Category Archives: Gifts, Calling & Purpose

You Might Be Making a Difference Without Even Realizing It

Making a Difference...

You Might Be Making a Difference Without Even Realizing It

A lesson I’ve learned over the last couple of weeks is that sometimes you might be making a difference without even realizing it. I shouldn’t be surprised by this. I pray for this all of time. I even claim this as a positive confession from time to time. In fact, I have some daily positive affirmations that I have saved in the notes in my phone. One of them says, “People see Jesus in me. I win people over by the way I live without saying a word.” One of my heart’s desires is making a difference in the lives of the people I encounter. Sometimes though, I just don’t even know I’m doing it!

Dare I say the worst semester ever?

OK, I’ll try to make a very long story short here. This past semester of teaching was…well…horrendous to put it lightly. I mean, it was bad. So bad that I came very, very close to turning in my resignation. The college class that I teach had undergone a complete overhaul and the outcome was an exponential increase in my workload and a decrease in pay…and nearly a complete loss of autonomy, and a severe increase in stress, and tremendous loss of time with my family, and loss of joy in teaching, and… OK I’ll stop there.

This workload (and everything else) also increased significantly for the students as well. It actually felt like our class and new changes were hurting the students instead of helping them. Grades were significantly down compared to previous semesters, and more students were failing than ever before. This is what weighed on me the most because I truly believe in making a difference in a positive way in the lives of my students, and this class typically allows for that. However, that was not the case this semester. Or so I thought.

Making a difference? Yeah right! How about: A lost cause 

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How to Decide Where God is Leading

What’s Next?  How to Decide where God is Leading

Guest Post: How to Decide Where God is Leading

This week I’d like to introduce you to one of my friends, Rachel Foley! I’ve known Rachel for about 3 years now.  Well, actually we went to college together many moons ago, but we didn’t really know each other back then. Only in recent years have we become good friends after reconnecting at a conference where I spoke and Rachel led worship.  Let me tell you, she’s pretty amazing! 🙂

Rachel and her husband Shad are worship leaders at Solace Church. They are venturing out on a new, exciting endeavor to encourage others in faith and family life…their own blog: Rachel is a wonderful writer, and Shad is hilarious. I think you guys are going to enjoy their very genuine and humorous writing style as much as I do! It’s my honor and pleasure to introduce their launch to you with Rachel’s first blog post about how to decide where God is leading.

What’s Next?  How to Decide Where God is Leading

by Rachel Foley

At some point in all Christ-follower’s lives, we ask the question, “What is God’s plan for me?”  I don’t know about you, but I’ve never heard a loud and clear immediate answer to that question, and I would be very wary of believing anyone who says she has.  We want to hear His voice in the wind or have a burning-bush type moment that transforms us and compels us to passionate obedience.  To our dismay, the call is not always dramatic or to something grand and life-changing.   While it is true that God may have some grand designs for your life, they typically do not begin in a grand fashion.  God has already laid out His plans for us, and they begin with ordinary, small steps of obedience.

My Story

Let me briefly share my story. Every time I have felt God’s call on my heart, it has made me sick, literally. In fact, nausea has accompanied most steps of obedience I’ve taken!  When God has knocked on my heart’s door, it has always been an invitation to join Him in some work for which I felt completely inadequate. Not very glamorous and powerful, I know, but it is true, regardless.

When I was pregnant with our third little blessing, I felt God stirring in me.  (Perhaps it was indigestion, but it was stirring, nonetheless.)  I felt God calling my heart to some new adventure.  I began to draw close to Him in order to hear His voice.  Months went by.  I delivered my sweet baby girl, and my dreams of continuing to stay at home full-time began to be squished and stretched and morphed into this horrible, dreadful feeling that God was calling me to become a nurse.  Hilarious!   I was an English major! I nearly puked at the vet’s office watching my dog get stitches!  And the creator of the universe was telling me to go to nursing school?  YES.  Nausea set in.  Anxiety followed.  The tears were frequent.  I threw a few little temper tantrums, but I eventually followed the call.

