Tag Archives: Encouragement

Hope for the Weary Ones

Hey there, you with the pinched brow and tired eyes. Yeah, I’m talking to you, but honestly? I’m also talking to myself.

It’s been a tough season, hasn’t it? I don’t know your specifics, and maybe you don’t know mine. But the effect those circumstances are having on your heart, body and mind? I think I can make some educated guesses, and here’s what I want to say about it.

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How I Feel is Not Who I Am

Earlier this year, I read a blog post by someone who was packing up and moving after 38 years in the same house. The writer, Linda Stoll, wrote about depersonalizing her beloved home to prepare it for listing, and about all the memories she would leave behind when she relocates to a new address in a different state.

lone tree

In the comments section, I told her that the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere (as an adult) has been five years, so I could only imagine how hard it would be to do all that work after nearly four decades in the same place.

Her response stopped me in my tracks and triggered an internal dialogue that continued for weeks.

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One Easy Way To Make Someone Else Feel Noticed

Have you ever been going about your day, minding your own business, when a friend or coworker asks if you’re feeling well or comments about how tired you look?

Prayers in the wilderness

I don’t know about you, but when that happens to me, my reaction is instantaneous. I may have left the house that morning looking my best and feeling fabulous, but all of a sudden, I feel haggard, worn out and possibly in need of antibiotics (or at least a nice long nap).

It’s rather alarming what a few short words—even those spoken out of true concern—can do to rattle my confidence and deflate my emotions.

But it’s also amazing how a few very different words can have the opposite effect.

When my daughter Lilly was small, I saw this happen over and over as I watched her interact with strangers in public places. It didn’t matter whether we were standing in line at Fazoli’s, waiting at the customer service desk at Kohl’s or milling around the lobby at church. She’d spot a girl or woman nearby, make eye contact and then speak with the poise of a much-older kid.

“I like your shirt,” she’d say in her sweet little voice.

Or, “I like your purse.”

“I like your tattoo.”

“I like your hair.”

It made no difference how many piercings the person had, how old she was, whether her hair was blond or blue, what size she wore or whether her clothes were skimpy, ripped or outdated. Lilly always found something nice to say.

My daughter loves people and even now, as a teenager, finds compliments to be great conversation starters. Back then, however, this introverted mama wondered whether I should rein her in a bit. Was she doing it to get attention? Maybe people didn’t want to be bothered as they waited in line.

But as I observed her in action, I began to notice something.

Lilly would share her compliment, and inevitably, here’s what happened next. The girl or woman would turn to her friend and say something like, “Aw, did you hear that? That just made my day.”

Time and again, her sincere words touched the hearts of the people to whom she offered them. It was ministry in its simplest form.

And as I watched my little girl identify lovely things about the people around her and care enough to let them know, I started following her example.

While greeting at the church door on Sunday mornings, pushing my cart through the aisles at Wal-Mart or checking in for volunteer work at our elementary school, I started to pay much closer attention to the people who passed by and then comment on what I saw.

“That’s a really good color on you.”

“What a beautiful scarf!”

“I love your necklace.”

I know. A compliment from a middle-aged mom doesn’t have quite the same effect as one from a five-year-old girl with dimples and shiny black ponytails. But I know how much it means to me to hear such words, so I keep offering them.

Here’s the thing. You don’t have to say something spiritual, talk for 15 minutes, share a Bible verse or pray for someone in order to encourage her.

People like to be noticed. They like to know that someone else really sees them.

And, as I learned from Lilly, it’s easy enough to tell them.

Lois Flowers

P.S. I’m linking up this week with Kelly Balarie at Purposeful Faith, Jennifer Dukes Lee at #TellHisStory and Holley Gerth at Coffee for Your Heart.



When Real-Life Encouragement Trumps Self-Help Books

Awhile back, I visited a very large Christian bookstore. I dearly love books and Willow Tree figurines and DaySpring cards and inspirational CDs. So normally, this kind of place would be like a little bit of heaven for me.

But this time, it wasn’t exactly that. It was mostly just overwhelming.

Because of all the books.

books

I’ve been feeling this for some time now, a slight resistance to the abundance of materials designed to help with every single solitary thing in life. I’m glad that these resources exist, and I know that many are encouraging and useful and even life changing.

I guess I’m just at a point in my life where I don’t just want to read advice. I don’t want to be told to make lists of this and that with my almost-fifth grader, or print this out and put it on the fridge, or implement this strategy with my 13-year-old, or pray these exact words when I am feeling anxious.

