It’s hard to believe that this year is now halfway over. I took a look back at my New Year’s Resolution, summed up with the word: Confidence.
I want confidence. Confidence that doesn’t come from what job I have or what I can produce, but in who God made me. Confidence that no matter what happens, He has a plan for me and is working all things for good, even the things that seem like mistakes or detours to others…and myself.
I also wrote a list of ten goals for the year that I tried to revisit and re-write every week. It’s a tip I learned to help you accomplish more since they will probably go through changes from the first of the year to December. My goals for the year in January were:
Launch a business that I was working on at the time with two co-partners
While I’ve met many of those goals, and many more I’ve made throughout the last six months, I wonder how I’m doing on my overall resolution – growing in confidence.
Dealing with failure and rejection has helped me grow in confidence. For example, when the business partnership didn’t work out, I went through a period of self-doubt, but I was also determined to try again on my own. Bleu Feather Paper Co. doesn’t have people breaking down the (virtual) door yet, but I have learned so much in the process of setting it up, creating the brand, marketing, and trying to find what works. For example, you’ll find out via the next newsletter that there’s been some important pricing adjustments.
I’ve been rejected for a several jobs that I thought I was a great fit for, without even an interview. That really struck a blow at my confidence at first. I wallowed a little, thinking I wasn’t good enough for anyone, but instead of letting that last for months, I decided to proactively work on getting more experience so that I could be a better contender.
Interviews are a great way to work on your confidence, as it turns out! After all, you’re selling yourself, your skills, and the potential benefit to your employer. I’ve had two interviews this month, and while at first I felt a little like I was faking it, now I do feel more confident in my abilities.
And I can tell more changes are on the way for the next six months. For one, I’m very excited to announce that I am now an intern for Sage Grayson! My first day is July 1st, and I will be helping her with social media, scheduling, and graphic design. I know I’m going to learn a lot from Sage, and I’m glad that I’ll be able to use my skills to free her up to focus on coaching and writing.
From right here, I can see the beginnings of many possible paths for the future. Who knows what the next six months will bring?!
“Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6).”
I’m deeply grateful that God knows the plans He has for me, and it’s all under His control, not mine!
I’m also deeply grateful for all the love you guys show me through your faithful reading and sweet comments. Thank you so, so much for being here!
Did you make New Year’s Resolutions? How are you doing on keeping them? Share your progress in the comments!
“Teenagers are our future.” How many times have you heard that? Last week I read this post on Simple Mom that challenged that statement:
“The problem is not that the statement is wrong… teenagers really are the future leaders of our organizations. The problem with the statement is that it’s incomplete. Teenagers are our future, but they are also our present. And the view that only sees their value in the future is short-sighted. When we shift our thinking from “what could teenagers accomplish in the future” to “what do they offer in the present,” we begin to look at them in a very different light.”
I highly recommend you read the entire article if you are a teen, have a teen, work with teens, or know a teen. You’ll be challenged and encouraged.
The theme verse for our youth group is 1 Timothy 4:12: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”In a concise package, that’s really what we want for our teens.
So when Handlebar Publishing sent me a copy of Living For God As Courageous Teens to review, I jumped at the chance. One of the authors of Courageous Teens is Michael Catt, the executive producer of the film Courageous, Fireproof, and Facing the Giants.
The book uses examples of Biblical characters who demonstrated courage to challenge and encourage teens to take steps of courage in four areas- Faith, Leadership, Priorities, and Influence. The topics covered include courage to “face an uncertain future,””lead on all levels,””face persecution,””face criticism,” and “stir up the fire.” It concludes with a resolution, similar to the resolution signed by the men in the movie Courageous.
With the recent topics we’ve studied in youth group, and what I’ve been learning personally, this paragraph struck me as the author discussed Abraham’s choice to obey God when called to leave his family and home to follow God to “the land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1).
