Be The Encouraging Stranger, Part Duex

Jan 27 2011

On Sunday, I told you about a stranger who encouraged me.

Since then, I’ve been on the lookout for opportunities to encourage others.  It’s made for a fun week!

My favorite moment (so far) came from writing a thank you note to our milkman.

Rick’s been our milkman for over 6 years now.  When I think about all we ordered when our twins transitioned from the mommy cow (that’s me!) to the cow cow, I think… that’s a lot of milk!

Through all that time, Rick has been extremely consistent and reliable.  So much so that I never, ever think about the fact that milk is magically waiting on my front porch every Friday morning.

My kids compete to see who notices the milk’s appearance first.  (The dog usually wins.  Poor kids.)  They carry it inside for us and yell, “the milk is here!”  I’m pretty sure they think Rick is the Milk Fairy and socializes with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny when he’s not performing milk magic.

Anyway, I wrote it all down for Rick, thanking him for being a regular part of our lives, for making things easier on us, and for saving me from all those impulse purchases at the grocery store when I go there for “just milk.”  (My recent trip to the store for mozzarella cost me $33, so you can see where I’d be thrilled with milk delivery.)

Rick called me later in the day.  He told me about how his heart sinks when he sees a note.  As a small business owner with a wife and two kids, Rick knows a note can be a “thanks but we’re canceling” letter.  He told me what a simple thank you means and how glad he was for the acknowledgment of a job well done.

I loved chatting with Rick.  It made me feel good.  Like I’d done something worthwhile.

Isn’t that the way it usually works?  We do something we think will be nice for others and then the Nice turns around and smacks us in the heart.


As I contemplated encouragement this week, I recalled another moment I simply must share.

Once upon a time, I was an overwhelmed mom of three kids.

We had recently added two toddlers to our house by way of adoption.

I was in a bad place.

I was tired and beaten down.  I was sad and lonely.  I was depressed and had tunnel vision and wondered if I would be that miserable forever.  I wasn’t sure how I felt about my recent family additions, and I hated myself for not instantly and overwhelmingly adoring my new kids.

It was snowing.  It never snows where I live.  We’re not good at snow.

I was terrified I’d be trapped in the house with three kids during a blizzard.  Have I mentioned I may not have been completely rational?

I found myself compelled to go to the store.  We bundled up and left the house.

We shopped.  I bought a cart full of food.

I was in the parking lot loading the kids into the car when my eldest two (ages 4 and 5 at the time) decided to fight over who was getting in the minivan first.  Because our minivan is awesome.

I don’t know if I was apathetic or slow, but I didn’t stop the fight in time.  My 4-year-old, Ian, was pushed into the edge of the sliding door.  I’ll spare you the gore, but fresh blood is very, very bright and shiny on newly fallen snow.

It was immediately clear that the eyebrow cut would require stitches.

I clutched Ian to my chest and used boob-pressure to try to slow the bleeding.  I’m pretty sure they teach that in medical schools.

I picked up my not-yet-walking 1-year-old in my other arm.

I made my 5-year-old grab my pants so I wouldn’t lose her in the parking lot, and we abandoned the van, the groceries and my purse to head back into the store for help.  I didn’t even shut the van door.  I couldn’t.  Me and what arm?

It’s a long story from there, but here’s what stands out in my mind now that I’ve had seven years to reflect on it.

  1. I called a friend.  I said, “You have to come get my girls at the store right now.  I have to take Ian to the hospital.”  I didn’t ask what she was doing, and she didn’t ask questions.  She came.  Every mom needs girlfriends who will just come.  I have several girlfriends like that, and not enough blog space to say all the ways they’ve been my sanity.  For this story, I’ll say… thanks, Leslie, for being that friend.
  2. A woman I don’t know saw the whole thing.  She stopped in the snow and loaded all my groceries neatly into the van.  She picked up my purse, found my keys, locked my car and returned the cart.  She tracked me down in the store — and found me and my blood-sodden shirt and my crying kids while I hung onto the phone telling my friend I needed help.  She gave me my purse, squeezed my shoulder and left.  I didn’t know yet what she’d done.  I don’t think I managed to think, much less say out loud, any kind of a thank you.  So I’ll say it now.  To the stranger who embodied kindness and compassion to me when I desperately needed help, thank you.  There’s a special blessing in Heaven for people like you.  I just know it.


And finally, I promised to post your encouraging stories.

So far, I’ve got one and it’s about beer.  Thank goodness, because I’m a little teary after that last story and I HATE crying more than I hate almost anything else.  Stupid crying.  Don’t like shopping, hate crying — I make a terrible girl.

On to the encouraging beer story.  Tally Ho!

My fabulous brother, Jeff, writes:

I, too, can testify to the power of encouraging stranger(s)!

Years ago, I was on the shore of my parents’ lake house enjoying 2 of my favorite things — reading and beer.

I had my favorite book and some Henry Weinhard’s Private Reserve, and I didn’t plan to move for the entire afternoon.

Later (much later) a slow boat came by full of people sight-seeing around the lake.  When they saw me, the driver idled back and called, “Hey!  Those empties all yours?”

I looked down, and quickly (or maybe not SO quickly, considering) saw that there were 8 empty bottles.  I looked up, shrugged my shoulders, and responded, “Yep! Guess so!”

Everyone on board stood up and started clapping and cheering for me.

Felt good.

Thanks, Jeffy!  Awesome story.


Wishing you all many encouraging moments,wherever they may find you…