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Coming Soon

Uniqueness, Week 1

David and Saul's Armor

1 Samuel 17

God made you to be you.

While Saul was king, God’s people faced many enemies. When the Philistines challenged, Saul gathered his own army to march out and meet them. The two armies camped on opposite hills across the valley of Elah. Each morning and evening, the Philistines sent out a tall, hulking man named Goliath to challenge the Israelites.

“Hey, you pigs!” Goliath mocked. “I dare you to send a man to fight me!” The Israelites shook in fear at the sight of Goliath’s heavy spear.

“If your man fights me and wins,” thundered Goliath, “we’ll be your slaves. But if I crush him like a cockroach, you’ll be our slaves.”

The Israelites were scared to death—including three men from Bethlehem, Jesse’s eldest sons Eliab, Abinandab, and Shammah.

“That monster isn’t even human. He’s a giant!” Eliab moaned.

“No soldier could fight him,” Abinadab agreed.

“No army could fight him,” Shammah added.

Meanwhile, their youngest brother, David, had stayed behind in Bethlehem to watch their father’s sheep. But after the brothers had been gone for more than a month, Jesse called for David.

“Take bread and cheese and grain to your brothers in the camp,” Jesse told his youngest son.
“See how they’re doing and come back to tell me.”

“I’m on it, Dad!” David exclaimed.

Early the next morning, David gathered up the food supplies and traveled quickly to the army camp. He arrived as the soldiers were taking battle positions on each side. He hurried along the Israelite line until he found his brothers.

“Hey!” David called out. “Dad wants to know how it’s going. You guys done any fighting yet? Who’s winning?”

The brothers glared at him. “Chill out, okay?” Eliab snapped.

Just then, Goliath stepped out as usual from the Philistine line and issued his twice-a-day challenge. “Hey, you pickled toads! I dare you to send a man to fight me!”

David stared in amazement. “Who does this guy think he is, talking to God’s people like that?!” He turned for an answer, but all around, Israelite soldiers were fleeing in panic—including David’s brothers.

David hurried to catch up with a few stragglers. “Goliath is putting God’s people to shame!” he shouted. “Who does he think he is? Someone’s got to stop this.”

Eliab overheard David. “Why did you even come, you little pipsqueak?” he growled. “You just want to sit around and watch.”

“What have I done now?” David asked. “Can’t I even say anything?”

King Saul heard about the things David was saying and sent for him. The king crossed his arms and studied the young shepherd. “So you think Goliath is putting us to shame?” he asked.

“Don’t let anyone lose hope because of that Philistine,” David urged. “I’ll go out and fight him!”

Saul couldn’t help laughing. “You?! You’re far too young.”

“Watching sheep isn’t easy, Your Majesty,” David answered. “Sometimes a lion or bear tries to steal one away. I grab it by the hair and strike it down! God has helped me kill a lion and a bear—and with His help, I can take down this Philistine. God has saved me before, and He’ll save me again.”


King Saul was impressed. And frankly, he was just happy to have a volunteer. “Go,” he said at last. “And may the Lord be with you.” But after another look at David’s old tunic he added, “Here, take all my armor and weapons, too.”

Saul tried to load David down with his own battle gear—heavy armor, a bronze helmet, and a sword like a weighty tree branch.

David staggered around, trying to get used to the weight. “I can’t go out there like this!” he protested as he shrugged off the armor and dropped the sword. He picked up his own wooden staff, instead. Then, he hurried down to the stream and chose five smooth stones.

David clutched his sling with sweaty hands and hurried out to the hillside where Goliath towered, mocking God’s people. The huge man laughed when he saw the young shepherd boy crossing the valley. “You think I’m only a dog?” he cackled. “Sticks and stones won’t break my bones! Come let me feed you to the wild animals!”

As David drew closer, Goliath loomed taller, nearly blocking the sky. David took a deep breath and shouted out, “You are coming to fight against me with a sword, a spear and a javelin. But I’m coming against you in the name of the Lord who rules over all….TheLord will give me victory over you. . . . Then the whole world will know there is a God in Israel. The battle belongs to the Lord!”

