Our Words Can Save a Life

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On my two-year-old’s first day of preschool, he ran into the classroom without giving me a second glance. I stood there watching, my emotions swinging between relief and sadness.

He was going to be just fine.

His teachers welcomed him with warm smiles and words of encouragement. But their presence and tenderness spoke volumes their words couldn’t express. He was in a safe place.

When I arrived a couple of hours later he was playing with toys, unaware of my presence. Who was this child of mine? When did he grow up and become an independent toddler instead of the one-year-old who latched to my side, crying when I dropped him off in the church nursery?

I don’t remember ever being like my son. When I think back on my school days, I see a girl who longed for the familiar, who stayed inside her comfort zone and had a few close friends.

Change was the enemy. A roomful of strangers made me anxious and fearful, and throughout middle and high school I was dubbed, “the quiet one.”

So when my husband and I moved cross-country twice within the first five years of our marriage, I was forced to see change in a new light. Perhaps it wasn’t the enemy, but an integral part of life which could make me to grow and flourish or wither and hide.

I’d heard the old adage, “Bloom where you are planted,” and I wanted to. But I wasn’t sure I could.

One morning I sat in a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) meeting indulging in a cream-filled donut and hoping to meet just one person. It was a year after our second cross-country move and community eluded me.

My ball cap covered my bed head but I knew it couldn’t cover the mixture of expectation and skepticism in my eyes.

As I tried to fix my attention on my donut, the MOPS coordinator stopped in front of me.

“You’re new here,” she said with a grin.

And I knew.

I knew she didn’t speak to me out of obligation but a genuine excitement that I was there. We chatted about how many kids we had, their ages, and the similarities between them.

A few days later, I note arrived in my mailbox. I opened it, half expecting to see a pre-printed greeting that was sent to all new MOPS attendees. Skimming the words, I saw I was wrong.

“It’s always nice to meet another “outsider.””

We’d talked about being from another town. A common bond instantly connected us, as we both knew how hard it was to be the “new girl,” the girl with no family, the girl with no friends.

In the few short minutes it took my new friend to write the words, she changed the outlook of my entire day.

And like my son on his first day at preschool, I felt welcome. I felt safe.

Never underestimate the power of your words.

Our words have the power to breathe life or stifle it.

With a simple “hello,” a smile, a conversation spent listening instead of simply waiting to speak, we breathe life into the bones of others. Others who are hurting, wanting, and needing our presence and affirmation.

All it takes is a simple decision. But that decision can make the difference between life and death.

With our words, we can speak hope.

 

*photo credit

*Linking up with these beautiful communities: #LiveFreeThursday

For the Discouraged Soul Who Can’t Carry the Weight

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Before I had time to take my fighting stance, the enemy of my soul sat down and planted himself between me and the truth. His presence was firm. He wasn’t going anywhere.

Discouragement in every form took over my thoughts. My church, writing, friends, ministry and everything I held dear were a source of attack. Nothing was off limits.

I tried to hold onto to the words of life I knew lay planted in my soul. I remembered the Word said the enemy is a liar. I recalled verses which said no weapon formed against me would stand.

The tide was coming in and I needed a grip on solid ground. I longed to plant my feet firmly on the Rock I knew would prove stable and unmoving. I opened my Bible but nothing seemed to sink into my heart.

I saw the black and white on the page but I needed to put skin on it. I needed a real person with flesh and blood to speak life into my heart.

A few mornings passed and some friends shared prayer requests via voice text. Hearts were being opened and encouragement poured into the spaces which needed to be filled.

Should I tell them? I looked around at my home, my kids and many blessings God provided. Who was I to be discouraged? Why did I feel this way?

Giving words to my thoughts made them real. To speak them aloud gave them a life I wasn’t sure I wanted, and I hesitated for minutes, waiting and listening.

Something inside me spoke and I recognized the voice of life I’d been groping for.

We can never carry the burdens of others if we don’t release some of our own.

I spoke. I released all the thoughts of defeat and discouragement that followed me around for days upon weeks. Instantly, I felt lighter.

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And then, one after another, these sweet sisters of Christ spoke words of life and encouragement into my soul. They lifted me up in prayer and saw an inner strength I needed to be reminded was there.

