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While a skiff of snow covered the ground this morning, I spotted a lone snow drop flower daring the cold. Green sprouts of daffodils are emerging from their winter slumber, promises of the coming spring. Winter only lasts for a season, a few short weeks till hope fills our senses with longer warmer days and a bower of new blossoms.

Inspiration for 2021 Winter Contest

Contest ends February 13

How to Enter: From great aunts, to mothers, grandmothers, and dear friends, send me an e-mail passing along a piece of wisdom these precious women have shared with you.

I'll post some entries in a future update.

Titles include: Chicken Soup for the Soul: Reboot Your Life, Life-Giving Choices by Lucinda Secrest McDowell, Rebalance & Reboot Your Body with Miranda Esmonde-White DVD, Relaxation CD Tim Janis, and 66 Ways God Loves You by Jennifer Rothschild

*** U.S. entries only please

"Great faith is not the ability to believe long and far into the misty future. It's simply taking God at His word and taking the next step."
~ Joni Eareckson Tada

Courage Boosters

Have you ever considered where true courage comes from? Do you just muster up from deep within you the can-do spirit? I relate to that mindset because I'm a fellow Can-do Girl. That is until I hit a wall and run out of my own determination to plow through and get the job done, whatever the job. But what happens then? Do you give up, or collapse into a weepy mess and cry, "I just can't do this anymore." Believe me, I've been there plenty of times. That's when I recall 1 Samuel 30:6, "But David strengthened himself in the Lord."

What did he do? He prayed and asked for God's wisdom.

When I fall into that weepy mess and have used sufficient Kleenex, I dry my tears and pray. I don't hold anything back. I tell the Lord exactly how I feel. Then sometimes I dig out my old journals. I read about God's faithfulness to our family in many situations through the years.

Some of us need courage to take the next step toward a goal, look for a new job, end an unhealthy relationship, and others need courage to get out of bed and do the next right thing. So, take heart dear friend, and use these steps to encourage yourself in the Lord.

Pray - Tell the Lord everything.

Remember - Think of times when you thought life couldn't get any worse, and then it did. But God carried you through.

Write - Grab a pen and write down encouraging Bible verses or inspiring quotes. I actually keep a journal for quotes I want to remember.

Think of Others - Call a friend for a chat. Send a note to someone you know is hurting.

Here's a few of my favorite quotes and verses:

"Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord." Psalm 31:24

"Be brave little Piglet." Winnie the Pooh

"Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway." John Wayne

"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow." Mary Anne Radmacher

Cabbage Patch Soup

A family favorite, this soup is quick and easy when a winter chill is in the air.

1-1/4 lb. ground beef, scrambled & browned
1 med. Onion, chopped
3 - 15 oz. cans drained organic Tri-blend Beans, or 1 can each Dark Red Kidney, Black, & Pinto beans
1 - 14.5 oz. can S&W Ready-Cut Italian Recipe Tomatoes
1-1/2 Tblsp. Organic No-Salt Seasoning (Costco)
3 Cups Water
1/2 teas. Salt
1 small Cabbage, cored & cubed
1-1/2 Cups Carrot slices

Brown ground beef in a skillet and add onion part way through cooking. Drain grease and pour ground beef and onion into a Dutch oven. Add beans, tomatoes, seasoning, salt, and water. Bring to a boil. Turn burner to low and simmer for 1 hour. Add carrots and cabbage, and 1 cup additional water if needed. Let simmer about 45 minutes. Soup's on!

Readers Share - What they had to say about Encouragement

Denise - A friend was diagnosed with cancer and his wife had made a post on SM asking for some help finding sanitizing wipes. I had been blessed with a bunch of cleaning wipes and I had given quite a few away over the year, and my supply was dwindling. But yet, I was compelled to offer some. When I went down to the basement where they were stored, I found more than I thought I had, and so I gave more than I had offered.

Fast-forward two months, and my mother-in-law was unexpectedly diagnosed with a recurrence of cancer and surgery within weeks. My friend reached out to me, and asked what she could do since I had given them the wipes for her husband. I just asked for prayers. Not only did she pray, she sent the kindest card with encouraging words of Faith.

As bad as this year has been, there is good in the world, and it's found in our friends and family, and sometimes in complete strangers.

Lucy - I need courage to face being my mom's fulltime caregiver since August as she is under hospice care at my home.

Julie - My grown son captured a photo of a pink and perfect sunrise, framed beautifully with driftwood and white swirling water in the foreground, majestic snowcapped mountains beyond, with the sun's rays spilling onto shimmering blue water reflecting puffy pink and orange clouds. He sent it to me via text messaging while on his early morning walk. My words cannot begin to describe the beauty of that image. He sent no words, only the photo, but it spoke volumes to me. Not just of the beauty and majesty of God's perfect creation, but also of my dear son's heart and character and talent to appreciate and so artfully capture that fleetingly beautiful moment in time, and also that he thought of his old mama at home, and cared to share, connect with and encourage me.

Pam - My huge encouragement was answered prayer. My daughter-in-law and I had a misunderstanding that went on for several years. My only hope was that God would heal the rift. When we visited in October, she said she was ready to start over, she loved me, and wanted me to know that I would always be welcome. I was encouraged not only by answered prayer, but also her sweet words.

June - I was diagnosed with breast cancer in June this year! Little did I realize that day would be the beginning of an overwhelming explosion of support that skyrocketed my faith. Because of the love pouring in from my family, church, and friends, I was able to see joy every single day of chemo, recovery from surgery, and even now through radiation treatments.

When my dearest friend passed away last month, that same show of love has carried me through my grief. It truly does take a village...and I'm thankful for the one God provided and has made me a part of.