Encouraging (Thanksday #76)

The words come few and far between. The sincere “thank you” and “you’re appreciated” and “you matter” are words that are treasured deep in the heart of the recipient and never, ever forgotten. They are the record of rights that are held closely and act as a shield when the fiery darts of the criticizer are thrown. The intentional opportunities to show support and a belief in others are cemented in the core of the one who’s being believed in, but those times are too rare and inconsistent. There are plenty of cliches and trite phrases thrown out that don’t have genuine meaning, but the heartfelt and real and felt words that reinforce value and appreciation — those are the words that are important but are unfortunately, rare.

In a world where criticism is king and men have made millions setting up others to be criticized, encouragement sits off to the side like a sweet girl at a middle school dance, waiting to be acknowledged and asked. She’s gentle and meek and peaceful and would never dream of just throwing herself into the chaos, because she has manners and knows that while criticism attends uninvited, encouragement waits to be asked. So she’s patient and then when invited she gladly accepts with a quick curtsy and a thank you, and when she’s in…she’s so very, very in.

Those that need encouragement the most are the chaperones at the dance, watching and waiting and wishing the kids wouldn’t be so mean to each other. They see encouragement standing against the wall, beautiful and humble, but cannot force anyone to ask her to dance. Those that need encouragement the most wake up day after day throwing every ounce of their very selves into everyone else’s lives. They are the ones who don’t ask for it; the ones who you think already have plenty.

The ones you don’t think need it at all? They are the ones who need it the most.

I was reminded at the beginning of the week how much we all need encouragement… especially those whose job it is to encourage. And I’m ending the week being the recipient of more encouragement than is fair for one person to receive. I didn’t ask for it or even realize I needed it but God in His infinite goodness gave it anyway as His way of confirming the very dream I’ve been asking Him about forever and ever amen. He sent people who were willing to ask the wallflower to dance, and when they did, they were blessed too. And simultaneously He reminded me that there are some wallflowers that I need to ask to dance as well.

I’m thankful this week for encouragement and for those who step away from the chaos and ask that sweet and meek and gentle girl to dance. I’m thankful for those who have the courage to break away from the criticizing herd and are honest and heartfelt and don’t just throw around cliches and meaningless words and call it “encouragement.” I’m thankful for those who have a God-led heart and pure motive and intent in their encouragement, for those are the people who bring refreshment to weary bones and tired souls. They are the ones who don’t just ask the girl to dance but desire to dance with her and engage with her all night long.

What are you thankful for?

Building (Thanksday #74)

The women come from all walks and seasons and sizes and shapes. They’re the Breakfast Club of friends, if you will. A melting pot of trials and victories and losses and gains. They’ve walked with each other through boyfriends, jobs, marriages, miscarriages, children, homes, moves, laughs, cries, pounds lost, pounds gained, hair colors, hair styles, risks, comforts, frustrations, fights, make ups and make overs. And yet they still stand. The enemy has huffed and puffed but could not blow their House down.

Their House is not built with straw or built upon the sand. It’s built upon a Rock, you see. And the mortar that holds the bricks together as the House is built is Love.

It’s taken years to build this House. It’s incomplete, but it’s beautiful. They build it slowly but solidly. And brick by brick and wall by wall, the House has provided shelter and safety for these women. There are times when the rain comes in and the wind tosses them wildly, for there is no roof. But they are never overtaken by the rain or by the wind. The rain dries and the wind settles and they are again at peace, and can again take flight. Because if this House had a roof, they would never be free to fly.

They aren’t able to visit the House frequently. They may stop over for a weekend or a day or a week or a month. But one thing is unspoken and known deep in their bones: when they walk through the door, they can drop their baggage, flop on the couch, exhale loudly and be loved.

I miss these women and this House that God has built. This House is five strong — five points on a shooting star that has no limits in the worlds God has created. Five points that blaze into opposite directions, yet are united at the core. Five points that need to once again face the Son and gain enough Light to continue to twinkle and shine for His name’s sake.

And tomorrow, I get to walk through the door and drop my bags and exhale loudly and be loved. Tomorrow, I get to again become part of a star that twinkles high above the house. Where I can look up into the velvet night and see this star shining bright, since there is no roof to block my view. I get to lay the mortar of love and put down a few more bricks, further building this House on a Rock.

This is what I am most grateful for this week — my House, my Rock, and the Son that binds us all together.

What are you grateful for?