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It is never too late to become someone great in God’s eyes.  But the way up is down-down on your knees.  Present your heart’s desire to Him and consider your motivation, attitude, and objective.  Ask God to let His gift, which He put in you, be expressed to its fullest and highest.

                                                                                                                                                                                    -Catherine Galasso-Vigorito

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With fondness, my mom often recalls the way that her grandmother, Nanny, always took the time to artfully wrap the gifts that she gave with each individual in mind.  Tucking in a flower here.  Tying-on a fancy homemade bow.  Adding a trinket there.   Whether it be cooking, cleaning, sewing, or wrapping, Nanny made sure to fold her love into these gifts.

While I certainly use my fair share of gift bags and tissue paper, I believe I inherited my Nanny’s gift wrapping genes.  I derive a great sense of pleasure in finding ways to add my own personal touch to a Starbucks gift card, a CD or batch of hot cocoa.  With vintage texts, manila tags, and a bit of paint and glitter, I wrap these simple,  inexpensive gifts with my love for the recipient.  I imagine most people would be just fine with a quick wrapping  job, but, when I can, I enjoy using my gifts to bless those around me.

I can’t help but wonder at the way God wrapped-up His love for us.  God chose to send us His love wrapped in the flesh of a beautiful baby boy.  Jesus.  It just doesn’t get any better than that.  As we draw near to the day of Jesus’ birth, may we receive His gift with open arms.

I come to the screen this evening feeling like I am writing more of a journal entry than a blog post.  I guess that’s a good thing, but it is so very hard for me.  You see, up until recently when I began this 6-weeks of raw writing, I still had the option to “pretty-up” things when I didn’t like the way they sounded, but now I can no longer hide behind my words.

I came home from my writing class this afternoon just a big bundle of nerves.  This class is actually very layed-back.  It’s not a college course or anything too demanding, but somehow, by the end of each 2 1/2 hours, I leave with my heart pounding in my ears and my chest as tight as a vice grip.  I want to be there.  I need to be there.  And at the same time, it’s driving me crazy listening to the beautiful writing of my classmates!  I swear there are some budding novelists in my midst – mixtures of Jeanette Walls (The Glass Castle), Ann Lamotte, and Maya Angelou all wrapped-up into one.  It’s not that I even feel jealous of their gifts.  I just feel confused.  We are all writing for the same 10-minutes and the images that come from their pens so effortlessly astound me.  Perhaps, with lots of effort and editing, I might be able to come-up with something similar; however, I truly don’t think my mind works in the same manner.  I have all kinds of thoughts and feelings rumbling around in my head demanding to be expressed.  But images and poetry?  They just aren’t there for easy retrieval.

Lest you think I’m having a pity party for myself, really I’m not.  I’m just trying to figure-out why I feel so uptight about this process.  When my husband came home from work, we had a rare few moments by ourselves in which I muttered something about being laced with anxiety over my writing class.  He didn’t say much at first, but came downstairs after changing out of his work clothes and made a comment that totally changed my thinking.  Sometimes, I have to ask myself what it is that I am wanting to get out of my work/my career or I drive myself crazy knowing that I am surrounded by a bunch of geniuses.  I try to focus on what it is that I can offer.  What makes me unique.

That’s it.  I am becoming more aware of the talent around me and wondering what it is that I want to get out of writing.  Do I want pats on the back on what a good writer I am, or do I just want to make a difference?  While I admit, it is nice to receive compliments and to feel stellar, what I really want is to help other women through the sharing of my experiences both in writing and art.  I feel like I have God-sized dreams with mediocre gifts to carry them out.  I suppose there comes a point when we realize where our power runs-out and God steps-in and this is where I am right now.  God doesn’t put desires in our hearts and then just leave us on our own.  I think of Moses and how he tried to argue with God about his less than stellar speaking abilities.  I think of David, the small little guy, who knocked Goliath off his feet with a sling-shot.  These fellows didn’t carry-out God’s will on their own power.  They simply allowed God to work through them.

So, I am accepting that I am where I am right now for a certain reason.  What a comfort it is to know that God uses the weak to do mighty things.

Cheryl always asked me how I was doing, how my children were doing, and even how my husband was doing.  She had never met him!

I don’t ever remember not seeing her with a smile on her face.

Whenever we talked, Cheryl made a point to tell me that she loved me very much. 

She loved being married.

Cheryl didn’t wait for you to invite her into your life.  Instead, she invited you into her life.

She made us all feel special.

Mingled with tears and embraces, these words were spoken over and over again, describing the far-reaching effects of a  young lady who chose to show-up for the life that God had given her.  My 36-year old cousin Cheryl.  She worked on Food Avenue at Target and loved her job.  Loved her life, for that matter.  And when 20+ co-workers from Target showed-up for Cheryl’s funeral last week,  we all rejoiced at the beautiful testament to Cheryl’s all too short life here on Earth.

If you did not know Cheryl, you might have assumed that she lived a somewhat limited life.  Mild special needs necessitated the support of a job coach as she transitioned into her work at Target years before.  And the extra body weight that Cheryl carried sometimes left her short-of breath.  But those of us who had the privilege of being in Cheryl’s life knew that she loved the life that she was living.  Not only through her words, but also in her countenance. Cheryl’s thoughtfulness and child-like innocence wrapped around your soul like a warm hug. Cheryl used the gifts that God had given her and, as a result, she made the world a kinder, more loving place for those who came into her presence.

As I reflect on my sweet cousin’s life, I keep returning to the message that she wrote on my heart.  Show-up for the life you are given.  Life may not look exactly like the one we have planned for ourselves, but we can still make a difference.  A big difference.

I, for one, am guilty of thinking that I need to be doing something big before I can make a noticeable difference in the world.  Instead of appreciating the opportunities right in front of me, I jump ahead, wondering what else God has in store for my future.  While I’m all for dreaming God-sized dreams, I  also am learning to accept that God places me right where I need to be, usually directly in proportion to how I need to develop my gifts.  And as long as I am willing to bloom where He plants me, God will use me to bless others.

Whether I am writing to a small tribe of blog readers or publishing a book that reaches the Best-Seller’s list, God is using me.  If my art only graces the walls of my own house, God is using me.  Just like Cheryl, I want to show-up to my life each day ready to make the most of my gifts.  Cheryl showed-up.  Will you?

Photo Credit:  Flicker Images

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