Don’t Give Up Something For Lent

When I was little, my family didn’t formally celebrate Lent.

My cousins did.

So did many of the neighborhood kids; especially the big, Catholic families with lots of siblings running around. (We could throw together a kickball game in no time as long as we could get one of those families to come!)

Lent always intrigued me. The ashes on the forehead, the ordering a fish sandwich on Fridays instead of a burger up at the local McDonalds.

I remember wanting to not only know what it was all about, but to be invited to the celebration too.

Later, in high school, I began to attend a church that did celebrate Lent (but allowed us to choose what we would give up). Ta-da! I now not only learned about the observance on the Christian calendar, but felt included in the party.

Over the years, I’ve given up sweets, a particular TV show, soda-pop and other assorted indulgences.

In recent years, however, I have stopped giving up something for Lent. Perhaps you will want to too.

Now, I take on something for Lent. Like serving in a soup kitchen once a week. Taking a hurting soul out for coffee every Saturday or acquiring a new habit like walking or reading the Bible before hopping on the computer.

My antique writing desk I purchased at a local garage sale. Not where I write blogs & books & articles, but where I write people.

This year, I have decided to take on writing a note of encouragement or thanks to someone each day of Lent.

Yep. That’s 40 notes in 40 days.

In a way, I am still giving up something—my time; time when I could be doing something for myself but will instead will be doing something for another human. And my money. Between note cards & postage, about 25 bucks. (So long extra latte cash!)

Care to join me?

Four packs of notecards, one for each of four gals selected from those who comment on this post. See the lovely clearance stickers? {smiles}

I found some clearance notecards at Target yesterday. So, I bought four additional packs so four of you could join me in the note-jotting adventure. One pack should get you started on your way to gratefulness and cheer.

If you are a traditional Lent-observer, may God meet you as you sacrifice an indulgence over the next six weeks.

If you have never joined the celebration, how about this year you do?

But don’t give up something for Lent.

Take something on.

*Tell us about you & Lent. Do you observe it? Give something up? Want to join me in taking something on? The four comments selected at random will be announced Thursday.


  1. Love this! I just received difficult news about my own health (breast cancer) and this is a perfect opportunity for me to let people know they are loved and what they really mean to me RIGHT NOW. While I expect to come through this new adventure just fine (God’s peace is ever present!), I will have time to love on others as they have loved on me through the years. Wonderful idea I wish I’d acted on each time I was prompted. Thank you Karen!

  2. Karen, thanks for the wonderful idea. While we are to be the hands of feet Jesus ongoing, what an idea to elevate that further at Lent to keep ourselves focused on others. In the day of digital, letter writing is becoming a lost art. In our hurried, Starbucks world, taking the time to show our appreciation to others in a letter is a previous gift.

  3. What a tremendous idea! :) The truth be told…I was just wondering what all this lent business is myself… I see people talking about what they want to “give up” and my first thought is hmmmm…I would be happy to give up doing laundry…exercise (not that I do a whole lot of that anyways) or sushi (yick). Note writing to encourage is one of my favorite activities and I love your idea to give to others by giving up your time :)

  4. Every year I give something up for lent by taking something on. This year I am giving up “self” and taking on random acts of kindness.

  5. What a beautiful idea, a wonderful way to stay in touch in such a good way! I love it when I get “real” mail! Thank you – will have to write a note to someone!

  6. I am definitely doing this!! As I read all the previous comments, I am struck at how such a wonderful God inspired idea will touch so many hearts. If each person who has commented sends out 40 cards of thank you’s and encouragement, that’s a lot of blessed hearts and souls ministered to!
    Thank you!

  7. What an awesome idea!! I have not celebrated Lent before but have felt led to do so this year. So, I am giving up my soda. Maybe the writing of the notes will help keep my mind off the Diet Pepsi :) and of course I will be led to pray for those I am sending the notes to. Blessings to you!!

  8. I have been wanting to so something like this. Thanks for the motivation!! I was looking at the clearance valentines/ words of encouragement to hand out to random people.. My sister in Christ came over yesterday for coffee and she was saying she felt like she should give a card to her doctor that seemed down at her last appointment. I encouraged her to do so. I do not observe lent but i am so willing to take on the spread of encouragement! God Bless.

  9. This is a wonderful idea! I don’t do anything for Lent but this I would do. I would love to get a special note from a friend so I’m sure others would in turn enjoy receiving a note and this seems to be something that is less frequently done with texting, emails, etc… Thank you for the idea.

  10. I am Catholic and for years I have been adding things instead of giving up. In fact, I just got back from Ash Wendesday Mass and our pastor reminded us to add things and not just give up chocolate. I have also kept ajournal and prayed for whoever the Holy Spirit put on my heart for the day. I ended up praying for some interesting people that I would never have thought of on my own!

  11. I first have to say, that desk is adorable, ohhhh I want one. Gotta get myself to some yard sales, sheesh.

    Your lenten sacrifice is awesome! Oh what rewards that will reap, what blessings you will extend. That’s just lovely Karen.

    Down to the last hour, I decided (after I fought to find something, ANYTHING, else) to give up drinking as much coffee as I normally do. I’m having only 1 cup a day, instead of my usual at least 2-3 a day.

