80 Things to Give Up For Lent and Ways to Honor the Lenten Season

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What to give up for Lent? If you are asking yourself this – we have some suggestions. 

Day 2 of Lent  – We are talking what we are giving up for lent and yes, I know. Ash Wednesday was yesterday, but here is the deal. God doesn’t care when you start Lent. While yes, there is a “official date” for Lent – this whole Lent thing, it’s about pursuing God and abstaining, putting something needless away and focusing your energy on Jesus. 

What to Give Up For Lent - Lent Day 2
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Lent Rules – Write Your Own

Personally, I feel like it’s not so much just Jesus – but being like Jesus – being the hands and feet of Christ. So, you know if you are not scrolling Facebook for that 2 hours a day and using that time for something good – that is sufficient. To me there are no hard fast Lent Rules. As long as your heart is in the right places, and your intentions are focused – you can write your own Lent rules. That said, if you’ve read anything about this Lent Experiment – you know that I don’t follow a traditional religious Lent. 

Ash Wednesday 2019 Service

Last night, my husband, youngest son and I attended an evening Ash Wednesday service at a local Methodist Church. I had been to that church once before in high school. A friend had passed away, I was there for his funeral. Walking thru those doors, I was flooded with unexpected memories from 24 years prior. 

ash wednesday 2019
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Embracing the traditions of a different church is always fascinating to me. Every church has their own beat – and this Methodist Church was obviously caught in an identify crisis. It has been in town for as long as I can remember. It’s currently under renovation and the service, was eclectic. From the church choir to then modern contemporary Christian music – you could feel they were trying to fill the needs of the young and old. 

Women Behind the Pulpit & The Purpose Behind Giving Something Up For Lent

It was so refreshing for me to see a woman behind the pulpit. Speaking of that woman, the pastor gave a wonderful talk about Lent and how what we are giving up is not meant to be a diet. Lent is meant to bring our sinfulness and our weakness out into the open – allowing us to depend upon the Lord.

I found this piece written by One Thing Alone Ministries that I feel sums up best what Lent stands for:

I came to realize that Lent isn’t so much about the discipline of fasting or about giving something up, or even about identifying with the suffering of Jesus, because let’s face it: temporarily craving an ice cream sundae brownie doesn’t even come close to the suffering our Lord endured for our salvation. It’s so much more.

Lent is meant to bring us face-to-face with our sinfulness and our weakness, and bring us to our knees and recognition that we need Savior, even after all these years of being a good church girl.

It’s All About the 40

So let’s chat about what to give up for Lent and other ways to honor these next 45 days before Easter Sunday. Here are 40 ideas for what to give up for Lent and another 40 ideas for what to do for Lent. Don’t you love the whole 40 day cliche thing? Me too. 

What to Give Up for Lent 

Yes, typically something you do during Lent is give up something. This can leave you with the question – what to give up for Lent? 

what to give up for lent
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Give It Up!

