Meaningful, Valuable & Impactful – Words Have Meaning

How do you feel when someone acknowledges a positive characteristic in you?  You’re elated, right?  It’s like they’ve become the wind beneath your wings.  I sincerely hope that each of you has someone in your life, that gives you the gift of encouragement.  Now, I challenge you – be that person to someone else.  Give the gift of words that are meaningful, valuable and impactful – words that lift up.

It is pleasant to hear that someone likes you or even loves you, but when they are specific as to why they feel this way, it takes you to a new level.  Put some thought into your admiration and let them know what it is.  Put a name to it.  Following are some examples but don’t stop here – add the how, when and why that you’ve noticed this about them.

>You’re kind.

>You’re observant.

>You’re sensitive.

>You’re cheerful.

>You’re charming.

>You’re joyful.

>You’re wise.

>You’re gifted in the area of ….

>You’re talented in the area of ….

>You’re an encourager.

>You’re generous.

How about when someone has a deep impact on you?  Have you observed that they smile and lift the spirits of others?  Are they a musician who impacts you with their music?  Did they teach you or exhort you and open your eyes?  Did they sweep in and help you to improve your living conditions?  Does their gift give you joy?  Do their writings inspire you?  Has their input into your life, made you a better human being?  Has their encouragement lifted you up out of a pit and put you upon a rock?  Tell them.  Write your thoughts down and give it to them.  Your words have more meaning than you might realize.

One last thought, don’t overlook that person that appears to be confident.   They are mostly self-assured but all humans need to receive encouragement and many long to know that they are positively impacting the lives of others.    Life has a way of demoralizing even the most self-assured people.  Your kind and thoughtful words, might be the boost that they need to continue on.

Be a characteristic specific encourager, and be sure to tell them the how, when and why.  You might be the person that brings sunshine into a gloomy heart and mind.

Advertisements

I Think We’re Missing It

Yesterday after church, my son and I braved the inclement weather and the crowds, to get his Christmas shopping done. He’s 15 now and learning to drive. As he drove the 20 miles of snow covered highway, we talked about a smorgasbord of topics. I silently pondered “this is what Christmas is about – relationship”. You see, that morning at church, I had the opportunity to talk to several people. Many are suffering from feelings of depression, or the stress of everything that has to be accomplished this week. It got worse. Once I arrived at the mega store, I noticed empty eyes, frowns and scowls. I kept feeling as though we’re missing it. That morning at church, we sang beautiful songs about the Savior that came as a babe and for a brief moment, we became focused on relationship. We are His and He is mine – that relationship. The relationship where the King of kings left the glory of heaven to humble Himself and serve us by dying and paying for our sins. He paid the ultimate price so that we could be reconciled with God. The most important relationship that we will ever have.

I hope that you will press the pause button on your week and really consider this. It isn’t the gift, the perfect meal or decorations that will be remembered. They will remember the relationships that were built, strengthened and restored. With all of my heart and a smile on my face, I wish you and yours a very blessed Christmas and a new year filled with beautiful memories.

Thank you so much for reading and I love your feedback too!

A Heart That Sings

Here we are again. That time of the year, when we are reminded to acknowledge our blessings, encouraged to be thankful and we celebrate the birth of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.   A time where slowing down would be helpful to our ability to reflect, contemplate and enjoy.  Instead, many will get caught up in the self-imposed stress of serving the perfect meal, spread out on the perfect Pinterest worthy table.  The pressure will build for weeks, as the quest for finding the perfect gift, is a perceived race against the calendar.  Retailers will lure us in and tug at our hearts with their deals, their great ideas and they’ll sprinkle in some sappy sentiment.  A clear message is sent – show others that you value them by impressing them with this item.  Never mind that they don’t need it or even want it.  Resources are spent without thought of the consequences to come.  In about thirty days, reality and depression sets in.  Either having spent too much savings or deep in debt, the next months will be labored with digging out of the hole.

 

Is it the table setting, the meal or even the gift what we remember, or is it the feeling?  The feeling is what brings the joy and it comes from the human relationship.  It comes from knowing that someone cared enough for you to show that they love you.  This doesn’t have to come through spending money.  Thought, effort and time is what it takes to make people feel special and loved.  Demonstrating that we value other human beings can come in many forms.  I have compiled a brief list that offers ideas that will hopefully push you out of the norm.

