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Posts Tagged ‘encouragement’

Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a hugger.  I love to give hugs. If you know me well and see me coming if you don’t want a hug you might want to run, because you’ll get one.  It’s almost second nature to me.  I love to receive them too. It puts a smile on my face. Many times, the person giving them doesn’t know I needed it at that time.

 

It was one of those days in which I was sat and looked out over a pond at a local park. Birds bobbed on the water, and a fountain bubbled, gurgled, and struggled to rise out of the water.  It was a particular hard day; the tears began welled up.

 

“Daddy, just once I would love to feel your arm around me like a father does his child.”

 

Later when I described my day to a friend they said “Have you ever felt a warm breeze on your face? Or sat and listened to the birds chirping away or smelled your favorite flower? Have you enjoyed fellowship with others?  These may seem like small things, but God’s hugs are in the small things, not always the big wonders.”

 

That reminded me of another park visit where I walked the boardwalk, worship music played in my ear. I climbed the tower sat down on the recycled bench pulled a pen and notebook out and closed my eyes. What happened next came as a surprise. A breeze picked up, birds chirped and the words which flowed in my ear became clearer. The world was disappeared around me like the movies when a character is deep in thought everything around them move in slow motion and blurry.

 

If anyone had come to the top of the tower, I wouldn’t have known it.  There was peace, joy and the presence of God was felt without a doubt.  I’ve learned to relish these times.

 

In another blog, I wrote that sometimes solitude moments with God are about being still and letting Him love on me.  It’s being and listening and feeling using the senses to experience God’s love and His creative side, by being in His creation.

 

Lately though I have left the music behind and have taken my little word processor to the park to observe God’s creativity.   Through it, I’ve seen illustrations of how to express myself to Him. He allows me to experience things that are new, like a huge duck flying not more than three feet away whose wings just made the loudest most awesome “whoosh” with every flap. It was incredible almost like a rhythm of a drum. The breeze rusted the leaves and ducks quacked and bird chirped even the annoying seagulls squawked musically.  I heard God’s orchestra play just for me.

 

Have you ever scheduled time to just be still at the park or at the beach in the evening to watch a sunset? I would encourage you to just take in nature and allow God to wrap His arms around you.

 

 

“The Mighty One, God, the LORD speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets. From Zion, perfect in beauty God shines forth.”

Psalm 50:1-2

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One of my favorite musicals is the Phantom of the Opera. A man wears a mask because of his disfigured face, and falls in love with a young singer that he tutors. His thinking is that since he “gave her” the voice to sing, she would love him all the more. By the end of it you feel sorry for him. Here is a man who will never experience love because he tries to intimidate someone into loving him instead of being honest about who he really is.

It made me think about us as Christians. Many times we wear masks so others will not see the real us. We wear them to cover pain, insecurities and flaws. We fear that if others see who we really are we won’t be accepted.

God created us for a relationship with Himself. But He also knew we would need others. It bothers me when people say to me they don’t want to tell others of their prayer needs. They fear people will think of them as Christians without faith, or they don’t want to ask for help because it is a sign of weakness.

I have learned that is exactly what the body of Christ is for. Verses like, “Where two or more are gathered in my name, I am with them.” Or “Bear one another’s burdens” come to mind.

At one time my family was going through a dark time. My husband’s mother was dying and I became a temporary single mother of three children ages 9, 8, and 3. This was because he would leave the house at 6 in the morning for work and not get home until 10 at night from the hospital. I was so tired I couldn’t even work the microwave. One Sunday in our Sunday school I broke down crying and asked for prayer that God would give me strength to make it through the day. What I received was four days of dinners. Those dinners gave relief from the stress and renewed energy for the days ahead. I had to remove the mask of the “good Christian” who could handle anything, and show my true struggles, which in turn released the burden emotionally as well as physically.

The church was meant to come together not only to worship God, but also to help each other. Of course there was a risk of being vulnerable. There always is. However, if I wasn’t transparent two things would have happened. First, people would not know the real me and the ways they could intercede on my behalf. Secondly, not only would I have cheated myself out seeing God’s provision, I would have hindered others from receiving the blessing that comes from serving.

The Phantom in the musical chose to hide and to become feared instead of loved. But I wonder, if he had taken the risk of removing his mask and being vulnerable, people would perhaps have become more compassionate and loving. He may have even been freed from his prison of loneliness.

As Christians God asks us to remove the masks and live in the freedom of allowing other to see who we are and to risking the exposure of our flaws so that He may work in our lives through those around us.

Do you risk coming out from behind your masks and show others who you really are and the struggles you face? When fellowshipping with other believers, do they feel comfortable sharing themselves with you?

Who knows by taking that risk we may help others take their masks off also.

 

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Galatians 6:2 (NIV 1984)

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The fog is so thick; I can hardly see the hand in front of me. I know the spot I am in, yet I don’t know which way to go or what to do. I don’t want to take the wrong path so I stand confused, frustrated and frozen.

This is the feeling I get some days when I’m not feeling confident in who I am, what I’m doing, what God has called me to do, or overwhelmed with life in general.

When I started my second year as our church’s MOPS (Mother of preschoolers) Discussion Group Coordinator, I was given a DVD about my position. The longer I watched, the more my stomach turned into knots. I wasn’t doing anything they were saying to do. Did I mention I’m a rule-follower and love outlines?

As I walked to the mail box, I begged God’s forgiveness for being a lousy Coordinator; and for ill-equipping them to do their jobs. I also told Him I was overwhelmed with all the information and there was no way I would be able to implement all they said in two weeks.

Flipping through the mail I found a small card from one of the discussion group leaders. “I’m really not interested in going to a candle party, or a pampered chief party.”  I said to myself.

But it wasn’t an invitation. One of my leaders had written a “Thank You” note stating how much she appreciated the time I took to make sure that everyone was ready to serve.

Sobbing, I quickly went to email her to tell her what the note meant to me. Then she said the most amazing thing. “I kept forgetting to send it. I wanted to send it to you four days ago.”

God’s timing is everything. He knew I needed that note, that day. I learned a powerful. When I am in “fog” ask the ultimate encouragement-giver and He will send it.

I like to think of these as God’s hugs to me.

We all need encouragement from time to time. When I solicit encouragement from people, many times it leaves me emptier. I need to allow God to bring His encouragement, in His timing, in the means He chooses.

Warning: you may not receive it right away, but His timing is perfect.

But it goes both ways. As I listen to Him, many times I send a card or e-mail that another person needed just at that time it was received.

I have prayed that through writing — whether it be devotionals, blog posts or articles — all who read the words would feel as if God were giving them a hug of encouragement.

Are you in a “foggy”, overwhelming time?

Ask God to send you an encouraging hug. Then be patient. He may not send it right away but wait expectantly to feel His loving arms embrace you.

 “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”  I Thessalonians 5:11

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