Lenten Sacrifice

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lent begins tomorrow with Ash Wednesday and you know we Catholics take Lent very seriously.  We abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays during Lent.  We are also encouraged to make a Lenten sacrifice.  It can be something that brings us closer to God and His will such as reading scripture everyday, praying the rosary, attending daily Mass etc.  Or it can be giving up something that currently keeps you from God or will remind you of the great sacrifice Jesus made for us. Last year, I gave up shopping.  This scripture in particular made me realize how material things can keep us from getting closer to God.

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world- the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does-comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.
1 John 2:15-17

Giving up shopping was very powerful for me.  I realized how much time and energy is spent buying things and putting things away and exchanging things.  I also realized how much mental energy we spend thinking about "things."  When we are doing that we are not doing God's work.

The previous year I gave up blogging.  That was hard too and I learned a lot as well. Again, it made me realize how much time I waste on the computer.

As a child, I sucked my thumb when I slept.  And I sucked my thumb for a long, long time.  Just to tell you how long...I gave it up for Lent one year !!!  That is how I quit!  I do not recall the exact grade or age but I was old enough to give it up for Lent.  I do remember that!  

Someone asked me recently if I make it through my sacrifice each year.  Yes, I usually do.  As hard as some things have been, God will know if I cheat.  If I cheat on a New Years resolution who am I accountable to?  Myself.  If I cheat on a Lenten sacrifice, I am letting God down.  So, I choose carefully.

This year I have been tossing around a few ideas.  I thought of doing the 40 bags in 40 days challenge.  You fill bags with clutter to rid from your home each day.  I could do that!  I thought of giving up shopping again because it was truly transformative for me.  But I have really felt God nudging me a different way.  Not really a way I want to go but a way I need to go.

I never exercise.  I loathe exercise. I really hate to sweat. Yes, I eat pretty healthy but I am not taking care of my body through exercise.  It has come up in my life a lot recently and I feel that this is what I should do for Lent.  It will certainly be a sacrifice for me because I do not enjoy it (at ALL) and it will take time away from things I DO enjoy.  I know I will feel physical pain because I am so out of shape.  I will try to use that physical pain to remind me of the suffering Jesus endured.  I will also pray as I exercise (I am going to need to).  So, there it is.  I am going to begin an exercise regimen.  I know it is God's will that we take care of the bodies He has given us and I am not doing that so well.  My goal is to exercise 3-4 days a week and I will keep a log of it. This might be even harder that the no shopping thing for me because I REALLY hate exercise.   

I am also going to commit to reading a chapter of scripture each day. 

And I made this sacrifice jar for our family.


 I typed up lots of little things that we can easily do each day such as:

help out Mom or Dad today, say something nice to your sister, read about a saint today, pray for the homeless today, be a friend to someone who seems lonely today, read your Bible for 15 minutes,  play a game with your sister, be kind to your brother, clean out your closet, clear the dinner table tonight without being asked,  tell your teacher how much you appreciate them today, write down three blessings God has given you, no "sweets" today, compliment someone at school or work today who usually irritates you, no TV today, pray a decade of the rosary today, avoid video games, appreciate something God gave you in in nature today, pray for your grandparents today, smile at people more today  etc.....

So each day, the kids (and maybe us grown-ups too) will choose a paper from the jar and that will be their Lenten sacrifice for that day.  I have not run it past the kids yet and I am not sure how well it will go over but I think it is a GREAT idea.  I think I will keep it on the breakfast table and encourage them to take a slip of paper each day.  I will not hold them accountable though.  They can be responsible for whether they do it or not.  I will obviously have to help Kate though.

It was not my idea.  My friend, Kelley shared it with our Moms group.

