Writing my 1000 gifts in this journal has been an amazing experience for me. I love taking time each morning to write my blessings down on paper. I am a lover of lists, and this one is by far my favorite. I can feel my attitude and outlook changing more and more each day. If you haven't started your own 1000 gifts list yet, I cannot encourage or recommend it enough. One Thousand Gifts, along with Love Does and several sermons at church, have shown me that gratitude needs to be so much more than an attitude-- it is must be an action. Yes, we should give thanks and even count our blessings but it can't stop there. A quote that I have heard several times lately is:
We are blessed to be a blessing.
What are we doing with the gifts we are given? How are we living out our thankfulness? How are we blessing others with our blessings? Ann Voskamp writes daily on her blog & a quote that has stuck with me from a recent post is:
"Thanksgiving that doesn't come from ThanksLIVING isn't thanksgiving-- dare we say it's thanksdead. It's thanks nothing."
I don't want dead thanks. I want to live my thanks. Everyday. This time of year especially, there are so many opportunities to live our thanks. Samaritan's Purse is launching their Operation Christmas Child campaign. Food banks and pantries are in need of groceries to extend to those who are hungry-- physically and spiritually. Churches and communities everywhere are preparing for ways to sponsor families during this holiday season.
My encouragment to you is to use the talents and desires God gives you to serve others. As you know, food and nutrition are near and dear to my heart. My heart aches knowing there are people hungry in our community. More than just thinking about it, I want to do something. Our church collects weekly for the food pantry and also organizes volunteers for a Meals on Wheels type program. God placed it on my heart to dig deeper to find ways to serve these ministries. I can't wait to see what opportunities He provides.
Maybe food isn't your thing. Maybe you're great with technology or great at leading or great at organizing or great at encouraging or maybe God has blessed you financially. I think I can honestly say if you are reading this blog on a computer or smart phone, you are blessed financially. Dustin & I are learning more and more that our money is not our own-- it is ultimately His. Thinking of our finances in these terms has drastically changed things for us. We want to be good stewards of all that God gives us. Whatever your talent, blessing, or passion is: use it to serve. Here are some ideas for putting your gratitude into action:
- Write notes of encouragement to those you know are experiencing a difficult season.
- Consider using your bonus to give to the local ministries in your area.
- Rather than writing a mile-long wish list for Christmas, try writing a longer list of ways you can contribute to your community.
- Even if you feel like money is tight-- trust me, we all know how that is-- you can always find ways to cut back on your spending. Give up that drive through coffee/sweet tea/Diet Coke. Mark the chips and extra treats (that aren't really healthy anyways) off your grocery list. Use the money you save to contribute to a cause that you are passionate about.
- Donate your time by volunteering at a local soup kitchen or shelter.
- Go through your closet and donate those sweaters, coats, and mittens that aren't being worn.
My point is, we can talk about our gratitude, pray about our gratitude, & even list our gratitude-- but we have to do something. What gets you excited? What is your passion? What speaks to your heart? Use your blessings to be a blessing. I would love to hear your ideas or ways you put your gratitude into action. The New Living Translation of Hebrews 10:24 says it like this: "Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works." That is my goal here, friends. To motivate you to acts of love and good works. Just as I have been encouraged and motivated.
Let's be thankful.
Let's live our thankfulness.
Let's encourage each other to do good.
Have a blessed day and be a blessing!