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Ash Wednesday – What is Lent and What Does it Mean to Me

When is Ash Wednesday, oh – it’s today! Okay, sorry for the sarcasm, but it’s the Wednesday 46 days before Easter Sunday. Let’s look at today, and Lent. 

Day 1 – Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent. This year, it also marks the first day of the Lent 2021. In 2019, I did a Lent Experiment where I spent 40 days writing on 40 topics surrounding Lent, Jesus, life and faith.

This is a side topic from the typical Digital Mom Blog topics of funny memes technology, parenting and geekery. If this isn’t your thing, no worries – just hit next.

lent day 1 ash wednesday

As noted before, I am not a theological expert. I don’t play one on t.v. nor on the internet. I am just a lifestyle blogger who decided to attribute part of my Lent season in writing on something personal. I’ll be sourcing where I get any info when anything in regards to facts are given.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way…. Let’s talk Lent, Ash Wednesday and those ashes that they put on your head during service.

What is Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday according to Wikipedia:

Ash Wednesday is a Christian holy day of prayer, fasting, and repentance. It is preceded by Shrove Tuesday and falls on the first day of Lent, the six weeks of penitence before Easter. Ash Wednesday is observed by many Christians, including Anglicans, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Old Catholics, Methodists, Presbyterians, Roman Catholics, and some Baptists.

While yes – Ash Wednesday is observed by those religions, may of us outliers (raises hand) but Jesus followers do the same. I’ll include links to read more on Ash Wednesday below. And yes, I’ll even include a link to why people have ashes put on their head.

on wedenesdays we wear ashes - ash wednesday meme mean girls
On Wednesdays we wear ashes – don’t miss all of our Lent memes.

BONUS – I found out there are drive thru Ash Wednesday services where you just drive-thru to get your ashes. Yes, link below on that as well.

What is Lent

What do you know, when asking Google – What is Lent – Wikipedia had an answer for this as well. Since this is much better written than something I would write, here is what Lent is – according to Wikipedia:

Lent is a solemn religious observance in the Christian liturgical calendar that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends approximately six weeks later, before Easter Sunday. The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer for Easter through prayer, doing penance, repentance of sins, almsgiving, and self-denial.

Holy Week Explained

In 2021, Holy Week begins on Sunday, March 28, 2021 and ends Saturday, April 3, 2021.

Its institutional purpose is heightened in the annual commemoration of Holy Week, marking the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the tradition and events of the New Testament beginning on Palm Sunday, further climaxing on Jesus’ crucifixion on Good Friday, which ultimately culminates in the joyful celebration on Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Fasting

In Lent, many Christians commit to fasting, as well as giving up certain luxuries in order to replicate the sacrifice of Jesus Christ’s journey into the desert for 40 days. Many Christians also add a Lenten spiritual discipline, such as reading a daily devotional or praying through a Lenten calendar, to draw themselves near to God.

Significance of 40 Days

A friend once told me she celebrated Lent as a way to tithe back her life to God. Since 40 days is around 10% of a year – this is giving 10% of your year focusing on your faith. This thought has stuck with me over the years.

Lent is traditionally described as lasting for 40 days, in commemoration of the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert, according to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, before beginning his public ministry, during which he endured temptation by Satan.

Why Ashes on Ash Wednesday

Have you ever wondered what the deal is with the ashes on the forehead on Ash Wednesday?

Here is why. Ash Wednesday derives its name from placing repetance ashes on the foreheads of participants to either the words, “Repent, and believe in the Gospel” or the dictum “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

When in Lent 2021

Lent 2021 begins Ash Wednesday – today, February 17 and continues until Thursday, April 1 (the day before Good Friday.)

Note – some people honor Lent thru Easter Sunday. Easter Sunday 2021 is April 4, 2021.

What Lent is to Me 

Now that you have the official Wikipedia Lent version, let’s bring it down to a personal level and I thought it would be best to start this series and talk about what Lent is to me.

I’ll go into this more at some other time – but I’m an ex-Catholic. Being raised in the Catholic Church, Lent is something we did annually. I remember giving up soda and it being such a massive deal.

Funny, here I am at 40-something – giving up soda and it is still a massive deal. At least now, I get it. I understand and CHOOSE to participate in Lent – rather than being forced to.

ashes forehead ash wednesday

Why I Honor Lent

For years, I have taken these 40ish days and put some routine into growing my faith. This is something I have never regretted doing.

Do I mess up? Yes, but you know there is that grace thing. But in all seriousness I do take these 40 days pretty serious in regards to recharging and using this time to reconnect with my faith and God.

Over the last few years, I have needed this reconnection period more than ever.

Honoring Ash Wednesday

In 2017, I was stuck. Career wise, I was ready to pivot. We had just started the process of testing our third child for Autism. We had some other issues going on – and to be honest – on Ash Wednesday I felt a nudge that I needed to step back and look at what was happening rather than reacting on impulse.

So what better way than to decompress during lunch at an Ash Wednesday service. No seriously, it was the stress-relief that I totally needed.

I ended up at Christ Church an Anglican church I had never been to. The church we attend, does not honor Ash Wednesday or Lent. I remember walking into this massive chapel – late (sorry Jesus – but you know, you made me!) and just absorbing the words that I needed to hear.

