“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word” (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17).

Joey’s leg brace dug into the earth as he walked home from school.

Bubba and his pack of fifth grade toadies sneered. “Your footprint looks like a tractor mark.”

Sarah, the crossing guard, stepped between the bullies and Joey. “It’s different. I like it.”

The older boys waved her off. They mounted their bicycles and pedaled away.

“It turns the earth. You make a special mark that’s deeper than anyone else’s footprint,” Sarah said.

As he trudged his way toward home, Joey studied his tracks and weighed Sarah’s words against the multitude of insults he’d heard that year. He struggled with what to believe until he passed through the garage. Grabbing a packet from the shelf, he made a decision.

The next day, Joey pulled the envelope from his backpack and ripped a hole in it. He sprinkled seeds into his brace tracks along the path to school.

At lunch time, rain broke out over the school grounds.

“Guess you’ll be making some different splatprints on the way home today, eh tractor feet?” Bubba passed by his table and gave him a shove.

“I’m okay with that,” Joey said. “Cause somethin’ will grow from them.”

What’s your footprint? How can you use your unique trials to nurture growth in others’ lives? Take one step today to sprinkle encouragement on your path. I’d love to hear about it.