Be Encouraged.

When I started this blog, I intended to let it be an outlet for my thoughts and feelings. I wanted to encourage people; to let them know that there are people who struggle with life and the crazy things that happen. To balance the negativity and bring forth light and joy.

My life has not always been happy, joyful, or loving. And at times it is very hard to be that way. It is a hard job being encouraging in a world full of discouraging and judgmental people.

To all my fellow encouragers out there:

YOU CAN DO THIS.

Seriously. You can. I know how it feels, you are constantly encouraging others to embrace who they are, be confident, and to feel loved; and sometimes you don’t have enough encouragement left over for yourself. You can feel left out or forgotten at times, and that is normal. Because, like I said… being encouraging is hard. It takes work, discipline, and optimism that most people don’t have in our culture or in our world today.

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Friends, when I was a teen, life as an encourager was really hard for me. I loved writing as a child and up until my Sophomore year, I believed I was good enough to use writing as a talent to help others. I would write notes and letters, both signed and anonymous, to random people who needed a little extra loving. I would give them to teachers, peers, family… anyone who I felt like needed a happy note.

Then my Sophomore year of high school I took an English/Literature class at a new school. My teacher told me repeatedly that I was a horrible writer, that I had neither skill nor talent, and how I could only coast through her class with a C at best.

Talk about rough.

There I was, new kid in school with no friends, family, or connections and I was being put down by someone I believed could be on my side. Like I said, rough.

For two years I struggled with writing papers in every class. I stopped writing letters and I would stress so much over papers that I would have stomach aches.

Then my freshman year of college, I began writing again. I started to journal every week. Slowly working up to multiple times a week, gaining confidence and just enjoying writing my thoughts on paper.

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Guys, that has morphed into what I am doing today. No, this blog is not famous. The average views my posts get is around 30-60 each week. I don’t even own my domain name. But I am able to sit down, type out about a page and a half, and then post for the entire world to read. I share my emotions, thoughts, and struggles through this blog, and these sometimes intimate details are here to stay on the internet… Forever.

I guess what I am saying is this: just because someone tells you that you don’t have skills, talent, or any way of succeeding does not mean that person is right. Even if that person is a mentor, leader, expert, or well-liked.

You do what you have to in order to do what you love. Take a chance and don’t worry about how others view your talents (or lack-thereof).

You’ve got this.
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A New Perspective : Kathy

Kathy is a friend and mentor of mine, and has been for years. She always has just the right words to say and encouragement just when I, or others, need it most. She did Mr. Yell’s and my premarital counseling this past year and was our college minister for several years. I am so excited to have her on the blog this week!

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Worship- verb, proskuneo – pros=”towards” and kuneo=”to kiss”.

I will never forget learning this meaning years ago.  A room full of college students were at my house for discipleship and we began talking about what “worship” actually means and what God desires of us in our worship of Him.  We looked it up in our Vines Expository Dictionary and found this definition.  “To lean towards, as if to kiss”.   I was overtaken with the visual of that intimate act and could hardly speak for a moment.  Worship in my personal, private time was not a new concept, but that intimate act used to define it made it become a sharp and clear picture.  It made me understand why personal, private worship of the Lord Jesus Christ was crucial in feeling the power of the Holy Spirit when the whole church worships together.

Scripture teaches us the power of God’s people gathering in authentic worship together in 1st Corinthians 14:24-25.  The word of God was being taught and they were praising God together in such a way that listeners who did not know God came to understand how much they needed him and fell down on their knees and worshipped God, declaring that God really was there among them!

Only God is worthy of being worshipped this way.  In Matthew 4:10 Jesus rebukes Satan and tells him that we should “worship the Lord our God, and him only should we serve.”  The priority of faithfulness in worship is clear.  He wants all of our worship.

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Truly, my sweetest experiences in worship have been when I am alone at home or riding in my car.   Songs with strong biblically sound lyrics have made me want to stand up right there in my car and worship Jesus – which may be tricky since I am the one driving.  Reading God’s word and coming to a new understanding of God’s character or a new principle to apply to my life has often brought me to my knees in worship or caused me to weep at His overwhelming acts of grace and kindness toward me.

My encouragement to you is that you find a place where you can spend time “leaning in to God, as if to kiss Him”.    Even if you are one who doesn’t really know God or much about Him, seek Him – lean into Him and He will show you who He is.

Imagine what our weekly worship gatherings with others would be like if we all came to the room having already spent private time in worship of our Savior.  Let’s pray together that each of us who claim to follow Christ will be faithful to worship Him and only Him.  He is so worthy of our worship and praise.  After all, the bible teaches us that if we don’t, the ROCKS will cry out in worship.  And like the song says – “ain’t no rock gonna cry out in MY place!”

May your worship this week bring you a new understanding of how rich and fulfilling private worship can be.  For me, it changed my day, renewed my spirit and transformed my life.

