Encouraging Hearts

Summer is over and gone.  Wow! I can hardly believe the kids are back in school. We had a pretty crazy summer.  Our family experienced many joys but also many challenges. Let’s face it. Life on this earth is hard and full of many challenges.  It is so easy to be overwhelmed with the daily struggles and pressures we face.  Seasons of change drive us even more to our knees.

In recent months, our own family has faced a few difficult challenges and changes.  In the spring, we lost everything in our large outdoor storage building due to an electrical fire.  We watched a dear friend suffer from a blood clot in her brain and almost die.  Thankfully, she is alive and making slow progress. This summer we sold our house, lived in another friend’s house for 4 weeks, and recently moved into our new purchased home in a community closer to our church.  I’ve been recovering slowly from LASIK eye surgery (exaggerated stress has definitely prolonged the recovery). We switched our older 2 kids to new schools, began homeschooling one child, plus the many other “normal” parenting challenges.  I said goodbye once more to my dad as he traveled back to his new home in Uganda. I heavily grieved my mom on her birthday in late August.

To be honest, the stresses from these last few months have nearly done me in on several occasions! But God always reminds me that He is my strength.  Weakness brings a new dependency on Christ! He faithfully encourages my overwhelmed heart with His daily whispers of grace.

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While I am extremely grateful for His constant presence and grace, I’ve found myself longing deeply for the physical presence of an older woman to encourage and guide me.  I’ve really struggled with missing my mom as I’ve faced these big changes and harder seasons in my life.  Mom was my mentor in life.  Over the years as I became an adult, we became such good friends.  Our relationship was more than just mom-daughter.  She modeled the example of a Titus 2 woman to me.

Titus 2:3-5 says, “Older women are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. ”

Of the many things I miss most deeply since losing Mom, I greatly miss her encouragement and wisdom in my life. I miss having an older, wiser woman to “teach me what is good, ” to encourage me to “love my husband and children” (especially when the kids are whiny, disobedient, selfish, exhausting. . .and I’m exhausted from it all!). I long for an older lady to come alongside of me and offer Biblical wisdom, friendship, encouragement, love, and help to me.

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The truth is that I struggle in parenting five children.  Most days are not easy! By God’s grace I make it through, but it’s tough work being a mommy! I get discouraged in ministry work! Working with people takes patience, love, and prayer.  I need wisdom and advice for my marriage.  I have many questions about everyday life situations.  I need the wisdom, encouragement, and experience of an older, Godly lady! I long for friendships with mature, wise women.

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Due to conversations I’ve had with other ladies my age, I know I am not alone in my desire to have a Titus 2 woman in my life (or several women!) I realize my need may be greater because I no longer have a mom’s love and regular encouragement. Whatever the case may be, I believe every woman needs an older, wiser lady to come alongside them and offer extended love, help, wisdom, and encouragement.

All of us can encourage the heart of a younger lady. We all have experiences to share, words of kindness, Biblical advice, and tender love to give.

Here are a few ways for us to encourage hearts and actively obey the commands from Titus 2:

1. Seek out someone in your church or community to extend a friendship with. Initiate the desire to be her friend.

Hint: Most women who look like they “have it all together” are ones who desperately long for and need a friend or mentor.

2. Strike up a conversation.  Be sincere. Express genuine interest in her life. Listen to her with no judgement.

3. Extend a warm hug.

I’ll never forget how I felt when a dear, older lady at church hugged me a few months after losing my mom.  Tears brimmed from my eyes immediately as I realized how good it felt to be hugged by someone like my mom.  It had been months since I had last been hugged this way.  Oh, how I needed that hug!

4. Provide a meal. . . home-cooked, gift card, or take-out!

Meals are always a blessing and treat to this busy mom of 5!

5. Offer to babysit and give help with her children.

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6. If you’re not comfortable with babysitting alone, offer to come to her home and lend a hand.  Offer to go shopping with her to help with kids then.

7. Send frequent notes to encourage with Scripture and practical wisdom.

8. Treat her to a nice, hot cup of coffee.

Warning: You may have to help with kids so she can enjoy it while hot!

9. Offer to clean her house or help with certain chores.

10. Take her kids to a park or the library for the afternoon.

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11. Invite her to do a weekly Bible study with you. Or provide an opportunity for her to attend a ladies Bible study.

12. Call, text, or email to remind her that you’re praying for her.

13. Surprise her with a small personal gift meant just for her.

14. Support her children’s interest.

Attend a football game, a recital, a competition, or school event.

15. Spend time with her.  Pray together.

I always love and enjoy a visit in my home from my “older” friends.  I’m encouraged, refreshed, and challenged to keep living for Jesus.

16. Take her shopping. . . kid free! Provide the funds for a sitter.

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17. Offer your help with her children at social or church events.

18. Offer and extend your help especially in difficult seasons/changes of life.

God whispered His grace to me recently in the sweet ladies who helped me with our move. Having my kitchen set up so quickly was a tremendous blessing!

New births, sick kids, loss of a family member or close friend, struggles with anxiety or depression, physical struggles,and adjustments to a new community are a few examples of challenging seasons of life.

19. Give financially if you’re blessed to do so.

One of the greatest encouragements in my own life has come from friends who have provided groceries for our family.  My kids love it when special treats are provided that I normally don’t spend the money on!

20. Invite others into your own home to bless and serve.

I grew up in a home with a “revolving door.” Mom always made sure our home was open to all people at all times.  She served countless meals and desserts to many friends, neighbors, and strangers!

I don’t remember many holidays where it was just “our family.” Mom and Dad always included those people and families who didn’t have their “own” family to celebrate with us.  I am forever grateful for the true hospitality they modeled for me.

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Hospitality doesn’t include perfection. . .all it takes is love and interest in people! And an unselfish spirit!

Whose heart are you encouraging today? How much time are you giving to others?

I find that when I seek to encourage the hearts of others, I receive the blessing of a full, encouraged heart myself!

Look for someone today in your church, community, or family to encourage!

If you’re the one who needs encouragement and wisdom from an older, wiser woman, pray that God will send you someone to fill that need. Also, reach out with boldness and ask for help.  Satan will lie to you and tell you “There’s no one who wants to help you or can help you.” Claim God’s truth in Philippians 4:19, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” God cares about every need you have. . .including your need for encouragement. . . and He will provide!

Galatians 6:9-10 says, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

Encourage a younger heart today!

 

 

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