Finding your His ‘thang’

There are a lot of things that I just don’t know.

Until five minutes ago I didn’t know how to do that cross out your words html stuff.

I get completely lost and overwhelmed in a lot of theological and ideological discussions.  It doesn’t matter that I have a University degree.  I still get overwhelmed.

I don’t know how to fix the kids’ bath plug when it comes out.

I often don’t know the right words to say to make someone feel better or to really hear what they are saying.

There are so many practical and spiritual things I just do not know.  Yet.

This I do know:  it takes nine tubs of 32 ounces of yoghurt plus 8 lbs of frozen berry mix to make fruit and berry parfaits for 45 people.  One should always take one’s own vegetable peeler when cooking in large quantities and people are impressed by the little touches – the garnishes, the cards that describe the flavours and the freshness of food.

I had the privilege of catering for an event in the weekend.  I used to do this a little in New Zealand.  Not as an official business – but if we hadn’t come to America I was looking into making it so.  I’ve done some dinner parties, food for a funeral afternoon tea, engagement parties, 21st parties and have helped other caterers with weddings.

This was my first gig to do in America, so I was hoping I wasn’t too rusty.  I had hoped I hadn’t bitten off more than I could chew.  But I got in that kitchen and I loved it.  I loved the planning, the list-making, the shopping, the challenge of keeping costs down as it was for a ministry event, the food prep and all the work on the day.  I loved it.

As I was de-briefing myself yesterday and realizing that I had over-bought in the lettuce department and I could have cut the carrots the day before and they would have still been ok, I was then struck with the thought that food really is my ‘thang’.  It is one of my God things.  And I came up with a list, like bam bam bam, all about how you know if something is a ‘thang’ for you or not….so here goes….

If ‘something’ is your thang:

*  it will bring you joy

Yep.  If doing something makes you happy, truly happy, and not want to run for miles in the other direction, then that’s a good thing.  The fact that I enjoy the whole prepping of food, the making and even the clean-up…means it is a thang.

*  it brings others joy

Food brings most people joy, right?  Our gifts, our ‘thangs’ are not for ourselves, they are for others.  To bless, encourage, exhort, come alongside.

*  it gives glory to God

Our talents and abilities are God-given so any praise or recognition we get – should be attributed back to the maker of these abilities.  This is something I’m still working on.  Not that I take the credit myself for a job well done, but just how exactly to point the way to Jesus….how to show others that without Him and His help, I couldn’t do anything.  I guess I don’t get a lot of compliments in day to day life, so when I do get them, it is hard to know how to respond to them properly.

*  your ‘thang’ combines supernatural and natural giftings

That reality that at the end of my ability, God steps in with His help…..That my talent is limited but ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’.  I’m sure I’m not the first caterer to pray in 90 degree weather that the food stays cool enough.  That even though the fridge space is very limited,  that the food doesn’t get too hot.  And as I cut and spooned and poured and baked, I was praying for the event happening outside.  Praying for lives to be changed, for open hearts and open ears.  That my part of the day be a blessing to others.

*  your ‘thang’ involves an element of risk

That’s why I crossed out the ‘your’ and added in the ‘His’, in my title.  If we always did things that we knew we could easily do, there wouldn’t be any reliance on God and His help.  There wouldn’t be any growth in your life from the ‘stretch’ factor.

And once again, if any credit or glory for your ‘thang’ gives you the glory, puts you centre-stage, then this isn’t right,  really it should be Christ who is front and centre-stage when you’re stepping out for Him.

There are so many opportunities and ways to serve the body of Christ.  If you open your eyes to the needs – opportunities are endless.  But there is a huge difference between doing what you can do, and doing what you should be doing.  What your ‘thang’ is.

Rick Godwin said this on twitter sometime last week – ‘You don’t get credit in life for being busy? Activity is not necessarily accomplishment!’

I had the honour of serving some amazing women on Saturday, by using my giftings and relying on God’s power to make up for what I didn’t know and for handling the details I don’t always get right.  My darling husband did his ‘thang’ by encouraging me in taking this step, by asking for my feedback, by being my taste-tester for new recipes and for looking after our children on the day, so I could totally concentrate on the job at hand.

If we all found out what our ‘thang’ was, and then did our ‘thang’ and gave each other freedom and encouragement in that, wouldn’t the global church be a mighty force?  Wouldn’t the ‘body’ be able to work fluidly and at full capacity?

So let me encourage you to find out what your thang is….and…..just do it….remembering that:

Relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing had yet been done – C S Lewis

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Five Minute Friday: Beyond

Five Minute Friday

 

No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation.

Unscripted. Unedited. Real.

5 mins of writing on a set topic.

