Still good advice: "Stir up whatcha got!"

Lately there's been a lot of angst going around

This seems like a good time to pass on a folksy little story that arrived in my Inbox one day. It always speaks pointedly to me. May it speak to you, too.    

Just Another Day

The crusty old-timer slouched into the local coffee shop and settled himself Blog. Waitress. 1.16 (2017_08_21 00_15_50 UTC)onto the end stool at the counter. Then he winked at the waitress and said, "Gimme a big mug 'a Joe, Dearie."

This lady wasn't taking any guff from anyone. She stood up tall and said, "I am not your Dearie! My name is Daisy."

"My mistake, Miss Daisy. My name's Hector. Now pour me some of your good hot coffee, if 'ya please."

When his steaming cup of Joe arrived, he inhaled deeply and asked, "Got any sugar cubes, Ma'am?

"Yes, sir."

She handed Hector the sugar bowl and he dropped in a cube of sugar.

Then another.

And another. And another.

When he got to seven, Daisy pulled the sugar bowl away and said, "Listen, here, Mister, you don't need more sugar. Just stir up whatcha' got!"

That's wise counsel for living, too

Sometimes we discount what we already have and are, just because we're used to it.

The flood of self-help articles and reports and interviews that never stop all boil down to the same theme: You and I need to be more than we are.

According to these "experts," each with a favorite theory, you and I can achieve "more-ness" with (fill in the blank.) So we can grow. And stretch. And explore new horizons.

It's exhausting.

Learning and growing are good things, but most of these spokespeople proceed as if every human being is an exact copy of every other human being.   

For Christians, that theory is pure bunk. The Bible tells us God creates every human being. Not with some sort of divine 3-D Printer, but with infinite care and his personal involvement. 

Ponder this verse, Psalm 139:13, and think as you read it. 

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.    ESV

Each of us is one-of-a-kind

Even identical twins have their own individual fingerprints and personalities. You and I are not exactly like our siblings. Neither are our children, even when they all are the same gender.   

Not one of us is "missing" some essential part of ourselves.  

Can we grow and learn to understand ourselves better? Of course. Sometimes that happens as we live out our lives. Sometimes we may need to talk with our pastor or with a licensed counselor.

It's an imperfect world and none of us is perfect. It's a big step to acknowledge our weaknesses to ourselves. Be sure you don't overlook your individual strengths. Rather, give thanks for them.  

The Bible tells us God equips each one of us to handle whatever He asks of us. That means each of us has what we need to live the lives He gives us. Remember, our lives are not over until our last earthly breath, so none of knows exactly what qualities we may need.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.   Ephesians 2:10  ESV

Keep tabs on what's already present--in your life, in your marriage and in your family

It is God who gives us our abilities and talents--and for a reason we may not yet understand. 

Are there struggles even in strong marriages and families? Yes, for every one of us. Single or married, at any age, life is hard. Building a marriage is hard. Being a mom--or a dad--is hard.

If we expect perfect here on earth then our days may seem like too much to cope with. We just want it to stop.

That's dangerous thinking because we may spend our days in wistful longings and daydreams of better times and perhaps, "more perfect" people.  

Once again the Bible shows us the better way to deal with difficulties:

Count it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.   James 1:1   ESV

Build on what you already have 

For example, if you're married and feeling ho-hum, why not try a bit of do-it-yourself effort?

Agree to make time for each other, just as deliberately as you make time for other appointments. 

Choose a weekend or other time when neither of you has to report in for work. Then farm out your kids for a night or a weekend. Kidnap your husband--or wife--and head to a nearby hotel or motel. Live on room service (or McDonald's if money is tight) and each other's undivided attention.

(The same strategy works if you simply stay home in your own house. It's just harder to shut out all the chores that need catching up on.)

Often, a short time of concentrating on each other is all that's needed for a couple to rediscover their love, which can get covered up with job and kids and the "stuff" of everyday life. 

We love because he [Jesus] first loved us . . . Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.   1 John 4:19; 1 Peter 4:8   ESV 

Get reacquainted with your children and get to know them now

Whatever their ages, take off your I-need-to-parent-you eyes. Instead, look--really look--at each child with eyes of love.  

Think about their individual personality qualities: who they are. Notice how funny and unique each one is. Find ways to reinforce their positive qualities, maybe a note or a card or just saying you value those qualities.  

Make time to be one-on-one with each child, so you can concentrate on each one. Being together strengthens family bonds--between parent and child and also between siblings.

As your children grow up, increasingly respect their right to have their own lives. (We wanted that for ourselves, didn't we? And don't we?)

As you would that others would do to you, do so to them.  Luke 6:31  ESV

Share more than food at mealtime 

Eating together every day strengthens relationships within a family. All the research shows that especially with children and teens, this increases their own strength and inner security.

Mealtimes offer a built-in opportunity to connect. One powerful--and popular tool is to do Highs and Lows. Go around the table and each one shares from their day--while everyone else listens. (Make it okay to say "Pass" and remain silent.)

Each one can tell about their cares and issues to each other. Nothing formal, just each one sharing their days with each other and staying tuned-in. Lastly, parents and/or children pray and speak a blessing.

Stick with it and watch each one become more comfortable opening up to each other. A way to live out faith together.  

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.  Romans 12:15   ESV

Let's get personal

Every so often take a closer look. Start by writing down at least ten good things about your life. Ten things, small things, "ordinary" things.   

Then list what's good about you. And your husband. And your kids. Once again, this is not about achievements or "big stuff."

Keep your lists handy. Reread them when you're feeling uncertain or questioning the "whys" in your life. Or on those days when life feels meaningless. Even if you're not in the mood when you start, as you thank God for the gifts and blessings already yours, your heart will feel lighter. 

Consider this one of the ways to "Stir up what you got!"

Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.    2 Timothy 1:6-7   NKJV

Still learning, always,

Lenore

 

July 20, 2021

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