This past season of Lent was maybe the most meaningful I have had personally. For one thing, Chris and I made a conscious effort to walk through the Lenten season as a family, with the kids. We don’t normally give anything up for Lent, but we decided as a family to give up dessert after dinner and we talked about how every time we really wished we could have dessert, we should remember what Jesus sacrificed for us and that giving up dessert really wasn’t that big of a deal. When we talked about sacrifice in terms that the kids understood and then experienced sacrifice together as a family, it really helped us to have meaningful conversations about Jesus’s death and what that sacrifice meant.
For myself, I took on two practices during Lent that have really stuck with me and made a meaningful impact in my life so far. First, I committed to completing a daily devotional through the She Reads Truth app on my phone every morning before I even got out of bed. I normally wake up super early – 4:30 or 5:00 – and then I lay there, worrying about whatever is on my mind, until I can fall back asleep until my alarm goes off at 7:30. I decided that this block of time spent worrying was completely unproductive and if I was already going to be awake every day at that time anyways, I might as well do something that was good for myself. I downloaded last year’s Lenten study because the 2019 hadn’t been released yet when I decided to commit to this. And every day of Lent, I honored my commitment to give that time to God.
As a very religious person, I understand the power of spending time in God’s word. But as a practical, working mother in today’s busy world, I equally understand the struggle of finding time (and, quite honestly, the energy) to read my Bible and stay in God’s presence. I have always been one of those who prefers to hold my Bible in my hand during times of study and prayer, but the truth is that this often involves getting out of bed. And while that sounds lazy, it’s really more of a practicality thing. When I get out of bed, my dogs wake up. When my dogs wake up, my kids wake up. When my kids wake up, my day starts. But giving myself permission to just read the word on my phone, from the comfort of my bed, allowed me to stop that cycle. I know that’s probably not very profound, but it really was for me. And spending that time every morning during Lent in prayer and conversation with God made a huge difference in how my days went.
The second personal commitment that I took on was to “Write the Word” every day. This is called so many different things and can look so different to so many people. It’s sometimes called “Write the Word,” sometimes called “scripture writing,” sometimes called “Bible journaling.” I call it “Write the Word” because it is as simple as that. You just write out Bible passages.
You can get as fancy and formal with the process as you’d like. If I was going to purchase anything more structured, I would buy one of Lara Casey’s Write the Word journals. But I’m pretty low key and so I just use a notebook that I bought forever ago at Barnes and Noble for a Bible study I was taking at the time. I only used the first few pages of the notebook, so I picked up where I left off and I’m all set for now. The brand of mine is Punctuate. I have several of this brand and really like them. They hold up really well and the pages are extra large.
I get my monthly plans from Pinterest. For Lent this year, I used this one:
I went to the website where I found this one to get my next one, too. I really loved her collection of verses and wanted to stick with her format. I was happy to find that she has her archives of Write the Word plans posted in her sidebar, so you can flip through and find one that applies to you. I prefer to not do them by month, though that is really popular. Instead, I look for themes. This month, I’m using an “Encouragement” theme to help get me through some transitions that Chris and I are going through with both our jobs.
I still try to write on the days, as if they were organized for a specific month For example, as I write this, it is May 8 and so I am on Day 8 of this plan. I find that sticking to a calendar helps me stay more accountable. If I miss a day or two, I just double up the next time until I am all caught up to the correct day of the month.
The last piece of advice I would give to anyone starting this discipline is to keep your Bible and journal in a place where you can see it daily. I used to keep mine on my bookshelf in my office and just took it down when I used it. But I found that I would forget about it sometimes. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Now, I leave my Bible and my journal on my desk, every day. It helps me remember and it reminds me that spending time in my Bible is a priority, just like anything else sitting on my desk. I try to do my Write the Word right before I eat lunch every day. I don’t always stick to that schedule – there have been plenty of nights I have sat in my office to catch up on two or three days worth of journaling. But stopping during the work day is my preference because it re-centers me.
One pleasant side effect of keeping my Bible and journal out on my desk is that my kids see me interacting with it on a daily basis now. Before, I always had my devotional time when they weren’t around and my Bible and journal stayed on the shelf until those times. Now, though, the kids flip through my Bible and my journal all the time and ask all kinds of questions about what I’m doing and why I’m doing it.
Gracie has even found her own notebook and asked if she could start writing the word, too. A quick Pinterest search brought up all kinds of kids Write the Word plans for her. We do them together now after she finished her homework most days. I never insist or even ask her. I let her decide when she wants to and when she doesn’t. It’s her relationship with God that she is fostering and so I let that happen as God calls her in her own time.
These two small shifts in practice for me – my devotional app before I get out of bed and my write the word at lunch time – have really made such an impact on my day-to-day living. They bring me back to center and ground me in what is important. As priorities and work life and family and social events come and go and I struggle to keep all my plates spinning, these two moments in my day are steadfast reminders to me who really is the plate spinner in my life.
Thank goodness it isn’t me.