Wednesday, May 30, 2012

May 30, 2012

When our children were young I read about George Mueller, who had founded orphanages during the late 1800s.  His philosophy was to pray in everything they needed, and not to ask any person for money.  God provided the equivalent of about $12 ½ million (in today’s dollars) during that time.  He helped 2100 orphans over 50 years.

One of the things that Mueller did that spoke to me was to create a minimum clothing requirement for each child.  His list included 3 pairs of shoes for each child!  One would suppose that they might get along with as little as possible under the circumstances, but since the whole project was to be an exercise in faith, Mueller felt that a minimum level of provision and care should be set at a comfortable level.  Wow!  That challenged me!

So I decided that I, too, would set a minimum requirement for my kids.  I made a list of basic items for boys and one for girls.  This included church clothes and play clothes, socks, tennis shoes, church shoes, flip flops and snow boots.  The winter list had a coat for snowy weather and the summer list had a swimsuit and cover-up.  I kept the list and checked through the kids’ things about twice per year.  Any item not in good repair or outgrown was weeded out.  Only items nice enough to keep went to charity.   (I myself had received enough stuff that needed to be thrown away instead, and found it was depressing!)

First of all, I felt good about making sure my kids were ready for anything.  They felt taken care of.  Though money was tight, they didn’t usually even know it.  I also found that I had eliminated the need to go clothes shopping prior to taking our vacation.  Finances could then be focused on the vacation itself.

The second benefit of this list was that I knew what was needed for any given child when I was going to garage sales or sorting hand-me-downs.  I could choose to pass on items we had plenty of and zero in on what was really needed.  I was less likely to buy on impulse, and perhaps regret my purchase. 

These guidelines serve as a “max” idea as well.  If you are given a bag of clothing by your child’s just-larger cousin, you can say no to 13 T-shirts with fun logos on them.  Choose 4, and pass the rest on to someone else.  What a relief to be able to close that drawer in the dresser and not have stuff spilling out because it is so stuffed.

So try it!  Make your own list for yourself or your kids.  Consider what activities you need to be ready for.  (Work, camping, going to the gym, church, and so on.)  What does “enough” really look like?  Mary Poppins said, “Enough is as good as a feast.”  I think that applies to our dressers and closets as well as our appetites.

Monday, May 14, 2012


Day by day we are given the opportunity to make choices that will add up to be the sum total of our character.  What we are when we are old is a collection of those choices we have made.  We become a distilled version of ourselves, of our choices as we near the end of our lives.

One aspect of our character comes from making choices toward discretion or simple-mindedness.  Proverbs 22:3 says, “The prudent man sees the evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished with suffering.”   One translation identifies the prudent man as a man of discretion.

Discretion[1] is:

a)     the freedom to decide what should be done in a particular situation

b)     cautious reserve in speech 

c)      prudence

d)     the quality of behaving or speaking in such a way as to avoid causing offense or revealing private information

e)     the result of separating or distinguishing  (right from wrong, good from bad, beneficial from foolhardy, etc.)

The opposite would be not thinking before your speak; saying everything that goes through your mind; choosing the quick and convenient as opposed to the better though slower option.  Choosing to blindly trust someone we don’t know would be a lack of discretion.  Not being able to keep a confidence or being a gossip would also be a lack of discretion.

Proverbs 11:22 says a pretty woman without discretion is like a gold ring in the snout of a pig.  Wow!  How easy it is to find a foolish, silly and shallow woman these days.  Some act blindly, choosing foolishly, then wonder why things are going badly. 

But a woman with discretion – in speech, in personal management, in business affairs?  Those are rare indeed.  This kind of woman is beautiful and successful in a much deeper and lasting way.

We should always be seeking to grow in wisdom.  We can ponder what we know about people, and learn to observe human behavior and personalities in order to better understand what people are truly like.  We can think ahead, considering consequences before we step forward into commitments.

I like the idea of “savvy” women, women who think and then act accordingly.  In the course of directing your future, begin with your life today.  Choose wisely, think ahead, be a woman of discretion.

[1] Free Merriam-Webster dictionary online.