gifts

A Simple Gift… In case you forgot

I LOVE getting gifts. Even more so– I love giving gifts. Although it’s not my primary love language– sometimes it sneaks its way to the top. And over the last year and a half or so of blogging and doing online ministry (time flies!) we have continually mentioned God’s great gifts– big and small. (In fact, I continue to work on my 1000 gift list inspired by Ann Voskamp’s book. As of this post, I am over 1500 and still going strong!)

The other day, I was digging through some of my archived blogs– and ran across this one. It made me laugh– and encouraged my heart… so I though that re-sharing it was in order.

I pray it speaks to you– so read, share, comment, enjoy. You know the drill.

Oh– and thanks for being such a blessing and gift in MY life, dear reader!

Jesus Fist Pound,
SGK

**************

gift

Gifts can come in many, many forms from that engagement ring promising a lifetime of commitment to that forced smile when we open up a “fashionable” sweater from Grandma. God’s gifts also come in many shapes, sizes and colors…

I ran across the following a few weeks ago when working on a project for church and was reminded of it today. The Lord loved us enough to create laughter and allow us to feel joy in our heart. (That’s a gift) He has also given us GRACE. (There’s another one) Sometimes he combines them. (One of my favorite gifts! )

How to Get Into Heaven 

A woman dies and meets St. Peter at the Pearly Gates. Peter says to the woman, “Here’s how it works. You need to have one hundred points to get into heaven. You tell me about all the good things you’ve done. They are all worth a certain number of points. If your total is 100 or more, you can come in.” 

“Well,” says the woman. “I was happily married to the same man for 52 years. I never looked at another man. I was attentive and loved him dearly.” 

“That’s great,” says St. Peter. “That’ll be two points.” 

“Hmmm,” says the woman. “This is going to be harder than I thought. Well, I attended church regularly, volunteered my time and tithed faithfully.” 

“Wonderful,” says St. Peter, “That’s worth another point.” 

“One point!” says the woman. “Okay, okay. I was involved with a woman’s prison ministry for twenty-five years. I went into the prison, at least monthly, and shared Jesus with them.” 

“Wow!” says St. Peter. “That’s another two points!” 

“Only two points!” says the woman. “At this rate, it’ll be only by the grace of God that’ll I’ll ever get into this place.”

“Bingo!” says St. Peter. “That’s 100 points! Come on in.”

Praise God for the gift of His grace… because just like this example above, we can’t earn our way into heaven– but he has given us that nonrefundable present. It seems like such a simple gift with no fancy wrapping paper or ribbon, but instead by the body of Christ.  That alone means so much!

No Receipt Needed,
SGK

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” –Ephesians 2:8-9

Categories: Christ, faith, gifts, heaven, works | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Lord, Thank You for the Socks (Five Minute Friday: Expectation)

Come one, come all!
The time is here once again,
To bust out a Five Minute Friday post,
With all our online friends!

Linking up with The Gypsy Mama,
We get only five minutes to write,
Our urge to over think and edit,
We must honestly fight.

She has given us a prompt,
So without further ado,
Let’s get to crack-a-lacking,
What are we waiting for, hop to!

Today’s prompt: EXPECTATION

GO!

*******

It’s covered in beautiful paper and decorated with a bow. I shake it. It doesn’t rattle, but hey, that doesn’t mean much. Maybe it’s padded really well. The time has come– my heart pounds as I rip open my gift with great anticipation and expectation. Maybe it’s that new book I wanted. Or a sweet pair of shoes. Or maybe even something shiny…

Socks. It’s socks. Talk about your all time expectation let down. Siggggghhhh.

I force a smile and blink my eyes, trying with all I can to be grateful. I had expected such big things only to get socks.

Isn’t that how it goes sometimes? We dream up all sorts of ideas and plans of what the ideal gift or circumstance may look like, and sometimes God gives us proverbial socks.

It certainly isn’t wrong to have high expectations. But just because those “socks” we received from the Lord aren’t shiny or have a great plot-line, doesn’t mean they don’t serve a purpose.

Sometimes what we see as socks from God can really be the initial pathway to His incredible plan for us. That seemingly let down expectation of a gift is in fact very useful and necessary.

Through those less than perfect circumstances and gifts from God, aka the “sock gifts of life,” we have an opportunity to seek Him out at a deeper level. If it is a trial or period of uncertainty in life we didn’t expect, we can rest in His protection.  We are kept warm. And our feet are covered and prepared for the journey ahead.

