Monday, March 24, 2014

teaching encouragement

I wanted to be intentional about teaching Judah how to encourage other people. Some people have asked me what are my favorite things to do to encourage others with Judah and here are a few of my favorite. 

If you have a gift whether it is crochet, sewing, arranging flowers, baking or acts of service. Bless others with that gift. I love to crochet and one of my favorite things to crochet are joy banners. I've crochet so many I could probably crochet this banner in my sleep. 

I love writing out random notes to strangers to encourage them. What I will do is give the banner with the note to Judah and point out someone who looks discouraged and say "Judah go and encourage that person sitting over there". He will walk up with the biggest smile and say "Here you go. Have a good day!". Whenever someone is handed something by a smiling toddler they typically smile. 

We also give banners to people in places we frequent a lot. We gave a joy banner to our friends in the post office last December and it's still hanging up. We have also given out banners to all of the Starbuck shops we go to, the Library and the Fire Department. 

If you feel like you don't have something to give you can always buy donuts. Everyone loves donuts. On a special day I like to get a box of donuts and put them in mini bags and let Judah deliver them to people in our neighborhood. We live close to a College University and we have students walking all over our neighborhood. They love getting free snacks from a toddler. We also like to leave these in our mailbox with a note for our mailman or will wait for the trash men to stop by for pick up and give them some donuts and a juice. 

We like to bring donuts to everyone. Sometimes I will have Judah drop off donuts for the childcare workers at my Wednesday morning bible study or I will have him drop off donuts for the librarians at our favorite library. 

Sometimes when we are in line we get donuts for the person in front of us or behind us. Judah loves giving donuts to construction crew members. Whenever Judah sees a construction crew at work or hears the trash men pulling into our neighborhood he will ask me if we have donuts or muffins to give to them. 

We always "adopt a soldier" while they are deployed. In the past four years we have adopted four. Two have come back and two are still deployed. Judah likes to draw notes for his "soldier hero friends" and will now ask me to pick things up while we are out at Wegmans or Target that we can send to his friends. After years of showing Judah the encouragement packages he now understands that we are encouraging guys who are protecting us. 

You can also base your encouragement off the need of your community. Last October our government was on furlough for awhile. I had Judah help me go door to door collecting food to donate to the local food banks that were affected by the furlough. 

One of our favorite places to encourage people is Starbucks. We have a drive-thru one here and I like to pay for the persons drink behind us and give him or her a note with a crochet banner. 

Judah also loves handing out daisies to customers at the Starbucks near the Fairfax Wegmans. They have a floral shop next door and we buy $10 worth of daisies. I cut them up to individual daisies so he can pass them out. Then I get to sit down and watch Judah run up to each person who enters Starbucks. I absolutely love watching Judah's heart fill up with encouragement as he passes out these flowers to complete strangers. Even the grumpiest person who walks in smiles at receiving a daisy. 

I like to occasionally make tear offs of "take what you need" and we will tape them up either around our neighborhood or around the college campus near us. Judah understands that these are to encourage people and he helps me tape them to the mailboxes. 

I have noticed after years of showing Judah how to encourage others the desire to encourage now comes as second nature to him. In a way I think it has taught him to be more social and outgoing to people we interact with through out our day. 

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Monday, February 24, 2014

fantasizing about my past

Each day my biggest struggle is trying not to look back. When the future seems uncertain or if I am in a difficult situation my mind and heart tend to wander to my past and over glorify how much easier my life was. I will get quite, overwhelmed with all the medical information Scott is giving me and I will get into that dangerous place in my mind and start wishing for the days of when I was single. To wonder about the certain choices I made to bring me to where I am now.

I started to feel this way last week when Scott came home with another Doctors update. He said as a precaution his Doctors think that Judah and I should also get tested for the parasite. Since we live with each other, Judah still climbs into bed at 4 am to co-sleep and Scott has diabetes (pricks his fingers to draw blood) that we are at risk of getting the parasite. Normally I am pretty calm with Scott's medical news but this time I flipped out on him. I was angry at him, God, the Doctors and just the season of life we are in. It is already hard dealing with Scott's chronic medical illness especially with no real end in sight, but knowing that both Judah and I might have to undergo parasitic medication just put me over the edge. When is this medical stuff all going to end?  Having the weight of all of this makes it easier for that door to the past to be pushed wide open. To think about the choices I made and to wonder how it would be different if I made different ones. It is easy to look back on the past so my mind doesn't have to try to process what is going on right now.

I do this just like the Israelites did to Moses when the Egyptians came after them again in Exodus 14. They thought they were finally in the clear. They were finally headed to the promise land after years of slavery and witnessing all the plagues. Watching and hearing the Egyptians come after them must have put them over the edge just like knowing that I have to get Judah and I tested for a parasite put me over the edge. But Moses responds to their fear and says "Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent." The Lord then directs Moses to open the Red Sea leading the Israelites to protection and destroying their biggest fear.  The word silent is a verb meaning to be deaf. To be deaf to all the outside input that is not from God.

What am I learning in all of this looking, waiting, trying not to be angry and waiting some more. If I am going to look at the past it is only to see where the Lord Himself has taken me from. He has commanded me to remember the former things of long past. Not to fantasize on how easier things would be if I took a different path but to see how The Lord is eternal, consistent and how He has lead me out of my valley time and time again. I am also learning that I should surround myself with people who care about us. Who care about us for who we are in the place we are at. Not for what we can give because the Lord is pulling us so deep into this season so we are unable to give anything else because we have to be so focused on Him. We literally have to look at His face for our hope. In my anger. I have to remember Psalm 141:7-8. Scott and I may feel like our bones have been scattered but our eyes have to be toward our Lord in who we take refuge. Keeping our eyes fixed on Him regardless of our circumstance.

You know. God is okay if I am angry at him. He is not okay if I desire for another path that He has not taken me on. He wants me focused on Him and the path He has chosen for me. In the big scheme of things. My present is not that bad. I am married to the most amazing man, we have the sweetest son and The Lord is teaching us things in this season of being in the trenches with Him. When Scotts medical issues get discouraging I need to capture my thoughts to not only be encouraging to my husband but to also save my soul a lot of havok by not fantasizing about my past.

{Philippians 4:8}
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

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