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“Be an encourager. The world has plenty of critics already.”

Be an encourager

It was 9:30 p.m. on Mother’s Day. And I was tired.

Tired from a very wonderful but very busy weekend of spending time with family and friends. The late nights and early mornings had left me zapped.

Sunday afternoon, I flew back to TN with Kaitlynn and Silas (Jesse had stayed behind to wrap up a few final loose ends in KS and then drove our second car back with Kathrynne). Gratefully, our flights were uneventful and I was so happy to be back in TN.

But then I couldn’t find the car. Jesse had dropped us off at the airport door on Friday morning and then parked the car. He’d taken pictures of where he parked and had written down directions, but there I stood at 10 p.m. with two children, luggage, and no car.

I tried following the directions he gave me, but I ended up going on a wild goose chase all over Long Term Parking (that’s not surprising seeing as I’m not great with directions!).

I called Jesse and he tried to walk me through the directions again, but something was off somewhere and I wasn’t finding anything remotely close to our car, no matter how hard I looked. (Later on, we realized he’d accidentally told me to turn right instead of left at one point — which had completely thrown off the directions!)

Remember what I’d said about choosing joy? Well, um, that wasn’t going so well.

In fact, I was frustrated. It was late. It’d been a long day. My arms were tired from lugging around a heavy suitcase and bag. And everyone’s patience was waning.

Finally, we retraced our steps again, Jesse and I went over the directions with a fine-toothed comb on the phone together, and we figured out the wrong turn I’d taken, and we made it to the car.

I breathed a sigh of relief, but I was still feeling stressed and irritable. I pulled up to the booth to pay for parking and it was as if there were an angel in that booth. I kid you not.

The man in the booth looked at me and must have been able to tell that underneath my smile, there was stress and exhaustion. He looked at me and said so genuinely, “Happy Mother’s Day! It’s been a long day, hasn’t it? You need to make sure to take care of yourself as a mom. I can tell you’re such a good mom.”

He had no idea how I was feeling or how frazzled I felt at the moment, but his words were exactly what I needed to hear. I pulled away from that booth with a much lighter heart and a true smile on my face.

And his simple words reminded me of how much words of encouragement can mean to others. He could have just taken my money and said, “Have a good day!” But he didn’t.

This nameless stranger whom I’ll probably never meet again, took time out of his day to look me in the eye and give heartfelt encouragement.

Let’s never be too busy to stop and encourage others. Even just a simple and short sentence could lift someone’s spirits far beyond what you could ever imagine.

“Be an encourager. The world has plenty of critics already.”

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      • Kimber says

        I was just about to say the same thing! :) I had to replace my AC unit today, and the technicians were SO kind and helpful. I called a manager to let him know, and he seemed very pleased. He said usually people only take time to call when they’re unhappy, so it means a lot when someone calls to pass along a compliment.

  1. says

    What a great guy!! He probably enjoys his job too, since he uses it to encourage people. Wonder how many folks he makes smile in a given day? Such a good reminder for ALL of us to use our words to bless and not to tear down!!

  2. says

    Some people just have a way of knowing exactly what to say, when and to whom.

    I find sometimes just a really big genuine smile someone gives me has a similar effect. And it really stands out because people tend to keep to themselves.

  3. April D. says

    Thanks so much for the reminder-after a long day in the classroom it is so easy to be a critic instead of an encourager to my own family. I spend all day encouraging my students and feel spent with nothing left

  4. says

    We had the same lost-car experience at the Nashville airport! Only we hadn’t even thought to try to remember where we left our car (can you tell we’re not frequent air travelers?!). We called parking security and by our license plate number, they were able to tell us where we were parked. (If I remember correctly, that is!) So you can also try that technique if that scenario ever occurs again :)

    So glad you made it home, with the encouraging encounter to boot! He sounds like the kind of person the world needs more of :)

  5. says

    I made a plaque featuring my favorite quote, to encourage everyone that walks into my home, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”-Plato; I find that by encouraging others, I am encouraging myself as well. I firmly believe that my virtue as a person, and my love for God is best reflected in my attitudes towards others, as I am not my sister’s keeper, I am my sister. Just my two cents.

  6. says

    I love when God sends someone to say just the right thing to me. I find myself often wanting to give encouragement to someone beyond just the “have a good day”, but the words seem to get stuck in my throat. I need to pray that God will help me be more bold. It’s silly to get scared about encouraging someone!

