Do you have to be catholic to practice lent?

You Don’t Have To Be Catholic To Give Up Something For Lent

The present is the perfect time to sacrifice to become better, whether you're religious or not.

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From age five to thirteen, kindergarten to eighth grade, I went to a Catholic private school. Now that I'm in my second year of college, my faith has been a very big part of my life and a huge driver of what my personal morals are and the reason why sticking to them is so important for me today.

Like most other religions, there are special times throughout the year that calls us to do things in the reflection of our religion and ourselves. In the Catholic faith, we have something called Lent. This period represents the 40 days and 40 nights before Easter Sunday, the day we believe Jesus resurrects into Heaven. These 40 days are meant as a period of self-reflection and a time for us to get closer with God by being open and asking him to really be by our sides in our time of need. A tradition during this Lenten time is to give up something for these 40 days. Although this doesn't even compare, our sacrifice is supposed to represent all of the sacrifices Jesus made for us during this time so that we may be able to live with God in Heaven as well. But, in reality, this not only represents our faith but it represents us trying to just become better people.

The common story that you hear this season when people are trying to figure out what they're going to give up is chocolate chip cookies or sweets. But, think about it: how often do you each chocolate chip cookies? Every day or is it really every two weeks? Are you really giving them up to be a better person and sacrifice something that has been giving you short-term pleasure but not long-term benefits or are you just "giving it up" because it's easy? These are the key questions to ask yourself when trying to decide on what to give up.

I think that taking the time to just take a break from something can be beneficial to everyone, whether or not you're religious. To do this, I suggest first finding a quiet place, sitting down, closing your eyes, taking some deep breaths, and having an open mind. Try not to come in with a preconceived idea of what you're going to give up. Then really take the time to sincerely revisit who or what kind of person you want to be in life, reflect on how you have been acting lately, and assess your strengths and weaknesses.

Once you've done that, acknowledge those weaknesses and think about what you can do to turn those strengths into weaknesses and what is holding you back from being that person you want to be. After you've established that, then there you go. You have figured out what truly needs to be done. I'll be honest, it'll be hard, but if you take it day by day and always keep your end goal in mind, your sacrifice will pay off and in the end, you'll feel like a whole new person.

Personally, I sat down and reflected on how I've been living my life since the beginning of the new year. Coming into 2019, the word I wanted to live by was "thrive." I wanted to thrive in my sport, thrive in building relationships with my friends, thrive in academics, thrive in looking and acting more mature. After my honest assessment, I was not thriving in everything I wanted to. Of course, it was ok that I didn't have everything in order but it was not ok that the reason that I didn't have my stuff in order was because of things I could control. The problem was that I was putting off more important things to spend more time doing things like binge-watching this new Korean romantic comedy or scrolling through my feed which gave me that short term enjoyment that is so tempting to have but is so detrimental in the long term. So, this year I chose to give up social media (Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter) and Netflix for Lent.

It's been a couple of days, and I'll admit, it's tough. For many of us, sending Snapchat streaks to our friends and refreshing our Insta feeds have become a daily routine. My hope is that after this, I'll have transformed into the fully productive student, close friend, and a more self-aware person that I aspire to be.

I hope that you are able to go on this journey too, whether you're religious or not, and that you're able to take it seriously. If you do decide to embark on this journey, I hope you find strength in times of struggle and feel a great sense of joy and accomplishment when you do get to the finish line. So, I wish you good luck and just remember, if it ever gets hard, just remind yourself of your "why."

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17 Empowering Bible Verses For Women

You go, girl.
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We all have those days where we let the negative thoughts that we're "not good enough," "not pretty enough" or "not smart enough" invade our minds. It's easy to lose hope in these situations and to feel like it would be easier to just give up. However, the Bible reminds us that these things that we tell ourselves are not true and it gives us the affirmations that we need. Let these verses give you the power and motivation that you're lacking.

1. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future."

2. Psalm 46:5

"God is within her, she will not fall."

3. Luke 1:45

"Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her."

4. Proverbs 31:17

"She is energetic and strong, a hard worker."

5. Psalm 28:7

"The Lord is my strength and my shield."

6. Proverbs 11:16

"A gracious woman gains respect, but ruthless men gain only wealth."

7. Joshua 1:9

"Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

8. Proverbs 31:30

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised."

9. 1 Corinthians 15:10

"By the grace of God, I am what I am."

10. Proverbs 31:26

"When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness."

11. Psalm 139:14

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

12. 1 Peter 3:3-4

"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God."

13. Colossians 2:10

"And in Christ you have been brought to fullness."

14. 2 Timothy 1:7

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."

15. Jeremiah 29:11

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'"

16. Exodus 14:14

"The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm."

17. Song of Songs 4:7

"You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way."

Next time you're feeling discouraged or weak, come back to these verses and use them to give you the strength and power that you need to conquer your battles.

Cover Image Credit: Julia Waterbury

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What A Blessing It Is To Have Been Loved By A Grandpa Like You

No one could ever replace your contagious giggle and radiating love.

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To my newest angel in heaven...

Grandpa Norb, I just wanted to write to you to let you know how great it is to be loved by a grandpa like you. With 4 children, 4 children in-law, 10 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren, we all know in our different ways your love for us. While you are no longer here, I am certain that you will always be watching over us and in our hearts.

Knowing you for 20 years, I can't imagine feeling more loved. Every holiday gathering started with you wishing a Merry Christmas, no matter the actual holiday. You always welcomed with a hug, and said goodbye with open arms, a kiss on the cheek and a whispered reminder that I am always in your prayers. Even with you no longer with us, I know you'll be watching over and praying for me as I carry on my steps in life.

Like a sunflower, you were always bright and smiling when I saw you. You showed your excitement when I walked in the room and made me feel lucky to be around you and overjoyed to know you just through your smile. You were the patriarch of our wonderful family standing tall and showering us with radiating love and goofiness.

Among us all, you loved Grandma with your whole heart and were married for 68 beautiful years. Watching her say goodbye has been one of the hardest things to see, but completely overpowering, the love you had for each other. As long as I knew you, I don't think I ever saw the two of you apart. The unconditional love that you had and always will feel for each other is one that I envy to have in my own relationships.

As almost two weeks have passed since God brought you to him, this is my goodbye to you. I will never forget the last good day I spent with you and Grandma together. I will think of you when I see yellow sunflowers standing tall and bright, and during thunderstorms as if it is you Grandpa Ray bowling together up in heaven.

I feel incredibly lucky to know you and have been loved by you for 20 of your 94 years, and I will always miss you.

Love,

Blondie.

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