I dropped to the hallway floor with a grunt, my hands clutching carpet.
“Can you do ten?” Cole hovers over me, taller than the day before. My teenager won’t stop growing, and he’s a workout fiend knocking out twenty-five pushups without breaking a sweat.
I, however, sit sadly just on the right side of forty. And while I did many a push-up in my swimming days and have tried to stay in decent shape since, I don’t expect to keep up with my fit thirteen-year old.
“Yes, I can do ten.” Gulp.
I get into pushup position, hands flat, fingers spread and toes flexed. No knee pushups here. (Which is why I only do ten at a time.)
And so it begins. “One.”
I lower then raise my arms again. This is only two?
“One.” Cole calls out.
“What!? That was two.”
I lower my arms and raise them again, blood pounding in my temples. “Three!”
“One.” Giggles explode above me. Chase appears, a smiley blonde alongside his brown-haired brother.
I’m a boy mom—teasing is a given. But this? This is certainly torture.
I lower again, nearly kissing the carpet, then straighten wobbly arms supporting a body growing heavier by the second. “Four!”
“One!” Chase runs off, cackling.
I mumble something about making their own dinner then drop for my fifth pushup. “Five.”
“One.” Cole doesn’t grin very often, and as I look up, I can’t help grinning back despite my indignation at their poor counting skills.
“No, not one! That was five.”
He shrugs, nodding. “Okay, I’ll count right.”
So I begin again, or is it finish? Either way, the last five pushups prove ten times easier once he counts up. But on the last one, my arms betray me as a shuddering laugh takes over. That number–one–still resonates in my mind even though Cole’s not counting incorrectly.
I dissolve into a chuckling lump of limp mom muscles on the floor.
It reminded me how much our encouragement toward others matters. How much we’re needed to count up.
During the month of August, I participated in a contest on Twitter called Pitchwars. Pitchwars includes a group of amazingly helpful published authors (mentors). Each mentor author reads dozens of entries, eventually choosing one to champion and prepare for an agent panel in November (along with keeping up with their own writing career).
It’s an incredible opportunity to meet and connect with writers in the same genre (I entered my middle grade story) and secure valuable feedback on your (submitted) story.
I was thrilled when the author I submitted to asked for my full manuscript. Even though I wasn’t ultimately the writer she chose to mentor, it was an exciting three weeks of interacting and connecting, sharing about our stories, and meeting up with new critique partners—I have three now!
After the initial sting of disappointment at not being chosen, I realized what I appreciated most was the community of Pitchwars–the positive words, funny GIFs & jokes exchanged, and especially the encouragement sprayed around like New Year’s confetti.
I’m reminded of James chapter three, about the power of the tongue and the strength of our words (spoken or typed) to bolster–or break down–others. “Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!” (3:5)
Our tongues can start forest fires of gossip or send waves of much-needed encouragement.
Be an encourager. Count up.
“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another…” (Eph. 4:32)