Encouragement

Your Hope Story

Hello and welcome dear friends! 

I propose that all of us have a hope story. The root of our hope story is the expectation of Christ’s fulfillment of his promised salvation. This story is filled with anticipation of life with God, our Father. Being reunited with Him, living in His presence, as it was in the days of Eden. We have every reason to hope, keep our courage, and remain confident in our hope in Christ’s promise!

There are other hope stories. Very personal stories living deep in our hearts. Consider this: every time you look to Jesus for help, believe he distinctly hears your voice, and wait confidently for him to act, you are making a declaration of hope.

Jesus said we’d have trouble in this world. That’s a promise I wish wasn’t true. Yet, disaster, crisis, grief, and sorrow reveal the hope held in our soul.

Bible - Hope PicHow appropriate that Jesus proclaimed God’s promises as Good News!

I want to share a bit of my hope story. The last seven months have been tumultuous. In May, my husband and I moved from Ohio to South Carolina. I started a new job. Shortly after our move, my dear sweet pup of 15 years passed away. My heart felt the absence intensely. Then, in August my mother died very unexpectedly and my grief deepened. Doubt about the move and transition tried to take root. Then, September and October brought hurricanes and extreme weather conditions. The stress, anxiety, and grief became insurmountable.

A few days after my mom’s funeral, I went to my writing space to create a post but there was no message inside me. With tears and sorrow, I cried out to God. My bright and burning hope was fast becoming dim and at risk.

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.

- Martin Luther King Jr.

Spent. Broken. But, not hopeless. I looked to Jesus to fulfill his promise to never leave me or forsake me.

That promise became my lived reality through voices, hugs, tears, and cards. Friends and family came along side. Their care, comfort, and love fanned dying embers of hope into a bright flame once again.  

Never lose hope

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.

Hebrews 10:23 NLT

Here's an interesting thing that I've learned. People watch how we respond to the struggle and burden of a difficult circumstance. Why? I think it’s curiosity. They want to see what hope looks like. I wonder if they watch because hope strengthens hope like iron sharpens iron. Your hope story gives the watcher a reason to choose hope.

Choosing to hope in God’s promises gives you resilience and persistence to stand firm in the literal and figurative storms of this earthly life. Your words and attitude declare your reliance on and trust in God's promises.

Hope is your response.

It's your intentional choice.

It's your strength.

Dear friend, you embody a profound and inspiring hope story with or without words. Your hope reveals your firm expectation that God has not, will not, fail you or abandon you. He guides you. God's faithful love comforts, heals, and restores.

Hope declares reliance on and trust in God's promises

The Bible says be ready with an answer when you're asked why you hope. Here are three of God's promises providing a firm foundation on which to build hope.

Hebrews 13.5-6 Hope

Hope - Typepad Image
Isaiah 54 Hope Tyepapd
Which promise of God fans the flame of your hope?

Your hope story is a precious gift to the one who’s hope is in jeopardy. The Lord makes you a beautiful blessing to the one who is searching for hope. We absolutely have reason to hope because God is for us!

Please share your thoughts on hope! And, please share this post to encourage and lift someone's spirit. Check out the Hearts Encouraged FB page, @TerriHutchinsonAuthor. Thanks so much for reading, following, and for your encouragement. Fondly, Terri


Spirit-Bearers, it's the season to give!

Hello and welcome dear friends! For this month’s post, I’ve chosen Elizabeth and Mary's meeting as shared in Luke 1:5-56. Perhaps you'll discover what I did as I read it anew.

Luke1.41Elizabeth and Mary, chosen by God and anointed with the Holy Spirit, were given individual, special assignments by God. Elizabeth would be the mother of John the Baptist. God revealed this news to Mary who traveled to see Elizabeth. When Mary arrived, the Spirit within Elizabeth prompted her to proclaim Mary as the mother of the Son of God. Oh, what an affirming and meaningful greeting to the young mother-to-be!

Let's stop and take a moment to envision the scene so long ago and the gift each woman was to the other. Both women had a personal and profound encounter with the Lord. An event not easily shareable or believable. That it was possible for Mary and Elizabeth to come face to face and share their stories must have been marvelous, reassuring, and encouraging. These Spirit-bearing women were a gift to the other.

Giving 1Can I be a gift?

The Holy Spirit within you activates the gifts God’s deposited in you. You, beloved, are the conduit. You are the gift!

Perhaps, you don’t quite feel like a gift to others. I understand that feeling. Regardless of what we feel or think about ourselves, we can be a blessing to those who cross our life path.

Presents 1The Spirit within you

activates the gifts God’s deposited in you.

Sometimes, we don’t realize the type of intangible gift we have to offer others until they bring it to our attention. For instance, you may hear a friend sharing you’re a strong encourager or a thoughtful listener. This is a blessed affirmation of your gift! These intangible gifts are often the most meaningful and most needed.

