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Posts Tagged ‘wisdom’

Men are the stronger sex; they work, build, and provide for their families. They don’t cry. They don’t get overrun by “feelings” like women do. Men are tough; they are not sensitive and do not get emotionally hurt easily.

Or do they?

Something that I have observed over the years is that there is a little boy inside every grown man. I see it in my husband, I see it in my father, and I see it in many of my friends. The same things that delighted them as a boy, the same things that made them sad, still affect them on the inside, thought they may not show it. My husband delights in fixing things, taking things apart and seeing how they work and then putting them back together (he recently built a computer). From the stories I’ve heard of his childhood, this is something that he has always enjoyed. My father has always loved story-telling: the adventure, the struggle between good and evil, the hero persevering, etc. This shows even now in the things that he writes, and the stories that touch him.

My little brother (now a teenager) was always a very sensitive little boy. He would cry when characters on TV got hurt, and he didn’t like scary movies. He never tortured earthworms, or pulled the wings off of flies, or any of that. He was always considerate of other people and animal’s feelings. One year when he was 8, I had a bad birthday and I cried because no one in my family cared (it was a special birthday too), and I was going to have to make my own cake etc. all by myself. My brother made a card in the shape of an alien (complete with antennae) and wrote inside “greetings earthling, our leader wishes you a happy birthday” and stuck a dollar inside. That card was so very precious to me. I still have it, and the dollar he gave me, as a reminder of the sweet sensitivity of my eight-year-old brother.

The little boys I teach piano to also exhibit some sensitive traits. Very often, if they have a choice between Thomas the Tank engine and Littlest Petshop stickers, they’ll choose the pets! Between Buzz Lightyear and animals, they’ll go with the animals most of the time. Even when they pick the Toy Story stickers they want Ham or Rex or Bullseye more than the others. The sad thing is that many older men (and women) will tell these boys: don’t you want the rocket ship? Or will reprimand them for crying, or for enjoying something that might be a little “girly”.

This is important: the sensitivity of the little boy that you raise will dictate the kindness and courteousness of the man he will become.  That gentle little boy that you treat to respect others, to value life (even the life of a worm), to love his family, and to cry when he sees injustice and suffering will grow into a man who respects everyone, who fights to protect life, and will not stand for injustice. That little boy needs to be loved and nurtured so that he can grow into the type of man our society needs today. There is still a little boy inside of every man. If you look carefully, you may see him. But be careful not to frighten him away.

Here is what the Bible says about living peaceful lives:

1 Corinthians 13:11 – “Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.”

1 Thesselonians 5:12-18 – “But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another. We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people.Rejoice always;pray without ceasing;in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Proverbs 15:1 – “A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.”

For more on this concept read John Eldredge’s “Wild at Heart”.

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Some thoughts on wise spending habits, in no particular order. Just some things I’ve found helpful in life.

1. If you don’t need it, don’t get it. Something that is not needed immediately and can wait for the next paycheck probably should.

2. Keep track of how much you typically spend on “date night”; dinner and a movie can quickly add up to more than $50. If you do this every weekend, that’s $200 that you can’t get back. Save up for special nights: a trip to Disney World, perhaps.

3. Instead of going out every weekend on a nice date, try a casual date night. Dinner at your local pizza buffet (Cici’s – $5 all March!) and then hit up the cheap show times at your local movie theater. You’ll end up spending about $25, half of a typical date night. Or, if possible, catch a drive-in movie and take a picnic lunch. Go to the beach for an afternoon and get smoothies to cool off, or take a walk at the pier with some hot chocolate from Starbucks. Romantic moments don’t have to be expensive!

4. Refrain from getting a snack or drink every time you’re on the road. In fact, avoid eating out during the day as much as possible. Your wallet and your waistline will thank you.

5. Regarding sales: If you didn’t need it, you didn’t save anything. Grandpa’s wise words.

6. If you can pack a lunch or cook at home, do it! The food is much healthier, and you will save a lot of money. Find quick meals you enjoy and you’ll look forward to it.

7. If you can do it yourself, don’t pay someone else to do it. This applies to things like: sewing buttons, mending clothing, cooking meals, installing car batteries, etc. I inherited a bread-making machine: It costs about $20 to make an average of 6 or 7 loaves of bread. Much healthier for you, and cheaper than the $4 wheat breads at the store.

8. Decide what things you need to spend a little extra on, and then buy the store version of everything else. I have long hair, so I use shampoo and conditioner that is about $5-7 a bottle instead of the cheap brands that ruin my hair (I use Dove, Fructis, and Pantene most often). If you value eating healthy food, it’s ok to spend a little more on that. If you think Walmart brand Cheerios aren’t so great, try the Publix, or just stick with the more-expensive cheerios. You get the idea.

9. It doesn’t have to be a Lamborghini. You can get by with the Toyota of almost anything. I use CoverGirl makeup instead of Clinique, like I used to. It’s cheaper, and works nearly as well.

10. When it comes to items that need to last, like sneakers and appliances, buy a decent item the first time. Go ahead and spend that money. If you’re a runner, buying a pair of $50 running shoes is more economical in the long run if they’ll last 6 years instead of buying $30 pairs every three years.

