Tag Archives: humility

Late to the Party, Tip #1: Bread

Okay, so I have made a few recent “discoveries” lately, for lack of a better word. I’m sure that most of you have these figured out by now, so I feel a little silly sharing them here, but my goal in sharing these is to help other people who are late to the party, so to speak. Even if it makes me look a little dull, lol.

Tip #1. Knead your bread for the recommended time.

I always thought, “10 minutes? No, that can’t be right! Who would stand there and knead for 10 minutes?!?” So, I never did.

My bread-baking always failed, and I never could figure out why. Was my yeast bad, was the water temperature wrong, was the air temp too high or low for rising dough, did I cook it too long or not long enough? Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. I just needed to knead. I can’t believe I’m admitting this to you.

The first time I tried it the right way (last week), I succeeded! And I was back in the kitchen 2 days later doing it again, so I must not have minded the kneading process all that much. As a matter of fact, it worked muscles in my arms and abs that I could feel the next day, and that made me pretty happy with myself. If it weren’t for the calories involved, I think I would be baking some once a week! (But if I have bread in the house, I can’t NOT eat it… But wait – does kneading it negate some of those calories???)

ANYWAY, to get through the boredom of such a repetitive action for minutes on end, I borrowed my husband’s headphones and listened to a Matt D’Avella podcast. And guess what? I didn’t get bored after all! Magic!

Instead of uploading a beautiful stock image with you all, I am uploading the actual product of my kneading activities.

Okay, that’s all my pride will allow me to share for one day. But I’ve got more, and some are quite recent! I’ll humiliate myself again some other time. Hope to see you then. I guess…

Post from the Past: Good Conversation

Yesterday, I talked a little about making strangers feel comfortable. Sometimes, just talking a little can really help someone open up and feel at ease. If you are in a large group of people (at church especially), search out the person who looks the least comfortable or the most lonely, and strike up a good conversation with them.

What is a good conversation? Well, first of all, you want to pick a topic that the other person will be interested in. If crowds make you nervous too, say so! (I wouldn’t mention the fact that they look nervous, and that’s why you came to chat.) If you can find anything else in common with this person, talk about it. Think of your surroundings. Maybe you are at church or a seminar. What brought you there? What brought the other person there? If you don’t already know, ask. You probably already have something in common, as attested to by the mere fact that you are sharing the same space on the same day. If you just can’t think of anything, compliment jewelry or children – anything to get started. Talking about the weather is even acceptable, as long as you don’t leave it at that!

Try not to come across as superior. Maintain a humble attitude. Talk about your weaknesses (if you can do so without whining or complaining). Whatever you do, don’t one-up them! There are two ways to do that, by the way. You can either make your life look extremely better than theirs, or extremely worse. If you are truly concerned about the comfort level of the other person, you will steer clear of both extremes.

It’s difficult not to talk about our own children, cars, etc, especially if we are proud of them (or frustrated with them). But only mention your situation if it can help establish empathy for the other person. For instance, when people mention that their children aren’t doing well in school because they have a short attention span, I’ll say that my kid has a short attention span too. Sometimes I’ll add an illustration. I haven’t one-upped them; I’ve just established that I understand where they’re coming from. The last thing I would do is tell them that that’s one of the many reasons I homeschool, and then proceed to explain how well my kid is doing with his schoolwork. (I might, however, ask them if they have considered homeschooling. If they show an interest, I would of course answer any questions they might have. If they don’t show an interest, I wouldn’t push the benefits of homeschooling. Some people just aren’t in a position to homeschool, and others haven’t opened their minds to the idea. Just be friendly and humble.)

If you can be funny, go for it! Laughter is a great ice breaker. But more than finding the right responses, it’s important to just listen, as long as they feel like talking. If you can see that talking makes them even more uncomfortable, leave them alone, and find  someone else to chat with.

Ramblings from Sunday’s Sermon

So I had an idea Sunday morning while my pastor was preaching. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but just in case you forgot: when I think back to a sermon I’ve heard, I don’t always remember what the preacher was saying. I pay attention, but then my mind takes me somewhere I need to go, and I only remember what I take away from the message. Anyway, his message was about intimacy with God. Not sure what he was saying at the exact moment that my idea crept up, but it was something along the lines of getting to know God more. It occurred to me that all my personal problems, you know, my fleshy parts that I wish would just dry up and fall off – like arrogance, unforgiveness, the things I struggle with most – all my personal problems would go away on their own if I could just develop an intimate relationship with God. These are things I try to fix on my own, reminding myself that no one is better in God’s sight, no matter how much one is “trying” or not trying. God has forgiven me for all, so why do I have trouble extending the same grace to others? So I keep reminding myself of these things, pretty much on a daily (if not hourly) basis. I’m trying to “fix” myself. Then I thought, why don’t I just talk to God more? Talk to Him as I would my best friend? Because He is my best friend. The more I communicate with Him, the more I am honest with Him about everything, the more it seems I get back from Him. I begin to understand His nature a little more. His Word is revealed to me a little more. Eventually, I’m hoping that forgiveness and humility will just become clear to me, as God becomes clearer. There are so many things that “just make sense” when you surrender to God. I’m sure that if I looked more closely in the mirror that is God’s Word, I could see myself more clearly, and God would help me work out my problems.