We’re in the season emphasizing material gift-giving. Material gifts are fine ways of showing appreciation and love, but I believe our hearts are deeply yearning for the intangibles.

Why?

Daily reports of death, sadness, and trouble dominate the news while fears and worries are rising in tandem. We’re looking for kindness, faith, hope, love, listening, empathy, compassion, sincerity, gentleness, honesty, peace, wisdom, hospitality…. Our souls’ are thirsting for the peace and comfort of the Holy Spirit.  Holy SpiritEvery soul can receive the precious comfort administered by the appointed Spirit-Bearer.

Never forget you’re a gift to those who love you. And, you’re a gift to every soul crossing your path. If you tune into the Spirit within you, you’ll sense the prompt and the opportunity. There is a catch, though.

You have to want to give the time.

Giving time

This is where I’ve fallen short. I’m eager for the opportunity until it comes. The problem is time. I’m always on my way to something else when the chance comes for me to gift someone. I can be an excellent listener because I’m trained on how to actively, intentionally listen. But that takes time.

For example, I can’t tell you how often I’ve told someone I’ll pray for them. And, I do. Later.

So, I have to stop at that moment and ask myself, “Terri, are you willing to give the time?”

So, why not stop and pray right then and there? Because I’m on my way to…. Yet, on those occasions when I’ve stopped and prayed, the look of surprise and gratitude clearly indicated they felt the blessing and care.

Giving the time is my issue.

Is there anything keeping you from giving your gifts?

Present 2

 

You, dear Spirit-Bearer, are called to give and to receive. Give as the opportunities arise. Receive to meet your need

Be mindful and receive from others to fill yourself up so you can continue to give. Receiving the gifts from others is as important as giving your gifts. Letting someone bless you with their gifts (material or spiritual) can be a gift in itself!

So, are you eagerly anticipating a God-designed encounter to bless someone with your spiritual gift? Let’s get out there and share the love of Jesus! There’s so many people who need your unique love, comfort, and compassion.

Icon Hearts Encouraged (2) Thank you so much for reading and sharing these posts. Check out the Hearts Encouraged Facebook page - @TerriHutchinsonAuthor.

May the peace of Christ rest upon you! Terri

P.S. If you’re wondering what spiritual gifts you possess, there are several online spiritual gift tests. These can help you identify your spiritual gifts. Explore these if you haven’t done so before. Or, maybe you want more information on the Holy Spirit. You can contact me at heartsencouragedministry@gmail.com or comment below. I only release comments meant for the general public. 


The Undercover Perfectionist

Hello and Welcome Everyone!

This month I have the privilege of introducing you to my friend and fellow writer, Leslie Newman. Leslie has a wonderful blog titled Journey to Imperfect. It so happens she is a recovering perfectionist like me! Leslie has a passion for helping us see that we are all different and unique. In her own words, "every person will follow a different path in working through these kinds of issues. But although we have different circumstances, we have the same God and He is all about restoring us and bringing us to completeness through His Son Jesus." Leslie believes prayer is the key to overcoming the barriers that prevent us from becoming exactly who God designed us to be. When you visit her blog, you'll find fantastic posts as well as free resources including a Prayer Notebook, Hope Kits, and more. 

For the month of August, Leslie asked me to write a guest post for her blog because of my extensive experience with perfectionism. Below you'll find the link so you can read the full post there.  Please feel free to share the post with anyone who could use the encouragement to dabble with imperfection! Let Leslie and I know how it resonated with you.  Fondly, Terri

The Undercover perfectionist


If you know the phrase, "Do unto others as you would have them do to you", then you know that it's a call to love others as you would love yourself. But, do you know there's an alternative version of that life mantra? It goes like this, "Do to myself what I would not do to others".
 
As an undercover perfectionist, I employ the latter mantra when I heap unrealistic expectations upon myself that I would not and do not expect of others. You can't see my perfectionism because you're not subject to it. You, my friend, do not have to live up to the high bar of perfection I have set for myself. That bar is for me alone and there's no mercy from me to me when I fail to hit it. What good can come from that?
 
None.
 
I can't thrive when I subject myself to that kind of pressure, striving, and harshness.
 
If the undercover perfectionist wants to challenge their perspective, then three questions should be explored:
 
Who defines perfect?
Why is perfection the wrong goal?
What's the personal impact for the undercover perfectionist?
 
 
 
 

The Saboteur Within

Have you ever watched someone enthusiastically take a hold of a project or idea and start infusing it with their special talent? I find it very motivating because you can just see the energy bursting forth from their being as they accept the challenge. Do you agree? You may even be one of those beautiful souls. As for me, I choose to stop to consider if I have the talent, the resources, the desire to invest and so on. Those considerations are wise and detrimental. It’s detrimental when it positions me in front of the door leading to self-sabotage. When I walk through that dismal door I’m smack dab in self-judgment, critical assessment, and self-condemnation. These are obstacles preventing me from moving forward and trying the new thing. Crazy, isn’t it?

