A Life Stirred

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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Now what?

Right after that eye-opening day in August, there was about two weeks where I had no idea how to talk like a normal human being.  Not a clue.

I mean, I basically needed to undo years of learned behaviors, which is no easy feat.  And because I was so serious about being different with my words, I wanted to just clam up until I figured it all out.

But that wasn’t so easy.  I talk all the time.  A quick google search informed me that women say about 20,000 words a day.  That’s a lot of words.  Words to my husband.  Words to my girls.  Words to my friends (not to be confused with “Words with Friends”).  Words to myself (whoa, tell me that doesn’t give you a moment’s pause—maybe the words we say to ourselves should be edifying too).  Words to strangers.

There’s a lot to think about when it comes to my words.  And no easy solution.  In the beginning of this word-journey, I had more questions than answers about my words:

How do you share frustrations without gossiping?

How do I talk to friends in a way that I can build them up?

What if I read something on facebook and then share it verbally with someone else, is that gossip?

How can I vent in a healthy way?  Is venting ever a good choice?

How can I be real and authentic without sharing everything with everyone?

The rest of this month is going to be all about the different kinds of speaking that we do, and it’s gonna get practical.  Of course, I don’t have it all figured out, so my hope  is that this week can be a bit more interactive.  I’d love to hear from you (yes, you!).  I know you have wisdom to share.

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Scripture on a Sunday :: Proverbs 12:18

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God’s Word on our Words :: Part 6

So, I’ve spent a lot of time this month (ok, ok, the whole month) talking about what not to do with regards to our mouths.  And while that is helpful to some degree, it doesn’t really help long-term.  Yes, it is good to know what needs to be changed in us.  But real transformation comes when we start to learn what we need to do instead.

So, what is the alternative to gossip or slander?

Thankfulness.

Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place,

but instead let there be thanksgiving. 

Ephesians 5:4

Over and over and over in the Bible, God tells us to give thanks to Him, to sing praises, to praise Him.

With my mouth I will give great thanks to the Lord;

I will praise him in the midst of the throng. 

Psalm 109:30

Talk about an “ah-ha!” moment.  That’s what we’re supposed to do with our mouths!  Give thanks to the Lord!

Yes, we are supposed to build each other up and speak life.  But more than that, we are to give thanks to the Lord.  Our mouths are for blessing the Lord, for bringing Him glory, for making Him known to those around us.

Good stuff, eh?  That kind of changes the way I view my mouth, like it’s not for me and my glory and my purposes.  But rather it’s for the Lord, for His glory, and His purposes.

Next week we’ll be getting into some of the practical how-to stuff about taming our tongues.  But this is the basis for all our words.

And whatever you do, in word or deed,

do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,

giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:17

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God’s Word on Our Words :: Part 5

So, uh, it turns out the Bible has A LOT to say about our words!  During the course of this week, I’ve been shocked at how much instruction God gives us on how we talk.  It’s almost like He knew it was going to be a problem for us humans…

Hmmm….

I guess that’s a little comforting.  At least I’m not the only one to have a hard time taming my tongue.

All that to say, I could do another 31 Days on God’s Word on our Words (don’t worry…I probably won’t…probably).  So really, this week, I’m only covering a few of my favorite verses that I’ve come across.  I just felt like I needed to insert that disclaimer here.

Let the words of my mouth and

the meditation of my heart

be acceptable in your sight,

O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. 

Psalm 19:14

So, the thing that gets me about this verse is that it’s not only my words that need to be acceptable to the Lord, but also the meditations of my heart!

Talk about taking it a step further!!

I may be able to control my tongue, but if my mind and heart are still spewing hatred, bitterness, anger, jealousy, or judgment, there’s still a problem.  And as previously mentioned, our words are a heart issue.  So if the meditations of my heart are not acceptable, it’ll only be a matter of time before they become the words of my mouth.

Does that make sense?  (I’ve done a lot of writing this month…and I think I may be losing my ability to write coherent, concise sentences…I’m sorry.)

Oh, Father, forgive me for those times when the meditation of my heart has not been acceptable in your sight.  Forgive me for spending so much time fixing the exterior and failing to focus on my heart’s meditations.  Thank you for your grace and forgiveness.  Thank you that you are faithful to complete the good work you began in me.

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God’s Word on Our Words :: Part 4

Proverbs is full of all kinds of awesome wisdom.  Like it’s a book of wisdom of something.  Which it is.

Anyway, Proverbs has a lot to say about how we talk, and it was hard to choose just one verse.  Who knew that 31 days wasn’t going to be enough?!

Death and life are in the power of the tongue,

and those who love it will eat its fruit. 

Proverbs 18:21

The concept of speaking life is very intriguing to me.  My words can give life!  Or death!  That’s some power!

Obviously, it’s not talking about literal life and death, but rather our words can generate energy and life in someone or they can cause destruction and pain.

I think about this a lot with my girls.  My words to them matter.  What I speak over them matters.

Before I had kids, I heard a mom talk about the “Terrible Twos.”  She said she never wanted to speak that over her children.  She knew that the age of two might be a challenge (she wasn’t naive), but she didn’t want to speak it as if it was an expectation.  That stuck with me.

It comes up a lot in conversations about the sisterly relationship between my two girls (16 months apart).  They get along really well right now (not perfectly, but really well), and generally, people (read: strangers in Walmart) respond to that by commenting that “Don’t worry; they’ll hate each other when they get older” (or some variation of that).

