GUEST POST: The Untouched Gift

*a special post from special guest Michele Lee*

Picture this:
You spend much time, thought, and your resources in getting the perfect gift. You put so much of your mind on it that “the gift” becomes a personal and real place in your heart. You go to the celebration with great expectations in watching the person open the gift with as much passion as you put into the process only to see them smile and politely say thank you and set it aside……BIG SIGH….Letdown.

Or maybe they show great appreciation but you see that they never use the gift….. disappointment!

The greatest pleasure and gift given me is to both teach and pastor. And yes, I can preach too! I have in one hand the ability to take information and clearly present it with novelty, but also depth.  And in my other hand, I have a great need to guide, love, train, and be a safe place for people to gather—gifts that were given by our Lord Himself with the sole purpose to give Him glory in order to bring others to Him. Which is really the definition to a purpose-filled life.

But sadly, I was that person, like many, who was given this beautiful box with the most elaborate decorations that obviously showed the time and attention given to it. I opened these gifts one day, only to set them aside.

I was using one gift but not to its fullest.  It was like having this piece of technology with a million cool things, and I used only one feature.  Instead of using the whole gift, I smiled with a polite thank you and set it aside.

I allowed insecurities, inadequate feelings, and fear to stop me from real and genuine fulfillment.

I cannot set back and watch others make this mistake.

If I were to guess, there are people reading this right now that your gift is just sitting there, either unopened or collecting dust.

I can say this with certainty because I have observed much of this my 25 years in ministry and in private and public education. I’ve seen students and adults have so much potential, and use none.  They find themselves aimlessly walking in circles to find purpose and success, and yet still feel so unfulfilled. I’ve watched people use the gift, but quickly set it aside because they feel “uncomfortable ” with it. I mean who gets a gift and is a master the first time with it? Not even the most technologically gifted people can say that.
I’ve heard many people tell me they showed up late to the party and did not receive a gift.

What?!

In God’s family everyone gets a gift! He’s just generous like that.

On the other end, I have watched someone so insecure, so unsure and so hesitant have courage to use the gift and become “beyond what they ever thought or imagined.”

Gifts are unlimited with our limitless God but here are a few to get your mind thinking :

The gift:

  • of hospitality
  • of encouragement
  • of compassion
  • of serving
  • of leadership
  • of prayer
  • of generosity
  • of creativity
  • of listening
  • of writing
  • of speaking
  • of organizing
  • of planning
  • of music
  • of connecting
  • of teaching
  • of preaching
  • of filling in the gap where needed

This is just to name a few, but please don’t believe that all of these can’t be in your life, because they can. A gift just means you’re really strong in that area or areas. And the gifts aren’t limited to one place. Your gifts are for every area of your world—home, work, church, leisure, and even strange, as in, not-part-of-your-normal-routine places.

Most people have allowed unfortunate circumstances or a bump in the road with people to decide whether they will use the gift. And I am here today…. writing this post…. to encourage you to use the gift(s). Trust me…. I had prepared another post and God took me here.

Three things happen when you use the gift:

1. God is glorified. Everything that good happens is from God. Matthew 5:16 tells us people will see your good works and glorify your God. If it ever becomes about you, it’s not from God and you will quickly fall short and be empty.

2. You are blessed. We were created with a void that only God can fill. When it’s filled with Him we are fulfilled. He meets emotional, spiritual, physical, mental, and tangible needs. John 10 says God has come to give you life MORE abundantly.

3. Others are blessed through your gift.  You often are the game changer in someone’s life or circumstances. We don’t have to think BIG to bless people. It often is the daily moments we say “yes” to obedience that we bless others. Why else would Proverbs close its book with this beautiful description of a woman: “her children will rise and call her blessed”? Why? Because SHE blessed them! She said “yes” to using her God gifts.

When I made a deliberate effort to use the gifts daily ….. not every once in a while …. not when I felt good…. not when it was convenient, but daily use the gift and be passionate about it, things changed. All the excuses I made, He had a reply and the solution. He was just waiting for me to say, “Yes! I’m as excited to use the gift as You were to give it to me!”

Thank you God, that You love us generously. That You give to us generously. That You equip us generously. That You see each of us as your unique gift!

