Part 4: If you are going to encourage someone, say it loud and clear.

There are lots of us out there who go from one place to another, pause for a minute here and there when we see something of interest –  but we don’t stop – our minds are on other things – elsewhere. Even if it is something of interest, we don’t stop right away to examine it right there. Children do.

Examples:  An adult is walking in the mall and hears the Barbershoppers (a men’s chorus) singing. He keeps walking and vacantly thinks to himself – “I remember when I wanted to sing 4 part harmony like that,” walked on and then forgotten completely about it. 

Or a friend may have shown us a skirt she just made.  We admire it, saying we always wanted to learn to sew, but didn’t know anyone who would teach us.

When we went to the latest play at the local playhouse as we shook hands with the cast, we told one of them we had wanted to be an actor when we were young.

Or we had a passing interest in gardening/always wanted to write poetry/learn to dance/use a computer, etc. Some would say that they had not pursued the interest at the time because they didn’t have the money or the time. Others may tell you that they always felt that they “threw the ball like a girl” and they were embarrassed to play.  Many had learned from the past that it was better not to try at all than to try, look bad, and fail.

Most activities in life have introductions to prepare for the main event (a learn and practice schedule). Music has its Preludes, stories have their Introductions, sports have their warmups, books have their Preface. People aren’t just thrown into a job, there is training and a period of adjustment. With children or adult beginners, we will call that period of time it takes for one to learn in order to perform well a Prelude.   It is practice.  Examples might be: Learning to overcome the fear of speaking in class, redoing your failed lab experiment, trying to figure out how to study a bee’s hive or anthill, a dent in the fender of the car, the story without a plot, a dead plant, or a boring speech. We need to find ways to clap for the effort, for the unique idea, for the creativeness, eagerness, fun they had finding out about it, applaud the trial-and-error period, the practice, when the product may not be all that it could be, without dampening the enthusiasm, the excitement, without breaking the spirit. We need to learn how to encourage each other above a mumble – so others can hear.

We need to change.  We need to pay attention and show an interest in each other – in what our family (children, spouse, mother, father, etc.) are doing.   Difficult?  Yes. 

However, most of us don’t have time to pursue our own interests, much less those of our family and friends.  Be curious?  Take the time to look at those wiggly, slimy things? Should we get interested?  How?  Begin by looking around and listening?  Asking questions? By being alert to your surroundings?

Learn to be interested; learn to pay attention. Model inquisitiveness. Let this be a gift to our children. Show an interest in their activities, if they know nothing about spiders, find out together. Sometimes they know more about a topic or bug than you do.  If they do, show your appreciation, get them to explain it to you and applaud.  Find opportunities to make inquiries. You aren’t allowed to do their homework for them, but you can both have your own interests – and you, as a parent, can help as much as you want on those.  Sprinkle with praise. And encouragement.

“By praise you are loved into being.
By encouragement you become unique.”

“By choosing to be kind to another
you release any strident expectations
of others toward you.”

“You are unable to give joy
unless you possess it yourself.”

“By being gracious you not only exhibit beauty,
But bring out the goodness in others.”

“You are unable to give joy
If you do not possess it yourself.”

Gentleness evokes a quiet spirit.*

This is where open-ended statements and questions come into communication techniques that work: “And then you…..”, “I wondered what you had done differently…”, “And your conclusion was….”, “What did you do first? Ask questions if you have them. Be honest, because if you do know something about a subject, this the perfect time to share it and be able to carry on a conversation, a time to build questions of value upon your joint knowledge, a relationship building activity.  Through activities like these, relationships are built.

If we want to leave something to our children, let us train them in something that will serve them well for their entire lives, let us train them to be inquisitive.  Agree with them that anything that looks that shiny, and wiggles along so quickly has a lot to show off, and is really something!  However, it doesn’t make a sound. I wonder why…)  That question is interesting enough for us to spend a little time on it.

