Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lenten season. Lent is a 40 day period of preparation for Easter when Christians connect on a deeper spiritual level through the practices of ‘giving up’ something. Many Christians will sacrifice things like eating chocolate, drinking coffee, watching television and even smoking. Lent is the perfect time to examine your spiritual life and to grow in it.

Challenge yourself this year and go beyond the usual practice of ‘giving up’ something. If you are looking for something different to practice during the 40 days of Lent, consider practicing 40 acts of kindness, 40 days of letter writing or 40 phone calls to friends and family. You may also want to consider another alternative in giving during Lent. What do you typically spend your money on? Clothes, eating out, travel? Pick one of your spending habits and ‘fast’ from it during Lent and then donate the money you would usually spend to a local charity.

Not sure where to start? Check out these some of these books for more ideas on how you can make the most of this Lent season.

40 Days, 40 Ways: A New Look At Lent
By: Marcellino D’Ambrosio Ph.D.

If you’re looking for a new Lenten experience, this book provides 40 fresh ideas. Some will challenge you to deepen your prayer life; others will open your mind to new ways to serve others. Each includes a reflection to help you understand more about Lent and why it matters. You’ll discover positive, proactive ways to take action instead of the same old routine of giving something up. The result will be spiritual transformation and a closer walk with Christ—not only during Lent but also throughout the year.

The Art Of Lent: A Painting A Day From Ash Wednesday To Easter
By: Sister Wendy Beckett

This delightful book describes and interprets a series of paintings for each day of Lent. Artists often address subjects that our culture seeks to avoid and Sister Wendy’s brilliant and perceptive reflections will help you to read these paintings with a more discerning eye and encounter deeper levels of spiritual meaning than what may first appear.

Bring Lent To Life: Activities & Reflections For Your Family
By: By Kathleen M. Basi

Don’t just give something up for Lent. Gather your family, and with Kate Basi’s fresh ideas, you will Bring Lent to Life. Fasting is not just giving up candy, almsgiving is more than giving away your unused allowance, and prayer becomes active. Embark on the adventure of practicing the three tenets of Lent in new ways.

Give Up Worry For Lent!: 40 Days To Finding Peace In Christ
By: Gary Zimak

Catholic author and self-described “recovering worrier,” Gary Zimak combines practical spirituality, daily scripture readings and simple action steps to help you kick the worry habit as part of your Lenten renewal. Learn to let go of the anxiety-producing areas of life in order to find the lasting peace that comes from trusting God. Find practical, scripture-centered advice on how to relinquish the need to control the uncontrollable—not just for Lent but for good—and how to find peace in Christ.