Early this morning, we pounded up the final hill and around the trees, and back to our starting point. “Well done team!” I panted. “What a great run!” We grabbed our water bottles and then I added, “Home for breakfast. I’m hungry!”

"I hope you’re not too hungry, Mum,” said Sophie. “Remember it’s Ash Wednesday.”

“Yes, a whole day of fasting and abstinence,” said Charlotte.

“A whole day of starving,” grinned Gemma-Rose.

As we walked home from the tracks, we talked about Lent. What are we giving up for the next six weeks?

Usually we make a family Lenten sacrifice as well as individual ones.

“We could give up chocolate.”

“Or movies.”

“Maybe desserts, except we only eat those on Sundays anyway.”

“We could give up complaining.” I suggested. “Or we could read that book about kindness and then try harder.”

The discussion continued. I know we’ll soon make a decision. Finding a suitable family sacrifice won’t be difficult.

But my personal sacrifices? Not so easy. The usual choices passed quickly through my mind: red wine (but these days I tend to drink wine only on Sundays), movies (but I hardly ever watch any), TV (I never watch TV)…  And then an appropriate sacrifice occurred to me, one that is both perfect and a little frightening…

I asked myself what I love doing more than anything. And the answer came back loud and clear: writing and blogging. I know many bloggers have a fast from the Internet each Lent, but I’ve never before been tempted to join them. I’ve always pushed the thought away as soon as it’s formed in my mind. But not this year. This year it's a serious option.

I love writing and posting and chatting online. There is nothing I’d rather do in my spare time. I think about giving that up for six whole weeks. Could I do it? I can’t even stay away from my blog for a day or two. Every time I have a blogging break, I am back within a week. Six whole weeks… that’s a long time. That would hurt. But isn’t that what sacrifices are all about? The more they hurt, the more valuable they are, the more grace that will result. I am so badly in need of grace. And I have so many intentions I am praying for.

Still... I wonder if I could survive so long away from blogging. I think of my blog pageviews ticking over ever more slowly as the weeks go by. By Easter, my blog will be barely alive. I think of myself with a dozen stories to tell and no one to share them with. I reconsider giving up red wine and chocolate and movies instead.

When the girls and I run along the main fire trail for the final lap of our morning run, slowly climbing that never-ending hill, I grit my teeth and keep going. Nothing will make me give in and slow to a walk. I visualise the finish line where the water bottles are waiting, and I keep on pounding along. I know I will feel wonderful when the run is over. A feeling of real satisfaction will envelop me. I’m going to walk home feeling fit and healthy, rejoicing in my strong legs and my ability to move.

And I wonder why I can't apply the same determination to my spiritual life, where the rewards are infinitely greater. Why, when it comes to spiritual things, am I so weak?

This Lent I really want to run a good spiritual race. It’s going to hurt, I'm certain. Can I do it? I really don’t know, but I’m going to try. So I’m not saying goodbye to wine or chocolate or anything I really won’t miss. No, this year, I am saying good bye to my blog.

So tomorrow I begin my run, through Lent and onto Easter, where we will meet again with joyful hearts.
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  1. You're giving up your blog when I've just started mine again??? Now, all it would take is for Mary and Leanne to make the same sacrifice and I'd be talking to myself again!

    Hmm...maybe, I'll take up knitting, instead...

    Have a good day:-)

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    1. Vicky,

      Unfortunate timing I agree! I'm sure as soon as the word goes out that you're back, you'll have a stream of visitors to your blog. I don't think my absence will make much of a difference, so don't pick up the knitting too soon!

      I feel I'm setting off into the desert. Will I survive? Will I be able to stay away? We'll see!

      I hope you have a blessed Lent.

      God bless you!

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  2. See you again at Easter. I agree with your sacrificing computer time for lent. I did likewise for two years, but not - I think - this year. It is a peculiar feeling. I wish you good luck, bleesings from oul Lord, and all the fruits of the Holy Ghost.

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  3. PS. I'll miss your comments.

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    1. Uglemor,

      I have so many mixed feelings about this. Not only am I giving up my blog, I am giving up contact with my friends too. I will miss you all! I wonder if giving up friendships is really a good thing. I don't think it is. We need each other and it can't be good disappearing and not being around to support and encourage each other through our days.

      But I do get distracted and even waste a lot of time by being online so much, time which I want to spend in other ways... praying, reading spiritual books,catching up on all the unpleasant jobs I keep avoiding, and just having space for thinking. I feel like I am setting off on a retreat. That is frightening in itself. When all the busyness of my blogging life disappears what will I be left with? I might have to face some of those thoughts and things I've been avoiding for so long.

      Uglemor, I will miss you. I also enjoy swapping comments with you. I hope you have a very blessed Lent and I look forward to rejoicing with you at Easter.

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  4. The thing I've found with going offline for a time is how FREEING it can feel! I miss it for about a day, then it's like being liberated :)

    Remember - when you want to write, you can put your thoughts down on paper until you come back...and good luck!!

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    1. Angela,

      We do get very caught up with our blogs. It can take over our thoughts and time. Yes, I can see how freeing it would be to step back. In fact, sometimes when I've needed a break, it's been a relief not to blog. But generally, I am very tied to this blogging community. When I'm not blogging, I miss the contact with friends, and sharing thoughts and stories. I find it hard to let go.

      Angela, do you ever feel tempted not to return to your blog? I wonder if we stay away for long enough, the ties would loosen and blogging might not seem so important any more.

      You are quite right: I can still keep writing notes which I can blog about after Easter. Actually, I have already thought of a couple of stories I want to write. It's hard to get out of the habit of thinking about blogging!

      I appreciate your comment very much. Thank you!

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    2. I almost deleted my entire blog over Christmas, when I took a month-long break. Sometimes I just am not sure the point of continuing, especially when I can stretch my writing skills with other projects. I think any time we get out of the habit of something, we start to change a little :)

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    3. Angela,

      Sometimes I also wonder if blogging is the right way to go. I find blogging distracts me from my other writing projects. I need to finish editing my second children's novel. I'd like to gather some of my blog posts and publish them as books, look at those writing competitions you told me about... there is so much I want to do, but somehow blogging gets in the way. I think that's because blog writing is short and quick and instantly published, and I do like the structure of short personal experience stories. It will be interesting to see where my thoughts lead after a longish break. I am going to try and be self disciplined and get some work done on my novel each day instead of visiting the Internet.

      I am interested in hearing more about your other writing projects. What are you working on at the moment? I'd also love to hear the reason you changed your mind about deleting your blog. Whenever I think of doing this, I feel like I am about to delete part of my life. But could I just leave my blog to sit idly online and never add to it again? I don't know.

      "I think any time we get out of the habit of something, we start to change a little" That's a very interesting observation! Maybe stepping back for a while, gives us a new perspective. We give ourselves the opportunity to think deeply about the situation and determine whether this still is the right thing for us to be doing. There is no doubt we change over time and our activities change with us.

      It's always lovely to chat.

      God bless!

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  5. That's an incredibly tough decision.
    I'm going to miss your posts but maybe I can see it as part of my Lent :)

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    1. Miu,

      Yes, it is hard! I have been debating the sense of my decision all day. Missing my posts? Miu, you are so kind. I will miss you stopping by to say hello. I hope you have a blessed Lent.

      God bless!

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  6. Hi Sue, Here are some of my thoughts on your post....I M part of the Holy Family Institute and our spiritual director often says that family life is naturally full of sacrifices so no need to make more :). However, I know you want to make a good Lent and grow closer to God. Also, I see your blogs ( especially your unschooling one) as a ministry. Even though you do enjoy it, it inspires others and so is not something selfish. I see my work with the Catholic Nursing smothers League this way, too. I really have fun with it and it also helps others (I hope) - so a great combination! Your unschooling posts have been helping me. a lot wade my through child led learning :). If you decide to stop blogging for Lent, I totally understand. I will just rereading all your past posts and look forward to Easter. Have a holy Lent!