Self Esteem

Have you ever been around someone who is constantly correcting you, one-upping you, or arguing with you? You get the idea that they really think they’re better than everyone else in the room. I think that sometimes they are just struggling to prove their worth. Attitudes like this can stem from people with low self-esteem as well as people with self-esteem levels that are off the charts. There might be a way to tell the difference, but I haven’t been around enough people of both kinds to come to my own conclusions. Any ideas on how to tell?

Anyway, here’s a method that sometimes works with people who come across that way: total humility. If you are corrected, humble yourself, and without any sarcasm whatsoever, say something like, “I’m sorry, I had no idea. I shouldn’t be saying things like that unless I’m absolutely sure.” Or, “wow, so you really know a lot about that, hmm.” Even if they are wrong, I will usually just say, “oh, really?” instead of arguing. It makes no difference to me if they think I am slightly ignorant about a topic, even if I’m not. However, it may make a great difference to them. If you argue with them, they may obsess about it for the rest of the week!

If they correct you for something that you’re doing wrong, like cooking or pitching a tent, ask for their help: “I just have no idea what I’m doing here. I’m glad you know a lot about this, so now I will know who to ask!” I’m sure it won’t work for everyone, and sometimes, I can imagine that it may even escalate the problem. But if you’re around someone who maybe doesn’t realize that their comments could be making others feel inferior or insecure, this attitude can be a real eye-opener for them. Most people don’t want to make others feel badly; they just want others to think highly of them. I tried this approach several days ago, and before I knew it, the other person was making comments to increase my self-esteem instead!

Good Conversation

Yesterday, I talked a little about making strangers feel comfortable. Sometimes, just talking a little can really help someone open up and feel at ease. If you are in a large group of people (at church especially), search out the person who looks the least comfortable or the most lonely, and strike up a good conversation with them.

What is a good conversation? Well, first of all, you want to pick a topic that the other person will be interested in. If crowds make you nervous too, say so! (I wouldn’t mention the fact that they look nervous, and that’s why you came to chat.) If you can find anything else in common with this person, talk about it. Think of your surroundings. Maybe you are at church or a seminar. What brought you there? What brought the other person there? If you don’t already know, ask. You probably already have something in common, as attested to by the mere fact that you are sharing the same space on the same day. If you just can’t think of anything, compliment jewelry or children – anything to get started. Talking about the weather is even acceptable, as long as you don’t leave it at that!

Try not to come across as superior. Maintain a humble attitude. Talk about your weaknesses (if you can do so without whining or complaining). Whatever you do, don’t one-up them! There are two ways to do that, by the way. You can either make your life look extremely better than theirs, or extremely worse. If you are truly concerned about the comfort level of the other person, you will steer clear of both extremes.

It’s difficult not to talk about our own children, cars, etc, especially if we are proud of them (or frustrated with them). But only mention your situation if it can help establish empathy for the other person. For instance, when people mention that their children aren’t doing well in school because they have a short attention span, I’ll say that my kid has a short attention span too. Sometimes I’ll add an illustration. I haven’t one-upped them; I’ve just established that I understand where they’re coming from. The last thing I would do is tell them that that’s one of the many reasons I homeschool, and then proceed to explain how well my kid is doing with his schoolwork. (I might, however, ask them if they have considered homeschooling. If they show an interest, I would of course answer any questions they might have. If they don’t show an interest, I wouldn’t push the benefits of homeschooling. Some people just aren’t in a position to homeschool, and others haven’t opened their minds to the idea. Just be friendly and humble.)

If you can be funny, go for it! Laughter is a great ice breaker. But more than finding the right responses, it’s important to just listen, as long as they feel like talking. If you can see that talking makes them even more uncomfortable, leave them alone, and find  someone else to chat with.

…from the Mouth of Babes

I recently read Kimberly Williams’ new book …from the Mouth of Babes.

When I was a girl, I always figured I’d marry a preacher. It just seemed like the natural course of events for my life. God had other plans for me, but it was extremely interesting to crawl into the mind of a pastor’s wife for a little while. While Mrs. Williams is full of the wisdom one would imagine a pastor’s wife to have, she maintains a humble attitude. Readers will understand quite quickly that the author’s family is her life. Many of her posts involve either her husband or her children, and they are filled to the brim with encouragement for the Christian woman.

From the very first page, I was encouraged by the wisdom that Mrs. Williams had to offer. Because I am a remarried Christian, I was encouraged by her exhortation to “teach … [my] children the consequences of [divorce] and the standards that God has set (pg. 2).” Too many times, we try so hard to hide our mistakes, that our first-hand experiences can’t be of any use to anyone. We must never brag about our sins – past or present. But we can use them to identify with others and to point others in the right direction out of experience.