Happy to receive and use the gift,
The Mrs. Pastor

A Little Thought From Heather:
If I were to list out some individuals who helped me discover and develop the gift God gave to me, Michele would be right there at the top.  She and Steve have not only ministered to my life for 23 years but they have mentored me, something I wrote about in a former a couple years ago called InspiringInfluence. Much of who God grew me to be is from their generous investment into my life.  I’m overjoyed to have Michele share with us and challenge our hearts on our online home and I invite you to take some time to visit her at her online home, The Mrs. Pastor Blog.  I’m certain you’ll be sharpened and inspired in your time reading around there.   Heather

*I pray this post spoke to you. Would you join me in supporting these endeavors by subscribing to our blog and sharing with your friends and family? We can’t grow with out you.*

About Little Bit About Michele

My name is Michele and my husband Steve and I have three beautiful girls.  Morgan, my oldest is married and works hard at whatever her hands set out to do. Lauren is an Elementary Education major at Oklahoma State University (our alma mater) and Kinsey just graduated High School and will be with sister at OSU seeking to major in Sports Media.  We are a Disney family….its our happy place.  It was a childhood memory of mine and I wanted it to be for my girls as well.  I also am a second grade teacher and have the awesome opportunity to make the classroom another ministry opportunity.

I am the “Mrs. Pastor”.  A dear friend gave me that nickname, and it just stuck with me.  I never wanted to have the label as “pastor’s wife” (even though I love my husband and am proud to stand beside him!).  I have my own identity, callings, giftings, and voice.  When I finally realized this, I had purpose.

We have served in ministry for 25 years.  We started off volunteering in college and were soon called to Coweta Assembly and have been here ever since.  We served as the youth pastors for 15 years, associate pastor for 2 years, and have been the lead pastors for 7 years.

We have been blessed to have so many people we consider family.  We have been blessed to have  mentored teenagers and then watch them grow into strong adults, couples, and parents.  We have been blessed that our children have been a part of one community their entire school years.

My giftings: teaching and prayer

My greatest improvement: confident leadership

My favorite involvement: praying over the people

My biggest hangup: talking during service

My enjoyment: reading (the word and novels)

My favorite woman speaker: It’s a tie….Pricilla Shirer and Joyce Meyer

My saddest memory: When my husband, Steve, was burned

My greatest wishto leave the greatest spiritual legacy to my girls….and they do the same for their children

My vision: to see a growing, thriving, loving, prospering, spirit-led, hungry-for-the-things-of-God, joyful, positive group of people who are prayed up and excited to be in God’s house each time the door is open.

My dream: to work side by side with my husband full time

My love language: I think I have two: acts of service and time

I’d love to hear from you.

The Mrs. Pastor

If you prefer Vlogs over Blogs ☺️…..

Here’s a YouTube link for you ❤️

Scope-a-steth

Yesterday my newsfeed was filled with heart-touching National Neonatal Nurse’s Day posts. I was even tagged in some specific posts from some special little NICU grad families I had the privilege to care for. For certain, a sense of pride came over me, as I feel blessed to be counted amongst some amazing professionals in the field of neonatal nursing.

Honestly, I never thought I’d be a nurse. I remember people asking me if I wanted to be a doctor or nurse when grew up. But I didn’t. I had had my fill of hospitals and doctor’s offices. I pictured my future in a different setting than the one I grew up with.

Obviously, something changed, because here I am today, a nurse. And I couldn’t be more proud to wear the title.

The more I grew, the more I realized that trying to separate my life from healthcare, was to separate myself from who I am.   I am a long-term patient, with much experience in the role, which is perhaps, one of the greatest assets to being a nurse.

My doctors have been phenomenal. From Dr. George Cohlmia who repaired the transection to my descending aorta, to Dr. Hans Norberg, Dr. Paul Park, and Dr. Ed Kramer who cared for me during my many days in the burn center. Then to Dr. Robert Kirk who made necessary adjustments to my changing body, to now, Dr. Mark Mathers, who just last week held my husband and my hands leading us in prayer before surgery. My life has been saved and significantly improved by the work of amazing physicians.

So what drew me to nursing?

Well, God called me to nursing and He brought to mind all the nurses who impacted my life through those critical times, medically and emotionally speaking. Like Lois, my nurse, who was the only one able to understand my efforts to communicate each time I was intubated on mechanical ventilation. Like my nurse Vicki who identified a problem from the first chest x-ray obtained after my injury. Like my nurse Kelly, who made me feel calm in times I was scared. Like my nurse Ken who made the necessary tank room visits for bandage changes a little bit fun and somewhat amusing. Like my nurse Carolyn who sat at my bedside in the dark of night showing me photos of her puppies in efforts to comfort me after my bad dreams.

I could dedicate a blog post just to them, but I think Miss Colorado, Kelly Johnson expressed it quite accurately in her monologue for the Miss America competition this past Sunday night.  They weren’t just nurses; they were lifesavers!

I can’t remember the last time I watched the Miss America pageant, but I was lying around recovering from a recent surgery and took the opportunity. Of course my curiosity was raised when I saw her in scrubs while the others were decked out in formal wear. Still, I loved her talent portion. Instead of trying to fit into the standard song and dance routines we typically see in pageants, she demonstrated first of all, courage to do something different, and conviction to share her passion.

