Revive Me #36- Hug Like You Mean It

Revive Me, Week 36– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Hug Like You Mean It

“Let go of whatever it was that turned you into a tentative hugger, and hug like you mean it.”

I’ve been doing too much mindless hugging lately.  When my husband walks in the door, I often hug him but my mind might be elsewhere.  I can be in the middle of hugging a member of my church family but my eyes will be searching for that person I need to talk to.  And I don’t even want to think about how many hugs from my sons I didn’t really focus on.

A couple of things have caused me to think about this:

  1.  The brevity of life (James 4:13-17).  I’ve recently heard of a couple of sudden, unexpected deaths.  I imagine their loved ones are recalling their last interactions with the departed.  They probably want nothing more than to hold them one more time.  When you wish you could hug someone but you can’t, you know the value of a simple hug.  I also know of some who have a loved one entering hospice care.  Surely every hug from now on will be more meaningful, more precious.
  2. The power of a good hug.  I’ve been the recipient of a couple of heartfelt hugs lately, the kind that make me pause and think, “Oh, this is a real hug.”  Real hugs leave me feeling bolstered and loved, as if I just received a gift.  They make me smile say, “thank you!”  They convince me to be more deliberate with my own hugging.

“A hug delights and warms and charms.  That must be why God gave us arms.”

Non-huggers may be cringing at this post.  That’s okay.  You have your own form of greeting and encouraging (a hearty handshake?).  The point of this Revive Me challenge is to remind us to be “all there” when we engage with others.  Smile warmly, look others in the eye, and hug for real.  For some, it may be just the boost they need to keep on keeping on.

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  Hug the stuffing out of your family members this week.  Give your husband extra doses.  Cherish every child-hug.  And especially hug the elderly in your family.
  2.  Determine to give up distracted greetings.  Give one-on-one attention to each person you meet at worship.
  3.  Go out of your way to hug the unhuggable (not the ones who don’t like hugs…that wouldn’t be very nice).  Look for the insecure, angry, or rebellious.  Help them understand God’s compassion by offering a warm hug.
  4.  Never let a gathering go by where you don’t hug the widows and widowers.  For some of them, it may be the only contact they enjoy during the week.
  5.  Just for fun, do some research into the science of hugging to learn some of the health benefits.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

hugs

 

Revive Me #33– Grow Through Change

Revive Me, Week 33– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Grow Through Change

In my personal life I’m in the midst of four major changes.  Change is a natural part of life.  I know this fact but I’m a chicken.  I wrestle with fear, insecurity, and just saying goodbye to what used to be.  While I may be the only chicken, I know I’m not the only one facing change.

Our Nation Changes.  From the leadership to the values it upholds, our nation is not the same as it used to be.  I imagine we have more changes to come.

Our Church Families Change.  The kingdom will stand (Dan. 2:44) but the makeup of each body fluctuates.  Neal and I were just discussing all the changes that have occurred in the ten years we’ve been here.  Several members have gone on to their reward, various leaders have come and gone, and dear families have moved away.

Our Homes Change.  Children come into the home and then before you know it, children leave the home.  Aging parents or others may need to live in your home.

Even Our Bodies Change.  Aging.  Enough said.

While the items I mentioned aren’t all negative, they are definitely changes.  How can we face them gracefully?

  • Remember the One who never changes.  “For I am the Lord; I do not change” (Mal. 3:6).  His promises stand regardless of shifting circumstances (2 Pet. 1:1-4).  His love for us is constant (Rom. 8:37-39).
  • Turn the changes into a challenge.  Who doesn’t love a good challenge?  It can be invigorating and life-giving.  When fear threatens, remember that growth comes from being stretched.  Facing challenges builds strength and confidence through Jesus Christ our Lord (Phil. 4:13).
  • See the Blessings.  Those who have experienced change will probably tell you that some good came about as a result (James 1:2-4).
  • See the Opportunities.  Times of change can be the perfect time to try new things, to test yourself, to walk through open doors that you’ve been hesitant to before.  God has work for us always (Eph. 2:10).

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  To prepare for changes in our nation, pray for courage.  We all need to stand up for what’s right and shine for Christ regardless of threats, persecution, or personal cost.
  2.  For changes in the church family, pay attention to who could use some love.  New members?  Recent widows?  Help those who are most affected cope by being their source of encouragement.
  3.  In your own family, thank God for any who might be in your care now.  It is always a blessing.  Open your heart to those who may need your care.  Don’t be hesitant to let go and let God (*pointing to myself big time here).
  4. Concerning your body, keep up with time.  Work to keep it in good condition so you can serve to the best of your ability.  Exercise more, make better food choices, drink plenty of water, and don’t become crotchety.

Read it.  Memorize it.  Live it.

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One Simple Way to Find Balance

BALANCE– an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady; a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions

As I consider the various areas of my life as a Christian woman, I know I need to keep growing in all aspects (Eph. 4:15).  I need to nurture my relationship with God.  I need to take care of myself physically.  I need to work at being a better wife and mother.  I need to look for ways to reach the lost, help the needy, and encourage others.

