Listen Love Repeat – other-centered living in a self-centered world!

Signing up to do a book review for author Karen Ehman is not a tough decision for me.  I knew that not too long ago I had read and done an online study group with the book Let. It. Go – How to Stop Running the Show and Start Walking in Faith.  (in all honesty, I couldn’t help myself, I had to go back and see when that was.  The truth is it was almost 3 years ago – I purchased the book in January of 2013 – so in my world that equals not long ago. Insert giant eye roll!!)

Needless to say when the opportunity came up to review her book and post about it, I jumped.  Of course these last few weeks have been some of the most busiest of the year I think, and I’ve tried so hard to sit and read, but time hasn’t been there.  I enjoyed the snippets of chapters I had grabbed, but sitting and relaxing with a coffee and her book hadn’t happened yet – until this morning.

My list of things to do is still a mile long, and won’t get any shorter, but stopping to take an hour of my day to sit in the sunshine while it’s still here and enjoy the book was perfect.  This book is the perfect mix of step on your toes and encouragement.  Challenging and thought provoking, I find myself amazed at how much it goes hand in hand with other lessons I have been working on already.

Karen’s style is easy to read and she adds some really wonderful personal stories to drive her point home.  She’s also really clear about the fact that she and her family aren’t perfect, but they have been intentional in their lives to reach outward to others.  Karen gives practical advice even including recipes for how to bless others with what God has blessed us with whether that’s opening our homes to teenage boys, taking a friend out for coffee, baking goodies for the neighbor or celebrating the mailman.  She reminds us that all of us can be intentional about being Christ to others in our daily lives.

My favorite chapters were Chapter 1 regarding Heart Drops.  Listening when others share a personal detail and remembering it for later.  Sometimes a gift opportunity can be given and it’s more meaningful when it shows we remembered something they shared.  Her chapter on the Sick at Heart was also a great reminder on how to be present for those in their grief.  Sometimes it’s remembering that the holidays are most difficult for those who have loved and lost, and inviting them into our space so they won’t be lonely. Her last chapter on Scatter Kindness was another of my favorites as she reminded us that we can be kind no matter the circumstances.

Karen struck a wonderful balance between the principles she was giving, personal family experiences, Scripture and practical application making this a book I would very highly recommend to all my friends.  The addition of gift tags, Bible verse quotes, and other items is just an added bonus helping us as we seek to be more intentional in our hospitality.  Possible the greatest nugget was tucked in at the end when she encourages us to REPEAT.  Becoming consistent in the habit will create depth in existing relationships and cause in return to increase our outward focus on others.

The great news is that a Study Guide and DVD is also released to be used in a group setting.  I look forward to gathering some friends very soon to do this study together – I think it will be very refreshing for us to share our ideas as we journey together.

The OTHER great news is this! I have a free copy to give away! and thats not all (did you imagine a TV commercial just then? I hope so…that’s what I was going for) with the free copy of the book, I will also be able to give away a study guide and DVD – so that you can launch your own Study group too.  HOW FUN!  

So here’s the details of how to win your very own copies of Karen’s book and study.  Deadline is 11/24 @ midnight (yes I know it’s Thanksgiving that’s why I said midnight, by then the dishes will be done – am I right?)

  1. Share this blog post on your social media – twitter, google+, Facebook, etc.
  2. Like the Encouraging Women Today Facebook page – click here.  If you have already done that – thanks!  I appreciate you 🙂
  3. Leave me a comment here on the blog telling me one of your favorite Holiday traditions.  Since this is the season for Thanksgiving, Christmas and everything in between – share with me one of your favorites!
  4. LAST – comment below the post on the Encouraging Women Today Facebook page, or my personal page that you followed the steps above and want to be entered to win!

One random winner will be selected next Friday – November 25th (Black Friday – yay!)  I will let everyone know who win and that make arrangements with the winner to get your items to you!  Thank you to you all in advance for participating! 🙂

In full disclosure I have received in exchange for my review a copy of the book itself and the copy to give away.

 

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Organizing your Schedule

I know.  You read that blog title and thought..how in the world is this going to encourage me today?  I know.

I get it..and it was a strange direction for me to take, but the more I thought about it the more I realized that it seemed to actually make sense.  Bear with me for a minute, because I do believe I can pull this into an encouraging post!

I have worked for years to develop a practical workable schedule that makes sense and helps me to get the most out of day.  On any given day, I am combining multiple work loads.  For instance, I homeschool a 7th and 10th grader, I currently write for 3 blogs, am editing my first novel, am finalizing proposals for 2 nonfiction books, writing devotionals for a work for hire project, growing my social media platforms with intentional posts, teaching piano lessons, shipping coffee orders, and writing book reviews.  I’m busy.

