New Coaching Group: ENCOURAGEMENT

Encouragment Crabb Book

en·cour·age

 verb \in-ˈkər-ij, -ˈkə-rij, en-\

: to make (someone) more determined, hopeful, or confident

: to make (something) more appealing or more likely to happen

: to make (someone) more likely to do something : to tell or advise (someone) to do something

a :  to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope :  hearten <she was encouraged to continue by her early success>

b :  to attempt to persuade :  urge <they encouraged him to go back to school>

2 :  to spur on :  stimulate <warm weather encourages plant growth>

3:  to give help or patronage to :  foster <government grants designed to encourage conservation>

Who doesn’t need some “encouragement”? We are living in tough times and no one is immune from some kind of personal or family challenges. So let’s build one another up with comfort, support and well chosen words. As we encourage we will receive blessings and powerful benefits. Let’s join together for a deeper fellowship as we search the Scriptures and apply the principles provided in this excellent resource. 

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:23-25 (NIV)

We will share more as we move forward in our focus on ENCOURAGEMENT

Carol church announcementHappy Birthday Ron!

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The Power of ONE Word Reminders

Persevere YW MtPERSEVERE.

What do you need most in your life right now? It is a question I ask myself and my clients often. Do you want to be healthier? Is your biggest challenge with a relationship within your family or at work? For whatever reason, I’ve been confronted several times this week with conflicts—from people’s expectations to struggling with trying to please people to my own detriment.

Several months ago I gave my small group a challenge to persevere as we experimented with a new coaching process I developed called “Simplify to Satisfy*.” The inspiration was from Hebrews 10. Little did I realize at the time how much I needed to pay attention to the WORD to persevere…

Every December, I seek the Lord for a guiding life verse for the New Year. I ask God for “ONE WORD*” as a theme for the new season. I’ve been memorizing Bible promises for over 35 years but along the way I began focusing on ONE WORD with Scriptures to bless me with what I need most from God. This year God led me to James 1:2-4, 12: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Aha! This verse gripped me because last year my ONE WORD focus was completion with the Bible promise from Philippians 1:6: “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

But wait a minute, I definitely want more joy in my life but I don’t want any more trials– enduring suffering has been a life long past time. Enough is enough! I would prefer to focus on “joy” and experience “love sweet love.” As I searched the Scriptures and prayed it became very clear that the answer to what I needed most was to persevere.

To persevere in my relationships…yes I value my FAMILY & friends.
To persevere in my work…yes I enjoy coaching, teaching and ministries.
To persevere in my writing…yes I want to complete several projects.
To persevere in my growth…yes I want God to develop my character.
Oh yes, I desire to lack in nothing and be complete in Christ!

The hardest part of character refinement is the chiseling brought on by fiery trials with people—especially those you love and trust. The WORD tells me it is a work that will continue until the day Christ Jesus returns. The WORD reminds me to remain steadfast, as I persevere in faith.

So this week was no different…there was relief from pain, there were unexpected problems and there was peace in spite of criticism. There is deep abiding joy as I am a work in progress with many unfinished projects.

God knows our situation; He will not judge us as if we had no difficulties to overcome. What matters is the sincerity and perseverance of our will to overcome them. We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive. What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step. C.S. Lewis

“Blessed is the person who remains steadfast and perseveres under trial, for when she has stood the test she will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12

If you would like more information about the ONE WORD process or Simplify 2 Satisfy send me an e-mail: caroljsmith12@gmail.com or connect by Facebook

Although I write daily either by prayer journaling, preparing sermons or coaching workshops as well as all the little communications via text/e-mail—it is not enough. I am compelled to consistently share some WORD of encouragement. Today I am striving to complete my simple monthly goal to blog. Right now I am determined to complete this blog as it is the 12th day of the month. I’ve started it several times, changed my mind on the topic, edited and deleted numerous times. So here goes…this is ONE WORD for the answer to what I need most. 2-12-16

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Imperfect Prayers: Spirit of Hope

How I desire to be infused with a spirit of hope on this bleak gray overcast chilly winter morning. After another fitful night without restorative sleep there is no comfort for my pain. Why do I wake up in anguish? Oh how I struggle with the winter blues—Lord bless me with your healing and graciously fill me with the light of your presence.
Father-God I’m trying not to let the troubles of those I love keep me in despair. I fear for my children, my family and friends. As I listen to their concerns, receive multiple prayer requests, scan the headlines, I confess my worries about the evil oppression that surrounds us. I must look away from my weakness and let go of the burdens. I will focus my thoughts on your promises* to deliver us from this world. I seek you early as I renew my mind continually in your Word. Transform me from the inside out so that I might live in peace with hope.
Although I feel vulnerable in today’s desperation I trust it will not be like this always. There is hope even in the darkness. The faithfulness of God’s love continually returns as tender mercies with every prayer. I could not live without His comfort and strength.
There is relief for my soul—the present discouragement fades as I pray:
“Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence.” Psalm 42:5 NASB
“The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” Lamentations 3:22-24 (NLT)

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 ESV
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” Romans 8:38
There is nothing that can defeat the rising of hope. There is nothing that can separate us from His love and from one another. I will keep the faith and keep my hope in God.