Sometimes it’s a real challenge for me to feel “upright and steady” and to keep everything “in the correct proportions.”  I’ll do great at exercising and eating right but find myself neglecting personal Bible study.  I’ll put more concerted effort into my marriage, and then realize it’s been way too long since I’ve had someone in my home or invited someone to worship.   It’s like I forget certain areas while I’m focusing on other ones.

It could be that’s just how my mind works.  I have to write things down to remind myself to do them.  When it comes to finding balance in my Christian walk, I finally came up with the kind of list that actually works for me.  It’s all on one sheet, it’s easy, and it reminds me to “grow in all aspects.”

I’ve hesitated to share this list because I don’t want to give the impression that Christianity is a checklist of good deeds, and as long as I can check everything off my list, I can feel good about myself.  Truly, that’s not what this is about.  Christianity is putting God’s will first and allowing it to affect every area of my life.  But we are commanded to be soul-winners (Mark 16:15), to be benevolent (Matt. 25:34-46), to show hospitality (Rom. 12:13), and to encourage others (Heb. 10:24,25).  It just helps me personally to have a visual reminder of those areas so I can think about ways to live them out each day.

About the list:

  • The first half focuses on daily communication with the Father (Bible study and prayer).
  • The next section focuses on physical health.  I put tally marks down for each glass of water I drink and list the type of exercise I did.  At first I tried to include a space for a food journal, but a.) it took too long to record everything I ate (ha!), and b.) I find that if I’m exercising and drinking plenty of water each day, I end up eating better anyway.
  • Then there’s a place to list the three most prioritized things that need accomplished that day.
  • The final section is really what makes this list work for me.  It simply lists benevolence, hospitality, soul-winning, and encouragement.  It reminds me to do something that falls under one of those categories, and then I’ll write down next to it what I did (like sending a card, making a call or visit, having a family over, putting tracts in the car for distribution opportunities, etc.).  Because one of those areas comes more naturally to me than the others, this section also allows me to see when I’ve been neglecting the ones that push me out of my comfort zone.

To make it a little more fun and feminine, I printed the list off on a variety of pretty papers.  I can choose whichever print strikes my fancy each day.

You might find this list helpful, too (see below).  It’s plain and simple, mainly because I don’t know how to make it look cool and modern.  But you’re more than welcome to use it, and if you know how to make it more appealing, more efficient, or more practical, then please share!

Finding Balance List

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Here is a revised list that was sent to me by a reader.  She gave me permission to share it here.  Thank you, Amy Ellis, for the cute and cool version!

Growinallaspectsprintable

*This post can also be found at ImageProxy.mvc

I Said a Little Prayer for You

“I said a little prayer this morning for you to have a great day.”

These simple words by Kristy Huntsman stayed with me for days.  She posted them on my Facebook wall, and the for-no-special-reason encouragement made me smile every time I thought of it.  She prayed to the Father on my behalf!  I felt loved and strengthened.

A little prayer has a lot of power.

  • It brings the peace of God- Phil. 4:6,7
  • It brings God near- Psa. 145:18
  • It brings good gifts- Matt. 7:11
  • It brings the Spirit’s help- Rom. 8:26
  • It brings healing- James 5:16
  • It brings forgiveness- 1 John 1:9
  • It brings mercy and grace- Heb. 4:16

These truths about prayer remind me of a few things.  First, I should never take an offered prayer for granted.  It’s a meaningful and mighty gesture.  Second, I should follow through when I offer to pray for others.  It’s so easy to say, “I’ll pray for you.”  It takes intentional diligence to actually do it.  And third, I should offer to pray more.  There are needs and hurts and fears, and I can definitely pray in those situations.  But I can also offer a prayer on your behalf when there’s no special reason.  What a blessing God has given us!

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy”  (Phil. 1:3,4).

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I See Good People #2

Thank you to all those who are sharing your inspirational thoughts and spreading cheerfulness.  You’re lighting up social media (Matt. 5:16)!  Here’s just a glimpse of some of the good stuff going around:

Mandy Liddell posted this poem.  I need to memorize it!

Dear Lord, may I ever refrain
From speaking ill of others;
May I have kindly thoughts, as well,
For all my earthly brothers!
May I, dear Heavenly Father,
Radiate pure love for all…
May I see good in everyone;
May I pray for those in woe…
If I can do these things, O Lord,
While I am here on this earth,
I’ll feel my life’s not been in vain—
That I was blessed at my birth!”
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham

-In the past three days, I’ve been excited to read three new blogs by young Christians.  I thank God for their desire to encourage others and share God’s Word.  Let’s encourage them, too, by supporting their efforts.