Sometimes the actual typing out of that list, makes me itchy and feeling stressed.  I juggle many hats and I do enjoy it, but I needed a systematic process to be sure I’m getting things done.

I enjoyed the following read today – take a moment to read it if you will!  Just click here

I also checked this article out – you can read it here

So what do you think?

I’ve always been a Stephen Covey – 15 minute segments for the day girl.  But I have found that my creative pursuits – Music, Writing, blogging etc. require a broader brush and limited distractions, i.e. Facebook, email, etc.

Perhaps there’s a hybrid?  I believe this is what works best for me – housework, email, bills, homeschool, business needs all work within a 15 minute framework.  I accomplish a whole lot more around the house, if I’ll schedule it in 15 minute blocks.  I can grade homeschool papers, tests and projects more quickly if I know it doesn’t have to drag out all day – 15 minutes is an easy mental task.  But the creative work – writing, editing, all of these need a chunk of time.  I need to think and not shift my mind off course checking emails, twitter and Facebook updates.  Also texting and phone calls can veer my brain out of “creative” mode.

So how in the world does this fall under an “encouragement” umbrella?  Here’s how..when we fail to plan, we plan to fail.  No not my original words, but such truth friends.  We all have good intentions, and have dreams inside.  Can I encourage you to plan it into your schedule?  What are your dreams, desires and goals?  what could you do with 2 hours at night after work, or when the kids are in bed to accomplish your dreams?

What could you do if you organized housework into a few 15 minute blocks per day? would that not reduce your stress?  Personally, any amount of stress reduction I can add into my day, adds quality to my life and encouragement that I need.

What works for you?  I’d love to have some feedback and I do hope that this does encourage you.

Here’s my favorite verse that encourages my productivity

Ecc 9:10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

 

View at Medium.com

 

encouragingwomentoday.com

Casting All our Cares on Him

I was thinking of this verse today and thought of the encouragement it always brings me.  This verse doesn’t tell me to just bring certain cares – like the big earth shattering, life altering cares, it tells me to cast ALL my cares, anxieties, heartaches and pain on Him – because HE cares for me.  Wow!  This verse encourages me so much on those days, where things don’t quite go as planned, when the outlook is a bit bleak and when I just can’t keep the kitchen clean.  I know that last one was just a personal testimony – anybody relate…why does the kitchen stay so dirty?

But in the midst of my thoughts, this verse always brings comfort!  As I typed this, I thought of this verse as well from Psalms 94:19:

In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.

I remember also a hymn I used to sing as a child – it’s words still ring true as I think about casting my burdens away from me and onto Him who loves me :

Leave It There – Charles Tindley 1916

  1. If the world from you withhold of its silver and its gold,
    And you have to get along with meager fare,
    Just remember, in His Word, how He feeds the little bird—
    Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.

    • Refrain:
      Leave it there, leave it there,
      Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there;
      If you trust and never doubt, He will surely bring you out—
      Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.
  2. If your body suffers pain and your health you can’t regain,
    And your soul is almost sinking in despair,
    Jesus knows the pain you feel, He can save and He can heal—
    Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.
  3. When your enemies assail and your heart begins to fail,
    Don’t forget that God in Heaven answers prayer;
    He will make a way for you and will lead you safely through—
    Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.
  4. When your youthful days are gone and old age is stealing on,
    And your body bends beneath the weight of care;
    He will never leave you then, He’ll go with you to the end—
    Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.

 

Such good words – such timeless ideas.  If you’d like to learn more about Charles Tindley you can check out this really interesting story here.

Whatever it is you are facing be encouraged!  Cast your cares, not just the big ones, ALL of our cares on the only One who is able to bear them, and trust that He cares for you!  What Joy and Peace and Comfort this thought brings!

Be an Encourager!

An encourager is one who by definition inspires others with hope, courage or confidence.  Don’t you enjoy being around someone who is encouraging? Aren’t they like a breath of fresh air?

Perhaps you are naturally gifted in this area, and it’s easy for you to speak kindness and encouragement into those around you.  If on the other hand you are like me, and you tend to see all that’s wrong around us, you have to work at it some more.  Just like we work at being purposeful in our daily lives with our activities and goals, I would also like to propose that we be INTENTIONAL with choosing words of encouragement to be spoken to those around us.

Perhaps it’s our family members that need to know they are doing a good job, or that they are appreciated for their hard work – don’t just think those thoughts, be sure to speak them.