I’ve decided that if I ever wanted to do more writing….and to really get serious about it then I need to be able to just write.  Simply write.  So I’m going to join some friends linking up at Lisa-Jo’s blog and we shall see what fun ensues…..

Start.

Beyond.

There’s always something, someone needing us.  The lists and expectations ever present.

There are always bigger conversations around us.  The need to see the needs of the world, beyond our kitchen windows.  The constant arguing, yes arguing over issues such as women’s and men’s roles in the church.  Words that are mis-read.  Words that are misunderstood.

So much time, going over and over the same issues.  If not the issues of our own immediate worlds, then the issues of our greater communities.

I wonder if it grieves our Lord’s heart?

These distractions that cause our sister to rise against sister.  Brother against brother.

For there is so much more, beyond the differing of opinions.

Souls.

Souls that need Jesus’ love.

Souls that are not helped by small and inward looking lives.

Beyond.  Beyond the distractions.  Lord I want to leak and ooze with love.  Beyond my limitations.

Stop.

Five Minute Friday: Enough

Five Minute Friday

No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation.

Unscripted. Unedited. Real.

5 mins of writing on a set topic.

I’ve decided that if I ever wanted to do more writing….and to really get serious about it then I need to be able to just write.  Simply write.  So I’m going to join some friends linking up at Lisa-Jo’s blog and we shall see what fun ensues…..

Start.

No, you haven’t eaten enough to get down from the table.

Could you do some more guitar practice?  I haven’t heard enough of it this week.

Are those clothes dry enough to bring in yet?

Let’s go over those times tables, you need to know them well enough to say them all by memory.

Is he well enough for school?

Does he say enough words?

Measurements.  Limitations.  Stretching.  Comparisons. Milestones.

Our days are full of the enoughs.  Have I done enough?  Am I good enough?  This world is full of yardsticks.  How we measure ourselves.  How  we measure our families.  How we measure our growth.

Our economy is one of comparison.  So different to the Lord’s.  God’s economy can not be measured by how we measure ourselves.  With Him……all that is enough is…..well us.  Nothing more, nothing less.  We are enough.

Enough is enough with the comparisons.  I want to look up to see where my worth comes from.

STOP.

The lie of invisibility

Ever sent off a message into cyberspace giving encouragement, written in love, to not ever get a response?

Ever heard about social events, after the fact and felt that tug in your tummy?

Ever feel like it doesn’t even matter if you go somewhere or not – you won’t be missed  – your presence or your absence makes no waves either way?

Ever felt like you will never be someone’s first choice in a friendship – that you’re never the one they pick up the phone to call first, or to arrange social gatherings first…you’re more the afterthought……

These thoughts are something I’ve been struggling with lately, and I figured if it is something I’ve had struggles with……I reckon I’m not alone in these thoughts.

All of these things result in giving you a feeling of invisibility.  That you don’t matter.  That your life doesn’t matter.  That you can make no difference in the world.

These thoughts: they are all wrong, all nasty, and if I were  a woman preacher I would stand at the pulpit and declare ‘they are lies straight from the pits of hell’.

I do believe this is all wrong wrong wrong.  But I need to remind myself and maybe you do too. YOU do matter.  What you say does matter.  How you live does matter.  Where you go, does matter.  Who you know, does matter.

Satan would like us to think otherwise because when we know WHO we are in Him, we are a force to be reckoned with.

When we know WHO we are and WHOSE we are, and when we REMEMBER this and live knowing this, then we don’t let these thoughts of feeling invisible get to us.

So.  Who are we in Christ?

I am called of God by my name (Isaiah 43:1)

I am engraved on the palm of God’s hands (Isaiah 49: 16)

I am delivered from the power of darkness (Colossians 1:13)

I am a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)

I have a purpose for living (Jeremiah 29:11) (Ephesians 1:11 – 12)

I am never forsaken (Psalm 27:10)

I have a father (Psalm 68: 5)

I am a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19)

I am receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken (Hebrews 12:28)

I am loved with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3)

I am crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20)

I am the light of the world (Matthew 5:14)

I am more than a conqueror (Romans 8: 37)

I am an ambassador for Christ (2 Corinthians 5: 20)

I am accepted in the beloved (Ephesians 1: 6)

I am beloved and chosen by God (1 Thess 1:4)

I am healed by the wounds of Jesus (1 Peter 2:24)

I am free from condemnation (Romans 8:1)

I am complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10)

I know God’s voice (John 10: 14)

I have all my needs met in Christ (Philippians 4: 19)

I have everlasting life (John 6: 47)

I have power to control my thoughts (2 Corinthians 10:5)

The Lord is my rock and salvation (Psalm 18: 2)

I have received power from the Holy Spirit to heal the sick, cast out demons, defeat the enemy (Mark 16: 17)

I forget the past and go forward with Christ (Philippians 3: 12- 13)

I have received the power that raised Jesus from the dead (Ephesians 1: 19- 20)

I always triumph in Christ (2 Corinthians 2:14)

There is a lot of power in them thar words.  There is a lot of hope in them thar words.