-For something fun, girly, and helpful, check out this new planner by Virtuous Magazine:

-Sometimes I read something and know the thoughts will stay with me for days.  Such was the case with these words by the brilliant mind of Cindy Colley:

-Recent terrific tweets:

  • @Gospel Advocate-  “Jesus viewed the 39 OT books as inspired by God and devoted Himself to studying them. Should we do any less?
  • @Stan Butt “If anyone ever tells you, “It’s okay to be selfish,” they don’t know what they’re talking about.”
  • @Kevin W. RhodesWhen people do not see the good in life, it is because they first fail to see the God of life.”
  • And just for grins….@Tim Hawkins– “Conversation heard:

‘Grandpa, did you ever work out?’

‘No.’

‘Why?’

‘Because I was out working.'”

-Hugo McCord quote posted by Jared Jackson:

When two people disagree on the interpretation of a Bible passage, one or both are wrong … but the Bible is always right.”

-Looking for some yummy recipes?  Check out the lovely Chelli Guthrie‘s blog, “The Planted Trees.

Prayer for Today:  Bless these good people, Lord, as they continue to brighten the lives of others!

New bloggers, Dale Pollard & Katlyn Vanderwende
New bloggers, Dale Pollard & Katlyn Vanderwende

How to Write an Encouraging Letter

217829_4425502553842_1842029884_n**Disclaimer:  I chose to write this post because I have been the recipient of some great letters, not because I think I have mastered the art of writing encouraging letters.

Paul was a great encourager.  As we read through his letters, we find many expressions of love and concern.

“I thank my God for you…your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world” (Rom. 1:8).

“I rejoice that I have confidence in you in everything” (2 Cor. 7:16).

Paul also told people often that he was praying for them specifically by name.

“Always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy” (Phil. 1:4).

Those statements really lift the spirit!  The weather outside is turning cold…what better time to make a concerted effort to send more heart-warming letters?  To create a note that’s just right, we can remember the six S’s:

  • Keep it SIMPLE.  We’ll be more likely to write more often.  It doesn’t have to be fancy or elaborate.
  • Keep it SHORT.  It only takes a few minutes.  We can pack a lot of punch into just a few words.  A short letter can be easily read again and again by the happy recipient.
  • Make it SINCERE.  If we write as soon as we feel the emotion (gratitude, concern, etc.), the heartfelt words will flow and come across.
  • Use a STAMP.  I love the old-fashioned route!  What’s more exciting than receiving a letter in your mailbox?  Paper letters are lasting and special.  They give the recipient something to touch (as opposed to emails and texts), involving more of the senses.
  • Add a SURPRISE.  A touch of fun or whimsy is memorable.  Unexpected surprises bright anyone’s day!  Slip in a sticker, piece of gum, pictures, handmade bookmark, teabag, drawing…any small item that will bring a smile of pleasure.
  • Add a SCRIPTURE.  Even if I can’t think of anything eloquent to write, I know God’s Word is beautiful, enduring, powerful, and meaningful.  Some great options to include in a letter of encouragement:

Phil. 1:3

Philemon 1:4-6

Psalm 18:30

Phil. 4:6,7

Psa. 94:19

1 Pet. 5:7

Prov. 3:5,6

Isa. 41:10

John 16:33

Psa. 46:1-3

2 Tim. 1:7

Psa. 121

Jer. 17:7,8

For a lovely and well-written study on “how to get life-changing results from writing personal notes,” check out Special Delivery by Jane McWhorter.  (I do not in any way benefit from sharing this link.  I just think it’s a great book!)

Happy letter writing!

Prayer for Today:  Thank you, Lord, for the encouragement found in Your Word.  Help us to share that same love with others!

*This post can also be found at A Wise Woman Builds Her Home.

Encouragement for You!

According to my pocket calendar, today is the Day of National Encouragement.  To celebrate, please enjoy some uplifting Scriptures, quotes, and even a treat!

Scriptures for You

  • “As for God, His way is perfect; the Word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him” (Psalm 18:30).
  • “In the world you will have trouble; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
  • “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved” (Psalm 55:22).
  • “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8).
  • “Now may the God of all hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:13).

Quotes for You

  • “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”  –Anne Frank
  •  “Do you want to know who you are?  Don’t ask–act!  Action will delineate and define you.”  –Thomas Jefferson
  • “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”  –Leo Buscaglia
  • “The greatest part of our happiness depends on our dispositions, not our circumstances.”  –Martha Washington, first First Lady of the United States

A Treat for You

“Warm Spiced Milk”

  • 2 1/2 c. milk
  • 1/3 c. apple butter
  • 2 1/2 T. real maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves

-Whisk together all ingredients in a heavy saucepan over low heat until milk steams.  Do not boil.  Serves 4.  (Recipe from Gooseberry Patch Blue Ribbon Family Favorites)

-We enjoyed sipping this belly-warming beverage last night on a chilly, drizzly Colorado evening.  I used Pumpkin Pie spice in place of the cinnamon and cloves and simply heated  it all up in the microwave.

A Prayer for You

Bless each reader, Father, with strength, peace, and compassion as they reach out to those around them and influence all who know them.