That One “Thing”

The other morning this friend’s post greeted me on my Facebook feed:

What is the one thing you NEED to do today?

Forget the rest of your list for a moment.

Will you get that ONE thing done today?

My first instinct was to feel pressure. I was getting ready for work, didn’t have time to spare and I was pressured with wondering if my day included the most important “ONE” thing! How was I supposed to know what that “thing” was, let alone get it done before the day was done?

As I pondered this challenge more I wondered if perhaps the elusive “thing” might not be a concrete task to add to my list? What if it was an action prompted by the Holy Spirit that would bring glory to God regardless of my abilities?

I thought of Ephesians 2:10:
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do.

If God has already prepared the good works in advance for us, what do I have to fret about? I shouldn’t feel pressure, but a sense of gratefulness that God wants to use me to accomplish His good plans. By trusting in Him and asking the Holy Spirit to lead my thoughts and actions for the day, how can I go wrong?

driving

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

We are each given gifts that God desires and expects us to use each day.

Some days God tasks us with a challenge, asking us to reach out of our comfort zone. He may ask us to give money to a person or cause when we don’t think we can spare it. Perhaps it’s lending a hand to someone who acts like they have everything under control. Or maybe he needs us to speak to someone about God’s gift of salvation even if we’re uncomfortable with that.

Other days God may ask us to smile at someone who is having a difficult day, hold the door for someone, or speak softly when someone speaks sharply to us. Maybe we are to do a little something extra at home, or send a card to a friend, just because.

If you’re not sure what your gifts are, ask God to show you. You might also ask friends or family members to point out areas where you use gifts that you haven’t noticed yourself. Once you have identified your gifts ask God to show you ways to use them every day.

The reality of it is that we need to be aware. Each morning as we begin our day, part of our routine should be giving the day, the tasks, and the people we encounter in His hands. Throughout the day we should remind ourselves to seek how God could use us, not always being in a hurry to accomplish our agenda but to take the time to let the Holy Spirit lead us to someone who needs a touch from Him that God desires us to provide.

At the end of the day a brief visit with the Lord can help us identify where we were listening and where we could have done better – not to beat ourselves up but to become more in tune with the Holy Spirit and using our gifts.

So as we begin a new day, and a new month let’s ask God to show us each day what that “One Thing” is that He desires from us before we lay our heads on the pillow that night. Not only will we bless others but we will find the blessings we receive are pretty great as well.

Blessings and peace to you as you serve God today!
Paula

 

 

 

It’s Over…But Are We Done?

DSC04242

Here we are at the day after Christmas. I hope your season was filled with laughter and precious memory-making time with family and friends. Some continue to celebrate over the next few days, for others the tree will come down, decorations will get packed away and gifts will be returned. Maybe you will join the rush to after-Christmas sales to round out what you didn’t get from your list, or maybe to begin shopping for next year. Perhaps you, like me, return to work and the regular routine.

In my part of the country winter is upon us and will settle in to stay for a few months now. It’s easier to enjoy at Christmastime when the snow seems to add to the magical feel, but now the shoveling becomes tiresome and driving on slippery roads a chore. It’s the time of year when what I call hibernation mode sets in. I don’t want to go out at all, and when I do I tend to get done what I’m out for and return to my warm home and a cup of something hot.

The danger with returning to our routines and entering the hibernation mode of winter is forgetting what we’ve just spent a month or more practicing and encouraging others to do. At the beginning of December I issued a Christmas Kindness Challenge. It helped us to be conscious of others and reaching outside ourselves to reach them, even in a small way.

As I sit here this morning I ask myself, “now what?”

Will I pack away kindness with the tree and wreaths? Will I throw out thoughts of others as I toss the paper and ribbons? I hope not.
I am reminded of what Jesus told the crowds and His disciples during His sermon on the mount.

‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40

and later on…

‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Matthew 25:45

The red kettles will be put away, the toy drives have ended, and the Christmas dinners for the homeless have been served. But there are still homeless people, hungry people, and those who are alone and lonely. There are still neighbors who can’t get to the store because they don’t drive in the snow, and children who will go to school without warm mittens, coat or boots.

Needs don’t end when the gifts have been unwrapped. And we shouldn’t stop looking.

As we move into the new year and set goals or make resolutions let’s resolve to be kinder in January, February, March…you get the idea. Look for needs, and meet them as we are able. If we can’t meet them ourselves perhaps we can enlist others.

heart mittens

In simple be aware.

Let’s not be done with the Christmas ‘spirit’ just because Christmas is over.

Blessings and peace to you on this day after Christmas!
Paula

 

 

Christmas Regrets

Another Christmas is over. It was such a wonderful day for me as family gathered and we shared some precious time over good food, gracious gifts and making great memories.

DSC04732

…but I have some regrets.

There were other special times throughout the Christmas season. I published my first book! I gave to charities and children. I created a gingerbread carnival and gingerbread houses for giants (giant gingerbread people that is…) I sewed and scrapbooked gifts for my family. I laughed with friends at Christmas parties and cried over memories of my dad as we celebrated our fifth Christmas without him.

me & dad

…still I have some regrets.

