How to Communicate Love Part3: Gifts

heart candy boxOkay so we talked about words and actions that show love, but there is another way to communicate love and that’s with gifts.  Does your gift need to be an expensive trinket or token?  Not at all.  In fact, the most precious gifts don’t cost much at all!  What they do cost is thought, time and preparation.

I have an incredible niece. She’s a treasure.  She recently had her 16th birthday and I wanted to give her something special.  Instead of a nice article of clothing or an expensive piece of jewelry, I created a photo album for her to keep her memories in.  I purchased a special photo album in her favorite colors and filled the first few pages with things that she loved as a child.  I included a letter I wrote to her about how I watched her grow and what a lovely young lady she had become.  I added pictures of her and her brother and some trinkets of things she treasured.  And I told her to fill the remaining pages with treasures from her life as she begins adulthood.

The idea behind a special and treasured gift is to make it personal and infuse it with meaning.  Personalize your gift.  Let it be a reflection of what you know about them, what they need, their hopes and dreams.

It’s the thought that counts isn’t an expression we should remember because it excuses us from giving an appropriate gift or spending a lot of money. It’s one that should remind us of the way our gift should make the recipient feel: special!

Check back next week for my wrap up article and how you can find your spouse’s love language!

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Don’t forget to check out our Valentine Special where you can get two e-books that will help you and your spouse build a happier and stronger relationship!  Plus our free bonus gift, 28 Days of Love: 28 scriptures, sayings and beautiful illustrations that will help you become better able to express your love for your spouse.  It can be Valentine’s Day all year long!

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How to Communicate Love Part2: Actions

SuperManLast week we looked at communicating love with the words we use, but there are so many other ways to communicate love!  We often don’t even have to say a word to show someone that we love them.  Here are just a few ways:

1. Hugs

A hug is a love language most people understand.  Sometimes no words are necessary.  The hug has healing powers.  It transforms empty words into a feeling like nothing else can.

And how long should a hug last?  A quick hug is what guys do for each other.  They don’t want to linger too long over a hug with another man.  But a hug between spouses should last longer than it takes to regain your manhood.

Hugging and cuddling should be a regular part of your communication with your spouse.  Have you hugged your spouse today?

2. What we do

Nothing says I love you like gas!  No really.  My dh always fills my car up with gas.  We’ve been married 26 yrs and I can count on my fingers the number of times I have filled up my tank.  He does this so I don’t have to go out and so I always have enough gas to get me where I need to go.

I’m sure he doesn’t enjoy getting me gas.  After all, he has to do it for his own car as well.  But the fact that he takes the time to do things he doesn’t really want to do so that I don’t have to do it, just makes me feel warm and fuzzy all over.  What about you?  What does your spouse do for you that makes you feel his/her love?

3. Offer to help

Another way we can communicate love to our spouse or others is to offer to help with something.  Ever have a need that someone offered to help with by supplying you with the money to do whatever it was you needed to do?  I’m sure that was appreciated, but don’t you appreciate it more if the person took the time to come help?

Ideas:

Offering to bring over a meal when someone is sick.

Doing the dishes for the wife when she is tired.

Offering to take the kids for a few hours so someone can rest.

Helping an elderly neighbor clean her house or offering to do it yourself.

Actions speak louder than words and they often convey more than just, “I love you.”  Be someone’s superhero!  But there are other ways to communicate love. Check back next week for part 3.

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Don’t forget to check out our Valentine Special where you can get two e-books that will help you and your spouse build a happier and stronger relationship!  Plus our free bonus gift, 28 Days of Love: 28 scriptures, sayings and beautiful illustrations that will help you become better able to express your love for your spouse.

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How to Communicate Love Series Part1: Words

Flowery WordsSaying the words is only one way that you can tell your spouse you love them, but how many times have we heard people say things when they don’t really mean them?  They say talk is cheap and it is.  We allow words of hate to slip out of our mouths all to often and things are far easier said than done.  How many of us gals ever dated a guy who said they loved us, but what he really meant was he WANTED to?

