Friday, August 31, 2018

Watch Your Mouth

So last week I started talking about some thoughts I had about words. I wasn't really done, but I didn't want to make the post too long. So I'm going to put more thoughts here.

Photo credit: Maggie-A-Day

A LOT of people in world speak death! They say nice words in a tone that isn't nice and you know those words are really death. Sometimes they use death words with a death tone. Sometimes they say death words with a nice tone and you aren't sure, but you think those words are death. They use words on the internet with no tone and maybe those are death too. It is really depressing and disheartening to be around people that so often speak death. It is so easy for a few misplaced words to make you feel less than or to set off your anxiety or a thousand other rotten negative feelings that you don't really want.

And maybe it is you using some of those death words and death tones. Let's be honest at times it is all of us. We all need to be more conscious of our words and how we use them. A few thoughts about how to do that.

Acknowledge and Affirm - Acknowledge what they said. Let them know that you heard what they had to say. By doing this, you are valuing their thoughts and feelings. You are valuing their humanity. Even if you disagree with them, acknowledge that they feel that way. Affirm the parts you can affirm. Like with my 4 year old. I need to acknowledge what she said and feels even if she is yelling it. I get her on to my lap and affirm what it can. "It is hard to be patient." "It is hard to grow up." "It is okay to be sad." "It is okay to be angry."
Then say the part that you need to disagree about. "You can't yell." "You can't hit." They are much more likely to listen to you because you listened to them first. As adults, we must do this with each other. We can not just do this with kids and not do this with each other. When you really want to let loose those death words or death tones, take deep breath. Then put aside yourself and try to listen to them. Try to see where they are coming from. Be aware of what else you have said and how that could make them feel. That leads me to my second thought.

Try to see both sides of the story. You might be angry and frustrated. You might have a good reason to be angry and frustrated. But try to see things from their perspective. Maybe they are angry and frustrated as well. Maybe they are afraid. If you can sympathize with their situation and what they might be feeling, you are less likely to use death words or death tones. If you have to confront them about something, then you can use a reasoning that affirms them and encourages them. You can still confront them, but you will confront them in a way that uses life words and life tones.
For instance if someone isn't living up to their end of a bargain. You are frustrated, but you also know they have a sick family member or extra work at their job, etc. You can start with "You aren't doing enough." OR you could start with "You have a lot going on right now." Then present the situation in a way that acknowledges their side and affirms what they have been doing. They will be ready to talk to you reasonably about the solution. They will listen to your concerns and issues because you saw their issue first.

So try to speak life more often. (And sometimes relationships are just toxic and it is best not to speak at all. However, that is a different story for another day. )

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Words Have Power

Photo Credit: Tom Magliery

The last few weeks I have had a particular verse come to me over and over again in multiple different situations. When that happens, I assume it is something important and I should pay attention to it. The verse is Proverbs 18:21. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue And those who love it will eat its fruit.”

So what does that mean? Lots of things! I will mention a few of them.

1. Your tongue has power! The words you say and the way you say them have power. You can make things better by speaking life. Or you can make them worse by speaking death. Life and death are strong words, but your tongue is a strong instrument. James 3 talks about that.

2. You love your tongue. You may not realize it though. We all love our tongue because of what we can do with it. You tell people that you love them and they smile. You feel better because they feel better. Other times you are angry and your words aren't nice. Your tone is mean. Whoever you fired your words at flinches away from them. Again you feel better because you got that negative out at the person who 'caused' it. There are countless variations to those two options, but most of the time it will break down to one of those two options.

3. There is fruit that grows from the power of your tongue. If you constantly use your tongue for death, the death will live inside of you and infect your relationships. The fruit from your tongue will be death. If you constantly use your tongue for life, life will live inside of you and bloom in your relationships.

I have more to say about this, but I think I will leave this here for now. Next week I will talk about the rest. For now, take some time and see how you use your tongue. Do you speak life or death? What do you really want to use it for?

Friday, August 17, 2018

Waiting for Home

Photo Credit: velo_city

This week has been a rough one. We are a couple weeks away from our move in day and it doesn't look like we will hit that date. The rebuilders haven't used the word delay, but this is week 3 of hoping the inspection happens. So it seems that we won't be back home until later. I have tried really, really hard to not to be depressed about it. I mean how many times have we seen a delay on HGTV? Mentally I knew this would happen, but I hadn't seen it yet. So we had started thinking that really is our moving home date.

This week I have tried multiple ways to reorient my expectations, but it is hard. As good as our displacement has gone, it is still not home. We have been waiting to sleep in our own beds again. We have been waiting to spend time in our own bedrooms and watch TV in our own living room. We have been waiting to cook in our own kitchen and eat in our own dining room. Waiting is hard. Waiting is tiring.

Just earlier tonight, I was thinking about how I have been focusing on my physical home. But this is kinda like my spiritual home as well. Waiting for Heaven is hard. Waiting for Heaven is tiring. This world is a hard place in which we can never really get comfortable. We get tired of hearing all the negativity. We dream of a time when things are truly fair and love really is the greatest. We dream of a place where we don't have to fight so hard all the time.

So maybe while I am waiting impatiently to be back in my physical home, I can think a little more of my spiritual home. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

I’m Not Interested in Being a Good Baptist

Photo Credit: Phoebe Stewart

I’m also not interested in being a good Methodist or Pentecostal or Presbyterian or any other denomination. I’m not even interested in being good. I just want to follow Jesus.

