One of the things I have enjoyed most about my work-at-home job over the last few years is learning about the power of encouragement.

It’s not something people get enough of. And that seems to be especially true with the stay-at-home mom crowd. We aren’t in a position each day where we have an employer or a peer telling us we are doing a great job.

For the most part, what we do is pretty thankless. In fact, many of our attempts at being a good mom are met with whining or temper tantrums.

It’s always been amazing to me to see how far a little encouragement goes. Point out someone’s positive qualities and suddenly she starts seeing herself as someone who can be successful. Believe in someone, and soon she will start believing in herself.

Well, over the past few months since I have been working a lot less, this is probably the thing I have missed most…. not only encouraging others but being encouraged for something other than my ability to make a mighty fine frozen pizza.

To be honest, the past few weeks have been a little discouraging. I think this is due in large part to the fact that my nesting instinct is starting to kick in. I tried to explain this to a friend who was surprised to hear I wasn’t feeling “together” or “self-confident”, which was more the impression he had, I think.

“I just feel fragile.”

Little things that normally would bounce right off of me make me want to run and hide under the covers. I feel like I have to expend all of my extra energy to grow and protect the little one inside of me, as well as those around me, leaving very little for myself.

I have been amazed, though at how God has been sending people my way to offer just what I have needed: encouargement.

For example, a friend I haven’t seen in five years popped back into my life and my encounter with her was such a blessing. She truly has the gift of encouragement. Without even knowing how I was feeling, she started pointing out to me my positive qualities, which were exactly the same areas where I was feeling defeated.

A few days later, we went out to dinner with some friends who simply listened and then helped me see the truth in some negative statements that had been made.

And then a couple of days ago, while we were on a playdate with some friends from the boys’ school, we bumped into a friend I hadn’t seen in about three years! The kids and I were all feeling pretty sentimental about the fact the boys wouldn’t be joining their friends in a few days for the first day of school. But my old friend, who has been a home school mom for a while now, out of the blue started rattling off encouragement about the life ahead of us.

For the past few days I have been re-reading a book I have probably read 10 times, Encouragement Changes Everything by John Maxwell. The book is a mixture of Bible verses, quotes and short stories. I hope to quote some of them on my blog from time to time.

Here’s one that I have been thinking about the past few days:

There are three types of people in the world today. There are “well-poisoners,” who discourage you and stomp on your creativity and tell you what you can’t do.

There are “lawn-mowers,” people who are well-intentioned but self-absorbed; they tend to their own needs, mow their own lawns, and never leave their yards to help another person.

Finally, there are “life-enhancers,” people who reach out to enrich the lives of others, to lift them up and inspire them.

We need to be life-enhancers and we need to surround ourselves with life-enhancers.

~ Walt Disney

How about you? Are you feeling encouraged? Or have you let yourself be affected by a well-poisoner or a lawn-mower? Have you thought about who you can encourage this week?

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