Unless the other party really feels your love for them, these words are almost meaningless.  Ever have a fight with your brother after which your mother made you say you were sorry?  You said the words to each other because mom said so, but you and your brother knew full well neither one of you meant it. How many of us, in our rush to get stuff done, have kissed our spouse and said, “love you” as you shuffle your papers to find your car keys?  Forget our love language, sometimes we simply don’t act as if we mean the words we say.

If you’ve ever done this, and I suspect we all have, it can become a habit and then the words, “I love you,”  become synonymous with “nice knowing you.”  These words, spoken so frequently and with varying degrees of depth, become meaningless.  After all, a stranger on the street could say the words and be telling the truth because he loves all people, but what does that really mean?

So how else can we communicate that we love them?  Tell them they are special to you.  Tell them WHY they are special to you.  Compliment them and be specific about what you love about their personality, their smile, their talents.  And it’s not just about how your wife looks, fellas!

The devil is in the details and so is the feeling of love.  A stranger on the street may be able to tell your wife the truth when he says, “I love you,” but he can’t tell her what he loves about her because he doesn’t know her.  What do you love about your husband?  What does he do, not do, or say that warms your heart and makes your day?

Specific words will show your spouse the love he/she needs to feel.  How else can we communicate love?  Check back next week for part 2 of this month’s blog series!

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Don’t forget to check out our Valentine Special where you can get two e-books that will help you and your spouse build a happier and stronger relationship!  Plus our free bonus gift, 28 Days of Love: 28 scriptures, sayings and beautiful illustrations that will help you become better able to express your love for your spouse.

 

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Make sure people know they’re special to you

Reading newspaperPart of effective communication has nothing to do with the words we use, but our attitude.

Do you look them in the eye when you speak to people or is your attention divided as you text, talk on the phone, watch something on TV or read the paper?

Do you use generic terms when you answer them or do you give them specific feedback?

Are you warm and inviting?  Do you tell them why they are special to you?  Do you share your thoughts and feelings with them?  Have you taken the time to offer help when needed?  Really listen when they share?

Making people feel special is the building blocks of a good friendship.  That involves several things:

Noticing things about others helps you to let them know they mean something to you. Are they wearing a new coat?  Do they appear distracted?  Have they recently lost a loved one?  A job?  Making a point to pick up on clues helps us to treat our friends and family members with more care, but picking up on these things is only the first step.  Once you’ve taken the time to notice, you’ll need to let them know that you did-even if you are pressed for time.  ESPECIALLY if you are pressed for time!  Why?  Because nothing says “I’m special” more than a friend who gives what little she has.  If you give a little bit of the time you have when you are rushed, that speaks volumes to your friend about how special she is to you.

It’s often the little things we don’t always take the time to do in the modern rushed world that makes all the difference in our relationships.  But what about when that relationship is already strained by a history of poor communication, misunderstandings and missed opportunities?

If you are looking to repair a damaged relationship, Art of Eloquence can help.  Check out Say What You Mean: Avoiding, Reducing and Resolving Conflicts.  Browse our free lesson at the bottom of the page.  If you purchase this study, you’ll learn how to avoid conflicts or even reduce their effects so that you may build closer relationships with others.

Or sign up for this month’s webinar: Resolving Conflicts and get this study as a bonus gift!

Consider what a closer relationship will mean to your life and ask yourself if it’s worth a few dollars and a little of your time to have that again.

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Isn’t it time to repair your relationship and resolve that conflict?

Face OffIt’s a new year and, like all new beginnings, it comes with an opportunity.  Each year, and each day for that matter, gives us an opportunity to renew old friendships, repair past hurts, and rekindle the love we once felt for our spouse.

Is there a friend you haven’t spoken to in a long time?  Was it just because you hadn’t taken the time or is it due to a falling out?  The longer we are out of touch with someone, the more difficult it seems to take that first step toward renewal or repair of a distant or damaged relationship.

