HOW IMPORTANT IS ENCOURAGEMENT?

This is the 250th entry of our Life Words Today blog!

Amazing how time flies by!!! What started as an idea, a desire that I voiced to my sister, Tami, as we walked along the beach of Salisbury, Massachusetts, became a reality. She is a computer whiz…..I am not. So she began to do the research on how to set it up.

Here we are, still sharing our thoughts and words of encouragement to you, our faithful readers!

In the past I taught a class for women’s retreats entitled “Life Words vs Death Words.” It is to our disadvantage to speak death words – not only to others, but also to ourselves. The enemy of our souls wants us to think we are worthless and of no value. Then he can persuade us to turn our backs on God. He is a crafty one, and lying is his native language.

Sooooo…..the need for us frail humans to be encouraged is not only biblical, but a basic human need.

We have shared our individual struggles with you and included you in our personal thoughts and meditations. Hopefully you have been encouraged to “keep on keeping on” regardless of your circumstances.

Life is hard, and when you know someone else has experienced similar hardships and has gained strength and perspective from them, it lets you know you are not alone.

Although we have pulled out some of our Mother’s writings from the 80’s, we are also mother/daughter, mother/daughter, with experience ages of 28-74, and we all live in different areas of the United States.  We have shared with you diverse life experiences and views, but all with a biblical base and personal relationship with our Savior, Jesus Christ.

We take seriously the teaching of God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Prophets and Apostles who made sure we had the inspired scriptures to guide us through life. There is no greater “manual” for what to do or not do in life than the Holy Word of God.

Even if you have no one person to encourage you, read and re-read the 23rd Psalm!!!  Almighty God said He would never leave you. There are many scriptures that will encourage you on your life journey.  But, seek out a godly person to encourage you and pray with you.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Rome, “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established….that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.” Romans 1:11-12

BE ENCOURAGED!

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Your Tribe

Back in February I joined the John Maxwell Team (JMT) to learn and grow in leadership and to become a certified coach and speaker. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I signed up let alone have to funds to do it. However I knew I was taking a leap of faith and I deep down I knew God would catch me and provide.

 

Fast-forward 6 months and here I am a certified life coach and have met some incredible people along the way. I just got home from the JMT live event and I am blown away by the ways God showed up.

 

We were “randomly” placed at a table for the entire 3 days. I was placed at a table with 6 complete strangers from every walk of life and from all over the country and world! We represented California, New Jersey, Colorado, Oklahoma, Maryland, and the United Kingdom.

 

The first day with these strangers we had to give a 5 minute presentation. It could be on whatever topic we wanted but each of us told a piece of our stories, which gave us a better understanding of each other from the start. The main component for each of our stories was God. We connected on a spiritual level, which I know is now why we are like FAMILY!

 

By the end of the event we were praying together and created accountability for one another. Four of us took a leap of faith to bring ourselves and our businesses to the next level. We were in complete fear and very unsure about what to do, but we brought our concerns to the Lord together and had an encounter with God that brought us to tears and I believe closer as a group. We walked up to the counter together as a tribe and signed up for a mentorship program.

 

We are a tribe. We are committed to each other’s success.

 

This is not the only tribe I am apart of. I established another tribe when I went to a marketing conference in July. Each one of them loves the Lord and we hold each other accountable and support one another. The neat thing about each of these groups is that I could combine the two and everyone would get along and be on the same page. We are all after success, living a life for God, living out our calling, and helping others live out theirs. I love each of these groups dearly and they are not the only people I consider being my tribe.

 

Do you have a group of people who support you, drive you towards your potential and not your pain? Who will keep you accountable to do what you say you are going to do? Who will pray with you and for you?

 

Find your TRIBE. It takes setting out in faith, stepping out of your comfort zone and meeting people in places you would have never expected. It takes talking to strangers and being vulnerable. Step out in faith. God will catch you and bless you in ways you would have never imagined!

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I love you and I am so thankful for you Tribe 306!

I Have Fought the Good Fight…

There’s something about celebrating the life of one who’s gone to heaven before us that makes us evaluate EVERYTHING. Am I right?

