I know I don't talk about religion much on my blog, but I think it has a lot to do with the fact that my faith is still growing. Even though I went to church every Sunday as a child, and was baptized and confirmed in the Catholic church, I still feel like I have so much to learn. I have a lot of questions and there are a lot of traditions and "rules" I'm not sure I believe in. I think all this uncertainty was what made me leave the church when I was old enough to make that decision for myself. I didn't feel a connection there and because of that, I didn't make it a priority.
Sometimes I regret all those years that I didn't pray or thank God for my blessings. I was selfish. I would only turn to Him when I needed something, much like teenagers do with their parents, and yet even through all that...He still took care of me. He didn't hold a grudge or punish me for not being more grateful. He waited until I finally found my way back and when I did...He was there with open arms.
I can honestly say that my faith has never been stronger, but I often worry that it's because God has blessed me with so much. I worry that I'm being selfish again and not doing enough to show him how grateful I am. I read so many blogs and articles about these amazing people who give all of their free time and extra money to help others and it makes me feel sheepish. I know there is more I can do...it's just a matter of figuring out what to do.
So instead of giving up candy for Lent this year, I've decided to do something a little different. I've been reading about people committing to a 40 Deeds in 40 Days project where they vow to do at least one good deed every single day of Lent. Deeds can be anything from volunteering at a shelter for a day, or buying a stranger their coffee in Starbucks. I think this is a sweet idea and I may commit to this too.
But the bigger project that has me super excited right now is the 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge, which is essentially a challenge to rid your house of 40 bags worth of things you don't want, need or use. One of my favorite bloggers, Sarah from Clover Lane, does this every year and I love how she explains the purpose of doing it during Lent. She says,
"Why Lent? To me, Lent is a time of prayer, renewal, self-reflection, sacrifice, self-control, repentance and almsgiving. It does seem silly to me to somehow try to link a good old home decluttering with something as deeply spiritual as the Lenten season, but the first time I did 40 bags/40 days it was much more meaningful to me than just getting rid of junk. I thought long and hard about how much we really needed vs. how much we had, I became more aware of how we spent our time and money, I had the chance to feel the rewards of charity (and so did my children) giving away to those in need some of the things we took for granted. It was a physical cleansing of the space we were all growing together in, as a family, but it also freed up space in my heart and mind for awareness and purpose-I didn't want my house buried under "stuff" and I didn't want my heart and mind buried under "stuff" either-and I learned that often the physical reflects the spiritual and vice versa."
Isn't that a wonderful challenge? Using these 40 days to rid your house of clutter, give to various charities and organizations, learn to live more simply and teach your children important life lessons in the process? I Just think Sarah explains it so well...which is probably why she has hundreds of people following her on this journey :-)
So...even though this challenge started with the first day of Lent, I am still in the green because I had AMVETS pick up two bags of clothing yesterday. And speaking of clothing, I've decided to take down the rest of the items in my blog sale and donate them to various charities.
I read a really fantastic article about a women's charity called Dress for Success. They provide less fortunate women with professional attire and career development tools to help them get a job. What better place to donate all of my old work clothes? You have to read all the wonderful stories on their website...they will make you want to go out and buy all these women clothes.
Another organization I really want to donate to this month is Donate Your Old Shoes. They provide shoes to needy adults and children around the world. Please take just 2 minutes and watch the video on their website. Look at the faces on those children who are putting on a pair of shoes for the first time. Can you imagine what a little girl would think if she received Addie's light-up Barbie sneakers? It gives me chills.
I want to do a little more research to find new organizations to donate to and if any of you have one that is special to your heart, be sure to share. Does anyone else want to jump on the 40 Days/40 Bags bandwagon? I'll be sure to post about my progress and share the links to any other great organizations looking for donations. Now let's get to work!