Maybe it’s a co-worker, classmate or sweet friend who is battling a difficult time – depression, cancer, loss of a mate, failing grades – what can you do to encourage them through this trial?  Maybe it’s just a verse of Scripture that means something special to you, or an inspiring quote that has been encouraging for you, will be just the thing that will encourage another person.

While each of us do not likely have the capacity to change the world, we do have the ability to change one person’s day.  The opportunity to bring a smile, squeeze a hand or give a hug for one person is something that can spur others to action as well.  In that small action, we do have the capacity to be world changers.  All it takes is a little thought, a bit of openness to share and encourage.  Be light to someone in your world today!

 

The need for Hope

birds-800671_1280My favorite poem about Hope is from Emily Dickinson.  I recall my mom reciting the opening line, and then realizing later that I loved the whole poem.  Here it is

“Hope” is the thing with feathers – 
That perches in the soul – 
And sings the tune without the words – 
And never stops – at all – 
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard – 
And sore must be the storm – 
That could abash the little Bird 
That kept so many warm – 
I’ve heard it in the chillest land – 
And on the strangest Sea – 
Yet – never – in Extremity, 
It asked a crumb – of me.

It has been said that Dickinson’s poetry has a similar style as the psalms and other religious hymns – perhaps that’s why I connect with her writing style.  It’s flow appeals to me, and her metaphor here speaks to me visually.

Hope in it’s simplest form is a bit shallow.

“I hope it rains tomorrow.”

“I hope my daughter buckles her seatbelt.”

“I hope you feel better.”

But if we dig a little deeper, hope can add an element of expectation.  When hope combines the idea of wanting something to happen with the idea of expectation, whether because of past results or sheer faith, Hope becomes so much more meaningful.

Today I want to encourage you with a word about Hope.

Daily life can drag us down.  Maybe you wake up like I do, with expectations of accomplishing a large number of things – my lists are long!  but somewhere after the day begins, I start to realize that I am a little too “hopeful” about how I am going to accomplish the day’s jobs – and I start to dwell in reality.  The task lists get rewritten, and I settle on a more manageable “list” for my day.

Reading the news can drag me down.  I try to get my news in small clips now – like twitter for instance.  Reading large amounts of news, hurts my spirit.  I just can’t do it.  There’s so little hope in our world, and because there is such little hope people turn to evil.  The evil is rampant and overwhelming.  I find that dwelling in the difficulties of our present our realities can bury me in discouragement and cause me to lose my focus.

Instead, I’m thankful for hope.  The deeper knowledge that there is something far greater beyond this life fuels me forward.  While there are many wonderful joys in this life, it cannot compare to the hope of our future in Glory.  We should share hope with those around us.  Not a flimsy, shallow hope though – let’s share the reason for our Hope – our expectation of a future more wonderful than we can even imagine.

Living lives filled with intention

Recently on my other blog, I wrote about the differences between good intentions and being intentional.  If you haven’t read it yet, please check it out here http://lifelessonsinmyhead.com/good-intentions-vs-intentional/

While this blog post will be similar, I promise it’s not exactly the same.  As women I find that we are often filled with incredible guilt.  This guilt comes in many forms, and sometimes I suppose can be well founded, but for me personally, the guilt I “feel” is 100% self induced and false.

  • I’m not sure what you might feel guilt about, but perhaps you have had these thoughts in the past, or have them now.
  • I’m not a good daughter, I don’t spend enough time with my family.
  • I’m not a good wife, I don’t give my husband the respect he deserves.
  • I’m not a good mother, I yelled at the kids today.
  • I’m not a good housekeeper, my mother never had a messy house.

Should I continue?  I don’t believe that God ever intended or desired us to live under such a heavy weight of guilt and shame.  Instead He desires that we live in victory and enjoy the life He’s given us.

Most days I spend time praying that God will fill in the gaps in my kids lives that I am not filling.  I pray that He gives them what they need to become remarkable adults in His kingdom work.  I pray that my husband knows that I dearly love him, and treasure my life with him, even when I forget to show him how much he means.  I pray that a magic fairy will arrive at the house overnight and clean my home so I don’t have to. Ok, ok not really, but a girl can dream right?

I pray that you will understand that this false guilt of should haves and should do’s  is the enemy working to keep you defeated.  Being intentional in this arena of thought, means getting rid of the thoughts that weigh you down mentally.  Committing every thought to the Father, and asking Him to provide your every need.  May you know His strength and purpose today!

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Don’t forget the other wonderful resource of coloring pages available to you for daily download.  If you haven’t checked it out yet, go here now! www.365fearnot.com