>Visit and spend time with someone that enjoys your presence.

>Spend time catching up on the telephone.

> Reach into the life of someone who is lonely, home-bound or isolated.

>Write or speak sincere words of encouragement.

>If you’ve heard someone mention a trinket or an act of service that they would enjoy, provide it if you can.

>Cook something for someone that you know they’ll enjoy.

>Be generous with a smile or a kind word.

>Invite others to share a meal.

>Tell someone what they mean to you or what you admire about them.

I adore this season.   I love reflecting on what God has done for me during the past year. I love thinking about the people in my life, or the ones that are no longer in my life but live in my heart. I love the smell of a roasting turkey and baking pie. I love watching the twinkling lights. I do not like being manipulated into purchasing items and I do not like that some people are sad and lonely during this season.  A true gift is not about the money spent or just merely getting that person checked off of your list. A gift is a representation of thoughtfulness. It says that I think about you and you are important to me and I value your presence in my life. It says that I have been paying attention to you and have noticed what makes your heart sing.

 

If you truly enjoy picking out and purchasing the perfect gift, then do it and have fun.  You are expressing real love and value of another human being by doing so.  If this is not you, don’t get caught up in the manufactured pressures of this season.  Find other ways to express your appreciation for others and enjoy the season and the precious people that are part of your life.

The Soothing Balm of Listening

There is an art to listening.  Most of us believe that we are reasonably good listeners but the truth is, we could all improve our skills to effectively listen and show empathy to other human beings.

 

I believe that listening well makes you a far better communicator than speaking well.  Simply put, listening well demonstrates that you put others first.  It is a selfless action to listen rather than being heard.  When a person needs someone to listen to them, essentially they need someone to relieve them of their burdens.  When we listen well, we unlock their mind and allow the burdens to release.  Have you ever been overwhelmed and confused by the challenges in your life?  If you were given the opportunity to unload, you felt better, right?  Since this is so important, let’s look at a few of the most important ways that we can develop good listening technique.

 

>Concentrate.  Focus on what is being said instead of how you will respond.  Most of us tend to hear while we are actively thinking about how we will respond or how we can relate to what is being said.  You must completely focus on what they need to say.

 

>Let the other person speak without interruption.  When you interrupt with your questions or your thoughts, the person doesn’t feel a sense of getting to complete their story.  You have interrupted their train of thought and even though you may understand the situation, they may perceive that they were not listened to.  If you are concerned that you will forget your questions or the points that you would like to make, try taking notes.

 

>When they are done speaking, then you may ask questions.  If the person is looking for advice, here is where you may offer it.  If they are not looking for advice but are instead trying to problem solve, try drawing them out with open-ended questions.  Asking questions is also a great non-confrontational way to help someone see truth or error in their thinking.  They are more likely to come to conclusions without feeling judged.

 

>Exhibit pleasant facial expressions while listening.   Natural eye contact with a relaxed smile will make the other person feel cherished.  If appropriate, nod your head but be careful here – you can give the impression that you are agreeing and that may not be the impression that you want to communicate.

 

>Summarize what you have heard in conversational style.  This is your opportunity to make clarifications and prove that you have been actively listening and that they have been heard.

 

>Finally, make sure to follow up with the person at a later time.  Following up demonstrates your sincerity and it shows that you care about and value this person.

 

Let’s look at another type of listening.  Listening to someone who is upset with us.  Too often, we feel the need to defend ourselves.  God’s word gives us much help in this area.  James 1:19 says “so then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath”.  Proverbs 15:1 says “a gentle answer turns away wrath, a harsh word stirs up anger”.  As difficult as it is, a confrontational situation can be defused by following these very simple words.

 

Listening is so much more than using our hearing sense.  When we really listen, we are fully engaging many of our senses.  We not only hear but we see the other person’s emotional state and we feel compassion and empathy.  One of the most powerful ways to minister to another human being, is listening to them.  Most people don’t need someone to solve their problems – they need someone to listen.  When we give our time, and make the effort to really listen, we lighten the burdens of another human being.  Most of us won’t get this completely right every time but try putting a few of these tips into practice every time that you have the opportunity.