These last couple weeks I have seen so many people grieving. They were grieving the loss of a child, a parent, a marriage. I have seen people living in fear. They fear that they aren’t loved enough, they fear being in conflict with others, they fear messing up too much. Some of those people are even me.

This world is hard and painful. I need Jesus. I need him more every day. I just want more of Him, so I can give more love, more grace, more mercy. I can’t worry about a denomination. I can’t even worry about being ‘good’ by the standard of the world or people around me.

I just want to follow Jesus. I just want to be real and honest. I want to make a difference in this world by bringing more people to Him. I want more people to experience His love, His grace, His mercy. We all know deep down that we are broken and we don’t measure up. That truth lives in our hearts even when we try to deny that it is there. When we admit that it is there and we ask Jesus to fix it, there is so much good and peace and love. Jesus can make it better. The more we try to be like Jesus and follow Hom, the more we get better. So I just want to be better and help others be better.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Quiet Too Long

Photo Credit: Drew Ward

When you are quiet too long, it is hard to know how to start speaking again. Things have happened. You are not the same person that you were before, but how do you tell someone all the stuff you learned.

Maybe you needed the quiet to process all those things you learned. Do you tell people all that stuff all at once? Do you tell them in bits and pieces? Or do you just keep this knowledge to yourself?

I don’t know the answers to any of that, but I think I will start talking again and see if I can figure that out.

(Yes that is the inside of my house before they started putting it back together.)

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Life Lessons in Midst of Hard Times

A few months ago I told you about the fire at our house.  We are still displaced and will be until Labor Day hopefully. They should start working this week. We are basically getting a whole new house because of the smoke damage. It will be nice when we get there, but it is not easy in the meantime. These hard times teach us things and draw us closer to God. When we are in the middle of hurting, we don't like to hear that. But you will get through it and you will be better eventually.

Lesson 1: I'm Glad Life Isn't Perfect
A couple weeks ago in Sunday morning church, I looked over at Ben and noticed he had ketchup on his leg. I had seen it earlier and thought it was a scratch. I was wrong. It was ketchup and I had let my son go to Sunday School and sit through a large part of the church service with ketchup on his leg. That seems like a thing I should have caught earlier. But in that moment of thinking, I should have realized that. I didn't go on to beat myself up. I thought, 'I'm glad life isn't perfect.' Someday sooner than I want to think about Ben will be too old to sit by me in church and way too old for me to wipe ketchup off his leg. On those days, I can look back at that Sunday morning and smile.

Lesson 2: There is Still Beauty in the Ruins

Photo Credit: Me
Lesson 3: I am Still a Work in Progress
It should be no surprise that life has been a little stressful lately. 3rd grade is hard. Potty training is hard. Not living in our own house is hard. Living in another person's house is hard. (Yes those are two different hard things.) Working and keeping house is hard. I try not to let the stress get to me. I try to take one day at a time. I try not to solve all of my problems in one day. Sometimes I fail. Sometimes I fail big. But I'm thankful for people around me who help me figure out what went wrong and how not to do that again.

Lesson 4: Reading Should Be Fun
I have trouble going to the library and not getting a book. I also have trouble not jumping on a really good Kindle deal. So at times, I collect lots of books. There are also times of the year when I read less than others. So when the 'read less' times cross with the 'book collection' times, I get stressed out about the books I'm not reading. (Yes, I know I'm a book addict.) This isn't the first time it has happened. It probably won't be the last. But after stressing myself out for a few days or weeks about the books I'm not reading, I tell myself I'm being ridiculous. I turn in the books to the library and cut myself off for a few weeks. I tell myself that reading should be fun. When it isn't, then put that book down. Life is too short to be stressed by reading. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

God is good!

God just keeps showing up!

Photo Caption:

I'm not saying that life is perfect right now, but every day God shows up to give us a hug or a wink. We had planned a beach trip the second weekend in March. It was so nice to get away after a couple weeks of fire stuff. It was a great stress reliever.

Yesterday on the way to work my phone stopped. I tried several things to fix it and nothing worked. So I had to call and get a new one. That was a hassle because they had to text several codes to a phone. Since mine didn't work, that meant they had to be texted to Drew. Then Drew had to message them to me. Whew! That was a long process, but I got it done and my new one is on the way. When it is all said and done, I will be going from Android to iPhone and gaining SO MUCH storage! The 'God wink' in all this? The expanded storage means that Ben can finally get the WWE Immortals game he has wanted for a while.

The fire was started by a wire that wasn't capped off in Drew's hot rod. We have been going back and forth about what to do with the car. We really just want a car to cruise around in and the Buick was good for that. So we thought maybe rebuilding it as a convertible would be a good idea. But maybe that was just more work than we were willing to put into it right now. So we just thought we would wait. God showed up again! Drew saw a 64 Belair on sale at a great price. It has been used as a daily driver. That car is now ours and will be in the car rider line tomorrow. We can all pile in and cruise.

A few more things... Ben is walking the dog and loving it. When it warms up a little, Ben and I will be running together. Lily and I have gotten in lots of extra cuddles and some great pretend play. We are planning a little reading nook for me when our house gets put back together.

God keeps showing up. His love never ends and provision is enough.