I am not going to hold on to my gifts

Here I am operating in my gift of teaching earlier  this year at church.  Thank you Elder Ron for using your gift of photography to capture this moment.

 When I get a gift, I gladly receive it for myself.  However this Christmas, I am left to think about my spiritual gifts and why God gave them to me.  1 Corinthians 12:7  clearly spells out that we are all given gifts to be used to build up the body of Christ. Period.  He gave us these gifts so that we can give them away so to speak.  Give them to build up His body.  It is a beautiful  thing to watch others purely operate in their gifts.  It blesses me.  I have grown so much and have been radically transformed as a result of the many gifts that flow through my pastor and his wife.  Our praise and worship leader has been gifted with the ability to sing you right into the presence of  God, lifting  burdens.  My good friend is a passionate intercessor and has a husband that is going forward in his gift of teaching. While I have my own gifts, I am not gifted in every way.  As a member of the body of Christ, I need all of their gifts.  They benefit me and has helped to encourage me to stay on the straight and narrow.  We are not independent of each other, when you don’t operate in your gift, it affects me. Don’t be a weak link by not using your gift.

I don’t have to be jealous of your gift nor do you have to be jealous of mine.  We are not competing, we compliment each other.  All of our gifts are valued and needed for the building up of the church.

Don’t let timidity hold you back from flowing in your gift.  Get over yourself.  Remember this is not about you.  And whatever you do, don’t fall into the trap of comparing your gifts to others. Use what God has given you in the way He has given it to you, then and only then will it be effective.  You don’t have to be anyone’s carbon copy, that was never God’s intention when He created and gifted you.  I am catching a hold of  this revelation and let me tell you it’s so liberating. I am seeing God’s power manifest in me at a grater level and in turn others are blessed.

At all cost avoid getting caught up in using your gift to try to show how special and deep you are, again this is not about you.  It is not a performance. Don’t let pride pollute and hinder your gift.  On the other hand when others make mention of your gift don’t try to dumb it down in an effort to appear humble.  I love reading Paul’s epistles because he confidently speaks of how God has gifted him and he gives God all the glory.  He doesn’t brag on himself, he brags on God, how about that for a different perspective.  Be confident, be bold!

Take time to perfect the  gifts God has given you. The best way to do this is by spending time in prayer and the word.  Reading other spiritual resources grounded in biblical principles can be helpful but make sure it’s not taking away from you reading the most important book, the bible.  In the same vein, speaking to others who have similar gifts is good but don’t let that take the place of speaking to the giver of the gift in prayer.

One of my gifts is teaching. While I have had formal training to be a teacher.  More training came in the school of surrender and trials; these two schools have caused my gift to be perfected!  When I get up to speak or when I write I am confident that I have something worth hearing.  Why? I have made up my mind to be a student of the greatest teacher and submit to His will, even the less than glamorous parts.

You can find a list of some of the gifts in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4. What are your gifts?  Don’t know?  Ask God, He really is not trying to keep it a secret from you.  If you do know your gifts, don’t hold on to them, remember they are not for you.  Be Blessed!


Decorating my heart for Christmas part 2

Before I begin with part two of this series I have to share that the highlight of decorating my home this year for Christmas was spray paint.  Yes spray paint!  I was impressed by this blog and all the things she spray painted.  I decided to give it a try and I was pleasantly surprised.

I was able to transform my Goodwill stocking hangers from this to the pictures below!



In part one of this series, I mentioned ways to decorate our hearts for Christmas.  Today I pick up where I left off.  Joseph did not reason he responded…with IMMEDIATE OBEDIENCE.   Mathew 1:24 says when Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of The Lord commanded.  He brought Mary home to be his wife.   There is much to be said about immediate obedience.  If I think on something too long, the crazier it seems, and the less likely I am to respond  in obedience.  If you know God is speaking to your heart, just do it.  A lack of response shows our inability to trust God.  How can we really serve Him if we don’t trust Him?

Not only did Joseph respond with immediate obedience but the scripture says that Mary remained a virgin until her son was born.  As a husband,  Joseph sacrificed his rights for sexual intimacy in order for God’ plan to be fulfilled.  He was willing to wait and did not insist on his rights.  Sacrifice is such a foreign concept in today’s culture.  It is all about our rights.  We worship at the alter of, “Me myself and I.”  The idea of sacrifice is scoffed at,  our will is glorified…hence the great chaos in our lives and this world.  If you have chosen the way of the cross, sacrifice is mandatory.  But no need to mourn because when you sacrifice for Jesus it is always redemptive.  Always!  It was necessary for Jesus to be born to a virgin and his birth set in motion God’s redemptive plan mentioned in Genesis 3:15, how awesome is that?

