Tag Archive for valued

How Do You Use Words?

Lynn came into my office in tears. After she described her day, I understood. Just listen to the comments she heard throughout the day:
“Are you going to eat all that? You really have to watch your figure you know.”
“You can’t wear that shirt. It shows too much mid-rift. Are you trying to look easy?”
“You forgot your homework again. You’d forget your head if it wasn’t attached”
“You never listen to me.
“How could you go out? You don’t care about us at all…you are so selfish!”
“You always have an excuse. Well, I don’t need your excuses… Just do it.” 
“Having a bad hair day, are we?”
“Those pants don’t go with that shirt.”
“You run funny.”
“Sit down and shut up.”
The list goes on. Comments made by friends, family members, and teachers in a variety of situations…not one encouraging or constructive word. No wonder she was upset. Her friends, family members, and teachers had hurled words at her like stones, crushing her heart and mind under the weight of discouragement and belittling comments. Our homes need to provide a place of shelter from the verbal barrage of ridicule and discouragement. An honor-filled family offers a safe haven from the word bullets of discouragement that pierce our hearts and minds.
Encourage Your Spouse identifies five ways to encourage…not just your spouse but your whole family. Let’s look at each one in detail.
·         Inspire with Hope: Comments such as “You’re doing a great job” or “You are becoming such a nice young lady” inspire us with hope for tomorrow. Comments that provide hope also encourage. Hope gives us strength to carry on, even when times are rough. So, encourage with comments that inspire hope and help your family look toward a positive future.
·         Fortify with Faith: We can build one another up with comments that communicate “I believe in you.” For instance, telling a child “I know it’s hard, but you can do it. Let me know if you need some help” lets them know you have faith in their ability. Even establishing an encouraging expectation can build up a realization that you have faith in them. For instance, saying “I know you can do better than that on your homework” when you know they only did a half-hearted job communicates that you have faith in a greater ability than they exhibited. Encourage family members to live up to their ability by using kind, encouraging words.
·         Foster with Love: We can use encouraging words of love to nurture family members and develop positive character. Let family members know the depth of your love by expressing appreciation for their deeds and character, joy over their presence in our lives, and gratitude for their contribution to your life. Let your love encourage positive growth in their lives as well. 
·         Uplift with Prayer: It is so very encouraging to know that family members pray for you…that they hold you, your interests, and your struggles in mind and bring them before God for His assistance. Let family members know you pray for them. Ask them how you can pray for them. Lift them up in vocal prayer before meals or at bedtime. Let them hear you pray for them. Share your own prayer requests with family as well. Together you can lift one another up in prayer.
·         Support with Actions: Use your actions to express your love and support for their lives. Encourage family members by serving them, communicating that they are valuable enough to serve. Show an interest in their interests, become involved in their life’s pursuit, and support their dreams with positive action. These actions encourage others by expressing value and love.
Lynn’s day would have gone very differently had she come into my office after a day of receiving encouraging messages. Each of us plays a role in “making” or “breaking” the day of our family members. So, use your words to encourage rather than discourage, to lift up rather than pull down, to build rather than crush.

The Mirror in a Parent’s Eye

“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” That’s the question of fairy tales. In real life, children ask, “Mirror, mirror in your eyes, am I worthy of your love?” and “Mirror, mirror in your eyes, please accept me-call me fine?” Children do not look at a mirror on a wall to determine their worth, they look into their parents’ eyes. They find their worth, lovability, and acceptance in the image they see reflected back to them from their parents. The reflection they see of themselves in our eyes becomes their personal identity.
·         Do your children look into your eyes and see disapproval and disregard more often than admiration? If so, they will come to believe they have no value, nothing to admire.
·         Do your children feel disrespected and ignored by you more often than adored by you? If so, they will come to see themselves as disrespected and disrespectful.
·         Do they see you avoid them or mock them more often than you praise them and compliment them? If so, they will come to see themselves as worthless.
·         Do your children see you spend more time with Sunday afternoon football or the Sunday paper than you spend with them? If so, they will see themselves as second rate and unacceptable.
If we want our children to see themselves as acceptable, valuable, beautiful, or lovable, the first step is to assure them that we see and treat them as acceptable, valuable, beautiful, and lovable. When our children look into the mirrors of our eyes, they need to see us reflect back delight, acceptance, pride, and an abiding love. Are the mirrors of your eyes polished and clear? Do they reflect the image you want your child to become? Here are nine suggestions to help you reflect a healthy image to your child.
      1.      Reflect caring for yourself. Get enough rest and eat a healthy diet. Living a healthy lifestyle assures that you have the energy and strength to reflect a healthy image of your child.
      2.      Reflect delight for your child. Remember how you felt at the moment of your child’s birth? Remember the delight and awe you experienced as a new life, your child, entered into the world? Recall that emotion and delight. Think about how much your child means to you. Consider the strengths and talents they possess. Allow yourself to remain awed at their life and abilities.
      3.      Reflect interest in your child. When they come home from school, look up from the computer and greet them. Ask about their day. Let them see the sparkle of delight in your eyes as they tell you about their day.
      4.      Reflect pride in your child. Compliment them on a job well-done. Acknowledge their courage when they behave well in spite of peer pressure. Recognize the times that they obey you, especially when they disagree with the rule (such as curfew or “lights out”). Admire their character every chance you get.
5.      Reflect respect for your child. Make requests that include “please.” Offer a “thank you” when they complete a chore or get something you ask them to get. Remember to say “you’re welcome” when they express thanks to you. Open doors and let your children go through first. Listen respectfully. Speak graciously. 
6.      Reflect value for your child. Keep your promises. Let your child know that you value them enough to give them your time and attention. Pick them up without complaining after they spend time at a friend’s home. Have their friends over to your house and give them a snack.
7.      Reflect admiration for your child. Verbally express your love for your child. Say “I love you” sincerely and often. Admire your child’s beauty. Let them know that you believe they are attractive and point out one or two features you find most attractive.
8.      Reflect a belief in your child’s potential.  Tell them that you believe in them. Encourage them in their academics, hobbies, spiritual life, etc. Even when you discipline, do so with a belief that they can live up to the moral ideals and values of your family. Use discipline to teach them of their potential. Make sure you discipline them out of love, not anger. As you discipline, offer an alternative, positive behavior to replace the negative behavior exhibited.
9.      Reflect acceptance and approval of your child. Hug your child every day. Affirm your love for your child…even if you have to discipline them…especially when you have to discipline them. Talk about things that interest them, even if they do not interest you. Proclaim your love and pride in your child in front of others.