Am I surprised that this beautiful, and yes, talented young lady, was the target of ridicule? Unfortunately, I’m not. It seems that anyone who steps out to do anything makes themself a target. Each of those girls, in their pursuit of success, became an object of ridicule to the multitude of critics. No tears shed for them though, because they’re the type that will continually rise above it and press on to do great things.

What I am surprised at, however, is the comment made from a commentator on a network talk show. No, I don’t watch The View. I remember when it first started airing, my Grandma, in her most annoyed tone, would say, “How can you even hear what’s being said with all of them talking at the same time?” Nevertheless, nurses heard loud and clear the perplexity as to why Miss Colorado, being a nurse, was even wearing what was described as a “doctor’s” stethoscope.

And here is one of the reasons I, nor my Grandma, were ever fans of the show. Who doesn’t know nurses use stethoscopes?

I realize some time was given for the ladies to address the subject on the show. While it didn’t sound like much of an apology, the issue was acknowledged.

I love what came out of the whole ordeal, all the posts from nurses showing their stethoscopes and highlighting the talent to use them. Yes, Miss Colorado has talent. More than that—she has heart! And you can’t find many with a heart bigger than a nurse!

I hope many more people hear the message Miss Colorado, Kelly Johnson had to share; seeing patients for people, valuing nurses as lifesavers. And I hope we can even gain a lesson from The View, the importance of thinking before speaking.  Because, yes, we were listening.

Many thanks to the individuals dedicated to this nursing profession being used in touching countless lives.

Many thanks to B-Dub for teaching nursing students that you need a nurse to save your life. IMG_2827

Last but not least, many thanks to the nephew of my nursing school classmate who called a stethoscope and scope-a-steth.  Seems fitting for this discussion.

Way to go, ANA!  see People’s Article at http://www.people.com/article/joy-behar-blasted-american-nurses-association-mocking-miss-america-nurse

 

May we all be challenged in His Word. Proverbs 10:19-21 NLT

Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut. The words of the godly are like sterling silver; the heart of a fool is worthless. The words of the godly encourage many, but fools are destroyed by their lack of common sense.

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Inspiring Influence

Inspiring. It’s a big word. And so are the people I’ve introduced you to over the last several weeks. Wrapping them into a blog post seems too simplistic for the individuals they are, the lives they live, and the people they’ve touched.

This last inspirational series blog post brings home the definition of inspiring.

Dictionary.com provides the following:

  • to fill with an animating, quickening, or exalting influence: to influence or impel

British Dictionary definitions for inspire:

  • to exert a stimulating or beneficial effect upon (a person); animate or invigorate

Word Origin:

  • enspiren, “to fill (the mind, heart, etc., with grace, etc.);”
  • enspirer , from Old French, “to prompt or induce (someone to do something),”
  • enspirer from Latin “inflame; blow into”,

One of the greatest, and yet deeply humbling of compliments I’ve been given over the years of sharing my story through personal conversations, public speaking and writing, is “You are so inspiring.”

I’m grateful the Lord has provided the days He has given me to continue living this life and I’m grateful for the people to share with where He has brought us on this journey. I’m humbled knowing it is not anything by my own doing, nothing I have orchestrated or accomplished, but it is completely by His mighty hand at work.

Why have others received inspiration from my journey? Because it has been written, directed, and kissed with the intentions, plans and purposes of my Heavenly Father. It’s what makes each one of our journeys inspiring. God uses His people to influence, to flame, to blow into, to prompt one another to become and to do all He desires, for us to live our lives to the fullest making the greatest impact for Him. These are the reasons I have written this series, sharing these people to inspire you and encourage you to inspire others.

It’s natural to assume I wouldn’t be who I am, nor sharing my life, eager to touch others, if it weren’t for one couple touching mine so magnificently spanning the last twenty-one years.

Steve and Michele Lee became my youth pastors in August 1994. I didn’t even know I was broken when I met them, but God knew I was to quickly find out, and He strategically put help in place before the storm began brewing.

My family had attended church all my life, but were never involved. I didn’t grow up knowing what it felt like to have a church family. Not until my parents decided to get plugged into a church closer to home. It was my first experience in a youth group, although it was quite small, only half a dozen students, and we technically didn’t have a youth pastor at the time, as Steve and Michele came a few months after we started attending.

