Saturday, January 18, 2014

Royal Encouragement

Hello Friends.

If it were Spring I would have more appropriate photos for you.  But as it is still Winter my bee friends are all snuggled away in their hive.  So please enjoy some photos of my walk with my MOM on Saturday.

“Where seldom is heard, a discouraging word.”

The dream of a new start, a fresh beginning, a blank slate is a big part of something known around the world as the “American dream.” The opportunity to take a new path, to get off old roads and out of deep ruts has brought hundreds of thousands of immigrants to this country.  They moved away from the familiar and into the unknown with optimism and hope.

In 1873 Dr. Brewster Higley published a poem entitled “My Home on the Range,” which a few years later was set to music and became the state song of Kansas: “Home, Home, on the Range.” It's a “cowboy song,” a ballad to be belted out beneath the stars while watching over the herds and smelling the smoke of campfire. But Higley’s song about the wildlife and wide-open spaces includes one very human-oriented note.

Plopped in the middle of Higley’s description of a beautiful, natural setting, he thought it was important to proclaim “seldom is heard a discouraging word.” That is a human thing my friends. Deer and antelope and us dog, all animals really don’t “discourage” one another. But for those early settlers, no “discouraging word” for miles and miles meant that there was no honking hierarchy, no toxic turbo tongues, no nit-picking establishment measuring your every move, no clucking tongues looking over your shoulder and registering their disapproval. No discouraging word meant freedom from a culture of complaint and criticism, and people with a nonjudgmental spirit. No discouraging word meant the opportunity to live day to day doing the best one could without being measured against others and found wanting.
Ideally it's in the midst of family and friends where one should most seldom hear a “discouraging word.” But as members of a family, we all know each other’s foibles and flaws all too well. As family and friends we know exactly where to nit, where to pick, when to throw a withering glance, just how much cold shoulder to turn.

In 1 Corinthians 1:1-9, Paul writes to the Corinthian church as his "family" in faith. Paul had personally founded that family, but it was now showing all the familiar signs of dysfunction junction. Discouraging words are not just being suggested, they are being slapped across each other’s faces.

As Paul opens his letter to this bickering band who are exhibiting about every “bad behavior” imaginable, his first words are words of encouragement, words of praise and words of thanksgiving for their ministry and mission. He reminds the Corinthian Christians that not only are they part of his spiritual family, but that they are “sanctified,” that they are among those who are “called to be saints.”
I would step out and dare to say if any of the peeps we know were writing this letter to such wayward and backward brothers and sisters, they'd start the letter with “What are you thinking?” “What planet are you living on?” “Where did you park your spaceship?” “Do you even remember one word I taught you?”

Not Paul. Paul offers not one “discouraging word” as he begins addressing this severely strained community. Instead he recalls for them how they have been deeply, eternally “enriched” through the gift of Christ Jesus. Despite the clubby infighting and failures of faith that he will later address, Paul first and foremost affirms that the Corinthian Christians are “not lacking in any spiritual gifts.” Paul calls them not just to strive for a life of faithfulness, but that they are to aspire to sainthood, as should be the goal of all those who follow Jesus and fellowship with each other.

Now that is an encouraging word. Paul doesn’t just say, “You can do better!” He affirms that they ARE better.  His love for his “family” is first and foremost in his heart and words.
Paul is feeding his feuding faith family an infusion of “royal jelly” in order to help them grow into the fullness of what God has intended for all God’s children.

In the world of the honey bee, “royal jelly” is an extra nutritious mixture that is fed to all bee larvae, “baby bees,” the first three days of their lives by their nurse bees. It's a “superfood” that is packed with B vitamins and a unique element known as “royalactin.” But after those first three days only the bee larvae that are destined to become queen bees continue to get the “royal jelly”. The other bee larvae, deprived of the royal jelly, develop into drones or workers. It takes the “special sauce” of royal jelly to create a new queen bee, a creature who can reproduce and eventually lead a new hive into the world.

The gift of encouragement is “royal jelly” for all of us. It’s life’s true “special sauce.” One encouraging word can transform a life—from drone to queen.

In his classic “Meditations of the Heart,” African-American theologian and educator Howard Thurman tells the story of a man who was walking along the sidewalk at the close of the day. Near the curb a group of birds was pecking away, trying to open a pink paper bag. They seemed to be quarreling as they pecked. The man walked over to the spot and the birds took flight, settling at a respectful distance, watching. With his foot, he turned the bag over, examined it with care, and then emptied the bag of its content of breadcrumbs. When he had done this he resumed his walk with never a backward glance. As soon as he disappeared, the birds returned to find that a miracle had taken place. Instead of a tightly closed bag, there was before them a full abundance for satisfying their needs.

Any careful scrutiny of our lives reveals that we have been in the birds’ predicament again and again. Some great need of our life may have stopped us or blocked us, but then an unexpected stranger or unknown writer, or a comment from a friend triggered a miracle.

