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When we tell someone “I love you,” “I’m proud of you” or “you did great on that project,” we’re not just being kind — those are healing words. Simple words of encouragement (“I believe in you,” “You look beautiful today,” “I’m praying for you”) can go deeper than we know.

As I was grabbing my grocery bags at a local store last weekend, I made a comment in passing to the clerk: “thank you for working on a Sunday night!” A bit taken aback, she looked at me for a few seconds and said “no one has ever said that to me before. It’s been a tough night, my son is sick at home and I didn’t want to come in, and that really helped me. Thank you for that.”

Sometimes we don’t realize how a simple compliment or expression of thanks can raise someone higher than we anticipated. When we look at our circle of influence: family, friends, co-workers, even the clerk at the grocery store, we should ask “how can we lift them up to reach their full potential?”

It’s rare to see a compliment taken negatively. When my father tells my mother “I love you so much,” she doesn’t ever say, “stop saying that, you told me that last week.” Just the opposite: she raises her head higher and smiles bigger no matter how many times he tells her.

For this special Valentine’s week piece, I’ve decided to use today’s column as a platform for locals to spread admiration and praise. Let’s keep others moving forward through our encouragement, Racine! Happy (belated) Valentine’s Day!

Sandra Carr, you are the greatest mother a girl could ever ask for. You inspire me every day and have helped me become the great young woman that I am today. You are not only my loving mother, but also my best friend for a lifetime. Love you!” — Krystal Carr

“To my parents, John and Jennifer Larson, thank you for setting a beautiful example of what unconditional, unwavering love looks like. I am so grateful to have you to look up to. Thank you for never giving up on each other, and for always putting God and your family first.” — Claire Larson

Kyle and Arwen, I am so thankful every day that YOU TWO are who I get to call my husband and daughter. Thank you for teaching me kindness, unconditional love and how to slow down and enjoy every moment. To me, you are both heroes is so many ways. I love you.” — Becca Gumm

Michelle Strauss, thank you for showing me what an independent, hard working, confident and successful woman looks like as my mother. You are the strongest woman I know. Now you have a granddaughter who is learning all the same things I did from watching you. Love you mom!” — Krysten Merten

Amy Maack, I’m extremely blessed to have you walk alongside of me as my wife. Together we have endured both peaks and valleys, we have raised two wonderful children and we are blessed to have an adorable grandson. As Elvis sang, ‘You touch my hand and I’m a king, your kiss to me is worth a fortune, your love for me is everything, I’ll guess I’ll never know the reason why, you love me like you do, that’s the wonder, the wonder of you.’” — David Maack

Tori Seivert, thanks for being a great wife and loving mother to our cute and lively 3-month-old, Wesley. God has really blessed me with having you two in my life. We both appreciate everything you do for our family. You are also an amazing science teacher at Evergreen Academy! Happy Valentine’s Day!”— Matt Seivert

“To my son, Dave Arvai, you give your all every day protecting the people of Racine as a police officer, giving your time to different benefits and charities in town and constantly bringing out the best in your athletes you coach at Case High School for diving. Love you, son!” — Dave Arvai Sr.

Paige Weslaski, born and raised in Racine, is a Pepperdine University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in leadership. Paige, 25, has lived in New York, Los Angeles, Europe and Central America, and is now working as an account executive of a marketing company in Downtown Racine. She may be reached via email at Paige@ImageManagement.com.

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