I just wanted to take a second to thank Wendy Garraty of Tonic Home for her kind mention today of my "House Portraits". I am so thankful for all of the positive reinforcement that is continually exchanged in the blogging community. Such a refreshing change from the negativity and ruthless competition that is often pervasive in our culture. I count myself very privileged to be a part of a community of people who believe in mutual encouragement.

There is such a privilege in being able to build a person up in whatever their gift may be, rather than to feel as if you have to demean someone or their work to protect your own position, keep control or get ahead of others. It is just this kind of attitude and insidious manipulation that destroys relationships and people. Though it sometimes works for a while, in the end, people who are using these kind of tactics end up losing what they are so desperately trying to hold on to. Instead of protecting their interests or "fortifying" their position or influence, they are actually taking a sledgehammer to it's very foundation. In undermining the value of others, they are only defeating themselves. They are completely unaware that, when you genuinely value others and treat them with the respect they deserve, it not only builds them up, but brings you tremendous benefits as well. Many people that devalue, manipulate and take advantage of others do it out of their own hurt, guilt and fear. Maybe because it's been done to them. That doesn't excuse it, but I am convinced that we all have the power to turn that around. We don't have to accept this kind of behavior, but we can refuse to come down to that level, even when it may seem that a person deserves it. "Eye for an eye" is not the way to go. We can pay them back - but in a different currency. A currency of restraint, grace, forgiveness and kindness. In doing so, we can stop the sick cycle of tearing others down and kill the spirit of vindictive activity at it's root.

I want to thank all the people I've met, especially since I started this blog, who have shown me such overwhelming support and kindness. People who are aware that, in supporting, encouraging and truly valuing others, they are making a priceless investment that will pay untold dividends. Thank you all for impacting my life with your kindness and I can only hope that I will use every opportunity I have to do the same!