    That would be nice to win the note cards. I have a friend that is taking her vows to be a nun this year and she would be the recepient of my writing on those.

  12. Thanks for sharing this great idea! The Catholic church is stressing more and more these days to “give up” something that will “give to” others, such as your idea of giving up some time to write to others.

  13. I love this idea, but I think I might change it up a little bit. I’ve been SWAMPED at work and hardly seeing my kiddos so I think I’m going to make it a point to give both kids and my DH at least one note each per week… stealth notes in their backpacks or lunchboxes. And HOPEFULLY after our big meeting tomorrow where I present the report I’ve been working onfor over a month… I’ll have more time as well. God Bless!

  14. How awesome that you wrote this blog today! I grew up in a typical Catholic family and we always gave up something during Lent. Just yesterday I told my husband that I want to do something in Jesus’ name rather than give up something. I love your idea, Karen!!

  15. I LOVE this idea. I never understood the whole “giving up something for Lent” but did it sometimes anyway. That was in the days I was still trying to “earn” my way to heaven. At age 28 when I discovered that nothing I did or did not do could earn me a place in heaven because Jesus had already paid my “entrance fee”, I felt so liberated in many ways. One of the ways was that I could show my love for Him in many ways, & observing a man-made event was not necessary. We practice Advent as preparation for Christ’s birth: it seems we should do something as preparation for His resurrection! But denial of something I like (chocolate, cokes, etc.) did not really seem to me the way to prepare.
    Since reaching out in love to others, even those who are not the “loveliest”, is the thing Jesus did, it seems to be a great way to prepare for Easter. The art of communicating through hand written notes has nearly vanished, so what a great way to reach out & give the love of Christ to others! I”m going to get out my note cards & stamps, make the time to put some thought into this, and prepare for the greatest event of all time – the resurrection of the Living God, Jesus Christ!

  16. I would love to do the 40 days 40 notes! I was brought up Lutheran but have been attending a FourSquare church for many years. I never gave up anything for Lent until a few years ago, then I gave up candy and all kinds of chips and cheetoes, etc. for six weeks. It felt good to know I actually did it before God.

  17. Karen; Thank you for such a wonderful idea. I saw it on a friend’s facebook posting earlier today and decided this was a Lent lesson I could do.

    At dinner tonight, I shared the idea with my 16 year old twin daughters. They loved it too! They are sitting at the kitchen table right now planning out who they are going to write to each day. On our way home from the grocery store we stopped at Dollar General and bought note cards and colored pens. (We live in a tiny town and shopping opportunities are few and far between.) Our daughters have been raised going to church with us and both joined our church and were confirmed a few years ago. They are active in youth group and are anxiously raising money for their mission trip this summer . . . So needless to say, I am very proud of them. They are intelligent and beautiful young ladies. But lately, we have been experiencing some issues of selfishness . . . natural for teens, of course, but not something we like seeing. So this ‘thinking of others’ letter-writing campaign for Lent comes at a perfect time.
    Thank you again for such a perfect idea!
    Julie B
    Ligonier, Indiana

  18. I really love this idea. I am terrible at giving up things at Lent!! Just terrible. But I love the idea of giving my time to others. I know I can do that. And I am always trying to be better at that so this will help me be even better.!

  19. Thank you for posting this today! And while my current church does not celebrate Lent this way, I grew up Catholic, and it’s just a part of who I am. I had given up the giving up part of Lent for several years now — I decided that there really wasn’t much that I overindulged in that would be enough of a sacrifice over Lent., so I decided to try to do things that would allow for spiritual and personal growth. I went through “The Purpose Drive Life” one year, another year just focused on my spending habits, another year on more quality time with God. This year, I decided on hand-writing one note a day to my friends and family. I love that you had the same idea too! God Bless you on your Lenten journey!

  20. I completely understand the not understanding Lent as a child. Then I married a Catholic. We tried to focus on the things that are the same in our religious areas (I’m Methodist) As we went through the first few years of Lent, I struggled with remembering that it was Friday – no meat. But I also questioned my husband about the traditions and he didn’t know why they did what they do. So on to the internet I went in search of answers. I found that Lent is 40 days, not counting Sundays, but that the exact length of Lent (total days) has changed over the years depending on who was in power. Just search the words Christian Lent or Lent and you will be amazed at what comes up. But I love the idea of getting involved!

  21. That is perfect! I’m joining you! Thanks for the fantastic idea!
    I blogged about Lent myself today. I live in a large Catholic community and it’s a huge deal here. I didn’t grow up practicing it myself.
    I think I’ll start a new tradition too. Taking something on!

  22. I have often wondered about what to give up for Lent, and have never done it. I do however like your idea of adding something – Bible reading and prayer daily BEFORE other activities, especially the computer! I know how blessed I have been when receiving a note card and would love to bless others.

  23. I have never given up something for Lent. The church I attend doesn’t encourage it…although they encourage reading and studying the Word, especially leading up to Easter. This year, I thought maybe I should but nothing seemed to “fit”. I just read your blog and am excited to try to do this….Giving of my time or encouragement to someone else seems like a great thing to do. My waistline could use 40 days of fast, and I think it great that folks sacrifice for this time period….but this just feels “right” for me. Thanks so much for this inspiration!!

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