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Open eyes, stand on two feet, shuffle to bathroom, trip into closet, find something with two pant legs which may or may not match something with sleeves. Put clothes on, ignoring whether seams are right-side out.

Meander to kitchen, whip up breakfast, feed baby, toddler, and preschooler. Take a bite of toast, clean up messy faces and sticky fingers, scour house for presentable kid clothing – clean is optional.

Argue, bribe, and pretend smile while attempting to wiggle and worm six pairs of legs and arms into outfits in five minutes. Take a quick glance in mirror, decide hot mess screams trendiness, herd family into car.

Rush through traffic to beat the clock, scramble into Church while hand-dragging boys who are tripping over shoes on wrong feet. Once inside, initiate “our family has everything together” façade while sauntering towards seat – not realizing both boy’s shirts are half untucked and daughters skirt pleat remains jammed into tights on her backside.

Sit in pew, smile at our neighbor, ignore their repulsed facial expression directed at the spinach still between our teeth from last night’s dinner. Inhale until our lungs collapse, then exhale with our hand cupped over our mouth because we forgot to brush and Listerine.

At this point, we give ourselves a mental pat on the back for surviving another morning of frenzy and thank God for not giving us more than we can handle.

But then we open the church bulletin and read a big, bold, felty-font headline encouraging us to have The Best Lent Ever. Yeah, right. How about just experiencing Lent; ever. Defeat and remorse anchor into our heart and we haven’t even clogged our arteries yet with the carb consumption from Fat Tuesday.

Then we fret over the enormous responsibility of teaching our kids about this significant liturgical season and moisture begins to escape from our clammy palms. Looking at our palms reminds us we forgot to bring last year’s batch of palm branches to the church for this year’s Burning Rite.

Multiple years of brittle branches remain tucked behind our crucifix or other reverent location. We muse over the possibility of the church establishing a new Lenten ministry aimed at helping young mothers. Something along the lines of Palms on Wheels or Ash Gatherers where volunteers drive over to busy mom’s homes and pick up the stems.

The refreshing thought evaporates as one of our tiny tots pleads to go potty, another whines for a drink, the baby drops her binky, and hubby is still parking the car.

This is when we need to despair not. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Thank you, medieval French phrase. I’m thinking we should go easy on ourselves during the forty day call to renew our faith.

As busy moms, we do the best we can. And if we stop to think about things, don’t we, as moms, live out the message of Lent 365 days a year? Consider the three pillars of Lenten observation:

We know time for consistent, secluded, uninterrupted prayer in a hectic mom’s schedule, let alone for forty days straight, mocks logic. Perhaps we can choose to reshape our idea of prayer. Last I checked, the Bible doesn’t have strict instruction for proper petition. A simple, “Jesus, I love you” tips the Richter scale of Divine plenitude and can be enough to align our heart with the Lord, even in the most trying situations. And if we utter the simple phrase throughout the day, the ripple effect has no bounds. Our kids might even start saying it more than us.

Also, our actions produce their own invocation. While serving our family through nurturing, feeding, interacting, and caring for those we love, we are thanking God all day long.

Focusing more on how our service constitutes prayer and telling Jesus we love him in front of our kids can enrich our faith and renew our love for Christ in profound ways. If we have time to do more, we can consider the surplus icing on the chocolate cake we can’t eat until Easter Sunday.

Do you LOL like me when reading this word? When I was home raising three kids under four years-old, fasting was the new eating. I like to think my abstaining days are over because I stored up decades worth of skipped meals while my kids moved from diapers to, well, moving out.

However, missed meals does not correlate to weight loss. The circumstantial skip-a-meal plan can sometimes lead to Cheeto-binging, Oreo-stuffing, or in my favorite case, Reece Cup-inhaling. We can tsk tsk each other all day long while wagging a wallowing finger, but why bother.

Fasting comes in many forms. We give up sleep, time for ourselves, and moments with our spouse on the regular. The forty days of Lent provides an opportunity to give up our “comes with the territory” annoyance, disappointment, and resentment towards these inevitabilities and put on positive attitude as best we can. 

The problem for moms inundated with family life lies in finding the time and energy to give of our time, talent, and treasure outside the home. Writing a check or filling out an on-line donation form is quick and easy. Often, however, when I would donate above and beyond during Lent, the gifting felt empty, rudimentary. And when I found and hour here or there to volunteer, sometimes my heart failed to beat to a charitable drum. Squeezing one more thing into my mom schedule created resentment.

Over time, I realized my role as a busy mom didn’t need to include large acts of sacrifice and service. The small gesture of helping my kids put together teeny cardboard offering boxes fit into the category of almsgiving just fine. And watching them collect and deposit coins with their chubby little fingers with a spirit of generosity filled me with joy. I saw a heart of charity beating in them.

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under Heaven. And the season of raising young kids calls us to focus on their needs and development. Whether the activity of practicing prayer, fasting, and almsgiving is big or small, the result is the same. We make a difference in the world one heart at a time.

Prepare and Renew, crazy Mommas!

This article originally appeared on ShelbySpear.com

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Shelby Spear

A self-described sappy soul whisperer, sarcasm aficionado, and love enthusiast, Shelby is a mom of 3 Millennials writing about motherhood and life from her empty nest. She is the co-author of the book, How Are You Feeling, Momma? (You don't need to say, "I'm fine.") , and you can find her stories in print at Guideposts, around the web at sites like Her View From Home, For Every Mom, Parenting Teens & Tweens and on her blog shelbyspear.com.

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