Wednesday

How to Keep in Touch & Encourage Others When We Have To Be Apart - A Dose of Encouragement


We are in lockdown in Northern Ireland just like many are in lockdown all over the world during this month of April in 2020 and may be like this for many weeks or months to come.

We are confined to our homes or as many of us would say - we are stuck at home.

Many of us want to keep in touch and encourage our family, friends and church family.

What can we do to encourage others when we cannot go out to visit, talk in person face to face, or meet together in our different churches?







Yes I'm sure it is in your mind right now that there is one obvious thing we can do - PRAY!

I agree the first thing we should do is pray for
  •  our situation 
  •  our families
  •  our friends
  •  our neighbours
  •  our church community
  •  the lonely, vulnerable and anxious people we know
  •  those who are ill
  •  doctors, nurses, other hospital workers
  •  home carers
  •  foodbank workers
  •  key workers

BUT

What else can we do to keep in touch?

What else can we do to encourage each other?


Yes here I am sitting at the computer as I do for at least a little while each day - okay much more than a little while most days - and in this day and age most people do spend time each day on computers, mobiles, tablets etc.


My computer is where I do most of my blogging, online shopping, work on kids resources,  playing with graphics, storing photographs and filing Home info.

My iPad is where I do most of my emailing, make lists and notes, facetime our kids, go on facebook, play a few games' and browse Ebay and Amazon.

My mobile is where I text, message, whatsApp, take pictures & videos


Now on each of these things I do have contact with other people but everything via these things is in a kind of shortened form.


However in the situation we are at this moment I need to change my ways and add something that is not so much in shortened form - I need to start using my phone as a phone.
I hate talking on the phone and will do almost anything else so as not to have to do it.
Partly because I don't feel that I hear these so clearly on the phone even though my hearing is fine.
Partly because I talk with my hands, and you can't do that while holding a phone and of course there is no-one to see it.
And
Partly because I can't see the person to see how they actually feel as they are talking to me.


So I'm going to have to get out of my comfort Zone and actually phone people because it is just not enough to ask Fred how each person is after he has called them.


That sort of brings me to what our church is doing in this time of Lockdown.



What our Church is Doing

  • Live online service each Sunday morning.
  • Online Prayer Meeting on Zoom midweek
  • Bible Study online midweek
  • Milk Note*
  • Leadership Phone contact rota
  • WhatsApp group for prayer requests and encouraging news and uplifting videos etc.
  • Videos of some of the congregation singing (individual videos put together)

*A little note put in the door (one day in the week) of people who may need some extra help during the week to get some extra groceries or something else from a shop and then collected another day and the items delivered as soon as possible.







Types / Groups of People within the Church Family

  • Elderly
  • People who live alone
  • People who do not have any family living locally
  • People suffering from Chronic illnesses
  • Couples
  • Families with teenagers
  • Families with young children

All of these people need to know that others are thinking about them, praying for them and care about them.



How can different people within the church family encourage each other?



What We can Do as Individuals

  • Phone calls
  • Text Messages
  • Send Cards
  • Write letters
  • Support foodbanks
  • Buy a special treat or make a tasty treat
  • Use any hobbies we have to support other organisations or people*
  • Use any abilities we have to support other organisations or people*
  • People living in the same area can take their daily walk some days to go past homes of others and wave to them or stop and have a brief chat or take a picture from a proper distance.

*Remember that if you have any hobbies like card making, knitting, crocheting, quilting, cross stitching you can use them to encourage and show love and care for others.


*Remember that if you have any knowledge of computers you can be of help to get other people online when there are church services and prayer meetings and Bible Studies available there. 


Help them set up a Zoom account  for prayer meetings, Bible Studies or even ladies meetings - yes this is how I had to speak to ladies from another church a week ago.






Help them to get a facebook account set up so that they can access the live streams and direct them to good facebook pages.


Get them onto WhatsApp to be in a group of people for contact and prayer requests.


They may even want to come join others on my Facebook page which was primarily set up to encourage others as is this Blog.  Just click on the pic below.








IDEAS for Children to be Involved within the Church Family


Children can make cards for the older people on their own.
Our grandchildren made cards for us and because they know what they like to play with in our house and they know the things we like they customized them for us.
My card had a large heart and some butterflies because you will find hearts and butterflies all over my house.
Fred's card had a guitar on the front because he loves guitars.
Both of our cards had pirate stickers on them because our grandson Matthew loves to play with a pirate ship we bought him which stays in our house.







Parents can share little videos of the children

Families could take a little video of them all saying hello and waving to people.




Children can dictate little messages for their parents to send to others.

Our daughter-in-law wrote a postcard to me for our granddaughter who is not quite 3 years old yet and she wrote it by asking Ruby questions to help her think what she might like to say.
I can tell you now that we are going to have sausages and pasta the first time we get back to see them in their house after Lockdown, partly because she likes pasta and I like sausages.







People who know the children well can facetime the children to chat with them, read a story, sing a song with them, or play a little game.


We sing songs
with our grandchildren and find out if they have learnt any new songs recently that they can teach us.


