The 40 days begin…


I’ve never participated in Lent before. I grew up in churches that never mentioned it. My naive, young self thought it was only something my friends that went to the Catholic church in town did. As I got older though, I learned more about it. I learned the history of it, the reasons behind it, yet still I chose not to participate. Giving something up for 40 days? Yeah. That wasn’t for me. Last year I had a strong conviction I should do something, but honestly for my own comfort I didn’t want to commit.

At the beginning of the New Year I read “7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess” by Jen Hatmaker. Omgosh. That book! It has changed so much in me over the past 2 months. It’s basically a book about fasting in some respect from 7 areas we seem to waste the most time, energy and money in. It’s endearing, hilarious and life changing. I am slightly obsessed with Jen Hatmaker. The book made me face a lot of what my idols are in my life. What I cling to, waste time on, hold important (when they’re not) and worry over. It really convicted me and I finished it just in time to start thinking about Lent.

Lent isn’t suppose to be used as a second chance for resolutions. It’s giving up and fasting from something, but making sure you are replacing it with prayer, reading, or worship. I’ve really prayed over my motives and searched my heart this year. I want to be doing all of this for the purpose of growing closer to God. We’re at a turning point as a family. We’re starting a big journey and I want Jesus to be front and center. I’m really good at filling my time with everything but him. I am desperate to change that. I want to make room for Him and I don’t want worldy possessions to steer my heart. I want these next 40 days to be a way to reflect what the Easter season is all about. There’s nothing magical about all of this. It’s not like a switch is flipped and you come out perfect. I know I will fail at what I am fasting from, but in my imperfections I hope I can see just how perfect Jesus is and how badly I need him.

I highly recommend reading this blog post on Lent by Ann Voskamp.

I picked a theme for Lent… “Live Simple” Here is what my Lent season will look like:

1. Kev and I started Drea’s Mise En Place: A Thirty Day Cleanse today. We will continue working through it for the next 40 days. I love Drea and I love this e-guide. It has beautiful pictures, lots of great information, recipes, shopping lists, etc… I feel like it’s totally doable. It’s not juicing, but eating whole, vegan and simple. Something we should be doing more of anyways. We already eat loads of veggies in our house and I am a vegetarian who doesn’t like fake meat to begin with, so I am hoping it will be a sort of easy transition. I wanted to do this though because I have a major sweet tooth (CANDY!!). I just really hate the idea of being enslaved to the feeling of needing sugar. I don’t want to be enslaved to anything. I will continue to blog on this one throughout the 40 days. I really do recommend this e-guide to anyone- it’s perfect for anyone wanting to jump start a healthy lifestyle.

2. I will be giving up Twitter (on my phone) and Facebook (altogether). SO.MUCH.WASTED.TIME!! I will need to hop on twitter (from my laptop) from time to time in order to fulfill some obligations I have relating to blog work but I am deleting the apps from my phone until Easter. I want to be present. When I really think about how much time during the day I am scrolling through all those media outlets — Ouch! It’s embarrassing.

3. Kev is giving up TV, so in turn I am too. TV isn’t really an issue for me — I don’t really enjoy watching it to begin with but we do sometimes like to watch an episode of something before we go to bed. At the moment we LOVE Brooklyn 99. So funny. Without it though, I plan to go to bed earlier and have dedicated time at night reading, reflecting and journaling. I bought a Lent journal from Jessi. I am really looking forward to using it.

4. No excess clothes spending. Self explanatory. I love me some new clothes, shopping is therapeutic to me. I love looking at clothing websites (I used to love actual shopping but that doesn’t happen anymore with kids). With no money to spend — I wont need to spend time looking through the sale sections at my favorite places. Do I really need another pair of shoes just because they are on sale? We have TOO MUCH stuff in our lives that we do not need.

5. I would like to clean out our closets, bins, drawers, etc… and donate everything. I am very grateful for all that we have, but there are others that could use it more. I want our house to be simple, beautiful and full of love, more than “stuff”. I want to be filled with a giving spirit.

I am looking forward to having more family time, more time to read, more time to be creative, but more importantly I am looking forward to creating room for Jesus.

Are you participating in Lent this year? I would love to hear what you are fasting from.

