Hidden Gifts

Matthew 25:14-29

14 For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servantand entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.

Recently, my daughter received a new-to-her armoire. Before we could put the new piece of furniture in her room, the old chest of drawers had to be removed. As I was going through the overflowing drawers, I uncovered a couple of interesting items among the clothes- three old checks and a very full piggy bank. 

I immediately asked my daughter why she had not cashed the checks. She simply said “I forgot they were there.” (I don’t typically forget to deposit or cash a check if someone gives me one! 😂) Of course, my response was for us to go to the bank and try to cash or deposit the checks. When we arrived at the bank, walked inside and up to the teller, we asked about the checks. We were politely told that they could not deposit or cash checks which were more than six months old. So, the checks were now worthless. What had been valuable, had been stored and forgotten about and as a result was now worthless. Thankfully the checks were not written for large amounts, however, I hope my daughter learned something important that day. Needless to say we counted the money in her piggy bank and deposited a pretty substantial amount into her savings.

Back in August, I began a new part-time job. God opened doors and honestly led me to the job I have now working with babies in early intervention. I serve families and their precious little ones who have speech/language delays…some as result of a disability. I wouldn’t say I carelessly buried my ability for all these years- as I was raising and even homeschooling my children- but my speech pathology degree wasn’t exactly being used either.

Hidden gifts, forgotten treasure, buried talents. 

As I have been working, scheduling my time has become a must! I have the largest planner one can buy, and I write all my appointments down. With a husband, three kids, 2 dogs, and a part time job, life can get pretty busy! 

Recently, God gently reminded me to add a few more things to my schedule- setting aside time for regularly reading my Bible and getting back to the gym. He prompted me to actually write down the times in my planner like I would any other appointment. While I had been fairly consistent with my devotion time with God, my workout time had been pretty much non-existent until recently. While I’m in fairly good health, my 43-year-old metabolism is not what it was 20 years ago and I definitely need to lose some weight. 

How does any of this relate or matter? It all has to do with being a good steward of what the Lord entrusts us with. 

I want to use the knowledge and skills He’s allowed me to have to help others. 

I want to wisely use the resources God’s blessed me with. 

I want to take care of the earthly body He’s loaned me while I’m here.  

I want to please my Heavenly Father with what He’s so generously loaned me.

Everything I have belongs to Him anyway. There are far more talented, intelligent, gifted, and beautiful individuals in the world, but for me, being a good steward over what God has kindly given me is one of the best ways to show Him how thankful I truly am. 

Are you thankful for the knowledge, skills, and talents He’s lovingly loaned to you? If you haven’t been or maybe have forgotten to be, know that God isn’t mad. He’s simply patiently waiting for you to acknowledge the blessings He’s given you. It pleases Him to see you happy, using what you’ve been given to glorify Him.

Happy Thanksgiving Week!

Your friend,

Tiffany

Social Media Break

Theodore Roosevelt – “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

2 Corinthians 10:12,18

12 We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. 18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.

Sometimes we can be so stubborn, can’t we? I’d really been feeling like I should take a break from social media for months. You know how it can be though. You don’t want to miss anyone’s birthday, or any news, or exciting happenings. So you find yourself scrolling through the news feed and before you know it, you’ve wasted 45 minutes or more getting “caught up” on your “friends” lives. Maybe most of your social media friends are your real friends. But if I’m honest, mine aren’t. Yes, there are a few who I know would have my back, pray for me, and actually care about me. But then there are the rest. Some are acquaintances, some are just people who sent me a friend request, some are surveillance cameras, some are nosy, even fake friends, and there’s everything in between. I don’t know about you, but I don’t care enough about staying up on everyone’s lives to keep investing that much time on social media anymore. 

I also made an interesting discovery. I noticed I feel worse after spending time on social media. Sometimes I feel just kinda generally down after scrolling. Other times I feel a short lived, “I’ve caught up let me check off that box feeling.” Other times, I feel actually hurt when my “friends” ignore me and constantly “like” other friends’ posts.

I know. Something so small and unimportant should not make me feel bad, but it does. So, I’ve made the very intentional, hopefully best for me decision to get off of social media for a while. It may be permanent, who knows. So what if I miss out on some “important” news. If someone is actually my friend, they will reach out to contact me. If I’m wanting to check up on a friend, I’ll contact them directly. This will not be a popular statement, but I’m sick of the social media craze. Humans need actual real life interactions, not some fake imitation and definitely not the fake friends. 