Enraged, Goliath thundered down the hill to meet David—who sprinted forward.

Reaching into his bag, David took out a stone and slipped it into his sling. Whipping the sling around, he fired off the stone. It hurled through the air, smacking right into Goliath’s forehead.

The mighty hulk of a man staggered forward . . . swayed . . . and fell to the earth with a ground-shaking thud.

As soon as the Philistines saw their hero was dead, they turned and ran. Shouting, the Israelites raced forward. With renewed courage, they scattered the Philistines to utter defeat.

David had helped God’s people win the battle—not with weapons or a huge army, but with God’s power and the unique gifts God had given him.

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Take a minute and each of you share someone you admire or wish you could be like.

Here’s the thing: There’s nothing wrong with looking up to someone and learning from them . . . but you never need to try to be someone else or to envy them for something they can do that you can’t. See, God created you with your own story and your own talents and gifts. There is no one in the whole world designed exactly like you. No one who can fill your shoes. Parents, if you feel like you know some of the ways that God made you unique, share them with your child. Then, point out some unique things that you see in your child. Together, ask God to show each of you how He has made you to be you.

Coming Soon

Uniqueness, Week 2

Abraham

Genesis 12

God made you for an adventure.

As Taylor stepped through the creaky screen door, she stared in disbelief at her new home for the next three weeks.

“It’s not even a cabin!” she exclaimed.

Taylor’s lanky camp counselor, Rose, grinned as she held open the rickety screen door for Taylor and the seven other campers. “Nope,” Rose explained. “It’s a yurt. Sort of a cross between a tent and a cabin.”

Taylor hesitated in the doorway, but the other girls crowded past her, laughing and chattering.
“Go ahead, Taylor,” Rose encouraged. “Pick a bunk.”

Reluctantly, Taylor tossed her duffel bag on the nearest bottom bunk and brushed sweat out of her eyes. She was supposed to be home right now, curled up in her big comfy beanbag chair in the air conditioning. But her parents had booked a last-minute research trip to New Zealand—and Grandma, who was supposed to come stay with Taylor, had broken her ankle. Now, Taylor was stuck at Wilderness Camp for almost a whole month. Sighing, she pulled out her iPod and checked to make sure she’d packed her tablet, too.

“What’s the wifi password?” she asked.

The other campers stared at Taylor as if she’d grown a third eye. Jill, a short girl with a long blonde braid, shook her head. “Didn’t you read the website?” she giggled. “No devices.”

Taylor snapped to attention. “Wait, what?”

Freckled Evie nodded. “It’s not like there’s electricity to charge them anyway.”

“But what if I have to text?” Taylor asked, head spinning. “And I’m writing this story . . .”

Rose quickly jumped in. “Hey, it’s okay! You didn’t know. But you’re gonna be having so much fun, you won’t even miss it.”

Rose pulled out a large, complicated-looking map and showed it to the whole group. “Speaking of which,” she added, “we’re gonna leave on our canoe trip first thing tomorrow morning. Two days out, two days back. No tents, but your sleeping hammocks have a tarp if it rains.”

Taylor gaped. As if the yurt weren’t bad enough, it sounded like they’d be sleeping out in the open for the rest of the week.

“What about mosquitoes?” she asked. “And bears?! And . . . and bathrooms!?!”

“Don’t worry,” Rose assured her. “We’ll talk through everything after dinner. You’ll be totally fine.”

“Yeah, right,” Taylor hissed under her breath. She trailed behind the others as they joined the rest of the camp for dinner. Outside, of course. And do-it-yourself.

“Cut up your veggies and put them in the tin foil with the ground beef,” Rose instructed. “We’ll cook your foil packets in the coals.”

An hour later, Taylor found a spot by herself at one of the picnic tables and gingerly opened up her steaming foil dinner. All the food kind of crumbled together. “Ugh,” she mumbled.

Rose slid in across from Taylor with her own meal. “I know, right?” she said, poking at her own dinner. “Not my fave.”

“I’m not hungry,” Taylor murmured.

“It’s all about the secret sauce,” Rose explained, holding up a bottle of ketchup. She doused her meal in huge blobs of it.

