It started because no one had money. No one had any real plans of obtaining money before Christmas, and my older children really wanted to give gifts to parents and siblings. So the idea was birthed. Everyone needs encouragement. Encouragement is free. Words can be gifts. Encouragement can be drawn on long after the words are spoken – a gift that keeps on giving.
I thought, “This is a great task! Simple and meaningful!” I presented the idea to my children one evening after the youngest two were tucked quietly into bed, and the evening advent devotion was complete. I was all smiles as I explained, and encouraged, and explained more as blank faces stared back at me. One big girl nodded her head in agreement that it was a grand idea, and she looked like she could fall asleep at any moment. Could it be that finding encouraging words would be difficult for this group? Calling out the gold in each other and seeing God’s best in other people…in your family? Sometimes it may be easier to find the good in others – strangers even. But your family? I asked them to express ideas they had…I heard responses such as, “you’re nice” and “you’re funny.” Trying to stay positive, I expressed that these statements could be a good start…and let’s take a few minutes and ask God what He sees in that person and write it down. Just one or two words. No paragraphs, no essays. This is no home schooling assignment. So we paused, we prayed. A few kids wrote words down and others still stared. So we prayed again, together, asking God to highlight many great qualities that others possess.
The process took a while and was a little more difficult than I had anticipated. And God is good. He brought many encouraging words to mind. Older children promised to fill the boxes later, after having more time to think. Younger children wrote simple words and sayings for sisters and brothers, needing occasional help with spelling. We closed the boxes and set them in front of our Hawaiian style, lava rock fireplace, underneath the stockings. Everyone was encouraged to keep filling the boxes these last few days before Christmas. We were to fill them with words of blessing and encouragement. We prayed that God would give us insight as we encouraged and He would use us to speak to the heart of the recipient about things He wanted to do in their lives this coming year. We often forgot and had to be reminded. And reminded again. And reminded even more about how wonderful it feels to have great words spoken over you.
We can always afford the gift of encouragement and we should make time to invest in the heart and health of another. Giving the gift of a good word is priceless.
“Pleasant words are like honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24 (King James)