Thursday, March 28, 2013

Thankful Thursday

Each day of the week is getting some kind of meaning here lately right? I can't say I don't dig it, as it does keep me on track with my days of the week :)

Today, I am focusing on what I am most thankful for and it just so happens I have a great one.

Sappy, I know, but hang in there with me. Today, my dad will retire from his long time job at a local refinery. I realized last night that I do not think I have ever taken the time to really thank my dad for his hard work. No worries, I remedied that :)
My dad is of a different breed. He works and has worked his whole life. He didn't go out trying to find his hearts calling and he certainly didn't take time off from work to "find himself". He worked to provide. He took all the overtime they gave and I NEVER remember him complaining of having to wake up at 4 a.m. to get to work. He did the work necessary to provide a life for his family.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
 -Colossians 3:23-24
The Bible offer a LOT of wisdom on work. We are warned of keeping company with lazy fools in Proverbs and we are warned more so of being said lazy fool. Colossians reminds us that no matter WHERE we work, we are to do our work as though doing it for the Lord Himself. Friends, at the end of the day THIS is what you do! My dad has managed to set a lovely example of just this. He never boasts of his job, nor did he hate it (at least not out loud!). He simply did the work necessary, not for his immediate employers, but for God.
We live in an age where we are encouraged to always look out for #1. The problem with this is that our #1 isn't aligned with scripture. In our age, #1 refers to ourselves. We are told to make ourselves happy in order to make others happy. I'm pretty certain Mother Teresa did not feel that way! We are cautioned to only accept the best for us, go after our dreams and find what works best for us. WRONG. We are to align God's will as our #1. Does that mean life will be easy and we'll always have what we want? No. It means we will be cared for and have what we need. Understand this: life will NEVER and should NEVER be EASY here on Earth. As a matter of fact, I think far too many Christians are more content with finding an easy life than living the one God has called them to.
Am I grateful? YES. God saw fit to give me an earthly father who would set the example my Heavenly Father needed me to see. In the few (ahem, 35!) years that I have known my dad, these are just a few things I have learned:
  1. DON'T be lazy...just don't.
  2. Be willing to work for what you believe in.
  3. Be willing to stand for your beliefs; don't be wishy-washy.
  4. Give of yourself, as much as and a little more than you have.
  5. Have the guts to put your back into the work.
  6. Be thankful for where you are in life NOW.
  7. Be willing to always learn.
  8. Make yourself a student.
  9. Embrace constructive criticism.
  10. But be willing to stand up for yourself :)
These are just a handful of the things that were passed on to me through example. He never really spoke of them, he simply was all of them.
I encourage you to think about what you are thankful for today and shout it out. If God blessed you with a dad that has worked to provide for you (even if you're grown now) tell him thank you!
With that I will close by telling my dad thanks. Thank you for all the early mornings and the late nights. Thank you for all the turn-a-rounds and shut-downs. Thank you for giving me peace and comfort. We may not have been the richest kids, but I never worried about having food to eat, clothes to wear or the basics of life. Thank you for being there. Thank you for being the man God called you to be and leading by example.
Choose today to be a grateful day.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Faith and Fitness: Verses to Lift By

My body is a temple,
God is my spotter
So, if you hung out with me you would probably notice a few things:
  1. I would rather run a marathon than do a marathon house cleaning session.
  2. I prefer solo workouts in my home gym as opposed to buddies.
  3. I really like coffee.
  4. It is my firm belief God Himself made Reese's Peanut Butter Cups....and that is what I will eat in Heaven. :)
Just a few interesting facts right? The one thing that I really hope people see in my is my own hope. The thing is, I do find myself downcast at times. I feel ill-prepared and over-stressed most days. I am often guilty of simply putting on a smile and pretending all is well for the sake of my clients. There are times I want to quit is all...
Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ 

It is on the days that I most want to quit that God is gracious enough to send something or someone to inspire me to move forward. Perhaps it is an unexpected text from a good friend who is "just checking on me". Those make my day. Maybe it's a phone call from my husband who has been out of town for what seems like forever. Some days I happen to stumble upon a blog or tweet that keeps me going.

