Write 31 Days Recap: 31 Days of Offering Up

Write 31 Days Recap: 31 Days of Offering Up

I’m re-sharing my Day 1 post of 31 Days of Offering that I ran through the month of October. If you missed any of the 31 posts, click the links below!

Next week I will begin a new 6-week blog series. Stayed tuned!

Bye, October! Hello, November!

{October 1, 2015 REpost}

I’m really excited to join write31days.com for a second year! For the month of October, I will be joining many other bloggers in a challenge to blog every day of the month. My theme this year will be “31 Days of Offering Up”. “Offering up” is a phrase I read recently in the book, A Severe Mercy, by Sheldon Vanauken. The phrase refers to sacrifice, giving up something dear to you, a letting go. We all have to let go of things throughout our lifetime. Sometimes those things are easy to part with, other times it seems like an impossible request of life. Our attitude during these times and how we view the sacrifice is the difference between living depressed or in contentment. In my life, sometimes I have chosen rightly, others I have fought the offering up required of me and found myself unhappy and discontent. But as I have seen, over and over, the reward of the sacrifice, it has become easier to let go of the things that I tend to hold onto so tightly. My selfishness weakens and I trust the One who is a rewarder of those who sacrifice. So I invite you to join me this month – to read the stories of my offering up and to remember your own offering up and that there is always a reward to the sacrifice. Today, on day 1, I will share with you a vision the Lord let me experience many months ago about this very thing….

I saw the Lord standing, with His arms widespread. I saw a line of people coming to Him, each one bearing a gift. Many of them looked mournful, they were bringing their gift to lay down at the feet of Jesus because they knew it was required but they were filled with sorrow because of the sacrifice required. So many would come, lay their gift at the feet of Jesus and turn and walk out the door, dejected and sad. But then there were some, they would lay their gift at the feet of Jesus and just sit down in His presence, like they were waiting for something. These were the people the Lord smiled at. He smiled because His intent is never for people to leave His presence empty-handed, and a few knew that. He wished the others would understand. When He calls us to sacrifice, to offer up, He always wants to refill our hands. And the Lord is amazing in His ‘trade’, He always trades up. He turns mourning into dancing. He turns sadness into joy. He gives beauty when we bring Him our ashes. We are never to leave empty-handed so when we give our gift and then just wait. He will always give us something in return. Our offering up is never in vain, He rewards the most precious gift we offer up to Him… with something even greater. 

Read Day 2: Offering Up: Day 2

Read Day 3: Offering Up as a Parent

Read Day 4: Living in the Middle of the Offering Up

Read Day 5: Offering Up the Risk of Being Misunderstood

Read Day 6: Offering Up Home

Read Day 7: Offering Up My Normal

Read Day 8: Offering Up My Expectations and Ideals

Read Day 9: Offering Up My Self-Centeredness

Read Day 10: Offering Up My Lifestyle

Read Day 11: Offering Up My Babies

Read Day 12: My Greatest Offering Up… My Son, Malachi

Read Day 13: Offering Up Control

Read Day 14: Offering Up My Deepest Desire

Read Day 15: Choosing Your Perspective in the Offering Up… A Tribute to Grandpa Dick

Read Day 16: Offering Up the Right to a Clean House

Read Day 17: Offering Up My Worship Experience

Read Day 18: Offering Up My Hurting Heart

Read Day 19: Offering Up Jealousy and Comparison

Read Day 20: Offering Up My Laziness

Read Day 21: Offering Up My Routine

Read Day 22: Offering Up Ministry

Read Day 23: Offering Up My Money

Read Day 24: Offering Up My Martyrdom

Read Day 25: Offering Up My Traditions

Read Day 26: Offering Up My Heart Treasures

Read Day 27: Offering Up My Own Comfort

Read Day 28: Offering Up the Notebook

Read Day 29: Offering Up My Offense

Read Day 30: Offering Up Legalism

Read Day 31: Offering Up ME

Day 31: Offering Up ME

Day 31: Offering Up ME

I’ve lived through seasons of hell on earth and through seasons of pinch-me-I-can’t-believe-I-get-to-live-this-way. What I’m learning is that every bit of it – the horrendous, ugly parts and the successes and all that is good – all belong on the altar, offered up to Jesus.

