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Posts Tagged ‘encouragement’

Running

4th of July race in Cedar Rapids

Though I’ve announced I’ll soon end my tutoring “career,” I’m continuing with my brave adventures. Wish the weather would cooperate.

I’ll soon be back out on the trails, taking those long walks, getting back into some sort of running shape so I can tackle a 10K this year. A year ago I said I’d do a different length race each year. I’ve done plenty of 5Ks so there is no challenge left there (I guess if I cared about speed, I could work on that, but I don’t). After completing a 10K, I’m looking at a pretty big milestone for this late-in-life runner…in the year I turn 60, I want to run a half-marathon. Some would say I’m stupid (that may be the voice in my head, I’m not sure)…I choose to say I’m being brave.

To me, bravery is facing the giants in our lives…no matter if they are just in our heads. What do I fear? What do I see as insurmountable? What do I see as impossible? Do I allow my age to hold me back from potential adventures? Do I think it’s too late to try some new things? Not yet.

I’ve got a few things in the works to stretch my “fear factor” but I’m not going to allow the argument “I’ve never done this before” to be the deciding factor. Now, I’m not silly. I know my limitations physically. I won’t be taking up any extreme sports or gladiator challenges. Not yet anyway.

I hope you are cheering on those around you who are venturing out of their comfort zones to take up new exploits. My inner cheerleader shouts encouragement when I see my friends stand up and go forth and conquer fear.

I hope YOU are taking up new things. Maybe it’s beginning a fitness program, or letting go of an addiction, or learning a new skill. Don’t allow fear or insecurity keep you from reaching out and grabbing all that God has in front of you to do. I’ll be cheering you on!!

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On my desk as a reminder – not a selfie 🙂

I am a receptionist. And very proud of it. I provide the first impression of the company and I take that responsibility very seriously. Answering phones and greeting visitors – with a smile – every day – is not as easy as some would assume.

I’ve given directions to random people who walk in off the street. They have no address, just the name of whatever business they are looking for. Thanks to Google they leave happy. Had a semi truck driver ask me where the post office is (it’s the next block over from my office). Our side streets are narrow and crowded with parked cars, but I was able to help him decide what would be the best route to drive to deliver the mail. You’re welcome.

I had a co-worker who shared this job with me for a number of years. We used to laugh about incidents, phone calls, visitors we would handle. We called it “receptionist humor.” Such as…

I’ve had people come into our lobby assuming we ARE the post office (both addresses start with 615)…one person even insisted. No – I think I would know. I really wanted to be snarky, but remembering I am the face of my company (at least in the office lobby), I kept the snark on the down low.

I always answer the phone with “Good Morning” and the name of my company. Then I pause to hear what the caller wants. One time, the voice on the other end waited a beat and then asked, “Are you a real person?” Sometimes, sir, sometimes.

I’m glad we don’t have an automatic phone service…not just because I’d be out of a job, but because people are so relieved when they can deal with an actual person…someone they can ask questions of…and I feel good about solving their problem or directing them to the person who can.

My side gig is to pass out smiles and encouragement…not just to visitors but also to our own employees. People have enough stress in their lives, they don’t need it from the first person they see in the office.

I love interacting with the delivery people who enter the front door. Jimmy John’s drivers; Lee-Ann, our mail lady; Aaron and Dave from a local printing shop; Don, our dry cleaner driver – they have tough jobs out in the weather year round. Smiles don’t cost me anything and can be priceless to someone else.

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More reminders to keep it positive

Please realize that I am not perfect and don’t claim to be. I have stressful days and often catch myself whining about something insignificant. I have callers who get on my last nerve. (BTW – if you have a problem and need to call a company to resolve it, the person who answers the phone probably didn’t cause whatever is freaking you out. Be polite or I’ll tell your mother.)

I’ve caught myself venting to my supervisor. I often have to apologize for my poor attitude to her and to the Lord. Because, ultimately, I’m not just the face or voice of my company, I’m the face of Jesus, His hands and feet to this world. I need to remember to represent Him well.

