Monday, December 29, 2008

Letting it All Hang Out

So I did it. I finally got to the point where I shared one of my songs with a few other people. *GASP*

It's true. First my best girlfriend, Ashley... then My Husband, and then our Worship Pastor. Glad that I finally did, because it's only getting better this way.

This was a BIG step for me. Aren't you proud??

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

An Evening in the Puhl Household

As we were going to sleep last night, McStudly and I were both in somewhat goofy moods. So in a "loving" manner, he placed his hand on my face and began to rub.

It's really not as sweet a gesture as one might think. He wasn't lightly caressing my cheek, but it more so resembled the way your compare the size of your hand to your face as you place it over it's entirety, and then kind've wiggled his fingers as if to be massaging. ???

Me: McStudly... What are you doing?

McStud: What?! I'm being loving!

Me: Yeah thanks, Helen Keller, I love you, too.

McStud: Helen Keller... isn't she the one that flew that plane?

Me: No, dear... that was Amelia Earhart (sp?). Helen Keller was the one that was blind and deaf.

McStud: Oh yeah... and she tried to get on the bus?

Me: Umm... no. That was Rosa Parks and she didn't want to sit in the back of the bus. It was part of the equal rights movement, babe... are you for real?

McStud: Yes. And I think you're still wrong - Helen Keller is the one that was in that Twister movie.

Me: No. That'd be Helen Hunt. And you're ridiculous.

McStud: No. I think that was Helen Keller. Goodnight.

Me: Oh good grief.

So that's that. A little peak into the lives we live. My funny-man husband and his completely random ramblings.

Gotta love pillow-talk!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cutest Kid Ever

So I finally got the pictures from the Fusion Christmas Party. You know - the one where I got slammed with countless pantry items?! Yeah... that one.

But just for the sake of cuteness, and simply because he is the coolest kid ever, I just thought I'd post this one picture, for now, and hold off on the others for a bit longer. Enjoy!

This is Kaden. Isn't he the coolest?!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

She's Here!!

Well, not here here... but it finally happened - We've finally been assigned our little girl through Compassion International.

This is Nester. She's from Tanzania. She's only 6 years old (yesterday, actually - that was her birthday). Also, one of her listed favorite hobbies is Singing. I guess we already have something in common!

Isn't she sweet?! I can't wait to start writing her and sending her pictures and cards. I'm told that they really treasure the pictures from their sponsors.
Apparently, living in poverty sends a message that "no one cares", and this is a message that I intend to put an end to, at least in the heart of Nester and maybe even her parents.
Well, I'm still reading up on what's going on in Tanzania, but I already know that average income for a family is around $8 a month. And it is a country in Africa that is heavily effected by AIDS and HIV.
Please pray for Nester and her family. I could definitely use some help with that. You an never pray too much for someone, right?!
And just for your reading pleasure, go here to learn some of the differences between Tanzania and the US. It's definitely an interesting read.

Well, that's about it for now. I'll let you know, occasionally, how she's doing. Also, feel free to let me know any questions you may.


Name That Recipe!

So last night I got brave. I've been toying around with this idea I've had for a new recipe, and figured that last night would be the perfect night to try it out. When McStudly works days, he doesn't each much when he gets home. And since I was in the mood to cook, I figured I'd give it a shot!

So this is what you need (feel free to make it your own... I was trying to be SLIGHTLY on the healthy side):

1 lb. low fat Ground beef (or ground turkey, or whatever you like, really...)
1/4 green pepper, chopped (or more, to taste)
1/4 onion, chopped (or more, to taste)
1 cup brown rice (or white, if you prefer)
1/4 cup cheddar and mozzarella cheese, plus more on side for adding in...
Egg Roll Shells (I don't know what they're technically called)
Vegetable Oil

Cook the ground beef, seasoning as desired (for me that means salt, pepper, and some Garlic & Heb seasoning, with a dash of cumen for smokey flavor). While the ground beef is cooking, go ahead and make the rice to have it ready.