You Are Truly Rich

A woman from our church family passed away at the end of January. She was 98 years old. She was a retired school teacher and students from fifty years ago still called her Mrs. Carlson. Friends and those who met her during retirement, called her Eva. Those who had the privilege of growing up in the church she attended call her Aunt Lou. Everyone loved her. She was one of the most gracious people I have ever met. People who have known her their whole lives honestly look back and say that she never said a harsh word about anybody. She only had words of kindness, encouragement, and grace.
She and her husband taught me a lot about family. They had no biological children of their own, but children in their neighborhood gathered on their porch to share time with them, children at church called her Aunt Lou, and women my age look to her as a mentor and example of a loving, gracious woman. I recall going to Eva’s home for Sunday dinner. She always prepared a great meal. Afterwards, she helped her husband clear the table and he washed the dishes. Her husband, a tough WWII vet, stood over the sink washing dishes and sharing loving words of gratitude with his wife. He looked at me and said, “You remember this, your wife is kind enough to cook dinner, you wash the dishes.” These are simple words of wisdom to recognize, in a very practical way, how family members contribute to family life. Eva smiled and gave him a kiss. Sharing grace and gratitude made their marriage strong.
When my wife and I started a family of our own, Eva would always ask about our children. She asked about our children’s interests and education. No matter what, the conversation always ended with her saying the same words, “You are rich…truly rich!” She was right, family gave me “true riches.” Anyone who has family is “truly rich.” She knew the value of family because she had built her own family on shared grace and honor, not just with her husband and her brothers’ families, but with her “family” at church and in the community. We can all learn the lesson that family makes us rich, truly rich. And, we build those riches on grace shown to one another.
Perhaps you have an Eva in your life. If so, you have been truly blessed…you are truly rich. If you would, share your stories about the “Eva’s” in your life. As you do, you will be sharing your riches with us all.

Honoring Variety

My family and I went to the zoo last week. What an awesome family outing. We saw so much variety. We saw animals ranging from huge elephants to tiny molerats, exotic sea dragons to common lambs, swinging monkeys to slithering snakes, lethargic sloths to phrenetically flying bats, playful seals to ferocious tigers. The variety seemed unending. We laughed at some animals, admired others, and stood in awe of many. We admired the beautiful, the bizarre, and the creepy. They all seemed amazing. The variety didn’t offend us. On the contrary, it made the trip all the more interesting. It added spice to our trip to the zoo.

We also saw an amazing variety of people and families at the zoo. There were single parent families, two parent families, multigenerational families, Spanish speaking families, Russian speaking families, families with babies in strollers, families with teens, families that walked hand in hand, and families who merely smiled at one another as they looked at the animals. No matter what, the families seemed to enjoy the outing and each other’s company. It made me smile to see mothers, fathers, grandparents and children all having so much fun together. The variety of families added even more interest to our outing.

All this diversity made me think about the variety we experience within our own families. Each person is different. Each family member has their own likes and interests, strengths and weaknesses, character and personality. Sometimes we might not like the same things that our family members like. We might even dislike what another family member loves. However, the beauty of family is that we accept one another anyway. In fact, we do more than accept our differences, we honor and value those differences. We know that those differences give our family the depth and strength that we might not have otherwise. One child loves sports and the other loves music. A parent loves to read while a child loves to cook. One family member likes loud music and another likes quiet ballads. Together we celebrate those differences and learn to encourage each family member’s interests and strengths. We allow other family members’ strengths to compliment our life, filling in for our areas of weakness. We can even learn from other family members’ interests, expanding our own borders somewhat. Perhaps I can learn to enjoy and appreciate the age of texting that my children so enjoy…and in doing so I can keep in better contact with them and their world. Overall, accepting and valuing the variety within our family becomes the spice of our family life.

Recent Entries »