Discovering and Using Your Gifts For God

Our oldest daughter Heather loves photography and over the last year, she has been pursuing that passion by buying a good Nikon camera, lenses, and camera bag, practicing her skills on family and friends, starting a website and blog, and going to photography shoots with professionals. I am thrilled to see Heather using her talents for God, and gleaning all she can from others who are a success.

We all have gifts, talents, and skills that God has richly deposited inside of us for His glory. We don’t need to hide our talents like the lazy servant in Matthew 25: 14-30, but draw them out of our hearts and minds, and bless others with them. God has great plans for our lives, if we will just believe and obey Him (Jeremiah 29: 11). The acronym WATERS describes how women can discover and then use their gifts to further God’s kingdom on earth.

W. Whet your appetite for God. I just can’t get enough of God’s presence; He is so awesome. Develop a hunger for God and His presence. He is the one who gives us our gifts!

God wants to use you, but do you want to be used? If so, how? Do you want an enriched, exciting life, living it to your fullest potential, or a mediocre, boring existence?

Psalm 37: 4 says, “Delight (take great pleasure in, enjoy) the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” What are your desires? Take them to Him, and then as you follow Christ, He will bring those things to pass!

A. Ask God, yourself, and others what your spiritual gifts, talents, and skills are. What are you really good at? I’ve had at least three people tell me that I would be a great wedding coordinator. I love weddings ~ planning them, shopping for them, decorating, organizing, serving in them. One of my favorite movies is “The Wedding Planner” with Jennifer Lopez. So I am toying with the idea for the future.

Are you naturally good with computers and an excellent artist? Then you would probably be good as a graphic artist. When you speak at retreats, do you receive positive, encouraging feedback? Then you are skilled in communication. Your words have weight and authority, so use that gift to bless others!

Do you love to have friends over for dinner and spend time with them? Then you may have a gift of hospitality. Do you feel deeply or cry when people are hurting, and try to comfort them? You probably have gifts of mercy and compassion.

The spiritual gifts can be found in Ephesians 4: 11-12 (five-fold ministry gifts), 1 Corinthians 12: 4-11 (manifestation gifts), and 1 Corinthians 12: 28. Some churches or online sites have tests you can take to find out your spiritual gifts. Find out what yours are, and begin to walk in that authority and anointing!

T. Tap into your creativity. Vicki Caruana says in her book, Giving Your Child the Excellence Edge (Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton IL, p. 49), “Much creative thought requires remaining detached enough from any one idea to allow others to be considered. This may not come naturally to us, especially if we are used to censoring our ideas, as most of us are.”

In other words, thinking outside the box. Allowing your mind to go wild. Telling the inner critic to shut up, and daring to write that story about what happened in your bedroom one night when you were 5 years old, or that you had an abortion when you were 21. Driving past the “nice and safe” zone in writing and speaking, being real, going for the jugular in yours and your audience’s emotions.

How can you best use your creative skills? If you’ve been cutting someone’s hair since you were 12, enroll in cosmetology school and get paid for something you love. If you enjoy baking or cooking, start a catering business. Do you think about horses the first and last thing of every day? Take riding lessons from a good trainer, and begin showing in English horse shows. Sometimes our best creative thoughts come when we’re just having a lot of fun!

Creativity also means giving yourself permission to try new things and feel new sensations, like going on a hot air balloon ride in New Mexico, or skiing in Colorado. Color outside the lines; use the big box of crayons with colors like Fuzzy Wuzzy Brown. Buy the new outfit for your wardrobe that you admire, but have never dared to try before.

To get the wheels moving, turn off the dvd player and go for a walk in your neighborhood, really seeing it for the first time. Look, listen, smell, touch, taste. Too often we zone out and don’t even notice our surroundings. Do you know what kind of car your neighbor drives? For that matter, do you even know what your neighbor looks like or speak to her? Have you ever noticed that around your block is a home with Spanish style architecture and an enchanting, almost-hidden, outdoor garden like a miniature of The Secret Garden?

