Tag Archives: Blessings travel two-way streets

Where you get “the good stuff?”

Have you ever noticed that when we stop complaining about every little thing that irritates or disappoints us, we start to become aware of all the good that remains in our lives? From where does all that goodness come?

If you’ve studied hard and worked hard you might be right in receiving congratulations for a job well done – and maybe a better job or promotion!

If you’ve persevered under heavy trial and come out of the storm alive, you might receive credit for your disciplined and conscientious approach to the situation.

If your kids turn out great you might take a bow for having raised them well and taught them the truly important lessons of life.

If you’re able to enjoy an abundance of wealth in your life, you might credit hard work and talent.

If you remain healthy and vibrant as you age you might testify to your healthy diet and exercise regime.

And you’d be right. Hard work and perseverance, following a path designed for success, and faithfulness to what is good and true tends to produce good things. But how is it we have the power to produce such goodness? Where do we get that goodness in the first place?

I complimented a young lady on her compassionate heart that led her to rescue a baby bird from its distress. Though grateful, she embarrassingly shrugged off the compliment. I reminded her that the compliment for her was sincere and that it was at the same time a compliment to God for the tender heart he had given her.

Whatever talent or special ability to work and persevere, build or achieve ultimately comes from the one who created us and endowed us with those special abilities and characteristics. Ultimately, if it’s good, it comes from God. What  continually stuns me is how God chooses to work through you and me, imperfect people that we are, to be the vessels of his love. He blesses us so we can bless others which in turn brings blessing back to us. It’s like the old song, “Love is something that if you give it away, you end up having more.”

Blessings always travel two-way streets.

So if God blesses you to bless others and that in turn blesses you again, does it stop there? Or does the blessing return to God who spoke the blessing in the first place? The old benediction, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow,” reminds me not only of the source of all my blessings, but also the completing act of the cycle of blessing which is praise.

It takes a disciplined mindset and attentive eye to see blessing and goodness in the middle of a bad situation. But when you do, don’t you want to share it with someone else and also thank the one who revealed it to you?

Whether your experience is large or small, if you experience the blessing of laughter, hidden joy, persevering faith, abundant resources, or simple beauty, turn that blessing back into praise of the one who revealed it to you. Return the blessing to God. And then watch that praise lift your own day and mold your heart and life into one of great satisfaction…ultimately satisfaction in God who created you and revealed all “the good stuff” in your life.


Encourage One Another

imageNada, Thuong, and Kim stop by just to hang out with us.

Who doesn’t need or appreciate being encouraged by someone else? We may sometimes be tempted to think that we manufacture our own strength, that we can somehow sustain ourselves with our positive attitude. But I think that deep down we are wired to need -and give- encouragement.

In the depths of our soul we recognize that the sum of our strengths, gifts, and talents leave us quite short of being self sufficient. In other words, we need each other. As I was sharing with the young Jewish man who came to visit (see Dec 22 blog), we each carry a piece of another’s puzzle. No one has all the pieces they need without engaging with others. One of the ways we share the piece (peace?) someone else needs is to speak encouragement in their life.

I remember this being modeled to me over twenty years ago by Dr. Terry Penniman. And it changed my life. I had the privilege of coteaching health care administration classes with Terry at the local community college. One day, we stopped by a local Dairy Queen for lunch. I was eager to grab a quick bite and visit with Terry before heading back to class. Terry, on the other hand, had cultivated the art of encouraging others. It had become part of who he was. Seeing the new store manager, Terry commented on what a nice job the young man had done cleaning up the place and making it a welcoming place to have lunch. Their conversation probably didn’t last more than a few minutes. But from the expression on the young manager’s face, I am certain it positively impacted his afternoon. Encouragement does that. It increase our capacity to carry on. It builds us up and gives us the strength to encourage others. (Thank you, Terry!)

And encouraging others pumps us up too. I like to share with others:


Keeping our focus on strengthening others keeps us from focusing negatively on our own pity parties. Living with the intentional focus on building up each other gives us perspective and passion for living through whatever circumstances challenge us, including this present cancer.

And the beauty of encouragement is that there so many creative ways to encourage each other. An affirming word, recognizing someone’s value and contribution, a short handwritten note or brief email, a small (or extremely generous) gift, an engaging smile, a helpful deed performed without being asked.

It seems the only prerequisite is that it must be genuine. No form of insincere flattery will do. Attempts to just make someone feel better without valuing them ring hollow and will in the end discourage rather than encourage the other.

How have others encouraged you? How have you been encouraged? Share a comment by clicking ‘reply.’ Your contribution will likely be an encouragement to others. Spread the word and share the blog with others who need an encouraging word. You can click “Follow” at the top of the page to receive updates directly via email.

“Encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.”
1 Thessalonians 5:14