What about people?  We need to find out something unique and wonderful about at least one person a day and speak it out loud and clear.  Learn to observe what people wear, what colors look good on them, what they did for fun last weekend.  Listen for their values (the easier it will be for you to catch them being generous, loving, kind). Too many look for something to criticize. We need to be the bearer of good news.  Ex: I’ll bet you that your sister had not had anyone today give her praise until you commented on the kind, protective, gentle sound in her voice when she told you about how she had found a cocoon in her window this morning and she was going to make sure that it had safe passage out into the world when it was ready – after her family had named it, studied it, and watched its transformation (Caught in the act).

* (A few lines from an unpublished Word given to me 12-1-20)

Part 3: If you are going to encourage someone, say it loud and clear.

Youth has no failures. Everything is an experiment, a trial. We start from the beginning – trial and error – we stand up/we fall down; our milk makes it into the glass/we spill half of it.

Yes, when our kids are young, it’s easy to recognize change because it happens so fast; as they grow older, the changes maybe a little more subtle.  

Growing up, it isn’t long before they begin to learn things like how to get along with one another (to cooperate) or how to compete; to look at another’s perspectives; to test to find out just who it is they can trust; they learn to adapt or resist change, they begin to examine their values

During these years, there are many ways to praise or encourage them.  Just remarking, “That was a (kind, or a generous, thoughtful) thing to do” when you catch them in the act (you have to stay alert for this).  Or, when you’re at the ballgame, yell loudly: “Look at that kid run!  Run, kid, run!” (they love that one). Or you could yell out, “Hey! That’s my kid!” at their graduation– She’s Mine!”  Never forget how many there are out there who will highlight their missteps, their mistakes as they go along. Counter those with bravado!

Encouragement goes hand-in-hand with experimentation, wins, flops, trials, errors, achievements, losses, successes. And how do we learn things very quickly and well?  By doing things wrong, by failing. When mistakes or errors are made, to be of benefit, they need to be looked at to see what went wrong – What could have been done better? Was any part of it sloppy? What alternatives do you have?  How can it be fixed? Can it be more descriptive? All learning experiences.

These failures? They happen to anyone willing to take a chance, to risk on a hunch, to try something new.  These are the courageous.  Don’t let the clapping die down. These are the ones who need to know that there are people in their corner who believe in them. Find something to praise!  Keep clapping out loud!

We need to tell our children how proud we are of their achievements, no matter the size of the child or the accomplishment – sometimes it’s the big ones who need it the most.

Here are a few suggestions about ways you can learn and practice how to be interested in some of those things your children deal with during their daily adventures. It will help you to know how to inquire about them so that you will know what you are bragging about:  Concentrate and ask intelligent questions when your child or their friends describe how an electric car works, exactly how we are able to text on a cell phone, the names of all the parts of a dead grandaddy-long-legs under their scrutiny.

Learn to use words like “I always wondered how that worked,” “And what else?”  ”Tell me more,” and “This is fun, I wish I had known how to do it when I was  a kid,” “I wonder how…”, “ Did you ever wonder…..”

Challenges work too: “I bet I can memorize more names on the human skeleton than you can by tomorrow.”  Or, as his brother would bet: “I can eat more calves liver than you can eat before throwing up.”  Or: ”Let’s go out in the Reserve, just play like we’re lost and learn to use our compass.”  I need to find out…”

Let’s be able to feed our children’s inquisitiveness and excitement each time they discover a new, strange, hairy, juicy, wiggly thing in their world. Let’s get as excited as they are when they try something they ‘ve never done before – something new. And when they begin to wonder too… Then let’s clap real loud…                                           

“Never get discouraged if you fail. Learn from it. Keep trying.”   (Thomas Edison)

Part 2: If you are going to encourage someone, say it loud and clear.

Like it or not – We find out about most of our skills/talents/gifts early on. First through our parents, then our sibs, then our relatives try to tell us who we are.

Later it’s our friends: First it’s: “Watch her dance!”, “Look how he holds that ball – he’s going to be a pitcher if I ever saw one!” and later, “Mom, “David’s being mean”, “Jean’s a liar”, “Look how fat she is”, “Everybody was laughing at Joey when he had to give his report in front of the class today”. They all feed into how we see ourselves. They all try to tell us who we are.

