In my words, giving up something you love so that you can give help to others such as friends, family, or even complete strangers is what sacrifice is all about. We often make sacrifice to be about us, and when we do this it gets distorted from its true intent. Sacrifice is a completely selfless act. When we give of ourselves or of what God has blessed us with, without expecting anything in return – that is true sacrifice. If we ask ourselves if what we are doing is honoring God, then we know it is sacrifice. It is good to honestly evaluate our reasons.
For me, sacrifice was needed when I first chose to change my life. I had to make some hard decisions on who I could allow in my life on a regular basis -- whether it was friends or family. Disconnecting from friends was hard, but not quite as hard as disconnecting from family who were toxic and would pull me down spiritually in a short amount of time. I was struggling with chemical dependence and needed to make a change. For me, this was part of my family life, which made it rather tough. I had to sacrifice what I had always known for something new.
I honestly needed to apprise my situation. I could either sacrifice for my greater good and the well-being of those I came into contact with, or sacrifice myself and stay trapped in a harmful situation. I chose the healthy sacrifice over the unhealthy one. I chose not to continue to be drawn into the toxicity of some relationships.
Sacrifice is hard, but absolutely necessary for physical, mental, and spiritual growth. It is only through sacrifice can we find true fulfillment in life.
John Davis grew up in Shawnee. He is active in church and in several Christ-based 12 step programs. He enjoys serving in church and loves helping people no matter where their journey is taking them. Davis says that we are called to help brighten someone else’s light and he firmly believes that we all have a calling to be that light for them.
“Just Do It” as the Nike slogan says!
This makes it seem so simple and easy. Could it be? Is it really? Have you ever wondered what would happen if you… How often have you wished you had…
I have come up with so many ideas for adventures and businesses over the years which have not come to fruition. So many, that my own children used to say, “Another idea that you aren’t going to do!” Thankfully, my husband has always encouraged me and been in my camp and my cheerleader for whatever cockamamie idea I discussed – but maybe that was because he knew I wouldn’t follow through. Ha ha!
Why have I been so hesitant to “Just Do It?” When reflecting on this -- these reasons come to mind: fear, perfectionism, self-doubt, and failure. These have kept me from taking initiative many times during my 49 years of life.
If I had taken initiative 20 years ago when I first thought Shawnee needed a Chick-fil-A, I would be saying “My pleasure!” a lot since Shawnee now has one of the busiest stores. If I had taken initiative to start a triathlon store 10 years ago, I may still be running, biking, and swimming. If I had… and the list goes on!
However, you are reading this blog today because with the help of my friend Julie, this Living52 initiative which was in my heart, has blossomed! She was the loud voice in my ear saying, “Let’s, Just Do It!” She wasn’t fearful, or mired down by perfectionism, doubtful, or afraid we would fail. I am so thankful!
By beginning this initiative I have learned so many new skills, made new friends and been amazed at people’s comments as they have shared their hearts on the website, social media and with me personally.
What is keeping you from taking initiative in your life? Are you like me and want everything “perfect” before you share it with the world? Are you afraid you will be rejected? What if you fail?
Let’s go back and look at the definitions of initiative – the ability to assess and initiate things; the power or opportunity to act or take charge; a strategy intended to resolve a difficulty or improve a situation; a fresh approach to something.
As we read these definitions, why would taking initiative be important in life? Can it backfire? When is it a good idea to use initiative? Is it scary? Are there times when not to use it?
To the address the first question -- Why would taking initiative be important in life? Because, taking initiative shows leadership ability, gives you opportunity to reach out and offer help to those struggling, allows for reflection and self-awareness so that you can make changes in your life if needed. Also, when taking initiative to speak up and point out flaws when you see a bad decision being made, you can positively influence a situation instead of later making the statement “I thought that wouldn’t work out well”.
To the second question -- Can it backfire? Yes! I took initiative to change the Fall Carnival at my children’s school one year. Parts of this change were successful, but parts of it were disastrous. I didn’t ask enough questions from instrumental parties, i.e. the teachers. So if taking initiative is going to affect more than you, ask questions and seek advice.
To the third question -- When is it a good idea? This is up to you! And can it be scary? Sometimes. But the outcome could be more amazing than you would ever have imagined by just -- doing the scary.