I’m so much happier when I’m investing time in my family members, the little kids and families I’m blessed to work with on my job, and interacting with those the Lord brings across my path in one way or another. I’m thankful for the contentment and joy found when I listen to the Holy Spirit. Especially when I listen to and follow through with his gentle nudges. I love how He patiently loves us even when we are a little stubborn.

Blessings.

Your friend,

Tiffany

The Loan

I wrote the following poem on June 13th. I don’t usually write poetry, so it was surprising to me when the words came to me that day. Little did I know, four months later, my father-in-law would be in ICU with a cancer diagnosis fighting for his life.

I’d forgotten I’d written the poem, but today as I was enjoying the serenity of the beautiful sky and sunshine, I remembered it. While our soul lives on forever, I’m reminded our time on Earth is limited. Our life is really not our own. Our family members don’t actually belong to us. Who we are and those we have in our lives are loaned to us.

Loaned by God to us.

Nothing is permanent here on Earth. It’s crucial to remember that.

Remember to be present.

Remember to be thankful.

Remember to love.

Blessings.

Your friend,

Tiffany


The Loan

Whenever you begin to judge 

your achievements as right or wrong,

Remember your life truly

to you does not belong.

Live to the fullest, 

give it your all, 

love with all your might.

But remember that each day 

is a precious gift 

and not a right.

Don’t get so caught up in 

the good, 

the bad, 

the mundane.

Remember life is but

 a blink,

 a flash, 

and then washes away like the rain.

It matters how you spend your dash-

the time, 

the money-too. 

But never, ever, ever forget…

none of it actually belongs 

to you.

It’s just on loan from your Creator 

for your time here on the Earth.

And when it is due to be paid in full,

your life loan will be up.

What will matter then is not the stuff or possessions you have attained. 

What will matter then is if your spirit 

knew the Heavenly Father’s name.

Did you ever realize all the people 

in your life were on loan to you as well?

You never really owned them, 

but did you love them well?

Did you love them with the Father’s love,

that He poured out to you?

Or did you command, 

work, and rule them 

like an owner is known to do?

Did you never, ever realize 

before it was too late, 

that you took them all for granted 

like the food upon your plate?

More precious than material things 

are the souls loaned to our care.

But when our kind master returns 

or calls us home,

what will He see here?

Will He see we treasured others 

and took care of them for Him?

Or will He see we never understood 

that they all belonged to Him?

Will He take away all He had loaned 

and say “You were so unwise.”

Or will He look at us and say

 “Thank you for lovingly caring for my prize.”

God’s children and creation 

are the prize we have been loaned.

My prayer is that 

we always see 

none of it have we ever owned.

Puzzle Pieces

Romans 8:28 has always been one of my favorite verses. When I was young, I believed I understood the meaning. It was pretty straight forward, right? All things work together to make good things, happy things, happen in life. I believed that circumstances will eventually work out exactly the way I want, so long as I loved God, did the right things, was basically a good person. Right?

I kinda didn’t think about the last part of the verse…the “called according to His purpose part.” Yes- I now realize the naivety of that interpretation! 🤦‍♀️ 

Life hits and hits hard at times.

I learned that it definitely did not always turn out the way I wanted it to. Thankfully I have learned and continue to learn that our circumstances will turn out the way God wants if we allow Him to work in our life. Ultimately it will be in our best interest for His purpose. 

God often uses the very things that are our weaknesses, struggles, and pain to achieve that.

It never crossed my mind as a college student that disability would ever be a part of my personal life. When I was in college, I knew one thing for sure, I did not like working with individuals with autism. They actually scared me. I was a speech-pathology major who quite honestly did not enjoy working with those with severe disabilities. I wanted to work with those cute little kids who couldn’t say their “r” or had a little lisp. 

One semester, when I was in graduate school, I had a huge probably 300 pound adult patient with autism. It honestly made my knees knock every time I had to work with him. He loved Neil Diamond. All he wanted to do was listen to his Neil Diamond cassette tapes on his hand held tape recorder and so that is just what we did during his speech therapy sessions! I definitely tried to work on speech goals/life skills with him, but he was easily agitated. I remember sweating bullets, thinking, if he decides to kill me, how long would it take for someone to find me!?! Everything was good so long as he got to listen to his music, which we did…a lot! 

Over the course of time and working with articulation and language disorders and those with a variety of other disabilities, I decided autism was the hardest one to deal with! At least to me. 

I definitely didn’t want to deal with all that.

