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Lent celebrated by comminty in different ways

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Giving up ice cream a bittersweet endeavour

Rita Koch

Home: Greenwood

What did you give up for Lent: Ice cream

Why was this something you wanted to do? “Why not? Look what Jesus did for us. It’s the least I can do.”

The sweet, creamy coolness of a scoop of ice cream can be heaven on one of the season’s first sunny days.

But Greenwood resident Rita Koch adores ice cream to the point where it’s become a daily habit.

“I could probably eat a quart by myself in one night,” she said.

Koch was raised Catholic, and would give up something every year for Lent. Foregoing something she truly loved was an important part of making a Lenten sacrifice, though.

Considering that the point is to remind Christians of what Jesus Christ did for humanity, it seemed a small step that she couldn’t have a dish of chocolate or vanilla at night.

Giving it up has had its difficulties. Koch has tried to focus on other things when the cravings for ice cream rear up.

Complicating matters is the fact that her husband bought her an ice cream machine.

“Every time I open the freezer, there’s that container. I have to force myself to grab something else,” she said.

The exercise will ultimately be beneficial, Koch said. Besides serving as a reminder about the true nature of Easter, it will help her build willpower and discipline.

“It’s almost a challenge to yourself, to see if you really can do it,” she said.

Area family makes sacrifices

Tracy Watson

Home: Center Grove area

What did you give up for Lent: Coffee

What has the experience been like for you: “It makes you realize how long 40 days is. In our mind, that’s a number that doesn’t seem like a long time. When you give something up for 40 days, something you really enjoy, it feels a lot longer.”

Tyler Watson

Home: Center Grove area

What did you give up for Lent: Instagram

What has the experience been like for you: “It’s been pretty tough for me. I had a friend over, and he was on it    he showed me a few pictures, and I wanted to go get on mine. It’s kind of a temptation, but I just had to resist.”

Austin Watson

Home: Center Grove area

What did you do for Lent: Committed to read the Bible each day

Why was this what you chose?: “I went into it thinking I wanted to make it a habit, outside of the 40 days. Not just stopping because that was the set time, but keeping to go on. It’s a good habit to form.”

Of the major Christian holidays, Easter seems to play a secondary role for the general public.

Christmas ramps up for weeks and extends through the new year. But Easter, even though it’s the most important theological holiday for Christians, is almost an afterthought.

“We spend a lot of time getting ready for Christmas and putting our energy into that, anticipating it. But Easter came and went, without nearly so much attention as we could have given it,” said Tracy Watson, a Center Grove resident.

That inspired Watson and two of her sons, 14-year-old Tyler and 11-year-old Austin, to make a serious commitment for the Lenten season. Watson vowed to give up coffee for

40 days, while Tyler risked teenage social isolation by shutting down his Instagram account.

In a twist, Austin decided to create a good habit rather than giving something up. He’s been reading a chapter from the Book of Proverbs every day. His hope is to make this a daily routine that he carries on beyond Easter.

“Jesus died on the cross for us and sacrificed his life. I guess some people pray and gave up something, but I wanted to show action,” Austin said.

The family had never made a Lenten promise in the past. But Watson thought it might be a way to keep the message of Easter — how Christ died for humanity’s sins — in their hearts every day.

“Observing this season of Lent and giving something up is a tradition to look forward to Easter and have it on our minds, anticipate it more and think about what it means,” she said.

Family members don’t have to give anything up, but Tyler and Austin jumped at the chance to prove they could do it.

As an eighth-grader at Center Grove Middle School Central, Tyler knew that staying off his Instagram account was going to be extremely difficult. After school and hanging out with his friends, it was torture to watch them chat back and forth online while he was left out of the digital loop.

But he’s proud that he truly dedicated himself to the idea and didn’t just pick a halfhearted sacrifice.

“There are things that I could have given up, but there wasn’t anything that I felt was really going to challenge me,” Tyler said. “It was hard, I didn’t totally commit to it the first week, but then I decided I couldn’t give up on it now.”

As someone who started each day with a big cup of coffee, Watson thought her self-denial would be much more difficult. But she’s substituted java with hot tea or hot water and lemon.

So far, she’s adapted pretty well. Still, she knows that, on Easter morning, she’ll relish that steaming cup of dark roast.

“We don’t deny ourselves much these days,” Watson said. “But there’s nothing like a good cup of coffee.”

Competition helps group keep vows

Aaron Beasley

Home: Bargersville

What did you give up for Lent? Twitter

How has that been for you? “Everyone all said, ‘You’re always on your phone, you have to give up Twitter.’ And I didn’t know if I could do that.”

Kelsey Thompson

Home: Greenwood

What did you give up for Lent? Chocolate

How has that been for you? “I only broke it once. And the only reason I did it was that someone made me gluten-free brownies and brought them to my house, so I had to eat one. It would have been rude not to eat one.”

Jeff Johnson

Home: Greenwood

What did you give up for Lent? Soda

How has that been for you? “I’m a lot grumpier because of it. I drink a lot of sweet teas and lemonades now.”

Robin Webb

Home: Greenwood

What did you give up for Lent? Shopping

How has that been for you? “I bought a pair of shoes because I didn’t think it counted. It’s not clothing. They’re accessories, they’re in a different category. But I put my money in.”

