The snow was sifting slowly to the ground and my breath was forming mini-clouds to welcome the tiny flakes on their descent. This is a friendly way to say that last night was very cold for playing softball. To make it even more thrilling and chilling, we had a double header & our final game concluded just before 10pm. I felt like a popsicle as my feet shuffled me to the car. I learned some very good lessons from last night’s adventure:
have FUN!! Despite the cold, snow and losing both games, it’s fun to get outside, banter, encourage and move my aging body for a little exercise!
look to serve: our team joined a rec league, so it’s not highly competitive. This makes it all the more enjoyable to serve the other team and look for ways to be helpful – carrying gear, collecting foul balls, sharing equipment, etc
be encouraging more than competitve: this is a big one for me. If I go down the competitive trail (which is more my natural instinct), it’s less enjoyable than when I stay in an encouragment groove.
God can teach us many wonderful lessons, using a variety of contexts and circumstances. Let’s be willing and eager learners!
I’m making my way back home from speaking at a pastor’s conference in Bangledesh. This has been a “quick trip”, considering that getting to Bangledesh can be a 30hour journey with a 12 hour time change – so no travel to Bangledesh is a in reality a “quick trip.” When I was deciding about this trip, I was weighing the cost of the trip, not only financially, but the cost of time, impact to my family & Spring Break time together – sacrifices.
With all these considerations, I felt in my heart that I needed to join this conference – a very unique opportunity to meet Christian leaders in a Muslim country & hopefully encourage & minister to them. And in light of our new nightcare in Bangledesh, I felt that this opportunity would also be strategic & a great way to begin some important relationships for the future.
Before I left for this trip, most of what I felt was a mix of hope, anticipation & sacrifice. Now that I’m returning home, I recognize the sacrifice to be sure. But getting to team up with Holy Spirit to minister to such incredible leaders has left me astounded. Additionally, I experienced some progress on some questions in my heart. And I sense a significant green light from God about Saving Moses growing in our nightcare work throughout this region of the world. Yes this trip was a sacrifice & I’m physically very tired. I’m also very awestruck with God’s generosity that counteracts the sacrifices that we make. I’m very thankful.
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!
Do you ever struggle with big projects? Sometimes things can seem overwhelming when they’re massive in size & scope. It’s easy for me to get under the water when I have big projects that I have to complete, but it helps me to think about big projects in small bites. So I always say, “start with the toenails when you have to eat an elephant.”
David did this when he was facing Goliath. When Saul asked David about killing the giant, David replied, “I’ve killed a lion & a bear, so God will help me with this giant!”
Here are a few helpful thoughts to eat an elephant / accomplish big projects:
Look at a small & do-able part of the big project & start there
Pay attention to your thoughts so they don’t get overwhelmed with the size of what needs to be accomplished
When you get into the project, come up to periscope depth from time to time to celebrate progress
Remind yourself of your precious accomplishments to be encouraged!
Last night, the Grammys were awarded to lots of very talented people who have achieved some incredible things, some admirable & noteworthy. Despite all of these accomplishments, let’s remember what’s even more important than achievements – people. People are important because they’re people and not only for what they can achieve. So here are some ideas to affirm & encourage people in your life today:
tell someone why you like them in relation to their character – I like that you’re: compassionate, patient, passionate, creative, fun, thoughtful, etc
be liberal with compliments & stingy with criticisms
look for ways to encourage someone: I saw that you went the extra mile; I see that you’re trying to improve in this area, I appreciate your creativity, etc
affirm differences rather than shaming for conformity 🙂
let the Holy Spirit encourage you today & this can help us encourage people around us!
I like to accomplish things & can sometimes get discouraged when it seems like I just slough along seeming not to get anywhere. I’ve had some really big projects on my plate for several months & I finally seem to be making progress & this is WONDERFUL!! Nevertheless, I’m learning some important lessons for “in between” trying & achieving:
*persistence & patience – nothing worthwhile is achieved without these important pieces
*stay encouraged – this is no one else’s responsibility but mine
*teams are important – I can achieve WAY MORE on a team than by myself
*keep your eyes on Jesus – a great immunization for distractions & discouragement 🙂
Recently, I read the story about David killing Goliath – it’s always inspiring & encouraging! As I read the story leading up to Goliath’s death, David recounted how he had fought off a lion & a bear to protect the sheep under his care. David used this memory to encourage Saul that with God’s help, David could overcome Goliath. Futhermore, when David confronted Goliath, he boasted that he would use Goliath’s own sword to cut off Goliath’s head, which is exactly what happened. Later in David’s life, David again acquired Goliath’s sword from a helpful priest for his own weapon as he was running away from Saul to save his life. Goliath’s sword was a turning point for David’s life – shifting away from sheep & moving toward kingship.
