Tag: encouragement (page 1 of 4)

Neighboring Challenge, Day 4 – Encourage

John and I both have a drawer where we save special notes that have been meaningful and encouraging. As I think about them, there are several characteristics they have in common.

  1. They are unexpected. They don’t come as an obligatory “thank you” note after you’ve given a gift or hosted a meal. They come as a delightful surprise when we least expect it.
  2. They are specific. They don’t contain general niceness, but often include personal examples.
  3. They require attention, intention, and forethought. Encouragers see the Imago Dei in others and call it out.

In the early church, Barnabas was an up-lifter, an encourager. He would be a “note-writing” kind of guy today I think.

Take a look…

Acts 4:34-37 And so it turned out that not a person among them was needy. Those who owned fields or houses sold them and brought the price of the sale to the apostles and made an offering of it. The apostles then distributed it according to each person’s need.

Joseph, called by the apostles “Barnabas” (which means “Son of Comfort”), a Levite born in Cyprus, sold a field that he owned, brought the money, and made an offering of it to the apostles.

Acts 9:26-27 Back in Jerusalem he (Paul, after his conversion) tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him. They didn’t trust him one bit. Then Barnabas took him under his wing. He introduced him to the apostles and stood up for him, told them how Saul had seen and spoken to the Master on the Damascus Road and how in Damascus itself he had laid his life on the line with his bold preaching in Jesus’ name.

Later, we see that when Paul is ready to ditch John Mark because he’s been irresponsible, Barnabas sticks by him and keeps investing, keeps encouraging. He sees the possibility of redemption! (See Acts 15:37-41)

You may not have the spiritual gift of encouragement and you may not think of it in terms of your neighborhood, but everyone can do something to notice and affirm another. Everyone loves applause. Give it a try!

Neighboring challenge:  Write a note of thanks or affirmation to one of your neighbors. Pop it in their mailbox.

Soul Food When Injustice Seems to Overwhelm

I think this from Bustle on Instagram sums up what many of us are feeling at the end of a long week of upheaval, anxiety, and unrest.

So I’m thinking we need some good news for the weekend. 

This is my favorite picture from the week. The world is really just a small village and we belong to each other.

If you’re like me, you may resonate with the question Chris Nye poses in his article titled “Does Knowing ‘God is Sovereign’ Really Help”?

“There are times when God allows the consequences of human error to play out. And sometimes we have to suffer through it to learn, once again, to trust Him, whose kingdom and dominion never end.”

Read the whole article here.

I was so heartened to hear of lawyers offering free legal help to those immigrants confused and stuck at airports.  

But many are asking, “What can I do?” My friend Dale Hanson Bourke wrote a fantastic article titled, 6 Things Your Church Can Do During the Refugee Ban. Take a look!

And then there’s this song from the Brilliance that I want to keep playing on repeat.

When I look into the face
Of my enemy
I see my brother
I see my brother

Lastly, who can’t use a little bunny inspiration?


Have a great weekend, friends! Remember you’re not alone!

Who’s Your Birthing Coach?

Last night the candles were lit, yummy bakey smells wafted room to room,  the twinkle lights were doing their twinkling, and my house was filled with girlfriends I love.

Read: it was lovely, loud, laughy, and there were lots of words!


Studies say that women average 20,00 words a day – 13,000 more than men. Last night I think we skewed that average high.

Think about when you get together with your best friends – talking over each other, finishing each other’s sentences, laughing at shared experiences…

This is how I imagine the meeting between the newly pregnant Mary and the last trimester Elizabeth.


Mary didn’t waste a minute. She got up and traveled to a town in Judah in the hill country, straight to Zachariah’s house, and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby in her womb leaped. She was filled with the Holy Spirit, and sang out exuberantly,

Picture the hills. The first time I visited I was surprised at how steep and hilly this area is, and I was surprised at the pine trees. Did Mary run? Was she out of breath? Sweaty? Did they hug and start talking immediately?

