Friday, February 10, 2012

Seeds of Encouragement - Book Review

Seeds of Encouragement is a series of stories by Andrea Sharp of Each chapter tells a story taken from circumstances in Andrea's personal life. Andrea shares her short stories of love, faith, and holidays, to provide life lessons that we can incorporate into our own lives to grow closer with, and strengthen our connection to God.

Following each chapter is a "Seed of Encouragement" or application lesson from the story which point the reader to the direction of God.  Following the "seed" is a quote from a famous person that also applies to the essay. I enjoyed the way she included the seeds and quotes to turn each essay into a package.

Andrea's love for the Lord is clear in her stories. I enjoyed the way she keeps her eyes to God whatever the circumstance and did find that encouraging.  

The reader should take note that each chapter is independent of the others—similar to a Chicken Soup for the Soul book.The book also contains a multitude of topics including faith, parenting, care giving and more, all with the inspiration to draw the reader closer to God. 

Andrea is an inspirational speaker and author. You may purchase her book here. Please also visit her blog:

I was provided a copy of this book for free in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Chatty Kelly

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

When Life Gives You Avocados...

“Whatcha doing?” my sister asked, her standard phone greeting.
“Just making some guacamole.” I answered.
“What? Why?” Her surprise was natural. 

Growing up with a mentally ill mother, dinner was often McDonalds...when we were lucky.  Other times it was a cold hotdog.  I remember the night my mom made macaroni and cheese.  It was the standard blue box variety, but she had forgotten to cook the noodles.  As she stirred the sauce into the crunchy uncooked noodles, she realized her mistake and said, “I messed up the dinner, you’ll have to make yourself something to eat.” She then went to bed.  I was left staring into a nearly empty refrigerator, and eating yet another cold hotdog for dinner. 

Consequently, I've never been good at "domestic" stuff like cooking, cleaning, decorating, and crafting. Without training, I was challenged in these areas. But then something changed.

I joined a cooking co-op. If I would cook dinner just 1 night a week, for myself & three other families, then 3 nights a week I would have dinner delivered to me by another family. To someone who hated (aka can't!) cook this was a dream come true. What happened next was truly a surprise.

I had to meal plan. Once the calendar was set, grocery shopping was easier. And once I started putting some real effort into my cooking, the compliments (from my own family AND the other three families) started coming in! Soon I was buying fun kitchen gadgets (did I say fun and kitchen in the same sentence?)

Now, I can honestly say now I am a good cook. I can meal plan. I just had to learn how. Titus 2:3-5 says we older women are to teach the younger women to be "busy at home." That means cooking, cleaning, meal planning, decorating. I was never taught. But rather than carry on this omission, I am now teaching my children the joys of things like cooking.

When I received a co-op meal that included salad items including onions, tomatoes, cilantro and an avocado, I decided to use the leftovers to make some home-made guacamole.  That’s when my sister called.

“We may not have had the best childhood,” I told her, “But I don’t have to hold onto those years as an excuse not to learn basic domestic skills.  I am no longer stunted by those years.”

“I’m really proud of you,” she said.  I smiled at her encouragement, then held back my laughter as I told her, “When life gives you avocados, make guacamole!”

What challenges are you working to overcome in your life?

Chatty Kelly

Monday, February 6, 2012

Using Your Special Gifts with Your Unique Quirks

"Mom, look what I can do!" my 7 yr old exclaimed as she sniffed hard, pulling both of her nostrils closed.
"Wow, impressive!" I responded enthusiastically, as any mom would.
"It's my special gift from God," she told me.

We all have special gifts. God gives each of us gifts according to his purpose. But we also have quirks. We can mistake our quirks for gifts.  (Watch any episode of America's Got Talent, and you will see examples of this.)  But sometimes we can combine our quirks with our gifts, to create our own unique ministry.

I believe that my writing is a gift. I also have the uncanny ability to remember song lyrics. This leads me to break out into song in almost every conversation, because a single word or phrase can bring an entire song to mind.

I used this "quirk" with my gift of writing, to create Musical Mondays here on the blog. I combined my quirk with my gift and incorporated it into my blog. While it may have seemed clever at the time (okay, I still think it was clever!) it never grew into what I expected, which was a devotional book based on the premise.  But it did create my own unique devotional style.

You are unique too!  God made you special with gifts to use for his glory, and quirks that make you you! It's our job to figure out our gifts and use them for God's design. And if you're a little quirky too, just go for it. It's what puts that unique spin on your gift.

Finally, don't compare your gifts with others!  In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul spells out how we are all uniquely gifted, like different parts of a body. Foot, ear, eye...all are needed for a unique purpose! None are better than the others. So then are our unique gifts.

Use your gifts, embrace your quirks, and don't compare! After all, we can't all sniff hard enough to close our nose! But we can all use our gifts (and quirks!) to glorify God.

What are you gifts? What are you quirks? How can you combine them to create your own unique ministry?

Chatty Kelly