Posts Tagged ‘incourage’

The title of today’s post is what made me smile. Those words made the whole message for me, for my baby girls, as baby girl, is one that we say with a private, shared knowledge.

But, it is message, “you can do this” that we all need, girl or boy, man or woman.

No matter our age or the role we hold in our world, we all need the encouragement to keep going. We all need the confidence-boosting of being reminded to get up, when we fall. We all need the assurance that we are loved, not because of our abilities, but because we are His.

Sarah Markley is author of today’s guest post. She is a mom, a wife, and writes a blog at sarahmarkley.com. Her subtitle is “The Best Days of my Life.” In this post, I felt God speak, through her words, to my heart … reminders of what I already know, but sometimes forget when life gets gritty.

He Loves Us So!

May you hear the encouragement of God, through these words as well.

“Mama!” My eight-year-old yells at me from the living room. “I’m gonna take my scooter out in the front!” She straps on her helmet in the spring heat and she darts out of the door in her pjs and flip flops.

She’s already taken a bath and is looking for something do to in the in-between time between dinner and bed. The light is late these days and, like many of us, she is restless.

Up and back, she races herself during the magic hour between one end of the block and the other end of the block. I go out to watch her, because like her, I’m a little restless between dinner and bed.

“Can you video me?” she calls as she scoots past. And what she is really asking is,

“Are you watching me?”

“Can you see me?”

“Do I make you proud?”

Of course. I don’t have a lot of space on my phone right now because I take so many pictures so I wonder if it will even take a proper video.

I plop in the grass and turn my eyes and my phone to watch her.  She sprints this way and the other way, and I film it.

Trying to make me proud, she spins out and tumbles {luckily} into the grass. “Get up baby-girl,” I shout to her. “You’re fine!”

I see her. I see it all. I see her successes and I see her failures, large or small.

She laughs and flip-flops across the sidewalk over to me. She unsnaps her helmet and rolls over in the grass. “Let me see it,” she begs. I give her my phone and let her watch the video of her own self.

“Look at me go!” And she squeals.

“I know,” I tell her. “You are so fast.” And I praise her and tell her that she’s amazing and I’m so proud of her.  She’s still scared of learning how to ride a bike so going super-fast on a scooter is her next-best-adventure.

We lay back in this grass and we watch the sky turn a pinch more purple and a little less blue.

And then I know that this is all we want of God. This is all we really want of Him. For Him to see us. For Him to watch us. We want Him to plop on the grass next to us and simply be.

We each have this deep-set need for our spouses, our children, our friends or even our parents to really see us. We want them to notice us. But what we forget half the time is the Creator of the universe is already out there on the spring-grass with us watching us succeed and fail – and He’s enjoying US the whole time.

He is saying, “Get up, baby-girl. You can do this!”

He is saying, “I’m watching you.”

He’s saying, “I’m proud of you.”

And He’s saying, “I see you.”

The best thing about it all is that He sees the successes, failures {all of it} – and He still loves us so.”


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20140329-151747.jpgI admit to being a creator, a builder, a dreamer.

What I am not so good at is persevering through the process, enduring all of the preparations, and keeping focused when the unexpected pops out of nowhere.

I am the sort of person who, when painting a wall, is so excited to get it painted, and to hang that new picture, I just want to roll the paint on the center of the wall, place the nail, and hang the picture … then do all of the edging.

Patience might be a virtue, but it is not one that I possess naturally!

The guest post today is about dreams, vision and the ‘in between’ time when we are simply having to spend our time prepping that wall, before we roll the paint on.

The post, called In Between Vision and Reality, is written by Stephanie Bryant, who is the co-founder (along with Holley Gerth) of (in)courage. In this post she touches on something that I think we all have experienced … how to live ‘in between’ the dream and the vision fulfilled.

“I remember having a dream so real I cried uncontrollably when I woke up. We had been trying to have a child for years and in the wee hours of the morning while I slept, God gave me a moment with my daughter. Wrapped in a soft pink blanket, I soaked in her full rosy cheeks, pink pouty lips and slick dark hair. I could feel the weight of her body in my arms and the rhythm of her breathing against my chest.

This might be nothing to you but I had never dreamed about our family. I couldn’t imagine what our children would look like. I hadn’t had names chosen since third grade recess.

I woke up to what I thought was a dream, trying my best to cling to the vision that I thought was reality. It was a reality . . . just not yet.

I had to be awake to realize the dream – a vision really – was a promise from God. He was giving me a glimpse of things to come.

Three years after the dream, I held my daughter. She was the reality of the hope in the God-given vision. And yes, she looked just like the sweet girl I held that night years ago but this time I was living wide awake in the dream.

