Lent starts on Wednesday! I don't even know how it's already March, but there you have it. And this week marks the beginning of the forty day period before Easter. If you've never done anything for Lent before, I'd encourage you to start this year - it makes the celebration of Easter all the more special. It's forty days of preparing our hearts, of offering something up that we're holding a little too tightly to, or giving to others, or committing to growing in our faith in some tangible way, or all three.
One thing I love doing every year is filling up our "rice bowl". The idea is to fill it with your spare change, money you might save from giving up a regular treat, and so on, and then donating it at the end of the forty days. We choose to give ours to Catholic Relief Services, who distributes it to a few different communities with great need. If you order one of their rice bowls (it's free), they also include a calendar with daily readings and prayers, and several stories of families and communities they've helped or are currently working with. They also include recipes for meatless meals (that's another weekly tradition during Lent) and this year they've introduced a free app to track your own journey through Lent, as well as read stories of people all around the world who have been impacted by hunger.
Of course, you can always do your own "bowl" with your own favorite cause. Whether it's your local food bank, a struggling family in your neighborhood, a charity close to your heart - it's a great project to do with kids to help remember those in need around the world and in our own communities. Grab a mason jar, an envelope, a cute old tin - whatever you can find - and set it out somewhere where it can't be missed. When Lent is over, you'll have a tangible reminder of what you gave up to bless others!