A friend sent me this verse the other day…

“Put your hope in the Lord. Travel steadily along His path…”

~Psalm 37:34 (NLT)

Travel steadily. Through the good seasons, the bad ones. Travel steadily. It’s all about Him – when the road is hard or it is easy. Anything we do is through Him – grace to stand, grace in the falling. And it’s all for Him. He wins. It’s His story. Don’t run yourself off the edge when it is bad – travel steadily. Don’t run off ahead of Him when it is good – travel steadily.

I steadily offer it all up to HIm. Steadily offer ME all up to HIm.

***This is the last day of “31 Days of Offering Up” – part of the #write31days challenge. To read all the posts in order, please visit the overview page.***

Day 30: Offering Up Legalism

Day 30: Offering Up Legalism

Legalism. Yuck. What an ugly word. One definition of legalism is: the judging of conduct in terms of adherence to precise laws. For someone who believes that we can only be saved (come to Jesus) through His grace, legalism is the exact opposite. But for many years, I was a legalist. I judged. I looked at people and judged them by their conduct, their behavior. I worked to make sure my conduct and behavior lined up with the rules and principles of a good Christian. And if it didn’t, I certainly didn’t tell anyone. I just tried harder the next day. So fake. So gross.

I’ve been on a long journey of getting free of legalism. I’ve been on a journey of the heart – my own and others – becoming the most important thing. It’s amazing how offering up your heart to Jesus, instead of your good works, creates a much more intimate relationship. It’s amazing how when you sit with people and get to know them and their heart, judgement dissipates. It’s amazing when you come to terms with the fact that you’ve got some ugly in your heart that’s affecting your behavior, that awareness, gives Jesus permission to work on the heart – which in turn will change the behavior. It’s a process though. At any given season in any of our lives, we are in process of Jesus transforming us. A constant transformation is happening, so judging myself or others on outward appearances at any point in the process is… dumb.

So legalism and self-righteous judgements have to go. They have to be offered up for the freedom and intimacy that we can experience that is so much better.

***This is Day 30 of “31 Days of Offering Up” – part of the #write31days challenge. To read all the posts in order, please visit the overview page.***

Day 29: Offering Up My Offense

Day 29: Offering Up My Offense

I hate offense. I hate when people take themselves too seriously and they get offended easily. And I really hate when I get offended. I strive for and pray for grace to ‘live unoffendable’… this probably isn’t attainable this side of heaven but it’s something to aim for.

This weekend, someone said something to me that hit me a tad wrong… and, boom, there is was, I was offended. I was hurt. I felt my defenses go up. I found my mind fill up with negative thoughts towards this person. Putting blame, finding fault, accusation and criticism at it’s finest. And I. hated. it.

I hated every part of this offense creeping into my heart. I didn’t want to be offended. I didn’t want to feel hurt… especially by such a minor incident with someone I actually really respect and love. But over the next 20 minutes or so, I couldn’t get a grip on my thoughts and feelings.

So, I began to offer it up. I couldn’t talk myself out of being offended but I know the One who can. A negative thought would hit me – I would offer it up. Letting God replace the lies that were accusing and criticizing of the other person with the truth of who they really were. They hadn’t meant to respond to me in a way that would hurt me. They didn’t have ill feelings towards me. These things were the truth, not the ugly things my mind (or more accurately, the Enemy) was telling me.

It took a bit of time that morning, but the Lord did it. He took away my offense. Healed my hurt. Destroyed the lies. As I offered up my offense to Him, He replaced it with a restored heart of love towards the other person.

***This is Day 29 of “31 Days of Offering Up” – part of the #write31days challenge. To read all the posts in order, please visit the overview page.***

Day 28: Offering Up the Notebook

Day 28: Offering Up the Notebook

Sometimes the things we offer up don’t have much perceived value – monetary or sentimental. But anything our heart wants to hold onto instead of surrender up, is an offering up. This is the case with ‘the notebook’….

