Tag Archives: amwriting

Responsible Speech

Colossians 4:6–Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

When I was a kid, I got picked on quite a bit. I had glasses and I was “the smart kid” who actually liked to answer teacher questions and get good grades. For some reason, this was seen as a weakness to prey upon by a few of the other children. They would say the most awful things, and my response was to cry. Which, of course, only made it worse. Another weakness to be poked at. It wouldn’t be until hours later that I would think of that perfect, hot retort. This was after mulling over their comments, relentlessly torturing myself, and wondering why, oh why, I had to be the brunt of their cruelty. It was torture, and I was furious with myself that I couldn’t fire off those harsh words in the moment. I never got to say most of them to anyone other than myself.

There was one girl in high school that had a particularly vicious tongue. Like a whip that stung and tore your flesh. If you cast an accidental glance her direction it was likely to fly at you. I was terrified of her. I have no idea where she is now or what her life is like, but I hope it’s a good one. I’m also happy I wasn’t that type of teenager. I don’t think anyone was afraid of me. Ever. And I’m glad.

As a grownup I have learned to be thankful for this element of myself. That in the heat of a word battle, I usually go blank. And I’ve come to embrace it as a strength. For it’s kept me from ‘spouting off at the mouth’ many times. I’ve kept my cool, kept my peace, and not said things I’m sure I would regret later on. (Now, my husband might disagree from time-to-time, but let’s, for the sake of argument, look at interactions with people other than him. That’s a whole ‘nother discussion.)

God doesn’t want us to be sharp-tongued and nasty to people. He wants us to make sure we think through each and every thing we say. To meditate on the words and make sure they are wise (seasoned with salt) before we allow them to escape. Sometimes that’s easier said than done (pun intentional here). But, you know what helps? Prayer. When someone angers you and you are tempted to make a smart retort, pray first. Pray that you are speaking God-given words, not just ones that feel good in the moment. Sometimes you will find that God wants you to walk away, cool off, and come back with a level head before you address the issue. Sometimes you may never get a chance to address the issue, and that’s okay. But what if that person who just said something mean and nasty to you is someone who needs you to be a witness? If you spit back something inappropriate that makes them feel equally awful, how can you come back later and proclaim God’s goodness and love? They won’t be receptive because they will never forget the harsh words exchanged.

I am far from perfect at this myself. I definitely get angry right back when someone says something terrible to me. But I have to learn to ‘be angry and sin not’ by biting my tongue and continue to embrace the silent response until I am calm and reasonable again. With prayer and God’s help, I can make sure that my speech is always responsible and respectful. And therefore not tearing someone else down right alongside me. I want my responses to be helpful, not hurtful. The old adage is still around for a reason. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Hard at times. But true.

Do you have a story about bullying you’d like to share? Or a comment about how to keep from reacting negatively to someone’s mean comments? I’d love to hear them!

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A Good Work

Philippians 1:6– Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.

We can be confident of this: God created us with a purpose in mind. He gave us unique qualities that prepare us for that path, unique struggles that help us grow, and unique perspectives that help us see where we need to go. He started something good in me the day I was born. It took a while (a long while) for me to get started down that good path, but now that I feel I am on it, it’s so exciting to see where God takes me. I want to work for Him every single day, to strive to grow in character until I am ready for the next work He has planned for me. I am so thankful that one day I will see Jesus in person, but until then I am passionately excited about working down here. There is so much I can do to change my corner of the world, and with God’s guiding hand, I know I can make a difference one piece at a time. I may not always have perfect confidence in myself, but I do have confidence in Him–always.

Pine or Oak?

I Corinthians 15:58–Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

We had a pine tree fall in the wind and rain last night. It had been leaning for months, slowly bending further and further until it could no longer support its own weight and came crashing down, yanking its roots from the ground. It woke me up-the sound of the wood cracking and the monstrous hollow thump when it hit the earth. I went out to inspect things this morning and noticed that as the pine fell it took a branch off an oak tree, but the oak tree didn’t budge one tiny little bit. I’m sure the whole oak tree quivered with the blow, but its main trunk is still just as straight and strong this morning as ever.

I’ve been both of those trees. On my spiritual walk, there have been times I’ve been the pine tree. Feeling the pressure of the current storm, the heaviness of my own worries and doubts. And, I’ve let my roots slip from my foundation and come crashing down. As I came down and let myself become filled with my own failure, I’ve taken others around me down too. Broken my own strong faith and bruised theirs. To my shame.

At times, I’ve been the oak tree, too. Reaching into the sky where my hope comes from, keeping my eyes fixed on God. Remaining strong through the storms. Withstanding the blows of life as they come at me left and right, I’ve held on strongly to my faith, clung even more tightly to God, and weathered the wind and rain. And in those strong moments, others may be falling around me, but, with God’s strong hand, I have remained upright so I can help others get back up.

A forest of trees actually helps protect each other by breaking winds as they rush through. Once people start cutting the trees, rearranging the earth, like we have, the wind can reach weaker trees and pull them down. I imagine that’s what’s happened to our pine tree. They are weaker-rooted, softer-wooded trees and the wind is simply too much for them. We, as Christians, can help protect each other from life’s storms. We can help support each other by lending helping hands, praying for one another, and checking on each other when one is weak. Those of us who aren’t in the middle of a storm, or are and feel stronger, can circle around the one who is struggling and protect them-lend them some of our strength.

