A Life Stirred

Words to myself

Have you ever thought about the words you say to yourself?  I’m not talking about out-loud words where we chant our grocery shopping list to ourselves….but the words we say to ourselves in our minds.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not very kind to myself.

I want my words to my friends to be edifying.  I want to build others up and encourage them.  I want to show grace and love.

And yet…I rarely give myself that kind of grace.  I am very critical and discouraging and a little bit nasty.  Honestly, if I spoke to others the way I speak to myself, I wouldn’t have many friends.

I wish I had an easy list of suggestions for how to “fix” this problem.  I don’t.  (If you do, I’ll take any suggestions now!)

In Breaking Free (a Bible study by Beth Moore), she addresses learning how to take our thoughts captive.  We all have errant thoughts–that are based on lies we believe or a doubt we have.  We have to choose to take those thoughts captive to obey Christ.  We have to put truth on the lies and choose to believe what God says over what we say.

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God,

and take every thought captive to obey Christ.

–2 Corinthians 10:5

For me, it is an ongoing process, but I am learning.  And I believe I’m even making progress (because at least I can recognize that there’s a problem with my thought-words).  So, bring on the freedom!

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Parenting with Deliberate Words

This post has to start with a disclaimer.  I am not a parenting expert.  I’ve only been a parent for two years.  I’ve only ever been a parent to my two girls.  Anything I’m about to share is simply what I’ve learned so far.  I share because I hope it might be a help to you on your journey.

Being a mom is weird sometimes.  You give birth to a tiny bundle of baby squishiness.

A tiny bundle with big cheeks.

A tiny bundle with big cheeks.

After a day or two, you get sent home with this baby, and you’re in charge.  The learning curve on motherhood is intense.  I know I learned to do all kinds of things I’d never done before—change a diaper in the dark, nurse a baby, or get a poopy onesie off a squirming baby without getting poo everywhere.

I also learned to narrate my every move for Joanna.  You know, to help with language acquisition…and to fill the silence of my house.

“We’re going to the grocery now.  Let’s get our coats on.  One arm in.  Two arms in.  Yay!  Now we need shoes.  Mommy has her shoes on.  It’s your turn now.  Let’s put those shoes on.  One, two buckle my shoe…”

So many one-sided conversations.

And then a weird thing happened.  Joanna started talking back.  Not in a sassy way, but she started responding.  We started to actually have conversations.  Now, she frequently makes me laugh with her responses.  So not only does she reply, but she’s funny too.

But anyway, when Joanna was about two, I realized I was still doing a lot of one-sided conversations.  I was giving her directions, and just not expecting a response.  Even though she was fully capable of responding and obeying.

For example, I would tell her it’s time to clean up, but then I wouldn’t expect her to do what I had just asked.  Just like when she was 3 months old, I’d tell her it was time to put a coat on, but never expected her to actually do it (because she couldn’t).

In doing this, I was weakening the power of my words.  She was learning that she didn’t need to do what I said.  And I could tell that I needed to say what I mean and mean what I say.

Sounds simple, right?  In theory, it is.  But in actuality, it is hard to make sure that I am only saying what I am willing to follow through on.  Yet talking to my girls this way has be so beneficial.  I feel like it has helped them to be more obedient and responsive to me.

Don’t get me wrong.  I still have plenty of times when I say something to the girls, and they totally ignore me, and I don’t follow through to make sure they listen.  Generally, though, I am careful to say what I mean and follow through on it.

I still narrate my every move (even when I’m alone at the grocery store…it’s a hard habit to break).  But I am also much more deliberate with my words and requests.

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Words to our Kids

I’ve talked before about my words to my girls.  I want to speak life to them.  I want to encourage them and build them up.  I have seen the impact of my words, even at their young age.

Both girls are language-sponges right now.  They absorb everything I say.  Which has both its positives and negatives.

On the one hand, Joanna can sing the doxology (“Praise God from whom all blessings flow…”), which is pretty much the cutest thing in the world.

On the other hand, I’ve also come to realize that I say “actually” a lot.  I didn’t know this until my two year old started saying things like, “Actually, I’m going to do that later.”  It’s funny, but it makes me wonder what else I say without realizing it.  Gulp.

There’s nothing quite like having your kid repeat your own words right back at you.  And beyond what I say in the course of the day, the way I say things can have a huge impact on them.

