Living in Faith, Scripture verses, What I've Learned Lately

Embrace the fact that you’re an encourager

I have always been a predominantly optimistic, glass-half-full kind of person. That’s not to say I don’t get discouraged or say negative things or sometimes play the “what if something terrible happens” game — because I do. Two important realizations related to this struck me a few weeks ago:

I’m not just a person with a positive attitude. I’m an encourager.

never feel bad about being an encouragerI need to own that fact and stop apologizing for being an encourager. And that includes no longer feeling guilty about looking for positive things when surrounded by negativity or stifled by the weight of situations. No more feeling “less than” when other people might think my mindset is ill-founded.

My ah-ha moments came while listening to a workshop from this year’s Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. Author/editor Lisa Crayton led a workshop called “Writing to Encourage.” And although she was addressing writers, many of the things she said apply to each of us as Christians.

Here’s one gem:

“We are the keepers of encouragement,” she said. “We have the Spirit of God in us to encourage others.”

The keepers of encouragement. I love the perspective. Those of us who follow Christ have the best news in the world to share and the biggest reason to hold onto hope and help others do the same.

God wired us to be encouragers. And if ever there was a time when people need to be encouraged, it’s now. Click To Tweet

Bible verses in both the Old and New Testaments tell us to do this. Here are just a few:

  • Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. (Ecclesiastes 4:9)
  • I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. (Romans 1:11-12)
  • And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
  • Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

I know there have been times when people viewed me as a Pollyanna who doesn’t want to acknowledge negative things. They’ve looked at me as less worldly or less mature, as someone wearing blinders to the harsh realities of life.

And I’ve let them do that. I’ve kept my mouth shut or downplayed the encouragement or optimism I could have shared because of how I believed they would view it. Because I didn’t want to see another round of eye rolls or “she’s clueless” glances or hear the “yeah, right” huffs.

Their attitudes toward me are wrong, but so is my response.

I can’t control what they think of me. I can control how I react.

We can make a difference in people’s lives by showing them the encouragement we know as followers of Christ. Click To Tweet

In her workshop, Lisa Crayton also said, “Christian writers are uniquely positioned … to lead readers out of their place of discouragement to finding the encouragement that they need.”

I agree with that statement 110% as a Christian writer, but also as a Christian trying to get through each day in this unpredictable world.

As Romans 12:8 says, If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. (NLT)

Encouragement doesn’t have to come across as preachy or goody-goody or out of touch. I’m not perfect at it and there are plenty of times when I don’t follow through on an opportunity as I should. But I — we — can get better at it if we’ll ask for God’s help.

be encouraging to othersWhy should we bother? Because God wired us to be encouragers. And if ever there was a time when people need to be encouraged, it’s now.

It can be as small as telling someone you hope they have a great day. Or sending a text to someone you haven’t connected with in a long time. Or letting the person in line behind you at the grocery store go first because they have five items in their basket and your cart is crammed full.

If “official” encouragement feels uncomfortable right now, we can encourage from behind the scenes. Prayers lifted on someone’s behalf can do wonders, even if they don’t know you’re praying.

So take heart, fellow encouragers! I believe it’s time for us to step up and share this gift we’ve been given without being timid or intimidated. Without apologizing or feeling self-conscious.

An unapologetic encourager. That’s what I want to be.

Will you join me?

We can make a difference in people’s lives by showing them the encouragement we know as followers of Christ. How can you see yourself doing that for the people around you? Leave a comment to share an idea and encourage others who stop by.

Be blessed today, my friends!


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Book Love, Christian non-fiction, Writing life

Happy book birthday to Work from Home Moms’ Devotions to Go

During one of my many clean-out sessions of the past year, I stopped for a few minutes to flip through a little book I haven’t paid much attention to in a long time: Work from Home Moms’ Devotions to Go. It’s my first devotional book, the one that allowed me the privilege of saying I’m a published book author.

Work from home moms devotions to goIt also turns 15 this year, which is a bit crazy to wrap my mind around. To celebrate, I’d like to share the story of how being a work-from-home mom led to a book.

I began working from home when our son was about five months old. It wasn’t under the most ideal circumstances; I’d learned a few weeks after returning to work from maternity leave that positions currently held by four people would be consolidated into a single role. To make a long story short, I wasn’t the person chosen to continue in that role.

I had handled a few freelance writing or editing projects over the years and my husband and I had talked about how great it would be if I could find enough freelance work to stay at home once we started a family.

As much as I liked the idea, I have to be honest: I would have never had the nerve to leave my job and try full-time freelancing.

God knew that and put me in the position to try. And He blessed me with work all the years I was at home.

A while after my work-from-home journey began, God nudged me in another direction I would have never imagined.

I had looked in bookstores and online for a devotional book written for moms who worked from home. I even called stores and asked them to search their systems for such a book. No one found anything.

