Canadian Geese have been absent from my local park for a few weeks. I thought they’d headed south for the winter but recently discovered that was not the case.
Several formations could be seen in the air near a large retention pond at the side of the highway. As I neared the pond, I was surprised to see the number of geese upon the water. There must have been hundreds of them.
It seemed that this was their practice area. I was fascinated to watch as small groups would take off, circle the area in ever widening loops, change leaders in their formation and land again. Honks of what I took to be encouragement and support, came from those on the water. It was as if they were cheering each other on.
Once again, the geese were showing me the importance of community. They were preparing to take off on an important journey and time spent practicing together would help ensure a more successful trip.
What do you do when you’re preparing for a challenging new part of your life’s journey? Do you stress and attempt to figure it out on your own? Or, do you seek advice and encouragement from those who understand and support your goal?
I have had others come alongside me when the route to my destination was unclear. Sometimes they had previously travelled this way and were willing to share what they had learned. Other times I was asked questions that helped me gain clarity. Always, their encouragement enabled me to reach new heights.
It is my desire to be part of a supportive community for others. I’m happy to encourage and pay forward what I have learned. My support in helping someone prepare for takeoff helps both of us to soar.
I first published this story several years ago. It seemed fitting to share it again today.
As seasons change and the weather cools down, we see geese flying south for the winter. We hear their honking and see that familiar V formation in the sky.
I’m sure that most of us have heard the reasoning for this formation. Scientists have discovered that as each bird flaps its wings, it creates uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in V formation, the whole flock adds at least 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone. If a goose falls out of formation, it feels the drag and resistance of flying alone and quickly rejoins the formation.
Did you know that the reason the geese honk from behind is to encourage the others to keep up their speed? Also, when the lead goose gets tired, it rotates back and another takes its place as lead.
There are so many lessons for us here. First, people sharing a common direction can get where they’re going quicker and easier by traveling together. We should keep company with those heading in the same direction as us. Second, it makes sense to take turns doing the hard jobs and to remember to encourage those taking the lead.
Another thing about geese is when one gets sick or injured and falls out of formation, two others follow it down for protection and help. They stay together until it is either able to fly, or dead, and then they launch out again. They either fly on their own or join with another formation until they catch up to their group.
The final lesson here is to stand by each other. We should protect and care for each other. It is also good to make new friends who seem to be going in our direction.
If we follow the same guidelines as these geese, how much better would our lives be?
The words came from behind me. I heard, “That’s good,” then, “Magnificent.” After a slight pause came, “Really nice.”
I only had to wait a few moments to see who was the recipient of this encouragement. A young boy rode past me on his bicycle. He wobbled a little. A slightly older brother followed closely and continued his support and encouragement as they carried on down the path.
The words of one gave confidence to his brother to keep going. These boys were a perfect example of the impact our words can have on each other.
Later, on another area of pathway, I came across words written in coloured chalk. They said, “You are loved.” The child who wrote these words brightened my day and probably that of many others as well.
Our words have the power to wound, discourage and anger. They can also bring healing, support, and a sense of well-being. In these troubled and uncertain times, I have observed too many cases of words used as weapons.
I am reminded of a passage in the Bible where it says, “they will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.” In today’s language, this would say, beat their swords into shovels and their spears into hoes.
To me, this shows our weapons can be modified into tools used to cultivate a better life. Instead of attacking each other, we can work together for the common good.
Like it or not, my words will have an impact on others. Do I want them to cause hurt and dissention or do I want them to offer encouragement so we can work together to create a better future? The decision is up to each of us. I’ve made my choice, how about you?
My husband and I attended an event a couple of days ago that was an early celebration for February 14th. We are in Mexico and the celebration was different from what we experience at home.
On a large banner, the words Feliz Dia del Amor y la Amistad were printed. Translated, this means Happy Day of Love and Friendship.
Valentine’s Day as we know it, is all about romantic love. It is important to recognize those we love and let them know how much they mean to us. My husband is the most important person in my life. I never want to take for granted the love we share and celebrate it frequently.
But, how often do I celebrate the other types of love in my life?
One significant type of love is the kind I have for my family. My daughter and son-in-law; son and daughter-in-law and my amazing, talented, witty and compassionate grandchildren (absolutely no prejudice here!) mean the world to me. Each of them has enriched my life in her/his own unique way. They deserve to be celebrated and I don’t tell them often enough how much I love them.
Friendships form another kind of love. Whether we have been friends for months, years or decades, these relationships have helped shape me into who I am today. We support each other through the roller coaster of life and I love each of you.
A very special love is the one I have for you, my faithful readers. Your encouragement and support gives me the strength to keep writing. Without you, I wouldn’t be living my passion. From the bottom of my heart I send you thanks and love.
To each of you, I wish you a Happy Love and Friendship Day.
Words of encouragement have great power. Recently I learned something that helps me understand this more fully.
The word encourage is made up of the prefix en and the word courage. En means to put into. Therefore when you encourage someone you put courage into them. I loved this thought!
