Spiritual Gifts

Recently, I searched the internet to find an online spiritual gifts test to use for our church website.  When I found the one that we are going to use, I took the test to make sure it’s what we were really looking for.  It turned out to be great, and I am jazzed that we are going to be rolling it out soon!

When I took the test, I was sort of surprised by my results.  It said my spiritual gifts were:


Administration (Well, OK, I kind of figured this would be one)


I really can’t remember what my results have been in the past.  And I honestly had no clue what they were going to be this time.  But I was really surprised by what I got back…until I thought about it.

I think my Faith and Pastor results go hand in hand.  I’ve experienced enough in my adult life to know that no matter what happens, God is faithful and loving and that is not going to change!  And because I know that, I have a deep desire to help others that are going through rough stuff.  I want to love on them and let them also know that everything is going to be OK.

Tonight, while riding back to my hotel room, I was thinking about this spiritual gifts test and my results.  It struck me that my gifts of Faith and Pastor are truly gifts.  And that I wouldn’t have received those gifts without going through lots of really hard stuff.

When I thought about this, I was immediately comforted once again by the fact that God has a truly beautiful plan for my life.  And though I’ve hated all the hard stuff I’ve had to face, I’ve gotten some beautiful gifts out of it all!  And I am blessed by the fact that I get to use these gifts each and every day to help others!

Focusing on Abundance

If I had a never-ending supply of money (or anything), I would jump at any chance I could to give it away.  If I knew the source of it was going to be there forever, no matter what, I would be the most generous person around.  At least I’d like to think so.

Here’s the thing.  We have a God who has an abundance of love, grace and forgiveness to give us.  And it never goes away!  If anything, he’d like to give us way more than we’re willing to take.  It’s running over like crazy!

But we act as if there is a scarcity.  We are reluctant to give love, grace and forgiveness.  We are focused on what we should get from other people instead of what we are constantly receiving or able to receive from God.  Or at least that’s the way I act.

Here are a few quotes from my Bible study lately:

“Our ability to give good to others springs from the abundance of good we receive from God.”

“A focus on scarcity results in stinginess while a focus on abundance results in generosity.”

How true these statements are!  And if I really believe this, I would be throwing love and grace out all over the place!  I would be kind because God is kind.  I would forgive instantly because God knows I’ve needed forgiveness a million times myself!

Most of the time, we think we deserve so much from others and God.  Really, we deserve nothing from God.  But God doesn’t act on that.  He acts as if we deserve everything in the world.  Everything he’s got.  With a constant supply.  And he’s sitting at the edge of his seat ready to give it to us if we’d just ask.  If we’d just believe.

Too often, I focus on the way others have hurt me and I feel like they don’t deserve anything or much.  But I want to live out of the abundance and overflow of my Father.  I want to drink from the never-ending fountain of his love and let it flow from me.

So be it!

Conversation Peace

I attended our church’s Ladies Bible Class this morning, and I’m excited about this study and the chance to connect with RE women!  Our study for this semester is:


The verse that stuck out to me today was James 3:1-6:

“Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”

Today’s lessons was very powerful and convicting!  I can think of way too many times that a small careless word uttered from my mouth has created a fire instead of a calming presence.  Especially words spoken to family members.

God, help me to control my tongue, and help my words to be in alignment with you!

Like I said, I’m looking forward to this study and the things I learn from it!

Car Conversations/Loving Our Enemies

I love the time that I have with my kids in the car (well, most of the time).  More than pretty much any other time we are together, car time is my chance to talk to my kids, impart all my wisdom (ha!) and sing songs.  Car time is awesome!  My kids are totally hostage to mom.  They’re even strapped down!

Lately we’ve talked quite a bit about the fact that if someone is not acting nice, it’s probably because they are hurting in some way.  And if they’re hurting, we need to do everything we can to show them love and friendship to maybe help them feel and act better.  One day last week, I had my oldest son and a friend in the car, and they were talking about a kid they know that isn’t very nice.  I asked them how they could be nice to the child and show him love.  This was a hard question for them to answer.  The friend said that he says hi to the boy, and I said that was good.  Then we talked about more ways that the kids could go out of their way to make this kid feel better.  But it was difficult for the kids to think about these things and even see that they were valid responses to the way they and other kids had been treated.

