The Weight of Encouragement

Earlier today I spent some time studying at a coffee shop. I got up from my chair at one point, and while I was putting milk in my coffee made casual conversation with the older gentleman beside me. I went back to my seat and the man came and sat down a few chairs away from me with his newspaper. Finally, when he got up to leave, he came over to me and my rather ominous looking physics book and said,

“Well, I tell you, I’m getting tired just watching you.” He laughed and putting his hand on my shoulder said, “You’ll do just fine.I know. You’re a good young lady.” Giving me an affectionate Grandfatherly pat he concluded, “It was nice to meet you!”

All I could manage to do was smile and say, “Oh thank you! It was so nice to meet you too. Have a good day!”

He had no idea how much these simple words of encouragement would mean to me. I have struggled so much the last couple of weeks with feeling inadequate and unprepared. At times, these feelings have crept their way into almost every area of my life including school. When I stop to think, I know it isn’t true, but feelings will be feelings. And in the midst of this, little reminders like “you can do this”, and “you have what it takes”, carry so much weight with them. Meeting this man made me think of my Grandpa and how he encouraged me to try hard things, and believed I could do them-affirming me with love and gentleness.

It also makes me think of what my Heavenly Father said to me just this morning from His Word:

2 Corinthians 9:8 “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;” and

Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

(In my own words) “I have prepared you for good works which I have ordained. You have all you need in Christ, because I have equipped you with My power and will give you grace (abundantly!) to do what I have called you to do in every area… even when that includes struggle and what feels like failure. And in the end, I will get the glory.”

Thank you God for gentle reminders that carry much weight; reminders of your promises and love for us. Friends, I hope this is an encouragement to you as well. Keep pressing in!

Enjoy the journey

 

 

 

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Traveling Thoughts

Take a deep breath…In…out. Yes, it’s good to be alive.

Last month I took my first trip to Europe. When I was traveling, the world seemed so big and intimidating at first. And then I started to connect with people and places, and somehow, not knowing everything (or much of anything) became okay. I started to like the person I was there; free and growing in confidence, with the air of new places and the warmth of the sun making their mark on my face. Now, coming home, life is still so good. Yet strangely, mixed with the peacefulness and joy of home is a sense of struggle.                1)  Because I feel different because of what I’ve seen and the places I’ve been, and yet no one knows how it felt. (except for my brother who was with me and lives several states away). 2) Somehow it seems like the learning curve that comes with new places and experiences is easier to cope with than the constant demands, stress, drama, and relationships here at home. My fear is that if I fail here people will remember and judge me for it. If I mess up here, I’ll never live it down. The decisions in this season of life at home seem never to go away, and it would be easier to just run from them. But I can’t do that. Thankfully. Because these kind of decisions, the ones in the here and now, are the ones that forge a person’s character. They are the “real life” choices and actions. And that idea of perfection… yeah, it’s an illusion. I’m in the process of learning that it is okay to make mistakes. It’s okay to not know something and have to learn as long as I’m willing to. The truth is God is faithful and just as much involved in my life here as He was with me adventuring in Europe. I can be just as confident and free in Christ in “small town” Tyler TX. If not more so. I didn’t go all the way to Europe and back and travel around for 2 WEEKS to be afraid of people and their drama in Tyler!! 😉

And if I’m honest with myself, I know I am loved by many people at home whether I fail or succeed. And ultimately by my Heavenly Father. You know, really life is not all about ME anyway! Crazy right!? 😛

So, a note to self I keep as a reminder:

“Be confident, be humble. God put you there.”

Enjoy the journey,

Laura

A Love Dare

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Out of all the pins I have saved on Pinterest, this one has been the most re-pinned out of all of them. Why? Because so many people can relate to it. Let’s face it -it hurts to open up and then feel the sting of rejection. Or to build a relationship and then witness that change because of disagreements, misunderstandings, or simply the course of time. Loving anyone is a risk- to our own comfort and self-centeredness. Once you have been hurt in a relationship it seems to go against everything in you to want to invest again. And yet…somehow we crave it. We were made for relationship and community. The Lord said “let Us make man in *Our own image.*” And Jesus prayed for and urged his disciples to be in unity with one another and with the Lord, just as He had fellowship in the Trinity.

Most of us can probably relate to the words penned in this quote by C.S. Lewis. But what amazes me, is how much more our mighty God and Father relates to it. He sent His only Son Christ to earth to sacrifice everything, suffer pain, rejection, and death all for the glory of God and love for His creation. All for the sake of Love. He loved deeply, hurt badly, and in the end still said It. Is. Finished. He is our hope and example. He loves us perfectly and still pursues relationship with us even when we reject Him and place other things before Him. So, love God and love others. Do it graciously and with boldness, knowing that He has gone before you and will go with you. And find comfort that there is grace more than sufficient for our mistakes!

Enjoy your journey!

Laura

Do It Anyway (Fear)

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I think I’m learning something about myself…I’m afraid of lots of things. Okay,so maybe I’ve known that since forever, but at the same time, there have been many fears I have actually conquered.There have been many many times in my life when I have felt God calling me to step out-to trust Him and to overcome.So, if brave is not feeling afraid, I’m out.If brave means denying I have fear, well… I’m a very bad liar.But if brave is looking fear in the face and then choosing to look Up at my Savior and go ahead anyway, I can claim the identity of a brave conqueror.My kind of brave means often, I might be trembling,but I do it anyway. I’m so thankful that He calls me brave and beloved in Him.Now, if only I could learn to live that out more day by day.By the Father’s grace, redemption, and LOVE, I’m getting there.I’m growing in courage as I grow up in Him.