The outcome of that gift, while initially might seem like a let down, can result in an experience that changes our life and surpasses all of our wildest expectations.

So in that case… Lord, thank you for the socks. 

STOP!

******

Always such a fun rush,
For my brain and my fingers,
But hey it’s almost the weekend,
No reason to hang around and linger!

Jesus pumps me up,
SGK

“For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.” –Romans 8:19

PS: What did you think of today’s quick-fast (and slightly goofy) rhyming post? I always love hearing from folks… feel free to leave a comment below!

Categories: blessing, Christ, excited, Five Minute Friday, gifts, God, gratitude, perspective, plans | Tags: , , , , , | 23 Comments

True Love’s Gift (Five Minute Friday)

“It’s finally Friday… Free again… Finally Friday… Time for a ‘wild’ weekend…”

Oh hey. Didn’t see you there. (Ok, maybe I did, but I really wanted to finish the chorus.)

Today is Friday, in case you didn’t get my singing memo. And Friday in this gal’s blogging world specifically means it’s FIVE MINUTE FRIDAY.

For those of you newcomers, on Fridays I link up with The Gypsy Mama… she gives us a prompt and we write for five minutes flat. No more, no less. Just letting the words flow. No editing, no over-thinking. Challenging, fun and theraputic. My kind of Friday fun.

Ok, enough yammering on my part. Let’s get this Friday party started. Todays prompt is GIFT. 

Ready?

GO! 

His comings and goings make my heart pound. “When will he return?” As an army wife, specifically the spouse of an infantry drill sergeant, this question is often in my mind. God has called me to this role and while it is a challenge… it is also a gift.

Someone once asked me what the best part about being an army wife was… I knew they were expecting an answer something similar to “living new places” or “excitement” or “steady paycheck.” But without hesitation I replied, “We never take each other for granted.”

Now that is true love’s gift.

My husband and I have been apart during our relationship more than we have been together in the same zip code. Just this morning, I kissed him goodbye as he prepares to pick up another basic training cycle. He will be home off and on for the next several weeks, but our “quality time” will be rare.

True love’s gift as an army spouse can be wrapped in many different packages, in different shapes and sizes…

It’s getting up early on a Friday to cook breakfast for him before cycle picks up.

It’s helping him bottle his home-brew.

It’s the front porch conversations.

It’s the sideways hugs before we drift off to sleep.

It’s the words of comfort as he holds me when I cry.

It’s sharing a moment of prayer together.

It’s loving each other unconditionally, no matter what challenges are in our midst.

Being married to a soldier is a challenge… but such an incredible gift. Very similar to True Love’s Gift on the Cross. Blessing. Sacrifice. Hope. Trust.

That is True Love’s Gift.

STOP! 

Five minute Friday posts always get my heart to pounding… I still think it should count for some kind of cardio workout 🙂

 I’m gonna go cool down and hit the showers… God’s most wonderful blessings to you and seriously– thank you for stopping by! (PS: If you are feeling super motivated, leave a comment here.)

Thankful for True Love’s Gift,

SGK

Never Take Love for Granted ] Do you know the saying, “Drink from your own rain barrel, draw water from your own spring-fed well”? It’s true. Otherwise, you may one day come home and find your barrel empty and your well polluted. –Proverbs 5:15-16 (MSG) 

Categories: beautiful, believe, blessing, Five Minute Friday, gifts, God | Tags: , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Factor of 7: “Chill” with Jesus

I love frozen yogurt. And I love Jesus.

So what happens when you put the two together? A dang good, heart-healing, God glorifying experience.

Last night my husband, my cousin Hailey from Oklahoma and I had the chance to do our 2nd official monthly “Factor of 7.” (For more information on this movement, click here.) In addition to blogging daily for this ministry, God has laid on my heart to DO something at least once a month.

So this time, we took $107, my nifty new info cards and a notebook, and we camped out near the register of one of my favorite treat spots: Chill Frozen Yogurt in Columbus, GA.

The principle was quite simple. We paid for the next $107 worth of yogurt that came through the line, then asked people how we could pray for them .

It was probably the coolest 30 minutes… EVER.