It struck me in this conversation how hard it is to love our enemies sometimes.  And sometimes we think we are doing a really good job by just not being mean back.  But to truly make a difference in our enemy’s life, we need to be looking for ways to help him, love him, and make things better for him.  To go above and beyond and be intentional.  Instead of avoiding the person and the problem, we might should find ways to be around this person and do nice things for them.

In church yesterday, the sermon was about love.  At one point, our minister said that we have all been enemies of Christ and were apart from him.  But he loved us and was willing to do what it took to bring us back to him and close the gap between us.  God didn’t give up on us, and we shouldn’t give up on our enemies.


Dignity. Always, dignity.

I got a group of 2nd grade moms from my kiddo’s school together last night to go see Singing in the Rain for Retro night at a nearby movie theater.  This is our third year at the school, and I still don’t know all that many people (which I totally blame on the fact that I have twins – my excuse for everything!  For the last two years, my life has pretty much revolved around them.  But they’re older, and I’m a lot more sane now, so I can afford to do a little more in life!)  I have decided that this is the year that I’m going to actually get to know people.  So I set up an event, and it was great!  Except I still need lots of help in the small talk area.  But we can talk about that later!

I’ve never seen the movie Singing in the Rain before, but I remembered after it started that I had seen a live performance of it at some point.  It’s a really great movie, and there are so many great lines in it.

The one that stuck out to me last night was “Dignity.  Always, dignity.”  This part always makes me laugh because Don is on the red carpet trying to act all fancy, but as he’s talking about his past and how he became a star it flashes back to what really happened.  He keeps saying “Dignity.  Always, dignity”, but the reality was that his past was far from dignified.

Up until not so long ago, I felt like I always had to appear dignified.  That’s the way people wanted me to be, right?  And I sort of looked down on people if they were not dignified themselves.

But the more life I live, I find that I am drawn to the people who are not dignified.  The people who aren’t putting on airs to look great to everyone else.  Sometimes the people who are so broken that they have absolutely no airs left to put on.  I yearn for interactions with people who are honest and true to themselves.  I want to talk to the people who are more than willing to share how they are not perfect.  People that are willing to admit that they are a big fat mess.

Because when you’re willing to be real and lay it all out in the open, it’s extremely freeing!  You don’t have to worry about keeping up your image.  Or working yourself sick to prove how great you are.  You just get to be who you really are.  Yes, some people may not like the real you.  But probably, more than likely, the vast majority will!

I’ve found that the closer I am to Christ, I don’t care so much what other people think of me.  And that’s HUGE for a people-pleaser like me!  If Christ thinks I’m OK no matter what, that is pretty special!

So, let’s do all we can to live undignified, true, honest lives!

Kingdom People

A few years ago, a guy Chris and I know asked us what it would look like if we viewed people as “kingdom people”.  If we really thought of people as “kingdom people”, how would that change things?

At first I pretty much thought the guy was smoking something funny.  For real!  I had no clue what he was talking about.  Some of you may be shaking your heads thinking “This is so obvious, Stephanie!”  But for me it wasn’t.  Some people love getting deep into scripture and talking nuances of the Bible and religion, but that’s not me!  I’m a simple girl.  Yeah, I want to learn more about God, but I’m not that big into the details of everything.  I’m good to just try loving God the best I can most of the time.

So, yeah, I thought the guy’s question was a little too out there for me.

But then it stuck with me.  I couldn’t get past it.  It nagged and nagged and nagged the crud out of me.

I don’t even remember all the initial things I thought about this question, but man, I thought a lot about it.