11. Buy in bulk when you can. My husband and I use honey instead of sugar, and it’s an ingredient in his favorite lunch: peanut butter sandwiches. Buying in bulk lasts longer and is cheaper in the long run.

12. Support local stores and mom&pop shops. I go to a local produce store instead of Publix; the food is fresh, better tasting, and much less expensive. When you go out for lunch, support a local family-owned restaurant. The service is usually friendlier too!

13. Don’t by useless gadgets that you’ll never use. Remember that weird looking chopper in your drawer? It’s a pineapple slicer. Last time you used it? 3 years ago. Now the apple-corer, on the other hand, you use on a weekly basis. Don’t buy things that you won’t use if you can do it yourself; they waste money AND take up space. A strawberry slicer would be neat, and we do eat strawberries a lot, but would it lessen my work load significantly? Probably not. Now a sweet potato fry slicer, that is a worthwhile investment. We eat them often, and the fries are terribly difficult to cut.

14. Avoid going to the mall if there isn’t anything you actually need. Instead, try a place like Plato’s Closet or Ashley’s Closet. These are second-hand stores that only purchase from the seller those items that are in excellent condition in the current trends. There is always such variety of style, size, and color, that you are almost certain to find something that you need and like. For $20 I can get a pair of Levi’s and a shirt from American Eagle. Not a bad deal for a whole new outfit!

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In the past few years I have gained a new perspective, a new life, and a new me. I am always undergoing changes, and by the grace of God I am making improvements slowly but surely. I feel that I have overcome many obstacles in my path; trials that are natural to mankind, frustrations brought upon by my sin nature, and difficulties inflicted on me by family failings. I am overcoming them all.

The book of Proverbs has a lot to say about poverty, and namely how to avoid it. A proverb is a wise and trusted saying, so the Christian book of Proverbs is a veritable gold mine of wisdom (which it reminds us to seek). Among the sayings about poverty we are reminded that someone who neglects discipline will surely come to poverty and shame (Pvbs 13:18). There is profit in all labor, but those who simply talk will come to poverty (14:23). The glutton, drunkard, and drowsy person (someone who is lazy/sleeps a lot) will come to poverty. (23:21). And I particularly like the imagery of Proverbs 6:10-11:

“A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to [a]rest”—
11 Your poverty will come in like a [b]vagabond
And your need like [c]an armed man.

(See this page for more references.)

My family has always been poor, and as a child I looked upon it as something that was put upon us, an unfair disadvantage brought about by adverse circumstances (such as family health problems) and through no fault of our own. As I grew up and expanded my mind beyond what I knew I came to realize that most of our problems in my family could have been fixed by one thing: diligence. This can apply in any area of our lives. Diligence in discipline (train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it), diligence in maintaining healthy behaviors, and diligence in working at home and on the job. All this is to say that I hope and pray that I can be diligent in the future and keep my children from the issues that I have had to face.

Things that I have overcome or am overcoming:

Poverty: I work hard at several part-time jobs (subbing, lessons at 2 studios, instrumental coaching), and I keep my spending to a minimum. (Some tips on that later.) If it’s not needed and not justifiable, I don’t get it.

Housework: Rather than leave the work for someone else to do (my husband), I just get up and do it! Rather than putting it off until tomorrow, I just get up and do it! My household is thus far clean and fairly well-organized, though not perfect by any means.

Weight: My family has always struggled with weight. Part of it was due to lack of self-control in eating habits, but also because cheap food is usually not health food (white bread, anyone?). I am down from the obese 180 that I was in high school, to a healthy 128. I know the properties of the food I eat, how many calories I consume, and choose when to have those special treats. I avoid getting food on the go and my waistline thanks me. I also work out when I can. I feel great!

Anger/Impulsiveness: One of the consequences of the lack of diligence and self-control that Iw as exposed to during childhood caused me to be rather angry. Sometimes there was hypocrisy, which didn’t help matters. Being intelligent and angry, and well-read, often caused me to say harmful things before thinking about them. I was a miserable child: fat, unpopular, awkward, poor, smart, and to top it all off, a Christian (values and standards were frowned upon). Not many people liked me. I was angry. Depressed. I feel that if someone had helped guide me through the torrent of emotions of my teenage years I might have been better for it. This is something I have made great progress in, and the majority of my battles are now internal, but something I am still working on.

Some wonderful new changes in my life, thanks to the goodness of God: I have a wonderful husband, and we live in our own little apartment. I have a job at a new lesson studio, with Christian proprietors, and am looking into another job. I have new and better friends than some of the people who I was hanging around with at work and college, and have been developing these friendships. I am less stressed/angry than I was in high school, have lost weight, and I feel more confident about myself. And I have a new outlook on life, renewed faith in God, and a renewed determination to seek Him out and to gain knowledge of theology, etc. Life is good!

I want you to know that you can overcome anything! With patience, diligence, self-discipline, and by leaning on God and his grace, you can have the abundant and joy-filled life God has called you to have.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22)

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