MasterpieceFor we are God’s masterpiece, He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10 NLT

The word “masterpiece” describes something of such high quality that there are very few like it. So, my fellow masterpieces, is that how you see yourself? Are you able to look yourself in the mirror and say aloud with heartfelt conviction, I’m God’s masterpiece? We are not only a masterpiece, but the apostle Paul says there are good things each one of us have been created to do. Those words should be invigorating unless there’s a saboteur lurking inside you. When self sabotage revs ups, courage gets trampled. We miss out when the saboteur gets a say. When I see myself as God’s masterpiece, not yet perfected but a work in process, then I can be bold and courageous.

You have within you special and unique qualities and you get to decide how much of yourself you’ll put out there in the world. You get to choose to share your heart with that other heart God’s placed on your life path. You get to trust that God has given you or will give you exactly what you need for today and for your tomorrows. When we critique our abilities and resources while weighing the situation before us, then we’re moving into the area of self-sabotage. I define self-sabotage this way: condemnation or self-defeating judgment about past performance that is applied to a present opportunity. Too many times I let my inner saboteur talk me out of God assignments, learning new skills, and living new adventures. Who is could be a better judge than me as to my capability? We all know the answer to that question! Take this to heart: as God’s masterpiece, any lesser alternative perception of yourself cannot be more significant than God’s view of you.

EmbersDo not stifle the Holy Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 5:19 NLT

 We must guard against moving into the territory of stifling or quenching the Spirit within. The Spirit is equated to a fire, a vibrant, active fire in our soul. And just like any fire, it can be reduced to smoldering embers. I smother the Holy Spirit when I discount my worth, my abilities, and my usefulness in God’s kingdom. The verses I provided from 1 Thessalonians and Ephesians are the same verses that awakened me to see my persistent self-judgment and condemnation. But perhaps the most significant verse that impacted me was the one from Luke 6:37-38, Do not judge and you will not be judged. Do not condemn and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. The words judge and condemn jumped off the page and pierced my heart, I knew it was no longer acceptable for me to engage in self-defeating judgment and self-condemnation. Previously, I read this verse as applicable to my actions toward others, but that day God wanted me to apply it to how I treated my own heart. What about you? Do you need to treat yourself with a little more kindness and a lot less judgment and condemnation? You and I are called to share our uniqueness with this crazy world. You are God’s beloved, a delight in His eyes and He is your biggest fan! Embrace that truth and quench the inner saboteur. 

SabotageWhen I get into self-sabotage mode, I take two action steps to get me back on track: Thought-Capture Self Check and Power Talk Statements. Power talk is a great heart lift because it's based off of verses from the Bible. Try these out or share these tips with anyone who may be struggling to see themselves as God sees them. We so need to lift each other up and encourage. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what you’ve read here. Please comment here or post on the Hearts Encouraged FB page. Fondly, Terri

Icon Hearts Encouraged (2) Action Step 1 – Thought-Capture Self Check

This self-check is about listening to your internal dialogue and your external verbalization. Monitor what you’re thinking and saying about yourself. Track specific words or phrases you use. Below are sentence starters and phrases that are often associated with sabotaging statements.

I’ll never…

I can’t…

I’m not…

I’m too…

I’m afraid…

How will I…

But…

God can’t…

God won’t…

What if…

It’s impossible.

It’ll never work.

I’m not sure I can.

Once you’ve started really listening to what you say and think about yourself, your second step is to challenge those statements that fall under the category of condemnation, judgment, self-pity, or devaluing yourself. Ask the Holy Spirit for help and use Bible verses like Romans 8:31-39 (The Message): If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? God can give courage, ability, strength, and the power to reframe your perspective and your thoughts or verbalizations.

Icon Hearts Encouraged (2) Action Step 2 - Power Talk

You need to power talk! It’s food for the heart and soul. You can find plenty of power talk in the Bible. Check out the list below and use these on a daily basis. Be your own champion! Encourage yourself! You’ll find yourself changing how you view yourself and living life better than before.

Power Talk Statements

I can’t wait to see what God will do today.

I choose to be a bold adventurer in my relationship with God.

God has compassion on me.

God has mercy on me.

I have strength to face this day through Jesus.

God’s given me a spirit of power and love.

God delights in me.

God and I will fan into a flame the gifts He has given me to serve.

I can eagerly expect and hope in God.

God calls me to courage.

I am not afraid—God’s presence is with me.

I will have no fear of bad news because I trust in God.

God has the power to do what He promises.

I am not alone, forsaken, nor abandoned.

I am God’s masterpiece and His child.