At some point, I decided to run a little experiment where I wanted to try to see Jesus in every person I came across.  One of the biggest things that I got out of this experiment was that I absolutely loved looking into peoples’ eyes as they were talking to me.  To me, if you look into peoples’ eyes, it screams Jesus!  Well, at least after this experiment.  I’ve never been a big eyes person.  Girls growing up would be all ooshy gooshy (that’s a real thing, right?) about eyes.  It was like the first thing every girl noticed about someone…except me.  I’ve just never been all that into eyes.  So it was weird to me when I started this little experiment and I immediately started connecting with people through their eyes.  And it was even more weird that it seemed like people were really digging it too.  Like it made a difference to them that I was really listening and searching for God in their eyes.  But that wasn’t all.  I’m also not a good small talk person.  If I don’t know you all that well, I’m really not good at talking to you.  Never have been.  I’ve gotten better about it to where it’s not completely awkward anymore, but it’s just not my favorite thing to do.  But if you’ve known me my whole life, well you know, you can’t shut me up!  But anyway, suddenly it was like I was connecting with people like it was nothing!  I seemed to not only connect better but also make the other person feel a little more at ease.  Our church has a helping agency where they give out food and financial assistance.  Hundreds of people come to our church building each week in a big mess.  And when I talked with these people, there was something there that wasn’t there before.  I was seeing Christ in them immediately!  There was even one lady on a Wednesday night that I was in a group with.  We didn’t talk except for introducing ourselves, but then after it was over, she came and motioned for me to come over.  I had no clue what was about to happen, but this lady shared with me the serious struggles that she was currently facing, how she felt about them and asked for prayers.  I still don’t know why she picked me, but I really feel like with me trying to see Christ in her, she connected with me.  And I was blessed beyond belief by that conversation!

Fast forward a few months, and one day I was driving in my car headed to begin my Church Administration certification class.  I was rocking out to Christian music, and the song “Twenty-first Time” came on.  And when it got to the part that goes:

He may be a drifter who’s grown old and gray
But what if it’s Jesus and I walk away
I say I’m the body and drink of the wine
But I pretend not to see him for the twenty-first time

something hit me like a bag of bricks.  This was the answer to that question about “kingdom people” that I had been wrestling with for so long!  At least an answer for me.  Now, see if this makes any sense.  You may think I’m the one smoking something funny.

If we are all made in the image of Christ (we are!), then we could almost say that we all have Christ in us (I’m not talking saved or not).  So really, every single person that we ever run across could be Jesus…in a way is Jesus.  And if I really think this, then I should be treating every single person on this planet as if they were Jesus.

I’m not sure that this is the answer that our friend was wanting, but for me, at this time in my life…this is my answer.

So that brings me to my next question.  If Jesus was standing in front of me, how would I treat him?  How would you treat him?  And if I truly believe that we are all made in his image…that we are all “kingdom people”, how would that really change the way that I see people, interact with people, etc.?  Honestly, I’m still wrestling with this question, so I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Maybe someday when I get this question all figured out in my head, I’ll have another post sharing my conclusion.  But right now, I’m still not sure what that looks like.  But I do know that I want to keep looking for Christ in all people, and I want Christ to use me and all my mess to reach the world, my friends, my neighbors, etc. for him.

So be it!

Don’t worry. Instead pray.

I worry a lot.  I always have.  I have gotten a little better about it over the years.  I don’t worry about all the small stuff anymore, but when I have bigger things to worry about than normal I almost get lost in my worry.  At times it has consumed me.  It’s a horrible feeling.

On the way to work/daycare yesterday, the kids and I were listening to the Kingdom Rock VBS cd, and the song Pray About Everything came on.  I’ve heard this song a million times, but it really struck me yesterday.  Here are some of the lyrics:

Don’t worry about anything
Instead pray about everything
Tell God what you need
Thank God for all He has done
Don’t worry
Instead Pray
Don’t worry
Instead Pray

What if every time I am worrying I make the decision to start praying?  Would would happen if I really did this?  And it hit me that  this might just be crazy enough to work!  To do the trick for me!

If I really did train myself to start praying any time I start worrying about something, I can see how this could totally change my life and my way of thinking.  If I really get into the habit of doing this, I just might be able to let things go!

I heard a quote a few days ago that was something like When you pray about your worries, it is impossible to not feel better.

So I am not going to try to train myself to pray as soon as I start worrying.  I’m sure this will be something I have to work on for a really long time.  I’m a slow learner when it comes to stuff like this, but I’m going to try to make it happen!