Monday, September 13, 2010

You Were Right, Mark Twain

"I can live for two months on a good compliment."  So said Mark Twain; and the longer I live, the more I see the truth in his words.

Receiving a compliment brings a smile to my face, joy to my heart, and lightness to my step.  It energizes me.  I can be dragging along, wishing that the kitchen full of dirty dishes would magically clean itself; and then out of the blue, Jeff casually remarks, "You're a good writer."  Suddenly I discover energy I didn't know I had, and I'm flying around the room happily scrubbing pots and pans and wiping down counters, tasks that have nothing to do with the compliment Jeff gave me.  Regardless, his compliment was the fuel that got me going.

Or if Jeff says, "You and Josiah have the same kind of humor, you're really good at making him laugh," my willingness to patiently love and tenderly deal with the bedtime I-can't-wait-to-get-these-kids-into-bed-but-they-keep-popping-out shenanigans soars.

One time during supper, Jeff told us about a conversation he had in the barbershop with one of his customers.  Jeff was thinking of my eight-week menu plan and told the man, "Davene knows what we're having for dinner on Tuesday five weeks from now."  The man replied, "Really??  My wife could sure learn from that!"  On hearing that, I was determined to be even more prepared with menus and grocery lists, and thus eliminate the stress that can come from those homemaking tasks.

Here's a recent compliment from Jeff that meant a lot to me.  I love to learn the "secrets" of family living from mothers with large families, because if I can figure out how they handle their eight or eleven or fourteen kids, surely it will be easier for me to handle my four!  After a particularly noisy, tempestuous time with our boys, I was remarking to Jeff, "I think moms of large families have to learn to just let all the noise and crying roll off them like water off a duck's back."  He simply said, "You already do."  I thought, "I do?  You really think I do?  Well then!  I will!  I can do this!  I won't let the crying (that happens every day around here by some child or another...that has, in fact, happened daily for the last eight and a quarter years) get to me and raise my blood pressure.  I'll stay calm.  Jeff thinks I do it, so I will!!"

It's not just compliments from Jeff that feed me, of course.  Even a casual conversation with a stranger can have that effect.  When the waiter in Golden Corral, for example, says to me, "You have the best kids!" it gives me more patience when David is head-down under the table and I have to remind him to sit in his chair and Josiah is asking for someone to go with him to get dessert and I haven't even eaten two bites of my dinner and Shav is making a royal mess on the floor around his highchair with all the food items he's tossing overboard and Tobin is trying to hold his cup ALL BY HIMSELF but forgot that when drinking from a cup with a straw, you're not supposed to tilt the cup or it will spill...  The waiter's offhand comment gives me new lenses to look through, and suddenly I think, "Yeah, they are pretty great kids after all."  :)

These thoughts were rolling around in my head tonight because today, at Josiah's orientation for the Shenandoah Valley Children's Choir (which I will write more about soon, I hope, because it was so amazingly wonderful!), I was so bountifully "fed" by two conversations with people who read my blog.  The first was with Sandy, who years and years ago, taught, along with her husband, my junior high Sunday school class.  That's some history, all right!  Now that I'm all grown up, here I am blogging, throwing words into cyberspace, not knowing that she and her daughter occasionally take time to sit down and click on Life on Sylvan Drive and read those scattered words and see the pictures that show my view of life and learn the nicknames that we give our boys.  (I loved it when they referred to Tobin as Tobin Bear.  It makes it feel like they're part of the family.)  :)  Sandy said, "It's a treat for us to do that."  Really?  A treat?  How honored I am that she would feel that way.  How humbled I am that she wants to know me in this way, that she peeks into my life and finds something worthwhile here.

And then, as Josiah and I were walking out to the van, Evan stopped me, smiled beautifully, and introduced herself as a blog reader.  "You read my blog?"  I thought in surprise.  But I just asked, "How did you find my blog?"  Through her friend Emily, as it turns out.  What a small world.  Again, I was honored and humbled and encouraged and uplifted and filled as a result of Evan's kind words to me.

As I was telling my family about this over our supper of spaghetti this evening, Dad said, "It gives you extra incentive to write, doesn't it?"

It certainly does.  Oh yes indeed, it certainly does.  Thank you, Sandy and Evan, for touching my heart today.  If Mark Twain is right, I should be able to live for four more months, just because of your kindness.  :)

~ For fun, here's a picture of Tobin Bear with a little friend who came to visit recently.  When I saw them like this, I couldn't help but think of another time when Tobin stood and watched from a window.  Such sweeties! It's tough to have to be inside when big kids are outside having so much fun and doing so many exciting things!


Anonymous said...

This was a great reminder of the power of kind words. As nice as it is to be on the receiving end, I need to remember to give kind words and encouragement to others.

Davene said...


I woke up this morning kicking myself for having written such a me-focused post. I even thought about deleting or majorly changing it. But the point I was trying to convey as I was writing last night was that I felt so blessed by the kindness of others...and as a result, I was reminded of how important it is for me to pour into others in the same way. Besides feeling so overwhelmingly grateful, I also felt challenged--in a good way. :)

I'm so glad you expressed in your comment what I should have said better in my post. Thank you!! :)

evan said...

Thank you for blogging all the time! I always look forward to reading your blog and I know you will have written something most every day. I'm just so honored that I was mentioned on your blog! It sounds stupid, but after reading your blog for a long time and never having met you, its kind of exciting! :)Thanks, again...

Anonymous said...

Hi Davene:

Don't worry about posting about yourself! I use your blog to learn how to be a woman of God, and posts like that help educate me a little better. :)

(BTW, I've never met you, but I did see your parents in Costco once. They were like celebrities to me!)

Sally said...

Davene, you ARE the mother, wife, and woman of God that all the rest of us dream of being someday when we have arrived. You are a tremendous blessing to so many people, including me. I also know my sister Gail gains encouragement and insight from your blog.

Thanks for taking the time to share your life with us. And for being so dedicated to Godly living and high ideals in the areas that count.