I find myself mulling over the questions: Will I be missed? Will people cry? Will my life be worth celebrating? Will my legacy live on? What is my legacy, anyway?

Our family suffered a loss last week when our cousin Steve went home to heaven. It wasn’t unexpected, Steve had suffered the ravaging effects of Muscular Dystrophy for nearly 40 years. But oh, the hole that is left by his passing.

I was fortunate to travel to Oregon to be with family at this time, and witness the great outpouring of love for my cousin. The family had beautiful tributes to share, but it was the comments made by his ham radio buddies that really got to me.

After being diagnosed at age 13, Steve immersed himself in the ham radio world. Before the internet was even a glimmer, he had acquaintances around the world. Ever friendly, ever helpful, Steve became a bright light in the community, even going on to win awards for his skills too numerous to count. He shared recipes for his favorite foods and “traveled” the world by talking with friends and strangers on his radio, and looking at photos on his computer. He was noted for being the first ham radio operator to make contact with the Space Shuttle, among so many other accomplishments.

Steven Richard Kelly ~ March 13, 1964 - August 4, 2016

Steven Richard Kelly ~ March 13, 1964 – August 4, 2016

This was a man who hadn’t left the house for probably more than a decade, and now I’m hearing story after story of how he had helped design landscaping, a radio tower, and even a kitchen or two. In the midst of his own pain and what appeared to outsiders to be isolation, Steve pushed past the limits of his diagnosis and used technology to reach out and make a difference in the lives of others. He lived the life he was given to the fullest he was able.

As I sat there listening to his friend’s tearful tribute, I was in awe of this man and felt very sorry I hadn’t made a point to spend more time with him each time I came to town. Obviously this is my loss.

Which brings me back to the task at hand… taking inventory of my life.

If I had a diagnosis rendering me housebound, would I proceed to make such a difference in the lives of others that they would pack the house for my memorial service? My thought right now is that I would waste an awful lot of time feeling sorry for myself and searching for a way out of my predicament.

Steve never did that. He knew where he was going, and he knew where his strength for each day came from. He didn’t complain about his lot in life, he made the most of it.

I believe God gives us glimpses like this to snap us out of our own complacency. We all can remember those who have risen above their circumstances with such a force of character it’s impossible to ignore. And impossible to avoid. Take a moment to think back on that person you know, and use their inspiration to go and change your world… and just maybe that world will say they are better for having known you.

Live the life you are given to the fullest you are able.

Thanks for the reminder, Steve. Tell everyone hi for us and keep that heavenly party jammin’ until we get there!

” I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” 

2 Timothy 4:7-8 (NKJV)

 

 

PERFECT STRENGTH

The long-anticipated Rio Summer Olympics are on TV right now. Since I had a little foot surgery a few days ago and have to keep my leg elevated, I am watching hours of swimming, gymnastics, volleyball, et cetera. I am always amazed at how far the human body can be pushed to its physical limits.

I have never been an athletic person like my daughter, sister and niece are, but I appreciate and marvel at what our bodies are capable of. The mental and physical strength it takes for some athletes to continue to break world records year after year is amazing to me!

All of this world-wide competition is great, and it is exciting to watch, but there is a strength offered to us by our Creator that goes beyond the physical. It is His strength that gets us through the daily hardship of living.

You may have experienced a difficult time in your life when you had to completely depend on the promises of God to get you through. And….there are many scriptures that promise the undergirding of our loving and compassionate God.

Paul writes that he does not boast in his strength but in God’s alone. II Corinthians 12: 7-10 “And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, MY GRACE IS SUFFICIENT FOR YOU, FOR MY STRENGTH IS MADE PERFECT IN WEAKNESS. Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distress, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Then how do we become strong enough to run the race of our lives in order to win the best prize……eternal life with Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior?

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Ephesians 6

Please take time to read and re-read Ephesians 6 to give you the strength you need for each day! Don’t give up….keep on keeping on! God will give you the strength as you need it for each day.

Friends are like Seashells

“Friends are like seashells, you pick them up along the way.”