Taylor couldn’t help laughing. “You’ve got more ketchup than dinner!”

“That’s the point,” Rose said. “Here, try some.”

Reluctant, Taylor squeezed ketchup on her own dinner and took a bite. “Yeah, okay. That’s not terrible.”

The two ate in silence for a moment. Then Rose asked, “So, you weren’t planning on camp, huh?”

Taylor shook her head. “I was planning on playing Cavecraft all summer. And writing the rest of my book!”

“Those things both sound like a lot of fun,” Rose noted.

“Now, I’m just wasting my summer,” Taylor said glumly.

“What’s your book about?” Rose asked, like she really wanted to know.

“My friend Ethan and I came up with this idea about a kid named Orion who discovers a secret portal in his backyard that leads to the future,” Taylor told her.

“Pretty cool adventure!” Rose agreed.

“Ethan and I get together every morning to figure out the next part of the story, and then I go write it out on my tablet,” Rose explained, and then stopped, remembering. “I mean, I did. Until now.”

Rose nodded. “What if . . . maybe camp’s a kind of portal for you?”

“No way.” Taylor shook her head. “This is not the future. At least not the right one.”

But think about your favorite books,” Rose suggested. “Usually the hero doesn’t get to pick the adventure.”

Taylor frowned. But as she considered, she realized it was true. Frodo didn’t choose his journey. Neither did Luke Skywalker.

“Happens in the Bible, too,” Rose continued. “This guy named Abram was living a comfortable life, and out of nowhere, God spoke to him. This isn’t word-for-word, but God said something like: ‘Leave your home and your family. Go to this new place I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and give you lots of descendants—so many that they’ll form an entire nation. I will bless you, and you’ll bless other people. In fact, every nation that ever exists on earth will be blessed because you lived.’”

“What was the new place?” Taylor asked, curious in spite of herself.

“God didn’t say. Abram, who God later gave the name Abraham, just had to trust that God knew the rest of the story. So, he packed everything up with his wife and nephew and moved. More than 500 miles. On foot!”

“That’s crazy!” Taylor exclaimed.

“I bet everyone around him thought so, too,” Rose agreed. “But Abraham went anyway. And he ended up living out a story so amazing that we’re still talking about it thousands of years later.” Taylor took another bite of her dinner and was surprised to discover she’d finished the whole thing. “In the book I’m writing,” she mused, “maybe in the future there’s this flood, and Orion has to travel by canoe.”


“I’m thinking you could do a lot of great research on our canoe trip,” Rose pointed out.

“I’ll take lots of notes! I’ll make voice memos . . .” Taylor reached for her iPod. Which wasn’t there.

Rose slid a small note pad and pencil across the table. “This works, too.”

“I’ll start right away,” Taylor decided.

As dusk gathered, Jill and Evie waved from the bonfire. “Hey, Taylor! Wanna make s’mores?”

“We’ve got the giant marshmallows,” Evie added, jamming a huge marshmallow on a stick and waving it toward the fire.

Taylor jumped up and ran to join the other campers. “Be careful! You’ve gotta toast those big ones over the coals first.”

Soon, Taylor was laughing as she showed Evie how to toast a marshmallow the whole way through without torching it first. Three weeks in the wilderness wasn’t the story she’d picked for herself . . . but maybe it could be a good adventure, anyway.

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Share with each other your favorite adventure in a book or movie.

What’s something fun and exciting about the adventure? What’s something scary or difficult? We love reading about and watching adventures for one simple reason: God made each of us for our own adventure! You may not think of your life as an adventure right now. Parts of it may even seem boring. Or, like Taylor, you may be on an adventure you didn’t choose—like starting at a new school soon. Whatever your unique situation, you can trust that God is writing your adventure story. And when you ask Him for help, He will show you how to find adventure even in moments that seem boring, and how to walk through the difficult moments with courage. Together, pray for each other—ask God to help you to find joy and ways to love Him and love others in the middle of your
unique adventure.

Coming Soon

Uniqueness, Week 3

Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch

Acts 8:26-40

God made you to follow Jesus.

