30 Posts of enCOURAGEment Post 30

Here it is, post 30 of the series.   I bet in the beginning you did not know where I was heading as I wrote about Susan Boyle and Bob Hope.  Part way through I said to my husband, “why didn’t I do 20 posts of enCOURAGEment instead of 30?”  The goal was daunting at times but  I  learned  a lot.  So how do I wrap this up?  What words of encouragement do I have for you?

Encouragement can come in many forms, from all sorts of places and people.   Recently someone tactfully pointed out to me, that perhaps I was missing some of the encouragers God has put in my life.  I knew she was right.  It is so easy to get sidetracked and feel as though we are moving through life alone and unnoticed.  We have to constantly bring ourselves back to reality.

How do we remedy not noticing the encouragers God has given to us?

  • Contemplation: spending quiet time thinking about the different areas in life and the people that have been or are there to encourage us along.
  • Documentation: Get out your gratitude journal or start one and write out the thoughts of gratitude for each person on thegratitude-journal list.  Document how they have encouraged you, what that meant to you, and how it made you feel. This can be broken up over the course of days or week.  Gratitude journals are not to be rushed through.

What do we do from there?

  • I try to thank people for encouraging me, helping me or blessing me in some other way.  I try to be as specific as I can.
  • Sometimes I will send a note or email thanking them.
  • On occasion a gift may even be in order.Gratitude-Image-440

Why bother being grateful? Alex Korb , Ph.D. in his Psychology Today article discusses the impact of gratitude on the brain.

  • One study showed “young adults assigned to keep gratitude journals showed greater increases in determination, attention, enthusiasm and energy compared to the other groups.”
  • Another study showed “even a weekly gratitude journal was beneficial.  Subjects assigned to journal weekly on gratitude showed greater improvements in optimism.”
  • a third study found that “higher levels of gratitude were associated with better sleep, and with lower anxiety and depression.”
  • They found that “subjects who showed more gratitude overall had higher levels of activity in the hypothalamus. This is important because the hypothalamus controls a huge array of essential bodily functions, including eating, drinking and sleeping. It also has a huge influence on your metabolism and stress levels.”

Gratitude should definitely be in the arsenal of tools we use to help us reclaim our lives after a diagnosis of lupus or other autoimmune diseases.

Dr. Korb says, “Gratitude requires an appreciation of the positive aspects of your situation. It is not a comparison. Sometimes noticing what other people don’t have may help you see what you can be grateful for, but you have to take that next step. You actually have to show appreciation for what you have, for it to have an effect.”

I think it is time for me to get my Grace Journal out again.  This time I will be targeting the people God has placed in my life to encourage me in one way or another.  What perfect timing with Thanksgiving just around the corner.  Won’t you join me in the next few weeks and do the same?  The benefits are powerful and will give us strength for the busy holiday.

While I will continue to write this blog, I am going to add a second one titled Wisdom from God’s WordClick here for background information.  Wisdom from God’s Word will simply be daily verses from the bible that will hopefully encourage you and help you on your journey.

I am grateful for you my reader.  I am grateful for the strength and ability to have been able to write this blog for the last 3 years.  I 4507324am grateful for the people who have encouraged me along the way. Thank you. Leslie Rose K

Gratitude-on-Purpose

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Romans 12:12  Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer

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30 Posts of enCOURAGEment Post 29

As promised post 29 of this series is about encouraging others.  Your health issues with lupus or other autoimmune diseases may be such that you feel you do not have the ability to be an encourager. I pray you will feel differently as you read this post about an amazing encourager.

Imagine moving to a different land with your husband and two young sons because there is a famine where you live.  Family-Travel-How-To-Make-PlansYou do not know anyone, you do not know the area, but over time you adjust.   One day you become a widow, and there is more adjusting to do.  Your sons marry and you wait expectantly for grandchildren.  Years pass and tragedy strikes instead.  You now find yourself a childless widow with two daughter-in-laws.   It is time to adjust some more, but you are spent.

Let me introduce you to Naomi from the Old Testament of the Bible.

After hearing  there was food again in her homeland, Naomi decided to return home.  To her surprise,  both daughter-in-laws offered to leave their homeland and go with her.  She urged them to return to their people knowing that moving to a new land and culture would be challenging for them.   Reluctantly Orpah left, but Ruth clung to Naomi saying,

“Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you.  For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”  Ruth 1:16 & 17**

Most people have no idea that these amazing words were first spoken by a daughter-in-law to her mother-in-law.  We tend to relate them to lovers at a wedding ceremony.   But if anyone needed to hear words like this it was Naomi.

