Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Focusing on your gifting

Cozy days inside, out of the cold and snow.
A few years ago, I received an e-mail from my friend Sally (Clarkson).  The e-mail was requesting prayer and input on a new ministry she was considering... and it made me smile.  Not for the ministry itself.  No... it was because of the other two recipients.  Both of whom were successfully published Christian authors and speakers.  One of them a New York Times bestselling author.  Oh, my...

Do you ever compare yourself to others?  Come on... be honest.  We all do.  Those of us who are bloggers see where another blogger... one who started out just like us... has now written her second successful book.  How about the food bloggers who carefully prepare, snap photos of food, and offer excellent advice... but feel a little jealous of the other food bloggers who have received cookbook deals.

There are the Sunday School teachers who diligently prepare and teach every Sunday for years upon years who watch Beth Moore on TV and think, "I could do that".  How about the many talented chefs who have never been offered a show on TV?

Have you ever coveted another person's gift?  I do when I hear a beautiful singer for I cannot carry a tune whatsoever.  I don't have many memories of my father since he died when I was a child.  But I do remember him offering me a quarter (or was it a nickel?)... not to sing.

Well, part of this whole focusing thing for 2015 has been God teaching me about focusing on what gifts He has given me, being more accepting of what path He has me walking in this journey of life, and truly appreciating the gift He gives another.

I don't remember not being able to write.  That is a clue, you know.  Your gift is found in 1) your passions... what you do that makes your heart sing, and 2) what you enjoyed doing in childhood, and 3) sometimes in what you must do or you will go a little crazy... more so than you family already think you are.

You probably know your gift(s) already but accepting them and how God wants to use them can be a lifetime struggle.  

For some whom He wants to use in a more public manner, it may require getting over a fear of speaking in public places... or flying... or being away from home.  However, I think for most of God's children, it is more the acceptance of using their gifts in the background.  Writing for just a few.  Making Art to hang in the living room of our own home or to give as gifts to friends.  Baking the best cookies known to mankind for the neighborhood children.

For you see, the Giver of Gifts wants to use us where we are needed.  Few who minister for Him will write books that become New York Times bestsellers.  Most pastors will spend their entire lives shepherding a flock of less than a hundred people each and every week.  Some of the best cooks in the country make dinner each night for their family and some fortunate friends.

I once started to write a book, bringing to it the years of research and experience about what we would now call "prepping".  I wanted to teach people how to stock a pantry and why that was important.  I tried and tried and tried... but could not bring it all together.  I prayed one frustrating prayer after another.

And you know what His answer would always be?  "... Just write."  What do you mean, "just write"?  How does one "just write"?  Well, to make a very long story short (for there is neither time nor space to share again how Coffee Tea Books & Me came about) but once I started blogging I found out what He meant.

Just write... for that is how my mind thinks and how my fingers work on the keyboard and the way I communicate best.  Not in book form.  Not in chapters.  But in writing to people just one day at a time... whatever I'm pondering that day or that week.

I tell people who ask about blogging to just begin.  Don't worry if anyone is reading.  When I started blogging, I only knew about ten people for certain were reading and they were either friends or family.  Write the best you can!  That's what archives are for.

He is still teaching me, you know.  My newest Scrapbook Journal is different than my previous such journals.  They were fine for where I was then.  But this one is more about having fun creating Art with different mediums than using it as a day to day (or week to week) journal.

I longed for years to garden and we finally built the raised bed garden when we moved to the country.  My garden will never win any awards and last year I had to let it go in the last month or so due to a perfect storm of circumstances.  But I plan to plant and hopefully harvest this year.  Something.  Tomatoes.  Lettuce.  Green Beans.  Enjoying the perennial herbs.  Just enough for perhaps a few weeks of garden goodness if that.

But doing something... far from perfect... or even what I'd long for it to be.  But doing...

Is there a passion in your life, a deep desire to do something but you fear starting small?  You don't like that whole learning curve process?  You fear you are not good enough? Or perhaps... you ask yourself why bother when it does not add to the family income?

Do you love photography?  Do you love writing?  Do you love dabbling with paints or modeling clay or sketching?  Did you create your own jewelry as a teenager or take over your mother's kitchen to make organic skin creams?

Have you always wanted to learn to bake bread or make soup or prepare real Indian curry or that Scandinavian bread your great grandmother was famous for baking?  How about canning or pickling or some other form of preserving food?

Does a photo of a proper tea time on the Internet make you swoon but you have never  hosted your own small tea party for friends?

What is there in the deepest part of your being, calling to you to try.  Perhaps something entirely new?  Perhaps starting again a passion you stopped long ago.

Look at your bookshelves (which would take all day for some of us)... what do they say about you?  What nonfiction books make their way to your home?  What fiction writers attract you most?

God has given you a gift and more likely many gifts.  He never ever (ever) leaves one of His children without a gifting.  Otherwise... why are we here?  We are here, my friends, to use the gifts He has given us on the journey He has us on... pray about it, ponder it.  He will gladly show you if you don't know already.

But I think you do.  I think you know the gift He has given you.  All of them?  At least one of them.  Or two.

