Have you ever attended a group meeting where everyone involved had the best intentions, but you all quickly realized that your meeting was in vain because an important person was missing from the mix? If the right people aren't at the table, you waste your time. Sometimes you need the decision makers there, so you can act and move on. Sometimes you need the person with the history and background knowledge to make everything make sense. Other times you need someone with the technical expertise to help decipher new information. Usually it is wise to have all of these people present to make sure that the full picture is in view.
I am in the middle of reading The Resolution for Women, by Priscilla Shirer. In the third section of the book, she urges women to be "authentically themselves," not trying to be someone else and not shirking away from who they truly are. One problem we run into, she says, is that many times we don't know ourselves very well, aka: we don't know what we bring to the table. It is hard to be authentic when you don't know what makes you, you! It could be that there is a meeting table right now that needs you and your unique gifts, talents and abilities. That meeting table may be in your very own home. My husband is very good at gently pointing out to me the areas of giftedness I have that I may be underestimating or devaluing within our family life. He wants me to bring everything I have to the table of our family decision making so that we are not lacking in any way. People at work expect the same, as do people on ministry teams.
One of the strategies that Priscilla suggests in her book for figuring out what makes you, uniquely you, is to ask those who know you well for their insights. She states, "It's often more difficult to see yourself as clearly as another person can who's close to you. Beauty tends to become familiar. Genius eventually feels commonplace. You get used to yourself. You overlook the astounding, remarkable aspects that make you uniquely special because you've grown so accustomed to having them. Your rarity becomes unremarkable when its just another part of your regular routine." So, I challenge you to ask those closest to you what they think makes you unique. Then listen, and WRITE DOWN what they say. Then pray over it and ask God to help you live it out. The world needs you at the table!
Tonight Jason and Timmy were watching a movie together while I was wrapping up some things around the house. When I finally finished, I wanted to join them and my favorite seat is always right between my two guys. So, I said, "Timmy, move over, I want to sit by Daddy." Timmy snuggled up close to Jason and said, "But I want to sit next to Daddy. Besides, you get to SLEEP next to him!" :) This made us both smile.
Earlier in the day while Tim and I were at the mall looking for a few new sweatshirts for him (I can't believe how fast he is outgrowing everything!), Timmy would casually reach over and hold my hand as we strolled through the stores. It was so natural for him to do so, and so precious for me.
I am currently reading Priscilla Shirer's book, The Resolution for Women and the first chapter is about contentment. I have to say, on days like today, it is pretty easy for me to be content. What a wonderful stage in life! I am blessed to be walking through it. :)
Last night, Jason and I had the chance to go out on a double date with some new friends. We had a great time and found ourselves lingering still talking and laughing at the table after we'd already paid the bill, not wanting to end our time together. I love those kind of nights!
We had decided to try out an Italian restaurant that none of us had been to before. Risky, for sure, but we hadn't been able to find a good Italian place since moving here two years ago, so it was worth the risk. After a leisurely stroll through a couple of art galleries, we headed to the restaurant for dinner. Our interest was piqued when we sat down at the table and let our eyes feast on a menu full of handmade pastas and sauces, seafood, and unique and sophisticated Italian dishes. So far so good! When the food came out, we were not disappointed. Light, crispy calamari; sumptuous cheese ravioli; spicy Fra Diavlo sauce, tender scallops, everything was Excellent!
What is it about wonderful food that elevates a great night out with friends into a true celebration? It reminds me of the story of the Prodigal Son. The father was THRILLED that his son was home, but the party didn't start until they "killed the fattened calf." There is something about a delectable feast that awakens all the senses and brings joy and contentment to the surface. These verses from Isaiah remind me that any joy and pleasure we experience on earth is a mere shadow of the what God has planned for our future with Him:
Isaiah 25:6-9 "On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine--the best of meats and the finest of wines. On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The LORD has spoken. In that day they will say, "Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation." NIV
I am a good speller. Nay, I am a GREAT speller! I can't take any credit for this skill... it just always came naturally to me. English words and the way letters come together to make them just clicks somewhere in my brain. I don't remember getting less than 100% on any spelling test, ever. This brings me to my boy. NOT a great speller. The kicker... I have no clue how to help him. Since my spelling skills were not honed by lots of repetition or practice, or hard fought, or learned from a brilliant teacher, I'm not sure how to impart them to someone else. I suppose being a voracious reader and just being exposed to a lot of words might have been part of it, but for Pete's sake, my kid reads daily, and huge books to boot... somehow all that reading just isn't translating the same way into his brain as it has into mine.
This morning we were both sitting on the couch with our laptops on our laps. I was composing an email and he was writing an essay for his English class.
Tim: "Mom, do you have to capitalize Wal-Mart since it is the name of a store?"
Me, trying to disguise a sigh, "Yes."
As he is typing in the word, his computer auto corrects it and adds in a hyphen between Wal and Mart where he had left one out.
Tim: "What?! That is stupid."
Me: "What is stupid?"
Tim: "The computer just added a hyphen."
Me: "It isn't stupid, the word is hyphenated."
Tim: "But it is stupid that it has a hyphen to begin with!"
Ahhh, now we are on to something. I am thinking this issue with spelling has less to do with Timmy's skills and more to do with Timmy's attitude! He wants things to make sense to him and when they don't he has no desire to just embrace the idiosyncrasy, make mental note of it for later, and move on. He would rather just get frustrated and call it stupid and pretend like he'll never have to deal with it again.
Hmmm, now THAT I can relate to! Life doesn't make sense. There are times when I run up against a situation and I'd really rather not learn from it. I'd much rather just call it stupid and move on, pretending like it was a fluke and I'll never run into that type of situation again. Perhaps Tim's problem (and mine as well), isn't with spelling, but rather with a teachable spirit. Some things come easily and we enjoy learning them. Other lessons don't make sense and are tough to submit to long enough in order to learn from them. It isn't that we can't learn from it, or that it isn't worth learning from... it is a humility issue and a patience issue. I think I know how to approach this one now.
1. Who do you want to be?
2. What are you doing really well right now that will help you get there?
3. What obstacles are you facing or creating that will keep you from getting there?
4. What ways are you already trying to overcome these obstacles?
5. How can I help?
This summer I co-led a women's Bible study using the book, "When Life Is Hard," by James MacDonald. The Bible has MUCH to say about trials and suffering, and these are some of the verses that I will take with me forever as I face hard times in the future:
Psalm 119:71 "It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Thy statutes."
Psalm 116:7 "Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you."
James 1:4 "Let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."
As we walk through the tough stuff of life, it helps to know that on the other side of it, IF we will endure, there is a sweet reward. The reward is maturity, peace, increased faith, and a tenderness to others who will walk that path in the future.