Would you trade your gift?

Each Advent season my church puts together a book of daily devotions written by members. I LOVE it!! Our pastor assigns scripture to volunteers and they then share their thoughts about the verses. It’s such a beautiful, personal gift and look forward to reading advent insights from my church family each morning. And, of course, I look forward to writing my two entries each year! I’ve gotten into the habit of including at least one poem and a friend asked me how I come up with those. As I explained, she kept saying, “I guess that’s why you’re a writer.” Which made me feel pretty good. Of course, she has an incredible gift for music–something I do NOT possess. Which got me thinking about how we all have unique gifts. And how, I suspect, many of us wish we were good at something we’re . . . not. I would LOVE to be good at music. To be able to sing and play instruments. To delight people with song. But would I be willing to trade? Would I be willing to give up my ability to write–to communicate through story–if it meant I could sing and play? It didn’t take me long to come up with an answer. Nope. I think that might be a big part of recognizing our natural gifts. They’re the things we don’t really think about being good at. The things we do because they’re just […]

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Appalachian Thursday – Decoration Day

Monday is Memorial Day–the unofficial start to summer. And in Appalachia it means time to start planning for Decoration Day. Usually held on a Sunday in June, this is a day when cemeteries would be tidied and flowers placed on the graves. I’m not talking about those silk monstrosities either. I’m talking roses and daisies and mountain laurel. Maybe some […]

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An Anniversary Reflection

On Saturday, my husband and I celebrated 23 years of marriage. That means, as of next year, I will have been married for half my life. My wedding day feels like yesterday AND a lifetime ago. It wasn’t fancy–shoot, it was in the (literally) one-room country church I grew up attending. And if you want to know about the, ahem, […]

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How to Celebrate the Lenten Season

Okay, so not many folks think of Lent, which starts this Wednesday, as a¬†celebration. This is, after all, a serious time when we’re meant to reflect, repent, and ponder Christ’s sacrifice for us. But I love Lent and, for me, it’s a somber celebration. I relish the notion of having a time set aside to actively anticipate and prepare for the best worst thing that ever happened. It’s the ultimate¬†looking forward to. So, how to celebrate Lent? First, I like to consider whether to give up/sacrifice something or add something. I’ve given up specific foods (French fries!), credit cards, shopping, checking reviews of my books, and one year I even gave up fear. That one was tough! I think I’ve only added something once–it was the fruits of the Spirit. Now that was a good year! If you’re giving something up, it should be a challenge. If it’s not hard, what’s the point? One year I gave up candy. Where I work there’s a candy dish in every office. It was tough not even snagging a mint! On the flip side, this probably isn’t the time to stop smoking if you’ve been a pack-a-day smoker for years. I’ve toyed with giving up sugar, but recognize that would be setting myself up for failure. If you’re adding something, make sure it’s something you can stick to as well. Pray as you drive to work each morning. Read one of the Psalms […]

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Mustard Seed Faith – At Last!

For a long time now I’ve assumed, based on Matthew 17:20, that my faith is pretty pitiful. Not even a mustard seed’s worth. That scripture suggests that if my faith were as much as even a BB-sized seed, I could move mountains or cast mulberry bushes into the sea. And I can’t. Goodness knows I’ve tried. It’s long been a […]

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Preach it, John!

Yesterday our pastor talked about the third chapter of Matthew. You know, John the Baptist preparing the way for Christ. Basically, it’s about John preaching repentance. And John must have been an effective preacher, because he inspired the crowd to ask what they needed to do to avoid being cut down and thrown into the fire. John’s answer is surprisingly simple. If you have more than you need, share what you have with someone who has less than they need. If you’re a tax collector, collect only what you’re authorized to collect. If you’re a soldier, don’t extort anyone by force and be content with your salary. Although it seems underwhelming, his response was so powerful, the people wondered if John might be the Messiah. So what’s powerful about this answer? It seems to me, what John was telling people, was to simply do what’s right. But I was also struck by what he didn’t tell them. He didn’t tell the people to make sure their neighbors where giving to those in need. And he didn’t tell the tax collectors to make sure other tax collectors where following the rules. And he didn’t tell the soldiers to check in on other soldiers who might be extorting others. or complaining about their pay. I know I’m all too often guilty of excusing my own behavior by comparing it to the behavior of others. Do I give as much as I can? […]

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