Encouragement to Support Others

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When I heard that Vickie Howell was creating a new knitting show I had to find out more. So I went to the kickstarter page and immediately gave some support. Vickie is an engaging and super creative knitter. And who doesn’t need a new knitting show! The gift for supporters in the  Rib Stitch level received a canvas bag with the show logo. Mine arrived just a few weeks ago.

 

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My first project to keep in my new knitting bag is a dish cloth for my brother and sister-in-law. They live in Florida so I picked colors that reflect the houses in the area they live. My husband and I enjoyed a long weekend in their home and the new dish towel will look great in their kitchen.

One way to support and encourage others is through our own gifts. Vickie will share her gifts as a fantastic knitter through her show which will offer tons of support and encouragement for a large number of people.  On the other hand, my brother and sister-in-law offered their home and my husband and I enjoyed a long weekend away from reality. Yes, we left Minnesota to go to Florida in July, and it was fantastic.

Encouragement Principle #1 Encouragement is intrinsically good.

Both Vickie and my brother and sister-in-law are sharing their gifts to bring good. More knowledge of a fun hobby, and a place for relaxation.

Encouragement Principle #6 Words of encouragement are timeless.

My financial support encourages Vickie’s show to grow. Here is a link to The Knit Show website. Also, checkout some parody’s from Vickie on The Knit Show YouTube Channel.

Vickie’s show will encourage people for years to come. The videos are engaging and will be available for a long time. Who knows what creations will happen because of Vickie’s dynamic presentation of knitting ideas.

My husband and I will always have memories of quiet time by the ocean.

While walking along the shore in the evening we witnessed nature in action. Sea turtles were coming up onto the shore to dig a nest and lay eggs. It was amazing, standing in the dark watching the mama turtles slowly plodding out of the sea.

One confused mama  came out of the sea mid morning.

Neither Vickie or my brother and sister-in-law will ever realize the full impact of their encouragement to knit and relax.

Encouragement From Screwtape Is it True?

Encouragement found in The Screwtape Letters

The selection for my book club in February was The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis. Of course I found encouragement in the book.

This book is fascinating and I have read it many times. The book is a series of letters from Screwtape, a master tempter from hell, to his apprentice nephew Wormwood. Wormwood has been assigned to a man to win him for the dark side, while the man is by his nature, destined for heaven. Screwtape is constantly giving pointers and criticisms about how Wormwood is going about his work.

“…encouraging the belief that sickness excuses every indulgence”

OR

“He [God] hates to see them drifting away from their own nature for any reason. And we should always encourage them to do so.”

Yes, he said it! Screwtape used encourage in a way that is not intrinsically good. In fact I counted at least 14 times that Screwtape is encouraging Wormwood in his influence over the man. Since my study of encouragement is still new, and somewhat based on my own experiences I had to pause when I read all the ways Wormwood was being encouraged by his uncle.

The number 1 principle in my Principles of Effective Encouragement list is that encouragement is intrinsically good. How could I be that off? What was I missing?

And then, as all book clubs are intended to do, I thought more deeply about what I was reading. As Lewis himself writes in the Preface,

“Readers are advised to remember that the devil is a liar. Not everything that Screwtape says should be assumed to be true…There is wishful thinking in Hell as well as on Earth.”

Of course! Truth is straightforward, lies are twisted. “Man tends by nature toward the truth”.*  Since man tends toward truth, the devil has to work extra hard to twist the truth to win souls for himself. Hence, in the battle for souls for hell, the work of Wormwood and Screwtape are very necessary and very twisted.

Which brings me, to my relief, that the encouragement from Screwtape is also twisted. In the world of the devil, encouragement is twisted from “encouragement is intrinsically good”, to “encouragement is intrinsically bad”.

So, for now, my principle holds true.

 

*2467 Catechism of the Catholic Church

 

 

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Wisdom from Sheep

The book Sheep, By Valerie Hobbs jumped out at me as I browsed the Young Adult novels at the library last week. Sheep caught my eye because,

sheep=yarn

yarn=knitting

knitting=relaxing.

This all seems like a perfectly logical reason to check out Sheep.

The book is about Jack, a sheep herding dog, and his life of adventures. It was written in 1st person from the view of Jack.

