Friday, January 18, 2008

A Cup of Encouragement.....

"Encourage one another and build each other up..."
1 Thessalonians 5:11(NIV)
Dear Readers, in case you are wondering about this entry as a re-post, it is for an opportunity to be visited by Proverbs 31 Ministries. A writing contest is being sponsored on the web site of Lysa TerKeurst. The winner is to be announced on Monday and will be published in their magazine. I'll be back to regular posting on Monday. Have a great weekend!
Last night before drifting off to sleep my mind clicked back in time to about ten years ago. I was wondering what became of a little boy who was part of our church bus ministry. I spent some time praying for him and hoped that now that he is in his teen years he was doing well. This little guy captured my heart and I've thought about him often over the years. I first met him when a couple in our church started a bus ministry. That first group of children were a rag tag bunch indeed. Mostly they were from a low income area and often were sent on the bus by parents who wanted a break or free baby sitting for a couple of hours. They were often rolled out of bed and put straight on the bus without breakfast so we fed them a hearty hot meal when they arrived. Many of these precious little ones where starved not only for food but for attention, affirmation, and were in great need of encouragement.

Once a month my husband and I filled in teaching for the regular children's ministry leaders so they could have a break. I really saw that these children needed to be encouraged and wanted to find a way to fill this need. At the time I had just read Silver Boxes by Florence Littauer and it gave me an idea.
We had an object lesson on building one another up with encouragement and then I had all the children gather around the art table. I presented each child a small silver painted box with a little silver bow on top. At each place there was a pencil and a piece of paper that contained a grid of boxes. At the top of each box was written, "You are special because..." or "I like you because...." The children were instructed to write their name at the top of the page and then pass their paper to the person on their right. Then each child was to fill in an answer for one of the writing prompts for the child who's name was at the top of the page and then keep passing and filling in answers until their page was returned.

You would have thought you were watching a group of excited wiggly puppies as anticipation grew with each passing sheet of paper. I wish you could have seen their little faces when their papers were returned to them, eyes were shining and smiles stretched from ear to ear. One little girl hated her red hair but was thrilled to get this message, "You are special because...You have red hair and it is the bestest happiest color to have." One little boy was painfully shy and he receive this message, "I like you because....We can be friends and play with no talking, just smiles." All the children were allowed to read their little slips of encouragement aloud and then I instructed them to carefully cut each one apart and place them in their silver box along with a message I had written for each of them. I told them that when they had a bad day, felt lonely, or sad that they could take out these little messages and remember that they are special, important, and loved. I felt a gentle tap on my arm and there stood the one who had captured my heart. He looked up at me with the most earnest expression on his face and said, "Miss Sandy, I never been 'preciated 'afore, this is great! I am going to keep my box forever!" He flung himself into my arms for a big hug and I watched him depart to board the bus back home. There was a spring in his step, a smile on his face, and a handful of encouragement clutched to his breast.

I knew a bit of what that little guy faced when he stepped back off that bus and I hoped his little silver box would soften it for him some. His family moved away not long after this so I don't know where he is or how his life has turned out but I know I did my best during the time that our lives touched to encourage him. Encouragement softens the hardness along the way. It lightens the difficulty of a task and it blesses the recipient on the journey in life. It supplies us in times of famine and strengthens us when we are weak. Encouragement is a companionship in trial and lifts a bit of the shadow of care. Perhaps you know someone who could use a cup of encouragement today. I encourage you to offer a few kind words to someone you know that needs a little lift. Pour a bit of yourself into someone else's empty little cup, offer them a refill, to help soften trying circumstances, to put a smile on a face, or to fill an empty spot with warmth and love. One cup of encouragement, so easily given, can make a difference.

May each of your cups be full today with knowing that you are much appreciated by me.


Miss Sandy


Cindy Is Crafty said...

You are special because...

I miss you when you are not in my world daily!

Thanks, Miss Sandy, for another lovely post!

Lori said...

lovely...what a sweet idea!!!

m i c h e l l e said...

Your blog is making me cry!!! :-) The messages those children received are so very very beautiful. If we could all see ourselves as other people see us, we might not be so hard on ourselves. Thank you so much, Sandy.