As folks came through the line and the sweet cashier Whitley told them to put their wallets away, their reactions were priceless. Some were suspicious. Some thought they were being punked we were bringing back ol’ school candid camera. But as they approached our table and I said, “First name and how can we pray for you…” Their was nothing in their hearts but gratitude.

Many of them were shocked… I mean shoot, I would be pretty stoked about free yogurt on a random Tuesday! But shock aside, every single one of the 35 people that came through the line were receptive to our request of letting us pray for them. Talk about knocking our Jesus socks off!

A few folks gave us hugs, some just laughed, a couple others teared up. Some asked “why” and I said “Because Jesus loves you… and told me to.” We met a newlywed couple, parents of kids of all ages, and even some students who were having a powerhouse study session for their AP statistic test today. (I am praying extra hard for them– because if they do math like me, they might need it. Just kidding, girls. You will do great 🙂 )

As we were nearing the end of our $107 amount, one couple came back in the store after they left and handed us a $20 bill… They wanted to make a donation. (Side note: My heart almost exploded with joy!) I told them to add that to our “total” at the register. So overall, we were able to share a spoonful of faith with 35 people and provide $127 worth of fro-yo on a random Tuesday.

I could write about 12 blog posts from the reactions, answers and great little Jesus moments that grew out of this small 30 minute event. But instead, I pose a question to you: How will you give someone a spoonful of Jesus lovin’ today?

Sharing His love doesn’t have to be an all day event. Pay for someone else’s lunch today. Mow your neighbor’s yard without being ask. Buy the person in line behind you their Starbucks for the day. Give someone a hug and ask how you can pray for them. The possibilities are endless, folks.

Be a Factor of 7… It can be simple as finding somewhere (or someone) to “Chill” with Jesus.

Keeping Cool with Christ,

SGK

 “Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.”

Categories: disciple, Factor of 7, generosity, gifts, glory, God | Tags: , , , , , | 16 Comments

Fresh Cut of Joy

Annnddd… It’s Monday.

Before you pull a Garfield the Cat move by grabbing a big pan of lasagna, pulling the covers back over your head and muttering “I hate Mondays!” hang with me for just a second.

I’m not a big fan of Mondays either. I have grown to tolerate them, but honestly, what choice did I have? (Turns out employers are not super big supporters of employees who desire to boycott Mondays on a weekly basis. Just kidding.) I have learned to embrace Mondays (and every other day for that matter) because I seek to find new, fresh little cuts of joy in everything around me.

All throughout God’s word, we find reminders to REJOICE, no matter what our circumstances or what day of the week it is. I have discovered that my pup Sweet Justus is the exact opposite of Garfield that cat. (Although I am sure if I gave him a pan of lasagna, he would be thrilled. I guess we will never know…)

Justus, true to his puppy nature, finds joy in EVERYTHING. It doesn’t matter if I have left for 14 seconds to take out the trash, he is so overcome with joy when I come back from the house, he greets me like I am returning from a year long deployment. If I even say the word “treat,” his eyes perk up, tail wagging… Pure joy.

And last week, Justus rejoiced with me over accomplishing a simple, mundane task. We finally mowed our grass.  Check out the video for the celebratory demonstration. (Sorry it’s not better quality… but it was very spur of the moment.)

I couldn’t help but laugh and get pure joy from my pup AND my freshly cut yard. What if we possessed an attitude like Justus to celebrate God’s little blessings everyday? Why don’t we do a happy dance every time we run the dishwasher? Or praise the Lord for an alarm clock that wakes us up to go to a job that provides income for our family? Or maybe we can rejoice in life’s challenges, no matter what it entails, because it gives us a chance to grow closer to God?

Rejoice today. Thank God for whatever technology you are using to read this. Give Jesus a figurative high five for allowing your car to start this morning. Match those seemingly hundreds of pairs of socks with joy knowing that you have clothes to wear.

Or perhaps you should go mow the grass… Then take a deep breath, smelling that new smell, and run around your yard (shouting and barking optional) to celebrate your FRESH CUT OF JOY.

Celebrating His Gifts,

SGK

“This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

Categories: blessings, celebrate, excited, gifts, God, joy, praise | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Our Heart and Macaroni Art

I saw him from a distance. My heart started to pound. I smoothed my hair and gave myself a mental brownie point for wearing my favorite shirt. I considered moving closer to him… but he turned and started walking toward me. My breathing sped up. He was coming. He was beautiful. And I knew I belonged to him. 

