January 31, 2010

The influence of encouragement - part 3

Last week, I shared about the encouraging environment that I was offered as a child. My mother was very specific in her prayers and with her words. (She even wrote poems and scriptures on my paper bag lunches in high school.) I had no doubt that she was trusting God to lead me on the path He made just for me. It was up to me to seek Him and to eventually believe for myself as well.

Now, let's look at our circle of influence. Who is listening to us each day? Our family? Our staff? Our friends? Are we looking for ways to encourage or are we just saying whatever comes to mind?Remember that encouragement should lead us to a confidence in the Lord, not just confidence in general. Self confidence is sometimes based on talent or ability. Self confidence may be the result of growing up loved and supported. These are fine, but only a confidence in the Lord's plan and His power will remain long after our natural abilities and charm are wearing down. Godly encouragement is not cheerleading; it is reminding others of what God's Word already says about them.

Let's offer (and pray to receive) that kind of influence.

Psalm 71:5-6 - For you have been my hope, O Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth. From birth, I have relied on you; you have brought me forth from my mother's womb. I will ever praise you.

January 27, 2010

The influence of encouragement - part 2

When we make a lifestyle of encouragement, we are not just telling people what they want to hear. Encouragement is not just flattery; it is an effort to agree with God's best for that person. At home and at work and at school, we spend a lot of time with the same people each day. We need to determine what kind of influence we will have. Will we build or will we tear down?

My teen years were filled with dating disappointments and stress about grades. I wanted to grow up but tried not to grow out of my place in my family. My mother was an encourager. She reminded me that God had a plan for me. She focused on my place in our family rather than harping on every mistake that I made. She was quick to send me to "get it straight with the Lord." But morning greeted me with mercy and lunch bag literature. This bag said:

April 18, 1988

Fifteen years ago,

God gave me a special gift;

He answered a prayer I'd prayed

Years ago, that went like this:

I need a girl, Heavenly Father,

Whose heart would love You,

She needs to be sweet and smart,

And she needs to love me too.

She'll make my day with her pretty smile

And try real hard to keep me in style.

She'll be the perfect daughter,

A special blend You see;

She'll be like her dad and her Jesus

And just a little like me.

Now she's here

And to my delight,

God, you made her

Absolutely right."

Love, Mom

I may not have met all of that criteria all of the time, but that was her prayer for me. ahhhhh

The influence of encouragement -Part 1

Sometimes the road seems funny,
Twisted and hard to abide
Sometimes the road seems easy,
And you feel happy with peace inside.

Just remember this, my love,
Regardless of how it seems,
Jesus has a plan for you
That is beyond your wildest dreams.

So praise the Lord
when you don't know why
'Cause there'll be a celebration,
By and by.

Love to my treasure,

Written by Charlotte D. Laughlin on her high school daughter's (my) brown paper lunch bag. Receiving these notes of encouragement and perspective helped shape my worldview. My problems were kept in check as I was taught to look up!

January 26, 2010

Paper Bag Perspective

My brown paper bagged lunches were often covered in the most precious words of encouragement. I transcribed them into a notebook so that I could let the bags go a few years ago. Today I read through the notebook and knew I should share them here.

Check back later to read these notes. I plan to post them tonight after I tuck in the kids. It will explain a lot about the perspective on life and love and the Lord that Mom offered me. You are going to enjoy these paper bag messages.

Leigh Ann :)