The steps of a [good and righteous] man are directed and established by the Lord . . . Psalm 37:23

This journey called life takes us through many doors all while we are in search of “the” door. The scripture tells us not to despise small beginnings (Zechariah 4:10 (NLT)). Those small beginnings, like the many doors, help us to gain experience for use when we arrive at “the” door, and those various experiences help to mature us and prepare us to walk in “the” door with confidence.

Naturally, we tend to become frustrated as we walk through our many doors trying to find “the” door. In our pursuit of the right door or the right path, or the big break, we can lose sight of the experiences we gain. We often quote Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose;” however, if we really believed that scripture, we would have peace in the place or whatever door we find ourselves. After all, the scripture did say, “according to His purpose.” We are walking out His purpose for our lives and not our plans.

Frustration also sets in when we assume our plans are in-synch with God’s purpose. If we are honest, most times they are not. Our plans are based on what we want; how we want it; when we want it; and with whom we want it. We simply assume that God cosigned them. Proverbs 19:21 (NIV) tells us that, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” When we find ourselves frustrated with where we are, that would be a good time to pause and ask the Lord what is His purpose for that particular door. Because, again, if we believe that “all things work together for good. . .,” whatever door we stand before, God already has a plan to use it for our good.

Romans 5:3-4 (NIV) also illustrates why we walk through many doors. It reads, “. . . we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Each door we walk through, every path we take, and all of our collective life experiences – the good, the bad and the ugly – shape us into the person that God has called us to be. As we walk through these different doors, the Lord wants us to grow through them – develop perseverance/endurance, character and allow hope/faith to be formed in us. When our hope/faith is in the Lord, we are not put to shame. (“Hope does not put us to shame.” Romans 5:5(a)). We know He “always causes us to triumph.” (2 Corinthians 2:14 (a))

As we prepare to go into a new leap year, and a new decade, let us walk through every door with the assurance that our God is with us always (Matthew 28:20), and He has assured us that His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9) for each and every door we face.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Eternal, “plans for peace, not evil, to give you a future and hope—never forget that.” Jeremiah 29:11 (VOICE)

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Let Go and Let God

After several conversations with various people on the importance of letting go, I sat down to write a blog on the subject; however, it quickly turned into something more. As a result, I recently published my third mini book – “Let Go and Let God.” “Let Go and Let God” is not just another cliché. It is a necessary stage in our lives for us to be all that we want and are called to be. This mini book helps identify some of the reasons why we are unable to let go and it also gives us encouragement and faith to let go. I pray that, like me, you will find yourself in the pages of this book. If by chance you do (I have a feeling you will), I pray that you will find the strength and courage to let go of whatever or whoever you need to free yourself, so that God can work in you and through you to do His will. The mini book is free on my website – Simply click on the menu button, “Let Go and Let God.” Please feel free to share with others. Continuous blessings, always.

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7 Years

DearEncourager is seven years old! It really does not seem like it has been seven years. I remember when I first began my blog and a co-worker said to me that I should write a book, and I replied, “I don’t have that many words in me.” Well fast forward seven years and I have written two mini books that began as blogs but were so long I published them as mini books. I discovered that I do have many words in me.

Although I have much to share, I have not published anything in quite some time. I think a common misconception is that if a writer is not writing then they must not have anything to say. I suppose that is where the term writer’s block originated. This is definitely not true with me. In fact, I have so much to share until I find myself in a quandary as to what and when to share.

Social media/blog experts “SMEs” say that a reader’s attention span can only accept 250-300 words. They say, if you click on my website and see a post of 600 words, you will automatically think it is too long and you will not read it. In spite of what the SMEs say, I believe there is a Higher Power that draws you to my website, touches your heart and opens your mind to receive the Words He speaks through me to share with you. So, stay tuned because I have been given much to share.

I sincerely thank you for your support these past seven years, and I hope to continue encouraging you for many more.

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Get Ready To Bloom Again!

One of the things I inherited from my mother was her love for gardening. I love to nurture plants and watch them grow and thrive. While having a bad day, and on the verge of having what I call, a full PJ (my great grandson) meltdown, I texted a friend who also loves gardening and shared how tough the day was. Her response blessed and strengthened my soul and spirit. She replied, “We’re perennials honey, you just lay dormant, receive your nutrients, and get ready to bloom!” This gardening analogy immediately shifted my perspective and brought a smile to my face.

