Everything is Gift – Wrap-Up and Follow-Up

 

hands holding gift box

Photo by asenat29. Used in accordance with Creative Commons.

Hello everyone!

First of all, my apologies for not posting last Monday. I know at least one of you asked about it, so I’m glad that you’re holding me accountable and wanting to read what I write. Thank you. I’m re-committing to posting every Monday, starting today. Now, onto the main topic….

Thanks to all of you who participated in the Everything is Gift spiritual discipline campaign! I hope that your experience led you to a greater sense of joy and gratitude for all of the gifts God gives you on a daily basis, especially the gift of Jesus Christ, born on Christmas Day. Having heard from some of you, I’m encouraged by the effects this campaign has had.

My final reflection is simply this: I’m grateful that I got to provide this campaign for all of you. I am blessed that you would choose to participate and that God would use my work to bless you and lead you into a deeper experience of Him.

Now you may be wondering, what do I do to build on this campaign? Here’s some suggestions:

  1. Keep doing it! If it’s helping you connect with God, do it!
  2. Consider keeping a gratitude journal. Every day, simply list five things you’re grateful for. According to Dr. Henry Cloud, research shows that those who do this fall asleep faster, sleep longer and feel better afterwards. I haven’t had the chance to review the research for myself, but I’m certainly willing to test this discipline to see what happens.
  3. Help someone else experience more of life as a gift. There are many ways you could do this, such as:
    • Tell someone about your experience doing this campaign.
    • Give someone a gift.
    • Listen empathetically to someone talk about a situation in her life (listen for and reflect emotions, don’t judge or evaluate the situation, refrain from giving advice), and then  help the person search for how God is present in that situation.
    • Find ways to make a common experience more playful, or adventurous, or enjoyable. This is especially helpful for children.

Whatever you do, I hope that you enter more deeply into the reality that all of life is a gift from God throughout the days ahead.

What was your experience of the Everything is Gift spiritual discipline?

Leave a comment to continue our conversation.

Reflections on Everything is Gift – Dec. 16, 2013

Reflections on the Everything is Gift spiritual discipline campaign, 18 days in:

hands holding gift box

Photo by asenat29. Used in accordance with Creative Commons.

I get to write this post.

That’s not an easy sentence to write. It’s much easier to say that I have to write this post.

I mentioned in my last reflection that I default to the obligation mindset, especially when under time pressure. I’ve been feeling the time pressure in new ways these past few weeks ever since I started my new job. As with any major life change, my rhythms of life are evolving to account for this new commitment. In particular, I’m learning how to balance my full-time job with my other time commitments, both personal and professional. One effect of this is that I feel like a beginner quite often. Like I’m learning how to do something for the first time, because in effect, I am doing these new rhythms for the first time. As a result, tasks creep up on me, and I end up doing more and more at what feels like the last minute. And that’s when I start thinking that I have to do something.

This post is one of those last-minute items. But given the rules of my own campaign, I can’t say “I have to.” So I’m sitting here pondering what the gift is in getting to do this.

I think it’s this: I get to ask you for help. As much as I would love to write something profound and insightful, the truth is that this time, I have no such insight. Instead, I have the realization that ” have to” is a big part of me and that it gets exacerbated when I’m not in a rhythm. So now that it’s out there, would you pray for me to embrace this season of life and all God desires to teach me during this time? I would love to have your support just as much as I want to support you through all I produce.

I got to write this post.

What are you learning about yourself as you participate in this campaign?

Leave a comment to continue our conversation.

Reflections on Everything is Gift – Dec. 9, 2013

Reflections on the Everything is Gift spiritual discipline campaign, 11 days in. I notice that I default to an obligation mindset, especially when I feel any sort of time pressure, and it’s stunning to me how deeply ingrained this habit is. I would say more about this, and I suspect I’ll have more to say in a future reflection, but there’s another reflection that I want to focus on for this post.

hands holding gift box

Photo by asenat29. Used in accordance with Creative Commons.

I mentioned in my last reflection how important I believe it is to convey the experience that everything is a gift from God to my kids. Well, this week I was aware of just how much kids are told they have to do things. I hear parents telling their kids, “You have to do this” or “You need to do this.” I hear it from Sunday School workers at church. My sense of how the kids receive it is not good. I feel like I see it on their faces and read it in their body language that they’re at least a little more subdued whenever it happens. And I’m not writing as if I’m above it at all. I convey obligation regularly, even if I’m not using “have to” language.