So…how may I help you? :)))

 

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I’m taking some time to celebrate genuine girlfriends. No matter how old you are, if you’re a woman, you’ve probably had great female friendships, and a few not so good. Mean girls are not just reserved for high school. Most of those mean girls grow up to be mean women. But today – I want to give a shout out to those women who give unconditional love and support, who celebrate the great times, and stand beside us through the tough times.

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Women from the Class of 1978 – Durand High School

I’ve been blessed to have many wonderful women friends through the years. My high school classmates are still great friends, even though we don’t see each other often. We are planning a couple of “Girls’ Night Out” events so we can come alongside one of our own who is facing a tough health battle. We love her so much and want to show her our support.

“We are friends for life. When we’re together the years fall away. Isn’t that what matters? To have someone who can remember with you? To have someone who remembers how far you’ve come?” â€• Judy Blume

As a young pastor’s wife, I moved to a different city wondering if I’d have difficulty making friends in this new place. It didn’t take long to bond with some amazing women who loved me and helped me acclimate.

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Ladies who brunch!

Friends who threw me a baby shower, babysat my boys, took us out for dinner, gave me homeschooling advice, had us over for family birthdays and holidays, sat with us through sickness and health. Priceless friendships that have stood the test of time!

I have been fortunate to have older women mentor me in ministry, marriage and parenting. I’ve loved the opportunities to mentor younger women in those same areas. They are treasured friendships that now span the country. Thanks to social media we can still be a part of each others’ lives.

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My sweet friend Nichole

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Best buddies Debbie and Jody

As I head toward my 60s,  I’m spending time in reflection…remembering fun road trips, shopping trips, ministry trips…ladies who have hugged me as I cried, ladies I’ve hugged through their own pain. We’ve prayed, laughed, worshiped, cheered, and eaten chocolate together. I’ve tried to stand by them through illness and grief…they have done the same for me. They point me to Jesus and my goal is to be a light in their lives.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to appreciate my beautiful sister as a girlfriend. She’s my confidante, my inspiration, my favorite friend. I wish we lived closer physically but I know there is nothing we would not do for each other.

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My sister – my first and best friend

Pray for your friends today. Send someone a card. Give one of them a call. Make a coffee date. Connect. As we get busy, life passes us by. Make time to celebrate the special women in your life.

“I’m so thankful for friendship. It beautifies life so much.” â€• L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

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sunshine-heartThe sun is shining in Cedar Rapids! After a long, cold, snowy, cold winter, I’m anticipating the arrival of spring a little more enthusiastically today.

Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow! (sing along with me!)

The sunshine encourages me. I work in an office with a lot of windows and that beautiful sun shines in and lifts my spirits. But the opposite is true as well. On those dark, cloudy, gray days, I have to work very hard to stay upbeat and positive. As you can tell, I allow my circumstances to control my mood. And that is not healthy living.

Romans_15_13Every day I’m thankful for the Word of God that is filled with encouragement…verses that lift me up, show me where my confidence should be, promises God will always fulfill. When I read my Bible, I get a large dose of sunshine (even on a cloudy day). Other believers also boost my spirits. I have a very dear friend who regularly puts positive, uplifting, encouraging posts on Facebook. When I see them, I smile. I can’t help it. Encouragement is contagious.

So if you need a little boost – read the promises of God. The YouVersion app is a wonderful tool to put the Word literally at your fingertips. If you are sufficiently “boosted,” won’t you spread a little cheer to someone else today? It’ll feed your own soul too!

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Sometimes I make the assumption that everyone has access to the same resources that I do. But that is not necessarily accurate. Yes – most people now have access to the internet and can google just about anything. But not everyone knows how to search online and not everyone has the time or inclination. And that World Wide Web is a super humongous place…easy to get lost and discouraged. So, today’s blog will highlight a few online devotional sites that continue to create wonderful content for us to enjoy.

