Today’s article is an excerpt from Better Together: Because You’re Not Meant to Mom Alone. Grab your copy here!

There’s a letter I received that I’ll never forget from a mom I may never personally know:

Dear Jill, several weeks ago, you and I crossed paths at Walmart. I was trying to pick up a few things with my kids in tow. They were tired and weren’t handling the shopping excursion well at all. I was battling both of them when you came around the corner, pushing your cart. You saw me. Then you smiled at me with a smile that simply said, “I understand. Hang in there, girlfriend.” Suddenly I had the strength of two moms! I knew I could finish this shopping trip and make it home. I knew I could “be the mom” and lead my kids through this! I know it’s probably not often you get to encourage another mom in the men’s underwear department of Walmart without saying a single word. But you did that day and I wanted you to know.

Wow! What a powerful letter! Believe it or not, I actually remember seeing her. I remember having compassion and thinking Been there, done that.

Today, I want to call attention to three particular statements she made:

You saw me. I’ll admit I’m not always the best at noticing people. I’m not particularly observant. Often in my own little “introvert” world, I can easily look through someone without even realizing it. But that day, I saw her, and it communicated value to her.

You smiled at me. Too often we underestimate the power of a small gesture. Something as simple as a smile takes very little effort on our part but can make a huge difference in someone’s life! It’s like giving them a high-five with your eyes!

Suddenly I had the strength of two moms. That’s what encouragement does. It gives us courage. Boosts our batteries. Refreshes our weary souls. It’s a gift we can give another mom and it doesn’t cost a dime!

In the Bible, we are told to “encourage one another daily” (Hebrews 3:13). Encouragement is the fuel that keeps us motivated as moms. In addition to an understanding smile, here are some ways you can encourage a fellow mom:

1) Be the friend you wish you had. Matthew 6:12 reminds us to “do for others what you would like them to do for you.” Be thoughtful, caring, and engaged. These are character traits most of us long for in a friend.

2. Surprise her with little gifts in the mail or dropped off on her porch. Unexpected, for no reason, “thinking of you” gifts bring so much encouragement! You can also surprise a friend with something you know they need. My friend Pam, who lives two thousand miles away, saw me ask on Facebook what kind of lip balm people found helpful. I’d had chapped lips for months! Three days later a little package of Pam’s favorite brand of lip balm arrived in my mailbox. What a thoughtful surprise!

3) Affirm the little things. Because you tend to be in each other’s world, watch for the little things she does that no one probably sees. Notice and affirm them. My daughter Anne and her husband, Matt, had their friend Aimee come to visit with her two girls. Toward the end of the weekend, Aimee said to Anne, “Your house is filled with Jesus. I love that you don’t care about having a perfect house.” What an encouragement to Anne when she struggles with her “outiness.”

4) Speak words of life to her. Romans 1:12 reminds us that we are “mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” Proverbs 12:25 declares, “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” Sometimes a friend just needs to hear you say, “You can do this!” Sometimes she needs to be reminded of God’s truth to infuse light into a dark moment.

5) Help her do work around the house. Fold laundry. Or do dishes. Or bake cookies. When we help one another out with the daily tasks of motherhood, it’s an encouraging act of love. My friend Sue, who has older kids, runs errands with her friend Jody, who has younger kids. Sue and Jody enjoy the talk time in the car and then Sue stays in the car with Jody’s kids so she doesn’t have to drag them in and out of several stores. What a gift of encouragement this is to Jody!

Here are a few other quick ideas:

6) Hold the door open so she can navigate her stroller through—she’ll be grateful she won’t have to stretch.

7) Pick up the blanket her toddler threw on the floor at the grocery store. She’ll be thankful for the break because she’s already picked it up a dozen times in the last ten minutes.

8) Carry drinks or her tray to the table in a restaurant. She’ll be grateful she doesn’t have to make several trips back and forth.

9) Play peek-a-boo with her child at a restaurant. This way she can actually eat a few bites uninterrupted!

10) Walk with her fussy infant on an airplane. Let her know that you’ve been in her shoes before.

11) Compliment her on her kids, no matter how old they are. She needs to hear it.

This world does a fine job tearing people down. You and I have some important work to do building each other up. When we invest in a mom, we influence a family, improve a community, and impact the world! Let’s be encouragers of one another!

Looking for more? Grab your copy of Better Together right here.

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