Use this Lenten season as a time to grow closer to God and simplify your life. Try a new suggestion from this list each day and experience the stronger relationships and calmer pace of an (almost) Amish lifestyle!
1. Start a giveaway box and add at least three items of clothes you have not worn in the last year.
2. Is there a form of technology that is ruling you like a master rather than serving you like a tool? Unplug for 24 hours and rediscover the peace that passes all understanding.
3. Spend 5 minutes in nature where you can only see things that are God-made, not man-made.
4. Do you say grace when you consume energy (food) at the table? Next time you fill up your car with gas,say a prayer for God’s sustaining hand.
5. Go out of your way to support a local business.
6. Purchase seeds for a vegetable garden, patio garden, or indoor herb garden.
7. Go through your inbox and “unsubscribe” from group email lists. You’ll have a lot less to sort through each day.
8. One day in seven, take a 24-hour day of holy rest.
9. Invite someone new into your home to share a homemade meal.
10. Bake a loaf of bread. Use a bread maker for the first rising, or simply allow artisan bread to rise slowly while you are at work.
11. Set aside ten percent for the Lord before you pay the other bills. Already tithing? Up it by one percent.
12. Before you make a major purchase, wait a month to see if you still need it.
13. Add unused sports equipment to your giveaway box.
14. Turn table scraps into nutrient-rich soil by starting a compost pile. Live in the city? Investigate a worm composter or solar cone.
15. Prevent catalogs from cluttering up your home. Visit the Direct Marketing Association (www.dmachoice.org ) and Catalog Choice (www.catalogchoice.org ) to remove your name from mailing lists.
16. Sign off from your Facebook and Twitter for the day. If you want to know what your friends are doing, call them and have a real conversation.
17. Avoid eating out at restaurants; donate the money you save to the local food bank.
18. Use your money to back up your beliefs. Talk to your financial advisor about socially responsible investments.
19. Pack a picnic and invite a family member or friend to dine outside with you so you can appreciate God’s creation together.
20. Take a walk and clean up trash along the way. Take someone with you so one of you can collect recyclables.
21. Plant a tree. Trees clean the air, provide shade, and beautify the landscape.
22. Visit your local farmer’s market and start buying your vegetables there. You’ll support your local economy and reduces the number of miles your food travels from farm to plate.
23. Make an effort to reach out to a neighbor today. Wave, say hello, or invite your neighbor for a visit on the porch.
24. Brainstorm about friends in your life that might want to begin meeting and studying the Bible together.
25. Just like the Amish help each other build barns, help a neighbor weed their yard, sweep their stoop, or cut their grass. Or, visit a local non-profit to learn about volunteer opportunities there.
26. Switch out a few bulbs to super energy saving LEDs (now available in warm tone and dimmable).
27. Set up croquet or badminton in your yard. Walk to the park and swing. Invite your children to play a board game.
28. Start a book group or take your children to the library for story time.
29. Invite a child or teenager over and teach them how to bake, sew, or craft.
30. Hang your clothes on the line to dry. You’ll save on electricity costs and your clothes will last longer.
31. Bring your own mug to your office or the coffee shop.
32. Organize your junk drawer or a kitchen cupboard.
33. Set your home office equipment to energy-saving modes.
34. Drink tap instead of bottled water.
35. Bike when running local errands.
36. Invite neighborhood children to color on the sidewalks with sidewalk chalk.
37. Write encouraging notes to family members and friends.
38. Think about how you can better support and connect with your spouse, child, or colleague. Brainstorm something small that you can do to make their day.
39. Bring your (overflowing) giveaway box to the Salvation Army, Goodwill, or local refugee ministry.
40. Give thanks for the beauty of God’s creation and the gift of his Son.
Nancy Sleeth is the author of Almost Amish, One Woman's Quest for a Slower, Simpler, More Sustainable Life and co-founder of the Christian environmental nonprofit, Blessed Earth.
Photo: Leaf detail,