To the last question -- Are there times when not to use your initiative? Of course. How do you know? Step back, reflect, pray, meditate and assess the risk.
When is a time that you have taken an initiative? How did it turn out? Are you more confident in yourself because of it? Did it help another person out?
Today, I am so thankful for this Living52 initiative! I was scared to share it with the world. I was afraid that no one else would connect with it and want to contribute. I didn’t know if we could keep it going for 52 weeks (jury is still out on this one). I wanted everything just “so-so” (and Julie would say that is still an issue). BUT, it has been worth every minute because of you!
Thank you for joining this INITIATIVE. Let’s be vulnerable, share, and fly together! It is what connects us.
Encouragement: Most people think cheerleader. The “rah-rah” at games or finish lines that is loud and fun and where you throw confetti and candy in the air and everyone loves it, minus the person who has to clean it up. And it can be this. It can be the “rah-rah” that lights your fire and keeps it burning and smiles you to the end.
Though, I want to expand your definition of encouragement. I want you to see that it’s deeper and richer. It’s protective and attentive. It’s soft and velvet-wrapped steel. It’s strong. It’s gentle.
Life can be a bitch. It can turn its brutal force on you in an instant. This is where encouragement shines.
I love words. I tutor Latin, for heaven’s sake, so of course, I love words. Let’s take this word apart.
The prefix “en” means “in” or “within”.
The body of the word is “courage” which is a noun. A noun is a person, place, thing, or idea. Courage is to do something that frightens one or strength in the face of pain or grief.
The suffix “ment” when combined with a noun (courage) often denotes action or a resulting state.
So, to give encouragement is to take from within yourself, courage, and in an action, give it to someone else that results with the person now having this said courage.
It isn’t just being a cheerleader. It’s being a “courage giver.” A stand-in-the-gap-per. They are a wind block while you catch your breath and regain your strength when life is hard. The one who whispers “keep going.”
And here is a tidbit – when you give courage, it is an acknowledgement that you have this courage to give. In physics and chemistry, the Law of Conservation means that energy cannot be destroyed; it can only be transformed or transferred from one form to another. For you to give it – you have to have it.
This is a hard time of year for many people. Holidays are over and people need to recoup from money spent, time spent with family, or just the emotional energy the season requires. There’s also less sun and more gloom, cold, and wet. January can be a hard month. February can be even more brutal.
It may be a hard month for you. How do we deal?
You encourage. You encourage when you are waiting in line – kindness is encouraging – giving someone a smile is encouraging – telling someone they did a good job is encouraging. With this act, you encouraged a stranger and you encouraged yourself. Encouragement is a gift – and it is such a blessing to give. How often do we acknowledge how good we feel when we give a gift? It is no less when you give encouragement. We have already established that you acknowledge your own courage when you give it to someone else, so give your courage.
Ecclesiastes 4:12: Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Even in encouragement of a stranger, in that moment, when you have reached into your store of courage and shared it with someone else, you stand together. In that moment you are cosmically joined as you hand your courage to another person. You are part of two chords intertwined. How much stronger are you when you are part of a friend group of encouragers – three strands are not to be broken.
I pray you have a group of ride or die girls. Or dudes…bros?
I have a group of women – we call each other the BSers. It stands for Bible Study. We have been together for over 11 years now. We don’t all go to church together, but we believe. We have forged our group from honesty, pain, disappointment, laughs, fears, victories, surprises, tragedy, loss, and celebrations. We are a physical presence in each other’s lives, even if it’s a conversation through group messages. We have continued it when some moved far, and then moved back.
I am entirely better because of them and their encouragement. And it hasn’t been “rah-rah”. It’s been the knowledge that they root for me. They tell me they root for me – in their words – in their actions – in their prayers over my children and my marriage. They want the best for me. And I want the best for them. I want them to know how incredible each and every one of them are to me, to this world, and to their Father. I think they can do anything. And they think the same of me. Have you ever been shocked by someone who thinks so much more of you than sometimes you think of yourself? That is this group.
