This world is certainly in need of encouragement. If you have it in your power to give encouragement to someone today then that is such a precious gift. If you need encouragement then please look through this blog and know that you’ll be bound to find something here. Take care, one step at a time. x
Perhaps you have been reading, following along, or dipping in and out of my ‘Self Care in a Pandemic’ series of blog posts.
If so, I am so encouraged to know that, and find joy in encouraging you and hopefully providing some words of hope in these challenging times.
I have written 16 posts in this series so far, and have written a series of posts prior to this earlier on in the year at the start of the first lockdown (so scroll back through the archives to check out anything you may have missed). I now have time off from work (I blog as a ‘hobby’, unpaid, but I love it and hope and plan to spend more time writing especially as we approach a difficult winter season this 2020), and would like to ‘check in’ with my lovely readers, and welcome my new followers, and thank you for joining the journey, so happy to have you here 🙂 .
I intend to keep on writing and encouraging, and hope that you will find these posts a comfort as we near December and as we all could do with a ‘pick me up’ this year. My question to you is if there is anything in particular you would like to see written about in this series of self care in a pandemic posts? This is for you, so please do let me know how best I can serve and encourage you with my writing. If you have anything in mind that you’d like me to explore, even if I don’t have the answers, I can still open up discussions and explore avenues of hope together, then please do comment below. Otherwise, I will keep seeking inspiration and praying about how best I can uplift and encourage you through these testing times.
Stay safe, my loves, we will get through this. x
The other day, I was talking on the phone with a Christian friend of mine, and she encouraged me for us both to pray for each other to know how God would have us serve Him and help other people in this time.
Neither of us are by nature the boldest or most confident of people, but sometimes we all just need to be willing to seek and find ways to help other people.
Perhaps you are similar. Maybe you want to use some of your time to help other people but don’t quite know where to start or maybe opportunities arise but you don’t feel confident in them. I have a confession to make that this is where I found myself, and therefore thought that writing a blog post would be a good place to start.
My friend and I were discussing ways in which prior to Covid-19, our churches did face-to-face work with international students to help them feel more welcome in our city when they were so far away from home and everything familiar to them in terms of culture, language, day-to-day life, and far from friends and family. We decided to pray about whether God wants us to help international students in any way or to use us in other ways.
Well, shortly after this, I came across an email from my church that I had perhaps missed before. It was a volunteering opportunity to provide telephone or online support for a short time to international students far from home, to have someone to talk to, practice their English with, and be a source of friendship and support during their start to the University year in the time of the pandemic.
I saw this and thought that’s a great idea. I only saw it a few days ago, at the start of October, but as I read through the volunteer application, for some reason, doubts began to creep into my mind. It said that the start of this would be the end of September. I start overthinking whether or not it’s too late to get involved. My friend was the one particularly interested in international student ministry, but she is away visiting family elsewhere so I can’t update her properly about it. What if I don’t know what to say, or if I’m not good at helping people practice their English, what if I’m not good at it? Doubts and questions came to my mind, as did the thought that I had previously wanted to volunteer somehow to ‘befriend’ by telephone an older person, isolated during the pandemic. Of course some of this may just seem ‘silly’ and overthinking, but I do have generalised anxiety disorder, and in a way this situation has kept me from action as well as prompting me to take action.
While the above doubts caused me to hesitate in one area, they also have spurred me to write this blog post to encourage you.
Sometimes we know we want to help but don’t know where to start. At other times, opportunities may arise but perhaps a lack of confidence or other commitments in our lives may ‘get in the way’ if we allow them, from taking action.
While in such cases, we may respond by ‘beating ourselves up about it’, we can also look at things another way.
If you want to help people, don’t feel discouraged if you are not doing as much as other people, or as much as you had hoped to. Simply start from where you are and allow that momentum to build.
There are so many people in need of help right now that if you miss one opportunity that doesn’t mean that someone else won’t be there to pick it up, or that you won’t find another opportunity. The whole world is in need of help.