In the hustle and bustle known as life, I can overlook these seemingly small things as simple coincidences. At the end of the day as I read through my night time devotional, it is as though a fresh breath washes over me to remind me of all that was done for me in that one day.

Hebrews 12:1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us

Here are some examples of His unfailing love for me in just the past few days:

  1. That moment when I lost all strength and was ready to give in and call it quits.....I received 5 messages in a row thanking me for the posts I make on Facebook :)
  2. The time I was about to pull out of the competition due to the fact that I felt overwhelmed with prep and honestly like I was NEVER going to be good enough....He sent me to a site of a sweet mother who also happens to be a strong Christian and a figure competitor :)
  3. The moment my kids schedules got to be too much to handle and I thought I might die from sheer exhaustion....He sent an unexpected night off to recover :)
  4. The moment(s) of thinking I was doing too much for too many for too little...He had someone post a great note of thanks for all to see.
  5. The moment I thought I was too weak to carry on and that I could never do the things He has called me to do.....He sent me His very Word to strengthen my Spirit
1 Peter 2:9-11 9 But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you - 10 from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted. 11 Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul.

I encourage you today to stop and take note of the seemingly small things He has done to keep you on course. Each morning, pray that He will guide your steps and guard your tongue. He never changes and is exceedingly faithful to strengthen those who call upon His name. Remember the price paid for you this week.....and honor the One Who paid it all.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

I have a serious problem here

You know it's going to be good right?

I have to come to light with a serious issue I am struggling with as we speak!

I, my friends, am a doer.

Do you know what that means?

I speak trust in God with my mouth, but all the while I am working out my plan to make things happen. This time, I have gone too far....

Now, don't get me wrong....putting in the work for your calling is of paramount importance. BUT when you start to wear your abilities down to nothing from trying to play the savior, you have a problem.

I have over committed myself as of this moment. I have such a sheer hatred for laziness (yes, I know THAT too is a problem!) that I would rather rebuild my sinking ship as opposed to simply focusing my attention on fixing one little hole! Issues...

When I went to sleep, exhausted, last night, I was dreading the day. You see friends, I have begun to overextend myself to the point where I no longer find joy in what I do. I curse the gifts and abilities my Lord has given me, instead of being grateful and thanking Him for the opportunity. I have run myself ragged and have left nothing for my calling. I am....spent.

Most of my days have grown into 16 hour workdays, plus the homeschooling of my sweet daughter. I push through claiming to be doing the work I am supposed to be doing, but lately things have changed. Before, I would always run to my husband. He is a patient and sweet man, always ready to let me complain to my hearts content about the messes I have gotten myself into :). This time, he's gone and phone calls are a mere luxury. I have turned to my Father today and I wanted to share with You the thoughts He has brought to the forefront of His weary child's mind:

  • Am I getting distracted by the opportunities? Even "good" opportunities can take our eyes off of our real work.
  • Am I so intent on being the "saviour" of a nation, that I forget to look to my Saviour in times of need?
  • God will provide ALL that is needed for ALL he has called me to do.
  • I must stop pushing my self-made boulders up the hill and rely in God and His timing.
  • He is always the same.
  • He is always trustworthy.
  • He will provide.
  • He only requires my to OBEY, not shoulder the load alone.
  • Trust first....then follow in obedience on that trust.
Do you find yourself struggling with days of feeling overwhelmed and under qualified? I encourage you to cling to these truths. Take a hard look at some seemingly "good" things that me be clouding your vision. Ask God to weed the garden of your life to bring you fully into your calling. When we walk in God's calling for us it doesn't mean it will be easy...but we will never walk alone.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Body Language

Did you know that the state of your physical body speaks volumes about your faith?

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own for you were bought with a price. Glorify God in your body."
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

That can be hard for some to digest, but I beg you to stay with me here...