Last month, I received a box from Freely with some pretty sweet stuff in it. (You should check it out!) I kept most of it but gave away a book that I knew I’d probably never get to and a CD that I already owned. I gave those 2 items away at a monthly women’s gathering that I host in my community.

For October, I had purchased a mug from Carlainfullbloom for the purpose of giving it away and then was planning to chose one thing from October’s Freely shipment to giveaway as well. Last week I received an email from Freely that led me to think I may not receive my shipment before The Gathering this month. And I immediately thought of the journal/notebook in last month’s shipment that I hadn’t used yet. I cringed. I LOVE pretty notebooks and journals. I LOVE the one I received last month and was just waiting for the right time to dive into this gorgeous blank book. I did not want to give this notebook away.

So Monday came, my deadline, I went to check the mail, praying that my box would have arrived. It did not. My heart cringed again. I was going to give away my notebook. Yes, I could have bought something else but it didn’t seem right. I knew the Lord was asking me to surrender the notebook. And so I did, I gave away that notebook. I pray that the one who received it writes in it her most treasured thoughts or draws her most creative sketches. But even if it gets tossed on a bookshelf to gather dust, I did it. I offered up that beautiful and whimsical notebook – the one I wanted to keep so badly.

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***This is Day 28 of “31 Days of Offering Up” – part of the #write31days challenge. To read all the posts in order, please visit the overview page.***

Day 27: Offering Up My Own Comfort

Day 27: Offering Up My Own Comfort

I don’t mind hugs but there comes a point, if they last too long, that I start getting uncomfortable. I’m not a clingy, touchy type. Especially when I’m perfectly fine.

When I miscarried our son, this past May, there was grief. Grief is meant to be consoled. And hugs are a great way to let someone know that you care and are hurting with them.

Because church is an awesome place to feel the Lord’s presence and comfort, I very rarely was sad or grieving while at church. I usually felt (feel) refreshed, whole, and happy at church. But that is where you encounter people that you know and there were a few times over the first few months that I was approached by someone who wanted to show me how much they cared by giving me a hug. I was fine with that. But every once in a while the hug would turn into one of those clingy ones. The kind that make me uncomfortable. Especially because I wasn’t feeling any sadness in the moment.

With the first awkward, clingy hug, I could feel myself start to withdraw when the Lord began to speak to me. “This hug isn’t about you. It’s about their own healing.” As a woman would begin to sob into my shoulder (as I remained dry-faced), I would have to remind myself that this hug wasn’t about me. It wasn’t about what I was comfortable with, it was about someone else’s healing through my own loss. Others have loss and grief that maybe didn’t get dealt with in a healthy or thorough way – for whatever reason. And my own loss, and the grace that was encompassing me, was not only for me but for the healing of others as well.

***This is Day 27 of “31 Days of Offering Up” – part of the #write31days challenge. To read all the posts in order, please visit the overview page.***

Day 26: Offering Up My Heart Treasures

Day 26: Offering Up My Heart Treasures

Quite often, the Lord speaks to me when I’m in worship. Sometimes those words are for me, sometimes they are to be shared with one other individual and every once in a while, they are for me to share with the entire congregation.

This summer, we were ministering at a church in another state when the Lord began to speak to me in worship. It was such an intimate word and it spoke directly to my heart. I embraced it, I treasured it. This was a word for me. But then the Lord told me to share it with the rest of the congregation. I resisted at first. This was my word and I didn’t want to share.

My husband went up to preach after worship. He began to share some things the Lord was showing him for the congregation. They corresponded with what the Lord had spoke to me and I knew that I had to share. It was an offering up. I wanted to keep for myself what He had showed me but obedience won out and I shared my word with the rest of the people there.

Later I found out how much what was spoken applied to the church as a whole. That was a taste of the reward of being obedient. Offering up the treasures in my heart.

