My mother and I have always had the most beautiful conversations. This last weekend, I had the pleasure of driving her home to Superior. She had just flown in after  three months in Florida, due to Covid-19. There, she was in my sister’s home and safe from the craziness of the world as we all know it. However, she longed to be home…

Ah, three hours in the car alone with my mom, the most wise and gifted woman I know!

We spent a good amount of time catching up on all of the happenings in each other’s lives, then the focus shifted as she looked down at her hands.

You see, mom is 93, and the years have been impressed upon her hands. However, her spirit, passion and mental energy soar! With the genetic history of rheumatoid arthritis, one of her joints on her right hand is inflamed the size of a quarter and a few others, a bit disfigured.

While in Florida, she had the pleasure of welcoming another great-grandson, Jakub. Her sadness and disapproval of her hands was spoken as a result my sister snapping a picture of mom lovingly holding the new babe.  Mom said her hands were so awful she immediately deleted the picture.

The irony is, I LOVE those hands and secretly have wanted a photo of them : ) I asked mom to celebrate and thank those hands. For with them, they have loved and cared for my daddy, as well as nurtured myself and four siblings. It is with those hands that she owned & ran a grocery store, while caring for us all. Not to mention, helping dad build a cabin, home, and having multiple rental properties. With those hands, she was a servant of the church and community. Most importantly, mom showed her children how to place our hands together in prayer~

While mom gave effortlessly, she also honored herself in play (golf/bridge) and the passion that burned within… her art. With her eyes, she was awestruck with the beauty that surrounded her in nature and wondered how a person could not believe in the Creator Himself. With very few art lessons, God breathed into my mother the gift to recreate His glory which surrounds us. At 93, he steadied her hand and blessed her with the gift of the below watercolors.

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I believe that we are all blessed with unique gifts imparted by the Father. It is for us, to simply unwrap them~ Through STB’s Living your Talents and Strengths workshop, each person has the opportunity to release the ribbon and journey within!

Paula Larkee

Talents Bring Gratitude

As I journey through this pandemic with the rest of the world, I have been surprised at the number of times the concept of talents and strengths has come to my attention in some rather surprising ways.  I have the good fortune to be facilitating a Stewardship Ministry for my parish community. All of us are volunteers and we recently took a series of workshops on Living Your Talents and Strengths. Receiving a personal profile of my talent themes was a wonderfully affirming experience.  It resonated completely with my view of myself: who I was, what was important to me, how I typically approached life, what gave me true joy in life, what I naturally did well.

I also began to notice that I was seeing the other members of the ministry with new eyes.  Their own unique sets of talents and strengths became more apparent to me.  I saw how these affected their responses to projects - planning, carrying out and evaluating the steps. I saw how they contributed important and necessary gifts to our team.  And I delighted in these realizations. It gave me as much joy to see their contributions bearing fruit, as it did my own.

I also realized how great a part God played in bringing us all together, at just the right time, in the right setting, to make contributions that matched our gifts and talents.  I believe that by bringing to consciousness my own talents I also became more aware of those of the people around me.

The link was gratitude: gratitude for what I had personally been given and gratitude for who each of the other members of the team were, with their own talents and strengths.

Recently a relative posted that she was enjoying the enforced time at home, away from her job, because it gave her the opportunity to really observe and get to know her children in a deeper way.  She expressed joy at watching how they approached problems, found solutions, and put the mark of their own unique talents on what was going on.  She had not had time in her busy life to see this before. I am confident that this realization brought gratitude, in its wake.

There are also lots of stories circulating in the news about people taking the initiative to help their neighbors in ways large and small.  One that struck me was about a milk truck driver in rural Wisconsin who contributed a sizable amount of money to seed an idea for taking excess milk that couldn’t be processed by local dairies, and using it to start up a cheese curd plant. The cheese curds that were made are being donated to local food shelves. This man also solicited donations of cash from other people to fund the project.  He said that he had received help in his life and wanted to help others.  Gratitude for gifts received led to someone using talents that they perhaps had never tapped into before.

We are surrounded by people with surprising talents and strengths. Despite the difficult times ahead, we need to notice, invite, encourage and express gratitude for these talents wherever we find them.

Judy Urban

Needs Liberate Gifts

Sometimes the way we discover our gifts is when a need presents itself.   When our Archdiocese began a partnership with the Diocese of Kitui, Kenya, the bishop told us that we are coming together to share gifts and liberate our gifts.  He said,

Our people are very gifted, but sometimes their gifts are held down by the weight of poverty and sickness.  And yet, our needs have liberated your gifts to lighten our load.  In the same way, I know that you are a gifted people, but you can be held back because of the distractions and mass consumption.  Your need can liberate our gifts for joyful worship and peace.  Together we share gifts and discover our gifts when we present our needs to each other.  Your needs liberate my gifts.

It’s good to pay attention to the needs of our world because that need may be calling forth your gift!  When we listen to the prayers for the Church and world at Mass, we believe that the Holy Spirit provides the gift to respond to that need.  Maybe, this week there will be a need proclaimed that wants to liberate my gift or your gift.  This is what it means for the Church to be the Body of Christ:  “If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.  Now you are the Body of Christ…Strive eagerly for (sharing) the greatest spiritual gifts” (I Corinthians 12:26-27; 31).

Deacon Mickey Friesen