Monthly Archives: March 2019

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It’s Here: Opportunities You Can Use to Fearlessly Encourage

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It's Here: Opportunities You Can Use to Fearlessly Encourage

By Dr. Ashlee Rincon

I love analogies! They flow out of me almost unconsciously and are one of the primary ways I connect to others, using them to convey my thoughts and emotions more clearly. When I worked in a drug and alcohol treatment facility, a picture hung on my wall to illustrate one of my favorite analogies that I constantly refer back to in therapy. The picture was the stages of a bean growing, from seed to plant. With this picture, I used the analogy to explain how people can rise from darkness to find their internal light and blossom into a better version of themselves. Encouraging others can help people progress through the cycle of growth; it may be just enough light to help them rise from the darkness.

When a seed is planted, it is planted underground, in complete darkness. Nutritious soil is just what the seed needs to flourish. Earthworms, flatworms, ants, termites, beetles, flies, and the like pass by the seed, seemingly just another clump of dirt to navigate around. The seed, though unsure of its path in life, knows it was called to be more than a roadblock for bugs. When it feels the warmth of the sun, it knows it has a greater purpose. It seeks to grow, gathering anything it can from its surrounding to be more. It struggles to be something more. Slowly, it does become more. The seed begins to grow deeper into the ground, while simultaneously reaching upwards towards the sunlight. The seed sprouts while its roots remain in the soil, that dark “nutritious” place. With time, the seed begins to see its purpose.

How does this relate to “Opportunities You Can Use to Fearlessly Encourage?” 

“Encouragement is like sunlight; it is required in all stages (of growth).”

You see, in each of us there is a garden with seeds that are at different stages of blossoming. Some of us have seen seasons where our gardens have a fruitful blossom and other seasons where only weeds seemed to grow. During those seasons when weeds are all that are being produced, it is discouraging and annoying. However, that’s when the help of other gardeners come to the rescue, providing their expertise and experience.  It isn’t just their knowledge that helps you sprout;  it is their encouragement and their support. 

Encouragement is like sunlight; it is required in all stages. Remember your own times of darkness and used it to propel others forward, to grow, and to blossom. When you were in your darkest moments, whom do you remember encouraging you? Did it feel like the light you needed to help you rise above the darkness? Support and hope are essential to our well-being. 

Are there people surrounding you that are going through something similar to an event or circumstance you have already been through? The answer is “yes!” There are friends who are struggling to balance work, family, and everything in between.  There are mothers who are feeling the loss of their children not living at home anymore. There are friends who are struggling with managing their finances. Goodness,  recognize the challenges of adulting and spread some love to someone else who may not see the light. We all have countless opportunities to encourage those around us. If someone shares their struggles with you, or you recognize them because you once went through them-share some encouraging words! Your new title shall read,” (insert name here), the Encourager!” As Dr. Seuss says in Oh the Places You’ll Go:

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)
Kid, you’ll move mountains.
So… be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain (of encouragement) is waiting.
So… get on your way (to encouraging others)!


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#FearlesslyLivingFriday- Overcome

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Fearless Living Friday

John 16:33

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

This week we chose “Overcome” by Elevation Worship.

Take some time and let the words wash over you and remember “We will not be moved…”

First reading this bible verse, the realization that we will definitely encounter tribulations, distress or suffering resulting from oppression or persecution (Merriam-Webster, 2019). That part seems to miss the “encouraging” and/or “uplifting” verse I am looking for in tough times. However, it doesn’t end there. It says, “take heart” (or “be encouraged”) because “I have overcome…” That means that no matter what trial or tribulation one encounters in this world, God knows about it and He says that we are to be encouraged because He has overcome them! That seems to be a nod at how God goes in front for battles, but He has also won the war, so need to stress!


