The Importance of Encouragement

I bet if you googled that title, you’d find dozens of blog posts and articles with the same name. It came to me that I wanted to write about it anyway because of something that happened a week ago that blessed me and made me realize how true this is.

I have a big family (surprise!) and we don’t shy away from taking all eight kids to various services and events with us, even though it sometimes means we miss half of a sermon or have to sit out some of the activities. Last weekend was our local missions fest, which we attend annually as long as we’re in town. Thankfully they provide childcare up to age twelve so for the small sessions, we only had the baby and the oldest kids with us.

During one of the breaks, I bumped into my kids’ Sunday School teacher, who took the time to tell me that she thinks my kids are both nurturing and responsible. This is such a sweet and specific comment to make, and I agree with it. She mentioned how they all look out for each other and take care of the little ones. Having so many boys, I am particularly blessed by comments like these, because having kind hearted sons has always been my hope.

For the evening service, we had all of them sitting with us about five rows back from the front. Mike and I were in and out a bit with Simon and Lucas and while the older kids were quiet and listening, I noticed every little sound the younger kids made and shushed them repeatedly.

After the service, a man with four kids who are older than all of ours came over to talk to me and said that he was very impressed with our kids and loved seeing us all together at events like this. He had been sitting right in front of us and said he actually enjoyed hearing little voices and feet bumping the back of his chair. He was a single father when his oldest two were young and we talked about the challenges of bringing kids to things like this but how good it was for them and even for other people to see.

From my perspective, as their mother, I noticed (and sometimes inwardly cringed) every time they didn’t listen or were too loud, but that was not the view of these two people at least, and thankfully they took the time to tell me.

All that to say, if you see people with their kids – whether there is one or ten – and you have a kind thought, share it. Even if it’s just to say, “you’re doing a good job.” It matters, and for parents in the trenches bringing up small children or teenagers, it could turn their day around.


This afternoon I was blessed with a rare gift: three kids sleeping at once and five out with Dad sledding for the afternoon. A quiet house.

Rewind. I started a Bible study recently with a small group of moms and had the bright idea to save $5 by buying the Kindle version of the book. The only trouble is that there are a lot of blanks to fill in and questions to answer. A lot. Like, really a lot. So I cheerfully bought a cute journal to write all my answers in. And then waited until the night before our first official meeting to start writing them down and answering questions. I got about three quarters of the way through the first week’s study and quit. Better to have done some than none at all. After that hand cramping experience, I decided I would see if I could print the questions and glue them in the journal so at least I wouldn’t have to hand write everything.

Back to my quiet afternoon. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to deal with this plan and then start working on a bit of the study so as not to repeat last week’s mistake of waiting until the last minute. I made myself a cup of coffee, then sat down, typed up all the questions from week two and printed them out. After cutting two or three out and pasting them into the journal, I promptly went on Amazon and bought the paper copy of the study. Ain’t nobody got time for this.

In between the typing, cutting, gluing and ordering, Lucas decided he wasn’t going to stay asleep. I nursed him while I typed, then put him back in the swing. That lasted long enough to do a bit of the cut and paste before he let me know he wasn’t happy there. Picked him up, gave him a “top up” while ordering the book and put him back again.

Finally, quiet again. But the dog needs to be let out and I’m sure there are things from the freezer downstairs that need to be brought up for the week (yes, there are) and then let the dog back in and feed him and get back to work.

But maybe just having a rest, doing something restful, would be a better use of the quiet. I gave that thought some contemplation but it’s now after four. And Mike and the kids will come back hungry and cold and tired and need supper. I looked at the mess that WILL NOT LEAVE one area of my house and nearly cried. And instead of starting supper, sat down to write.

This is my life. Pretty much every day of my life when I try to do something for myself or something productive that cannot be done while also caring for a child. I can ignore it most of the time, and do, but some days it presents itself as a challenge and makes me question myself. I’d like to think that I could just keep my nose to the grindstone and get through this part of my life and THEN move onto the “important” things like ladies Bible studies and crafts and “quiet time.”

But we’ve all read it in every mom book and blog ever written: this day to day, changing diapers and making meals, is important stuff. I know it in my head but it’s hard to get it into my heart when I find myself essentially out of control again: the house will not stay clean and it’s not just my kids making the mess or I’ve started a project I can’t finish and perfectionism wants to rear its ugly head again and torment me for it.

Two of my kids have come home since I started writing. They went to the big fun sledding hill but weren’t interested in the hills at the elementary school down the road. They scurried off to have their one hour turns on tablets. I probably have half an hour or so until the rest come stomping back in and everyone now sleeping wakes up. I think I’ll lie down and hope to wake up with a little more hope than I have now.

Except before I hit “publish” I was distracted by something and decided to print the questions again with room to write the answers and just cut the paper into four pieces and paste the whole thing into the journal. And also eat something from the freezer because at this point, I’ve conceded that supper is probably a long way off. I guess the good news is that the house is quiet (again/still?).