If I had written this next part of the Bible I’d put in a lot more exclamation points! 🙂

You’re so blessed among women,
    and the babe in your womb, also blessed!
And why am I so blessed that
    the mother of my Lord visits me?
The moment the sound of your
    greeting entered my ears,
The babe in my womb
    skipped like a lamb for sheer joy.
Blessed woman, who believed what God said,
    believed every word would come true! Luke 1;39-45

What an unlikely pair – an unwed pregnant teenager, carrying Jesus, and an old, post-menopausal woman carrying John the baptist!

I love it that these two women visited during what was probably the hardest trimester for each of them. I can hear them peppering each other with questions…

Can you even? You? Me? Us??!

Have you had morning sickness? Want to sleep all the time?

Have you felt him kick?

How has your family reacted? What about Joseph? How are you holding up?

(And just imagine Zacharias in the corner, unable to speak at all!)*

Here are two faithful, amazing women through whom God is birthing something new. Something beautiful for the world.  And He gives them to each other, almost like birthing coaches.

This is you too. Whether you’re a mom or not God is birthing something beautiful through you. The labor and delivery can be hard, but He gives us to each other.

As I looked around at the women last night I thought how often they have encouraged me to breathe,

or to hang on,

or have said “Me too” at just the right time.

Who are the women in your life who are birth coaches, affirming the beauty that God is growing in you?

*Luke 1:20

When You Need Encouragement For Your Race

Yesterday was the Twin Cities Marathon. This time I was on the sideline cheering for friends and relatives running, scuffling, wheel-chairing, limping, charging to their finish line.


I’ve run (read: scuffled) races myself, and other times like yesterday, I’ve cheered and prayed like crazy, feeling like part of a team with all humankind who are doing the best they can to run a good race.

When daughter Katy ran the Marine Corps Marathon a couple years ago I had the opportunity to be a cheerer.

I anxiously kept scanning the crowds of runners and praying for Katy, like the father of the prodigal son, willing him to come into view from afar off.

And when she came into sight I went crazy: IMG_8597

Is this a tiny bit of what our Heavenly Father feels as He watches us running our race of faith?  Is He picking us out of the crowd, fully aware of the miles when it’s going to be harder to keep putting one foot in front of another?  

Sometimes proudly pointing, like “That’s my boy!  That’s my girl!”, and other times yelling, “You’ve got this because you’ve got Me!!  You’re not alone!”

We are all runners.  We are all cheerers.

We all have hard races to run and we need each other.


As cheerers we get to be the megaphone of God for a world full of weary marathoners.

I knew that miles 19-22 would be the hardest for Katy and so I got to jump on the course and run with her for that stretch.  Just like the year when she ran alongside me, and John cheered, and friends prayed and supported.

Two years ago in D.C. when Katy came up that last tough hill into sight, approaching the Iwo Jima Memorial at the finish line I had no shame.  I went crazy jumping, screaming, crying, waving.

And somehow above the voices of thousands of others, she heard, she turned, and found me.  She smiled and waved and as she passed me and ran to the finish line there was this picture – the bright turquoise runner in the middle of the frame – tiny in the grand scheme of things, but unmistakeable to her earthly parents and her Heavenly Father.


And this is you too. Know that you have a heavenly Father who is crazy about you, cheering you on today.

5 Characteristics of Healthy Community

Who are your people? Do you have a group of friends who are your tribe, or your “home team”? Those people you can tell the truth to and they won’t throw you out? They may kick you in the butt when that’s needed, but they’ll also hug you and say “It’s gonna be ok honey”.

My husband, John, has gotten a little bit sick of me raving about a community of young married couples I have the privilege of hanging out with. They are called Catalyst, and they inspire the socks off me.


Right from the start, they have leaned into the sacrament of community. They are my heroes in this regard.

There are five vivid snapshots of our life-together that come to mind, highlighting characteristics of authentic, life-giving community. I thought they might be helpful to share: Continue reading

Soul Food to Lift Your Spirits

Some weeks are just so…weekly aren’t they? I hope something from this post today will lift your spirits, inspire, or encourage you. Have a great weekend! Continue reading

How to Write the Perfect Note

Ok, the title of this post might be a tad misleading. Technically speaking, I do NOT know how to write a perfect note.

