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Every single person on the planet has been wired by God Himself, with his or her own set of likes and dislikes, talents and shortcomings.



My son is a reader. Nathan could happily spend all day lost in a book — anything from The Chronicles of Narnia to Star Wars — and only look up long enough to put food in his face. In fact, a few days ago at the library, Nathan informed me that he is running out of books to read.

“I’ve read all these,” he complained.

“All of them?” I asked, motioning toward the rows of shelves with a wink.

“Well, not the whole library. But I’m gettin’ pretty close.”

And yet, the same boy who loves books, hates math. He’d rather clean toilets or even play with his sisters than do long-division. He absolutely can’t stand it. After all, he is my boy.

My daughter, though, is like her daddy. Math comes easily for her, and she even finds it fun. Anne’s mind understands math concepts, but she can’t spell to save her life. We practice her spelling words, but see little improvement. Her brain adds, subtracts, and multiplies. It doesn’t spell.

“You’re something special … You’re the only one of your kind,” the old children’s song says. How true! Nathan and Anne each have their own gifts, and so does our youngest daughter, Molly. My husband and I have our areas of ability and interest, too. God designed everyone that way. Every single person on the planet has been wired by God Himself, with his or her own set of likes and dislikes, talents and shortcomings.

This design — this wiring — is what author Max Lucado calls “you-niqueness.” In his book Cure for the Common Life: Living Life in Your Sweet Spot, Lucado explores the idea that God has gifted everyone uniquely. And those gifts, says Lucado, should be used for the Giver. “Use your uniqueness (what you do) to make a big deal out of God (why you do it) every day of your life (where you do it).”

But how do I determine my uniqueness? How do I find my “sweet spot” — that place where I know, “I was made to do this”? Max Lucado writes that uniqueness is found “at the intersection of your affections and successes.” What do I really love to do? (My affections.) And what do I really do well? (My successes.) Wherever those answers overlap, I find my God-given uniqueness.

I love the piano. I listen to piano music on Pandora, and plunk out songs on my keyboard every now and then, but, to paraphrase my fourth grade piano teacher Mrs. Brian, piano probably isn’t my thing. I love it, but I’m not talented at it.

On the other hand, I can cook well enough to feed my family. Nothing fancy, but I’m adequate. My children don’t starve. But, I can’t stand to be in the kitchen. Baking, cooking … it’s all a waste of time to me. Spending so long in preparation and clean-up, three times a day? No, thank you. I can do it well enough, but I don’t love it. I don’t even like it.

Piano-playing and cooking aren’t my uniqueness. My “affections and successes intersect” when I teach, and when I write. I love both of those things, and I have success at both, too. I love seeing the “Aha!” expression in my children’s eyes when they catch on to something I’ve taught. I love to craft words, and proofread them, and even delete them in frustration and start all over again. Teaching and writing: my sweet spots.

Knowing this about myself frees me to be me; to glorify God by simply being the Amy Storms He designed. After years of struggle — years of feeling guilty over all the things I’m not — I am becoming OK with saying “no” to the things that aren’t in my sweet spot. I still remember the first time I turned down a telephone request to make dinner for a sick church member. (Really, did they want me to make her sicker?) I said no, hung up the phone, and added out loud to myself, “… but I can write her a letter!” Why be someone I’m not? I bring glory to God through my uniqueness.

Children have sweet spots too. Intentional parents pay attention to the “affections and successes” of their children in order to help them identify their sweet spots and live in them. “Don’t see your child as a blank slate awaiting your pen,” writes Lucado, “but as a written book awaiting your study.” Loves to read but hates math, loves math but can’t spell … this is God-given uniqueness.

Naturally, parents want to open the world to their children; to provide every opportunity and encourage kids that they can be “anything.” But the truth is, children were not designed to be “anything.” How much better to pay attention to a child’s affections and successes, and point him to his sweet spot? Not “be anything,” but rather, be the “something” God designed.

To help readers determine their uniqueness, Cure for the Common Life includes a few tools and tests. Lucado advocates looking back over life stages — childhood, youth, and adulthood — and simply remembering sweet spot experiences. Lucado writes, “Recall times when you did something well (success) and enjoyed doing it (satisfaction).” Pay attention to any “nouns and verbs” that repeat frequently. Soon, patterns emerge. Certain successes are repeated over and over again, and a sweet spot uniqueness is pinpointed.

For example, when I took Max Lucado’s assessment a few years ago, I identified my love for teaching. Even as a child, I’d line up dolls and teach school. I played with old Sunday School curriculum, and taught Bible stories to my stuffed animals. A simple memory, but a significant one. In fact, realizing that God has wired me for teaching was a big factor in our decision to homeschool.

On the other hand, my husband’s test three years ago revealed that his current job wasn’t in his sweet spot. Andy’s love for people was stifled by his behind-the-desk administrative tasks. After looking over Andy’s assessment in Cure for the Common Life, I told him point-blank, “You’re in the wrong job.”

Fast-forward two years. Thankfully, Andy’s boss (our pastor) also noticed his unhappiness — that Andy wasn’t serving in his uniqueness. He moved Andy to another role in our church, one with fewer “tasks” and more “people.” He lives in his sweet spot.

Last spring, a friend visited from out-of-state. We hadn’t seen Jason for a few years, and we enjoyed an entire weekend of catching up. The night before he left, Jason prayed with Andy and me. His prayer for Andy brought tears to my eyes: “Lord, thank You for Andy’s job change. I see a joy in him now that I hadn’t seen for a while.”

“I see a joy in him.” That’s it! Really, not much was different. Andy still had the same employer and same co-workers. He lived in the same house with the same wife and the same kids. But the only change made all the difference. Now he used his uniqueness. Now he lived in his sweet spot.

I wonder if God scratches His head when I try so hard to be “anything,” and ignore the person He created me to be. I wonder if He says, “Child, why are you trying to spell when I created you to do math?” “Quit worrying about math when I made you to read! Read all the books — read the whole library! — and be the beautifully unique person I designed.”

Amy Storms is a wife, mom, and writer in Joplin, Missouri. An Oklahoma girl at heart, she lives with her pastor-husband Andy, their kids Nathan, Anne, and Molly, and about a hundred other "sons" in a dorm at her beloved alma mater, Ozark Christian College. Along with guacamole and Dr. Pepper, words are some of her very favorite things. She loves to read words, craft them on the page, and, of course, say them. Too many of them.


When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.



One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

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Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.



“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

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He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.



Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

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Hi, I'm Ashleigh Slater, founder and editor of Ungrind. Here at Ungrind, it’s our goal to churn out biblically-based encouragement for women. We strive to be honest and transparent about our struggles in a way that inspires hope, faith, and perseverance.

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by Amy Storms time to read: 5 min