Back in the days of my couch sitting and junk food eating :) I hid behind the glaringly false excuse that God "made me this way". Um, no. God expects us to take care of our own health and wellness. He does not act as a genie awaiting our cry when we have gone too far and our health is at risk. He gave us a body....we are stewards of that body just as we are stewards of the money, talents and family he has given us.

Why is this such a hard thing to comprehend? Well, for one, our world is ALL over blaming others. We blame people for how our children act, blame teachers for bad grades, blames spouses for a rocky marriage, blame traffic for constant tardiness and blame everybody under the sun for the state of our health. My challenge to you? STAND UP! Take responsibility for your own health and body! It's plain as day that we are instructed to take care of it. Does this mean we beat it up as punishment in the gym? Hardly. Does it mean we starve ourselves to fit a certain size? NO. Does it mean we eat as we please, sit on our ever expanding rumps and simply expect that God will show mercy on our lazy soul? If you shake your head no, then why do we do it?

Am I stepping on toes and getting under your skin yet? I certainly hope so....
The interesting thing is when we are confronted with things that make us uncomfortable, we either flee or complain. I hear the latter daily. People complain about having to work out to look a certain way. They complain about food. They complain about trainers, gyms, bathrooms, water, green stuff, veggies, proteins, treats, squats, lunges, get the picture yet? How do we STOP?

Here are a few things that come to mind. First, we must flip the switch in our minds. In other words, YOU CAN STOP COMPLAINING. You simply have to make that choice AND work towards it. I have visited parts of the world where women are not allowed to work out. Did you just read that? And before you start wishing you could waste lazy days away there, think of this: they do NOT have the FREEDOM to work out. Does that make you view your classes and sessions a bit differently now?

Second, find a cause to work for. Studies have shown that people who train for a cause, such as the MS 150, the Walk for the Cure, or a variety of Fun Runs donating to certain causes, tend to work until the end. What does that mean? They don't complain and quit! Why? Because it's about OTHERS! That's the ticket. Involve yourself in helping others. Find a cause that is dear to your heart, something that pulls at those little heart strings and train for it!

Every workout I do is geared towards my calling. It just happens that my calling is a little on the active side :) It gets me to the gym even when I don't feel like it. You see fitness, much like faith, has nothing to do with your feelings and everything to do with your habits. You can cultivate healthy habits by committing to them. Does it take time? Yes. Will it be uncomfortable at times? Yes. Will it please your Heavenly Father? Look at the verse above again....YES!

Commit to something today that will change the lives of others. Reach off of your coach, past your home, into your community and into the nations.

Need a cause?

I have 2 ways you can give to those imprisoned in sex trafficking and human exploitation.
The first is simply a gift to help change their lives. A gym to provide safety, life skills and new jobs to victims of sex trafficking and human exploitation in Chisinau, Moldova.
Second, I have fitness challenges starting in April. Every cent made from these challenges will go to fund mission trips to Moldova, Africa and even India to help rescue and train those who have had hope stripped from their lives.

The question now lies with you. Are you willing? You need not be ready, for God only asks that you remain willing to help.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Following the Winding Road

I am learning much about trust at this stage in life. I am being shown things daily that make me believe more and more in my Father's love and His heart to provide for me. Though the road before is not a straight path, and at time the visibility is less than desired, I am learning to trust in Him....the One Who created all and breathed purpose into my life.

When my journeys take me to unexpected places with unexpected meetings, I rest in the trust that His will is being done. For months I have uttered one common prayer daily amongst my prayers for those whom I love and care for....I have asked God to weed out the things in my life that are becoming of no use to His calling. I put in my faith in the fact that He would answer...and that he did.

This week I was blessed beyond measure to be able to teach at our church's high school girl's retreat. I wish I could introduce each of you to these wonderful young ladies. Truly, if I was fortunate enough to listen and heed to my convictions as these ladies of such a young age do...I would have avoided much heartache brought on by my own decisions.

