Our Never Ending Need for Encouragement

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The instructions were clear:  Send no bulky items.  Send only encouraging words.

These orders had come directly from my son’s military recruiter.  They were to be followed by everyone writing letters to him during his time in boot camp.  And that included me.

Our family had taken him to finish all the necessary procedures.  He had passed all his tests. My son was now beginning the hardest endeavor of his life, but I sat at home and could not find the right words put in this first letter to him.

I stared at a blank piece of lined notebook paper.

I had not seen this set-back coming.

As a little girl my daddy would take me to the store and buy my favorite play things, which were pens and paper.  My mom taught me to send thank you notes as a young teenager.  Even when my kids were babies I would find time to write them letters to open when they got older.  I had always enjoyed writing letters and notes.

How would I write him “only encouraging words”, but still tell him about life at home?  Did I even need to ask, “how are you doing”?

I was afraid that doing what I naturally loved would end up bringing him pain and sadness.

What I wanted was to be able to send him a big batch of his favorite chocolate chip cookies. Maybe I could even send some milk to go with the cookies.  I knew that would make him smile!

Perhaps my husband could box me up and have me delivered to my son so that I could sit alone with him on his bunk, hold his hand and let him pour out his heart to me.

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But none of that could happen.

“Send no bulky items” were the orders.

But how?  How would I do this when I felt discouraged myself?

I felt inadequate.

I felt like a kid who didn’t know how to do their assigned homework.

My assignment this day was just to write a simple letter of encouragement to my son.

I needed help.

As tears welled up my eyes, I shot up a small, silent cry to God for help.

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I felt silly asking for assistance for completing such a simple task.

My son had gone into boot camp with confidence.  I would need to face my new daily letter writing campaign with confidence too.

I directed my attention to the words of the apostle Peter in a letter he wrote to excite and engage a group of faithful followers of Jesus.

Peter had already written to this group, but felt called to write again. Peter understood two important things:

  1. Faith is a gift from God and unites both the weak and the strong to Christ.
  2. As believers, we can have everything we need because we have received an abundance of grace and peace through faith in Jesus.

In 2 Peter, he begins his letter by proclaiming how honorable it was to be a servant of the King of kings.  Into the letter, Peter proclaims how we must keep growing in our faith.  And then at the end of the letter, we find where Peter declares his purpose for writing a second letter.

We find that reason in  2 Peter 1:12 “So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have.” (NIV)

Peter tells us that is the duty of a believer to consistently remind other followers of all the many important promises of God and of all the ways we will need to keep growing in our faith in Jesus.

It seemed as if Peter had the same instructions for writing a letter as I had.  Peter had beautifully written only encouraging words and didn’t send a single bulky item.

Just as Peter intended, I now was energized to take action.  Peter’s letter was a beautiful template for what I could use writing letters to remind my son of the promises of God and how to keep growing in his time of weakness.

Each day I would fill the blank pages with remembrances of:

  • His loving mother praying for him
  • His believe in Jesus Christ
  • God’s promises
  • Encouraging Scriptures

As humans, we all need these reminders from one another to keep being effective and productive for the kingdom of God.

We all can benefit from the truth of Peter’s letter.  Whether silently, audibly or written on paper or even a screen, we all can be used as a vessel to proclaim to truth and love to the world.

 

Heavenly Father, help us all to speak encouraging words only to our family, our friends and others in our life.  Let us see how we can turn our kind words and quotes of scripture into hope for those who are weak.  Let us daily turn to you for help for both big problems and small dilemmas.  Guide us as we trust you alone.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Other related scriptures:

Isaiah 55:3 “Listen now, my people, and come to me; come to me, and you will have life! I will make a lasting covenant with you and give you the blessings I promised to David.”  (GNT)

Titus 3:8 “This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.” (NIV)

 

Unlike a secret family recipe, God doesn’t reserve the list of ingredients of a valuable Christian for only a select few to see.  We all can multiply our faith each day.  What’s one thing you can do today to become more useful to God?  Read the list of ingredients Peter gives us in 2 Peter 1:5-8

Join the conversation.  Comment below with your personal answer.

Put the Bible Back

The following post is from my longtime, good friend Rachael Gould.  You can find her blog Infinitely Blessed by clicking here.

I have seen post after post about the Bible being put back into schools in some states and how we need it in every school in every state.

It isn’t that I disagree with that, I just think we are too quick to pass the buck, so to speak.  It is easy to blame the schools, the teachers, the church, or the preacher but the spiritual and all other responsibilities for raising a child start at home. 

I know that the worldview is that it “takes a village to raise a child.”  That is simply not true. 

It is great to have the support of a village or family or friends but it takes a parent to raise a child.  That is why God gave us parents and did not just let us be weaned and left to fend for ourselves as He does for the animal kingdom.  In fact, we see in Ephesians chapter 6 that there are specific instructions for parents and children,

Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” 

We have a responsibility to teach our children the ways of the Lord which will benefit them for both physically (long life) and spiritually (eternal life). 

