1 Corinthians 12:4-6 –There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but they all come from the same Spirit. There are different ways to serve the same Lord, and we can each do different things. Yet the same God works in all of us and helps us in everything we do.

Gratitude Day 739

I am so dang proud when I see people using their gifts and talents for God’s Kingdom.

This is exactly why I’m going to brag a little about my former neighbor Tina.

Hubby Rick and I lived next to Tina and her husband Dave for about 10 years. The day after we moved in, I was in the yard when Tina walked over to introduce herself. As it turns out, I knew her Mom, who was the organist at the church where I attended before I became a pastor. The world became very small that day.

For the next 10 years, Tina and I enjoyed so many laughs, endless cups of coffee and a few glasses of wine. More than one Saturday night, Tina and Dave wandered over to our patio where we chatted and maybe even tried to solve some of the world’s problems. When it was dark, Tina and their daughter Emily would go home. Rick and Dave would enjoy some extended time on the patio while I finalized the next day’s worship service.

Tina was more than a neighbor. She is and was a friend. There was no grocery store in town, so if I needed something to finish a recipe, I called Tina. She watered our flowers when we were away and picked up our mail. One night, our 16-day old grandson died. Two of my nephews were staying with us for the week. Rick was working. Rick and I decided to go to his son’s house and be there when they got home from the hospital. Not wanting to leave the nephews at our house alone, I knew the one person I could call was Tina. Yep, she came and slept on the couch while I was gone. This is going above and beyond as a neighbor.

Another summer during Vacation Bible School, Tina volunteered to be Eunice, a snoopy neighbor in the town of Nazareth, where Jesus lived while growing up. Eunice wanted to know everything that went on in Nazareth and Tina played the role to a T. At the time, everyone at church felt she had missed her calling. We were convinced she should have been doing stand-up comedy. It truly was THE BEST VBS ever; all because of Eunice.

Over the years, I have witnessed Tina use her God-given gifts and talents in so many ways. I have personally benefitted from them as well as the faith community I was serving at the time. When there was a hole that needed to be filled, Tina would and has and continues to do so. Her wit and dry humor keep everyone laughing and often add much needed levity at just the right times. To this day, I love opening up our mailbox and finding some witty card that Tina “just had” to mail me.

Yet, there is another side of Tina. One that is reflective and compassionate and empathetic. One that loves words and putting together ideas. This is where I most recently have seen Tina’s gifts and graces shine. Recently, she wrote a poem called “Half a World Away.” It was printed on the back cover of an independent arts and culture magazine called Voice of the River Valley. In their April issue, they featured original poetry. Tina’s submission graces the back cover. Here are her words:

Half a World Away

He gets ready for work

amid a tumble of toddlers,

with a kiss for each

and one for his wife

he walks into the day.

He takes their smiles and babbles with him,

the memory of their smell close by.

He smiles and knows he is rich.

Half a world away

he and his wife hurry to pack backpacks,

one per child and one for his wife.

To hurry hurry to catch the train.

At the station the crowds are staggering.

He pushes his way though

to get his family on to get his family out.

They say goodbye with kisses and hugs and promises

to stay safe, to take care and to remember

I love you forever.

They get on the train

the children cry

the mother tries not to,

the father stays behind.

He must stay

to defend his country. He needs to buy a rifle.

Half a world away

she pushes her children on the swing

they all join in singing silly songs.

Robins cheep as they search for worms.

The elderly couple next door

go off on their daily walk and coffee.

The sun shines on an ordinary day

and she is grateful for her life.

Half a world away

people take shelter in underground stations,

children clinging to mothers.

Even down below the sound of guns

and the sound of rolling tanks

warn of a clear and present danger.

People run not knowing where to go

not knowing what tomorrow will bring.

Children hold tight to grownup hands

and hold stuffed animals close.

Half a world away

she settles the children down for a nap,

rubbing their backs she breathes in their breath.

Tired from play they are soon asleep.

She goes downstairs the news is on

she watches and tries to look away

it breaks her heart.

She sits down and takes off her glasses,

closes her eyes and the tears come.

She cries for the families torn apart,

mothers and children on trains to who knows where?

Fathers left behind.

Everyday lives now just rubble.

She prays for all of these.

She prays for Ukraine.

Poetry by Tina Williams of Mazomanie

Can we all give a nice round of applause for Tina’s poetry?

What I am most appreciative is how Tina uses the specific gifts and talents that God has graced her with for the glory and honor of God’s kingdom. Over and over, she finds ways to share God’s love and grace in ways that touch people’s hearts and minds. How I appreciate Tina’s willingness to do so.

We all have been gifted specific gifts by God. Our role is to use these gifts for God’s kingdom. Gifts and talents come in many different ways. Our gifts may change over the course of our lifetime. When our gifts are modified or shifted, I pray we find ways to use these gifts over and over for God’s glory.

We will not all be poets. Or musicians. We cannot all be good with finances or have the gift of healing. Some people are good at fixing things or leading groups or listening well. Each of the gifts, as well as the thousands of other gifts I have not mentioned, are equally important within God’s kingdom.

I pray you know what your gifts are. And that you are finding a way to use them to bring glory and honor to God. This is exactly what Tina did with her poem. I pray her example will encourage the rest of us to be grateful for the special gifts we have … and motivate us to use them to bless others and God.

Celebrating the wonderful gifts we have received from God, I am grateful.

Blessings –


Holy God – Only You can give us our own unique and special gifts. Thank you for sharing them with us. Help us find ways to share our gifts and bring glory and honor to Your kingdom. Amen.

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