God’s blessing will enable me to do anything and everything He sets before me.

God knows the plans He has for my life.


Changing Seasons

Originally broadcast as a Facebook Live Event on April 15, 2018 @TerriHutchinsonAuthor page (Hearts Encouraged). This post includes the dialogue as well as Self-Encouragement Tips found at the end of this post.

Hello and Welcome to Heart Lift! Today, I’m bringing you a Heart Lift to encourage, inspire, fortify, refresh your heart and mind. Today’s Heart Lift centers on the verses from Isaiah 58:11, the New Living Translation.

The Lord will guide you continually giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength.

This verse comes to my mind as I listen to the personal stories of women and men who are pouring out of themselves to the point of soul-dehydration. What I mean is they are giving their time, energy, love, care, or emotions so much so they are becoming depleted. Some examples include the caregiver that’s becoming physically and emotionally exhausted or the parent whose heart is intensely hurting for their child.  We can get in a state of soul-dehydration because we aren’t being filled as we pour out.

Water pouring

Another form of soul dehydration is an emptiness within our heart. It can happen because life wears us down. It can happen as we endure a long stress-filled season or with an ongoing battle with fear and anxiety. Soul dehydration occurs when we lose hope. And, it happens when we wonder if God sees us, hears us, or cares one bit for us. I'm here to tell you God sees, hears, and cares for you! We can trust our Lord to restore what has been poured out. When you go to the only Source that restores, revives, and refreshes, you will find a safe place. A place of rest.

Seasons 1I want to share with you some things I’ve learned from my season of depletion that is transforming into a season of restoration. First, some background information—in 2014, my husband and I stepped out in faith purchasing land, then building a house in South Carolina. Throughout the process God blessed our steps. Moving forward to July 2017, we felt it was time to move our lives to South Carolina. This would mean living and working in a new state, a new community, and require me to follow Jesus adventurously. As I embarked on this adventure, my deepest desire then, and now, and is to be surrendered, living in a state of intentional trust as the process unfolds.

Being adventurous with Jesus sounds fantastic at the start until you get into the heart of it and you start to feel lost. You wonder if you and God are on the same path anymore. As the weeks and months passed by, staying steadfast, in resolute trust that God was in control became difficult. By December 2017, the waiting led to wondering that led to questions, doubts, and fears. In my plan, there was no waiting. I had everything falling into line, with the timing of events occurring seamlessly. I’m certain your laughing right now saying, “Really, Terri?” Yes, that was silly of me but then that's me. Soon enough I would realize God’s plan, unlike mine, had waiting written all through it.

The reason the waiting is hard is because waiting chips away at our trust in God's plan, timing, and control. Though I’m committed to trusting God there have been days I’m not sure I have the strength to remain encouraged and surrendered.

By the time January 2018 rolled around, I started wondering if this adventure was less about moving to South Carolina and more about winning a spiritual battle of trust over doubts and fears. One thing is certain, God’s faithfulness is written all over my life and I feel strongly that He deserves my trust. I determined in my heart to win this battle pushing through obstacles and trampling fears. Staying strong, in intentional trust, surrendered to God’s timing,  left me spiritually dehydrated and depleted. I have been using internal resources to win the battle of trust over fear and anxiety.

So, what would you tell me now that I’ve confessed this? I think you would say, “Terri, you know you can’t win a spiritual battle on your own. Why didn’t you ask God for His strength to fill you, to help you stand firm? Would you believe me if I said I forgot? I don’t know why I come to have this untimely “amnesia” when life ramps up and stress increases. Who wouldn’t ask for the things Jesus says is available to me: rest, peace, or carrying my burdens. I want my soul refreshed and renewed. Thank goodness for changing seasons!

Relaxing

There’s a new season on the way, a season of rest and refreshment. What has changed? Two things. I’ve finally awakened to the fact that the Lord has been waiting to fill my heart and to refresh my energy stores. Second, I changed my perspective, my focus. With my family now in South Carolina while I remain in Ohio, my responsibilities have diminished. I’m living with friends who are graciously housing me until details are finalized. It’s a place of peace, a respite. Life has gotten simpler. My pace has slowed. The change in my perspective from what isn’t happening to what is happening has caused me to see what God is doing for me. Seeing it, I'm able to accept this season of rest as the gift God intends it to be. Am I still waiting on God’s plan to unfold? Yes. I’m still fighting the urge to doubt and question our decisions and steps that brought us to this point. But, I’m intent on receiving and enjoying this brief time of rest that God has written into His plan for my life.

Let me emphasize this point: the moment I ask Him, God gives me what I need. The only One who is able to replenish my soul and help me stand strong is Him. I am so very thankful God deeply desires to partner with me, with you too, as we move through difficult seasons.