God has a sense of humor doesn’t He? 😂

After having a child with severe autism for over 9 years now, I think maybe I’ve warmed up to it!  Actually now I feel a sense of connection to all those with any disability and their families. I feel compassion and empathy on a level that I would have never known had God not added Landon to our family.  

Am I saying that life is easy now? 

No way! If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know I have some challenges in dealing with my son’s disability. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Some days the autistic behaviors (aggressive outbursts, bites, hits, kicks, and scratches) leave me in tears and concerns for the future.  I truly appreciate the encouragement, support, help, and prayers I’ve received along this journey. God truly has a plan and a purpose for it all along and in the last 6 months or so, God has allowed me to see the very beginnings of the next part of His plan. I’m beginning to see those very first pieces of the puzzle come together.

So for the last nine years, maybe I didn’t see how Landon’s autism, my speech therapy background, and all that went along with it would really benefit anyone or anything. I started writing this blog about 4.5 years ago to encourage others in their difficulties and I’ve had some awesome feedback. My prayer has always been for God to use the writing, and my experiences to encourage others. But if I’m totally honest there were times I felt like there had to be more than being an autism mama warrior. I’ve always felt in my spirit I was supposed to be doing something more.  I love to write and encourage others, but there seemed to be something else I was supposed to do. I just couldn’t figure out what the missing piece was.

Things sometimes get a lot worse before they get better, don’t they? That’s honestly where I was about 6-7 months ago. Not much seemed to be going right in several areas of my life.

A few years ago, a speech-language pathologist in the area saw me in SAMS and asked me to come work for her in Early Intervention (EI serves babies from age 0-3.) At that time, I was totally swamped with dealing with Landon’s behavior and medication issues as well as full-time homeschooling my two older kids so I declined her offer. 

About 6 months ago, as I said, I was really going through a trying time with several issues, and this particular lady came to my mind. I felt like I should message her and see if she needed any help with speech therapy in early intervention. Crazy, right? Despite the struggles going on in my life, I felt the nudge to do this. Message her. Reach out to her and see what she says. I thought to myself, “this is crazy, I’m sure she doesn’t need help at this point.”

So I did it.

I sent her a message. 

I didn’t even have her phone number so I just sent her a message through Messenger.

She responded in a couple of days.

“YES” was her response.

She told me she would still love to have me come work for her. She said she never found the right person to be on her team.

I realized right then that I wanted to do this. 

I immediately told her that I have a pretty full schedule still with homeschool and mommy duties I would only be able to work a few hours here and there. 

She said “You can work as little or as much as you want.”

“You can set your own schedule and hours.”

She then asks, “How much would I have to pay you to get you to come work for me?”

I’m thinking, “hold up.”

“You want to hire me- someone who hasn’t worked in speech therapy for 17 years- (although I had maintained my certification) and let me decide my hours as few or much as I want-and pay me well for it?!?”

“And would I happen to be interested in working with babies with autism and their caregivers (as well as other disabilities)?”

“Yes, I’d love to work with babies with autism and their families.”

(The organization she contracts with receives speech therapy referrals for babies from birth to three-years-old in need of early intervention.)

“Okay….”

“God, I’m in shock.” I said out loud later on that day. “I might be catching a glimpse of your plan and purpose now.”

It isn’t just about me. 

It’s about others. 

Others who I can relate to and understand now because of my own experiences with disability. 

I began seeing some speech therapy babies and their families in August. 

I’m excited for the opportunity to serve in this way. 

In every patient, 

in every family member, 

I’ll see a glimpse of Landon, 

a glimpse of my family, 

a glimpse of God’s plan, 

a picture of other image bearers of God. 

I am seeing the first little pieces of the puzzle fitting together. 

This is something God had planned all along. 

I’m familiar with sensory issues, behavioral therapy, many medications and their good and bad side effects, natural supplements, bone-weary caregiving, the effects of a disability on other family members, self-care, spiritual growth, and prayer just to name a few. 

Am I saying I have it all figured out? 

No, of course not.

But I understand more than I ever did when I was a kid in college. Hopefully in a few years I’ll know so much more than I do now. 

I understand Romans 8:28 better now, it just took me a little while to get there. 🙂

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.

~Romans 8:28 (NLT)

Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me – you did it to me.’

~Matthew 25:40 (The Message)

Your friend,

Tiffany

Above and Beyond

As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart. 