Anonymous said...

You are the bright spot in a lot of days. Your heart is always in the right place. I treasure your visits. I adore your writing.
I will keep you in my prayers and your loved ones. "The way to a friend's house is never long."
How lucky we are in blog world to be a moment away.

God bless & Keep you in the shadow of his wings.

Karen Eileen

Pinkie Denise said...

Miss Sandy,
I love your post, tonight you filled my cup and its overflowing, I worked in the schools with the state preschool, I worked with alot of drug
babies and disabled children, you see
alot and hoped to leave them with just
some love and hope.....I have done this for the last seven years, now that I have my little ones it was too
hard and I took a leave, a couple of Sundays ago the childrens church
leader asked me for a craft idea she said she had an idea for boxes and letting the children decorated
them,she said she knew I was crafty and could come up with something, do you mind if I share your idea, I
think its perfect? Thank you and
thanks for sharing Pinkie Denise

A Thing for Roses said...

Miss Sandy,

What a wonderful, inspirational post. Gave me chills just reading it. You will never know what a difference that activity made in the lives of those children. Thanks so much for sharing your stories with us. I really appreciate your visit yesterday. It's always so nice to hear from you.
Have a lovely weekend!


KimberlyRyanDesigns said...

Hi Miss Sandy, Thank you for stopping by my blog! What a very inspirational blog you have, I love it! Please stop by more often and i'll do the same :) Hugs, Kimberly

Once Upon a Cottage said...

This is one of my VERY favorite verses! I loved your story. We did a similar project with my family one year at Thanksgiving. I had everyone decorate a wooden box with words or pictures they liked from magazines. Then everyone wrote on a slip of paper what they loved about that person. Everyone still has their boxes and this was several years ago! I will encourage someone today with your clipart! THanks for this lovely post!

Fete et Fleur said...

This is wonderful! Miss Sandy there is an incredible depth to you that I think might be unfathomable. You have encouraged me today. It is so easy to let the cares of this world choke away our happiness. It is good to remember we are loved.

Hugs! Nancy

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

Your blog makes me smile...have you ever considered selling stories?

How generous to share your little gif with us, too! I've already snagged it and sent it off to a shut-in I know and love. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for lifting up my spirit and for the wonderful words of encouragement. Amen to your inspiriation! We are to sow kindness and understanding as well as watering with encouragement then pray that these things will blessed them in time they need. I'm so blessed to found you...Rebecca

Catherine Holman said...

That is so sweet. You're an angel!

Scrappy Jessi said...

what a great post!!!
love all the cups!

FrenchGardenHouse said...

What a wonderful way to start my day, Miss Sandy!
Thank you for this loving and beautiful post.

I worked with abused children and their families for a while, and what worked best was affirming and encouraging the PARENTS....they never had been. This was the first step in teaching them how to parent, and a large percent of them succeeded, learned a new way to parent, and were able to keep their families intact!

I agree with my friend Karen, the road to a friend's house is never long. I am glad that through the internet, yours is part of my daily life.
xo Lidy

Vicki said...

Girl, you're speaking my language here with all this beauty! Wow. Thanks for the post. I've been blessed!

patjrsmom said...

Thank you for your visit and sharing your Grandmother's words of wisdom! And what a lovely post you have written here!

God Bless,

sarah said...

That was beautiful!! I dated a guy back in college whose mother gave me a tape of Florence Littauer talking about how she came up with the little silver boxes theme. I never forgot that story. I love your teacup pictures too!!

Thanks for sharing.

Laura said...

Thank you for stopping by, you made me cry!! Such a sweet story. Praying that little boy is now a child of God, and understands his value and that he is appreciated!

Gerry said...

Miss Sandy, Thank you for your nice comment. I had stopped by your blog as a result of the fun contest by Lisa and was very touched by your story. You blog site is very soothing and restful -- along with being so pretty. Blessings on you, Gerry

Angie said...

So beautiful and touching.

My cup runneth over.


carol @ i throw like a girl said...

Maybe some day your paths will cross again. Maybe it will be in Heaven. This post made me think of the song, "Thank You For Giving to the Lord".