Lovely Woman

What does she look like?  I mean to say, what are the traits that characterize a lovely woman?  A lovely woman can have many different physical characteristics.  She might be physically beautiful and or dress well or she might be a bit of a wallflower, feeling more comfortable in simple attire and appearance.  She might have the personality that lights up a room or she might prefer to be “backstage” in life.   To discover the truly lovely woman, we must look deeper than her appearance and visible traits.

 

You will recognize a lovely woman by the lives that she has impacted.  The impact will start within her closest circle – the people that she lives with.  Acting like the energy of an earthquake, her lovely influence will begin in the epicenter of her home and radiate outward.  It will be spread not only by her, but also by the people that through her example, learn about grace.  She is not defined by how many reactions that she receives on Facebook or even how many women seek to be in her company.  Her definition is determined by the deep love and admiration of the people that really know her inside and out and those that she has touched.  These people are living a life that is forever imprinted by her time in their life.

 

This woman is not self-consumed.  This woman cares for her household and then goes beyond to reach out to others outside of her own household.  This woman cares about others and she is aware that they have struggles, difficulties and challenges.  This woman is thoughtful and blesses others in big and little ways.  This woman is sincerely joyful.  This woman really listens.  This woman speaks words of encouragement.  This woman is genuine and lovingly honest.  This woman treats everyone with respect. This woman does not easily dismiss others from her life.  This woman makes others feel better after they have been with her.  This woman knows how to forgive.  This woman has compassion for the difficult and challenging personalities that come across her path.  This woman brings light into a dark burdensome world.  This woman is relational, responsive and nurturing, all very feminine and womanly traits.

 

If you are a lovely woman or striving to be a lovely woman, thank you.  If you know or have known a lovely woman, comfort her heart and tell her thank you for being a lovely woman in your life.

From Crushed to Soaring

Last week’s post entitled Crushed Confidence, received feedback that revealed the existence of many people who have been wounded and are in need of appreciation, affirmation and encouragement.  Some of these people, are within our sphere of influence.  We shouldn’t underestimate the power that we have to bring relief, hope and joy into their life.   We shouldn’t allow ourselves to think that someone else will come along and do what we should have done.  Is God placing us in the right place at the right time?

 

Your comments on my previous post are very appreciated and they really caused me to consider a few questions.  How is it that hurting souls are all around us and we sometimes don’t notice them?  Why do we hold ourselves back from engaging with others?  How do we let these opportunities to help someone pass by?  This happens for many reasons.  Maybe we are too busy, in a hurry or didn’t even notice the need.  We might be fearful of saying the wrong thing.  We might doubt that a simple gesture will be enough.  Maybe we are too self-absorbed and rarely reach out to another person.  Maybe we genuinely believe that we have nothing to offer.  Sometimes, these situations are complicated and messy and we would rather not invite complication or mess into our lives.  My hope is that all of us will be motivated and encouraged, that we will be willing to slow down and notice the needs of others, that we will organize our lives in a way that it will free up extra time or resources and that we will go into action.  For the individual who has been a bit self-absorbed, it’s time to get off of the me-me-me-go-‘round.  Blessing someone else is gratifying and there is definitely no shortage of opportunities.

 

Who would I reach out to?  Think about those who are in your circle.  Each one of them is good at something and has special gifts.  Now, tell them all about the positive things that you notice in them.  Think of the many people that in some way, serve you.  Is there someone who remembers you in their prayers or follows up with you on something that you previously told them?  Is there someone who is thoughtful or someone who shows concern and checks on you?  Is there someone that is constantly caring for others?  Have you noticed a person who often seems alone?  What about the elderly person at the grocery store or in your neighborhood?  How about the person that you walk past that looks sad or bitter?  If you attend church, how about the ministry workers that work behind the scenes cleaning, praying and protecting or that teacher that is faithfully there to receive your child, week after week?  Don’t forget those that serve right in front of you, but put in hours of preparation each week behind the scene, such as the teachers, music team and media team.  There will be a wounded person who will push you away.  In this case, you might try being a little sneaky and doing some secret kindness.  They won’t be able to push you away but they will be blessed immensely by knowing that someone truly cares about them.  It might be the very thing to penetrate through that thick wall that they have built up around themselves.

