2 easy steps to encouraging your people

Flashback to when I was convinced I would fail Spanish and have to take it AGAIN and I found this sweet note of encouragement on my desk along with some m&ms a few hours before my midterm. Y’all. This is what I’m talking about when I say take time to encourage your people. It probably took Mbug less than 5 minutes to do this but it made a big impact on my day.

Here’s two steps to successfully encouraging a friend and building them up in JESUS:

1) Make it personal. Write a note, buy their favorite candy bar, take 3 minutes to call them, ect.

2) Lead them to the ROCK that is HIGHER than you or me. Lead them to Jesus!! Share your favorite bible verse or a simple, short quote like Miranda did that will force them to remember how big our God is even in the tough, messy situations.

Y’all, it’s so easy! I’m making it a personal goal to do something similar to what Miranda did for me at least once a week for my peeps. Who’s joining me???

#intentionalbyimperfplanned

on the road again

It was really cold that day but none of us seemed to care. This wasn’t the first time I got to go on a super fun adventure thanks to my dear friend, Bailey. Bailey has sung all over NC. I jump at the chance to support her each and every time. Why? Why would I give up my day to go wherever she is performing & lose my “me time” I would have had at home that day?

In today’s society, it is very common to see self-centeredness. So often, we don’t even recognize it. We easily overlook those that love us because it’s easier for us to stay home or not return the phone call. Don’t get me wrong, it is impossible to go to every single event, accept every dinner invitation, and return phone calls everyday. However- it is not impossible to love well even when we are hard-pressed for time.

When is the last time you sent a text or email to a close friend to remind them you care about them?

When is the last time you made an effort to put supporting someone else over your “me time”?

When is the last time you sat down and exchanged meaningful conversation with a close friend?

I am so bad at these things it’s not even funny. I’m a work in progress. I encourage you to be one with me. What small way can you show your love & support for a friend this week??

{perks of having talented friends: @durhambulls took great care of us. We had awesome seats & I’ll take another hot dog anytime.}

#intentionalbyimperfplanned #imperfectlyplanned #durhambulls #springtraining

Honoring Your Mother

I want to start with the following disclaimer:

    I am not a perfect daughter. I have not honored my parents every day of my life.  However, I have studied what scripture says regarding this topic and I do my best to apply these truths to my day to day life.

For Mother’s Day of this year, I published a piece entitled, “Thank you, Mama, for being a parent, not a friend.” I discussed the importance of God-honoring motherhood. I was blown away by the massive response this article received. I still run into complete strangers that recognize me because of how far and fast this message traveled.

One of the questions I received following the article was, “As daughters, what can WE do to be God-honoring in our relationship with our moms?” I wanted to take time to answer this as best as I can.

I realize that not everyone has a wonderful relationship with their mother. However, I do know that each and every individual on this earth was hand placed by God into the family they are in. With Jesus, we have the ability to extend grace in the difficult relationships in our lives. This may not be easy and will look different in different situations.

Furthermore, if your mother is completely out of the picture for whatever reason but you do have a stepmother, grandmother, aunt, etc. serving as a parental figure, the following biblical truths apply to that relationship as well.

Have a teachable spirit.

You do not always have to agree with her methods but you must always show respect.

Proverbs 6:20-23

My son, keep your father’s commandment ,
and forsake not your mother’s teaching.
Bind them on your heart always;
tie them around your neck.
When you walk, they will lead you;
when you lie down, they will watch over you;
and when you awake, they will talk with you.
For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light,
and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life.

Titus 2:3-5

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

Serve her to the best of your ability.

This may mean making sacrifices in your own life to ensure your mother is taken care of.

1 Timothy 5:4

But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God.

Ruth 1:14

Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.

Obey her unless she asks you to go against the Word of God.

God commands our obedience to the authority he has placed in our lives.

Ephesians 6:1-3

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”

Colossians 3:20

Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

Seek her counsel.

Your mother has probably been in your position at some point in her life. Appreciate her concern and abundance of knowledge.

Proverbs 23: 22

Listen to your father who gave you life,
and do not despise your mother when she is old.

Proverbs 1:8-9

Hear, my son, your father’s instruction,
and forsake not your mother’s teaching,
for they are a graceful garland for your head
and pendants for your neck.

Be genuinely thankful for her example.

As children, we are given the wonderful role of encouraging our mothers as they embark on one of life’s hardest missions: motherhood.

Proverbs 31:28-31

Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates.

Honor her with YOUR LIFE.

The least we can do to honor our mothers is to represent Christ (and her) well. Examine your life. Are you living intentionally? Are you honoring the wisdom your mother has so graciously imparted to you?

Proverbs 10:1

The proverbs of Solomon.
A wise son makes a glad father,
but a foolish son is a sorrow to his mother.

Proverbs 23:24-25

The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice;
he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him.
Let your father and mother be glad;
let her who bore you rejoice.

Exodus 20:12

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

   

social media relationships 

In today’s society, we are driven by the use of social media. It is beginning to impact every part of our lives; most importantly, our relationships.

I hope our relationships are deeper than liking or not liking someone’s photo or Facebook status. I hope that beyond what the social media world knows about our lives, there is substance.

May we be more concerned about how someone is doing, what is going on in their life, and what we can do to love them well rather than figuring out what we can say on Facebook to make everyone think we are best friends, one big happy family, or the next hit reality TV show.

Being an Encouragement in Times of Uncertainty

Dedicated to my Papa- A man of few words but when he spoke, you listened.

Also dedicated to my Grandmother and Mother, your example of love and devotion through hardship will never be forgotten.

