Recently I was sitting in an auditorium at the Commencement Exercises of a class of 2004. The service started a little late. Parents and friends eagerly waited for the moment their loved one’s name is read from the podium. There I was, sitting with my family, doing the same. The speeches had been made and I thought back to my own graduation ceremony. I remember saying to myself, “Ok Celia, when you go to receive your diploma—smile, don’t trip, enjoy the moment.” Well, I didn’t trip and the moment breezed by. Back to 2004… as the names were read to recognize this year’s graduates, people began clapping for their graduating senior. I found myself clapping as well. I really wanted to clap for each name that was read, even though my nephew’s name was a little down the line. Then, I noticed something–some folks had big cheers, loud shouts of encouragement and other people had only a few cheers. Sometimes it seemed that I was the only person clapping. There were about 250 names read that day and once I started, I was committed to finishing. After about the first 100 names, Ron asked if I was going to clap for every name. I thought, you know what? — yes, I am. I know God is like that in my life—present, clapping, sometimes I’m not even aware of how God is there, but I believe God is always present, always encouraging and celebrating.

Sometimes, God encourages us through another person reaching out. I can remember specific times when someone reached out to me. They might not have even known the impact it had on my life. My gestures of encouragement often come on the spur of the moment (this is no surprise if you know me at all). Even when I’m certain that someone has received plenty of attention over a tough situation, I go ahead and send a card. Yesterday I asked a friend (who I know has had a really tough year) how he was doing, I really wanted to know and I really took the time to listen. Sometimes it is the little nothings that we do that become the somethings. This morning, I got a call from a close friend whose dog had been it by a car… (the dog is ok… bruised up and resting at the vet’s). For the several years of marriage before I had children, our dog Smokey was our family. Losing him was losing a family member. This morning I jumped in the car and sat with my friends as they waited for word for their dog. I told my friends, “I’m gonna try to NOT be like Job’s friends.” If you remember the details of the story—Job’s friends are doing a great job supporting Job, UNTIL they open their mouth and start talking. It was good just to be with my friends.

It makes us feel special if we know that even one person is clapping for them. Everyone deserves to be recognized for a job well done, to have a pat on the back, to have someone pulling for them, even if person is be a stranger. So I clapped for everybody that day and when the last name was read, I felt like I had made a difference.

I have to wrap this up, I am off to swimming lessons. Max and Zach are taking lessons with 3 other little people. The parents are all cheering for every little thing that each of them does. Each day… you have the opportunity to help someone hold it together. So like we learn in swimming, don’t forget to reach and pull. Your encouragement will make a difference in the lives around you. It has made a difference in mine.

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