About that e-mail I received a few years ago?  Well, that ministry Sally was considering became Mom Heart ministries... and what did I have to offer that two nationally world renown authors and speakers did not?  What could I share with my exceptionally talented friend?  My own experience.  My own journey.  Perhaps the fact we are about the same age and the other women were much younger. 

You are the only person in the history of the world who has your unique set of gifting and experiences and family and friends and possibilities.  No other person can be used by God like He can use you.  Think of it... and be careful not to compare yourself to other people in the Kingdom that He uses differently.

You cannot create your Art and use your gifts with full joy if you are comparing yourself to another with similar gifting.  You are unique and so are they.  

As for me, I just write.


Vee said...

Thank God that you do. And I am NOT being flip. Of course, you do have enough material here at CTBM to put together a book and a beautiful one at that, but then what I think does not matter. You keep on following The Holy Spirit's leading and just write.

Ann said...

So much wisdom and encouragement here. Thank you ... I'm always wondering what it is that God would have me do. I don't get a specific answer so I just keep doing life the best I can and help wherever I feel I am needed. Oftentimes it doesn't feel like enough but who am I to say what the Lord wants from me.

Deb said...

Brenda,....and you do it very well. I always enjoy reading here. Thank you.

And, unfortunately, yes, I think we all have a tendency to compare ourselves with others. Good advice to realize that God can use us just the way we are...sometimes even better than using someone else who may be more qualified. We just have to be willing.

Jeanneke said...

And you have written so well! And not only today!
Thank you.


Anonymous said...

Well you've done it again--such beautiful, inspiring words. I hope you keep writing for a very long, long time. I would be so disappointed to not get to read your writings. It is truly a God-given gift to be able to write with such wisdom and insight week after week the way you do. Thank the Lord for your wonderful gift. Blessings, Sharon D.

suzanne said...

I say God has taken your gift of writing and put you exactly where you need to be to make the most impact. Books are great, but look how the internet has changed the way we obtain informatiion..and inspiration. Of course, the Bible is the grid of Truth to refer to first. But your blog has a place in my world, too. It blesses me.

Debbie said...

Well put!

Heather Anne said...

Such timely encouragement Brenda - I am thanking the Lord for the truth you've written here! He is faithful!

Anonymous said...

A truly beautiful Sunday post Brenda. I look forward each week to all your posts. You have a gift and share it with all.

Judy said...

God always knows best! A book we might have read once (or a few times more) but in your blogging He has shown us what living faithfully for Him in and through many seasons looks like. It is one thing to spend a few hours reading a biography, even one that includes much hardship, and another to share it, in 'real time. Your day to day, week to week 'just write' ponderings have blessed us in such a way. I, for one, am glad that you chose the way of obedience.

Anonymous said...

Ahhhh, everyone else beat me to saying that we're sooooo glad you do write!! We are! You do such a good job. Thank you for being obedient to our LORD.

I don't think anyone leaves a gift wrapped, never opening it. The body of Christ needs to know what their gift/s is/are so they can minister and encourage brothers and sisters in Christ. Pam (SD)

Nana said...

Ah, dear friend, your post is exceptional today! Such beautiful words and so well put! And so timely. I have been telling the Lord that what I do in my small space of this earth does not matter. But maybe it does, even at my age to have family I must care for, bills I must pay to keep us warm and cozy, children I attend to, babies to kiss and hug. Friends to have lunch with and share the details of our lives. Adult children and grandchildren to keep under Gods wings. Blessings to you my friend! Love and Hugs, Nana

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the truth -God gifts us all. Thanks for the encouragement. Gail

Stephanie Peter said...

Wow, thank you so much for this post, Brenda... this was so inspiring! God bless you.

Rachel and Family said...

This has to be my favorite post you've ever written. It is spot-on. We live in a world that seems to say "GO BIG- or go home" but even Jesus said "faith as small as a mustard seed..." and "being faithful in the small things"
Thank YOU!!!!!!

Unknown said...

I think it amazing how a similar thought is in my mind for sure, and no doubt many others; what has God given me to accomplish. There are many wonderful things and when younger, I was going in many directions. All good things but As I have grown older I needed to narrow down to, "what God has given and just that".

Thickethouse.wordpress said...

And how many have been encouraged and inspired in how many different ways by the words that you :just write". I am so glad that you do not neglect your gifts, dear Brenda.

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

Thanks for this Brenda. I really needed this encouragement today!

Love you

Carrie said...

Popping over from another blog. Oh, I how encouraging I found this post. Thanks for...just writing!

Cheryl said...

Yes!! Beautifully said!

Nanna Chel said...

Thank you for those lovely and wise words, Brenda. You use your God-given gifting so well to encourage others. Yes, I am sure we all compare ourselves to others but we need to find and use our own individual giftings and nurture them.

Anonymous said...

So very inspiring, thank you for this!

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

Thank you, Brenda. This was balm for a weary soul.

hopeinbrazil said...

Well said, Brenda. I have struggled during all of our ministry years with overcommitting myself. Sometimes this was necessary, but many times it was because I wasn't sure of my gifts so I said yes to everything. Shauna Niequest's books helped me a lot to nail down what I'm truly passionate about - my gifts - and hence what I'm called to do. Thanks for all your posts.