  1. So beautifully said Jen! What wholesome, life-enriching goals you’ve set for yourself during this season of lent. Growing up I never really participated in lent either, though I am Christian. This post has given me some real food for thought. We just moved into our new home and my goals for it are similar to yours; that it would be ‘simple, beautiful and full of love’ vs. unnecessarily full of stuff. Ryan and I are also cleansing our food regime, getting back to our whole foods eating habits (as I, too, have a sweet tooth I’m tired of caving to). I’m so very inspired by your words here. I plan on setting some more concrete ‘fasting’ goals for myself over the next 40 days. Wishing you focus and continued resolve as you begin this journey 🙂

  2. This is so awesome, Jen. Excited you guys are doing lent, love all your goals + they’re definitely resonating very strongly for me. We were just discussing lent in our home group a few weeks back, and although, I’m not doing it this year… Martin & I have been talking, and reevaluating, what are idols are. Beautiful & inspiring post!! xoxo

  3. Grace •

    Such an inspiration! Thank you so much for posting about this topic. It’s important to recognize that Jesus is the forefront of our lives, and that we should be living our lives for Him. May you and your family be blessed during this time and always!

  4. Melissa •

    I gave up Facebook 2 years ago(not for lent just because I spent way to much time on it) and it was one of my best decisions EVER. You really learn who your friends are without social media(out of 100 “friends” only 2 kept in touch), and life seems so much simpler with less drama.

  5. This is such a great spirit and outlook to have whether or not you’re participating in Lent! I love the idea of detoxing in all areas of our lives, and in turn becoming more present for the ones we love. I gave up Facebook a while ago because I felt the exact same way—I never came out of it feeling like it had been a wise use of my time. Here’s to more realizations and clarity!

  6. Thank you for this post. Lent had been on my heart all day and I had finally convinced myself it “wasn’t for me” this year…until I read this. This was my “ok, ok God, you’ve got my attention” getter. Thanks again.

  7. This is so inspiring. Thank you for sharing. I too grew up in a Christian home but thought that Lent was mostly for Catholics. My parents have given something up for Lent at different times, but I’ve never gotten on the bandwagon. Right before seeing your post I was telling my husband that I was feeling convicted about looking for something in my life to replace with prayer and worship. I have always loved your blog, but now that you have been sharing more about your faith I love it even more. Thank you.

  8. Welcome to Lent! I am excited to start Lent tomorrow, and I really appreciate your post. I have participated in Lent for as long as I can remember, and it really is one of my favorite times of year. I am right there with you with scrolling on my phone, unfortunately. I plan to delete Facebook and Instagram until Easter. Here is how we celebrated the Mardi Gras season:

  9. I’m not religious, but there IS something refreshing about going on a ‘fast’ of sorts, be it food or social media. I think traditionally most religions included this practice because it helps create balance in life; resets the body and mind. Perhaps I will have to do my own 40 day fast of some sort 🙂

  10. My vicar in England always insisted we try something new for 40 days at Lent rather than giving something up. He explained that trying something new allows us to reflect on our lives just as much as sacrifice but in a positive way that may end up lasting a lifetime rather than sacrificing something for 40 days only to go back to it once the time is up. I am getting back to my yoga self by doing a little (or a lot, who knows) each day for 40 days.

  11. Jen, you’re going to make me cry! You’re amazing. Thank you 🙂 I’m glad you like it!

    side note: I got overly excited and typed “JEN!” in the name section…. I love you.

  12. I began reading 7 on your recommendation and I love it, but it’s a sad coincidence is I stopped reading it because of TV and I got more into Twitter lately. I love this idea! I don’t know if I can give it up altogether but the idea of logging on when I’m at a computer is great. I’m going to miss you on Facebook. I know you don’t post often but I feel like it’s my small circle of women I whole heartedly trust and a few will be missing for Lent. I’ll be praying for you during this time! Go, Jen!

  13. Michelle •

    I’ve been a long time reader of your blog, but not so sure I’ve ever took the time to leave a comment. I love and adore everything you post and create, but your posts like this have really spoken to me lately. I know you don’t post things about your faith too often, but as of late I really admire your insight thoughts on your personal journey with faith. They are very clear and thought provoking. I pray that this season of Lent is especially meaningful for you!

  14. Thanks so much for posting this! The Jen Hatmaker book has been on my list for quite some time, and I’ve heard nothing but great things. I am going to try to have a little Bible reading time with my daughter (she’s 3) each morning. I am a) bad at taking the time to sit and be quiet and read and b) really would like my girls to see Mommy reading her Bible and understand how that is important for our family. We will see how it goes. 🙂

  15. you are such an inspiration. seriously. i’ve never participated in lent before although i’ve always thought about it. hopefully soon.

  16. I like what you said about replacing what we’re giving up with time in prayer. I’m giving up my morning snooze time from 5:30 till when my daughter wakes up with prayer and Bible time, as I have found with a toddler, a business and a blog that I have not spent nearly enough time with God lately and it is showing in my words and actions, eek.
    I agree wholeheartedly on giving up the apps and TV, I’ve seriously cut back on TV, morning news and that’s it, and deleted FB from my phone. I am so much more productive and less distracted with a simpler day. Cheering you on!!

