Tuesday, December 9, 2014

5 Simple Ways To Show Love, Support & Encouragement On A Daily Basis


I'm a big believer in supporting and encouraging people. I'm a believer in uplifting one another. And I can't imagine a life lived that doesn't need some sort of encouragement to face the next day. To know what they are doing matters to someone else. Whether it's kisses from our babies, words of appreciation from our spouse, or people just showing up for or celebrating something we are passionate about. Those things matter. 

I think sometimes we like to think we believe so much in ourselves and our passions that no matter what anyone thinks, we are doing this to make us happy or to honor the Lord, etc.  But the truth is, the support of people helps us make that next move. I believe God created us with the desire for someone to believe in us. That's why he didn't leave Adam alone in the garden. He gave him Eve.

In a world of selfies and instagram photos of everything we do, it seems that the desire for human admiration is evident. That's not necessarily a bad thing. I think it becomes a bad thing when it's all about us and we have nothing to give to others. It becomes a bad thing if we can't see through the fog of human approval and see how much the Lord loves us and how much He desires to give to us, work through us and fill us with his abundance of good things.

But the need for support from others is human nature.

With that said, I wanted to share some tips in supporting and encouraging others. Part of our job as humanity is simply to show kindness, respect and love to people.

Listen closely.
This one is easy for me, yet hard for me at the same time. I love listening to people's stories. I love hearing where people came from. I love giving people the opportunity to talk about themselves. A friend and I were talking about women's ministry a few weeks back and we were talking about how we need to give more women the opportunity just to talk about themselves, their kids and their lives and have people really listen. But when it comes to one on one conversation, in my head, I'm always thinking of my response or what I want to say. Sometimes people just need to talk and they need you to listen and hear them. I'm not a fan of when I'm telling somebody something and they interrupt with their thought before I have even finished mine, so doing it to others is something I really have to work hard at. Just listen...

Put down your phone.
I was watching a cheezy ABC Family Christmas Movie the other day, "Holidays in Handcuffs" with Mario Lopez and Melissa Joan Hart. They had this scene where all the cell phones were collected during Christmas Day. The phones were all locked away. And I thought to myself, we need to do that. We need to be present more. I was talking to my hubby the other day, telling him a story while he was playing a game on his phone and he sort of chuckled at the end of my story and said, "Oh really?" I could tell he had no idea what I said. I asked him to repeat back to me what I told him (yes, I did that) and whatever he thought he heard was not even close to what I told him. We are all guilty of this. Scrolling through our instagram, or playing a game, or editing a photo while someone is trying to talk to us or watch a movie with us. Leave it at home. Lock it away if the temptation is too great.

Surprise someone and show up.
We all get invited to a lot of everything, probably. Especially with facebook and the 'event' maker. Suddenly everyone is our close friend and wants us to come to their event. We can't always do everything. We don't want to neither. We'd rather sit home. We finally got the kids settled, we finally have our house clean and the last thing we want to do is get dressed and go somewhere. We have better things to do, like watch netflix or read a good book. But people need you to be there for them. I was invited to a party recently and I was tired~ let's face it, I have 4 kids so I'm always busy. But my mom called me and asked me if I was going and I said "I guess I can go." My mom and I showed up. That's it. My mom and I showed up. And we are glad we did. It's a bummer big time when you have an event everyone is too busy or lazy to come to or people just don't think it's important. Even if it's not important to you, it's important to someone. I'm not saying we all have to go to everything we are invited to, but make an effort to get our of your comfort zone occasionally and be there for someone else. It means a lot to them. Put yourself in their shoes. You will probably be glad you did.

Share it.
This is easy. Social Media. I'm not exactly sure how much good it does, but it means a lot to the people involved. If you have a friend that owns a shop, writes on a blog, makes music, plays in a band, etc or if you go to a church that you believe in and they are having an event open to the public, or even if someone you love shares something passionate or moving in a status, don't just like it but share it with others. Let that person know you believe in them enough to share what they are passionate about with others. It's easy to share our passions and thoughts, what about someone else's?

Look beyond the noise and see the person.
We all have people we love, people we admire, and people we esteem highly in our lives. But that doesn't necessarily mean we agree with everything they say or everything they do. Sometimes it makes it difficult to find ways to support them or encourage them, but it's those times when it's the hardest for you to voice encouragement, that God will mend those feelings of bitterness or irritation or discontent. Step out of your feelings about what they are doing or saying for a moment and ask the Lord to see them how He sees them. People are not perfect. We all need compassion, forgiveness, understanding of where we are in life and we need to be merciful to others. I'm with everyone else. I get just as frustrated as any other person with people some days, but I ask God to help me overcome these 'feelings' and I can always find a way to bless someone who hurts me, bugs me, or frustrates me.

During the Christmas season, I think a lot about this incredible gift God gave us.
We didn't deserve Jesus. We didn't deserve redemption. We didn't deserve a second chance. But he gave us his only son because HE loves US. The best gift we can give to others is love and one of the best ways we can show it is to be encouraging. The little things really do matter. The things we say or do to love and support one another.

I'm so incredibly grateful for those who have encouraged me in my blogging and writing journey. I've not always felt like I was making any difference and at times I've wanted to believe it was just for myself anyways, but the truth is, it's those emails and comments where people encourage me that helps me continue.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Minted. Holiday Card Designs.


