How to Become an Encourager

Years ago, while I was in the midst of some difficult circumstances, I met a wonderful woman who had committed herself to living her life as an encourager. 

We saw each other once a week at a Women’s Study Group and were occasionally able to have a few moments of private conversation where we would share with each other a little bit about our personal lives. 

Because she had committed herself to the task of intentional encouragement, every week like clockwork, I received a beautiful card in the mail along with a hand-written note of encouragement and assurances that she was thinking of me and that I was not alone.

There are people all around us who are struggling and could really use some encouragement. Sometimes all a person needs is a smile from another person. Other times we’re prompted to become friends with someone who needs encouragement (like my friend did with me). 

Often, we have good intentions that we never follow through on.  If you’re thinking (good) thoughts about someone, let them know.  Send a text message, email, card or note, or pick up the phone and call them. 

No one knows your intentions until you make them known.

My sweet friend didn’t know all of the details of my circumstances, but she intentionally chose to come alongside me to encourage me and to build me up. She chose to invest her time, energy and even her finances into my life. 

Her support and encouragement infused me with hope and helped me to realize that the difficulties I was facing were temporary and that I would be okay. 

Never underestimate the impact of what a kind word or gesture can have on a person.

Her life and example inspired me to intentionally become an encourager as well. It isn’t always easy. Sometimes it is a sacrifice of time, energy, patience and even finances. But it is rewarding. Not because the person you’re encouraging will give you something in return (because it has absolutely nothing to do with that) but because you feel better for doing it. 

Imagine what could happen if each person would put these simple things into practice and choose to intentionally become an encourager. I think we would change the world.

My friend was intentional about her intentions and it certainly made all the difference in my world and in the lives of my children. Because of my choice to become an intentional encourager, my children have grown into adults who know and show compassion for others. They have actually become unintentional encouragers because it was simply a way of life for them while they were growing up!

In a world where there seems to be more negative than positive, it’s easy to become jaded, guarded and discouraged. But when we choose to become an encourager we create an atmosphere of positivity and the world certainly needs more of that!

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What Happens When You Become A Grandma

Finding out you’re going to become a grandparent is pretty exciting and I’m used to people saying that being a grandma is “the best”, but I don’t think I’ve ever really heard people say what actually happens when you become a grandma. Or maybe I just haven’t listened closely enough! For me, becoming a grandma has been overwhelming. Overwhelming in a good way, that is!

There are two main things that “happened” to me when I became a grandma.

The first thing was that my mommy instincts kicked right back in. Holding, feeding, burping, diapering…all of the essential baby care tasks came back in an instant. I was so surprised. My youngest child is almost twenty so I thought for sure that I would be out of practice. But I guess it’s like riding a bike; once you’ve learned, you never forget how. The same goes for caring for a baby, apparently!

The other thing that happened when I became a grandma was that my heart grew bigger. I have three children and with each one my capacity to love increased. It’s a natural occurrence, I’m sure, instinctual, perhaps. But the birth of our newest little grandson has made me feel a bit like the Grinch when he has his epiphany about Christmas and experiences a change of heart toward everyone in Whoville. The story says that his heart grew three sizes and that he had the strength of “ten grinches plus two”. This is exactly how I feel! The birth of this little has filled me to the point of bursting! I feel a bit giddy and have noticed an increase of energy and a lightness of heart.

I think that one of the reasons that becoming a grandma is so amazing is that while we are raising our children, we forget. We forget the initial flood of love and emotion that occurs when they are born because raising children is hard work. While they are growing up we are dealing with their emotions, hormones, attitudes and everything else that goes with it and the “new parent euphoria” wears off. When you become a grandma, the euphoria comes back. And I have a feeling that it lasts longer for grandparents than it does for parents.

Perhaps it’s because, generally, grandparents aren’t responsible for raising them. We influence our grandchildren, for sure, but the pressures of parenthood aren’t heavy upon us. We are free(er) to simply enjoy (and spoil) them!

The other evening, as I was holding LittleMan, Girl2 teased about how I’ve been since his birth. Well, I can’t help it! When she has children, she’ll understand. And when she has grandchildren, she’ll marvel at her heart just as I marvel at mine now.

Becoming a grandma has been one of the best experiences of my life and I hope that as the grandchildren grow I will remember to enjoy every moment with them and to be a constant source of support for their parents. Like I said, raising children is hard work. But as a grandma, I am older so I have a reserve of information, wisdom, and patience!

We are blessed by our children and doubly blessed by our grandchildren. That is the truth of it. It’s what happens when you become a grandma; the blessings abound! The anticipation of LittleMan’s birth was nerve-wracking but his arrival has been overwhelmingly amazing!

We’re excited to watch the grandchildren grow and as they do, this Nonnie will continue to share about the amazing adventures of becoming a grandma!

 

 

 

Remembering to be Present

This year has been quite different for us. Mr. SBF and I were able to take an extended sabbatical and spent the last six months of the year road tripping, camping and visiting with family. The break from the stress of the past decade and from our normal routine was definitely needed and we feel so very blessed to have been given the opportunity.