When Jacks’s father finally acknowledged that he was big enough to join the working dogs, he wrote this:

“That was before I saw the sheep. Sheep everywhere! The truck stopped, and they closed in all around us like a big gray woolly blanket, bawling and baaing, stinking like, well, like sheep.”

How nice to be content in your own environment.

Encouragement inspires us to be more of who we are. I wrote about being more of who we are in this post. Jack made the same observation in the animal world of sheep and dog.

“When the sheep were right, you had that deep down good feeling that you were making a difference. You were doing what you were meant to do, what you believed in, what you were really good at.  I’ll tell you, nothing in the world is better than that.”

Another connection is that encouragement takes away fear.  Here is Jack’s version.

“Out was what I wanted. It was a stronger feeling than fear, that need to be free of the cage.”

Encouragement is everywhere!

Encouragement Needs Awareness of Other Points of View

We all see the world differently. One of the ways we can increase our ability to encourage well is to be aware. Before giving or receiving encouragement we need to be aware of a situation. When we encourage others we cannot assume that everyone is viewing a situation from the same point as we are. Our vision of a situation can be widened by acknowledging that people looking at the exact same thing can see it very differently.

One way to make this clear quickly is to look at some optical illusions…what do you see? (I love these.)

Rubin Vase

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old Woman Young Woman

 

The Dress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kaninchen und Ente

Rubin Vase: Do you see a vase or 2 faces?

Old Woman Young Woman: Which do you see?

The Dress:  Do you see a white and gold dress or a blue and black dress?

Kaninchen und Ente (Rabbit and Duck): Which do you see?

Once you get a first impression of a picture try to see it from the opposite perspective. How hard was it to view the pictures from the opposite perspective? What is blatantly obvious to us may not even be visible to someone else.

Being aware of other perspectives to the same situation may change the way encouragement is given and received.

Encouragement from Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse

I love children’s literature. It brings out the commonality of human nature in a simple and often hilarious ways. I
love stories because they help us laugh at ourselves.

A favorite story is Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse, by Kevin Henkes. The story is about Lilly and her new purple plastic purse that makes music when you open it. Lilly admires her teacher Mr. Slinger. One day, after a shopping trip with her grandmother, she brings in her new glamorous sunglasses, and purple plastic purse to school. While sharing her new treasures at an inappropriate time during the day Mr. Slinger gently takes the new items and holds them in his desk until the end of the day. Lilly gets very upset and angry. However, that evening she realized her mistake and apologizes the next day. Then all is well again.

Here is a walk through Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse with some editorial comments about encouragement and human nature.

Lilly’s teacher encourages others by example. He was not like the other teachers.

 (#1 Encouragement is intrinsically good. It brings out the best in others.)

Mr. Slinger was sharp as a tack.

He thought that desks in rows were old-fashioned and boring. ‘Do you think you can handle a semicircle?’

‘Wow,’ said Lilly. That was just about all she could say, ‘wow’.

Lilly loves her teacher and want to be one just like him. He did it through example.

Lilly felt good about herself with her new items in tow and wanted to share that feeling. Maybe she was encouraging others to get their own purple plastic purse, maybe not. (#4 Something good for me may not be good for you.)But she definitely wanted to share with others what was making her feel good about herself. She wanted others to notice her joy and perhaps help others to find their joy.

Lilly wanted to show everyone…Lilly really wanted to show everyone.  Lilly really, really wanted to show everyone.

“Not now,” said Mr. Slinger. “wait until recess or Sharing Time.”

But Lilly could not wait.  “Look,” Lilly whispered fiercely. “Look, everyone. Look what I’ve got!” Everyone looked. Including Mr. Slinger. He was not amused.

“I’ll just keep your things at my desk until the end of the day,” said Mr. Slinger. “They’ll be safe there, and then you can take them home.”

Because Lilly shared her overflowing joy at the wrong time, she temporarily lost her treasures. And she lost her joy.

Lilly’s stomach lurched. She felt like crying….Lilly longed for her purse all morning.

Not only did she loose her joy, she became sad, angry, and furious. She lashed out at Mr. Slinger with insults. She drew a mean picture of Mr. Slinger and put it in his book bag. She wanted him to feel her pain.

Lilly’s reaction made me think about how I react when my special things are taken away.

Mr. Slinger had put a note in her purse before returning it to her at the end of the day. It read, “Today was a difficult day. Tomorrow will be better.” When Lilly arrived home she felt horrible. After telling her mother and father everything that had happened, she wrote an apology note.

