Tag Archive | encouragement

Weekly Update: Encouraging Words

Hi everyone!  Sorry again for the late update.  It was a very busy weekend, and I’ve finally had a moment to take time to post.

Yesterday, while teaching Sunday school to my early elementary kids, I finished a month long lesson on friendship.  We learned a lot about what it is good friends do – forgive one another, be there for each other, etc.,  but yesterday’s lesson was one I had been looking forward to since the unit began: friends encourage one another.

Anyone knows that words can make or break us.  Like the Scriptures relate, words can build us up or tear us down, and we need to be wise with the words we use, especially when those words are aimed at other people.  I can’t be the only one who has noticed that there’s been a lot of not-so-nice words being used lately (especially on social media), so with my Sunday school kids, I wanted to make sure they learned how they could use their words to encourage.

First, we learned about the story of Job and how his friends responded to all the bad things he went through.  If you know the story, you know that in the long run, Job’s friends weren’t the most encouraging.  They said some pretty mean things, even so far as blaming Job for not loving God enough or secretly sinning to cause so much heartache in his life.  Now we know, in the story, that Job was completely innocent and God blessed him double in the end after he had went through everything, but (as I asked the kids), could you imagine how Job felt hearing his friends’ discouragement?  How did those unkind words effect him, and what could’ve been said instead to make him feel more encouraged?

After our story, we went back to our tables and decided to do a special project.  This was going to exercise the kids’ abilities to think of kind words for their fellow classmates as well as give them some extra practice with using kind words to encourage.

First, they chose a piece of construction paper with their favorite color.

Next, they were given a cut out of a circle where they had to write their name on it.  After they wrote their name, they glued it on the center of the construction paper.

Next, we listed some kind words on the dry erase board that could be used to describe someone.  Examples include “kind”, “funny”, “loves God”, “loyal”, “true”, “honest”, “brave”, etc.  

After that, I handed out more blank circles, and then we went around the room.  I pointed to the child in the first seat and instructed the kids to write down a kind word that described that child.  They could use a word from the board or they could come up with their own (one of the kids wrote “cool” as an example.). 

When they were done writing their word, they were instructed to hold up their circle for me to collect. After I collected the circles, I gave them to the child we talked about.  That child would then glue the circles on their paper and decorate it.

We repeated those steps until we said encouraging words about everyone in the room.

You can see an example of the one I made for myself before class here in case you want to know what the project looks like:


What I enjoyed about this project wasn’t so much the fact that the kids got to practice using kind words (to be honest, they already knew a lot about kind words to begin with), but the reaction they had when seeing what kind things others had to say about them.  It was priceless!  There were smiles all around the room, and some even mentioned how glad they were to hear such kind things said about them as they had heard some mean comments from classmates at school.

The project was a huge reminder at the power of our words and just how important encouraging can be.   How can you be an encouragement to those in need today?

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Hospital Food, Broken Washer, and a Book Signing

It’s been a hectic month.

It started off with a phone call from my aunt and uncle.  A family friend of ours (my uncle’s mother) had died.  A few days later, I had to have an endoscopy.  A few days after that, I got a phone call in the middle of the night that my grandfather had a heart attack.  We were in the hospital for a week.  Then, after my grandfather came home, we had another emergency in the middle of the night last night.  Our washing machine decided to flood part of the basement, the laundry room, two closets, and part of the kitchen.  Not only that, but a large shipment of books I ordered for today’s book signing got delayed in the northeast because of all the snow that hit New York.

And worst of all, I RAN OUT OF MAKEUP BEFORE MY BOOK SIGNING.

I can’t tell you how horrific that is for me.  I didn’t even have time to stop at the grocery store to pick up more…(*cries*).

All of this within a week and a half.

Needless to say there was not enough caffeine in the universe to keep me wide awake and alert.  Between funeral preparations, caregiving for both my grandfather and grandmother, cleaning up the mess my washer made, searching high and low for any extra copies of “The Ripple Affair” I could get my hands on, and praying to the good Lord to find a pinch of foundation and cover stick to hide my zits, it seemed like fate was out to get me and I was having a stroke of bad luck.

It was frustrating to say the least.  I was tired, cranky, impatient, and feeling terrible.  I didn’t understand why so many bad things happened all at once.  Was this supposed to be some sort of sign that I shouldn’t have wrote a book?  Was this fate’s way of telling me taking a chance on being a writer was a terrible decision that I should’ve never made?

I arrived at my book signing this afternoon dreading it.  I was waiting for some other emergency to happen.  Books would probably fall in the snow puddles outside and be ruined.  The chocolate cake we ordered would probably be dropped and smushed.  Guests would undoubtedly skip the party and enjoy the first “warm” day we’ve had in days (it was above freezing today-that’s tropical weather where I’m at.)

I didn’t expect it to be a good party.  After so much bad, why would something good finally happen?

After the first guests started to arrive, though, I noticed that the party wasn’t going as bad as I thought.  We had enough books for the guests.  The cake and food were a hit with some guests going up for seconds.  And people showed up!  Friends and family arrived and had a great time socializing, discussing writing, and meeting new people.

By the end of the party, I found it to be one of the best get-together’s I’ve ever been to.  Any discouragement I had before was removed by the love and support of my family, friends, and guests who took time out of their day to spend a few hours supporting my dream.  I was so thankful for the people who were there and I will never forget the wonderful time I had with them today.  They made it so special!  I also got to meet some wonderful new people who were so kind to offer their support for “The Ripple Affair”.

Today taught me a valuable lesson; not about writing, but about life.  So many times we come across bumps in the roller coaster that’s life and we get bombarded with bad things.  A poor diagnosis.  A lost job.  The loss of someone we love.  Not getting a break.  Sometimes these events happen so close together that’s it’s easy to become overwhelmed and discouraged, thinking that somehow we’re cursed or have bad luck and it’s never going to get better.

But life is like a roller coaster.  Just like how we can fall on our knees, we can also rise back up again.

After the night comes the day.  After winter comes spring.  After a storm comes a rainbow.  We all go through difficulties and hard times, but no matter what we go through, the bad times don’t last forever.  It may take a lot of prayer, patience, and chocolate, but the good moments in life will always step in to overtake the bad.

Also, a special note!

I’m now on Goodreads (under Erin Cruey).  Feel free to review my book or find me in the group chats and say hello.  🙂

The Story in You

I admit I get a little sad when people say “I don’t know what to write about.”

They shrug their shoulders and sigh as if writing is a talent only given to a select few and somehow they’ve been overlooked.  It’s not that they struggle through writer’s block or stumble upon a drought in creativity.  It’s that they don’t try to write at all simply because “they don’t have a story to tell.”

At least that’s what most of my friends and family told me as to why they wanted to do NaNoWriMo, but couldn’t…

But over the years as I’ve gotten the chance to connect with more people (particularly writers), I’ve come to learn something:

Everyone has a story.

Whether it’s a biography, a scene birthed from imagination, or a funny thing that happened on the way to the grocery store, everyone has a story to tell.  Even how you cooked breakfast this morning could somehow become a story (though, if you’re like me in cooking skills, said story may turn into a comedy.)  Most people think that you need to be an equivalent to Shakespeare to tell a story, but the truth is story comes in all kinds of forms (speech, writing, visual art, music, drama, etc.) and can be shared across a multitude of platforms.

What’s sad to me is that too many people are silenced from telling their stories because of discouragement.  Maybe it’s because someone said you were a terrible writer or artist.  Maybe it’s because someone received your art and gave it a negative review.  Don’t get me wrong-I think there are some stories that really aren’t that great and maybe shouldn’t be told (i.e., because they’re inappropriate for the audience.)  But it saddens me to see people with good, inspiring stories (whether fiction or non-fiction) who keep silent because of what someone else has said.

A story doesn’t have to be brilliant to be heard.  A story doesn’t have to be amazing to be inspiring.  A story just simply needs to be told-and it’s up to us to tell it.

An Encouraging Thought…

This morning I heard the story of a man who became a pastor of a church.  The church was small, both in physical size and population, and after six months of leadership he saw no growth and little success.  The man felt sad, wondering why his church wasn’t prospering like he thought it would.  When the area group of pastors and church leaders decided to meet to give their annual report on how all of the churches were doing, this small-town pastor felt discouraged.  The last thing he wanted to do was tell his peers that his calling wasn’t going exactly according to plan.

He drove to the conference to present his report with an elderly couple from the church.  He didn’t mention his discouragement and arrived at a large city church where the leaders and pastors were to gather.

As he stepped into the sanctuary, he was marveled at how big it was.  He could fit every church he had worked at in this sanctuary with room still left over.  He just stood there, in silence, wondering what it would be like to lead a ministry of that size.

As he was standing there, he felt a hand clasp his shoulder.  He turned, noticing it was the man he drove to the conference with.  “You’ve got great things ahead, Pastor.” The old man said.  “One day, you’re going to lead this church.”

The pastor gave a polite smile, but deep down inside, he was touched.  It wasn’t every day people told him he was doing a good job.  Why would anyone think he was a success, seeing how his current church was struggling to stay afloat?

But there was something about the man’s words that stuck in the pastor’s heart.  You’ve got great things ahead.  One day, you’re going to lead this church we’re standing in right now.

That one encouraging moment changed the pastor’s life forever.  And twenty-four years later, he’s now leading that big church in the middle of the city, and it’s changing a lot of lives for the better.

I should know, because that church in the middle of the city is the church I go to.  And that once-discouraged pastor is the pastor I listen to every Sunday morning.

As writers, it’s easy to get discouraged.  Whether it’s writer’s block, rejection of publication, lack of success, or just a plain lack of support from family and friends, it’s easy to feel down and out about your writing.  And when it’s something you feel is your “calling”-i.e., something you want to do as a profession or something you feel in your heart that you’re meant to do-when things don’t go as planned, it’s easy to feel down and out.  It’s easy to question yourself, doubt yourself, or even quit your dream.

But just because things aren’t going to plan doesn’t mean the dream is over.  It may be the dream is just beginning to come true.

Hearing my pastor’s own story on discouragement really encouraged me today.  There are times I question why I even bother to write-the success rate of first-time author’s is far from encouraging and I have yet to have a publisher say, “Oh!  I like your story.  I want to read more!”  Rejection letters and criticism (the non-constructive kind) are easily intimidating.

But just like how the man encouraged the pastor, and just like how the pastor encouraged me, I think we can encourage others by our own words or stories.  Chances are if you are feeling discouraged, someone somewhere else in the world is feeling the same, and you never know how much an encouraging word can help change a life for the better.  Whether it’s encouraging your fellow writers or inspiring your readers through what you write, a kind word can go a long way in making the world a better place.