In our lives, there are turning points, like Goliath’s sword. God uses unique things & experiences in our lives for both victories & encouragment at very strategic times, particularly for me with Saving Moses. We can trust God to direct our steps and give us the resources necessary for each step 🙂
Well friends, I’m back from Angola with Saving Moses & life continues to maintain its seemingly hectic pace. Do you ever feel like there’s more work than time or energy? It seems to me that often when I return from int’l trips that I have lots to catch up on & this return home seems no different than any others: using a snorkle to keep swimming until I can come up for air. But here’s something that is really encouraging to me today as I try to catch up from last week’s travels: keeping my focus on Jesus helps me to not get overwhelmed with all of the things I need to get done.
As I was praying this morning, I just was encouraged to remember that Jesus already knew about everything that I need to get done with the limited quantity of time that I have. With this in mind, I receive great strength knowing that if I keep my eyes on Jesus, He will help me. It’s when I get my focus off of Jesus & onto the Mount Everest size work in front of me when I seem to get discouraged. So, let’s keep our eyes on Jesus & keep swimming ,)
I was reading this morning about how Joseph was unfairly accused of trying to sleep w Potiphar’s wife & how Joseph was thrown into jail because of the wife’s fiasco. At some point, sitting in jail, Joseph could have easily said, “What’s the point? I should’ve slept with the chick. Jail isn’t worth it.”
At various times, we all feel like quitting & throwing in the towel. Maybe we quietly say to ourselves, “what’s the point?”
Here are some good things to consider when you’re asking yourself about what’s the point:
*God doesn’t say to us, “well done my good & quitting servant”
*strength, character & integrity grow in the furnace of hardship, struggle & opposition
*good results & desirable fruit come from persistence & not giving up
I like what St Francis of Assisi said, “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
I’ve been watching the news & updates on the horrible weather on the East Coast & I’m really praying for everyone who is enduring this catastrophe. As I was thinking about this, I remembered a storm that Paul endured in Acts 27 & this was a storm of massive proportions: lasted 14 days, they couldn’t tell night from day, they threw over the boat all of their cargo & tackle gear, along with not eating for several days. For all practical purposes, everyone on the boat had given up hope for staying alive, except for Paul. Here were a few things Paul did in the middle of this awful storm:
*he stayed practical, advising everyone to eat some food to keep up their strength
*he kept his confidence & focus on Jesus more than anything else
*he encouraged the people in the boat with him, giving them hope that things would get better
Paul is a good role model for us when we go through storms!
My dad died over this past weekend and it’s been an interesting journey over the last few days with lots of emotions, kind & gentle people along with some rough spots. If you’ve lost someone who is close to you, or have a friend in this situation, here are a few things that have been helpful to me so far:
be gentle with yourself and others: losing someone who is important in your life is hard so being tender and gentle is a necessary counter-point for this hardness
grief is illogical & doesn’t need to be justified: the “why” questions and appropriate answers don’t help, at least not for me up to this point
time versus busy: some people need activity and to be occupied with doing things while others need some space, but too much time or activity can lead to some bad results
presence: what I’ve found helpful is together-ness, someone being present (but not necessarily chatty – smile)
encouragement: let everyone’s encouragement, kind words and supportive efforts come into your heart;
God: involve God at all levels; grief and death are not the times to pull away from God
Are there more things that you’ve found helpful? I’d be keen for your input
I had an interesting conversation with a friend yesterday for whom I’ve been very concerned of late. It was interesting because they explained that they had been distant lately because of lots of different current stresses in their life. Then another friend told me that she was having a rough day earlier this week & almost broke down in tears on a particular day. Both of my friends are important to me & when they explained their struggles to me, I totally wanted to reach out & help not only after the struggle but also during their rough time. Just like me, these are very strong & independent friends & I wholly respect their strength. It’s interesting bc I think that God absolutely respects our free will & independence. But I also think that God wants to be involved in our struggles & not just watch from a distance. Lets be kind, gentle, full of grace & supportive with each other – thereby letting God love through us 🙂
I had a really nice chat with some friends this morning over breakfast & we were talking about how our moms are totally for us & want us to succeed & do well. It was a fun to think & talk about that in both the roles of being a mom & being a daughter. This has started me to think about how much God is for us.
