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Not Without Honor

Margo hummed as she dusted in the living room.  It had taken her most of the day to clean the house and finish the laundry.  She would bring in some roses from the garden for the finishing touch.  When the family came home they would all notice how lovely their home looked.

"Hi, Mom!"  Gina said, when she sailed in the door at three.  "I'm going to Marsha's house for an hour, O.K.?"  And she sailed right out again.

"Baseball practice at the 'lot' with the guys at four!" Jim shouted when he whizzed in a 3:30.  "Got a cookie for a guy?"  He grabbed five from the cookie jar and slammed the door as he went out again, clutching his mitt.

Neither of them noticed! Margo's hum dwindled away. 

Later, Gina came home, grabbed up the school books she'd thrown on the table and headed for the stairs.  "Homework!" she said as the stairwell door closed.

Oh well, Brad will notice how nice the house looks when he comes home.  He appreciates a lovely home and a delicious supper.

"Hi, Hon," Brad said, pecking her on the cheek as he breezed in the door shortly after five and flung his jacket over a chair.  "When will supper be ready?  I will have to go back to the office for an hour."

At supper, Gina and Jim chattered, but silence descended as they served their plates and began to eat.  Stimulating dinner conversation consisted of "Please pass the salt," or "May I have some more potatoes?"

Brad swallowed his last bit.  "Sorry, Hon.  Gotta go!  See you around seven."  He grabbed up his coat and was gone.

Me, too!" Jim scraped back his cair.  "More practice until dark."

Margo sighed, rubbing her forehead with a tired hand.  I've worked hard all day!  None of them noticed how nice the house looks -- not even the roses!  Tears of weariness filled her eyes as she began to pick up the plates for the dishwasher.  I guess I'm more tired than I thought! 

All wives and mothers have felt taken for granted at one time or another -- not a pleasant feeling.  Sometimes we feel "used."  Two thoughts may help:

1)  Jesus, too, was taken for granted.  In Matthew 13:53-58 (NIV) we have the story of Jesus being "without honor" among His own family and neighbors.  "He says he is the Son of God.  Who does he think he is?  He's just one of us -- the carpenter's son!" they said to each other.  (Author's paraphrase.)

"Jesus said to them, 'Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor,' (vs. 57).  Jesus knows how we feel.  He was without honor, too.

2)  Are we taking others for granted?  Margo had not expressed appreciation to Brad, either, and he had worked hard all day, too.  If we don't like to be taken for granted, perhaps we will remember not to do the same to others.  Expressing appreciation for work well done is always gratifying -- both to the giver and the receiver.

Jesus could do few miracles in His home district because only a few believed in Him and honored Him.  Let us be sure that we do not chip away at close relationships by taking our loved ones for granted.  Let's be sure they are not without honor.

Apples of Gold

Every woman enjoys a compliment.  Whether it is on her complexion, her cooking or her character, a word of commendation brings brightness to her eyes.  Approval lifts the heart and lightens the load.

Appreciation of a compliment is not exclusively an American enjoyment.  Praise is a benison in any culture.  Ethiopian women beam when someone exclaims over the beauty of their children, their delicious cooking or the flavor of their coffee.  A Japanese proverb says, "One word of praise can warm three winter months."

A man likes approval, also.  Watch him 'light up' when you say, "Don't you look nice!" or "What a beautiful car you have!" or "You've done a great job!"

The Psalms are filled with words of praise to God.  In the New Testament, when the Pharisees rebuked Jesus for allowing His followers to shout His praises, Jesus said, "I tell you . . . if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out," (Luke 19:40 NIV).  God revels in the tribute of those who love Him.

People, made in God's image, revel in appreciation, as He does.  When we deny deserved commendation, we stunt our friends' and family members' spiritual and emotional growth.  Children who are rarely or never praised, may grow physically, but their spiritual and emotional maturity may not fully develop.  Verbally honoring the achievements of our loved ones helps them become, emotionally and spiritually, the persons God intended them to be.

