A Warm Welcome

Because of the lack of available employment in our Appalachian community decades ago, my dad had to move our family north. Jobs were plentiful in the new area, but an encouraging welcome was not. Because of those hurtful years, I appreciate encouragement’s power and have written about it—especially in my book Bless Your Socks Off: Unleashing Encouragement’s Power. And I’ve discovered encouragement can be found in the most interesting places. Even within a flock of Canada geese. Each autumn, I wait for their migration over our community. As I watch the great flocks gather in V-formations, I marvel at their majestic grace—and constant honking. I’ve learned the strongest bird takes the lead, creating an updraft for the ones behind it. Then as the leader tires and drops back, another bird takes its place, heading into the wind. Those who write about the great birds tell us the weak ones are not at the end of the line but in the middle, surrounded by those who are stronger. Thus, they are kept from dropping behind, and the flock together flies farther than each bird could alone. In addition, the honking is not just noise, but encouragement from one to another to keep going.

What fun to apply that scenario to the human experience. A few years ago, I learned personally how important sounds of encouragement can be. I was speaking at a little church in my beloved Kentucky. Talking is not difficult for me, but that evening, as I looked at the audience—many of whom were my distant cousins—I realized if we hadn’t left Appalachia, I would have grown up knowing them by more than just name. Suddenly, I felt deep loss.

Tears threatened to spill onto my cheeks, and I couldn’t speak. I was embarrassed, of course, but the audience looked at me lovingly, as though they understood my tumbling thoughts. A few spoke aloud: “That’s all right, honey,” and “Help her, Lord.” The audible comments startled me, but I took a deep breath, smiled my thanks, and continued my talk. Since that evening, I’ve thought about the strength those kind faces and encouraging words gave me. And I’ve recalled other times in my life when someone cheered me on with a patient “You can do this” or “You good Mama.” Encouragers come in various forms, and their pats on the back, tangible or verbal, planned or spontaneous, can change circumstances and sometimes even lives.

Have you had a dose of encouragement today? No? Then let me offer an Appalachian come-here-I’m-glad-to-see-ya hug! Imagine I’m welcoming you into my kitchen where gingerbread fresh from the oven is waiting. I want you to feel special—because that’s exactly what you are! So until we meet, hugs across the miles!

About sandrapaldrich

Sandra P. Aldrich, author and popular speaker, loves the Lord, family and all things Appalachian. Isaiah 41:9-10
This entry was posted in Appalachia, encouragement. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to A Warm Welcome

  1. You good Mama! 🙂 I miss my dose of hearing your encouragement… Hugs to you!


  2. Mari says:

    I love the lessons God teaches us through His creation. I studied geese a little bit for a blog post a few years ago and remember this example of encouragement. Let me “honk” here. Praying for you as you minister in the gifts God has given you.


  3. CJ Hines says:

    Sandra-what a wonderful image you created-tears threatening to fall and you finding yourself unable to speak, but people in the audience verbally encouraging you-you must have felt the love flow through that room!


  4. Peg Short says:

    You are always an encourager to me. Look forward to your words and so happy to see your new blog. Best to you dear friend. And I do wish I could stop by! Hugs!


  5. I’d sure like to get a hug and then give it away! I like your post!


  6. Arbadella Reed Pastor Cow Creek Church of God says:

    You are a blessing to so many. Hugs & blessings across the miles.


  7. debtclark says:

    Oh Sandra, these are wonderful! Thank you so much for letting me know you have started posting these messages. As soon as I figure out how, I’ll have notices of every new blog sent to our e-mail, and I will look forward to reading each one. I had to laugh when I read that your so-influential friend had not even remembered she’d affected you so powerfully. Once my own daughter told me the most important thing she’d learned from me was something I hadn’t remembered telling her! And as for those oh-so-important “talks” I’d rehearsed and executed carefully? She had no memory of them at all.


  8. Karen RIce says:

    Your words spoke to my heart. Thanks


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