The key for me  is to read and believe these words, over the words, the very lies that the devil tells me.

Let’s choose hope dear friends.  Hope.  No-one is invisible to my Lord.

All the (married) ladies in the house…….

There’s not a lot ever posted in blogland on the topic of sex.  Nope.  People tend to stay away from this one.

I can’t believe I just wrote that three-letter word myself.

But I have to admit I’m not blushing.  Not yet, anyway.

Now let me state this very clearly just because I am choosing to do one little blog post on this today….this an expert or a crazy woman addict does not me make.  Just passing on some knowledge is all.  Was gonna say ‘tips’ but thought better of that!

I will say that my husband is the very best husband in the world, and I am learning to be a better wifey.

My blog is all about honesty, talking friend to friend.  I’m sorry if I ever sound preachy.  That’s not my intent.  I believe God has brought me through some things not just for myself, but to share with others, to glorify Him.  So if in my sharing I sound preachy, then forgive me.  This blog is as much about reminding myself of things as anything, telling myself to action upon things, to be changed from the inside out.

Where was I?

Sex.  That’s right.

Ladies take a minute to go and peruse your undies drawer.  Go on.  Go and look through your unmentionables.  Let’s mention them today. I’ll still be here when you get back.  Sitting here, enjoying my cuppa tea.  Away you go.

You back?

Right o.  Now tell me.  Just play along, ok?  Did what you see make you go woohoo?  Or boohooo??  Comfortable cotton – dating back to ‘post-baby practical you’ or racey lacey?

If you said ‘boohoo’ then that was me until a couple of weeks ago.  I decided I needed to do my part to…you know…..Now I have some ‘woohoo’ in my drawer and I like to call them  my magic undies.  Yep.  I didn’t spend a lot of money – only $9 for three (thanks Kohl’s clearance!) and somehow, magically, they DO make me feel different.  Feel better.  Feel racey.  Feel like……you know.

So if you have some boohoo going on, get yourself some magic undies.  And if you’re a rare male reading this….buy your wifey some magic undies.  You will be rewarded. 🙂

Now I’m not saying that’s all there is to a healthy and happy marriage, with a happy and healthy sex-life (there’s that word again). It is not that simple.  But it is one thing that helps.  One thing that you can do.  One thing that can change things.  And one thing that is often overlooked in the busy days and long nights, of putting little people’s needs and wants first.

Another thing.  If you have kids, little kids you’re probably quite tired.  Continually tired.  We’re the reason coffee is so popular, and drive- thru coffee kiosks were created just for us.  There is a universal truth – Motherhood makes you bone-weary.

Sometimes when you finally get to bed after a crazy day running around after little hooligans.  Darling hooligans, but hooligans none-the-less the thought crosses your mind……’is he going to want to tonight?’  Its not that you don’t necessarily want to, you know it is important, you know you’ll even enjoy it….but having that question mark in your head, can do your head in sometimes.  Especially when your littlies are very little, especially when you feel like you’ve been sharing your breastfeeding body all day anyway.  Those days are tough.

One little idea an older lady passed onto a bunch of us ‘learners’ at a ‘wife-school’ course I did recently, called ‘Apples of Gold’ (if you ever get a chance to partake in this – doooooo!!) is to have a candle in your room.  A scented candle that your husband can light, if he has only one thing on his mind that evening.  Or  – mix things up – YOU light it, if you’re wanting some sheet action.  That way it takes the question mark away from your head as you get ready for bed and you have time to turn your attitude from an ‘ok, then……if we must…’ to ‘all righty babe, I’m fully here and fully yours’.

Trust me.  The candle thing is wonderful for a tired Momma.

Attitude is everything in a lot of things, but especially in marriage.

So, add to this week’s shopping list: scented candle and some racey lacies.  I dare ya!

A kick in the backside

This morning I got home from church and went into a post-church frenzy.  Normally my mornings are quite organized and I get things done before going out, but not this morning.  I was doing it solo getting ready to go out, and the toddler was…..being a toddler….So I came home to the remains of what was small tornado in my house.

I was in the middle of my put a load of washing on wash the breakfast dishes sweep the cereal off the floor wipe the toothpaste from the basin get some snacks into the kiddos frenzy in which the kids may or may not have raised their voices at each other and I may or may not have raised my voice back at them, when I happened upon this:

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   Talk about getting a kick in the backside from the six year old.