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5 Ways Encouraging Others Transforms You

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5 Ways Encouraging Others TRANSFORMS YOU

Transforming from the Inside OUT

By Dr. Autumn Hanson

5 Ways Encouraging Others Transforms You

 

It is a hot topic to learn how to ‘transform our lives’. We are constantly hearing about “be your best you!” As a physical therapist, I can understand and appreciate the desire for physical transformation in which most people seek out a diet or a boot camp. However, the best kind of transformation happens from within and radiates outward. To achieve the most impactful, long lasting, life-altering transformation we really desire, it must effect our hearts. Continually seeking a deeper relationship with Christ is the ultimate way to transform your heart, but it still takes active participation on our part. Though God can do a major overhaul on the depths of our soul, he needs a heart open to change. 

 

Last week, we discussed how encouraging others can change their world! This week, I want to remind you that encouraging others can also change your world! When you implement the habit of becoming an encourager, you too will feel encouraged by the subtle changes in your life, which Christ can use to shake out the stale areas of your heart. Curious about the small, but impactful changes that can occur when you are the encourager? Then, read on!

 

Encouraging others will:

 

  1. Improve the Environment Around You. Due to the automaticity that takes place when intentional living falls to the wayside, our everyday environments can certainly lack the sparkle we desire. Looking for opportunities to encourage others in the work place or in your home can return the dazzle in your day! It can also change the tone, once heavy with negativity, now breezy with unexpected pick-me up opportunities.
  2. Deepen your relationships. Encouraging others forces you to look for positive attributes in family, friends, and coworkers. The more you notice them, the less you notice their negative tendencies. Phew! What a blessing to be able to love those around us like God loves us. He may notice our shortcomings, but he doesn’t focus on them. Research has been conducted to determine the Ideal Praise-to-Criticism-Ratio. The general rule when interacting with other adults, whether it be coworkers, your spouse or friends suggests that for every negative comment or correction you provide 6 positive affirmations. The teams who were best at implementing this rule, were the most successful and highest performing. After all, “Only positive feedback can motivate people to continue doing what they’re doing well, and do it with more vigor, determination, and creativity” (https://hbr.org/2013/03/the-ideal-praise-to-criticism). Keeping this rule would in mind through out your day might be just the encouragement you need to encourage others. Think of all the positivity the world would gain!
  3. Keeps You Motivated. Due to the way our society has evolved, there can be less diversity in our day. Before, it was necessary to be ‘jack of all trades’, because success for your family depended on it. However, now, our role in society is usually more specific and often contains us to a similar routine and tasks day in and day out. Therefore, you must be diligent about engaging with the world in a new, exciting way each day. Finding new ways to encourage and give within your routines can motivate you when the mundane doesn’t. 
  4. Helps you Focus on The Positive in the World. Our mind needs distraction from focusing on the negative; it was wired to do so for survival purposes. However, we now find ourselves in a different situation than our ancestors. The more we allow things to bug us, the more frustrated and overwhelmed we will feel in environments that we are required to spend a lot of time in. These frustrations will distract us from carrying out our mission and enjoying our passions on earth. Improve the environment around you with uplifting word!
  5. Create more joy and improve overall health. Giving, encouraging, and focusing on positivity in the world promotes secretion of the Happiness Trifecta neurochemicals, three chemicals (dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin) in the body that increase happiness (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/vitality/201404/the-neuroscience-giving). Keep a broad perspective of what giving and encouraging can look like. Random acts of kindness, helping a friend, a thoughtful comment, or small gesture can be some of the most beneficial ways to spread encouragement and positivity. Be creative, because the more unique and personal your words and actions are, the more they can reach the heart and souls of others. 



“Random acts of kindness, helping a friend, a thoughtful comment, or small gesture can be some of the most beneficial ways to spread encouragement and positivitiy. Be creative…”

Sharing kindness through encouragement is a wonderful way to change your world-and for those around you! We would love to hear how you chose to interact with others in an impactful way this week. Share on our instagram @thefearless5 or in the comments below! Feel inspired to change the world in a small, but truly meaningful way this week!