And thank you for visiting my blog!

Celly B said...

What a touching post! We did something similar to this in my Teacher Cadet class in high school. I still treasure those slips of paper, and I'm sure "your" children still treasure them as well.
Thank you for your kind comment and visit to my

Linda said...

Sandy, thanks for stopping by 2nd Cup. I appreciate your affirming words, and I loved this post.

CrownLaidDown said...

What a treasure of a story...a seed planted. Someday, like that song "Thank you," you will meet him in Heaven, I know!

Thank you for stopping by with a cup o' encouragement for me.
Blessings be upon you!

Angela @ Refresh My Soul Blog said...

That is such a sweet story. You have such a sweet heart! I am so glad you posted this.
Many blessings,

Lisa writes... said...

The teacup graphics are gorgeous!

Thanks for your visit and comment over at my blog!


Amy Wyatt said...

This is a great story. I had a teacher in high school do something similar. It really made an impact on me. I'm sure that little boy remembers this and it has helped to shape him in some way. Isn't Florence Littauer's stuff great?!
Sweet Blessings to you.

Sally Ferguson said...

Miss Sandy,
Thank you for your sweet words about my post, "Alphabet Songs." You sent me encouragement just when I needed it!
I am soothed by your words, pictures and music. The Silver Boxes extends right through your page to continue the message and the gift.
God Bless You!

Lelia Chealey said...

Congratulations on the contest!! This is my first visit here & I loved what you shared. What a beautiful thing~I bet that young boys life will be forever changed because of that.
Have a great week!

the mother of this lot said...

What a beautiful post!

MrsJoeB said...

Miss Sandy-congratulations on the contest. I love your site! I collect antique tea cups and their sauce plates so this felt very comforting to me. God bless!
In His Graces~Pamela

Amy L Brooke said...

You write so beautifully!

Congratulations. This is touching.

Denise C said...

This is such a beautiful, heartfelt post and I might add...congratulations in winning the Proverbs 31 writing contest!
This story touched my heart so deeply and took me back to the days when I worked in Special Ed. in our local school system. I encountered some pretty amazing little "angels"! And, that is just exactly what they were to me...ANGELS! Precious, pure little hearts! I still think of several of them quite often....wondering where they are now.

I just love your beautiful, peaceful blog!! I will be back to be blessed by you again!

In Him,
Denise C

Celly B said...

Congratulations on your winning entry! I rejoice with you as God opens this avenue for you to share the story of His working through you!

I also loved the photos of the teacups. I love tea and all its accessories!


Julie said...

Miss Sandy,
I must say you deserve to win. Your article is beautifully written, the story is heart touching. What you offered those children is stunning.

So many of us missed the affirmations that we needed as children. You were the hands and feet of Jesus in their lives. And I'll bet you everyone of them remembers you. I know I would.

Many blessings & congratulations!


Jenni Saake said...

Beautiful! I had a Sunday school teacher when I was an "ugly duckling" jr. higher who I'm sure has prayed for me over the years even though we have long-since lost touch. I wish there were some way to find her and show her how God has been so faithful.

Tam said...

Congratulations to you!!! I am very happy for you!

Jenni Saake said...

I just visit the Proverbs 31 website and see congratulations are in order! Thanks for making the connection of the small world we live in. So fun to run into you again, and thank you for your comments on both of my blogs as well. :)

Laure said...

Your story leaves me remembering those who have encouraged me. The kindnesses of those familiar and of utter strangers . . . leaving simple words, touches and glances that fill my own silver box. What is so very extraordinary is how that box has moved from my hands into my heart. Where the memories endure. Your upcoming publication is well-deserved.

Jessica said...

oh miss sandy!
i loved this so much...i feel like i've just met an old friend when i read it...someone who has wisdom and a heart for the Lord and things to teach me.
thank you for teaching me today about encouragement...i have been encouraged myself from your words and strengthened to go and be a blessing to my family..


Praise and Coffee said...

Beautiful article, congrats!


DottiesDoodles said...

One of the nices blogs I have seen. Such an inspiration.

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