Finally after the child is born Joseph named him Jesus  just as he was instructed to d0 in Mathew 1:25.  Joseph said yes and stuck to the plan from start to finish, down to the very name.  Sometimes we start our journey with Jesus having a complete yes but as time goes on we get creative.  We begin to do what God has called us to do in our own way, our own strength, we put our own twist to His plan.  There is no such thing as partial obedience.  Carefully follow All of God’s commands.  Have you deviated from the plans God has given you?  Repent, ask for mercy and get on track.

My prayer is that we will have a desire for more than beautifully decorated homes this Christmas.  A heart decorated with obedience is sure to shine bright!  Be blessed!

Decorating my heart for Christmas

It’s Christmas time again at the Jones’.  I get just as excited as the children at the thought of decorating our home for the Christmas season.  However, I know that it is even more important for me to “decorate” my heart with the truth of God’s word.  With that in mind, I went back to read the Christmas story from the book of Mathew and ditched the mindset of “I have read this so many times and I already know what happens.”



In Mathew 1:18-19 we learn that Joseph was engaged to be married to Mary and she was a virgin; not an exception in those days but the expectation.  However Mary ends up pregnant and it was not by Joseph!  It is certain Joseph was hurt and felt betrayed but even in his pain he purposed not to humiliate her.  He instead decided to break it off privately.  It was heavy on his heart and  he went to bed thinking about this thing.  Ever been there, weighed down with concerns as you go to bed…I have. The Lord saw his heart, saw his pain and provided an answer of peace while Joseph was sleeping.   Mathew 1:20 says as he considered this, he fell asleep and the angel of The Lord appeared to Him.  The angel of the Lord brought clarity to his situation.

Here it is Joseph was in a major life altering dilemma.  It is almost certain that he was hurt by Mary’s seemingly betrayal, but he opted not to put her on blast.  Wow!  What is your first response when you think you have been wronged by someone?  Do you look for every listening ear to broadcast the offense, only causing the wound to go deeper?  Do you immediately go on a revenge mission seeking to inflict the same pain you are feeling?

The explanation given to Joseph and his response blesses and convicts me all at the same time.  The angel of The Lord tells Joseph that the child Mary is carrying was conceived by the Holy Spirit.  Now let’s just be honest here, the explanation just did not make sense, it was foolish…at least in the natural. A virgin getting pregnant by the Holy Spirit?  What?    Who has ever heard of such a thing?  But Joseph didn’t question the explanation, he knew it was from God and that was enough.   He did not go asking for a second opinion. When God tells you to do something, do you wait for it to make sense before you act.  I have learned that I have to be ok with not understanding all of God’s directives, I have to trust that He is God and He knows best.  We often want to wrap our mind around all God is saying before we sign on the dotted line, give up on that method, it is pretty ineffective.  Truth be told, we often won’t understand it all because the plan is always so much bigger than we can comprehend.  Humble yourself, trust God and say Yes!

Joseph didn’t even know what he had stepped into, here God takes this ordinary boy and makes him one of the key characters in the greatest story ever!  In Mathew 1:21-23 the angel tells Joseph that the baby is going to be a boy, name him Jesus and oh yeah, he is going to save his people from their sins.  Then the angel of the Lord tells Joseph all of this is a fulfillment of the prophecies  that were given about the savior.  I  mean can you imagine, receiving all this news in one night.  Jesus simply means “The Lord Saves.”  So in other words, Joseph’s yes brought salvation to the world!  How can your yes to the seemingly impossible bring salvation to others?  Or consider this, how can your no hinder the salvation of others. Your disobedience does not only affect you.  Don’t hinder the flow, play your part and say yes.

My prayer is that you will be  encouraged to decorate your heart with obedience this Christmas.  Stay tuned for part two of this post.  Be blessed!





