This past weekend we celebrated the 100th birthday of my grandmother, Sissy, as she is affectionly known by to her family and friends. It was a celebration of a life that began in 1912 and has been witness to many incredible events throughout this century. Sissy began working as a telephone operator when she was just 16. At the time, she was the youngest employee to ever work for the phone company. She grew up on a farm in Tennessee which she and her three sisters and two brothers helped maintain in order to provide for the family’s needs. I believe it was through her humble beginnings she developed lifelong habits that are worth sharing and learning from.
Wash your face before breakfast – I’m sure this habit was necessary growing up for Sissy because her day began long before breakfast with chores on the farm. She came in after morning chores to “wash up” for breakfast. She still does this every day. I know that I need to “wash up” in the Word before I start my day. The spiritual cleansing that comes from beginning the day with God sets the tone for the entire day.
Have something sweet with every meal – Sissy has a dessert with every meal. Now that may sound crazy for those of us desperately trying to watch our weight but her small indulgence at mealtimes prevents her from a fullblown, whole cheesecake meltdown that might occur if she deprived herself. Every day she has 1 small chocolate donut at breakfast, 1 small chocolate chip cookie at lunch and a 1-scoop ice cream cone after dinner. Moderation is the key that has allowed her to enjoy the things she likes while maintaining self control.
Get excited about the small things – Every day at 3:00 pm Sissy looks out her window with great expectation as she anticipates the delivery of the day’s mail. She if filled with joy when there is something in the mailbox that is meant just for her. Too often we miss the pleasure of the small things in life because they become too routine for us.
Make molehills out of mountains – Whenever something big happens in Sissy’s life that would send others into a stressful frenzy, she seems to have a knack for letting it roll off her back. She doesn’t waste her energy and emotions on getting upset about the things she knows are ultimately in God’s control and chooses to spend her energy and emotions on the people that matter most to her
Keep a routine – Sissy is as predictable as they come and has been for as long as I can remember. She wakes up at the same time every day, washes up, has breakfast, reads the paper, has lunch, watches the same soap opera that she has watched for over 45 years and then enjoys a little afternoon nap (which she vehemently denies). Knowing what your day holds and the peace of knowing the One who holds it in His hands takes the guesswork out of how to respond when the routine is interrupted. She knows what her plans are every day and when the unexpected happens she turns to God and trusts Him with that which is out of her control.
Tell your story often – I’ve heard them all a hundred times but I still enjoy hearing Sissy tell the stories of how she started with the phone company, how she met my grandfather, what it was like to live during the Great Depression and where she was when JFK was shot. She loves to tell her story to anyone who will listen. And no matter how many times you tell your story there’s always a part that someone may have not heard before. Or there is someone out there who needs to hear your story, that needs to know they are not the only one who has experienced what they are going through. Tell your story and tell it often.
Make an actual phone call at least once a week – Sissy is pretty hip but she she is definitely not up to speed on social networking and texting. She uses her old rotary dial telephone to keep in touch with her friends and family. There is something special about a real phone call and hearing the voice on the other end that is lost through emails, texting and social media. People need to know we’re willing to take the time to pick up the phone and call them. I bet right now there is someone you’re thinking of that you should call.
Put on your make-up when you’re expecting guests – Even at 100 years old, Sissy still takes time to care about her physical self. As difficult as it can be for her she puts on her make-up, sprays a little perfume and combs her hair when she knows someone is coming to see her. Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1Cor. 6:19-20) and we are never too old to take care of ourselves and our bodies in honor of God.
We may not live to be 100 years old but we sure can learn some valuable lessons from someone who has. I know I definitely have. Thanks Sissy.