It should not come as a surprise to anyone I know well that I've been in a little bit of a funk off and on since I had our baby girl in May. Things have gotten better, but it has been a struggle, for my mental, emotional and spiritual strength.
With Valentine's Day coming this weekend, Lent starting today and a genuine desire and need to reconnect with Jesus, I write to you this holiday hodgepodge that God inspired in me this morning.
My family of origin did not "do Lent" (or Advent, for that matter). We grew up with faith in God and attending church as important parts in our family and lives, but these more formal traditions were not part of my faith practice. I don't know if I've ever "successfully" given anything up for Lent. This morning as I loaded my car with all of our stuff, to get the kids to daycare and myself to work, I saw the most beautiful sunrise happening!
As I got Zachary out to the vehicle, I stopped, pointed and said, "Look at the pink and purple sky! It's so pretty - and God painted it just for us, it's an early valentine! YAY JESUS!" (he's really into saying "yay" for anything he likes) I smiled huge, he smiled huge and I loaded up Sophia and we were on our way. After dropping off the kids, I was thinking about today being the start of Lent and that I just can't imagine giving anything up right now... Not when life has so often felt like survival mode and filled with sacrifices the last 8 months.
Here's where the holiday hodgepodge comes in. God seemed to stir in me this thought: What if instead of giving something up, I look for a valentine from Him every day. A valentine is a gesture, gift or words shared to let someone know you care about them and love them. It is not given with the expectation of return. Sounds a lot like grace to me! Then I thought about how I really like scavenger hunts. If Lent leads up to Easter, maybe this could be a giant Easter egg hunt. I could be on the look out for God's reminders of love for the next 40 days.
As I listened to the radio and prayed on my way to work, they talked about how the sacrifice offered during Lent can help us reflect on the sacrifice God gave for us through Jesus. That is very true. For me though, I already feel so connected with sacrifice and struggle, it's not really the component of my faith that seems to be lacking. It's my genuine response to God's love daily, sometimes moment by moment. I feel like I have lost touch with some of the things I love so much about who God has made me to be and that makes me sad and frustrated.
God nudged me to please look for His gestures of love, His valentines every day of lent this year. When Easter comes, my heart will hopefully be as equally connected to the love that the sacrifice was given out of (as it is to the sacrifice itself).
So there you have it, Valentine's Day, Lent and Easter egg hunts all come together here! May the next 40 days prepare your heart to connect to the God who loves you so much, just as you are, that He was willing to offer His son Jesus in your place. Since we can't earn our way to heaven, He became The Way for us. I'd love to talk with you or write to you more about this, if you're interested, please let me know!