{five favorites}: Lenten Disciplines


Unless you live under a rock or don’t attend a liturgical church, you probably know that Lent starts next week for the Western Church. (Those in the East have another month to go.) As I’ve now been at this for 20 years, I thought I’d share some of my favorite Lenten disciplines. Also… if you want a shot at picking mine for me, go here before Friday and enter by leaving me a comment.


Spiritual reading. For the last few years, I’ve had some kind of spiritual reading component as part of Lent. I’ve done Igniting Our Values, Bread and Wine, and A Season for the Spirit before.

My recommendations if you want some Lenten reading this year: any of the above as well as Jesus: A Pilgimage by James Martin, S.J., Seven Last Words by James Martin, S.J. (I haven’t read this yet but am looking forward to doing so based on his other works), A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans, and Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans.


Crocheting a square every day. For fiber junkies like me, crocheting or knitting a square a day toward a blanket to be put together after Easter is a good way to be mindful of the season and also get some creativity in. Bonus points if you can pray while doing it.


Dietary changes. I’ve given up meat, chocolate, and Coke before. It sounds really pathetic in comparison to the fasting guidelines that Eastern Christians have but it’s been an exercise in mindfulness to me as I’m forced to think about Jesus every time I get a craving for whatever it is.


Blogging. I’ve done faith-blogging every day, blogging about Christian music daily, and blogging about music every Monday in the past. It was a good exercise in journalling and got me thinking about my faith and how I live it.


Prayer. Two years ago, Beth Anne challenged me to find a church to pray in twice a week and Kelly challenged me last year to pick someone to pray for daily including 5 “enemies”. Both stretched me and improved my prayer life.

Go love up Ashley and the others.

The Simple Woman’s Daybook: January 31, 2016

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY January 31, 2016

Outside my window… sunny. The sun came out while I was at church this morning and it’s warm enough for shirt sleeves outside. Weather Underground says it’s in the low 50’s.

I am thinking… about the data I’m putting into spreadsheets for tax purposes. I’m trying to get them done super early in case we owe so that we have time to come up with the money.

I am thankful… for the lady in my Bible study who rang my doorbell on Thursday night and handed me $tarbux cards that she had gotten for being a science fair judge. She’s not a coffee drinker so she passed them on to me. I appreciate that she thought of me.

In the kitchen… nothing from scratch tonight. I’ll probably heat up something frozen.

I am wearing… a blue-green shirt and jeans.

I am going… to take Daniel for a haircut in a little bit. The local barber does well with him.

I am wondering… about a lot of things right now.

I am reading… A Lesson in Hope by Phillip Gulley. I’m hoping to pick Accidental Saints back up before too long.

I am hoping… my week goes well and I can get done what I need to get done.

I am looking forward to… the knitting/crocheting group that meets at my church this coming Tuesday night.

I am hearing… Daniel chattering.

A Daniel story for today… he will point to the CD player and say an approximation of “music”. There is one specific CD by Altan that he loves and that CD needs to be the first in the rotation. (He is *TOTALLY* my kid.)

Around the house… mom is painting, Dad is puttering, Daniel is playing, and I am doing taxes.

A favorite quote for today… “You know you’re an adult when you can be right without proving the other person wrong.” — #1 on this list.

One of my favorite things… club soda. It’s standing in for Coca-Cola right now.

A few plans for the rest of the week: haircut for the kid, intake interview for the group managing Daniel’s meds tomorrow, mental health screening for me on Tuesday (my doctor up here doesn’t prescribe psychiatric meds so I’m having to get a psychiatrist referral through the county), follow-up doctor’s appointment for my lab work on Wednesday, Bible study on Thursday, and whatever else comes up.

A peek into my day… Someone in the Temperature Blanket Group on Facebook was sharing about a woman whose kids took a crochet hook and a chain she had made and framed it for her. I thought it was a fabulous way of remembering her and remembering her crocheting.

A crochet hook and chain framed.

Post Script…

You have four days left to pick my Lenten discipline. As much as it seems like I’m making a game out of this, I have honestly been stretched and have grown because of the disciplines people have assigned me so go pick one for me! It’s also open to everyone regardless of religious tradition.