God is for you when it seems like no one else is for you
God is for you when it seems like everything else is against you
God is for you when you can’t encourage yourself
God is for you all the way through His death & resurrection
God is for you when everything is still & quiet
God is for you in the racket, noise & bustle of life
God is for you when you’re on vacation & just relaxing
God is for you when you make a mistake or when you have an outrageous success
God is for you when you get tired of your own self
Well today has been quite amazing. We made a 2 hour drive to a malnutrition clinic in Cubal Angola & I have to say that Cubal is has a very unique place in my heart for lots of different reasons. I love getting to see the babies who are here, but I hate seeing them suffer or go through hardship. I love getting to meet the moms & grandmoms of these babies, but I hate hearing their heartbreaking stories of babies that they’ve lost. I love getting to catch up w key staff members here but I hate watching them struggle to be effective w limited or non-existent resources. Cubal can be beautiful & tender or ugly & abrasive. Cubal is where we thought we rescued Angelina w a life-saving blood donation, only to hear that she died a few short hours after the blood donation. Cubal is where we ran out to buy formula last year when we discovered that they had run out of this essential food for a malnutrition clinic. So coming to Cubal has been a love / hate experience for me.
Today, it is only love & here’s why:
*I met babies who have been consistently receiving malnutrition formula over their 2 week stay & they’ve added more than 2kilos to their weight – super excellent weight gain for a malnourished baby!!!!
*i checked on our therapeutic milk supply & it looks good that we can continue to feed these babies for a few more months
*I interviewed a grandmom today who was nothing less than riveting because of her love – more to follow on her
*I got to say hello to my nun friends & talk about Jesus, prayer & John 15, abiding in the Vine & bearing fruit.
So I have to say that even though Mothers Day was last Sunday, I feel like a fulfilled mom today for Saving Moses. It does my heart well to see, hold, hear & experience success in Cubal 🙂
With God, all things are possible!!
Worry seems to be a common ailment. Lots of people worry about lots of things- the economy, health issues, family challenges, school frustrations & lots more! Some worries seem to be justified & some are almost nonsense. Worry is common, but there are a few things you can do to overcome worry:
*pray the answer (God’s Word) more than the problem
*worship – exalting Jesus always makes my problems look smaller & smaller
*be careful about your conversations – complaining can be fuel for worry
*read a Psalm at breakfast, lunch, dinner & bedtime
Don’t let worry be bigger than Jesus in your life!!
Lately, there have been some rather large difficulties that I’m having to face and I find myself having regularly make choices about where my mind will settle. If I’m not careful, my thoughts can go down some very dark alleys and they can become very discouraging. What I’ve found to be really helpful is to give my mind something constructive to chew on. So here are some verses that have been super helpful of late – may they be encouraging to you as well!
Rom 8:37, “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us”
Rom 8:31, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?”
1 Cor 15:57, “but thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
2 Cor 2:14, “But thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph is Christ and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.”
1 John 5:4, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has over the world – our faith.”
This morning I was reading the 2nd half of Romans 8 & it was SUPER encouraging! I am continually astounded at how God gives us exactly what we need when we need it – so I figure that you also may need some encouragement as well. With that in mind, here are some things to think about:
if God is for you, who can be against you?
there is nothing that can separate you from God’s love – not the present, future, people, situations, etc. God’s love for you is permanently sticky
the Holy Spirit & Jesus intercede / pray for you (and they know exactly what & how to pray for you)
you are fearfully & wonderfully made
God has plans, hope & a good future for you
you are highly valuable & super important to God
With these thoughts in mind & many more, keep your head up, your eyes on Jesus, revel in & spread God’s intense & immense love for you today!
Here’s an amazing video that is totally unrelated 🙂 football
We all have things & times that are discouraging – a job that falls through, a relationship that goes sour, a poor grade at school, etc. I don’t think that anyone is immune from having some discouraging moments in life. But the key is what we do with those times & situations. Here are some things that have been helpful to me with the discouragement topic:
just because I failed at something, that doesn’t make me a failure
keeping my eyes on God & His promises are more helpful than fixating on the discouragement (we can’t ignore problems, but we can’t let them own us either)
keep going – if I’m not careful, discouragement can get pretty heavy & bog me down, so I tell myself to take one step at a time, even if they’re baby steps
working out – physical exercise is a great way to burn off some discouragement
laugh – sometimes it helps me to be goofy, it lightens me up which is helpful because I tend to be pretty serious in my normal living
listen deeply – I find that God’s voice can really help speak light & truth to the discouragement that can try to reside in my thoughts
May you be strongly encouraged today that you are deeply loved & highly treasured!