As I said, start from where you are.
– Look around you and consider the people in your life whom you know and can provide some support or encouragement to.
– Maybe you can be that compassionate and listening ear to a friend who is going through a hard time. If you are not in a position to provide that level of support, perhaps you could send an encouraging text, email, message or card, or give someone a phone call to let them know you care.
-Maybe you can’t volunteer regularly at a food bank, but perhaps you could make a donation, or help one of your neighbours.
-Maybe you are helping others in your job or home or personal life and taking some time to recharge your own batteries right now is the best thing you can do to continue to be there for other people without ‘burning out’.
-Perhaps you can commit to praying for certain people.
-What do you enjoy doing and are good at? Maybe you’ve missed an opportunity, but you can take more time to reflect upon what you can do and start researching ways in which you can get involved in other things.
– Think about how to lighten the load of the people in your life just now if you live with others. Can you help with housework, can you take time to talk, or simply encourage times of fun and laughter, relaxation and play during what might be a stressful time?
– Can you use your platform as a blogger to share some love and kindness and encouragement? Maybe you can write a post about mental health and wellbeing, you could share encouraging stories of what you have experienced and learned from this very strange year, as it may be just what someone else needs to hear.
– Are you artistic or musical or creative in some way, and can you use and develop these gifts and talents to bring happiness to someone else?
There are so many ways we can continue to reach out to and help and support each other. Maybe we don’t always get it right, but a willingness to take these small steps forward, and making a change little by little could make a real difference to someone in need in these challenging times.
Take care, be kind to yourself and each other, and God bless. x
I’m not in isolation or lockdown or anything like that yet, and am thankfully fit and healthy and well, however, more and more it looks like the country and the world is moving in that direction whether you have symptoms of Covid-19 or not. The rationale is to contain and minimise the spread of the coronavirus.
It strikes me that people are responding very differently to the thought of having to stay indoors or limit their activity for an extended period of time than when they might be in a similar situation say during the Christmas holidays for example.
I’m still out and about going to work, although keeping my distance as much as possible, but the government is recommending that employers allow staff to work from home, so it is a wait and see time for us until we get definitive direction. In the meantime, we have to keep showing up.
However, I digress. There is a difference if you have to stay indoors and you are the only one in that situation, but there is, or at least there can be, a sense of community and camaraderie and shared experience when you know a large percentage of the world are in a similar situation. That’s part of the reason why I love Christmas, and the holiday season, because despite the diversity of beliefs, there is a sense of a shared experience.
Now, I know this whole pandemic is a different situation entirely, but let’s just think of how we can help and encourage each other to stay happy and healthy and mentally well during what might eventually turn out to be an extended period of time indoors. How can we help each other to counter the fear and anxiety that is so rife? Many people may find themselves completely symptom and virus free, but be advised by their employers or governments to stay at home, for the greater good. At any other time and in other circumstances, many of us would jump at the chance for some work from home days, or the chance to take a break away from it all in the comfort of our own homes. However, in this climate of fear, we are reacting very differently, or so it seems to me.
Ok, so maybe you are well and yet having to stay at home. I’m kind of hoping that I will be able to work from home too, but like I said, it’s ‘wait and see’. My heart goes out to those whose livelihoods and jobs are at risk, but if you don’t have those issues and simply have to stay indoors, how can we make the most of the situation?
I think if I have to stay inside for an extended period of time, I might put up my Christmas tree! Perhaps that seems strange to you if you live in sunnier climes, but I live in Scotland, and although the days are lighter and we have some dry days here and there, spring hasn’t really ‘sprung’ as yet, and we do get more than our fair share of rain, so some days it does still feel a bit ‘wintery’.
If you are new to my blog, I have written various series’ on self care, staycations, mental health and wellbeing, retreats of various types, and keeping cosy, so hopefully you will find some inspiration to make the most of an otherwise uncertain time.