Hosted by The Simple Woman.

The Simple Woman’s Daybook: January 24, 2016

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY January 24, 2016

Outside my window… sunny after several days of heavy rain. It’s in the high 50’s and I took Daniel for a walk without a jacket.

I am thinking… about the income analysis and tax prep from which I am taking a break.

I am thankful… for the opportunity to be a part of the ordination of my parish’s deacon yesterday as a priest in the Episcopal Church. It was at Trinity Cathedral in downtown San Jose and it was fun to be part of the choir which had members from the different parishes with which she had been affiliated. There was no incense but we had serious organ music, a harp prelude from our administrative assistant who plays harp professionally, torchbearers, a crucifer from our parish, a verger making sure we were all where we were supposed to be, and the bishop presiding.

In the kitchen… probably leftover shrimp pasta from Friday night. I was too full from lunch yesterday to eat last night!

I am wearing… blue-green shirt and jeans. As is my usual custom, I am barefoot.

I am going… out later to get more wipes for Daniel.

I am wondering… if I can get the curating of Daniel’s exhibit file done tomorrow and set the date for the appeal.

I am reading… A Lesson in Hope by Phillip Gulley. Accidental Saints is still on hold.

I am hoping… to get all the income analysis done today so I can start doing the taxes once I get all of Jon’s W-2’s and 1099 statements.

I am looking forward to… Thursday morning Bible study with my ladies.

I am hearing… some Bach being played on my laptop.

A Daniel story for today… kiddo came to me last night and said, “Mama, beyuh.” (Translation: “Mama, bed.”) I asked if he wanted to snuggle up under the fleece blanket with me out in the living room to fall asleep and he said, “No, beyuh.” So I went and tucked him (and myself) into bed. I thought I’d be getting up later and working on the income analysis but I fell asleep instead!

Around the house… Mom is painting, Dad is in the kitchen, and I’m in the living room with Daniel.

A favorite quote for today… “God’s grace is not defined as God being forgiving to us even though we sin. Grace is when God is a source of wholeness, which makes up for my failings. My failings hurt me and others and even the planet, and God’s grace to me is that my brokenness is not the final word … it’s that God makes beautiful things out of even my own sh*t. Grace isn’t about God creating humans and flawed beings and then acting all hurt when we inevitably fail and then stepping in like the hero to grant us grace – like saying, ‘Oh, it’s OK, I’ll be the good guy and forgive you.’ It’s God saying, ‘I love the world too much to let your sin define you and be the final word. I am a God who makes all things new.'” — Nadia Bolz-Weber

One of my favorite things… my daily lattรฉ from $tarbux and the people who have been sending me money on Paypal to fund my habit.

A few plans for the rest of the week: curating Daniel’s SSI file on Monday, possible coffee with Rebecca on Tuesday, Bible study and choir on Thursday, and whatever else comes up.

Post Script…

I fixed the Rafflecopter box for those who want to pick my Lenten discipline. It’s open to everyone regardless of their religious tradition.

Hosted by The Simple Woman.

Pick Jen’s Lenten Discipline!

It’s that time of year again!

What time of year is that, Jen?

It’s time to pick my Lenten discipline!

But why would I do that?


a.) It’s fun.

b.) I have no spiritual father to suggest one for me.

c.) It helps me grow.

d.) Why not?

So… here’s how it works: You go down below and click on the Rafflecopter. The only mandatory one is to leave me a blog comment with what you would pick for me. You also have the option of going and liking my Facebook page and doing a daily tweet about the giveaway. A winner is chosen on February 5th and has until noon PST on February 9th to give me my Lenten discipline.

A couple rules/requests though.

1.) Whatever you pick needs to be something possible for me to do.

2.) If you want to suggest something dietary for me, keep in mind that I’m pre-diabetic (*shakes fist at PCOS for making me insulin resistant*) so I *DO* need to eat at regular intervals and I can’t do a bread and water fast.

3.) I have a kiddo with sleep issues so please don’t make me give up coffee. That would be cruel and unusual punishment for me and for those who have to live with me and interact with me on a daily basis.

4.) If you want to assign me spiritual reading, please make sure that whatever you assign me is downloadable onto my NOOK. (Just go check to see if it’s a NOOK book on BarnesandNoble.Com.)