Drain the beef and put, cooled, into a mixing bowl. Add the rice, green pepper, onions, and finally the cheese, mixing through.

On a plate, lay an egg roll shell flat, like a diamond. just below the middle, add about 2 tablespoons of the mixture and throw in a bit more cheese. Roll it up and place in 350 degree vegetable oil for about 2 - 3 minutes, flipping occasionally. You want the outside to be a golden brown color.

Remove from oil and let drain and cool on paper towels.

**If you'd rather go a bit healthier (as in leave out the oil!!) you can place the filling in tortillas and melt some more cheese on top, and eat as a burrito. OR you can place inside lettuce leaf and roll it up as a lettuce wrap.

It was SO yummy, I brought the filling with tortillas to work for lunch, today. Even McStudly approved. He reluctantly agreed to taste it, and then wouldn't give me the rest of the roll... he finished it instead!

I was VERY glad that this turned out so well. But now I can't think of what to call it! A few ideas given by others were along the lines of "Chubby Fingers" or "Fiesta Roll-ups", but I don't know. I need your help, guys.

So - What do you think??

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Not much longer now...

I sponsored a child through Compassion International with a small group when I was a teenager, and when our small group ended, I tried to continue the sponsorship myself (which wasn't easy, since I only made $50 a month, at the time).

I was so bummed when I had to end the sponsorship, and I've always wondered what happened to the girl we sponsored. I can't even remember her name now... how awful is that? It was a really long time ago.

Well, since McStudly and I got married, I've been wanting to sponsor another child. I looked through World Vision, as well as Compassion International and we finally decided to go with Compassion International again. We filled out the paperwork earlier this week, and after looking through pages and pages and pages and pages... and pages... and more pages... of children needing sponsorship (some have been waiting for over 6 months!), we decided to fill out a form and have them select a child for us.

It was awful looking into the eyes of all of these children that feel so forgotten. All that I have read says that living in poverty sends the message that "I don't matter." Isn't that horrible? All because they live in a land out of our reach and where people take advantage of those who aren't given the chance to do better for themselves... they think they're insignificant.

That boggles my mind.

This isn't a blog about the injustices of the world, though I could write for DAYS on that topic. No, this is about our child.

We have a dog. And he's like a child to us (especially when we're exhausted but can't sleep or just relax because he needs attention), but it's still very different. We know that.

I've read a lot of first hand accounts on how much these child sponsorships have helped people move on to great things. It teaches them to overcome the lies of insignificance and that they are able to do great things. They can do whatever they put their mind to. Most of them probably think this is a tease, but the opportunities these sponsorships afford these children - it's amazing.

We are just days away from finding out who our child will be. We have yet to meet him or her. We don't know where they are in the world. We have no clue what they will look like, but we do know that they will need to know that they matter, and that at least 2 people, though on the other side of the world, care very much about them.

I can't wait to meet them!! Even though it'll just be through letters and pictures, it's so exciting to think of getting to know them and watching them grow. I can't begin to fathom what their life is like right now, but I do know that they will be loved and encouraged.

Most agencies, such as World Vision and Compassion International, even offer the chance to meet your sponsored child, now. I'm not sure if we'll ever be able to actually meet them, face-to-face, but I can dream, right?!


If you've ever considered sponsorship, I encourage you to look into the many agencies that offer the opportunity.

If you're one of those people who think it's a crock or waste of money, and it's just another way that people been able to use the poor status of the world to rip people off, then I encourage you to look deeply into the realities of what these organizations provide for these children, and sometimes whole families. Google it. Look for first hand accounts. Read about it on their webpages. Do what you can to find the facts for yourself.

And then, sponsor someone.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


So on a MUCH less serious note...

I've been kind've a blog-drag, lately. But when your closest friend is going through something life-changing, it's hard to think about much else. So, I'm sorry for dragging you down with us. I'll try to spread that stuff out a little further, from now on. Deal?


Okay - now that that's settled... on to WAY less serious things...