  7. says

    This is absolutely awesome! And I bet he felt incredible knowing that he blessed you too…funny how that works. :)

    Reminds me of the lady that I met at Dollar Tree the other day. Usually the cashiers there are kind of gloomy and unfriendly but this lady was cheerful and talking to her customers and genuinely joyful. She just made me have to smile as I heard her talking to people while I shopped. It was so encouraging and just made my day and made me want to be more that way. It’s just too easy to be critical instead. :(

  8. Cherie says

    Seriously a beautiful post – we’ve all been there haven’t we? Good to remember to pay it forward with some kind words

  9. says

    What a great story; thank you for sharing Crystal!

    It’s amazing how tiny comments from someone can make my day – “Your hair looks nice,” I like your outfit,” and my favorite, “You look like you’ve lost weight.” God knows exactly when I need these little pick-me-ups!

    It’s also fun being the encourager and brightening others’ days!

  10. Jen says

    I love this, thanks for sharing! I LOVE that you are posting more personal content….it is so good! Thank you for your blog, it so often gives me hope and perspective! YOU are that encouraging voice so many of us need on a hard day!

  11. Charity says

    I love how The Lord uses others to encourage us, even total strangers. He certainly knows right where and when to meet each of us, His children.

  12. says

    Oh goodness, this story made my eyes misty. What a great guy! Positive, helpful airport employees are more than worth their weight in gold.
    I have to say that for the most part, exhaustion is exhaustion, but in the case of being worn out and trying to get home from the airport with luggage and kids in tow, that’s a very special kind of Tired. Blessings to him.

  13. Katie DeMonja says

    I have really been enjoying your recent posts about your everyday life–I love hearing about how other people handle situations. You’re a wonderful example of how we can learn life lessons from small things. Thanks, Crystal!

  14. says

    Great Story Crystal, you are so right. I posted a story on my site about calling customer service people if you think they are doing a great job. It shocks people when they hear a compliment once in a while. Like Lydia said too, it blesses others to know that they have made your day too! Great post Crystal!! Thanks for that!!

  15. Marie says

    This is so true. I’m so glad you got blessed after a very tiring day. My husband and I were out to dinner at a fine restaurant on Friday night. Our waiter was very nice. In the middle of dinner this other waiter comes over and says, ” I don’t know you but I felt compelled to come say hi. You have a beautiful smile and sparkling eyes! I can see that you and your husband really love each other.” It meant so much to me because I feel like I haven’t seen that sparkle in my eyes lately or been smiling much! It made me feel great. And then we were finished with the meal and the bill and he came over and said, “wait I want to buy you dessert, even if you only take one bite.” It was the best dessert!! The experience really made our night and he wasn’t even our waiter!

  16. says

    I can understand getting lost in the parking lot at Nashville!! I’m glad you met someone so nice and encouraging. It’s amazing how God can give us such small moments that make such a big difference on hard days. :)

  17. says

    We drove thru a sandwich place on Mother’s Day, and the gal at the window went out of her way to lean out and say Happy Mother’s Day to me in the passenger seat. It was so nice!

  18. Kathy says

    It’s so nice that you share these events with the rest of us. I thought it was just “me” who had days like this! And yes, you are a wonderful mother!!

  19. Chris says

    So sorry to hear about this! I live in Nashville. Long term parking is a large area with many shuttle stops. When I park at the airport I use Executive Travel & Parking. It’s offsite and the same price as long term parking at the airport, but much less stressful. You just pull up, they take your info, then drop you off right in front of the airport. When you return you call them, they pick you up outside the airport and bring you back to their facility where your car is waiting. It’s so much less stressful, they’ll help you with your bags and with all the shuttle stops for parking at the airport it doesn’t take any longer even though it’s offsite…in fact it might even be faster. I highly recommend them, check them out next time you need to park at the airport!

  20. Jeanne says

    Like the others who recommend commending the good deed to management, when I have an especially helpful customer service agent on the phone, I often ask to speak to their supervisor so I can tell the supervisor what a good job the agent did. Just be sure to tell the agent why, or s/he might think you will be reporting dissatisfaction. 😉 I find I tend to to do this when I am working with a company where many interactions have been frustrating or annoying, the helpful agent really stands out, and management needs to know. Glad your day ended on a happy note.