Many people I talk to say they’d be willing to repair a relationship if only the other person would make first contact.  The problem is that is usually what the other person is thinking.  You are waiting for him and he is waiting for you.

Why not take the first step?  I’ll bet you’d be surprised at how much less difficult it is than you thought it would be.  Sometimes all it takes is hello to rekindle old friendships or even to smooth over a small misunderstanding.  I challenge you this year to try.  Your relationships are well worth the effort!

If you are looking to repair a relationship that has been damaged by a deep conflict, Art of Eloquence can help.  Check out Say What You Mean: Avoiding, Reducing and Resolving Conflicts.  Browse our free lesson at the bottom of the page.  If you purchase this study, you’ll learn how to bridge the gap and repair old hurts no matter how long they have festered.

Or sign up for this month’s webinar: Resolving Conflicts, and get this study as a bonus gift!

Consider what you once had with that person and ask yourself if it’s worth a few dollars and a little of your time to have that again.

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What happens to our communication when we are thankful-Part 2

So far this Thanksgiving month, we’ve talked about why it’s often difficult to  Praise God in the Storm, what God Says about Being ThankfulWhat Being Thankful Doesn’t Mean, some things that will help us to remember in trying to be thankful.  I’ve given you some  practical advice with tips on exactly HOW to praise God in the storm.  On Monday, I shared what happens to our communication when we are thankful and today  I have a few more consequences of being thankful.

1. Others find us more approachable

The old saying, “laugh and the world laughs with you; cry and you cry alone” is quite true.  Unless you’re so delirious with joy that you seem a Stepford Wife, the more joyous and thankful you are, the more approachable you seem to others.

Nobody wants to approach a Gloomy Gus and ask him for directions.  If you are filled with the joy of the Lord, you are apt to radiate that to others who will find you a blessing in their lives because they feel they can ask you for help.

2. Others aren’t intimidated by us or afraid of us or uncomfortable with us

When we aren’t grumpy or frustrated, we open ourselves not only for others to ask us for help so that we may be a blessing to them, but we allow others to feel comfortable enough with us to spend time talking to us.  How can we hope to share the Gospel or our ideas if we make others so uncomfortable that they don’t want to be around us?

3. We show and communicate God’s love

Another advantage of being joyous is that we have an opportunity to share and demonstrate God’s love.  It’s difficult to communicate God’s love for His children if we are grumpy, frustrated and angry.  Being filled with joy and thankfulness allows us to share that joy and thankfulness with others, even if we don’t utter a word.

Well, that concludes this month’s series of articles on being thankful and praising God in the storm although  I will be back on Friday with some reflections on thankfulness.

I pray this series was a blessing to you especially if you are experiencing struggles in your life at present.  Please leave a comment with your thoughts on this topic, especially if this series of articles has helped you or someone you know to be able to cope better during a struggle.  I’d love to hear what made a difference for you.

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What happens to our communication when we are thankful-Part 1

All this Thanksgiving month, I’ve been sharing about how to Praise God in the Storm.  I’ve talked about what God Says about Being Thankful, and What Being Thankful Doesn’t Mean.  I’ve talked about how sometimes things that friends and family communicate to us can make our struggles more difficult and about things we can communicate to ourselves that can help us during struggles like some things that will help us to remember.

I’d never seen any practical advice with tips on exactly HOW to praise God in the storm and be thankful so I posted two articles on things we can do that will help us to be thankful and praise Him even during our most difficult struggles.

Finishing up this series, I’d like to share a bit about what happens to our communication when we are thankful.

1. Communication is easier

When we are happy, our communication is happy and easy.  We are less curt with people and more grace-filled.

2. Open to good things rather than looking for the bad

People who are more joyous tend to look for the good in people which leads to not taking offense to things that aren’t meant as offenses and even those that are.  This makes for easier conflict resolutions.

3. Communication becomes angry and hurtful when we aren’t thankful

The more thankful we are, the less angry we are.  Anger leads to lashing out and often to hurting others.  The more joyous and thankful we are, the less likely we are to be hurtful even if we don’t mean to be.