  1. Soda – that’s what I am doing – no more Coke Zero or soda for me. Read about what i’m giving up for lent.
  2. Sugar – Go KETO! 
  3. Gossip – just no. 
  4. Racism – seriously, though. 
  5. Hatred – the world has enough hate – it’s not worth it. 
  6. Toxic Relationships – ain’t nobody got time for that!
  7. Wasting Time – use that time to volunteer instead. 
  8. Endless Facebook Scrolling – set a timer, if you scroll Facebook for more than 5 minutes – just quit. 
  9. Starbucks – rather than buying yourself a coffee, pay it forward and buy someone else a Starbucks. 
  10. Erratic Spending – rather than impulse buying that new tube of $20 lipstick, pocket the money for a rainy day. 
  11. 30 Minutes of Television – spend 30 minutes in prayer rather than watching Netflix. 
  12. Eating Out – meal prep, use your Instant Pot – find ways to eat at home rather than eating out. 
  13. Being Late – this is so me. I really don’t mean to be late, and yes – while I have 4 kids – I need to stop that excuse and show up early.
  14. Procrastination – You know that thing you need to do, honey go do it. No seriously – just do what you are putting off. 
  15. Trolling Online – no trolling, please. 
  16. Leaving the Light On – give it up for Jesus, y’all. 
  17. Yoga Pants – I really should have given up yoga pants, or maybe I should just start doing yoga.
  18. Tanning – embrace the pale!
  19. Binge Watching – who else is guilty of this? 
  20. Laziness – get up and clean the house or do what you need to do rather than loaf. 
  21. Self Doubt – you are good enough, you are smart enough – and people like you. 
  22. Worry – cliche as it may sound, give it to God.
  23. Photo Filters – embrace the real you, and if you do use a filter, make sure that you still look like you and not a cartoon.
  24. Snacking Between Meals – unless you are on Keto – then you have to snack between meals.
  25. Fast Food – fast food really doesn’t taste good – just make the PB&J sandwich instead!
  26. Swearing – another one I should have considered. 
  27. Plastic Water Bottles – use a reusable cup instead!
  28. Guns – need I say more?
  29. Liquor – I did this between the winter holidays and it was amazing. 
  30. Sweets – if you can’t fully go no sugar – try fasting from sweets. 
  31. Candy Crush – yes, I know this will be hard for some of you. 
  32. Negativity – find ways to spin things to be positive. 
  33. Gambling – a certain family member – if you are reading this, YES, I’m talking to you. 
  34. Presumption – stop presuming! (so guilty of this!)
  35. Comparison – you are writing and living your own story, don’t compare it to others.
  36. Intermittent Fasting – eat during a certain window of hours during the day. 
  37. Unfollow on Facebook – if a Facebook friend posts something that annoys or makes you upset, do a simple unfollow. They will never know (unless you tell them, don’t tell them!) and your Facebook feed will be a much happier place without their posts.
  38. Complaining – rather than complain, figure out how to fix the situation.
  39. Skipping Church – if you miss Sunday service, there are plenty of churches online to stream or listen to sermon podcasts of. 
  40. Reading the News – let’s face it, it can be toxic – regardless of your political party!

Other Ways to Honor Lent – Things to DO for Lent

So those are ideas for what to give up for Lent, let’s look at things to DO for Lent. These are other ways to honor this holy season of Lent. You can pair this with giving up something for Lent – but remember, the Lent Rules are written by you.

what to do for lent
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What to Do For Lent

So whether you give up something or are acting as the hands and feet of Christ – just remember – every person’s way to connect with God is different, embrace that.

throw kindness around like it’s confetti
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Find what draws you in and do that. 