Long before that I was a young marketing professional working in publishing. I had a burning passion for women like me to know God better, together. I prayed and worked and talked about it to anyone that would listen. Job changes, moves and new friends only fueled my passion for such a time as this. I knew God was calling me to create something for the hearts of women. Years later, after meeting Holley and working at DaySpring, we laid the foundation for this beach house that God wanted built for you. (in)courage was born.

Those are usually how the stories go. We read memoirs and blogs and watch a five-minute montage of an Olympian’s perseverance that won the gold for their small unheroic nation.

We see others living the dream. They made it. In the victory of others, we are encouraged just as we should be.

Hindsight is always sweeter. It’s easy to look back and see where God intervened, the arrows pointing the way. But the future doesn’t belong to those of us that are passionate about our dreams. The future belongs to God.

What about when we’re struggling with the In Between?  How do we live in the now?

We’ve already waited and worked and waited longer for the fruit to come and yet it doesn’t. No signs of even a bud, yet we know spring always blooms after winter. We sense a calling that is beyond our doing. We pray, knock, wait for the door to open. We knock again.   

We leave the door and knock on others. We question ourselves, our motive, our ability. We wander. We wonder about His grace, our understanding and His will.

Yes, without vision the people perish. But those carrying the vision sometimes feel like they will die if they don’t birth what’s growing inside of their souls. We can only carry the vision full term with extreme patience and perseverance.

In Between is where most give up. It gets really hard. There’s a lot of work to be done on our parts, too. Sacrifices are always made when you assumed there wouldn’t be any. In Between is not about waiting for the vision to happen but being a part of the process.

God can be silent after a time of great revelation and clarity. Even the resilient are weary and look small. Endurance feels like it began years ago and today is the last-ditch effort to just hold on to some resemblance of what we are called to do.

In Between is when the complaining and whining can get really loud. Almost wishing away the gift of being apart of something bigger than ourselves just for a few moments of relief to ‘normal’ life.

Vision is not of our own doing. We are mere vision carriers.

This vision is for a future time.
It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled.
If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently,
for it will surely take place.
It will not be delayed.
Habakkuk 2:3 (NLT)

We don’t cast the vision. We can only live it, allowing God to unhinge the hooks and fling the nets wide.

Vision is of Spirit not flesh and blood. Each piece planted in our hearts is looking backward to the garden, encouraging us heavenward.

Vision is not about completing a task or an assignment, but with steady courage living in faith the God-led adventure, daily.

The In Between is eternity and it is now.

Take heart and look for arrows pointing to the pieces of vision fulfilled in your life. I watch my daughter sleep knowing just as God fulfilled the vision He planted for her to be born into the world, He will fulfill this new passionate vision for His Kingdom through my life.

Relish the In Between for that is life.


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Hope is a dangerous word, because it is often closely connected to expectation of hopes fulfilled.

Life isn’t always like that, though.

Last week as I was reading a blog post by Annie Downs at (in)courage, she started with this question,

“What if this year we just hoped like crazy?”

and I almost deleted it before reading further.

But my ‘gut response’ to want to delete it, not read further, was rather surprising to me. Why did I respond that way? So, I kept reading.

Annie’s post, called, The Year We Hoped, left me feeling as though she was reminding me of what I know in my head, but had forgotten in my heart …

” now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
Hebrews 11:1

Faith and hope go together … there is no faith if we do not allow ourselves to hope.

Give a read to Annie’s post, and see if you can have a renewed understanding that  “hope … never stops at all.”

What if this year we just hoped like crazy?

The kind of hope that can feel scary and look embarrassing and may blow up in your face.

It seems that there are times we are taught that to be “mature” and “holy” means to be without hope, without risk.

Show that you are okay as you are and that you’ll just play the cards you’ve been dealt.

Don’t dream for things to come or you’ll look foolish when they don’t. 

Be content.

But what happens when “content” and “hopeless” become synonymous?

I’ve felt that. Haven’t you? I’ve labeled resignation as contentment. I’ve put all those words in the same folder, thinking the longer hope goes unfulfilled, the more interchangeable those words become. It doesn’t matter what you are hoping for or waiting for – a spouse, a child, a job, a dream, a break, a nap – I bet you’ve wrestled with this. Like I have. For years.

Friends, those words? Content. Hopeless. They were never meant to be synonyms. No one asked you to be content by giving up your dreams. Being CONTENT with life doesn’t mean you CONSENT to quit dreaming.

. . . . .

In 2014, I’m choosing to be content and ridiculously hopeful.

We’re going to have to dance with both words and watch as they step on each other’s toes and turn the wrong way here or there. But I think we can do it- live with hope, live fully today, and feel satisfied.

Here’s what. Hope isn’t being sure you are going to get what you want. Hope isn’t this silly idea that if you can just find the bottle, the genie will give you whatever is on your wish list.

Hope is being sure that we serve a God who CAN. We serve a God who DOES. And we serve a God who KNOWS. And watching to see how He does it all.