One more thing...you do not have to be Catholic to use Lent as a time to come closer to God. I'd love to hear what you do for Lent or any ideas you have for the jar...I need more:)

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:8


  1. Kim, it's so great that you're committing to exercise! I was a life-long couch potato (Seriously. I was the kid who hid in the bathroom during gym.) until I started working out 18 months ago. I lost fifty pounds along the way, but realized that I really loved running, yoga, and lifting weights. And loving those activities was much more shocking to me than the weight I lost. You might surprise yourself! If I could give you a little advice, I'd say that you should start out slowly, set really do-able goals for yourself, and try lots of different things. You might discover that you love something so much you'll keep doing it after Easter! Good luck! (And let us know how it's going!)

  2. I love the jar idea! So great for every family member! And exercise...I'm not a huge fan of running at all (on the other hand, my hubs runs marathons and does triathlons). I had him create a schedule for me (I am training for a half marathon). Looking at the schedule and what I have to do for the day really helps...keeps me accountable. Schedules always seem to help me out, no matter what task.

  3. What a great idea - a sacrifice jar! We are Catholic, and I went to Catholic school K-12, so Lent was a very important (imposed) part of my upbringing. Thank you for sharing this with us, I need to give some thought as to how I will bring Lent into our home.

  4. Kim, I know you hate exercise but I think this is a fab idea....and because you eat so healthily I suspect that you may even start to enjoy it and might even keep it going when lent is over! dx

  5. Your ideas on what to give up for Lent were inspiring. I also love the idea for the lenten sacrifice jar- I too use those same blue ball jars all the time-they look great with daffodils in them! Thanks for the inspiration-have loved reading your blog these last few months.

  6. such great ideas! Im really giving a lot of thought into copying you, the boys are in Catholic school and have been asking me since their Mardi Gras celebration last Friday what I'm giving up and I have truly been at a loss. Thanks for the inspiration.

  7. I will join you on the exercise challenge and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Lenten scarifice jar. I'm going to make mine right now! thanks for sharing!

  8. all I can say is last year I really felt for you when you gave up the shopping and it did make me consciously think every single time I was out buying something that was not a household need. But good gracious excercise....I am right there with you on the excercise bit. HATE it, loathe, don't really enjoy thinking about doing it:( Terrible I know, and what is even crazier 15 years ago I was running like 30-35 miles a week and loved every minute of it. I try and remind myself that I use to like to excercise, but there are a million things including cleaning out the fridge or cleaning toilets that sounds so much more rewarding right now than excercising. However I have committed to a friend who is preparing for summer beach vacation with a group of strangers(work related)to work out with her at the gym she and I both belong too and neither of us have made it there in probably a year:( that is a whole other issue...paying for things you don't untilize.

    Okay so good luck, I will be thinking of you when I am on the treadmill or at yoga bearing the yuckiness.

    Love the sacrafice jar. Seems it would be a great ideal to do all year even if we had our kids pick just one a week!! Just a little reminder that something that is actually so small might end up making someone else so happy which of course would then make you happy:) Let us know how it goes. Hayden being 2 1/2 might be ready for somehthing like this in another 6 months or so.

  9. Love the idea of the sacrifice jar! I'm Methodist, and we (my mom, sister and I) always give up something. The last few years we've given up chocolate, dessert, donuts and eating out. The first three are hard because I don't feel satisfied until I've had chocolate after a meal, but eating out is the real killer! It's not bad during the week, but running out for errands on the weekend during lunch-time is hard.

    Good luck with exercising! I may need to do that next year... I hate exercising too.

  10. I am taking on an exercise regimen and giving up soda and fast food. I haven't been being good to my body AT ALL, and seeing as it is a temple and I am made in God's image, I figure I better make some serious changes.

  11. Awesome post!!!!! I love how you hear God!!! I am very thankful I am not hearing Him tell me to exercise, even though I am quite confident He is thinking it. What a great way to sacrifice, and I may have to think about this challenge too...

    I love the jar idea.. You are making a wonderful impact as you train your children to follow God! They will never forget these traditions you have brought in to your Christ centered home!!!!

    Happy Lent my friend! My days of fish stix and mac'n'cheese on Fridays seem like a very long time ago....

    Keep living your faith out loud Kim. It is inspiring!


