Monthly Archives: June 2016

Made for Each Other (Encouragement, Part 2)

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)

Anyone with a basic understanding of biology knows that the human heart is responsible for pumping blood throughout the body – all the way out to the tips of our fingers and toes. But once it delivers its load of fresh nutrients and oxygen to the body, how does the now-depleted blood make it back to the heart to be replenished and recirculated? There is no official “pump” in the human body to make this happen. In order for the heart to perform its function to continually pump nutrient-rich blood throughout the body, it must rely on the squeezing actions of other muscles to encourage the used and depleted blood back in for refilling and redistribution.

In other words, without the powerful movement of the muscles in your calves to help push it through the one-way valves of the veins, the blood that has been forcefully pumped into your legs and feet would have great difficulty making its way back to the heart against the pull of gravity. Similarly, the human spirit functions better with the ongoing support of other humans. Without this regular, intentional action it can quickly become difficult for an individual to operate successfully in joy and positivity against the negative pull of stress, insecurities, and unkind words.

While our true value and worth always comes from God alone, and not the perceived approval of man, we also have a responsibility to uplift and encourage one another in ways that are pleasing to our Heavenly Father. God created us with emotions, and He created us to love one another and to need one another. He created us to function as one body, made up of different parts, as the Apostle Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 12. In the same way that our physical hearts function better with the support of our lungs; and our bones function only with the encouragement of our muscles, we as individuals in the body and community of Christ function better with the support and encouragement of those around us.

Ultimately, we are responsible for our own attitudes, our actions, and our responses to the emotions that are hard-wired within us, but let’s not forget our responsibility to support one another and promote the better function, the joy, and the peace of each person we have the privilege to impact. Let’s not forget our role in helping one another make it back to the heart of the Father. Today, let’s be the encouragement that someone needs to refresh and replenish the working of the Spirit within.

 

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

Hebrews 3:13 (NIV)

 Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous;[a] not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.

1 Peter 3:8-9 (NKJV)

 Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Matthew 7:12 (NKJV)

 And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, 24 but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, 25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

1 Corinthians 12:23-26 (NKJV)

 The tongue has the power of life and death,
    and those who love it will eat its fruit.

Proverbs 18:21 (NIV)

 

Lord,

Thank you for creating us to function as a beautiful community, and not to spend our days going it alone. May we honor the love and plans you have for each of us, and operate with the heart of Christ toward one another. When we find ourselves lacking the encouragement our spirits so strongly desire, let that be a reminder of our duty to supply the encouragement needs of those around us.

It’s in Jesus’ name we pray,

Amen

Half-Baked Book Review

I’m reading this book, Sparkly Green Earrings by Melanie Shankle, which my mother-in-law was kind enough to let me borrow approximately fifteen months ago, and it’s so good and sweet and funny that I just have to talk about it. I’m not quite finished reading it yet because I don’t really have that much time to read these days, and I can sometimes be easily distracted when I do sit down on the toilet and attempt to read. I catch myself fifteen minutes later contemplating bizarre and irrational scenarios, like if I died today and Joel buried me in the Haviland cemetery we’d only be transitioning from roommates to neighbors. But anyway, discussing a book on my blog before I’ve finished reading it probably makes my book review completely unreliable, but nobody’s paying me to do this so I can be a zero-credibility book reviewer if I want to. (Hey, should I start a book review segment on my blog? I’m thinking maybe “the girl with the schizophrenic blog” could be my niche.)

Sparkly Green Earrings is about motherhood and I can’t help but appreciate that there are other moms in the world who seem to think that motherhood is amazing but has maybe become a little over the top. (Because I don’t care how much you “treasure every moment” of raising children, you did not seriously enjoy that moment when your toddler just peed on the kitchen floor while you were trying to cook dinner, and nothing you say can make me believe that you did.)

I realize that a statement about what motherhood has “become” is kind of bold from someone who doesn’t particularly remember all that many details of her childhood and her parents’ parenting other than that it was good (which is happy, but also peculiar since my parents had to force me on any given day to come up with something (or three things) positive about my situation or life in general).

The fact that I’m not the only mother who thinks motherhood is crazy hard and crazy exhausting and crazy crazy (and cares to write about it), and the fact that she feels that way with one child makes me feel pretty good about the fact that I felt that way with one child. (And then went ahead and had another. And another. It’s a bit masochistic, but it’s generally a sanctioned masochism.) She also makes me feel not so bad for flip-flopping from a helicopter mama who didn’t allow Hannah to climb stairs by herself until she was like ten, and a hands-off mama who sometimes lets her two-year-old change her own diapers and doesn’t know whether to laugh or call the paramedics when the kids accidentally pop a wheely in their Barbie Jeep that Joel souped up with an actual car battery.

We were recently at a wedding reception at which I found my life enriched by an unreasonably tall man dancing with a remarkably short woman. They both looked like they were old enough to know better than to drink so much alcohol, and they probably thought they looked pretty smooth swaying wildly across the dance floor while onlookers wondered whether he’d ever be able to stand up straight again and whether she’d still be alive and kicking when he finished dragging her across the room by her head while smothering her in his belly button. (It’s possible that that is not actually what was happening, but I’m pretty sure it is.)

Sparkly Green Earrings is kind of like that. It’s mostly sweet, unashamedly real, and delivers just as much life-enriching laughter as the hold-me-closer-tiny-dancer couple without me even having to put on pants and makeup and leave the house. Her writing and her stories are easy and comfortable and funny like that, and she’s like a kindred spirit who understands that you can love Jesus and life can still be funny at the same time. I think if I knew her, she might even appreciate my belief that God enjoys a good practical joke as much as the next person because he sees fit to put together two people with a two-and-a-half foot height difference.

Or to create me with the inherent urge to dance in public. (Because gangly white girls are notoriously amazing dancers.)

Or to put someone waaaay at the end of that almost empty high school social studies hallway back in 2001 to witness that one (supposedly) smart girl face-surfing across the tile in the fifteen feet between her classroom and the drinking fountain. (That was me, by the way, and unfortunately there are very few career opportunities in face-surfing.)

Or to give moms only two hands and give children at least seventeen. (Most of them are invisible.)

I just imagine our loving God up there giggling with delight while He adoringly watches a third trimester pregnant woman try to clip her toenails.

The point I’m trying to make, and soaring wildly past – before I step away from my desperately needed revisions to do cartwheels and handstands in my dining room and jam to my go-to Pandora station (which is “Ross Lynch Radio” and there’s no explanation for that that can make me seem cool or stable) – is you should read the book. It is fantastic – and even on those days when my mind is obsessing over the thousand things I wish I could do or say or have or, or what I should have done or said differently, or what the future has in store, or what that person must be thinking, or how long I have before the kids find me hiding in the bathroom with a book – this one is enjoyable and easy to read and makes me giggle, which I think is my favorite thing to do, so when it happens life feels pretty good.

(I realize that this whole post was only like three sentences, but I’m not really feeling grammar today, so I’m sure you all will manage.)

It’s a good book. The end.

 

Update: (I haven’t even posted this yet, so I’m technically updating myself.) I finished the book. It was amazing. I cried. I laughed and cried at the same time. I’m also retiring from writing. Melanie Shankle has said everything I will ever have to say, and better than I would have said it. I’ll see you all again after I reinvent myself as a travelling paper-mâché architect.