Go to a large zoo, and just watch the animals and people. Do home-made science projects. Read about weird things in space, like the roar scientists are saying is coming rapidly toward our galaxy. Start a flower or vegetable garden and play in the dirt. Reading good literature and listening to classical or some type of relaxing music each day feeds our brain with creative, new ideas.

E. Exercise your gifts diligently. Muscles atrophy when they are not used regularly: “Use it or lose it.” Do we really want to bury our talents for 40 years, and wake up one morning, realizing we’re old, it’s too late, and we are not what we ever really wanted to be ~ an artist, a singer, a soldier, a missionary in south Africa, a writer, a dolphin trainer? As we find out what our gifts, talents, and skills are, and begin cultivating them, they will flourish. They will also create inner happiness, and bring joy to God and others.

We need to prune those things that hinder us from maximizing our potential. Why are we wasting time working at the hardware store, when what we really want to do is go to law school and be an attorney? If solving crimes fascinate you, and you’ve always wanted to be a detective, then why are you coaching basketball for middle schoolers? If you feel stuck in your job or role, get unstuck. Take action. Pay attention to what is in your heart.

The Lord gives us certain desires, for a good reason. Interestingly, these desires are often related to our spiritual gifts, talents, and skills, and ultimately to our calling. I have several friends who love working with children, and are gifted at teaching. So they work in a Christian school, and are totally happy and fulfilled doing this.

If you are just getting started in your craft, take steps of faith. Strive for excellence, not perfection. Give yourself growing room. Set high goals, and discipline yourself to pursue more education, write that article, speak at the small church, or work on your website to improve it.

It’s like getting into great physical shape. If you’re 40 pounds overweight, you will not lose it overnight. Several years ago, I began making healthier choices to lose weight – eating more salads and less fast or processed foods, drinking more water, taking vitamin supplements, using hand weights. Aerobic exercise is the main area I need much more discipline in, to drop to my ideal weight. But I’ve got to do something, instead of nothing. Start where you are to use those talents. And see how God will make His glory garden grow!

R. Reach for your dreams. Be determined to live a full, beautiful life, and not waste a second. Life is just pregnant with possibilities and adventure! One of our family’s favorite movies is “Secondhand Lions.” A young boy whose mother abandoned him to live her own, fun life dropped him off at a strange house to live with his two old, grumpy uncles, who did not want him there. But eventually their relationship grew close, and he learned a lot from these larger-than-life men. One of the lines we love from the movie is after the uncles had died and left the nephew with all their inheritance (which was substantial). Telling another man about his two uncles, with great admiration, he said, “They really lived.”

Are you really living ~ or just existing? Is this the life you really want? If it’s not, when are you going to start?

Take the ceiling off your thinking, the limits you have conditioned yourself to, that comes from others’ perceptions and from negative self-talk. Listen to what you tell yourself. Our thoughts have a great influence on our lives. Learn to train your mind to think positive thoughts of success, instead of poisonous, defeating thoughts. Latch onto a scripture such as, “I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me!”

Our daughter Leah has a little sign in her room that has a bright yellow star on it: “Wish upon a star.” What are your three biggest wishes? My first would be to have more wishes.

What do you want to do? What do you love to do? Your passion is the key to understanding your gifts and abilities!

Marnie Swedberg summed it up for me in her recent Writer’s Radio Show with author/speaker Cindy Rushton, when she said that she never feels more alive, than when she is speaking in front of a large group of people. I really related to that! It used to scare me to death to stand in front of people and speak. I literally used to physically shake and stammer, and felt like I was going to faint. To be honest, I still get a little nervous just before speaking, but as soon as I step up to the platform, it melts as the anointing of God kicks in – thank God for His grace and that precious anointing ~ I never want to do it without Him! And I LOVE it! I feel alive when writing and speaking! It’s the way God created me!

