in my car, all alone) are worth a listen.

Please comment your song suggestions! I’m sure I have missed some great ones that I may need in the future;)

Love is a Battlefield by Pat Benatar

Forget You by Cee Lo Green

Everybody Hurts by R.E.M.

I Can’t Make You Love Me by Bonnie Raitt (or Bon Iver)

You and Tequila by Kenny Chesney and Grace Potter

Need You Now by Lady Antebellum

All To Well by Taylor Swift

It Ain’t Me Johnny Cash and June Carter

End of The Road Boyz II Men

Since You Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson

Cry Me a River by Justin Timberlake

A Little Bit Stronger by Sara Evans

Forget About You by Cary Brothers

When a Heart Breaks by Ben Rector

Your New Twin Sized Bed by Death Cab for Cutie

I Will Always Love You by Dolly Parton or (Whitney Houston)

If I Were a Boy by Beyonce

Crazy by Patsy Cline

Screaming Infidelities by Dashboard Confessional

December Baby by Ingrid Michaelson

Stars by Grace Potter

Keep It To Yourself by Kacey Musgraves

Not Over You by Gavin DeGraw

Someone Like You by Adele

Landslide by Fleetwood Mac (or Smashing Pumpkins)

 


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Good Morning

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I wish I could tell you I was one of those people who wakes up early, takes the proper vitamins, and does a few posture enhancing stretches before spending an hour reading my Bible and praying. Unfortunately, I’m more of a snooze twice, rush a shower, grab coffee as I rush into work five minutes late kind of girl. I do notice a big difference when I start my day with some type of Spiritual time, however short. Like many of you, I often turn to Jesus Calling for these times. I really loved today’s…

Come to Me for rest and refreshment. The journey has been too much for you, and you are bone-weary. Do not be ashamed of your exhaustion. Instead, see it as an opportunity for Me to take charge of your life.

Remember that I can fit everything into a pattern for good, including the things you wish were different. Start with where you are at this point in time and space, accepting that this is where I intend you to be. You will get through today one step, one moment at a time. Your main responsibility is to remain attentive to Me, letting Me guide you through the many choices along your pathway.”

It’s funny how easy it is to forget that I need only focus on Him and where He is moving moment by moment. Without meaning to, I end up worrying, spending my best energy, and hustling to get the things I’m convinced A)Will make me happy and B) Clearly need me to take control in order to see happen. I have to constantly be reminded that the idea of me having the power is ridiculous and God is always holding things together. In essence, I waste a lot of time and anxiety while the choice to live into His peace is an available refuge. (And may or may not include refraining from pushing snooze and spending more time with Him)

“He (Jesus) is before ALL things, and in Him ALL things hold together.” Colossians 1:17 (Emphasis mine)

Photo by Alyssa Fioravanti. An incredibly talented and lovely girl you can spy on (here)

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They Draw & Cook

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Trying new recipes has been an unexpected benefit of my new health kick. While looking for yesterday’s dinner, I came across this adorable site and wanted to share. They Draw & Cook is the largest collection of illustrated recipes from all over the world. Have a look and let me know if you try any (especially that lemon cake I can’t have at the moment).


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A Girly Superbowl Sunday

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It’s the Super Bowl! My favorite. A day where everyone is busy doing something I couldn’t care less about, leaving me to enjoy the time all to myself:) Some years I go to parties for the food, drinks, and company. Since I can’t have the first two, I’m selfishly missing out on the third and enjoying my girl version of this American holiday.

On the Agenda:

  • Coffee
  • Downton Abbey Season 3 (I’m behind)
  • Pinterest
  • Blogging
  • Ikea Trip (I broke a lamp and I figure today’s odds are high that the crowds are low and I won’t want to take anyone out with my car)

What about you? Any fellow rebels out there with fun plans??

Photo by laurenconrad.com

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Movies, Diets, and Quests

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Do the seemingly random things in your life ever connect and lead you to a conclusion? I love when that happens. It’s one of my favorite experiences. Someone should make a word for it.  I should make a word for it….hmm… I got nothing.

Anyway. We’ll start with the movies.

Please go see The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. I go to the theatre exactly one time a year. At Christmas. When my dad pays for the whole family.  I went twice in the month of January, both times to see the same movie. You can guess which one. Apart from being visually beautiful with an incredible soundtrack, it compellingly tells the story of a man who loved the idea of travel as a boy, but was unable to get anywhere b/c of his responsibilities. He is finally forced to go abroad and has a life changing adventure. My favorite part is that he is also rewarded for the life he was faithful to all along. (PS email me if you saw it b/c I have a hundred thousand other tangents I could get real nerdy with)

OK. With that in the backdrop comes the diet.

The fireman took me to the movies. He’s awesome like that. He also took me to yummy restaurants where I ate like a queen. Then the buttons on my jeans became sharp. Not actually sharp- I checked. They are still perfectly round buttons. But somehow, when I look away, they become tiny knives that dig into my stomach.

Soooo, I have 20 days left of a cleanse (a food one..don’t get all concerned on me). Just know, I’m getting serious over the next 20 days as a kick-start.

Which leads me to how the movie and the diet all relate to quest.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty makes you think about who you are meant to be and the very real cost involved in becoming that person. I would like to be a writer. It’s my quest for now and I have neglected the opportunity  (AKA only blogging every once in a blue moon). Since I’m getting on track with health over the next few weeks, I decided to get back in the habit of writing by blogging every day for the next 10 days.

WARNING: No promises on quality, folks. Going for quantity.

As always, thank you for reading!

Cindy

PS What’s your quest? I’d love to hear.

PSS What do you think about incidentarelate or correrandom??? …I’ll keep working at it.


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Happy New Year!

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I recently stumbled upon the above quote where I do all my deep reading, Pinterest. I couldn’t help but think about how true it was.  2012 was a little rough. I wound up living back at my parents’ house, jobless, single, with no signs of change on the horizon. It was in that year I asked a lot of  whys -Why that relationship?  Why this location? Why this situation??  2012 was absolutely a question-asking year.

Thankfully, 2013 provided answers. Leaving one job meant I could eventually take a new one in March. Living with my parents meant I could save, work on the book, and later move into a great living situation with two of my best friends in June. October brought my niece and my birthday.  As I blew out my candles, I remember thinking, I want for nothing more.  My heart is full. A few weeks later, being single meant I could meet a fireman;) … Turned out there was still room in the year for him;)

Lots of answers to lots of questions. Here are a few of my favorites:  (In the form of an acrostic. Because I am a dork.)

 

Niece, Hannah– Swoon….

Exciting trip to the South! -XOXO Laura and Molly!:)

Work- I’m thankful every day.

 

You, Me, OliveMePost- Thank you for reading!

Every minute with my family and friends

A Few Fav. 2013 Finds: Bar, Pure Barre, Orange Ginger Wash, the Wet Brush

Reflecting on God’s grace, faithfulness, and extravagant love.

 

Writing these types of posts is always a bit difficult because I don’t know what kind of year you’ve had. If this is a question-asking year, hang in there. Answers will come. If it’s a question-answering year, I celebrate with you and challenge us both to be present in the moment. Life is full of ups and downs and they all lead us somewhere.


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Deadlines

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Spolier alert! This is the post where I say I’m proud of me tonight.

I’m sorry I’ve been MIA on here. My final manuscript was due to the publisher on Dec 1. With an hour to spare, I made my deadline:)

So many of you have been a part of this and I can’t thank you enough. Thank you for all the reading, editing, prayers, and encouragement. I had no idea this process would take so much time, heart, and help. I couldn’t have done it without you. After one very special agent, Heidi, two trips to seattle, countless quarts of coffee, and way too many carbs, it felt incredible to hit send.

I’m sad my mind is complete mush right now because I want to celebrate this moment. I’ve been reading HarperCollins books since BookIt. That the Zondervan department would want something of mine is just too much. I feel like God has led me here, provided you all for the journey, and no matter what happens next, I’m extremely grateful.

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xoxo

Cindy


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