I praised God and realized this was the body of Christ. This was the hands and feet of Christ extended, carrying my load when I couldn’t sustain it any longer.

In Galatians, Paul tells us,

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

Galatians 6:2 NIV

As I sat listening to my friends’ voices, I saw this law fulfilled. And it wasn’t the law of Moses. It wasn’t a burdensome law which no one could uphold.

It was the law of Christ: a law where we live by the Spirit and not by the flesh. A law where love is the embodiment of every command, and we love because He first loved us. Though we are weak, we are made strong through his power.

When we lift each other up in Christ, we lift up his Holy Name.

Self-sufficiency is a lie, friends. It leads us down a path of loneliness and regret.

 If you’re struggling today, can I encourage you to reach out to someone you trust? You weren’t made to carry all of that weight on your shoulders.

When we release it and allow others to carry it, we see a little bit if Heaven here on earth.

 

*Linking up with Kelly BalarieJennifer Dukes Lee and Holley Gerth. Come join us.

When You’re the New Girl and You Feel Alone

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“Yep, I could hang out with you.”

I chuckled at my new friend’s words. We’d just met a few weeks ago and our families were having lunch for the first time. She seemed so confident in our budding relationship.

When my husband and I had moved cross-country nearly a year ago, I’d immediately become pregnant with our first child. My friend and I talked about babies as my belly bulged beneath the table.

I was due the following month and the idea of welcoming a newborn with no family nearby terrified me. With newfound hope, I exchanged phone numbers with my friend before hopping into my vehicle and vowed to call her soon.

But a month later when the baby came, I was thrown into the world of unfamiliar. The promise of a friendship was forgotten.

As we journey through life, there are certain seasons when God gives us someone who pursues us. Even when you don’t want to be pursued, they simply show up, say, “I’m here” and do not take “no” for an answer.

Will you continue reading with me? Today I’m honored to be guest posting over at (in)Courage. You can read the rest of my post here.

 

P.S. Sign up here to receive free daily encouragement from the writers of (in)courage, right in your inbox!

*Linking up with Susan B. Mead and Kelly Balarie to encourage and be encouraged. Come join us.

What We Moms Can Do For Each Other (Guest Post and Giveaway)

Today I am featuring my first guest post in my little corner of the internet.  One of my favorite bloggers, new author of a book every mom should read, and mother of three, Lisa-Jo Baker is sharing her words.  She is like a long lost friend I never met.  Her book has inspired me to embrace those everyday, tired, and often heart wrenching moments of motherhood and see the grace of God in them.  I am beyond honored to feature her post on my website today.

As we approach Mother’s Day, let’s decide together that we aren’t going to be disappointed over unmet expectations.  Instead, let’s decide what we can do for each other.  Lisa-Jo has just the idea.

(and make sure you check out the giveaway I’m featuring at the bottom of this post!)


 

Mothering can be a lonely gig.

For all we spend it surrounded by many tiny humans. And their big, gaping demands. And their tugging, tireless hands.

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We can tend to retreat, to hole up, to recede from life and each other because, let’s face it, just managing our own homes is more than enough crazy for a lifetime. This might work for a season, a day, a week or two. But there is a danger of withering beneath the weight of the every day, 24 hours set on repeat over and over again with no off button if we keep at it alone.

There is something you can give. Something you can receive.

From your sisters. From the women you might never actually meet. From the neighbor who lives at the end of your quiet street, your mother-in-law, your church friend, school friend, PTA parent, baseball-bleachers-sitting sister.

There is this one thing we can do for one another. This one thing that is everything. And costs nothing.

Holding up the arms.

Rubbing the tired shoulders, folding the laundry, sharing the recipes, reminding each other about free donut days and birthdays and showering grace when we’re late to the preschool pick up.

Not comparing our kids. Celebrating the victories. Weeping the pain. Delivering the casseroles. Sharing more than just, “I’m fine.” Rocking the colicky babies, offering the girls nights out, teaching the best teething gels, powders, rings.

Admitting the temper tantrums.

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Sending the cards, loaning the good boots, complimenting the jeans. Sharing the best books, driving the car pool, ignoring the squabbling kids, making time for the catching up. Coming when she calls when her man’s out of town. Showing up with the Starbucks and sticky buns. Telling her, she can. Especially on the days when she’s still wearing her pajamas. Telling her to be kind to herself, and that comfy clothes are always the right choice.