Every December 26th, I vow that NEXT YEAR, I will send out Christmas cards. 

Unfortunately, I'm a bit of a procrastinator and I never end up actually doing it. Even though I love how festive my refrigerator looks with all the cards I receive from my friends and family. I truly do. I certainly have the pictures captured that are prime 'Smith' family pictures, but for some reason I feel the need to perfect what is already so ideal. I want the perfect family photo, which entails a photoshoot of some kind, matching outfits, perfect hair and smiles, no tears... but that thought is exhausting to me, so I wait and wait and never do anything. The only day I usually do capture a cute family photo is on Christmas~ and by then it's too late!

But this year, I took a photo while we were on vacation with the family and it pretty much summed up my life and I keep thinking to myself "THIS picture is our Holiday card this year!"
What do you think?


Of course, I do have something more classic "Christmas-y" from last year, but we have a new addition to our family and he's not in it, so I'm not able to use it.


I recently discovered MINTED and I was so excited when they asked me to review their New Holiday Card Designs. As soon as I clicked on the link, I was honestly in love with so many of the designs and options they had to choose from. I almost immediately decided this year will be my year to go for it!

How could I not with choices like these?






Above are just a few of my favorites as I browsed through the site. I think my favorite is the comic book card. This fits my family so well. It's so much fun! There of seriously hundreds of choices and options when you look at all the design options, formats, shapes and colors.


The Minted site is beautiful & it's incredibly easy to navigate to choose what you'd like. They are all breathtaking and whimsical. I can honestly say there wasn't a single design I didn't like as I browsed through everything. Everything was colorful with modern fonts, interesting backgrounds and fun designs. There is definitely something for everyone no matter what style you prefer.



The only hard part for me now will be choosing what design I want.



This is a review for the MINTED Holiday Card Design selection. Everything written is 100% my opinion. I don't often except or do reviews unless I really love what the company offers. I was compensated in exchange for this review.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

ME AND JESUS (don't) HAVE OUR OWN THING GOING ON



In my last post (yes, over three weeks ago) I talked about being a quitter. About how everytime I sought to find a way and a reason to quit, I was reminded (no doubt by the Holy Spirit) that I am not an island unto myself. It's not all about me and what I want to do in that moment.

Lately, I feel so many of us have fallen prey to the lie that says "Me and Jesus have our own thing going on and nobody can say anything about it."  While, yes, it's true that our relationship with the Lord is and should be one of intimacy. The quiet moments with Him are in fact just between you and Him. When He speaks, you should be listening. And when you cry out to Him, His ears are open to you. However this doesn't mean that you can do what you want, where you want, how you want, say what you want and it bares no relevance to anyone else, nor does it affect anyone else.

Because it does. You and Jesus don't have your own thing going on. Nor do I. Because if we are not living a life that sets up a path for others to follow Jesus, then we are not doing at all what He needs us to do in this life.
And that is to be a light for the world to see. Be a light for our children, our friends, our co-workers, our family.
It's not just about me loving Jesus and Him loving me. It's about surrendering my all to Him. It's about leaning on Him and Him alone. Finding strength in Him.

But mostly, it's about being bold to speak. And when we are so bold to speak, we don't speak up about our freedom and human rights to do this and that, but it's about our freedom and deliverance from the bondage that was brought on by this or that. Because it was Jesus that brought us through.

Our entire purpose to even maintain a relationship with the Lord is that so we can let others know of his goodness. Salvation isn't just for you and you alone. It's for you to show forth the goodness of God so that they will know too. If your goal in this thing with 'you and Jesus' is just to superficially love Jesus and do what you want, then it's simply not a relationship at all. Because in any relationship, true love always produces actions. So does true faith.

More and more our world is becoming one where we feel like we have rights and we (humanity) can dictate and reason what we think is right and wrong above and beyond the Word of God. And it's infiltrated our churches and the people of God. Our standards for living life have become lower and lower.  We justify our actions on the example that someone else has set.

So we see someone else do it or say it or maybe someone offended us... so what... ??? It doesn't give us a human right to dot dot dot...
It just proves that that persons actions have affected you. That persons example of a relationship with Jesus has affected how you see what a relationship with Jesus is.

It wasn't just about Him and Jesus. It is now about Him and Jesus and You.
Do you see?

No, we are not an island unto ourselves.
My relationship with the Lord isn't just about me and Jesus.
I so love my moments when it is just me and Him. But my life and your life has the ability to domino affect on so many other lives.

We either believe the God of the Bible or we don't. But if we say we do & YES, HE is my Lord,  then let's grasp ahold of His EVERY truth like it is our breath. And let's not use it to stand on our soapbox and  revel in selfishness while we proclaim freedom. Because it's not freedom. What this world thinks is freedom has the ability to bring destruction, hurt, pain, torment and so much more bondage.

What we need is freedom from the bondage and addiction and sickness and hurt and immorality and depression and pain and all the other things the enemy brings~Let that be the freedom that we live and speak of. It's the freedom that GIVES the abundant life.

I want to be a vessel fit for my Masters use. I want to give and live and shine.
I want to be reminded every day that it's not just about ME & Jesus.
But it's about Me & Jesus & them...