I thought it was very mature of Lilly to think of writing an apology note all by herself. I’m sure her parents would have encouraged her to write one if Lilly had not come up with the idea on her own.

Lilly seemed to be very aware of the situation. Although she did not like what happened at school, she wrote the apology anyway. She also made some treats to share with the class. This makes me think of another encouragement principle to be added to my list, encouragement takes courage.

In the morning, Lilly gave the treats and the note to Mr. Slinger before school started. And the day went much better.

Lilly shared her new treasures during Sharing Time. She also kept the treasures in her desk.

Throughout the rest of the day, Lilly’s purse and quarters and sunglasses were tucked safely inside her desk. She peeked at them often but did not disturb a soul.

I love having special things close to me during the day. When I was first engaged, and sometimes still, I love to glance at my engagement ring and smile. It is such a fun reminder of how our family started, just Chris and me. I can go days without thinking about my ever present ring, but it is a fun reminder when I take the time to look at it and remember.

At the end of the day,

Lilly ran and skipped and hopped and flew all the way home, she was so happy.

We are happy when things are in order. We are happy when we have the courage to make things right.

Encouragement Podcasts

In my unquenchable search for all things encouragement I went to the Podcast button on my iphone and searched for podcasts with “encouragement” in the title.

Here is what I found, yes, the list was given with all small letters as seen below.

  • encouragement of the day – a podcast giving Christian encouragement from Arkansas
  • 200 churches podcast: ministry encouragement – a podcast to to encourage pastors of “smaller churches”
  • a minute of encouragement – Curt Goad these episodes are not available right now
  • blog fuel: education and encouragement – for designing and creating an online presence
  • building special families podcast – Jared Buckley for families with special needs children
  • christian quotes  encouragement to – Ryan Maher 5 minute Christian encouragement quotes
  • deb sofield’s encouragement for you – taking the fear out of public speaking and presentation skills
  • elevated living with russ warren – motivation inspiration and encouragement with a Christian touch
  • encouragement – sermonaudio.com – Dr. Steven J. Lawson Christian podcast
  • encouragement for the journey – encouragement with biblical principles

There are 10 podcasts on this list.

What do they have in common?

  • All of them give encouragement. As opposed to defining it, or discussing what it is about.
  • Seven of them are from a Christian perspective.
  • They all offer hope.
  • They all believe success is possible.

I’m still in search of more of the how and why of encouragement. The podcast realm is apparently not my best resource for new information. My search continues.

In The Beginning

I have always enjoyed receiving encouragement. In fact I LOVE it. It inspires me to take things up a notch. I enjoy knowing that someone else thinks I can do better or achieve more. Ralph Waldo Emerson gets in touch with the deepness of encouragement with this quote.

“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.” 
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have also been very encouraging to the people around me. Somehow, from deep within I knew that people are nicer to be around when they have hope. I find dreary people very draining. Some people will always be draining, but sometimes, just noticing something hopeful about a person can make a huge difference in their disposition.

Last summer was the beginning of my exploration. First, I realized my family (husband and 5 kids) was growing up and I had time to think about one topic for more than 2 minutes without being interrupted. Second, on a drive back from dropping kid #1 at school 500 miles from home I had time to think. The rental car radio was not working. I drove in silence and my mind kept repeating “why don’t we encourage each other more?” It seems like this world, with all its ups and downs, would be much easier to navigate if we could help each other along the way.

I started to create a TED talk in my head, “The Lost Art of Encouragment”. This involved several stops at rest stops to write down my thoughts.

encouragement notes
encouragement notes

I started collecting quotes about encouragement, and writing out the who, what, why, where, when and how questions. Then I went a little deeper into my thoughts, came up for a breath, and dove back in to explore the questions further. Recently, I put on some floaties so I could stay in the deep end of my thoughts for a longer period of time. Now, with courage to continue the exploration, I share the beginnings of my findings.

Exploring Encouragement

Exploring encouragement is a passion of mine. The past year has been an intense study of why, how, when, and what does encouragement really mean? All my life I have been giving it and receiving it. Most of us have. This year I took my exploring to a whole new level.

I have asked many questions about what is and what is not encouragement.

I have drawn ven diagrams and flow charts of true encouragement.

Mostly, I want to know why we don’t do it more often.

And now it is time to share.