Receiving the Gifts of Encouragement

Wherever you are, may you be blessed. Whatever the circumstances are in your situation, may you be filled with life giving breath deep into your lungs. No matter what has slipped through your fingertips, may you find a hope to hold on to.

Today, September 12th, is the National Day of Encouragement.

This is a day to build one another up, spurring on good deeds and love. Historically, I have undertaken several different encouragement based projects to celebrate the day.

One year it was taking the day to fill my schedule with time with family & friends, buying them coffee or cupcakes or lunch.

One year it was Encouragement Bingo. I designed Bingo cards for kids and adults to use filled with different activities of encouragement to try to accomplish during the day.

The past two years it was a Post-it Challenge. I challenged myself and others to spread encouragement through writing little notes of thanks and appreciation, then sticking them in creative places to surprise those in our lives.

I believe that my personal mission in life is to encourage with love, passion, and enthusiasm. So the National Day of Encouragement is near and dear to my heart. Like a kid counting down the days until Christmas, I have looked forward to this day.

But, not this year. This year I have been trying my best to build up to this day. But, it’s all been on the surface. Deep down, I was not really sure I could get through this day this year.

I feel like the last couple of years, that I have completely failed at living out my mission to encourage with love, passion, and enthusiasm. What do you do when you feel like a failure at something that is absolutely core to who you are? When your foundation is split wide open?

The temptation to completely give up, to throw it all away, beckons repetitively throughout the days. Temptation that waits patiently, but makes itself readily known in weak moments.

I tried really hard to rack my brain to think of a superbly awesome project to do this year. I wasn’t sure the post-it challenge was kosher for the current climate. A Hug-a-palooza would probably cause hysteria to break out. I could encourage people to make calls or draw cards or send text messages or write letters, but somehow it just didn’t seem right.

This year there’s no challenge, no take away task, no to-do. Just a letter to my beloved readers and the offering of a meager prayer from me to you.

Dear Amazing & Incredible Reader,

Thank you so much for reading this post on this day. You are such a beautiful treasure and such a precious gift! You are worth more than diamonds and rubies!

I hope today that you can take a few moments and a few deep breaths. Even if it feels painful or uncomfortable to really take those breaths in deep, I hope you still try. There are so many complications in life right now that feel so wearily constricting. You may be so exhausted and frustrated that you glazed over the previous paragraph…the one about being a beautiful treasure and precious gift.

Maybe those are hard things to believe. Perhaps when you look in the mirror you see only the haggard results of life’s demands stamped upon your face, your heart, and your soul in compounded layers of dinginess covering up your sparkle and shine.

Maybe you doubt your worth and think those words couldn’t possibly be for you. You would really like to be a treasure, but you’ve been belittled so many times that you feel completely devalued.

Maybe you feel like you have been screaming out, but the reactions of others, or lack of reaction, makes it feel as though your screams are silent because they are being ignored or passed by. Everyone seems so caught up that they don’t really see you.

It could be that your year has been filled with loss. Perhaps that which was near, dear, and deeply rooted in your life has been ripped away from you, creating a giant sink hole that threatens to consume what remains.

Perhaps your heart is saturated with the pains and sufferings of those around you. You are doing your best to help shoulder their burdens, giving so much of yourself. In not wanting to add more to anyone’s plate, you carry the complete weight of your own struggles alone.

Let me be the voice, the one who carries these words just for you; You are a beautiful treasure! You are a precious gift! You are a masterpiece in the making, who is still in the process of being hand crafted each day. The eyes and ears of Heaven are upon you every moment of your life, never wanting to leave you for a second because you are so deeply loved.

Listen to the voice of the Lord, “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” Isaiah 46:4 (NIV)

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3 (NIV)

“I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” Jeremiah 31:25 (NIV)

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3 (NIV)

“Arise, cry out in the night, as the watches of the night begin; pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord.” Lamentations 2:19 (NIV)

God the Father, Jesus our Savior, the Holy Spirit are always available to You in fullness, in love, and bent towards you with compassion so great that none of us can fully comprehend its scale. The Lord can interpret the depth of meaning of our sobs, our tears, and our bated breath, when we have no way to articulate.

The Lord’s goodness and faithfulness can redeem, restore, renew, and refresh the driest of bones. The Lord can instill a perseverance to carry forward through the impossible and impassable with the movement of deepest praise. His glory can burst forth in the dark and reveal a path laid by His grace.

The Lord deeply desires to offer us encouragement of a rich abundance and exuberance that will leave us in speechless awe. The wonder of which we will yearn to share.

The best thing that I can do today is encourage us all to receive those good and gracious gifts. To turn us towards the Lord, to take in what He has for us, to stay seated in His holy presence to learn how His gifts can best be utilized in our lives & circumstances, and to feel His words of love well up to overflow – You are a beautiful treasure and a precious gift.

Pray Through It

Beloved Lord, thank You so much for the faithfulness of Your love and the waves of grace that you constantly send to wash over us.

Lord, help us to pour out like water all that is sloshing around within us. The pains, the hurts, the failings, the frustrations, the losses, the stress, and the demands. Also our joys, our victories, our gifts, our talents, and our time. May all of what we have be an offering to You.

Lord, encouragement is such a wonderful gift, the goodness of which flows first and foremost from You. Let us not try to concoct it in our own strength but come to You to receive what you have for us and carry from You an abundance to share with others. For You are the One who can turn a few loaves & a couple fish into a feast for thousands with baskets of leftovers just to remind us of Your endless abundance.

May Your abundance be poured in the lives of my treasured readers today, Lord. May all of us receive fully what You want us to have. May we honor You in the process by holding Your gifts dear into our hearts. From the gifts we receive, may we share Your love to spread encouragement.

In the holy and righteous name of Jesus, whose encouragement is always available to us in full, amen.


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