  17. Annie •

    As someone who is only vaguely religious, I found this post to be quite beautiful. I think everyone can benefit from “giving up” something, especially if that something frees them and enables them to be a better self.

    A couple years ago when I realized how much excess I had, I started “no spend” months. No new clothes, no eating out that wasn’t a planned outing with friends or family, and no me purchases (you know, that really adorable throw pillow you found at Anthro on super sale? No!). They are some of the most freeing months I have experienced. And they make you realize just how much you really have or, in my case, I discovered I really do only have one pair of black dress pants that fit well (and still do, why is this so hard to find?!)!

    I just love your blog, Jen! This was a great post and I can’t wait to hear how the next 40 days go!

  18. I’m exactly the same, and really wanted to make a go of it this year. I did some searching online and found 40acts, and plan to use it over the next 40 days as my way of participating in Lent. It feels good already!


  19. Jessica Kiehn •

    I’m so proud of you. The Father has been talking to me about some very similar things. If we are constantly sowing to the flesh (social media, STUFF, etc) then we will reap a harvest of fleshly, earthly things. What a miserable life. Always trying to fill a void with things that will never qualify to fill that void, because it’s a spiritual need.
    But when we sow to the spirit (more prayer, more stillness, more family time) we start hearing God speak to us more and more because the distractions and clutter is gone and our lives start changing! It’s so simple and so amazing.

    I’m rejoicing with you and your family for what has already taken place and what is about to out of your obedience!!

    P.s. My name is Jess (ica) and my husbands name is Kev (in) and we have two little girls, so when I found you I knew I liked ya because I can totally relate:)

  20. Clair Cox-Peel •

    Hi Jen,

    I have been reading your blog for a few weeks now and have found it inspirational. I, too, love Jesus and this year really want a year of giving Him His rightful place in my life and heart. I also want to really seize opportunities in 2014 to declutter, simplify and enjoy life. I am grateful for your posts on marriage and then today, Lent. They have really helped me maintain perspective and whilst I may never get to say thank you in person as I live in the UK, I can at least thank you here. May you be truly blessed this Lent and beyond.

  21. Do you think it will be overwhelming to give up/change so many parts of your life at the same time? I am not religious, but I’ve always heard that you are more likely to succeed at changing a (bad) habit if you focus on it, and only it, for 30 days. Many people make resolutions on Jan 1 only to find that on Dec 31 they haven’t accomplished changing their ways. I’ve found strong success through a new resolution each month. To focus on one change for 30 days is about all my brain/life can handle. I’ll be excited to see how this goes for you. I’m hoping it will give me the push I need to be willing to try more than one at a time!

  22. My roommate and I are giving up sweets and to prepare we ate all the ice cream sandwiches in our freezer last night! I know it’s going to be difficult but like you, this is my first year participating and I really want to strive to put Him first.

  23. Sharon •

    Great post! Thank you for the ideas and how your family plans to carry them out. Now my mind is racing to incorporate some of your ideas into our lives as well!
    Thank you again 🙂

  24. Jenna •

    Thank you for sharing. I was looking today for something to do for lent, wanting it to be meaningful, but also coming from a nondenominational church that doesn’t really emphasize the act of lent and giving something up. We are going to declutter ourselves and give up social media as well. I find myself checking it early in the morning before my little ones wake up – just to be feeling left lacking something. Filling that time with God will be a much better start to our day. Thank you.

  25. Justine Beaudry •

    I too am giving up facebook – I don’t even enjoy it much any more! Just a mindless habit. From the start of the year, I’ve tried to give up mindless/impulse spending. Seeing something on Pinterest and buying it five minutes later – terrible habit! I’ve done pretty well with that one and hope to continue throughout Lent and the year all together. Good Luck! :=)

  26. I admire your approach to Lent. This year I have decided to specifically make more time for Jesus by focusing on my bible study. I know I am not really removing anything from my lifestyle but I know making time for reading the bible, reflecting on what I have read and prayer, will cause me to spend less time on TV and other activities that take space in my life. My focus is also to put God at the top of my priority list and look to him first for guidance in every area of my life. I am doing a challenge with Joyce Myers currently called 30/30/30 to get me kickstarted on this new routine. If your looking for a great preacher and some excellent apps to replace your social media apps, you should check her out. I look forward to sharing to sharing your Lent experience.