Philip had given his life to following Jesus. He’d been chosen by the early church to help make sure people in need got enough to eat. And when the religious leaders in Jerusalem began to make things tough for those who believed in Jesus, Philip traveled to Samaria to keep on telling everyone he met the good news.

Through God’s power, Philip even healed people who were sick or couldn’t walk. So many people started following Jesus that Peter and John even traveled from Jerusalem to preach and pray for the new believers. Philip himself continued listening to God’s Spirit, ready at any moment to follow where God might lead.

Even so, he was probably caught off guard when a mighty angel of the Lord showed up!

“Go south to the desert road,” the angel told Philip. “It’s the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.”

“Yes, of course,” Philip said. “South. To the road. In the desert. I’m on my way!”

Philip left immediately, though he had no idea what awaited him in the middle of the wilderness. He found himself hiking through a deserted land, the sun glaring down on him.

“Whew, it’s hot out here,”he panted. “And bright….And dusty…. And empty….And…hot….
Really hot.”

Soon, though, Philip spotted a chariot drawn by glossy horses. Inside rode a well-dressed man, an important official who served the queen of Ethiopia.

The man had traveled all the way to Jerusalem to worship God, a journey that might have taken two whole months! Now he was starting the long trip home.

“What happens now, God?” wondered Philip.

God’s Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot. Stay near it.”

Gathering his strength, Philip ran up to the chariot and jogged alongside it. The Ethiopian official—we’ll call him Hamid—was reading aloud from a scroll that had parts of the book of Isaiah on it. He glanced up in surprise when he saw Philip running beside him. “Oh, um, hello!”

“Hi!” Philip exclaimed, breathless.

“Er, pleasant day for a jog?” Hamid asked.

Keeping pace, Philip gestured to the scroll in Hamid’s lap. “Actually, I was wondering,” he panted. “Do you understand what you’re reading?”

“How can I?” asked Hamid. “I need someone to explain it to me.” Philip strained to see the scroll. “That’s the prophet Isaiah, right?”

“Yes,” Hamid said. “I bought this in Jerusalem. But it might as well be written in Siamese for all I can make out.”

“I know all about . . . Isaiah . . .” gasped Philip.

“Really? Come up and sit with me!” Hamid exclaimed.

“I thought you’d never ask,” said Philip, swinging himself up onto the seat beside Hamid. “Show me the passage.”

“This part, right here,” Hamid pointed out.

Catching his breath, Philip read, “‘He was led like a sheep to be killed. Just as lambs are silent while their wool is being cut off, he did not open his mouth. When he was treated badly, he was refused a fair trial. Who can say anything about his children? His life was cut off from the earth.’”

Hamid frowned. “Please tell me—is Isaiah talking about himself, or is he talking about someone else?”

Philip found himself grinning. Here in the middle of nowhere, God was giving him the perfect opportunity to share about Jesus.

“Isaiah is talking about a Man named Jesus,” Philip explained. “He’s God’s very own Son, and He came to invite everyone to come back to God, no matter how you grew up or where you live.”


As the chariot rattled along the rough road, Philip told the whole story of Jesus to Hamid and explained how anyone could follow Him.

“Amazing,” murmured Hamid. “Simply . . . amazing. I must tell the queen about this. And . . . look! What’s that ahead?”

The hot sun shimmered off a pool of water alongside the road.

“It’s water!” declared the official. “What can stop me from being baptized? Driver! Stop the chariot. At once!”


The two men climbed down from the chariot, and Philip led Hamid into the water.

“I baptize you in the name of Jesus!” Philip announced, dipping Hamid below the surface of the water as a sign the official wanted to follow Jesus for the rest of his life.

“I’m a new man!” declared Hamid.

As they came up out of the water, Hamid turned to smile at his new friend. But Philip . . . was gone! Hamid’s eyes searched the dry land stretching out to the horizon. Aside from his chariot, there was nothing. No one.

“It seems that God’s taken him!” Hamid marveled.

It was true. God’s Spirit had simply whisked Philip away.

“Praise God for bringing Philip here to speak with me!” Hamid exclaimed, climbing back into his chariot. He set off on his trip back home, full of joy.