~Proverbs 27:19

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

       ~ Matthew 6:21

I just love “above and beyond” people.    An example for me is my son’s psychiatry nurse practitioner. She always answers my questions, works with Landon’s complex issues, brainstorms with me about new things we can try, prescribes his medication and changes his medicine if needed. We’ve worked with her for the last 4 years or so. She answers my questions promptly and actually cares about Landon. She never gives up on him. She is getting another job soon and will be so missed! I’ll always remember how she worked tirelessly for Landon even when some doctors wouldn’t and told us so.

Other amazing people immediately come to my mind who I know either as a teacher, nurse, friend, doctor, pastor, etc. and it isn’t a super long list. They care and do what they do with excellence. They really shine especially when they move, leave, retire, etc. and are replaced by those who don’t seem to care as much and sort of half-heartedly do things.

It’s hard not to compare, but I like to think of how much more this makes me appreciate the “above and beyond” people.

Those who put their whole heart in.

Those are my people.

They always will be.


Blessings.

Your friend,

Tiffany

Champion


Champion

noun

  1. a person who has defeated or surpassed all rivals in a competition, especially in sports.
  2. a person who fights or argues for a cause or on behalf of someone else.

Champions view themselves differently than the average person does. Here are some characteristics of champions.

First of all, champions see themselves through the eyes of God. Their identity comes from God and not from people or possessions. Champions are not intimidated by what others think about them. Champions don’t need others to tell them who they are because they know who they are. Champions are people who have been through thick and thin, hold their ground in conflict and bear up against adversity. Champions are people who hold out under stress and stand firm even if they have to stand alone.

Champions persevere under pressure, they wait calmly and courageously. Champions resist weariness and defeat. In other words, they do not allow their circumstances to rule them.

The Apostle Paul is a great example for us to follow when it comes to facing hardships. Acts 20:22-24 says, “And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”

Paul understood that overcoming in life required him to press through challenging times and overcome a victim’s mentality. Just like Paul, champions are people who prevail in life. In other words, they gain the upper hand and the mastery.

Champions are not ashamed to stand up for what they believe in. They are not intimidated by other people’s opinion. Winning in life requires us to take on these characteristics.

Finally, those who have the mentality of champions have also decided to take control of their passions. In other words, they have learned to control their thoughts, their words, their actions and their attitude.

People are not born champions, rather champions are grown and developed. They have taken the principles discussed and applied them to their lives on a consistent basis.

~Marlando Jordan

Champion

transitive verb

1 : to act as militant supporter of : uphold, advocate always champions the cause of the underdog. 2 : to protect or fight for as a champion

I read the following devotion recently about the Holy Spirit. When I read the title “He Champions You,” it really resonated with me. I usually think of the word champion as a person who wins a title or an award in sports. Like a surface level accomplishment. Thinking of champion as a verb is a much richer, deeper concept. When we champion something or someone we are upholding, believing, supporting and advocating for it/them. For me, understanding that the Holy Spirit is championing me brings such comfort and confidence. Not confidence in my abilities, but confidence in God’s. If God allows the Holy Spirit to champion us, it should confirm in our hearts that the God of the universe is for us. He champions us so we can champion Him. I pray the following devotion encourages you today.

Your friend,

Tiffany

Benefits to Having The Holy Spirit, A 5-Day Devotional by Jeannie Cunnion

He Champions You

In John 14:16–17, Jesus says, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”  

It’s easy to ignore the Holy Spirit when we’ve been told, or have just assumed, that He isn’t all that relevant or necessary to a thriving faith. “Why do I need the Holy Spirit when I have Jesus?” is a fair question a lot of Christians ask. But today’s passage will help ensure that’s a question none of us will ask again.

The Greek word translated “helper” in this verse is parakletos; which literally means “called to one’s side.” But this wasn’t just any helper. See, even more exciting is how Jesus said the Holy Spirit would be “another Helper.” The Greek word translated “another” in this verse is allon; which, in this context, translates as “another of the same kind.”

Jesus is assuring the disciples, and us, that the Holy Spirit isn’t “less than” Him or even “similar” to Him, but just like Him! 

God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit coexist as the eternal (no beginning and no end), omnipresent (existing everywhere at all times), omniscient (knowing everything), omnipotent (all-powerful) Godhead.

The Spirit’s presence is the manifestation of the Trinity among us today, and though He carries the same authority and shares the same attributes as God the Father and God the Son, He performs distinct functions. This is important and speaks to the tragedy of the Spirit often being neglected and forgotten. God the Holy Spirit does specific work in us that differs from that of God the Father and God the Son. 