  21. Melissa says

    Glad he was able to lift you up after a rough day! Check out Flight Park next time you travel. They’re on Donelson Pike and offer concierge-level service for less than the cost of long term parking at the airport. They also have Groupon deals pretty regularly. We used to live in Nashville and loved their service.
    Also, if you haven’t had a chance to check out story time at the Main Library downtown, be sure to do that – it’s amazing and free! They also have a summer concert series, so you can go to story time first, spend some time in the children’s section, then have a picnic in the courtyard during the concert.

  22. Doretta says

    I find it amazing that even our husbands’ mistakes great or small can be used by God in such a beautiful way. Just think how many people have been motivated to be an encouragement because of one wrong turn. :) Choose joy!

  23. Meredith says

    This is so timely for me, as well! Yesterday I was quickly losing patience with my 8 year old son. Later on that evening, I received an email from his teacher, and my first thought was, uh oh, what now…. Instead, I received a great email saying she wanted me to know how well he was doing and he’s been so creative and she thought I should know! What a blessing…. it snapped me out of my mood of focusing on the negatives. The power of a teacher impacts not just the students, but the families, too!

  24. says

    tears. thanks. I can actually feel your stress and then your relief. I cannot begin to imagine the fight Frank and I would have been in over that and the oh-so-pleasant {not} person I would have been.

    See you soon!

  25. says


    I had a similar experience in Nashville airport once. Nothing like yours, but they guy could clearly tell I’d had a rough day. All he did was smile and take my cash in a card-only line. But it brightened me up for sure.

  26. Amy says

    That’s beautiful! I’d write a letter to the airport telling/thanking them about their wonderful employee.

  27. Matt says

    If you have a smartphone, try the free app Carrr Matey. It’s a pirate themed parking reminder (there are others, this just happens to be the one I use) that uses GPS to get you back to your car. You press “drop anchor” and it leads you back to the GPS co-ordinates when you press the “find vessel” button. Doesn’t work well in parking garages unless you know what level you’re on, but works great for street parking. Regardless, kindness is its own reward and that man will be happy and rewarded until his last breath.

  28. Caitlin says

    What a sweet man. I have three kids ages 5,almost 4, almost 2 and I am pregnant with our fourth due in July. I get many many negative comments on how many kids we have, how crazy we are, don’t we know how that happens? Etc that when I get an encouraging comment I am sincerely thankful. I also try my hardest to make sure I encourage other moms in the same position since I know most people are not that way to me. Encouragement is contagious.

  29. Karen says

    I love this story too! Thank you for taking the time to share it! I identifed with it quickly- as a customer service rep I get many chances each day to listen & seek to help – when I get a compliment call it totally makes my day! Yes, everyone DO take a moment to praise when deserved! You’ll be happy you did & so will the one who helped you!

  30. says

    That happened to me–Baltimore airport with an infant that was due for a breastfeeding!! I got confused, and walked around forever, and finally these strangers–angels in disguise–offered to drive me around each aisle until we found my car.
    This is my fourth baby, and it seems like more and more I find myself relying on the kindness of strangers. There are still a lot of wonderful people out there. You do a great job of spreading encouragement. Keep up the great work!

  31. Teresa Chaney says

    Thank you for that encouragement. A very kind man once encouraged me when I was beyond frazzled. I wouldn’t have made it without him. It really does make a difference in our ability to go on when someone with a kind heart and words of encouragement step in between you and despair. Lord bless you both in Tennessee. May the Lord use you as greatly there as He did here. And thank that kind man for me once again…and blessings on his wife who also made a difference.

  32. Kathleen Aispuro says

    I found out how much words count when I was at a grocery checkout and told the clerk that I liked what she had done to her hair. Her face dropped and she told me that it meant so much that I said that because she had it done about a week prior and none of her co-workers had said a thing about it. I was so glad that I opened my mouth and told her.

  33. Katherine says

    Oh, I know how frustrating that can be! We did a lot of traveling one summer, and after nearly 24 hours of flying home from Greece, my husband swore our car was in a place where it wasn’t. (Turns out, that was where we parked for the previous trip, not this one.) The parking attendants could have helped us if we had known our license plate number, but we had just gotten new plates and hadn’t written down or memorized the numbers. You were probably waaay nicer to your husband than I was to mine, but my frustration didn’t make things any better, and I’ve certainly forgotten where I parked before, too. Thanks for reminding us that kindness is a choice. Maybe a REALLY hard choice, but still a choice! P.S. So glad to see you writing more! Your personal stories (I remember Silas’ birth story like it was yesterday!) were what attracted me to your site in the first place!

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