4. Become more Christ-like when we are thankful

Our communication is much more Christ-like when we are thankful and full of joy than when we are angry, frustrated and negative.

So the more joyous and thankful we can become, the more we communicate and spread that to others, but there are even more benefits to being thankful that comes out in our communication.  I’ll share those on Wednesday.

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HOW to praise God in the storm part 2

On Monday I shared some things we can do that will help us become thankful so that we can praise God in the midst of the storms of our lives.  Here are some more things that have helped me over the years and I pray they help you as well.

1. Remember that joy and happiness are two different things

Keep things in proper perspective.  Happiness, as defined by Merriam Webster as good fortune or  prosperity, a state of well-being and contentment, joy or a pleasurable or satisfying experience.

Joy is listed as the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires, delight, the expression or exhibition of such emotion, gaiety, a state of happiness or felicity, bliss, a source or cause of delight.

So happiness is dependent upon external circumstances, whereas joy exists in spite of whatever is going on around us and is a result of what’s happening on the inside. You can still have joy even though you are not happy because you can have a hope because you are in God’s will and will be rewarded in heaven even if you aren’t here on earth.  You can be joyous in your strength or your endurance or your obedience even if you are unhappy about your health or your finances or your relationships.

2.Do things that bring you joy

Look at pretty pictures of God’s world and remember how everything is delicately balanced for us and given for us to use.  It’s hard to look at he beauty of God’s world and not feel some amount of joy.

Listen to uplifting music and sing along or sing harmony.  I am a wanna be musician. I used to write songs and I was a voice major in college before I switched to Speech Communication.  I can’t help but feel better when I hear beautiful music and sing along.  It usually makes me feel better to sing along to praise and worship music sometimes the same song over and over again.  Here’s one of my favorites:

Call a friend.  Sometimes you need a real, living person you can talk things over with.  Just talking through our feelings can help us feel a bit better because we have expressed them and someone cared enough to listen.  Many times we aren’t looking for a solution because we already know what our options are, but sometimes we may be surprised as our friend’s ability to help us find one!  Even if nothing gets resolved, you will probably find yourself feeling better just because you were able to share your feelings with a good and trusted friend.

3.Read encouraging devotionals

Not devotionals on being thankful, but ones that encourage you.  BibleGateway has a devotionals you can subscribe to that I have found helpful: Encouragement for Today, Devotions for Women and Devotions for Moms.  I don’t recommend the one called Standing Strong in the Storm because it’s mostly about people who have endured religious persecution.  While that might be important to read and inspiring at other times, I find that they are not something we can relate to when we are in the middle of stress.  Unless your struggle is religious persecution on a grand scale, I find I can’t relate to them and they make me feel bad for even being upset about financial or health or relationship issues which doesn’t help me feel any better about my situation.

4. Help someone else

I know it sounds a bit backwards, but it can often feel good to be the solution for someone else’s problem.  Sometimes we are almost paralyzed by our fear or stuck in our sadness that we feel a complete lack of control over our lives.  It can feel empowering or at least uplifting to be the solution to something, no matter how small the issue is.  As they used to say back when I was a little girl, “try it; you’ll like it.

You may not be able to become happy about your circumstances, but you can do things that bring you some joy.  This joy will help us see the blessings God has put in our lives and this will, eventually, allow us to thank God and even praise him in the storm.

Now that we have a few things we can do that will help us become more joyous, next week I will share about what happens to us when we are thankful.  What happens to our feelings and what happens to our communication.

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HOW to praise God in the storm part 1

Most Christians have heard many times how we are to praise God in the storm, but what has always frustrated me is that nobody has ever told us how to do that.  It’s hard to just begin feeling thankful when you’re in the midst of a financial mess or a loved one’s death.  Merely understanding that you should do something doesn’t help you do it.