I’m full of hope this year about what God can do, what He will do, and trusting that He knows what will be for my good and for His glory.

Sure, I’m a little scared, especially saying it in front of you. And I’m not certain I know what this is going to look like. But I’m willing to try.

To 2014. The year we hoped.

. . . . .

Join me? What are you hoping for this year? “

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As I read the following post by Holly Gerth, I sighed and muttered under my breath,


thank-you for addressing this topic.

thank-you for telling it like it is.

thank-you for bringing light to something women do, and shouldn’t.

because I have seen where it can go …

a lack of emotional modesty.”

We have all seen it, heard about it, or maybe even experienced it …

The life of a couple gets busy, time for each other gets squeezed out by jobs, kids, community, church, the football game, that great new novel, the guys weekend fishing, the girls weekend fishing … and the emotional needs (as valid and necessary to living healthy as exercise, good food, relaxation or sex) of the wife go unmet. She is feeling left out, unloved … her cup is empty and dry. She tells this to a male co-worker, a guy at the gym, the man she leads worship with at church and HE LISTENS!

He listens like her words are important. He listens like she is important. He listens …

And, because he has met an emotional need for her (one that her husband is not meeting, and does not even seem to know exists) she begins to feel something …

Please continue reading Holley’s blog post (posted both at her sight and at (in)courage … she says this so well!

“Hey, Friend, pull up a chair and lean in close because I want to have a heart-to-heart talk with you about something that’s important for all of us as women.

A few weeks ago a friend of mine were chatting. Her husband is in a leadership role at a church and she shared how women often confide in him in ways that are personal. That led us to a discussion about how easy it is to share your heart with men who are not your husband these days. There are plenty of opportunities to send a Facebook message, email, or open up to a guy friend. Yet here’s the thing: I believe that baring our hearts makes us just as vulnerable as baring our bodies.

If you are married and a man is not your husband, do not share your heart with him.

And if you are single, do not share your heart with a married man.

Let’s embrace emotional modesty. Emotional modesty means we see our hearts as a great treasures only to be shared with the man who is our spouse. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” {Proverbs 4:23}. Women are more vulnerable to emotional affairs and where our emotions go, our thoughts and bodies often follow. We know that, right?

We don’t go into situations thinking, “Oh, this might be the beginning of an emotional affair.” Instead we have a bad day and find a sympathetic listening male ear. Or we discover we’re writing longer emails to a particular coworker. We reconnect with an old flame on Facebook.

If you find yourself emotionally drawn to a man besides your spouse ask, “What unmet need is this highlighting in my marriage?” Then go to your spouse or both of you go to a counselor and find a way to get that need met.

My husband is incredibly practical and I’m highly emotional. For the first years of our marriage there were times I felt disconnected from him because he approached life head first and I approached it heart first. With some wise advice, lots of patience, and weekly breakfast dates we began learning to communicate. And we’re still learning.

Here’s what I didn’t know when I tied the knot: Marriage takes work, friends. A lot of work. There’s a myth that says, “If you love someone you won’t have to work at it.” But I’ve come to believe the truth sounds more like this, “If you love someone you will work at it.” When you emotionally attach to another man, it lets you avoid that work. And in the moment, that feels pretty good. But it has devastating consequences long-term.

Whew, this was a hard post to write. I hope you hear my motivation behind it and it’s this: I love you. I love your marriage. I love your heart and I believe it’s a treasure worth guarding. And I love your daughters–so please talk to them about this, too.

Let’s help each other with this, friends, okay? We’re made to live in community. We’re made for connection. God just gives us boundaries for doing so because he wants what’s truly best for us.”

Holley Gerth

For another take on this issue, I highly recommend the movie, Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor (trailer below) :

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Normally, when I feature a guest post I spend more time introducing it than it’s content lasts.

Today is different.

I will only say that when I started reading I had not noticed who wrote it. All I knew was that I was captivated by this post … and thought that you might be too:

““I don’t have much time left, really.”

My father’s voice on the other end of the line reminds me of my grandfather’s.

It’s been nearly ten years since I heard that voice. I’m making beds. I can see Dad at his breakfast table.

“At best, maybe fifteen years. I’m on my last chapter.” He pauses and I let the empty space beckon answers.

Grandpa died at eighty. Dad will turn sixty-three this coming year.

“I need a plan. I don’t think I’ve had one.”

I pull the sheets up, smooth out the bed’s coverlet in coming light, then wait, listening to Dad think.

I’m hesitant to say anything. Best he find the way.

But I’m still, just standing here, knowing that we are moving out into hallowed ground. I wait. Then venture into the space with only a question.

“Well, how do you want that last chapter to read, Dad?”

“I want to end happy.”

I sit on the edge of the bed, sunlight warm on my back, and ask slowly, “And what do you think brings happiness?””


Are you captivated? Click here to finish reading.

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Karla Sullivan

Progressive old soul wordsmith

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