Thursday, October 31, 2013

30 days of {thanks}giving


"all that we behold is full of blessings." 
 ~william wordsworth

i'm not sure if i want to call this a challenge or an opportunity or just a plain, old necessity.

whatever we decide to call it though, i do hope to call it a gift. 

you see, i've got a stirring in my heart to embrace this month of thanksgiving a little more ... well ... 
t h a n k f u l l y.

how about you?

want to come along?

i've loved having many of you with me in the october prayer challenge --- that's been my blessing. it's challenged me. held me accountable. made me organize my pictures. encouraged me to ponder words and scripture. it has even made me get up early every morning! most of all, though, it made me PRAY MORE for my kids. thank you, dear ones, for that accountability!

so, after a month of focused prayer, is our home now squeaky clean and picture perfect? --- nope! not in the least bit, but i do know that God heard my prayers (He hears my prayers) -- your prayers -- and that He is in the business of doing holy work ... even in our messy, crazy, most unholy kind of homes.

we pray. He provides. with His love and mercy He hears our words and He works on our behalf ... simply because He loves us.

and, by the way, i can't imagine a better deal out there.

i was thinking it might be a bit much to add another 30 day anything after our prayer-filled october. i mean, i don't want you to think me too zealous or too over the top or too anything. is it okay in the social media and blogging world to do back to back monthly challenges? probably not. someone would probably like to tell me to take a break. pause. chill. at least sleep in a little.

except what am i supposed to do with this stirring? tell me that, would you!

because in this last week of lovely october, i can't help but think about the coming november and all that comes along with this month.

i'm thinking about thanksgiving and giving thanks. i'm thinking about gratitude. and as much as i felt the need to pray MORE for my children last month, i am feeling the need to give MORE thanks to my God this month.

and i was wondering if i could wrangle up a little company. interested?

like, i can't have y'all over for thanksgiving dinner on november 28th ... (though, that would be some kind of fun) ... but i can invite you all to the table this month of daily thanksgiving.

even after those 31 days of pictures and scripture in october, i assure you, there's no shortage. i'd love to do something similar in november and each morning post a prompt --- something which moves us to a spirit of gratitude. a word and scripture which encourages us to count blessings and deliberately collect gifts.
"How my eyes see, perspective, is my key to enter into His gates. I can only do so with thanksgiving. If my inner eye has God seeping up through all things, then can't I give thanks for anything? And if I can give thanks for the good things, the hard things, the absolute everything, I can enter the gates to glory. Living in His presence is fullness of joy- and seeing shows the way in.”  ~ Ann Voskamp
i want this thanksgiving to be not about the right size turkey or the homemade pumpkin pie or the perfectly appointed table. i want this thanksgiving to be about GIVING THANKS. really. truly. seriously. giving and thanking. thanking and giving.

giving thanks to God for the good, sweet, wonderful gifts of everyday living. for the little things. for the big things. for the obvious things. for the hidden and even for the hard. yes, you read that correctly --- for the hard. can we use this month to GIVE THANKS for all of it. everything.

still want to come along?  --- i sure hope so!

because it's giving thanks for the hard which turns the key and let's us, as ann voskamp said above, "enter the gates of glory."

we must see it.
seek it.
uncover the treasure locked up in everything.
not just the obvious beauty ...
                              ----- but {sometimes} the hidden blessing of the hard.

do you believe we can give God thanks for all of it?

"in everything give thanks; 
for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." ~ 1 thessalonians 5:18

God has taken our family through some hard things to show us a glimpse of His glory. what has He taken you and your family through? what hard place are you living in right now? when life is ugly and broken we don't always first think of THANKSGIVING, do we? but everything in me wants to enter those gates of glory ... and if it takes a spirit of gratitude, than Lord, make me MORE grateful.

still game?

i won't tell you that thanking God for the hard is easy, because usually it isn't -- but it's good. always good.

