57 In Weekend Whispers

When Lent Is Not Giving Up But Looking In // The Weekend Brew

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Growing up in a structured, traditional church came with the yearly Lenten sacrifices. I would start planning weeks in advance for the “just right” thing to give up as my offering each Lent. Choosing involved making sure that whatever I gave up would hurt, but not too much. Giving up chocolate or desserts seem to be a typical “go to” sacrifice each Lent because I knew I could handle this for 6 weeks and often other family members were doing the same thing so there was strength in numbers. I noticed as I went through this process each Lent, I didn’t feel any different when I walked away at the end of six weeks. My time of preparing was bogged down by giving up chocolate instead of truly preparing my heart for the redeeming sacrifice that Jesus was about to make for me on the cross. Instead of focusing on the ultimate sacrifice and redemption story that was written for each of us, my focus was on whether I could make it without sweets for six weeks without cheating .

I realized that I had misread Lent and its true purpose for our lives.

Psalm_62_600

I am learning, slowly but surely, that in order to truly prepare myself for the dying and rising of Jesus, I need to look inward at my heart and what I hold inside as important. My preparation is only complete when I invite God to be part of the process and let Him work on me from the inside out. It is only with God’s help that He can lovingly mold me into the beauty that is me by painting me with His strength and firing me with a daily dose of grace.

[Tweet “Heart preparation requires an invitation to God to be part of the process.”]

Looking inward requires the turning off of outside noise, shedding outer layers of worldly facades and opening up our hearts for God to enter and take residence. True preparation allows the opening for God to work on our hearts from the inside out. In the process of preparation, each layer is peeled back until a new creation is formed.

Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
for my hope is in him. (Psalm 62:5 NLT)

This Lent, I find God asking me to be intentional with my time with Him. His plea is that I continue to look in instead of out and look to Him instead of focusing on giving up something that takes my eyes off of Him. He calls us to honor Him by  following these steps:

  • Let God enter our conversations. He will take them and make them His.
  • Let God peel away the layers of who we appear to be- He will recreate our inner soul.
  • Let God hear our heart cries, questions and uncertainties. He will turn them into answers, promises and joy.

All we need to do is make space, create room and shut out the noise of life. We look inward to learn God’s truths and close off the outside influences in an intentional Sabbath time. We should invite God into our day and make that time sacred to hear, listen, read and learn. Intentionally adding God to our day instead of giving up our favorite sweet thing, will aid us in leaning in close to the One who prepares our hearts for His glory and His plans.

[Tweet “Creating space provides a place for God’s truths to reside, closing off outside influences. “]

This Lent, I am seeking to carve out a Sabbath time each day instead of giving up and eventually giving away the reason for preparing in the first place.

How do you prepare yourself during this season of Lent? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

As always we are blessed that you join us here for The Weekend Brew. Thank you making this a community of encouragers.

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57 Comments

  • Reply
    Mary Gemmill
    February 20, 2015 at 10:33 pm

    Thank you Mary….your words spoke to my heart and I have copied some of this into my prayer journal to meditate on and reflect as I need to make SPACE for God,and to learn to block out the NOISE of life much more and to be STILL in His healing Presence.Much appreciated !

    • Reply
      Mary Geisen
      February 21, 2015 at 7:37 am

      I am so thankful you are here Mary! I am learning that as I share my words it’s because God has so much that He is trying to teach me. Over and over He whispers to me in my stillness and helps me to overcome the messy that surrounds my life. I am blessed that God loves to spend this time with me daily. May we all make time for God who absolutely loves hanging out with us. Weekend Blessings!
      Mary Geisen recently posted..When Lent is Not Giving Up, But Looking In…The Weekend Brew

  • Reply
    Terri Presser
    February 21, 2015 at 12:56 am

    Thank you for hosting Barbie, and also thank you to Mary for a great post on Lent. We have been talking at and looking at lent too and what it really means to us. Blessings
    Terri Presser recently posted..REDEEMED BY THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB

  • Reply
    Kathryn Shirey
    February 21, 2015 at 3:31 am

    Great post on Lent! I think we should be prayerful about how we spend this season. Not just give something up for sake of saying we’ve given something up, but to grow closer to God in the process. Maybe giving up something we need to shed from our lives. Or, taking on a renewed discipline with our faith to grow new habits and a closer relationship with God (usually also means giving up something to make the time).
    Kathryn Shirey recently posted..Praying As Jesus Taught: The Lord’s Prayer

    • Reply
      Mary Geisen
      February 21, 2015 at 7:42 am

      Lent is a giving up with intentionality. For me it is allowing God to work on me from the inside out. It is taking the time for God to do His work in me and listening and learning all I can during the Sabbath time.