Seasons 2I wonder if you’ve experienced a season of rest or restoration after a difficult time? For example, have you received strength in spite of what were capable of? Or, maybe you received a boost of courage that you didn’t think possible. Perhaps, it was a profound sense of peace.

What we need to remember is there is no one, but God, who knows our life, our heart, our cares. He delights in you and is ready to refresh your soul the very moment you ask. Yet, asking is just the first step. If you ask for it, then anticipate it. The act of anticipating opens your spiritual eyes and ears as well as your heart to receive God’s provision. You don’t know the form or the way your need will be met, but you want to be in a mode of anticipating, a state of readiness, so you’re open to receive it.

You, dear friends, have an invitation from God for a never-ending conversation. No concern or need is too unimportant to share with God. So, share! To close, let your heart be lifted and your soul quenched by this refreshing truth.

Icon Hearts Encouraged (2)You are a delight to the Lord

He is living life with you

He concerns Himself with your troubles

He is ever ready to meet your needs

He hears your unique voice 

If you are interested in activating your inner encourager, see below for tips on how to be a self-encourager. Thanks for reading! Please share with those who need encouraged!

Tips for Becoming a Self-Encourager

One way I engage in self-encouragement is to find nourishment from God’s word. I search for a heart lifting gem in the Bible and then transform it into a digestible nugget that feeds my soul. For example, I take a verse like Psalm 31:7-8 and write it into a simple narrative, or I might bullet point it. Then, I add a picture that further embeds the verses or truths into my heart. I put it in a place that is easy for me to access or see. For example,

Woman

I have God’s unfailing love

God concerns Himself with my life.

He is ever ready to meet my needs,

calm my fears, and tend to my trouble.

He hears my unique voice.

I matter to God.

Psalm 31:7-8

See how I've reworded this verse in a form that helps me digest it and, receive it into my heart and mind so it can stick! I think that’s the main thing – determining how can you get the encouragement to stick with you.

Once you have created these encouragement gems for your use, then its easy to take this self-encouragement and gift it to someone else. When you’ve been through difficult times, you can see the signs in another woman or man. If they’re struggling with a current life experience that exhausting and depleting their soul, your encouragement may be the heart lift they need.

Another tip is to keep encouragement verses very close to you. I have two verses under my work computer screen that only I can see. I have one in my wallet. I have one in my car. The purpose is to have it handy so that when I feel a surge of overwhelm, fear, or anxiety then I have an immediate remedy. A sniff of lavender oil helps, too.

I hope these tips help you be a strong self-encourager! My prayer is that your heart sings with the knowledge that God is with you and for you! Believe it!

 


Let Yourself be Captivated

Hello and Welcome!

I am excitedly anticipating the beauty of spring and can't wait to explore all the newness that comes with this season. This post encourages you to let yourself be captivated with the nuances and details of life as it presents itself to you. Enjoy! 

Can you remember the last time you let yourself be caught up in the details? I’m not talking about critiquing an email or a proposal. I’m not referring to critically judging effort or choices. When was the last time you moved in close and used every sense to experience the moment?

Lukasz-szmigiel-33891-unsplash - Forest

It seems like it was another lifetime ago when I walked the local metro park to exchange the energy of the city for the color and comfort of the woods. My desire was to meld into the scenery, being present and anticipating the surprises it held for me. I heard sounds of thick branches falling and the rustling of the forest floor as squirrels searched for treasure. I enjoyed the falling rain on the tree leaves and the refreshing scent filling the air. The cardinal’s red splash of color against the brown limbs made me smile. I remember being intensely startled by the sight and sound of 20 deer bursting out of the woods into the field. Such power and grace in motion. What a “wow” moment that’s forever embedded in my memory.

God designs creation with unfathomable detail and it’s made known to you and me when we stop and consider it. What benefit do you receive by fixating on notes within a melody or the individual brush strokes of a painting? What do you gain by letting yourself be fascinated with the tiny nuances of anything? As for me, I have to counter those questions with, “Do I have the time to let myself be captivated?” The answer is yes and for good reason. 

Here's what you gain--

Appreciation 

You gain deeper appreciation for the talent and gifts of others that allows them to create beauty in the same way our Father has.

Real Time Presence 

By narrowing your focus on the details, it brings you very present in the present.

Renewed Curiosity

Letting yourself be fascinated helps you see and listen with more clarity in that moment and beyond.

________________________

Here’s what can change within you as you focus on the details--

A slowing down. A physical change where mind and body are at ease.

Your curiosity comes awakens and is activated.

You're open to the richness of life and creation.