I Train All Day

For the  last 10 years I have been a stay at home mom.  On more than one occasion I  have been asked what I do all day.   Um-mm let me see how to phrase this… I train all day.   Not the kind of training you may be thinking about, allow me to explain.  Scripture tells us to train our children in the way they should go, the God way, the truth way, the blood bought way.  Training is not an option.  Because of our inherited sin nature EVERY child, no matter how cute is born with a desire to do wrong.  Everyday I am training and quite frankly it is hard work.    My job is not to tame my children’s sin, instead I have been entrusted with the job of encouraging them to nail it to the cross through submission to Christ.  Training begins with teaching them the word of God, this is the manual. The end goal is beyond nice behaved children. I want them to live knowing that death and judgment is certain for everyone.  So through my training I am encouraging them  to have a right relationship with God so that eternity can be spent with Him.

I train them not only through speaking the word but by living the word through my actions.

  • I train them  to understand that true love disciplines wrong behavior in an effort to prevent worst things from happening.  I choose not to wink at undesired behavior because of love.
  • I train them to be humble and to have a repentant heart when I say sorry (even to them) when I am wrong.
  • I train them to forgive and extend mercy when I forgive their offenses; not constantly reminding them of what they have done wrong. Dish out the consequence for wrongdoing and move on.  Do not look for opportunities to bring up how they missed the mark.

I train not just concerning the spiritual but the natural, but wait… the two are very much connected.

  • I train them to  not be idle and prioritize that which is important when I choose to cook and clean my house instead of spending too much time on social media.  I also give them the opportunity to work with their hands and allow the mess that comes with learning.




  • I train them to understand what  honor  “looks” like when their father comes home to a cooked meal and washed clothes.  When my words are tempered with grace and my eyes aren’t rolling when he says something I don’t want to hear.  They are watching more than I realize, and I have had to apologize more than once.IMG_1883


  • I train them to have responsibilities when I sit in the kitchen  and talk to them for a hour and a half while they clean, a job that I could have done in 30 minutes. Or when I wait for what seems like forever for them to pick up every Lego off the floor and resist the temptation to do it all for them because I can do it faster and betterIMG_1930


  • I train them when I allow them to experience the consequences of their poor choices and not always come to the rescue.  “No I will  not allow you to be late to school because you can’t find your recorder for music class.  I told you the night before to put everything in your bag.  Are you kidding me? There is six of you, I cannot keep up with your stuff. Stop crying and get in the van RIGHT NOW!”  True story, I am not making this up.. oh it’s happened to you too?
  • I train them to love who God created them to be when I  allow them to cry because they just don’t fit in with everyone else.  I say a prayer, wipe the tears and tell them how beautiful and special they are because God said so and I believe Him.


  • I train them to  feel secure through the meals we share as a family at the table.  Letting them know that even with the absence of fine china and a perfectly set table conversations about the highs and lows of our day can flow freely.



  • I train them to know they are loved by putting my to do list on hold and reading a book with them or just being silly and laughing about nothing really important.


  • I train them to know dedication when I take my tired body to bed, wake up the next morning, ready to do it all over again and again and again!

Yes, this training thing is hard work.  The struggle is real but so is God’s love, His grace and His wisdom.  I don’t always do it perfectly.   I continue to learn that God gave us our children to train but certainly is not expecting us to do it on our own. We can do this…because of Christ!



Isaiah’s Testimony

Isaiah Blessing Jones made his debut into this world on Wednesday, August 17,  2011 at 9:53 PM.  He  weighed 6 pounds 5 ounces and was 19 inches tall.  The pregnancy was uneventful and there was no need for concern.  I had a normal delivery, however shortly after his birth, the action began!