And I know you are too.Keep enjoying the journey!

 

 

Keep Looking Up- Psalm 13

“But I have trusted and relied on and been confident in Your lovingkindness and faithfulness;
My heart shall rejoice and delight in Your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
Because He has dealt bountifully with me.”
-Psalm 13 AMP

“One of the keys to transitioning from depression to delight is choosing to look up, not down.” Such a good word for me today. I often get so distracted and discouraged with worries of this world and caught up with my own struggles and forget to look at Him. Then when I realize what is happening, I feel painfully convicted.The more I stare  at the darkness of my surroundings, the darker my perspective becomes. But when I look at Him, trusting Him to help me shift my eyes, His radiant Love Light changes everything about me and my heart towards my circumstances.The truth is, I can trust Him and give Him praise in the midst of every circumstance because He has been faithful and He WILL be faithful according to His purposes. He is so compassionate and gracious. And I’m extremely thankful for that today.

Hope you are having a good week friends! Keep looking Up.

My Wish-Becoming rich in experiences

I’m a little unsure sometimes. I get discouraged. Spiritually, sometimes I feel like I’m battling through distractions, disappointments, and temptations to keep my eyes on God.

However, today I reflect on something I said recently. When asked what my dreams were and what I wished to accomplish, one of the things I said was that I wanted to be rich in experiences. I said that didn’t necessarily mean I had to travel far away or spend a lot of money (though traveling would be nice!). I just wanted to experience many things and be faithful with the opportunities I was given. Reflecting on that conversation with my mom brings quite a bit of encouragement today. Often, when things don’t go the way I thought they would, I blame myself. I think about what I could have done differently to make the situation turn out “right”.  Other times, I think about the situations that simply touch my life right now that are on-going and I wonder if they will ever be resolved or made right.

The truth is, these experiences can feel ( & are) heavy at times. But in the same way, they are accomplishing a purpose. And strangely, they are bringing about what I wished for-depth in life experience and character.  How could I relate to very many people if I never felt like I made any mistakes? How could I sit with those who are hurting if all I ever knew was happiness? I couldn’t. So, on those days when I feel discouraged and all I see is my shortcomings I hope I will begin to look Up. I hope I look up and rejoice because in the happy as well as the sad, I have a greater hope and joy that rests in Jesus. When I look through this lens, I begin to see that God is working in my experiences, and there is a purpose for me for such a time as this. Don’t lose heart, friends; it’s part of the journey!

In Him,

Laura

-Philippians 1

In Him-Turn my eyes

“Oh soul are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness to see
There’s a light for a look at the Savior
And life more abundant and free
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace”
-Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

The mind set on the world can lead to such emptiness. The perspective set on the flesh drains life, while the perspective set on the LORD is life and peace.  We can’t see the whole picture from where we are now. I am trying to remind myself that it is better to look to the Lord and His promises than to look around or back at myself for answers.

In my joy and in my mourning, in my aching, and in my healing, let me turn. Through worries, fears, and sorrows, and through all things may I turn my eyes toward my faithful Savior. In Him is life, joy, and peace. In Him is everlasting, soul-satisfying love. In Him is the courage I need to face my tomorrows. Righteousness to cover my sins and redemption to work through my failures rests in Him.

Let us turn our eyes upon Jesus. And when we feel we can’t, let us cry out to Him to help lift our spirits, and He will!

Victorious Spirit through Christ,

Laura

 

A quick thought for your Friday!

Something I have been thinking about recently is just because a few people think badly of you or speak badly of you doesn’t necessarily mean you have done something wrong. Or if you did do something wrong, that doesn’t mean it is all your fault or that you should take all the blame. Everyone has a different perspective and lens which they see life through. So let the LORD be the one who defines your identity and refines your character.  As far as you can, be at peace with those around you, but remember you can’t please everyone. The Lord will work on them and you in His own way and on His own time.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

 

“If” (Psalm 124)

A couple of weeks ago our church began a series on the Psalms of Accents. As well as reading the chapter for the week and spending time in prayer, one of the challenges is to re-write the psalm of the week in our own words. I will confess I haven’t been very consistent in following along with every daily discipline, but this week’s psalm really hit home for me. These particular psalms have been encouraging to read because they are about fellow Believers on a journey. As they ascended to Jerusalem every year to celebrate their feasts, the Jewish pilgrims faced hardship, danger, and doubt. But still they sang. I admire their honesty, and though their feelings didn’t always match up, they acknowledge that the Lord was their help and hope no matter what. This example challenges me to keep singing real authentic songs to the Lord as I journey. As well as to keep in mind the great hope we have living on this side of the cross. Hope you are encouraged by this as well! Keep pressing on!

This week’s psalm is Psalm 124. Here it is re-written in my own words.

“If the Lord had not been on my side, if He hadn’t been for me-

I will say-

If the Lord had not been on my side fighting with me when men accused me and came against me, then they would have prevailed.

I would have fought for my life while they held it in their hands.

They would have overtaken me in their anger, and the waters of adversity would have overwhelmed me.

The feelings of despair raging inside would have swept over and engulfed me.

*But God.

Praise the Lord who counseled me and delivered me!

He is my comfort and stay. He has not allowed me to be torn apart. He has not allowed my undoing.

Rather, He has provided a way of escape. He has set me free-Eternally from sin and despair.

My help is in the name of ‘Yahweh, the Maker of heaven and earth-Creator and Sustainer of all, and my good Father!

Amen!”

Also, check out Psalm 94 for more encouragement!

In Him,

Laura