Philip next appeared in Azotus. And then he traveled all around, finally ending up in Caesarea. And he shared the story of Jesus with everyone he met along the way.

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Share what you think the Ethiopian official must have thought when he saw this strange man on foot running alongside his chariot in the middle of the desert.

It’s kind of crazy, right? This official lived in a land several months’ journey from Jerusalem. But God led him to visit Jerusalem. And then, on the way home, God literally put someone in his path in the middle of the wilderness to share the story of Jesus with him. That means God can make a way for people to learn about Jesus anytime, anyplace. He made this Ethiopian official to follow Jesus—and he’s designed you to follow Jesus, too. Maybe that’s something you’re already doing. Or maybe it’s something you’re not quite sure about yet. If you’d like to learn more about what it means to follow Jesus, you can start reading about His life in the Bible—the book of John is a great place to start! Together, ask God to show you specific opportunities all week to follow Jesus by loving God and loving others.

Coming Soon

Uniqueness, Week 4

Lydia

Acts 16:11-15

God made you to love others.

Paul and Silas, along with several friends, had been traveling to visit the young churches Paul had helped to start and to share God’s story in new places. Timothy joined them in the town of Lystra. But when the group tried to enter the region of Asia Minor, God’s Spirit stopped them.

“Wait, what?” Silas exclaimed. “Why wouldn’t God want us telling His story everywhere?”

“He does,” Paul said. “But there must be a different place He wants us to visit right now.”

Sure enough, God soon sent Paul a nighttime vision. It seemed to Paul that a man from the region of Macedonia was standing before him. “Come over to Macedonia . . . Help us!” pleaded the man.

Paul was quick to share the vision with his traveling companions.

Silas frowned. “You sure about this dream? What if it was just that weird cheese you ate at dinner?”

Excitement glowed in Timothy’s eyes. “Macedonia’s in Europe! No one’s shared about Jesus in Europe, right?”

“We’ll be the first,” Paul agreed.

Together, the group decided God was calling them to Europe. So, they boarded a boat and set sail. After docking in the town of Neapolis, Paul and his friends traveled by foot to the busy city of Philippi.

“Where will we stay?” wondered Timothy. “What will we do? What are the people like? Will they listen?”

“Enough!” said Paul, laughing. “God has brought us here, so He’s got all that taken care of.”

There were no Jewish synagogues in Philippi, but there was a group of people who believed in God. One of them was a woman named Lydia, a talented business woman. She sold valuable cloth dyed a bold purple color.

“Just doubled our orders again,” she told one of her servants. “If we invest in enough donkeys, I think we can offer free two-day shipping.”

“The dye maker wants to meet with you tomorrow,” the servant told her.

“No business on the day of rest,” Lydia instructed. “I’ll be down at the river.”

Since there was no church building, Lydia often gathered on the riverbank with others who worshiped God.

“Surely that can wait?” wondered the servant.

Lydia shook her head. “God has given me so much! He deserves my time.”

The next day, on the Sabbath day, Lydia hurried through the city gates and down to the river, where the lazy water flowed between shady banks. There, she and others joined voices to worship God. But today, the women discovered they weren’t alone.

Soon after they began to worship, Paul and his friends approached the riverbank. “Hi there,” he said. “Can we join you?”

Timothy couldn’t contain himself. “Do you believe in God? Have you heard about Jesus yet?”

“We believe in God, yes.” Lydia nodded. “But this Jesus . . . no. Is He one of your friends?”

Paul smiled. “You might say so!”

Lydia listened, fascinated, as Paul shared how God had sent His very own Son to Earth, providing a way for all who believe in Him to be made right with God.

“But this . . . this is amazing news!” Lydia exclaimed. “It changes everything.”

“God has a purpose for each person who chooses to follow Jesus,” Paul added.

“Like me!” Timothy pointed out.


“This kid may be young, but he sure can preach,” Silas agreed.

“And me,” Paul noted. “Well, I was trying to do away with Jesus followers until God turned me around.”

“I want to follow Jesus, too,” Lydia decided. “Please, baptize me right now.”

Paul baptized Lydia as a sign of her commitment to Jesus. And when Lydia shared the story with her family, they all chose to be baptized as well.

