A new year - and a new word.


:  to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope :  hearten 
:  to attempt to persuade :  urge 
:  to spur on :  stimulate

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:23-25

This is the word the Lord keeps placing on my heart as I think about the year 2014.
365 days. 
365 days of possibilities.
365 days of unknowns.
And yet ... "The heart of man plans his ways, but the Lord determines his steps."

So I am laying all of my plans before the Lord - and trusting Him to do with them what He will. 

As I think and pray about it, this is what living out the word ENCOURAGE looks like to me:

* Notes!  Notes!  Notes!  handwritten ~ on pretty paper ~ sent through the mail ~ left on car windows ~ slipped inside of a purse ~ tucked into a backpack ... notes filled with words of affirmation, Scriptures that are fitting for the moment, simple statements of appreciation ... being obedient to write as the Lord leads - with immediacy and joy.

* Journaling - for my guys.  Dennis, Micah, Luke and Caleb.  Every day, writing words of praise and love ... which will mean paying attention and noticing the things they do well.  Thoughtful acts.  Small kindnesses.  Acts of service.  Sacrifices made.

* Verbal words of praise for my non-reading children.  Smiles.  Hugs.  Affection.  Excitement.  Joy.  Interest in their interests.  Enthusiasm.  Expressions of delight.  Catching them doing GOOD - and praising them for it!

* Discipleship.  Investing in the lives the Lord has brought to me right now "for such a time as this" ... and praying for increased passion for each one.
- my children ... praying with each of them individually every morning ~ praying for them ~ faithfulness in reading the Word together every day ~ stopping everything to listen to them when they want to talk ~ and dating each child once a month with the only thing on the agenda for our time together: encouragement and praise!
- my girls ... monthly date to connect in person, weekly Bible study/accountability, praying with them, praying for them, notes of encouragement, remind them why they matter!

* Extended family.  Purposeful time spent together ~ phone dates for those far away ~ notes expressing gratefulness for their role and influence in my life and their love for my family.

* Friends.  This one kept me in deep thought for a while.  We are in a season of life when we are not able to see friends very often.  Gone are the carefree days when we would spend every Friday night together, have weekly park days, and live life side by side.  Careers of husbands, ministry commitments, sports/lessons/music/youth group for teenagers ... these activities make it difficult to see each other consistently.  There are some friends we literally see once a year.  Others we see weekly at church, on the patio or leaving the nursery, but do not enjoy a leisurely afternoon of stimulating conversation and good food.  This ought not be!

So, we made a list of all of the families we a) have not seen in years b) rarely get to see c) would like to know better and d) really miss and just want to be with them, enjoying who they are and remembering why we love them!  And we are going to invite every one of them to our home to enjoy a time of fellowship, laughter, refreshment ... and spend time encouraging them in the Lord and praying with them before they leave.  We are really excited about this!  Especially because we already have three dates on the calendar!

* Prayer.  Praying for my husband, my children, my family, friends, girls, youth group students, pastors, leaders, neighbors ... anyone and everyone the Lord brings to mind.  Because truly - there is no better way to encourage a brother or sister in the Lord than to take them before the Throne of Grace and lay their burdens and cares at the feet of the Savior.  The same Savior who gives us the desire, the ability, and the wisdom to encourage them in the first place ... and trust Him to do the rest.

These are my plans.  We will see what the LORD has planned as He walks with me through this new year ... accomplishing His will, not mine.

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