We are now less than a month away from my 23rd (whoa!) birthday! :-D And I LOVE birthdays!!! And 10 days after Mine is McStudly's birthday. Yippee Skippee!!! January is a good month... minus the freaking COLD weather that it comes with! *sigh* We can't have everything, can we?!

So what are you getting me? Please see wish list here:

I'm always updating it, so... just for jollies!

Actually - you really don't have to buy me anything (not that you were planning on it, anyways! ha ha), but just for fun, right?

So how long until your birthday, and how many candles will you be blowing out?

Monday, December 8, 2008

So Strong

She really is an inspiration. She's so much deeper than I ever was, but I remember how hard it was to turn around and go back to where things went wrong.

To U-turn.

To return the last moment when you remember things were right and start again.

It's a painful re-journey. You feel like you're so far behind everyone else. And you feel like all of those people are looking back with their judgement-filled eyes and thinking "what was she thinking when she went that way? We told her it was wrong... she should've listened." So not only do you need the strength to go back and start over, but you also now carry the weight of their judgemental glances.

And now you question yourself - is this even the right decision for me? Or am I just making it because they keep telling me that it's the right one? Who am I doing this for? Am I just exchanging his power over me for theirs?

But you're stronger than you think. At some point you'll realize that you're doing what's best for you, and only you can know what that is. It seems to align with what they want for you, for now, but I promise you that eventually you will see the differences between the two paths.

Even our parents think they know what is right for us, but we'll all get to the point where only we can truly know what that is. But I do believe we'll only find that if our heart is so grounded in God that only those as equally grounded can see the "right" in what we do.

What you decide now will forever leave an impression on your life. But it won't be the kind of scar that throbs at times when things are tough again. It'll more resemble a beauty mark - the kind of mark that is permanent, but not regretted or resented.

You'll get there someday. And when you do, we'll look at each other and laugh at how far you've come. We'll talk about all of the phone calls where we cried together... or where you cried and I pretended not to, so that one of us could seem strong. We'll laugh at how hard the decisions seemed at the time, but how much stronger they made you.

Then we'll look at where you are and smile. It was all worth it.

It will all be worth it in the end. All of the pain you're feeling right now. All of the hands of people who think they're helping that you're having to fight off. Everything that is fighting within you... The tears. The lack of sleep. The hair loss. The weight loss. The seemingly constant nausea caused by it all... It'll all be worth it when you reach the other side. And together, we'll be grateful that you're here.

I'm proud of you. You've already come so far from where you were, and this time - it was all on your own. I'm so proud of you. Keep it up, friend. I miss you... the "you-ness" that really is you.
And I can't wait to see your "ness" again.

See "you" soon, goober!!

Friday, December 5, 2008

McStudly Rocks!

My Husband Rocks because he meets me for lunch on his days off, even though it takes another 20+ minutes for me to get there and he's already STARVING and super exhausted because he's been up since 4 am *deep breath*... wow... talk about a long sentence!
And McStudly Rocks becuase he knows how much I care about my best friend, and he tries to help me when I'm worried about her and just want her to be happy!! He acts as though she's his best friend, too... and I love that about him.
I love you, Baby Boo!!

Helplessly Watching

She's stuck.

She's laying head down in a ditch so far down that she doesn't know how she got there. But she's so used to being in this ditch that she's afraid of what life will be like if she comes out of it.

This ditch has some sort of a pull on her. It's like... gravity is working against her so hard that you'd think she's some magnet trying to escape the laws of physics. She needs help, but if I help her, it'll be like helping a butterfly out of it's cocoon.... it'll do her more harm than good. She's got to gain the strength from climbing out of this, or once she gets close to the top, she'll be so worn out that she'll just give in and fall right back into the ditch. Somehow the fall back would be less painful than completing her climb out and finally being able to see what life is like out of the shadows.

But how do you just stand by and wait. Just stand at the top with rope in hand, and wanting SO eagerly to just throw it in there and pull her out, or even more to want to jump into that ditch with her and drag her out of there... but you can't. You're so helpless and hurting for her.