During this week I was blessed with zero none. That can be a bit daunting to a blogger right? At any rate, I was able to embrace it, sans one post mid-week :). As I embraced my Internet-less existence, I was able to draw closer to my calling and see the changes that were coming. One word kept coming up in my mind and readings: SIMPLIFY. And that is precisely what I plan to do....

Upon leaving Camp Eagle (which is a wonderful place for retreats!) and hitting the major road, my phone began to blow UP! It was crazy. My dog had gotten out of the gate that morning, the Internet at the house was down (that's how we work our thermostat) and.....the position I have held teaching for six years was being done away with. Yeah, that last one came to me via my employee.

When approached with the fact that the steady income you have been obtaining for 6 years is no longer there....well, there can be a lot of emotions that arise. At first was angry at those involved and the lack of professional courtesy, then I found myself beginning to slip into worry. As soon as I slipped into it though, the Lord was gracious enough to pull me out. I now have a strengthened faith in knowing that it is not my calling to calling to is to tell. I teach, write, speak and travel....these are what God has called me to do. And where there is a call, He alone will make a way :)

Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fail."
2 Peter 1:10

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

When I lose my way....

Trust can be a problematic thing for people like me. You see, I've always tried to be a "pull myself up by my boot straps" kind of gal. I can get so used to that kind of misguided thinking that I fail to see the hands that hold me each day....

This week I was blessed to teach at the high school girls retreat for my own church. We are staying at Camp Eagle in Rock Springs, TX. And yes, I finally got Internet after 2 whole days! My blogger mind was beginning to worry about that....

One of the biggest blessings is that my children have been able to accompany me on this trip. Yesterday, during our free time, we decided to take a little hike. Well, it seems to be our tradition that when they are with mom, we get lost! Seriously, we got lost twice on the way here Monday :) At any rate, we took off for our little adventure for 3 and ended up on a nearly 3 hour hike, most of which was uphill (to my daughter's dismay!). After an hour and fifty minutes, we reached the top of the mountain and what they refer to as "the alter". There was a stone alter there with three crosses, replicating the place where Jesus Christ died for each of us. There was also cell reception...

Now, I wish I could say that I spent time taking in that space and really drinking in the impact, but the truth is quite different. Upon taking a couple of pictures, my phone began to beep and buzz signifying that the outside world was in desperate need of my attention. I immediately began to shoot texts to my husband to let him know we were safe (and did, indeed, finally make it) and then I checked all the incoming texts and emails. The beauty that was before me in that significant place began to fade as I was overcome by distraction....

After a few moments a large youth group came up for a service project and we began to find our way down the mountain with no guide and no map. We fumbled along, took a few wrong turns, and I even had to carry my weary 11 year old at several points. We ran out of water and had no snacks. We were, in fact, ill-equipped for the task.

This morning, as I sat in my quiet time re-thinking the events of yesterday, I was shown a truth. You see, the way up to the mountain was steep and tiresome, but we knew where we were headed. There was a clear path (complete with arrows) and we kept telling each other the top would soon be revealed. Once we reached the glorious bounty of our efforts, with it's beautiful view and significant scenery, I allowed distraction to take over. Because of this, we had no clear plan as we descended the mountain and the trials became a bit more frustrating. My trust was gone and my faith had been placed on the back burner.

How many times do I do this in life? I dare say daily, in my case. I wake up with the best of intentions, spend quiet time with my Father, then life just gets in the way.... This has happened lately as I embark on the new adventures God has called me to. I must trust that He alone will touch hearts, for it is my job to simply obey and write as He says. I must trust that He alone will provide for these trips planned to Africa and Moldova, for it is my job to simply obey.

The glorious thing about losing my way is that I serve a faithful God. One Who never changes and is always there in my darkest hour and my most glorious light. He had the way planned from the beginning and He simply calls me to follow. We did get back to camp yesterday. About the time my daughter was giving out from weariness (she had not fueled properly for a 3 hour hike!) and my nerves were about to be set on edge, right when we thought we must still have at least another son says, "Oh look, there's the camp". Simple as that. God knew it was there as we struggled along the rocky paths. He never kept it hidden, nor did He blind our eyes from it. He does the same for me in all aspects of life. Right when I think there may not be hope, that the funds will not come, that the timing will not work out, He smiles at me softly and says "Oh look, THERE it is".

