HOPE OVERFLOWING

stories of grace, hope and life beyond cancer


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Everybody needs a cheerleader

It has been two weeks since the October Yay Mail! Project ended and I’m really missing it. I was so humbled and touched that about 50 of you lovely people chose to take part in it with me which means that around 1500 pieces of lovely post were sent and received in October. What a joy!

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I’ve been thinking a bit about why I enjoyed the project so much and here’s what I came up with:

1. I loved how easy it was to bless and bring joy

Writing someone a card is such an easy thing to do. Probably the most time consuming bit is finding their address (I really do need to get an address book!) But despite it being easy for me to do the responses I have received from people I sent a card to have been truly humbling. So many people have gotten in touch to say what a timely encouragement receiving the card was.

I think the world would be a far better place if we all had our own personal cheerleaders (skimpy outfit not necessarily required) but sadly most people don’t have many people regularly saying, “Keep going! You’re doing a great job!” So to be able to be that for people even in just a small way is a wonderful thing and a great joy.

2. Encouragement feels great both to give and to receive

I genuinely think that everyone I wrote a card to is special and has something wonderful to offer the world and it felt great to tell them so. We can be so British about both giving and receiving encouragement and feel so awkward about it when there is really nothing to feel awkward about as encouragement is something that builds up both the giver and the recipient.

As I was typing that last paragraph my phone pinged and I received a text message from a WhatsApp pen friend that I have (slightly long story but we met briefly over the summer and I thought she was great but we don’t live near to one another so we WhatsApp one another and pray for one another – what a joy). The sole purpose of this morning’s message was to encourage me in whatever I was doing today and it has totally lifted my soul! It was so lovely to receive and has brightened my morning. Encouragement always feels great!

3. It’s so much fun to do fun projects that bless others together

I loved it so much that so many of you joined in with me on this project. As the month passed I loved chatting with those of you that I knew about how it was going and sharing cool encouraging stories. I think that there is something powerful about the community aspect of choosing to do something positive together. We could encourage one another to keep going and I found it helpful to know others were doing the project to keep me on track with it (although I wasn’t as organised as I would have liked and did have to write 9 cards on the 31st in order to finish on time – see the below picture!)

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I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds the world a bit of a scary place to be right now. There is political and civil turmoil in so many places and it feels like a spirit of division in so many communities. There is also a lot of fear. Fear of the future, fear of people who are different, fear of politicians, fear that our peaceful lives will somehow be interrupted. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and completely powerless to be any sort of positive change in our communities and it is so easy to feel afraid.

But there are many things we can do to break this spirit of division and fear, and to foster stronger senses of community and love around us. We can be kind. We can make an effort to get to know our neighbours/colleagues/other mums on the school gate/dog owners in the park. We can greet people and smile at them. We can look for opportunities to be encouraging and to speak life to others and call out the gold that we see in them. We can do be the blessing in our face-to-face and online lives. I’m sure you can think of other ways too.

I was listening to a talk by Nicky Gumbel on Sunday and he said something which really stuck with me. He said, “Encouragement is like verbal sunshine. Just like sunshine warms the body, encouragement warms the soul.”

That is who I want to be. I want my words to build up and not tear down. I want to only speak verbal sunshine. I want to be that cheerleader that everybody needs. I want to fight fear with love.

There is a great passage in the Bible that talks about love and one of the verses (1 John 4:18) says: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” Love drives out fear. Love is stronger than fear. As we show love and compassion and kindness we will break down walls, strengthen our communities and that is a wonderful place to start.

Whether you were able to participate in it or not I hope that the October Yay Mail! Project has encouraged you to be the cheerleader that everybody needs and to seek to live a life of intentional love and encouragement.

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(PS. I’m hoping to put together a few thoughts about things to do for advent which you may like to join in with. Please do drop me a line if you have any awesome advent ideas that are a tradition in your home that I could include on my enjoying advent post. X)

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Love it!

I have been thinking a lot about love over the past few days and in particular, how we show one another love and how we receive the love that others show us. I have been blessed with lots of love in my life. I am actually overwhelmed by all the love that is around me and I feel I am the luckiest girl ever for it!!

I have also realised how deep some of the love that is in me runs. I love my husband and my son so much that it almost hurts. I would do anything for them and I feel so blessed that they have been entrusted to me and that they are in my life. I know that the feeling is mutual too! But this love is, I suppose, obvious. One is supposed to love one’s family!

The love that has caught me almost by surprise is the love that has been shown to me by my friends. In this difficult season I have been blown away by the many different ways that friends have shown us love… They truly cover the full spectrum of Gary Chapman’s five love languages… The hugs, word of affirmation and love (which I find particularly difficult – I so admire people who can tell others that they love them with ease), the countless prayers by the hundreds of prayer warriors, the time that friends have spent with us, time spent looking after little man whilst we’ve been in hospital, the meals that friends have made, the cards and gifts that we have received and the list goes on…

This love, I have learnt, is God’s church in action. We have experienced community in a way that we have never known before and it is a beautiful thing and one for which I am very thankful.

In this time of weakness I have also learnt to receive the love that friends show. In our Western culture it is often difficult to receive love as this requires us to acknowledge that we are not self-sufficient and that perhaps we need other to help us… For many of us, myself included, this can be hard… But from my experience, learning to receive love is a lesson definitely worth learning! It is such a blessing!!

For me the love that we have been shown has been, and continues to be, an out working of Jesus’ command to love one another as He loved us (John 13:34-35) and it has certainly inspired me to show others the same kind of love with as much joyous abandon as we have been shown it!