This troubles me greatly. I wonder how many young spirits are being crushed because they’re given commands without having their free will acknowledged. I wonder how many children will grow up believing that their job is to perform to the various obligations placed on them by other people.

I have much anguish over this. Father, I want to repent of the numerous ways in which I convey to my kids and other children that they must perform for me without any opportunity for choice or even acknowledgement that they have the ability to choose. Forgive me for the ways in which I imprint on their hearts the impression that love is given only when obligations are met. Forgive me for the ways in which I use words to constrict spirits rather than create life and freedom.

Father, teach me (and all of us) that you shepherd us with firm standards in mind, and that you also shepherd with unconditional love and full acknowledgement of our free will. Let us know this in our experience and not merely in our abstract thoughts. We cannot convey this experience to our children unless we have experienced it first, so lead us out of our blindness and show us Your better way. We need You. Desperately.

Ask the Lord: In what ways do you convey obligation without freedom to those around you?

Leave a comment to continue our conversation.

Reflections on Everything is Gift – Dec. 2, 2013

Hello everyone! I hope you’re enjoying your experience of the Everything is Gift spiritual discipline campaign. Here are my reflections after shifting from “have to” to “get to” for the past four days:

hands holding gift box

Photo by asenat29. Used in accordance with Creative Commons.

  1. I like doing it. It feels fun and exciting for me. I also enjoy it because it reveals a lot about me – how I think, respond, and receive what comes at me.
  2. Doing the daily reflections in my Everything is Gift e-book helps me focus on what I’m doing with this discipline. I find it to be much more effective than just doing the discipline by itself. If you haven’t downloaded the book, I encourage you to do so by signing up for my update list. It’s totally free, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
  3. My language patterns are undergoing a wholesale change because I’m eliminating “have to”, “must”, “need to”, and the like from my speech. I find myself using language that explicitly reflects my choice to engage in the activities I do. In this shift, I’m acknowledging my freedom of choice in every situation to a much greater degree.
  4. Saying “I get to” is not particularly easy. Shifting from “I have to” to “I choose to” is a pretty straightforward change for me. But shifting from “I have to” to “I get to” is much more difficult. This comes up a lot in situations where I have a choice about what do to. Internally, I see that I want to explicitly state that I am choosing a particular activity. What I’m not doing, at least not consciously, is acknowledging the gift aspect of what I’m choosing. I think there’s more to ponder here….
  5. It’s really hard for me to say “I get to” to things that push my buttons. Whenever my blood is boiling, saying “I get to” is quite the challenge. Seeing those situations as gifts is not something I’m particularly good at right now.
  6. I’m definitely much more aware of how important it is to convey the Everything is Gift experience to my kids. They can benefit so much from having me create an environment in which they see how much blessing is embedded into every experience and in which their freedom of choice is honored. My language patterns with them can use much change in order to give them this experience.

Looking forward to another week of practice!

What is your experience with the Everything is Gift spiritual discipline so far?

Leave a comment to continue our conversation.

Everything is Gift Begins Today!

Today is the official start date for the Everything is Gift spiritual discipline campaign. To refresh your memory, here are the guidelines:

hands holding gift box

Photo by asenat29. Used in accordance with Creative Commons.

  1. This spiritual discipline begins on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 28) and ends on Christmas Day (Dec. 25). Christmas Day is part of this discipline, so keep following the guidelines until the day ends!
  2. For the duration of this discipline, you are not allowed to say or otherwise use the following phrases:
    1. Have to
    2. Must
    3. Need to
    4. Should
    5. Ought to
    6. Anything that’s essentially related to the above phrases
  3. Instead of the above phrases, you are to substitute the phrase “get to”.
  4. There is absolutely no cost or obligation involved. You’re doing this because you want to.

If you haven’t gotten your copy of the Everything is Gift eBook yet, either sign up for my mailing list or check your e-mail for the download link.

I’m looking forward to hearing about your experiences as you practice this discipline. I’ll be sharing mine on my blog starting this coming Monday.