Where would I be?

Giving Thanks. Being grateful. Appreciating what we have.

 

Here’s another way to look at Thanksgiving:

Where would I be without you?

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Ask yourself these questions… and then close your eyes and get a visual of the person you are thinking of:

Where would I be without my spouse?

Where would I be without my children?

Where would I be without my close friends?

Where would I be without my parents?

Where would I be without my siblings?

Where would I be without my good health?

 

Are YOU without some of these?

I and many of my friends are going without this year. We are without our spouse or one of our children. We’ve experienced the loss of parents, best friends or the death of a sibling. Some friends are facing a scary road ahead with tests and trials, procedures and surgeries.

Here’s the saving grace: God.

Where would I be without God?  Where would YOU be without God? 

Personally, I’d be depressed, confused, lost, hopeless, negative, unappreciative and selfish.

For me, I’ve learned about struggles, losses, promises and blessings in the bible, from church, from speakers and from music.   Similarly, I have struggled and I have lost loved ones. I’ve also felt God’s reassurances that he will carry me, and felt overflowing blessings upon me and my precious family. I know I won’t understand why everything  has happened…this side of Heaven. I can stop asking “Why?”….and know that someday it will make sense. For now, I look for the multitude of blessings and not for what’s missing. 

Where would I be without God?   

I appreciate what I have because I know tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. I have hope because even if there is no tomorrow for me, there is a forever in Heaven. I have faith because I’ve seen blessings come to those who trust His greater plan. I try to do for others and give to others who have less than me because it’s what we’re called to do. I can sleep peacefully at night and wake up gracious in the morning because God’s got me and you. Whatever lies ahead –  He knows about it and He’s got a perfect plan specifically for each one of us and will protect us and bless us along the way.  My prayer for you, is that you feel the same comfort and promise that only He can provide. 

Where would I be without God?

Today,  I am saying more than ever: thank God I never have to find out.

Deteronomy 31:8  It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.

 

Take a listen to the song that inspired this blog: Citizen Way’s Where Would I Be Without You?  Where Would I Be Without You?   (It’s super upbeat –  Listen while you are trying to wake up, doing last-minute cleaning before guests come over, prepping in the kitchen, or grab one of your family members by the hand and start dancing to it!)

Soul – not “Sole” mates …

 

Movies, TV, common understanding of the term “Soulmate” always meant to me that we each had one. People say they “finally found their soulmate.”  Who are you thinking of right now when you hear that term?

But what happens if the soulmates get divorced, or their spouse just doesn’t “get them” or their spouse dies?  Whammo – there goes their one soulmate!  Or for those that never marry…do they not “get” a soulmate?

I am 100% sure tonight that “soulmate” does not mean “sole mate.”

My wish and hope for everyone is that throughout your life you will have many soulmates. Maybe it will be the person you marry…but it could also be the person you re-marry, or do real life with, cry with, laugh until you almost pee, the one that blesses you over and over… or your soul mates could be ALL of these. Maybe a soulmate for you is an author whose writing causes you to say “Yes, me too!” You relate, their story is your story, and you feel connected, even though you may never meet.

I remember first hearing this multi-soulmate concept while watching “Sex and the City” years ago. (I’m declaring that I loved that show –especially the dedicated friendships between the four girls. They were always there for each other with a shoulder to cry on, brutal honesty, and lots of laughter).  In one scene when they were talking about what a treasure their friendship was, and how they were tired of searching for their “one true soulmate” they decided they could be each other’s soulmates.

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(Photo credit: Darren Star Productions)

Friends will come and go. God puts different friends in your life at different times for different reasons. Sometimes you have to let them go and make room for new ones yet to come. I’ve definitely experienced my fair share of lost friendships. But these soulmates that I have….incredible. They just keep calling and giving and showing up and blessing.

One of my favorite soul mate stories is of Ruth and Naomi from the Bible (Ruth 1: 16-17).  Naomi’s son married Ruth. Naomi became widowed, and then later Ruth became widowed as well.  Ruth refused to leave Naomi. They were soulmates, I believe, and did life together after hard times. The words of this song, “I’m with you,” were written based on this story. I get teary-eyed every single time I hear it and thank God for my several soulmates. I actually said my friend Jolynn’s name out loud the first time I heard it, as if it had been written about her and I.

Have a listen…and maybe a good cry if you are thinking of that friend or friends that this applies to…. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHZZyNGvOVY  (Capitol Christian Music Group – Nichole Nordeman & Amy Grant).

Tonight I am praising God. I mean, hands in the air, crazy thankful for all of the soulmates that have been there for me and continue to be there for me….these friends and neighbors and family are SO good for my soul. Blessings are overflowing in my world and it makes a sometimes hard life completely enjoyable.

Most importantly, thank you to God – my ultimate soul mate. It’s deep – but He’s always there and always will be. When he can’t tangibly help me, he sends these angels that have been my soulmates to help me stand and keep standing.

Who are some of your soul mates?  Comment below and direct them to this blog – call out and thank your soul mates!

(Next week, I will return to my “Gifts” post, but due to my heart just overflowing with gratefulness, I had to write this today).

Winner ! Winner!

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And….the winner is……mentioned at the bottom of this post!  

 Winner, please let me know for sure if you can attend this Friday, Nov 18th at Cornerstone Church in Caledonia. Two tickets will be yours!!

(If she cannot attend, I will do another random drawing Sunday night).

Thank you for all of you that subscribed to my blog!

It is not too late to still buy tickets for this great show….go to blessedbybrookelyn.com and you will find a link to i-tickets.  This show will be an up-close and personal event with great seats! And, the tickets support the legacy of Brookelyn Elias by providing scholarships to Caledonia High School students, providing soccer gear to Caledonia and Kentwood players, provides soccer equipment to Haiti and so much more that the Elias family is so dedicated to.

Here is my favorite song by each artist:

Chris August:  Center of It – Chris August

(But also check out Restore, The Maker, Starry Night, Unashamed of you)…..

Jonny Diaz: More Beautiful You

(Also check out: Breathe, Scars, Beauty of the cross)

******For listening to at least one of each of their songs (listed above), and commenting below which is your favorite, I will be giving away one of their CD’s, too!!   (Delivery or mailing after the concert!)

(Can you tell I just LOVE give-aways?)

MICHELE SYTSMA – you WON 2 tickets!!  They will be at “will call” this Friday! 

Your gifts: not ugly at all

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Healthy vegetable-infused chocolate truffles?

“Barnyard Breeze” scented lotion?

Glow-in-the-dark toilet seat?

Light up/Flashing sweater with unicorns on it?

 

Have you ever received gifts that caused you to force a fake smile? When you quickly hope you can muster a genuine-sounding ‘thank you’ while questioning the gift-givers sanity and feelings about you?

On the other hand, I’m sure you can think of a few gifts over the years that you actually enjoyed receiving. The gifts that make you drop your jaw in disbelief – the giver took the time and thought to get you something so perfect and personalized.

God has given you a perfect, personalized set of Spiritual gifts. You just need to acknowledge them, be thankful for them, and put them to use in your everyday life.

My hope is that you can use your gifts to help a grieving person in your world.  They are all around you. Grief is a part of life and we will all go through it from time to time. Remember that grief does not just affect someone dealing with the death of a loved one, though that is what most people think of. Unexpected job loss, divorce, devastating medical diagnosis and death can cause grief, to different extents.

For those of you that haven’t yet discovered your spiritual gifts, you can take the test at www.giftstest.com. (You will receive emails from Beliefnet, but you can easily unsubscribe if you wish after they send you your result).

For those that did participate last week……..thank you!  I’ve compiled the results and will explain first the most common gifts reported by percentage.  Important Note: All definitions of the spiritual gifts were obtained from www.giftstest.com.

MERCY (100% of my respondents cited this as one of their gifts)

The gift of mercy is the divine strength or ability to feel empathy and to care for those who are hurting in any way.   In a practical way, this gift allows you to not just “feel bad” for someone who is grieving, but to put yourself in their shoes. A common feeling you might experience or even say to someone who is grieving is, “My heart breaks for you.” You comfort them with words, prayers, and actions. You may find yourself physically aching and crying for them…in fact, you might cry at award shows and Hallmark commercials. 🙂

1 Thess. 5:14: And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

 

EXHORTATION (80% of those responding)

The gift of exhortation is the divine strength or ability to strengthen, comfort or urge others to action through the written or spoken word and Biblical truth.  For you, it might be natural for you to reach out to others with words of encouragement based on comforting bible verses. You might encourage a grieving person by including your favorite verse that helped you through a hard time. You point to God as the ultimate comforter and healer.

 

Acts 14:22: Strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.

 

HELPS (60% of my respondents)

The gift of helps is the divine strength or ability to work in a supportive role for the accomplishment of tasks in Christian ministry with the ability to often see the need before others do. If this is one of your gifts, you might be one-step-ahead in helping those facing hard times. You might use past experiences to set up a meal delivery schedule quickly, or have a list of resources ready. You want to do hands-on help.

 

DISCERNMENT (40% of respondents)

The gift of discernment is the divine strength or ability to spiritually identify falsehood, to distinguish between right and wrong motives and the spiritual forces at work in situations. If this is your gift, you may be encouraging to a grieving person by not letting them play the “what if” game. You know that worries and guilt are part of Satan’s way of distracting from the true God. You can help a grieving person stay focused on what is true and good, and not let evil thoughts take root in their process.

 

ADMINISTRATION (40% of respondents)

The gift of administration is the divine strength or ability to organize multiple tasks and groups of people to accomplish these tasks. A grieving person is overwhelmed with phone calls, paperwork, day-to-day tasks that build up and seem impossible. With this gift, you can assist a grieving person by making a list of immediate tasks, within-3-month tasks, and longer term duties that are in need of assistance. You can help collaborate with others to help getting these tasks done (child care, lawn-mowing, house-cleaning). You can help make a short-term plan and ensure help is being given in the areas needed most.

 

 PASTOR/SHEPHERD (40% of respondents)

The gift of pastor/shepherd is the divine strength or ability to care for the personal needs of others by nurturing and mending life issues. You listen, care, and lead the grieving person with hope and constant support without judging. You don’t brag that you’ve been accepted into the grieving person’s tight circle, but take this honor as God’s leading you, so you can lead others.

1 Peter 5:2-3  Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.

FAITH (40% of respondents)

The gift of faith is the divine strength or ability to believe in God for unseen supernatural results in every arena of life. You believe that God has his hand in and over every situation. You can reassure a grieving person of God’s bigger plan and his ability to do miraculous things despite lost hope. You don’t give up when situations look bleak. You praise that His will be done.  You remain faithful, dependable and constant to your grieving loved one, even when they aren’t sure what they need.

Hebrews 11: Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

 

Thank you to those who participated already, and for those that will do so now!  God has given us the perfect gifts for our personalities and circumstances.  While this gifts test is interesting and fun, do not feel locked into particular gifts and banned from other gifts. If you feel that God is leading you to help someone in their grief in different ways than you are gifted (according to this test), by all means…listen to your heart and follow God’s prompting to truly help those in need of comfort.

 

Come back next week for explanations of additional Spiritual gifts and ways to use them to help others.