      I must say that your post from last week about Lent got me thinking about what this should look like for me. You inspired me. I am thankful you are on this journey too. Blessed to have you here at The Weekend Brew.

  • Reply
    Joanne Viola
    February 21, 2015 at 4:40 am

    Mary, this is a wonderful post on Lent! There is much here to reflect on. I loved this truth >> “Heart preparation requires an invitation to God to be part of the process.” May we each invite Him in & have our hearts prepared by Him. Blessings!
    Joanne Viola recently posted..5: The Love of Family, Friends & God

    • Reply
      Mary Geisen
      February 21, 2015 at 7:56 am

      God speaks volumes to me when I slow down, open up and let Him enter my quiet time. Letting God work on me is the perfect way for me to prepare this Lenten season. I am blessed that God is always so willing to spend this time with me and all of us. Happy Weekend friend-I am glad you are here!
      Mary Geisen recently posted..When Lent is Not Giving Up, But Looking In…The Weekend Brew

  • Reply
    Betsy
    February 21, 2015 at 5:47 am

    Lent has never been a very important part of my Christian walk, although several years ago I did the Daniel fast and found it to be meaningful. For me giving up chocolate or coffee or dessert feels more like going through the motions of something. I really appreciate what you say about making Lent a time to open more space for the Lord in our lives. I’ve been intrigued by different posts I’ve read about doing something for lent, rather than giving something up.
    Betsy recently posted..Opening the Door to More Jesus in our Everyday

    • Reply
      Mary Geisen
      February 21, 2015 at 8:01 am

      I would love to hear how this post or others on Lent could possibly change your perspective on observing Lent in some way. Since Lent has been part of my life from a very young age, it is part of who I am but I am learning that God calls us to so much more during this time of preparation if we provide a space for Him to walk this journey with us. Have a blessed weekend and enjoy your time with your dad!
      Mary Geisen recently posted..When Lent is Not Giving Up, But Looking In…The Weekend Brew

  • Reply
    Carmen Horne
    February 21, 2015 at 6:17 am

    Mary I don’t normally practice lent but each January I do a 21 day fast to give my first fruits to God. This year, I felt numb. I just couldn’t put my finger on it. Later I discovered that the fast had become routine. Your thoughts have really touched my heart. My fast next January will be with a totally different outlook. Thanks friend. Beautiful.
    Carmen Horne recently posted..Sometimes the best way to fight is to bend our knee…

    • Reply
      Mary Geisen
      February 21, 2015 at 8:11 am

      Thank you for joining us today Carmen. I was struck by how you you affirmed that in sacrificing something for God there is always another piece that goes with that-being intentional in how we allow God to be part of the process. I am blessed by your words. Have a wonderful weekend and I always love seeing you here for The Weekend Brew.
      Mary Geisen recently posted..When Lent is Not Giving Up, But Looking In…The Weekend Brew

  • Reply
    Linda@Creekside
    February 21, 2015 at 6:32 am

    Good Morning, Mary … I love these 3 little steps you leave us with. Sometimes we just need to see things spelled out in black and white and realize how simple His invitation is to us …

    Thanks, friend, for the wisdom you live out. You inspire me …
    Linda@Creekside recently posted..Where Feet May Fail

  • Reply
    June
    February 21, 2015 at 7:09 am

    I think you are so right, Mary! I’ve never practiced the “traditions” of Lent. But nearly everyone I know who does, has felt the same disconnect in the process of giving up something for Lent. Nearly everyone comes to the realization that they missed the point. For me I’m using this time to put more thing into my life that point me to Christ and bring me closer in my relationship with Him. I understand that Lent is about self-examination and repentance, but I believe the closer we are to Christ the better we can and will accomplish both. Many blessings on your week!
    June recently posted..Inspired by . . . always near the cross: humility

  • Reply
    Ginger Harrington
    February 21, 2015 at 7:21 am

    I have been thinking about this as well. How much more to be lived and gained by adding more of Christ in our Lent. Thank you for this, Mary.

