Courage

Paths and Plans

Fall is here! It’s all about pumpkins, cricket symphonies, and squirrels preparing for that other season. What do you enjoy about the fall season? God’s creative splendor is extravagantly displayed this time of year and it’s the reason people travel to enjoy the change of the leaves. I suppose if you were to take a drive you would set your itinerary for the very best views of the fall colors. Take a moment and imagine you’re on that drive right now. There, up ahead, you see the bountiful mix of red, yellow, orange coming into your sight. The bold color of orange is ever so prominent, but wait. Oh no, those aren’t leaves. It’s the dreaded construction sign. It’s a DETOUR.

Detour signs

Have you ever eagerly anticipated taking a detour? What’s the first thought that comes to your mind when you face one? Is it, Great! Looking forward to this. Fantastic! Love the detour. Or, are you like me and your response is, Oh no! What if we reassigned our concept of a detour to a positive category in our brain? Can we change our gut reaction to a detour? More importantly, why should we? A detour may be God’s call for our attention and a reroute to the better way. His way.

I think we can all agree that usually a detour leads you into unknown territory. When you have to take a detour, it makes you wake up and take notice. A detour requires your attention because it’s not the same well-worn path you’re used to taking, and it gives you a different view from what you’re used to seeing. There’s no doubt that a detour can be stressful and create anxiety when you believe there’s only one way to get where you want to go and the way appears to be blocked. You have plans for the day, for your life. God has plans, too. Sometimes your plan and His plan run a parallel course and sometimes it doesn’t. When God is directing you and me toward an alternative route, it’s a call to adjust our vision and plan.

Road Closed

Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” The Lord proclaimed through Jeremiah that He has plans for His people and you’re one of those people. The onset of a detour may be specifically directed at impacting your life alone, or so your life can directly impact someone else. The most difficult part of accepting a detour on your life path is surrendering your plans for the sake of the unknown or alternative path God is presenting. My own life has been filled with multiple detours as I was going on the way to fulfilling my plans. I know the exasperation and frustration that comes with a detour. I haven’t forgotten the heartache that set in as I realized what I wanted wasn’t going to happen. Infertility was not a detour that I found acceptable. I had a hard time accepting that I didn’t get to control that situation. A decade later, I experienced the overpowering waves of fear as I wondered what the future held considering what was happening in the present. A health issue was changing my life--the present was hard to handle and the future looked even bleaker.

Was I without children in my life? Definitely not. God brought children into my life just in a different way than I anticipated. Did my health issue turn my life upside down? Yes, it changed me. My eyes were opened and my heart was transformed. God brought new friends into my life that were willing to set aside their own plans to meet my needs when I couldn’t do that on my own. Such wonderful, faithful servants of God represented the love of Christ for me as they served and loved me in the midst of my difficulties. Moreover, I learned something I couldn’t have learned without going through that experience. Both of those events fall into a category I call detours.

  Detours are part of our life story  

   We have access to power and strength through Christ  

I write the previous sentence with a deep conviction and belief. I rely on the fact that when trouble presents as a detour in my life then I will also be presented with a path leading directly to God. God never fails. Consider Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (The Message):

“So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.” 

There really is far more going on than meets the eye during our difficulties. The detour that causes my life path to intersect with another’s life path is a chance to lovingly serve and meet needs beyond my own. There is little more moving than the sight and experience of humanity coming together and prevailing in times of trouble. Today, there’s no shortage of opportunities. Never underestimate your impact on the life of someone else. One deliberate act of kindness, one random act of love has significance because it’s from you. 

Road through forest

Availability

So, how available am I to God’s call to a detour? Wait. Let me check my calendar. At home, my paper calendar governs my personal hours while my Outlook calendar controls my work day. I’m a pro at maximizing the hours in a single day and most of those hours are already dedicated, promised to something or someone. Obviously, living in this manner makes a detour an annoyance, a roadblock, or an obstacle for me. This is how I miss IT.

What’s IT?

The IT is the blessing I can give or a blessing I could receive. The IT is an encounter with the Holy Spirit. The IT is a call to stop, look, and listen for the Lord. Who schedules a chance to bless or be blessed? Who schedules an encounter with God? These things happen to you on your way or in the midst of your doing. Detours are filled with ITs that impact your life and allow you to impact others. It goes back to availability.

