Everything is great! Life is fantastic! I’m blessed & highly favored! Living’ the dream!
I’ve said these words more than occasionally when my life isn’t whipy, when I’m tired, sick & when stuff is awful. So was I lying? Was I making a faith confession? Was I living in denial? Depending on the day or hour, yes 🙂
If we want to love genuinely, let’s be ready for someone to be honest & say that stuff isn’t going well. Indeed, when Job went through a season of living hell, his friends stayed with him in silence for a week before they said a word. There was no sunshine mantra in the conversations w Job & his friends. When a friend goes through a crisis, let’s be willing to walk alongside them with honesty & not get ruffled.
As it relates to having a personal crisis, I recognize that not everyone can handle our honesty or when things aren’t going well. And that’s ok! Let’s allow God to bring people into our lives who don’t always settle for the sunshine mantra.
I was getting fuel this morning & there was an employee standing by to help or answer questions a customer might have. Since most of us could put fuel in our cars with our eyes closed, this employee didn’t have much to do other than circulate & be friendly. So we engaged in trivial chit chat: where are you from, nice weather we’re having, etc. We had a lovely chat & I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know him better so the next time I get fuel there, he won’t just be the “gas dude.” Additionally, we prayed together for our health with working out and making better eating decisions.
All of this happened while I was pumping fuel & a few minutes longer. The extra few minutes we give, can be an invaluable expression of love, since everyone is so “busy”. Let’s be lavish with our love by giving an extra few minutes to listen, affirm, engage and acknowledge people & not just functions 🙂
“Everyone is going to make it!” In Acts 27, these were Paul’s words to his fellow travelers who were on a ship, when everyone had lost hope that they would survive. And these travelers had very good reasons to have lost hope: an horrific storm that lasted more than two weeks, no sun or stars (so there was no navigation ability), sailors who were trying to abandon the ship, endless ups and downs, rain, wind and instability on a ship, and no sight or inkling of land for numerous days, to say nothing of not eating for two weeks because of raw nerves and fear.
In our daily living, we get to choose how we will respond to the ups and downs of life. The people around us can be despondent and lose hope, but let’s be the one who stands confident in God’s goodness and love, offering hope and future, just like Paul in the middle of a brutal storm. Let’s actively choose to trust in God’s love and goodness, while offering hope as a life preserver to anyone around us who may be discouraged by the storms of life!
My three teenage kids have learning curves with lots of stuff, as do I.And part of what means to be human is learning. I think that it’s good to always be learning because this helps us to continually grow. So here are some helpful ideas for daily learning:
No shame – don’t belittle yourself or others for what is not known or the lack of proficiency.
Celebrate progress – don’t let “perfect” sabotage progress.
Learning differences – everyone learns in unique ways.
Committed to learn – may there never be a day when we don’t learn
Be gentle – we learn better with grace rather than harsh 🙂
I received a text message from a friend this morning with a totally fantastic prayer & this has made me smile almost continuously!I’m smiling because her prayer was very personal to me & deeply encouraging. As I’ve thought about this, it’s brought to mind that her text prayer to me is an expression of genuine love, which makes me think of lots of different ways we can express genuine love today!!Here are a few suggestions:
Encouraging words – meaningful compliments & heartfelt affirmations are great ways to communicate love!
Post some kind words in a friends FB wall.
Run an errand that could free up some time for a friend / family member.
Send a nice card in the mail to someone who wouldn’t expect it.
Be friendly & engaging with the check out person at the grocery store.
Do something meaningful for your mate or a family member that lets them know you love them, unique to their preferences (not just what you would like).
Lately, I’ve been experiencing a wonderful epiphany: letting my friends help me! I just had a friend text me about some ideas to help me with some sleep challenges. Then, I’ve had another friend help me with writing stuff & another friend has given me super helpful input with communicating! While you might think this is normal, for me it’s been a new experience because of my hyper independence. And then I read an interesting verse in Psalm 118:7a, “The Lord is for me among those who help me; . . . . “
So let’s be the friend who helps others! A few ways to help would include: encouraging words, gentle truth, practical wisdom & maybe even some errands! And on the other side, let’s be sure that we let our friends help us & that we express gratitude to & for our friends!!
It’s interesting that the root for the words, “discourage” and “encourage” is the word courage, which traces to the Latin root for “heart.” So when we are discouraged, this literally means, “away from the heart”. And encourage, by contrast, means “into the heart”. But the common ingredient for both of the words, encourage & discourage, has to do with the heart.
