Use Your Gifts

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Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10

I have come to the conclusion that is is BAD…very, very BAD for us not to open and use the gifts God has given us. They are given to us so that when we USE and SHARE them, it can possibly benefit others. They are given to us so that when we USE and SHARE them, it brings glory to God! That matters, folks. More importantly, that matters to GOD!

So let me expand upon that a bit differently, Annie-style.

God has given each of  us various gifts – spiritual gifts, as well as special talents and abilities. Part of why the Lord made each of us different is because He wants us to USE those gifts to edify others and connect to others – ultimately, as a way to shine HIS light to the world and spread HIS truth and HIS love.

These last 6 months (or longer) that I have stepped away from this community and blog have been NO BUENO for this chick feelings-wise. BUT……..I had to do it to do some reflecting and such. As you know, I wrote (practically every day) for the first year or so after I created this blog…and I stinkin’ LOVED IT, yo!

Why? Because I was using those gifts and connecting to others while doing so.

AND………..

Because, like I have always said – writing out or sharing out my heart and how Jesus is working in my little life (this utterly messy and sometimes mixed-up gal), does my heart good and is a form of worship of my Savior, in my opinion. Sharing it, causes me to live more vulnerably, and also gets me to think outside of myself as I have been reflecting on the inside. It is beyond therapeutic – it is something that causes me to TRANSFORM each and every time I share something with YOU. And if it helps even just ONE PERSON, each little thing I share, that is something that makes my heart smile. Big time! And it’s ALL BECAUSE OF GOD.

So, back to the story.  I pulled away for a while to reflect. Something just wasn’t quite right in my life. I took a slight turn and started to go down a little bit of a different road – a new adventure – it’s still a work in progress. As I embarked upon this new journey, I had to give my ALL to that change and transition – learning curves aren’t fun for this girl, but necessary and if you know me at all, I had to FOCUS my ALL into learning these new things. I had to give up some of the things that mattered MOST to me as I was in such a new transition, completely foreign to me. And it was important to do that as we are called to do our work as unto the Lord.

But the absence of getting to do this for a while also gave me some time to think and reflect on it.

It gave me time to MISS YOU, friends.

It gave me time to realize it is a HUGE part of my time with God – the time I spend sharing with others.

And that is GOOD.

So, I have returned, and I have some new ideas on how I will expand the WAYS that I share my heart for Jesus, for the beauty and the ugly stuff in life, for the mundane and the intense things we walk through on this earth, and for the BEAUTIFUL HOPE THAT IS ALWAYS PRESENT as we walk through such things together in Christ. I will be sharing those on the blog very soon.

But for now, here is a little background for you on the MAIN THING I have learned during this time of reflection! Again, in Annie-style, so this will take a paragraph or two to explain…

I have been really praying and working through the concept of contentment with the Lord. There’s a LOT to it that I won’t go into detail about yet, but call it sufficient when I say, there is a DIFFERENCE between walking around not being content because we covet things that aren’t for us, and knowing….. just KNOWING that we have something inside (Holy Spirit, anyone?) creating somewhat of a HOLY discomfort.

It’s all about the PEACE, YO!

When the LATTER REASON is causing that unsettled feeling – it will grow and grow if we DO NOT LISTEN.

I know this, because it’s what has been happening to me and I’ve FINALLY been able to identify it.

You see, I always err on the side of assuming it might be the first reason – the fleshly one- and then I have to pray about it and test that out to be sure it’s not just a case of me not being obedient or that maybe I am just being spoiled, coveting, or ungrateful as I go through this unsettled feeling.

That’s what I’ve been doing this past 6 months. That, and a WHOLE LOTTA PRAYING, dudes!

I have concluded with no SHADOW OF A DOUBT that yes, I am a sinner (nothing new there), and yes, sometimes I want things that aren’t mine to have (not a news flash either), BUT, that I am NOT using my gifts God gave me to the fullest, or even TRYING to, for that matter.

Again: That = No Good, Man.

The Holy Spirit is telling me (and has been for quite some time)…that no, it really is ME telling you this and you will remain uncomfortable as HECK until you DO something about it.

So I’m going to.

This book I am reading right now nailed it: I had prayed and prayed for the Lord to lead me to understanding this inner conflict I have been going through. I had been reading and reading in Proverbs, and many other parts of the Word about all of this. I kept coming back to a passage in Romans that I will place at the end of this for you.

And then this book fell into my hands (another story in and of itself).

Here is the statement that I could never express, but that describes COMPLETELY the struggle I am talking about in just a couple of short sentences (not Annie-style, nope):

“There is a big difference between wanting what we don’t have just for the sake of wanting more and wanting to do something else because we know, deep down, it is where we are meant to be. It is often difficult to strike a balance between a healthy longing for something more and choosing peace, no matter our circumstances. After all, how are we supposed to find our sweet spot when we are stuck in a job or town or situation we don’t love? How do we remedy the tension between choosing contentment and striving for more?” Living Well Spending Less ~ Ruth Soukup

BAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I can be grateful for what I have and choose to bloom where I’m at, but AT THE SAME TIME know that I am supposed to do something more. Those things CAN co-exist and I am living proof of it. I would venture to guess that many of you are as well.

