Sunday, October 12, 2008

29 gifts: Week one

It has been 12 days since I started the 29 gifts challenge. I've had a few thoughts on the whole process, so I thought I would share them in this first week.

The 29 gifts challenge "can be anything--material objects, money, your time, smiles or kind thoughts." (from the site.)

Here's some thoughts I've had in week one:

One anothering/Others focused
Waking up every morning, asking myself: "what can I give today?" has put me in a giving/one anothering frame of mind. It's so easy to get caught up in our own lives. Waking up, putting breakfast on the table, giving in our own family. These things are important, and also take up time and energy in and of themselves. But we are called as believers to minister to everyone. Our family, for sure. Believers and non-believers alike. I John 3:18 says, "Let us love with actions." I have this written on a small dry-erase board in my kitchen. This verse, and this challenge have made me more aware of the needs of others in my congregation, and in my daily life. It has caused me to rejoice in the giving--one day I gave the barista at Starbucks $5 after she made my latte. Totally random and unexpected for her and for me! She was pleased. Giving in this way allows us to go beyond our own issues in our own families and lives and reach out to others who are most definitely starved for love and one anothering. It allows us to have that spirit of giving said so simply in John 13:35: "By this all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

The element of surprise
Another aspect of this challenge is the whole "element of surprise" factor. I have found that I delight in surprising others with a small gift or service. One friend commented to me, "I thought this was a joke, but then realized *you* wouldn't play a joke like that!" That makes me sad! It makes me sad because I see that Jesus' love is not poured out as much as it should be. I am not saying this to add "one more thing" to our "to do" list, but to cause us to think. It made me think! Most moms out there need that element of surprise. "I am coming to your house and taking you out for coffee no matter what!"  We can find countless excuses and scheduling issues why we shouldn't be social with one another or give to one another in that way. I do it myself. I have found when I am almost forcing this gift on another person, they are blessed and relieved at the same time. It allows the giver to give, and the one being blessed to be blessed.
The element of surprise also allows me to not think too hard about the gift I am giving. Will this person like this? Will she need this? Will it be weird if I offer this? WHO CARES. Just give! =) Like I said, people are starved for this kind of love. It is not natural. We naturally are so focused on ourselves and on protecting ourselves, that we sometimes tend to forget about this abandon for giving as our Lord so graciously does for us every day.
I haven't been giving away extravagant things. I gave the gift of service one day. A pack of drinks another day. Home made chocolate chip cookies to my neighbor whose husband lost his job. Often these little gestures take no more time or energy than normal. It just takes us being others-focused. I baked cookies and my neighbor got some and so did my family! I bought some drinks and gave some away to a friend! I was out in the area of a friend's house and suggested I watch her kids for a bit. It is just the mindset of giving that we often don't recognize, and this challenge has given me an "excuse" to step out of my own comfort zone and spread the love of Jesus.

Giving in plenty and in want
Because of the current economic situation, it seems hard to give as much as we have been used to giving or more than what we have been used to giving. Resources, time, and energy seem scarce. But it is a good practice to give even in plenty and in want. It helps us realize where our trust lies: in God alone. Not our savings or 401k, but in Him. And as I said earlier, people (Christians *and* non-Christians) are starved for His love in their daily lives.  When times are tough, we should be helping and blessing others, even more so, I am seeing and realizing.

Overall, this challenge has helped me take focus off of myself and put it on others. This is good. It has helped me focus on loving others through actions, in learning about His unmerited gift, grace; and getting in a mindset of giving in general.

I look forward to sharing more thoughts along this journey!


laurel said...

Great to read your thoughts on the challenge so far. This has been the best challenge I have done so far b/c this challenge is OTHERS focused instead of SELF focused. And yet, when I think about this challenge, I think "it feels so good to think about others!". It is still about me! But, at least others are being blessed by it in the process :)
I am enjoying emailing with you about this, and reading about it on your blog!

dorothy said...

What I love most about what you said is how we all need to step outside our comfort zones, not worry if another would think us weird, and be Jesus to others. Great post and thanks for the drinks:)

Aimee said...

LOVE your ideas and thoughts on this. I have been experiencing many of the same's actually brought more JOY to my days wondering what clever or simple way I can give...nothing has been extravagant and I have missed some days, but it's a wonderful challenge that I am really enjoying. Thanks for getting me in on this challenge!

Rose said...

where are you? my blog is lonely without your encouraging comments! could use some of your advice. :)

L.L. Barkat said...

A joke. Wow, that is kind of surprising. How little I guess we experience small gifts? Makes me consider how much I should be engaged in giving them.

Carrie at dumptrucksandteacups said...

I've really enjoyed reading this post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, it really made me stop and think. :)

Praying all is well.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your gift to ME of this and other sweet, God-glorifying messages.
Mary Brooke

by...K@ Ashcroft said...

*delurking* I loved this post. I have been thinking about this sort of thing in my life a bit lately and just to be thought of makes us realize that we are important to someone else on this planet. A Very necessary thing I feel.
Can I ask you to email me and let me know what the "official" 29 day challenge is. I am very interested and would like to challenge others to do the same. Maybe if we as a society work like this in our daily lives and make it a habit, we can pull ourselves out of this slump our country is in. It's not just economic, we as humanity are slumped.

andie said...

Yeah! I am so glad you are doing the 29 days too. It has been such an exciting adventure. I love seeing the reaction from everyone I've "surprised".


Ruth MacC said...

Excellent post!

Last year a sister in the Lord was in the middle of moving house, she and her husband were totally stressed. I had hired out 'Miss Potter' on dvd the night before and thought it was just so relaxing to watch and my thoughts kept going to my friend, so the next morning I phoned her. I asked her if she had time to call over. I didn't tell he why or she wouldn't have come.

She called over and I put her on top of my bed, turned on the movie and my 9 yo son made her a pot of tea. Initially she grumbled as I left her alone, but then she totally relaxed and enjoyed the movie. While she was watching it her husband called over and the two of them lay there watching it together!

I know it was a strange thing to do but it really was just what she needed!

One thing I did a couple of times was to buy a nice fancy tall wine bag, and fill it full of things of one colour.
Once I got a blue wine bag and put blue things into it...
A holiday magazine with a blue ocean and sky on the front page (We can dream!)
A blue fluffy pen
Blue face pack
Blue sweets
A blue mug
Blue soap etc...

I gave it to another sister in the Lord to cheer her up because she was 'Blue"!

Courtney said...

Thanks for inspiring me to do this challenge! You're my hero!