“We need to be identified as followers of Christ, not by the clothes we wear, the stuff we have, or the car we drive. Life should not be about stuff, it should be about the Savior…When God called Abraham, Abraham moved. He didn’t ask for details, look for perks, or negotiate. He just got up and got going. God’s call is not a vacation; it’s our vocation. It’s time to get going. We can’t sit on the sidelines any longer. We must hear God and follow hard after Him” (pg. 15).
This book includes discussion questions at the end of each chapter, so it works well for a small group or individual reading. I believe the teens who read this book will be challenged to follow God even when it’s hard, seek His purpose for their life, dream big, and do the things God has called them to do.
If you are a teen, work with teens, or have ever been a teen, you can answer this question in the comments: In what area of your life right now do you especially need courage? What gives you courage?
Yesterday I had the privilege of guest posting on one of my favorite marriage blogs, Unveiled Wife. Here’s just a snippet:
“I’m so alone.” Tears stung my eyes, and two drops escaped. I wiped them away, but they fell even faster. Did that thought ever cross your mind after your marriage? Did you ever feel alone, abandoned?
I went from full classes, hallways, lecture halls, football games, Bible studies twice a week, bustling cafeterias, one on one discipling, college ministry, weekly activities, coffee dates, and hanging out with friends, all in addition to weekly church services… to online classes, knowing one family in the entire city, and once a week church services. I went from being immersed in community to near isolation.
I’m happy to introduce Osayi Osar-Emokpae, our guest blogger today. When I first read this a few weeks ago, I almost cried. “How could she read my mind and know exactly what I was worrying about?!” God works in amazing ways. I hope this blesses each of you as much as it did me!
So many times I find myself worrying about what could happen. I’m worried about bad decisions I made, the good decisions I didn’t make, and everything in between.
I’m worried about the bills I need to pay, the friends I wish lived closer, the places I wish I could visit.
I’m worried about my past, my present, my future. Will I make a difference? Will I ever find my purpose? Will I ever accomplish all the things God wants me to accomplish?
I’m worried about the changes that seem to be happening beyond my control, about all the time I’ve wasted, and how time seems to be moving so slowly one second, and then moving at lightning-fast speed the next second.
But I’ve been reminded lately about the verse:
What then shall we say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us.
So when the voices rise up, and I begin to worry about things, I know that it’s time for me to start saying things back. When the voice of worry tells me that I’m a failure and that I’ll always be a failure, I know it’s time to start speaking back. When the voice of worry reminds me of all my past mistakes, and lost opportunities, I know that I can respond boldly.
“Since God is for me, NOTHING can succeed against me.”
How about you? How do you respond when you start to worry?
Last week began with me feeling greatly discouraged and frustrated about many things. After sending him a particularly bemoan-ful email, Brian gave me a good talking-to/pep-talk and then suggested I take a week off and “just make crafts.”
Just make crafts? But what about blogging? What about building my portfolio website? What about all the writing I have to get done?
I realized that the deadlines and goals that have been stressing me out really only affect me. And if I chose, I could post-pone them, and probably, no one would care.
So I went to Hobby Lobby and bought myself some craft supplies. Then, I read the long to-do list I’d made for the week one last time, and chucked it. I made a blank schedule, with only one major task penciled in: “Make art.”
That’s art with a small “a.” I talked about the crafts I wanted to make last Monday, and the first one on my list was the sharpie mugs. Tutorials abound on Pinterest- basically, write on a mug with a sharpie and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. But almost all of them have one problem….the mugs aren’t dishwasher safe.
That just doesn’t work for me. I hate washing dishes. With a passion. So, I set out to create a way to make them dishwasher safe. I succeeded! Full tutorial coming soon.
I’ve made eight mugs total, but between each, I did a lot of practice drawing.
I’d forgotten how drawing soothed my soul. Growing up, when I was sad or angry, I drew. Even during college, whenever I got really stressed and stumped by an assignment, I’d doodle until ideas came.
They always came.
But it’s still a struggle to just make art. I kept thinking of all the things I “should” be doing. Then, someone posted this on Facebook:
I’ve decided that some things should be saved for a rainy day, but art is not one of them.