    • Reply
      Mary Geisen
      February 21, 2015 at 10:07 am

      Yes! I pray we all make a space for Christ in our Lenten preparations so He can work on us from the inside out. Blessed you are here today.

  • Reply
    Ellen Chauvin
    February 21, 2015 at 7:29 am

    Beautiful post, Mary! I’ve never observed Lent by “giving up”, so it was new to me. Several years back, I gave up more time to spend with Him. I love your thought on making time for Sabbath each day. Thank you!
    Ellen Chauvin recently posted..How to Fight a Loosing Battle…And Win!

    • Reply
      Mary Geisen
      February 21, 2015 at 10:10 am

      Thank you for being here today Ellen! I do believe that we can be more intentional with our time and in that process we will draw closer to God. Sounds like the perfect heart preparation to me!

  • Reply
    bluecottonmemory
    February 21, 2015 at 8:27 am

    You’ve taken lent “out of the box” for me this morning. Instead of giving up – I am going to give God more – of the time He has given me!

    • Reply
      Mary Geisen
      February 21, 2015 at 10:12 am

      I pray that this thinking “outside of the box” this Lent blesses you immensely. Prayers for all as we create that Sabbath space for God to reside each day.

  • Reply
    Jen Avellenada
    February 21, 2015 at 8:52 am

    Oh yes, in this world of drowning noise, chaos, rhythms telling us how to feel. In this season where fears and doubt can plague us and the threats of terrorism try trapping us in a corner of doubt…our God is bigger! Love this! Yes, that we might set a part time in His presence, intentionally pursue His abundant grace making Him first in the Kingdom of our hearts! Such a wonderful Lent post! Thanks Mary! And thank you Barbie for letting us join you for Weekend Brew!

  • Reply
    Rachael
    February 21, 2015 at 9:16 am

    I love this post. It so closely mirrors my heart for Lent this year. Blessings to you! Love, Rachael @ Inking the Heart
    Rachael recently posted..At the Door of the Refinery

    • Reply
      Mary Geisen
      February 21, 2015 at 2:28 pm

      I love that this post mirrored what is in your heart this Lent. I pray that God blesses each of us as we invite Him into reside and take residence in our hearts. Blessings!

  • Reply
    Anita
    February 21, 2015 at 10:04 am

    Hi Mary,

    I loved your post. This is how I see Lent 🙂 . It’s an important time of reflection for me, and grateful for this time. Blessings to you and Barbie 🙂
    Anita recently posted..Answering our fears with truth

  • Reply
    Elizabeth
    February 21, 2015 at 10:10 am

    I think giving Him our time and our heart and our full attention is what counts. This is my focus this Lent.

    • Reply
      Mary Geisen
      February 21, 2015 at 2:32 pm

      Amen to giving God our time and attention. In the process of preparing ourselves we will honor Him with our time. Blessed you joined us for The Weekend Brew.

  • Reply
    LeeAnn G Taylor
    February 21, 2015 at 11:27 am

    I love this perspective Mary! I didn’t grow up in a church environment that participated in Lent, but I’m learning the value of it as an adult. This year I’m “looking in” and instead of giving up something tangible, I’m giving up critical comments toward my husband.
    LeeAnn G Taylor recently posted..Parenting With Purpose: Best Podcasts for Christian Moms

  • Reply
    Beth Willis miller
    February 21, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    Mary, thank you for stopping by my post and leaving such an encouraging comment. I love this post, especially your quote, “True preparation allows the opening for God to work on our hearts from the inside out. In the process of preparation, each layer is peeled back until a new creation is formed.” So true…love that image ❤️
    Beth Willis miller recently posted..trusting Him, resting in the mystery…

    • Reply
      Mary Geisen
      February 22, 2015 at 6:48 am

      Thank you for Beth for your sweet encouragement. This community is always a blessing to me and I am thankful that you are part of it too. May God work intentionally on each of us during this Lenten season. Sabbath blessings!

  • Reply
    Donna from Holimess
    February 22, 2015 at 5:26 am

    Thank you for your gentle reminder to be still and press in during this time.