Dayspring began as a greeting card company in California by four Christian men. They have grown into more than cards with inventory including gifts, home decor, books and Bibles. They also provide a daily devotional delivered right to your email every morning. Some are very short, such as this morning’s offering. Others a bit longer. All are excerpts from books published by Dayspring. If you’d like a quick devotion, easily read in a couple of minutes, this may be the right fit for you.

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An offshoot of Dayspring is another wonderful resource: (in)courage. Female writers from across the country are regular contributors, designed to encourage and enrich your life with real life, relevant material. The devotions are a little longer (probably will take 5-10 minutes each) but you’ll want to shout “Amen!” when you’ve finished. The authors are engaging, humorous, vulnerable and wise. By the time you’ve read a few, you’ll feel as though you’ve made new friends. They’ve recently published a CSB (in)courage devotional Bible. If I needed another Bible, I would certainly have this one. Sign up here to receive these wonderful daily blogs/devotions.

I’ve just recently come across the writings of Rachel Wojo…Her last name is so long and with so many consonants that she’s shortened it on every thing she publishes…and she publishes A LOT!. I first saw (and use every day) her monthly Bible reading plans. Then I looked through her website and saw so much wonderful, Biblical material. She says she started the website to keep herself accountable to God’s Word and to “help others enjoy fresh faith on a daily basis.” She has so much free material including free Bible study videos. Her testimony is amazing and inspiring. I couldn’t even begin to describe her life’s journey. Please, if you do nothing else today, take a peek at Rachel’s website.

That’s enough to get you started. Happy reading! May the Word of God sink deep into your hearts as you lean into Him more and more every day. I pray these resources will help guide you toward the Source of all Truth…Jesus.

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It’s not even a word – but it so accurately describes my life. I have a lot of unexpectedlies – every day. And so do you. At first, I was blindsided by happenings in my life that I never planned for. Death. Accidents. Job loss. Broken relationships. All these and more kept me off balance, sometimes teetering on the edge of grief and despair. I felt more fear than faith – dreading the next bend in the road.

One weekend TrailI had an epiphany. I came to realize, with the wooing of the Holy Spirit, that these unexpectedlies are opportunities. Opportunities to find blessing in the midst of sadness. Joy in the midst of sorrow. Healing in the midst of pain. Instead of finding the gray on the backside of every cloud, I really do attempt to find the silver lining.

This past month, three close friends have passed away. One was my beautiful daughter-in-law’s father. He was a huge influence in my life, in the lives of my friends and family. Another was a man who helped me navigate the stress of my first radio job, moving from co-worker to great friend. He and his lovely wife gave me support in the hardest time of my life and for that, I will be forever grateful. Just this past Tuesday, another friend entered in the presence of Jesus. We’d only known each other three years but we became the best of buddies, joined together through our love of the Chicago Cubs and our little church family.

Each man was an unexpectedly in my life – unexpected voices of encouragement and affirmation, sometimes challenging, always loving and supportive. I am a blessed woman to have known these three and I am so grateful I was able to run part of my life’s race alongside them.

Takeaway – celebrate the unexpectedlies. Look for the blessing in each one. Grow through the experience. Choose to respond to each one with grace and forgiveness. Love fiercely because unexpectedlies happen…every day.

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Do you ever catch yourself in a mindless fog, moving through traffic without any idea how you got where you are? Me too. Scared myself.

On the other side, I have also over-thought myself into inaction. I thought about something for so long and hard that I came to no conclusions…only saw the situation from every point of view available…and then did nothing. This is a talent for which I’m very skilled.

I have another talent – looking on the bright side. Occasionally, I will get down (who doesn’t?) but for the most part, I’m the person who sees the glass half full. Or as my science-geek friends would say,  completely full…half with liquid, half with air. This particular talent has served me well most of my life. I enjoy happy feelings. I like being the “up” person until…I’m the only “up” person. Then it feels like work. I feel like I have to pull everyone else up and I forgot my weight-lifting workout.

I realize that my natural tendency to look on the bright side is God-given (and annoying to some). God made me with the desire to encourage and exhort others, to help people see the positive side of a situation, to give others indisputable evidence that in all things God works for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.

