the power of encouragement

It reflected from the sparkle in her smiling eyes.

It sprang out from the bounce in her step.

It swayed with the highlights in her shoulder-length bob.

It sang from the notes of her contagious laughter.

She drank it in with her extra large Diet Coke every morning, and it poured forth with her every word.

The power of encouragement.

She was our high school Varsity tennis coach,

and we loved her.

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She made us who we were, as a team.

She motivated us, bonded us, unified us.

She knew the power of encouragement, and she used it well.

She was our coach,

and we loved her.

A ball of energy, her enthusiasm overflowed into each one of us.

She radiated vibrancy, and we couldn’t help but strive for excellence because of it.

Between games, she would call us to the fence for a pep talk.

 

Coach Page 4.2

Whether we were ahead or behind, her tone was full of gusto and vivacity.  With her perfectly manicured nails clasping the rungs of the fence, she would tell us what we needed to hear.

“That girl’s backhand is weak.  Hit it deep, back in the corner pocket.  Make them run.  Make them tired.  You got this.”

She put the fire in our hearts, the love of the game in the soles of our feet.

We played to win.

We played for the love.

We played for her.

She knew the power of encouragement, and she used it well.

Her memory has spurred me on to seek out that same power of encouragement.

To use it well.

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To go beyond motivating a player in a tennis match, and strive to motivate and encourage sisters in the faith.  To build up those who are weary and aching from the constant onslaught of life’s baseline backhands, volleys at the net, and in-between overhead shots.

To remind my spiritual teammates that even when our opponent serves up an ace, we can still recover.  We may lose the game or even the set, but if we are in Christ, we have already won the match.  He has already claimed the victory.

To encourage others to see the grace we have been given.

The grace that leads to hope.

 

Hebrews 3.13 - Tennis

 

“… that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:2-3, ESV).

This post was written in conjunction with an (in)courage Community Group link-up, on the prompt, ‘The Power of Encouragement.’  To read more posts on the same theme, or to participate in the link-up, click here

Final photo credit: Alans1948, edited

12 ways to encourage missionaries

A group from our church recently had a discussion about how to encourage Christian missionaries.

Here is some of the fruit from that evening:

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1. Read their updates.  Like, actually read them.

2. Reply to their newsletters, even if it’s just one line, to say, “Thanks for the update.”

3. Pray for them.  Set aside a specific time, maybe one evening a week, that is specifically designated for praying for certain missionaries and their work.

4. If you have prayed for them, tell them.  It can be encouraging to hear, “I’ll pray for you,” but how much more so to hear, “Our family prayed for you last night,” or “Our Bible study group prayed for you at our last meeting.”

5. Send them a birthday card, care package, magazines from home, books you’ve enjoyed, treats they can’t get on the field.

6. Recommend missionary biographies that might be an encouragement to them.

7. Share snippets of spiritual food you have enjoyed — a verse that encouraged you during your quiet time, or an anecdote from a sermon that made you think of them.

8. Be willing to be a sounding board, a confidential source to whom they can vent and on whom they can rely when things are challenging.

9. Let them know it’s okay to take vacations, both on the field and on furlough.  Not only okay, but essential.

10. Give their kids grace when they’re on furlough.  The whirlwind of meetings, houses, people, services, food, conversations, adjustments, etc. etc. etc. can take a huge toll on adults and kids.

11. Listen to their stories.

12. Pray some more.

13. And an added bonus, straight from someone on the field: “Of course, the absolute cherry on the cake would be coming to visit us!”

For 12 Tips on Growing Missions-Minded Children, click here.

Photo credit: Free Grunge Textures