Thurman concludes, “However self-sufficient we are, our strength is always being supplied by others unknown to us, whose paths led them down our street or by our house at the moment that we needed the light they could give us. We are, all of us, the birds, and we are, all of us, the man.
When is the last time you offered an unscripted word of encouragement to a friend, a co-worker, spouse, child, partner, parent? When did you last apply some royal jelly to a grievance or a wound? When criticism lashes out at you, red in tooth and claw, did you keep it red, but red in forgiveness and compassion and royal jelly?

Social families, biological families, workday “families” are as imperfect today as were the families of faith Paul wrote to in the first century. We all still need to offer, not a “discouraging word,” but words of encouragement. Not mindless “atta boy” platitudes and self-esteem lies, but big dabs of royal jelly.

Instead of a “discouraging word” offer an encouraging word.  Encourage someone to step forward alone.  Or Encourage someone to reach back for one left behind.  Encourage someone to take a plunge.  Or Encourage someone to step back from a dangerous edge.  Encourage someone to take a break. Or Encourage someone to make a break for it.  Encourage someone to hold on to their reality.  Or Encourage someone to reach out for a dream. 


  1. Hari OM
    What a wonderful reminder of the power of our words; in sanskrit culture we learn that the tongue is a mighty sword with which we can fight good battles - but start many unworthy ones! Keeping our speech sweet, guiding with affirmation, is a skill indeed. Your mom and you have that in droves, Goose - and mom is a fabby fotografer too!!!
    Blessings, hugs and wags, YAM-aunty xxx

  2. Thank you for that wonderful story. Your pictures are beautiful....what an awesome part of the country you live in! Wasn't that water frigid Goose??

  3. Thank you for that beautiful entry... so much truth in your words. And your photos... breathtaking!

    But Goose... weren't ya cold???? I gets in da pool in da summer but then it's hot, hot, hot!

  4. every single photo is MAGNIFICENT today. the scenery is spectacular as is that sweet face wandering in the snow...
    I was raised in a very strict home, God's Law and Dad's Law.... and taught that God was watching me every moment and would get me if i did something wrong... as a result there were no encouraging words for me and i find it difficult to encourage. i love to help people but don't no how to encourage, as in my neighbor is 8 months a widow. she cries all the time and i find myself wanting to yell at her to just suck it up and go on with life, which is my personality... i do agree everyone needs an encouraging word... now i just have to figure out how. i am a take charge, bull my way through life person and have a hard time understanding those who are not....

    It has been a great comfort to me over the years when i read about the early Christian church and the fact they bickered and fought and King David has helped me many times when i make mistakes because even thought he walked with God he made huge mistakes....

  5. Your photos are gorgeous! And your words are very true too.

  6. Encourage is a lovely word. A little can go a long way and make a large mark on soneones' life. Lovely post today Goose and stunning images. Have a serene Sunday and get on some big easy today.
    Best wishes Molly

  7. I will follow your advice, brother. It's great when we know there is someone who stands behind us and encourages us when we have doubts and when we are unsure. Many thanks for sharing your wonderful pictures with me. Have a super sunday

  8. We are not SURE butt think that H. Thurman was born in Columbus.

  9. Thank you so much for your royal jelly of encouragement. (My mom needs some!) We love your compassion. xoxTootsie

  10. Another beautiful post and the most perfect words.

  11. Is this the message you wrote for your mom to preach on tonight Goose? We had our baths yesterday so we will be super fluffy at church tonight. The furiend we are expecting to see at church (that we just met yesterday) is one you already know! Bentley Phyllis!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

  12. If this is the theme for dog church, I sure wish I could go cuz I would like to hear this encourage story again. It is a wonderful word--and practice. Lady Caroline

  13. OH goodness that is such a beautiful post and so darn true. Love the pictures and seeing you Goose. Looks like you and the Mom had a good walk. Thanks for all those great words and it sure is something good to live by.
    Have a great day.

  14. Such a beautiful post, Goose! And we love the photos to go with your sage words. We try to live up to our State song here at Ao4 HQs.

  15. I always seem to need to hear just what you share! Someone did this for me yesterday.... a stranger! I know that my moving out west far from my family was just because of the constant discouraging words. I know I have to work on myself to be the man in this story. Thank you for the reminder.

    And... California is so dry, that many of our churches are praying for us to get some rain today. Could I request you keep our state in your prayers?

    Thank you!

  16. Sundays with Goose set my frame of mind for the week.
    Hugs Madi your bfff and Mom

  17. Happy weekend hugs to you, Goose! I hope it's as bright as the light in your eyes. :)

    Woofs & huggies, <3

    ~Bailey (Yep, I'm a girl!)

  18. Such beautiful photos. Mom got to play with a three month old Weim puppy today. She's all heart melted now.

  19. Wonderful post and stunning pictures. :)

  20. Beautiful post Goose. Me is not sure whether mes liked the words or the pictures better

  21. Hi Y'all!

    Beautifully said and fantastic photos.

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  22. 1. For the book.
    2. No discouraging words. I love that.
    3. Those pictures are so beautiful.
    4. Maybe a title: Gospel of Goose: Wondrous Words of Encouragement