Lent is a time of fasting and prayer. A time of abstaining. A time of giving things up. So it's no wonder that many choose to give up something they love like chocolate or wine. Something luxurious.
A friend recently posted the following status on her facebook page: I challenge friends to do something good (for their family, friends, animals, community or their own health) for the 40 days of Lent rather than giving up luxuries that they don't need anyway.
What a great concept. I mean, does God get a kick out of us giving up chocolate in order to lose weight? Is that what Lent is all about? Giving up something we don't need and that most people around the world can't afford on a daily basis?
Now Lent isn't exactly part of my tradition. I do, however, have a vague memory of the Catholic School priest setting little pieces of paper on fire and rubbing ash on our foreheads as we stood in line. Perhaps this is all wrong, a fabrication or collage of memories. Still, when I think about the bit of soot on my forehead, it all seemed very profound. That's the beauty of the more formal Christian traditions.
So, having not given Lent much thought in recent years, I was amused by my friend's facebook message but didn't really find it relevant to my life. I reposted and sort of forgot about it. Then facebook friends started posting what they had done. Or were going to do. Some were jokes, but others were serious. And I couldn't stop thinking about the potential here. Because kids with cancer have a special place in my heart, I decided to narrow my friend's challenge a bit.
And that's when I thought of the 39 DAYS OF SMILES CHALLENGE. (I'm a day late, but who cares!?)
And the best part? You don't have to be part of a denomination that celebrates Lent. You don't have to be Christian. And even if you do celebrate Lent and have already given something up, there is no reason you can't scrap those plans and accept the 39 DAYS OF SMILE CHALLENGE!! Or do both! But wouldn't you rather keep on enjoying chocolate and do something for kids with cancer instead?
So here's the challenge: for the next 39 days try to do something every day for kids with cancer, for their families, or for their nurses and doctors. This may be something direct. Mailing a card or a present to the child. Sending a care package to the oncology floor of a local children's hospital. Or, it may be making a donation or volunteering some of your time to an organization that helps kids with cancer.
To help, I will post organizations and what they may need. I will also post creative ideas to help that don't require money, since most of us can't afford to spend mega cash for the next 39 days!!
But to REALLY make this endeavor successful, I need YOU to BRAG on yourself. Email me, post in the comments, post on my Caring Bridge guest book, or post on my facebook. Tell me what YOU did today to reach this goal. I will compile a complete list of brags each day and we can see what a difference we're making.
So get out there. Do something amazing. And don't be shy to brag about it. It's only 39 days. YOU CAN DO IT.
Today's featured organization: Kids of Childhood Cancer This group raises money to help families whose children are being treated at the Pediatric Hem/Onc Unit of Brenner's Children's Hospital. It has non-profit status. They are a group of moms and dads whose children have or had cancer and so they know first hand what families need. And what this organization needs is money. So $5 or $50, any little bit will help.
Today's totally free idea: Post this website EVERYWHERE. On your facebook page, tweet it, on your email signature, on your Caring Bridge. I'd love to see this take off and have people all over the world come together for Kids with Cancer during the Season of Lent. The more people we recruit, the more good will be done. And all of our lives will be better for it!