  27. Katie Gonzalez •

    Jen, thank you for this post, and the one you linked to. It was so encouraging and inspiring to read, so helpful too. My husband and I have been reading Simplicity Parenting and really feeling God calling us as a family to simplify our lives to let Him in more – to be better parents, closer partners, and do better at the work God has called us to do, and most importantly to honor God in thanks for the life we have been given. I told my husband that you and yours had decided on a theme for lent, instead of just giving up one arbitrary vice. We both love that. I didn’t grow up with lent either, but I love the concept the more I learn about it. We’ve participated in different Lenten devotionals from our church the past couple years – often they are less about abstinence and more about service/prayer/etc. The focus this year is called “Different.” It looks at the Sermon on the Mount and Christ calling us to do things in a different way, to see the world through a different lens. I love that you wrote about letting go to let Jesus in. We’ve been working on that (somewhat intentionally) for the past few years, but with my girls (who are the same age as yours) getting older, we are feeling more urgent about following through with our goals. Between the book we are reading (LOVE IT – couldn’t recommend Simplicity Parenting enough!!!), the focus at church, and countless conversations we’ve been having the past year (plus coming across others like you who share the same goals) we are feeling a blaringly loud, encouraging call to Let Go! I can’t wait to see where this Lenten season will take us. Thank you for writing this post, giving your witness, and inspiring us to put down in more certain terms our “family theme” for these next 40 days of lent. We are sitting down tonight to write it out together. Sending prayers your way through this time of growth!

  28. Liz H •

    thank you Jen!!! whatever journey you are on, it is inspiring and touching me right where I am at! you posting about this really challenged me to participate in Lent yet too and NOT to think I am too late to do so! thanks for being courageous and transparent to share what you’re working on in your life with your walk with Jesus 🙂 so fun following your blog for years now!

  29. Thank you so much for posting this, Jen. This morning I woke up with the thoughts of not participating in Lent this year. These thoughts were out of fear and after reading your post and the post Ann wrote, I felt encouraged to start. I just wanted to say thank you.

  30. very inspiring!!

  31. Grace Oliver •

    I am trying out Lent for the first time this year too. I also grew up in a church that did not practice lent and was surprised to meet evangelical Christians at Terra who do lent. I haven’t read and studied as much as you, and part of me still wonders what this is all about but I’ve decided this year I will learn by doing. I’m giving up gluten. I have several friends in tribe that are gluten free because it makes them sick and I want to be more empathetic, instead of a little ticked that I can’t bake simple cakes or cookies when I provide snack for them. I have scoffed at the paleo diet enough that I think I’m guilty of self-righteousness. So I repent for my lack of empathy, walk in their shoes a little and learn a new way to fast. I hadn’t thought much about picking up something in its place until a friend mentioned it. More journaling Devi time I guess? I am on a journey to discover the value of lent. Will read the blog you suggested.

  32. My word I’ve loved watching your blog life evolve to what it is today, you are an inspiration momma in every facet of life you display. So excited to see what is to come for you family!

  33. I love that you’re blogging so openly about your faith, now, Jen. I just wanted to offer some encouragement in case any negative comments get to you. It’s encourages me in my faith to read about your genuine desire to grow closer to the Lord. I hope you have a successful Lent season, and that the Lord uses it in mighty ways in your life, and in turn, the lives of your reader.

    Your sister-in-Christ,

  34. I’m a fellow “7” reader and I just finished my last month of fasts! Life changing. Perspective shifting. Just so dang good, right?
    Just want to encourage you this Lenten season. You can’t go wrong when you’re seeking so much right.

    xo rhonda

  35. This is really beautiful! I’ll have to check out that book….

    I’ve had an interesting journey with religion personally, having been raised Catholic, deciding it wasn’t “cool” to believe in God through college, and at 25 I’m now taking time to get reacquanted with religion and find out exactly what my relationship with Him is. I think the most valuable lesson Catholicism ever taught me though, was to replace the clutter in your life with prayer, and replace the vanity in your heart with Jesus’s love. It’s a comforting thought, and one I intended to contemplate these 40 days.

    Given the above though, I also think it’s important to an extent to separate a fun aspect of your life from religion and “give it up” for Lent. I’ve done it my whole life, and sometimes it’s just a good jump-start to self-improvement. I live in NYC, so I’m giving up Seamless (online ordering mecca) for Lent – I want to get back into the kitchen more and stop relying on take-out so I can be a healthier and happier person. Even if I’m still figuring out my relationship with Him, I’m sure God would want that for me 🙂