1.12.16 – I made a new year’s commitment to blog again after a grief recovery hiatus. Although all I can offer for now are bits and pieces of my brokenness; I will do my best to imperfectly blog every 12th day of each month in 2016.

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Seasons of Overcoming: Purification of Grief?

Jesus_117It’s February, a time of transition rich with ancient symbolism, refining elements of nature and seasonal celebrations. There are many good reasons to celebrate love, new life, historical traditions and international tributes. Currently some are happy about the Super Bowl outcome while others cheer on the Winter Olympic winners! The word February comes from Latin origins meaning to “purify” or “expiate”. The ancient Romans recognized it as a season of purification—where festivities were held to reestablish a renewed focus on righteous living. Winter rains, snow and ice provide a cleansing with anticipation for renewal as we wait with hope for spring.

This is my February story about how the purifying fire of grief changed my family and my life.

It was not an ordinary February day—no not in any way. After a restless night of fitful sleep combined with prayers and tears I was drained. Thankfully I had previously arranged to redeem a massage (an unusual but very special Valentine’s gift from my husband). On my way home, I stopped and purchased some pretty primroses and planted them in spite of the frigid weather. I’ve always found gardening to ease my soul. I warmed up in front of the television, when a special news alert came on announcing that two bodies were found nearby with no further details available. Anxiously I searched the internet for further information and then waited for the evening news.

Alone in the darkness I heard a loud knock at my front door. Who could it be? I wasn’t expecting anyone and already knew my husband planned to work late. When I opened the door and they asked if I was Carol Smith my heart broke with anxious thoughts of why they were at my home. “Did I know Stephen Smith?” the detective asked. “Yes, I am his Mother” and then I immediately asked “Is he okay?” Immediately I broke down in tears because my worst fears were about to unravel as they asked to come in and talk with me. “No! No!” I cried, “Please tell me it isn’t true.” I knew it was true as I was silenced in shock. They were compassionate and patient. I gasped for God. This was absolutely the worst tragedy…

February 21st, the day life stopped. My beloved son Stephen was found dead a short distance from our home. The last time I saw him, he made me breakfast and his last words were: “I love you Mom.” He seemed upbeat as he left that morning but he did not come home. The next time I saw him he was cold and absent from his body. His cause of death: heroin overdose. Stephen suffered from a broken soul: anxious, deeply depressed from so many injuries and personal losses. He became addicted to anything that would ease his pain. I’ll never forget picking him up in a small but heavy box…placing his ashes in the back seat for the drive home from the mortuary.

So many threats and unknown attempts finally culminated in his death—ruled accidental but was it his final suicidal fulfillment of his desire to escape this troubled world? Shame, guilt, fear and worry can overcome the best of us. Judge not for you know not the full story—especially if you have never experienced mental illness, brain injury, serious diagnosis and addiction in your own family. We tried everything to get him help: unceasing prayer, faith and hope that he would be healed. We were diligent with interventions, trips to the emergency rooms, psychiatry, prescriptions, temporary detoxifications, rehabilitation all ineffective fixes. We felt helpless as all our son’s attempts to get help failed. We observed his desperate cries of self-condemnation; we witnessed his tormented anger at God. We endured many relentless days and nights of fear. We leaned onto our faith in a loving merciful God. We sought help for ourselves through our church, Al-Anon and professional counseling. We tried detachment with love. Nothing we could do would fill the emptiness of his soul. He knew we loved him but it was not enough. Only God could save him.

Addiction is a chronic and deadly disease that affects everyone in the family. It’s been a generational curse in my heritage. Everyone in its path is l victimized by the crisis and consequences of it’s destruction.  We felt helpless but we refused to give up hope. Stephen felt he was permanently damaged unable to climb out of the depression. He expressed over and over how he hated being an addict. He could not control the unceasing drive to ease his chronic pain brought on by brain damage, multiple injuries and worse yet the withdrawals. Stephen warned us he was giving up just two more days before he was scheduled for another rehab.