Imagine these two women traveling alone 100 miles over the mountains, across the valley, and up through the wilderness*, probably by foot, maybe by donkey.  It sounds overwhelming, scary, and long to me.  Then there is the arrival.  I would not like being the center ofCedar_Mtn_Wilderness attention, and the recipient of everyone’s  sympathy or pity.  It would, however, be comforting to be with familiar people in a familiar place.  It would be good to be home, though very bittersweet.

Whenever I read the book of Ruth I cringe as Naomi tells the people at home  “I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty.” (Ruth 1:21a)  In my opinion the Lord did not bring her back completely empty.  Yes, she was home without her husband and sons but God gave her a tremendous gift in the person of Ruth.

Ruth was not about to let her mother-in-law make the long difficult journey alone.   She had no intention of letting her be comfortless on the journey and was not about to let her face her people alone.  Ruth was a loyal encourager.   She was there to inspire hope, ruth naomicourage, and confidence in Naomi, during one of her most difficult hours in life.

Ruth had her own challenges.  She no longer had the companionship, love, and protection of her husband.  She had to fend for herself at a time when it was extremely difficult for widows.  She was going to a place where she would be an outsider.  Ruth did not let her own challenges and heartbreak stop her from reaching out to someone else in need.  In the end Ruth was greatly rewarded for her selfless actions.

If you read the Book of Ruth, you will see Naomi helped Ruth catch the attention of a kind and loving relative who took her as his wife. She later had a child bringing Naomi much joy.  The real reason however, that she was able to catch this man’s attention was her love and devotion to Naomi.  He saw her heart.

Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” 11 But Boaz answered her, “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. 12 The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” Ruth 2:10-12**

Even though you may feel like Naomi in the struggles you go through with your health, I urge you to be a Ruth, and reach out to someone in need of your encouragement.  Reaching out selflessly will have its own rewards.  I guarantee you will be blessed in one wayHe-who-refreshes-otherswill-himself-be-refreshed or another.

Many blessings to you.  Leslie Rose K

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Romans 12:12  Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer

*Reference: Who’s Who in the Bible By Joan Comay and Ronald Brownrigg

**English Standard Version Of the Bible

30 Posts of enCOURAGEment Post 28

As I begin to wrap up this series, I would like to pull together information scattered throughout my posts on encouraging yourself.  This is meant to get you thinking about what you like, what makes you happy and what could help you through a discouraging time.  Your lists will not look like mine.  You will find other resources.  I hope you will find some valuable suggestions here.

I bumped into a friend  that will have knee surgery soon.  I asked if she had help for after the surgery.  It is a wonderful thing when you need help, and friends and family gather around.  Some bring meals, others take turns driving you to appointments,  someone else helps keep the house clean, and others  cheer you up.  Then there times when you need to be encouraged and  there is no one there to encourage you.  Or, if they are there, they are unaware of the need, or unable to meetDiscouraged_thumb it.

What can we do to remedy that situation?  There are several choices we can make.

  • Give in to self-pity
  • Allow depression to take hold
  • Yield to destructive behavior such as self-medicating
  • Decide to be proactive on own behalf

It is this fourth option I want to write about today.  Whether we have lupus and/or other autoimmune diseases or not, we have all been in this situation.  I would like to share some of the things I have learned while coping with illness.

The information gathering

  • The internet has extensive information on encouragement.
  • If you are a reader, books can offer more details, examples, and Gathering-Information-How-to-Reach-Third-Parties-300x199strategies.  I highly recommend Being Sick Well by Jeffrey H Boyd M.D., M.P.H. It brings you  into the lives of others struggling with health issues and shows you how they cope.
  • Websites that pertain to your particular situation such as The Lupus Foundation of America may  help  in this area.
  • Certain TV programs offer valuable input on how we can help ourselves through different situations.   Oprah has her powerful Lifeclass weekly, which covers a variety of issues on personal growth, and freedom from emotional pain. 
  • People  have life experiences that can help us.  Small groups can be a big help.

Monitor Input

One of the biggest helps or hindrances to our frame of mind and state of emotions is input.  Everything we take in influences how weneg feel.  We need to faithfully guard ourselves against negative influences.  Just like the information in step 1 is helpful, the wrong information is harmful.  We do not want to feed on a steady diet of everything that can happen.  We want to limit exposure to people who make us feel more defeated than before we spoke to them.

