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Posts Tagged ‘1 Thessalonians 5:11’

I wonder if you can recall a recent conversation with someone or a recent event that encouraged you, even in some small way. It’s like something melts deep down inside us when that happens, don’t you think? Somehow, we feel just that little bit more seen and understood and appreciated. And that in turn can spur us on to keep going, despite any difficulties we might encounter.

One day this past week, I replied to a friend’s email, saying how much I enjoy her writing style. Her words always flow well and her descriptions are so colourful and interesting. When she wrote back, she thanked me and went on to explain how she had never felt she was a good writer, because, to this day (she is now in her seventies), she vividly remembers the red corrections her high school English teacher would write all over her essays.

‘Just one kind word would have made all the difference,’ she added—and that sentence made me feel so sad.    

But this week, I too have received some lovely, unexpected encouragement that has lifted my spirits.

The first of these came as I watched the launch of the Stories of Life 2020 anthology The Swimmer and other stories of life and the announcement of the prize winners of their writing competition. This was livestreamed via Facebook from Adelaide and, as I sat listening, I saw various people I knew taking part. But then, to my surprise, I heard my own name and that of my short story, ‘The Ring’, announced as having won third place in the open section! I was delighted, especially since this particular story is about an event that happened to a dear friend of mine—so this honoured her indirectly too.

Yes, I value the $200 prize money I won, but it was more than that. Right now, I am in the midst of seeing my current novel Down by the Water through to publication and taking those final, few steps in what has been a long journey of several years, with many interruptions. There are those all-important checks to be done with the utmost care, as well as many decisions to be made about cover and layout. For me then, this encouragement came just at the right time, when I was almost beginning to doubt whether my own writing was worth putting out there for others to read.

Then, even as I was writing this blog, my husband opened our front door to find someone had left some flowers from their garden there anonymously for us. As I arranged them, I could not help reflecting on the amazing creativity and kindness of God who uses all manner of people and ways to encourage us. And I sensed God’s own Spirit, the Comforter and Helper who lives in me and is there beside me each day, rise up and whisper such wonderful words of encouragement too: You see, Jo-Anne—I have not forgotten you. I’ll always be with you—don’t be afraid!

Can you hear those wonderful, encouraging words from God for you too today? Let’s listen well—and then let’s share that encouragement with others, because it could make all the difference in a way we might least expect.

 So encourage each other and build each other up … 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NLT

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Sometimes at a funeral or when someone’s death is reported on TV, as I hear all the positive things people say about the person who has passed away, I often wonder if these same things were ever said to them during their lifetime as well. Could these things have perhaps made all the difference to this person no longer with us and encouraged them along on their journey so much more?

Last month, during ‘The Festival of Lionel’, which we held for around ten days to celebrate my husband’s eightieth birthday, I thought about this again often. In that time, Lionel received many, many positive and uplifting greetings that I suspect almost blew his mind. Some were spoken to him face to face, some via phone calls from family and friends. Some were written by hand inside special birthday cards. Some arrived via text messages and emails. Then there were the more than 150 birthday greetings and ‘likes’ posted for him on Facebook—he thought they would never end! It was all a little overwhelming at times, but wonderfully encouraging too. 

Yet there were even more encouraging words ahead for him to hear and read, as we celebrated his final birthday event with a small family party. Our son Andrew and his family had thought long and hard about what to give Granddad for his 80th and came up with two excellent, creative ways to commemorate this milestone. The first was the fun poster below, put together by our two older granddaughters. The only thing is, while those chocolates and lollies are very tempting, we are loath ever to dismantle such a special creation!

As well, the whole family brainstormed their ideas to create the lovely framed gift below, ‘80 things we love about you’.

Can you imagine how moving it was for Lionel to hear all these read aloud? For a moment, I thought he would burst into tears. He could not take it all in at first—or even later at home as he read through the entire eighty little comments. But how affirming they were for him to see, including the classic ‘That you will count these to check there are really 80!’, along with others such as:

Being generous

Granddad and granddaughter date nights

Always being there for me

Taking me to the best parks

Your love for your family

Your strong faith in God

For buying me ice-creams

For being a positive person

You make good dad jokes

Picking me up from school

You make people feel welcome

Always having nice things to say

You are trustworthy

… The list goes on.

What a clear reminder to me all this has been about the power of encouragement, both in word and deed! No wonder we are exhorted in Scripture to encourage one another whenever we can.

Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. 2 Corinthians 13:11

So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NLT

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another … Hebrews 10:25

May we all take these words to heart and be the best encouragers we can be!

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