I want the peace for her that only life out of this ditch can bring. I want such a joy for her that it's contagious - like a terminal joy...

I hate seeing her slowly dying. And that's what's happening - she's suffocating in this ditch. The guy that acts like the magnet holding her there is relentless. No matter how many times he slams her hopeless body further and further... harder into the ground... she somehow feels that it's safer there.

She's got familiarity confused with safety. Comfort confused with peace. No wonder she feels hopeless.

And this helplessness I'm feeling is driving me CRAZY!! I pray for her all the time (I do... if you didn't know that. I pray for you ALL the time!) and I know having it in God's hands is a WAY better place for it than in mine... but I just can't help but feel that there's more I should be doing.

But what?

This rut or ditch or whatever you want to call it is just SOO much louder when it screams her name. I'll never stop trying, though.

Friend, I'll never turn my back on you. I'll always be here for you. Always. Even when I feel like you're being SO blinded that it drives me CRAZY, I'll still be here. Even when you feel like no one understands, I'm here... I'm not going anywhere.

I love you, no matter how deep your ditch may seem. I'll always be here to cheer you on and make sure you're not giving up. So don't.

And you know you'll always be welcomed here. Stop making excuses for why you can't be happy, and go Nike...

Just do it.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Oats and Canola Oil

Last night was the Fusion Christmas party. It was a good time.

Well... it was at least "interesting". That I can honestly say...

No really, it was fun. But I have to say that my least favorite part probably would have to be sponge bathing in the church bathroom while soaking my unmentionables in the sink next to me.

Let's recap.

Apparently, in order to show your "love" for your small group leader (notice I used caps... I felt loved, but I have a hard time believe that the other two leaders felt loved with the way their small groups went near-homicidal on them), you have to completely cover them in... well... seemingly anything that the youth pastor could grab from the church's pantry.

We played a game called the "Christmas 12 Days of Doom". If I could remember all of the actual items, and in order, I'm sure it would be SO much more fun... but alas, I was a bit distracted as I was being lathered in Maple Syrup.

What I can remember:

- We were told to come on stage as they brought in the tarps (Tarps? Never a good sign at a youth event!)

- Then, we were each assigned our very on kiddy-pool. Here I was thinking 'Hey, maybe they're going to re-enact a beach getaway for us, since it's so stinking butt-cold outside! How thoughtful... I really DO feel loved!' ... so I got cozy.

- In came the table... on the table sat 3 bins, but the three bins were covered by a big black cloth. (again - this is not usually a good sign)

- They started singing... and it all started with a box of Betty Crocker Cake Mix. Why were they name specific? I think it was to ensure that we knew they weren't going cheap and just dumping the Richfood brand of cake mix over our heads... oh no! They went WORLD class, splurged, and bought the name brand stuff. Because, after all, they loved us.

- Then came the two "things" canola oil (so shoot me I don't know what carton-thingies are called). Were they going to bake me in a 350 degree oven at the end? Well, there's no way to know. But I started-a-mixin' just in case. I was NOT going to be the leader that tasted the worst. If I was going out - I was going out tasty, my friends!

- and out came the whipped cream. At this point, I was BEGGING and PLEADING my girls not to put this gunk on my hair... "I'll bring you SOO much candy next week! SOO much candy! What do you want?! I'll totally bring it for you..." Yes, it was low. Don't judge me. You know you would've done the same thing. And unfortunately for the guys (the other two leader that were sentenced selected for the "activity") weren't with it enough to try... plus they didn't have NEARLY as much hair as I did... it only seemed fair.

- As I'm sitting and happily eating the mixture that has thus far been poured over my shoulders and a little bit down my shirt... loving the whipped cream... out comes the nastiest piece of the puzzle. From this point forward, I looked like I was the closest trash can to the tilt-a-whirl after a ride mis-hap caused everyone aboard to get a tad bit nauseous. What was this awful mess of an "ingredient"? Pork & beans. I know... totally gross, right? *mini-gag*

- After this point, it's all quite a bit fuzzy. I remember ketchup (which made the whole thing look more like a murder scene than a youth group "love" fest).

