The Two Treasures

The Two Treasures

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My mother-in-law lived with our family for twenty years. For six of those years, my mother also lived with us. Corlette and I called them “the Two Treasures.”

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Lois (my mother) and Thelma

In all the years they lived in our home, I never heard one word of criticism, grumbling, or complaining from either of them. Really. They were that gracious.

Even when the pain of Parkinson’s, broken hips, and other troubles became a daily challenge, they were both amazingly cheerful and positive. They didn’t talk of their pains unless we pressed them. They rarely sighed, moaned, or looked downcast, even when we knew they were suffering.

Two-Way Blessings

Yes, as they grew older they did take more of our time and attention. When they gave up their cars, Corlette became their driver. Whenever they needed to see the doctor, she, my sister, or my brother sat through every appointment. When they needed financial, tax, or other legal assistance, I was their in-house attorney.

But when we needed baby-sitters, someone to chat with, funny stories from the past, wisdom and encouragement , or lively companions for a visit to Disney World, the Treasures were there, blessing us with so much more than we could possibly give to them.

Starting Early

They didn’t wait until their twilight years to develop these pleasant qualities. Each of them had cultivated a cheerful attitude from their earliest days. They made it a habit to be grateful for what they had instead of grumbling about what they lacked.

These winsome qualities continued to serve them well when failing health finally forced each of them into a nursing home. They were still so considerate that whenever they rang their buzzers, aides scurried to win the privilege of caring for them.

We and many others were the daily beneficiaries of their pleasant ways. Now that they are gone, we miss them intensely. Our home seems so empty without them.

How About You?

What kind of relational habits are you cultivating today? Will your core attitudes serve you and your family well when your body and mind begin to fail and you become increasingly dependent on others? Will you be viewed as a treasure or as a trial in the last season of your life?

Today is the day to begin building gracious attitudes and behaviors into your life so that when the veneer of “company manners” is worn away, what shines through is pure gold. Here are a few simple habits taught in Scripture that will make you easier to live with … both today and down the road.

  • Eliminate grumbling, whining, and complaining from your life, as well as the sighing and moaning that seems to say, “Feel sorry for me” (Phil. 2:14). If you’re hurting and need help, prayer, or encouragement, say so directly and graciously. But don’t unload your problems aimlessly and hopelessly on those around you (2 Cor. 1:3-7).
  • See and celebrate God’s many goodnesses to you. Develop a keen eye for all the mercies and kindnesses God pours into your life, and never miss an opportunity to say “thank you” to him and to the people through whom he blesses you (Ps. 16:5-11; 1 Thess. 5:16-18).
  • Look for the best in every person and situation. If you look for the good in others, you will usually find it. If you are watching for the bad, you’ll usually experience that instead (Prov. 11:27). Be so affirming of others that they simply love being around you; they will if you always make them feel good about what God is doing through them (Phil. 4:8-9; 1 Corinthians 1:4-9).
  • Smile. Don’t waste the only face you’ve got on blank or somber expressions. Develop the habit of smiling as you walk into the kitchen in the morning, as you greet co-workers throughout the day, as you walk past others in the grocery store in the afternoon. A simple smile and friendly greeting from you can dramatically change another person’s day (Prov. 12:25; Prov. 15:13).

The Fruit of the Gospel

These attitudes and habits are the fruit of our salvation in Christ. Whenever people are deeply and constantly aware of God’s saving grace, their lives can be marked with joy, thanksgiving, gladness, and overflowing acts of love and kindness (Phil. 4:4-7; Col. 3:12-17).

So dwell much on all that God has done for you in Christ. Let the joy of your salvation inspire and embed habits that will make you pleasant to live with today and tomorrow.

And someday when your kids are fighting about you, it won’t be over who has to care for you, but who gets to care for you.

Ken Sande

Reflection Questions (Most effective when shared with a friend; James 1:22-25)

  • When you experience stress or disappointment, are you inclined to maintain a cheerful attitude or to grumble, whine or complain? For a more accurate answer to that question, ask those closest to you how they would honestly describe your response to difficulty.
  • If God was to remove from your life everything you’ve not thanked him for in the past month, what would you lose?
  • What are some things you failed to thank others for in the past week? Go and thank them today!
  • What characteristic will you ask God to help you change in order to make you a person others enjoy being around … both today and toward the end of your life?