 

I saw this quote in the house of a family friend and I completely agree! In life we go through different seasons, and in each season we meet different people. If you a parent to young children you will most likely make friends with parents who have young children as well. If you are single you will meet other friends who are single. If you are dating or married, you will meet other couples. I’m not saying none of these groups can intermix, but you tend to gravitate toward people who are most like you or are in a similar stage of life as you.

 

Going on trips, playing on a recreation sports league team, joining a small group at church, any of these situations is a prime location to meet new friends. I have countless stories of people I have met along my journey of life, some I still keep in touch with, others who will always be a memory, and each person has added value to me as the person I am today.

 

The most recent friend I have met is a wonderful girl named Jessica. She and I first met at a mutual friend’s birthday party. We sat next to each other on a blanket in the grass and began talking and immediately hit it off. It wasn’t until a couple months later that we saw each other again, but it took us a bit to figure out why we looked familiar to the other. We randomly sat next to each other in church one Sunday. After we figured out we had first met at the birthday party we exchanged numbers and have been friends ever since. When I think of meeting friends coming in different seasons this is one of the friends I think of. She and I were going through very similar life events and could relate to one another and we still do! I for sure know this was a divine appointment set up by God!

 

Even though we meet new friends along the way, I have a handful of friends I have known the majority of my life and even after all these years, if we go months without seeing or talking to each other when we do get together we pick up right where we left off. This happened this weekend! We had a bachelorette party for a friend I have known since kindergarten and a mix of girls I grew up with in elementary and high school and even college all came together to celebrate her and it was wonderful! We all picked up right where we left off just as though no time had passed. That’s when I know it’s a genuine friendship when if feels as though no time has past when you see each other again. Cherish those friends in your life.

Jesus is our friend. He says, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead I have called you friends for everything that I learned from the Father I have made known to you.” John 15:13-15

Are you making friends along your journey of life? Are you cherishing the ones you have made years ago and even recently? Do you see Jesus as a friend? It’s important to surround yourself with good people. They help shape you into the person you are today!

Collect those seashells!

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Creatures of HABIT

The power had been off for hours, yet every time I entered a room (carrying my flashlight) I still reached for the light switch. Whaaaa? 

Every time as I was walking through the darkness I would remind myself NOT to flip the switch. Yet 9 times out of 10 I still did it.  

A few weeks ago we had a major storm and a pole just a couple blocks up my street was struck by lightning and came down, power wires in the wet street and all. We had our power out for 4 days in humid 95 degree weather. July in the South! I can’t tell you how many times I tried to flip fans and lights on! By the third day I started to remember that flipping the light switch would NOT actually turn the light on. 

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I recently had my hot tub removed from behind my house. It sat right by my back door and I used it daily to set things on as I was working in the yard or whatever. It sat there for almost 13 years. After a couple weeks I still walk out the door and automatically reach out to the right as if I am going to set down whatever I am carrying. I’m slowly catching on. (HA!) 

Have you ever checked your mailbox on a holiday when you KNOW there is no mail delivery? You remind yourself as you drive home that there will be no mail…but somehow when you get there you drive or walk right up to that box and check?  

We do function on auto-pilot a lot. Habits can be a good thing because we don’t necessarily have to use our brain power to move through the motions of the day. However, habits, good or bad are very hard to change or break. Let us remember that our habits do not control us, but that we control our habits. So, good habits can be learned and bad habits unlearned.  

The American Journal of Psychology says that, “Old habits are hard to break and new habits are hard to form because the behavioral patterns we repeat are imprinted in our neural pathways, but it is possible to form new habits through repetition.” 

I have recently been focused on taking inventory of my daily habits. Are they working for me or against me? How much time am I wasting doing things that are inconsequential? Am I sitting too long at a time at my desk staring at a screen when I should be getting up to move every 20 to 30 minutes? Am I just being busy or am I moving toward my goals? Am I balancing work and play along with properly appropriating my time between myself, my family and my friends?  

