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Little five year old boys don’t usually want to play with girls putting on makeup – unless it is boring because there are no other boys around. That changes everything. At least it did for Jude, my grandson. My four granddaughters had locked themselves in the... read more

My Mother’s Christmas Wish

Devotion: When I was a little girl, the number one question I asked all my family before December 25th was “What do you want for Christmas?” I asked my sisters and my brother, my mother and my father. It was a huge question for me because my funds were limited to a small... read more


“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” I Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)

When someone needs to be admitted to a hospital because of a serious illness, there usually isn’t a lot of smiling or laughing. That is, unless it happens to be one where my friend Barb is a patient. Barb doesn’t look forward to going to the hospital, but she still has to go. Why? Barb is in a fight with a monster named cancer.
You would never know it, though, just by talking with her. Her smile is so beautiful and bright that you are tempted to put on sunglasses, just to protect yourself from the glow. And her laugh! It’s a mixture of waves hugging a beach while children are giggling and 50’s music is playing on the radio . . . you just can’t get enough.
But what stands out above everything else is this: Barb’s focus is not on Barb. Her focus is on those around her and their personal battles. You see, Barb is an encourager. She spreads love and hope like a refreshing spring rain on a thirsty field of corn.  
Now before you picture her bouncing and giggling as she goes from room to room, let me be clear: Barb has days when just getting out of a chair makes her tired and she has no choice but to rest as she heals. And yet it is apparent that in the middle of those days, she has a peace and calm that can only come from one source – Jesus. 
Somehow I think that Paul must have had a friend just like Barb when he wrote today’s Key Scripture in I Thessalonians. Please understand. Barb has those days when she wonders if it is worth it all, these treatments and the side effects. But she knows something that many of us need to remind ourselves: God has a plan and a purpose for everything we face every single day. She will tell you that God did not cause her cancer but He allowed it. And as her friend, I can tell you that she has encouraged more people than I can ever count to hold on to the righteous right hand of a Father who will not ever let go of His children.
Let me ask you something: Where are you on the encouragement meter? Do you make a point, even in the middle of whatever is going on in your life, to build others up with a smile and a prayer and a hug? Or is your focus so centered on what you are facing that you cannot see others hurting around you?
Please understand this: there is no ignoring the battle going on. Barb simply understands that the One fighting for her wants her to encourage others to stand firm as He fights for them, too.
And may I share the response to her encouragement? The other patients look forward to her message of kindness and compassion and life. Her encouragement gives them hope. Yep. Paul must surely have had a friend named Barb.

Father, please show me those hurting around me who need to be encouraged so that I may build them up with Your hope and love. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Do you remember a time when you went through a particularly tough situation in your life? Did your focus turn completely inward or were you able to see others who were hurting as well?

Journal your thoughts on a battle going on in your life right now, either physically, emotionally or spiritually.

Now journal the battle a friend is facing. Add Scriptures that will encourage both of you and share them with your friend.

I Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV) “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

Galatians 6:2 (NIV) “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Proverbs 25:11 (NIV) “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.”

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Copyright 2013  Nancy E. Hughes