Permission to distribute: Please feel free to download, print, or electronically share this message in its entirety for non-commercial purposes with as many people as you like.

© 2013 Ken Sande

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14 Responses to "The Two Treasures"
    • It is my home and prayer that I can emulate the beautiful characters that these lovely ladies portrayed in their lives and never dissappoint.

  1. As I have arrived at middle age, I’ve found myself praying, “Lord, make me one of those sweet, funny little old ladies in the years to come.” Your post has given me tools to use in co-operation with my prayers.

  2. It is great to see this practical personality checklist to encourage winsome habits. If someone is naturally gifted to be that kind of wonderful treasure, what a blessing! If not, thankfully the Lord is faithful to reveal blind spots, areas of needed change, and enough conflict to remind us that relationships can be like mirror giving us a reflection of how others really see us. It is a gift to know that the plan is for us to grow and change.
    I’ve been thinking more about a zone of grace. In the middle of those tense conversations that turn into a heated debate, and everyone has forgotten all about humor and mild mannered conversation, I want to backstep into the calm that only Jesus can give. In grace, I want to be able to thank Him for the opportunity to learn, choose conciliatory and kind words, find pieces of the story that I can use to reconnect and rebuild bridges. I have to figure out a way for me—- not to do life as usual.
    When Martha and Mary had dinners with Jesus, Martha couldn’t shift gears. Her perspective stayed on task, but small and bound up with worldly issues. Yet Mary didn’t lose her perspective. She was fully in position to bend low and anoint Jesus with the expensive perfume. Whatever the daily stress, her eyes were still on Jesus. That made her truly winsome. That kept her in perfect Grace.

    • “Zone of grace.” I like that. May God grant us all such a place as he dwells in our hearts and fills us with a peace that overflows to others.

    • I don’t know. I’ve never heard their names, but it’s possible we’re related. Please send any information you have on them. Thank you.

  3. When under stress, I don’t often grumble, but I do turn inward, becoming somber and quiet. The best way to deal with these times is to be around and in communication with others

  4. Wow!! I’m going to write some of these key points that struck me in my journal and maybe even post them on my mirror in the bathroom so that I am reminded daily!!

  5. What comes out under the pressure of aging, pain, and limited mobility is the result of a lifetime of developed character. We can’t wait until we are old to become self-less. It is too late then. Selflessness begins now or it won’t happen.

  6. I really got a lot out of reflecting on “the two Treasures”. It made me think of my folks especially my dad whose hospice worker would always comment on how gracious he was. I personally have a lot a growth to do in the four areas above, but God has blessed me with his word and good role models. I am optimistic that with the help of His Spirit that dwells in me, I can grow into being a treasure instead of a trail.

  7. What great things to think and remember daily. If I lost things I never took the time to say thank you to God for.Wow. Especially the little things I take for granted.
    Also I need to work lately on when things aren’t going to well. My actions are not becoming sometimes. I want to grow old and be pleasant to be around. Only God can help me if I am willing to work on it.

  8. Recognizing my level of “Thankfulness” towards others has helped me see my lack of appreciation for people’s kindness and words of encouragement. My desire is to develop a keen eye for all the mercies and kindnesses God pours into my life, and never miss an opportunity to say Thank you to him and especially to the people through whom He blesses me.

  9. I live by the Philippians 4 scripture! When I find myself feeling sorry for myself, I start my gratitude journal up again and it always turns me around. So powerful! My mom lives with us and my Dad did before he passed away. We decided to do that before they needed care so that it would be a smooth transition. Funny thing is my Dad, never got old . . . My mom still cooks dinner at 80 years old for the whole family. Yes there are trade-offs but I think I am the one most blessed by this experience! When I am missing my kids, it makes me think about my mom. She probably would like to spend time with me. Many years ago, I remember that my kids were older and we didn’t hug as much. I missed those hugs! Then I realized that my parents probably missed my hugs. So, one Christmas, I made a New Year’s resolution to give my parents a hug every night over the next year. I never stopped. I even hug them by phone when I am on vacation!

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