I’m embarking on a second week of reconnecting with my art.
When’s the last time you reconnected with your art? By “art,” I mean that thing you love doing, that gives you joy. It could be writing poetry, singing, baking something scrumptious, decorating your house, photography, sewing…the list could go on. Do you remember the last time you did it just for fun?
During Session 3, Patsy Clairmont spoke about emotions again, as well as fear. She shared a little of her story about overcoming agoraphobia. The first command she felt that God was giving her to begin her healing was simply “Make your bed.” Well, to make her bed, she had to get out of it. Once she got out of it and made it, the next thing she felt told to do was to wash the dishes. At the time, she didn’t feel like she was getting better, but God knew that she needed to learn to be faithful in those little things before He could use her to do much.
“In Jesus Christ, we are never stuck,” she said. “We always have a next step.”
Patsy spoke about creating mental boundaries to heal our minds and emotions. She learned to Refuse, Replace, and Repeat.
Refuse. We can refuse thoughts that are not truth, thoughts are not beneficial, that are lies from the enemy to hold us captive. Speaking of captive, we need to take every thought captive and then decide whether or not to refuse it.
Replace. Just refusing a thought is not enough, we must replace it with the truth from God’s word. She mentioned Philippians 4:8, we need to replace with “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Repeat. It isn’t a one time thing. Taking our destructive thoughts and emotions captive and replacing them with empowering truth is a continual battle.
She also learned that she needed to “Minimize her wordcount.” She discovered that not everyone needed to know what she thought of everything. She read Proverbs 29:11: “A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back.” I recently saw that verse in a friend’s facebook status. How appropriate for the way we communicate online!
Patsy also brought up that some people didn’t need to minimize their wordcounts, but instead, “find their voice.” Some of us don’t vent all our feelings, we bury them. Some of us need to ask God for courage to speak the words that He wants us to say.
I’ve written before about thinking right thoughts, whatever is true, and learning that lesson again, and I’ve probably mentioned it more times than in just those two posts. I need to come back to it over and over again.
Even as I reflect on what Patsy said, I’m realizing that while I need to work on all three areas, I especially need to work on Replacing. Perhaps if I was better about replacing the bad thoughts with good ones, I’d be re-learning the “right thinking=right feeling and right doing” lesson less often.
I’ve decided to read through a chapter of Proverbs every day, but I really need to work on scripture memory. I’ve never been good at it, but it’s important enough that I keep trying.
I found this video of Patsy’s story on YouTube, and I hope it blesses you as much as it did me.
During the Q and A time, someone asked Patsy, “In your recovery, did you ever feel like the moment had come when you were completely healed?” Patsy didn’t hesitate, “No,” She said she’s never felt like she was completely healed. “I don’t think that will happen until heaven, when we will be perfectly whole and healed.”
Often in my struggle with depression and anxiety, I’ve often wondered, “Am I there yet? When am I ever going to be better? Will I ever be healed?” I found Patsy’s answer oddly encouraging. I won’t ever be totally healed in this life. All my life will be a journey, a journey to complete wellness that will occur when I stand before God. I don’t have to compare myself to others or wish I made progress faster. One day, I will be healed. Until then, progress is what I can strive for.
Have you used the Refuse, Replace, and Repeat process? What were the results? How well do you do at memorizing scripture? Do you think there’s a link between memorizing scripture and thinking healthy thoughts?
Today’s encouragement story is from another good friend of mine, Ami. I hope you’re challenged to pray for people you know, and encouraged that your prayers really do make a difference!
Encouragement – when I think of that word I think of prayer and how one of the best times I’ve ever been encouraged is when people tell me that they are praying for me. I think of the time in my life when that was the best thing possible to do – pray.
