My nine-year-old son is an Encourager. I have never known a little boy with such a gift of encouraging people. There is not a day goes by that I don't hear him telling his sissy that she is good at something, or a picture she made is beautiful, or telling me I am the "best mom ever".
As a writer in the throes of the slow, winding road towards publication, there are days when my little man's sweet words are a balm to my oft-discouraged soul. But even then, there are times when I question where I am headed on that road, or if it's even the road I am meant to follow.
What I have discovered is that when the path I am on is a God-directed path, He is faithful to send encouragement along the way, sometimes in unexpected ways, in order to keep me walking forward instead of meandering.
When I questioned if I would ever be a mother after seven years of marriage, I called out to Him in discouragement and He practically dropped a precious baby boy out of the sky into our family through adoption.
When we were surprised by an adoption agency with a super-fast placement (with our daughter) and I was discouraged that we did not have all the finances in place, He miraculously brought us every single penny (and more) that we needed.
When I wasn't sure whether anyone would ever read my late-night scribblings and considered throwing in the towel, I got a call that I was a Semi-Finalist in the ACFW Genesis Contest for unpublished authors.
When I questioned (again) whether my novel would ever attract the attention of anyone in the publishing industry, I won the Frasier Award through My Book Therapy, and had requests for my manuscript at the ACFW Conference.
Through these miraculous encouragements, and many, many more, I have learned that when I am following the plan of God, He will keep opening the doors and gently guiding me along the way, like the kind shepherd that He is.
There are times when I have refused to follow his leading, making my own path, and plowing ahead without waiting for God's encouragement. Those are the times when I keep bumping into obstacles, or at times, my plans just go down in flames.
So I am learning to slow down and listen for that encouragement given by my Father who loves me and wants the best for me. Sometimes it's quiet, just a gentle peace that fills me when I am still, and sometimes it's loud, like a fabulous new opportunity that tells me, once again, that my childhood dream of being a writer is the path I am meant to follow. And I keep asking God to send me encouragement when I am on the right track.
We cannot know exactly the road that we are meant to follow, for we cannot know the mind of God, but if we trust our plans to Him and are willing to follow where He encourages us, the road will be much smoother. Hopefully my children will learn this lesson early in life and spend a lot less time on dead-end roads than I did, knocking my thick skull against doors that were not open and wandering everywhere except where God was leading.
There are many things that I hope to teach my kids, but one of the most important is this: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6
How has God encouraged you lately? Or has He redirected you to another path that surprised you?