The Words of My Mouth

 

Image by Beverly Buckley from Pixabay

May the words of my mouth . . . be pleasing in your sight, O LORD. – Psalm 19:14 NIV

At our house, Thursday is leftover day, meaning supper is whatever is left over from meals earlier in the week.

One Wednesday a number of years ago, I made enough stewed tomatoes and macaroni, one of my husband’s favorite meals, to fill his still-a-farmboy stomach and a 2 ½-quart casserole dish with leftovers.

Thursday’s supper, I figured, would be easy: pop the casserole in the nuke, shake packaged salad into bowls, and throw a loaf of fresh bread and soft butter on the table. Nice and quick—just what I needed on grocery day.

But when I was in town that Thursday, a “fresh corn” sign caught my eye. I envisioned steaming yellow cobs dripping with melted butter on our supper plates beside the leftover stewed tomatoes and macaroni. And I pictured a delighted look on my husband’s face.

I’ll surprise him, I thought, flicking on my blinker and turning into the parking lot.

When Dean called to say he was on his way home from work, I had the water boiling and the corn husked, ready to drop into the pot. But his reaction wasn’t what I expected. He didn’t rave about the corn—nary a word about it.

“What’s wrong?” I asked when we sat down at the table. After being married to the guy for more than half my life, I’m pretty good at reading his body language.

“Nothing,” he said.

I gave him my best “I know better than that” look.

“The corn is sweet,” he said, “and the macaroni is, too. You know I don’t like something sweet with something else that’s sweet.”

Sure it’s sweet, I wanted to say, with all the sugar you dump on the macaroni. Instead I said, with just a touch of sarcasm, “Thanks, Michele, for thinking of the fresh corn. It hits the spot.”

Now, my husband doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. He’s honest to a fault. He’ll never tell me, for example, that I look nice just to make me feel good. But, gee, can’t he lie just a little once in awhile?

Perhaps I’m too sensitive, but I’m not alone in this longing to be appreciated.

“There is more hunger in the world for love and appreciation than for bread,” Mother Teresa once said.

St. Paul instructed the early church to “let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them” (Ephesians 4:29 NLT).

Like oil on squeaky hinges, a few words of appreciation can go a long way—in building up relationships, soothing a battered spirit, refreshing a weary soul, and putting a smile on a sad face. I can get a lot of mileage out of one compliment.

“Pleasant words are a honeycomb,” penned the writer of Proverbs, “sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24).

Sweet words of appreciation—who in your world can use them today?

Open my eyes, Lord, to the many kindnesses others show to me every day—and remind me to express my appreciation often. Amen.

Read and reflect on Luke 17:11–19

 © 2009, 2019 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

A Little Bit of Run Support

Image by Keith Johnston from Pixabay

Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)

During our son David’s last year to play college baseball, my husband and I were on the road from February until May, catching as many games as we could. So we got to know and appreciate the boys who backed up David when he pitched. They were an amazing group of young men.

We heard apologies when an error was committed, allowing a runner on base. We witnessed the disappointment they felt when they weren’t producing the hits needed to win and when they knew they weren’t playing up to their potential.

Yes, there were slumps—in batting and in pitching. But when a player was down, others encouraged him and took up the slack. When David came off the mound after a bad inning, the guys lined up to give him high fives and let him know they still believed in him.

And even though he was disappointed in his performance and upset with himself, I was proud of the way he encouraged the other young pitchers when they, too, struggled. No one understands what a pitcher feels coming off the mound after an inning when he’s given up runs, extra-base hits, walks, or hit batters. When he knows he’s let his team down. No one, except someone else who has experienced it.

When I prayed for David to have his best year ever, I was thinking ERAs, wins, and all those stats that don’t really show how much he matured as a ballplayer, a leader, and a man. And how self-centered that prayer really was.

But in spite of myself, God answered my prayer. Not in impressive stats for David, but in blessing the team as a whole—and in opening my eyes to the reality that David was having his best year ever—because he was on a team that knew what a team was and acted as one. No egos tainted the dugout. No self-serving attitudes strutted around the field.

They all were stars who took with them into life the lessons they learned on the ball field and in the dugout—lessons they taught me as I watched them: That it’s not about me, but about us. It’s not about being served and pampered and catered to, but about serving and loving and encouraging when the chips are down. It’s saying, in action, “I believe in you” after a poor performance. It’s not about what you can do for me, but what I can do for you. It’s about ignoring the pain and playing hurt because you know that others need you. It’s about having a good attitude when the coach gives another guy the position for which you think you’re better qualified and for which you worked so hard.

It’s about learning the vital importance of submission and obedience and making the best of things. It’s about keeping on when you’ve given all you’ve got, only to come up short. When nothing goes your way—when the balls you hit always seem to fly right into the opposing player’s glove and the balls the other team hits always manage to find the gaps, when a bad bounce allows the other team to score the go-ahead run, when the umpire makes a bad call that the turns the momentum of the game—you keep on fighting and don’t give up, give in, or give out.

It’s about letting pain and disappointment be the teachers they are meant to be and hone your character as good innings and victories cannot and will not. Our deepest pain and disappointment are usually the places where we can best help others.

“I knew if we gave David a little bit of run support,” the second baseman said after one win, “he would be fine on the mound.”

A little bit of run support—isn’t that what we all need?

Dear God, help me to stop thinking about myself and open my eyes to those around me who can use “a little run support.” Amen.

Read and reflect on Romans 15:1–7; 2 Corinthians 1:3–7

From God, Me & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.