Thursday, October 28, 2010

Prepare for Tomorrow by Enjoying Today

Can Just Enjoying Today Prepare us for Tomorrow?
by Barbara Henderson

‘Whatsoever they hand findeth to do, do it with they might;’ Ecclesiastes 9:10a

There has been a great deal said recently about the uncertainty of the future. Economic collapse is predicted. Food shortages are predicted. Lawlessness is predicted to increase. Persecution of our Christian brethren is on the rise, and there is legitimate concern that it may be invading even the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave.’ It seems foolish not to prepare. And I am not talking about just storing 3 extra cans of chili and a box of powdered eggs in the pantry. Food storage, self defense, mobility, grab and go bags, at least three plans for each potential disaster should be on the top of everyone’s list of things that must be done before next Tuesday. Or, should they? Let’s look at things from a slightly different angle.

Why not enjoy life right now?
Why not eat, drink, and be merry today?
After all, we don’t even know if we have tomorrow.

So, let me propose a slightly different approach to preparedness. Be prepared to enjoy life! Take it one day at a time. Follow your interests. Follow your opportunities. You might be surprised at how much these things will help you in being prepared for whatever the world throws at you.

You could start like this.

First, consider your duties. Your first allegiance is to God, then to your family. For most people there is a job that requires a lot of your time, and your duty is to do a good job, whether you like the job or not. If you are the homemaker, then you have a lot going on that must be done repeatedly. (By the way, if you are in a situation where one person in the marriage team works outside the home, and the other stays home to care for the family and manage the house, then the duty of the one who works outside the home does not stop when he/she walks through the door after a hard days work. That person is still required to do whatever needs to be done to make the home run smoothly.)

But then what? No matter how busy your schedule, there will be a little time that you are able to be selective in what you do. The choices you make then can enrich your life and help you be prepared for the future, both mentally and materially. The point is to not be frivolous or unkind in how you spend a few extra minutes now and then, but rather to be industrious in exercising your mind and body. You never know how something learned today, no matter how unimportant it may seem, may be a ‘lifesaver’ tomorrow.

Now, consider your likes. What is something that you sincerely and consistently enjoy? I enjoy spending time with my family. I just like to be part of their lives. What this requires on my part is setting aside how I would probably manage the day if it were just me, or just me and Jerry. I do what the group wants to do, or needs to do. This has put me out of my comfort zone on many occasions. For instance, if you have been reading my articles long, you know that my family goes camping fairly often. When I was a child, my family went camping. Honestly, while I love the great outdoors, I love indoor plumbing more. If it were just me, I would definitely be a ‘picnicer’ instead of a ‘camper’. A few hours of communing with nature would be sufficient for me. I would especially enjoy it if the weather was lovely and I had my camera. I would take photos all day, and go home and view them on my computer that evening. However, in learning to camp I have gained some survival skills that would be helpful in any primitive environment. I have also learned to enjoy something that was not really my cup of tea to begin with. That in itself is a survival skill that is more valuable than most skills. Adaptability cannot be overrated as a survival skill. (An extremely important thing you can learn while camping is how to consistently build a campfire under a variety of conditions. You absolutely cannot overstate the importance of being able to efficiently build a fire. The time to learn that skill is long before you actually need it. Cooking on a campfire is another skill that needs to be learned before you actually need it. A hint on cooking is to put your coals from the main fire in a small ring of rocks that will hold your skillet just above the coals for the actual cooking.)

Many years ago, my mom asked me to go with her to take oil painting lessons from a local artist. He was a very fine Christian man, an artist with not only an ability to paint, but an ability to teach that skill to others. He gave lessons from his home. His wife worked at a day job away from home. To mom’s old fashioned way of thinking, it just wouldn’t look quite right for a married woman to be in a man’s house when his wife was at work, even if he did give art lessons. So mom asked me to go with her and take lessons. I agreed because I liked to spend time with my mom. Well, guess what? I absolutely loved the lessons. Oil painting is something that I love doing even now. So, I got a twofold blessing there. I spent time with mom and I learned something wonderful. The principles that apply to oil painting (color, composition, perspective) apply to many things that we deal with in our daily lives. They have been helpful in everything from how to put together a nice looking clothing outfit to how to design/decorate a room that is functional and looks nice as well. I didn’t need to read those books that came out a few years ago on what colors to wear together and how to dress for your size. And the books on makeup – I just always go with the theory that ‘any old barn looks better with a coat of paint’ and slap on a little foundation and a few other things in the morning.

I could give you many examples of things that I did for the purpose of just spending time with my family or one family member that were out of my comfort zone. I usually enjoyed whatever it was that we did, but often I learned to do and even like something that I would not have normally tried as well..

