I haven't written in awhile. Have I run out of ideas? Absolutely not. That's part of the problem; I've got so many running thru my head I have a hard time settling out on one.
But my biggest problem is that I've been going to bed too early lately. I haven't been staying up long enough to get into the right frame of mind to write anything. For me, I have to kind of get in a certain zone that doesn't usually happen in the daylight.
So today I worked in the forenoon, rushed home just in time to get ready for an appointment in Lynchburg at 2:00, headed on to Harrisonburg for Mary's niece Connie's high school graduation and then back home. So now it's 11:16 Friday evening, it's a long time 'till morning, and I feel the writing mood sneaking up on me.
I've been thinking about the power of positive words. Most of us can probably think back and point to some positive people who said some positive things and made a difference in our lives.
I remember my dad telling me about Sam Yoder from Stuarts Draft. (Sam would be a grandfather to Eric Hershberger who is marrying Joanne Yoder here real soon) He was the youth boys Sunday School teacher in the Amish church in Draft when my dad was growing up. Papa was very short for his age and wondered for years if he would ever grow up at all. I don't know if Sam ever had any extended talks with him, but what Papa used to tell me about was how Sam would always shake the young guys hands after church and give them a kind word. "Eli, how are you," he would say, and you could tell he really meant it. And it made you want to grow up to amount to something because you knew somebody believed in you.
I told you before how when Mary started school she cried every morning 'till Christmas. Part of that was due to the fact that her first grade teacher was mean and uncaring. When she got to the second grade she had a wonderful teacher and Mary came out of her shell, blossomed, and was voted class president before the year was over!
Are all kind words kind? What about the "kind" words of a flatterer? I'll just be honest; I don't care for flatterers. Most of the time they are just trying to butter you up to get something out of you for their benefit. When I'm listening to a flatterer I feel like saying, "Hurry up and get done with your baloney and tell me what you want!"
But honest kind words; a heart-felt compliment here and there give a person the gump to go on living.
When I was a teenager (or maybe before) I developed a love for singing. And I wanted so badly to become a song leader. I went to Bible school for six weeks and one of the classes I took was "Song Leading And Ushering". I knew full well that you would have to get up front at Bible school and use your new found skill, and shy as I was, even that didn't deter me.
And I can't impress on you enough how shy I really was. Several years ago at Penn Valley we met up with a lady who had been a student at Calvary the same time I was there. She couldn't believe I was the same person that she remembered from those days long ago. She said, "Well, if you even just looked at Merle sideways he would fall through the floor!"
So I'm saying it took a lot of guts to sign up for this class. Anyway, the class went well and I survived and came home just itching to lead some singing.
My chance finally came and I don't remember if it was a song service or if I just had to lead several songs in the regular service. Afterwards Caleb Glick came up to me and said if he shut his eyes he was back in the little country church along the creek (was it Shady Grove or something?) near Faith Mission Home with my uncle Sanford leading the singing.
Now I always thought Uncle Sanford bellered a little bit when he led singing but I took it as a high compliment and one that warmed my heart and one I have never forgotten.
Another one was maybe ten years ago when I was still logging. A dad and his young son were looking out the window one Sunday morning and a log truck went by. The son said, "I don't guess that's Merle". The dad says, well, not unless he's going to Bethel for an object lesson. And the son again,"Well, I wouldn't put it past him!" That one warmed my heart for a long time.
Just a month or so ago, son Myron and wife Heidi were visiting in the home of a minister in another church setting. They do things somewhat untraditionally there and he was telling Myron they get called "redneck Mennonites". Myron told me he spoke up and said, "Well, where we're from, my dad and I are probably about the most "redneck" of anybody there". Now that's a compliment that I will hold dear to my heart 'till the day I die.
Several weeks ago I got an email from a lady saying she liked my writing style. (well, she actually said "loved", but be that as it may) Now this lady seems to be pretty smart and knowledgeable and keeps herself that way by eating healthy foods and taking Juice Plus. But to top it all off, she works at CLP. I mean she should know something about writing, right? Of course, come to think of it, I'm not sure what she does there; maybe she mows the grass or something.
I emailed her back and thanked her for the compliment and said I would use her endorsement on the front cover of whenever my new book comes out. (my tongue is really in cheek here) I said it would read something like, " famous CLP guru endorses previously unknown redneck writer". I told her I hope it won't cause her to lose her job.
So let's look around us. Have you been blessed (as I have) by the kind words of others? Now it's your (and my) turn to pass them on. There are young ones coming on that are struggling to grow up. There are plenty of "grown-ups" that are struggling to "stay up".
You may never know what a well timed compliment or a kind word will do.