I love my family. I am blessed to have a great immediate family and a diverse, dynamic, supportive extended family. My grandmother is still alive and fairly healthy. I have several aunts and my parents and my brother. My wife’s immediate family is smaller but awesome too. Plus we have bonus family through friendship relationships and some other complicated family dynamics. To say that I am blessed is an understatement. There is one extended family member, however, that is a bit different. I see her probably 3-4 times per year and we aren’t really related. Her name is Barbara. She is my brother’s wife’s mom. Barbara is generally soft spoken in the large (pretty loud) bigger group. She is thoughtful and cautious. Sometimes we pick at her due to her caution about germs and such. But what people may not know is that Barbara is an absolutely incredible encourager.
On random occasions throughout the year I will receive a text from Barbara. She’ll have just seen me or something about me and she will send a long text telling me about God’s plan and telling me how she sees me fitting in it and how my kids are reflections of this. She encourages me to keep going and to be strong and to fight through the disappointments. She tells me that people see the good stuff I do and that, even if they don’t say it, I am impacting lives and to stay strong. She sees things in me that I, frankly, don’t see in myself. I find myself arguing or “aww shucks-ing” her. But almost always, I read these texts with humility and usually wet eyes. Very often, the texts arrive when I am feeling low or overwhelmed and they are right on time.
I don’t know how or why Barbara sends these and says the things that are perfect in the moment. She will of course say they are divinely inspired and perhaps they are. I know that if that is the case, Barbara listens to the little voice that so often we ignore or procrastinate on. She does it when the voice whispers. Not later. I love that. I appreciate her more than she could know. So my question to you is, who is your Barbara? Who encourages you? Who can you be Barbara for? Who can you encourage? Finally, I encourage you to listen to that little voice. Plug into it. Regardless of how you believe, we are all connected and we get signals from people. Whether that is through God or electricity or juju or whatever, it happens. Listen to it. Follow it. Do it. Be people of action and encouragement. You may not ever know how much it matters.
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