Don’t wait to open the gifts!

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Ah, the Christmas-time mantra: ‘Tis better to give than to receive.

But, what about this – ’Tis best to give with the gifts you have received.

We all have been given gifts by God. Are you aware of yours? Have you acknowledged and thanked God for them? Are you opening your gifts today and putting them to use?

Are Spiritual gifts the same thing as someone who is “gifted” with a talent or ability?  I believe it can be one in the same.  A great athlete who can break every sports record, lead her team to continual victories, bring home the gold…also has a chance to use her physical gifts for God’s glory. Maybe it is to inspire others to believe in themselves, because God created them, loves them and has a great plan for their life. To show thankfulness in winning and graciousness in defeat, too. Or to be the extra supportive one on the team that listens and gives others advice.

Spiritual gifts are placed on us because He knows how our whole life will play out. For some of us, our gifts are clear from a young age. Maybe it is a clear, angelic voice that stands out from the crowd at a school music concert. The crowd all thinks, “wow – that child has a gift with that voice.” What will that child do with his gift?  I look at the many talented Christian music artists, especially, who give God the glory in their words and their testimonies.  Some children are born leaders, teachers or caretakers.

Maybe our gifts aren’t discovered until later in life.  Maybe we have overcome addiction, leave an abusive relationship, experience a tragedy, or recover from an illness or accident and use our struggle journey to help others going through the same. It could be through that process that we discover our spiritual gift(s).

Some of us wish we had a particular gift. That strong voice, that speaking ability, that writing career, that aptitude for teaching others, that pastoral leadership quality or counseling trait that listens to others and provides encouragement and direction. Is there a gift you wish you had?  Maybe fear of failure is holding you back from discovering your true spiritual gift. It might take some practicing, some training, and definitely prayer to put your gift to use, even if you are unsure of it. God is sure of it. He has hand-picked these gifts for you and your life circumstances.

The current “project” I am working on is for people to discover their spiritual gifts, and then use those gifts to help someone who is grieving.  Don’t you love it when you see that a gift you bought for someone is actually being used? It didn’t get returned to the store, thrown into the back of the closet, re-gifted, or thrown away. God feels the same way. He loves to see us using the gifts he has given us…even better when we are using them to help someone else find hope and healing.

Will you help me with my project?

1 Corinthians 12:1 – Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed.

Step one: take the Spiritual Gifts test.   Yes, it will take a few minutes. Yes, you are busy. I really appreciate you being willing to spend a few minutes taking this test for me,  for you, and, for anyone that you may help using these gifts.

Thank you for taking this step.

Take the test at  www.giftstest.com   and comment below when you are done. I will do it, too! Tell me what your top 5 gifts are!!! (And don’t forget to follow/subscribe to this blog so you won’t miss the next follow up.)

Faithful Stewards of God’s Grace -Part 1

Friends………Check out this insightful blog from my friend Stephanie Miller. I met her this summer but feel like we’ve been friends a lot longer. PLEASE take the spiritual gifts test (link in blog) and feel free to share yours below the blog!!! I can’t wait to take mine!

Stephanie Miller, Personal and Spiritual Growth Coach

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Fruit of Faithfulness Series: Day 24

So after I brought up spiritual gifts in my post last Wednesday, God placed on my heart to really explore this topic further.

Let’s take a look at 1 Peter 4:10

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

We need to be a faithful steward of God’s grace to go and advance His kingdom. I love this idea on paper, but I really want to know what this means practically.

If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. -1 Peter 4:11

The verses above…

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I’m thankful for…nothing!

Ouch!   That sounds horrible, right?  Maybe you have never said that. I don’t think I ever have, but I sure have acted like it. Have you?

I’m willing to bet I can include you in these thoughts…We have complained about little things that don’t really matter. Someone cut in front of us in line at Target’s check out (who really cares? You’ve filled your cart with things most of the world can’t afford).   Your neighbor across the street has failed to rake their leaves and it is hampering your view (really? Then go do it yourself. Be kind).   Once again, Wendy’s failed to include the ranch dipping sauce and you are not going to drive back there, but you thought about it for a minute (come on! You should be so lucky to have a body that can tolerate eating that food, finances that can afford to buy that food, and safe transportation to get there and back).

It’s all about perspective.   God knows our private thoughts but our kids and those around us just see our behavior. Are you showing thankfulness?

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This weekend I visited my brother’s family and they have such a great ongoing tradition I have to share it. (I’m sharing a lot today).  Each member of the family gets a turn to say what they are thankful for. It can be something simple or deep – doesn’t matter. It gets everyone in the practice of being thankful.

Why do most people tend to only do this on Thanksgiving? Or wait until November and do it just during that month? Why?

I’ve created 5 options when you are feeling and acting ungrateful:

1) Send a card to someone who is going through or has been through a hard time (even if their loss or struggle happened years ago. Pain lasts longer than you might think…And by card, I mean a real, send-through-the-mail, card. Spend $5 with your Amazon Prime and you’ll have a box of cards at your doorstep in two days.)

2) Look around you:  turn on your water (fresh, clean, cold & hot), open your fridge and cupboards (you aren’t starving), step out into the sun, fresh breeze, or refreshing rain….