I pray that when the next storm of my life comes, I’ll be like the oak tree and remain assured of His strength. I pray that I’ll be a help to someone who needs some extra strength. Surely, I have enough to spare for now. But, I also pray that if I get weak, you will lend me some strength and help hold me up. Together in our faith we are stronger. Together we can continue to work for God and press through the problems. Together with love we can hold each other up.

 

(It’s warm here and we don’t have any ice. Just lots and lots of rain, but I love this picture. I took it a couple years ago here at my house during an ice storm. It was so beautiful!)

Confirmation

James 1:22–But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

I had a hard time with the transition from being foster parents to closing our doors. God called me to be a foster parent and I am so thankful we had that experience. I am so thankful that we were able to adopt our two foster children and make them permanently part of our home. But, that also meant we had to know our limits. We all have them, and though it has been tough for me to admit it, I believe I’ve reached mine. It’s hard because my heart still longs to help. There are SO many children in the foster system, so many infants that need loving homes to help them wean off the drugs they are born dependent on. And it kills me that I can no longer help them.

So when we prayed and realized that it was time to move on to our next callings, there was both relief and sadness. I truly believe that my current calling from God is to write. To pen down the words and thoughts He gives me and create. I’ve always loved to write, ever since I was a very small girl, and I am passionate about it. Being an author is my dream come true. But something about it feels smaller than the difference I was making as a foster parent, and I’ve struggled with that. Fostering was such an obvious change in our lives. Everywhere we went people could tell we were ministering to these children, because there were two more with us. And, though it isn’t about what other people think, it was a bit validating to know that what God called us to do was obvious. We were doing good each and every day, witnessing to others, encouraging people to think about a problem right under their noses they hadn’t thought about.

My pastor read this scripture along with some definitions of ‘doer’ at church last Wednesday. And I was suddenly humbled and elated. God confirmed my new calling for me. Doer means author. I needed that confirmation to show me that I am truly on the correct path now. Writing is doing for God. Authoring-writing with inspiration from God with the intention of bringing His love to others- is more subtle than fostering. But it is still a work for Him and it is time for me to embrace it and feel fulfilled that I am answering His calling. While I am happy we were able to foster and adopt and change the lives of these two little ones, I am even happier that God has given me a way to pursue a dream I’ve had since I was four years old. A dream that excites me daily, that fills me with a sense of accomplishment and purpose once again.

 

Photo taken by me at our house in TN. Ice on grass. Jan 2013

Trust in the Lord

Psalm 84:12–O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.

Trust is a fragile thing. I have a trusting nature. I tend to see the best in people and give them the benefit of the doubt. I pretty much start out trusting someone and it depends on their actions if that trust remains or gets yanked away. I like living this way. Some may call it naive, but I find putting my faith in people usually is a good thing.

There have been times, though, when the trust dynamic has changed between myself and someone in my life. I still pray for those few people, but I don’t subject myself to their less-than-forthcoming ways.

Isn’t it wonderful that we never have to worry about that with God? This verse reminds us that trusting in Him brings blessings to our lives. No matter what the issue is, we can trust God with it. We can trust His answers and direction in our lives, even if we don’t yet understand the outcomes. God will never steer us wrong. He will never abuse our trust. Man will sometimes fail us, but God never will. I’m thankful I’ve had the opportunity to trust Him in my life. Aren’t you?

Romance in Life

Ephesians 3:19–And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

It’s hard to find romance in life sometimes. Especially when you’ve been married for twelve years and have five children. My husband and I both get caught up in living and daily the tasks that we often forget to appreciate each other. Television and movies portray love as something that requires a great deal of romance, and leave me feeling like my life lacks something when I am finished. There are times when I feel sad that I don’t have that mushy-gushy love in my life right now, but then I look around me and realize the type of love I do have is much longer lasting. Five children look to me and call me, “Mommy.” A husband needs my support. I have friends and family and a church family that I would be lost without. I have so many different types of love in my life, how could I ever feel sad to lack that “movie-type romance?”

The most important love that I have is God’s love. And, in that type of love, it is the definition of movie ‘romance’–bear with me a moment. What it is about movie or TV love that we find so appealing? For me, it’s that sense that these people must have each other in order for life to be right. They would die or fight monsters or go on some crazy, harrowing journey just to attain togetherness. Our Savior did exactly that for us. He went on a journey and suffered and died because of His great love for us. Just so He could be with us for eternity. Thefreedictionary.com defines romance in many ways. In this instance, I prefer this definition: 2. love, esp romantic love idealized for its purity or beauty. Jesus’ love for us can find no purer match here on earth. No more beautiful love ever held form anywhere. So, I can rest assured that no matter where I go, no matter how I feel the loves in my life are going, no matter how un-romantic my days seem, that I have a God who went the distance for me to attain my presence forever. And, that sounds pretty romantic to me. 

 

(Note about today’s devotional: Please do not think for a moment I associate romance in this form with sexuality. Two TOTALLY different things!)

Picture taken by me at Museum of Appalachia, Norris, TN