Detours will always be part of my story and I might as well expect and welcome each one. Some of these will bless me, others will bring me into the welcoming, loving presence of Jesus, and some detours will be opportunities to reflect the love of Christ as my life path crosses theirs. I’m choosing to be available and surrender my plans so I can experience the Lord’s plan for my life! Are you willing to be available? Are you willing to go off schedule, get off track to participate with God’s plan? It’s worth experiencing. Is there someone who may need the encouragement contained in this post? Feel free to share!

Blessings,

Terri


Release Your Creative Self

Hello and Welcome!

Today I’m starting with a question. What do you create? I certainly hope you didn’t just say to yourself “I can’t create anything” because that would be utterly incorrect. I think you create lots of things but you’re not giving yourself the credit for it. For instance, I create a mess in the kitchen when I attempt to create a meal from nothing to something that ultimately gets fed to the dog. I create frustration for my husband when I spend more than $35 for a cut and color combo. I create peace of mind when I finally get all of the clutter cleared away at home and it stays that way for at least half a day. Get the idea? These are examples of why you can’t say you don’t “create”. We create things, feelings, thoughts, problems, and more. This post is meant to challenge you to consider a broader meaning of the words create and creativity and to help you consider the many ways you can impact those around you with your creative self.

ColorWhen you take the stuff of life and rearrange it so that it matters, so that it does good things, you’re acting creatively. –Vinita Hampton Wright, The Soul Tells the Story (2005)

You are gifted by God to do good works—creative works that bring joy, laughter, calm, peace, beauty, fun, imagination, kindness into the world, your neighborhood, your community, your work, and your family (Ephesians 2:10). Most of the time we don’t think about the reality or the impact of what we create. Whatever we create inevitably has positive and negative effects as well as implications. We get to control when we create and what we create and this is highly influenced by the circumstances and people in our lives. We are at our creative best when (1) we surround ourselves with people who will positively impact our creative self and (2) when we offer our creative self to positively impact another soul.

Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best. –Henry Van Dyke

Be Bold, Use It!

So how do we surround ourselves with people who will help our creativity shine? You might be amazed by the fact that you are already surrounded. How so? Take an inventory of your friends. How do their gifts manifest? What do you perceive to be the creative gift of each one? Does it complement your creativity? If you aren’t certain of or aware of their “creativity”, then perhaps you should inquire. You might be surprised at their answer when you ask. Often, we are drawn to people who inspire us or have talents and gifts that complement our own.

Cute sheetRecently, I was in South Carolina having dinner with some lovely ladies. During our pre-dinner conversation, Susan brought out samples of her quilting and then unveiled these gorgeous applique buttons she made for an upcoming conference. There were no two alike. Each specially designed button (for lack of a better word) would go on the name tag of each woman to make her feel very special. When I saw the variety of colors and patterns, I started to envision these buttons as flowers without the stems. I wanted to snatch a few and create a mixed media piece right there on the spot! I felt inspired, not to duplicate her work, but to use it in a different way that she intended to use it.

During that fun evening, I listened to the conversation and compliments of each woman concerning the fabric buttons and I became acutely aware of their creative gifts. All together in that living room I saw each one’s creative contribution: the painter, the photographer, the quilter, the writer. And not just in South Carolina. This holds true for my friends in Ohio: the gardener, the photographer, the encourager, the writer, the teacher, the kindness gifter, the hostess, the cook. Unconsciously, I have surrounded myself with creative friends who inspire and bring out my creative self.

If you don’t mind, let’s get slightly silly for a moment. I have placed a quote below this paragraph and I want you to replace the word kindness with your create endeavor. It doesn’t matter how often you create or your level of expertise, or even if you question whether you think it counts as creativity. Just replace the word “kindness” with your creative act.

MonarchIf you were arrested for kindness, would there be enough evidence to convict you? –Unknown

 

 

Well? Would there be enough evidence? For me, yes to writing; no to mixed media. If there isn’t enough evidence, what’s the issue? No time to create? No quiet to create? No zone or space to create? Maybe it’s perfectionism or fear of looking foolish. I only mention these because those are my roadblocks. Look at me--I’m posting on a blog and ten months ago I didn’t even know how to create a blog like this! There’s no time like today to give your soul the chance to express itself with abandon. Utter abandon!

We are meant to offer our creative self to beautifully impact another soul. You are a creative gift from God to the souls that enter your life. It’s your smile. It’s your kindness. It’s your quiet comfort. It’s your funny self bringing laughter into a heart that needs it more than you know. Perhaps you’ve not considered that you are the creation, beautifully gifted to impact every soul that crosses your path. You are—ask God and He’ll show you.

