Archives For Encouragement

155306122

I knew the carnival had come to town even before I saw the rides.  Friends on Facebook announced it by posting comments about the influx of ex-cons and drug addicts with no teeth and filthy clothing.  I didn’t think too much about the comments and even laughed at a few.

When I took my kids to the carnival on opening night, I struck up a conversation with a woman carnie who wasn’t busy at the time.  She shared how she was a mom of three kids, one of which she delivered just four months earlier.

When asking if her kids were with her, she about burst into tears as she explained they were at home and she wouldn’t get to see them until carnival season ended 4 months later.  She didn’t feel the road was a good and stable place to raise kids so she left them with her parents during the busy carnival season.

While looking for a job, she had been rejected by corporations, gas stations, retail stores, restaurants, and on and on.  She was getting desperate as she worried how she would care for her children.  She then met some carnies who showed her love and acceptance and offered her a job.

She now found she was rejected by society as a whole because of the job she held.

As she opened her heart, shame filled my own.  The pain on her face was evident.  And I had added to her misery by participating (even silently) in the social media fodder and buying into the stereotype.

The fun we sometimes have at others expense is often greater than the concern for their heart.  Those “funny” comments hurt real people with genuine feelings.

Everyone has a story.  Everyone has needs.  Everyone needs love.

This woman was working hard to give her kids the best life possible on the limited means she had.  I felt for her as I watched her love on the other carnies’ kids who were traveling with the group, while missing her own so much.

I could relate to her because I had been rejected in different areas of my own life.

I’m sure you’ve also felt the sting of rejection.  When made to feel unwanted, unworthy, or unacceptable for one reason or another, it’s miserable.

So let’s no longer take part as others “tear down.”  Let’s counter that by “building up.”

75676800

There are 2 simple ways to “build others up.”

First, we need to see everyone as God’s masterpiece.

People of all ages, races, social classes, well-educated, non-educated, agreeable, disagreeable, from all walks of life, each are made in God’s image.  Each has value and worth.

Second, we need to do something.

In Australia, there is a rocky cliff called, The Gap, that is a notorious suicide spot.  For nearly 50 years, Don Ritchie, who lived across the street, scanned the cliff each day.  If he saw anyone standing alone and too close to the edge, he hurried to their side.  He would give them a warm smile and ask if they would like to come in for a cup of tea.  He never counseled, advised, or pried.  He just offered a smile and an invitation.

Don is officially credited with saving 160 people but unofficially the number is closer to 600.  Many of the survivors said it was Don’s smile that made them want to live.

Don says, “Never be afraid to speak to those you feel are in need.  Always remember the power of the simple smile, a helping hand, a listening ear, and a kind word.  It’s pretty simple.”

What if we are the catalyst that helps someone feel accepted, loved, or cared for all because we were willing to engage them in conversation, offer a listening ear, or give a simple smile?

At the very least we will bring a boost to their day.  But we may just save a life in the process.

Who will you see, accept, value, and love today?

You may also like:

Feeling Bad About Yourself?

Should You be a “Yes” Parent?

My Kid Doesn’t Meet My Expectations

©2013 Connie Davis Johnson

 

 

Advertisements

87823077Rain and cold made it a miserable weekend for a garage sale.  But I pressed on anyway with our “Pay what you want” garage sale to raise money for mine and my daughter’s mission trip to Ecuador.  I was a bit worried nobody would show up to shop.  And I was also concerned with how people might respond to paying whatever they desired.  It was entirely possible to empty the garage and only have $10 to show for all my effort.

Throughout the two days of the sale, there was a steady stream of people.  Some paid much less than what some items were worth but most paid more than I would have asked.

Throughout the two days, as I huddled near a space heater, I sat amazed at the generosity.

One family came in and the mom explained to her children they could choose their own price and the money would be going toward a mission trip to Ecuador where little kids would be helped.  Her four children, ranging in ages 4-9, brought their own money to spend.  Choosing small toys, without any prompting from their mom, each gave generously because they wanted to “help the kids in Ecuador.”

One woman came in, looked around, read the sign about the trip, and began talking with me.  She shared she and her husband would soon become missionaries to Papua, New Guinea.  We had a nice visit and at the end of our conversation, she handed me $20.  She bought nothing but simply wanted to support our mission trip.

The sale was surprising on another level also.  Throughout the two days, items I thought would be popular were still on the tables and racks.  Due to friends donating merchandise to the garage sale, there were many cute girls and boys clothes, baby clothes, and shoes for boys and girls, none of which were selling.  It was baffling.

139970264I had so much left when it was time to wind down the garage sale at 1:00 on Saturday, I chose to make all remaining items free.  It was a bit selfish on my part because it would save us from having to cart all of it somewhere to donate.  However, I prayed people would come in that had a need and would be blessed by whatever they took.

An older couple came in and were completely shocked to hear everything was free.  The husband and I visited as the woman filled bags with toys and clothes for their grandchildren.

In talking with this gentleman, I discovered he lost his parents at a young age so he and his brothers grew up in an orphanage.  As we talked, another couple came in.  When I explained everything was free, the woman became extremely excited.  She was like a kid in a candy store, filling bags as fast as possible.

As the woman worked, she shared she was from the Philippines.  She married an American and moved to the States but her family still lived overseas.  She went on to tell how the flooding in the Philippines had taken everything from her family and their entire community.  Many kids run around in their underwear because they have no clothes.  To help, this couple looks for clothes and sends as many packages to the Philippines as possible.  The woman works at a second-hand store because they allow her to take the items that don’t sell so she may send them overseas.