Stephen will always be a part of us. He is constantly in my thoughts. I get flashes of him as I see young skateboarders or bicyclists along the road. Relief comes just as quickly as grief grips. Memories can be painfully haunting or sweet and sober. I cry and immediately pray “help me Jesus” over and over. God gives comfort and renewed strength. Thankfully my husband and I have drawn even closer through our faith and love. We share a mutual compassionate understanding as we mourn the excruciating loss of our “one flesh.”

What anguish to lose anyone you love; we are not designed for death or separation. No matter how it happens, you can never prepare for grief—especially when devastating losses keep coming. What could be worse than sudden death of my husband’s baby sister Christina or the mysterious disappearance of my youngest sister Michele—never to be found?

Over the years, many of our closest relatives passed away in winter. But in February—the designated month of purification I lost my Mother and many years later my Father and now my youngest son. We are weary from the seemingly endless adversities but I vow not to give in. Nothing can separate us from God and His love.

What do you do to get through grief? Grief penetrates very deeply. My husband and I grieve very differently. Ron became more active in his volunteering; I withdrew and needed time to process with God alone. I needed to pray, read, research and write. As a couple we listened intently, cried and comforted one another with patience. We received loving support. We found solace in solitude. There were moments when I wanted to end the suffering, go to sleep and join my loved one in peace. But for us it was important to give in any way we could for in serving we experienced healing relief.

Each day, I am challenged to choose between gratitude or grievance? Will I focus on my pain and suffering or will I trust and seek God for overcoming in Christ?

Letting go of suffering is a continual surrender especially when there is a very painful ending. Grief is awfully deep as it fiercely strips every layer of your sanity and sensibility. Too many “if only;” “could of;” or “should have’s”—or even worse the regrets of Why’s with no answers!

One year later, I survive but not without struggle but I will keep holding on. Grief is not necessarily something you overcome…there is no closure until Jesus comes and brings an end to all death. Revelation 21-22

There is healing as we trust in God’s promises especially Romans 8:31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”)

37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

“And they overcame…because of the blood of the Lamb

and because of the word of their testimony,

and they did not love their life even when faced with death.” 

Revelation 12:11 NASB

Biblical Keys to OVERCOMING – 2014 Theme

5keys MasterStudyBible“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” 1 John 5:3-5

Every day I search the Scriptures for inspiration, guidance and strength. Over the years I have selected key Bible verses as life themes…as I pray for God to speak to me personally. In the past some of God’s Rhemas (spoken words) have included promises about: trust, redemption, calling, purpose, surrender, transformation, hope, courage, generosity, harvest, grace, peace, abundance, peace and for this season:
OVERCOMING
by grace for strength and hope!

  • To prevail over, surmount the obstacles
    To conquer, gain the victory;
    To overpower, as with emotion; affect deeply
    To get the better of in a struggle; to defeat the enemy

Why overcoming? Because of the continual opposition of the enemy with pain, grief and suffering. It was very difficult for me to blog in 2013—too much acute pain both at the beginning and end of the year. Even though I write almost every day—in my prayer journal, e-mails, Facebook, and most importantly for my writing project (which include books, seminars and testimonials)—I could not blog! It is easier for me to share through speaking—“talking” just comes naturally. Transparency in writing for publication is a tough assignment when you hurt. Truly, since my early twenties I have a compelling conviction to write…so here goes!

This year my journey is going to be about overcoming in faith. The key to overcoming for me is remembering God is my source.

Here are five keys I found to help me overcome:

1. Turn to God, draw near His heart and trust Him to take care of you.
2. Cry, pray and express your anguish transparently to God and share with trustworthy confidents and friends.
3. Accept, receive and continue to ask for prayer, help and support.
4. Remember His promises and keep your faith in God.
5. Trust and obey…for this the way to overcome in Jesus!

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.”  Helen Keller

“Acceptance of what has happened is the first step to overcoming
the consequences of any misfortune.”  William James

“Above all the grace and the gifts that Christ gives to his beloved
is that of overcoming self.”  Francis of Assisi

“And they overcame…because of the blood of the Lamb
and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.”
Revelation 12:11 NASB

Focus: Trust

     My Reckless Abandonment – Part I

“What she trusts in is fragile, what she relies on is a spider’s web.
She leans on his web, but it gives away, she clings to it, but it does not hold.”

This verse aptly describes my formative years as the continuous strands of abuse, betrayal and abandonment formed my web of destruction. A spiral of sticky naïve ignorance kept me from making good choices and blinded me of my true worth. The venom caused painful symptoms in my mind and body; but fortunately it was not so dangerous to take my life. Although my past web has been abandoned the cobweb scars linger…so I learned to trust and found healing in a loving God.

