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It’s no accident that the root-word of encourage is courage.  Words of encouragement, by nature impart courage.  We all need courage.  And whether we feel brave or not is beside the point.

Courage is not bravery.  

Courage is the power to keep going when you have the option to give up.

Courage is the inspiration to step forward when you feel like it’s easier to shrink back.

Courage is the strength to stand up for what is right even when you feel the pressure of intimidation or when you feel alone.

Courage is when you realize your mission is worth the sacrifices that will be required along the way, and it’s the willingness to press onward towards the prize in the face of fear.

I wanted to grab a quick minute of quiet while my little one is napping and the two older ones are exploring the Big Dune with Dad to give you a glimpse into my day, into my need for courage.  I didn’t know I needed it, but I really, really did.  And when I got it in the form of encouragement, in an unlikely place at an unlikely time, I had to come share it with you.  In hopes that you would feel encouraged as well.

It happened in a simple moment of ordinary tasks and relatives reconnecting.

I can hear the waves crashing just on the other side of the screened windows.   The sea gulls have been flying and the pelicans diving for their breakfast.  A dampness has seeped deep into the furniture, our clothes and our skin from the salty wet air that flows through this wonderfully old, open-air beach cottage.

We are in the middle of our annual family beach week that has been a tradition since my mom was pregnant with me.   My happiest childhood memories are of waves crashing, cousins laughing, humid air blowing from end to end of the cottage, sand in the bed and guitars on the porch at night.  So glad for another one of these weeks to come again.  So grateful to be here with the people I love.  So grateful to be bringing my children to know the same childhood memories that I cherish.

The kitchen, airy and small, is an attached room to the rear of the cottage with rafter ceilings and a hanging fan.  It is tight cooking quarters, but brimming to the rim with hearts reconnecting, reminiscing, sharing life-giving conversations.

I was just unloading the dishwasher with my aunt, and had one of those conversations.  She and my uncle have lived internationally for the past several years and I always cherish time with her, to hear her perspective on life, the world and all that has come and gone since our last visit.

As we unloaded and put the dishes away from our spaghetti dinner last night, my aunt and I talked about what God was doing around us.  All around us as individuals, all around us as the corporate church.  All around us as the generations.

She spoke of the spiritual hunger she sees in my generation, specifically.

She told me how she loves to read the blogs of younger women who have given themselves fully over to God.

She talked about how excited she feels to learn from the generation that is growing up behind her and how evidently she senses God at work in and around the young people in our nation.

Her words settled into my heart and stirred up courage that had been waning.

Sometimes people who you’d think are full of courage are really in need of encouragement.  I am a part of that hungry generation she sees.  I am a blogger she reads.  (The others are Momma Monk and Thin Places.  I read those too, and am always inspired by them).  But even in the midst of the cool things I get to see and do and experience, I always don’t feel encouraged about what is happening all around my preschooler-oriented, laundry-filled, traffic-delayed days.

I am sure I’m not alone in saying that life can feel dull and normal and even a bit discouraging some days.  There are times I feel small or timid or question if my life is making much of a difference.

But them someone from the outside of my narrow perspective comes along and offers words of life.  Words that infuse courage and broaden my caving perspective.  After our talk, I could feel an immediate difference in my heart and my level of courage.

My eyes were lifted up and I was aware again of the joy that is set before me.  The joy to live today on purpose, for good to win over evil, for light to shine in and through my generation, to love and serve and bless, one heart at a time.

“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24

Let’s be people who use words to infuse courage everywhere we go.

Let your encouragement be 3 things:

1. Bold– Be bold with encouragement.  Don’t wait for someone to look discouraged before you offer them encouraging words.  Just go for it, and trust that even if they don’t show it, words of life will bring forth life.

2. Heartfelt–  If you don’t know what to say to someone, ask God what His heart feels for them.  Try to see people in the way God sees them, looking for their best potentials and qualities.  Then share words of encouragement from that viewpoint.

3. Liberal – There can never be enough encouragement in someone’s day.  Be generous with encouraging words.  The more you encourage others, the more you feel encouraged yourself.  It’s contagious!  Don’t wait to encourage someone until you feel encouraged yourself.  Even if you feel somewhat “down” offer someone else words of life and you will be lifted up as a result.

“The generous soul will be made rich.  He who waters will also be watered himself.” Proverbs 11:25

When was a time when you felt particularly encouraged by someone?  Tell them about it, and it will be an encouragement them in return!

How can you encourage someone today?