Personally, there have been many times when I didn’t have the confidence to take on a task or responsibility. All it took was someone to believe in me and offer encouragement and I felt equipped to move forward.
I hadn’t thought about this giving me courage, but that is exactly what it did. When others showed they believed in me, it was easier to believe in myself. That confidence allowed me to accomplish things I never thought I could.
As the year draws to a close, I reflect on all those who took the time to offer me encouragement this year. You kept me going when I felt I had nothing left to offer. Your support allowed me to blossom. My life is richer because of you. Thank you for making a difference in my life.
At the same time, I hope my words or actions have encouraged you in one way or another.
Moving forward, may we each put courage into those around us by recognizing their gifts and talents and expressing our belief in them.
“Be an encourager. The world has plenty of critics already.” Dave Willis
Mother’s Day has come and gone for another year. How did you celebrate it? It is about so much more than flowers, meals out or extravagant gifts. As a mother, these were not my focus.
Instead, I spent time remembering and appreciating my mom. She went to be with Jesus nineteen years ago and I still miss her. I am aware not everyone had a mother who loved them unconditionally and was their biggest supporter. I am grateful for mine and thank the Lord on a regular basis for my upbringing.
I also celebrated the privilege of being a mother. Among other things, my children have taught me patience and how fierce and protective love can be. They are an incredible gift and have helped mould me into the woman I am today. Again, I thank the Lord daily for my family.
Being a grandmother is another reason to rejoice. The only way I can describe the relationship with my grandchildren is to say it is a whole new level of love. I willingly accept the challenge to support each of their unique personalities in the way they need. My grandchildren are the treasures who make my life rich.
Mothers play an important role but so do many other nurturing women who are not called mom. I see many women loving and supporting children who are not their own. They also deserve to be celebrated on an ongoing basis.
To all the mothers, step-mothers, foster mothers, grandmothers, aunts, teachers and loving friends, may God bless you richly for the role you play in building up the next generation. Who you are and what you do makes a difference.
A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. (Proverbs 11:25 NIV)
My friend’s baby is learning to walk. She started by pulling herself up on a piece of furniture and moving down the length of it. Having the furniture for support helped her gain confidence.
Holding onto mom’s fingers was another way to walk from one spot to another. One day the time came for her to take a step without holding onto anything for support. This was risky and took a lot of coaxing. After a tentative step forward, she fell. The look of surprise on her face could have easily been followed by tears and a refusal to try again.
Instead, mom quickly scooped her up, praised the effort and stood her on wobbly legs again. Encouragement and cheers followed with every step and every fall. Before long the steps were more frequent than the falls. It won’t be long before she is ready to move from walking to running.
The same principle holds true for us. We expect to take off running when we start something new. This is unrealistic and leads to frustration and discouragement. There are times when the falls are so frequent I wonder if I should give up.
Past experience has taught me I learn best when I take baby steps and celebrate each small success. When I attempt to master new skills the support and encouragement of others can help me get back on my feet and take a few more steps forward.
This may be repeated many times before I can move quickly and confidently in this new area. When it feels like I’m not moving fast enough I remind myself that baby steps will get me farther than if I didn’t take any steps at all.
A couple of months ago a friend celebrated the birth of a new baby. This child was eagerly awaited and loved long before she drew her first breath. The baby is not the first child in the family but this doesn’t diminish the devotion lavished on her.
She is loved unconditionally even though she can give nothing in return. She is loved for her very existence in this moment and not for what she may become in the future. Her family is committed to nurture and guide her as she grows.
This is the way God loves each one of us. I know he loves me just as I am. Even when I have nothing to give back, he still cares.
He is watching over me and is always there to nurture, support and guide me to reach my full potential. When I cry out to him in prayer, he takes care of my needs.
I can have this relationship with God because he sent Jesus to demonstrate his great love for me. Jesus left his heavenly home and came to earth as a helpless baby. He knew the sacrifice he was making. It was for you and for me. This is the greatest gift known to mankind.
Let us think of that sacrificial love as we celebrate the gift of the baby Jesus this Christmas.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 NIV)
After 2 weeks of wearing either sandals or aqua socks, my feet screamed in protest as I laced up my running shoes. Normally I wore aqua socks when we went for our morning beach walk, allowing for elastic stretch and flexibility. This day we had planned a more challenging walk so the support of running shoes was needed. My ankles felt as though they were being strangled! I understood why the firm support was needed, but it was an uncomfortable transition from the freedom and flexibility I’d quickly grown used to.
This was an accurate reflection of my life. When everything is going smoothly I enjoy the freedom and flexibility in my day-to-day life. Then, when things become more challenging I realize that it is firm support that is needed to carry me through. Even though deep down, I understand the need for this firmness, I still chafe at the loss of my freedom.
When my life is placed in the loving hands of the Lord, he will guide me with the support I need. It may feel uncomfortable at times but in reality gives me much more freedom than I have ever had on my own.
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36 NIV