I grew up and was confirmed Catholic. Sometime later, our family started attending a local United Methodist church, and I’ve worshiped in United Methodist congregations ever since.
As a result, the seasons of Advent and Lent have always been very meaningful to me and very much a part of my experience as a Christian. I adore the fact that all of the congregations we’ve served over the years take time to honor each of them in powerful ways. Because when I take the time to live into these seasons of preparation and reflection, I experience the fulness of our Christian heritage through Christ’s birth at Christmas and His death and resurrection at Easter in a special way.
For as long as I can remember, during the season of Lent in particular, I’ve engaged in some sort of fast. As a child, I viewed the Lenten fast as something I did to acknowledge the sacrifice Christ made on the cross, and it usually involved giving up one of my favorite foods.
As I grew older, though, I chose to broaden my application of this Lenten tradition to be not just an opportunity to fast from something but also an opportunity to add something beneficial into my life routine in an effort to improve my physical, mental, and spiritual wellness. The focus of the tradition became much less about trying to honor the sacrifice. (Because let’s face it. Nothing I could ever give up or commit to do would even cast a shadow on what Christ did for me.)
Instead, it has become more about drawing near to God and creating space for Him to move. Space for Him to speak to me. Space for Him to use me. And what I’ve found is that participating in this tradition creates a heightened sense of mindfulness regarding the presence of God in my life. Each time I’m tempted to break the fast or skip the new routine, I recall the reason I made the commitment in the first place. And then I turn to God. Draw near to Him. And He usually speaks.
So as Lent approached, I began contemplating what I would do to draw near, and I was stumped. So much so that I’d all but settled on a sweets and caffeine fast repeat when I took it to God in prayer last Wednesday morning.
And God spoke.
The H2O Project is one of several ways in which Living Water engages its supporters to join the cause of bringing clean water to the developing world. But the H2O Project is unique in that it provides its participants a specific and tangible way to create margin in their budgets to give financially simply by foregoing all beverages except water for a designated period of time.
The H2O Project empowers its participants to give clean water to others by drinking water themselves.
Participants do this by tracking the money they save on beverages using this Living Water H2O Project score card.
This was perfect for me. Because as many of you know, Kory and I set up a Give Well account during our journey through Advent Conspiracy. And we’re only $300 from our goal with 28 days to go in our fundraising campaign! So I decided that the H2O Project would be a meaningful way for me to bring closure to what we started during Advent in honor of Christ’s birth and to continue the tradition of fasting during Lent as I reflect upon His death and resurrection. To come full circle in the story of my faith and to finish something I started a few months ago and about which I’m very passionate. All at the same time. So between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday, I’m drinking nothing but water.
Ouch. I’m on day four, and it’s already been tough.
Because I’m a beverage girl.
We don’t drink many soft drinks around here, but I do have two cups of coffee each day from our Keurig. I often have a decaffeinated hot tea at night to help me calm down at the end of a busy day. And I’m a sucker for unsweetened iced tea when we’re on the go — especially Eatzi’s decaffeinated peach mango iced tea over shaved ice.
It may be my favorite thing. (And the guy at the counter knows me by name.)
But I’m not alone. My ten year old daughter and my husband have agreed to join me for the journey. This really excites me because I think this will be a meaningful experience for us to share, and it will continue to provide a platform for our family to have conversation about the realities that face the developing world with regard to basic things like water that we take for granted.
So in the few days leading up to Ash Wednesday, we began discussing exactly how this was going to go down.
We printed our score cards and have hung one for each of us on the refrigerator to help us keep track of our savings. We’ve also quantified the cost of a cup of coffee or tea from our Keurig at .50 cents. So with our coffee and tea drinking habits at home, we know we’ll save at least $2.00 per day.
But questions remain.
Will we break our fast on Sundays as is the tradition of some during the Lenten season?
I asked Kory this question a few nights ago. And he promptly gave me what I refer to as a “Jesus Response,” putting the question right back in my lap. He responded similarly to how he responds when asked whether a tithe should be calculated before or after taxes:
“How generous do you want to be?”
Ugh. That’s a truth that cuts to the core.
I know what I want to say. I want to say, “You’re right. I’m all in. Even on Sundays.” But I’m not sure I have the staying power. So I suppose those of you I see on Sunday mornings will be able to gauge my level of generosity by whether you find me in the Fellowship Hall between services with a donut in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. (Rest assured. I WILL have a donut.)
Which begs another question.
If the coffee is “free,” does it count as a beverage I should forego?
I’m not sure. What say you?
But I do know two things after my conversation with our daughter tonight. First, milk in cold cereal will NOT count as a beverage. Both she and Kory assumed it would. They’re both crazy.
Cold cereal is what’s for breakfast around here several days each week, and we can’t get through the school week without it. Period. So I’m calling the shots on this one. Cold cereal with milk stays.
Second, our daughter suggested that if we’re giving up every yummy beverage known to man besides water, we should eat a lot of ice cream during Lent. I like her way of thinking. So this means milk shakes will also NOT count as a beverage. Which also means I’ll need to carve out some extra time for yoga in the coming weeks. (Don’t even.)
All joking aside now. We’re really excited about this journey. And we’re hopeful that some or all of the following things may occur through this fast:
1. We will raise money for one of our favorite global relief organizations and hopefully fulfill the goal we set for our Give Well account;
2. We will experience a renewed sense of gratitude for basic things like water;
3. We will be more mindful of the people around the world who live without access to clean water, and as a result, lift them and those who are trying to bring clean water to them up in prayer;
4. We will continue the conversation regarding the global water crisis that we began as a family during Advent, not only with each other, but also with others (I already overheard our daughter telling one of the clergy spouses at our church about the H2O Project before the Ash Wednesday service began);
5. And when we become weak and want to throw in the towel, we’ll draw near to God so we can hear Him speak. I’ve already done that today, and it’s nice to commune with Him.
So what do you think? Is this something you could do for a day? A week? A month? Or until Easter? Could you invite your friends? Your family? Or your colleagues to join you?
If the answer is “yes,” then click here to learn more about the H2O Project. And if you’d like to join us on this journey, I’ll be posting updates on our Facebook Page throughout Lent. Be sure to “Like” our page and leave your own experiences in the comments section of our status updates so we can support each other along the way!