3) Look at your kids (or nephews/nieces):  miracles, God-sent, reflections of you…

4) Pray to God and ask for help! “God. I don’t feel grateful right now. Help me. Help me to be humble and not take you or anything you’ve put in my life for granted. I pray for those who don’t have even the basic necessities. I pray for patience. Please and Thank you.”   **Hey – it’s already working – you’ve thanked Him at the end of your prayer!**

5) Turn to scripture for the truth about gratefulness. Here’s one:

 

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. (Psalms 9:1)

****As a special THANK YOU to all of my subscribers, I am doing a give-away.  If I can get 100 subscribers by November 1st, I will randomly select a subscriber to win 2 FREE tickets to see Chris August and Jonny Diaz on Friday November 18th at Cornerstone Church in Caledonia. Please subscribe and tell your friends to!*****

Picking and choosing.

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In writing these last few blogs, I’ve discovered an ugly truth.  I decide what my position is about something, and then pick out verses to fit my position. It works out great. I rely on myself – my knowledge, experience, opinions….and then keep scripture in my back pocket to prove to everyone that what I am saying is backed up by the One and Only.

Ouch. It does not sound nice when I actually write out the truth.

Thinking back, I actually have been doing this for a while. In writing papers for college classes, I would decide my position and then find internet research to support that.  If I found research that didn’t support my position, well, I just didn’t quote that. After all, for better or worse, you can always find evidence on the good ole’ internet to back up whatever position you hold on any given topic.

Now, please don’t start a campaign to revoke my Bachelor of Arts Degree or my recent MBA. I really did earn those (and am still paying for the latter!), but I think it is time for me to treat scripture differently.

What about YOU?  Do you highlight scripture that you already abide and live by?  Do you pick and choose to apply the easier verses like you pick out pumpkins in the patch? You skip over the ones that you aren’t comfortable with.  It certainly makes us feel great when we are already practicing what the bible teaches. Woo-hoo-I have never murdered anyone!  Correct-I have donated generously (most of the time).  Yes, I am thankful every day just as my before-dinner prayer recites. Hmm….

The harder scripture about being generous with giving (all the time, in all circumstances not just when we have ‘extra’), or helping the orphans and widows, or only letting holy (and kind) words come out of your mouth….do you kinda skimp over those? Do you obey those only when it is convenient or when you are with certain people? Remember that one time when you made a meal for a widow? Recall that time you thought seriously about sponsoring that child overseas? (But then “something came up.”)

Are you (like me) hesitating to apply “harder” scripture to our lives?

“Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.”  Mark 4:18-19.

Do you fit Jesus into your life where you have already made a specific place for him? Or do you build your life around the place Jesus has made for you?   He wants us to live our lives according to the Bible lessons within. Not use the lessons to support our way of living.

Read that again:

Do you fit Jesus into your life where you have already made a specific place for him? Or do you build your life around the place Jesus has made for you?

Is there a verse you can share with me that is difficult to live by? Please comment below and I will try to navigate it with you and find out how we can infuse it into our lives.  (I’m no Bible expert, so bear with me. I’m a work in progress).

Good ‘Nuff girl

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I used to be more of a perfectionist. I used to try to control everything. I used to want to know which roads the driver was taking and see if there was a more efficient way. I used to freak out if a cake I was frosting wasn’t perfect. I recall scrubbing my apartment bathroom toilet on my hands and knees with a toothbrush. (And I lived alone! No men, no toddlers!).

 

Then…life happened. Kids came along and I had different worries. Kids’ fingerprint marks showed up everywhere and I couldn’t keep up. Toys stayed in the middle of the floor all night (gasp!) and guess what: I slept fine.  Life got busier and I stopped caring about every little detail. I started taking more photos and I laid on the floor letting my son crawl all over me instead of wiping down the countertop again. When my husband and son were playing and my husband said, “B-you’ve gotta see this” I ran into the living room to witness it and didn’t care that I had one more dish to rinse.

 

Then, my husband died. I didn’t care about details. A weed-filled yard, cobwebs in the corners, flipping the mattress…whatever. I’ll take care of it eventually. When I realized God is in control and I’m not…I became a “Good ‘nuff girl.” God is perfect. I am not. I don’t have to cross every “t” and dot every “i.” I do my best with what I have, and I enjoy life. If I don’t do something perfectly, I call it “good ‘nuff.”

 

That being said, I don’t want anyone to think this applies in absolutely every area of life. I do thoroughly shower, take excellent care of my kids, and try my best to cook meat to the proper temperature. For safety’s sake, “good ‘nuff” doesn’t always cut it. Be assured I’m not skimping in these areas. Professionally, I am detailed and follow the rules, so I’m no slacker there, either.

 

My point is, are there things in your life that YOU should become “good ‘nuff’ at?  Should you stop trying to be a perfect housekeeper? Are you trying to win a competition with that birthday cake?  (And I do have friends that are passionate about these things and if you love it, keep doing it. But if you love to hate it – stop it.)

Do you have to bring the most creative snack even though it stresses you out and takes way more time that you thought it would? Would you feel guilty having a “cereal and toast night” for dinner? Why? What can you change this week that will make life easier for you? What small details can you let go of…in order to more fully pay attention to your family and God?

 

Take it from the girl who once brought Little Caesar’s Crazy Bread to a potluck (major hit, by the way).  

 

Let someone else drive (Hmmm…God?) and take the long way or different way home. So the Cinderella cake isn’t perfect….well, it’s kinda funny and it’ll taste just as good.

Let all that you do be done in love (1Corinthians 16:14).  Do your best, but for God -not out of desire for perfection, not to compare yourself with others, not to exhuast your stress level or get in the way of time with your family and God.

You are Good ‘Nuff for Him.

***** Addition:  If anyone is interested in this topic of giving up control, my friend Shannon Popkin’s book, Control Girl, will be coming out in January! I am very excited for this book. Click below for more info!