As I sit to type these words, we are on the cusp of November, and although the temperature here in West Texas is deceivingly warm, Fall is indeed upon us. This is the month we usher in the holidays with all of their wonder and crushing pressure. Make it count. Make it magical. Make it beautiful. Make it delicious. Get it done. But slow down! Enjoy! And for goodness sake, be GRATEFUL!!! Name your blessings. Write them down.
It can be a little dizzying. November feels like the top of the rollercoaster to me. We have chugged and clicked our way through the year, sometimes slowly, some times with a quick turn here and there, and now we teeter on the climax. In the span of the next 60 days we are supposed to cram in a year’s worth of joy, family, celebrating, food, and thankfulness. And I love it. I do. Don’t get me wrong. But, whoosh! And it’s over and we are facing a January, stumbling off the ride, attempting to find a resolution that will settle our insides a bit.
I remember last January, I felt timid as I stepped into the new year. I felt insecure in some relationships without explanation and prayerful for confidence in my own life. I remember clearly feeling as though the Lord spoke to my soul saying, “The courage you need will come from encouraging others.” I guess I wanted my courage to come from others encouraging me, but Jesus likes to mix it up like that, doesn’t He? The first will become last, the poor will be rich, the simple will be wise, the children will lead the way and all of that. So I have attempted, severely imperfectly at times, to become an encourager of women this year. I believe this little blog was birthed from that desire. I have had lots of stumbling blocks along the way. In fact they tend to pile high and form walls. When I look around and see so many others doing that which I desire to do, so much better than I ever could… a cinder block in the wall. When I fail a friend… a cinder block in the wall. When my motives get muddy… another cinder block in the wall. When my walk doesn’t line up with my words… a new cinder block in the wall. And I’m back behind sky-high self-doubt before I know it. As November dawns, I am convicted anew of the courage that it takes to encourage.
November is supposed to be about giving thanks. As a family we always try to set time aside around the November dinner table to name what we are thankful for each night. We have written these blessings on pumpkins to display. We have written them on paper leaves and hug them from a twine banner in the kitchen. This year I replaced my usual fresh flowers with clipped branches from the yard, threaded string through dozens of brightly colored tags and placed them in a mason jar with a pen in the center of our table.
Throughout this month we will name blessing upon blessing and hang them from those branches. All who gather here will be invited to do the same and by Thanksgiving Day it will be bountiful with gratefulness. It is good and right. But, as we began this tradition again last night, I thought that even in naming our blessings, we are selfish. We are thankful for the things we love, that make us happy, that make us feel good, that make us comfortable. I know we are indeed thankful for football, Darth Vadar, tigers, our rooms, our pets, our family and friends….
But, what if we took it a step further this year and made it a month of encouragement?
What if we didn’t just let those blessings hang on the cute tree? What if we wrote letters and texts to encourage the actual people who brought about those blessings in our lives? What if our month of gratitude grew legs and walked right up to someone and spoke blessing over their lives? What if it wasn’t just about us, what makes us feel warm and fuzzy, but it was about others?
Here is a truth I know to the core of my being: NO ONE IS OVER ENCOURAGED.
We are all limping along a little bit. We’re all tired on our own paths, running our own races. I picture this month as a chance to hand a refreshing bottle of life-giving water to fellow weary runners. And each time I find the courage to encourage I will be kicking down one of those cinder-block lies that keeps me behind the wall of my own insecurities. Join me?
Here is my plan: I am going to write the name down of one woman I plan to encourage on every day of my November calendar. There will be friends, and family for sure. I have two little women under this roof that I bet could use a bit of encouragement from their mom. I plan to pray to ask the Lord to reveal women from my past that have been an important part of my journey and find them on Facebook, or in the old address book and put wings and words to my thanks. I am even going to email women who have written books, bible studies, and blogs that have touched me. I cannot assume that just because they are well-known that they are well-encouraged. They are just women running their race and I bet they are thirsty too. I plan to tell each of these women what they mean to me, what their work has meant to me, what I love about them. I pray that the Lord will give me scripture that will be a balm to their weary souls. I intend to declare blessing over their lives, their work, their families.
What if we all did this? Put wings and words to our thanks? Found the courage to encourage each other? What if every person who reads these words found 30 others to pour encouragement into like that much needed drink on our long race?
I can picture it like countless ping-pong balls bouncing all over our communities, our churches, our country, the internet, Facebook. Bouncing from one weary soul to another to another. And what if just one of those you chose to encourage REALLY NEEDED IT? I mean REALLY NEEDED IT? What if it reaches her right as she was about to fall, to give up, to quit? What if your encouragement is all she needed to take another step?
November is also a month filled with uncertainty in our country this year, isn’t it? It is charged with unrest, confusion, and perhaps hopelessness for the future. This little revolution can’t change all of that but it just may infuse us with the courage we need to face it hand in hand.
So here we go, putting wings and words to our thanks, becoming courageous encouragers. Get your calendar and notecards ready. It just might make the whoosh a bit less terrifying. We may make it to that Turkey dinner, that Christmas morning, that New Year’s Eve refreshed rather than out of breath. Now that would be a revolution, wouldn’t it? Just think… Are you with me?
Click on the image below to download the November calendar and fill in the names of everyone you will ENCOURAGE this month. I would love to hear how our little revolution changes your November!
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today.” Hebrews 3:13