All this can be tough to balance, but inventory of your routine can point out strengths and weaknesses. Some of the things we do “without thinking” can be very detrimental to our health, our wealth, and most importantly our relationships. How much time do we spend watching tv or Netflix? How much time do we spend playing games on our devices or on our social media caring about what other people are doing more than what is happening right in front of us? Do you know that a recent study shows that Americans touch their phones an average of 150 times per day? That means for many, it is a lot more. Much of that is necessary now that we do a lot of business and communication this way, but how much of it is wasted time? 

If you haven’t already, may I suggest that if you have an issue with a bad habit (or ten, lol) that you identify it (if more maybe take them one at a time) and begin to work daily to tackle it. Consciously take a hold of it and change it by repetition. Your innate capacity for habit forming will eventually kick in.  

It may be frustrating at first (I know this first-hand, ugh) but like that light switch that we flip when we walk into a room without even thinking, we will begin to form the habits that will help and not hinder us. We will be present and set our devices aside in lieu of the human company before us. We will eat more healthy choices. We will exercise, get more sleep, accomplish more.  

The better we control our habits, the more successful and effective we will be in life.  

“Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” Romans 12:10-11

 

Are You Too Near the Getting In Place?

The story is told of a little boy who had a habit of falling out of bed in the night. Finally, his mother asked him why he fell out of bed so much. He replied, “I guess I stay too near the getting in place.”

The small boy with alarm clock in the bedIt’s a picture of too many Christians who don’t seem to grow, or know the Lord Jesus better this year than last. They’re faithful in their church attendance and they even tithe. But the Christian walk is a walk with Jesus that causes us to change. As Paul wrote, we are changed “from Glory to Glory, transformed into the image of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Peter also cautioned us to grow in 2 Peter 3:18, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Knowledge comes through the Word, illuminated by the Holy Spirit.

“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[a] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

 

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18

(These thoughts were first shared with Kristin in an email on August 11, 2005. Gladys was 86 years old. And yes, she loved connecting via email!)

JARS OF CLAY

There are times when a friend will make a mistake, and I say to them, “well, you’re just human after all,” and most every day I need to remind myself of that very fact!

The Word of God tells us that,  “The LORD God formed the man from dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7

Also in Psalm 138:13 & 14: “For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”  

Since we have established from God’s Word that we are, each one, created by Him in such an individual and unique way, let us surrender our lives to our Creator  He knows us well and has a perfect plan for us.  I trust Him with my life….do you?

However God made you…and if you are a believer in His son Jesus…then you are a vessel, or jar of clay to be used by Him to spread the Gospel. That doesn’t mean you have to be a preacher or singer or even a writer or poet. What that means is that you let the Light of Christ shine from inside of you to a dark world by the way you live your life in front of others.

A Christian rock group that has been popular for many years even chose their name as…Jars of Clay!!!

Photo by Kristin Coke

Photo by Kristin Coke

In II Corinthians the 4th chapter the Apostle Paul is explaining to the Corinthians that he and his fellow ministers are just yielded vessels being used by God to spread the Gospel. In verse 7 he says, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

And what is “this treasure”?  Verse 6 gives the answer…“For God who said (at creation)    ‘Let light shine out of darkness’  made this light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”

Wow! So we have His light in us to shine out to others…..but we are just frail humans made from dust…..actually jars of clay.  Don’t think of yourself greater than you should, but be a willing vessel for God to use.

Have you ever seen a potter at the wheel forming his work of art? That’s what God is to us. He made us…..as the potter makes jars of clay.  Let Him have His way in forming you to be what He wants you to be.  I guarantee…. you will be beautiful.

A beautiful, prayerful song is……

“Have Thine own way, LORD,  Have Thine own way.  Thou art the potter, I am the clay.  Mold me and make me after Thy will….while I am waiting yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, LORD,  Have Thine own way.  Hold o’er my being absolute sway.  Fill with Thy Spirit ’till all shall see Christ only, always living in me.”

11 Mile Hike

Last week I went on an 11 mile hike with a friend. We are training to hike Mount Whitney (which is 22 miles and about 14,250 in elevation) and for our training we are doing a bigger, more challenging hike each month to prepare.