 

Some might ask, “What do I have to give?” There are no skills required to say hello and offer a smile, a kind word or a sincere thank you.  Try breaking away from your normal group and go say hello to someone new.  Buy a package of beautiful blank note-cards and start writing notes of sincere encouragement, affirmations and appreciation.  Ask an elderly person or person in a wheelchair or motorized cart, if you can help them by reaching for an item placed out of their grasp.  Help a mom with young children, by offering to return her shopping cart, so that she doesn’t have to leave her children unattended.  If you notice how well someone is parenting, let them know.  Take a plate of your dinner over to a lonely neighbor or invite them over and get to know them.  Take some valuable garden produce (not just your abundance of zucchini) over to a neighbor that doesn’t garden and let them know that you were thinking of them.  Offer to help an elderly person to learn how to use their smart phone, tablet or computer.  Take the time to listen to someone who just needs to talk.  Do you have a gift for noticing great qualities in other people?  Tell them what you see.  If you have a friend or loved one, who lives in a critical eye environment, be sure to encourage them by acknowledging their good qualities.  The purpose of all of this isn’t to solve the problems of other people, it is to demonstrate that you value them as a human being.  Remember, the value of a person is so much more than the tasks that they complete – the value of each person is their essence.  It’s their intrinsic nature and indispensable qualities, as a created human being.

 

We live in an era where personal interaction is becoming rare and there are too many people that rarely receive warmth from another human being, so there is no shortage of opportunities to bless, and even a small simple gesture will impact a wounded weary heart.  Every human being needs to feel appreciated and valued.  Be the person that brings hope back into someone’s life today.

 

Thank you for reading.  If you have enjoyed this post, please follow me on WordPress or Facebook.  I love to read your feedback too.

Sensual Heart or Heart of Gold?

There is a meme circulating on Facebook that declares flirting to be synonymous with cheating.  Is it?  Flirting is commonly confused with charming, but they are very different.  Are you leading with sex or are you communicating to another human being that you like, enjoy and value them?

 

Flirting with a member of the opposite sex, sends a very clear message that you are interested in them as a potential mate.   A charming person, has a knack for letting another human being know that they are important and valued, and it doesn’t matter whether they are male or female.  A charming person is a lovely human being, and they light up a room with their presence.  When you interact with a charming person, you usually feel encouraged and uplifted.

 

Now, in opposite sex relationships, this can be tricky.  Biologically, there is always a certain amount of chemistry between a man and a woman.  If you are a charming individual, you have probably already noticed that you are unable to control how the other person interprets your words and actions.  Have you ever been accused of flirting when you were really just being charming?  Further, be careful about assuming that the charming person is flirting.  This lovely blessing might become so self-conscience, that they will turn off the flow and stop pouring their special tonic into your life.

 

You might be wondering whether or not you are capable of being charming.  Not all of us are charismatic, but I believe that most of us can learn how to be charming.   Actually, the techniques are quite simple but they do require effort.  Listen with care – not the kind of listening where you hear with your ears, while your mind is occupied thinking and formulating your response.  Instead, completely focus on what the other person is saying, both through listening to their words and observing their actions.  Smile and look others in the eye.  Remember what they have told you, and ask them about it at a later time.  Notice what makes another person special and unique, and point it out to them and to others.  Treat others with the same respect that you believe that you deserve.  When you encounter a hurting person, don’t over simply their problems, or try to “fix” them or preach at them – show them that you care by listening, holding them or just sitting beside them.  If you aren’t full of charisma or wit, you can be charming just by being authentic, thoughtful, kind and empathetic.

 

So, ask yourself – are you flirtatious, charming or neither?  I think that we all know what flirting looks and feels like, and most of us have been guilty of flirting.  Charming can encompass many characteristics, but always leaves the other person feeling good.  A charming person is like a magnet – they attract.  A charming person is lovely – they make others feel important and valuable.  A charming person is inviting – they leave you wanting more interaction with them.  A charming person makes another human being feel visible.  In a world where many of us believe that we are invisible, a charming person helps us to see our value, and hopefully we then impact other lives positively.  A charming person has opinions but they express them in a way that leaves the other person feeling respected and understood.  A charming person is predominantly focused on the needs and well-being of others and will often put their own wants aside.  In short, a charming person has a heart of gold.