Self Discovery

This is the time to figure out what encourages you, makes you happy, or gets your mind off your troubles.  To help you get some ideas here is what I have learned about myself  on this lupus journey.

  • quilting, wool applique, and doing handwork with friends has a way of shifting my attention.   It is really hard to be depressed when my hands are busy making pretty things.  See my Post A Body in Motion for more valuable information.
  • Prayer, the bible and church have lifted my spirits many times when nothing else could.  See Glazed Looks and God for more on this subject.
  • Being around uplifting family and friends does wonders to get my mind off of things.stick_figure_insert_key_black_hole_pc_800_1287
  • I have learned that proper sleep, exercise and eating right make it easier for me to stay upbeat.
  • I have learned about the crucial impact of gratitude on our frame of mind.  See A Grace Journal for more valuable information on this topic.

Action

After making our way through the first three steps, we are ready to carry out some of what we have discovered.  Unlike my friend, who has family and friends  to help her, we may have to be courageous and reach out to people.  We may have to fight guilt as we take quality time for ourselves, keeping in mind it is crucial for our well-being.   No one can do this for us.  Our emotional health impacts our physical well-being just like exercise, sleep and eating right do.  So, the next time you are feeling discouraged, decide what  you want to do to lift your spirits, and do it.  You will be happy you did.

Please read the links to the past blogs. They will give  more practical information and encouragement.  I hope you share  your thoughts with us. Thanks for stopping by.  I pray this blog is a blessing and encouragement to you.  Next time…encouraging others.

Until then,

Many blessings to you.  Leslie Rose K

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Romans 12:12  Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer

30 Posts of enCOURAGEment Post 27

Lunenberg Nova Scotia

Lunenberg Nova Scotia

Greetings!  I hope the last few weeks have been good ones for you.  Since I last wrote, we went on a family vacation to Nova Scotia.  From there, we came home to finish redoing our daughters room and send her off for her senior year of college.

From the Gettysburg area of PA. it was a long ride to Nova Scotia. We developed car trouble, but were blessed to find someone when we arrived at our destination that could  get us back on the road in a couple of days.  I fell shortly after arriving, tearing a couple of tendons, and have been babying  my foot ever since. Nova Scotia is beautiful, but takes lots of driving to get from place to place.

thThis school year is already proving to be much less stressful since our daughter is back in the country, and only an hour away.  She is in her element, living in an international community house.  She is very happy and this makes me very happy.

I have given a lot of thought to these last 4 posts on the enCOURAGEment series.  This time I want to look at discouragement and how to combat it.  Merriam Webster says discouragement “is a feeling of having lost hope or confidence”.  If we are not vigilant we can easily become discouraged by our circumstances.  Many of the people I wrote about in this series are fine examples of people who rose above their circumstances, or the way they were feeling, to move forward with their goals.

Rick Warren, pastor, and author of the best selling book Purpose Driven Life has some tips for us on discouragement in his CBN article  Some Cures for Discouragement.

In his article he says some of the causes of despairdiscouragement are fatigue, frustration, failure, and fear.   Living with lupus and other autoimmune diseases offers many opportunities for each one of these things to occur in our lives.  For example, I think fatigue is a huge cause of discouragement among many of us, resulting in frustration over what we can’t do, or a fear of failing at tasks we attempt.

Thankfully we do not have to stay stuck in discouragement.    There are things we can do to help ourselves rise above.  Rick recommends, resting our bodies, reorganizing our lives, remembering God will help us if we ask, and  resisting the in-spite-of-everything-i-shall-rise-again-i-will-4discouragement.  All of these recommendations depend on one thing, us.  Unfortunately, no one can do these things for us.  We have to choose to be proactive on our own behalf.   Nick Vujicic from Life without Limbs and Bill from Unshakeable Hope are prime examples of this.courage

It would have been so easy for Nick and Bill to let discouragement overcome them.  As I follow Nick on Facebook, I read about all the people he is touching on his 2013 world tour, and the dignitaries he has met, and prayed with.  He has sacrificed time with his new family to bring a message of love, and hope to those in need.  Every time I get a blog post from Bill I am encouraged by his consistent courageous message of hope.

Each one of our situations is different.  One thing is for certain, we must rise above our circumstances.  We must be courageous, and encourage ourselves in order to move forward with our lives.  I have found that as I look to God, He is faithful to help me.  His help may not always seem immediate, but He works in my life to bring about what is needed for me to eventually rise above the situation.   If you are feeling discouraged, don’t lose hope friend.  God IS for you.