Not comparing.

Not comparing houses or laundry piles or kids’ behavior.

Cheering.

Cheering for each others’ dreams, kids, work, art, new hair cut.

Crying alongside. Holding on. Hoping. Passing the tissues. Buying the chocolate. Holding the hands. Opening arms to the grief. Patiently walking the valleys, flash light packed, stop watch left at home.

Believing the best, giving the benefit of the doubt, calling. Complimenting.

Spending time in each others’ kitchens, laundry rooms, living rooms, cars. Meeting up for breakfasts, sending notes just because. Praying. Cracking knees to the mat and praying for her story, her life, her rabid fear of parenting.

Sharing the mess ups, the upside downs, the glimpses into your chaos, the dog days of motherhood when you want your money back. Not cleaning up before she comes over. Being OK with being seen just as you really are.

Welcoming her.

Welcoming her into your real life. So she can exhale.

And you can be encouraged.

This. This we can do.

{To see the video reminder of why all mothers are braver than they know and deserve a medal, click here}.

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This guest post comes with love from Lisa-Jo Baker to our community in celebration of Mother’s Day. If you haven’t already – treat yourself, your mom, your sister, your BFF or your grandma to a copy of her new book, Surprised by Motherhood: Everything I Never Expected About Being a Mom.

No matter what stage you’re in when it comes to motherhood, we promise it will encourage. And remind you that you are braver than you think. (unfortunately due to shipping, you have to be located in the US to be entered).


 

Moms, we can do this for each other, right?  Make the commitment today to encourage another mom.  Now, for the fun part!  As a Mother’s Day gift to tired moms everywhere, I am giving away a copy of Lisa-Jo’s book, Surprised by Motherhood.  And, because Lisa-Jo is so generous, also enter to win one of three signed bookplates.  Check them out below!  How. cool. is. that?  To enter, simply post a comment below and I will announce the winners this Friday, May 9th.  Now, show Lisa-Jo some love and tell other moms you know about this amazing book!

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Love Looks Deeper

Have you ever met someone with whom you felt an instant connection?  A friendship was formed with little or no hesitation, and you went on to share stories about your aspirations, your disappointments, and the ordinary routines of your life?  I have experienced this type of bond.  But it is oh so rare.  With my borderline introvert personality, perhaps it is more infrequent for me than others.

Developing a meaningful relationship with another person takes time.  In most cases, an instant connection will not be there, but we are called to dig deeper.  To find what lies beneath the surface.

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Some of the most life changing relationships I’ve experienced have been with those who, after my first impression, did not appear to be someone I would want to befriend.

A woman I met at a women’s ministry event, who was annoyingly loud, ended up making me laugh so hard I was in tears on a night when I had been tempted to stay home. Another woman who seemed pretentious became a dear friend, and one of the most genuinely caring people I know.

We all project different versions of ourselves when we are trying to impress those around us.  When we just want others to like us.  We try to be the person who is the life of the party or the one who has it all together.

My husband and I have moved a total of over five thousand miles since we got married nearly eight years ago.  Before our last cross-country move, I was devastated to leave relationships that were just beginning to grow, but knew God had something spectacular planned for us at our next destination.

I wasn’t wrong.

He has molded my personality, which was once extremely introverted, and pressed me to reach outside of my realm of comfort.  He’s pushed me to see those around me.  He’s made me realize that living a full life means reaching beyond what I think I’m capable of doing.

He’s shown me that we are called not just to extend grace to those around us who are like us, who share all of the same beliefs and political stance, who like the same t.v. shows, and whose kids attend the same school.

Peter, who had experienced the pure, abounding love and grace of Jesus after denying him not once, but three times, says, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”  (1 Peter 4:8 NIV)

Love means looking past first impressions.  It means looking past that snarky remark and seeing the person who had a rough morning, an unexpected phone call.  It means starting a conversation with the girl who has barely said two words at your Bible study even when you don’t know how to begin.  It means taking a meal to the widow across the street, even though you know he may talk your ear off for an hour.

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Love looks past our initial opinion of people and sees the initials of Christ stamped on them, made to reflect His glory.