__________________________

Karl-fredrickson-74973-unsplash - SpringSee, I’m doing a new thing! Are you not perceiving it? Isaiah 43:19

I know I’m moving so fast through my life that the details are a blur. I’m also aware that I’m missing “it”. I don’t understand how I got so that I only want the snippets of the story, the bottom line, and the point. I’m deliberating throwing away the details as insignificant. Who has time for “it”? Do you? As I choose to appreciate, be present in this moment, and be curious, I connect with creation, the person in front of me, and with God. God is doing new things all around me and connecting to Him is like connecting to wi-fi thereby increasing my sensitivity to the now. I want to perceive! I want to see God at work in my life, in the lives of others, and in this world. That won’t happen unless I’m paying attention.

Anthony-rossbach-59478-unsplash - SpringDo you ever wonder what you might be missing?

God likes details. He was all about the fine points when he instructed Moses and the Israelites on the preparation for the Tabernacle. If you read Exodus, the specific design, measures, colors, and ornamentation ordered by God is incredible. From clothing to woodwork, God had a design and was concerned with every tiny bit of it. But, it goes deeper than that. God is very much concerned about the nuances and details of every human life. Let me show you. In Genesis, God came to Hagar in the desert calling her by name. He consoles her and leads her back to the camp. With His eyes roaming the earth, He found Hagar. God’s detailed plan for her life didn’t include that desert experience and He led her out of it. God demonstrated his care of her. In John’s gospel, Jesus' conversation with the Samaritan focuses on the relationships in her life. Not to condemn, but to show her a different path. Is God really that concerned with the paths you take? Definitely. Even more, Psalm 139 says God knows when you sit, when you rise, perceives your thoughts, and is familiar with all your ways. God cares about every detail of your life. Because God is interested and invested in the details, I want to do the same. 

Maarten-van-den-heuvel-239204-unsplash - BulbsMarch Challenge

With spring’s arrival there will be plenty of opportunities to engage your senses and get curious about spring’s display as things that are dormant renew in infinite ways. I encourage and challenge you to appreciate the details that are revealed as bulbs sprout, buds open, birds sing, the earth thaws, and spring's colors burst forth bit by bit. It will mean you’ll have to stop moving, take a look, train your ear, slow the rhythm of your thoughts and appreciate. You might have to bend low or turn you head up toward the sky. My hope is that as you let yourself be captivated with the details you will experience "time standing still" moments. When was the last time you were so fully engrossed in an activity that you completely forgot about the element of time? If you can’t remember, then I believe you should try this challenge. Live fully present. Perceive what God is doing within you and around you! Be amazed by the glory of the Lord.

Icon Hearts Encouraged (2)
Blog Update

In the near future, I will be creating a Facebook (FB) author page and posting FB Live videos. The purpose is to provide real time encouragement for you as you pursue God and take that relationship to the next level. You can join in during the Live event and comment, or you can watch later. Comment anytime as I will get those and respond. I’ll post the link here and on my personal FB page when the Author Page is up and then you can Like It.

Always, I am thankful for you being part of this Hearts Encouraged group and I’m very open to your feedback and special requests. Just let me know. Thank you for sharing the blog fellow encouragers!

Fondly, Terri

 Credits

Photo by Karl Fredrickson on Unsplash  (Spring)

Photo by Anthony Rossbach on Unsplash (Bee)

Photo by Maarten-van-den-heuvel on Unsplash (Bulbs)



Hope Notes

Hello and Welcome!

I’m excited to tell you that the Hearts Encouraged Blog is one year old this month! Big deal, right? It is for you! When there’s a birthday, there’s usually presents. What better way to celebrate this birthday than with a free book for you, my subscribers. I know! You weren’t expecting it, but you deserve it. I’m giving away a wonderful book by Beth Moore called Audacious. If you would like to receive this book, you can email me at heartsencouragedministry@gmail.com and let me know your preferred delivery method of either UPS or in person. If you choose UPS, I’ll need your address but be assured I will not share with any other party. Thank you so much for being a faithful subscriber! I thank God for each of you! Now, on to the post… 

Never-lost-hope-2636197_640
If I told you that hope is to your heart and soul like water and oxygen are to your body, would you believe me? That statement might seem a little over the top until you talk to people who have experienced profound circumstances. They will share they persevered because they chose to hope. Hope is powerful.

Did you know that hope is now highly regarded by health providers? Clinical teams identify hope as a crucial element for patients living with acute and chronic health issues. Whether it’s depression, cancer, post-traumatic stress syndrome, loss of limb, heart disease, bipolar disorder, or addiction--hope is an element with significant impact causing some people to achieve a level of wellness not thought possible considering their health issue.1 Moving beyond health events that negatively impact life, there are weather events, accidents, fire, death, and more that can devastate our lives. In these situations, still hope survives. When the media chooses to highlight a story of hope within devastating circumstances, we need to see it, hear it.  We need to know that in tragedy hope can rise up, lift up, and thrive in spite of the suffering and harm. Hope gives life meaning and purpose. Hope is a force that enables you to overcome and take those first steps after a significant life event.

