I liked her purple tennis balls.

I was in the pool doing some extreme aqua aerobics when I noticed them. (And I’m not tooting my aqua aerobics horn, the class is actually called extreme. We make some waves, baby!) The tennis balls were eye-level as she shuffled in on her walker. Purple and sliced open to help her move a bit easier. The woman had purple extensions woven into her dark hair as well. She had style. My kind of girl.

The instructor of the class called us to do push-ups on the edge of the wall. Thanks to a lack of trick or treaters this year and an abundance of candy left over, I was having a tougher time pushing my bodacious bod up and down on the ledge. 

I heaved myself up for my ninth push-up to see my purple lady smiling full on at me. She had come in with a group of special needs adults and was watching us old ladies with interest. When she caught my eye, she gave me two thumbs up and a big smile. On my next heave upwards, she clapped her hands. “Yay!” She said, “Good job! Good job!”

I smiled as I gasped for air. Stupid Snickers. “Thanks!” I managed to reply.

She stayed for a few more minutes, celebrating all of us as we completed each set. “Oh yay! Good job! Good job!!”

The whole class picked up on her enthusiasm, smiling at each other, laughing where we’d just been gasping. One kind special-needs soul had brightened the whole place.

It reminded me of the a recent connection with a friend. She’d taken my hand as she sat across the table from me. “You’re a good mom, Elsa. God knew exactly who your babies would need.”

Tears immediately sprang to my eyes and spilled over. A thousand failures flashed through my mind as she squeezed my hand. “Really.”

I didn’t even realize how much I needed those words until they came out of her mouth.

Encouraging words. Kind words. Timely words.

Coming up on a holiday of Thanksgiving, I don’t want to get consumed by pies (though I might), turkey and all the fixings. I don’t want to tie up every moment with activities and shopping and busyness.

This Thanksgiving I want to see the people around me. I want to clap and applaud and celebrate—loudly. I want to affirm and encourage someone who might not even know they need it.

And I want to start with you.

You are the mom, the dad, God handpicked for your babies.

You are the daughter or son your aging parent needs.

You are the grandparent God orchestrated to spoil and love those littles.

You are the neighbor the person next door desperately needs.

You are the employee who shines light to those in your circle.

You are the one God chooses, pursues and loves beyond measure.

Yay, dear one, yay!!! Good job!!!

You are enough.

You are loved.

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