Generosity in giving praise

At work, at school, at church, and sometimes even at home.  Do you ever feel like the only time you hear from people is when you have done something wrong?  Or when others think you should be doing better, more, etc.?

We live in a world where kind words and genuine praise are out of the norm.

I have been on a quest to learn more about generosity this year.  Chris and I have thought a lot about how we can be on the look-out for ways to be generous in our daily lives.  This includes giving money to church and others, but also in how we can generously serve others with our time, talents and other resources.

This morning, it hit me!  We should also be generous with our praise for others.

Last weekend, I went to a Mini-Photography Camp for kids at our church.  It was absolutely wonderful!  The next day (Sunday morning) at church, a man who had attended the event was grabbing people in the church lobby to tell them how awesome the event was!  I immediately texted my friend that led the event to let him know this man was spreading the word at how great it was!  I told Chris about it on the way home, and we both thought it was awesome!  We should be doing more of this!  Recognizing and praising others for good things…and telling other people what we’ve seen our friends do!

Yesterday, someone did something really nice for me.  I sent this person an email saying how much I appreciated what he did and that I thought he was wonderful.  It was a quick, simple, short email.  When I got an email back from him, the first word he wrote was “Wow!”

And this morning, I thought “That’s it!  We should be so generous with our praise for others that they are shocked!  We should make them stop, think and say WOW!”

Hebrews 10:24 says “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”

Praising someone for something good or great that they have done is encouraging!  It makes them want to do more of that!

One of my friends posted this article today where a high school boy posted pictures anonymously of kids from his school for a whole year and said nice things about them.  It talked about how blown away the kids were at the nice things said about them.  It’s a good read!

What if we gave praise generously?

What if we were known for our kind words?

What if we went around surprising the people around us by praise and appreciation of them?

What if all Christians did this?

It could change lives.

It could make things better.

It could slowly but surely change the world.

Who’s in?

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A Word from N. T. Wright

In follow-up to my last post, the following is a quote from N.T. Wright from his book Surprised by Hope:

“The point of 1 Corinthians 13 is that love is not our duty; it is our destiny. It is the language Jesus spoke, and we are called to speak it so that we can converse with him. It is the food they eat in God’s new world, and we must acquire the taste for it here and now. It is the music God has written for all his creatures to sing, and we are called to learn it and practice it now so as to be ready when the conductor brings down his baton. It is the resurrection life, and the resurrected Jesus calls us to begin living it with him and for him right now. Love is at the very heart of the surprise of hope: people who truly hope as the resurrection encourages us to hope will be people enabled to love in a new way. Conversely, people who are living by this rule of love will be people who are learning more deeply how to hope.”

Despite the fact that this book is some majorly heavy reading, there were so many great points. And I love that the climax of the book was about love.

I want to be someone who loves well!

The greatest commandments and the meaning of life

In Matthew 22, one of the Pharisees asks Jesus a question to try to trap him:

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

I’ve thought about these verses a lot lately.

The Greatest Thing
The greatest thing we can do in life is to love God and others. If we truly love as Christ calls us to do, the kingdom of Heaven is near. Love is evident, and Christ is evident.

Love doesn’t sit still. Love moves. It acts. It sees a need and meets it. It fights for injustice. It comforts those who mourn. The list goes on! Love is noticeable. It’s different. It stands out.

The meaning of life
What is the meaning of life? People are always looking for the answer to this question. The reason we are all here in the first place. Something to give this life meaning. We analyze this question and come at it from all sorts of different angles, but maybe we over complicate it.

Lately, it seems to me that the meaning of life may rest in these 2 greatest commandments. Love God. And love others.

We can screw up everything else, but if we open our eyes each day expecting to find ways to love God and those around us, life will be a success. Of course we want to do well at work, have a great family, etc. but in the midst of all that, if the most important thing we do everyday is to show at least one person love, every day is a win. And God wins! Our love can’t help but point others to God. It’s really pretty easy. Well, except for when it’s hard. 🙂

May we learn a little more each day what it means to truly love God and others. May we allow God to transform us through His great love. And may we choose to love freely and openly and be quick to act in love.

Back when I was a good mom

I used to think I was a good mom. Back in the days when I just had one kid, I thought I was doing pretty darn good!

I felt pretty much in control.

I still kind of had a memory!