    • Reply
      Mary Geisen
      February 22, 2015 at 6:49 am

      You are so welcome! Blessings to you this Lent as we all learn to open ourselves wide and invite God in to prepare us in His ways.

  • Reply
    Laurie Collett
    February 22, 2015 at 6:30 am

    I love this perspective — Lent is not giving up, but looking within. May He fill our hearts and being with Himself as we listen and wait. Thanks for the beautiful post & for hosting & God bless!

    • Reply
      Mary Geisen
      February 22, 2015 at 6:54 am

      Thank you Laurie! I am always blessed by your sweet comments. So glad you join us at The Weekend Brew each weekend.

  • Reply
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser
    February 22, 2015 at 7:41 am

    Life’s been such a whirlwind that I didn’t even realize it was Lent?

    Last night I caught myself thinking of how much I was looking forward to seeing the the St. Olaf Choir on PBS for Christmas…yeah, out of touch.
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser recently posted..Open-Heart Marriage {Five Minute Friday}

  • Reply
    Michelle Anderson
    February 22, 2015 at 9:28 am

    I really like this Mary. Making Jesus the center of everything instead of focusing on the thing to give up. I always want Jesus to be the center of my world. To be focused on Him. This is truly the challenge. I don’t even know the steps or processes I take to do this, but somehow I do?
    Michelle Anderson recently posted..Thankful_February 16_February 23

    • Reply
      Mary Geisen
      February 22, 2015 at 11:52 am

      Yes somehow when our hearts are open God leads us in just the direction we need to go. Praying we all look to centering our eyes on Jesus and let Him fully prepare our hearts for all that is next. Blessings!

  • Reply
    Carrie
    February 22, 2015 at 10:33 am

    Amen, Mary! I too find myself reflecting on what I used to do during Lent. The focus became what we gave up and how we didn’t eat meat on Fridays. That was the definition for me. The sacrificial death on the cross? No, that wasn’t spoken about until Easter Sunday. My heart breaks to recall how “giving up” turned into “works” – we missed the mark completely. Thank you for sharing this post. Blessings to you this Lenten season.

    • Reply
      Mary Geisen
      February 22, 2015 at 11:56 am

      Carrie- It sounds like your Lenten experience growing up was very similar to mine. I always wondered when it was all said done each year, what the purpose truly was supposed to be. I am praying for you and all during this Lenten season that we may grow deeper in our relationship with Christ and in the process He opens our hearts to Him and His glory. Blessings!
      Mary Geisen recently posted..When Lent is Not Giving Up, But Looking In…The Weekend Brew

  • Reply
    Holly Barrett
    February 22, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    Love the idea of a Sabbath time each day. As we’ve discussed, Lent does seem to be more about connecting to, being called to His presence, than about giving up. Grateful for your encouragement as I turn my heart in this direction this year too. xoxo
    Holly Barrett recently posted..My name will be great among the nations

    • Reply
      Mary Geisen
      February 22, 2015 at 4:15 pm

      I love how God is working on and in us in a smilier way this Lent. I am looking forward to the work and to letting Him better prepare me for His promises. I always love seeing you here my friend! Have a wonderful week!

  • Reply
    Ashley Ditto
    February 22, 2015 at 3:21 pm

    Amazing writing!

  • Reply
    Beth
    February 22, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    I’ve never really observed Lent, Mary. I was raised Baptist and, well, we Baptists just aren’t a very ritualistic bunch. Now change the carpet color at the church, well! Those are fighting words! ha! Really I’m not much of a Baptist anymore either. I am at a non-denom church now but there’s still little mention of Lent. I see it mostly in my blogging buddies’ posts. And it always reminds me to take more seriously the worship offering of “sacrifice.” And I love all that you say here about creating that sacred space in our lives, Mary! It’s where I love to go deep sea diving with my Lord. But what do I offer as “sacrifice” offering? Maybe giving up fear and replacing it with faith. That’s what I want to grow stronger and deeper in. Thanks for sharing your kind and inspiring heart here, Mary! Your presence is being felt around the web, my friend! And thanks to Barbie, for highlighting my sweet Mary and hosting such an awesome linkup. Can’t believe it’s my first time here! I’ll be back!

