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5 Ways to Find Your Unique Mix of Life Giving Activities


A trip to a mountain town to explore a mine and have some apple pie led to an unexpected encounter and the discovery of an inspiring story of gifts and a disciplined pursuit of passion. I held my three year old son's small hand in mine as I grasped the wooden railing bordering a narrow back staircase. We followed a painted sign and rounded the corner. We were welcomed by warmth and the enchanting smell of cedar and lavender, or was it pine, or maybe almond ? The brightly lit shop's walls were lined with cedar shelves which displayed organized trays of hand made soaps labeled with signs like "mountain pine," "sea salt" "goat's milk and almond," and "lemongrass".  My fingers touched a bar of soap. I felt the soft material on my skin as I smelled lavender infused in the bar. A preschool scientist awoke within my son and he slowly and carefully picked up new soap bars from barrels and shelves, inhaled each, touched the oily soft texture and admired the swirls of color - purples, or dark greens or aqua and deep blue which seemed to swim together. I looked up and approached the shopkeeper; a woman with kind eyes and worn hands. Entrepreneurs always fascinate me. How did she get into making soap?

I seized the moment and discovered she graduated from college with a degree in animal science. She got married and shortly thereafter had twins. Then 18 months later her family welcomed a third baby. She entered motherhood in full force. Suddenly it was very clear to me. I exclaimed abruptly, “So – you made soap!” She went on to say she always had a gift for science particularly chemistry. She would stay up at night and make all kinds of soap. Which over the years became her successful business. It started out as a life-giving activity; as a rejuvenating form of rest. As a tired mother staying up late mixing ingredients in her home.

Why would a mother of three children so close in age stay up making soap? How did she even have time for that? 

Eric Liddle, the Olympic runner and missionary said, “I believe that God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast and when I run I feel his pleasure.”

We all have a purpose. We are extremely influential and responsible as mothers. Our lives are bursting with tasks, expectations and duty. As a Christian I am called to serve, to carry my cross and to raise my children to know the Lord. We have busyness bombarding us. Volunteer opportunities. School obligations. Managing our homes. Handling crisis. As mothers and as Christians it is easy to constantly serve and sacrifice until we have nothing left. Until we can no longer keep our eyes open and drag our weary bodies to our beds.

We all have a gift. A passion which we delight in, desire and find pleasure in. God gave us our gifts and he loves us and wants us to thrive in our passion. Here are five steps to discover your unique life-giving activities and therefore lavishly celebrate rest.

1. Seize the unexpected moment. Listen to stories of others who are living out their passions.

Like the mom who made soap late at night; while her three little ones slept. There were many other things I could have been doing that moment. I could have been downstairs talking with my in-laws. I could be stressing over our lunch reservation or wondering if my husband was handling our 18 month old daughter okay by himself. Instead the beauty, peace and evident passion lived enveloped my son and me in the small upstairs corner store and I spoke with a woman whose wisdom inspired me to seek out my spiritual gifts and thrive in my passion. To go on a exploration and discover my unique life-giving activity today. Not to wait to another season when the kids are older; when I am less tired or less busy. I realized there are unexpected moments in our lives where God wants to show us something. I only need to pay attention in the day to day and open my eyes. This means I need to slow down and not be burdened by self imposed stress and the race to do everything - for what?

2.  Take the time to discover what your spiritual gifts and passions are.

The church which hosts the MOPS group I belong to has an online tool called the SHAPE assessment. It is a questionnaire which can assist you to discovering your "shape" or in other words your spiritual gifts and what you have a heart for. It takes time. I had to intentionally sit and pray and think about what my heart loves and who I am. Once I knew my spiritual gifts, I knew what to spend my time doing.  I flourish in my unique life-giving activities because they are centered around those spiritual gifts. I can volunteer in my MOPS leadership position with ease and joy because I use my spiritual gifts. My gifts are my guidelines for how I devote my time. And I feel God's pleasure when I use them. My unique life-giving activities are also fueled by passion- passion for things I enjoy doing which refuel my mind and soul. Find your gifts and your passion and shine in them.


3. Say no to good things

There are many different seasons in life. This season is filled to the brim with little people, little sleep, big messes and sweetness. The life-giving and enriching activities we can use to bring us joy and rest may change over the years. For now, focus on the activities you shine in. This means saying no to some. Even good things. I was involved in a women's bible study at my church for a few years. I absolutely loved it. But with a deeper involvement in MOPS leadership and my son starting preschool as well as a commitment to pursue my personal passions brought me to hard realization I had to say no to attending this bible study this year. It is absolutely a good thing. I ran myself ragged trying to make it to drop off and pick up;  only to sit in a bible study exhausted and looking at the clock to make sure to leave in time to pick up my son. This was no longer life-giving and restful. There may be a season when I return to the bible study.

After I said no to this bible study, the opportunity to join a small group of moms studying the bible in the evening became my new routine and rest. The bonds we have made and discussions we have had are the fellowship and community I needed in this season. I am filled with joy. Spend time spring cleaning your calendar. What is preventing you from participating in your unique life-giving activity?

4.  Be intentional and disciplined

This is going to take effort. To be blunt this means I have to say no to volunteering. I am already serving. It is enough. I do not need to even try to prove my worthiness to God or anyone else by becoming busier. By accomplishing more. Jesus took care of that. I need to nurture the activities which are life-giving and use my spiritual gifts daily. I also do something I am passionate about as frequently as I can by treating it like an important meeting.

5. Keep doing it for you.

 Bravely and intentionally take the time to act on your gift. To delight in it. With no one benefiting but yourself. Oh the guilt! God delights in our talents. I don’t have time to volunteer more because I am pursuing my passion. For myself. And I feel God’s pleasure when I do.  I lace up my running shoes and hit the pavement.  I am outside and can feel the cold air burning my lungs. I am living my passion.  I shut my front door on my never ending to do list. I  strap my kids into the double stroller and take 45 minutes to just run. And interestingly enough I am filled up when I intentionally spend time in my passion and rest and can be a better, happier mother. It can be scary to pursue our passions. To bravely step out of obligation and expectation into ourselves.

To fiercely flourish I need to intentionally spend time in my life-giving activities. They are unique like fine china.  I can discover them like finding a precious family heirloom. I imagine sitting before a dusty cardboard box in a sunny attic. Bits of packing tape lay forgotten hanging off the edges of the box. I unwrap a piece of fine china. Old newspaper reveals a beautiful, ornate, yet inexplicably delicate cup. It is the most beautiful gift I have ever beheld. I look around to see if anyone else is there and know I alone am witnessing my cup. The cup is perfect. It is not chipped. It suits me and fits me. It is a piece of my spiritual gift. Do I keep this cup and the wrapped fine china in the box? Wrapped carefully with newspaper placed in the corner of my soul where no one will see; where no one could damage it? Or do I take each unique fine china piece out, unwrap each individually and contemplate its worth, its potential only then to wrap it all up again? With no chips.


Comments

  1. Good post. Love that you're paying attention to what feeds your soul. Stay strong!!!

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