How is that not happening?

As hard as it is to admit, we need to put the Bible and God back in the home.  Oh I know, we go to church, we are Christians, we love the Lord, but are we really passing that to the next generation? 

When is the last time we sat down, turned off the television or any electronics and just read the Bible with our children?  Do any of us do that every day?  That is the Bible back in our homes.  No one wants to do that.  Blame the government or the schools but do not take any personal responsibility.  We are too busy.  Do our children have the Bible on the phone or tablet?  Do they actually read it?  Most of them do not. 

The Bible is for us to teach.  This is a spiritual battle.  And we are losing the battle for the next generation.

It is happening every day:  parents are blaming children because they are doing drugs, drinking, smoking, watching porn, lying, stealing, and cheating. 

Where are they learning this?  Fellow parents, they are learning it on our watch. 

Oh but, we are adults, we should be able to do what we want to do, right?  No, if we say we are Christians, we are saying that we gave up what we want to live for Christ and we are to be an example for others, especially the children that God gave us. 

Oh, I know that there are days when we jokingly want to “give them back” but truthfully, we blame God when anything goes wrong and forget that we asked for this when we became parents.  We agreed to be responsible and willing love them but we want to “bail” when they are perfect.  Guess what, we are not perfect either.  I am glad God does not bail out on me.

Now, this may seem a little drastic but I have actually heard adoptive parents say that they would like to give a child back because the child was too hard to deal with.  Hmmm, that parent may be a little hard to deal with but let us hope that God is more merciful toward them than they are showing. 

Others may not think they would ever have that opinion but we are in a sense “giving’ our children to the world when we fail to teach them the truth.  I mean the real truth, God’s word not mine.  That is what is going to change them and us.  Let us put the Bible back in our own homes and schools and teach our children by example.

An Easy Fall Bucket List

My kids laugh when I come up with a new bucket list.  They tell me that bucket lists are only for people that are close to, um…dying. 

I come up with my bucket lists, because one, I like lists and two, I like lists.  Okay, that’s the same reason twice. 

Call me a “list lover” why don’t ya!  I won’t deny it.

And maybe, technically, bucket lists are supposed to be for people getting close to the end of life on this earth.  What do you think?

I could have called this An Easy List of Fun Family Activities, but I like bucket lists better. 

I’m well aware that we really don’t know how much time we have here on earth.  And we don’t know how much time we have with our loved ones.  It could be years.  We hope we have many more years.  But we actually could be spending the last of a season with someone.

I learned this first hand last year when my 17 year old son left home, without asking, to another state.  He really doesn’t like me saying that he ran away. 


Going through many months of hard ache missing him taught me to NOT take any season, any holiday, an minute with someone you love for granted. 

I got to make up a lot of lost time with my son after he came back home thankfully.  But it was this time last year when we were living through the nightmare of trying to get our son back home.

He missed football season with us.  He missed playing his senior year of football.  He missed Thanksgiving with us.  He missed his 18th birthday with us.  He even missed Christmas and New Year’s with us.  And we missed all that with him.

We tried to give our other kids all our love and made a lot of fuss over silly little memories like going shopping for pumpkins and roasting marshmallows. 

But the truth was, our whole family was hurting. 

Fun activities we made ourselves do ended up being blessings to us all.  We made memories and the pain went away for a time.  No one can ever take those memories away from us!

So I made this printable list of easy and fun fall activities to do with your family.  And yes…I call it a bucket list.

Every activity should be free and won’t require you to make a trip to a store to buy supplies.  It’s meant to be short and totally doable.

Now, go out there and make some memories.  Take some selfies with your husband and kids.  Be silly.  Laugh.  Talk. 

And don’t take a minute with your precious family for granted.


Forgiveness

If I show you a picture of one of my cute kids, could you find it in your heart to forgive me for having almost NO content on my site right now?

Could you just try?

Okay, just look at this adorable face…

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You might say no to me, but surely, you wouldn’t say no to that doll.

Please forgive me.  Really.

I kept a blog on and off for a few years.  I wrote a lot of random posts about life with kids.

Writing that blog was fun, but now I have decided to share a more specific topic with others on the parenting journey.

I hated really dislike having blank pages on my site while it is under construction, so I decided to fill a few with just honest truth.

What is the honest truth?  Well, it is that this momma is balancing writing with actually getting it on the computer and that takes… you know… time.

So as we say in the south, “Lord willing”, this month (November) I will get more content on here and be a blessing to each on of you.

And you will learn what that special topic is that I love talking about.

I might even post more pictures of my sweet kiddos!

In the meantime, visit me over on Facebook.

And thanks for understanding!

Stacey