    • Reply
      Mary Geisen
      February 22, 2015 at 5:54 pm

      I always love seeing you and imagine how excited I was to see you linked up at The Weekend Brew. Barbie opens her beautiful blogging home to me every other week to host The Weekend Brew. It is such an honor and such a beautiful community that it is my pleasure to be here with all of these wonderful writers.

      I love your idea of giving up fear and replacing it with faith. This is a lifelong process for me that would take much longer than one season of Lent. Since Lent has been such a tradition in my life, I knew I needed to examine it on a deeper level to understand how I could make God’s presence greater in my life. Creating a sacred space just for Him is how I will make more of Him and less of me. Blessed as always by your words of encouragement and joining you in thanks that Barbie shares this space with me! Love you friend!
      Mary Geisen recently posted..When Lent is Not Giving Up, But Looking In…The Weekend Brew

  • Reply
    Julie Lefebure
    February 22, 2015 at 7:20 pm

    Sabbath time each day. I needed to read that, Mary. I usually give something up, to deny myself something. But this year, Lent began and I got lost in life. So I feel I’m behind. But I love this thought about a Sabbath time each day. Thanks for this thought. I’ll be starting my Sabbath time tomorrow. 🙂 Blessings to you, friend!

    • Reply
      Mary Geisen
      February 23, 2015 at 1:20 pm

      I can’t wait to heart how your Sabbath time goes Julie! Having grown up with Lent being a time to give up and realizing that it never worked for me, I am humbled that God really just cherishes the time we spend with Him and setting aside daily is a blessing for me. So glad you joined us here Julie! Have a blessed week!
      Mary Geisen recently posted..My One Word…Now It’s Getting “Real”

  • Reply
    Lisa Brittain
    February 22, 2015 at 7:34 pm

    Hey there! Thank you for beginning this conversation. I did not grow up with Lent. I was not in church growing up, but when we did go to church with our grandparents we went to a Baptist church. Growing up in South Florida, many of my friends were Catholic. So, I thought Lent was just a Catholic thing. I thought it was kind of mean to make people give something up. It didn’t seem very Jesus-like to me! I’m guessing my friends had a pretty negative attitude toward giving something up for Lent. =)
    As an adult our family attended a non-denominational church, which one year decided to explore the purpose and meaning of Lent. I’ve celebrated Lent ever since. I pray and ask the Lord to show me what to give up for Lent. Usually He asks me to give up a thought or an attitude. One year He asked me to give up my right to be right.
    This year He has really been speaking to my heart about taking something up more than giving something up. He’s reminding me daily to take up my cross and follow Him.
    Bless you on your amazing journey with Jesus as you carve out Sabbath time for Him,
    Lisa
    Lisa Brittain recently posted..Five Minute Friday:Open

    • Reply
      Mary Geisen
      February 23, 2015 at 1:25 pm

      I love how Lent has evolved for you over the years. it is very easy to get a misconception of Lent especially when it is not something that you grew up with or your church has not focused on. I love how you are being intentional in asking God how He wants to use you or what you should give up during Lent. Deepening our relationship with Him is what it is all about and I would love to hear how your Lent goes this year. Thank you for joining us at The Weekend Brew.
      Mary Geisen recently posted..My One Word…Now It’s Getting “Real”

  • Reply
    Denise
    February 23, 2015 at 2:44 am

    Hi Mary; thank you for this wonderful post on Lent! (One of the best ones I have read!) It reflects on this >>> “Intentionally adding God to our day instead of giving up our favorite sweet thing, will aid us in leaning in close to the One who prepares our hearts for His glory and His plans.” This is (to me) the true definition of Lent; we need this time to create in us the desire to do God’s will and to make His kingdom come by making it come first of all in our hearts. That’s my focus this beautiful season!!

    Thanks for another awesome link-up friend! Have an amazing week!
    Hugs!
    Denise

    • Reply
      Mary Geisen
      February 23, 2015 at 1:28 pm

      Your sweet encouragement is such a blessing. Thank you! Your words above state that it is about making Jesus first in our lives. Amen to that! Thank you for being here and sharing your wisdom. Have a blessed week!
      Mary Geisen recently posted..My One Word…Now It’s Getting “Real”

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