Think about the things you would ideally do if you were organising a ‘staycation’ for yourself in your own home, or town. How many of us so often feel the need to ‘get away from it all’ without the practical hassles of travel, and to just have some ‘down time’ to think and reflect and nurture our own souls? How can we be people who seek to be encouragers and a positive influence when all around us is panic and anxiety and uncertainty?
For me, if I were to have to stay indoors, these are the things I would focus my attention on:
Drawing even closer to God, enjoying His Presence, allowing Him to continue His work of healing and restoration, and building up myself in my true identity so that I will be stronger and a vessel for His use in greater measure than before. Spending time with the One Who Loves me most and learning from Him.
Praying and interceding for other people, not only in terms of the concerns around Coronavirus, but taking time to think and pray about and appeal to God for the many people and situations that we so often don’t think about because we are ‘too busy’ with getting through the day to day things of life, and ‘cares of this world’. Focused prayer for people’s salvation and also for the needs of those who are caring for others, making decisions, ‘on the front line’ in some way, or who are ill and suffering or in need. Finding ways to advocate for those who suffer from injustice and abuse whether through prayer and practical means.
Reaching out to other people, and seeking to be a ‘good steward’ of the resources He has given me, and making a positive impact on the world, whether by blogging, keeping in touch with and encouraging people over the phone or email or other means.
Taking time for self development, nurturing myself and allowing God to continue to heal me, and also doing my part in looking after my emotional and mental health.
Working hard, obviously, if working from home did become a reality, and doing my duties to the best of my ability.
Taking time to continue writing my novel.
Read the books that have been waiting for me to get to them! 🙂
Exercise and healthy living.
Take time to be grateful, mindful and thankful for all of the blessings I do have in my life.
Finding ways to encourage and pray for other people, and to offer help where it is safe and wise and healthy to do so.
Home organisation and decluttering.
Arts and crafts projects, adult colouring in, continuing to learn to draw.
Music, playing worship on my violin.
Photography projects – finally compiling my photography work into one place.
Continue work on my blog to help bullied children (which I haven’t been able to while maintaining a daily routine of going to work, etc.).
Having pamper days for self care and looking after my body as well as my mind.
Learning new skills and online learning.
Tidying out my spare room!
Cosying up like at Christmas time and watching some nice films or box sets.
Live a ‘hygge life’.
Encouraging others and being kind!
So, what about you? What positives can you glean from this situation, and how would you, or how are you spending your time ‘away from it all’?
What are your struggles, and what are the things you have learned or that you enjoy that you can share that will benefit others reading this?
Let’s stick together and become stronger in the midst of all of this uncertainty, and bring out the best in each other as we make our way through this uncertain world.
I am thankful that my faith, certainty and hope is in the unchanging, solid rock of Jesus Christ, the source of life and pure love.
Take care and stay well, healthy, and safe, everyone. x
Learn as if you’re going to teach.
Recently, I’ve written quite a few posts on the theme of friendship.
Reflecting upon this aspect of our lives has brought me to the realisation that there is a unique, shared and comforting experience in being part of the blogging ‘community’. While we don’t have blogging ‘chat rooms’ or spaces as such (or at least not that I’m aware of. I know there used to be such shared spaces hosted by WordPress with daily challenges, community hubs and so forth, but they seem to have disappeared from my view – if they are still there somewhere please let me know 🙂 ), we still have avenues of interaction with each other through comments, likes, sharing and collaborative posts.
I’m over two and a half years into my blogging adventure, and some of you have come to be familiar ‘faces’ in this journey. I have become familiar with some of your blogs, and have learned a bit about you as individuals from what you have shared, and often look forward to seeing your updates, as well as seeing you interacting with mine.
In a recent post on friendship I reflected upon the benefits of friendships and long term trusted connections in our lives.
And I have come to realise that this online shared space where we can express our deeper thoughts about our lives quite freely is in fact a real blessing, opportunity and comfort as we journey through not only our blogs, but in a remote yet potentially significant way, our lives together.
