I have never seen so many chill teenagers and nervous adults in my life. I made a snap decision to make my way from Aberdeen, South Dakota to Louisville, Kentucky because my daughter was one of six finalists for the National Speech and Debate Student of the Year. Considering it’s whittled down from like 100,000 kids, it’s sort of a big deal.

But a funny thing happened while I was making my way across five states. Jordan began speaking, and she didn’t stop.

The tournament has all kinds of categories and divisions – way too complicated for my brain. This is what I know: she picked a topic out of a hat, spent 20 minutes researching and memorizing it, and then delivered it without notes. In front of judges. Gulp.

I watched the final round from a computer in my hotel room. She didn’t know I was in town, and I didn’t want her to see me in the room and get distracted. She absolutely nailed. But so did everyone else in the round. And later when I watched other students give other speeches on other stages, they all nailed it too.

I kept thinking, “Wow … these kids are GOOD.”

But then I realized something else: these kids aren’t just good, they are good stewards of the gifts God has given them. They were given tools by our good Lord, but they didn’t leave those tools in the shed. They pulled them out and got them dirty and cried on them and worked with them until they knew them inside and out. They spent hours and hours using those tools to become masters of their craft.

You have tools too. We all do. We have all been given gifts that God never meant for us to put on a shelf. Whether it’s musical aptitude or the ability to listen, teach, or encourage, we have been gifted.

Occasionally, we need to stop and ask ourselves, “Am I being a good steward of my gifts or am I letting them collect dust?”

If you’ve forgotten what your gifts are – or never knew in the first place – ask a friend what they see in you that may have been put there by God. I bet they will have a whole list of things that make you special.

Then go out there and light up the world. After all your gifts aren’t just a gift for you, but they are a gift for us too.

[Proud Mom Moment: Jordan was first runner-up for National Student of the Year and got 1st place in Extemporaneous Commentary. I cried.]