Here are some examples of things that people I know have done that provided them with a lot of enjoyment at the moment, taught them new skills, and helped them ‘be prepared’ for the future. (By the way, changes and disasters are coming. We just don’t know what, when, where, why, or how.)

My father in law retired from his job. He had time on his hands. He began to grow a garden. Before retirement, he thought that it was his Christian duty to mow down anything and everything that dared sprout on his property. He could mow at midnight during the dark of the moon without fear of mowing down anything that shouldn’t get whacked with the lawn mower because everything had already been whacked! All he had to do was avoid running into the bricks on the house. But, with time on his hands, and opportunity, he started to grow a garden. It turned out that:
He grew most of the produce for his household for years.
He ate foods that were fresher and healthier.
As his health began to deteriorate, he had incentive to keep on working at growing a garden. Between football and gardening, he stayed busy up until the very end of his life.
In becoming a gardener he learned a useful skill and enriched his life besides.
He was a hands on sort of person. He had the time to garden. He had the place to garden. A good neighbor offered to lend him a tractor to begin with. He stepped out of his comfort zone and into gardening. His hands found something to do and he did with his might.

Because of all the produce that was suddenly available for ‘free’, my mother in law leaned the skill of canning vegetables and making pickles. Don’t discount that as unimportant. She was frugal with her money anyway, but this allowed her to save a little money on food that she then had available to spend somewhere else. My mother in law had the time, and the opportunity. She stepped out of her comfort zone and into ‘produce management’. Her hands found something to do and she did it with her might.

My brother Wade was invited by a very good friend to go visiting/soul winning at a local county jail. He went to spend time with his friend. An ulterior motive was to watch over his friend, as my brother wasn’t quite sure that his friend would be safe working that closely with prisoners. Then, he saw the need of the prisoners and now has his own prison ministry. His hands found something to do and he did it/does it with his might. ( to learn about Wade)

My mom wanted a way to make extra money after dad died. She heard about raising hypoallergenic Siberian Forest Cats. She took a leap of faith and got herself a male and female cat. (Actually, my son bought her the cats. He prefers to tell people that he set his gramma up in business – and he doesn’t like relatives teasing him that he set his gramma with a cat house.) She has enjoyed the company of the cats, and sold two litters of kittens. This would not be for everyone because it does take a lot of time, and the money is not that much. However, given mom’s circumstances, the money and company are sufficient for the effort. This was definitely out of mom’s comfort zone by about a million miles, but it was something her hands found to do, and she did it with her might.

There are two important things to look at when considering how to spend your time that is not already committed to fulfilling the things you are bound by duty and love to do. I don’t know which is more important, but the things are:
opportunity, and

What are you inclined to want to do? As I mentioned, I am inclined to want to spend time with family. If they invite me to do something, then I am going to do it, and make an effort to be an enjoyable companion, and enjoy whatever it is that we are doing. It doesn’t always work out as well as I would like, but I don’t want to ever regret missing the opportunity. There are things that you are inclined toward doing as well. What are these things?

What opportunities present themselves? I will give you a big word of advice here. An opportunity is not necessarily, even not likely, to be something that will promise to make you a ton of money immediately. Just quit looking at ‘opportunity’ like that. It is more a chance to do something you could/might enjoy, and learn something at the same time.

Then there is adaptability. Little things crop up every day that require you to adapt to something that is slightly different. It can be as small as adapting to Lipton tea instead of Luzianne tea according to whatever is available or on sale. Or maybe you have to adapt to Coke instead of Pepsi, or (perish the thought) you have to take a thermos of coffee instead of stopping in at Starbucks. If you can set a pattern/paradigm of adapting to small changes as cheerfully and quickly as possible, then you are practicing for surprise changes that are coming in everyone’s future. The quicker you adapt, the quicker you have set a ‘new normal’ in small situations, the better you are prepared to adapt to bigger changes in your future.

So, we are up to three things to keep in mind in order to be prepared:
• Inclination
• Opportunity
• Adaptability
I really couldn’t say what order of importance these three things should be in.
An important point is that even though these three things should be considered, they must not over shadow the fact that preparing for the future requires actually living like the Christian you profess to be on a daily basis. That means treating others the way you want to be treated. Loving others the way Christ loves us. It means actually doing the things that Christ says to do.

‘‘Whatsoever they hand findeth to do, do it with they might;’ Ecclesiastes 9:10a

There well may be a lot of practical things that you find to do that are specifically related to preparedness for hard times or social turmoil or economic downturns. There will likely be more opportunities to just learn and do things at a particular moment in time. You will be surprised at how what seems like just a way to pass the time today will be very helpful to you tomorrow.

Enjoy today, and thanks for reading my article.

Barbara Henderson has a new DVD useful for building vocabulary in infants and toddlers, understanding concepts such as over and under, or help for those learning English as a second language.