Kathy

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Kathy is founder of “Speak It Ministries” and author of “5 Things” – a book about how a man should love a woman by looking at the life of Boaz.  She loves to share God’s word with anyone who will listen.  You can find out more about her ministry, as well as buy her book, at her  website www.speakitministries.com or follow her on Twitter: @cckathy and on Instagram: kathybnelson

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Little Things

Life is hard.

There is no doubt about it. Sometimes it feels like life is not just handing you lemons, but continually slapping you with those lemons… in the face… for no reason.

At least that is how it has been feeling for me for about a month now. I have had so many issues with my schooling, emotions, and just finding joy in general. I have just been feeling like I was being continually washed in sadness, despair, and hopelessness. There was no end in sight, no reason to be positive or optimistic. Basically, I was “Sadness” from the new movie Inside Out… (like, you-will-have-to-drag-me-everywhere sadness.) 

Not a pretty mental picture.

But you know what… there are so many other things to be than sad. So many more places to be, people to greet, and things to be thankful for.

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In honor of life’s disappointments (not just mine, but maybe your’s too?) I’ve made a list of all the great things in life. Maybe not all, but four sounds like a great place to start. So be sure to enjoy:

Life’s Little Goodies

1.) I am alive.
        Honestly, you and I are both breathing and our hearts are beating right now. This moment you are having thoughts and living a life (even if you don’t think your life is great.. it’s yours.) We are in this together. I want love and acceptance, and I am betting that you do to. These are facts that we are alive and conscious of our desires and that we have a life to live at this moment. Take a minute and just breathe. Feel your heartbeat and feel thankful for this life.

2.) I can read.
       And yay! So can you! We are the select few in the world who can read about people, events, and emotions. We can interpret squiggles that create stories of adventure or information about the world we live in. Reading helps us to be informed, empathetic, and help those in need. Without the basis of reading, we would be so limited in what we can do to encourage, love, or help others.

3.) I have necessities.
     I not only have water, but food and shelter. No, it’s not a pinterest house and I am not the best at creating art from the food I make, but I am well cared for in all of these physical needs. Not everyone has these things, even in the United States. In fact, about 633,782 people in 2012 were found to be homeless (US Department of Housing and Urban Development) and 17.5 million households are food insecure (Coleman-Jensen 2014b, p1.). This isn’t even the poverty number. Poverty in the United States as of 2013 went up to 45.3 million people…. So to be thankful for the necessities is a big deal.
If you find yourself in need please let me know.

4.) I am so very loved.
    Friends. Please know that you are very deeply loved. I haven’t met you, but know that I love you and want to encourage you to keep going! This life is so hard, but it feels infinitely harder when you feel alone. Know that you are not alone, we are all in this together. While some may want you to fail, or if it just seems that way, others are rooting for you. We want you to do your best and live your best life. You are so loved!

While that may not seem like much… at this moment I know that I am going to make it. I have these four things to get me through.

One more thing, even if you don’t believe in God, I just find these words to be so encouraging:

“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will praise Him, my Savior, my God”
Psalm 42:5

I love you all so much. Be encouraged.

Much love. Much grace.

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Feelings and Choices

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Love.

A concept that is wrapped up with many definitions, stigmas, and stories. We can love hot dogs, people, or places. Love can be seen as a strength, or even as a weakness. We as people crave stories about enduring love as we read books, watch movies, and pressure friends into dating relationships.

What if I told you that love was not any of these things? Instead, love is a choice.

Weird concept, right? Some say, “You can’t choose who you love!”, but I believe you can. While falling in love may have a less controllable feeling, loving that person day to day is a choice. When that person is hard to love, we have to choose to stay with them, to forgive, and to love them even at their lowest. Even friends (and family) are hard to love at times.

Friends, I feel so humbled writing this. It is so hard for me to love others. I feel very blessed that the Lord gave me a best friend, and now my husband, who is full of love for me no matter what I seem to do, he is right there next to me. Forgiving me and showing me what real, true love is: a choice. He chooses to not just “deal” with me or ignore me, but listens, cares, and is so wise.

I wish I could say the same about myself. I am finding myself becoming more and more impatient with people around me. I struggle with jealousy, that turns to bitterness in a very bad way. I become angry quickly when I don’t get my way or if I feel overlooked by others.

I am not choosing to love.

In fact, that is so very much the opposite of what love is supposed to be.

Love is supposed to be kind, patient, and not self-seeking. It is to be slow to anger and quick to forgive. In 1 Corinthians chapter 13, there is a whole paragraph about what love is, and what love is not. Even if reading the Bible isn’t your thing, we can all learn a thing or two from this passage. We can all learn how to love others from this.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7

This is just a piece of what the choice of loving others looks like. Friends, family, and significant others; the choice always looks the same when choosing love.

I challenge you to try choosing this love. Choosing not a fleeting feeling, but the trust, hope, and forgiveness that everyone desires; and that everyone needs. Let’s go change the world by loving in a new way.

Much love. Much grace.

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