Friday, May 11, 2012

Blessed beyond measure.

Today, I wrapped up several months of break neck ministry and decided to measure how God has been providing for me along the way. In NO way will I attempt to quantify my blessings, the list would be endless, but I WILL share blessings I am still marveling and probably will for a while...

  • I jumped out of a church setting into what I thought would be an abyss of "What WERE you thinking?" thoughts only to find myself shouting "Why did I doubt God even once?" 
  • I experienced God's provision despite the lost paycheck. THIS one has really WOWed me! Consulting and saving on gas, eating out helps, but I know its God. 
  • I found myself BACK in the international mission field - a place I missed with an aching I had long since stifled.  Yep, I stuffed it down with doomed thoughts of financial limitations WAY too long which lead directly into the next HUMBLING blessing.
  • The Prayer and Financial partners who supported me for the Ubabalo/One Hope Mission to South Africa. I can't tell you how much every word, and dollar shared spoke away my fears & doubts, yet had me weeping with tears of joy. Joy, NOT in the means provided, but in the affirmation God was willing me to go.
  • Witnessing first hand, how giving is a very personal and sacred act. I still get ribbings from some of my financial supporter for NOT sleeping in a tent in the desert, but I know it's an attempt at self-deprecation to make light of their very personal loving gesture of generosity. Yeh, I'll keep their secret. I get that. 
  • The gift of words and time and focus to share them. I've always had plenty of words but when asked to put them on paper in some organized fashion, well, I was sure I would choke, so I didn't.  At least not until nudged into it by a need to produce something, anything in my time of underemployment and feeling the gentle nudge from a dear friend to write together. What used to take me days to write, I can now compose in a few hours of concentration.  I am blogging here, contributing to a column in Children's Ministry Magazine and last week turned in final edits on Ubabalo/One Hope's Coaching Manual Module 1.  I don't know how long this gift will be with me, but I am grateful, so very grateful God is using my voice to share. 
  • My parents health and healing. My father's recent stroke had us all on our knees, but God's gift of healing and helps was overwhelming. He sent doctors, therapists, nurses and even bankers to our aide.  Yep, my Dad's still working on balance issues, but he's back at church with his friends in Sunday School and choir worshiping the one who heals us all.  Speaking's my next blessing...
  • Getting to worship in my home church with my husband and parents on Easter Sunday.  As a Children's Minister for the past 16 years, Easter Sunday was more work than worship focused. Don't get me wrong, serving so others could worship was a joy, but I'm here to tell you real worship cannot be experienced with a dual focus no matter how worthy the work. It is a blessing to worship with abandon!
  • A time to rest.  Yes, finally after months of activity, travel, trainings, writing, ministry work and a pesky flood (I'll share about that later.) I rest. Feels great!
What are your recent marvelous blessings?  I'd love to marvel that them with you!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Kidmin 2012 - Serving because....

Being a member of the Insider Track Service Dream Team for Kidmin 2012 puts me in my sweet spot.  I got to spent my time at ReGroup brainstorming with others all the ways we can support, encourage and enhance the Kidmin 2012 volunteers' Kidmin experience. Working from feedback from Kidmin 2011 and taking time to dream, our Team imagined conference volunteers' service experiences which would reignite, restore and replenish those serving.

The dreaming and planning was a labor or love for me because as each of us confessed to one another, we'd rather serve than be a conference participant. For my team mates I'm sure it's because they've always had the Spiritual gift of service so it all comes naturally. Not so for me! 

A decade ago, I was totally void of the spiritual gift of service!  That's right, I'm confessing, I'm a woman who 16 years ago after taking one of those "Spiritual Gifts" inventories found out God did NOT give me the gift of Mercy or Service. In my mind, it might as well have said I was soulless! 

Imagine my shame and horror as I shared my Spiritual gifts with a table full of other females. All the other women listed Mercy or Service in their top three.  I, on the other hand being the spiritual freak, topped out with Encouragement, Administration and Teaching. What? I grew up believing service was a female gene and low and behold I didn't have it?  

As I thought about it, I realized it was the truth. When a death or tragedy happened in my church community, the LAST thing I thought to do was bring a casserole or write a kind note.  Don't get me wrong. I'm not a total moron. If someone else organized it and gave me an assignment, I'll fix an entire meal. Left to my own devices, you would be lucky if I showed up for a visit.  (Honestly, I was convinced I didn't know what to do and anything I attempted to do would be intruding. Pathetic, & clueless. Yep, I know it!)  

As time passed, I resigned myself to my other giftedness, but decided as far as service was concerned, giftless-ness was NOT an excuse! I began to lean on my gift of encouragement to help me navigate through and help me understand how service was an act of worship.  I didn't have to be amazing at it, (spiritually gifted), I just had to do it as a way to thank God for loving me.  I became a Stephen's Minister and learned to be a care-giver. I started making hospital visits. I wrote notes and even delivered a few home cooked meals... when asked.  

I knew if I made the acts uniquely mine, service would be a joy, not a burden.  I began to mentally reframed my gifts of administration and teaching and realized training others to do what came naturally for me, was an act of service.  It might not be as yummy as a dish of mac 'n cheese, but I was able to fuel other for ministry. 

Now, after discovering my passion for my own brand of service, I find I'd rather serve than BE served. I love to train volunteers on great curriculum and teaching practices. Lots of times, I'd rather listen to someone share their passions for ministry or cry with another struggling with ministry challenges than eat or write - two of my fave things!

Granted, I KNOW I can't always be the one serving, so I've learned how to be served without embarrassment or discomfort. I can participate without being the leader or needing to be "behind the scenes". I still squirm a tad, but I know how good I feel when serving, so I check myself. I don't want to deprive others of the joy of serving. I want to share it! 

So if you are like me, say "YES!" if asked to volunteer a portion of your time while at Kidmin 2012. You will be pleasingly surprised how God can use you in some amazing ways.  

And if you are spiritually gifted in Service? Duh! We already know you'll say yes.  I bet your waiting for that call! 

Go Ahead - Google it!