  12. Kim,

    I think that is awesome. I really hope it goes well and you don't "suffer" too much.

    I have actually decided that my goal is start being more active.


  13. My son John David asked me tonight what I was giving up and I told him I am not buying anything for myself. He said his is going to be harder than that: he will be nice to his sister even when she aggravates him.... he sat there a minute and said it's going to be a long 44 days!:)
    I love lent.... really makes you focus on the right things as we always should!

  14. Love your idea so much I'm going to take in on for myself, which will be tough since right now I'm doing absolutely nothing in that department. I'll commit to 3 days a week! I like how you talked about being accountable to God, not yourself. AND how you can choose to sacrifice during lent, Catholic or not. The jar idea is great too- we did that during Advent this year, and my 5 year old LOVED it! We added things she could do for her teachers, like thank you notes, and we had her make cards for the elderly- things like that were fun for her but also made her think of others. Win/win!

  15. You know...I really need to exercise. I am 47 years old and seriously out of shape, the doctor says this will help me with my tiredness. I have sat around here...being tired..thinking..how in the world does he expect me to exercise when I am SO TIRED? BUT now my friend...you have motivated me...if you can do it ..I can do it. I absolutely (and I forbid this next word in my house) HATE to exercise!!!

    I also love the jar idea...may I steal that also? That sounds fun actually.

    Big hugs and I will be praying!!!

  16. I am so happy for you! I think that you are going to be able to truly see what a difference exercise will make in your life, your going to have so much more energy!

    I keep going back and forth this Lent, but I think it is to eat healthy!

  17. Thank you for sharing . . . both (exercise and the jar) are excellent ideas for lent. I, too, am a healthy eater who doesn't exercise and at 41 the time has come - - I must start! Lent is the perfect time.


  18. I hope you end up enjoying your exercise time. Have you decided what you will be doing? Such as walking, yoga or weights?
    We are episcopalian, so Lent is probably quite similar to Catholic practices.
    My husband and I are reading Acts together, going to midweek services, and each giving up something to live more simply during this time. I'm not sure I'm looking forward to Lent this year, but I know it's always rewarding.
    My son mentioned the jar idea to me, and I don't know where he heard about it. I need to prepare it.

  19. I just love that sacrifice jar idea! I think this would work great for my children as well.
    I know it's not always easy to get motivated to exercise or find the time, but the end result is well worth it. It's a great stress release and will make you feel wonderful!
    Any ideas for some yummy meatless dishes to eat during this season. I always feel we eat the same things and would love some fresh ideas!

  20. Kim...I love your jar idea, and I will be praying for you as you begin your exercise routine. Like you read, I am doing 40 bags in 40 days...I sat by and "watched" others do it last year, and decided I had to do it this year...let me know if you do this too! xoxo

  21. Well great minds think a lot alike! I had decided exercise was a must for lent! I hate it! I can think of a hundred things I would rather be doing including cleaning a bathroom!! This will be a challenge for sure! We are also doing a similar thing to what you are calling your sacrafice jar but we are calling it 40 days of random act of kindness! Hope all goes well and I look forward to reading about your exercise!

  22. Kim, I have just now read this blog post! I think you will LOVE exercising. The hardest part by far is getting yourself to the gym. You will find that you are refreshed even if it hurts a little.

    We are Methodist...My husband and I have always been Methodist from birth. The Lenten season is very important to Methodists although the "sacrifice" during Lent is not as widely practiced as with Catholics.

    One question for you as a Catholic, my Catholic friends are always telling me that you don't have to sacrifice on Sundays. I just somehow feel like that's cheating a little so when I give up chocolate, for example, it is for the ENTIRE Lenten Season. What are your thoughts? I am torn on this.

  23. I love your idea of exercising. I tried going back to the gym a few months ago and I did it for a while (then my trainer and I decided I did not really need her every time) but I have zero motivation most of the time and I also think it takes away from other things that I want to do... I also like the jar. I will have to remember that for next year. I am sure my 8 and 6 year old girls will be receptive to that.


Thank you for your kindness.