Balcony People – The Encouragers in Our Lives – You Know Who You Are – and We’re Grateful

Blog - Balcony People - Better TogetherBetter Together, George Washington Academy, Casablanca, Morocco

Encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

People who know me well know the struggle I have with insecurity and self-doubt. It doesn’t seem so but it’s true. I have been blessed with great encouragers in my life who have fanned the flame of vision and cheered me on when it was for me to do a hard thing. Those dear ones are what Joyce Landorf Heatherley calls “balcony people” – those encouragers who stand and cheer us on. We all have occasions to be so in each others’ lives. I love the opportunity myself, to be an encourager, having had it modeled so well for me.Blog - Balcony People book

I read this little (70-page) book years ago, but it still comes to mind often when people are kind enough to come alongside and encourage me to be that person for the job, or to do what’s needed whatever it is… It wasn’t because they couldn’t do it but for me to grow into a person of greater capacity. Or, just because I’m the one for the job. Imagine.

Encouragement isn’t just pat-you-on-the-back praise or superficial compliments. Jenn Arman defines it here: “Encouraging someone can mean you’re giving them support or confidence, but is also means that you’re helping to develop something in them. When the Bible talks about encouragement, it usually means that one is calling someone to their side in order to teach, comfort, strengthen or push them to act in a certain way. People who encourage others say with love what a person needs to hear, when they need to hear it–even if it isn’t what the person wants to hear.

The greatest encourager in my long life has been Jesus. He was/is the consummate encourager. Even hours before He went to His death, He could have turned the attention of His disciples on Himself. Yet, that would not be the case. He had compassion on his disciples and taught and encouraged them even in those last hours:

[Jesus speaking] “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble and suffering; but have courage, I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

There have been great numbers of encouragers along the way in my life, and I couldn’t begin to mention them all here…you know who you are. Through the photos below, I will mention some. Thank you all. Thank God for you.Blog - Balcony People - Paulette BuffingtonMy life-long friend, Paulette, who stuck by me all these years and who was brave enough to say loving hard things to me when needed. She went to be with the Lord recently, and I miss her.

BLog - Balcony People - Kay Mitchell & JoeKay – my friend and colleague at a time I was a new-in-town cancer nursing specialist. Trying to win the confidence of the staff of a cancer center, I leaned on Kay for counsel and kindness. She taught me a whole new understanding of the phrase, “Get over it!”

Blog - Balcony People - KathyKathy – my student, who would years later take my place at that same cancer center. I learned more from her than she ever did from me. She makes me proud and humbles me with her enduring friendship.Blog - Balcony People - Jan McMurrayJan – who was my parenting mentor. She relentlessly spoke truth into my life, and I needed it. Our children still know (and now appreciate more) the rules of the house affected by Mrs. Jan.

Blog - Balcony People - LindaLinda – whose friendship I’ve enjoyed for over 20 years and who taught me how to pray bigger than ever before.

33Heba – a friend and daughter from another mother who makes me laugh every single time we talk. What a gift from God she is.

Kim & Blythe 2Blythe – a young friend who was a true balcony person in my life and has grown into this incredible woman, wife, mother. Kim – who was teacher and friend to our son and became a dear friend to me.

Dan & Marge 2Marge – also a teacher to this son of mine and my friend in a hard season. We walked the streets of Cairo together. I learned from her.

2006 May -- Shana & EdShana – who helped me in more ways than she knows, teaching me a lot about capacity…and joy in the simplest of things.

2006 July -- Nezha & DebbieNezha – who was my friend in a mid-life season – with such class and  generosity of heart.

2014 Phone pics July-December 119Lisa – this friend who taught me about forgiveness and perseverance – who also visited us in Africa multiple times – I see God much more clearer through her experience of Him.

Blog - Balcony People - KarenKaren – my friend and colleague – whose wise counsel has encouraged me in these days…and she actually reads my blogs. ‘Nuff said.

There are as many encouragers as there are days…but I will stop here…with these. My Mom, my mom-in-law, and my daughter – all have believed in me and leaned into my life. You know what a great thing this is in your own life. These people who want to come close – for their sake and for yours. Struggling with fear as I do, these women have brought an uncommon grace into life for me.Mom pictures for website 012

Last, and never least, there’s this guy…I can’t say enough about how his love has altered the course of my life…for the better. “He put stamps in my passport.”…and helped me be a mom. Thank you, Dave.Blog - Dave in France

Whether we care to admit it or not, we all need people who believe in us. Or believe God enough to see in us what He sees and what we can’t see ourselves. How empowering that is!!!

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith…Hebrews 12:1-2a

Balcony People by Joyce Landorf Heatherley

Where Are All Your Balcony People?

Basement People vs. Balcony People

Balcony People – a Study in Philemon by James MacDonald

What Does Encouragement Really Mean?

Having Courage and Being an Encourager – from the Bible study series: Marks of Maturity – Biblical Characteristics of a Christian Leader

 

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14 thoughts on “Balcony People – The Encouragers in Our Lives – You Know Who You Are – and We’re Grateful”

  1. This –> People who encourage others say with love what a person needs to hear, when they need to hear it–even if it isn’t what the person wants to hear.” I am thankful that you are one of the people who does this for me. 🙂

    Also, yes, I so used to hate it when you talked with Jan because it made things more strict. But, I can appreciate it now. Thankful for the parenting wisdom that helped us turn out the way we did.

    Fun to see this parade of significant people!

  2. Wow! Thank you, Debbie . . . and you are the consummate positive person in my life . . . I need more of that! I’m not sure I would define it as iron sharpening iron, but we are something like that! Love you!

    1. Can’t say I’m so positive, but we definitely have great times together. Appreciate you more than words do justice.

  3. Debbie, we studied last night at church the passage from 2 Corinthians 1 about comforting others with the same comfort we have from God and your blog today brought that back to mind: “3 Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. 4 He comforts us in all our affliction,[b] so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so through Christ our comfort also overflows. 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation. If we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is experienced in your endurance of the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that as you share in the sufferings, so you will share in the comfort.” You have been that example to me and I thank you. <3 Much love!

    1. And you me, Sharon. Thanks for that word. “As (we) share in the sufferings, (we) share also in the comfort.” Such a beautiful promise.

  4. Beautiful thoughts, Deb. We all need encouragers in life, and I thank the Lord that He brings different ones for just the right seasons of our lives. He is also so faithful to provide. Bless you.

      1. Carol, you are such a delight. Thanks for commenting…how ever the computer writes your name. 🙂 You are such an encourager!

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