I look forward to seeing what y’all pick for me!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

7 Quick Takes: Trying to Come Up With These At 1 A.M.

7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

Temperature afghan update. I’ve gotten a few more stripes added. I’m still about 2 weeks behind but if I can get some sit-down time this weekend, I should be able to rectify that pretty quickly after my switch to straight double crochet. The big thing is remembering to get the high temperature off of Weather Underground daily!

The current state of the temperature afghan.

— 2 —

The sitch with the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. Unlike what the Washington Post article said, the Episcopal Church did *NOT* get kicked out of the Anglican Communion. (The body who would decide that sort of thing was not meeting at the time. Seriously, what is it with the mainstream media and getting religious doctrine and polity issues wrong?) If you want a decent article that does a good job of addressing the nuances of what happened, read this one.

— 3 —

Srsly?!?!?!? When I went downtown on Wednesday to curate the exhibit file for Daniel’s SSI appeal, my file was locked in the office of someone who was out for the day so I had effectively wasted my time. I was standing on the light rail platform calling my mom to let her know I’d be home in about 30 minutes when a gentleman walked by and decided to comment on my sighing, chastising me for expressing my displeasure and telling me that God was here in that space at that time. When I told him that I believed in God, he responded that if I did, I wouldn’t be sighing.


OK… my belief in God is separate from the fact that the ODAR office downtown just wasted my time. Also, dude might not want to INTERRUPT A PHONE CALL next time he wants to correct someone’s religious beliefs.

— 4 —

It’s that time of year again! My “Pick Jen’s Lenten Discipline” competition will be starting tomorrow or Saturday or whenever I have the time to create the post and put up the Rafflecopter. I’ll update this take with the link as soon as I have it. It’s here.

— 5 —

Thing I’m Not Doing in 2016 #1 I am not giving up coffee for Lent. My kiddo is having sleep issues and I’m already puking from sleep deprivation.

— 6 —

Thing I’m Not Doing in 2016 #2 I am not reading the Bible over the course of a year. I did this last year and while I’m thankful I did, I’m happy to be able to switch around between a bunch of different devotional reading sources.

— 7 —

Thing I’m Not Doing in 2016 #3 I am not giving up gluten unless I actually have to do it on doctor’s orders for my health. I did this in October and had a heck of a time with it.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes: Why I Would Make the Bestest Quick Takes Host (Next to Kelly or Jen Fulwiler)

7 Quick Takes

I’m needing something to distract me from the trouble I’m having in finding an educational placement for Daniel so I thought I’d take on Kelly’s question from last week and tell her (and y’all) why I would be the best Quick Takes hostess other than Kelly and Jen Fulwiler.

— 1 —

I’ve been blogging for 15 years. I started blogging in August of 2000 and have been blogging in various shapes and forms since then using Greymatter, Livejournal, Moveable Type, Blogger, b2, and finally WordPress. From 2003 to 2005, I was a moderator on the blogs4God portal which included a number of Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox blogs and also included people like Mark Shea and Amy Wellborn. I even remember Fr. Z from the days when he was an admin for the Catholic Online Forum on Compuserve.

— 2 —

I bring diversity to the Quick Takes. Unlike a lot of people who take part in them, I’m not Catholic. I’m an Episcopal revert married to a Lutheran pastor. ๐Ÿ™‚ I also send my kiddo to public school unlike a lot of the homeschooling moms on here.

— 3 —

I am, in the words of St. Paul, “all things to all people”. I’m one of the few Protestant bloggers out there who has actually read the Catechism of the Catholic Church (all of it during the Year of Faith stemming from a dare that Cari made) and I’ve also read a few papal encyclicals. I can explain Catholic teaching to Protestants and I can explain the spectrum of Protestants to Catholics given that I’m fluent in the lingo and polity of a number of Christian traditions.

— 4 —

I can blog on music… and have! I’ve done a couple Lenten blogging things where I have blogged on contemporary Christian songs I like as well as hymnody and sacred music. (They’re here, here, and here.) I also blog on whatever songs are reaching me at the moment. (Currently, it’s “Baba Yetu” from Peter Hollens and featuring Malukah.)