We do a hide and seek over facetime where we get the grandkids to close their eyes and count while we hide a cuddly toy bear in different places in our house and they then have to tell us where to go in the house to look in the places they think we may have hidden it.







We can do a jigsaw together with them over facetime.
This was one that their mum got us for Christmas and it was rather special because it was made from a picture of Fred and I and the three grandchildren the day the youngest was born.








The Church can produce simple materials for the children

The Church can choose themes or topics and produce a

  •  little prayer,
  •  story idea,
  •  colouring page
  •  simple memory verse
  •  and maybe a simple craft idea for the parents to use with the children.
for each one.

Having been a Sunday School Curriculum Writer and A Kid's Club leader for many years those kinds of things come more naturally to me and every church will have someone who can develop a little system like this.




WHAT CAN WE ALL DO TO KEEP IN TOUCH?

WHAT CAN WE ALL DO TO ENCOURAGE OTHERS?


Can you encourage someone?
Yes you can.

Can you do any of the things mentioned above?
Yes you can.

No matter who you are, you can do at least one of the things mentioned here in this blog post.



Do you think that one thing you are able to do can make a difference?

If you said no then you are wrong.

Every little thing we do out of love and concern and compassion for another person can make a difference to a day for them.

In times of loneliness, vulnerability, anxiety or stress one thing in the day can help to brighten someone's life - that's what encouragement is all about.

People always need to be reminded of God's Love

People always need to be reminded that:





I actually received that poem above many years ago after an extremely sad time in my life and I was very thankful for some encouragement.




Can you encourage someone?

YES!

To encourage someone means to leave them seeing their day, week, life, changed even in a very simple way so that they are lifted out of any discouragement, loneliness, dismay, they may be feeling.

With the added advantage we have of turning their eyes toward Jesus to know He still cares for them.



And what about the person doing the encouragement?

Well if you step out and do some act of kindness to encourage another I tell you it will also encourage you.



Let me encourage you from my own experience how simple acts of kindness encourage others.

I know how a little letter can help someone   -   See  Tears over a Little Letter

I know how receiving a handmade card can encourage someone.   -  just look above to the cards we got from the grandkids.

I know how a phone call can help someone   -   I'm not good at making them but I do appreciate them.

I know how keeping in touch on facebook messenger regularly can help someone.

I know how checking in with someone on WhatsApp helps them.

I know how thankful people are for little cards sent out to them to show your love and concern.

Here are examples of some of the lovely Postcards I found that I am sending out to people within our church who are on their own.






I picked them because of the attractive, encouraging Bible Verses they display.

I bought them from a company called "10 of Those" who are a UK company and sell lots of books as well with everything being at really good prices.

There are two packs of the postcards and they each have 5 different designs, the picture above show three from each pack.






I get no commission from "10 of Those" - I just wanted to give you an example of what you can get for a good price but I'm sure other Bible Book shops online will have similar products.



I also know how providing that bag of pasta or flour or toilet rolls or other essential items to a foodbank will not only help the people who receive gifts from the foodbank but will also help to relieve the pressure on the foodbank organisers.  -  Our son is in that position.


I also know that just being the person someone else can turn to at any time for prayer is a great encouragement.


I also know that being the person who is inviting you wot pray online with them, or read the Bible or sing the Psalms together online is a great help to others.  -  Our other son is in that position.


I also know that having someone just to remember you live far from your homeland and in a different culture and to make you laugh at times can be a great gift.  -  Our daughter is in that position.


So why not think how you feel and how you would like someone to encourage and help you and then do that for someone else.





You may also find my blog posts on

  BIBLE VERSES OF ENCOURAGEMENT IN TIMES OF ANXIETY WORRY & STRESS

  BIBLE VERSES OF ENCOURAGEMENT IN TIMES OF BEREAVEMENT

  BIBLE VERSES OF ENCOURAGEMENT IN TIMES OF COMFORT

 to be of help for phone calls, letters and cards and even for encouragement on social media.


Or you can click on ENCOURAGEMENT in the Menu Bar at the top of this post for other blog posts on Encouragement.






Saturday

Looking to Listen to Good Christian Songs - Stuck at Home & Need Help?


Are you stuck in the house?

If you are confined to home

             or self-isolating

                          or off work because the kids are ill

    or perhaps the weather is just too cold or stormy to get out

 then you probably want some good songs to listen to.








If So  

THEN 

This is the place to find all my posts on Songs I have mentioned or ones I like to listen to.



Just click on the pics or the Titles to find out more.



There is a Series called Songs for Worship










There is a Series called Songs for Kids






Kids Songs - Visuals, Words & Chords

Bible  -    I Believe the Bible
Bible  -    I will Make you Fishers of Men

Love of Jesus  -    Jesus Loves Me
Love of Jesus  -    Jesus Loves the Little Children
Love of Jesus  -    Jesus' Love is very Wonderful

Salvation  -    Good News
Salvation  -    Rolled Away

The Attributes of God  -    God is So Good 

The Promises of God  -    No Never Alone

Creation  -    Who Made?

Easter  -    He's Alive


Prayer  -    Whisper a Prayer





Then there are some of


This link will take you to my private folder on You Tube 






This post will of course be updated at different times in the future so do check back.