Just in case you are not a gardener, let me explain. Perennials are plants that grow and bloom over the spring and summer. They die every fall and winter, and then return in the spring. In the fall, gardeners prune or cut back the plants almost to their roots. During this time, if you looked at the perennials, you would not think they were alive, and you definitely would not consider the possibility of them returning to full bloom. It is beyond consideration because you cannot see any life in the plants. The life is found in the roots and the roots are buried. The underground roots give life to the perennials and cause new above-ground growth to be produced every spring.

I too felt as though I had been cut back and was now lying dormant; however, I was not dead. I may have been pruned but it was for my good. It actually saved my life. I was having some challenges, but I still had a life giving, life sustaining Anchor in Christ Jesus. According to John 15:1-2 (ESV), God is the gardener and Jesus is the life giving root.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

With the reassurance that this too shall pass, I began to focus on the hope of His promise – blooming again – bearing more fruit. After all, spring is just around the corner! So, if you are feeling like things are not moving forward in your life, or there are situations or circumstances beyond your control remember, you are a perennial honey – get ready to bloom again!

And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose. Romans 8:28 (AMP)

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A Season of Thanks

This Month’s Word:  Grateful

Definition:  Feeling or expressing thanks; having or showing the desire or reason to thank somebody

Synonyms (words with same meaning):  Thankful, Appreciative, Indebted,

Antonyms (words with opposite meaning):  Unthankful, Ungrateful, Unappreciative, Unmindful

The Thanksgiving holiday season is upon us and, even with the insanity and sadness all around us, and although we have many things vying for our attention, we still must take the time to really look beyond these circumstances and be grateful. I realize that some may have to look deeper than others, but regardless of what our present situation may be, there is always a reason to be grateful. My mother would say, “Thank God things are as well as they are;” and “Thank God for a reasonable portion of my health.” It may be hard to believe, but it could be worse. Instead of having to deal with aches and pains, or having to take medication, or treatment, we could not be here; so we should be grateful that we are still here and able to do and be. If we pause and take our eyes off of our situations, we would see that there are others that are by far worse off than we are. That is yet another reason to be grateful.

One of the definitions of grateful given above is that it is an “expression” of giving thanks. This implies that we cannot be grateful and not express it. Being grateful is not lip service; it is not just saying it; it is showing it. Therefore, I challenge us that as we go through this week that we consciously think about the people that we are grateful for and express that to them not only by saying it but doing something for them. It does not have to be anything grand. The smallest demonstration of appreciation from the heart brings a smile to most people. Personally, I give cards or write a note expressing my heart, or give some small token that will let someone know I am grateful for their presence in my life.

During this week, I also challenge us to express our gratitude for all things that are good in our lives to the One that makes it all possible. Let us wake up every morning expressing a heart of gratitude towards Him. Throughout the day, let us give thanks to Him for all that He has done for us and all that He has given us – shelter, provisions, protection, and sanity. It only takes a second to pause and say thank you Lord, I am truly grateful for your presence in my life. Then express that gratefulness and show His love to someone else; be a blessing to someone that is less fortunate.

My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord, and all flesh will bless and gratefully praise His holy name forever and ever. Psalm 145:21 (AMP)

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That Name

Wherefore God also has highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  Philippians 2:9-11

My name is not great. I am certain that other than my family and friends, no one knows me. Nevertheless, I am well connected. I am connected to a name that is more powerful than any name you could imagine – Jesus – and it you are a believer, so are you. Philippians 2:9-11, describe just how powerful and how important Jesus’ name is. God Himself gave Jesus a name that is above every name. The name of Jesus has authority over everything in heaven, in earth, and under the earth. His name has authority over all things regardless of where they originated. Whether it came from the bloodline – generational; or from a demonic force, the name of Jesus is above it. Jesus’ name is so powerful, that in Acts 4:18, when the apostles preached and demonstrated the power that was in His name, they were threatened and told “not to speak at all or teach in the name of Jesus.”

As believers, we have been given authorization to use that name. John 14:13-14 state, “And whatsoever you shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” In this scripture, Jesus makes us authorized users of His name. By granting us permission to use His name, He grants us the use of His authority here on earth. The authority and power is in His name. It is not in our own strength or intellect, nor is it in our gift or talent. It is solely by the authority given to us through Christ Jesus to use that name.

