In preparation for Lent | The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction

Lent starts in just a few days, and I still haven’t figured out exactly how I’m going to personally observe the season.

As a mom with a lot of little kids, I don’t like to put major restrictions on vices. I give myself a lot of grace when it comes to things like hiding in the mudroom to eat a sleeve of Peeps, or bingeing on social media once the kids are in bed. I know those things aren’t good, but have YOU ever spent more than 20 minutes with a three-year old? Exactly.

I give myself a lot of grace, which I think is a good thing. If you’ve ever had a conversation with me I’ve probably told you to give yourself grace, too. Dirty kitchen? There’s grace! Forgot a doctor’s appointment? Grace! You sent your kid to school with their shoes on the wrong feet? GRACE ABOUNDS!!

But I also know that I use grace (which is a good thing) and my current state of sleeplessness/dealing-with-a-three-year-oldness (which are legitimate things) as excuses. Everyone, even me, can benefit from self-examination.

But practically speaking, what does self-examination look like?

My friend just wrote a book (a book!) that describes what I’m talking about in a much more eloquent, complete way. It’s called The Common Rule, and if you order it today you can get it in time for Ash Wednesday. That inadvertently sounded like an insincere ad, but I promise he didn’t ask me to say that, or any of this.

The premise of the book is that our daily lives rotate around habits that we don’t even register. Habits like checking your phone as soon as you wake up, then again before you get your coffee, then again when you pour a glass of milk for your kid. Stuff like that. We fall into these patterns, and they begin to form us.

The Common Rule offers four weekly and four daily habits “designed to help us create new routines and transform frazzled days into lives of love for God and neighbor.” The book isn’t just about screen time, but also habits like sharing a meal with a friend and observing the Sabbath.

Actually, if any of this sounds cloudy it’s because I was up twice last night and again very early this morning; go here for a better explanation:

This is a book about habits, self-reflection, grace, repentance, and hope. It was born out of humility and a desire to live a life that honors God.

I can personally vouch for Justin (Tom has known Justin since they were kids, and I’ve known his family for years — they have four kids; they’re tired too! In fact, exhaustion was one of the catalysts for the book), and I can also personally vouch for mindlessly giving my days over to meaninglessness. I readily admit that I am prone spending my days walking in a direction apart from my desires and beliefs.

I am going to be very vulnerable and tell you that I generally don’t like this sort of thing. I’m a contrarian by nature (one of my many delightful qualities!) and on top of that I’m very, very averse to people telling me how to spend my time. I bristle at routines and schedules and being told what to do, especially now that I have such limited (i.e. zero) time to myself.

But I can also admit that my habits deserve examination as much as they deserve grace.

The season of Lent is a perfect time for to self-reflection, re-orienting habits, repentance, and acknowledging that we are not saved by habits or intentions, but by Jesus Christ, whose perfect life and sacrificial death atone for the sins of those who trust in Him.

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I lifted most of these pictures from a 2017 post about observing Lent as a stay-at-home mom.

You can read more about the meaning of Lent here, and read more about The Common Rule here and here.


  1. Lauren March 5, 2019

    I need to check out that book! And yes, grace is imortant but not an excuse! Loved that.

  2. Mandy March 5, 2019

    I really appreciate this article.. and your honesty! It is so easy to make excuses and then easily fall into bad habits. I am super bad about picking up my phone first thing. I am trying to make sure I start my day on the right foot.. so I am still picking up my phone but instead of going to social media, reading a daily devotional. And instead of calling someone to just talk on my lone ride home from dropping the kids off at school, I am using that as a prayer time. I have only been doing these things for about 2 weeks, but it really has made a difference in my day. Your friend’s book sounds really great! I will for sure check it out!

  3. Sincerely Miss J March 6, 2019

    Lent is hard for me because I set unrealistic expectations of giving up something that in the end I can’t give for that time period. However, this book sparked my interest and I am going to try to find it and read it. Thank you for the recommendation.

  4. Sherry M Lee March 3, 2020

    I grew up being encouraged to give something up for Lent. However, I recently heard on the radio how there is a growing movement for giving during Lent. The idea is to perform 40 acts of generosity in the 40 days of Lent. What an awesome impact this can have on the world! 😀

  5. Adriane March 4, 2020

    I love that you give yourself grace to hide in the mudroom and eat peeps! I wasn’t quite sure what a mudroom was though. LOL! Is it in a basement? We don’t have those here. Anyhoo, this book looks like it has a message that everyone needs to hear. How exciting that your friend wrote and published a book!

  6. Amanda March 4, 2020

    I need to read this book! I do find it easy to fall into bad habits.

  7. Kimberlie March 4, 2020

    I’m open to any book that help me become more intentional in this season of tiredness called parenting. It is so rewarding, but there are sincere moments of despair and any tools that can help me deal with that are welcome.


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