How is it already Lent?!

We've been blessed to welcome our third daughter, Chiara Rose, born on January 10th!

As I'm emerging from the newborn cocoon and getting back to a routine, I'm surprised that Lent is here! Starting tomorrow! I thought had more time to prepare...But then I remembered that it's not about preparing for Lent, it's about preparing for Easter. The season of Lent is to prepare for Easter. So if you're feeling that panic of "Lent starts to tomorrow!" - don't worry. We're embarking on these next 40 days, these days of grace, to be ready for Easter.

Yes, we should focus on ways to pray, fast and give, but let us not forget that Lent is about conversion of heart. It's about putting God first in our lives. It's about being transformed into Jesus.

So what's it going to be this year, Lord?!

Praying this morning with today's Gospel (Mk. 10), the words of Peter spoke to me. Jesus had just said how hard it is for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, and that all things are possible for God. Peter then speaks to Jesus, "We have given up everything and followed you." Let this linger in your heart for a moment.

We have given up everything and followed you.

As I reflected on this, I was saddened. I saw in myself that I haven't given up everything and followed Him. I realized that things I thought I was giving upwere in fact just things I was offering up. For example, getting up in the night with the baby is something I'm offering up, but would I choose to give up an uninterrupted night of sleep? Probably not! 

Giving up is when we take on something. Like not having coffee or a taking cold showers. Offering up is a response to something. Like traffic or an illness. It's usually something that's out of our hands. Don't get me wrong, it's wonderful to offer up things too! Only God knows the value of these things. But I think many times we excuse ourselves from giving up something because we feel burdened by all the things we have to offer up. 

So Lent really is a season of giving up because we are choosing to take something on. We're taking a leap towards God. We're saying, "God, I want to give up this so I can be closer to you." We're saying, "God, I want to meet you in this area of my life that I haven't let you in." We're saying, "God, I want to do your will but I depend too much on myself."

By giving up something we are doing our part for God, with His grace, to do something amazing. And God wants to do something amazing for you this Lent! 

Lent will be a beautiful journey if we truly give up something we love and for many of us, that might just be giving up "myself." 

Know that whatever you choose to give up will leave a space. Fill that space with prayer. The prayer will overflow to deeds. 

Let us run into God's arms this season for they are wide open and ready to embrace us. Let us pray that in 40 days from now we can say like Peter, "We have given up everything and followed you."

Choosing the better part

Merry Christmas! Isn't it wonderful it's still Christmas? With the New Year just beginning we are presented with the Martha and Mary situation again (!) in today's Gospel (Luke 10:38-42). It's a helpful passage as we look at our New Year's resolutions, hopes and plans for 2019.

While many of us want to be more like Mary, sitting at the feet of Jesus and seeking the Kingdom of God, we can't help but feel the urge like Martha to do and take action. To see some results and to be making a difference. 

Mary sits as Jesus' feet and listens. Martha is burdened with much serving. She confronts Jesus, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” In this complaint we see Martha's frustration with Mary. We often think it's because Martha wants Mary to help her, and that Martha's weakness is that she's too busy––too busy to pull away from the demands of serving and too occupied. But the real source of Martha's frustration is that she wants to be sitting at Jesus' feet, too. Martha's weakness is not one of busyness and distraction, but one of lack of trust. 

Martha feels obliged to do the serving. In her mind, she's cycling through the infamous question, "If I don't do it, who will?"

How often do we run on the hamster wheel of that question? How often do we think we're the only person in the world who can do that specific task? How often do we miss opportunities because we couldn't imagine what would happen if we didn't do that thing? That thing, that task making us anxious and worried. 

Jesus wants to free Martha and us. He wants to restore her trust in Him. When he says, "Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her," Jesus is also telling Martha, "You can choose too! You can come sit too. I will take care of the rest. Come sit." He's inviting her to trust Him. 

He's inviting us to trust Him this year––with big things and small things and especially those things that we think we're the only person in the world that can do them. Because He wants to teach us that we're not alone and isolated, but that He is with us in everything. He can help us in everything and that we don't have to carry such a heavy burden. 

As we look at the year ahead, let us be like Mary in contemplation to fill us so we can serve like Martha, but all with the underlying trust in Jesus. For this "will not be taken from her.”