Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, which can either spark exasperated sighs or total delight. Our culture stigmatizes it as a day for grand, romantic gestures and even higher expectations with your significant other. However, I have loved the rise in emphasis on friendship with your “Galentines” over the years, as the subject of friendship has become one of my very favorites, thanks to the steadfast, wise women God so generously put in my life during such a tumultuous time.
Which is why I designed the EncouragHER bracelet. Do you see where I’m going with the name of this? I’m sure you had somewhat of an idea at first glance. Encourager of Her, a new take on friendship bracelets inspired by Ecclesiastes 4:
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor; if either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up…Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” – Ecclesiastes 4:9-10,12
This kind of friendship isn’t light-hearted and doesn’t consist of Stepford-like encouragement; it’s not enabling or fake. Quite contrary, it is one that is down in the depths of depletion with a friend, who is so lost in their own personal darkness that they need to stand on your faith for a bit. In other words, this is the foundation of healthy relationships. I feel so passionately about this and about the Body of Christ rallying together to be the hands and feet of Jesus to one another in the midst of our messy and broken world. I can’t wait to dive into what the Lord has shown me over the last few years about friendship and love through this blog series and the introduction of the Encourage Her Bracelet and Gift Set.
This bracelet was designed with you and your best friend/sister/mother/daughter in mind as a visual representation of a “cord of three strands” (you + your friend + God) and a reminder that we are not alone nor easily broken when we are deeply rooted in community, accountability, friendship and Biblical love!
Do you remember the days of sending roses or chocolates to your classmates in high school? This is the Golden Thread spin on candy-grams this year, intentionally packaged with 15 watercolor scripture cards, bound together to be easy go-to’s in moments of need for truth-telling and promise-reassurance from our Heavenly Father. Dripping with love, identity, worth and words of life!
Our culture tries to tell us that there are some people too far gone to help, but Scripture encourages us to unite together and fight darkness with light.
“Above ALL else, love each other deeply, for love covers over a multitude of sins.” -- 1 Peter 4:8
Let’s dive in.
1) NOT EASILY BROKEN
“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not easily broken." – Ecclesiastes 4:12
A cord of “three strands” – meaning yourself, a friend and God!
2) DELIGHTED IN
“The Lord DELIGHTS in YOU!” –Isaiah 62:4
God doesn’t delight in a better version of you. He delights in you, right now, in the flaws, through the mistakes and the screw-ups! I pray you believe AND receive this truth and run to Him today!
3) GRACE UPON GRACE
Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. –John 1:16
Grace is an act of obedience – it’s what we are called to so many times in Scripture – instead of becoming an obstacle of personal offense, you then gorgeously and fruitfully become a vessel or conduit for the Holy Spirit to work powerfully in someone’s life through you:
See also that you EXCEL in grace. I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love is genuine. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich. --2 Corinthians 8:7-9
Make allowance for each other's faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. -- Colossians 3:13
Nothing is more stunning to me than the heart of God. The fact that He delights to show mercy (Micah 7:18) is something that I wish we were all more prone to do.
Extending grace is an act of obedience. He tell us to show grace just as we've been shown grace. Grace is what changes hearts and lives (hello, I've experience it time and time again). Romans 2 says that it is God's kindness that leads us to repentance, not our own. He calls us to swallow the injustice, to grieve the sin, embrace the loss, see past the depravity and to focus on what the cross truly means!
Showing grace makes a way for the Lord to come in and do His greatest work. Offense, anger, bitterness and unforgiveness are self-righteous mechanisms that in the end make us sick. They are rooted in pride and unbelief, a vast misunderstanding of the gospel, thus paving the road for the enemy's best work, which is to short change, isolate, divide and cause disunity (especially amongst fellow believers).
A grace response doesn’t just aid the other person’s soul; it benefits your soul as well. Obedience blessings are not just one sided! But help both parties involved. Followed by freedom, healing and His mighty wonder-working power.
Grace allows you to face your sin, to own it and not shift blame. Grace forces you to feel the pain of your regrets, but never asks you to pay for them, because the price has already been paid by Jesus. - Paul David Tripp
Theology that isn’t zealous to promote forgiving and transforming grace, the kind of grace that changes your life, is simply bad theology. – Paul David Tripp
4) LOVE HAS NO END
His “love never fails!” – 1 Corinthians 13:8For great is His steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever! –Psalm 117:2
Jesus tells us at great length how love is the greatest of all commandments (check out Matthew 22 and John 13).
ABOVE ALL ELSE, love each other deeply --1 Peter 4:8
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. --1 Corinthians 13:2
How could I love like the Father does every. single. day? We realize that we don't have it all, when we see that human love and forgiveness eventually come to an end, we give room for supernatural love and forgiveness to pick up and take it the rest of the way.
We have to shift our minds from being self-reliant to being Spirit-reliant to gain access to His fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control). Let me tell ya, the fruit of the Spirit looks a whole lot different from the fruit of Jenn, yikes.