It was fall 2009, I had been at college for about a month when I received the news that my best friend, Ben, had committed suicide. It seemed that my word had came to a crashing halt. At the age of 18 and 5 hours from home and family and friends I was numb. The first thing that was done after I had received the news my dorm supervisor and my room leader both prayed. At the time I didn’t see it as encouraging but as annoying. I was angry, upset, and just wanted to get home. But instead I was sitting in the deans office hearing theses words that now I think back on as comfort. Comfort in the fact that these two woman hardly knew me but were sitting here trying to comfort me and pleading to God to comfort me.
My parents where on their way to get me and I felt like I was alone. I wasn’t suppose to tell anyone because they wanted to make sure that Ethan (my other best friend) found out before rumors started. I turned to by oldest brother, Nathan. Nathan is 10 years older than me and had moved out when I was 10 so we never really close. But through tears I told my brother of the news I had heard only minutes before. Nathan’s heart broke. He cried with me and through tears we both prayed on the phone together. He also poured out his heart pleading for comfort for me, my friends, Ben’s family, and for mine. His words were of just pure encouragement although they were filled with tears.
I returned home and was once again comforted by family and friends. Friends who prayed with me. Family members who stayed up with me while I cried and prayed for me. I had e-mails coming from back at college, teachers who I didn’t even know, the President of the College, students who I never met, and of course friends I had made in the past weeks. All of the e-mails held the same words “I am praying for you.”
Prayer is one of the ways we communicate with God. But prayer is also a way we are able to encourage. I had never thought that people would come together and pray for me. I often think I can do things on my own. But then I remember back to the weeks after Ben’s passing when I was encouraged through others’ prayer. When people came together and prayed for God to comfort me. The encouragement of prayer lifted me when I was lower than I had ever imagined. Prayer is the greatest form of encouragement that I could ever imagine.
To this day I feel that if I really want to encourage someone I need to start praying for them. God hears our prayers and acts upon them in his time and according to His will.
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place (2 Chronicles 7:14-15).
Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer (Psalm 4:1).
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen (Ephesians 4:29).
Ami is a 20 year old journalism student who blogs about this and that, photos, and life at Love Like a Child.
Today’s encouragement story is from a very good friend of mine, Tara. Enjoy!
Growing up, I had goals.
“I’m going to be a veterinarian!” I said to my parents when I was four.
“Okay, Honey, if that’s what you want to do, than do it. You can be anything you want when you grow up.”
They preceded to help me by bringing in a variety of animals into our small home, giving me horseback riding lessons, spending hours with me in the animal barns at the state fair, and introducing me to a friend who was a veterinarian so that I could hear from real-life experience if it was something I wanted to do. When I was 10, I won a scholarship to Iowa State University and decided that was where I was going to go—after all, it was one of the best vet schools in the country. I geared my high school classes and activities around my goal to go to ISU; participating in as many activities as possible so it looked good on my application and taking as many Advanced Placement science classes as I could so I would be prepared for the grueling schedule college life demanded.
Halfway through my freshman year at ISU I decided I no longer wanted to be a veterinarian.
My parents responded: “You can do anything you want to do, as long as it makes you happy. That’s the key to being successful: being happy in your choice of career.”
I graduated college, but decided I no longer wanted to work in my field of study: Animal Ecology (think Crocodile Hunter, but with less dangerous animals) with an English minor (because all of my extra classes were English-related…I like to read!). My parents encouraged me to look into temporary work until I knew more what I wanted to do. I got a job at one of the largest employers in Iowa, transferred from temporary to full-time, and became a high-level Administrative Assistant for one of the Vice-Presidents of Human Resources. I really liked my job, and I especially liked the pay and benefits. In the eyes of the world (and my parents), I was a success.
Then I got married and had a baby.
My husband encouraged me to continue working. After all, I was providing all the benefits for our family. My parents encouraged me to continue working. It would be a waste of my degree to quit and raise a family. Besides, I would be bored staying at home all day with no adult interaction. Keep working and soon I’d be an Executive Assistant, really making the big bucks.