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#FearlesslyLivingFriday- Good

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Fearless Living Friday

Nahum 1:7

The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.

This week we chose “Good (Adam & Eve)” by The Story.

Take some time and let the words wash over you and think about what it would be like to have God as a refuge.

Have you ever had a day of trouble where only your pillow and the covers pulled up over your head (the adult version of a fort) felt like it could provide you refuge? Even when those days happen, God reminds us that He, our Lord, is still good. He remains good. WE might not understand. We might not see the goodness in the way we want to, but that doesn’t change that He is good. In addition, He tells us that we can seek refuge in Him and He will be our stronghold, a place of secrecy. What do you currently seek as a refuge or comfort? What would it change if you sought God’s refuge?


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How to Make the World a Better Place: Fearlessly Encourage

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How to Make the World a Better Place: Fearlessly Encouraging

Fearlessly Encouraging Series

By Ashlee

I have never been one who wanted to change the world. Growing up I loved the Starfish Story in which a beach will filled with starfish because the tide went out too quickly for the starfish. A man sees another man picking up one starfish at a time and returns it back to the ocean. He told the other man, “Why are you even doing that? You’ll never make a difference to all these starfishes.” The other man picked up one starfish and as he returned it back to the ocean and said, “It made a difference that one.” For me this was a powerful message, I could make a difference to one person at a time and change the world for one person. That was more important to me than changing the world! After hearing that story nearly 20 years ago, it is still one that resonates with me. What I have learned though, is that by changing the world of one person, you can actually change the world! Today we are going to talk about one important, wonderful way to change the world: encouragement!

” I have never been on who wanted to change the world… What I have learned though, is that by changing the world of one person, you can actually change the world!”

Perhaps you are in shock to read that encouragement can change the world? Did you know that encouragement is one of the most common way through which individuals express support for one another? Furthermore, the concept of encouragement is interwoven in to almost every self-help book, so there has to be some power behind the concept. From a scientific research perspective, there is an entire field of psychology dedicated to encouragement! We also learn in Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts, words of affirmation (along the lines of encouragement) is an actual love language! (If you want to learn more about the 5 Love Languages, go check out https://www.5lovelanguages.com/ where you can even discover your own love language!)

The power of encouragement is undeniable, but how do you use it to change the world? Much like when we set goals in the areas of physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual, and professional, we can break encouragement down into these sections too:

Physical Encouragement

Speaking words of encouragement is probably the easiest and most thought of way to encourage others. Have you ever had a stranger compliment you in public? Or received that phone call on a specific day that has something major going on, just for that person to say, “You’ve got this!” That compliment or phone call can really brighten someone’s day. Imagine if your habit became an “encourager”? You could say things like, “you can do it,” “I trust you will make the best decision for yourself given your circumstance,” or “that showed a lot of courage!” What would happen to those around you? How might you impact their day (and subsequently others’ days) just by a few words of encouragement?

Notes and texts are another way that you can physically encourage someone else. A sticky note placed in an unexpected spot or an animated text message can make all the difference. Notes and texts take just a moment to do (even if you get more creative like using a dry erase marker on a mirror), yet they bring a smile to someone’s face, give them a little more courage to face the day, or simply give them the first time they felt like they could breathe that day. How might a note or text encourage you? How might you use that to encourage others?