 

For this reason, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.  For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:6-7)

 

We have different gifts according to the grace given us. (Romans 12:6)

 

Crayons

Never forget that God has “laid hands” on your soul gifting you with creativity. God gifts each one of us through the power of the Holy Spirit and these are meant to be shared so share abundantly!

Share this post with your friends and those who need encouragement to not give up on their creative endeavors. Be brave and use your gifts!

Fondly, Terri


Courageous

Hello and Welcome!

I am so thankful for the privilege of sharing encouragement with you through this blog. Today's post presents a focus on the tremendous courage that we display to others as we live through the difficulties and troubles that manifest in our life. And, this post is a tribute to my dear friend, Chris, who is now with the Lord.

In the last few weeks, I have either witnessed or learned of women who have deliberately chosen courage and perseverance over despair and hopelessness.  All too often it seems we are faced with situations that cause us to have to choose one of those paths. As a few of you know, we sent our dear friend, Chris, on her way to be with Jesus. Chris was a warrior and faced the battle with cancer as any warrior would—fiercely steadfast in her faith in God and His sovereign purpose for her life. At Chris’ memorial service, her pink ribbon sister, Colleen, spoke with admiration of Chris. And, Colleen shared she is continuing to fight on behalf of Chris determined to defeat her own cancer. This is a woman who, in all likelihood, knew no one else at the service and determined to courageously share.

Courage 1You know women who are facing overwhelming circumstances or changes in their life and we can’t help but be affected. Too often we may feel inadequate to provide the words, the hope, or any other measure of comfort that we know is so obviously needed. Women are caregivers and it’s in our nature to want to make whole the brokenness, heal the wounded heart, and soothe the discomfort. But deep down we see how inadequate our resources are and we know what we offer isn’t sufficient to mend, let alone heal.

As a nurse, I know I can’t put a band-aid on a physical wound and expect healing to occur if I haven’t addressed the skin infection. In the same way, I know what I have to offer those who are hurting is no better than a band-aid—it touches the surface but it can’t impact the deep sadness and loss. It sounds arrogant and even prideful that I want to be the source of comfort for those hurting but that’s why I became a nurse—to impact, in whatever way I can, the health of those God brings across my path. So, I feel that frustration within, and I ask God, “What can I do?”.

Prayer 1I “do” what God expects me to do. Pray. And pray more. I lay before Him the names of those hearts that on my own and I ask God to provide what only He can. I earnestly believe He sees each one of us and He knows us as no one else does and I believe He is able to comfort, heal, provide a miracle and more for His precious children. While I’m sad that my prayer list grows as I add one more name after another, I’m thankful that not one of those women (and men) are unknown to God. We must never forget prayer is a powerful action fueled by your belief in God’s ability to provide according to His will.

During an incredibly challenging time in my life, the words Paul wrote in Philippians 1:19-20 (NLT) became very dear to me and continue to be a source of strength.

For I know that as you pray for me and the Spirit of Jesus Christ helps me, this will lead to my deliverance. For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, living means living for Christ and dying is even better.

Do you sense the power of this statement and prayer from Paul? Here is the phrase that impacts me the most, “I will never be ashamed”. Paul was referring to his imprisonment but that prison couldn’t contain Paul’s impact as he continued to share and model Christ. Colleen, Deb, Lysa, Kelly, David, Scott—these people, like Paul, live without shame because they live to honor Christ in the face of the challenges. As for Chris, her life continues to bring honor to Christ and she left behind a model of courage. I think Proverbs 31:31 best states the life of Chris, “Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” (If you knew her, I’m certain you agree!)

Courage 2I end this post with two power encouragement points:

First, when you feel inadequate to offer what is needed by those we love, your prayer is a powerful act that makes you a co-warrior with those who are courageously facing their challenges.

Second, your faith in God and your trust in His plan for your life models courage to those who watch as you walk through your challenges and difficulty. You don’t have to “do” courageous. It will show as you trust God as your Strength and Jesus as your Savior.

Thank you so much for reading. If you would like to receive the blog posts on a regular basis, please scroll to the top of the page and in the right sidebar you can subscribe. Once you subscribe you'll receive a confirmation notice from Feedblitz. Please post your comments to the blog as I love to hear from you! Or, you can email me at heartsencouragedministry@gmail.com.  Fondly, Terri