No article is effortless for me to write as I try to take the time to devote all of my heart and soul to the words on the page but this is no exception. With great hesitation and lots of thought, I finally publish this piece. It is hard for me to go back into my brain and pull out these memories as it was painful enough to live through the first time but I am confident that God can use my insight and experience to help just one person who subscribes to my random thoughts. May God allow these words to penetrate your heart as you encourage someone who is a caretaker, seek encouragement as a caretaker, or fit somewhere in-between.

As a child, I spent every Saturday at my grandparents’ home. I saw my grandmother and mother in a new light as my grandfather became ill and died to himself long before he died to the world. Both my grandmother and mother remained calm and collected through this journey longer than I knew was humanly possible. Our real life drama was better described as a tragedy. The suspense and sorrow combined made up the series of events in which my Grandfather’s earthly life faded into heaven.

As much of a Grandma’s girl as I am, I was surely a Papa’s girl too. I was always the child that wanted to be with him. I was just eat up with my Papa. I knew he could do anything. I loved to sing while he played guitar and I have memorized several John Wayne movies thanks to him. I can hear his voice praying over a meal. I remember exactly how he combed his hair just so. There was never a day it didn’t look exactly in place. He liked order.

It was difficult to see a man that I believed could do anything forget the names of family members and close friends. I truly believe that the reason God allowed him to know who I was all of his days, especially the day he died, was because I would not have been able to emotionally handle him not remembering who I was. As his illness progressed, I spent Saturdays that turned into afternoons after school at his beck and call. I remained there until the day of his death.

Through this difficult life change, my Grandmother remained just as resilient as ever. I know she must have had her moments but they were never in front of us. Thinking back on the last few years of my Papa’s life, my grandmother must have been nothing short of exhausted both physically and emotionally every single day.

My family was very appreciative of all of the love we received during my grandfather’s last years. That support kept a smile on our faces through moments we wanted to lock ourselves in a room. My grandparents had many good friends that ministered to our family during this time that continue to love her today. I will be completely transparent and state that it was heartbreaking for me to watch my grandparents’ own church leaders neglect them as they could not contribute to the Sunday morning numbers. I will not go any further on that. Even though I am grown, my mother reads this blog and will still come after me when I say too much. Moral of the story: It is important that we not become so consumed in ourselves that we neglect the ministry right at our finger tips. I’m guilty of this, too.

I tell you part of my personal heartache of watching a family member with dementia in hopes to encourage you as you minister to those that are walking through this hardship today.

Everyday is different and you quickly learn to never take a minute for granted. The constant ups and downs are exhausting. A quick visit, phone call, or note of encouragement will mean more to that family than you may ever realize. That could be the only 10 minutes of hope that they receive from someone that day.

If you have never walked through something like this it is easy to be insensitive and not realize that you are. Saying things like, “Do you remember when…” and when there is no answer you ask again and again is very insensitive. I can recall days when someone would sit in front of my grandfather and treat him like google rather than a person and ask 50 million questions. It was enough to make my blood boil. In one instance, I had to sternly ask a family member to refrain from this. Do not be afraid to speak up on your loved one’s behalf just because you may offend someone. That might be why you have been placed in that setting at that particular moment.
Just because my grandfather had dementia did not mean that he had completely lost himself. He could sense when someone got frustrated because he couldn’t remember something or could not get up by himself. He himself got frustrated a few times which was not normal for him. It is important to remember that even if you are drained as a caretaker, you should not take out your emotions on the one you are caring for. You have to be sensitive. I cannot imagine losing my independence and needing 24/7 attention. We have to show grace.

If you are currently walking through this hardship, I leave you with some words of encouragement that I relied on during this emotional rollercoaster.

“I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.” John 16:33

God is the only constant stronghold in this life. In our uncertainty, He is all knowing. In our fear, He is peace. In our despair, He is hope. In our sickness, He is healing.
This life will fade, just as my grandfather did. Though his death was heartbreaking, God used that time to illustrate His word so perfectly. The apostle Paul writes about God’s love as never ending while the things of this world were made to pass away (1 Cor. 13:8-10).

May we fully embrace God’s love and share the lasting hope of Him with those around us during times of sorrow.

built-in friends 

Hey, I’ll pick you up at 6.
Yeah I’m wearing a t-shirt and norts, no makeup.
Don’t forget a chair. I’ve got cash.

No longer a little girl but a teenager, soon to be high schooler, gets in the car and goes with her big cousin to see The Embers and Craig Woolard.
She laughs at my singing, dances with me, shares my love for a classic Arnold, and never stops smiling.
I am amazed by her maturity, perception of life, and taste in music. She has a good Mama. She knows almost as many of the oldies as I do. That’s a lot.
Sometimes I slow down enough to take in what is going on around me. This was one of those moments. The girl who was once my favorite baby to hold has grown up and is quickly becoming one of my best friends.
We all have a love/hate relationship with “growing up.” That “growing” part can be difficult sometimes but oh how sweet the reward.

comparison is the thief of joy- and friendship

Friends and family are one of life’s greatest blessings. They bring variety and excitement to life that otherwise would not exist. They ground us, build us, sometimes break us, and mold us into who we are, the attitudes we inhabit, and the perspective in which we view our circumstances.

This year, I have watched those close to me win and lose, exceed goals, and give up on dreams. I have seen broken hearts, mended spirits, and bittersweet tears. More surprisingly, I have witnessed much jealously exchanged amongst people who supposedly love each other.
It is amazing how hardened we can become towards our own friends and family sometimes. It is not always fun to take the backseat to someone else’s exciting news. It is emotionally exhausting to live in constant comparison to someone else who in your mind you could never measure up to.
When we use our energy to live a life of constant comparison, we are missing the point of true friendship.
Actively support your friends. Listen to their ideas and offer feedback. Be their biggest cheerleader. Celebrate their victories and be there to dry their tears when needed.
If you choose to sit in the corner and belittle their successes, don’t expect them to celebrate yours.