The cold weather makes me want to curl up in a ball and read all day but things are picking up speed here at the suburban homestead. I have to make airline reservations for a trip with my son at the end of this month down to Kentucky to visit a college; I have bills to pay and run over to the post office, the Christmas tree to take down (it's still twinkling in the corner of the living room), the house needs to be dusted (see the dust under the family photos in the picture?), and a Women's LIFE Workshop I'm teaching tonight.
And what am I teaching about tonight? The Power of Your Words- Having a New Vocabulary for a New Year. I'm not talking about increasing the usage of high powered words that impress others, but about purposefully speaking words of life, words that impart grace, to the hearer, to the situation you're in.
So many memories of my childhood are coming back to me- because what I remember most about my upbringing is all the adventures we had, and all the words flying around. Always instruction, always admonitions, jokes mixed in with angry words, Mom's interjections of favorite Scripture verses, and lots of Spanish words heard in the background as Dad continually played his favorite music.
Some of Dad's lectures- I mean instructions- were lengthy and rather much to bear. But then there were those short lessons of his that we heard loud and clear, that we remembered, that we remember still. Some of these lessons he wrote himself, but usually there was Dale Carnegie or a Proverb or some famous writer he had gleaned from, and he would mix it all together to create these interesting sermonettes that I've never heard elsewhere. Don't forget, he said these with his Bolivian accent, with his dramatic way of enforcing a point, with his dark eyes flashing in seriousness or in humor. He's impossible to ignore.
One lesson about words had to do with "The Six Most Powerful Sentences in the World". We were admonished that our conversations should always includes these sentences. Here they are:
6. I admit I made a mistake.
5. You did a good job.
4. What is your opinion?
3. If you please
2. Thank You
We always had trouble getting out #6- but those six words lead you to forgiveness and reconciliation. And #4 was rather a pain to deal with if you were in an argument, and trying to get your victory stance, and Dad would walk by and eye you, reminding you to ask your sibling with genuine interest, "What is your opinion?"
#5 was one we would constantly remind Dad of, if he didn't appreciate the chores we were always doing- even if we did them begrudgingly. At the dinner table, you were supposed to remember #3 and #2 and say them often.
But #1- the single most important, most powerful word, was one we did not forget when Dad would make us recite these statements in order. Starting with number six and working our way down to number two, we would count off the words on our fingers, looking around at each other,poking each other in good natured ribbing if someone forgot a word. But one word we never forgot. It's a powerful word. It's a word every family should say proudly, should say as they look around at each other and hold tightly to each other- through thick and thin:
"We". That's #1 - a sentence in and of itself. And it's awful hard to forget. No matter how much trouble family life is, that's the one word that shapes us and holds us together... in His Love.