For most of us, God has been weaving a story full of ebbs and flows. The successes and failures, the significant others, mentors, and friends along with the disappointing, ­confidence-​­shattering relationships. They all have purpose. Each experience preparing us for the next.

You’ve been walking down a path, and at times your entire life has turned on a dime when you experienced a particular moment. A lesson learned. A dream pursued. These moments lead you to a destination, if you will muster the courage to stare down the road, into the horizon. What have been the major turning points in your life

Write down the turning points in your life.

We all have talents. Sometimes hidden and other times on display for everyone to see. Often we don’t feel confident enough to affirm them ourselves. We need others to name them for us. These birthright gifts were given to us by God. They are what make us uniquely ourselves. But if we don’t dig them up, brush them off, and put them to use, we may never know what God intended for us to do.

 Write down your talents. Try to list at least three or four.

Search for the greatest burdens buried in your heart. What keeps you up at night and shakes you awake in the morning? What makes you cry, and what makes you dance? Look for the moments when you feel most afraid or when the injustices you see around you stir up anger. For me, my greatest fear was mental illness, and my burden was for women who are fading.

Write down your greatest burden.

I’m reminded of my friend Trina, who woke to early tremors of her gifting while she had newborns and toddlers in tow. She kept her footing despite having a brood of four ­children—​­navigating school projects, sports schedules, potty training, and nursing. This was possible because of her husband’s faithful presence and affirmation. Stephen, a successful entrepreneur himself, filled in the gaps, humbling himself to enable his wife to fulfill her ­God-​­given gifts. He understood that having a fully alive wife and mother meant a home that would brim with joy. His role of co­-parenting gave her breathing room to fulfill her calling to write and design. He encouraged her to develop her talents through creating a new blog and curating images she loved. As a result, her La La Lovely blog was born.

The same proved true for me. Through my seasons of discovery and creativity, Gabe has sacrificed time to help me move forward. He has cared for the children and stayed home certain nights or weekend days, giving me the space I needed to create. We co-labor together, giving of ourselves so that each of us will flourish the way God intends.

If you aren’t married, or if your husband isn’t willing to offer his support, the journey may be more difficult (particularly for single moms). But it’s not impossible. Look for a trusted ­friend—​­a person who believes in ­you—​­who encourages you along the way. Someone on speed dial to process with on days you question whether this journey is worth it. If we are going to fly, we can’t do it alone.

Note those in your life who will help you on this journey.

As women, we understand each other best. We know the unique struggles we share. Helping each other in this task is critical. What if communities of women began empowering each other to discover their gifts?

For too long we’ve allowed competitive streaks to strain our bond. Whether it’s the “perfect mom” syndrome or comparing ourselves to a woman who has her children learning French at age three or the soccer mom who delivers her kids right on time to violin, Little League, and ballet rehearsal, ­one-​­upping is a costly enterprise. Instead, let’s affirm the ­God-​­given gifts we see in each other. Perhaps this act of humble ­self-​­giving sets us free to fly.

I think of Dana, a chalk artist who has seen her gifts come alive. She never recognized her unique talent until a friend named it. She worked ­full-​­time in graphic web design, but one night at a party, someone had a chalkboard wall and asked her to draw something on it. She beautifully wrote the name of her borough, Brooklyn.

Everyone loved it. They kept asking to have their picture taken in front of her artwork, and it took off on Facebook the next day. Friends began asking Dana to do more of her chalk art. She was as shocked as they were at how eagerly her artwork was received. People saw her work behind poses and started asking her to create for them. Her freelance work became so demanding that she started creating chalk art ­full-​­time. Before long her talent was being featured in fashion store openings around the world, in Oprah’s magazine, and most recently on the cover of Time (not to mention the cover of this book).

We must call out and name the gifts we see in each other. We must speak up and encourage our loved ones when we see them coming alive.

I’m convinced God wants to use you to bring someone else’s gifts to life.

Excerpted from Freefall to Fly by Rebekah Lyons. Copyright © 2013 by Rebekah Lyons. Used with permission from Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.

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