The Gleaming Knife and the Plastic Glass

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Ray and I have been listening to a book about the Gilded Age. Oh, me! Over the years, we have paid admission to visit a few of the homes of the very rich and famous Americans who lived like kings and queens during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Though we’ve been on tours and gawked with the other tourists at their extravagances, this book has been a real eye-opener: hostesses who spent $100,000 on a single fancy ball, a loveless marriage pushed on a daughter so she could become part of European nobility, a millionaire who kept a guard at his bedroom door while he slept! What kind of life is that?

While Ray and I were in New Harmony recently, we treated ourselves to one nice dinner. For our other meals, we enjoyed a sandwich shop, the local Friday night fish fry at the American Legion post, the free brunch that came with our hotel special, two breakfasts in our room with food we brought from home, and a lunch at a cafe filled with locals.

During our evening at the nice restaurant, our sweet waitress laid Ray’s plate on the table and then she laid mine. When she put my knife by my plate, she said, “There’s a water spot. That is unacceptable!” Then she hurried back into the kitchen. When she returned with my knife, it gleamed. Trust me, I would have never noticed that water spot.

The next day when we walked into a local cafe for lunch, I heard a waitress ask, “You want Cool Whip on that?” I smiled and thought about the sharp contrast this meal was going to be compared to the one the night before.

I don’t know what those Gilded Age millionaires would have thought about our water in plastic glasses or the ketchup and mustard in red and yellow squeeze bottles. I know I’ve certainly eaten a lot more meals like that than ones with knives that gleamed.

While living with your children every day, you have almost limitless opportunities to teach them the skills they will need. One of those skills is how to be content in whatever circumstances they are.

Once, when my parents took us on a vacation, we spent a night in a roadside motel. The room was much homelier than other motels I had seen. When I complained about it, Mother said to me: “This is nicer than what we have at home.” I have never forgotten her lesson. It was not right for me to complain. I should have been content and humble. I am so thankful that Mother put me in my place.

I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.
I know how to get along with humble means,
and I also know how to live in prosperity;
in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret
of being filled and going hungry,
both of having abundance and suffering need.
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:10-13




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