Dandelions and Spiritual Gifts

dandelionhand1 Peter 4:10 (NIV) Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

When my children were little they’d run into the house, their knees scuffed, their cheeks smudged with dirt, and their hands stuffed full of dandelions. A gift for me. They’d smile when I’d pull a vase from the cupboard and treat those weeds with the same care as I would a bouquet of long-stemmed red roses.

One day, one of the neighbor girls came in with my daughter and handed me a fistful of flowers. After hugging my daughter and adding yet another vase full of yellow blooms to my collection, I tried to encourage the neighbor child to take her bouquet home to her mommy. She pouted, shook her head, then proceeded to stuff her fist toward me again. “My mommy just throws them in the trash.” Stunned and not knowing what else to do, I took the flowers from her and gave them the same special treatment I’d given the bouquets from my daughter.

It made me wonder how many times, like her mother, we have refused the gifts God has given us. How many times have we missed the blessing God wants to bestow on us? When we’re asked to be a substitute for a Sunday school class, do we turn away? Do we shrink back from an evangelistic effort because we’re afraid? Do we refuse to sing in the choir because we question our ability?

How often have we thought of someone, even felt led to call them, encourage them, and perhaps utter some of God’s truth in their ear? But we never do. Aren’t we missing the blessing–the gift that comes back to each one of us when we do God’s will?

Do we miss out on what God has in store for us by doubting our faith? Do we ever wonder if God is in control? Do we doubt His ability to meet our needs? Do we question His ability to perform miracles (through us and for us)? Faith is a gift.

How many times, like my neighbor, have we thrown God’s gifts into the trash and never looked back? Because of our disregard for the gifts He wants to give us, we’ve never witnessed the joy on God’s face—the same joy I saw on that little girl’s face when I took her flowers and set them in a place of honor at my kitchen table.

From that day forward, until the little girl’s family moved away, she brought me dandelions. If God sees He can trust us with one gift, He will provide another, and another. He will multiply our blessings because of our faithfulness and willingness to step out in faith. Sometimes this means having to face our fears, but remember, if God has ordained it, He will help you achieve it.

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Fuel Up Your Creativity!

My family is blessed to024 live in a beautiful part of the world – the Black Hills of South Dakota. Even three years after moving here, we’re still not immune to stunning vistas and fabulous sunsets.

This time of year, my husband and I try to get up into the Hills at least once a week. Whether we’re setting out on an evening drive to seek out the Custer State Park bison herd or lacing up our hiking boots to explore a new trail, we’re eager to hit the road.

But before we head up into the wilderness, my husband always stops at the neighborhood gas station to fill up the car’s gas tank.

We wouldn’t want to get half-way out to the back of nowhere and run out of gas, would we?

Writing needs fuel, too.

Every morning, I turn on my computer and head into the wilderness of my imagination. Characters talk to each other, situations develop, conflicts explode – or simmer – and it all gets typed into the file of my current work in progress.

At the same time, another story – or two – or three – simmer on the back burner of my mind. Characters lurk back there, taking on lives of their own.

Meanwhi9780373282777_p0_v1_s260x420le, there’s a book release coming up next month. So marketing plans are being developed in another part of my brain.

With all that energy being expended, I have to make sure I fill up my brain’s gas tank on a regular basis.

But how?

 Rest. A Sabbath rest.

Resting doesn’t mean to unplug, unwind, turn off and disconnect. Doing those things may give us a break from our normal routine, but they don’t refuel. Our minds, bodies, and spirits need re-fueling and re-creation.

We need to rest in God.

 

God gave us the Sabbath. One day that is His out of our week.

One day to worship, study, connect with His Church, fellowship with other believers, make family memories….

One day to re-fuel our energy and our connection to Him – the source of our creative gift.

It isn’t an easy thing to do. It’s a challenge every week to clear my plate before Sunday morning. It takes planning to be able to put away the normal daily routines and take up the gift of the Sabbath rest.

But when Monday morning rolls around again, I’m so glad I made the effort!

What will you do today to re-fuel your life?

For Me, With Me, Instead of Me

Footprints in the sand on beach near San José del Cabo, Mexico at sunriseI’m sure most of us know the “Footprints in the Sand” poem, as well as its accompanying images. I think the piece strikes people for the same reason: It’s good to know we’re not alone.

However, that one-set-of-prints is not the full picture. At least not the way it plays out in my head. Sometimes, I imagine it’s multiple sets going in different directions within a dark and pot-holed parking lot. The kind where you worry someone is watching you, waiting to pounce. And even when it’s only one set, when God is carrying you through, it isn’t always on some idyllic beach. It’s on a scuffed batch of linoleum at the local Walmart, through the spilled Kool-Aid.

There are times when God is for us. I imagine this footprint scenario looking like one set of prints is a bit behind the other, trying to keep pace, but not really. I used to think God’s prints are the ones out front, and I’m the lollygagger behind. Yet, the longer I walk this walk, the more I side with the conclusion that it’s the opposite. For us means in support of. It means that He’s letting us go on ahead, cheering us on and holding back like that crazy mom who hides behind the oak tree on the first day of Kindergarten. We need these moments to build our faith. Having God carry us won’t build muscle, will it?

Then consider the times God is with us. This puts two sets of prints side by side. I like it when God is with me. I feel strong and sure and kept. Like a big girl who can legitimately say “Dad” instead of “Daddy,” and Pops couldn’t care less because even he knows it’s true. I believe these are the good times. The great times. The times when we’re almost not stupid and prone to create our own apocalyptic downfalls.

stock-footage-friendly-business-people-walking-away-across-grassy-field-in-the-country

And then, of course, when God goes instead of us. One set of prints, His, when it’s time to fall back onto something that never fails. I guess if you’re a wee bit on the nostalgic side, the footprints on that gently lapping coastline paint the perfect picture. It used to for me. But I’ve had some scuffs over the years, seen some things, been through some pits. So, when God has to pull me out, when He has to do the walking instead of me, I imagine Him fighting the fight that I cannot, busting up the joint, and no, there’s no beach. Not for some of the stuff God has to carry me away from. If an alley fight took place anywhere else than a stinking alley, then even West Side Story would have been filmed in Malibu.

Yet, however you want to picture it, the prints will always indicate He’s there. For you. With you. Instead of you.

I think this video explains it best. Take the time to give it a look.  http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=GD6PNNNX