Because we are believers and because we are authorized users of that name, Mark 16:17-18 state, “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover.” We have been given authority in that name – Jesus – to not only cause demons to tremble, but cause them to bow and to cast them out. We have authority in that name to cause sickness and disease to flee, and to receive healing and wholeness. We have Jesus’ permission to use the power in His name to take authority over and annihilate the works of the enemy.

It is my prayer that as children of Adonai – the Most High God – we step up and into the authority that has been given us in that name. It is my prayer that we, just as the apostles did, begin to demonstrate and manifest the power that is in that name in our own lives, in our families, in our communities, in our cities, in our states, and in our nation.

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  Matthew 28:18

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Our Father’s Great Love

But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, has quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-7

I am somewhat baffled that Christians, Saints, God’s people, those that proclaim to “know” or have a “relationship with Him, are the very ones that do not fully embrace and receive God’s love. It seems as though when we need His love the most we reject it. Oftentimes, this rejection is at a subconscious level, because who in their right mind would reject the love of God – right. However, because of our perception of God, we unknowingly reject His love.

I understand that many of us were preached to and taught in a way that formed our belief and image of God – who He is and what He does. Many of us were taught to believe that God is strict and hands out immediate punishment for our mistakes; that He sits in Heaven watching us and recording all of our bad deeds, so He can hand out swift judgments. That type of teaching only leads to an attempt to “hide” from God just as Adam and Eve did when they ate the forbidden fruit. Instead of running to God for help, that kind of teaching causes us to run from God when we mess up (“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16).

 Unfortunately, those of us that were subject to that form of teaching were not taught about God as “Our Father.” We were taught the Lord’s Prayer – “Our Father, which art in Heaven . . .” (Luke 11:2), but we were not taught the attributes of God as our Heavenly Father. We were taught to literally fear God; be afraid of Him. There is a difference between being afraid of God and having reverential fear for God – respect for His authority and position. Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-38, “Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.” Please note that Jesus said love – not fear.

When we begin to understand and perceive God as a loving Father, we will no longer try to hide or run from Him. Instead, we would run to Him because we know He loves us, and we know He is the only one that can help us. More importantly, we know that He will help us (“All that the Father gives me shall come to me; and him that comes to me I will in no wise cast out.” John 6:37; TLB – “. . . and I will never, never reject them.”).

The truth of the matter is there is nothing we can do to change God’s love for us. God’s nature is love; it is who He is (“. . . for God is love.” 1 John 4:8). We do not control when or how God loves us – He does and He has chosen to love us unconditionally – without condition; no provision; no stipulation. Throughout scripture, there is proof of our Father’s unconditional love for us. We are assured in Romans 8:28, “that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Without condition – “God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.

The ultimate demonstration of God’s unconditional love is the exchange of His Son’s life for ours (Romans 5:8, “But God showed his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”) “In this act we see what real love is: it is not our love for God but His love for us when He sent his Son to satisfy God’s anger against our sins.” 1 John 4:1 (TLB). Also, see Ephesians 2:4-7 above and, when you have a moment, read the Living Bible version of those scriptures.

I pray that we fully understand and see clearly just how great our Father’s love for us truly is. “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13.

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We normally smile when we are happy and when we are in a good place in our lives. Have you ever seen someone that’s tight lipped and never smiles? We may not know anything about them, but we usually immediately assume that they must be unhappy. Smiling, for most of us, is synonymous with a good feeling and, likewise, frowning with a bad feeling. Even when we receive a smile from someone else, it ordinarily makes us feel good. There is research that states there are health benefits to smiling:  it changes our mood; it increases our longevity (lowers blood pressure, relieves stress); and it also increases our opportunity for success.*

In the article There’s Magic in Your Smile,* * it stated that, “each time you smile, you throw a little feel-good party in your brain.” This is because the brain releases endorphins which lowers stress and improves our overall mood. Surprisingly, even forcing a smile has the same benefits. This is vitally important because we tend to rely on what we do not “feel” like doing. We will say things like, “I’m in my “feelings,” or “I’m feeling some type of way.” Nevertheless, regardless of how we feel, the research shows that we do not have to wait until we feel like smiling, we can fake a smile and still reap the benefits.