One thing that I became aware of early on in our break was the fact that I am often not “present” in my everyday life. As an Empath, I am almost constantly inundated with the feelings and emotions of others and I think that retreating into my own thoughts is one of the ways I am able to combat the exhaustion that comes from the constant influx of emotion that I am faced with on a daily basis. And because I am often in my own head, I have realized that I miss out on a lot.

Sometimes when the family is reminiscing about something or even during a conversation with someone I’ll suddenly “snap out of it” and realize that I missed out on part of it because I wasn’t “all there”. Yes, really. Ugh.

And don’t get me started on electronic devices and what a huge distraction they can be! Giving a device to people who are in the habit of retreating into their own thoughts only perpetuates the problem, er, issue! And forget about giving them earbuds. I mean…yeah…just don’t! Can any Introverts relate or is it just me? Haha!

Anyway, during our time together, since it was just the two of us and we were traveling in our own car, I was able to sit and enjoy the scenery (and my electronic device) without the “noise” from the outside world. So, when we were around other people, I was able to listen and enjoy it because, during our travel time, I was able to rest and “regroup”.

Becoming more self-aware has been something I’ve been working on for several years now. And I’m grateful that I became aware of this “issue” early on in our sabbatical. I believe that it helped me to focus on making sure the time with my Sweetheart was quality time. And it has definitely made me more mindful of the time I spend with loved ones. I don’t want to miss out on any of the good stuff when my children and grandchildren are home because times well spent make the most treasured memories!

To make sure I’m paying attention to life, follow my social media pages! Let me know if you notice a lack of presence there! Heehee.

 

 

Weight, Struggle and Love

I find women’s clothing sizing methods to be extremely bizarre. You go from Girl’s sizes to Junior’s sizes, to Women’s sizes and on to Plus sizes. Girl’s sizes are identified by even numbers, Junior’s by odd numbers, and for Women’s and Plus sizes, it’s back to even numbers. Seriously? Who came up with this?

All my life I have struggled with my weight. I am five feet two inches tall with German bones. And when you’re only 5’2″, a few pounds up or down on the scale makes a big difference in your appearance.

I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t aware of my body and when you’re self-aware from a very young age, it has an effect on your self-image. For me, my physical body-image has almost always been negative.

In junior high school, I was in the double digit sizes for Junior’s clothing (size 11 or 13) and for someone who’s 5’2″, this is chubby. I was painfully aware of my weight while going through puberty which did a number on my self-esteem. By the time I entered high school, I was sure that no boy would ever be interested in me and that I would never get married (which was extremely tragic to me because what I  wanted most was to get married and have children).

The summer between eighth and ninth grade was kind to me and somehow I managed to lose some weight. When I went new clothes shopping for my Freshman year, to my surprise, I was a size nine! I was ecstatic and my self-esteem was boosted significantly. I concentrated on my studies and tried not to concern myself with boys. In the middle of my Sophomore year, I got a part-time job as a file clerk in an office. I was quiet, kept mostly to myself and most of my co-workers thought that I was in college. I didn’t tell them otherwise.

When I started my Senior year of high school I was a size five. Imagine my elation. Even a fair number of schoolmates noticed…and commented. But the boys still avoided me. I remember talking to my mom about this. She chuckled a bit and said, “Honey, the boys avoid you because they are afraid of you!” What the heck? I thought she was crazy.  She then explained to me that my self-perception was askew and that I was so used to seeing myself as “chubby” that I couldn’t see myself for what I was. And according to her, I was petite, thin and full of sex appeal.  She said that this coupled with the fact that I was a serious-minded girl made high school boys “turn tail and run”. What?! Now it was my turn to laugh.

The funny thing is, she was right. On graduation day a boy I had a crush on during Freshman year walked up to me, gave me a hug and said, “I wish I had asked you out but I was always afraid of you.” Oh my goodness, I thought I was going to fall over! Instead, I laughed and told him that it was okay because there was a guy that I worked with who wasn’t afraid of me.

I was still working for the company I had gotten a job with during Sophomore year and by Senior year I had come out of my shell a little bit and had gotten to know a few people. One in particular. He was some years older but took a genuine interest in me. Some may think that’s creepy but that man and I got married.

After I gave birth to our first daughter (Girl1), my mom took me shopping for my birthday. I needed some new clothes because not many of my pre-pregnancy clothes fit. Before I got pregnant I was still a size five but four months after I had my daughter, I was a size two, the smallest I had ever been. And can you believe that I still complained about my thighs?

It’s been a long time since I’ve fit into a size two and I have spent my whole life learning to be confident in and with my body. I still fail in this area at times but I try not to obsess over my clothing size and concentrate more on choosing things that flatter my body. And perhaps more importantly, I am confident in who I am.

My sweetheart has seen me at my best and at my worst, has loved me through thick and thin, through three pregnancies and encourages me when my skewed self-perception gets the better of me.  It’s been thirty years and he is clearly still physically attracted to me and tells me on a regular basis that I am beautiful. He is my biggest fan and my longest admirer. He is mine. And really, what more could a girl ask for?

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