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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Ask Good Questions

"Ask good questions."

That's my friend Anita's recipe for relationship success. Posing thought-provoking questions, rather than making blanket statements, declarations and imperatives, leads to better communication, Anita swears, especially when parents are conversing with adult or nearly adult children.

I put this theory to the test recently, when my 20-year-old son opened up to me about his life. We startedout sharing a cup of coffee and, before I knew it, were deeply ensconced in the type of discussion parents dream of, once their too loquacious grade schoolers turn into reticent teens. I gnawed my tongue mercilessly, gulping more decaf when advice threatened to tumble out unbidden. I used every trick taught to first year psych students, including reflecting, affirming, and non-judgmental listening. I used phrases like, "It sounds like" and "So you're saying," rather than my well-worn "Don't you think?" and "If I were in your shoes..." In short, I hogtied my maternity, and took the stance of an objective, non-partisan automaton.

And I asked good questions. I wondered aloud what his feelings were about the issues on the table, and what options he saw for himself and others in his sphere of influence. Those questions gave way to more questions and, surprisingly, more unleashed confidences.

Just when I thought I would asphyxiate if I had to hold in any more life-saving counsel, my adult son asked me a good question:

"So... what do you think?"

"The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out." Proverbs 20:5

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thirty-seven Cents

Last night at prayer meeting, our leader told the story of a woman who donated a paltry 37 cents to a cause calling for big bucks. It was what she could afford -  no, probably more than she could afford. She thrust the four thin coins joyfully into the hand of the collector, along with a prayer of thanks to the Provider.

And all of heaven sang.

"So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver." 2 Corinthians 9:7

"Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much.  Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury;  for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood."
Mark 12:41-44