God never tells us to have it all together and resourceful enough for these good things-- it’s in our weaknesses that we get to fully experience His strength! His love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8), but our's does...big time! But when it does, ask the Spirit to show up and give you what you could never give to yourself: the fruit of the Spirit! It is supernatural and creates in us a dependence to daily rely on Him (John 15).
For “His love protects, His love hopes, His love heals, His love perseveres, His love endures forever and it never fails!” (1 Corinthians 13:6-8, Psalm 103, Romans 8, Jeremiah 31:3)
5) A FRIEND LOVES AT ALL TIMES
“A friend loves at ALL times!” –Proverbs 17:17
The ministry of Jesus Christ was to reach and love those that were lost. He didn’t command us to be partial to the easy-to-love people or to love only when convenient. Instead He lived His life as an example of how to love unconditionally, sacrificially, and boldly. Maybe Jesus was trying to tell us something about those hurting people, the ones that screw up big time or the annoying ones who require a little extra grace? Maybe they are the ones who need love, compassion and tenderness the most. They need radical healing from The Healer – not behavior modification. Jesus didn’t come to make bad people good, He came to make dead people alive! And if we have fully and truly experienced His underserved love in our own lives and radically receive (not just believe) this truth in our inmost beings (Psalm 51), we should be changed people!
I personally didn’t realize what a terrible friend I was until I finally understood the fullness of the Gospel and my brokenness was brought to light and healed. A true friend recognizes their own depravity, truly knows they have been saved, spared and rescued too, and walks in that beautiful transforming truth with a radically changed heart by the grace of Jesus Christ. It’s the stunning cognizance that Christ died for you and me while we were still sinning and commands us as believers to love one another; just as He loved us (and that love is underserved, unjust, unfair, counter-culture and at times, baffling and difficult).
“It’s because we have each received radical spiritual generosity that we can be radically generous with those in need!” -- Tim Keller
Compassion lenses develop in place of judgmental, haughty eyes when we recognize the vast failings of our own sinful nature and shortcomings. We, too, needed to be bought on that cross and in the grave so that we might be healed, freed, changed and saved. None of us are beyond the scope of participating in heinous sins. If you think you are above that, then you have missed the whole point of the gospel and I pray you seek further understating and wisdom from Him who desires to give that to you!
Let’s be women who walk hand-in-hand with our sisters through this process – who rally around brokenness, who lift our sister up when she needs it the most, and it be our greatest joy to show her grace! I promise what you will experience will bring you closer to the Lord and you will be a testifying witness to His miracles when you choose to be close to your hurting friends. I’d hate for you to miss that! Receive His grand and endless love for you today, so you can freely and joyously give it to others!
6) BUILD EACH OTHER UP
“Encourage one another and build each other up!” –1 Thessalonians 5:11
Life is hard. We each need encouragement and words of life spoken over our circumstances and us. Community is a fabulous place to encounter the love of Jesus when you surround yourself with people who speak life into you! Lets be ladies who encourage one another towards the Truth, towards our one True identity and towards the magnificent purposes God has for each of our lives.
7) JUST AS HE LOVED US
“This is my commandment, that you love one another JUST AS I have loved you.” –John 15:12
I pray desperately you’ve had that grace-receiving moment, not just a believing-one. And fully know in your being that these verses are ones we must obey, long to obey, delight to obey and for it be out pleasure to show grace and mercy…JUST AS we have been shown mercy.
8) POWERFUL LOVE
“Mightier than the waves of the sea is His love for YOU!” –Psalm 93:4
Gosh, I know what it feels like to be an outcast – seemingly unloved and alone, but what encouraging truth to know that the God of the Universe has a love for me SO grand, so powerful, so overwhelming that it is mightier than the waves in the ocean!
9) WITH GOD, FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION
“God is within her, she will not fail!” –Psalm 46:5
If the Light of the World lives inside of you, then you, dear sister, are on the road to victory. No matter what is going on in your life, the good, bad or ugly, He is actively pursuing you, calling you to Himself through your circumstances and chasing you down! Because His love for you is so immense, so all encompassing and never-ending or changing, He is leading you into victorious, triumphant places. When you’re on the journey with Him, you cannot fail. Of course there may be moments of failure, but the end result will never be total failure. Just when things seem hopeless is when the Way-Maker makes a way for you!
“No weapon formed against you shall stand” –Isaiah 54:17
“He is for you, not against you” –Romans 8:31
He is not careless with your story. His careful hand is in it all! He guards and keeps you on all sides—in every single detail of your past, present and future. He is a Good Father who loves you and wants good things for you, to give you a hope and a future. When you know the promises and truths God has for you and you receive them too, you will be a conqueror and an overcomer!