Maybe it’s because, as the aforementioned teenager sometimes says, “I’m just feeling a little bit rebellious today.” Or maybe what I really want is to hear from a real live person who is a little bit farther down the road—or maybe a lot farther down the road. A real live person who would smile when I tell her about my “rebellious” daughter because she actually knows this daughter and understands that—at least right now—she’s not really rebellious at all, she mostly just likes to talk big.

A real live person who gets that marriage books can be helpful, but sometimes, you just have to plow through the stuff of life together and be thankful that you can at least laugh about it occasionally. A real live person who tells you stories about her own children and the things that were hard for her when she was parenting youngsters, and how it doesn’t always get easier when they become adults but at least she knows the end result doesn’t all depend on her.

Yes, that’s what helps me now. Back when the girls were little, the books were exactly what I needed. They still are, from time to time. But these days, when I’m facing things I’ve never faced as a mother, daughter, wife or woman, books usually aren’t enough.

I need people.

Real live people.

Lois Flowers

P.S. I’m linking up this week with Jennifer Dukes Lee at #TellHisStory, Holley Gerth at Coffee for Your Heart and Kelly Balarie at Purposeful Faith.

Photo credit:Natalia Romay Photography via photopin cc


What To Do When No One Notices

As embarrassed as I am to admit it, the Golden Rule sometimes frustrates me. Sometimes, I wish it were one of those sayings people think is in the Bible but really isn’t—like, “God helps those who help themselves.”

Farm flower

Unfortunately for me (at least in those less-than-stellar moments), it is part of the Holy Writ—showing up in bright red letters in Matthew 7:12: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.”

The concept of treating others how we would like to be treated is one I often refer to in conversations with my daughters. Whether the situation involves kids at school, each other or some stranger on The Voice, “How would you feel if someone did that to you (or said that about you)?” is a question worth considering, especially at this particularly me-focused stage of their lives.

But when it comes to my own reactions to perceived slights, I’m inclined to bypass the Golden Rule and proceed straight to feeling sorry for myself. When something I’ve said or done—my presence when I’m not normally there, my absence when I normally am, a fresh haircut, a new blouse, a sad countenance, the clean bathroom, how much effort I’ve put into something, the delicious supper—is overlooked or not mentioned, I’m tempted to get hurt feelings.

On rare occasions, the affront is intentional. Most often, though, it’s not.

People are busy. They don’t always notice everything that is important to me. They may notice and forget to mention it. There could be any number of reasons.

In these cases, I need to remember how much I love these people and give them the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes, I need to get over myself and stop being petty. Sometimes, a reminder that the world doesn’t revolve around me is in order.

But always, I need to look for opportunities to do for others what I wish someone would do for me, and then do it.

It’s counter-intuitive, I know. But it’s the only way I know of to take the focus off of myself and carry on about the business of living in a way that honors God.

I won’t ask for a show of hands, but I wonder if you might be able to relate to what I’m saying in some tiny way. If so, can I just pass on a version of what I shared with myself not so long ago?

If you are an encourager who needs some encouragement, keep encouraging.

If you are a helper who could use a little assistance, keep helping.

If you are a prayer warrior who needs prayer, keep praying.

If you are a cook in need of some nourishment, keep cooking.

If you are a giver who could use a present yourself, keep giving.

If you are a card sender who wishes someone would mail you a note, keep sending those cards.

If you are a listener who wants someone to hear you, keep listening.

Just keep doing the things God has designed you to do, even when they seem small to you, even when it seems like nobody is noticing, even when you desperately wish someone would return the favor.

Farm flower 2

Don’t ever believe the lie that what you’re doing doesn’t matter, that nobody would miss it if you stopped.

Because you are making a difference.

And God sees it, even if you can’t.

Lois Flowers

P.S. I’m linking up today with Holley Gerth at Coffee for Your Heart, Jennifer Dukes Lee at #TellHisStory and Kelly Balarie at Purposeful Faith.



Read with Those Who Read: An (in)courage Guest Post

Every once in awhile, I write something that’s been loitering on the outskirts of my mind for a long, long time. I don’t know why some ideas have a longer germination period than others, but I do know that when I finally get around to writing these stories down, I’m changed in the process.

Oct. 14 read with those who read image

Today, I’m thrilled to be over at (in)courage—one of my very favorite sites for Christian women—with a guest post that falls directly into this category. It has to do with regret, encouragement and reading (yes, reading), and it is dedicated to the memory of my friend Lisa, who loved books and Jesus (though not in that order).

Won’t you join me at (in)courage to read more and maybe even join in on the discussion? Just click here …

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