Ok, I just saw the movie, The Help & I read the book a few weeks ago & I’m a convert – loved it!!! There are so many great take-aways from both the book & the movie with such great life lessons 🙂
One thing that keeps getting repeated in my brain is the quote to a little two year old girl in the movie, “you is kind, you is smart, you is important.” These are such powerful words & have such positive imagery, not only for a 2 year old but for all of us. With this in mind, I think it’s super important to consider what we say to each other. Words that affirm, encourage, support, compliment, refresh, strengthen & even give affection are so necessary in our lives. I genuinely believe that the people who are in our lives in all of the many different contexts need such encouragement. And who knows, words like, “you is kind, you is smart, you is important” just might change the world, one person at a time 🙂
We all have had the experience where something has happened or someone has said something & we were left speechless. Sometimes, we’ve had people say things that have been really hurtful. Sometimes, we are in a situation that is very difficult to know how to respond. Sometimes, a conversation goes in a direction that can be uncomfortable. These are just a few examples of when we might be left “speechless”. Thankfully, I’m starting to learn to say less than what I think – whew! But what should we say in difficult situations, conversations etc?
Here are some thoughts:
be encouraging – look for something positive if you’re expected to make a reply
wisdom, the leading of the Holy Spirit, helps us to know when we should speak & when we should remain silent; there are appropriate times to be vocal & there are times when silence is golden
listen to what God would want to achieve through the interchange – getting on God’s page is more helpful than pushing my personal agenda
speak life – acknowledge shortcomings, be forgiving & affirming
Jesus said that people who are peace makers are a blessing because they’re called the sons of God – making peace isn’t the same thing as rolling over & playing dead, but it also isn’t about escalating a conflict.
trying to resolve conflict through email, facebook, text messaging, voicemail, linked in, etc is really difficult & sometimes impossible. Be mindful of what you’re trying to accomplish if you bring up difficult conversations in these settings because there is HUGE AMOUNTS of room for misunderstanding 🙂
Honestly, I’ve been thinking about this blog for a few days because I’m wanting to encourage you & your faith in God. I think we all need encouragement to our faith at various times. For example, today I was running some errands & talking with God about some struggles that I’m wrestling with & I was just expressing some honest discouragement to Him. You, as well, might be able to find an area in your life that has some discouragement – maybe even more than 1 ,)
Anyways, I felt like God encouraged me that walking with and obeying Him require faith. In my “better moments”, my faith is solid & I’m confident in God. But I don’t always have, “better moments.” So for those “non-better moments”, here are a few verses to consider praying each day for the next month to strengthen your faith & fuel those “better moments”:
2 Chron 16:9 “For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.
Matt 19:26 And looking at them Jesus said to them, ” With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
2 Cor 3:5-6 Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, 6 who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant,
2 Chron 20:12, For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You.”
Rom 8:28, And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose
Be encouraged my friend – God is working in you, as well as on your behalf 🙂
Have you ever struggled with your motives? Have you ever had that internal conflict of knowing the good thing you should do, versus NOT doing what you know you should? Here are some thoughts about some motives that could be helpful to you:
Positive Reinforcement: I think that we all like positive reinforcement – when my kids go beyond the normal expectations, I like to do something extra special for them (when they UBER clean their room without my input, I like to give them a meaningful reward like a book they’ve been wanting, maybe a frozen yogurt or some other reward). We all like the positive consequences of right choices. But if we’re very honest, we don’t always get the positive affirmation we want from making right choices.
Doing the right thing: There are times when I pick up the trash on the church parking lot because its the right thing to do, or I go the extra mile with some extra grace with a person who may have not earned that extra grace just because I know in my heart that it’s the right behavior. I may have no positive reinforcement, but I know what is the right thing in my gut & so I do this. Usually when I do the right thing, there’s an internal source of satisfaction or contentment.
Divine Pleasure: At the end of the day, I want my highest form of motivation is to do that which is most pleasing to Jesus. I love what Paul says in 2 Cor 5:9, I make it my goal to please Christ. I won’t always have the positive reinforcement that I may want & there are times that even though I know the right thing to do in my heart, I still find it difficult to make a good choice. However, I’ve found it SUPER helpful that if I can talk to myself & say, “Sarah, this decision would bring pleasure to Jesus” then for me, that can often be just the tipping point I need to make the right decision. Along this line, I know that @savingmoses brings Jesus tremendous pleasure.
Be encouraged my friend by making it your goal, along with Paul, to bring pleasure to Jesus – as He is already deeply in love with & highly committed to you, as the apple of His eye 🙂