This couple had a passion for youth. It was evident. They jumped in coordinating after-glows, which were social events after Sunday night service, ranging from pizza in someone’s home to bowling or putt-putt golf; and, weekly visitations, taking us to go visit students who were new to the youth group. Steve and Michele took us to summer youth camp, summer ski days at the lake, a back-to-school retreat where we floated the river and played during the day and had a service with worship, a message and prayer at night. Seems like a lot, but there’s more. They got involved in our schools, and we saw Steve regularly at our on-campus Bible club, he visited us at lunch, came to our sporting events, talent shows, and graduations. Steve and Michele took us to concerts, discipleship camp, mission trips, youth conferences and snow ski trips. A week didn’t go by that we didn’t have an opportunity to serve in our youth group or participate in a youth event, and this was on top of our weekly Wednesday night services!

1995.03.23_michele&me

Such an illustration of her influence on my life– how many times has she literally held up my hand, in so many ways– my 14th birthday, March 23rd 1995, Michele helping me light my candles.

1996_youth_ski_trip

My very first ski trip– everyone loading up to head home — Steve & me in 1996

It’s been said people bond through experience, and Steve and Michele definitely provided the experiences to bond with the teenagers they were called to minister to, growing the group to over two hundred students.

They were intentional.

How grateful I am for them. When the emotional trauma from Jon and my accident eventually surfaced, Steve and Michele were equipped with faith, the Word of God, and prayer to minister to me, speaking healing, vision and inspiration into my heart, into my life, into my bones.

Steve and Michele Lee threw a cloak over me. For years, I had the opportunity to serve in music ministry, singing on the youth worship team, which provided for an array of different experiences. Then years later, after Brandon and I had married and joined the youth leadership team, Steve asked me to take one of the Wednesday night youth services. I never thought of myself speaking; that was beyond my vision. But I did it, because they believed in me. They saw what I couldn’t see in myself, and continued to give me opportunities to grow in what God was preparing. Michele asked me to come speak to her 2nd grade class, which I have done for about a decade now, and Steve plugged me in to speak through the abstinence program at several of the schools. A few years ago, when the Lord was carrying me through my nursing school studies, Steve asked if I would speak in one of our Sunday morning services. God has given me a variety of experiences to demonstrate His calling upon my life as a speaker, and He has used Steve and Michele Lee to illustrate it, as this ministry has been perpetuated through theirs.

1999.06.19_wedding_steve&micheleA

June 19th 1999 — Steve, Michele and the girls were a big part of our wedding– 3 year old Morgan was one of our flower girls, Lauren was 25 months and baby Kinsey was 9 months.

This couple has been the most influential on my life. We share a bond. A bond created when I was just a young lady and strengthened over time. Those times have brought much change.

We’ve shared some trials, as we walked through many of my surgeries and also Steve’s own burn injury. They comforted us after our miscarriage and faced all four of our high-risk pregnancies with us. And we grieved the loss of my Dad together, Steve doing the most difficult, being the one who told my Mom of my Dad’s passing.  Above all, our joys have exceedingly outweighed the sorrows. We’ve had the privilege of being a part of their lives as they started their family, watching their three little girls grow into beautiful young women, one in high school, one starting college, and one soon to get married. They celebrated life goals with us when Brandon finished his engineering degree and I, my nursing degree.  And the influence of their ministry continues on in our life, even today, as our lead pastors.

Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith.      Hebrews 13:7 NLT

Oh how I’ve followed their example. As a young teenager, I looked at Steve and Michele and I prayed the Lord would give me a husband like Steve and make me a wife like Michele. I desired my family to love the Lord, be passionate for His Word, and be obedient to His callings, to be real, relevant, love people, and choose happiness.

Steve and Michele Lee’s influence upon my life goes back to my parents and the decision they made over twenty years ago. When my parents chose to join the congregation, they chose to commit to a family. As we all know, families go through hard times. We’re not always going to agree with them. We’re not always going to feel important. Things may not go as we think they should. But it’s a commitment. We don’t bail in dry seasons. We don’t jump ship when waters get rough. We commit to where God has called us to be. Church is about serving. It’s an opportunity to give of ourselves. Yes, we get a lot. I’ve written about a portion of it here. But when our hearts are in the place of giving and not getting, then the measuring stick is gone, no one keeping track of who got what and who’s doing what. And then there is so much freedom and liberty for God to work creatively, beyond what we could think or imagine.

When we’re committed to a church, to serve in a body of believers, we walk away with far more than we could ever bring, one thing is a family.

The Lord uses people. He uses people to touch and influence us and He uses us to touch and influence others. Isn’t that awesome?! God who is all-powerful, holy and wise, uses those He created to create what He desires.

I pray you have been blessed by these inspiring people. I pray these normal every-day individuals illustrate that what takes each of us from being ordinary to extraordinary is the influence of the Holy Spirit working through us.

May you feel inspired to let your life be an inspiring influence to this world!

IMG_2545

Seasons change — Grateful after 21 ones years, we’re still sharing them.

check out Michele’s The Mrs. Pastor blog at http://themrspastor.blogspot.com

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