- I know somewhere in there were bags of popcorn. I tried to catch it in my mouth, but ended up gagging on a kernel and then spitting it all back out onto myself. I'm thinking I just made it worse on myself... but at least it was tasty?!

- Applesauce! I was smart enough to not put my hands into the "mixture" since the whipped cream, so I caught a few things of applesauce and had a bit of a snack. Hey - a girl's gotta eat, right?!

- Maple Syrup. I hear it takes DAYS to get this funk out of your hair. I'm SO glad I had some awesome girls doing this ... whatever it was to me. They were very gentle. *sigh*

- Oats. Alone? Probably not too shabby. But mixed with all of the above ingredients? Including Maple Syrup? Yeah... it got REALLY "icky" here... so I start making some oatmeal cookies for the friendly girls of mine. I'm not so sure why they didn't want them. I guess they were full from all of the free cookies and hot cocoa we handed out before service.

- Speaking of which... hot cocoa (powder only) was in there somewhere, too. Not so sure where... but it was there... and again - this mixture was just so nasty! Have I mentioned that I was SITTING in this gross-ness?

- Cornmeal. I think this was added earlier on, but it was FAR from the worst of the food items I had to swim in last night!

- and finally (and I mean finally!), they added the dozen eggs. In reality this wasn't as bad as it sounds. They slid RIGHT off of me (I actually had this awkward little puddle of eggs inside my indian-crossed legs - slightly inappropriate, right? Again - don't judge me). The worst part about this stuff?? It was FREEZING!!! Tell me... why do you feel that you must refrigerate the eggs that you are planning to pour over your leaders? Were you worried about them going bad?! Let's re-evaluate this decision. Ponder on where they were destined to end up... and now let's think again... did they need to be refrigerated? You people are cruel. JUST cruel!

SO there we have it. It was a pretty good time - up until they were finished with us, that is. I was whisked away (almost literally, since they had me lay on a tarp and then drug me to the bathroom) to clean myself up. And folks, this was NO easy task.

Sponge bathing in general doesn't seem like a very pleasant thing to do. Now add the setting of a church bathroom with no locks on the door and NO more than just a few little sinks. Yeah. Nice, right? At least the water was warm last night, because it's usually like liquid ice when you turn the faucet on.

Thankfully one of the other lady leaders stood guard to make sure that the door was not opened for ANY reason WHATsoever! And she did a great job. I stripped down as quickly as possible (which isn't very quick at all when you are covered in maple syrup and ketchup and trying to avoid getting it all in your hair and all over the bathroom floor) and put my unmentionables into the left sink to soak, in hopes of removing the strong smell of nastiness enough to be able to wear them home.

As I stand in the church bathroom buck-friggin-naked and trying to scrub this... pukey mixture off of myself, I realized just how little my clothes spared my body. I found gooey cake-mix caked (pun not originally intended) in places I didn't know it would ever be. I scrubbed and scrubbed, stretched my feet up into the sink to clean the funk off of them, and then finally felt as though I'd gotten as much as I could. Good golly, miss molly, that took forever!

I emerged from my whole in the bathroom to find that not only had service ended, by this time, but I also discovered that apparently in the boy's bathroom, there was a janitor's closet. Yes, folks - the guys had a nice little drain and I do believe a hose as well in order to wash off.


Ah well. At least I still had my blinky-Christmas hat. Wait... where IS my blinky Christmas hat?! OH NO!!!

Thankfully, the girl I had given it to entrusting it's safe-keeping had left it with another girl that was hanging around for a bit. It was returned safely to me just after we took our leader's group picture. Whew! That was close!!

So after being practically attacked my a nose-strong dog, last night, having him somehow manage to drag my funktified clothing over onto the carpet, leaving a trail of nasty-goodness behind him, and FINALLY getting to take a REAL shower, I felt clean and normal again.

