Be an encourager. The world has plenty of critics already. -Dave Willis
A wise friend told me a number of years ago, on a day where I was holding a rather pathetic pity party, how important it was to notice and pay heed to the encouragers in our lives. Diane Vuotto has been such a person for me, though I doubt she knows it. She’s a mom to two stunningly beautiful young women, Gina and Elle, and the wife to Jim. I don’t know much about Diane’s background, if I am honest, except I think when our kids were young she told me she was from New Jersey. She’s pictured at right, above, with her terrific family!
Diane and I know each other just a bit, from several years with kids in school together at St. Louis de Montfort and then at Guerin Catholic High School. She’s outgoing and fun. Her gorgeous youngest even went to a high school dance with Drew if memory serves. As moms go, this gal is a phenomenal one, because her girls are full of sunshine and life just like their mom.
A number of years ago, I decided to start a blog– this one. I would write just now and then when something struck me as compelling and I felt I could add something positive to the world by engaging it a little. I wasn’t certain at all that the activity wasn’t just kind of narcissistic, and several times I considered discontinuing writing altogether- in all forms. Then, inevitably, I would post something and get a truly thoughtful response from Diane. She would tell me that I made her laugh and think, or that she appreciated my words. She did that by text and in person, more than once.
We don’t cross paths with people by accident. That’s what I believe. They are meant to show up in our lives. Something about her sassy and sarcastic sense of humor makes her authentic to me. Just by being herself, she encouraged me by her words to just go ahead and let folks see the flawed, quirky, silliness that is me. I thought, well, maybe it is a waste of time, but just maybe something good can come of it after all? Her lifting up helped me more than she might realize. I just wanted my life somehow to be an expression of God’s grace and goodness and my noodling at the keyboard helped me feel content, at peace. Diane’s a magnifier of strengths, a person who doles out valuable affirmations and she helped me decide maybe it wasn’t so narcissistic after all.
I read this cool quote yesterday and then I noticed that tomorrow was Diane’s birthday. It was clearly the Holy Spirit moving me to pay attention to the gift and the lovely witness of goodness that the Lord sent me several times through her. It said, “Encouragement is like oxygen to the human spirit. You’re carrying someone else’s air. Encourage them, help them breathe.”
So, Diane, you make me laugh and you have a beautiful heart. Thank you for cheering for others, for taking the time to let your light shine. I have taken your example of simple kindness and tried to run with it. THANK YOU, DIANE, FOR JUST BEING YOU! I think I’m a day early, but HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! YOU ARE A GEM!