I would come home every day and play with my daughter and feel contentment. When I took her to our friend’s house every morning, I felt as if a part of me was being ripped away. My husband often heard me cry over the fact that I would not be the first to see my baby crawl, walk, talk…all the major milestones. He felt helpless. He knew my heart’s desire was to stay home, but how could we live on his income alone? I made more money than he did and we were barely making it as it was!
I prayed for a way out. And God gave me one.
Shortly after my daughter turned six months old, I got a call at work from the friend that watched her for us during the day. She had just received a new foster child and the stress of keeping up with two infants was wearing on her. She could no longer watch my daughter. I hung up and called my husband. “Honey, if we have to put her in daycare, we’d be spending most of my salary on paying for that, not to mention gas money, eating out, work clothes, etc. I don’t want to pay someone else to do the job that I want to do. Please, can we figure out a way for me to stay at home now?” At his affirmative, I immediately put in my two week’s notice.
For the first time in my life, I did not receive encouragement from my parents.
My dad was uncharacteristically silent on the phone as I gave him the news. He didn’t come out and say I was making a bad choice, but I could hear it in what he wasn’t saying. There was even a tinge of disappointment—he was proud that I was the first college graduate in our family and now I was “wasting” my degree.
My mom wasn’t silent. “You won’t like it! I just don’t want you to be bored like I was. And what happens when the kids grow up? You won’t be able to find a job. I took me years to find the job I have now and I don’t make nearly as much money as you do even after 15 years!”
My husband was on my side, but even he was concerned. “I just don’t know how we will do it, but we’ll make it work.”
I felt guilty.
But in my heart, I knew it was the right decision. There is no higher calling than raising your children in admonition of the Lord. And there is where I found my greatest encourager: God.
As soon as my husband and I made the decision for me to stay at home, I felt overwhelming peace. I would no longer be divided in half every day. I was finally on the path that God had set out before me, and HE would provide. My degree (that I technically wasn’t utilizing) would actually be put to use in teaching my child. I believe in hands-on education and that is exactly what I learned to do with my major. Everything fell into place. How could I possibly be lonely when I had God? And if He determined I should go back to work after raising my children, HE would provide again.
God provided abundantly beyond anything I had ever dreamed. My husband got a steady-paying job and our needs were always met. Whenever money was tight, a check would miraculously come in the mail to cover the exact amount we were short. My parents eventually came fully on board and are now among my biggest supporters. After all, they told me I would be successful in anything that makes me happy. There is nothing that brings me more joy than teaching my children about the Creator of the Universe. I have found my true calling.
I am now a full-time homeschooling mom of four children and I can honestly say I have never felt more contentment with my life. And when I need encouragement, I seek out my Lord first. When I am seeking His perfect will for my life, He brings me peace. He is always there, and HE is my greatest encourager.
Tara is a homeschooling mom of four children ages 6, 6, 5, and 4. In her free time (which isn’t often), Tara enjoys reading, writing and playing with the animals on her small family farm. You can find more stories about Tara’s life with her small children at Mommy Life.
As you read this, Brian and I will be travelling back to the valley after a three day camping trip. We’ll be camping with several friends of ours, and I think it will be a lot of fun! I’ll let you know how it goes, and probably show you lots of pictures!
Back to the subject of making a difference through encouragement. I would be amiss if I didn’t highlight some helpful tools for encouraging others.
Sometimes sending a kind note to someone going through a tough time just to say you’re praying for them can make a huge difference. Take it a step further if you can, and let them know that you’re willing to listen, or help with whatever they need.
Keep the momentum going from Father’s Day and continue to encourage the men in your life with a card especially for them. After all, one of the most common love languages for men is “words of affirmation.”
Several of DaySpring’s card organizers are 50% off, including the one above, that comes with 40 cards, all for $20. That’s a great way to jump start a card ministry! The card organizers come in a wide variety of colors, to see all of them, go to the “Special Sales” tab on the website.
Last Friday, Natalie shared a story about the encouragement hospitality can be. While hospitality is more about being available than it is perfect entertaining and it certainly doesn’t require special dishes, DaySpring’s “Life to the Full” line of dishes is 50% off this month. These are some of my very favorite DaySpring products!