...well, as relatively normal as I was before this whole thing, anyways... which isn't really saying much.

Good times were had by most. I stop short of saying all, but only due to the fact that I do believe that the middle school boy sitting in front of my was just shy of having a coronary over the fact that they just wouldn't put it in my hair and the high school boys were, from a distance of course, quite nearly as displeased at the "unfair"ness of the situation. Silly boys... if only you KNEW - I do believe you would've left well-enough alone.

And even better times, still, will be had next week by my girls when they embark on their MUCH earned sugary appreciation celebration. I'm sure you'll have some pretty good times, too, once I get my hands on some pictures to post from the incident... I bet you can't HANDLE your excitement!!


PS: The only warning I was given of what was to come was an e-mail that said "bring a change of clothes that you can get messy". Am I the only one that thinks that this doesnt' even remotely prepare one for what is coming? I would've brought another pair of unmentionables, at LEAST!! *sigh*

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


So it's been a while since I wrote anything about McDog (that's Austin, by the way... he's got WAY too many nicknames to list, and some too inappropriate to mention in a public forum such as this). He's been doing pretty well, but with the weather being like it has, and with the STUPID FRIGGIN DEVILISH cold weather (can you tell I'm not a fan) that is forcing us into submission, he hasn't had like ANY time outside lately. And honestly? I think he's okay with that. I mean, sure - he'd just LOVE to be gallavanting around with some other dogs at the dog park down the street, but he doesn't seem to like the cold much, either, as evidenced by his UBER short potty breaks outside (he IS a shorthair, people, and I'm not a big fan of doggy clothes, if purely for the hatred I have for wrestling my dog into them).

Before you feel too bad for him, he did get a trip to the dog park when McStudly got off work at o-dark-thirty this morning (thanks for that, by the way, crazy Air Force scheduler dude... really appreciate all the nights that I have to sleep alone *intense sarcasm intended*).

Anywho - this is just an excuse for me to get to post a few pictures of my handsome pup. Isn't the hottest dog, ever (for the record, my husband is the one that calls him "hott"... I'm merely repeating what I hear over and over and over again)?!

Check it:

I think this was one of maybe 2 times in his life that he's sat still for more than 30 seconds at a time. So glad I had a camera to capture it on film, or there's NO way McStudly would've believed me!

Isn't he a cutie-pa-tootie?! (emphasis ont he "tootie", by the way)

Waiting anxiously for McStudly to get home... talk about a daddy's boy!

Such a proud dog, sitting up straight and what-not.

Is he a cutie-pie, or what?!

I think I need a trim.


So I've been working on a song that's really been weighing heavy on me lately. But I'm WAY terrified to show it to anyone. I'm WAY over-critical of it and totally stabbing the life out of it.

I've written songs for years, now (something that, up until recently, most - if not all - of the people around me never knew), but I always come up with an excuse not to finish them or to put them away and not ever go back to them.

But then tell me why I still find myself singing them when I'm alone, sometimes... yeah... because I'm not fulfilling the whole idea of it.

There's a reason I am good with words and have a musical ear, right? But I'm just spitting in the sand and kicking rocks, all the while saying I'm not good enough to do it, or it's just too far out of my comfort zone.

Why won't I just get up off my butt and get real - this isn't about me. It never is. It never was!

I've been learning a lot, lately, and most of it is about what I'm doing wrong and what I've got to change. Honestly? That's what I need... I think we convince ourselves all the time 'ya know - We're doing alright. We're good people. We have good intentions. We're compassionate.'

That's not the point, though. That's what every Christian is to strive for. What in the world does that have to do with your individual purpose? Absolutely nothing.

So why do we just pacify ourselves with that? We're so alright just to lie to ourselves and live a simple little hunky-dory life that we totally miss the point.

This is about the second serious post I've posted in a row, but I am just there, right now, ya know? I am learning a lot, and finding out that all this time I've been putting down roots where they're not going to grow. It may hurt to pull them back up, but isn't that the point?

