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

Announcing the 2021 Selah Award nonfiction winners

For those of you who enjoy reading Christian nonfiction, books honored with Selah Awards are definitely worth a look. They’re announced as part of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, which is one of the best Christian writers conferences in the industry.

Last week I shared the 2021 Selah Award winners for Christian fiction. As promised, here’s the list of 2021 Selah Award nonfiction winners.

Devotionals

  • Third Place: Finding Hope in Crisis by Grace Fox
  • Second Place: Grief: The Unwanted Journey by Janet K. Johnson
  • First Place: Sunshine for the Soul by Linda Kozar (also named the 2021 Book of the Year for Nonfiction)

Inspiration and Gift

Christian Life

  • Third Place: Overcoming the Narcissist, Sociopath, Psychopath, and Other Domestic Abusers by Charlene D. Quint, J.D.
  • Second Place: Faith Wins: Overcoming a Crisis of Belief by Adam Groza
  • First Place: Extraordinary Hospitality for Ordinary Christians by Victoria Duerstock

Memoir

  • Third Place: Cross Addicted: Breaking Free from Family Trauma and Addiction by Paula Jauch
  • Second Place: Unleash Your God-given Healing by Ginny Dent Brant
  • First Place: Unwanted No More: From Exploited to Embraced by God by B.J. Garrett

Children’s Picture Books

2021 Directors’ Choice Award for Children’s Books

2021 Directors’ Choice Award for General Nonfiction

2021 Directors’ Choice Award for Devotionals

  • 365 Ways to Love Your Child: Turning Little Moments into Lasting Memories by Julie Lavender

I’ll admit that when I sit down to read, I’m usually looking for a fun escape with fiction rather than a nonfiction title (other than what I read during my devotional time). I need to do better with that and challenge myself to learn some new things. Do you tend to lean toward one more than the other?


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Book Love, Christian fiction

Find a new Christian author through the 2021 Selah Award fiction winners

One of the biggest and most respected conferences for Christian writers was last week: the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference in North Carolina. They celebrate on the last night of the conference with the Selah Awards, which cover multiple categories of Christian fiction and nonfiction works that were published in the past year.

Books that win the Selah Award are definitely worth checking out, so I wanted to share them in case any look interesting to you.

This week I’m sharing the winners from the fiction categories, complete with links if you’d like to learn more. Next week I’ll share the nonfiction Selah Award winners. Happy browsing!

First Novel

Novella

Contemporary Women’s Fiction

Historical / Biblical Fiction

Historical Romance Fiction

Contemporary Romance Fiction

Romantic Suspense Fiction

Mystery/Suspense Fiction

Western Fiction

Speculative Fiction

General Fiction

YA Fiction

Middle Grade Fiction

What’s your favorite genre to read? I’ve added several of these titles to my own to-read list; would love to know if any look interesting to you.

If you’d like an even easier way to find new authors in the genres you enjoy, you can also sign up for my e-newsletter and get a free download of “75 Clean Fiction Authors Worth Reading.” It’s a great way to find a new favorite author this summer!


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