A Turning Point Statement

During the summer of 1994, a friend told me she thought I had the spiritual gift of encouragement.  She posted a little note by my bed.  It said, “You are an encourager.”  I remember exactly what it looked like–the handwriting, the color–and how it felt to have someone name something like that about me.  My friend saw what I couldn’t see. 

That single comment shaped the next 15 years of my life.  I wasn’t just an average girl; I was a hope giver, a courage finder, and an inspiration provider.  I wasn’t just a nobody.  God wanted to use me to point others towards a beautiful future. 

It took someone naming it to help me see it. 

I had a student who told me that of all my weeks and weeks of teaching, the most memorable thing from my class was a single comment I wrote on one of his many essays.

In the margin of his paper, I wrote:  “You sound like a great teacher right here.”   He was overwhelmed that I named that in him, and he later wrote about his dreams for graduate school to become a teacher.  As my husband and I discussed these turning point comments, he told me he remembered the exact words of a Scout leader who pointed out some unique gifts he saw in my husband.   Those were turning point words. 

Today, as I guide students through their memoir drafts, I realize that I’m not naming what I see enough.  I wonder what I need to name in my children, in my friends, and in my students.  I see this in you.  Maybe God will use it to shape a life.  Maybe those words will be a turning point for someone today.

Journal:  Did someone speak “turning point words” to you when you were younger?  Can you speak a “turning point word” to someone in your life today? 


Another Message About Poop

I’m at the gym at 5:30 AM, and I think to myself:  “I’m officially insane.  What can come of this?”

Each machine has little TVs, so I start watching this PBS interview about families in New Orleans who, 5 years after Hurricane Katrina, are still trying to rebuild their lives.

A woman starts describing the festival and street parade they have in the neighborhood. She tells the interviewer:  “The little girls carry dolls to signify that they are pregnant with hope and will give birth to greatness.”

And the interviewer says:  “Is this area fertile with hope?”
The mother: “Yes, but we need some fertilizer.”
Interviewer:  “Fertilizer?”
The mother:  “Yes, and they keep giving us manure.  But you know what manure is?  It’s fertilizer for our hope!”

I thought about this family joking and laughing and rebuilding their lives.  They have taken the manure of disaster and made it fertilizer for hope.

Maybe hope requires a little fertilizer to grow.  Maybe all good things do.  When discouragement comes, I want to respond like this amazing woman. 

Can I let the manure of the day–of my life– nourish my hope instead of embittering and depressing me?  The woman on TV was strong and sure.  She wasn’t going to waste the suffering.  She was going to let it fertilize her life.