Recently, while I was cleaning my desk, I found a stack of encouragement cards I have gotten over the years dating back to 2002. I had notes from my husband and kids, students and their parents, friends and neighbors. Amazingly, I realized I had gotten 15 cards from the SAME woman, the oldest dating back to 2006. 15! Wow! I read each one of these cards and realized how her encouragement made me want to keep serving and giving. It blessed me to reread all these notes and spurs me on to more good works for God. I LOVE encouragement! I NEED encouragement! And I bet you do too!
Receiving encouragement is easy. Giving it is harder. In my home, I find myself all too often giving my kids direction, redirection, reproof, correction, redirection, commands and then even more redirection. It is also so easy to snap, bicker or yell at my kids. I’m sad to say this is my gut reaction all too often. But it is important to make encouragement a daily part of my mothering. I know how it blesses me, so I need to make passing it along a habit.
Now, this isn’t just MY idea. The Bible actually calls us to encourage one another…well, commands us to encourage one another.
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.Hebrews 3:13
Our kids are included in the “one anothers” listed in that verse. So how are you doing with encouraging your kids? Well, I need constant reminders to do this because I am so prone to criticism and complaint that I need to purpose to encourage my kids. Here are two ways I am working on my encouragement. Won’t you join me?
First, we must plan to SPEAK encouragement to each of our kids each day. This can look very different with each child. Maybe it is speaking of a way your child is growing in the Lord as you saw them sharing with a sibling without being told or befriending someone who doesn’t have many friends. Then, praise God for the work He is doing and tell your child. Maybe it is a simple text, lunchbox note or sticky note on their mirror to tell them how you are specifically praying for them. Perhaps it is speaking thankfulness for how God made your child and how they add to your family, maybe even thanking them personally for doing the work around the house even though they were told to do it. Also, laughing together and having fun is such a source of encouragement to me and to our kids. I know it blesses my children when our family just hangs out, retells old stories and laughs together. And these ideas are only the beginning of the many ways to SPEAK encouragement.
Second, we can encourage our kids by ACTIONS. I know as a mom, we are always acting for our kids by making meals, folding clothes, cleaning bathrooms, and the list goes on. But our kids need our helping hands now and then. Our help is often a great encouragement to them. Maybe it is making their lunch one day when they are running late for school instead of yelling at them, helping them get going at homework by kicking off the first two or three questions together, working on dishes together when the sink is overfilled, snuggling on the couch “just because” to read a favorite book, or buying their favorite candy during exams. Another great way to act out encouragement is by making traditions that stick. Maybe Friday night becomes movie and popcorn night, or every Saturday you take a late night walk together with a popsicle. Specific traditions or simply just putting our work down for a few minutes to spend time shows our kids that they are important to us. Surprising our kids with something unexpected like a play date with a friend or a trip to the park will encourage them, too. Actions do speak louder than words.
There are really hundreds of ways to encourage our kids daily. I have only made a small list. Maybe you might want to make a list, too? My goal is to LOOK for ways to be an encouragement to each of my six kids daily and actually do it! I know this is a tall order, and I am sure there will be days I will fail. But I am going to keep trying and working on this because it is important and impactful. I hope you join me!