The longer I searched, the more frustrated I became. Working from home wasn’t as common as now, but it also wasn’t unheard of. Surely there was a devotional book for women juggling families, work and everything else under the same roof.

My answer came as I mulled it over once again while rocking our son to sleep for his nap.

Write it yourself.

Three simple words that rang as loudly in my mind as if someone had spoken them beside me.

Whoa. Where did that come from?

Again: Write it yourself.

I’d never had such a thing happen. Lord, if that’s you …

The thought latched on and I continued to pray about it while doing other things as our son napped. By the time he woke and we were getting ready for a walk around the neighborhood, my prayer had shifted to, “OK, Lord, I’ll do this if you want but I don’t know what to write.”

Because God is God (and because for some reason this was His plan), He answered my puny challenge. Ideas for devotions related to being a work-from-home mom popped in my mind so quickly during our walk I could hardly keep them straight.

I scribbled down as many as I could remember when we got back home. More than 30 ideas filled the page.

And that was the day that led to Work from Home Moms’ Devotions to Go. It was a long process full of ups and downs, starts and stops, that eventually led to a publishing home with Extreme Diva Media. I had the chance to meet and work with amazing women including our publisher Jean Ann Duckworth and fellow authors Marilyn Nutter, Sherry Cummins, and Shelley Galbreath.

God was so good to turn my personal desire for a devotional book into something that others might enjoy. Even all these years later, I only know of one other devotional book written for moms who work from home – and it’s written by a woman I connected with during this process who endorsed it.

Many parents have learned to simultaneously balance work, home, and family during the past year. If you know someone who might like reading Work from Home Moms’ Devotions to Go, it’s still available in print (through me or some used book sites) and as an eBook.

Thanks for humoring my trip down memory lane. It’s reminded me anew how God can use all of us, even when we have no clue what we’re doing or where we’re going.

What nudges have you felt from God that might have led to unexpected places? Leave a comment and I’ll enter you into a drawing to win an autographed copy for yourself.


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Living in Faith, Scripture Saturday, Scripture verses

Scripture Saturday: Romans 15:13

 

Romans 15 13 a

Hope.

It’s something that ties us all together, no matter who we are or what we do or where we’ve been. It’s that little spark inside us that refuses to die, that helps us press on when it seems like all is lost.

It’s a gift from God that grows in us as we learn to trust Him with every part of our lives — the big, the small, and the in-between. The things that affect our family, our country, and our world.

The rest of this verse (which I couldn’t fit on the meme) is, “so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Even on the dark days, we can hold on to God’s promise that He’s in control and that everything is going to be OK. And aren’t we glad He gives us the Holy Spirit to help us remember that? I know I sure am.

Let’s have a beautiful, hope filled day.

Book Love

Book Review: The Discovery

Last week I posted a photo of some books from my to-read stack. Today I’m going to share my review of one of those books, The Discovery by Dan Walsh.

The DiscoveryI’ve read two of Walsh’s previous novels, The Unfinished Gift and The Homecoming. They were both set in the World War II era, so The Discovery is a bit different from those because it’s set in modern times. But – Walsh still shares his love of WWII tales with us because The Discovery actually is a story within a story.

Here’s part of the back cover blurb:

When aspiring writer Michael Warner inherits his grandfather’s venerable Charleston estate, he settles in to write his first novel. But within the confines of the stately home, he discovers an unpublished manuscript that his grandfather, a literary giant whose novels sold in the millions, had kept hidden from everyone – but which he clearly intended Michael to find. As he delves deep into the exciting tale about spies and sabotage, Michael discovers something that has the power to change not only his future but his past as well.

So … an aspiring novelist, a story set in Charleston, and some spies and sabotage. The combination hooked me from the get-go.

DSC00893 (1)
The top of the St. Augustine, Fla., lighthouse. I learned a lot about World War II spies when we visited a few years ago. Some of those same things were in The Discovery.

You’re about 60 pages into the book before Michael comes across his grandfather’s hidden manuscript. From there, The Discovery alternates between Michael’s present-day life and the story within the old manuscript – which you read along with Michael in its entirety. I felt like the “hidden” story dragged a bit in a few places, but it wasn’t so bad that I wanted to stop reading. I think it was partly because I anticipated some things and was ready for them to happen. But at least I didn’t jump to the ending to make sure things worked out like I wanted.

Basic fiction tools like flashbacks and back story can be tricky to work into a story, and what Walsh attempted here was much bigger than that. But he managed to pull it off and reward his readers with not one enjoyable story, but two. If you’re looking for a novel about young love during World War II that stays more “light” than “grim,” The Discovery could be worth checking out.

Your turn: What good World War II novels have you read? Do you have a favorite author who writes about that time frame?

And … I had the chance to interview Dan Walsh on the Novel Pastimes blog when his debut novel, The Unfinished Gift, was released. You can read Day 1 of the interview here and Day 2 here.