It’s a trait I am most thankful for…

But…

I can’t do it alone. Will you help me today? Will you give others a boost? Will you encourage someone who’s low and looking lower? Thanks – I appreciate it. I’m glad I’m not in this work alone.

And, by the way, if you’re one of those who have a tendency to see the glass half empty, take this Scripture and post it everywhere you can. Think_About_These_ThingsIt will help. Because God promises that He will never allow His Word to return empty and if you have your mind fixed on things above, and not on the circumstances of life that change, and drift, and sink your soul…you will be lifted up.

I appreciate my positive outlook and general happy perspective but God did not give it to me just for me…

He says, “Kris, go pass it along to others. This world needs to know that I haven’t given up on them. I will never leave them. I will never forsake them. I’ve got this all under control. Be salt and light and watch Me draw people to Myself.”

Cool, huh?

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Juanita & Gloria Damon (my mom) dressed for prom (circa 1945?)

 

I don’t know about you, but I had a mom who wasn’t shy about speaking her mind. She was the youngest of three daughters and admittedly, teased and tormented her sisters most of her growing up years. As a teenager, she was a spitfire who boasted about having quite a few friends who were boys. But once she met my dad, it didn’t take long to say “I do.” She had just turned 18, and my dad was just 21, when they tied the knot. Their marriage lasted almost 56 years, though not without quite a few painful twists and turns. Through it all, my mom stood pretty firm. She had a way of seeing the world and expected almost everyone else to see it her way. I loved my mom, but she was a stubborn woman.

As the middle of five children, I was the born peacemaker. I wanted everyone to get along. I didn’t like fighting…between mom and dad, brother to brother, or even with my sister. My usual way of handling conflict was hiding or running, or lashing out with hurtful words. One of the first sayings I remember my mom telling me: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” She didn’t always live by that motto, but it’s one I’ve tried to use, especially since joining social media. It’s an early lesson I heard that I’m most grateful for.

The book of Proverbs is full of advice similar to my mom’s (and I’m sure she didn’t know it at the time) – “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.” (Proverbs 10:19)… “The mouth of the righteous is a well of life…” (Proverbs 10:11a)… “The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom…” (Proverbs 10:31a). When I get frustrated with the hate and vitriol spewing forth on television and the internet, I try to keep my mouth shut. I’m not always successful. More than anything, I want my lips to speak wisdom…my words to be encouragement…my mouth to speak life into a world that desperately needs words of hope and grace. O Lord, let me hear my mama’s voice one more time: “Kris…if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

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There is a man in the book of Acts who has fascinated me for years. If you’ve never read Acts, you won’t get it, but this guy’s life is very compelling. Acts is the book written by Dr. Luke, detailing the lives of the disciples (now apostles) following the ascension of Jesus. Full of adventure and intrigue, good guys and bad guys, shipwrecks, beatings, miracles, signs & wonders, court room drama, and more protesters than at any Donald Trump rally. The story begins with Jesus telling his followers that He needs to go away for awhile but He’s going to send Someone to help them. So, in Acts 2, the Holy Spirit shows up…pretty dramatically…and the world has never been the same.

In chapter 4, a certain man is mentioned for the first time…Joseph, from Cyprus. He is a believer and I assume, because of evidence in his life, the apostles call him Barnabas, which means “Son of Encouragement.” At that time the believers were meeting together, living together and sharing in everything. Barnabas owned a field, sold it and gave all the money to the apostles…and this begins the story of the man responsible for the spread of Christianity around the world.

