The Ripple of Encouragement

I recently received a  note that brought me to cheerful tears. I share it, with permission, to encourage those who spend time with kids and to remind us all that God is doing extraordinary things in the midst of ordinary life. I do not remember this details of this day, and I have seen Belle (now a young woman) only a handful of times in the past 10 years. I was likely just being my normal goofy self and doing what my mom taught me to do, protect and love.
“Hey you! I know this is totally out of the blue, but something kind of crazy and incredible happened this morning…and I wanted to share it with you. I know it’s been forever, but you left a huge mark on my life, and I couldn’t not tell you. Anyways, I wrote this, and had to send it over. If anything, I just wanted to say thank you.
We were at Carlsbad Community Church one day, a long time ago. It was on the south side facing Chase Field, and all the buses had come for the high schoolers…Michael, and Chad, and Cindy, and Daisy…Dad was running around campus taking care of the administrative stuff, and mom wasn’t there. It’s all a blur now, I just remember there were dozens of intimidating high school kids covered in duct tape, shouting, music, and six-year-old me was feeling lost in the mix.Then all the sudden I heard a voice behind me and I looked up. I saw Uncle Ryan, my giant: ten feet tall and twenty-something years old, jet black hair, the biggest smile, and kindest most comforting eyes in the world.Apparently I looked just as lost as I felt. Because–I remember, as clear as day–he walked up to me, spread his arms out over me and laughed, saying, “Stay under my wings, Annabelle! I’m protecting you!” And then he marched around me in circles laughing and talking about all the things a twenty-something-year-old guy talks about with a six-year-old girl. And he kept me company till the music and shouting stopped, till the bustle faded, and every last bus had gone.He took my whole world in his hands in that instant, and I felt so safe and so at home.Odd how things go. Life moves on so ruthlessly. I don’t really know Uncle Ryan anymore–he left my life a long time ago, and I didn’t even realize it when it happened. 

And then came this morning, a decade later and three thousand miles away. Someone was blasting metal in the next dorm, people were shouting and laughing, the stress and pressure of school was weighing in. Sixteen-year-old me was feeling lost in the mix.

And so I prayed the first thing that came to mind, almost without thinking. I prayed, “God let me find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” And as the words came involuntarily out of my mouth, Uncle Ryan came sauntering back to me. I felt every bit six years old again. His arms were stretched out, and I craned my neck back to look up and see his smile, and in that moment I was safe again. Sitting on my dorm room floor, I heard God’s voice. He promised: “I will protect you. I will be your Uncle Ryan and so much more. Stay under my wings, Annabelle.”

I don’t know when I’ll see Uncle Ryan again, but in a round-about way, he showed me the Almighty today, and that’s a legacy that will stay with me till we meet up again in eternity.”


I thank God for Annabelle and her family. I thank God, that he wove this story together and had Annabelle send it to me on a day when my soul deeply needed to be encouraged.

Perhaps today is your day to protect and love. Perhaps today is your day to encourage someone.

Grace and Mercy,


2 thoughts on “The Ripple of Encouragement

  1. Wow, Ryan. This is a beautiful story and it too brought cheerful tears to my face. Having known you all your life, from second one, I’m not at all surprised about this note. I’m very thankful, Belle shared it with you and now you’ve shared it with the world.

    It is so true how our God works a lot behind the scene, but I love that God this time, decided to speak to her.

    I love the term Uncle and Aunt, even tho I’m not your real Aunt, you’ve always called me your Aunt and I take that title very seriously, and am so happy when we see each other and we are grown, you still call me Aunt Debra. So for you to be called Uncle Ryan, well, it’s fantastic.

    Thanks for sharing this story with us. Miss and love you, and I am so very proud of you.


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s