Words of encouragement have great power. Recently I learned something that helps me understand this more fully.
The word encourage is made up of the prefix en and the word courage. En means to put into. Therefore when you encourage someone you put courage into them. I loved this thought!
Personally, there have been many times when I didn’t have the confidence to take on a task or responsibility. All it took was someone to believe in me and offer encouragement and I felt equipped to move forward.
I hadn’t thought about this giving me courage, but that is exactly what it did. When others showed they believed in me, it was easier to believe in myself. That confidence allowed me to accomplish things I never thought I could.
As the year draws to a close, I reflect on all those who took the time to offer me encouragement this year. You kept me going when I felt I had nothing left to offer. Your support allowed me to blossom. My life is richer because of you. Thank you for making a difference in my life.
At the same time, I hope my words or actions have encouraged you in one way or another.
Moving forward, may we each put courage into those around us by recognizing their gifts and talents and expressing our belief in them.
“Be an encourager. The world has plenty of critics already.” Dave Willis
Mother’s Day has come and gone for another year. How did you celebrate it? It is about so much more than flowers, meals out or extravagant gifts. As a mother, these were not my focus.
Instead, I spent time remembering and appreciating my mom. She went to be with Jesus nineteen years ago and I still miss her. I am aware not everyone had a mother who loved them unconditionally and was their biggest supporter. I am grateful for mine and thank the Lord on a regular basis for my upbringing.
I also celebrated the privilege of being a mother. Among other things, my children have taught me patience and how fierce and protective love can be. They are an incredible gift and have helped mould me into the woman I am today. Again, I thank the Lord daily for my family.
Being a grandmother is another reason to rejoice. The only way I can describe the relationship with my grandchildren is to say it is a whole new level of love. I willingly accept the challenge to support each of their unique personalities in the way they need. My grandchildren are the treasures who make my life rich.
Mothers play an important role but so do many other nurturing women who are not called mom. I see many women loving and supporting children who are not their own. They also deserve to be celebrated on an ongoing basis.
To all the mothers, step-mothers, foster mothers, grandmothers, aunts, teachers and loving friends, may God bless you richly for the role you play in building up the next generation. Who you are and what you do makes a difference.
A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. (Proverbs 11:25 NIV)
My friend’s baby is learning to walk. She started by pulling herself up on a piece of furniture and moving down the length of it. Having the furniture for support helped her gain confidence.
Holding onto mom’s fingers was another way to walk from one spot to another. One day the time came for her to take a step without holding onto anything for support. This was risky and took a lot of coaxing. After a tentative step forward, she fell. The look of surprise on her face could have easily been followed by tears and a refusal to try again.
Instead, mom quickly scooped her up, praised the effort and stood her on wobbly legs again. Encouragement and cheers followed with every step and every fall. Before long the steps were more frequent than the falls. It won’t be long before she is ready to move from walking to running.
The same principle holds true for us. We expect to take off running when we start something new. This is unrealistic and leads to frustration and discouragement. There are times when the falls are so frequent I wonder if I should give up.
Past experience has taught me I learn best when I take baby steps and celebrate each small success. When I attempt to master new skills the support and encouragement of others can help me get back on my feet and take a few more steps forward.
This may be repeated many times before I can move quickly and confidently in this new area. When it feels like I’m not moving fast enough I remind myself that baby steps will get me farther than if I didn’t take any steps at all.
A couple of months ago a friend celebrated the birth of a new baby. This child was eagerly awaited and loved long before she drew her first breath. The baby is not the first child in the family but this doesn’t diminish the devotion lavished on her.
She is loved unconditionally even though she can give nothing in return. She is loved for her very existence in this moment and not for what she may become in the future. Her family is committed to nurture and guide her as she grows.
This is the way God loves each one of us. I know he loves me just as I am. Even when I have nothing to give back, he still cares.
He is watching over me and is always there to nurture, support and guide me to reach my full potential. When I cry out to him in prayer, he takes care of my needs.
I can have this relationship with God because he sent Jesus to demonstrate his great love for me. Jesus left his heavenly home and came to earth as a helpless baby. He knew the sacrifice he was making. It was for you and for me. This is the greatest gift known to mankind.
Let us think of that sacrificial love as we celebrate the gift of the baby Jesus this Christmas.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 NIV)
After 2 weeks of wearing either sandals or aqua socks, my feet screamed in protest as I laced up my running shoes. Normally I wore aqua socks when we went for our morning beach walk, allowing for elastic stretch and flexibility. This day we had planned a more challenging walk so the support of running shoes was needed. My ankles felt as though they were being strangled! I understood why the firm support was needed, but it was an uncomfortable transition from the freedom and flexibility I’d quickly grown used to.
This was an accurate reflection of my life. When everything is going smoothly I enjoy the freedom and flexibility in my day-to-day life. Then, when things become more challenging I realize that it is firm support that is needed to carry me through. Even though deep down, I understand the need for this firmness, I still chafe at the loss of my freedom.
When my life is placed in the loving hands of the Lord, he will guide me with the support I need. It may feel uncomfortable at times but in reality gives me much more freedom than I have ever had on my own.
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36 NIV