By Stephanie Parker

The other day, my 7 year old daughter Charlotte informed me that she had made her bed AND her brother’s bed, folded her laundry and cleaned up her toys. The kicker was that I hadn’t asked her to do any of those things. She then asked me if there was anything she could do to help me! After nearly passing out from utter shock (because this had NEVER happened before), I told her how loved she made me feel by doing all those things without being asked. My natural response was to shower her with love in return... to reward her for her random outburst of responsibility. Later that day, after I had doled out a few dozen hugs and kisses and re-emphasized how grateful and proud of her I was, I let her pick out a little toy while we were on our grocery run. Her choice to bless me, became a blessing back on her.

Today, as I was pondering all of this, I was reminded of this verse, “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him" (Luke 11:13).

It was a joy to bless my daughter when she chose to help out the way she did. Our heavenly father gives us good gifts even when we don’t ‘make our beds’ so to speak… when we deserve it the least. But can you imagine what joy it must bring Him to bless us when we go out of our way to bless and love on others in His name!? Jesus even said, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25: 40-45).

The blessings we receive from God when we love and serve others out of the love that we have received from Him, aren’t often material in nature. More to the point, they aren’t His BEST blessings. In fact, if you go back to that verse in Luke that I wrote above, you will notice that God’s greatest gift is the Holy Spirit…His presence with us. I’ve discovered that when I pour out His love to those around me, something happens that I could never achieve in my own strength. It empties me of myself so that I can hear and see God more clearly in the world around me. Hearing and seeing God is the best blessing of all! His presence IS the blessing. Being able to truly see the Holy Spirit at work fulfilling His purpose for my life, far outweighs any material possession I’ve been blessed with in all my 34 years. If you’ve experienced this, you know what I mean.

Please understand that I’m a work in progress. The Holy Spirit has opened my eyes to how truly selfish I can be…how I can often think of no one but myself. I’ve begun to regularly pray that He would help me decrease so He can increase, that there would be less of me, and that I could truly die to myself so that He could live through me (John 3:30, Galations 2:20, Ephesians 4:22-23). If you ever start praying those verses over your life, get ready to be made aware of the depths of your selfishness and your desperate need for a Savior. But whenever God begins exposing a sin, it’s because he wants to set you free from it. So hang on for the ride until you get to the other side! It’s always worth it!

God has revealed to me that my own selfishness has prevented me from hearing from God and taking part in His greatest blessing: His presence. When I choose to bless others instead of focusing on my own wants, needs and responsibilities, God blesses me with the ability to find, peace, joy and satisfaction in Him! Blessing others could come in the form of sending an encouraging text to a friend instead of mindlessly scrolling through Facebook. It could mean using your free time (which isn’t much if you have kids) to have lunch with a friend who needs a spiritual mentor. It might mean giving your spending money to someone who needs it more. It might mean making or buying a meal for someone who is overwhelmed with life. It might mean devoting your time to truly praying for someone other than yourself. It might mean sharing your story of personal brokenness with someone who is hurting so that they have hope that no matter how deep the pit is that they are in, God goes deeper.

When you start living outside of yourself, you realize how much easier it is to hear the Holy Spirit’s prompting… how much clearer his will becomes. Following that prompting becomes a joy. Blessing others becomes a door to His presence! So BE the blessing to someone today. Try it. I can promise you will discover that it truly is better to give than receive.

"Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered" (Proverbs 11:25).

"In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).

"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God" (2 Corinthians 9:8-11).

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Stephanie Parker has three main loves: God, her husband, Brett and her kids!  When Stephanie created the Zipadee-Zip in an effort to solve her daughter, Charlotte's, sleep issues, she never imagined that it would become a business.  She is incredibly grateful to God for how Sleepingbaby.com has grown and how it has enabled other families to get the restful sleep they need.   Stephanie's husband, Brett Parker assumed the role of CEO which has allowed Stephanie to focus on what she loves which is the creative side of the company, like product and print development.  After the Zipadee-Zip was featured on Shark Tank, Stephanie went on to create the book Shepherd's Treasure, a Christian alternative to Elf on the Shelf. In her free time, Stephanie loves to spend time with her family and friends.  Her hobbies include acting, singing, painting, learning and speaking foreign languages and going on adventures with her family!  You will find her all summer waterskiing, fishing and laughing with her family on the weekends.