If you are feeling stuck on your way today, I encourage you to rest in His Word and know that He cares enough to show you, if only we will set aside our distractions long enough to see.

But seek first the His kingdom and His righteousness,
and all these things will be given to you as well.
Matthew 6:33

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Finding Hope

If you do not hope,
you will not find what is beyond your hopes.
St. Clement of Alexandra
          What is hope? I suppose people can describe hope in a myriad of different ways. Hope carries a special tone for each ear in need. To some, hope is the assurance of a future. To others, hope is dream of change. Some people place their hope in things, money and fame. Others, place their hope in a higher power. To me, hope is a vision of change. It is a calling of a better future. Hope is the whisper of things that have not yet come to be, but that I have the choice to become. There are those in this life whose hope lies in the seemingly insignificant. The young mother who hopes her infant will sleep through one night so she can rest. The small family who hopes for enough money to least once this week. The sexual abuse victim who has hopes of rest and simple, dreamless sleep. The father who hopes what he does is enough. The people of one country who hope beyond all hope that change will one day come.
          To hope for change is an arduous task, but it is the hope of those called to something higher. Hoping for change is reserved for those who are willing to look uncomfortable in the eye and not blink. This kind of hope requires a special heart and very special people. My friends at Beginning of Life ( are just such people. The staff and volunteers at BOL work towards a hope every single day. They see some fruit of their labor in the face of a young girl who has found her smile once again, but the majority of their work is prevention. Prevention can often seem like a fool's hope. The fruit of prevention is sometimes not seen for many years, sometimes longer. While I was in Chisinau, I was privileged to work with the staff of BOL. The HOPE they have is strong....and it is changing things.

The only way of finding the limits of the possible
is by going beyond them into the impossible.
Arthur C. Clark
          As we spent time in a couple of Russian schools in Chisinau, I experienced the prevention that Beginning of Life works daily to accomplish. I was extremely privileged to work with Petre, a staff member of BOL and Peter, our translator. Yes, the names kept it easy :). BOL has a wonderful rapport with the school system and they go into the schools several times a month to speak to the highschoolers on subjects ranging from ESL to domestic violence... and everything in between.
          Petre was speaking on domestic violence that day, a very common occurrence on Moldovan households. He would ask the same question at every class: "Is it OK for a man to beat his wife if she provokes him?" The most common answer was in the realm of , "Well, it's excusable if she provokes him, but he really shouldn't because women are so weak." These kids were 16-19 years old. There were some young men who quickly stated that it was totally acceptable if the wife provoked the man. It is in these homes that it is a reality. Our last class of the day was a group of 15-16 year olds. Petre asked the same question, "Is it OK for a man to beat his wife if she provokes him?" This class met the question with a resounding "NO!" There were then answers about why that would be wrong and discussions about how men can show their love to their wives. This was a totally different mindset...and there wasn't even a generation gap.
          Prevention is working. Beginning of Life is making a change. People are hearing, some are listening and they are being helped daily. This is hope in it's fruition. This is finding hope within the miry circumstances. This is what living is all about....
          Wherever you find yourself today, what is your hope? Do you hope against hope for a better future? Do you hope to be involved in change? How can you change what is seemingly hopeless? Take the first step by finding out more about the prevention that is being done in Chisinau. This will spread throughout the rest of the world....but the world must first know about it. Can you help? Are you willing to spread the word about hope? Would you be willing to embrace the possibility of a little discomfort to afford someone else hope in hopeless place? Are you ready to find hope today? All it takes is a willing heart....
Do you want to be a part of change? Consider donating to the wellness and fitness center to bring hope and a future to victims of sex trafficking and human exploitation. Be the change you wish to see.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

What Can ONE Do?

I have to admit some massive flaws today. OK, I have a lot, but I'll try to stick to a few...

