30 Days of Thanks-{GIVING}

November is traditionally the month that we give thanks... it's become quite the trend on Facebook to post one thing each day that you're thankful for all through November. I think this is a fun way to reflect on all of our blessings as we approach the holiday season. However, the Lord has recently placed something on my heart that I would like to begin as a tradition (and CHALLENGE!) for my family. It's a tradition/challenge that I'd like to share and would feel humbled and blessed if you would join us in it :-)

This year, rather than take 30 seconds and think of a thing I can SAY thanks for each day, I'd like to take time {real time} to reflect on a way to GIVE THANKS. The Lord GAVE His only begotten son so that we may have everlasting life... as we walk through November, we approach the month of His sacred giving.

I want to spend my November in anticipation of the anniversary of His gift to US, by GIVING all that I can, in Thanks.

Here's the plan: each week of November will have a theme of giving. We will give our Attention, our Service, our Encouragement, and our Gifts.

Week 1: Our Attention (Nov 1st-Nov7th)

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.
Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.
Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.
Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.  Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it.
Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. Romans 12:1-2 The Message

God wants our attention. He gave us life, a home, a family, food... eternal salvation and grace... just to name a few ;-) He gives A LOT. He also gives us attention. Every.single.time we bow our head or groan in frustration or sing a song of worship, He is there- listening, answering, going before us. He's kind of the best Father ever. He NEVER ignores us. Like Ever. It may *seem* like it at times, but a life filled with faithful wisdom knows that He never does. He's like #1 Attention-Giver. And, in response, He asks for us to GIVE ATTENTION.

Give attention to HIM, His Word, His Son, His Will, His Plan, His Earth, His Children, His Church. He doesn't want passive service and empty words... He wants our ATTENTION. So let's give it.

The Challenge: Each of these 7 days should be about intentional thoughtfulness and focus. One challenge would be to begin each day with 10-15 minutes of attention ONLY on the Lord and His Word. Let's start our day with prayer and worship, without distraction, even if we have to get up an hour early to get this time to ourselves. He gives us EVERYTHING, so let's give Him our attention, first thing- right where He belongs. This is a life-changer, Promise.

We all have people, things or areas in our lives that we push to the back burner. Maybe it's distant relatives, old friends, our husbands, our hallway closet- whatever it is that you IGNORE, be intentional. Make a plan to have one thing/person/place each day that you give your attention to. Call your grandma, give your husband a backrub or give your dog a bath.

Let's give attention to those things/people in your life that are there because God blessed us with them.

Even if it's just about being a more focused, involved parent... let's be intentional. Shut off facebook, pinterest, whatever else and give our undivided attention where it belongs.

Giving our ATTENTION to the people, places and things God has placed into our lives tells Him THANK YOU for these blessings.

Week 2: Our Service (Nov 8th- 14th)

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place.
“Do you understand what I have done for you?”he asked them.
“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.
Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.
I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.
Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master,
nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.
Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
John 13: 12-17

It's certainly no secret that Jesus was a servant-leader. He inspired those around him into following him not through commands, shouting, intimidation or fear, but through SERVICE. He healed, he encouraged, he taught, he WASHED FEET.

He came from Heaven into the dirt of a stable and began a life of SERVICE to all of those around him. He died in service of OUR sins.

The Challenge: This week is about serving others. You may say "Hey! I'm a wife/mom/whatever and I SERVE people all day long!" That may be true, and likely is, however... where are our hearts when we serve? Are we doing just what we can to get by? Are we serving others with resentment or anger? Are we feeling unrecognized and under-appreciated? Are we gritting our teeth and white-knuckling it? OR are we serving with a humble heart out of worship to our Father? Are we bowing down and scrubbing floors and digging for lost shoes with a thankFULL heart knowing that we have floors to scrub and shoes to look for? Are we taking the time to LOVE and serve those who have no one to LOVE them? Are we sitting with the widow or holding the orphan?

Personally, I fall more into the former category on most days rather than the latter. Let's challenge ourselves to SERVE others for these 7 days. Can we find a nursing home to visit and bless those who have no one? Can we volunteer to help the single mom down the street have the night to herself? Can we feed your baby and tame your toddler with a Joy-Filled heart because they are there and healthy and alive and precious? Can we step outside of our day-to-day hustle and mess to find another of God's children that our experiences and talents and presence could bless immensely? Let's be creative! In what way can we be a Do-er of the Word and not just a Hearer?

Week 3: Our Encouragement (Nov 15th-21st)

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothes yourselves with compassion... Colossians 3:12

How much are we blessed when we're having a rotten day and sometime tells us that we look as if we've lost weight? Or how our shirt is the perfect color for our complexion? Or that our children are so precious and well-behaved? How much does an encouraging word lift your mood and change the direction of your day?

The Challenge: As the children of God, the Body of Christ, we are to clothe ourselves with compassion. When we look upon one another with compassion, empathy and understanding, we stop judging one another and look for a way to lift each other up.

As mothers/wives, our MISSION is to encourage our children and husbands to live boldly for Christ. We are to encourage them in their walk with God... speaking words of LIFE, FAITH and LOVE into their hearts.

Some of us are natural encouragers and others are not. For me personally, it's not a strong suit. I can be naturally pessimistic and see what needs "improvement" rather than note all that's already been accomplished. AND sometimes, the only time I give the encouragement is to soften the criticism *palm to face*.

This week I will be praying for the words my children and husband crave to hear from me... just the good, just the joy, just the "GREAT JOB!" and a high-five. No if, ands, or buts. Sometimes our children need our correction, but more often than not, they simply crave our praise and encouragement. Let's pour it on... let's pour the up-lifting spirit of Jesus right into their hearts. Let's do this for our children, our husbands, our neighbors, our friends, our SISTERS.

Let's not judge one another but lean into one another; encouraging and uplifting each other as we all struggle along together.

Week 4: Our Gifts (Nov 22nd-28th)

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in it's various forms. 1 Peter 4:10

We all have different gifts that God has blessed us with... it's what makes us a unique and COMPLETE body. This week, after we have THANKED GOD with our attention, service and encouragement, let's Thanks-Give with our gifts and talents. This could be financially or it could be a physical talent.

The Challenge: Can you sing? You could visit that nursing home and perform. Are you a teacher? How about you start that Bible Study you've been thinking about.

We have all been stitched together in such a way, in such a place, and at such a time, specifically to perform duties that will fulfill God's purposes for us- all the while glorifying Him.

What special things has God woven into the fabric of your being that you can share with others? What has He woven into your children that they could learn to utilize to bring Him glory and to bless others?

Now would be a great time to take a spiritual giftings test or discuss our children's gifts with them. Let's take this time to demonstrate to them how we can use all that God has blessed us with (physically, spiritually, emotionally and financially) to show His love to the world around us.

In closing: God is a big GIVER. Give is the verb of the Bible, as recently stated by our Pastor during his series on generosity. Thanks-GIVING need not be about lip-service to those in our lives. Thanks-GIVING should be about GIVING in response to our Thanks. It should be our worship.

Not just on paper, but in our hearts, with our hands, out in the world. Like Jesus. He wasn't just a guy on paper.. he was all heart, using his hands, out in the world. He GAVE it all, he served, he encouraged, he attended. He is our Master and our model. For 30 days, let's really GIVE.

Will you join me? I'd love to hear from you! What ideas do you have to attend, encourage, serve and give? Please comment below and keep me updated as you walk through this time of worship toward our precious Savior's birthday :-)