— 5 —

I’m an author too! OK… I’ve been published in an anthology of devotions based on the Gospel of Luke and I have a few (like 6) unpublished NaNoWriMo pieces in addition to the one I’m working on this year.

— 6 —

I also blog on raising a kiddo with special needs. My son Daniel is autistic. I can tell you all about ABA therapy, dealing with apraxia, and how freaking wonderful it is when he finally gets something that we have been working on for a while.

— 7 —

I’m awesome in my own way. I haven’t built complicated Halloween costumes for Daniel or run 35K for SMA awareness and advocacy but… I have done 6 Promise Walks (I was the survivor speaker for the San Jose one in 2014), done multiple blogathons to raise money for worthy causes, crocheted bandages for Global Heath Ministries, crocheted afghans for afghans for Afghans, written Confirmation curricula, and lived out my vocation as a pastor’s wife, Daniel’s mama, and a child of God. ๐Ÿ™‚

Not to mention, I’m fabulous at fencing with palm fronds.

On guard!

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes: Thank God It’s Almost Friday!

7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

Because I *TOTALLY* want to start a battle on here today! Seriously, who has natural births these days? It’s, like, so primitive of people. [/snark]

BabyCenter: Why no one should ever throw shade at c-sections

Seriously, I hope y’all can have the birth experience you want and if you didn’t for whatever reason, it doesn’t make you any less of a mama. So please, for the love of all things holy, stop whining about how c-sections are so crappy and unnecessary and going off on how natural birth is *SO* much superior. My c-section was the best birth experience possible: mama lived and baby lived. End of story.

— 2 —

If you send a mom an email… Angie of The Jammie Girl had a delightful post about what happens if you send a mom an email. (It’s a parody of If You Give A Mouse A Cookie.)

— 3 —

Getting Ella some wheels. There has been some crowdsourcing this week to try and get a sport wheelchair for the daughter of blogger Rebecca Frech. Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Texas has been being buttheaded about approving an appropriate wheelchair for Ella and so some bloggers decided to do something about it. Since Rebecca gave up cursing for Lent, people created an online swear jar for the purpose of raising the $$$$ for Ella’s chair. Blue Cross/Blue Shield has since relented (after a brief Twitter campaign) and is working with Rebecca but if you’d like to help out, you can go here.

Kelly of This Ain’t The Lyceum put together a positively *LOVELY* video on the subject (being more than familiar with “negotiating” these things):

— 4 —

Update on the Lenten disciplines. I seriously almost cried yesterday morning because I had a late night on Tuesday night while working on taxes and had to be at Daniel’s school at 8 to meet with the school psychologist about some IEP-related things before heading to Bible study. A can of Coke would have been *REALLY* useful… but I promised Jesus not to consume any until April 5th at midnight. *grumbles* Instead, I stopped at the $tarbux inside one of the local grocery stores and got my iced vanilla lattรฉ with whole milk.

The offering up of my day on behalf of someone else has been a blessing as it’s allowing me to try and do something to benefit others even if I don’t have the time and resources to do it in person.

— 5 —

Good customer service. I had to go to Staples on Monday for a new “binder of fun” because the one I use for education was getting too full. When I was checking out, I was having to get my debit card out one-handed because my other hand was holding on to Daniel. The assistant manager took it upon herself to talk to him and try to entertain him while I was doing this. I thanked her for this and she told me that when I come in, he will always be treated like a person.

If you’re in the La Verne area, please go patronize them. ๐Ÿ™‚

— 6 —

Plans for my 35th birthday. I turn 35 years old on May 19th and I decided to do a Promise Walk for Preeclampsia instead of getting a mid-life crisis tattoo. Details (and my SUPER-SECRET last name) are here.

And yes, I am *TOTALLY* taking a page from Kelly on this one. ๐Ÿ˜‰

— 7 —

Love. As I was leaving Bible study on Wednesday, one of the women called after me that she hadn’t received her hug. Given that this woman is 94 years old and reminds me so incredibly much of my grandma, I definitely raced back to hug her. She kissed my cheek and told me that she loved me.

My day was totally made. ๐Ÿ™‚

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.