***This is Day 26 of “31 Days of Offering Up” – part of the #write31days challenge. To read all the posts in order, please visit the overview page.***

Day 25: Offering Up My Traditions

Day 25: Offering Up My Traditions

I married early and was so ready for it. My mom had raised me to be a good wife and housekeeper – giving me my ‘masters’ in homemaking. And I’ve already shared how getting married and having babies was my dream. So Mitch and I married in June 1997 and had a blissful beginning – no ‘the-first-year-is-the-hardest’ for us.

While growing up, most year’s Christmas tradition for our family was – Christmas Eve at my Grandpa’s house on my mom’s side of the family, Christmas Day was at my Grandparents on my dad’s side. We were blessed to have much of our family living in the same town and this arrangement was as next to perfect as could be. I never realized how much this tradition was a part of my life – one I looked forward to even – until the first year of marriage and a new tradition was about to emerge.

We spent Christmas Eve with my family and then were heading to Mitch’s parent’s home a couple hours away on Christmas Day 1997. I was totally taken by surprise at the emotions that flooded me that Christmas morning, as we did not head to my Grandpa and Grandma’s house but, instead, headed to my new in-laws home. I was so sad, felt loss and grief and… sadness. I was blissfully married, ready to do life – all of life, for a really, really long time – with this man by my side but somewhere in me, I found it tough in the offering up of my Christmas tradition.

I lived through that day. I’m sure I even enjoyed my first Christmas with my new family. And in 18 years of marriage there’s been many more instances of offering up my traditions… to embrace the new life and our own traditions that we are making together as a family.

***This is Day 25 of “31 Days of Offering Up” – part of the #write31days challenge. To read all the posts in order, please visit the overview page.***

Day 24: Offering Up My Martyrdom

Day 24: Offering Up My Martyrdom

I suppose the temptation to live as a martyr can hit either gender – male or female. But there’s something about being a mom and wife and the primary keeper of the home that ramps up that temptation. Let me explain.

I was reading 1 Corinthians 13 again the other day (in The Voice translation) and when I got to verse 3, I felt an “ouch” hit my soul.

“I could give all that I have to feed the poor, I could surrender my body to be burned as a martyr, but if I do not live in love, I gain nothing by my selfless acts.”  (emphasis mine)

Being mom, wife and keeper of the home… requires lots of selfless acts. Regarding a certain situation a couple months ago, I told my husband, “If it comes down to the kids’ wants or mine. They win. I lose. Mom always loses.” I spoke this in a whiny, low moment but that doesn’t negate the fact that it’s pretty true most of the time. That is the life of a parent. Giving up myself for them.

The sacrifice of my life for them is a worthy sacrifice. If I can live in love, it is a life with countless rewards. But living as a martyr without love – that’s an ugly, sad state to live in. It’s not quite as drastic as surrendering my body to be burned but the mentality of “Woe is me… I always give up myself for my family…”, that victim mentality is crippling and not one of love. Offering that mentality up can be a daily choice for me. But one I must make if I’m going to serve my family in love.

***This is Day 24 of “31 Days of Offering Up” – part of the #write31days challenge. To read all the posts in order, please visit the overview page.***

Day 23: Offering Up My Money

Day 23: Offering Up My Money

I’m a huge proponent of giving. Extravagant giving even. My husband and I have given away several vehicles. We’ve given away a couple iPads – one brand new, we’ve bought gift certificates and random gifts to giveaway ‘just for fun’, we’ve written bigger checks than our monthly rent check – to give away.

A long time ago, we offered up our wallet to Jesus and there’s no turning back. We are, by no means, rich people. Due to a miraculous situation we are completely out of debt but we also are a family of 6 with the monthly expenses to prove it.

Some months it’s easier to be an extravagant giver – like when we feel like there’s a surplus. But there’s more often months that the giving that’s done is an incredible offering up. Offering up of something we don’t feel like we have enough of in the first place. It can be easy to try to sneak that wallet back off the altar but, as believers, we are called to live generous lives.

The offering up of our money is one that comes up often. Saying “yes” yields incredible rewards – sometimes we see them on earth, sometimes we won’t see them until heaven – but we can be sure that our God is a faithful Provider!

***This is Day 23 of “31 Days of Offering Up” – part of the #write31days challenge. To read all the posts in order, please visit the overview page.***