Proverbs 17:22 indicates that, “A merry heart does good like a medicine: but a broken spirit dries the bones” (Proverbs 17:22). Look below at some other translations:

Amplified – A happy heart is good medicine and a joyful mind causes healing, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.

Message – A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone-tired.

New International Version – A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Passion – A joyful, cheerful heart brings healing to both body and soul. But the one whose heart is crushed struggles with sickness and depression.

Voice – A joy-filled heart is curative balm, but a broken spirit hurts all the way to the bone.

According to the research mentioned above, smiling causes us to feel happy and it boosts our mood; therefore, when we smile, we receive the benefits of Proverbs 17:22. On the other hand, when we walk around without a smile and living in our feelings/emotions, the latter portion of that verse can show up in our lives through sickness, depression, tiredness, and bad attitudes. Of course, smiling is not a cure all, but it is a start.

It is worth it to put forth an effort to smile because, it will not only make us feel better, it will also make those around us feel better. Spread some feel good with a smile. So, as my great grandson would say, “Cheese.”

*The Top 7 Health Benefits of Smiling,

**Riggio, Ronald, Ph.D., There’s Magic in Your Smile, Psychology Today, June 25, 2012.

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After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. Matthew 28:1

The resurrection of Christ Jesus is not just “a” Sunday, nor is it just “a” holiday; for Believers the resurrection is our life. And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain (1 Corinthians 15:14). In this particular scripture following Jesus’ death, there is a life giving, life sustaining message for us.

After a week of what appeared to be a sudden turn of events that ended in disappointment, heartache, betrayal, rejection, and seemingly, absolute defeat with the crucifixion of their leader and teacher – Jesus’ followers (disciples) went into hiding. However, scripture tells us remembering that Jesus said He would rise on the third day (John 2:19), after the Sabbath had ended, these women went at dawn to go to the tomb. The women had to wait until the traditional Sabbath day had been completed, because by Jewish law, they were not allowed to do anything on the Sabbath. So, at the end of their traditional holy day, they went looking for Jesus. Interestingly, they went at dawn. David also was one that sought God in the early morning hours; “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee”(Psalm 63:1). By definition, dawn is not only the first appearance of light in the sky before sunrise, it also is defined as the beginning of a favorable phenomenon or period of time. To say the least, Christ Jesus’ resurrection can definitely be described as favorable, and still today is a phenomenon.

This scripture is encouraging because often times we get stuck on the past events of our lives, and we forget what the Word promises. This is not to diminish or disregard what has happened or what is happening, but we still must bring to our remembrance that the “promises of God in Him are yes, and in Him, Amen”(2 Corinthians 1:20). The followers of Jesus had just witnessed their leader and teacher tortured and crucified. The same man that had performed miracles, walked on water and reed storms – yet, he did not even defend Himself against His accusers. It was horrible and they were devastated and confused, but the women remembered what the Word (Jesus) had said and got out of their feelings and went to look for the manifestation of His promise.

Regardless of where we find ourselves right now and regardless of how we feel; there is a new dawn every day; a breaking of the darkness; the opportunity for the beginning of a favorable phenomenon or period of time. The scripture tells us that His mercies are “new every morning” (Lamentations 3:23). Let us be like the women and get up expecting and looking for His Word to be revealed in our lives. If He has spoken it, He will bring it to pass (Numbers 23:19). He is faithful who has promised (Hebrews 10:23).

This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. Lamentations 3:21-23

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Healing: It Is Our Birth Right

But he answered and said, “It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.”  Matthew 15:26

May 2011, seven years ago, I was diagnosed with colon cancer. The cancer was discovered through a routine colonoscopy. I had no symptoms whatsoever, which is why I encourage people to have the routine colonoscopy. It is recommended at the age of 50; however, if there is a family history of colon cancer, even if you are not 50, your insurance will cover the test. I believe in being an advocate for your health. We only get one body and one life here on this earth, and we should take care of the temple that we have been given. “What? Know you not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own?” 1 Corinthians 6:19.

I share my testimony at every opportune time not only to encourage others, but that I too never fail to remember what the Lord has done for me. In addition, I have written previously about my healing on my Blog, DearEncourager. However, this time I wanted to share some valuable lessons I learned while going through my healing process that I believe will help others on their healing journey. Therefore, I have written a new mini book with the same title, “Healing: It Is Our Birth Right” and have posted it on my website: Please read, share, be blessed and be healed in Jesus’ mighty name.

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