As the sun began to set, Lydia turned to Paul. “Where are you and your friends staying?”

“It might be cool to sleep up in this willow tree,” Timothy suggested.


“No, no,” Lydia protested. “I’ve got plenty of room in my home. If you consider me a believer, all
of you come stay at my house!”

Lydia opened up her house to Paul and his friends, giving them a home as they shared the story of Jesus throughout Philippi and started a brand-new church. Later, Paul’s boldness in talking about Jesus got him and Silas thrown in a Philippian jail. But when God freed them, Lydia was quick to welcome them back into her home with no thought for her own reputation.

Years after, when Paul wrote a letter to the Philippian church, he praised them for their generosity. It was something that certainly began with Lydia.

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Share as many ways as you can think of to show love to someone else.

Truth is, there are as many ways as you can imagine—and more!—to show God’s love to other people. It might be as simple as a smile or an encouraging word or as big as giving up a week at camp to spend time with a friend who is going through something difficult. Here’s the cool thing: God designed you to show love to others, and He made you to do it in your own unique way. For Lydia, that meant giving Paul and his friends a place to stay. If you’re a great baker, it might be by making cookies for people. If you’re funny, maybe God made you to encourage others by making them laugh. Or maybe you’re a fantastic listener, and you show God’s love to people by listening to their stories. Parents, share with your child a special way that you think they’re designed to show God’s love to others. Together, ask God to help you find specific opportunities to love others this week.

Coming Soon

Uniqueness, Week 5

Gifts of the Spirit

1 Corinthians 12:1, 4-11

God made you to do good.

As the movie credits rolled, Jude couldn’t help humming along with the theme music. Jude’s best friend, David, grinned and swallowed another bite of brownie.

“See? I said you’d like it.”

The two friends had just finished watching Chariots of Fire, and Jude was definitely inspired. “That guy, Eric, he got to show the whole world how awesome God is . . . just by running fast and winning races.”

“Pretty cool,” Eric agreed.

“‘God made me fast.’ That’s what he said!” Jude recalled. “I wish God made me fast. I was always last in the 100-meter dash.”

“I think God makes us good at all kinds of different things,” David pointed out. “There’s this verse in First Corinthians, hold on . . . ”

David pulled out his phone, opened an app, and read, “‘There are different kinds of gifts. But they are all given to believers by the same Spirit. . . . The Holy Spirit is given to each of us in a special way. That is for the good of all.’”

“Sounds great and all. But I’m not good at anything,” Jude sighed.

“You baked some pretty amazing brownies!” David told him, holding up the plate of brownies Jude had made, now empty except for a few crumbs.

“Yeah, well… I guess…”Jude said.

Actually, the brownies had come from a mix. Jude had just dumped in eggs and oil and water and stirred. But surely that counted.

“You could enter the baking contest at the county fair!” David exclaimed. “The winner gets to go on the Great National Bake-Off Show.”

Jude warmed to the idea. “And then I could show everyone how God made me an awesome baker!”

He was so excited he signed up for the competition right away and decided to bake a Black Forest Cake, decorated with loads of chocolate and whipped cream and cherries.

The day of the competition, David helped Jude haul his ingredients and brand-new baking equipment into the building where the bake off would be held.

“You’ve practiced a lot, right?” David asked.

Actually, Jude hadn’t. But he was sure he was ready. “I’ve got the recipe right here,” he pointed out. “And I’m good at following directions.”

Soon, Jude had his station set up. So did the dozen other bakers, including a tiny red-headed girl beside him. “Hey, there!” She waved. “I’m Carol.”

An elderly gentleman on Jude’s other side grinned and twirled his moustache. “Name’s Warren.”

And just ahead, a frazzled woman adjusted her apron. “I’m Rayna,” she said, “and I—”

Before Rayna could finish speaking, she accidentally knocked over her drink cup. Hot coffee formed a stream, heading for her bags of flour and sugar.

“I’ve got it!” Jude cried out.

In a flash, he had grabbed a towel and sprung over his own station to mop up Rayna’s coffee. He caught it just in time to save the flour.