All devotionals on this topic will tell you to read the Bible and pray.  This is obvious since we are trying to get closer to God and further away from our pain or struggle.  This is also something we should do when we are not struggling.  But just reading the Bible when you are struggling may not help your attitude turn to gratitude and you may not even know how to pray for a situation, especially if it has been a long and confusing one.

There are many devotionals on thankfulness that talk about this so I’m not going to spend much time on it since you’ve probably read enough of them to quote them verbatim.  I’ll just say that it’s important to continue to pray and read the scriptures even when we are at our wit’s end and even when we are no longer able to envision that God would help us because, the moment we no longer seek God, we begin to drift away from Him.  “Trouble and anguish have taken hold on me: yet thy commandments are my delights.” -Psalm 119:143

So how do we begin to feel thankful?  Well, last week I prepared our hearts a bit by sharing with you what we should remember.  But that often isn’t enough to bring us through from frustration and despair.  After many years upon this earth I have found some things that have helped me to become more thankful and bring me to the point where I can praise God during the storms of my life.

1. Start small and build

Thank Him for whatever blessings you can think of, even if you have a hard time coming up with things you are thankful for and even if you don’t feel very thankful when you write it or say it.  There is an old saying, “act as if.”  If you begin to thank God for the blessings, no matter how small, in your life, you will begin to see more and feel it more as you go.

Somehow my attitude changes when I concentrate on the little blessings.  I remember an old saying my relatives had when I was a child, “thank God for small favors.”  It has become a popular secular saying that has come to mean something quite different so I don’t suggest you actually say this to yourself.  I think it must have started out meaning that we should thank God for the small blessings in our lives to help us see the blessings He has given us.  Unfortunately, what it has come to mean is a snarky commentary that God only grants us small favors.

See how your attitude changes when you say, “thank God for small favors” instead of “thank you, Lord, for these little blessings?”  One suggests that’s all we expect the Lord to give us and the other reminds us that these are just the beginnings of blessings God wants to shower upon us.  That one little communication change changes everything.

Think back to all the times when you had just missed a disaster.  How do you think that miracle happened?  Envision what God must have been doing to protect you and then feel the love that lead God to that act.  I remember a time when we drove from California to ARIDzona to visit my folks.  On the way there (which is here now), we heard the brakes begin to screech.  All the men at the event thought it wasn’t a major issue so we didn’t drive the car during our visit and headed home where we planned to have them repaired.  There was a great deal of traffic that holiday on the way back and got progressively worse on that six hour drive home.  We were able to make it all the way home and, as we coasted into the garage, the brakes completely failed leaving us unharmed and safely in our garage.  Thank you, Jesus, for all the disasters we avoided that night alone!

Think back to all the times when NOTHING bad happened.  What disaster might have occurred?  Thank Him for those as well.  How many times were you thinking of going to ABC when something changed your mind and you narrowly avoided a known disaster?  My husband once decided not to go to work one day because the only route there (70 miles one way) was covered in snow and notorious for closure.  Later we found that many of the people who traveled that road were stuck down the hill unable to get home for a day or two.  And what about all the other situations we have no idea we could have found ourselves in?

2. Blessings for worst not happening

In the midst of terrible pain it’s often hard to see what could be worse and, to be honest, we don’t often care.  We just know where we are now is bad.  However, looking at the bright side can truly make a person thankful because, believe it or not, there are so many situations where we could be worse off.

Food prices up? Praise God that you have the money to buy them.  Health bad? Praise God that you have the time to rest.  Sick? As you pray for healing be thankful it isn’t fatal.  Serious illness?  Be thankful that there is still hope.  And if a loved one has passed away, praise God he is no longer suffering and is with Jesus in heaven.

Now these things may sound easy to some, but they are not at all easy to do when you are in the middle of a struggle especially when that struggle has already taken a toll on you for many years.  However, if you start small, are consistent and build, your faith will increase, your sorrow will lift and your joy will return even if you aren’t happy about your circumstances.  (I’ll talk more about the difference between joy and happiness in my next article so stay tuned.)