152987306This couple had come to our neighborhood garage sales hoping they could find some good deals on clothes.  I told them their timing was a God-thing.  I explained I had prayed all the items at our garage sale would be a blessing to those receiving them.  I also shared how most of the clothes and shoes had failed to sell and I could not understand it until that moment.  All those items were meant for this couple.

We filled the back of their truck with clothes and shoes that would soon be headed for the Philippines.  They thanked me profusely.  I waved them off telling them they had blessed me way more than I blessed them.  When I walked back in the garage, the man I had been visiting with before looked at me and said, “That was beautiful.  Growing up as an orphan, I can’t tell you how much that scene touched me.  I used to love it when the Lutheran truck would roll into the orphanage because I knew I would be getting some new-to-me clothes.”  He then opened his wallet and gave me what was left, $20.

Two women came in as the man and I talked.  Hearing us discuss the couple sending clothes to the Philippines and about our mission trip to Ecuador, one of the women walked over and handed me $20.

There are some truly wonderful people in this world.  So when world news discourages, criticism crushes, or daily life overwhelms, look past the bad.  You will always find people who are willing to display incredible generosity, astounding kindness, and impressive courage.  They not only encourage us but they make us feel as if everything is going to be okay.

And by the way, our garage sale was a success and brought us within $200 of our mission trip goal.

Does God shop at garage sales?  He may not shop but He certainly shows up.

You may also like:

How Should I Pray for Myself?

A Marriage Beyond Hope

10 Ideas to Show Love to a Stranger

©2013 Connie Davis Johnson

 

Discouraged? A Way Out!

January 7, 2013 — 5 Comments

Discouraged?  Reports of murders, disasters, economic downturns, and other bad news can serve up a plateful of despair.  It’s hard to stay positive in such a negative environment.  But we can’t lose hope.  There are many wonderful things happening all around us.  We just have to open our eyes to the extraordinary.

78628890Whenever I’m discouraged, I ask God to open my eyes to see the good surrounding me.  These are the observations I’ve made in just the past week:

  • A baby laughing.
  • Three 11-year-old boys in the backseat of my car singing at the top of their lungs to the song on the radio.
  • Boys and girls sledding down hills.
  • A stranger helping an elderly woman walk across the icy road.
  • A woman anonymously paying the lunch bill for a couple she didn’t know.  When asked by the waitress why, she merely replied, “Just paying it forward.”
  • An overwhelming response by people with condolences and offers of food and babysitting when a friend announced she unexpectedly lost her grandpa.
  • Reading of a boy who collected almost 3000 books for poor children.
  • Reading of people coming to the aid of others down on their luck with groceries, clothes, and household items.
  • The contented smile of an older gentleman who has learned the benefits of living his priorities and letting go of the little things in life.
  • A mom praying with her dejected teen and seeing the hope and determination return to the teen’s face.
  • Kids building snowmen.
  • A compliment by a stranger and the surprised, gracious smile from the recipient.
  • The celebration of a friend finding a much-needed job.
  • A young girl buying her brother and sister a soda with her own hard-earned money.
  • Listening to a report by African missionaries about needs being met in difficult and desperate places.
  • A family laughing together in a passing car.

There are many wonderful things happening all over the world.  If we learn to look through the lens of Christ, we will discover the good in life.  Better yet, take part in making good news.  Offer a smile to a stranger, play with your kids, donate items to someone in need, volunteer, share dinner with a neighbor, pray with someone.  There are many ways we can participate and bring hope to the world.

Be encouraged rather than discouraged by praying for the eyes needed to observe the wonderful things happening all around you.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”  ~ Romans 15:13

You may also like:

My Daughter’s Birthday Reminder of My Worse Mistake

I Can’t Change the World But I Can Change Me

Rich Life

©2013 Connie Davis Johnson

 

116281697

For many, the holidays are difficult as they continuously mourn the loss of someone special.  If you are dealing with these feelings today, please know my heart is with you.  May the following quotes and verses bring you a bit of comfort.

 

“After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”

~ 1 Peter 5:10 ESV

 

“God will never let you go. You have his word. Even more, you have God’s help.”

~ Max Lucado

 

“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 42:5-6

 

“Peace means the absence of fear and turmoil, not the absence of pain and grief.”

~ Beth Moore

 

“Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

~ Matthew 5:4

 

“In a changing world, it’s important that we hold onto an unchanging Christ.”

~ Chuck Smith

 

“For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.”

~ Isaiah 49:13b NIV

 

“In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins; not through strength, but by perseverance.”

~ H. Jackson Brown

 

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”

~ 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV

 

“When people are serving, life is no longer meaningless.”

~ John Gardner

 

“My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.”

~ Psalm 119:50 NIV

 

“Warmth, kindness, and friendship are the most yearned for commodities in the world. The person who can provide them will never be lonely.”

~ Ann Landers

 

“In you, O LORD, I have taken refuge; Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me. Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.”

~ Psalm 31:1-3 NIV

 

“If you do a good job for others, you heal yourself at the same time, because a dose of joy is a spiritual cure.”

~ Ed Sullivan

 

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

~ Isaiah 41:10 NIV

 

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

~ Isaiah 41:10 NIV

 

“Good timber does not grow with ease; the stronger the wind, the stronger the trees.”

~ J. Willard Marriott

 

“We rejoice in spite of our grief, not in place of it.”

~ Woodrow Kroll

 

You may also like:

7 Ways to Keep Your Joy Daily

30 Simple Reasons to be Grateful

Ideas for Displaying Family Heirlooms

©2012 Connie Davis Johnson