HDYDI: Make Lent 40 Days of Awesome

Get ready, you’re about to hear this come next Wednesday: “I think you have something on your forehead.”

Lent is almost here, just a few days away. I hope you have big plans to live it up on Fat Tuesday. It’s time to chat 40 days, sacrifice, penance, parties and love. Hang with me, I’ll explain them all. Here goes…Make Lent Awesome

1. Your religious background, Catholic or not, doesn’t mean you can’t fully participate and celebrate the Lenten season. When Scott and I were dating during my Protestant days I found myself drawn to celebrating the season of Lent. There was just something so inviting about it all. I was fascinated, really, that an entire community of people would choose to do something (whether giving up or taking on an additional task) for an entire 40 days. At the Easter service, I felt so prepared. So ready to receive God’s grace and rejoice in such a spectacular day. For all you non-Catholics out there, I say JUMP ON THE BANDWAGON. ‘Cause there ain’t no party like a Catholic party. {You would totally believe that if you came to my wedding reception 18 years ago.}

2. Lent has this reputation of people giving up Cokes, candy and beer. Y’all, it is so much more than that. Yes, if that’s your vice, then you go and give up that nightly glass of wine. But, what I’m advocating might be a different approach to the season. What’s the one thing – the ONE thing – that you desire to change most in your life? As a priest reminded me, “What’s the one thing you bring to the confessional every time? Start there.” Whatever it is, take some time to think, pray and then act. If you’re looking for a jump start, here’s 66.

3. Remember, the most creative “Lenten sacrifice” doesn’t win any awards. Some people choose to share their Lenten journey with others and some prefer to keep it closer to their heart. Whatever you choose, if it leads you closer to Christ then chances are, you’ve landed a winner.

4. Get creative {and be realistic} with your kids. A few years ago we instituted the PFA (Prayer-Fasting-Alms Giving) Basket. The kids spotted it when I was putting up the Christmas decorations and were practically begging me to get it down. Sign of a popular family tradition. For once, I did something right. The kids draw one tag from the basket each night and that’s our prayer/fast/alms for the next day. It works great for littles and becomes a great “in addition to” for our older ones. We encourage them to give up or take something on for 40 days. The basket is just icing on the cake. Click here for your own lent tags, blank.


5. Some families take Sundays off. We’re not that family. Hey, it’s cool if you choose not to include Sundays on your fast. I’m horrible at theological debates, but there’s no way I can sell the “hey we’re doing something for 40 days but you can take every 7 days off” schtick to my kids. If you can, more power to you sista. Thankfully, Fr. Dave Dwyer from the Busted Halo Show agrees with me on this one. We tell our kids we’re all in at Casa Whitaker.

6. Consider these 40 days your own little retreat. You may not be sitting in the warm sun, at a beautiful retreat center basking in the silence. No, I’m more likely to be reading a daily devotional holed up in my bathroom with five kids banging on the door. You know, REALITY. Consider this. It’s the one time of year that the church provides a plethora of ways for you to grow closer to Christ. There are parish missions, penance services, Bible studies, days of reflection, increased adoration hours – so many things from which you can choose to say no to the extraneous stuff and yes to the big man. Maybe you can’t head up to the church for all those fabulous things, but you know what you can do? Start saying no. Start cutting back on the things which pull at your time, your heart and your financial and emotional resources. Be content to just be.

7. If you fall off the wagon, it’s never too late to jump back on the party train. I have several friends who will start something and five or six days (er, hours) in they fall off the wagon and throw their hands in the air like they just don’t care. They give up. Don’t be that Catholic. If you need accountability, share your Lenten sacrifice with your friends, enlist support. Just don’t give up.

I’m no Lenten expert. I’m no theologian. But, I am a mom of soon-to-be six. It’s likely I’ll give birth during Lent or shortly thereafter. I know that as I enter these 40 days, my heart is already preparing for a rebirth, a new start. Don’t let the world keep you from doing the same.

40 days of awesome, coming right up.


  1. Cathy on February 24, 2014 at 8:15 am

    Wonderful timing! I’m leading the class for RCIA tonight and the topic is… LENT! I hope you don’t mind if I borrow some of your thoughts! 😉

    • Kathryn on February 24, 2014 at 8:42 am

      Borrow away!

  2. Shandra on February 24, 2014 at 8:24 am

    Fantastic post with some great ideas! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Elise on February 24, 2014 at 8:43 am

    Great post, Kathryn! I love it! Such a great perspective on this Church season.

  4. Moments of Grace: Episode 1 on February 24, 2014 at 9:21 am

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  5. verdina on February 24, 2014 at 9:47 am

    Great post! I knew it was coming… but so soon? Thanks for the great suggestions!

    God bless!

  6. Holly on February 24, 2014 at 10:55 am

    I totally needed this today! I knew you had a post on Lent for kids, and was just thinking about searching it out.

  7. Karen on February 24, 2014 at 11:30 am

    Thanks for this lovely post. I really struggle with Lent. I love the stations, the Triduum, etc. but I struggle with journey in my heart. I think it’s because I’m a very inward, closed person about my religion and faith and things like reconciliation really ask us to open our hearts and minds and connect with others to prepare for Jesus whether it be through the sacrament of reconciliation, a penance service, retreats, or other prayer with family. Every year I feel worse for not having gotten better at it the year before. Ugh.

  8. Cate on February 24, 2014 at 11:44 am

    I absolutely love your PFA Basket. I think that this will be perfect for our family this year, especially for our oldest who is recently 8, and very interested in participating in works of mercy. Thank you for such a wonderful idea to add to our Lenten journey!

  9. Amy on February 25, 2014 at 6:03 am

    This is wonderful! This year will be my first year of observing Lent (I’m in RCIA now) and I have been thinking so much about how to do it and how to help my kids to understand it (they’re 5, 3, and 1). I love the tags idea, and will definitely be using that, as well as thinking about many of these other suggestions. Thank you!

  10. Gina on February 26, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    I am loving these ideas! As I type, I am printing out the lent tags, and will be busy laminating this weekend. Thank you for sharing! This is going to be a great way to help all our kids, especially the young boys, to really enter into Lent.

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  13. cyndi on March 2, 2014 at 11:32 am

    Wonderful, practical and REAL! love your ideas. Plan to share and use some of your ideas. great website as well! thx for sharing.

  14. Liz Redden on March 10, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    This is great! I grew up catholic but have been attending a Christian/non denomination church. We celebrate many aspects of lent but not the whole thing. I’ve been wanting to bring more back in and this helps greatly!! I want my kids to have a taste of all there is to know and grow closer to God.

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  20. […] 40 days of awesome is almost here. As I said on Facebook earlier this week. Don’t be scared, be awesome instead. During previous Lenten seasons, I’ve done various things: written 40 notes of gratitude to various people, culled 40 bags of extra “stuff” at our house and donated it, fasted from Facebook, refrained from unnecessary shopping, attended daily Mass 1x week and more. Scott and I are still working on ideas for this Lent and I look forward to sharing those next week. If you’re looking for ideas on making Lent relevant (and doable) with your kids, you can try out our PFA (prayer-fasting-alms giving) basket. […]

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