Emotional Encouragement

Encouragement does not always come in the form of words (verbal or written), we can be encouraging just by being present! Yesterday, as I listened to a story of student nurse, he told me about a patient he encountered. The patient was given the news that she only had a few hours to live. Earlier in the day, she had repeatedly asked the nurses to give her a hug or hold her hand. For whatever reason, it was unable to happen. However, as she was going through some uncomfortable procedures, while wearing an oxygen mask, she appeared scared. This student nurse took her hand. She instantaneously was put at ease. She couldn’t talk and the student nurse didn’t say anything, but the power of the student nurse’s touch and presence made a difference to this woman, particularly in the final hours of her life. Her husband, of sixty plus years, was also in the room during this time. He saw what the student nurse had done. Afterwards, he thanked the student nurse for the kindness displayed. The husband wasn’t able to provide his wife comfort during that procedure, yet he witnessed the comfort the student nurse was able to provide and felt comforted by it. He was encouraged by the encouragement the student nurse had provided to his wife. The action wasn’t grand. Most didn’t notice it, yet it made a difference to that woman and her husband in a time when they really needed encouragement. You may never know the power of a small touch or simply showing up and the encouragement that is felt by it, but it’s there and it is powerful!

Psychological Encouragement

There was this woman who went on a date. She had gone through a tumultuous divorce and this was his first date in many years. She met the guy through an online dating service, and this was the first time they were meeting. After just a little while, the man says, “This isn’t working out,” and he gets up and walks out. The woman calls her friend, devastated, and the friend says, “Of course he left! You are so boring to talk to. You are also old looking. Who’d really want that?” The friend continued on saying some very hurtful things. As you read this, you might thing, “She needs a new friend.” I’d agree, but what if I told you those are the words, she had said to herself? We are so quick to tear ourselves down. Imagine if that woman had said more encouraging words to herself. What would change? What if we provided psychological encouragement to ourselves? What would change? How would we change? How would we interact with others?

You can take that a step farther with others, through helping. Sometimes just helping someone out can really help. Taking time to go to your family member’s house who has been sick and help them disinfect can make such a difference. Sometimes, when we offer our help, people are quick to say, “No, I got it. It’s okay. Don’t worry about it.” Well, I’d encourage you, if you know that person’s heart, you might disregard their “no.” This may not be the most politically correct at this moment, but let me ask you something, how many times have you needed help and you turned down help anyway because you didn’t want to inconvenience them or have someone clean up after you? How would you have felt if someone had disregarded it and just helped anyway? Use your best judgment in this but challenge yourself to extend your listening beyond the words are used and listen to what God is telling you to do.

Spiritual Encouragement

Many times, we hear, “I’m praying for you.” Believe it or not, prayer is a form of spiritual encouragement. Make sure you are genuinely praying for someone (including yourself) for encouragement. God hears all the prayers for His people and we genuinely help others (and ourselves) when we pray! There is so much power in prayer. If you hear someone having difficulty at any level, put a note in your phone or a small notebook and take some time to pray for them. You could always follow up with verbal or non-verbal forms of encouragement!

Something I didn’t think of and had been suggested to me as I was writing this, is the power of encouragement through counting our blessings! For example, when we think about our blessings, we can be encouraged about our current circumstance, regardless of what they might be. How might we encourage others through their blessings? We go to God and ask Him how to make us an encourager! Through the Holy Spirit, we will learn how to bless others through the gift of encouragement. In fact, we find the encouragement listed as a spiritual gift in Romans 12:7-8, so we just need to seek God and ask Him how we can not only bless others through encouragement but also how we can encourage them to focus on their blessings!

Professional Encouragement

This is not something we talk about. While engaging in encouraging actions can be done with anyone, we often leave out our encouragement actions to our family, friends, church communities, or closer communities. What if you brought your encouragement extended to your professional setting through enthusiastic, smiling, assisting someone else with their job, really listen to someone, acknowledge their contribution at work, notice the positive, and maybe even leave a little note or something?  Have you ever had any of things done for you? How did you respond? How did your actions over the rest of the day change? Could you apply this to others in your profession? (Even those fellow stay-at-home parents could be part of your professional network! Remember, we all have networks).

Encouraging others, through non-verbal or verbal, physical or non-physical actions, are like putting the starfishes washed up on the beach back into the ocean. You might not be changing the world in the way you imagined, but you will be changing the world for that one person and really, isn’t that what changes the world? So how are you going to get out and encourage?! Let us know in the comments below?

Spread the word


Bible verse of the day

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

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