A year ago I participated in a Lenten Photo Challenge sponsored by Rethink Church, an outreach organization of the United Methodist Church. The challenge organizers provided one word for each of the 40 days of Lent, and they the requested Instagram photographs based upon that word. Simple enough … and FUN too. However, I don’t do things the easy way. I took the challenge a step further. Not only did I take the pictures, I also decided to write a devotional based upon that word.
Whoosh! It was such an invigorating experience, but it was also exhausting. I felt like I spent WAY too much time focusing on my Lenten devotionals and I still missed several days too. In fact, by day 32 I had totally pooped out. Here are a few of the images from last year’s challenge.
I learned a TON through this process! FIRST, did you know that the 40 days of Lent are really more than 40 days? There are actually 46 days because we don’t count Sunday. WHAT? Leave it to a bunch of church people to do something like that. No WONDER people have trouble understanding how we can take The Bible literally. We can’t even get our numbers straight about the days between Mardi Gras and Peeps. If I had been good at math I would have figured this out a long time ago, but that part’s not important. The important part is that God spoke to me — sometimes we laughed. Sometimes I wept. Sometimes we celebrated, and sometimes He spoke pretty harshly about the life-garbage that I needed to clean up. And I hope and even believe, that those devotions and images encouraged at least a FEW people.
Rethink Church does not appear to be running a challenge again this year, but I did find one run by a group called Catholic Sistas.
I’m not Catholic, but we were saved by the same Jesus. We just tend to focus on different aspects of His teaching. So Sistas… I am entering into an ecumenical journey with you all right now, using the words you suggest for inspiration and playing a little bit of Bible Bingo searching for the words to accompany my photos.
Shout out to the Sistas…. you sound like a group I wouldn’t mind hanging out with for a while. Will you allow a semi-neurotic Lutheran turned Presbyterian turned Methodist to come play?
I’m going to step out even further this time around and incorporate this into my blog — so for a few weeks, my blog which has been 99.9% all about my portrait studio and clients, is going to become insanely personal.
But, my studio brandIS ME, so along with the portraits that support my grocery habit, you get my heart and soul. This is just how I roll.
FRIENDS — What I ask from you is for PRAYER — TONS of PRAYER. This project is hard for me. Just to tell you publicly that I am starting it makes me shake in my sequin covered leopard print house shoes. I’d much rather quietly finish it and THEN share it, when it’s done — but guess what? That’s how all of those someday projects manage to stay in the someday file. Talk about PRESSURE! YOW! Once I publish and share this post, I feel obligated to follow through, and I am the QUEEN of unfinished projects. Did I say I need your prayers? I also ask in advance for forgiveness on the days I don’t get a post up. I’m a lousy blogger to begin with, and now I’m trying to do something every day in ADDITION to running my business — the blog being only one element that is so far behind I can only laugh — because I scare people when I cry.
I can’t put it off any longer — This is Ash Wednesday and today’s challenge word is DUST. Let’s Go!
Dust, left undisturbed bothers no one. You know exactly what I’m talking about, that thin layer of nasty stuff that we don’t really want to analyze. It builds up so slowly and evenly that we hardly even realize that we are actually being covered up. Before long though, surfaces lose their shine and start to look dull and lifeless. Left even longer, a grittinss sets in. It makes me feel depressed and uncomfortable, even embarrassed. HECK, it sets off my allergies and then I start itching and sneezing.
Then I get grumpy. UGH!
Now, I’m pretty good at ignoring dust for a very long time, especially in dark corners and behind clutter. I’m also pretty good at settling into life patterns where I don’t change my routine. Distractions simply build up, crowding out the more important things like relationships and tasks that actually make some sort of a difference. Bad habits, unforgiveness, ingratitude, pride, greed, busy-ness, they all turn into dust traps. The sparkle is gone. The joy is overshadowed .
And I get grumpy. UGH!
The dust in my soul has been building up, but now that we have brushed up against it, we have left a mark, a big nasty streaky fingerprint.
Today is Ash Wednesday. This is the day we savor our dust and mourn in the ashes of our ruins. We have all messed up our lives and hurt other people. That STINKS!
Many people actually place ashes on their foreheads today as a symbol of repentance and humility, and THAT, I say is beautiful because when we know how dirty we really are, all we want is to be clean.
It’s time to get out the feather duster — maybe the brillo pad.
It’s time for a little house cleaning.
It’s time to get into the Word.
It’s time for a little HEART cleaning.
Pablo Picasso reportedly once said, “Art washes away the soul of dust every day.”
As I embark on this year’s Lenten Photo/Devotional Challenge, I pray that I will shake the dust off my soul and turn it into a shining prism in the big picture window, reflecting Christ’s love on YOU.
See those rainbows dancing around now? Let’s chase them together. I have no clue where this will take us, but I do know that what we find at the end will be better than a pot of gold.
Joshua 7:6 Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the Lord until the evening, both he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust on their heads.