Whether we believe them or not often depends upon how much or little we know about ourselves, how much self-confidence we may have garnered along the way, or how many opportunities were available to us.

We may have had someone close to us who recognized that we liked doing something and helped us practice, raving about it at the dinner table in front of everyone. Or perhaps we had an aunt who took us to the nursery to buy some seeds to grow in her garden creating vivid memories of beauty she would remember throughout her life.

Grandma might deal with her grandson’s not wanting to “act like a girl” issues by insisting he learn just a few basic sewing, knitting, or embroidery skills, just to show off to the girls. Grandfather can teach his granddaughter to build a birdhouse, all the while praising their efforts and including those that don’t turn out so well (they would be kept as special because they had fun painting them – and they will probably never be thrown away).

If you are going to encourage someone, say it loud and clear.

I hadn’t seen Amie in weeks, but we were able to see each other a few minutes during our lunch break to sit down together over a cup of coffee to talk about how it was for her to be out of school and able to use her new nursing skills.

Then she turned to me and asked: “And how is it going at your place.”

“Me? My job?”

I had been beginning to wonder the same thing – How was my job going? Like – was I in the right place? I had been keeping the books for a couple of small businesses a few miles away for 3 years now. Once a week, in the evening I thought I might enliven my life a little by joining the Toastmasters – they do a communication and leadership thing that has helped me get over my fear of talking in front of people. I’m becoming much more confident of what I can do and what I can do very well. I’m beginning to think that I’ve been going in the wrong direction.

Have you ever felt that way?

“Nope! My mother knew, my father knew, my teachers knew and I knew I wanted to be a nurse when I was 9. All had taken their medicine and recovered from my treatment by then.”

Did you ever hear that horror story about the guy who burst out in song that night in high school after we were celebrating beating Amherst in the playoffs? Well, the headline in the sports section of the loosing team’s hometown newspaper the next day read: “John Smith’s voice could be heard mooing like some sick cow, celebrating his touchdown. Hope we never have to hear that voice again!”

Well, they didn’t. John never sang again, nor did he hum.

Like it or not – We find out about most of our skills/talents/gifts early on. First through our parents, then our sibs, then our relatives try to tell us who we are.

The Holy Spirit

This Holy Spirit of ours.
It is an elusive thing.
It blows as it will.
Dwells where it desires.

I am, indeed, the God of the plain.
The wind in the pines whisper my name.
The colors of the setting sun
Splash my name across the palate of the sky.
Imagine what I have prepared for you.

Who is it you glorify in your life?
What is it you choose?
Be sure that it is of ultimate value.
For what you choose, you live
And upon this you will be judged.

Wisdom

If you pray for wisdom
I want you to recognize it when it comes.
You all have your own unique character and qualities,
As do the musical instruments.
Each have their own character, quality, and tone.
You will be gifted according to my plan
In accord with your own individuality.
To one may be given a booming loud noise,
To another a sweet refrain,
To some a clear cut, straight forward sound
For each is called and gifted for my mission.
You will receive the wisdom that will be pleasing
To the ears of those who hear my song.

The Message

If the Lord spoke to you today would the message sound something like what I hear?

This is what He said to my community:

“My Precious Ones,
Love me
Love my people
Love me
Act lovingly to my people
Feel my love for them
Know my love for them
Show then that you love them
Through your actions
Through you, then
They will know that I love them
You know how my loving you feels
Love them so that they
Know how being loved feels

Presence

Oh that you were aware of my presence among you
That you would open your ears and eyes
For I am present to you
Like a feather brushing against your lips
When I would have you speak
In a wisp of a breeze upon your ear
That you would listen.
Be attentive, my children,
And you will receive
Insights known only to me
And the heart that suffers.
You will know, and experience, share,
The pain that your fellow man tells no one.
In this way others will know
My compassion and my desire to
Shoulder their cross with them
And you will recognize my presence
With you throughout the day.