Pretty romantic huh? Probably sounds like every chick flick ever produced. But I am not talking about anyone tall, dark and handsome (or blonde with blue eyes in my case.) I am talking about God. Our Father. Our One.

Perhaps I should back up a little bit. God (obviously) loves us and woos us. Last week, I had a dream where God told me to fall back in love with Him. A few days later, I awoke in a panic, realizing that I hadn’t had my official CRAVE time (quiet meditation) with Him at church in over a month (maybe even two!) I had been doing my daily Bible study during our leave vacation, but my heart wasn’t really focused. My mind was all over the place, and I bet if you pick a page on my journal from the last two weeks, it will be pointless gibberish.

So I needed to fall back in love with God and CRAVE Him. I was still working on my 1000 gift list, but He told me it wasn’t enough. I prayed about it for the next few days and when we arrived back in Georgia, one of our first things to do (after unloading the car and sleeping) was to head to church. Confession: I was tired. Really didn’t want to go.

But I am sure glad I did.

I arrived at CCC and was blown away. The worship song line up was incredible. (Good thing they didn’t play Amazing Grace, or I would have been sobbing face down in the aisle.) I felt myself falling… back in love with God. Then the message sealed the deal. Why? Because for the first time in my experience at Christ Community, we actually had a mini CRAVE time.

I realized that God wasn’t asking me to do anything but receive His love. That in itself allowed me to fall back in love with Him. He met me there and swept me off my feet. Again. But we have to be attentive to Him and show Him that we care. All of the things we DO for our amazing God like prayer, petitioning, quiet time, worship etc seem so small compared to the beauty and glory that is our Bridegroom Jesus.

But God is our father. And He adores our acts of love, as small as they might seem in our eyes. We are like the child, coming home from school and giving Dad a picture with dried out noodles on it. Our small actions are simply love in the form of macaroni art. He doesn’t throw it out. He appreciates it and puts it on the fridge.

The stores are already putting out Valentine’s candy, so for the next month and a half the world will pushing THAT holiday (didn’t we just finish UP a holiday season?) But the cards, flowers and candy don’t mean as much as the macaroni art that we can give to God.

It’s a new year. How are you going to fall deeper in love with God? What kind of macaroni art are you going to make for Him in 2012?

Receive Him. Fall deeply in love with Him. Give Him your heart and some “macaroni art.”

From the elbow (macaroni) to the heart,

SGK

“Get up, my dear friend, fair and beautiful lover—come to me!” Song of Solomon 2:10 (MSG)

Categories: gifts, God, Love, romance | Leave a comment

An Adoptive Heart: Kathleen & Chris

And last but certainly not least… This is our Christmas letter to my dear sister Kathleen and her husband Chris.

***

Dear Kathleen & Chris—

Merry Christmas! This year’s gift to you is a little different than normal. We wanted to go a different direction since God has really been doing a work on our hearts over the last several months. I know we all enjoy getting “stuff,” but we have chosen to give something that won’t collect dust or break.

Your gift for Christmas 2011 is a donation in your name to PAWS Humane Society. 

Why did we choose this for you? Because you both have such loving, giving and adopting hearts… from kittens, dogs, ducks, calves and even people. It is an inspiration to us in OUR marriage to love on others like you do, giving, especially in the name of Jesus.

Thank you for being such a loving, caring and strong couple. Each time we hear about a new “adoptive” adventure from you, we can’t help but think of Jesus’ loving and adoptive heart. He invited us to be a part of His family when we least deserved it.

We pray that this gift will go on and continue to bless others that are contemplating adopting a pet, farm animal or even person. As a result, we hope that God will continue to be glorified.

So Merry Christmas, Kathleen and Chris. We love you with all we have and pray that someday as we all grow in our marriages, that we can bring our adopted pets, families, brothers and sisters together in Christ to celebrate God’s eternal gift.

Love and blessings,

Brandon & Sharita (and Justus)

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” Ephesians 1:4-6

 

Categories: adoption, Christmas, gifts, Love | Leave a comment

Courageous Chickens: Merry Christmas Dal

This year for Christmas, my little brother received from us a letter about courageous giving… and chickens…

***

Dear Dal—

Merry Christmas! This year’s gift to you is a little different than normal. We wanted to go a different direction since God has really been doing a work on our hearts over the last several months. I know we all enjoy getting “stuff,” but we have chosen to give something that won’t collect dust or break.