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    1. Gina,

      I read your comment early this morning and your words have been going around and around in my head. Our sacrifices should really only affect ourselves. We can't impose them on other people. In making the decision to stop blogging, I didn't really think it would affect anyone other than me. There are always other blogs to read. The thing that was bothering me most was not being around to comment on other people's blogs. I was thinking it doesn't seem fair to disappear from the blogosphere for 6 weeks and then expect everyone to return to my blog when I haven't supported them for a long time.

      But now you have given me something else to think about. It really is hard for a blogger to see things from outside. Even though I try to help others through my blogs, I can't be sure how much I am actually helping. I don't get much feedback with my unschooling and grief blogs. It is so good to hear you like reading my posts. Thank you! I really did think I'd stop blogging and no one would notice my absence.

      I appreciate you stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I am still thinking about them! Please feel free to email me any time if you'd like to chat. I don't want to cut myself off from friends. That really wasn't my intention.

      Thank you for your kind wishes. I hope you have a very holy Lent too!

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  7. I am going to miss your blog ... can we now all cheat and say we gave up reading your blog for Lent... lol

    You take care and you are a wonderful woman for giving up something which is so important to you. We'll stick around don't you worry. :)

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    1. Lisa,

      "can we now all cheat and say we gave up reading your blog for Lent..." If I changed my mind (I'm known to be fickle!) and started writing again, then you wouldn't be able to come and read my posts!!! Thank you for the smile. It is so good to know that you'll be back when I return. I'd hate to lose all my beautiful blogging friends.

      I hope you have a grace-filled Lent.

      God bless!

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  8. Hi Sue,
    Have a blessed Lent! I think giving up blogging for Lent is a wonderful sacrifice for those who love to write :) See you around Easter! I will keep you in my prayers.

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    1. Mary,

      Thank you for your understanding. I appreciate your prayers very much. Thank you! I keep you in mine each day. May God bless you abundantly this Lent.

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  9. Many blessings for a holy and fruitful Lent! See you on the other side.

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    1. Kimberlee,

      Thank you! "See you on the other side"... I am filled with anticipation. What will we pass through on our way to Easter? Yes, it could be a time of many graces. May God bless you too, Kimberlee. Thank you so much for stopping by!

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  10. God Bless you Sue! I gave up reading blogging and reading blogs for advent and it really was fruitful. It helped me to realize I wanted to blog for relationships and not readers. And it also helped me to commit to getting rid of the big blogs on my blogroll as well as those blogs that lead me to feel envious...I just don't read them anymore and it's all because of the Advent fast. But I do hope you come back to your blog. XO!

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    1. Elizabeth,

      I remember your blogging break over Advent. I missed you! I'm glad to hear you gained a lot by stepping back from your blog for a while. Maybe I will receive similar insights with a Lenten fast. I am sure I will be back. My problem will be staying away for the whole of Lent! Already I'm wondering if I really want to do this. I am such a wimp. No will power at all! Elizabeth, I hope you have a good Lent. Maybe I can catch up with you on Sundays. See! Lent is only 3 days old and I am looking for loopholes!

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  11. Don't know if you're still checking comments (don't want to shipwreck your Lent!). I didn't give up blogging, but it seems Our Lord gave it up FOR me, because just as Lent started, our Internet connection became intermittent (mostly gone). I don't think I'm to give it up for the whole time, but just in these few days I have seen fruit from the temporary silence. I understand your holy break, but will miss you. I pray that this will be a time of fruitful retreat for you. GOD BLESS!

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    1. Nancy,

      I always check my mail whether I'm blogging or not! It is always so good to hear from you. I am sorry to hear you are having Internet problems. You are staying very calm about the whole situation. Yes, sometimes we wonder if God has different plans from the ones we make for ourselves. I seem to be in that position too. I was happily enjoying a blogging break then this morning a comment stopped me in my tracks and started me thinking about my whole blogging future. You will probably read my next post some time when you have an Internet connection.

      I have had a few things bombarding me recently, and I can only remind myself that God knows all about them, and in some way they are helpful. But yes, I would have preferred that peaceful break I had been imagining!

      Nancy, I pray you also have a very fruitful Lent. God bless you too!

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