I have a serious problem asking for help of any kind. Why? Well, there's plenty of reasons and I could probably list several psychological and social issues, but I'll try a more general approach:

  1. I honestly don't think people will help. That's terrible right? It's like I just kill the dream right off the bat! My faith in God is what I work on daily, my faith in people has been smashed so many times I have simply allowed it to become altered. The thing I must remind myself is that there is not a single one of us that is perfect, yet God created each heart. So, my lack of faith in people can actually point to a lack of faith period. It's eye opening when you think of it that way.
  2. I've always tried to be the "fixer". From a young age I just wanted everybody around me to be happy. Yeah, what happened to that right?!? Now, I find myself more confrontational.....growth :). Anyways, I would go above and beyond to "fix" things that I had not even caused. Then when my mom died, I decided to put my big girl panties on a grow up, way up. I figured I had to take care of everybody and everything and I ended up burnt out at a young age.
  3. I don't like having to convince people to help. This is where it gets all wonky. There are times when I feel like I have to sell people on helping. A lot of times people want to know what's in it for them. Now, this is basic marketing. Since I've run my own businesses for several years, everything tends to fall back into the marketing mindset. The thing is...God doesn't do marketing.
So, there we have the 3 big ones that I allow to hold both myself and that part of God's will that He has m,e involved in back. Don't get me wrong, God doesn't NEED me to do anything for Him. He CHOSE me to help. There is a big difference...

Here I am now, acting upon the call to be obedient and asking for help. What I am working through is pretty big: I have partnered with Children's Hope Chest to raise the funds to build a fitness and wellness center in Chisinau, Moldova. This center will belong to Beginning of Life Ministries.

Here is the synopsis of what we are trying to accomplish together:

We are all willing to fight for something. We fight for freedom, for our right to believe and even for our favorite team. This year, Michelle has teamed up with Beginning of Life and Children's Hope Chest to build a wellness center for the community of Chisinau, Moldova. BOL runs a holistic program for the girls and women who have suffered sexual abuse or domestic violence. BOL staff provides psychological, social, spiritual and physical support for the girls, but they realize the physical development is the area in which they need more improvement. How will a center like this help to dramatically change a culture?

1.       Prevention: Within the first 2 years the center is open, hundreds of girls will be trained in self defense. This will, for the first time, enable them to defend themselves from the abusers.

2.       Rehabilitation: Sports and fitness provide a very positive impact on people's lives. Many of the girls suffer from heart problems, and the fitness center will offer a unique opportunity for recreation.

3.       Social Skills Development: This fitness center will serve as a safe place for the youth to spend time together, grow relationships and chat about future endeavors. It will be a place where they can dream and discuss making their dreams a reality.

4.       Reintegration: The wellness and fitness center will provide a brand new set of skills and jobs for the girls who have graduated the rehabilitation program. This will help to provide them with stability and a larger sense of self worth.

5.       Encouragement for staff: The staff of Beginning of Life works tirelessly to provide encouragement and safety to these girls along with education and awareness to an entire community. The fitness and wellness center will be a place for the staff to take care of themselves, just as we are instructed. It will provide stress relief, healthier and more energetic staff, team building and an opportunity to strengthen their shoulders for the load they choose to carry daily.