Until next time, when we will talk more about encouraging ourselves.                                            Many blessings to you.  Leslie Rose K

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Romans 12:12  Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer

30 Posts of enCOURAGEment Post 26

For the past 25 posts, you have read all different takes on courage and encouragement.  Do you see yourself as courageous?

When we think of courage today, we probably think of the Wikipedia definition:

Courage is the ability to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation.

In some traditions, fortitude holds approximately the same meaning as courage.

Aquinas says,

. . . the term “fortitude” can be taken in two ways. First, as simply denoting a certain firmness of mind… Secondly, fortitude may be taken to denote firmness only in bearing and withstanding those things wherein it is most difficult to be firm, namely in certain grave dangers.Wikipedia

enduranceThomas Aquinas holds courage or fortitude as being primarily about endurance.   If you live with lupus or any other autoimmune disease, you most likely are building your “courage” up daily.
Life has adversity.  No one escapes.  Living with autoimmune disease presents even more challenges.  The good news here,  we have a greater opportunity to build up our courage, which will hopefully develop into a greater ability to understand and help others.  Clergyman and abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher said “troubles are often the tools by which God fashions us for better things.”                                                                                                                                
Roget’s Thesaurus describes fortitude as follows,

The quality of mind enabling one to face danger or hardship resolutely: braveness, bravery, courage, courageousness, dauntlessness, doughtiness, fearlessness, gallantry, gameness, heart, intrepidity, intrepidness, mettle, nerve, pluck, pluckiness, spirit, stoutheartedness, undauntedness, valiance, valiancy, valiantness, valor. Informal spunk, spunkiness. Slang gut (used in plural), gutsiness, moxie.

Do you have more pluck than you did before? More guts to speak up for yourself and others in weakened states?  Do you feel braver having facing traumatic health issues and procedures?  Do you have more courage?  Nick Vujicic from post 9 and post 10  could have committed suicide, but he made a decision to choose a road of fearlessness instead.

Back to Thomas Aquinas.  He thought courage or fortitude was about endurance.  Endurance suggests someone pacing themselves aslong-distance-runner they run a long, sometimes tedious race.   Nick would probably tell you it takes a daily choice, and not just stamina, to succeed.

I am guessing your endurance has grown as you have dealt with the challenges you face.  You are not the same person you were before.  You have more depth, more insight, knowledge and wisdom.

Are you thinking you would have been better off to be healthy and not develop or strengthen these  traits?   Every experience makes us the person we are becoming.  It is the illustration of  the front and back of a tapestry being estherholsenfrontbacklived out in our lives.  We cannot see the beauty now because we see a mess of threads as we see the back side, but one day we will see the front of the tapestry of our lives.  Hopefully, what author William Barclay said will be true for us.  Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory.

I pray God will  help you as you grow in courage and endurance.  I am signing off until September.  I hope the next few weeks of summer are blessed for you.

I welcome your comments.  Until next time….Leslie Rose K

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Romans 12:12  Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer

30 Posts of enCOURAGEment Post 25

A few weeks ago, in post 19, I wrote about my duck tape encrusted light switch cover, and change.  I do not know if you are in the process of working on a life change, but I do know that the ordinary challenges of each day with autoimmune disease can make it seem impossible to add anything else to the mix.auto-immune  When you have to live everyday with  lupus, CFS, sjogren’s, etc, life changes will often need good doses of, not only courage, but encouragement.   A faithful encourager, walking beside you, is invaluable.

Several years ago I got up the nerve to invite a couple that we did not know over for  dinner .  They sat across from us in church, and I felt drawn to them for several weeks.  During church I asked them if they wanted to come over that day for Easter dinner.  It was a crazy thing to do.  I was sure they would think I was a nut, like my daughter did, easter_mealbut after church they said yes. That was the beginning of our friendship.

As time went on, I taught my new friend some quilting.  Later, I stepped out of my comfort zone, and asked her to be a prayer support for me during a challenging time of writing this blog.  A couple of years ago, we made a decision to try to get together as couples once a month.  In the meantime my friend made a life choice to lose weight.  She had great success.

While I was happy for her and my other close friends in church that had recently lost weight, I did not think I could do it.  I had tried several times with little success.  After months of consideration, I saw Chris Powell on Dr Oz.  His plan clicked with me, and I decided to give it a try.9781401324452

Let me tell you, I do not know what I did to deserve it, but my friend became my biggest encourager.  Every week she sees me, she is quick to ask how I have done, and tell me how good I look.  On weeks when I have struggled, she has boosted my morale.   She is quick to share her tips and her struggles.