10) BE HUMBLE AND KIND
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love!” –Ephesians 4:32
Humans cannot change humans. Only the work of the Holy Spirit can truly change someone. Because we are not God and do not know His plan at all times, I urge you to head the message in this verse: bear with one another. We don’t know the time or place God will call someone out of bondage, out of darkness, out of a struggle, but what we do know is that we can obey His word (because His ways are higher than ours!) and we can humbly surrender our ideas and thoughts on what might be best. Lay those down at the feet of Jesus and say, “I want to be a vessel of love in this person’s life, not one that stifles the process -- so that the Holy Spirit can show up and work through me.” Spiritual maturity is when you are called to something, you’re obedient and you surrender – not bearing the weight of the result. No. We are free. It’s all on Him. Loving and trusting Him in our willingness to wait!
11) HOPE, FAITH, PATIENCE
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” –Romans 12:12
Full honesty: this one burns me at times, ha! I felt compelled to include it because it’s a hard one to swallow, but it’s powerful and needs to be at the forefront of our minds!
We don’t know the Lord’s timing, therefore He longs for us to be patient. We can find great joy in the hope we find in Jesus Christ who is unchanging, who when things seem the most dead, we can lean on the fact that He is a resurrection-minded Father.
As we wait, we reset in who He is, taking every thought captive, we dwell on what we know about our Father—He is loving, good, merciful, perfect, purpose-filled, sovereign, wise, unchanging, AND trustworthy. He always has redemption purposes in mind and phenomenal whole and healed plans for our lives — it’s through pain that we may fall and fail, but left standing with nothing, at the end of ourselves, at the end of our ropes, we draw near to the One the enemy tried to keep us from — our good, good wonder-working Father!
“Your worth is far above rubies!” –Proverbs 3:15
I can easily get caught up in believing my value is based on what I do or what I look like. And although I’ve learned to believe over the last few years that your value is based on who lives in and guides your heart, worth continues to require a whole lot of prayer and supplication on my end.
We all struggle up against our identity, self-worth, self-love, etc. But keep this in mind: a crumpled up, ripped, marked on $20 bill is still worth $20. God is not pressuring us to have tidy faith (or story) in order to earn His love or acceptance. That is given freely!! And your worth FAR above rubies!!
13) UNDENIABLE LOVE
“How precious to me are your thoughts, God! They cannot be numbered; your thoughts for me outnumber the grains of sand!” –Psalm 139:17-18
Imagine all of the things you think about from day to day (family, friends, work, what you’re going to eat next, etc) and multiply that times infinity. That’s how often He thinks of us each individually. And He thinks of us that many times in specific detail, remembering everything. You are seen, heard, deeply known, loved and understood. He thinks about YOU constantly – more than the grains of sand on our planet, says the Psalmist! Wow! Our human minds can’t even begin to comprehend that reality!
14) IMMEASURABLY MORE
“He is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask, think or imagine!” –Ephesians 3:20
This is one of my all time favorites!! I can get lost in my own sea of creativity, hopes and dreams, so the fact that God could do more for me than I could ever imagine gets me all kinds of excited. But we have to be willing to see how He does His thing in His own timing—that’s the kicker, BUT it will be better than we could ask, think dream or imagine! Yes, Lord!! I can’t wait!
15) STRENGTH AND DIGNITY
“She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear at the future.” –Proverbs 31:25
I can’t stress how important it is to wake up every morning and put on the full armor of God so we can stand against the schemes of the enemy. We are up against a real enemy, but when we accept the clothing of “strength and dignity” (He gives us His strength, honor and dignity), we are able to look our anxieties and fears in the face and laugh. My prayer is that we remain alert, but that we walk in the freedom AND identity that is promised when the Spirit clothes us.
God has invited us to play an active role in His Kingdom by living in community, friendship and relationships. Sure, life gets super messy, but let’s not let that get in the way of witnessing the work He is doing around us. I definitely don’t want to miss what He is doing in a friend’s life simply because I can’t get over myself. The enemy is fully aware of the goodness of community – he knows that friendship is where the greatest treasure and power lie for defeating him and sin.
As women, our sin so often stems from the lies we believe and give power to—lies of our identity, significance, shame, comparison, and unbelief. The enemy isn’t creative, but he’s crafty. He has grown up with us and knows exactly what to sink his teeth into to really lead us into temptation. But those lies only have as much power as we give them, and the same goes for the Truths God tells us.
I pray these bracelets and these scripture cards are used as tools to speak truth over yourself and others—proclaiming the Promises that never return void!
As this New Year kicks into full swing, I am thankful for new mercies and the fresh found hope we have in Him! God has so much purpose in our pain, struggles and hardships. Let Him heal you through those wounds and He will turn them in to strength to use in the lives of those around you. The path to freedom is through the wound, not around it. Remember: what was meant for evil, God meant for good (Genesis 50:20). Let grace break through that struggle and transform it into something beautiful!
“May mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.” –Jude 1:2
Because Light wins every time, lead off today by encouraging that friend/neighbor/coworker/spouse/sister/cousin that needs it spoken into her life!!
Praying you speak those words over yourself, too,