So let’s think about this: what happens in my heart is only known between God and me. People can observe the external results of that internal status, but the state of my heart and what happens there is known most clearly by God. Maybe this is why Solomon said, in Proverbs 4:23, that we should guard our hearts, since this is where the wellspring of life starts. With this verse in mind, let’s be certain that we are keeping our hearts wide open to God’s presence because this is how we can live in a state of encouragement rather than being discouraged by experiences, conversations and various other challenges that can arise. Choose to live with God’s presence in your heart, encouraged and deeply loved!
Hard circumstances, unknown terrain, impossible journeys – these are all things in which God specializes. As you read this, maybe you’re in a financial crisis & Christmas looks impossible; maybe you’ve received a medical report that’s disturbing; maybe you have some toxic relational challenges that seem to be never ending; maybe you’re discouraged or depressed; maybe you have some work or school difficulties that are bigger than your abilities, time or energy.
Be encouraged today, that God can make a way when there seems to be no way. Remind yourself of how God delivered the Israelites from their slavery in Egypt:
providing a leader, Moses, who was educated & committed to their freedom
supernatural signs & wonders (10 Plagues) to break the slavery bondage
Passover to establish the relationship between God & the nation of Israel
plundering the Egyptians when the Israelites walked out of Egypt
split the Red Sea & drowning the enemies who were intent on dragging the Israelites back into slavery
God did lots more when He liberated the Israelites, so be encouraged that you’re not in a situation that exceeds God’s ability to transform nor redeem! Feel free to share this with your friends to encouage them as well!
Happy Thursday to you! The world is full of interesting people & history has an abundance of individuals who are admirable. Please watch this short video to see a cool person in the Bible that can be a good role model for us today:
This weekend, I learned about some swimming races near my house at the local reservoir. I learned about these “Aquaman” races from a nice lady after I attempted to do an open water swim at a pond near the mountains here in Denver. My swimming was very disappointing to me & when I got out of the pond, I didn’t feel friendly whatsoever. Nevertheless, I started chatting with the lady nearby & she was very kind & informative. We had a lovely conversation & she helped me know of some open water swimming options that sound really fun!
I say this to encourage you about those moments when you’re struggling or discouraged. Remember that God can encourage & strengthen you in a variety of ways that are often unexpected. Be careful if you’re discouraged not to turn inward so much that you don’t allow God to help or strengthen you with creative ideas & unexpected encouragement!
In our modern world, outage is common & I think even expected sometimes. It seems like we can get massively incensed at almost anything: driving infractions, mistakes on paychecks or bills, government shortfalls, moral failures in Christian leaders, etc
But here’s something to consider: if sin is the common human experience, why do we allow ourselves to be outraged when people sin or make mistakes? Wouldn’t we be more constructive to celebrate the moments when humans don’t behave sinfully? What about when a driver makes space for you instead of cutting you off? That’s noteworthy! What about when a government does something positive that exceeds your expectations? This might not be often, but that’s exactly why we should celebrate it! And when a Christian leader has a moral failure, let’s not be so much outraged as we should pray for them & have sincere compassion because we identify with our own shortfalls.
Let’s aim for less outrage & more celebration 🙂
In my efforts to always grow & Improve, sometimes I can get discouraged. This happens when I continue to focus on weaknesses & mistakes at the expense of looking at progress.
The truth is that we are all growing. Sometimes we see massive progress & sometimes the progress is microscopic. But let’s celebrate progress, regardless of the size!
You’ve come a long way, so be encouraged!! And remind yourself that the good work that God has started, He will continue & complete – Philippians 1:6 🙂
“Time to get up,” I whispered gently to my very tired daughter this morning. Mornings tend to be a weakspot for her. So helping her to get moving & be strong in the morning is an ongoing challenge.
With that said, strength is the antidote to weakness, so how we can be strong is important for all of us, no matter our age, situation or season in life. Here’s a good example for for getting strong: David
Friends help us to be strong: in 1 Sam 23:16, it says that Jonathon encouraged / strengthened David in the Lord. Let’s remember to encourage our friends & let them encourage us! This helps us to be strong:)
Strengthen ourselves: in 1 Sam 30:6, it says that David strengthened himself in the Lord. In this chapter, David was really squashed to the wall & very discouraged, but he chose to find his strength & encouragement in the Lord.