“Thank you. Thank you!” Rayna enthused. “I didn’t bring any extra flour. I would have been sunk!”

“No problem,” Jude grinned. “I’m sure your cake will totally rock. Especially now that it won’t be coffee cake.”

Rayna laughed. “Yeah, I don’t think key lime and coffee would work so well together.”

Just then, the judges entered and everyone snapped to attention for the long list of instructions. Jude could feel his heart pounding as one of the judges finally started the clock for two hours.

“Good luck, you guys!” Jude called to his fellow bakers. Then, he fixed his attention on the recipe. It had seemed simple enough when he read through it, but even the first step got complicated.

“Cream the butter and sugar . . .” he read. But when he tried to lower the churning beaters into the bowl, they bounced right off the rock-hard butter that he’d forgotten to warm up. Bits of butter and sprays of sugar flew everywhere.

“Ugh. What a mess,” Jude moaned.

He was cleaning up when beside him, Warren started a bad coughing fit. His face turned bright red.

“Hey, man! That’s rough,” Jude exclaimed, rummaging in his own supplies until he found a bottle of water. “Here, have a drink.”

As Warren gulped water, his coughing finally stopped.

“I’ve got a cough drop somewhere,” Jude said, digging in his pocket. “Oh, and here’s a tissue!”

He handed both to Warren, who took them gratefully. “Thanks!” Warren exclaimed. “I thought I was gonna have to bow out of the competition.”

“Never!” Jude told him. “I’m dying for a taste of that rhubarb pie you’re whipping up. It’s gonna be amazing.”

Jude tried to focus on his own cake, but he added a tablespoon of salt instead of a teaspoon and then discovered he’d brought baking chocolate instead of cocoa. By the time Jude finally slid his cake pans into the oven, Carol was taking her carrot cake out.

“Oh no!” she said. “I didn’t bring a cooling rack.”

“Use mine!” Jude offered quickly.

“Are you sure?” Carol asked.

“Of course,” Jude said, handing over a wire rack. “I hate carrots, and you’ve actually managed to make them look good! That’s talent!”

Carol grinned and accepted the cooling rack. Jude scrambled to make frosting while his own cake finished baking—but then the layers turned to crumbs as he tried to pry them out.

Later, he glumly surveyed the table of finished baked goods with David. Carol’s carrot cake boasted a blue ribbon. Warren’s rhubarb pie had come in third. And Rayna’s key lime cake was a work of art.

David took a look at Jude’s cake. “It’s . . . interesting,” he said carefully.

“It looks like something that survived the zombie apocalypse,” Jude sighed. “I can’t bake. I can’t run. There’s nothing special about me!”


“Actually,” David said, “I was watching you during the competition—”

Just then, Carol waved at them from across the room. Warren tipped his hat at Jude, and Rayna flashed a smile as she passed by with her box of baking supplies.

Jude waved back at them all, but couldn’t muster a smile. “Yeah, you and everyone else watched me make a fool of myself.”

“Nope,” said David. “I saw you helping everyone around you. Making them laugh.”

“But that’s no big deal,” protested Jude.

“Actually, I think it is,” David told him. “I think it’s the way God made you. To encourage people.”

Jude looked at him in surprise. “Really?”

David nodded. “Different kinds of gifts . . . same Spirit.”

“Oh,” said Jude. “I never thought of it like that.” Gingerly, he picked up the plate holding his collapsing cake disaster. “I think I’ll stick with a mix next time,” he added.

Maybe it wasn’t as dramatic as winning an Olympic race or showing off his talents on television . . . but Jude was grateful to discover that God had, indeed, given him a special gift to use for those around him.

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Just like for Jude, sometimes it’s easier for other people to see the unique gifts that God has given you than it is for you to see them in yourself.

Parents, take a moment to list for your child the unique gifts that you think God has given them. Kids, challenge yourself to see if you can think of a few things that your parents are really good at, too! Now, together, come up with some ways that you can use the gifts that God has given you to help the people around you—or even people in other parts of your city or the world. Choose one thing that each of you can do this week (individually or together) to use your unique gifts to help someone else. Together, ask God to help you follow through.