I felt like I had all the time in the world to play with my kid.

My disciplining of him was pretty awesome!

I felt like I had all the answers.

I was awesome!

And then in an instant, I was the mother of three small children. And most days, I don’t feel so awesome anymore. 🙂

And I’m not sure I’ll ever feel like I’m in control ever again!

Some days are utter chaos. Some days I do good to just make it through the day.

My house is pretty much always a mess.

I get really frustrated about all of the things I forget. The ways I feel like I’m failing my kids and the whole family. When I realize I’ve forgotten to send something with the kids that they needed for school, I just about lose it!

I don’t seem to have enough time in the day.

Sometimes I get so overwhelmed with everything going on that I lose my cool with the kids. This is not how I used to be!!

The other day while at church, a man looked at our family and told Chris and I to enjoy every minute with our kids. At that moment, our kids were not eating their lunch like they were supposed to be doing. They were arguing and bothering each other. Chris was like, “Do I have to cherish this moment?” And I just laughed.

But along the way, I’ve learned (and am still learning) what’s most important. The things that I can let go. That I don’t have to worry about the little things as much. That I don’t have to be perfect. That things aren’t always going to be perfect or go how I think they should go. (Though let’s just be honest! Things would be a lot better if they did!) 🙂

I still would like to feel more in control, but I’m OK with how things are.  I actually kind of like them!

I’ve learned how to apologize to my kids.

I try really hard, but I know I’m going to screw up a lot of things as a parent. But at the end of the day, I know my kids feel loved. I really do! That’s the most important thing to me. And I feel loved by my kids.

And that is awesome!

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In what ways has your parenting changed over the years? How have you changed? What have you had to let go?

Frozen and one super power we all have

This morning on the way to work, my 3-year old twins were listening to Frozen music for the millionth time.  And from the back seat, I heard my daughter say “I wish I had a super power!”

I immediately started thinking about what super power I could tell her that she has.  And then I got it!

There is a super power that we all have!  Every single one of us.  And if we use it frequently and extravagantly, the world would be a better place.

It’s something that makes a huge difference to everyone.  We all need it.  We’re all looking for it.

And when we receive it, it makes a huge difference in our lives.  We remember the times that people have lavished it on us.  These times stand out.  But really these times shouldn’t stand out so much.  Because again, we all have this super power that is so strong and effective!  We should be using this power like crazy!  It’s not going to run out!

So, here it is!  The super power that we all possess is (drumroll please!!)…

LOVE!

So, super heroes!  Let’s go and use our super power to save the world!

super hero

God’s crazy love for us

Crazy Love

Isn’t it great that God that is absolutely crazy about us? He is! No matter how we screw up, He’s always going to love us. We’ve proved over and over that we can’t handle things. But God’s always had things under control.

And because he is so crazy about us, we don’t have to be hung up on ourselves! We are free!

We don’t have to look out for what we think our best interests are. God knows what is best and is providing for us.

We don’t have to be selfish. There’s plenty of God’s love to go around!

We are free to focus our attention on loving others and meeting needs because of God’s love for us.

His love is steady and overflowing. He is crazy about all of us!

How do you feel free because of God’s love?

Valentine’s Giveaway

Starbucks card

I love holidays of all kinds, so just for fun I am going to give away $10 Starbucks cards to 2 lucky winners.  That way two people can take their sweeties or friends to get a coffee all for free!  A free date!

All you have to do is comment on this post answering the following question:

What is your favorite candy?

The contest will end at 9:00 PM tonight.  Good luck!

– Stephanie

Update: The winners of the contest were Maria and Mandy. Congratulations!!

Love > Being Right

When I was growing up, my church made me feel like I had to have all the right answers and have a solid debate in place before I was ready to attempt to evangelize.

So I didn’t.

I just knew there would be some question thrown at me that I didn’t have an answer for.

I didn’t feel qualified.

Now that I’m an adult, I realize I’m never going to have all the right answers. And I’m ok with that. I like the freedom from the pressure of having to know everything!

But you know what I am qualified for? Loving others! That’s the main thing we are called to do! And I’m convinced that if I make a point to enter more into the lives of others and love and accept them and really get to know them, “evangelism” will be a piece of cake. Spiritual conversations will flow more naturally. And one person at a time, people will easily be able to see a loving Jesus through me.

Love > being right and having all of the answers!