Rex Huffman

Home: Indianapolis

What did you give up for Lent? Video game “Clash of Clans”

Why was that something that you wanted to give up? “It’s a game that I play all the time.”

Chad Lehr

Home: Indianapolis

What did you give up for Lent? Soda

How has that been for you? “I drink soda all day. The first two weeks, I was so grumpy. Grumpier than Jeff is normally.”

The “Lent Jar” at Emmanuel Church of Greenwood has a smattering of dollar bills at the bottom.

For a group of six employees at the church, it’s a daily reminder to stay true to the promises they made for Lent. Anyone who breaks their sacrifice — using Twitter, drinking pop, going shopping — has to add $5 to the jar.

The idea stemmed from a lunchtime discussion among a group of co-workers. Kelsey Thompson, human resources and finances controller for the church, mentioned that she was giving up chocolate for Lent.

Lenten sacrifice is more common in Catholic

denominations, but Thompson had always tried to give up a bad habit at that time of year.

“We’re not Catholic, but we all gave up something anyway. It just kind of snowballed from there,”

she said.

The discussion turned to items that the rest of the group never thought they could do without. For elementary director Aaron Beasley, it was Twitter. Robin Webb, assistant to the senior pastor, couldn’t do without shopping.

Graphics designer Rex Huffman

gave up playing “Clash of Clans” on his phone.

At that point, it became a challenge to the entire group.

“It was more something that we felt we should give up anyway, so let’s try this. Making it a bet gave us a little more motivation,” said Jeff Johnson, campus weekend services director.

The concept was simple. Every time someone messes up, they have to put $5 in the Lent Jar. On Easter, that money is divided and given to the people who stayed faithful to their commitment.

Throughout the competition, the group has been almost entirely faithful.

Thompson did have a brownie one day at home but admitted it right away and put her money in the jar. Webb bought a pair of shoes, not thinking that it was included in shopping.

The group also has been vigilant that the others around them honor their sacrifices. To ensure Beasley didn’t log on to Twitter unexpectedly, they deleted it from his phone and computer.

Come Easter, the celebration will be on. Johnson plans to find one of the all-inclusive soda machines and go wild savoring as many as he can.

Beasley has a tweet all prepared to send out Easter morning.

“None of our intentions were that we had to give this up specifically for Easter. That’s what started the discussion, but it hasn’t been super-spiritual. But I do think about it a lot,” Thompson said.

Lent a learning experience for kids

Max Linton

Home: Franklin

What did you give up for Lent? Fast food

What has it been like giving it up? “I don’t eat a lot, but sometimes, if we don’t have anything cooked, we’ll run out and get something. So instead of doing that, I make a turkey sandwich at home.”

Joseph Saler

Home: Franklin

What did you do for Lent? Gave up video games, and promised to say an extra prayer for people.

How has that gone for you? “It has been really hard. I play video games a lot.”

Chiara Schilton

Home: Franklin

What did you do for Lent: Gave up cookies, and tried to be more patient with people

How is it going? “I get a little frustrated with people, even if I try not to. But I’d like to keep that going if I can. I want to try harder.”

At St. Rose of Lima Catholic School, Lent is a time for students to learn about the sacrifice Jesus Christ made on the cross.

They think about the life of Jesus, and look forward to the celebration of Easter Sunday.

But the kids also take the time to make a small sacrifice of their own. Some even go as far as to pledge to try to do something special to make a positive impact on people.

“My promise is to say an extra prayer every day, and love God always,” said Joseph Saler, a kindergarten student.

Joseph’s Lenten commitment had two parts.

For his first sacrifice, the St. Rose kindergartner gave up video games. His dad would let him play on his iPad after school, sometimes even hooking the computer up to the television so he could play on the big-screen.

Then he also wanted to add a habit to his life. Praying extra for the people in his life seemed like a good idea.

“I don’t usually do that for people, so it was something I wanted to do,” he said.

Chiara Schilten, a fifth-grader, also made a two-part promise for Lent.

She vowed to do without cookies for 40 days. At the same time, she wanted to have more patience with people around her.

“I’m normally not very patient with people, so I wanted to do more of that. If I’m trying to help them and they don’t understand, try to help them even more,” she said. “And I gave up cookies because I really like them.”

Both commitments have had their challenges. Chiara almost gave in to temptation and snacked on a cookie, and it hasn’t been easy to always be patient.

But she feels good about her decisions, as well as looking forward to completing her Lenten sacrifice.

“When I get to have a cookie again, I think they’re going to taste amazing,” she said.

Living in a community where it’s easy to hit the drive-through and get a quick meal, Max Linton’s sacrifice has required some planning.

“I gave up fast-food because it’s unhealthy, and I wanted to do something that would make me healthier and make me feel a little bit better,” he said.

Though fast-food wasn’t something that the eighth-grader ate all of the time, he didn’t realize how much he had eaten until he gave it up.

When his family was in a hurry and didn’t have time to make a full meal, or when they wanted something fast for dinner, they’d run to a fast food restaurant.

Now, Max has to plan ahead, making himself a sandwich to eat while everyone else grabs burgers.

He’s looking forward to the end of Lent, when he doesn’t have to worry about his meal preparation so much.

“I’ll probably get McDonalds on Easter. But after that, I want to try to eat less, make it more of an occasional thing than a regular meal,” he said.

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