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Yee-Haw! Thoughts on Encouragement

If I believed in re-incarnation I would say that I must have been a cow-girl in a previous life. Seeing as I don’t believe in it, I will explain the following paragraph by confessing that I listen to a lot of JRFM (our local country music station).

This morning, after succeeding in climbing up a slide ladder she had never been able to climb before, my daughter, wild with excitement, yelled out “yee-haw!”. My first thought was, “what the..?”, soon followed by oh, I guess I use phrases like that when I express excitement over her accomplishments. (I have also taught her to say “chewbacca, chewbacca, chewbacca, spit”, as well as “honky tonk bedonk-a-donk” because they sound funny coming from a two-year-old but that is another topic and not one that will put me in a good light as a mother).

I know this must seem like a tangent but there was a logical process in my mind which led me to contemplate encouragement. I express frequent and heartfelt encouragement for my children’s accomplishments, however small, through words like “Good job!” and “Yee-haw!” as well as big mama bear hugs.  I do this, not because it is my “job” as their mom or because I am purposefully trying to foster self-esteem, but because I am truly excited to watch them grow and learn.

This comes naturally to me as a mother, but not as a person. Some people, like my husband, are naturally gifted encouragers. Others, like myself, are more inclined to be negative. For people who are naturally negative, the skill of encouragement needs to be learned and practiced. How different would life be, would our workplaces and friendships be, if we all learned to express to one another the kind of enthusiastic, heartfelt encouragement we express towards our children?

One of the reasons I struggled in my job as a nurse was the lack of encouragement in my workplace. I spent most of my time trying to keep my head above water as I struggled to learn the vast body of knowledge necessary for my work as well as fight the mental battle raging inside of my head. I can’t help but wonder how different, how much easier, my experience might have been if instead of only correction for what I had done wrong, I had received encouragement for what I had done right.

I needed this type of positive affirmation from my superiors and I did not receive it. In fact, in my two and a half years at that workplace I can’t think of one encouraging word that was said to me by my leaders. But I see now that encouragement goes both ways and that while I can’t drag it out of others, I can dole it out to those around me.

I hope to return to a casual nursing position sometime in the next year and it is my prayer that as I enter the workplace as a changed individual, strengthened through motherhood and emotionally leveled through medication, that I will be an encouragement to those around me. It will not come naturally but I hope to be able to take my experience as an encouraging mother and transfer it to an existence as an encouraging co-worker. Giddy-up!


Filed under From the Heart: Thoughts on Life and Family

Better than Expected

I’ve always been a planner. At fifteen I already had a ten year plan for my life. I had decided to become a missionary in the jungle and that I would go to school to become a nurse in order to have a practical skill to offer. I would not get married until my late twenties and I might have kids then.

I went on multiple missions trips to Mexico to build houses and to help in an orphanage and spent a month in Botswana, Africa with an organization called Teen Mania. I did a year at Bible College then I trained as a nurse at UBC, just as planned.

I snubbed the advances of a young man named Stephen whom I met in my first year of University because he didn’t fit into the plan. I told him that after I graduated I would be doing something to change the world like working for the Peace Corps or living in the jungle.

Going into my third year of University I started dating that same man. Half way through my fourth year I married him. At the tender age of twenty-two I became a wife but this change did not alter my ambitions, I had simply decided that I would bring Steve with me and he tried to be open to the idea.

I am now twenty-seven and certainly not living in the jungle. I have a husband, two cats, two beautiful children, and a mortgage. This was not my plan. I had held on so dearly to those plans and I have spent the last three years since I was pregnant with my first fighting with guilt over this fact. I felt ashamed that I wasn’t doing something more “noble” with my life.

I told everyone my plans. My great ambition to change the world for good. To heal the sick and bring the good new about Jesus’ forgiveness and grace to the far corners of the earth. I felt that all who knew me and knew my ambitions would think I was a cop-out. I felt like I was somehow living a lesser life than I had planned, that my simple day-to-day mom at home existence was less important.

I see things differently now. The guilt has lifted and I can clearly see that I am where I am for a reason. God has a purpose for me right here in Vancouver. It may be simple but it is one of the most important jobs in the world: being a wife, mother, daughter, sister.

Life has not been easy. My family has experienced many challenges in the past few years and they have climaxed in the past few months. I know that I am here for such a time as this. My family needs me and I need them. We are close and have grown closer through the challenges and joys of the past few years. My place is among them so that we can walk along together through these struggles.

Not only have I been here to walk along the rough road but to share times of great joy. Over the past four years my family has welcomed six beautiful children into our fold and we eagerly await a seventh (FYI, not mine). It has given me immeasurable joy to get to know my nephews and niece and to share the experience of raising children with my sister and brother.

And then there are Sofia and Charlie. Being a mom is so hard but what more important job could there be? To teach these little individuals how to live life, how to love, how to play, how to create. This is my missions field. My work is here with my family.

I am where I am. It is hard. It is beautiful. It is better than expected.

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