Monday, November 27, 2006

Listening--a loving gift

"You have ears, then listen!" Matthew 11:15 (NLV)

We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak. ~ Epictetus

This time of year is difficult for many people who have lost loved ones especially those whose losses have been recent. I remember the first year without my mother. She defined the term "Christmas spirit" and when she died, our family was feeling the loss deeply as Christmas approached. True to her nature, Mom had already purchased gifts for us a few months before her death in September. As we opened gifts that year, we shared what Mom had done in years past. We told stories of her successful and not so successful gift hiding, her traditional dinners, and other stories that brought smiles and chuckles as we remembered Mom's Christmas adventures.

Telling the stories we remember about a loved one helps to ease that great pain of loss. A good listener will help another through their sadness at holiday time by encouraging those stories and then listening--really listening, as they are told. Listening--what a great gift to offer another this year.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Make Time to Send Cards

"I weep with grief; my heart is heavy with sorrow; encourage and cheer me with your words." Psalms 119:28 (TLB)

Time goes by so fast, people go in and out of your life. You must never miss the opportunity to tell these people how much they mean to you. ~ From the last episode of "Cheers"

The holiday season is upon us. How did Thanksgiving get here so quickly? Christmas will be fast on its heels. For most of us, the holidays will be sweet and tender, festive and full of fun. But there are those in our lives, whose celebration will be tainted by grief or shadowed by fear. They need your encouragement--the comfort to know they are still loved, still thought of, still cared for.

This year as you peruse the boxes of gift cards for your annual Christmas card mailing, walk a few steps farther and check out the single card purchases. There are lots of cards available that can lift the spirits of those who are down this season. I especially like the humorous ones. One of my favorites shows a snowman on the front reaching into his stocking and pulling out two pieces of coal. On the inside he pops the coal into his head and yells, "I can see! I can see!" I've sent it to a few people who needed to smile at Christmas.

Be careful with the humor and if you're not sure, send a nice card that says you're thinking of them or one that tells them how much they mean to you. These are easy cards to make as well. Or if you don't feel creative, just write a nice note. It's never a waste of time or talent. Send some cheer this year!

©2006 Karen Robbins

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Smile--at you!

If a sponge is all dried up, it is of little use until it is filled with water again. To be an encourager, you too, must be filled--with living water.

There is an account in the Bible of Jesus meeting a woman at a well. He must have planned this meeting for he'd separated himself from his disciples and was alone when she approached the well to draw water for the day. His objective: to offer her the living water, the spirit filled life that would leave her so full, she would never "thirst" again.

Set the scene in your mind. A woman, alone, is approaching the well. She sees a man--a stranger--sitting there. She hesitates. Should she continue? After all, in these days you never knew what dangers might be associated with strangers. Now here, in my mind, Jesus smiles at her. It's a smile like no other she's ever seen. It's inviting but not threatening. It's warm not coniving or sly. It's genuine not forced. It's a smile that prepares her heart for what he is about to tell her.

Smiles are like that. They prepare the way for you. Jesus still smiles at you today. He does it through his love letters--the scriptures. Start your day with a smile. Fill yourself with the living water he has to offer. Then use that smile on someone else to bring joy to their day.

©2006 Karen Robbins

Friday, November 03, 2006

Extol--Praise feeds creativity

And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. God saw that the light was good. . ." Genesis 1:3-4 (NIV)

The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

In Genesis, in the very beginning of the Bible--the beginning of time, God began his creation of the world as we know it. Each step of the way, he sat back and "saw that it was good." God used that bit of praise--it was good--to be encouraged to continue.

Creativity is something God put into man, a tool to be used to enhance life. When we praise others for their creativity it inspires them to continue to use that gift. By our praise, we could be causing the creation of "a thousand forests." It only takes one nut.

©2006 Karen Robbins

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