 

We should save our flirting for our significant other.  Charm on the other hand, is a character trait that everyone can be developing and practicing.   Charm can be your gift to others.  It is a gift that never runs out and can never be stolen away from the recipient.

 

If you have enjoyed this post, please follow Madeline on WordPress or Facebook and she loves to read your comments too.

 

Image courtesy of chrisroll at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Is it a Gift or a Curse?

For years I felt bad about some of my personality traits – really bad.  People around me criticized the fact that I felt too deeply, thought too much and was overly sensitive.  I grew to be ashamed of these aspects of my personality.

 

I tried everything.  I tried to not let myself care about others.  I tried to not let people in.  I tried to not think too deeply and I tried to ignore the needs and hurts that were all around me.  None of this worked – I began to stop having joy and my smile left me.  People began to ask me questions like “are you alright?” or make statements like “you don’t look like a happy woman”.   Then through a series of circumstance changes in my life, God began to show me that I was allowing others to put a lid on my gifts and I was quenching the Holy Spirit’s work in my life.  These people really didn’t mean harm – well, most of them didn’t.  They just didn’t and still don’t understand that these are gifts not curses because it is so different from anything that they feel or experience.

 

Now, I freely give my gifts.  Do I get hurt?  Yes, absolutely!  Do others judge my motives?  Probably.  Is this a lonely place?  Yes, it is.  Just a few nights ago, I was on a bike ride with someone who is very significant in my life.  I was sharing a burden that I’m feeling for another family and they explained that they just don’t understand or relate to that kind of compassion.   They don’t view this as a positive thing but I am learning that if Jesus is pleased with the way that I love and give of myself then what others think really just doesn’t matter.  It really is that simple.

 

Have I ever turned these gifts into a curse?  Oh yes, most certainly I have.  These very same gifts can lead me to become overly self-focused and to get my feelings hurt too easily.  They can also lead me to the temptation of being resentful when others don’t reciprocate.  The point is, beware because as human beings we are sinful by nature.  We have the tendency to turn good to evil.

 

There is good news though.  Jesus died so that your sins can be placed on Him.   The book of Romans tells us that there is now no condemnation for those that have put their trust in Jesus’ payment of their sins.  If you haven’t already, go to Jesus’ cross and let him put your sins on His account and then use what He gives you to glorify Him.

 

James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from God above.

If you have enjoyed this post, please take a moment to Like Madeline’s Facebook Page and be sure to leave your comments too.

Nurturer of Mankind

God made you.  He made you unique and wonderful.  You can do things better than anyone else.  You have that special crook in your arm and special nooks and crannies in your heart.  You make it better with a kiss or a word.  You rock Daddy’s world.  God made you to nurture His creation.  God is the master nurturer and you are His hands on this earth.

 

Who are you?  You are a Mother.

 

You would give up everything that you ever wanted or desired if it was better for us.  Often, you have put yourself last.  You protect us and defend us from the hurts that come from others.  Each step of the way, you prepare me to eventually leave your nest.  You fight fear every moment of every day as you watch me grow and venture out into the world.  You pushed me out of the nest even though you didn’t want to.  You have faith that moves mountains.  You never stop hoping and praying for me.  You cry tears behind closed doors because I broke your heart.  You see things in me that I can’t even see in myself.  You are my biggest cheerleader and my most trusted confidant.  I cannot do anything to make you stop loving me.  You never give up on me.  I remember your skin – the softest that I have ever felt.  I remember your flirty smile – the loveliest smile that I have ever seen.  You are the most influential person that will ever touch my life.

 

I know that you worry that you are messing things up and I know that you think that I will only remember the times that you were harsh but I think that you are magical and I remember that you loved me, were gentle and patient with me and that you always did your very best for me.  You are the most perfect mother for me.

 

I sincerely wish a Happy Mother’s Day to all of you that have been called to the highest calling – Motherhood.