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Has Anyone Told You Lately …

how incredible, wonderful, and fearfully delightful you are?

They should. And if they haven’t, consider yourself told. Just now. If you missed me saying it, look up at the previous line. See?

It’s not even 6:30 in the morning and here I am, thinking about heating a plate of cajun curry oxtails and rice for breakfast, smelling the clove oil wafting through the house from the infuser, avoiding the dishes I just put in to soak for washing and having come inside with gleeful excitement that the lawn-watering-spinny-thing that didn’t work for about two years and sat in the front yard by the sprinkler valves now works. I smile when I turn on the hose and it does what it needs to do now, without me having to talk to it.

What had happened was, I hooked it back to the hose several weeks ago and turned on the water. I talked to the spinny thing, told it I knew it could still work. At first, it just put out water and didn’t spin. I turned down the flow and saw it turn, just a smidge. Each day, we repeated this ritual: I turned on the water and encouraged the spinny thing. And now, I can turn on the flow of water as hard as I like and it spins, happily tossing water as if it had never stopped.

I see in my mind’s eye the scene from The Help where Viola Davis is encouraging the little girl. Numerous memes have been made of it, but the core of what’s going on is what I hear inside my head:

You is kind. You is smart. You is important.

I also hear a snatch of Rihanna’s ‘Diamonds’. I don’t really know the song but for that one line …

Shine bright like a diamond.

I had a conversation with the leader of the church worship team yesterday. He and I had chatted a few weeks ago; it was right before the church’s 13th anniversary and they were looking for people to join the group. I had been wanting to talk to him and a couple of the other leaders, just to let them know how much I appreciated all the work they put into each weeks’ worship time. The musicians are incredible, the arrangements are great, and the singing … harmonies for days, you know? There are typically four services on Sunday and while I don’t get out to the 6 pm all that often, I can say that most of the people who sing with the worship team are there for at least three (the 9 am, 11 am, and 1 pm) services. That’s dedication. I wanted to acknowledge that so I marched up to this leader and told him. He asked me if I wanted to sing, at which point, my Jersey came out and I laughed like Julia Roberts, bent over and mouth open wide. Because small note, big handbag — nothing would make me sound like a singer. He didn’t do like so many others: he didn’t say, ‘Well, no — everyone can sing; some just sing better than others’, for which I was eternally grateful. He asked me what I did for a living and suggested that the church creative team needed people. I replied that I could do creative, I could probably lend a hand there.

Fast forward to this past weekend. I was preparing to get out of town and received a text message, inviting me to a deeper conversation about serving. I texted back that I would not be there because of the out of town thing. However, I got back in time to get myself together and attend the 1 pm service. I waited until after the closing prayer time and approached the worship leader. I mentioned the creative team text message and he remembered who I was. He asked in brief about my fiction writing and my ‘regular’ job; I explained that I work with graduate and doctoral students, write fiction on the side, that I have published. I told him about the university where I used to work; he and at least one other person on the team had graduated from there. I told him one short verse in the strange country song that is my life, during which mentioned my son and his connection to the Regional Center — his wife is a social worker there. He said he would invite me to one of the creative team meetings during the week and would talk to our pastor as well, who had some projects going.

He then said something that stuck with me:

It’s like there’s a diamond mine in there [pointing to my head] and we need to figure out how to get them out and put them to the best use.

I am not a fan of diamonds (but that’s a story for another time …), but I get the point. It was a compliment, an encouragement.

And who doesn’t need that?

Hearing that you are valued, that you have something to offer for the greater good, is empowering, particularly if you don’t hear it often.

I am at a point in my life where I live in a house with three four-legged and some fin-limbed individuals; they talk, but we don’t speak the same language since one is feline and the other two are canine. And don’t get me started on the aquiline group. After the last decade, the majority of which was spent caregiving, I believe the Creator of the Universe has decided to give me a break, some time for me. I also believe the Creator knows I am capable of keeping a good nest and may again bless me one day with an opportunity to share it full-time, but presently, only wagging tails and loud meows abound.

Not exactly conducive reminders that I is smart, that I is important.

I guess I needed to hear it yesterday.

And I think you might need to hear it today.

You are brilliant.

If no one else tells you, I just did.

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