Joy

RLL 57: Puppies and Pictures--Memories and Encouragement

RLL 57: Puppies and Pictures--A Bit of Encouragement

The pups and I slowing down in the evening

The pups and I slowing down in the evening

This week, like every week, was very busy: basketball practices, school work, preparing for finals, rehearsing and revising an upcoming presentation, and of course, putting up more Christmas decorations. However, this week also brought with it some unexpected encouragement through our dogs and in looking through old pictures of my daughters. In sharing these things in the blog this week, I want to help you be inspired and encouraged as well.

One night this week I found myself overwhelmed with work to do: essays to grade, revisions to make, other school work, all while what I really wanted to do was just spend time with my kids and wife. When I reached a stopping place in my work, I went at sat down on the floor with our pups, and well, you can see the result in that picture above. I was beat! It’s also been a very rain-filled couple of weeks where we live, and the dogs are normally pitiful because they’re scared. Then they get stir-crazy because they haven’t been able to be outside. This week, for some reason, they were hardly ever pitiful and crazy, and it made a giant difference because instead, they were great: snuggly, mostly calm, and always wanting to be where we were.

My older daughter and my first niece, both very excited about this birthday cake!

My older daughter and my first niece, both very excited about this birthday cake!

The other encouragement this week was that my daughter’s school asked for a toddler picture of her, so that meant my wife and I spent time looking through old pictures of the girls, and it was pure fun and joy! We saw such sweet pictures of the girls, from newborn pictures through early childhood, many of which I’d forgotten. I saw pictures of them playing and laughing, pictures of them sleeping and eating, and pictures of them just being kids.

These two bits of encouragement were just what I needed to help me through a difficult week, and so I wanted to do two things: one, to share them with you in hopes that they’d make you smile; and two, to ask you what encouraged you this week? A conversation? A photo? A memory? Christmas decorations? A conversation? Whatever it was, be sure to share it with someone else and give them a bit of encouragement as well.

Action Step: Consciously choose to try to encourage at least one person today by sharing something that has encouraged you!

RLL 48: My Best Friend's Wedding

Real Life Leading #48

My Best Friend’s Wedding

My best friend and me, goofing off and re-enacting a post from our younger days, before putting on our fancy clothes for the ceremony

My best friend and me, goofing off and re-enacting a post from our younger days, before putting on our fancy clothes for the ceremony

Yesterday I had the privilege of standing up with my best friend as he got married, and during the ceremony and reception, I was reminded of a few important things that I wanted to share. First, that marriage is all about love and respect, as best told by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs in his aptly titled book Love and Respect: The Love She Most Desires, the Respect He Desperately Needs. Second, I was reminded of the privilege and joy and spending time with family and friends in celebration.

In Ephesians 5:22-33, after a discussion on the roles of spouses in marriage and about what love looks like, Paul ends by stating, “However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” This verse is the key to Dr. Eggerichs’ book, and it provides a great reminder to all of us who are married; namely, that as husbands we are to love our wives sacrificially, giving up our own desires in order to serve, protect, and cherish them above ourselves. When seen this way, marriage is a reflection of the Gospel of Jesus, wherein Christ gave Himself up for his bride, the Church.

Yesterday’s ceremony was a wonderful reminder of what marriage is and the picture that it paints of how spouses are to reflect Christ’s love to each other in different ways. This is also a great reminder to us as leaders in general: we are to lead through service, through self-sacrifice, putting the needs of others above our own desires. When we lead this way, we honor Christ, and we also serve others out of love.

My sister and I with the groom at the reception!

My sister and I with the groom at the reception!

After the ceremony, the reception also provided an amazing reminder of just how much fun it is to celebrate an amazing occasion! We danced, we ate, we laughed, we took pictures with friends and family, and we it was all done as part of an encouraging send-off for the newly-married couple. What joy it is to be able to share in those celebrations! We saw our favorite teacher from elementary school, my sister and mom and stepdad all came in from different states, and we had a very encouraging afternoon sharing in the occasion. This is also a great reminder to us that life can be joyous, and we need to celebrate it whenever possible. Life is a beautiful gift, and when we have the chance to share in such joy, we should embrace it.

I hope your week has been as enjoyable as mine has, and I would love to hear about it!

Action Step: This week, ask how you can better serve the people around you, and remember to celebrate the successes—large and small—that you experience!