It’s not always either/or.

We are CALLED if we are followers of Jesus Christ and COMMANDED to use our gifts to build up and edify the church and be light in a lost and dark world. If we leave the gifts unopened or unused, that is so utterly sad and Such. A. Waste.

No more for this girl.

As always, it’s a work in progress – finding the gifts we are called to use for the Lord’s glory, pulling them out of the dusty box if they have been hidden for a while, and getting them to work well again. We have to find our way – try new things – live them out in vulnerable and risky ways and let the Lord make them hum when He so desires.

But we gotta use them.

Remember today, dear friend, that you have gifts and you will WILT if you do not use them. There are people out there that NEED to benefit from that. There are people out there who NEED to know someone is there. It’s part of having a servant heart and being a bond servant of Christ. And if you don’t know what yours are, seek HIM and have a heart to find out. It may take a while, but He will answer!

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.Romans 12: 6-8

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Jesus, Joy, and Jiggle Jeans!

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Guess what I did today? I bought bigger jeans – whoo hoo!!!!! Not something you hear most women celebrate about much, right?

Well, Dig this…………………

The other day I mentioned that I had lost a lot of weight over the course of a couple of years. A LOT, as in about 100 pounds. It took about two years to lose the weight, and I have now maintained that loss for an additional 18 months. (By the way, this was all Jesus’ doing, I kid you not!) So, this is not a brag post – I have a point  here! But you must know by now, that it takes me a while to get around to it…hee hee.

Part of what happens when you are a peri-menopausal, middle aged woman who abused her body for as long as I did, is that if you are actually blessed enough to be able to get in shape again; ever reach an “ideal” weight again – if you had that much to lose – you are going to be left with a lot of loose skin – it won’t matter what you do – shy of surgery, it’s going to be there.

Surgery is not happening for me, friends – no way. I am not judging whether or not that is right for other people, but for me – in light of the spiritual aspect of how this all played out in my life specifically, that is not where it’s at. And I have no problem with that.

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This is not about looks – but it is about “comfort.” The loose skin bothered me for quite some time, and it still does once in a while. But it bothered me more than anything else, because it isn’t comfortable in clothes. Neither is being 100 pounds overweight.

But see, when I was that heavy, although it was just a bunch of “fat”, things weren’t “loose”……it was firm fat – or it gave off the sense of feeling firm, I should say. It provided a false sense of security, friends. I felt “full” with that fat in there. I knew it was bad for me, and yes, there were aspects of that that were uncomfortable as well, but when it comes to that feeling of fullness, it was there. And I was in all actuality, a very empty woman. (And it wasn’t because of the weight issue)

Losing the fat made me feel a lot better physically, but for a while, it was weird. It was hard to adjust to less of me in other ways. It was strange to get a take on where I was at, physically, in time and space. For example, I walked around for a while with far less bruises, because I wasn’t as large and didn’t bump into things as much or fall down and slip as much as when I was heavier. But after a while, as I got even smaller, that inverted – I actually couldn’t gauge where my body was in relation to things as well as before; how close I was or wasn’t to that corner of that table. So, it took a while to figure out the logistics of it all.

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Back to the skin though. So, I lost the weight, and found I needed a new wardrobe, right? So, little by little, I started to buy my jeans, mostly at the consignment shop that I love, since it’s cheap and jeans aren’t. And I found that I really, really liked the jeans the more fitted they were. This isn’t for the reason one might think, either. It wasn’t because I wanted to look “hot” in my new jeans, although it did feel good to be more physically appealing to my husband with my newfound shape. It wasn’t because I wanted to flaunt anything about how I looked at all. It was because the fitted jeans made me feel more safe and secure – they held in the residual jiggle the loose skin was causing.

I am not saying there is really anything wrong with that, but I have noticed something lately – maybe over the last three months or so. I don’t like that feeling any more. I don’t like the feeling of the tighter, more fitted jeans, even the ones that are still worn with taste and not showing anything off. I am not saying I wouldn’t still wear a pair of them here or there, but I am finding that I am gravitating to a looser feel again.

The jiggle is still there – just like I said. And when I wear the looser things, it is exacerbated. But I feel better when I don’t try to hold it all in anymore. I am not only okay with that, but I am starting to prefer it. In fact, if I could, I would probably move from jeans to pajamas all the time at this point. No Problema!

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You may think I am crazy, but this is exactly indicative of where I need to be at in my walk with the Lord. I need to be okay with the jiggle in life – more okay than I am now, at least. I need to not need that security blanket of the world – the false one that anything of it offers to us – just like the more fitted jeans. Jesus is my only security – He is it.

