Clarice James

Smart, Fun, Relatable Fiction


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Helping My Husband Find His Ministry

Spiritual GiftsWe have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach, if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. ~ Ro 12:6-8 (NIV)

I’d been praying about using my spiritual gifts in a more effective way, but I wanted to be sure I had them right. The Pastor’s sermon on Romans 12 was the confirmation I needed.

Though the gifts are present in several Scripture passages, I’ll stick to the seven gifts listed in Romans 12:6-8: Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Encouraging, Giving, Leading, and Showing Mercy.

My primary gift is Encouragement; my secondary gift is Service.

In years past, I may have coveted other gifts like Prophecy or Leadership. But 33 years of walking with Christ has shown me two things: I’m no prophet and to be a leader you need followers. I have none—and I don’t think God counts Twitter.

Now that I had my gifts in order, as any good helpmate would do [good may not be the correct word, but meddling doesn’t sound as nice], I decided to help my mate find his.

My husband is not  joiner, nor is he as social as I am. He’s pretty much a homebody; therefore you can see why he would need my wisdom in this area.

After church, over breakfast, I brought up the sermon. “So what do you think your gifts are?”

“Not sure,” he said, as he took a sip of his coffee.

I announced, “Mine are Encouragement and Service.”

He put his coffee down. “Sounds right.”

I pushed on. “Well, do you ever feel like you have a Prophetic Word for people—besides me, I mean?” I confess I knew the answer all ready.

“Nope.” He took a forkful of scrambled eggs.

“Okay, what about Service? You’re always doing things for me like shopping, running errands, laundry, and helping me with my computer stuff.  Service could be your spiritual gift.”

He swallowed his bite and washed it down with juice. “Could be.”

“Wait. Let’s look at Teaching. You know how you’re good at explaining things to me– like on my blog or website or around the house– maybe you could teach others? You’re smarter than anyone I know.”

“Not so sure about that.” He bit into a sausage and said, “Hmm. Jimmy Dean?”

“Hey, perhaps we have the same gifts. You’re always telling me to do things that I don’t think I can do. Maybe you’re an Encourager.”

“Could be.” He wiped his mouth. “Can you please pass the jam?”

“Don’t panic, we’re not in a jam. We still have Giving, Leading, and Showing Mercy left. We’re not rich, but you give to many different causes, right? I’m always getting sidetracked, so I  certainly look to you to lead us. And we both know you have a lot of mercy.”

“Why do you say that?”  He got up and refilled our mugs.

“For starters, you’re patient with me when I’m sick. Me, with you, not so much.”

“Let’s not worry about all this right now,” he said. “God will reveal my gifts in His time.”

“I know, but this is important! We need to know what your gifts are so you can plug into a ministry.”

Determined to solve this mystery, I mentally reviewed what we’d learned so far.  Suddenly it struck me. I looked at my husband and said, “Uh, oh. I think God just gave me a revelation.”

He finished clearing the dishes and sat down. “And what might that be?”

“I think He told me that your ministry is ME!”

My husband smiled and patted my hand.

I think he knew that already.

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Don’t Leave Without Paying Your Respects

God brings death and God brings life, brings down to the grave and raises up. God brings poverty and God brings wealth; he lowers, he also lifts up. He puts poor people on their feet again; he rekindles burned-out lives with fresh hope, Restoring dignity and respect to their lives— a place in the sun! ~ 1 Sam 2:6-8 (MSG)

respect“Freddie White died,” my mother broke the news to my father as soon as he got home from work.

“Freddie White?” Dad sat heavy in his chair as the news sunk in. “How? When?”

“A few days ago, at age 48. The obituary didn’t say how. The wake’s tomorrow night.”

Dad bent to take off his concrete-encrusted work boots. “I should go. He didn’t have much family.”

Freddie White was one of my father’s “men.” That’s what he called his crew of irregular mason tenders and bricklayers, many of them recovering (or wannabe recovering) alcoholics and drug users. Dad had picked them up, here and there, during the decades of his own sobriety and membership in AA. Referring to them as “men” was a sign of respect.

Part of his personal sponsorship style included giving them work now and again. He often had more men than he had work. It had been years since Dad had seen Freddie. Perhaps that’s why he wondered aloud, “Maybe if I’d stayed in touch . . .”

The next night, on his way out to the funeral parlor, Dad said to Mom, “I might be a while. A lot of the old crew will be there. It’ll be good to see them . . . even under these circumstances.”

When my father came home from the wake, he had a story to tell. “I couldn’t believe it. The place was packed. The line to the casket was out the door.”

“You’re kidding?” Mom looked surprised. “Who all was there?”

“I didn’t see a familiar face,” Dad said. “This crowd was different.”

“No guys stuffed into borrowed sports jackets two sizes too small?

“Nope,” Dad said.

“How about men wearing neckties which stopped six inches above their belt buckle?”

“None,” Dad answered. “Another thing, I shook hands with a lot of people and didn’t find a bloodied knuckle in the bunch.”

“It sounds like Freddie had some fancy new friends,” Mom said.

“You might say that. While the line wound its way toward the casket, I overheard some of the others talking about Fred’s brand new forty-foot power boat and how sad it was that he never got to take it out.”

Mom shook her head to make sure she heard right. “A what?”

Dad continued. “All I could think was, ‘Wow. Freddie White died owning a forty-foot boat.’ By the time I reached the casket, I was in shock.”

“Why? Was it a fancy coffin?”

“No, I was in shock because the guy lying in it wasn’t Freddie!” My father started to laugh and couldn’t stop. “The man’s name was Frederick White. You got that part right, but he was 84, not 48. And he was a Mason as in Freemason, not a mason as in laborer.”

Mom’s hands flew to her face. “Oh, no! What did you do?”

“What could I do? I was only a few feet from the family; I couldn’t very well leave without paying my respects. I took his wife’s hand in mine, looked into her tear-filled eyes and said the only thing I could about her husband: “It’s a real shame about the boat.”

True story (even with some literary embellishment). And it has a moral: Don’t leave this earth without paying your respects to someone: the down-and-outers, the up-and-comers, the in-crowd, the outcasts, the young, the old, the hurting and the healthy.

It won’t kill you. I promise.

Note: In case you’re wondering, after Dad’s funeral parlor faux pas, he connected with the real Freddie White. He was sober and doing well–although not well enough to buy a boat.