  • When he was 2 days old, Isaiah was admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) because his blood sugar levels were low. I was told that I would have to leave the hospital without him and he would ONLY have to stay a few extra days.  I had never been done this road before; never did it cross my mind that after giving birth I would have to leave my baby in the hospital. To say I was emotional would be an understatement.  They began to feed him sugar water hoping to increase his blood sugar levels.
  • After his first day in the NICU, Isaiah was not digesting his feedings which was a red flag.  He was given IV fluids and feedings were put on hold.
  • On Day 3 blood was found in his stool which was a great cause for alarm and his tummy was distended.  In attempt to diagnose the problem, he had quite a few x-rays but all looked normal.  The doctors were very puzzled but suggested that he might have an infection.
  • On Day 4, his bilirubin levels were high so he had to go under the lights to help his levels return to normal.  He stayed under the lights for 3 days and was eventually removed.  His platelets levels began to drop and his white blood cell count was very low.  They continued to do x-rays and draw his blood every few hours for testing.
  • He still had blood in his stool on day 5 and had to have a platelet transfusion.  The Dr. in the NICU was very concerned and called in a pediatric surgeon to take a look at Isaiah.  After examining him, the surgeon concluded that he required immediate surgery.
  • At 5 days old, Isaiah had to have surgery.  Before surgery we were informed of all the risk involved, death being one of them.  Everything was happening so fast and I just wondered how we got to this point.  There were so many uncertainties concerning Isaiah.  Tyrone had been holding up pretty well but the tears began to flow when he saw our new baby laying there helpless before surgery.  Isaiah went into surgery at approximately 1:00PM and came out at 2:15PM.  That day in the waiting room was one of the longest days of our lives.  Tyrone and I sat there beside each other.  We prayed and waited.  The Dr. finally emerged to let us know that surgery had been successful.  He was diagnosed with  Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) and 4 inches of Isaiah’s small intestines that were dead was removed.    He had an illesotomy and we were told that he would have the bag on anywhere from 6 months to 2 years.  We were so thankful that after two and half months, the day after his Christening, Isaiah had a successful surgery to reconnect his intestines.

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  • We got pass surgery for his intestines and then on day 8 another bomb was dropped on us.  We were told that Isaiah had a heart murmur and had to have a PDA ligation surgery.  The PDA is a part of the heart.  Most babies are born with the PDA open, but it typically closes shortly after birth. The surgery on his intestines created a lot of trauma to his little body so the PDA never closed.
  • Isaiah had PDA ligation surgery on day 12. We were physically tired but not as emotional this time around.  God had given us an overwhelming sense of peace and we were standing in faith believing all was well.  Surgery was done in an hour and it was successful.
  • After the 13th day in the hospital, Isaiah was taken off the ventilator, and they began to feed him my milk through a tube.  Isaiah eventually began to tolerate more of his feedings and was taken off the ventilator.  After a month, he was able to come home.
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It was often a challenge taking all the children to see Isaiah. They were excited about their new baby brother but were ready for him to come home.
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Elijah was so excited when he finally got a chance to touch Isaiah.
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Tyrone would often leave work and come straight to the hospital to spend time with Isaiah.

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Big sisters learning from the nurse how to take care of Isaiah and how to change his bag before he came home. I look back and am amazed at how strong Naomi was. She would often assist me when I changed Isaiah’s bag at home.
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The day Isaiah finally got to come home!
This picture was taken on the day of Isaiah’s christening. He would have his third and final surgery the following day.


Isaiah had his third and final surgery around this time three years ago.  I cannot help but to reflect and offer up praises to our God.  Isaiah is well, praise God!  Today I remember and celebrate what God has done for our tenacious boy!

Isaiah covering face isaiah holding nubmer 3

isaiah all smiles


Learning Alphabet & Scripture

Reading is fundamental; not an original thought I know, but it is true.  I want my children to cultivate a love for reading at an early age and it all begins with knowing the alphabet.  Today I am sharing a simple activity that accomplishes two objectives, learning the alphabet and the word of God.   This activity kept my four year old occupied for at least 30 minutes while I washed the dishes.  I loved that I didn’t have to stop and sit with him but we still had “together” time as I gave him different directives.  It was a win for the both of us.  The steps are below.

  1. Get a printout for your child to trace letters A-Z
  2. After she traces the letters, have her say each letter and the sound.
  3. After she says the letter sound have her say things that begin with that letter.  If your child is a little more advanced you can have her make sentences with the chosen word.
  4. Have her repeat the scripture that goes with the specific letter. Please visit this post, scroll down to the bottom and you will see my ABC scripture list.

Below is an example of applying the above steps for the Letter “A”

  1. Ask her to point to the letter “A” on her sheet.
  2. Ask her what sound the “A” makes.
  3. Ask her to tell you some words that make the “A” sound.  You can go on and on with this step depending on how much time you need to buy and how attentive your child is.
  4. Ask her to make sentences with the “A” words she mentioned.   You can extend this activity and make a story about the “A” words.  Again this is all about how much time you need and how attentive your child is.
  5. Finally, have your child repeat the “A” scripture,  “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23.”
  6. You can extend this activity by having her draw pictures of the “A” words she listed.

If you decide to try this, please leave a comment and let me know how it works out.  Happy Friday to you!