Christmas Eve was celebrated with both my mom and sister for the first time in several years, and we joined a very special uncle and cousins to welcome the Christ Child at my childhood church.

candlelight

…and yet I have regrets.

1. I regret that I didn’t start earlier. I don’t mean with the sewing and creating (although I was sewing pajamas until 10:30pm Christmas Eve) or with the parties and wrapping.

I regret that I didn’t start sooner with the giving.

Christmas is a time when we think about others who are in need and as a society we tend to give generously. But what about in February when we’re snuggled in our beds yet our streets are filled with those without a home trying to stay warm? Or in August when we’re trying the latest fried-food specialty at the State Fair but haven’t given a donation to the food pantry in months? Why don’t I give all year-long?

2. I regret that I don’t make more of an effort to spend time with my nephews and let them know how proud I am of the young men they are becoming.

And what about others in my life who are important to me?

Do they know how much I care? I used to write fun letters and send goofy greeting cards ‘just because’. When was the last time I wrote a note or did some random act of kindness for someone special to me?

3. I regret that I don’t savor time with my Savior the rest of the year as I do at Christmas. There’s something about the lights on the Christmas tree and the sense of wonder all around that makes me feel closer to the Lord and treasure His gift of Jesus more than the rest of the year.

I want to capture that feeling and experience it all through the year.

These regrets stir me to action. I’ve mentioned before that I am a planner. As I look towards my plans for the coming New Year I am going to ‘task’ myself with planning ways to eliminate these regrets for next year. I will share some of these plans with you over the next couple of weeks.

I pray that you had a wonderful Christmas filled with love and precious memories. What was your favorite part? Any regrets? Please share your thoughts with us here.

I am so thankful for a season that reminds us of the preciousness of our family and friends and the wonderful gift of Jesus. And I’m thankful for all of you stopping by.

blessings and peace to you…
Paula

What’s The Difference?

Stories of people making a difference in the lives of others are so inspirational. They are everywhere – television shows, news stories and radio spots all about these amazing people. They tell of millionaires who give money to those in need, weight loss coaches training people to lose incredible amounts of weight and others who save lives, remodel homes for returning soldiers…so many who change lives through their actions and deeds. Every time I encounter one of these stories I am touched and motivated to go out and do the same.

But then I stop short.

I can’t make that kind of difference!

I’m not rich, I don’t have special skills to teach others about losing weight or overcoming other obstacles in their lives, and I don’t have the vacation time or the resources to travel somewhere to assist with disaster relief. I could never be like one of those people.

It can be easy to stop there, believing that since I may never be able to impact the world with my difference I am unimportant and shouldn’t even try.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.           1 Corinthians 12:4-6

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 NIV

We may not ever be in the news for the difference we make. But the reality is that we don’t always know the difference we are making in someone’s life when we allow God to reach through us. When we dismiss our abilities and the way the Holy Spirit can work in our lives because we don’t think they are important enough we are tying God’s hands and hindering Him from blessing people through us. Whatever gifts we are given God can and will use when we release them to Him.

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Luke 6:38 NIV

And for those of you who are convinced that you don’t have gifts that God can use? Let me ask you a few questions…

1. Can you pray?  Our prayers have more impact than we will ever know, at least this side of Heaven. When we offer a prayer for a friend, family member, or even a stranger we release the power of God through the Holy Spirit to work in their life. Your prayer may be the lifeline for someone who feel they have no strength to go on.

In addition to praying for family, friends and other known needs I have formed a habit of praying when I hear a siren. I don’t always know if the siren comes from a police car, fire truck or ambulance but I pray for the people who are helping, and the people being helped. Truly someone’s life may be saved because of your prayer.

2. Can you smile? I work in a medical office at the front desk. I spend most of my day answering the phone and checking in patients. It’s not the kind of job where I’m changing lives or making life-altering decisions that impact others and it is easy to slip into the attitude of thinking my role is unimportant. But that thinking would be wrong. I can smile. I can be kind to those I encounter. This is not a small thing.

Think about the difference when you go to a store, medical office, etc. and the person at the counter is crabby, just doing enough to get through the day but certainly not happy about it. Now think of the last time the person in this position smiled at you and was pleasant throughout your interaction. What kind of difference did that make in your day? We in turn can make this difference for someone else.

3. Can you write/type? The art of letter/note writing is fading fast. It is fun to get an encouraging note via “snail mail” as too often the only thing we find in the mailbox is bills. But whether you handwrite a note or use e-mail or Facebook to deliver your message, a few minutes to say, “hi” and let someone know you are thinking of and praying for them can lift their day and make a difference.

Some days we are blessed by being told of the difference we are making in our little corner of the world. But even when we aren’t told we need to trust that God is at work in us and through us when we allow Him. The ultimate reward will be when we stand before Him one day and hear:

‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!                                                                                             Matthew 25:21 NIV

blessings and peace to you as you make a difference today!

Paula