You thought that was Paul, didn’t you? Well, Paul usually gets the credit. We talk about Paul’s missionary journeys and Paul’s letters to the churches (which make up most of the New Testament) but in reality, this little known man called Barnabas is the real hero. And here’s why:

If it wasn’t for Barnabas, the world would never have known Paul. Before Paul (then known as Saul) had his roadside conversion, he was a very nasty guy. He was the original persecutor of anyone who followed the teachings of Jesus. Just the name “Saul” would strike terror in the hearts of believers in Jerusalem. But after his conversion, he was filled with the Holy Spirit and started preaching about Jesus being the Son of God. Needless to say, some were a little skeptical. It would be like a high-ranking ISIS official trying to join your church, claiming to be a Christian. But Barnabas shows up, takes Saul to the apostles in Jerusalem, and vouches for him…puts his own “son of encouragement” reputation on the line for Saul.

Not only is Barnabas known for being an encourager…and a man who champions those who are looked down on, but he was also satisfied with stepping out of the limelight to allow God’s plan for the world to move forward. When the church in Antioch sends out their first missionaries, it’s Barnabas who is the senior member of the team. But it soon becomes apparent that God is moving powerfully through Saul (now known as Paul), and Barnabas is the “other guy.” But he seems fine with it…he continues to travel, preaching and teaching about Jesus, working as a team with Paul to spread the gospel to Jews and Gentiles.

Our last real encounter with Barnabas may seem as though he has fallen out of favor, but I look at it differently. In the end of Acts chapter 15, Paul and Barnabas have a strong disagreement over the future involvement in their ministry of Barnabas’ cousin John Mark. Young J.M. had travelled with them in their first journey, but had quit for some unknown reason. Maybe the journey was tougher than he thought, maybe he was ill, maybe he was just homesick or immature in his faith – but for whatever reason, he went home. Now, in preparing for their second trip, Paul doesn’t want John Mark to join them, and Barnabas, once again, stands up for the little guy. (Remember, Paul? When he did this for you?) So Paul and Barnabas part ways and we really don’t know what happened to Mr. Encouragement after this. What we do know, from some of Paul’s letters, is that John Mark ends up back with Paul at some point. Barnabas has once again brought an immature young man to maturity and future ministry. And not just any future ministry, but a companion to both the Apostle Paul and Peter, as well as the author of the book of Mark, the second gospel. Pretty good mentoring job, Barnabas.

So, now you see why I find Barnabas to be one of the crucial men in the New Testament? If he hadn’t stood up for both Paul and later, John Mark, we may not have had the gospel preached, or the New Testament written. Obviously God would have found another way, but He used a little known Levite from Cyprus. Barnabas was an encourager to everyone, he stood up for the little guy, and he was willing to put his pride away and allow others to get the spotlight. I want to be a Barnabas.

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“Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” What a lie. A big fat lie. Words can cause greater damage than any stick or stone.

We often believe what we hear about ourselves, especially if the speaker is someone in authority or someone we trust or admire. Parents, siblings, other family members, teachers, coaches…even ourselves. I’ve found in my tutoring of students of all ages that my toughest job is getting them to believe in themselves after hearing things like “You can’t” or “You’re dumb” or “You’ll never…” for far too long.

Two solutions.

First, don’t destroy others with your words. Be an encourager, a cheerleader. Don’t bad mouth someone, or be nasty or rude. Avoid saying (or typing in your status bar) anything destructive or negative about another person. No matter who they are. No matter their political party or religious denomination. No matter what you perceive they think of you or have done to you. A well known person once said, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.” Good advice for all of us.

Secondly, do not disparage or bad mouth yourself…not your mind or intelligence, your emotions or your physical body. No matter what someone else has ever said about you…You are smart. You are kind. You are important.

God’s Word is full of His words of unconditional love and acceptance of who you are. Are you calling God a liar? Start reading through Proverbs and inserting your name.

“The speech of KRIS is worth waiting for…” (Proverbs 10:20a) Or “The speech of KRIS clears the air…” (Proverbs 10:32a) Or “The words of the wicked kill; the speech of KRIS saves.” (Proverbs 12:6) One of my favorites is Proverbs 16:24 – “Kris’ gracious speech is like clover honey – good taste to the soul, quick energy for the body.”

I’m attaching the link for a more in depth article about the power of our words if you need more convincing but this Scripture from James states it pretty clearly.

“It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.” (James 3:5-6 MSG)

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