Tuesday

Looking for Books to Read - Stuck at Home & Need Help!


Are you stuck in the house?

If you are confined to home

             or self-isolating

                          or off work because the kids are ill

    or perhaps the weather is just too cold or stormy to get out

 then you probably want some books to read and hopefully not have to pay too much for them!



If So  

THEN 

This is the place to find all my posts on books I have bought or read or reviewed.



Just click on the pics or the Titles to find out more.



There are many Book Reviews on the blog by several authors and of different genres but a significant group of murder mysteries by Agatha Christie.








For a few other Reviews and posts on books see below:



TRAVEL

5 Travel Books about Northern Ireland



SEASONAL

5 Bargain Winter Mysteries







If you are interested in finding out about some of my favourite authors have a look below:

Davis Bunn








There are also several short DEVOTIONALS based on

 Psalms, 

 God's Love,  

 Worship 

 Sunday Scripture

 Songs









Sunday

10 Bible Verses of Encouragement in Times of Bereavement



We all need encouragement and the best place to go is to the Bible.

In this blog Post I have tried to gather some Bible passages or Bible verses which will encourage us all when we are grieving over a bereavement.







I do believe that we should not just grab a verse and read it on its own but we should always lift our bibles and read a passage of scripture to make sure that we know the real meaning and context of each of the verses we are putting our trust in. 

I pray that you will do the same and only use this list to guide you as to where you may find help.



So here are 10 Bible verses or short passages for us to turn to in times of  Bereavement



1.   John 11 v 1-44     

Starting off with this passage in John's Gospel where we have the story of the death of the friend of Jesus, look it up, read it through and then focus in on these two sections:

When Jesus comes and is confronted by Martha the sister of Lazarus who believed that if Jesus had been there earlier her brother would not have died  v. 21-24

21 Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

Even though she was upset that Lazarus was dead she still knew the authority Jesus held.

We are naturally and emotionally upset and hurt and distraught in the death of a loved one but we can still have the same belief and trust in Jesus as we did before the event.


Jesus then comforts her with the hope of the future  v. 25-26 and remember these are the words of Jesus








Martha's answer is not a simple yes answer to His question but instead it is a statement of what she believes  v. 27



27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”


and because of what she believes she has faith in Jesus.


Then Mary speaks to Jesus in a similar way v 32


32 Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”


Both sisters had faith in Jesus.

But we are not left with that, and then Jesus could show His power and raise Lazarus from the dead.  

No!

We then have the shortest verse in the Bible but one which shows more than you could think 2 short words could  v 35


Jesus Wept


Before the joyous act of resurrection we witness the feelings of grief and sorrow that Jesus shared with these two sisters.

May we always remember
 He shares our grief and our sorrow too.





2.   Matthew 5 v 4
    
In the Beatitudes the second blessing is on those who mourn - Jesus cares and He promises comfort.









3.   Isaiah 25 v 8

Even in the Old Testament it was proclaimed that God would destroy death.      
It has always been in His plan.


He will swallow up death forever,

And the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces;

The rebuke of His people

He will take away from all the earth;

For the Lord has spoken.





4.   Revelation 21 v 4    


Not only is God concerned with our sadness over a death of a loved one or friend at any time but the Bible shows us that He also wants us to look forward to a time when there will be no more death







God has given us a Hope in the future even over death.





5.   John 14 v 1-3


This was my father-in-law's favourite portion of scripture and it should be loved by us all, such assurance that death is not the end.





Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 
In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 




Jesus has already prepared that place for us because He did it by going to the cross.

At the cross His work for our salvation was finished.






6.   1 Corinthians 15 v 52 - 57

There is a resurrection for the saints.


52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 
54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 
55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 
56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 
57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.


No matter how death leaves us so distraught it does not last forever when we are in Christ and the grave cannot hold the saints just as it could not hold the Saviour.

God prepared the way for all of this through Jesus.



7.   Lamentations 3 v 31 - 33

God allows us to go through grief at different times.


31 
31 For the Lord will not cast off forever. 
32 Though He causes grief,Yet He will show compassion according to the multitude of His mercies.  
33 For He does not afflict willingly, Nor grieve the children of men.

However in Mercy He will be compassionate toward us.





8.   John 6 v 39 - 40


God's Will and plan was established long before the Cross and His assurance was that the saints would be safe in the hands of Christ.








Jesus knew the Will of the Father and looked forward to the time when He would raise us up because we trusted in Him.






9.   1 Thessalonians 4 v 13 - 14


In our grief and sorrow over a death of a loved one we need to remember what Paul wrote to the Thessalonians and the words are still true today.


13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.  
14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.


For those who had trusted in Christ there is resurrection with Him and that is our great Hope.











Then we must also remember that we should always consider how God cares for each of us in our bereavement and grief.

So to finish here is a verse for us to be encouraged to use to encourage others because of these words straight from Jesus.




10.   John 16 v 22



Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and
 your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.



Jesus knows our sorrow but also knows the the effect of the joy that we will have when we see Him face to face.

Such a promise for the future.