There is something about sharing the human experience that makes us feel less alone, don’t you think? And while nothing can replace face to face and real time connection with people we care about, blogging adds an extra dimension to our lives in which we can communicate some of our deepest thoughts and express parts of ourselves that perhaps we can’t do so freely with the people we meet with face to face, or at least not in the same way.
I realise that I really value this, and all of you, as we encourage each other in our blogs, and also our lives.
It is a gift and a blessing to share this journey, even in some small way, with you. Wouldn’t it be something if in years to come we have a community of people who mutually encourage and edify each other as we go through life?
As I approach my third year of blogging in a few months, I am certainly grateful that I began this adventure and journey of discovery and am very glad that I can share some of it with you. x
Well friends, we’ve reached a mini-milestone of our 40th Winter Survival Guide tip in this series. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working on this and exploring how we can all stay healthy, well, motivated, positive, and happy as we reflect upon moving into the latter season of this year. I hope you’ve enjoyed, or are enjoying, reading through my series too, as my main goal is to help and encourage other people as well as myself to get through what can for many be a season that is not without its challenges, in the best way possible – basically to help us all look out for and look after each other! I hope you have found it encouraging and helpful.
I’d like to request a little feedback if you have been enjoying and reading this series. Would you like me to conclude it with this 40th post, or to round it up to the next ‘milestone’ of 50, and bring you ten more suggestions and tips for thriving this winter? I’d absolutely love to do that, and will have something to share with you to conclude the series of 50 posts before the end of November, so that you are well stocked up with helpful ideas and suggestions before the end of the month, and to take you into December and January!
So what do you all think? Would you like to read a few more posts in this series, or would you prefer if I just conclude it here?
That’s my first request for feedback.
Now my second one is for a bit of reader participation if you are up for it?
I’d like to actually update you with how I am doing in implementing some of my own suggestions and Winter Survival Guide tips, along with some photos along the way!
Would you be interested in that? And also, more to the point, would you be interested in taking this journey with me? You don’t have to do or share updates of how your are getting on with all of the suggestions or even in a particular order – I certainly don’t think I’d be able to do that myself. Even if you want to just let us all know of one or two suggestions you’ve taken forward, you could either share with us in the comments section of that particular Winter Survival Guide post, or you could write up what you did on your own blog and link to the relevant post in my Winter Survival Guide.
Let’s make this season as encouraging and fun for each other as possible, and help one another along the way if anyone is struggling, and share inspiring stories and experiences too! Is anyone up for it? I’d love it if you’d join me on this wintery festive journey, and share with us what it means to you.
So, please do let me know in the comments:
- Would you like to see a further ten more posts to take the Winter Survival Guide tips up to 50, or would you prefer me to conclude it with the 40th post I’ve just written?
- Would you like to participate in trying out one or some of my Winter Survival Guide suggestions and posting an update to encourage and inspire others and to build a bit of blogging festive community spirit and spread the joy? 🙂 x
Please do comment and let me know below.
It’s that beautiful and thought-provoking time of year again, filled with contrasts on so many levels. Autumn is passing, and winter is almost upon us. The vibrancy of leaves bursting into exciting shades of red, orange, yellow, gold, green and brown, will in a short time give way to bare or sparse branches, a stillness, perhaps darker, colder, greyer days, and maybe even a hint of snow.
Perhaps you live in a warmer and sunnier clime than I do, but here people are beginning to sense the change in the air, and it’s that time again to stay indoors, to get warm and cosy and prepare for in a sense a mini ‘hibernation’.
People approach such times of the year differently. You may have read my previous post to encourage and help those of us who might find certain aspects of these seasons at least a little bit challenging. The link is below for those of you who would like to read it or be reminded of some of the things you can do to prepare yourself.
However, I’m also going to start a series of shorter, more ‘bitesized’ posts to encourage us on various aspects of how we can survive and thrive during the winter season, so that you can dip in and out of the ones that interest you. So watch this space, I’ll be posting more very soon. Stay warm and cosy 🙂 x
What is one thing that made you happy today?
Choose to be someone who encourages, rather than envies, others.