Through all of this, I've come to a sort of conclusion: I think I need a trim...

We've all heard about how we're supposed to bear fruit and how, in order for a vine to truly grow, it has to be pruned. Well, do you think pruning feels good? I submit that it does not!! (Just a little Brian Reagan for you. I needed to de-seriousify this post a bit ... and yes I'm well aware that "de-seriousify" is not a word, but who's counting?!)

In fact, a plant will actually die if you don't prune it. That's true. Go ahead and look it up. Check me - don't just take my word for it (not a good habit, people... don't just believe everything you hear).

I don't know about you, but I don't want to be some dead plant just taking up space and wasting away. Hence my need to pruning - I just need a little trim. You?

It's your turn - Where do you need to be pruned?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


That's how you spell my name. Yep - I'm a slacker, and I know it.

Last week was Thanksgiving, so that's an excuse in itself. And I hurt my back Sunday evening playing Flag Football. So... there. That's another excuse.

I could go all day with excuses. I'm full of them! But I won't put you through that...

Kicking it down a "serious notch", or two... I'm a slacker in way more ways than in just the blogosphere. And I want to share it with you. I'm going to be real - some of it is going to sound weird. Some of it will sound normal. Some of it will sound confusing. But it's real. It's one of those "ah-hah!" moments I've had over the past few weeks and it's been getting stronger and clearer since the first time it slapped me across the face.

So here's the thing: do you ever get those gifts at Christmas that you kind've have to over-act grateful for? I mean don't get me wrong - you're totally appreciative that someone took the time and money to get you a gift and that means a lot in itself, but it's one of those gifts that... well... they don't fit your personality, and yet you feel obligated to display it or wear it so that the giver will see it?!

Well, if we're honest, we've all gotten at least ONE of those gifts. Especially if you've gotten married - you get those random "what in the world?!" kinds of gifts. Right?! It's totally weird, too. I mean, what am I going to do with a ceramic white and gold statue of a bride and groom for the rest of my life after I've already gotten married? Let's just say... it doesn't quite fit into my decor. But I feel like I have to keep it (...if only for the simple fact that I can't bear to re-gift it and be thought of in the same way I thought of the giver, and it's too nice to throw into the trash can or give to goodwill. What's a girl to do?!).

Unfortunately, I think we do this with the gifts that God gives us. At least I know that I'm WAY guilty of that. Am I only the only one?!

I mean, imagine how the person that gave you that not-so-fantastic gift came over and saw the Christmas sweater they made for you sitting in the garbage cans outside. It would suck, right?!

So when God gives you a gift, it's for a reason. And he doesn't give you a little cushion of gifting in that area just in case you decide to use it... No, he gives it to you so that you can use all of it. He wants you to rock that gift's world! He wants you to wear it out like it's been out of style since the 80s and you're JUST now realizing it. He wants you to because he owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and he'll keep replenishing that gifting over and over and over again.

This gift isn't a box of Girl Scout cookies that you're trying to savor slowly until they start selling them again next year - this is more like the unlimited supply of said girl scout cookies (and can I just take a time out to say that I would be TOTALLY fantastic with the idea of unlimited, year-round girl scout cookies?! I'm just saying...).

And this is where I've been failing lately (with the giftings, not the girl scout cookies). I'm really only using between 40 and 60% of the gifts that God has given me.

Over the past few weeks, I have had the same recurring dream several times. It's not one of those dreams that are warm and fuzzy and then by noon, when you finally get to tell your best bud about it, you're all kinds of fuzzy on the details. It's more like the super vivid dream that you couldn't forget if you WANTED to!

