A miniseries you won’t want to miss…

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(Photo credit toolakeacreage dot com)

Recently, I’ve known of three people close to me or friends of mine, that have passed away suddenly and unexpectedly….all three were in their 40’s or early 50’s. Way too young. Who are you thinking of that passed away too soon?

We all know life is “short.” But most of us assume we will live into our 80’s or longer. When we know of people that seem to be healthy and alive one day and gone the next, we are left shocked, confused, scared, and dumbfounded. It just feels wrong. We are sad for the loss of that person, sad for the spouse or family and friends that are left to live with this void. But we also think of ourselves, our spouse, our friends and family…could it happen to me? To us? To my friend? To my sibling?  We hope and pray not.

I’m working on a large project that isn’t quite ready yet, so I’m going to be doing a BLOG mini-series in the meantime, that I really hope readers will find helpful.  It’s coming soon! I don’t want you to miss it. I promise you will be able to put the lessons learned into practice, albeit in unfortunate situations. But you could be the blessing to someone that desperately needs it. 

That is, I believe, what we are called to do. Whatever life experience you have, whatever your passion….share it with others. Whatever you’ve lived through, the tough situation, the devastating loss, the growing pains….why not help someone else going through it so they might experience a little less pain?

If you haven’t gone through anything really hard…yet…well, then, Hallelujah!  You are probably young. 🙂   Because as wonderful as life is, you will face trials, and possibly a tragedy here and there. (Let’s hope those are few and far between).

I recently saw a post (author unknown) that said, “Be the person you needed when you were younger.”  This.

I have to say, I was lucky in that when I suffered the loss of my husband, I did have many good friends around me, some that had experienced the death of a spouse. But I still want to be the person that I needed back then. I want to support, help, educate and inspire others to be there for someone else who is grieving.

For the next several blog posts, I will be tackling some of the important issues surrounding grief – specifically the sudden death of a loved one….though even people that experience an “expected” death (illness, old age/natural causes) can, hopefully, relate to or be inspired by the readings as well.

Thank you for reading this. It tells me that you care. Maybe you can relate to grieving a sudden loss, and don’t want to feel alone in what you’ve gone through. Or maybe you’ve seen others go through a sudden loss and you want to know how you can truly help someone who is grieving. This world needs you! Thank you for caring. Stay tuned. 

Your gifts: not ugly at all

blog-ugly-sweater

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.