Let’s lean into the Holy Spirit to gain strength & be encouraged :)Getting
I’m an affirmation junkie, almost to making it snare, so I have to be careful about this. As long as I’m careful, compliments can be really energizing & very helpful. I saw this yesterday when my daughter made her first car drive with me. I knew that I needed to keep my own jitters to myself & I also told my boys to keep quiet, as they rode in the backseat. So I looked for everything positive that she was doing & then applauded her for those specific things. She kept her speed down, stayed in the middle of the lane, used her turn signal well & became more comfortable with the break. Of course she was nervous, but she did well – a sigh of relief 🙂
Seems to me that when we find ourselves needing some affirmation, it’s a good indicator that we need to start giving more affirmation! We reap what we sow 🙂
As much as I’d like to avoid or prevent setbacks, they happen. Sometimes we have setbacks with our kids, in relationships, health challenges, work or school stuff & many other areas. The setbacks can be big, medium or minor, but no setback is something we relish, usually. So what to do?
Here are some thoughts that can help:
Opposition can create resilience – there’s lots to be said in favor of persistence, determination & tenacity.
Course correction – sometimes a setback can help us reevaluate our path & we sometimes see a shortcut or a more efficient route
Building faith – some setbacks put us in a place of utter dependence on God & that isn’t bad, even though this can make us feel uncomfortable.
Nothing is impossible – God specializes in impossible so let’s always keep our confidence & focus on the Holy Spirit who can do supernatural & amazing things!
Do you ever feel like you’re out of synch with the people around you? This is an uncomfortable feeling, but it’s also possible that the people around you need you to be out of synch.
I say this because of reading about Paul in a massive storm in Acts 27. When everyone had virtually given up hope of surviving the storm, Paul offered everyone hope. When everyone hadn’t eaten for like 14 days, Paul broke bread & told them to eat. When everyone couldn’t see past the immediate circumstances, Paul told them they’d survive & make it safely to land.
Maybe we should think about staying out of step rather than conforming to everyone around us. In my thinking, the best way to do this is to stay in step with the Holy Spirit, Gal 5:14 🙂
I started reading the book of Job a few days ago & I always find it interesting to read how his friends reacted to Job’s sufferings. At first, they sat silent with him for a week, feeling the magnitude of his pain & struggle. After this time of quiet support, it seems to me that they became less helpful. They frequently seemed to think that all of Job’s suffering was his fault & that he’d done something wrong. So here are some things from Job’s friends that I want to learn. I want to be a friend who:
can be quietly supportive
helps others see, experience & enjoy God
uses words that build up faith & dismantle doubt & fear
stays the course & doesn’t merely show up when things are smoothy groovy 🙂
Ok, whether you like Tebow (the quarterback for the Denver Bronco’s football team) or not, he makes a very clear stand about his faith in Jesus. There are lots of people who like him for his stand & lots of people who don’t like him for being so vocal. This blog isn’t to applaud or criticize Tebow, but rather to encourage us to grow, mature, develop & change – and to foster development & growth in the people around us.
Some ways that we can encourage others to grow include:
applause – celebrate when those around you take a step that may be difficult for them, encourage persistence & endurance
constructive criticism – while we must of course be honest, being negative & critical doesn’t foster growth
listen – oftentimes, I find that many times I can find the answer that I need if someone will give me a few minutes of listening
pray – ask God to help the person that needs to grow & be open for God to show you areas in your life that need to change as well. It’s not uncommon for me to be praying for someone else, andn God to show me some similar areas in my life that need to be improved, adjusted or revamped
And as for Tebow, whether you like him or not, I think we can agree that season has caused him to grow alot 🙂
I want to be a person who inspires courage, faith & strength. In my mind, courage is an opposite for cowardice & I don’t want to be a person who’s influence causes others to be timid, scared, cowardly or insecure. I want to put “courage in” people – to be an encouragement.
With this in mind, I’m real keen to hear your thoughts on what en-courages you, what puts courage into you??? Thanks for your help!!
I just started reading Job & I was reading the part where God & Satan were chatting about Job. What an interesting conversation! Makes me consider that maybe they chat about us as well, from time to time. If you would be curious to know what might be said between them about you, don’t get nervous. I’m quite confident, based on Jesus’ atoning work, that God is looking on you w great favor, maybe even bragging about you!! You can also trust that the devil’s efforts haven’t changed throughout history – he’s still looking for some way to bring you down, talking smack.
Based on this dialogue, we just need to continuously decide that our ears are tuned into God’s voice – He affirms you, believes in you & most importantly, loves you. The other voice is nothing but deception, smack & destruction.
Sure, we all need to grow, improve & do better, but Gods voice always applauds while the devil always jeers & discourages. You’re not a loser!!