Baby Steps

I began slowly.  I clung so tightly to Him, I’m pretty sure I left fingernail marks.  I spent time with Him every day in prayer and Scripture.  I finally agreed to be obedient, but only in baby steps.  I told God I would go see the advisor at school, and nothing else!  When that went well, I told Him I would take one science class at a time.  When that went well, I told Him I would become a Certified Nurse Assistant.  When that went well, I told Him I would apply for nursing school.  When I got accepted, terrified and shaking, I consented and learned far more about faith, perseverance, and the power of Scripture than I had in my whole life. That journey required every single ounce of faith I had in my weak, little soul.  However, I not only graduated, I graduated at the top of my class and delivered the student address at commencement.  ALL GOD.

This particular part of my journey took four years.  Significant change does not happen overnight.  When we commit to seeking God’s call on our lives, we must realize that it is a process.  Obey in baby steps.  Psalm 119:105 says God’s Word is a “lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”  When you commit to obedience to God’s call on your life, he will light your path just enough for you to see where your feet need to land next.  A dear friend of mine, Tracy Robbins, addresses the same idea in her blog “Incremental Obedience.” I recommend you read it at

If you are truly ready to discover God’s plan for your life, start with what He has already told you.  It’s all right there in Scripture.

…continuing reading the rest of Rachel’s post here where she gives a few practical steps to decide where God is leading you!

If you know anyone that could benefit from this, please pay it forward!  Share this post via the sharing links below.  “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV) 

How Christians Should Be Like Dust

How Christians Should Be Like Dust

How Christians Should Be Like Dust

This past week my family and I took a vacation to Colorado. It was amazing! Believe it or not, it was the first time I’ve ever seen the mountains up close and personal. Talk about amazing and inspiring…I could stay in the mountains for a LONG time and write and study and write and study… I’ll post a few of our pics on Instagram. In addition to sightseeing, hiking, and fishing, we participated in some pretty adventurous undertakings too! We did some summer alpine activities on a mountain in Breckenridge. We ziplined through the mountains (in the rain!), and we also went white water rafting.

While we were there, we also had an opportunity to attend a church bible study in Canon City with some family. The kids weren’t quite as excited as I was about this activity, but I sure enjoyed it! Call me crazy, but I eat that kind of stuff up. It’s super fun for me. I especially love gleaning wisdom from older, more experienced people. However, the coolest bit of insight I gained at this study was from my 15-year-old cousin. And of all things…her insight was about dust.

We are like dust

One of the passages we studied was Genesis 28:10-19 about Jacob’s dream at Bethel. My young cousin focused on verse 14 in this passage:

“Your descendants will be as numerous as the dust of the earth! They will spread out in all directions–to the west and the east, to the north and the south. And all the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your descendants.” Genesis 28:14 (NLT)

She explained how this made her think of Christians being like dust, pointing out that dust spreads in all directions and gets everywhere. Then another lady brought up a verse that came to her mind which also indicates that we are like dust:

“For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.” Psalm 103:14 (NLT)

Their conversation got my wheels turning about the qualities of dust and how we are to exhibit some of those same qualities as Christians. This also reminded me of when I studied salt and wrote previously about the qualities of salt and how we should be like it.

Let’s talk about some of the qualities of dust that we should emulate… Continue reading

Proverbs 31…It’s Not Just For Women

Men should possess the Proverbs 31 characteristics too. These same character traits this passage praises the Proverbs 31 woman for having are also desirable for men. They are not gender-specific. ALL people, men and women alike, should strive to have this type of character.

Proverbs 31…It’s Not Just For Women

Proverbs 31 is one of those chapters that I think a lot of women sometimes read and then feel deficient. It’s almost like we can never measure up to her. I mean, really, who can do and be proficient at ALL of the things that she does? Talk about a Renaissance Woman!

However, recently I had some different insights while reading Proverbs 31 in The Message translation. As I read through the verses about the Proverbs 31 woman, I jotted down her characteristics in my journal. It dawned on me that it’s not necessarily the activities that she does that matter, but the character and traits she possesses are what are truly important. That should be our primary takeaway from the reading. Thank goodness because I don’t think I’ll EVER be proficient at sewing!

In Proverbs 31, verses 10-31 form an alphabetic acrostic, used here as a type of Hebrew poem about a woman who exemplifies godly character and wisdom from A to Z. J.A. Motyer says, “In the common form of acrostic found in Old Testament Poetry, each line or stanza begins with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet in order. This literary form may have been intended as an aid to memory, but more likely it was a poetic way of saying that a total coverage of the subject was being offered — as we would say, ‘from A to Z.‘”[1] So in this case, the Proverbs 31 woman exemplifies godly traits and wisdom throughout and completely. She’s the full package.

