20th Anniversary Edition
This year Craig and I celebrate our 20th anniversary — Some days it’s hard to remember what life was like before Craig, before the kids, and before the days when I could fit everything I owned in the world (eight boxes of books and kitchen supplies) into the back of my little red Toyota Tercel. So this year I thought I’d reprise the “40 Day Challenge” that we first embarked upon nearly a decade ago (!). If this is not your first time doing the challenge (or even if it is), I invite you to add your wisdom to the conversation, using the comments section.
The “40-Day Challenge” is a daily reflection that invites God to work in us so that we might grow deeper in love — become more loving toward God, toward your spouse, and even toward yourself! As we continue to surrender to God, the Divine Bridegroom, we allow Him to work in our lives and marriages, leading us to love those closest to us with a purer and more Christlike love.
Each day begins with the “Prayer of Abandonment” of Bl. Charles de Foucauld, a beautiful prayer of trust and surrender based on the Lord’s Prayer:
I abandon myself into your hands. Do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you.
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me, and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul;
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart.
for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands
without reserve, and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father.
Here are the forty themes of the challenge (feel free to take a sneak peek if you just can’t wait!).
Day 1: Let’s Get Started! (Wednesday)
Day 2: The Silence of Scholastica (Thursday)
Day 3: Acceptance (Friday)
Day 4: Beauty (Saturday)
First Sunday of Lent: Family Day! (Sunday)
Day 5: Complementarity (Monday)
Day 6: Dreaming (Tuesday)
Day 7: Diversions (Wednesday)
Day 8: Finances (Thursday)
Day 9: Forgiveness (Friday)
Day 10: Fun!
Second Sunday of Lent: Family Fun Day!
Day 11: Generosity (Monday)
Day 12: Gratitude (Tuesday)
Day 13: Health (Wednesday)
Day 14: Hope (Thursday)
Day 15: Integrity (Friday)
Day 16: Keepsakes (Saturday)
Third Sunday of Lent: Family Day! (Sunday)
Day 17: Leave and Cleave (Monday)
Day 18: Longing (Tuesday)
Day 19: Memories (Wednesday)
Day 20: Mercy (Thursday)
Day 21: Mystery (Friday)
Day 22: Night (Saturday)
Fourth Sunday of Lent: Family Day! (Sunday)
Day 23: Objectivity (Monday)
Day 24: Pride (Tuesday)
Day 25: Prayer (Wednesday)
Day 26: Quiet (Thursday)
Day 27: Respect (Friday)
Day 28: Sacrifice (Saturday)
Fifth Sunday of Lent: Family Day! (Sunday)
Day 29: Talk! (Monday)
Day 30: Thoughtfulness (Tuesday)
Day 31: Trouble (Wednesday)
Day 32: Understanding (Thursday)
Day 33: Variety (Friday)
Day 34: Welcome (Saturday)
Special Palm Sunday Bonus: Family Day! (Sunday)
Day 35: Wealth (Monday)
Day 36: Wisdom (Tuesday)
Day 37: X-amine Your Own Marriage (Wednesday)
Day 38: Yes! (Holy Thursday)
Day 39: Zzzzz (Good Friday)
Day 40: 40 Day Challenge: 20 Years Later
What Now? If you have finished the challenge and are ready for the next step, consider picking up a copy (and reading together) one of these marriage classics. If you have another favorite, of if you would just like to tell me about your experience doing the challenge, feel free to post your comments here, or drop me an email! God bless you.
“Intimate Graces: How Practicing Works of Mercy Brings Out the Best in Marriage” by Teresa Tomeo and Deacon Dom Pastore
“The Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning” by Simcha Fisher
“Holy Sex! A Catholic Guide to Toe-Curling, Mind-blowing, Infallible Loving” by Greg Popcak
“The Good News about Sex and Marriage” by Christopher West (TOB and married life).
And if your marriage is truly in need of some TLC, let me recommend a group that helped us at a most difficult time of our marriage. Retrouvaille is a support and sharing program that respects couple’s privacy while giving them the tools they need to start talking constructively again — no matter what the issues might be.
God bless you as you and your spouse work together to make it ANOTHER 20 years!