What is that God is calling you to do that is much bigger than you are? Nothing is impossible with God. And He wants to do the impossible through you and for you!

S. “Study to show thyself approved.” (2 Timothy 2: 15) This means learn everything you can, to bring honor to God and to obey Him. Stay in God’s word daily. Proverbs 4: 7-8 says, “Wisdom is the principle thing; therefore, get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding. Exalt her, and she will promote you.”

Find daily quiet time with God, and let Him speak to you and guide you. His Holy Spirit will teach you all things. (1 John 2: 27)

Pursue more education, classes, training, seminars. Find a mentor to disciple you. Be like a sponge and soak up everything you can from people who are successful in your field of interest. How did they get started using their gifts or talents? What were the practical steps they did? Extract the precious from the worthless. God has a unique blueprint for your life that He wants to accomplish. He is the master mentor.

Be humble and receive help from people, even family and friends. Relationships are invaluable, not only for the intimacy and pleasure they bring, but also for networking. Not burning any bridges is always a good idea, unless it’s absolutely necessary for your safety, sanity, or sweetness. It’s a very small world, and I have been amazed at how certain people have come back into my life years later (some whom I wish wouldn’t have, but maybe they feel the same way!). Sometimes, though, these are divine connections. A good rule of thumb is this: be as nice as you can to people. Don’t you appreciate nice people?

Rudeness is not a sterling trait. And it may come back to haunt you later, especially when they find out you’re now a Christian speaker and writer. Most of all, God is love and we as believers want to be like Him and show others that wonderful love. Our gifts are for God’s glory and to further His kingdom. We want to model Jesus, to be His hands, feet, and heart to a lost and dying world.

Accordion Closet Doors – A Solution to Lack of Space Problem

If you want a classic look without the need to give up so much space, then accordion closet doors are the solution for your needs. They can provide instant modern interior look and at the same time, save you that much needed space.

Accordion or multi-fold doors are quite common in hotels and condominiums where space is limited and a contemporary look is needed. Accordion doors fold back in sections when you open them and unfold the same way when you close them. They can be made of vinyl, glass or aluminum.

Buying accordion doors can be made easy and less time consuming if you check out online retailers that offer these products. Here are insights on some accordion doors that you can find online.

Woodfold Series 240: Commercial/Residential Accordion Doors:

Flexibility of this Woodfold door is such that it can be installed in any residential, institutional, commercial or industrial settings. This series is known for its durability which is highly required for a successful configuration of space in offices, schools, homes, restaurants-in stunning style. This series come in various options, including locks, latches, curvable tracks, multiple meeting posts and a range of finishes such as Vinyl-Lam, natural hardwoods, custom paint, and stains.

This product also carries the exclusive steel hardware of Woodfold, giving you flawless performance. Panel dimensions are 4 and 1/4 inches in width by 1/4 thickness.

First Choice Accordion Doors: Series 140:

This series is recommended for utility rooms, closets, wardrobe areas or storage rooms where there is a need for a door that has one finished side. This door is available in 14 standard colors of vinyl laminate, six hardwood choices and optional decorative murals. If you want your own color for the door, you can purchase this series unfinished, primed for paint and ready for staining. Optional laminates such as Wilsonart, Pionite, Formica and Navamar can be applied.

Accordion Doors by Hufcor Inc.:

This 5-ply laminated, semi-rigid door is constructed to withstand daily use and impact. If you want to redecorate, you can have a replacement door for just a fraction of prices of new doors. It features inner steel lining that lessens the noise and increases durability.

Accordion Doors by Specialty Doors and Automation: offers this custom manufactured accordion doors made from mahogany, walnut, oak and birch. The specifications include 8 feet wide, 8 feet to 12 feet in height and a stacking space of 1 and ¼ inches plus ¾ inches to 2 inches for lead post. The doors are available in bronze acrylic, vinyl-lam and natural hardwood panels and dual system with nylon tires and ball bearing rollers.

Accordion Doors by Custom Door and Mirror Inc.:

This accordion door can be fabricated to fit the size opening that you want. It is constructed from ¾ inches, 45-pound density wrapped board in grey melamine. You can have various finishing options, including paint, paneling, laminates, wallpaper, pre-finished melamine, wood veneer, raised panel and louver. It features four hinge designs with spring for easy door operation. You can also have a choice of folding mirrored doors with polished edges or beveled.

10 Things to Know Before Shopping for Wood Furniture

1. What is your budget?

Quality, construction, fine or rare wood could be pricier, so you may have to make adjustments to your budget. Many qualities should be put into consideration to determine the desired amount to spend on each piece such as how long you will keep the item and whether it is one of the central pieces in the room or just an accent. Assigning a budget will help you set limits for yourself, so you don’t end up spending all your money before you purchase all the units you need.

2. Where will it be used?

It is important to know the scale of an item to make sure it is going to fit in your intended space. Knowing the area that you are shopping for will also help you determine what major items you will need for that room and how much space they can be allowed. For example, a family room would require plenty of seating as well as maybe a couple spare chairs.

3. How often will it be used?

Pieces that are going to go in a family room for daily use have to be durable. Pay close attention to the components that will be used several times per day, like drawers and doors. Furniture that is going to go into a guest room or any other room could be purchased with appearance in mind with shape, size, and design being the most important qualities to look for.

4. How long will you have it?

Wood furniture pieces in your dining room, bedroom, or living room may remain in your family for many years. You may even decide to pass this furniture down to future generations. For heirloom quality pieces, allow yourself to spend more money. Accent pieces, on the other hand, shouldn’t be so expensive if you intend on updating your style occasionally. Children’s furniture that your child will eventually grow out of shouldn’t be so expensive since you will have to update it as he/she grows older. Have fun with these items and just shop with aesthetic appeal in mind.

5. What is your personal style?

Find your personal style by studying your wardrobe, car and favorite things. Pay attention to your favorite colors, textures and patterns. Also consider your lifestyle when purchasing furniture. Are you single? Do you have any children, pets, etc.?

6. What kind of wood do you like?

Wood furniture is made from seasonal hardwoods or year round softwoods. Hardwoods come from broad-leafed trees (not needles) such as maple, oak, teak, and finer woods such as walnut, mahogany, and cherry. These woods are found in the most expensive furniture pieces. Softwoods come from needle-bearing evergreens like pine, spruce, redwood, or cedar. Such lumber is used in less-formal pieces. Rubberwood is plantation-grown in tropical countries. It is very durable and resistant to most varieties of fungi, bacteria, and mold.

7. What is the difference between solid and veneer?

Solid wood furniture usually means all the exposed parts of the piece are solid, while the frames and inner parts are made of other less expensive material. When thin layers of decorative wood are bonded to the face of furniture pieces, this is called veneer. While solid wood is valued for its durability, veneer provides a greater variety of styles, patterns and textures.

8. What finish do you prefer?

A finish on wood furniture can enhance its natural look or change it completely. A simple oil or wax finish will enhance the grain on an item, but for increased durability, furniture with a lacquer finish is best. Lacquer protects against spills and rings. A distressed look means that the wood is made to look older by beating and hammering the wood before the final finish is applied.

9. How good is the workmanship?

Ensure that drawers fit and slide well on glides and stop flush with the front of the piece. Dust panels on the drawers are best for keeping your belongings clean. Make sure that the hardware is installed correctly on any doors. The legs on tables should be even and not rock. If your table has leaves, make sure they match the rest of the table. Higher quality pieces will have dovetail joints, but always make sure to pay attention to how the drawer fronts are attached. Chair joints should also be examined carefully. Make sure they are snug and free from excess glue. On tables, corners should be reinforced and legs securely attached.

Getting a Durable Handbag

When it comes to women’s fashion accessories, handbags are among the most important. When you are shopping for a new handbag, what is the first thing you consider before making a decision? For most women, the style or design is the first thing they watch out for. For others, it is the color — it needs to match their wardrobe. But then, the brand appears to be the one thing that gives a lot of weight on women’s decision when they are buying handbags. Carrying a branded bag gives the impression that you know all about fashion.

Certainly brand, design, and color are things to consider when you are shopping for handbags. However, no matter which bag you are considering to buy, it is important that you examine it thoroughly — from the zipper and the smallest buttons to the strap, stitching, and surface.

Let us assume you are shopping for a new handbag and you see one with a gorgeous design. What is your first impulse? If it is to grab it and head straight to the counter — stop right there! First, you need to examine the color and brand. Then continue with the small things like the buttons, pockets, and latches. If the bag has buttons, check all of them; the buttons should be tightly tucked.

If You Want to Save Space, Consider Sliding Closet Doors

Sliding closet doors are the favorite door type of homeowners who want to save space. A sliding or bypass door does not require a front clearance to open or close. Additionally, they come in many styles such as wooden, louvered, French, mirrored or glass.

Your choices of sliding closet doors are numerous that it could be confusing and overwhelming finding one that answers your needs. It would be smart then to examine carefully each sliding closet door available on the market.

NUporte 48 In. x 80 In. White 2110 Series 1-Panel Grand Door from Aura Home Design:

This door meets the demands of the modern lifestyle with fashionable designs that complement contemporary to casual home décor. It is made attractive and durable by rich finishes and its high quality and stylish look add vitality and warmth to your home. The door is pre-assembled for easy installation and comes with track and hardware, matching fascia, floor guide and dial adjust rollers. The dimensions are 3.4375 inches in depth, 81 inches in height and 49 inches in width. Door thickness is 2.25 inches.

Prime-Line Products Black Painted Aluminum Sliding Glass Door Handle Pull Set:

The door features a standard handle set, extruded aluminum interior pull, exterior pull in black, mortise latch and surface mounted. The hole center measures 3 and 15/16 inches.

Manor Court 72″ White Laguna Bottom-Roll Interior Mirror Sliding Door:

This mirrored interior door has a medium frame measuring 72 inches. The door is constructed from bright white steel and comes with safety back mirror. The mirror style is plain with clear tint. Finished opening width is 72 inches and height is 80 and ½ inches

KingStar 24 Inches Gold Top-Roll Interior Mirror Sliding Door:

This door comes with one-piece track and safety-backed clear mirror. It is adjustable for easy installation. It has two panels, 3mm-thick mirror, top roller and steel frame. It fits finish openings of 48 inches in width and 80 inches in height.

Closet Doors from The Sliding Door Co.:

The company offers sliding closet doors that can be used for your wardrobe, linen closet or guest room. The doors can instantly enhance your living space with elegance and style. Glass options are clear, frosted, opaque, linen, mirrored and milky. Available framework finishes are silver, maple, wenge, white, walnut and black. Design choices are Quattro, trio, Tokyo, duo T, combo and pentagon. The framework width is available in either ½-inch or 3 inches while the extrusion wall thickness is.050mm. The company guarantees that its doors are constructed of the highest quality materials to last for a long period of time. The door comes with upper roller guide and bottom wheels. The door operates the smoothest and the quietest, making it the envy of many in the industry.

Sliding Wardrobe Door System from Johnson Door:

This door is manufactured from kiln dried timbers, professional finished in antique pine, mahogany stained meranti, clear pine or white oak. It features a molded leading edge, raised panels made of medium density fiberboard with timber veneer. The available style is full mirror with solid wood framing. The door fits an opening height of 90 inches and widths of 24 inches, 30 inches and 36 inches.

Spare yourself the trouble of going from one store to another to find the right sliding closet door for you by accessing the Internet. Sliding closet doors in a variety of different sizes, materials, color and finishes are available from many online retailers at affordable prices.