As Christians, we must be willing to risk….and it can be hard when we are intent on keeping things reined in when it comes to sin in our lives, discipline, obedience to the Lord, and all the other stuff we don’t want to be lax about. At the same time, I truly believe we are called to “let it all go” or “let it all hang out” sometimes, for lack of better phrasing. In other words, our very endeavor at times to keep it reined in, is what actually binds and restricts our spiritual growth. We do need to be vigilant about sin, but not in our own power (trying to do it without God’s help), lest we begin to attribute too much of our success in those areas to ourselves. We don’t even know what tomorrow will bring – I am reminded of that all the time.

  • “As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.” James 4:16
  • “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.” Proverbs 27:1

There is only one thing to boast about……….

  • Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:31

But we must also be careful not to confuse boasting with rejoicing. Rejoicing in the Lord and what He has done is okay any time!

  • “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4

The difficulty lies in the fact that we need to do both. I need to stay fit because my body is a temple and it should to be offered up as a living sacrifice unto the Lord – and I want to rejoice in the Lord than He has enabled that! But I also need to remember that none of that should offer me a false sense of comfort, security, or anything else of the like, and that none of it is my own doing! Hmmmm. Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda? Or Gonna, Can, and Will? It isn’t a choice – it’s a must for me. It’s also a want, and I am so thankful for that!

You know, as I reflect on this, I realize that the Lord really helped me to stay aware during the process of weight loss about not allowing it to become a false idol. There were a couple of patches where it was teetering on the line sometimes, but He always graciously drew me back. I am so grateful to Him for that. Even when we are successful in something, the Lord can still use it to “grow” us. We don’t have to experience failure to grow and draw even closer to Him, even though we do sometimes, and He grows us through those setbacks too. I love that about God, amongst everything else He is: That He makes the most of us and grows us through our success stories and through the ugly stuff too.

Isn’t that just awesome?

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gospelgifs.com

So, thankfully, Jesus allows me to continue to jog, and run, and exercise to stay fit. I love that feeling of a good run, where you sweat all the junk out, and then your muscles feel warm, and you feel strong. But I know that is not what makes me strong. And that jiggle that is still left behind is a gift to me, friends. Because it is a constant reminder of the grace the Lord shows me in so many ways, each and every day. He has shown it through the weight loss, and He shows it through all of life. Most of all, He has shown it through the gift of salvation He has graciously bestowed upon me and the blessed hope that one day, we shall reign with Him in heaven for all eternity.

I love my new jeans, friends. They feel great! And that jiggle? It isn’t bothering me much anymore. I feel free – free in my Jesus, and free in my jiggle jeans.

I think I will go do a little Joyful Jesus Jiggly Jig right now in my new Jiggle Jeans, yo! Won’t you put on your dancing pants and dance with Jesus and with me today? Let’s get this party started, friends! And then….let’s keep it goin!

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“Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with tambourine and
harp.” Psalm 149:3

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News Alert! Toss the Tape Measure and Lose the Scale!

Photo Credit  Nanjing via Pixabay.Com

Photo Credit Nanjing via Pixabay.Com

It’s something most people search for their whole lives..

Throw away the tape measure….

Get rid of the scale….

No more endless shopping sprees…

No more stuffing, scrunching, and shrinking….

It is Here……………….

It  has arrived…………..

It has ALWAYS been here…………..

I’m talking about something…………..

I’m talking about someone…………..

The ONLY One………….

The Holy One………….

The Loving, Almighty, Saving, Redeeming,  and Perfect One……….

It is He…………..

The Perfect He……………….

He’s right for You………….

He’s right for me………………..

One size fits all………….

Never wears thin……….

Covers all your flaws……..

He won’t rip, or fade……………

He will never get lost………….

Unbreakable…………

Always just like new………….

He will become your second skin…

And even seep in……

Live in you……..

Change you…

Fulfill you……

If you’ll just put Him on…

It is He……He is here…..

He has always been here….

Put Him on………….

Keep Him on………….

Get rid of all the rest….

Let Him seep in……

Let yourself live in Him…..

And He in You…….

Live Him when you eat….

Live Him when you sleep….

Never, ever take Him off….

Put on Jesus today……

Perfect Jesus……

Because once you do………..

You will never go back………

You will never wear anything else….

You will never live anything else….

Not if you really want Him…..

And once you do, you will know….

You will know, that you have found….

What most people have been searching for…

All their lives…

Make Him not only your “favorite”……

But your ONLY!

Photo Credit Creation Jason Gaines via CreationSwap

Photo Credit Creation Jason Gaines via       Creationswap-www.creationswap.com

He’s always been there…..

Right in front of us….

Each and every one.

“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:26-28

“Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” Romans 13:14

via gopraise

via gopraise