Anywho... back to the dream: I'm standing on a stage and singing. I'm not just singing, I mean I'm SANGIN'! You know the difference... singing is when you stand there are pretty and sing on pitch and only suffice to meet everyone's expectations. It's pretty. People are smiling. The little old ladies in the 2nd row are clapping softly off-beat with you. And then you walk off stage and breathe a sigh of relief that it's over and spend the next few hours over-analyzing the way you "delivered" the song. But SANGIN' is when you just belt it. You put EVERYTHING you've GOT into that song. You sing like the lives of every little baby around the world depends on it. It's like Cristina Aguilera ain't got NOTHING on you when you're singing this song. You're owning that song.

That's the difference.

The most important difference between the two?

When you SANG, he's just totally captivated by the gift that he's given you. He's the proudest father. The one clapping the loudest at your grand finally. He's BEEMING with pride in having given you the PERFECT gift!! He just KNEW that you'd use it this way. He just knew it!! And he couldn't be happier.

God loves your singing. He really does. But when you just sing the song, as happy as he is that you're using that gift he's given you, it's like he's turned to look back as he left the Christmas party at your house, and through that window saw you throwing that sweater that you hate so much into the trash can. Or using it to wipe up the mess you just made when you spilled the 7-layer dip on the kitchen floor as you were cleaning up. You are slapping God in the face and saying "Yeah, it's a cool gift and all, but my fear of humiliation, my fear of what people will think, my worry that people will judge me as a show-off is way more important than the extent of your silly little gift." Because, after all... people are the ones you have to live with everyday, right?! They're the ones you have to answer to when you walk off that stage afterwards...


Well, in my dream, I'm just jamming. I am Sangin' His Eye is On the Sparrow. I mean, I am kicking that song's musical butt! And people are being touched by it! They're being given Hope that they hadn't seen in years. Filled with Joy that they hadn't ever felt before. That simple old song that we've all heard a dozen times - it was really meeting people where they were.

All because I was using the gift that God has given me to it's capacity. I was fulfilling a purpose.

God doesn't give a bird wings so that he can walk around flappin' them at each other. He gives them wings so they can fly. That's their purpose, but it can't be met unless they truly use their wings to their fullest ability.

So why are we any different? Why do we laugh at God's "cute" little giftings? They aren't "cute" - they're ordained! They are put there for a reason, and not just to be looked at and imagined.

A few months back, when our church was between Worship leaders, I stepped in, some, and helped lead worship when they needed me. The problem? I was not only TERRIFIED, which isn't a bad thing in itself, but I was still only dabbing my big toe in to see if the water was cold when I would sing. I didn't truly lead people in worship. Heck no - I just sang the main part of the song, like I was some kind of a sing-along worship CD that you play in the car on the way to work in the morning.

Can God use that? Yes. Absolutely. No question. Did he? No doubt. But had I used the gift he had given me to actually LEAD people in worship, we could've experience a level of worship that was on a whole new playing field.

But instead of was worried about saying the wrong thing between songs, so I didn't say anything. I was too nervous that my Sanging would distract people, so I just sang the song like we all knew it.

And that wasn't the point. NONE of that should've mattered. And no matter how many times I was told that people truly need some encouragement in worship and truly need to be led, no matter how much I told myself "You can do this. They need this. YOU need this...", once I got up on stage, I froze. I was worried about the band getting my signals. I was worried about singing the wrong verse and misleading the vocalists that were singing with me. I was frozen in my own anxiety.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I've been a slacker with the gift God has given me, and I need to get off my butt and start using it the way that he gave it to me, not just the way that I'm comfortable or the way that I always have in the past.

Comfort zones are just that - they're comfortable. But they aren't God-made. They are totally, completely, 100% man-made. And if everyone played it "safe", then no one would ever hear about him. Or feel his love. Or wake up and realize that he has so much more for them than they could ever accomplish within their own strength. But we have GOT to learn to break down those stupid comfortable walls, and stop building them again once things get stormy. We're missing SO MUCH of what he's given us. Why doesn't that keep us up at night? Why doesn't that bother us like it should? Because we're just staying inside of our safe-ness. Comfortable in our cozy little comfort zones... stupid little things.

What gift are hiding behind? What talents have you been given, but are too worried to shine in? In what ways are you a Slacker?