Oh hello everyone! Or maybe, hello, you one... you one who may be reading my blog today. :) It's Shrove Tuesday or "Fat Tuesday," a.k.a. Mardi Gras or Carnival! Whatever you call it where you live, it kicks off the season of Lent which is one of my favorite times of year. Actually, I enjoy so many times of the year, but this time, as with Advent, is especially dear to me, because it is - or can be - a quiet, inward time while in the outer world around us, the season grows lighter and the earth around begins to explode with life and that much-craved color. After the winter we've had here in MN - well, after the winter so many of us have endured in the U.S. in general, this Easter season will be especially welcome and may actually be spring-like around these parts due to its late date, April 20th this year.
I was just driving home from bringing Maia back from her acting class and I heard the temperature on the radio was 18 degrees F. I could hardly believe it, because it felt so warm! Today was the first day in a number of weeks that I didn't have to hammer the snow build-up behind my tires, because it had quickly turned to ice and no amount of kicking did any good whatsoever.
On Minnesota Public Radio's, "The Daily Circuit" today, they did a funny program discussing the "winter misery index," which they called, "The Winter of Our Discontent." People called in with their complaints, their positive spins, and even some haikus. :) You can have a listen there or just look at some of the crazy facts such as the fact that as of Monday morning we've had 50 subzero days this winter; the record is 60.
So, I haven't been blogging as much. I've been surviving winter (hammering ice) and plugging away at library school as well as homeschool and the rest of life. I thought I'd share something that I've learned while in school that you may not know. Of course, you may already be familiar with all of the incredible databases available at your local library, but in spite of the fact that I have been a devoted library lover and user for years, I had never tapped into this incredible resource - one which your tax dollars help to support!
I give you: "The Humble Database"
I use the Dakota County Library system and this library maintains 87 databases! You can take a peek here. And even though you might think databases sound boring, they are really so COOL. Remember when you were a kid and you discovered encyclopedias? Our family had a World Book set at home: the adult version and the kid version with all the different colored tabs on the spine with titles like, "Animals," "The Human Body," and "Make and Do." I loved those and my sibs and I logged many hours poring over their contents. As we got older, the adult set came in handy for all the school reports that came our way. Unfortunately, many kids think Wikipedia when they think of where to find that kind of information, but likely you have learned that teachers aren't hip on Wikipedia for a source, because it's not authoritative. But who owns encyclopedia sets in their homes nowadays? And you have to have a subscription to the online version of Encyclopedia Britannica if you want access.
Or do you?
Not when the library subscribes for you! :) Chances are, all you need is a library card to have free access to EB. Plus, they have elementary, middle school, and high school versions, as well as an academic version. You can get Homework Help; live job coaching and resume assistance; online practice tests for official exams such as the ACT, a real estate license, civil service, etc. How about learning a foreign language? They have online language programs for adults and children. Access to Medline; digital audiobooks, e-books, and current magazines; access to your local paper online; AND access to " over 500 online continuing education courses taught by real instructors
with remote, 24/7 access so you can study on your schedule. You can
enroll in up to five courses at a time and have six months to finish
each course" ("Research Materials").
So, here is what Encyclopedia Britannica has to say about the meaning of "Shrove Tuesday":
"Shrove, derived from “shrive,” refers to the confession of sins usual in the European Middle Ages as a preparation for Lent. Shrove Tuesday
eventually acquired the character of a carnival or festival in European
countries, and many customs developed in connection with this day that
precedes the beginning of the Lenten fast. Traditionally pancakes were
eaten on Shrove Tuesday, because eggs and fat, forbidden during the Lenten fast, were used" ("Shrove Tuesday).
Are you planning to do anything for Lent this year? Some protestant denominations do not observe Lent, but I like to, because I love the way it draws me even closer to God. It is an intentional, focused time and it gives cause for reflection that we often do not have - or take the time - to practice. And it creates a specialness to this time - sanctifies it - and causes it to be more memorable than the daily routine of our lives.
So this year I am going to be using two devotionals. One is a devotional released last year by The Gospel Coalition. It is a free PDF download called Journey to the Cross that I've saved here on my laptop and am sending to my Kindle. I also signed up to receive a Lenten devotional from Bible Gateway.com. They have many to choose from (and there are many, many free devotionals on the web) including one from the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer that I may look at another time. But the one I've chosen from them is from a new-to-me translation of the Bible called, "The Voice." I'll receive it in my e-mail inbox daily and I hope the different translation will add a new depth to my devotions, as the translation I use regularly is NIV.
Along with the devotionals I am planning on fasting on Fridays. I am thinking about breakfast and lunch or perhaps just lunch; I haven't decided yet; still praying on that. But I will be taking a media fast on Fridays as well and I am looking forward to that. I am looking forward to using time otherwise spent online with either Bible study, prayer, or time spent writing letters or journaling or other quiet activities.
I plan to be here, too, blogging some of my Lenten journey. I'd thought about creating a devotional here, but my schedule is too full and I don't necessarily get open time to put something together here every day (as evidenced by my lack of posts of late). I thought about pre-writing some posts, but then I'd need to be contemplating too many devotional ideas all at once and if it's one thing I don't need is another thing to feel rushed about! The "Journey to the Cross" devotional offers some questions for reflection, so I may use some of that to guide some of my posts. But I will still have just some regular conversation here too - some of the usual chit chat that I enjoy so much on others' blogs. I don't plan to turn this site - even for 40 days - into a strict devotional.
In the end, I hope to be here more often even though I'm weeks away from the end of the semester. But SPRING BREAK is next week! I'm so excited! So that will provide a window for a bit more conversation for a time anyway.
If you plan on observing Lent, please let me know about it in the comments or on Facebook. In the meantime, enjoy the rest of Fat Tuesday and I'll talk with you again soon!
"Research Materials." Home. Dakota County Library, 2012. Web. 04 Mar. 2014.
Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online Academic Edition.
Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2014. Web.
04 Mar. 2014.