Hope v despair

There have been a few times in my life when I thought I could not possibly ignite the dying embers of hope within me. I felt depleted, utterly discouraged, and on the verge of letting my hope slip away. My face to the ground, my body limp without the strength to pull myself up one more time, and my heart so broken the pain was palpable. During a significant health event, if it hadn’t been for my dear friend, Annette, sending me the verse below I might have relinquished hope.

…If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8:31-32 (NIV)

When hope is ebbing away you can cry out to the Lord to give you hope, provide a reason to hope, and the strength of heart and mind to hope! The apostle Paul’s prayer for the people is a prayer for you as well:

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 (NLT)

Evergreen tree with light

In this season on your life you may not find this post that pertinent or even beneficial. For this I'm glad. However, maybe there's someone else who could receive benefit or this post is something you tuck away for that day, may it never come, when you need it. When lift hits you hard you may not have the strength or time to dig through the Bible for hope statements and verses that will empower and sustain you. By creating Hope Statements , you arm yourself with the word of God so you can stand when trials and troubles comes. I created the following Hope Statements from verses in the Psalms, the gospel of John. and Philippians to get me through days of difficulty. Along with these declarations of hope, I use quotes to help me remember the truth of how God relates to me and His concern over my life. Do you have a favorite verse that lifts you up and reminds you that your hope is well founded because you're God’s child and He is for you? Why don’t you consider creating a statement of hope that is meaningful to you. You can place these Hope Statements in your phone for quick access when you need a boost, a reminder. You are not alone. You have a reason to hope.

Icon Hearts EncouragedHope Statement – Safety, Security

Lord, you are my refuge, a safe harbor in times of trouble. I know you and trust in you. You have never forsaken those who seek you. You have not and will not abandon me. Lord, I believe you delight in me and take great care of me.  (Psalm 9:9-10, Psalm 37:23-24, Psalm 18:19 –paraphrased)

Icon Hearts EncouragedHope Statement – Exerting My Faith

I will choose joy! I believe you hear the prayers of those who pray for me, Lord. I believe the Holy Spirit is helping me as I take this difficult path. What is happening to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope for courage to reflect my faith in you, Lord, as I remain steadfast in this circumstance.   (Philippians 1:19-20 – paraphrased)

Icon Hearts EncouragedHope Statement – Discouragement

Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!   (Psalm 42: 5 NLT)

Icon Hearts EncouragedHope Statement – God Knows Me, Knows My Needs

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. Because You know me, I wait in hope for you, Lord; You are my help and my shield. In you, Lord, my heart rejoices for I trust in your holy name. God, may your unfailing love rest upon me and those I care about even as I put my hope in you.    (John 10:27-28 – NIV paraphrased)

Hope is the positive mode of awaiting the future. –Emil Brunner

If we were logical, the future would be bleak indeed. But we are more than logical. We are human beings, and we have faith, and we have hope, and we can work. –Jacques Cousteau

Patience is the art of hoping. –Vauvenargues

References

1 Snyder, C. R., Harris, C., Anderson, J.R., Holleran, S. A., Irving, L. M., Sigmon, S. T., et al. (1991). The will and the ways: Development and validation of an individual-differences measure of hope. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60 (4), 570-585. Retrieved from teachingpsychology.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/hope-theory.pdf


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


Rest Moments

It’s a Saturday afternoon and I’m trying to get out of the house to run errands when my phone buzzes with a new message. I’m tempted to ignore it because I don’t recognize the number but my curiosity goads me and this is what I read, I’m on my way and will be stopping by your house -Jesus

Unbelievable, right? Never say never but it’s highly unlikely that Jesus is going to text me, or you. But you better believe he’s speaking to us—straight through to the center of our hearts and He's calling us into His rest.

What are we missing when we fail to stop and rest in the

presence of our precious Savior and Friend?

Back in Jesus’ day, he would drop in or stop by and we find in Luke 10:38-42 that he does just that when he came to the town where Martha lived. Imagine with me this scene that you know so well. Jesus knocks on Martha’s door. As he’s invited in, Jesus finds a place to sit or recline and within moments Mary positions herself at Jesus’ feet. Mary’s so close, gazing at his face while listening with rapt attention. What is it that’s captured Mary’s focus? Is Jesus teaching, laughing, sharing a story of healing, or reminiscing?

Imagine this scene from Martha’s point of view. She sees Mary has intentionally chosen to be at His feet, oblivious to the preparations needed for their guests. Martha’s frustrated, jealous or both and she tells Jesus that Mary is ignoring the greater priority. Do you wonder if there was an awkward silence after her remark? Did Jesus let the words hang in the air? Jesus responds to Martha assuring her that He sees what she is doing, He sees what Mary is doing, and Mary’s not to do what Martha’s doing. Jesus simplifies Martha’s priority list with gentle instruction that she should have chosen as Mary did—resting in the Lord’s presence. Mary recognized the greater priority. She ceased activity, moved as close to the Lord as she was able, and was at rest with Him.