i can tell you it's good because i've walked a little way down that path. i know it in the big things like my journey with cancer and a cross country move with five kids. but i know it also in the smaller things, too. i know it when the sink is piled high with dirty dishes and the toddler has his 5th ear infection and there's no milk in the fridge and the laundry is beginning to smell and the husband is traveling and the bills have piled up and the woman is plumb worn out. i know giving thanks is good even in those every day, draining, ordinary, overwhelming kinds of things. i know it even when all i want to do is go to bed early and escape.

giving thanks doesn't always change our circumstances,  but it always changes us.
let's read that again.
giving thanks doesn't always change our circumstances,  but it always changes us.

a few years ago, i was helping my little guy with some homework. it was hard (for him). he wasn't getting it. defeated, we sat together at the kitchen table with our tears, frustrated words and bad attitudes. both of us. why couldn't he get this math? why did it have to be so hard? what was wrong? why him? why me? {ever been there?} i got up from the table to take a break and to go find myself a little patience. i made myself a cup of tea and wandered into the office where i had a note card sitting out on the desk.  "in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." yep. there it was. in my own handwriting. black and white and convicting. and the tears began to fall. {don't you just love when God sets us up like this?}

really, Lord?

give thanks in this? in third grade math? really?

i looked again at the words. IN EVERYTHING ...

i tried to find a loop hole. a way out. IN EVERYTHING ...

i tried ignore the card and focus elsewhere. IN EVERYTHING ...

i even tried to glare at the card.  IN EVERYTHING ...

so with my head bowed low on that desk i gave thanks for this difficult math and for this struggling boy and for this hour at the kitchen table. i gave thanks. and as the words began to come -begrudgingly and falteringly at first -- finally, the thanksgiving began to pour forth. and the more i gave thanks the easier it became to see something good in this ordinary, but hard, mothering moment.

it's not magic. it's not a mystery. it's meeting Jesus.
Jesus gets the glory when we give the thanks ... but we get the gift when we see His glory revealed  --- even in the hard, small, bitter bites of life.
so, my challenge this month ---

let's not race around in the first three weeks of november and then plop down at the table and try to quick remember each and every thing for which we are thankful. let's start on november 1st. let's take our time. let's treat it like treasure. let's hunt together for the gifts that God has so richly given. let's look at our minutes and our hours and our tasks and our tests with new eyes. eyes that are willing and wanting to see ... to really see every good thing God has provided.

let's be mindful. prayerful. grateful. thankful. in all things. every thing. even the things which cause us to put our heads down on the desk and cry.

still on board? i sure hope so! please leave me a comment or a message and let me know if you're joining me this month...i'd love to hear from you.
check out my facebook page for those morning prompts ---  a picture. a scripture. a challenge to give MORE thanks to God.* i'll also post (in the upper right corner of this blog) a link to the THANKSGIVING prompts each day. find it on facebook (remember you have to "like" my page and then continue to "like" the prompts each day to see it in your newsfeed -- that's just how facebook seems to work). 
also, feel free to invite a few friends to the table of thanksgiving. even that friend who is going through something hard ... invite her. invite him. there's no limit on the guest list at this party of praise and thanksgiving. the table is big. the need is bigger. 
let our grateful words be heard as we proclaim His goodness.

"praise the Lord! 
for He is good! 
His faithful love endures forever." ~ psalm 106:1

one last thing ... yesterday morning i attended the wednesday morning chapel at my kids' school.  it moved me to watch kids, kindergarten through 8th grade, jump around and sing this chorus:
With a cry of praise my heart will proclaim
You are good! You are good!
In the sun or rain, my life celebrates
You are good! You are good!
what if we lived november like these kids sang this song? jumping around and singing God's praise and believing with everything in us He. Is. Good. what if?

friends, let's not skip november.


Jaimi@The Stay-at-Home-Mom Survival Guide said...

Wonderful mindset for this season and always. I too believe in giving thanks even for the challenges and struggles that find us. I think God truly is teaching me a major lesson in those moments and I am grateful that he loves me so much to do that! You go right ahead and break any blogging rules about challenges! Found you in the Inspired Bloggers Network and will be sharing this wonderful call to action with my readers! Thanks for some great motivation.

Anonymous said...

I needed this post this morning. Lost a very good friend to cancer yesterday.