Each of us will be blessed if we learn the art of giving a sincere compliment.  This may not be easy.  Perhaps we did not learn as children to give a good word.  The "sacrifice of praise" means praising God, and others, when we don't particularly feel like it.  We can practice on our family, giving them affirmation, whether our spirits are up or down.  Applauding family members daily makes it easier to praise God.  Honoring God makes it easier to hoor our children, our spouses and our friends.  Practice makes perfect.

How do we begin?  Learning to say a sincere "Thank you" is a good way to start.  Thank a gentleman for holding the door for you.  Thank your muddy son for the bouquet of dandelions he has grubbed from the wet spring grasses.  Thank the neighbor lady who offers to watch the kids.

Begin at home. How long has it been since we have thanked our husbands for the bountiful provision they earn for our families?  And the children?  Of course, they leave finger marks on our freshly washed cabinets, throw wet towels on the floor and leave dirty clothes trailing from the hamper.  They muddy the floor, shout too loud in the house and spill food at the table.  But they do some things right.  Do we thank them when they hang up the towel, or remember to take off muddy shoes at the door or when they use soft voices?

A church reader board once proclaimed:  "Praise loudly -- blame softly."  When we learn the art of giving sincere credit at home, it will be easier to compliment the bag boy for his 'carry out'; the hairdresser for an especially nice coif; the neighbor on his garden and the store clerk for her courtesy.

To paraphrase Solomon, one of the wisest men in the world:  "A (compliment) aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver," Proverbs 25:11 NIV).

The Family Altar

"You sure have good kids," Darla said to her friend Grace.  "Did you do anything special in raising the?"

"We give the praise to the Lord," Grace replied.  "Not everyone is as fortunate as we are to have children who grow up to love God.  One thing we did that some people don't do is that we started having family prayers when our first child was only 18 months old."

"Eighteen months!" Darla exclaimed.  "That's pretty young to start learning about God, isn't it?"

Grace smiled.  "Better too young than too late.  If you have a family altar with children when they are very small, they will accept the Fatherhood of God easily.  Our kids started praying as soon as they could ask us for things."

"I see," Darla said.  "I'm sure it is important, but I wouldn't know how to go about starting to have family prayers.  What did you do?"

Perhaps you, too, have seen the need to begin a time of family worship, but haven't known exactly what to include.  Some of the components of an effective family altar are:

A leader.  Since the husband is the priest-figure in his home, it is best for the father to lead the worship time.  However, in some Christian homes the father is absent or unwilling, so the mother will need to assume that role.  Perhaps, as the children grow older, each can take a turn being the leader for an evening.

Time.  Taking ten to twenty minutes in the morning or evening will not be too long for even very young children.  Just before bedtime might be good.  When kids begin school, the worship time can be lengthened.  But be flexible.  On evenings when the children are very tired, just a few minutes will suffice, without breaking the continuity of a daily worship time.

Singing.  Choruses that the children know from their Sunday School hour will help them feel comfortable and lead the family into worship.  Learning new songs for their age group is always appropriate.  Help them learn hymns, too, if the words are not to 'big' for them.

Scripture reading and memorization.  The Gospels read like a story for young children, especially if you use a modern language version.  Memorizing scripture will allow each family member to take God's Word with them throughout their day.  Even young children can memorize short passages.  As they grow older, even memorizing full chapters will not be too difficult.

Worship and thanksgiving.  Praising God for His goodness and giving thanks to Him for everyday blessings will help the family to be more grateful for each other, too.  Complimenting one another will become easier.  Giving thanks each day will help family members to be alert to the blessing of life.  No matter how difficul a family's life is, there are always reasons for which to be grateful to God.

Requests and prayer.  Children's prayer requests may seem amusing to teens and adults, but every child's plea in prayer should be taken seriously.  If a child's appeal is laughed at when he or she is small, that child may withdraw from any form of prayer or worship in adulthood.  Remind the family that God hears and answers every prayer, whether it is voiced in one's heart or at the Family Altar.