  1. 40 Days – 40 Giveaways – each day of Lent, find something to get rid of that you don’t need. (Check out our Marie Kondo memes for LOL and inspiration.) Check out GiveBackBox.com to learn how you can ship clothes to Goodwill.
  2. Buy Extra Groceries for a Food Bank – this is one of the simplest things to do, just find out what a food bank needs and add these groceries to your list. 
  3. Join a Feed the City Event Tango Tab is a company that hosts Feed the City events. My family did this with our life group last year and our kids still talk about it. Everyone brings sandwich making supplies and as a team you make sandwiches. We made over 30,000 sandwiches in a few hours!
  4. Intentional Prayer – I mentioned that this was part of what I was starting on Ash Wednesday. Pray with intention.
  5. Listen More – rather than being a voice, be an ear to whoever needs it. 
  6. Be a Prayer Warrior – it’s simple. Text some friends, ask “how can I pray for you” than just pray. Or just pray for the unknown, we all have things we would like prayer for but don’t want to bring it into the open. 
  7. Buy the Homeless Person a Meal – be the kind stranger who hands out $1 McDonald breakfast burritos to the homeless. 
  8. Donate Cookies – whether it be the school front office or at the local fire station, a cookie can bring a smile.
  9. Send a Thank You Card – who do you need to say thank you to? Do it. Time is short, say the thank you – the recipient will appreciate it. Here’s a simple hack for writing Thank You Cards in bulk!
  10. Send Cards – buy a pack of cards and send a simple card to let someone know you are thinking of them. 
  11. Make an Extra Meal – bake 2 casseroles instead of one, or double the soup recipe. Deliver a meal to someone who could use it. 
  12. Happy Notes – leave your kids or spouse happy notes. Whether it be in their work bag, backpack or lunch – these will make their day a little more happy knowing they are loved. 
  13. Gatorade for the Delivery Person – leave water or gatorade on your front porch for the delivery person. 
  14. Kid Drawings – have your kids make art and send them to loved ones. Kids feel involved, explain what you are doing. Old people love kid drawings!
  15. Talk to Your Neighbors – life is busy. Take 20 minutes, go next door and say hi to your neighbor. 
  16. Pay for Someone’s Dinner – Go out to eat and observe. Once I saw a lady sobbing alone at a restaurant, we anonymously paid for her meal and left. Looking thru the restaurant window as the waiter explained, her bill was paid – the crying went from sad tears to happy tears. 
  17. Pick Wild Flowers – wild flowers are free and can make beautiful flower bouquets. Make a bouquet, give to someone who needs a smile and make their day.
  18. Teach – my mother-in-law volunteers teaching English. Connect with a church and find organizations that you can help someone learn something you already know. Yes, it can be as simple as teaching someone English!
  19. Invite Someone to Dinner – it doesn’t have to be fancy, it can be low key at your house. Have an open conversation with no judgement. 
  20. Paint Inspirational Rocks – put kind words on pretty rocks and leave in public spaces. This is a great activity to do with your kids!
  21. Buy $5 Gift Cards – randomly pass these out at the store or restaurant. 
  22. Collect Pop Tabs for Ronald McDonald House – RMHC chapters raise thousands of dollars all thru people’s donations of pop tabs! Read about Pop Tab Collection.
  23. Make a Micro Loan – thru Kiva, a small loan of even $20, combined with other people’s micro loans – enables entrepreneurs in third world countries to start and grow small businesses. This changes lives!
  24. Send a Letter or Package to a Soldier – organizations like Any Soldier or A Million Thanks will get your letter (or package, check ahead of time!) to a soldier.
  25. Change the Conversation – if you are in a conversation, maybe someone is gossiping, change it. Redirect the conversation to something positive.
  26. Drive a Van for a VetDAV.org is a transportation network administered by Hospital Service Coordinators at VA hospitals. They are always needing a volunteers to drive Vets to appointments.
  27. Shovel Someone’s Driveway – we don’t have this snow driveway or sidewalk issue in Texas, but if you are up north – shovel a neighbor’s driveway. Bonus, do it without them knowing who did it!
  28. Pay School Lunch Debts – donate $20 to school lunch debts. 
  29. Hold the Elevator for Someone – and tell them to have a nice day as you leave.
  30. Leave a Generous Tip – waitresses and waiters live on their tips, give them an unexpected bonus. 
  31. Mentor a Child – check with your local schools to learn about child mentoring programs.
  32. Hide Money in Random Places – this only has to be a dollar bill, but think about the last time you found a dollar and the delight it brought you. I remember finding money in a bush as a child, it felt like the best day ever back then!
  33. Be Kind to Yourself – it’s so easy to go negative Nancy on yourself. Don’t, reframe your mindset.
  34. Bring in Donuts to the Office – who doesn’t love donuts? Don’t answer that – but most people do. 
  35. Babysit for Free – we all know that couple that REALLY NEEDS A DATE NIGHT. 
  36. Let Someone Go In Front of You in Line – totally applicable at the grocery store. Don’t roll your eyes when they have more than the allowed number for the express lane.
  37. Refill Someone’s Parking Meter – while yes, a lot of parking meters have gone digital – if you see an old school parking meter that is on red, drop in some change. 
  38. One-on-One Time With a Kid – we have 4 kids and it’s hard to spend time with just one. Find the time to spend with each. They will value the alone time and it can help grow your parent-child relationship.
  39. Yelling – unless your kid is running in the middle of the street, give up unnecessary yelling!
  40. Be Nice – find ways to compliment the people around you. Be nice, kind and keep it positive.

Matthew 6:1-4 The Message (MSG)

Something to remember is best said in Matthew 6:1-4 – this is from The Message:

do good but do it in secret
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Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding.

2-4 “When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure—‘playactors’ I call them—treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.

Whether you are giving it up for Jesus, or just being the hands and feet of Christ – be intentional and use these days of Lent to grow.  I hope these ideas spark something in regards to what to give up for Lent and other ideas on what to do for Lent. 

See you on day 3 of Lent, tomorrow! Don’t forget, 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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