If your summer is anything like mine, you’ll have lots of opportunities to encourage through gift giving. Birthdays, graduations, weddings, baby showers, and hostess gifts are just a few occasions to take advantage of!
When looking for a meaningful gift, I like to check out what’s on sale at DaySpring. This month, they have several of my favorite products on sale. Check the “Special Sales” page to see all they offer, and also the “Clearance” section.
The selection of tote bags are 65% off right now. Who doesn’t need a nice bag for trips to the pool?
If anything I’ve mentioned today catches your eye, use the coupon code for free shipping on orders of $25+. You’ll find it over in my right sidebar!
What tools do you use to encourage others? Let us know in the comments!
This post contains affiliate links, meaning that if you click on them and buy something, I will receive a commission on your purchase. Rest assured that it is well spent: my profits will be donated to a compassionate ministry of my choice (currently, Food for the Hungry). I will only recommend products that I like and that I believe you would also enjoy. I am disclosing this in accordance with 16 CFR, Part 255.
Today’s encouragement story is from Natalie. One of the first things that attracted me to Natalie’s blog was the title; she’s a fellow scribbler! On her blog, Scribbles n’ Things, Natalie held a series last month diving into Biblical hospitality, which you can read here. She’ll be having a part 2 to this series in a couple weeks.
I’m going to be honest that when Emily asked me to share a time when I was encouraged by hospitality I couldn’t make up my mind which story to share. Hospitality is a craft that’s been taught for generations in my mother’s family, and one of the spiritual gifts I’ve been pursuing. So I had a hard time picking just one. But, I thought I could share a bit about a close friend of mine.
Lauren is a single gal in my church who really exemplifies hospitality and has encouraged me to do the same. Lauren makes it a point to pretty much know everybody in her condo complex. Every time I go over she’s telling me about how she’s reached out to so-and-so lately. She takes her neighbors brownies on their birthdays, invites them to church, stops and chats with them when she walks by, etc. I was also a part on her connect group this past fall. Connect groups are kind of like a pre-community group. They’re mostly just fellowship based (as opposed to in-depth Bible studies), along with dessert. It’s a good mix of people as well. There are church members, church seekers who are new in town, and then there are people who are really just exploring what Christianity is all about. Lauren is super at adjusting her conversations depending on which end of spectrum the person falls on. She’s incredibly gracious and kind with her words and actions towards others, and unlike many women, she rarely gets frazzled over how good the food is or her limited amount of space (and having around twenty five people crowded into your condo is a lot).
So often I think we equate hospitality to just food, a clean house, and having people over, but really the heartbeat of biblical hospitality is mission. (Although, I’m not going to lie, good food and a pleasant environment help greatly.) When you start to have a mindset that hospitality is to be seen and practiced as ministry and mission, rather than just meals at your home, in many ways it lessens the stress we feel and erases the boundaries we’ve created in our mind. In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus calls us to be like salt:
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.” (Matt. 5:13 ESV)
What are a couple of attributes of salt? I think about it preserving and causing us to crave for more. When we show others hospitality we are to do just that. Preserve, encourage, and stir on fellow believers, and then bring others outside of our faith by making them thirsty. They should notice something different about us once they’ve spent a couple of hours in our homes. Once they’ve been conversing and sharing with us. My mom has always said that you know when an event/gathering/party is a success when the guests are already looking forward to getting together again.
Natalie from Scribbles n’Things is currently a college student majoring Christian ministry. She drinks her coffee with extra cream, and her tea with extra honey. She’s one of those girls who’ll always pick a dessert over a salad. Some of her favorite things are chocolate, fresh-cut flowers, candles, new books, sitting on my front porch, and conversing for hours. She like to be straight to the point and blunt about life, faith, and everything else. Most importantly, She’s learning to make Jesus Christ her first love and live solely for Him. She likes to think of her blog as her online home, so she invites you in!