A harsh “no” can cause them to burst into tears.  [This isn’t a bad thing.  I want them to have soft hearts that are quick to repent.  But it’s strange to see one word, spoken firmly, cause tears.]

A compliment or praise can bring a sparkle to their eyes.

This picture is the perfect reminder of the impact of my words.  Right before I took the picture, I said, “Joanna, you are a beautiful princess.”

jo

She lit up.

Our words to our children really do matter.  Even when they’re young.  So go speak some life to your kiddos today!

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Don’t miss a day!

 

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Words to My Husband

If you’ve been married for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard a sermon or two or twelve on Ephesians 5.  The husbands and wives part.  It’s like the go-to passage for Biblical wisdom on marriage.  And it probably should be; there’s a lot of good stuff in it.

Anyway, we’re talking about how we can tame our tongue particularly with regards to our husbands.

In a little more than a week, we'll celebrate our 6 year anniversary.  So clearly, I'm a marriage expert.  Or not.

In a little more than a week, we’ll celebrate our 6 year anniversary. So clearly, I’m a marriage expert. Or not.

…Let the wife see that she respects her husband.  –Ephesians 5:33b

Respect.

I can show respect through my words.

I’m not an expert in this.  I’ve just been learning as I go (and reading books and listening to sermons that will give me insight into the mystery that is my husband).  I have learned that my words can do damage…and fast.  Even if I don’t meant them to.

I am learning how to speak more respectfully to Ben.  I learning to hear my words the way he hears them.  I’m also learning how to say something and then stop and give time to think and respond…instead of just pelting more words at him (which is my natural tendency).

If you are looking for a good book on this subject, there are a million.  However, I’ve enjoyed How to Have a New Husband by Friday by Kevin Leman.  It’s a dumb title (sorry, Mr. Leman), but a very helpful book.  [And spoiler alert:  Having a new husband is actually more about you changing (sorry)…so if you wanted a book that would magically change your husband this isn't it, but it’s fairly insightful.  And I did get flowers from Ben after a few days of applying some of the principles...so there's that.]

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Scripture on a Sunday :: Proverbs 19:14

townhall2 - Copy

Don't miss a day!

Don’t miss a day!

PS This is my 100th post!!  Who would have ever thought I’d make it this far?!

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His Word

You may have noticed that my “Taming the Tongue” posts are getting shorter and shorter.

I wish I could say that’s because I’m learning that less is more when comes to my words.

But really, life has just been rough this week…and there hasn’t been a whole lot of sleep for any of us.  So not cool.

I think we’re on the mend.  I hope.  I pray.  Oh please, let us be on the mend!

I thought playing in the leaves would drive the germs away.

I thought playing in the leaves might drive the germs away.

In this season (can a week count as a season?  It feels like a season) of sickness, I’ve been reminded of the power of the words that I speak to myself.  Also known as thoughts.  Ha!

When there’s a stomach bug in our house, I have a tendency to worry and fret.  My thoughts can easily go down a fearful (and mildly irrational and definitely unproductive) rabbit trail of What-Ifs.  I am learning (slowly) to fill my mind with scripture instead.

His Word and Spirit can fill me with peace that surpasses understanding.  His Word reminds me what is true.  His Word gives me comfort.  His Word is all I need.

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A Heart Issue…again.

I’ve mentioned before that gossip is a heart issue.  Currently, my heart is super-sensitive to it.  I don’t want there to be any hint of wrongdoing in my words.

…which is good, and it’s where God has me right now.  BUT…I am so super-sensitive to my words that I’m a little extra strict with what I say and what I hear.  This makes for an interesting dynamic in my relationships.

For example, if someone wants to vent about a frustration in a relationship, I don’t know what to do!  Her heart in sharing may not be gossipy…it’s just frustration.  She needs some perspective and wisdom and understanding.  She isn’t sharing to tear down or slander them.  She genuinely wants encouragement and counsel.

Yet, I find that that kind of situation is hard for me.  Because of my gossip-y past, there’s part of me (the sinful part) that wants to hear negatives (especially if I know the person and/or if I feel like I’m competition with them).

She isn’t gossiping.  But I am…?  That’s weird, right?  It all comes down to our hearts.  My friend is sharing with a pure motive.  I am listening with an impure motive.  It’s tricky stuff.