Your gift for Christmas 2011 is a donation in your name of 2 Chickens to a family through World Vision. 


Why did we choose this for you? Because you have such a passion for agriculture and your successful endeavor with the chickens doesn’t have to be limited to just your backyard. This donation will give a starving family a new protein source and help them to be nourished in a way they have never experienced.

Thank you for being such a wonderful little brother. We are excited to watch you grow and pray that you will walk in the footsteps of Jesus. Each time we eat an egg for breakfast, we will think of the hope that we have for you in our hearts as you continue to get to know the Lord and Savior of the world.

We pray that this gift will go on and continue to bless others that are also contemplating the salvation promise of Jesus. This gift does not only represent nourishment of the body, but it shows the spiritual nourishment that Jesus can provide once you invite Him into your heart.

So Merry Christmas, Brother Dal. We love you with all we have and pray that someday we can celebrate alongside of you when Christ becomes the center of your world. We long to celebrate God’s eternal gift with you!

Love and blessings,

Brandon & Sharita (and Justus)


“Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” –John 6:35

 

Categories: blessings, Christmas, gifts, God | 1 Comment

Freedom’s banquet: Mama and Daddy

Today, I would like to share with you our gift to my beloved parents in Kansas… It been an amazing journey for my family, especially as my Dad came to Christ in a Cow Pasture then was also physically healed in The Rest of the Story. (If you read these back stories, this gift will make much more sense.)

*****

Dear Mama and Daddy—

Merry Christmas! This year’s gift to you is a little different than normal. We wanted to go a different direction since God has really been doing a work on our hearts over the last several months. I know we all enjoy getting “stuff,” but we have chosen to give something that won’t collect dust or break.

Your gift for Christmas 2011 is a donation in your name to the Gluten-Free Society. 

Why did we choose this for you? Because you have raised a daughter who has followed in Christ’s footsteps alongside a Godly husband. When you both gave your lives to Christ, you gave up your own control, but allowed him to direct your path and heal you in ways unimaginable.

Thank you for being such loving, encouraging and dedicated parents. Whenever we recall your amazing testimony, whether together or separated by duty, we will not only think of God’s grace, but also the wonderful gift you give us year round… Love and support. We pray that this gift will go on and continue to bless others around the world that are struggling with the same physical issues. As a result, we hope that God will continue to be glorified.

So Merry Christmas, Mom and Dad. We love you with all we have and pray that someday, we might raise our children with love, respect and submission to Christ, just as you have done with both of us.

Love and blessings,

Brandon & Sharita (and Justus)

“By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.” –Acts 3:16

Categories: blessing, Christmas, gifts, parents | 1 Comment

The Truth: Mama Lex and Daddy D

The first up in our line-up for gift sharing of this season are my parents-in-love (yes, not parents-in-law, but parents-in-love) Mama Lex and Daddy D. Below you will find the gift that Brandon and I gave them… To not only live Christ-mas one day a year, but to have Christ-more everyday!

****

Dear Mama Lex & Daddy D—

Merry Christmas! This year’s gift to you is a little different than normal. We wanted to go a different direction since God has really been doing a work on our hearts over the last several months. I know we all enjoy getting “stuff,” but we have chosen to give something that won’t collect dust or break.

Your gift for Christmas 2011 is a donation in your name to our local Christian Radio Station 88.5 The Truth. 

Why did we choose this for you? Because you raised a son to live his life on the solid rock, living in the Truth every single day of his existence. And due to that upbringing, he has led his wife to the cross, and we are now walking in the footsteps of Jesus… Together. Because of both of YOU.

Thank you for being such loving, encouraging and prayerful parents. Whenever we listen to The Truth on our radio driving in our car, whether together or separate, we often think of you and the wonderful gift you give us year round… Love and support. We pray that this gift will go on and continue to bless others around the world that has an opportunity to listen in. As a result, we hope that God will continue to be glorified.

So Merry Christmas, Mom and Dad. We love you with all we have and pray that someday, we might raise our children to live the Truth, just as you have done with your beloved sons.

Love and blessings,

Brandon & Sharita  (and Justus)

“I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws.” –Psalm 119:30

 

Categories: blessing, Christmas, gifts, God, parents | 1 Comment

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: