Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Change Of Scenery



Change Of Scenery
Chantelle Henderson, © 2010

I can remember it like it was yesterday.  The year was 1984 & I was a 12 year old sitting in the back seat  of mom and dad’s maroon Pontiac Sunbird and we were no longer in Memphis where I’d lived up until then.  At that age I couldn’t wrap my brain around the fact that I would be distanced physically from my grandmothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.   Reality hit me when we got on 85 North and I thought we were going to be killed by all the cars flying by us in the great ATL.  “Dear Lord,” I thought to myself, “What in the world?”  I’d never seen people drive like that.  My mind quickly shifted to the slow pace and easygoing highways and roads of Memphis, Tennessee back to the crazy drivers wanting to run us off the road to kill us as a welcome gift.    I didn’t have a choice because mom and dad both got transfers with their jobs.  It all turned out fine.

At 12 years old, it seemed like a new adventure and one that I embraced quickly with great anticipation and excitement-New schools, new friends, new everything.  We lived in apartments South of our permanent residence while the construction was being completed.  It was a new development so it would take some time.  While waiting, I met so many other 12-13 year olds and fit in very well with my newfound friends.  We were always busy.  I don’t know how my parents did it.  It was sleepovers, concerts, parties, etc.  I can remember vividly trying to start a Pink Ladies club because of my obsession with Grease.  It never did pan out, but it’s okay.  The satin jackets with the embroidered “Pink Lady” writing would have been a pain to try to do for 5 girls, if not plain ol' impossible!


I would spend A LOT of time listening to music in my room on the radio.  They were hits like When Doves Cry, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, 99 Luft Balloons (which quickly became a favorite), and Madonna’s Borderline just to name a few out of many.  I would sit on the floor waiting for  my favorites to come on air so I could push play and record on my boom box .  That way I’d have my cassette tape and could play them back whenever I wanted.  Oh, another favorite was Footloose.  Maybe it’s because by this time I’d turned 13 and had my first Kiss during the movie (Footloose) with Michael Marafi-A kid with freckles and red hair that I thought hung the stars and the moon.  I just knew I would marry that boy one day.  (HA!)  What did I know back then? 

Flash forward a about a year.  The house was complete and there were even more friendships to be discovered and new places to explore.  Deerbrook was filled with trees, big new homes and again, no lack of kids in our age group.  I say "our" because I also had a brother, Darrell who is two years older than me.  There was such a sense of community, not just with us kids, but the adults as well.  It was like Desperate Housewives’ Wisteria Lane (Which, by the way, I no longer watch).  Everybody knew everybody and there was always something to do.  I was 14 and ready to start middle school at Shiloh Middle.  It was a predominately white school and quite a culture shock for me.  To the best of my recollection there may have been literally a hand full of black students among the sea of white kids.  That was really opposite for what I'd known up until then!  Yowzah! 

At my new school I acted out with what else, other than my big mouth?  Eventually the school’s phone calls went from Mr. and Mrs. Thomas to a first name basis-Elton & Lynne.  It wasn’t for lack of attention at home because I had plenty, but it was never enough.  My poor parents.  It was the same thing in high school.  I got suspended twice for fighting and once for having no doze in my locker.  Now even my teachers laughed at that one.  I had the choice of a 10 day suspension or going to some drug class for 3 nights and a 3 day suspension.  I’ll never forget me and mom sitting in that room rolling our eyes and laughing because while everyone else was there for alcohol, pot, and other illegal drugs, I was there for a box of no doze that wasn’t even open.  That’s not to minimize those who were there for having illegal substances, but even they were humored by the reason I was there.  Oh well, it got me back to the class room quicker - yay....couldn't wait to get back! *sarcasm*

In high school theater was my escape.  It became my sanctuary from some of the chaos during that time of my life.  Imagine that, me, Chantelle Henderson, embracing and falling in love with being a part of the drama team.  Go figure.  I believe my greatest highlight during my 4 years at Shiloh High school was landing the female lead of Katharine in Pippin.  If you want to know other details of my teen years you can find them in other blogs I have posted.

Fast forward again.  I went to college at Georgia State University.  Well, at least on paper.  I didn’t know I was actually supposed to go to classes.  I spent most of my time at Sensational Subs stealing pitchers that were filled with beer before being emptied by me and my friends although we were underage.  There was one class I never missed though, and that was English & Grammar.  I LOVED that class.  It gave me an outlet for writing and I received the first A the professor had given in 6 years.  My unfortunate mom and dad.  I don’t remember ever seeing my GPA.  I can only imagine that it wasn’t a whole number.  Seriously!  I’m thinking maybe a 0.7. 

It wasn’t shortly after that that my dad brought me the job section of the newspaper that highlighted a section for hiring flight attendants for TWA.  I still haven’t figured out if it was because he knew I wasn’t cut out for college or if he just thought it was a good opportunity for me.  Either way after several (3 or 4) interviews I was hired.  I was only 18 and from what I was told, the youngest flight attendant they’d ever hired.  The first time I’d ever been on a plane was when they flew me to St. Louis for an interview and then again for training.  I got through training with flying colors and was given my assignment which was based in New York to fly out of JFK and LaGuardia Airports.  I’ll just say that lasted, oh, about 6 months.   I got in trouble several times for sitting in the jump seat (where the flight attendants sit during take off and landing that face the passengers) and made faces that allowed their imagination to think something was wrong with the flight.  Those write ups were worth it back then.  It would be totally inappropriate now with 9/11.  My biggest regret then and now is that I went to some of the greatest places in the world never realizing that other people dreamed their entire life for the chance to go.  I flew to London, Italy, Portugal, and France just to name a few.  Let’s just say I always partied too much and spent most of my time in these breathtaking places and high end hotels (Doubletree, The W) recovering from hangovers well deserved from drinking too much the previous night.

YesI know, this blog is supposed to be about Florida and it is.  I just need to give you the background of my roots here in Georgia, what I consider to be called home.

Flash forward and I’m back home in Georgia.  Again, if you need the details of my life during this time, read my other blogs.


The defining moment that followed me quitting TWA and  coming back home was finding out I was pregnant at 20.  I am so blessed that I gave birth to my beloved son, Christopher, who is now almost 18.  It’s so hard to believe!  I could almost promise you that I just changed his first diaper yesterday!  The years have gone by so quickly.  I was unwed at the time so he was not "planned" by me, but he was planned by Heavenly Papa and was meant to be here.  He has such purpose and destiny and I cannot wait to see the unfolding of all God put him here to accomplish.  He brought our family together in such a way that I believe would have never happened if he were not born.  The Lord used Chris to give me something-someone greater than myself to think about.  Being a single mom forced me to find a skill or trade so I could provide for the two of us.  I went to a school called Brannell Business Institute and enrolled in their Executive Administrative Specialist program and graduated with honors.  I was never so driven as I was during that time in my life.  God was so faithful in opening doors with many Fortune 500 companies that required someone with a degree, but the requirement was overlooked it when it came time to hire me.  I was privileged to work as and executive assistant to CEOs and higher management at companies such as GE Capital, AIG, and Georgia Pacific to name a few.





When Chris was four I met the man who would change everything about me….who I was as a mother, a woman, a wife, and a friend-a person as a whole.  Read the book of Hosea in the Bible for that season in my life and our marriage.
So here we are-2010.  I hear many people say that the number 10 represents completion.  Scripturally, the number 10 is defined as “the completeness or fullness of whatever is in view, without it necessarily being the totality of it.”  In other words, as a practical illustration, Monday would be a full day, but not the totality of the week. Likewise ten would represent the fullness or completeness of that particular day, but not necessarily the totality of the whole week which that day is part of.”

Without going into detail, I will share with you that the last 3 years have brought about some of the most painful experiences both physically and emotionally.  It’s been filled with a lot of changes in relationships, truly overhauling some.  I can look at the big picture now and see that it was all to prepare me to cleave to my husband which I should have done years ago.  It has been a season of pure hell at times.  I now understand, recognize, and perceive that the last three years and the hurts and pains and sufferings HAD to take place in order for me to get to the point in my life that I can truly leave Georgia and have perfect peace about it.  Does that mean I am not grieving?  Uh….NO!

It’s always been a dream of Ryan's to move back to Florida.  FSU is his alma mater and he spent summers in Ft. Meyers, FL with his grandma Esta.  Ryan is very passionate about the ocean.  He says when he’s snorkeling and near the ocean is where he feels closest to God.  Even with that I remember him asking me over the years if I would move to Florida one day.  I would just look at him and laugh in amusement that he would even dare suggest it.  You know what they say, "Never say never." 

A couple months ago I, of all people, was looking at his company’s website and saw there were a few job openings in Florida.  I told him about them flippantly without even giving thought to the fact that he may actually apply for one of them.  Well, He did.  The more phone interviews and emails he received, the more I came to terms with the fact that this was no laughing matter.  It really could happen.  I even made several jokes on Facebook about it.  I must admit that at first I was extremely excited at the possibility of a new place, a new beginning, a chance to “start over” but when he brought the offer letter home with a huge smile and a set date for him to report to work in St. Petersburg on April 5th, something in me felt like my life as I've known it was about to be forever changed.  For weeks I remained in denial (and still am in some ways).  I did (do) it on purpose because any time I start to actually allow my imagination to show me a new life in Florida-that I am moving to a place where I don’t know a soul and had never been to other than for vacations, it was too overwhelming to think about- Overwhelming because I was leaving the only place I truly considered to be home-Georgia.   This is where mom and dad, Chris and my brother, Darrell live.  It’s the place my church family at Passion Church resides.  It’s the place where good and bad memories alike dwell in the recesses of my heart and mind.  The things, places, and people who have shaped a part of who I am today-they're here-in Georgia.  Don’t get me wrong, I've been shedding some tears here and there the past few weeks (a lot more lately since the time as the time is  drawing near to leave)  Even in my grief, I find a way to laugh.  ANYTHING, a simple hole in the wall where a picture was hanging can trigger a total meltdown for me.  Ryan and my best friend and I always laugh about it when I've gone through a box of tissues, dried my tears and repented for saying certain words that do not reflect that of a nice, proper lady...as if that describes me anyway!

A friend of many years, Stacy Trammell wrote a song I listen to at least 5 times a day. 

The main chorus is:  "I’m leaving it all behind-The places that I’ve been-The life that I have known For I am not my own-So I’m leaving it all behind Releasing all my past-Pressing toward what lasts-Reaching for the prize-I will leave it all behind."- Stacy Marie Trammell Walker ~ © December 2006 (www.stacymarie.net).


This past weekend we traveled to Florida so we could find a place to live and make our new home.  I could no longer be in denial.  I found myself surprised at the fact that I was sad, feeling alone, afraid and even angry.  To a certain extent the last few weeks in denial helped me shut down so I didn’t have to face reality and deal with any of the emotions that are accompanying me while taking one step at a time down this unfamiliar path.  At one point Ryan left the hotel room and I sat on the bed and broke down sobbing and wailing because I knew there was no looking back.  The job was his and like Ruth and Naomi in the Bible I had to embrace a new attitude-one that can truly test a marriage at it's highest level:

 Ruth 1:6 – “For wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you live, I will live; your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.”

This is my heart toward my husband Ryan.  And while I'm uncertain of the unknown, I know the Lord will honor my attitude towards Ryan and being willing to allow his leadership and covering to shelter me in our decision to relocate.

During Ryan's absence in the hotel room there was something so cleansing in that moment when it was just me and Heavenly Papa.  He comforted me in such a supernatural way that I was able to let go of all my fears and uncertainties and move forward in this new chapter of our lives.  The excitement and anticipation I had before his transfer manifested once again.  In my heart I had peace and comfort, and was wrapped in a blanket of knowledge that there is no where I will ever go that Heavenly Papa is not with me.  He sees the end from the beginning and He knows what awaits me in Florida.  With that certainty in mind I know I have the strength to move forward.  I embrace and have full revelation of a verse in John 14 (Amplified Bible). "I will ask the Father and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener and Standby) that He may remain with you forever-The Spirit of Truth..."

In the late 90's there was a Christian band, a husband and wife team, called Watermark.  They had a song that I LOVED because of the beat and the words.  I thought it was really cool.  Recently I pulled it out and listened to it and was blown away by the message of the song.  I thought, “Oh my Daddy, THAT’S ME!!!  THAT’S ME!!!!  SHE’S SINGING WHAT I’M THINKING PERFECTLY!”  I can’t remember where I read it, maybe in their CD jacket, but Christy Nockels wrote that the song ‘Welcome to Delaware’ because they’d been relocated to a place she'd never been and was uprooted from the only place she'd known as home.  For her, it was somewhere new, different, and frightening.  Simply put, she made it clear that it was foreign. Christy expressed through this song that it’s all about God bringing His children into new and different places in life, and carrying them through those changes and showing us who we are in the process.  Now it's just Him and me. It is summed up perfectly in one of the verses, I feel like I’m on my way to my “Delaware”, but mine is called Florida.
 

"So I've settled here, and that is that
For You to show me who I am
You had to take me to a place I'd never been
And all the things I dreaded most
About the things unseen...
Have now become the sweetest part of me!
And though I headed to where it seemed like no where
I knew You would come,
I knew You would meet me here..."


Just like the number 10, it gives me great strength to know that our relocation to Florida is like a Monday.  It will be a "full day", but not the totality of the "entire week", (a.k.a. my life here on this earth).  It's just a season. There's a reason that we're going to Florida that goes beyond a job transfer.  There's a greater purpose in us going.  Things lined up too perfectly for it not to be a God thing.

May I never forget that to everything there is a season (Ecclesiastes 3).  My life is not my own.  I belong to Him.  Florida is the fullness of this new chapter in my life, but it is not the totality of what He’s planned for my brief time on this side of eternity.  Recently I realized that I've been looking at the small picture through a lens of the here and now, rather than the big picture of this transition in light of all of eternity. 

Ryan and I are communicating daily.  At times he doesn't understand my tears or being snappy, at times even angry.  He's starting to comprehend that while I truly am excited about this new phase in our lives together,  and I really do have perfect peace about going, I’ve still got to process it all and it may take quite a while.  I keep asking the Lord why I'm still having all these emotions if I have the perfect peace I think I have.  I gently hear Him whisper, "The absence or presence of peace has nothing to do with you having to go through a grieving process or the various emotions because of the changes you are facing.  You have peace because you know that I'm carrying you through and will continue to just like I always have through this new season."   



I know I will always have friends and family here.  I just don’t have the convenience of being right around the corner to “drop by”, or a last minute, “Let’s have dinner tonight” on the spur of the moment.  How about this one?, “Dad, if you’re out this way today can you drop such and such off?”  The hardest of all will be knowing that should Christopher drop by and ring the door bell to give me a hug and a quick hello, I will be 8 hours away.

Last but not least, I say this with purest of heart and with total absence of arrogance.  We’ve had several people ask if we can get together.  There is simply not time.  From what I understand a going away reception will be held in our honor at the end of March where EVERYONE is invited and we can see you face-to-face and get a hug and a “see you later” as there will be no “goodbyes”.  I have recently gotten some details and it's Saturday, March 27th, 6-9 pm at Passion Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia.  To RSVP email Shauna Blevens at shaunablevens@aol.com or lisagroover@gmail.com.  I'm sure they can give you other details that I may not be aware of. 

I will conclude this blog with the lyrics of Welcome To Delaware by Watermark.  If there’s a way you can go to Itunes and download it, it would be worth the 99 cents!


Welcome To Delaware
©Watermark, Christy and Nathan Nockels, 1999


Well it's bitter cold December,
and the leaves have fallen true
And I do believe I'm still in love with You
Yeah, my scenery keeps changing
and sometimes it's hard to view
But You've let me see so much since I've known You
But I headed to where it seemed like nowhere
You told me You'd come
You told me You'd meet me here

You were here to say,
"Welcome to Delaware,

I know you've traveled far,
And it's a lot colder here than what you're used to,
And I know, that in the winter time,
things aren't what they used to be
So all you really have here now, is Me..."

So I've settled here, and that is that
For You to show me who I am
You had to take me to a place I'd never been
And all the things I dreaded most
About the things unseen...
Have now become the sweetest part of me!
And though I headed to where it seemed like no where
I knew You would come,
I knew You would meet me here...

You were here to say,
"Welcome to Delaware,

I know you've traveled far,
And it's a lot colder here than what you're used to,
And I know, that in the winter time,

things aren't what they used to be
So all you really have here now, is Me..."

NOTE:  Information about the number 10 cited earlier in this blog was obtained from http://www.mountainretreatorg.net/bible/numbers.html

With Georgia On My Mind,

Monday, March 1, 2010

Who's Got Talent





Who’s Got Talent?
©2010, Chantelle Henderson

It's the usual Sunday morning picture of the craziness of a houseful of kids and adults scrambling to get out the door by 10:10 to make it to the 10:30 service, very rarely meeting the goal.  This past Sunday we did make it, actually EARLY.  Ryan pulled up to the front entrance of Passion Church so I could hop out the car and go in without having to worry about the bitter cold weather and it’s wind of great strength stinging my face.
As usual, our greeters were on their toes dressed in their khaki pants and white button down shirts.  I was given a smile and a hug to get my morning started and handed a bulletin for the service.  I walked down the hall past the nursery on my left which is brightly colored with a mural of air balloons and clouds and animals.  To the right is what I call the “cushy” room.  It’s got the most comfortable sofas and chairs in there.  It’s dimly lit and serves as a space to make yourself a cup of coffee or grab a little nibble of whatever muffin or danish they are serving that morning.  In a hurry to get to intercessory prayer I rushed past both rooms to go and place my Bible and purse in our usual seats.  I always love entering the main sanctuary before everyone else starts arriving.  I stand there for a moment taking it all in and picturing what the Lord has planned for those of us who will be there;What will we offer to Him as our expression of gratitude and worship?

I head out the double doors and into the prayer room.  Service starts at 10:30 on the dot.  I was surprised when I looked up during prayer and saw that it was time.  No longer was the sanctuary silent and empty.  It was filled with people of all races, economic status’,and religions.  Soon you hear the piano, electric guitar, drums and other instruments I know nothing about nor can name.  Bursting forth with mighty and bold song was the worship team.  The sweet sounds of more “upbeat” songs quickly transitioned into music that sounded to my heart like heaven’s lullabies.  I felt as if my head was resting safely on Heavenly Daddy’s chest and I could hear His heart beating for me.  It wasn’t just a feeling though.  It was my reality.  So much goes on around us in this earthly realm that it easy to forget or even dare ask for a glimpse of the unseen things around us.  The following two scriptures remind me that the unseen, eternal realm does truly exist.

“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unaware.”-
Hebrews 13:2

 Since we consider and look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are visible are temporal (brief and fleeting), but the things that are invisible are deathless and everlasting.-2 Corinthians 4:18

In Hebrews 12 the Bible takes note that there are many in the faith who have gone before us and that they are a great cloud of witnesses that we are surrounded by.  We get but a glimpse equal to a grain of sand on the largest beaches in the world of what is to come that is beyond this, our temporary home we call earth.  I look forward to the day that I can behold it all! 

For now we are looking in a mirror that gives only a dim (blurred) reflection [of reality as in a riddle or enigma], but then [when perfection comes] we shall see in reality and face to face! Now I know in part (imperfectly), but then I shall know and understand fully and clearly, even in the same manner as I have been fully and clearly known and understood [by God].- 1 Corinthians 13:12

As I basked in the love of The Father, I slowly lowered myself in the support of the familiar pew.  Pastor Lisa (Pastor Charlton’s wife) made the announcements.  When Pastor Charlton, or PC as he’s affectionately called walked up to the pulpit…actually very rarely does he stay there.  He walks in front of it, through the isles; where ever he pleases and we love it because he’s not some sort of collared person with a bunch of letters and titles behind his name standing above us and looking down while delivering spiritual food.  I hope no one takes offense to the previous description as it is my personal view of what could be perceived as “religion” and not relationship.   I had my Bible in hand and my notebook for writing down things I wanted to remember from that day’s sermon or a scripture that I found that I wanted to research further. 

You know there’s a saying that “Pride always comes before a fall.”?  Well, actually it’s a scripture.

Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.-Proverbs 16:18.

I strive to keep myself in check when it comes to being prideful.  I recognized a long time ago that ANY AND EVERY THING that is good in me or about me is because of Heavenly Daddy and the blood of Jesus Christ – the love, grace, mercy, forgiveness and comfort of knowing that I belong to a victorious God!

Little did I know that I was about to see that I, in fact, was walking in pride without even realizing it.  In my arrogance I felt a teaching about the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 didn’t apply to me.  I knew all the principal of sowing, reaping, and being a good steward of the things He’s entrusted to my care.  Well, let’s just say my self-righteous attitude expeditiously imploded when I arrived at the conclusion that the message wasn’t going to be about finances.  You see, this time PC provoked those in attendance to look at it from a different frame of reference.  It was about literal talents.  Not even the extra cushion on my backside was enough to save me from the pain of that fall that was a result of
unrecognized pride I harbored.

Matthew 25:14-30 (New Living Translation)
 14 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. 15 He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip.   16 “The servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more. 17 The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more. 18 But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money.   19 “After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. 20 The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’  21 “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’  22 “The servant who had received the two bags of silver came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two bags of silver to invest, and I have earned two more.’  23 “The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’  24 “Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. 25 I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’  26 “But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate, 27 why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’  28 “Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver. 29 To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. 30 Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’


Defined in Webster’s Dictionary talent is a special or natural ability or aptitude.  If you read Psalm 139 it is more than apparent that each and every one of us were knit together and formed with His plans and purposes in mind.  While creating us He bestowed upon us the gifts and talents intended for us to use as a display for His glory and Honor and Majesty.

I’ve taken the talent He’s given me, writing, for granted.  This teaching was like having a cold bucket of ice water thrown on my face as I realized that I blatantly chose laziness and disobedience instead of picking up my pen and paper or putting my fingers to a keyboard to write.  For as long as I can remember teachers encouraged me to enter writing contests, and were always surprised at my advanced ability to write beyond my years.  In my older years I had one professor who outright refused to believe that I had written a large piece of literature.  He thought for sure that an 18 year old was incapable of writing something that flowed through me onto paper without force of thought to create what he later referred to as a “unique masterpiece”.

Lately many of my Facebook friends have seen my comments about my lack of writing mojo.  Well, folks, that’s a load of crap and I admit it.  That’s just a way of saying I was being lazy and trying to make it seem (because I believed it) that poor, pitiful me had ran out of subjects or things to write about.   I look at authors such as Helen Keller, Francine Rivers, or Nicholas Sparks, among many others, and realize the only difference between them and me is that they kept writing.  They wrote from their heart and continually drew buckets from their well of words, imagination, and ability to write not knowing if they would sell one single book.  Anne Frank had a love for journaling.  It was her journal transformed into a book that spoke for her years after her death.  It became a work of literature that challenges the human heart, even to this day.

OH SNAP!  With PC’s gentle message that was meant to be a well-meaning, non-condemning reminder for us to use the gifts and talents God gave us.  I sat there with my head hung in shame knowing that without a doubt that my Beloved Master and Savior Jesus Christ was dealing with me at that moment for an account of what I’d done with the talent He’d entrusted to me.  You see, I realized that I was the lazy servant in verse 26.  Papa’s always gentle though.  He didn’t condemn me.  I was simply convicted in my own heart for not using what He gave me to bring glory to His name.

There is no doubt that God created each and every one of us to be unique.  I will admit that I used to have a SERIOUS issue when it came to comparing myself to other people – that is until I realized that He didn’t want me to be them.  He wanted me to be the best me because that’s how He intentionally created me.  To try to be anything or anyone different is like saying He didn’t know what He was doing in His creating me.  If he wanted me to have the talent or gift of being world class artist, then He held the power in His hand to do so, but He did not.  Once I received that revelation I am happy to report that comparing myself to others is a thing of the past.  Our different talents are great ones because they are the ones He chose to grace you with.  They are unique to you and how you use them.  There is a scripture that I remember when I think of what I am going to do with my writing ability.

A man's gift makes room for him and brings him before great men. - Proverbs 18:16 (Amplified Bible)

You see, it’s not even about becoming famous for me or even being recognized for my writing abilities.  It’s that he’s given me a gift to bring me before others to be on display for HIS glory.  I want people to look at me and see Him – His handiwork – His unique creation.

Heather Murray, a dear friend of mine from high school, is an EXTREMELY phenomenal photographer.   She just has an eye to see things around her that we don't even give thought to, and capture them in such a way that when you see the result you think to yourself, “I wish I could have seen this in person.”  I’m sure Heather didn’t pick up the most expensive Canon Camera and started shooting professionally at the age of 10.  If I were a betting woman, I would say that Heather probably started out with the good ol fashion Polaroid camera and with great patience had to wait for the outcome while shaking the film and breathing on the middle of this white bordered square to make the picture appear.  Her excellence came from honing in on that talent.  I’m sure there were shots she thought would develop perfectly that when completed looked like a big, red, blurry moon pie.  Heather, however, did not quit.  She chose not to bury her talent.  Instead she took the time to perfect that gift of photography and multiply it to the point that now the sky’s the limit to the possibilities of what she will do with her photography business.  By sharing her gift of photography she has been and will continue in her ability to capture some of the most precious moments of peoples’ lives.  She may take a once-in-a-lifetime photo of a butterfly coming out of the cocoon, or a homeless person on the street that serves as a reminder that the poor, lost, and lonely do exist in the world around us.  I didn’t even ask for her permission to use her as an example so I figure the least I can do is share her website with you so you can see for yourself what she is doing with her talent of photography. (http://heathermurrayphoto.com)

At the conclusion of PC’s teaching he asked for those of us who wanted to quit “sitting” on our talents and start using them and multiply them for God’s Kingdom to raise our hands.  I knew I’d been disobedient and lazy with my gift of writing so without hesitation I raised my hand up as high as I could, as if surrendering to the revelation that I can no longer hide my gift under the guise of a lack of “writing mojo” or subjects to write about.  I knew it was time for me to make a commitment to both God and myself that I would become a good steward of the gift of writing he’s bestowed upon me.  I don’t know how many hands were raised, and meaning no disrespect, did not care.  It was between me and Daddy at that moment.  I simply embraced that delightful moment of intimacy in prayer and repentance.

But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also [utensils] of wood and earthenware, and some for honorable and noble [use] and some for menial and ignoble [use]. - 2 Timothy 2:20 (Amplified Bible)

I now long to be the kind of container that He can use to present any and every time to bring glory & honor to His name through perfecting my writing skills.

My prayer:

Precious Heavenly Papa, thank you for the talents you’ve given each and every one of your children.  Reveal to us when we bury our talents in the ground like the 3rd servant did.  Instead, give us grace to be like the first two so we can multiply our ability to display Your glory through our talents.  You did not give them to us to bury them, but rather to be effective in Your kingdom.  Lord, I want people to see my gift and know that it is so unique and stands out that they may know that it’s an ability – a talent - that could only have come from you.  Remind me to be humble.  Remind me that you are the only source of all that we have and all that we are that is good.  And as Colossians 3:23-24 so beautifully reminds us, no matter what we do or who we are doing it for, may we always do it with the attitude that we are doing it as unto you, because ultimately, in the big scheme of things, we are.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Whatever may be your task, work at it heartily (from the soul), as [something done] for the Lord and not for men, Knowing [with all certainty] that it is from the Lord [and not from men] that you will receive the inheritance which is your [real] reward. [The One Whom] you are actually serving [is] the Lord Christ (the Messiah). - Colossians 3:23-24 (Amplified Bible)

Chantelle

"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do." – Helen Keller