mean so very much! I've received encouragment this week in so many places - many are ones that I didn't expect. It made me wonder if maybe my eyes aren't always open to them. Though I do know that I've come to appreciate encouragment so much more now. Or maybe it is just that I feel so much more deeply now. I always knew it was important, but I'm not sure I've experienced the sweetness of this blessing as much as I have this past year. I am thankful for these times of blessing that God has orchestrated just for me.
So, what was encouraging? I'll share a few with you. On Sunday, Eliana and I stayed home from church. We have been trying to keep her home as much as possible until she is healed as we don't want her exposed to additional germs. Well, that morning as I was praying, I poured out some of my heart to God. It wasn't something new, just a sharing with the One who already knows that I desire to conform to His will for my life. When I'm seeking direction, often the answer may be wait. Perhaps I'm not ready to hear yet what God wants to teach me. Perhaps I have more to learn. That day the wait was short. That afternoon, my dh shared something with me - and in a small way - it was an answer to that prayer. What I am wanting is for God to place His desires on my heart - and to take away those that aren't from Him. I'm thinking this is going to be a project that will last the rest of my life!
Another moment happened after Eliana's feeding therapy. We stopped by the store for a few moments to pick up some items for dinner. As I turned down an aisle, a woman spoke to me saying she thought she was my neighbor. She was right and I was embarrassed not to recognize her. We talked some about what had been happening and she was so empathetic to our struggles and in her sharing I found that she is also a sister in Christ. The really sweet part though was her affirmation that having my children stay home with me during this struggle was a good thing - for all of us. She also commented on how she enjoyed watching my children play - and how well they played with a variety of ages and people. I guess I sometimes forget that people are watching - and it is nice when someone shares that they see good. I know too that I don't need the affirmation of others when I'm following God's lead - though it's still nice.
Today we attended a field trip with our homeschool group. I was to go on an outside tour of the art museum with the younger children. Due to rain, we ended up inside. The gals at the museum decided to allow our entire group to attend a special exhibit (that was originally only for the older children and a few of the adults) - and charged us nothing. That was an unexpected treat - but was just the start of it. We had fabulous docents that really enjoyed our children! They were engaging, affirming and interesting. After the tour, we received comments on how bright and well-mannered our children were - and that we were doing a great job! This is always sweet to hear.
Also comments that I have received here - and in emails or phone calls. I am blessed continually by people that reach out to me. Thank you!
Encouragment is such an effective way to deal with doubts. I don't know a single person that doesn't have doubts about what they are doing. Is this my best? Is this the right choice? Could I be doing better? We all struggle - and some days (or weeks or months) hold more struggle than others. During these times we can feel so weak - so vulnerable. It is a privilege to be able to walk beside another and to bear their burdens. There are times when this is done with an encouraging word. Or even a smile.
Affirming words. I need to make it a practice to do this much more often - with everyone. My family, my friends and strangers all need to hear that they have value - not just to me, but more importantly to God. I encourage you to take a moment to tell someone that they are doing a great job - or that you appreciate something they have done. It's amazing the effect that encouragment can have - it's something that just gets passed on.
As always, there is more to share but not enough time. We've been working hard on our schooling the last couple of weeks and had soooo much fun! As a result, the house is a mess! Ah well, we are making memories. (Though I do want to clean soon as the clutter is driving me a little crazy!)