It is my prayer that as time passes and as I gain more control over my words, I will be able to reengage in conversations like that without struggling.  God can transform me, and I believe He will.  In fact, I know He already is!

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Limits

I’ve enjoyed writing for many years.  I have journals and journals filled with (not so good and not so finished) stories that I wrote when I was a kid.  When I was in second grade, my teacher expressed a concern with my creative writing.  According to her, I included everyone from my class in my stories, resulting in too many characters.  [Which—now that I think about it—is a bizarre concern to have for an 8 year old's stories.]  When my parents asked me about it, I replied, “I just don’t want anyone to be left out.”

Twenty-two years later, I still like everyone to be included and feel important to me.  This isn’t a bad trait.  In fact, it’s a good thing to make those around you feel valued and included.  But somehow, I began to believe that that in order for me to include everyone and to be authentic and real (qualities I want to have), I had to share everything with everyone.

I mean, I had some level of discretion.  I wouldn’t just pour out my soul to the Walmart cashier.  But I have a lot of close friends, and I feel like I’m supposed to tell them all everything I’m working on and processing through.  And all the details.  And all my feelings and thoughts about the details.

Yet in this journey to a tame tongue, three different and wise women suggested that limiting who you share all the details with is part of having a tamed tongue.  They said there are levels of friendship and real-ness.

Honestly, that had never occurred to me.  I just want to include everyone.  I don’t like to think of levels of friendships because it sounds like I’ll be leaving someone out, which causes me to have flashbacks to 7th grade.

But the more I thought about it, the more I saw the value of limiting the number of people I share deeply with.  Not everyone needs to know everything I’m dealing with.  And really, I can be authentic without sharing everything with everyone.  Although, that balance is a little hard to find.

So, while I still want everyone to feel valued and included, I am beginning to see that discretion in what I say and to whom is absolutely key in taming my tongue.

What about you?  Do you consciously limit who you share deeply with?  Have you found a way to be authentic without over-sharing?

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Ask yourself…

I used to be a teacher.  It was a short-lived career, interrupted after two years by the arrival of Joanna (a totally worthwhile interruption).

I taught a combined class of first and second graders at a Christian school.  There were only 12 of them, but some days it felt like twice that.  They were a…umm…spirited group.  I loved them though…it really was a fun season.

[Sidenote:  They’re in 5th grade now!!  When I was pregnant with Joanna, we did math to figure out how old they would be when she was in Pre-K.  A sneaky way to do some math, right?  Anyway, we figured that they would be 7th grade.  That seemed so far away when they were just 2nd graders, but suddenly, that’s only 2 years from now!  Time, you’re crazy.]

Anyway, as with any 6-8 year olds, they lacked a filter for their thoughts and words.  So, we had a series of questions they were supposed to answer before they said something.  Although, more often than not, we used the questions after they had already blabbered something inappropriate.

Is it kind?

Is it true?

Is it necessary?

If the answer to any of those questions is “no”, then it shouldn’t be shared.  Such simple questions.  Yet, I think I could benefit from taking a minute and asking myself those questions before I speak.

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Take a Minute

Alright, so how do you tame your tongue in everyday speech?

No, really.  How do you do it?

I still really have no idea.  So if you were expecting a super-practical, hands-on post, I’m probably going to disappoint you.

I may not have it all figured out, but I have put some thought into it.  So there’s that.

The biggest thing I’m trying to do to tame my tongue is really not all that groundbreaking.  Actually, it’s not groundbreaking at all.

So, ideally, before I speak or text or email or share, I take a second and examine my heart and my motives.  I say “ideally” because it doesn’t always happen.  But when I do, I’m always better for it.  And sometimes I chose not to say what I was going to say.  (Which is always a really hard decision to follow-through on, and I will generally have a 6 minute battle with myself as to whether or not I’m just being ridiculous.)

So, if I’m about to send a friend a text to complain about my day, I take a moment and decide why I’m sending that.  Am I asking for encouragement?  Do I want a pity party?  Do I want to wallow in my own frustrations?  Most of the time, I want pity, and there’s not really much value to that.  Sometimes, with a humble attitude, I can admit to my frustrations and discouragement, and I can open the door for my friend to speak encouragement to me.

What about you?  Do you have the habit of pausing before you speak?  Any tricks to share on how you remember to do that?  Do you ever have a 6 minute battle with yourself about whether or not to say what you want to say?  Or is that just me…?

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