Lenten Add-In

Growing up Catholic, Lent was a very big deal in our house. It started with ash on the forehead, continued with meatless Fridays, and came to a conclusion with Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Easter, 40 days later (not counting Sundays). For those of you not familiar with Lent, it is a solemn religious observance in the liturgical calendar of many Christian denominations. During Lent, many Christians the world over observe fasting, do acts of penance, practice moderation and keep spiritual discipline. (Read more about Lent in this article from the International Business Times or via Wikipedia.)

As a child, my parents did not ask us to specifically give up anything other than the traditional “no-meat Fridays” and to spend what seemed like an inordinate amount of time at church. I was not a practitioner of spiritual discipline at that time, nor did I fast or practice moderation. At least I don’t remember those pieces of Lent.

What I do remember is loving meatless Fridays. I loved my mom’s homemade macaroni and cheese (never out of a blue box) and potato pancakes. That was better than any meat dish they would have otherwise served at the end of the week. I yearn for both on the first day of Lent.

macandcheese potatopancakes

Funny story: Mom always served her potato pancakes (grated potatoes, grated onion, egg, salt, pepper, cast iron skillet, an inch of oil) with thawed frozen strawberries. Never with applesauce or syrup. The strawberries were sugary sweet goodness on top of salty potatoes…doesn’t get any better than that. Yum. Imagine my surprise, however, when I first ordered potato pancakes in a restaurant and had them served with an applesauce-filled paper cup. I looked at the paper cup, thought “huh?” and asked mom about the location of the strawberries. Mom told me that’s how potato pancakes are normally served (apparently, we were not a normal family) and I immediately felt the same stinging deflation as the day I discovered Santa Claus was not real.

And now, back to Lent and the title of this post.

For many Christians, Lent brings the penitence of giving up something near and dear to their hearts. Many give up food and/or drink – chocolate, sugar, pizza, alcohol, coffee, etc. (I gave up chocolate for six weeks a few years ago. It was tough. I almost died.) Others may give up pieces of social media, like Facebook or Twitter. How about 40 days without television? Without swearing? Without sex? Without blogging? You name it, it’s being given up by millions as I type this post.

This Lent, I am giving up gummy bears, but I am also adding in.

What is “adding in?” you may ask. I will tell you.

A Facebook friend had this idea last year. Instead of giving up something for six weeks that we eventually go back to, why not add in something good to our life? Something that could become a lifelong habit, or bring a change of disposition? Need examples? I will give you a few:

  • Add in volunteer hours – at the soup kitchen or food pantry
  • Add in a walk for 30 minutes every day
  • Add in a healthy vegetable to your dinner plate
  • Add in positive encouragement to a friend every day
  • Add in telling a joke to your co-workers, just to make them smile
  • Add in mercy for your fellow human being when they are having a bad day
  • Add in silent meditation for 5 minutes every day
  • Add in a daily thanks to Mother Nature, regardless of the weather
  • Add in a daily thanks to your higher power for waking up


Add-in. Easier than giving up coffee and chocolate, it’s beneficial to the soul, a penance of kindness, a silent whisper of love and grace.

Of course, you can give up something for Lent, especially if your gummy bear habit or cursing is out of control. But beyond the 40 days of Lent, Christian or not, “adding in” can be a journey of health and happiness to your spiritual well-being. You can add in any time of the day, any day of the year.

And so, dear readers, I ask you…

What would you “add in” to your life today or in the coming weeks?

(Adding in a second Easter basket for yourself doesn’t count.) :-p

27 responses to Lenten Add-In

  1. I think that’s a wonderful idea! I would add in a Random Act of Kindness on a daily basis. I have been trying to do these anyway but I think to add it on a daily basis serves so much more of a purpose than once a month. Great idea…wish everyone would participate whether they are Catholic or not. Hugs!

      • M. R. says:

        Oh, you’re just letting your Catholic upbringing affect you. Mine NEVER does me! Don’t think I have a decent bone in my old (and rather large) body …

  2. Gummy Bears are my favorite candy–I really feel for you! I’d like to add in more being there for others in ways that I’m most needed.

    I really liked this post! There’s nothing better than mom’s home cooking, is there?!

      • You’re absolutely right. By the way, I’ve been on the wagon with Gummies for almost 8 weeks now since I’ve started Optifast–so I’m right there with you in Gummy abstinence! 🙂

      • bikerchick57 says:

        Oh, good luck with the Optifast. I’m hoping that gummy bear abstinence will lead me on the path away from sugar. It’s my downfall.

  3. I just love this idea. And I echo the response given regarding random acts of kindness. At our work I’m a part of a newly created committee that we have titled ourselves Project:Happiness. Each week we send a newsletter with feel good, make you think, heart warming items. We are so excited. Last week was week 1 and we received so many emails from staff members saying how much they liked this idea. So, this is my “add-in”. 😉

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Excellent! I used to create and send emails to employees at work as part of employee wellness. It’s gone by the wayside for now due to workload, but it was always nice to hear that people appreciated that email in amongst the “do this-do that” emails. Keep up Project Happiness add-in, it’s wonderful!

  4. Aussa Lorens says:

    Very cool idea. If I could add something in….. it would probably be a 30-minute slot of time to relax in the morning before starting the day. I wish I could just make this happen but numerous attempts have proved unsuccessful.

  5. The Regular Guy NYC says:

    I was brought up Catholic and even though I’m not overly religious I still eat no meat on Friday. I also like the mac & cheese and fish plates we always ate.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Good for you, Phil. Have some mac and cheese for me this Friday (can’t eat dairy) and I’ll find a plate of pancakes. Cheers!

  6. Nice posts. My dad is Polish, and we eat “kataflanaplatski” (not sure that’s spelled correctly), which are potato pancakes. They are just potatoes, a little bit of corn starch (flour, really, but I have celiac disease), and oil to fry them in. Yummy! P.S. I also can’t eat dairy, but sour cream is really good with the pancakes and a dose of Lactaid!

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Say that word three times fast! Looks like the Polish and Germans love their potato pancakes. And I love my Lactaid too for those occasions when I’m really missing the dairy.

  7. Thank you for sharing this slice of your life with us. I grew up like you and we gave up sweets (candies and cookies) during Lent. The money was put in a jar and we gave the contents of the jar to the poor when Lent was over. We also ate fish every Friday, not only during Lent.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      You are welcome Evelyn. The Friday fish fry is big here in Wisconsin (year around), we do love our perch.

  8. Dan Antion says:

    I really enjoyed this post. I add-in by giving up something that is hard for me. I try to give up asking people to do stuff for me. It usually takes until Easter for me to have caught all of the subtle ways I do that.

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