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I’ve always loved the hymns of Lent. Some are hauntingly beautiful, with melodies stretching back to chanting monks in European cloisters. Others simply tell the story of Jesus’ death in such a way that it brings tears to my eyes. Some are both.

As a Lutheran, I’ve not been much in the habit of “giving up” things for Lent. Growing up, it was too Catholic of a practice, and as an adult, I often emphasized a time of restoration and adding things. That’s what this Lent is for me. February ended up being one massive hole in my #40by40 plan, so I started again today. I reset my habit tracking in the apps I used, and I deleted the habits that I wasn’t working on anyway.

Lent has taken on new meaning in the past six years. Samantha was born the day after Ash Wednesday. That year, in the midst of our new parenting joy (before everything went wrong), we joked about giving up sleep for Lent. That wasn’t entirely inaccurate, but the lack of sleep lasted far beyond the 40 days of Lent. This year, the 40 days will draw me back into our story, and especially writing it into a book. Each day I plan to work on pieces of the book as part of my Lenten discipline, entering into a different type of sorrow than the usual focus on the cross. And yet, the sorrow of burying a child is tied into the cross. God watched His Son die, and knowing that has always given me so much comfort. I don’t follow a god who is ignorant of my pain, but a God who intimately knows the loss. I can trust that He holds my children in His hands.