In the ESV translation, we just read that the Holy Spirit is called “another Helper” by Jesus, but in other translations—because parakletos is too full of meaning to translate into just one word—the Holy Spirit is also called our “Comforter,” “Counselor,” “Advocate,” “Strengthener,” “Intercessor,” “Standby,” and “Champion.”

What will make a dramatic difference in how you live is knowing that God Almighty dwells inside you by His Spirit, and then believing that everything that is His is yours. His power. His wisdom. His strength and joy. His peace and comfort. His love. God manifests all of Himself, in His people, through His Spirit.

If you’re struggling to love an unlovable person, or forgive an offense that the world tells you is unforgivable, or heal from a devastating heartbreak, the Holy Spirit wants to help you. He is able to help you. How do we know? Because the Holy Spirit’s role is to make us more like Jesus, and this is who Jesus is. He loves His enemies, forgives His accusers and killers, and brings wholeness and healing to brokenness.

Where there are strongholds of sin that need to be broken. Where there is spiritual warfare that needs to be won. Where there is toxic thinking that needs breakthrough. This is where the Spirit of God is desperately needed and more than capable.

Do we believe this? Everything we need is inside of us—all and only—because the Holy Spirit inside us is all-sufficient. This doesn’t mean we don’t need community or friendship or help from outside sources. It means we can have confidence because the God inside us wholly equips us for what’s before us.

Happy Mother’s Day

To Mother

You painted no Madonnas,

On chapel walls in Rome,

But with a touch diviner,

You lived one in your home,

You wrote no lofty poems,

That critics counted art,

But with a nobler vision,

You lived them in your heart.

You carved no shapeless marble

To some high soul design,

But with a finer sculpture,

You shaped this soul of mine.

You built no great cathedrals,

That centuries applaud,

But with a grace exquisite,

Your life cathedraled God.

Had I the gift of Raphael,

Or Michelangelo,

Oh what a rare Madonna,

My mother’s life would show.

~William Pitt Fessenden


Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers. 💕Being a mom is one of the greatest, yet hardest, callings one can ever have. It is amazing to me, though, how God fills a mother’s heart with never ending love for her children despite difficulty, fatigue, or any other circumstance life brings. A mother’s love is unconditional and while she is not perfect, I believe it’s the closest thing to Jesus’ love on this earth. Thank you, Mamas, for all the sacrifices you make that no one ever sees. The love that you give your children will multiply in their lives like ripples in the water. Even if you can’t see it right away, know that your love brings beauty and kindness to this world that never goes away.  Blessings. 💕

Your friend,

Tiffany

Unless…

My life is immersed in autism and special needs due to my son’s disability as most who follow my blog know. I haven’t written as much lately due to factors related to that and some other issues that are having to be addressed. Anyway, another special needs mom shared the following link yesterday, and it totally touched my heart so I wanted to share. (I haven’t donated to them, but just loved the heart behind the program. ❤️) It was a great reminder to me about not only caring with words but in the kind actions of giving and serving, too. I pray God richly blesses all who serve others in love whether with words or actions or both.

Blessings friends!

Your friend,

Tiffany

Here is the link to special needs program. Click on the short intro video on the site. I hope it blesses you!

https://www.unlessu.org/

The Value of Creative Work

It seems as though lately tons of things have been added to my plate, some of which I didn’t see coming. I’m so thankful God did, however, and that He works all things for our good. The following is an excellent reminder of the significance of our creative work. While our identity is so much more than our work, the gifts we use in our creative work are valuable and significant to God.

Excerpt from Jesus the Creator, Carpenter, Gardener, & King, this week’s devotion from my church. Just a little reminder and encouragement that our creative work has purpose and value. 
Blessings.

Your friend,

Tiffany

Before God tells us He is love, before He tells us He is holy, before He tells us He is Savior, God wants you and I to know that He is a creative, productive, working God.

This idea of a God who works is unique in the long list of stories of the origin of the world. Every other religion claims that the gods created human beings to work and serve the gods. None would dare to say that God Himself works—much less introduce that fact in the first breath of the story.

This truth carries the utmost significance for the work we do today. Work is not a fringe thing or a meaningless means to an end. Work is central to who God is, and thus, central to who we are as His image bearers. That’s one of the great meanings of this first revelation of Jesus Christ.

And it’s not just any work that God does. It’s creative work—the work of taking risks to create new things for the good of others. It’s the work of entrepreneurs and artists, storytellers and sales executives, marketers and mothers. And as we will see tomorrow, it’s the type of work Jesus did when he came to earth to be born into the home of a carpenter.