In the midst of despair, sadness and being overwhelmed with struggle, we may find it difficult to just pick ourselves up by our Christian bootstraps and just “be happy.”  However, these little things have helped me get just one step closer to being thankful and have reminded me that God is there with me and He’s working on my behalf even if I can’t feel Him through all that life throws at me.  I pray they are blessings to you and you can begin to see how you can be thankful and praise God during your struggles as well.

Next time, I’ll be back with some more tips that will help us to be thankful so we may praise God in the storms of our lives.

 

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What to remember about struggles

So far I’ve introduced you to the idea that we need to learn how to Praise God in the Storm, what God Says about Being Thankful, and What Being Thankful Doesn’t Mean.  Sometimes things that friends and family communicate to us can make our struggles more difficult, but there are things we can communicate to ourselves that can help us during struggles.

Today I’d like us to consider some things that will help us remember that God is not out to get us when struggles come. God isn’t punishing us and that there is a reason and maybe even a blessing around the corner.

Here’s what we need to remember during hard times: 

1. Even if we cannot feel Him, God is still with us

We can count on Him to help and support us through the difficult times.  Often we feel abandoned by God when tough times come.  It’s only  natural that we may not feel close to God when we are struggling, but if we can remind ourselves that God has not moved away from us, we might feel Him near.  It’s always harder to find something when we aren’t looking.

It’s almost like when you have a close relative who lives far away.  You can’t reach out and touch them or hug them, but you can still talk to them on the phone, but only if we dial the phone.

2. This struggle may prepare us for an incredible opportunity

We may need to learn something from this horrible experience that will help us in the future.  Just as the butterfly strengthens its wings as it tries to break through the cocoon, so we may be strengthened by the struggles we face.  If you cut short the butterfly’s struggle to break out, you assure that he will not be strong enough to fly afterward.

It’s not fun to think about this, but it will help you see a purpose…a method to the madness and meaning in the wilderness.

3. Think of this struggle as an opportunity to trust God with your life rather than a time of meaningless strife

I remember delivering both my children via natural child birth.  It was more painful than anything I have ever experienced in my life or likely will again.  Part of the training the Bradley Method provides (similar to La Maz) is to realize that there is a reason for the pain.  At the end of this excruciating pain so intense I felt like ripping my face off, I was blessed with a precious child of God.

Thinking about that pain now, I don’t think I could have stood it for just a few minutes if I didn’t know it was for a good cause.  My pain wasn’t meaningless so I was able endure it and trust that God would end it with the blessing of a child.

Some labor lasts only a short time as mine did.  My son was born only three hours and fifteen minutes after the first sign of labor.  However some children are born after 20 hours of labor.  Likewise, some struggles may last a day and others will last years.  Knowing there is a purpose, even if we don’t know what that purpose is, will help us endure. If you can’t see a purpose in the struggle you are facing, try to think of the purpose as an opportunity to trust God.

4. Think of your struggle as an opportunity to obey God

Sometimes it isn’t a matter of trusting God with your physical life, but trusting Him with the course of your life.  Instead of thinking of the experience as meaningless and difficult, we can try to think of it as an opportunity to obey God.  Do you feel called to do something, but it isn’t working out?  Maybe it’s helping you to obey God.  Nobody said life was easy and nothing worth doing is easy either.  Sometimes it’s so hard people often want to give up just prior to success.  Did you know that Mother Theresa wrote in her diary that she struggled to obey God’s calling for her life?  What if she had given up on God’s plan for her life because she was frustrated and tired?  She did it anyway.

Even if our struggles are long and even if things are coming at us from all sides, just remembering these four things can help us to endure. So, as we saw on Monday, sometimes it is the communication of others that make struggles more difficult.  Sometimes it is our communication with ourselves that can help us stand strong in the struggles.

Next week, I’ll give you some practical tips that will help us to be thankful for our blessings even in the midst of a storm in our lives.  These are things that have usually helped me and I pray they will help you as well.

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