  36. thanks so much for sharing your heart with us about lent! my co-worker is catholic and he had no idea why he even participated in lent. i’m so glad that you’re pointing out that if you do participate it should be to bring you closer to Jesus! i grew up in a christian home (i’ve always gone to non-denominational churches) and i’ve never participated in lent. but i’m reconsidering for this year. thanks for the encouragement in leaving more room for the Lord. i often spend so much time doing everything else but spend time with Him. He shows up everyday to meet with us and yet we’re constantly distracted by so many other things. so sad. i hope these next 40 days really grow you in your faith and bring you closer to God 🙂

  37. I’m Catholic, so I’ve participated every year. It has just been something I’ve always done, but today in mass for our Ash Wednesday service, the priest said something that made me stop and reflect. He asked if we knew why we used ashes to anoint our heads. It is a call back to the story of Jonah and the city of Nineveh, when the people burned their burlap clothes and anointed their heads with ashes as a sign to God that they wanted to repent and be saved. So now, we anoint our heads with ashes as a reminder that we want to be saved by God. We then spend 40 days preparing our souls for his coming, the way Jesus spent 40 days in the desert preparing for his 3 years of miracles and subsequent death.

    I’ve always believed in Lent, but this was the first time I’ve ever been… excited?

  38. This is so inspiring! I’ve recently thought of all the time wasted I spend on social media as well, and am trying every to cut back a little. Thanks for this encouraging post!

  39. Kristen •

    I love this Jen! I’ve been holding off on reading 7 because I know it will challenge so much of my lifestyle! Your writing has a gentle simplicity that draws us in and gives hope at the same time.

  40. Loving this cleanse too! I haven’t started the cleanse yet but I’ve begun making the recipes and they are so yummy! You’ve committed to giving up SO MUCH for Lent! Props to you!

  41. I gave up a little bit of all of the above. I am cutting WAY – WAY back on anything type of social networking and reading more. I am spending less on the little extras I give myself during the week and most of all, I am letting go of so many negatives in my life and replacing them the with positives.

    I just posted my own blog in regard to lent and how over the years I have left only to return again.

    Great post!

  42. Ciara •

    Thanks so much for this post. I thnk you’ve totally hit the nail on the head, the point isn’t just to ‘give up’ something for the sake of it, or for your own personal gain (to lose weight, become a ‘better’ person, get fit) but to grow closer to God. It’s always about the heart attitude isn’t? I’m a 25 year old Irish girl living in Siberia, Russia as a ‘missionary’ (not my faveourite word) with my husband and our two boys (3&1) with another on the way. We gave up almost every physical possession we had to come live here in a tiny two bed apartment, two years ago next September. I’ve found that at times my attitude has been truly terrible. I’ve been bitter and rensentful and even jealous at times of my friends back home. I’ve missed buying new clothes, western food etc. God has been doing huge work in me but it’s made me realise that’s it really isn’t the ‘giving up’ that’s important, it’s your attitude. Because of God’s grace I’m at a place now where I am content with what we have and I’m learning how to truly be happy for other people and what they have. Thanks so much for being an encouragement and giving me something to think about. God is using this blog 🙂

  43. Stephanie •

    Hi Jen!
    So I just tried to look for an email address on your website, so that I wouldn’t have to set the record for the longest comment on your blog. Hehe. I don’t usually do this sort of thing, but after thinking about it for several days I thought that I should just take the plunge.
    I’ve been an avid follower of your blog since 2007-2008. I’ve been inspired by your style, giggled over pictures of you and Kev, and swooned over pictures over your sweet girls. I’m a few steps behind you as we just had our second girl in October 2013. I’m 25 year old, a devout Christian, and I’ve grown up in the same church that my parents have attended since they were newlyweds. It’s a generational church, and all my friends that I grew up with as babies are still at the church, having babies, growing families, etc. So, needless to say, I’ve never lacked for godly people to look up to. They’re all around me.
    A few years ago, the Lord placed it on my heart to do a huge blog purge–just get rid of all the unnecessary blog reading that was taking up a lot of time in my life. Yours was one of the few that I kept in my reader. Even now during the busy season of raising children, yours is the only one that I read sometimes.
    And recently, I have been SOOOO incredibly blessed by your blog. This post, and your post after your Hillsong concert were particularly encouraging. I totally agree with the comment from Ciara above, that God is using this blog. Your vulnerability is blessing me, and I truly believe that God is being honored. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your words, and living a life that is godly. Your blog is truly a breathe of fresh air!
    God Bless! xoxo

  44. Welcome to the world of lent!

    It is great to really look at what we are spending too much wasted time on and devote it back to prayer, reading and worship. This year I’ve also given up Facebook but also taken on completing a random act of kindness every day. 🙂

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Hi, I'm Jen!

Welcome to my personal lifestyle blog. It features topics such as motherhood, family life, fashion, cooking, and all sorts of adventures. I hope you enjoy what you find!

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