Just what will happen? Michelle plans to spend 3 months training the staff of BOL as well as the graduates of the rehabilitation center to teach and train in a variety of recreational activities. They will be able to offer yoga classes, hip hop dance, strength and conditioning, boxing for fitness and kickboxing. BOL staff will also be trained in self defense so they can implement this vital skill into their curriculum. This will open up not only jobs for graduates, but a new means of revenue for the expenses of running an organization such as Beginning of Life (5013C). Michelle Carlson is a nationally certified master trainer with over 15 licenses under her name. She holds specialties in corrective exercise, sports science and nutrition, MMA conditioning, yoga, movement therapies and self defense.
There we have it, the reason that help is needed. A lot of times we see a large need and think, "What can one person do?" In my opinion there are 2 types of people in the world: FIRESTARTERS and FIRE EXTINGUISHERS. It is my goal, and a pray yours as well, to be a firestarter for lasting change. It takes a small spark, a small gift, a small change on our part to create a lasting change in the world. So, how can you be an effective FIRESTARTER?
  • Pray for the people of Chisinau and all those involved in this project.
  • Spread the word! Share the site, share the story, encourage others to learn about what really is going on.
  • Give a gift. Hopechest has an easy-access donation page set up for this project. You can choose your donation and it's 100% tax deductible! It's a win/win for all. You will have played a HUGE part in the transformation of an entire nation,
  • Consider visiting :) I hope to have a team visit while I am staying in Chisinau. This team will be able to see what Beginning of Life does on a daily basis and be able to touch the lives of many. You'll immerse yourself in the culture and even get to enjoy some seriously awesome food. Get your hands dirty for change and I promise YOU will be the one reaping the most benefit.
Will you prayerfully consider your part today? The world is much bigger than the snug fitting bubble we fight so hard to keep ourselves in. Let it open up and prop yourself into the freedom outside. Enjoy the ride, life is about to get exciting :)
Prayers and peace,

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Encouragement for the Encourager

As I sit here on this brisk South East Texas morning (OK, it's 34 degrees people!) enjoying my coffee and toast, my mind drifts back to my breakfasts in Chisinau. That was some good coffee....

Following my drifting thoughts, I am reminded of the people I was fortunate enough to meet there. The staff and those associated with Beginning of Life Ministries are unlike most I meet in the states. They work tirelessly to bring change. They awake every morning, intent on doing their part. They don't complain about their work, nor do they glamorize it. They simply do the work.

This made me think of all of the encouragers that I have been blessed to know. People who take the time to speak an encouraging word into my life are few and far between, or at least it seems that way. Some of us are given the job of an encourager. Pastors, counselors, teachers, writers and bloggers often fall into the encouragement category. There are several of these in my life who work tirelessly to bring some sort of change. And I wonder, do we even notice?

You have undoubtedly heard the adage "The squeaky wheel gets the grease" right? Well, now you have. Those who are full of complaints and negativity tend to be squeaky. They creak and make awful noises as they lament about life. They complain of everything from money to family, government to jobs, retirement and boredom all the way to the church and missions. These people are the anti-encouragers in life and are meant to grow us. Apparently God thought I could use a lot of growth as nearly every corner of my life has a squeaky wheel :). These people are loud and opinionated and could care less if their words hurt or healed. Do you know any of these? Or are you one? If you cannot bring one to mind, chances are it's you....

Squeaky wheels tend to get the attention because they make the most noise. If they feel they have been wronged in any way, you will know about it. Encouragers are different. Though many encouragers are no more quiet throughout life, they are quite the opposite of the squeaky wheel. They find the positive in situations even though it can seem impossible to find. The speak words that build up, never tear down. They are the people who you look forward to hearing from, not the ones whose calls make you cringe. We all have at least one encourager in our life, chances are we are simply overlooking them.

God has blessed me with encouragement. He knows when the storms of life are raging that I could use a bit more, and He is faithful to send them. Encouragers don't think about themselves too often. They are far more involved in helping others to turn inward. They don't hold grudges or live in the past. They simply allow the love of God to flow freely through them. It may be the sweet lady at church who is always thrilled just to see you (thank you Ms. Nancy!), or the friend who prays for you right when you ask. Perhaps it is the attendant at the gas station who asks how your day is, or the complete stranger who compliments your hair. Encouragers are all around. We must learn to look past the squeaky wheels to see them.

When was the last time you took the time to encourage your encourager? When was the last time you said thanks? Perhaps today could be that day. No gift is required and it will probably take less than one minute. Encouragers need encouragement too....just as we all need it from time to time. We can all live out Ephesians 4 by learning to guard our tongue and speak encouraging words to others. Make that commitment today and carry on as an encourager of many.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful in building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29