Proverbs 31 is not just for women

In part of my recent study of the Proverbs 31 passages, I came across a really good article by Rachel Held Evans. In her post, she mentions that the “target audience” of Proverbs 31 is actually men. I did not know this! Rachel mentioned that she learned from a Jewish friend of hers that in the Jewish culture, it’s the men who memorize the passage, not the women.

In fact, the men actually sing or recite it to the women as a way of praising and blessing them! This special “Eshet Chayil” song is typically done each Friday night before the Sabbath or Shabbat meal.

Here is a video of a traditional Eschet Chayil song with the Hebrew lyrics and English translation shown:

I LOVE this English rendition by Ari Lesser as he sings to his wife:

I also realized these are NOT just characteristics that a woman should possess. Men should possess the Proverbs 31 characteristics too. These same character traits this passage praises the Proverbs 31 woman for having are also desirable for men. They are not gender-specific. ALL people, men and women alike, should strive to have this type of character. 

Proverbs 31:10-31 in The Message Translation

Below is a look at my takeaways about character from the passages. I use the feminine pronouns “she” and “her” when describing her characteristics, but read through them keeping in mind that we should all endeavor to display this type of character in our lives. Continue reading

Ask God About Your Gifts And Purpose

Ask God About Your Gifts And Purpose...He is your artist and author.

Ask God About Your Gifts And Purpose

This past week we talked about how you have to look for and discover your gifts. It’s kind of like you’re a detective on a case trying to solve a mystery. One of the steps of the search process is to ask God about your gifts and purpose. After all, He’s the one who created you! If anybody would know what your gifts are and how you are supposed to use them it would be God.

I guess you could liken it to inquiring about a painting. Who would you ask if you had questions about the details of a painting? The artist, of course. What about a book that has left you with some questions? Who would you ask if you wanted to know more than what was on the surface? You would ask the author! The creators of the works have all of the knowledge and the inside scoop. They knew what they had in mind when they created their work.

God: Artist and Author

Similarly, God is your creator. God is your artist. You are His Masterpiece.

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)

God is the also the author who has already written your story. Because of that, He already knows how it ends!

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2 (KJV)  

Therefore, when you have questions about yourself and how you were made, Continue reading

Become a Detective to Discover Your Gifts

You may not automatically know what our gifts and purpose are. However, it is your responsibility to discover them! It’s going to take some craftiness though. You’ll have to start a process of self-discovery and searching. In a sense, you will need to become a detective! You will need to start looking for “clues” to solve your case—the case to discover your gifts.

Become a Detective to Discover Your Gifts

We’ve talked off and on lately about how God has given each of us gifts and how to discover your gifts. I recently spoke at a women’s conference about this very subject. This week, I’d like to share with you some of the first steps to discover your gifts that I shared with them.

You may not automatically know what our gifts and purpose are. However, it is your responsibility to discover them! It’s going to take some craftiness though. You’ll have to start a process of self-discovery and searching. In a sense, you will need to become a detective! You will need to start looking for “clues” to solve your case—the case to discover your gifts. 

Now, I will tell you that it’s not something that is quick, nor will you discover your gifts overnight. It’s going to be a process that takes some time. You also may not get the full picture right away, maybe only bits and pieces at a time OVER time.  Much like a detective doesn’t always solve a crime right away.

Become a good detective

First of all, to be a good detective, you have to document everything. You have to write things down and go back to them to look for clues, patterns, and themes. A detective can’t remember everything. Therefore, a notebook is extremely important in order for them to document their journey and solve the case.

This is no different for you when you are on the case to discover your gifts. Like a good detective, YOU will need a notebook or a journal to write your discoveries down. You need to take notes along the way, and answer questions.

Discovering your gifts journal

Discovering Your Gifts Journal $9.50

You can definitely just go to the dollar store and grab a notebook or journal. However, I also wanted to offer you a resource Continue reading

Do You Love Your Neighbor? Your ACTUAL neighbor?

Do you love your neighbor? Your ACTUAL neighbor?

“Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The LORD our God is the one and only LORD. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”” Mark 12:29-31 (NLT)

Do You Love Your Neighbor? Your ACTUAL neighbor?

This past weekend, I had the opportunity and privilege to put the “love your neighbor” commandment into action alongside 2000+ other members of my church during Love Day (#loveday16). People participated in over 70 different outreaches throughout the Tulsa, OK Metro area. As a part of the larger Serve Day 2016, we joined 307 other churches across the globe to love our neighbors. I hope each of you were able to find your own way to love your neighbor too this weekend! More than at Love Day, I was able to love my neighbors…my ACTUAL neighbors…this past week as well. 

Do you really love your neighbor, your actual, literal neighbor?

Leading up to Love Day, I mentioned that I have been doing a group book study on the book Servolution and some personal individual study on how to love your neighbor. There has been some great practical advice about reaching out to love others around you. Something that stood out and was a bit convicting for me was to love my ACTUAL neighbors.

I’ve lived in my neighborhood for 15 years now, and do you know that up until this past week I’ve never even met or talked to at least half of the neighbors on my street. It’s kind of embarrassing. Or maybe you can relate? It’s so easy, and honestly more convenient, to just keep to ourselves. We don’t have to deal with the awkwardness or messiness of dealing with strangers and their potential “issues”. However, in keeping to ourselves we might be missing out on not only obeying Jesus’ commandment to love your neighbor but also the joy that comes with it as a byproduct.

It’s rewarding to love your neighbor

After my reading and studies on how to love your neighbor, I’ve tried to be more purposeful about it. I’ve especially tried to step out and show love to the people right here in my own neighborhood. It’s taken a lot of prayer and getting out of my comfort zone. Can I tell you though…It’s been so very rewarding. I had such a great week this past week!

Sometimes it seems like when you try to help others, you end up getting more out of it than they do. By stepping out of my comfort zone recently to talk to my neighbors, I have received loads of unexpected benefits. I’ve made some new friends, both young and old. I got some history lessons (I love history!), and I even learned what a Dogtrot house is! I also ended up with some fresh eggs from one of the neighbor’s chickens! Most importantly, my heart and soul were happy and full at the end of the day. 

On a mission to love our neighbors

Love your neighbor--Storm cleanup in our yard

The boys had to get pretty creative to get a rope around a broken limb hanging about 40 ft over our drive!

This past week our community suffered a severe storm with tornado strength winds and the accompanying damage. Thankfully we had no damage to our property. We only had a couple trees and several limbs down, a 2 day power outage, and a big mess to clean up. Many of my neighbors were not so lucky. There were several trees on top of houses.

As a result, the kids and I decided it would be a great opportunity to serve! The day after the storm we set out on a mission to Continue reading

We Can Use What We Have To Serve Others

We Can Use What We Have To Serve Others...What is YOUR Olive Oil and Wine?

“And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”” Mark 12:30-31 (NLT)

We Can Use What We Have To Serve Others

I mentioned previously in the post about taking steps of incremental obedience (as opposed to “leaps of faith”) that I was reading the devotional plan “How to Neighbor” by Pastor Craig Groeschel from Life.Church on the YouVersion Bible app.  I started the plan because it goes along nicely with my current studies of serving others. One of the things I’m learning is that some of the steps we need to take in serving others is to use what we have at our disposal. We don’t need to wait until we have what we THINK we need.  We first need to step out and start serving where we can. 

Servolution by Dino Rizzo

My church is preparing for “Love Day” which is part of a National Serve Day in which over 275 churches across the globe are taking part.  As part of our preparation my church small group is reading through and doing a study on Pastor Dino Rizzo’s book, Servolution.  So far it’s a great book and an easy read with excellent anecdotal stories!  It really will get you excited about following Jesus’ example and instructions of serving others, as does the “How to Neighbor” plan and sermon series.  Both give some really good, practical ideas for serving.  You know me…I love practical steps! 😉 I’ve already stepped out and tried a few of the ideas myself!

Use what we have in order to serve…like the Good Samaritan

In part of our study of the book, we read through the story of the Good Samaritan. Here’s the story…

“Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.

“By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.

“Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’

“Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked. The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”” Luke 10:30-37 (NLT)

Olive Oil and Wine Continue reading