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TruthNotes

Timeless truth in a changing world

Author

Ruth Meyer

Deadlines

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I’m convinced that little to nothing would get done in this world without deadlines. Houses would rarely get cleaned if guests weren’t stopping by, school projects wouldn’t be completed without a due date, and books wouldn’t get published without a deadline from the printer. I don’t know what it is about the human psyche, but we tend not to act until we know our time is limited. I may have a coupon for three months, but it’s not until the day before it expires that I get serious about redeeming it. I can get the hymns for a Sunday service on Tuesday, but it’s a pretty safe bet I won’t even look at them until Saturday night. I can steam mop the entire house in about an hour, but if the kids are in school, I will inevitably drag the chore out to last all day until I’m racing to finish in the final minutes before I have to leave to pick them up. And even though I have all week to write a blog post for Monday, I rarely ever work on it before Sunday afternoon. If I have time to waste, I’ll procrastinate with the best of them. When faced with a deadline, however, it’s time to get serious.

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No Big Deal

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I did the dishes in my kitchen sink yesterday. I know, big deal, right? But in fact it was a big deal. I was grinning ear to ear as I did those dishes. We had been without a kitchen faucet for four and a half days, due to a comedy of errors. I’d never realized how much I used the kitchen sink until I was without one. Washing hands, rinsing fruits and veggies, filling a pot of water, cleaning off plates before loading them in the dishwasher––simple tasks I take for granted suddenly weren’t so simple, and it wasn’t until I didn’t have the luxury of a kitchen sink that I realized how blessed I was to have a working faucet.

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When Everything Goes Wrong

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Yesterday was not my day. We have one of those faucets in our kitchen sink you can pull out on a little hose. Well, we had one. I came out from taking a shower to find that my toddler had broken it. Now it resembles a drinking fountain when turned on lightly and a fire hose shooting across the room when turned on full strength, thus rendering it largely useless. My son, who had been sick earlier in the week but felt better Friday and Saturday, was throwing up again. He’s old enough to leave at home during church, so the rest of us went without him. We returned home to find our house flooded. My first thought was the kitchen faucet, but no. It was the washing machine, which had overflowed. Awesome. So now I’m down a kitchen sink and a washing machine, two things I use a lot. My oldest son and I shop-vacuumed the tile part of the floor and used the carpet cleaning machine for the carpets where it had seeped into the rooms. We pulled up over ten gallons of water. I could have spent all day working on the carpets and steam mopping in the wake of the murky water, but that was not to be. I had to be at our church for the LWML fall rally, which we were hosting. So four and a half hours later, I returned home exhausted only to put in a few more hours on the carpets, and still they are sodden and nasty and have the distinct odor of a wet sock. Like I said, it was not my day.

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My Way

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The three most common words in our household are currently, “I do it!” This phrase is often spoken in an urgent, indignant tone by my two-year-old, who thinks he can do everything. From strapping himself into his car seat to feeding the dogs to pouring milk into his cup, my toddler erroneously assumes he is competent enough to handle every task that comes his way. He gets mad at me if I do something he thinks he can do. He will shut the door to the dryer in protest just so he can be the one to open it again. It’s cute and irritating all at the same time, because clearly there are things he has no business trying to do. Kim John Payne summed up the two-year-old mentality best in his book The Soul of Discipline. He coins two-year-olds “little emperors” and says the following about them: “They are waking up to the world around them, discovering their own willpower and feeling a sense of omnipotence not matched by ability.” So very true. And yet, that’s an uncomfortably accurate description of the attitude of many adults as well, myself included.

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How to Raise Kids Who Care

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People lament that kids in America are selfish, irresponsible, and entitled; that a day without video games is unthinkable to most American children. So how can you raise kids who defy those odds? who care about others and want to help? who put others before themselves? By modeling this behavior yourself.

If you’ve ever wondered these things about your own kids, here’s an article I wrote for the website Raising Godly Children. It is possible to raise kids who care. It just takes some work on your part, and the article is full of suggestions to get you started.

Playing Second Fiddle

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Recently my son joined the high school marching band even though he’s only in the eighth grade. This is a great (and challenging) opportunity for him as he hastens to learn the music and the steps everyone else learned a month ago. In one sense this is, of course, a promotion. He’s moving up from the middle school band to the high school band. But in another sense he’s moving down. He went from being first chair trumpet in middle school to playing secondary parts with the high school, and that’s an adjustment for him. He’s used to playing the melody. The harmony for “Phantom of the Opera” doesn’t sound nearly as glamorous as the melody. My son is learning what it’s like to play second fiddle… er, trumpet.

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When You Aren’t as Generous as You Think

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“Over half of the members in this congregation give less than the price of a Happy Meal every week.”

These words were spoken in a sermon about stewardship, and they’ve stuck with me ever since. Churches seem to be perpetually behind budget, nearly always in debt, and is it any wonder? If half of the members are giving $5 or less, how can we expect to sustain our congregations? Granted, this includes all those members “on the rolls” who don’t actually come, but let’s face it––tithing is not a common practice in our culture today. Sure, people can spend money on cable and Internet and cars and sports and lessons and… But church? Tithing is foreign to many people. So as I sat in church that Stewardship Sunday while the pastor discussed giving, I admit I felt a little swell of pride. Ah, I thought to myself smugly, but I DO tithe. I’m a faithful giver. But upon further reflection, I came to a startling revelation. I’m not nearly as generous as I’d like to think I am.

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Intentional Living

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If you give a mom a free day, she’ll drop her kids off at school and come home to enjoy a cup of coffee. While she’s drinking the coffee, she’ll start to unload the dishwasher. As she’s putting away the glasses, she’ll remember that the dog needs food and water. She’ll fill his dish. While she’s outside, she’ll realize it’s a beautiful day. She’ll take the dog for a walk. When she comes home, she’ll take a long shower. As she’s getting dressed, she’ll discover she has no clean socks and get a load ready to throw in the washing machine. She’ll take out the clothes that have been in the dryer for three days and start to fold them. Halfway through, she’ll hear her phone ding. She’ll need to catch up on texts and emails. Then she’ll move to Facebook. A comment on Facebook will remind her of her favorite movie so she’ll decide to watch it. When the movie is over, her stomach will remind her that she hasn’t eaten yet. She’ll go to the kitchen to make a sandwich only to realize there are no clean plates in the cupboard. She’ll remember she still hasn’t unloaded the dishwasher. Instead she’ll take a swallow of her now-cold coffee as she glances at the clock to realize it’s time to pick up her kids from school. And chances are, when she gets the kids from school, she’s going to wish for another free day.

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Preparing for Harvey

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I was completely unprepared for Hurricane Harvey. Granted, we don’t live in the immediate danger zone, but being only a few hours from Houston, we knew we’d be getting heavy and persistent rains. The country roads in our area get washed out during heavy rain, and other roads flood, making them impassable. Kids basked in the novelty of having their first day of school cancelled. Flash flood warnings popped up all over. Towns not too far from us had forced evacuations due to rivers flooding. In the face of such inclement weather, certain preparations are advised. Stock up on food in case you’re stranded for any length of time. Make sure you have plenty of potable water on hand should your water be contaminated by the fallout. Keep bags of ice handy in case the power goes out and you need to keep your refrigerated food from spoiling. All excellent advice. And I didn’t do any of it.

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