I will apologize now for what might turn out to be a little sermon today - but it is Sunday after all :)
Every winter some of the neighbor ladies and I get together once a week for "Bible Coffee". Usually about Sept, I go to the local Religious books store to see what I can find for us to study. They have a huge selection of Women's Bible Study books, it's so hard to choose :)
This winter we where studying a book called "Encouraging One Another" by Nicole Johnson. It was a wonderful reminder that we really need to stop thinking only of ourselves and what we are going through, and concentrate on those around us and helping/supporting/encouraging anyone that we could possibly meet during the week.
Each lesson had wonderful quote from different people about encouragement. Here are a few of my favorites:
The LORD created us with an emotional and relational need for human contact. Nothing canhearten like the hug from a caring person.
This is the heartbeat of celebrating friendship. Rejoicing, honoring, applauding, commending, saluting, toasting the wonderful people in our lives. Not for what they do, but for who they are, and for what they mean to us.
Encouragement is to a friendship what confetti is to a party. It's light, refreshing, and fun, and you always end up finding little pieces of it stuck on you later.
Keep looking for ways to bless others. Compete with yourself to see if you can find more creative ways to love this week than last. Brainstorm blessing projects for next year.
One of the lessons talked about encouraging letters Paul wrote to different churches and we were encouraged to send someone a card during the week. I did send our oldest a cute card! He was quite happy to get one, he never gets mail while he is at college, email is just to easy :) I also sent a card to some friends who had just moved into a new (and their first) house. It's amazing how a card can brighten someone's day, just letting them know that you are thinking about them.
When we do little acts of kindness that make life more bearable for someone else, we are walking in love as the Bible commands us. One way to do this costs only the sum of a postage stamp, a little paper, and ink. Every one of us has felt the nudge to write someone a letter or note. Many times we don't follow up on it; we tell ourselves it wouldn't matter anyway. When we think this way, we miss giving and receiving splashes of joy.
The last lesson was all about how we could offer encouragement to different people in our community. Some examples of the different people where: a college student far from home, a single working woman, a new bride, an expectant mother, a mommy surrounded by preschoolers, a working mother, a single mom, a mother with teenagers, an empty-nester, a brand new grandma, a widow, a terminally ill woman, an elderly friend, a recluse, a nursing home resident, a soldier stationed overseas, a missionary family, a newcomer to your congregation etc. These are all people we know and we could each think of someone that fit the list, but it really made us realize that these people might need an encouraging word, maybe a card in the mail, or possible just a visit where we could sit and listen. It's amazing how busy we think we are, and all the people we could touch during the course of our week.
While doing the last lesson I was thinking about an older woman I know. Her daughter and I went to elementary school together, have children the same age and happen to drive school bus for the same school division now. About 3 weeks ago this poor woman had to take her husband to the personal care home because of his Alzheimers. He was just getting to be to much for her to handle. She is also not 100% healthy with really bad arthritis, and she had lost quite a bit of weight over the last year due to the stress. This was definitely the best choice for her, her husband and the family, but she is having a terrible time with it. She feels as if she has deserted her husband. It doesn't seem to make a difference that the family is supporting her 100%, it's just a really hard time for her right now. She is a wonderful woman, her husband is also a wonderful person. As long as I can remember she has been helping anyone in need, cooking for people who were unable to do it themselves, plus taking care of her family. She truly is an amazing person!
So tomorrow I will go purchase a "thinking of you" card and possibly some flowers at the florist for her.
This is the last paragraph in the book - I think I'm going to print it out and place it in my craft room by my table as a reminder that it isn't about ME. There are so many people out there that could use a kind word, a smile, a card or maybe just a hug.
Encouragement doesn't need to come in a big, flashy, or even organized ways. A thoughtful gift, a willingness to listen, a pat on the shoulder, a cheerful attitude, a hug, a favor returned, a prayer shared, or standing together can truly be a treasure to the one who needed that little boost. The remembrance of your kindness will be like the sweet fragrance of a rose lingering in the air.
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