Today is Ash Wednesday, the start of the Lent season - 40 days of preparation before Easter. Growing up in the Methodist church, we always had services on Ash Wednesday to mark the beginning of Lent. The Covenant Church (where I work now) doesn't do Ash Wednesday. Today is also my pastor's birthday, so instead of finding a church somewhere with a service, I have to go to his birthday party. Oh well.
My parents taught and encouraged us to give something up as a reminder of Christ's sacrifice for us. During my middle school years, I decided to give up ice cream once or twice for Lent. I have a very striking memory, one Sunday, being absolutely horrified when I realized that I had eaten a milkshake last week after church, subsequently breaking my fast. I like rules, and I don't like breaking them.
As I got older, I remember having conversations with my parents about not only abstaining from something during Lent, but also adopting some practice for those 40 days that would help bring one into closer communion with God. For example, not gossiping or encouraging co-workers or extended quiet time.
We shall see where this Lenten season brings me. What are you expecting?