This hike did not have much in elevation, but the elevation it did have was gained quickly within 5.37 miles. Heading toward the top of the mountain you would think the trail would be uphill…nope! It was up AND downhill, which heading to the top was nice because it gave us a break from the uphill. However, this meant that heading back we would have to go uphill as well. Not fun.

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We made it to the top. It felt like such an accomplishment. We took pictures, enjoyed the view for a bit while we ate our snack, and then started the trek back down to our car. Making it to the top of the mountain is only half way, I reminded myself.

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One thing about this trail is there is no shade. NONE! No trees to sit under to take a break from the heat, and by 10am it was already 99 degrees and we had started at 6am! Not good.

Making our way back down it felt as though we were placed in an oven without an escape. At about 2.5 miles out from the trail head we ran out of water. Not good when it’s 100 degrees and no shade. We were thirsty and hot walking up hills, however we didn’t pay as much attention to the hills because of being distracted by how hot our bodies were. Funny how God works sometimes.

There was a lot of self-motivation talk. I was telling myself how strong I was, that I was healthy, that I would make it back, that God would give me strength. I did a lot of praying asking God for help and to fill up my Camelbak. Around the mile 4 sign there were a couple cases of water. I saw them on my way up and it wasn’t until I was heading back down that I REALLY appreciated the water being there. I grabbed a couple bottles to fill my pack but I ended up going through that water fairly quickly. Nevertheless, this was an answer to prayer I just wish the water didn’t run out so fast ; )

It is only by the grace of God we made it back. I know for a fact we would have been much worse if it wasn’t for God being with us, reciting scripture, and digging into the truth of who God is and the truth of his word.

 

“…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Isaiah 40:31

No matter what situation you are in, God is with you and is there to help you. He will give you what you need when you need it.

This hike was a good lesson on life, and how to continue to prepare to hike Mount Whitney in a few months ; ) Seriously Satan was trying to beat us up and bring us down, but we know someone who is greater.

I am glad I did this hike. Although I wish it was 20 degrees cooler, I am glad I did it and I am glad it is over. This hike showed me how powerful God is. It taught me to enjoy the journey, to have a good attitude during trials, and that trials do come to an end.

JUST START

Seems simple enough. So why do most of us have such a hard time doing it?

There are so many factors that go in to starting something new. Many times we have to make preparations for a new project. I know I have a list of “things” I want to do, but I fumble around and keep saying, “I’ll get to that.” All the while, I stay in my rut and keep spinning my wheels, wondering what it will be like “one day” when I finally get to this or that.

Last week I had to let go of my hot tub. I had it for almost 13 years and loved it! However, the money I needed to put into it did not equal it’s worth. I had it removed and looked forward to a fresh beginning.

It was nearly 100 degrees outside and once I saw the mess left behind I didn’t really fell like dealing with it. I knew that the outcome would be worth the effort, but I just figured I could get to it the next day, or the next.

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Instead of settling for this, I decided to take the first step, which was to shovel the rotted wood and debris from the concrete slab.

Once that was gone I figured I would go ahead and get out my pressure washer to clean the area a bit.

Of course once I started that and the cleaned area looked so much brighter than the rest, I had to continue and finish the job. When I saw the contrast between the dirt and the clean, I HAD to press on.

IMG_5603And guess what? Since I just started and took the project one step at a time it wasn’t so daunting. Once I got started I got excited about it and ended up with a fresh beginning for that area of my property.

IMG_5606That’s all it’s about – just taking that first step. Once I grabbed the handle of that shovel I had done the hardest part of the task. Once we start and get momentum we can continue to press forward.

I realize this is a simple example, but the visual is good and it makes a greater point that can spill over into all areas of our lives.

What is that “thing” that you really want to accomplish that you keep putting off?

JUST START. Take the first step. Then the next.

Before you know it you will have that project complete, or at least be well on your way to creating that new space, or writing that book, or learning to paint….whatever that “thing” is.

May we all run with endurance in our lives spiritually, emotionally and physically. May we press on and not grow weary in doing good or in improving ourselves and the lives of those we care about!

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9