So, about my Lenten Journey...

change Christian Blog Devotion faith faith blog Faith Blogger Jesus Guide My Journey Make Time Prayer Prayer Blog reflection Sharonda Cawthon Testimonies Testimony The Journey Ink Time for God


As I approach my 39th birthday this year I find myself responding to the “Well, how old are you?” question by saying, “I’m almost 40.” I have rationalized that the practice of saying 40 for the next year will help me to accept it more when it happens.

It doesn’t seem like I have been alive that long, but here I am just months away from being one year from 40 and I am thinking about my life more and more. It could be all the reflection from journaling or comparing my upbringing to my husband’s when we chat about our children and how they respond to things that they learn. But it’s interesting to sit and think about my experiences and how those experiences have formed my ideals, character, morals, etc. Do you ever just sit and think about the experiences in life that have helped form your world view and the values that you have today? When I think about my childhood and young adult years, sometimes there are these “Ah Ha” moments. Is that just a sign of getting older and wiser? Perhaps it’s just the getting older, ha ha. 

I have memories of my childhood from this time of year where my father would encourage, well…more so require than encourage, everyone to select something to give up or sacrifice during Lent.  These options were not easy things for children to stop doing. The year that is most memorable is the year we had to give up television. Yes, you read that correctly. We couldn’t watch TV. To some of you, that may not seem like a big deal. Maybe you don’t watch much television, or you don’t allow your children to watch very often. But to my siblings and I, it was gut wrenching. We already didn’t have cable and were watching basic, local channels. This was our free time activity, we loved watching our weekly shows and after school cartoons during that short window of time from homework being completed to dinner and bedtime. I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t reference or quote a line from a television show or movie that I have watched. But I digress. What you need to know is this sacrifice of entertainment was the beginning of the formation of my annual Lenten journey. It became this deep need to give up something that I really, REALLY liked doing. It was about the sacrifice. All my life I have heard that a sacrifice isn’t real unless it hurts to do it.

The years following, during my teen and young adult stages of life, I would basically torture myself and think of something that I REALLY liked and say I wasn’t going to do it during Lent. It would be things like no social media, no sweets, or only having Christian themed entertainment for TV and music. Whatever I liked…during Lent the answer would be no.  I mean, that was the point… to sacrifice. Sacrifice until it hurts!

Here I am a wife and mother, approaching ALMOST 40, and thinking maybe I wouldn’t sacrifice this year. What’s the point? Why not just read and wait until Holy Week to really dive into the crucifixion and resurrection scriptures. As I did a little reading, I came across an article from Christianity Today where the writer gave a definition. I love a good vocabulary moment, so I went to double check what was shared in the article. Sure enough, there it was on my screen.  Merriam-Webster defines the term Lent as “the 40 weekdays from Ash Wednesday to Easter observed by the Roman Catholic, Eastern, and some Protestant churches as a period of penitence and fasting.” But even after I had a definition, it didn’t take me to a newfound mindset about Lent and what to do differently to observe it. Then I remembered one of my writing friends mentioned a recommendation for a Lenten devotional. Just know that I immediately went on Amazon and ordered this beautifully designed book, Bitter & Sweet, by Tsh Oxenreider. It has been helpful to me these last few weeks.

When my copy of the book arrived, I flipped through the fresh white pages with excitement, because there’s nothing like holding a new book in your hand. But as I flipped through, I caught a glimpse of the purple and lavender ink and noticed that the author didn’t just jump into the daily readings at the beginning of the book. No. She provides history on Lent and explains what she calls “Lent’s Trifecta.” I was reading about the trifecta and how it includes fasting, almsgiving and prayer. It became ironic to me that here I was reading about three things that the Lord had been tugging at my heart to focus on during my quiet time before the book arrived. But these tugs, these thoughts, these ideas were going against the traditional things that were comfortable for me in years past. 

Now Tsh Oxenreider didn’t know that I, Sharonda Cawthon, would be reading this book as I felt challenged in the foundation of my understanding of Lent. But I know God knew when He inspired her to write this book. Isn’t that the beauty of how God works. I’ve fasted but this year I felt encouraged to hold myself accountable with complaining. I’ve given, but this year I could feel Holy Spirit pushing me to give of myself. I’ve prayed, but as I have shared before…I offer more prayers of faith for those that I know than I do for myself. Reading this section of the book there are recommendations on how to observe the trifecta. There it was in black, white, purple, and lavender. I mean…sometimes I am in awe of how God works things out to get our attention and confirm His path for us.

So, if you have never participated in Lent before or if you are like me and thought what was the point now anyway because you’ve done it for years....Well, I urge you to pick up a book (perhaps Bitter & Sweet), join a journey in your favorite bible app or journal plan. Begin today, you don’t have to wait until Holy Week gets here.

I just want to volunteer to you that my Lenten Journey has not been perfect, but it has been more insightful. It has not been strict, but it has been heart forming. It has not been painful, but it has revealed to me the gift of grace. More than anything, it has shown me that my sacrifice was never about making myself hurt to connect with the pain of Jesus on the cross. It has taught me that this journey, this season of Lent… it’s about reflection, it’s about pausing to think about the unfathomable amount of love that Jesus has in His heart to sacrifice Himself for our restoration to God. His blood, His sacrifice, His life… it cannot be earned. It cannot be earned because it is given freely.



Older Post

  • Valencia on

    I enjoyed this, especially because people always say you aren’t Catholic why are you doing Lent? It’s the sacrifice I need to stay grounded, stay in tune with God’s word , and remember the sacrifices He’s made for me. Great article.

  • Vanessa Collier on

    You’re amazingly insightful! Loved the article

  • Silvia Whitfield on

    Love this message, very interesting, got me thinking 🤔 above Lent…I enjoyed reading this.

  • RoslynGray on

    I enjoy this post

Leave a comment