A Single Word that Gives a Double Dose of Encouragement (Plus a Giveaway!)

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Last weekend I attended the blogging/writing conference Allume, and each speaker there offered meaningful content in his or her own distinct voice. I brought home several take-aways from the sessions, but two in particular immediately propped their feet up in my heart and settled in more comfortably than the rest.

The first was offered by Sophie Hudson who gave a beautiful talk on hospitality in relationships and how all of us need a safe place with safe people. While stressing that believers belong to each other and have the responsibility to love each other well, she said,

“The spirit of God in me recognizes the spirit of God in someone else, and we need to tend to that.”

So when we are led to be someone’s safe place and they share something with us, we need to intentionally tend to their heart by using our words well.

Another significant take away was offered by Emily Freeman who gave a magnificent talk on how to write like a hostess. As she talked about hospitality in writing, she said this statement,

“When something that is most alive in me connects with something that is most alive in you, we have relational art.”

When you say or do something that strikes a harmonic chord in me, a connection is made. A new relationship is formed or an established one is strengthened. Either way, it’s a kind of relational art.

As I tossed Sophie and Emily’s words gently from one hand to the other, I couldn’t help but spin them both together into a single statement that answers why encouraging people matters:

When the spirit of God uses you to speak to me by awakening something in me, you deserve to know. You should know that what you bring to the table and offer to my heart is valuable because it made a difference in my life.

And this brings to mind my most favorite encouraging word. I love it because it is short and simple but it packs a double dose of encouragement. Even if encouragement is difficult for you, this one word is an easy way to give someone a good measure of happy.

The word? Bravo!

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Yep, you tell someone bravo! and they immediately imagine you wildly applauding for them. Even if you are not prone to drastic displays of emotion, bravo! gives the imagery that you are drastically for that person.

I also like bravo because if the words brave and encouragement had a baby, they would name it bravo. This is why it’s a double dose of encouragement–because it recognizes the bold graciousness of someone sharing a part of herself and honors her for doing so.

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As I move about my circle of influence–and especially inside my own home–I have the choice to build or break a soul, to help it fly or fail. Seeing bravo! displayed in my home helps me remember to use my words wisely so that they contribute to healthy relationships. That is why I danced when DaySpring sent me the word bravo spelled out with Letterpress Blocks to hang on my own wall. (Confession: I went back and ordered the exclamation mark for the end because my husband’s first thought at seeing plain bravo was ThreatCon level, not good job!  Ha!)

The cool thing about these Letterpress Blocks is you can purchase a pre-made word *or* create any custom word you want. They even offer several symbols and extras like the ampersand and design swirlies. So fun! And now for the best news: If you leave a comment sharing your own significant word or phrase, you’ll be entered for a $50 giveaway for your own Letterpress Blocks. Also, follow Chasing Blue Skies on facebook for a second chance to enter–just leave a second comment saying you did follow me or already do (but only if that’s really actually true). Giveaway ends at midnight Nov. 3rd.

While DaySpring gifted me with these blocks, I would happily buy them if they hadn’t. I am wildly in love! So I guess that means there’s only one thing left to say:

Bravo, DaySpring!

When Putting God in a Box Is the Best Thing You Can Do

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I read a beautiful book recently that detailed stories of the author’s life in a Middle Eastern country. On a particular day of a difficult season, she asked God to keep her company by showing up in some way. Three days later, she received a box in the mail from her friends in the States. The contents of that box spelled love by way of encouraging notes, nail polish, CD’s, snacks from Target, magazines, and gifts for her kids. The author writes,

“Who says you shouldn’t put God in a box.” ~ Leeana Tankersley, Breathing Room

I’ve come to see that sometimes, putting God in a box is the best thing you can do.

***

Five months ago, I turned 40. In honor of that momentous birthday, I invited others to partner with me to send 40 care packages to 40 military spouses. I picked this particular group of people to support for a couple reasons. First, as a woman who spent almost 19 years as a military wife, I recognize how military spouses share in part of the sacrifice. I wanted to honor other spouses’ sacrifices by saying thank you in some way.

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Second, I wanted to give this gift to a few military spouses because in the opinion of yours truly, they are a forgotten people group. They often go unheard and feel unseen. Combine that with war weariness and various everyday realities of military life, and there exists a cocktail that when fully ingested can have devastating consequences.

I wanted to do one small thing that would move in the opposite direction of that.

I wanted to give our community here at Chasing Blue Skies a way to show military spouses they are seen and appreciated. It’s a small gesture, really, an offering of loaves and fishes for a small number of hardworking wives and husbands. 

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But God moves just as powerfully in the small as in the big. So bolstered with prayers and support from wonderful folks like you (as well as the amazing Pure Charity), this project grew wings and left the ground. Before long my family and I boxed up all the delicious-for-the-stomach-and-soul happy and sent the packages off into the wild blue yonder.

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And in a manner of days, I saw how our loaves and fishes multiplied into big blessings for the hands that received them.

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Sending something like this was a kind thing to do for others–it shows military spouses they are loved and valued.

Sending something like this was a kind thing to do for you and me–it shows us how we can be the vessel through which God shows up.

Indeed: who says you shouldn’t put God in a box? It feels good and right to do so, to create a space for him to be seen and valued.

So others know they are seen and valued, too.

I sure love you, friends. Thanks for holding my hand and heart on this one. xo

(A standing ovation to all the folks who kindly donated products or offered their products at a reduced price for the care packages, including Lisa Leonard, DaySpring, JRU Prints, Be Small Studios, Cheryl Clanahan, Jocelyn Green, and Ellie Kay.)

 If you are a military wife looking for additional encouragement, check out my Resource Page for Military Wives (and Those Who Love Them).

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