And don’t forget one of my life verses: “Where words are many, sin is not absent.” So there’s that…

However, writing notes to people is a powerful ministry. I think we can all learn from each other.

I’m betting you, like me, have a drawer of “keepers” – notes that have been especially timely, impactful, or encouraging.


Like a squirrel with a stash of nuts he saves for the long winter nights, we may treasure and re-read these nuggets when we need a little encouragement, especially in dark, cold seasons.

What is it that gives special notes such value in your mind?

As I read back over my “stash” here are some of the elements I notice about people who write great notes: Continue reading

How to be a Hero

This is one of my heroes. Roger Anderson.


He turned 90 last week.

When we moved to Minnesota for John to become the lead pastor at “our” church, it had been “his” church for 34 years. Yep, he had planted the church. He was leaving “his baby” for us to steward for the kingdom.

What if we mucked it up? What if we KILLED it, for Pete’s sake?! Or worse, (gasp!) changed the music???!

And yet, Roger has been our biggest cheerleader. Our most fervent prayer warrior. Our baton-hander.

Leadership is like being in a relay race. Succession is important. We need to pass on the baton to the next generation because our part in the race is not the end, and Roger knew that. Continue reading

Your Biggest Cheerleader

Last Thanksgiving my brother David and I ran a race together – a 5 mile Turkey Trot.


On his birthday I gave him a turkey costume – a goal to work towards…We would run again, and he would wear the costume this Thanksgiving when he was stronger. I promised him if he couldn’t wear it I would.

This morning I set out driving to my home town where tomorrow there will be another run.


This one is to raise money for Melanoma research.  And I’ll wear the turkey costume. Because David isn’t here to run.

David died on July 18th. In my Bible I found this, dated July 16th. Continue reading

Soul Food Cornucopia

How’s your week been? For me it’s been a delightfully cornucopia-full-type week of time with family and friends, and open doors to new ministry opportunities. But always along with fun “asks” comes the need for hard choices.

Saying “yes” to the best things, requires some “no’s” to some good things. When I say “best” I don’t think that necessarily means the most exciting or easiest things, but those that click with our gifts, passions, and season of life. I’ve heard from a bunch of you who are feeling stressed now, when everything is starting up and everyone seems to want or need something from you. Here’s an article I’ve been passing along that might be helpful – How to Say “No” When You Feel Pressured to say “Yes”

Aaaaannnd, if you need a little encouragement, check out this amazing video 🙂 (sorry I couldn’t embed it in the post but it’s so worth a click!)

Seeing the Instagram post below from daughter Katy, prompted me to make my own batch of one of our favorite fall treats.


Here’s the recipe 🙂

PumpkinChocolate Chip Muffins

1/2 cup almond slivers toasted (can leave these out if you don’t like nuts)

1 2/3 cup flour

1 cup sugar

1 TB pumpkin pie spice

1 ts. baking soda

1/4 ts. baking powder

1/4 ts. salt

2 eggs

1 cup plain pumpkin (I accidentally used the whole can last year and they turned out great – just more moist. And what do you do with half a can of leftover pumpkin anyway?)

1 cup chocolate chips

1 stick butter melted (ARGH! I forgot this when I made them last week, but the world didn’t end)

Mix flour, sugar, and all dry ingredients.

Break eggs in another bowl. Whisk and add butter (cooled a little) and pumpkin. Pour over dry ingredients.

Mix in Chocolate chips. Pour in greased muffin tins. Bake 20-25 minutes (less if doing mini muffins). Store in plastic container.

YUM! And you’re welcome!

While enjoying a pumpkin chocolate chip muffin, here’s a delightful book I’ve been reading, by the same author who wrote Dear Mr. Knightly. It’s about two estranged sisters – one a chef, and the other fighting cancer, and a man who is a love interest. If you’re a foodie, or like Jane Austen references, or just want a good read, try Lizzy and Jane. by Katherine Reay.


And when this was my view as I was writing this morning, I thought of a C.S. Lewis quote John shared with me last night.

“Miracles…are a retelling in small letters the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some to see.”


What’s been some “soul food” you’ve enjoyed this week?

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