Mrs. Williams also touched on service, (pg. 7) which is an aspect of the Christian walk that is close to my heart. Years ago, I was searching for God’s will in my life. For some reason, I thought that God needed to tell me in no uncertain terms what to do next. As I was praying, it occurred to me that if I would only seek out a life of service, God’s will would naturally open itself up to me. It’s so nice to make yourself available to minister to the needs of others, instead of constantly searching for a preconceived position that we think is ours to fill. We wrongly wait for God to open up the specific door we are looking for. In the meantime, nothing else gets done, and the needs of others go unmet. The author writes that “God reminded me in His Word that my service to others is service to Him (pg. 7).” She goes on to explain that even the most mundane tasks can be offered as a service to God, such as doing laundry for our families. (As an added benefit, she also gives us a simple recipe for inexpensive laundry detergent.)

I also really appreciated Mrs. Williams’ take on obedient wives. So many of my acquaintances believe that they don’t have to obey their husbands because their husbands are so very wrong. The author makes the valid point that “you will be accountable to the Lord for your obedience, not your husband’s (pg. 9).” If we could only get this idea across to all of the Christian women, I believe that the world would change as a result. Maybe even the non-Christian women would realize the benefit of deferring to their husbands if only they could see it in action once in a while. Since we already know that it is God’s will that we obey our husbands, “without submitting myself to my husband I could never be in the will of God (pg. 10).”

I will tell you that it is refreshing to me to find a Christian who believes in obedience to our government (pg. 17). When it comes to filling out taxes and obeying speed limits, sometimes I feel like I’m all alone.

I have so many good things to say about this book, that I fear my review will run for pages and pages. To keep from scaring people away, I’m going to cut the review a little short. Allow me to just mention a few more of my favorite passages:

On page 19, Mrs. Williams relates a story that caused me to look at prayer in a new light. She says, “It thrills my heart as a parent to be able to bless my children, especially when it is something they have been diligently asking for.”

I like the way that she takes responsibility for training up her children: “My children’s behavior is a direct reflection of my training…When I allow my children to disobey me I am training them to grow up to disobey God (pg. 28).”

I love her comparison of life to a corn maze (pg. 69). Only God can see the whole picture, and when we do finally see it, it will make perfect sense.

I enjoyed her reminder of the original meaning of the word “Christian (pg. 80).”

She addresses television on page 90, 128, & 139. She touches on modern problems such as evolution (pg. 106-107) and feminism (pg. 108-109). She even gives us practical ideas for how to spend your time or give gifts when you are running low on cash (pg. 51 & 151-153)!

One of the ways this book has most helped me is in the area of contentment. It seems like I constantly think that I need to go buy something. I don’t usually just wander around aimlessly looking for something to buy, but when I’m at home, I think of something that I could really use, and then it seems like I have to run out and buy it. It is especially easy for me to rationalize when it comes to something that would make the educational process easier for me or my students. She addresses this problem on page 49, 53, and even though she isn’t specifically talking about covetousness on page 139, her exhortation about not loving things that God hates spoke directly to the covetousness in me.

And then there are the essays that are so close to my heart, it would take me pages and pages to explain how much they mean to me. For instance, the one titled “I’m Dying,” on pages 156 & 157, and the one titled “Giving Thanks” on the following page. Pondering these essays was like having an epiphany. I walked away thinking, “so that’s what God really wants from me.” I still feel like I need to spend an hour or two just considering the implications in my life. In fact, after reading the entire book, I still have several pages dog-eared for re-reading and re-thinking.

Note: I received this book at no charge in exchange for an honest review.

Keith Green

“My eyes are dry; my faith is old. My heart is hard; my prayers are cold.

And I know how I ought to be: alive to You, and dead to me.”

This old song by Keith Green has been running through my mind a lot lately. I had been singing it on and off for days (the parts I could remember), and my 6-year-old finally asked if I knew any more of it. So on Friday, I dug out my seemingly ancient Keith Green CDs and began listening again. I love his music: he was, in my estimation, the Christian version of Billy Joel. He was very straightforward – very blatant in his statement of faith. The words that he chose to illustrate the Christian walk are almost stark: listening to his lyrics gives you the impression that you are being faced with the Truth, with no excuses between you and it to soften the blow.

I know that a lot of Christian artists have written tons of music expounding on the deep things of God, but here’s the kicker: as I was listening the other day, I realized that I had been thinking all these years that Keith Green was a new convert when he wrote these songs. I asked myself why I would have been under that impression all this time; some of the lyrics are pretty deep. How could a person just saved have written so many experience-laden songs about the Christian walk? As I began searching my mind for the answer, I suddenly realized the difference between Mr. Green and most Christian celebrities: he was so humble in his walk with the Lord. His music exudes a meek attitude: the fact that he was so undeserving. It feels like he was a new Christian because (in my mind, at least) he had not had time to develop that attitude of self-righteousness that so many “mature” Christians emit. I think that, above all, I love his honesty about his imperfect walk with the Lord, and his willingness to share his shortcomings with the world in an effort to challenge Christians into a genuine relationship with God.

Challenge: Can we live what we believe? But can we do it without an attitude of self-righteousness? Let’s make every moment count for the Kingdom today – but let’s not feel too proud of ourselves. We must remember in the process that our own righteousness is like filthy rags.