But encouragement isn’t just telling the good stuff. It’s telling the truth and the hard stuff. It’s doing so in love because they have lived the right to be able to tell me something I may not want to hear. And I have done the same for them. Courage. Courage to apologize. Courage to exercise. Courage to learn. Courage to cry. Courage to do a million things that sometimes seem too hard. Courage they have given to me when I do not have the courage myself.
You can also encourage – give courage – by not saying a word. So many times we want to say something to make it better. To take pain away, to comfort, to fix something and sometimes there is no way to fix – no way to make something “right”. This is when you give courage by being present. By holding a hand. By sitting side by side. By eye contact. By letting them see your tears as you watch theirs. Courage given – Courage received – Courage realized.
I hope your mind has gone to someone as you read this blog. Someone who has been a “courage giver” to you. If your mind went to friends who may not be the kind I described above, you can begin to change that by encouraging them. Be that friend to them. Be there. Reach out. Sit. Drink Coffee. Listen. Hug. Laugh. Be the “courage giver” in their lives. You both will be richer for it.
I leave you with scripture on friendship. Friendship that is family – family built when you are “courage givers” to each other.
Proverbs 18:24 – There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 – Two are better than one, because they have a good return on their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up, but pity anyone who falls and has no one to help him up.
Be a “courage give” and in doing so, find courage you never knew you possessed.
This week's featured blog writer is Jennifer Edmunson. She is a wife and homeschool mom who gets to pretend that she is "all that" as an Oklahoma County Library Commissioner and Latin Tutor. She hangs everything on believing God is good all the time, even when she doesn't understand and something may actually suck.
"Be aware of your surroundings."
How often have you been told those words or said a similar statement to someone you care about?
For most of my life, awareness implied hyper diligence regarding the behavior of others. It was an effort to protect myself, to ensure safety, to keep others from harming me.
You and I are missing an expansive understanding of awareness if we are only concerned with what others are doing. Would you join me for a few moments to take it inward?
As we ponder together words such as vulnerability, courage, and resilience, you and I begin to shift our consciousness. As individuals, we begin to think about what we are thinking. We begin to feel what we are feeling. We start to make sense of what motivates us. We begin to ask ourselves why we think, feel, and act in particular ways. You and I become aware. Our behaviors move out of the territory of reacting to others unconsciously and move into a state of responding consciously from our deepest beliefs, convictions, principles, and priorities.
Awareness is critical for the conversation we are having as a Living52 community. As we listen to others, we each have our inner dialogue about how the topic resonates and how we will knit the word of the week into the fabric of our being. We might stumble onto a concept for the first time. Maybe there is a shift or new way of seeing. Some of us are finding confirmation in the journey of self discovery. It is also possible that some of the ideas will irritate or cause discomfort among us.
Taking this dive together, with self awareness, we each become a more honest expression of who we are as individuals. And we learn how to more fully embrace each other in our differences.
Self awareness is a pause for going inside, and it will not take place without compassion, curiosity, and courage. Self awareness lends itself to agency, meaning you and I get to make choices for ourselves. Our behavior becomes more aligned as an outer expression of who we are on the inside- not as a group but as a unique individual.
Unlike a habit, self awareness is a practice. It requires a disciplined effort that happens on purpose. For some of us, the practice is new and we do not know where to start. For others of us, perhaps we are skeptical of its value. Today is as good a day as any to take a pause and initiate awareness.
Let’s carve out some time today to sit with a few questions for personal reflection. Grab a journal, a sheet of paper, or even the note app on your phone. Be honest with yourself as you reflect on these prompts. If it doesn’t come naturally, give it some time. And don’t forget to give yourself grace in the process. It takes courage to dig deep. Stay curious and try not to resist what bubbles up. Discover that it is okay to feel the big feelings that might emerge. We are not looking to criticize or judge ourselves as we recognize some tendencies. We are looking to grow and move into our wholeness.
What am I feeling in my body right now? (Ex. exhaustion, tension, energy...)
What am I grateful for today? (Be specific)
What is giving me energy today?
What is fear keeping me from doing today?
What is dominating my thoughts and attention today? Is there anything I can do about it?
What are these thoughts showing me about myself? (Ex. my feeling, my values, my reactions...)
This week's featured blog writer is Jennifer Mosburg. She's a wife and mother of two amazing boys and lives in Clinton, Oklahoma.