We went to their house the other week anticipating another great time of fellowship.  Shortly after arriving, she looked at me with such sincerity and told me how great I looked.  She amazed me with her consistent encouragement.  Little did she know, I was not feeling particularly good about myself that night.

I know you live in the same world I do, and you probably know how rare this soul is, and how blessed I am that I have been given such a gift to help me with this challenge.

As for my friend, perhaps she is standing with me because the battle is still fresh in her mind as she struggles to lose the last few pounds herself, Girls friendshipbut I do not think so.  I think she has made a choice to make a difference in my life, knowing the day-to-day struggles, not just of losing weight, but of living with chronic illness.

As for me, I am truly thankful for this encourager God has planted in my life.

Are you an encourager?  Perhaps it is time to step out of your comfort zone, and ask for encouragement for yourself as you deal with the daily challenges of illness, or with a  life change you are making.  Or maybe you know someone who could use an encourager,  and could be as invaluable to them as my friend is to me.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work:  If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

I welcome your comments.  Until next time….Leslie Rose K

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Romans 12:12  Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

30 Posts of enCOURAGEment Post 24

 

Greetings! Well our daughter is home safe and sound and we couldn’t be happier to see her.  Believe it or not it took her almost three days of travel to get back home.   Now she is trying  to adjust to the 12 hour time change.  IMG_3157

I hope you have had a good week and are anxious to read a message from Bill at Unshakeable Hope.  Bill is one of my favorite bloggers.  His posts are rich with insight.  I think he is an amazing man with an amazing story and family. I encourage you to take time some day and explore his blog.   I pray this post on perspective will help you in your journey with lupus or any other autoimmune disease you have to deal with.

 

Having the Right Perspective

I’ve discovered how essential it is to keep things in perspective in order to maintain hope when you’re in the midst of a trial. The first and most important lesson I learned was focusing on what I have and not on what I’ve lost.

blog family pic

Our family before I was diagnosed with ALS. (Mary still had BIG hair).

Perspective: the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance. (Webster’s Dictionary)

I know of many people close to my age, even some close friends, who have died of ALS, Cancer and other diseases or were killed in tragic accidents. These moms and dads have missed being able see their children growing up. They weren’t there to take pictures before prom, to watch with pride as their child graduated from high school and/or college or to witness their son or daughter’s wedding.

I force myself to think about these friends and acquaintances when I begin feeling depressed about my inability to fully participate in this thing we call life. At times like last year when my daughter got married, and I was unable to walk her down the aisle or dance with her at the reception. During difficult times like this, I make a conscious effort to think about some of these people that are no longer with us; people like my friend Rick, who died of Cancer, leaving a wife and two teenage sons. I think about another blogger named Patrick, who died of ALS in December leaving a wife and a teenage son and daughter. Sadly, Rick and Patrick won’t get the opportunity to watch with pride as their children go through graduations, weddings and other landmark events in their lives.

I think about these people every time I’m tempted to complain or get depressed about my situation. I ask myself what they’d say to me if I was to complain about things like not being able to walk my daughter down the aisle at her wedding. Would they tell me that I should be grateful for just getting to be there to watch as she walked down the aisle? Of course, Rick, Patrick and the others have gone on to heaven so I don’t know what they might say to me. But I know they would be right if they were able to tell me to be grateful that I was able to be there for all the events that they’ve missed and will miss. In a sense, I feel that I owe them; that, if for no other reason, I must be grateful for their sake.

james and girls

Our son-in-law and daughters (January, 2012).

I know it’s strange for me to imagine what deceased people might say to me (to give me the proper perspective), but it works for me and, regardless of the trial that you find yourself in, we all must find ways of coping; ways of changing our perspective and attitude – ways of convincing ourselves that our life isn’t so bad after all.

“…I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” (Philippians 4:11)

The aim of every Christian should be learning to be content in the good times and in the bad times. But, for those that hope in God, contentment does not mean we stop believing for better days ahead; it just means we’re grateful for today and that we’re going to live it to the full – even if we have to live today in a wheelchair!

Wedding

“For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.” (Romans 8:24-25)

Taken directly from Unshakeable Hope with permission.

Thank you Bill for letting me share part of your story here.  To read more about Bill’s life story click here.

I welcome your comments.  Until next time….Leslie Rose K

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Romans 12:12  Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
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