Laissez les bons temps rouler!

That’s French for “Let the good times roll,” in case you didn’t know, and is heard often during Mardi Gras. Something you may not know about me is that I have some pretty thick Cajun roots. A name like mine doesn’t come from Alabama, but from having a dad born and raised in New Orleans.

It should come as no surprise, then, that I’ve had my fair share of exposure to Mardi Gras. I grew up visiting New Orleans regularly, taking it all in as a kid, and later drinking it all in as a college student (as is tradition, no?).  Because I had so many friends who were Methodists or Presbyterians, I always enjoyed giving things up for Lent afterward and going to Ash Wednesday services. More than anything, though, I simply enjoyed the tradition and the ritual. But like many people, I had no idea WHY I was doing these things.

And once I truly understood, it made so much sense and has come to be something I take very seriously.

{Skip this part if you’re totally caught up on the ins and outs of the Lent Season}

Mardi Gras is part of the Carnival Season, which basically is an excuse to get all the partying and fun out before we enter into the Lenten Season. (I'd love to know just how quickly this went from "Let's overindulge a bit" to "You know what? I'm gonna go out there in the street and flash people!" Hey - no judgement here.) Regardless, the idea of the festival is to indulge, ending on Fat Tuesday (which literally translates to Mardi Gras), with Lent beginning on Ash Wednesday. In essence, the 40 days of Lent represent the 40 days that Jesus spent fasting and resisting temptation by Satan in preparation for his public ministry. So beginning on Ash Wednesday, 40 days before we celebrate Easter, we prepare ourselves by participating in a time of reflection, repentance, fasting, and prayer.  You may have noted that often people choose to “give something up” for Lent. As a kid, I would always give up easy things. I’d boast “Oh, I’ve had no trouble giving up Coke for a month!” "Pizza? No big deal!"

Obviously I missed the point, as so many of us do.

But I’ll never forget being challenged to give up something real, something that I’d really notice. You see, the point is that you are supposed to go without. Like most fasting periods, you are meant to miss that something, and in the times when you suffer a bit, you reflect and pray, bringing yourself closer to God. Lemme tell ya - if you want a quick reminder to start your morning in prayer, give up your Snooze button. THAT will make you suffer.

So in this Lenten Season, I charge you to join me in truly taking advantage of the season. Reflect and repent. Pray and prepare. And participate with your whole family. Take the opportunity to teach your kids about Jesus, so that they understand. Find the things that are your time wastes, the things that do nothing but fill your mind with crud, and fill that time with God. Work on your character, and find those things that eat into your heart. Perhaps ask yourself - What am I putting in my heart these days that I don't want to see in the overflow of my words and actions?

Luke 6:45: A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

Fill your heart with good things, my friends.

Like... music from Caleb. I was privileged to hear them perform this song at my church a few weeks ago, and I think it’s definitely poignant now, as we wait on God.

Caleb - We Will Wait

Interested in learning more? Here are some great ideas for making the most of Lent: http://rachelheldevans.com/40-ideas-for-lent-2012

And an easy explanation for the kiddos: http://www.imby.net/easter/kids.html

 

Happy Mardi Gras, yall. Let those good times roll!

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