  Interpretation for those of you not familiar with beginner’s writing :  You are the best person that I know.  I love you God.  I love Christ. (Insert cross and sun).

I love that he wrote a love letter to God this morning and I stand corrected for my bad attitude.  I wonder how different our lives, our writing, our hearts would be if we wrote more love letters to God?

Love letters to God for the sake of just telling Him how much we love Him.  Not as a display of our thankfulness, not as an exercise in changing our attitudes, not as part of playing the Pollyanna ‘Glad game’ but simply because we want to tell Him how much we love Him.

Just a thought, just something I know I need to work on.

Ministry: A team thing

There are always pretty high stats floating around regarding the number of people that leave ministry, that leave their overseas mission field.

More than ever, I can see why.

Coming off the end of what’s been a particularly hard week, I can see why people leave ministry.  I’m not going to. Make that, we’re not going to.  I believe we are called to what we’re doing and God is firmly in control and that trials come and go, but I can see why people leave.

Chances are if you’re reading this you are possibly involved in a local church.  You will surely have friends and acquaintances serving in countries and places other than where you are currently planted. You may even be in an overseas mission field yourself. Or you may even have missionaries of sorts in your own neighborhood.

There are plenty of things that YOU can do to make life a lot easier for your friends in ministry.  Things that don’t just happen unless people think and then do……

Ministry needs to be a team thing….here are some pointers I’ve learnt along the way…some happened for us naturally and easily….others have been harder…but ALL are appreciated.  More than anything it is the people who can make a difference, for good, for people in ministry.

*  Pray. Pray.  Pray

*  Ask how your friends are doing.  Whether you are asking via email, skype, phone call or face to face.  Ask direct and pointed questions to get a good idea as to how they are doing in every area of their lives.  Don’t just presume.  (I wonder if I would had settled in a bit easier and quicker if I had people in my life actually ask me how I was finding things. I’m a private person and don’t talk about myself unless I am asked….maybe your friends are the same).

*  Give invitations to your friends in ministry around you, to include them for major holidays.  Push them to accept.  Holidays are the absolute worst to spend alone – without family around you – when it feels like everyone else is with loved ones.  (Word the invitations with a considerable amount of sincerity….nothing worse than it coming across like a token gesture).

*  Do what you can to be adoptive grandparents/ aunties/ uncles.  One of our friends here has really stepped up and been that person for us.  ‘Grandma Sue’ has been to watch basketball games, soccer games, has invited us into her home for Christmas and Thanksgiving and various barbecues as well as taken time off work to come to things like Luka’s Kindergarten graduation.  This has meant so much to us.  So much.

*  Be a free babysitter for your friends.  This matters.  If your friends are in ministry then nine times out of ten they are on a tight budget……the thought of some time out is appealing but the additional cost of a babysitter just pushes it into the too hard basket.  And ministry can cause enormous stress on a marriage.  Give your friends the gift of time.  Push them to accept it.

*  Communicate.  Write letters.  Write emails.  Skype.  Call on the phone.  Even with different time zones make it happen.  Show your friends you care and they are not forgotten.  It may seem like their ‘new’ lives are rich and full….but they still long for real friendships, the kind that has a history.  The kind where you can just pick up where you last left off, so very easily.

*  Provide news from home for those absent friends.  Keep them in the loop with what’s happening with mutual friends.  Most friends will be returning to their past ‘life’ at some point or another so this is important for them to know what is happening in their absence.

*  Seek to give pure, lovely and genuine encouragement.  Whether it is to your friends who are away from you, or your new friends in ministry beside you.  You never know how far that simple word of encouragement will go – you never know the depth of their honesickness or struggles on that particular day.

* Pray, pray, pray for them.  Know their prayer needs – by asking direct questions again.  Cover them in prayer.  Be aware of high pressure times for these friends of yours.  For us whenever Michael’s work does an appeal for more financial support, things happen to us.  Every time.  Without fail.  Usually it has been the kids getting sick and because Michael is working long hours, it has been me looking after sick kids for long hours by myself.  Now I know we need specific prayer covering at these times and I seek out people to pray for us.

You know maybe if we treated each other a little better, and were more aware of people’s needs a bit better, then maybe people in ministry wouldn’t get so burnt out.  They would feel more appreciated and supported in what they’re all doing.  We’re all part of one body.  Let’s help each other function as best we can.

‘For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 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

God wants us to take His love and mercy to the ends of the earth.  Let’s help each other do the best we can, with what we are each called to do.  Hand in hand.

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