My first twelve years I did what I was told; the next twelve years I did life my way! I was rebellious against every person who broke my trust especially my abusive addictive parents. My father was a raging alcoholic and my mother’s drug of choice were “Black Beauties” (the Rx for weight loss). I hated the agony and abuse they inflicted upon themselves and their six children. Since they abandoned me, I chose to leave the chaos and foolishly continued the destructive ways enlarging my own web of destruction.
I began a pattern of relocating and seeking love in all the wrong places. I preferred older men of influence: someone who would provide a way of escape. I settled for the “bad boys” choosing drug dealers who numbed my pain; then I switched to incredibly wealthy selfish men in Palm Beach. Next I sought the educated and dated successful business men, my community college professor, my Real Estate Instructor and Amway leaders. I eventually turned away my doctor, Willie Nelson’s drummer and even Jimmy Buffet. The reality was none of them proved to be trustworthy of my love.
My choices minimized my value and filled me with shame, guilt and sorrow. I added more addictive traits to my web portfolio. I knew it was time for another escape and relocation. I became a seeker replacing my self-destructive choices for a new spiritual journey. First I experimented with new age, meditation, yoga, Hinduism and Scientology. I was open to invitations so I attended Baptist, Episcopalian, Methodist, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic and Seventh-day Adventist churches.
God seemed so distant, so far away and mysterious. I could not comprehend a loving Father nor could I understand His ways. To begin life, unwanted and abandoned is incomprehensible. To experience repeated abuse, abandonment and rejection over and over again creates deep wounds. I did not want to live my life as a victim. At 23, I was exhausted, wounded and ready to give up. I didn’t trust anyone especially myself and definitely not God. It was difficult to be unable to trust, so isolating without someone to love and so awful not to be loved.

I finally found hope in Jesus Christ. I fell deeply in love with God and found my first really satisfying relationship. I began a new journey of intentional abandonment to a loving Sovereign Lord. I learned how to experience absolute trust even in suffering, in spite of circumstances, even in the face of death, beyond my fears for genuine unfailing love.

A prayer of abandonment and trust in God:

“Dear Father-God, Open my heart that I may receive your love. Fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may abandon my selfish and destructive ways. Forgive me and help me to graciously forgive. Lord, create in me a new heart, renew my mind and restore my soul. Guide me in your everlasting truth, grant me wisdom, and set me free in your grace. I believe and trust in You. I love You with all my heart, mind and soul. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

My next post will be how I learned to trust again and how to practice complete abandonment  to God and His divine providence.

A few of my favorite TRUST Scriptures:

“Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:2

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…” Proverbs 3:5

“But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.” Psalm 13:5

“In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?” Psalm 56:4

“Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture” Psalm 37:3

[1] Job 8:14-15 The first quote was actually a false accusation from one of Job’s friends Bildad, whose name means ‘son of contention.”

FOCUS: Gratitude

FOCUS:  Gratitude

“Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn whatever state I am in, therein to be content.” Helen Keller

I woke up this morning thankful for many Sabbath blessings: beauty, worship; special time with precious children at church: singing Acts 16:31 and sharing Bible stories. Then we shared a healthy meal with family, a beautiful walk in a garden setting and a soothing warm soak in a natural hot spring…yes I had plenty to be thankful for!

But there is always something to draw us near to God, to our knees for prayer and today was no different. My Mother-in-law, sweet Ila was admitted to the hospital this afternoon with pancreatitis; she is in good hands with the great Physician, stabilized with medical treatment, and very much loved and supported by her family and friends.

This powerful promise reminds that us that God understands: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  (Philippians 4:6)

I just came home from the hospital, so I’m write a new addition to this message from what I wrote earlier.  I was preparing to facilitate a group meeting this coming week. I chose the topic gratitude because I know it to be a true remedy to life’s woes. I read many different things about “gratitude.” I found it interesting that many of the stories about gratitude kept referring to problems but in the context of being grateful. Here are a few paraphrases from some of the quotes:

Even the darkest of moments can be faced with a grateful heart; not for the problems but for the growth it can evoke with the help of Jesus.

When things seem their bleakest, I can choose to seek the courage and strength and hope accessible in my Lord and Savior for the light of understanding and gratitude.

For “when it gets dark enough you can see the stars.”

Just for today, I will practice gratitude. I will choose to accept the gift of gratitude, receiving the things that come my way. Knowing I can trust my Heavenly Father, I will be content and let the peace of Christ keep me. I will cultivate thankfulness. I will be thankful for an attitude of gratitude.

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