Our child was diagnosed with Autism, and as we baby stepped into how to best understand him and ensure that he has everything he needs. Having faith sure did make the beginning of our autism journey easier.

ash wedneday meme

Ash Wednesday 2018

I’ll summarize the details below – if you feel compelled to read – but Ash Wednesday 2018 was needed more than ever in my life. I found a little country church to attend Ash Wednesday service at. Running late, do you see a theme?  I’m trying to change this.

Anyways, I went in the wrong door. I went to find another door and the pastor stopped preaching, thinking I was leaving – ran to find me and yelled “you are welcome here!” I think he thought I was going to run.

Again, God did his thing and used words to put my heart at peace and with all that was about to happen, and was happening – I needed peace.

2018 Sucked

In 2018 – well let’s just say 2018 sucked. Many things attributed to the suckiness of the year – but let’s just say I needed that Ash Wednesday service more than anything in 2018.

Living in a Hotel

This time last year, we were living in a hotel. We spent 137 days living between 2 hotel suites because of a flood in our house that left a large portion destroyed. If that didn’t suck enough – it only gets better.

hotel-living-with-kids

Colon Removal Surgery

My husband – who was only 41 at the time – went thru colon removal right a few days after Ash Wednesday.

It was a planned procedure that was suppose to take place in late 2017 – but my husband was hospitalized with pneumonia – pushing the surgery date back. You know, then our house flooded so my husband spent recovery from the first surgery in a hotel.

Nope – not weird or sucky at all. We found out it was a God send he had the colon removal surgery where he did.

recovering after colon removal surgery

Colon Cancer

The pathology report showed he had colon cancer – but Stage 1 with no lymph node involvement. I did say that 2018 sucked, right?

And I’ll end this paragraph with saying, the husband is still recovering but all things considered – is now doing amazing.

Ash Wednesday 2019

So Ash Wednesday 2019 – I found a local church that many friends growing up attended and I recalled being at but not sure why.

The service was unique, featuring both young and old. What had God whispering to me most was the beautiful stain-glass that I immediately remembered was dedicated to a friend that passed away when I was in high school.

I was marked, ashed or crossed – whatever you want to call it.

grow through what you go through

Ash Wednesday 2020

Last year, Ash Wednesday was February 26, 2020. The world had not quite shut down from the pandemic. My husband and I attended a local Methodist church in our little town (apparently, there are 2!)

Again God spoke to me. As I the Ash Wednesday service led predominately by women, I was led to many questions about church and the business of men mostly being the dominate representative.

Ash Wednesday 2021 Online Service

Yes, you guys 2021 has led me to finding online Ash Wednesday services. If you are looking for an online option to watching Ash Wednesday, here is the church I will be watching.

Drive Thru Ashes

If I weren’t in North Texas surrounded by rolling blackouts and icy roads, I totally am down with drive thru ashes. Unfortunately, I might just have to pray over my dark eye shadow for this year’s ash forehead. (Jesus knows my heart y’all.)

Giving It Up For Lent

This post was originally written in 2019, but edited in 2021. Here is what I gave up for Lent 2019.

Tomorrow I am writing suggestions on what to give up for Lent – as well as other ways to honor this 40 day period between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday.

No Coke Zero

This year, I am giving up Coke Zero and sodas in general. I am hoping this detox stays in place.

coke zero addict meme

I went 3 years without this crap in my life and last year, hotel life served me sodas every meal which got me back on the pipe. No, not literally people! But it reignited that Coke Zero addiction.

You guys, Coke Zero is a drug and I’m an addict. It sucks.

40 Days of Writing

Another way I am honoring this time, is being deliberate with something I love doing but never get to do for myself. That something is writing.

I you’ve made it this far – you are now apart of my Lent story 2019. With 4 kids, life doesn’t stop – so this practice will at least give me an hour each day to focus on something I love to do – while honoring the Lent season. You can read the entire 40 day challenge of Lent.

Intentional Prayer

I want to be intentional with prayer. Each night, as we tuck the boys in – we say a prayer. I’ll be honest – it’s a fast, sometimes passive aggressive (LORD, HELP THEM GET TO SLEEP) prayer.

At night, I also say a little prayer before bed. Both of those times I feel like there is much room to be left for intentional prayer.

intentional prayer

Whether it be looking at the prayer requests from our life group or even texting a friend asking how I can pray for them – I want my prayers to be intentional and not just part of a routine.

Ash Wednesday Links

Here are several Ash Wednesday links to learn more about this day, why people wear ashes and more on that drive-thru Ash Wednesday thing.

Thank God I didn’t give up sugar for Lent. I started the morning with our little boy’s annual breakfast with mom. Of course, they brought it Max’s Donuts.

school breakfast

It’s just the first day of Lent so if I can’t make it 12 hours without a Coke Zero, no way am I going to make it 40 days! I did do a ceremonious pouring out of the last of the Coke Zero last night – so there is no Coke Zero in the house.

Coke Zero addiction – be GONE!

I’m looking forward to Ash Wednesday service tonight and introducing the kids to the concept of Lent. We are not making them participate but introducing Lent and finding ways they can be a better person over the next 40 days is a great practice.

Well, this was unfashionably long. Tomorrow, we will keep it shorter. All of my Lent posts are linked -> Lent Experiment <- if you want to read all the things.

Be blessed, give grace and be kind.

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