What could be more restorative than resting in the Lord’s presence who Himself is at rest?

 

Lady-and-dog-1827593_640 (1)
Stop    Cease    Be Still    Rest

Today, our culture underestimates the essential benefits of being at rest which is defined as freedom from activity or labor and a peace of mind and spirit.1 Here’s a few reasons why rest should move to the top of your to-do-list.

Rest is restorative, refreshing, healing, and renewing.

Rest is essential for your central nervous system allowing it power-down to return to balance. Physical rest assists in the recovery of hormonal, neurological, and musculoskeletal systems.2

Spiritual rest is found in God’s presence.

If you’ve forgotten, God is the first author of rest. He created with power and wisdom all things in six days and then declared a rest. God set the universe in motion but He ceased all activity. Jesus also intentionally ceased activity and withdrew to be alone in order to come into his Father’s presence. Our Father and His Son have set forth the example of rest while we often choose to do anything but that. There will always be something that needs your attention but you get to set the priority it has in your life.

 

Messy life

Jesus practiced what he commanded and the gospels of Matthew, Luke, and John provide the examples.3 Why did Jesus choose to cease activity to draw near to God? Put yourself in his shoes and imagine the stressors Jesus experienced from sun up to sun down, day after day. When did He sleep? When did He eat? The people always present were seeking, demanding, following, and pursuing. There’s no doubt that Jesus experienced hunger and thirst as well as emotional and physical strain. Jesus felt the sadness that accompanies loss, exasperation with the disciples, anger with religious leaders, and an indescribable burden of anticipating his death. Because of the stress and demands, Jesus desired and needed to come into his Father’s presence to receive, replenish, and refresh. If the Son of God felt it necessary to draw near to his Father, how much more do we need to set ourselves apart and enter the Lord’s rest?

Jesus invites you to experience a rest like no other for this specific reason: The Lord promises His presence is the answer when your life causes you to be weary and burdened.  He will lead you to the spiritual rest your soul desperately needs.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

                                     –Matthew 11:28-30, The Message Bible

Jesus is giving an invitation so what do you think? Intrigued? Skeptical? Is there anything preventing you from accepting it? Letting yourself enter the Lord’s rest means you’re willing to immerse yourself into a profound sense of comfort, security, grace, and love. The Lord’s rest brings you near to Him and there is assurance, healing, and recovery from the onslaught of the world’s demands. There is so much to be gained by accepting His invitation to rest. There was something indescribable about Jesus’ presence that brought Mary to sit at His feet and you can experience it as well.

  REST -- Restoration, Equilibrium, Stillness, and Trust

Resting 2

So, what small steps do you need to take to establish a practice of withdrawing from the world? You might consider starting with small adjustments in your daily or weekly schedule. What time of day or night is best to set yourself apart to enter rest and nearness to the Lord? There are any number of ways to capture a rest minute or more with God. This week take a survey of how you prioritize the To Do’s in your life. Once you’ve identified all the things and people that need your attention, then you’ll want to do a review of your life hours. Capture what you do on at least two or three days including a Saturday or Sunday. You might be surprised at what you discover. You can even do this as a family but I would first start with yourself. In the example below I have created a generalized life hour review for a usual Monday.

Example of a Monday:   Get ready for work- 1 hr; Feed/Walk/Medicate Shyla- 45 min; Drive to work- 20 min; Work- 8.5 hr; Drive home- 25 min; Take Shyla to Therapy- 40 min; Exercise- 35 min; Feed/Walk/Medicate Shyla- 1 hr; Fix/eat Dinner- 45 min; Chores- 40 min; Get ready for bed- 45 min = 14.40 hours

The life hour review is meant to bring your awareness to where you invest your energy and time. What are you doing each day and how much time does it take? What have become the priorities in your day or week? Consider how has this changed over the last year, the last six months. If you feel like you’re on a hamster wheel or a roller-coaster, then this review may be very helpful  in identifying the issue. In my next post, I’ll give you how-to tips and suggest ways to insert Rest Moments throughout your day!

Thanks for reading!  I've made some changes to make it easier for you to email me at heartsencouragedministry.com directly from the post. Also, when you open your email and click the heartsencouraged.com link it will send you directly to the blog and you can see everything else that it has to offer. Your feedback and comments are precious to me as I want be your strongest encourager. I'm very interested in knowing any specific areas where you need encouragement. Fondly, Terri

References

1 https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rest

2 Fernandez-Mendoza, J. & Vogntzas, A. N. (2013). Insomnia and it’s impact on physical and mental health. Current Psychiatry Rep, 15 (12) 1-14. Doi:10.1007/s11920-013-0418-8.

3 Matthew 11:28-30