By Debby Giusti
Today marks the beginning of Lent, a special time for Christians to draw closer to God. When we deny ourselves through fasting, when we turn our hearts more fully to the Lord through prayer, and when we put the needs of our brothers and sisters before our own wants through almsgiving, we are able to more fully enter into the Paschal Mystery. As many of us can attest, a well-lived Lent leads to a joyous Easter.
Incorporating fasting, prayer and almsgiving into our daily lives unites us more intimately with Christ who spent forty days in the desert to prepare for his public ministry. Giving up a favorite food or beverage is a sacrifice that reminds us of our human nature and the creature comforts that sometimes steer us off track. By denying ourselves, we turn our focus from the earthly realm to the spiritual.
Fasts can take many forms. Some folks fast from a favorite television show, from online games, or even from Facebook, Twitter or other social media. Filling that freed up time with prayer, scripture, or other spiritual readings, helps us deepen our personal relationship with Christ. As we come to know him better, we can love him more.
The church has always talked about a preferential option for the poor that is so clearly defined in the Gospels. Christ reached out to the poor and needy, and we are called to do the same. Giving to charities, stocking food pantries, feeding and clothing the homeless and aiding neighbors in need are some of the many ways we can help the poor and marginalized. Habits we start in Lent often continue as life-long ministries that spread God’s love and allow us be the hands and feet of Christ.
Since this is a Christian blog, I’m sure many of us embrace some type of Lenten practice, so you might be asking, what does this have to do with writing?
Writing takes determination and perseverance. Creating stories is exciting, but the day-to-day battle to get words on the page can be a challenge. If you’re having trouble completing a project, I suggest setting a Lenten goal. Perhaps increase your daily word count and offer that to the Lord. If we believe he has called us to write, then our writing can be offered up as a gift to him.
The COVID outbreak has isolated so many folks, especially the infirmed and the elderly. Think about sending a cheery note to a shut-in or a card of encouragement to a homebound mom who’s struggling to help her children with their virtual learning. Words of comfort mailed to grieving families who, because of the pandemic, weren’t able to be with loved ones when they passed is another way of spreading Christ’s light and can be a meaningful Lenten practice.
Have you heard a little voice encouraging you to write something outside the box? Something different from your usual genre? Could that voice be God prompting you in a new direction? What better time than Lent to offer a new endeavor to the Lord. When we invite him into our world and into our writing, we often find new blessings as we follow his inspiration.
So much has changed over the last year. Early
in 2020, we realized a strange and virulent virus was making its way around the
world. We hunkered down in our homes, we donned masks, we feared contact with
other people and we waited to see how devastating the pandemic would be. We’ve
learned a lot in the last twelve months and, thankfully, have a clearer
understanding of the pathogenicity of the virus and better protocols for
treatment of the sick.
So much has changed over the last year. Early in 2020, we realized a strange and virulent virus was making its way around the world. We hunkered down in our homes, we donned masks, we feared contact with other people and we waited to see how devastating the pandemic would be. We’ve learned a lot in the last twelve months and, thankfully, have a clearer understanding of the pathogenicity of the virus and better protocols for treatment of the sick.
Yet, negative side effects from the pandemic occurred as we sheltered at home and relied on others to make decisions for our wellbeing. Perhaps you’re questioning some of the decisions that have altered our way of life. Are you a parent wondering when your children will go back to school? Are you a small business owner trying to keep your company afloat or a restaurateur who had to shut down because of dining restrictions? Are you seeing those who make the rules break the rules? Does that disparity upset you? If so, are you being called to voice your concerns? The Lord may be asking you to use your writing ability to call out some of the hypocrisy that continues to prevail.
I’m concerned about the attack on our Freedom of Speech. Big Tech has turned into a truth regulator that silences ideas that do not align with what they believe. With a background in clinical science, I try to stay current on the virus, treatment, vaccines and the truth about mask wearing. Too often, voices—even well-established medical professionals—are removed from public forums if their message differs from those tasked to guide our nation. Why are those scientific videos and reports taken offline?
Does anyone remember the McCarthy witch hunt in the 1950s? Have you read George Orwell’s 1984? Remember Big Brother in that story? As a writer who deals in words, I am concerned by censorship that limits free speech, whether I espouse the ideas removed from the public domain or not. If medical information is censored today, what will be censored tomorrow? Our Freedom of Religion is also under attack. Will those attacks increase in the days ahead, and if so, will Christian fiction be targeted in the future?
This Lent, I’m prayerfully reflecting on ways I can stand up for Freedom of Speech. I’m only one person, but if everyone spoke up when they saw something that was wrong, the world would be a better place.
Is the Lord calling you to write for him this Lent? To write something that will spread his message of love and mercy? Is he asking you to reach out to someone in need or to speak truth to power or to take a stand against some form of evil?
Grab a cup of coffee and let’s discuss Lent and the ways we can serve the Lord during our Lenten journey.
Wishing you a blessed Ash Wednesday!
Hidden Amish Secrets
Her temporary Amish homecoming
could get her killed.
Julianne Graber left her Amish life behind after a family tragedy, but now she’s back to sell the family home— and someone’s dead set on getting rid of her. With her neighbor William Lavy by her side, Julianne must uncover dangerous secrets to make sense of the past and present. Can she find justice for her family—and a future with Will—before the killer hits his target?
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