I refuse to speak that over my girls.  Those are words of death!

I tell them that they are best friends!  I foster their friendship and love for one another.  I pray that they will be best buddies forever!

BFFs!

BFFs!

And yes, I know that they will have disagreements and fights.  I’m not blind to what the reality of two teenage girls 16 months apart will be like.  It won’t always be pretty.  But by speaking life over their relationship, I believe I can foster a deep love for one another that transcends any teenager squabble.

They recently discovered wrestling.  It's an oddly fair match-up.

They recently discovered wrestling. It’s an oddly fair match-up.

How do you choose to speak life over your kids?  Or husband?  Or friends?  Have you ever thought of your words in terms of life and death?

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God’s Word on Our Words :: Part 3

Joanna has some obnoxious delightful  songs on my her iPod.  Bible verses set to music.  Presumably they are catchy so that she will be inspired to memorize scripture.  I think it might be working because I’ve caught her singing along to them during naptime.

One side effect, however, is that they are also worming their way into my brain.  This is both a good thing (it’s always beneficial to know scripture) and a bad thing (they are oh-so-annoying).

 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 

1 Thessalonians 5:11

Sing with me:  “Encourage one another and build each other up. Build each other up.  Build each other up.  Encourage one another and build each other up.  Up up up up up up up up.”

In this journey towards taming my tongue, this verse (song?) has been almost permanently stuck in my mind.  So I guess Steve Green got what he wanted—scripture in the minds of believers.  [Sidenote:  I just googled Steve Green, and it turns out he’s a well-respected and talented Christian artist.  Who knew?  Ha!  Sorry, Steve Green.]

Encourage one another and build each other up.  This is my heart’s cry.  Recently, a new mom’s group started at my church (MOMS Connection…check us out, if you’re local!), and our theme for the year is “encouragement.”  Because all moms need encouragement.  So badly.

I want to be an encourager.  I want everyone who crosses my path to leave feel just a little lighter because of encouragement.

I’ll be honest, though.  It’s not always easy.  Sometimes I’m too self-centered to encourage.  Sometimes I’m too prideful to encourage.  Sometimes I feel too discouraged to encourage.

Out of the heart the mouth speaks, right?  So if I have a heart full of the Lord’s encouragement, my mouth will speak encouragement as well!  I simply need to seek Him and encouragement from His word.  Simple really.

Do you need encouragement?  How do you most like to hear/feel/receive encouragement?

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God’s Word on our Words :: Part 2

Hey, remember 10 months ago when I shared my word of the year?

I felt that 2014 was going to be year of listening. And it has!  And it hasn’t.  There have been some ups and downs.

But it’s funny.  God made a point to show me the truth about my words, about how I speak.

Initially, I remember thinking that it had nothing to do with listening.  Because talking the opposite of listening.

But guess what?!  It’s not as unrelated as I thought!!  God is cool.

Know this, my beloved brothers:

let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger…

James 1:19

Quick to hear.  Slow to speak.

There is a connection!

Mind. Blown.

I frequently switch this verse around.  I am quick to speak and slow to listen.

I am quick to speak with God and slow to listen to Him.

I am quick to speak with Ben and slow to listen, to really listen.

I am quick to speak to my girls and slow to listen (even though they aren’t too talk-y yet).

I am quick to speak to my friends and slow to listen, to hear their hearts.

Oh, how I want to get this verse straightened out in my life!

I want to be QUICK TO HEAR and SLOW TO SPEAK.  Honestly, I’d love for my words to be few and intentional.  As opposed to what they are, plentiful and haphazard.

Lord, help me to be quick to hear.  Help me to be slow to speak.

Do you feel you are quick to hear and slow to speak?  Or is it more the other way around?

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God’s Word on our Words :: Part 1

So, last week we talked about gossip.  A lot.  I’d apologize for that…except I’m not sorry.  It’s where this journey to a tame tongue started for me.

Yet there’s so much more to a tame tongue than just gossip.  An untamed tongue will…

  • Gossip.
  • Slander.
  • Grumble and complain.
  • Speak before thinking.
  • Tear others down.
  • Speak in anger.
  • Speak bitterness.
  • Judge.
  • Lie.
  • Be sarcastic.
  • Hurt others.
  • Boast.

I’m sure there are more things an untamed tongue will do, but that seemed like enough for now.  I suspect (no, I know) that all of us have done most (all?) of those things.  In our natural state, our tongues are wild and untamed.

But thankfully, the Lord (and His Holy Spirit in us) can change us.  Can I get a woot-woot?  (Seriously, I’m excited that my words don’t need to be defined by the above list.)

So, because the Lord can change us, I think it’s worth learning what He says about how our words should be…because that will be our end goal.  This week is all about what God’s Word says about our words.

It’s gonna be a happy week.

Let’s start with my favorite.  After I realized I had a problem with my tongue (that sounds gross…but I guess it was gross), this verse kind of rocked my world in a good way.  I wanted to plaster it everywhere, just so it could sink in.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths,

but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion,

that it may give grace to those who hear. 

Ephesians 4:29

I really do love this verse so much.  Every time I read it, it re-hits me with its awesomeness.  (Why, yes, I did make up two words for that sentence…although spell-check is ok them.)

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouth.  That’s what not to do.  Other versions say “no unwholesome talk.”

But only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion.  This is what we should do.  Build up.  Encourage.  Speak life!

So that it may give grace to those who hear.  That is the goal of our words.  To give grace.

Yes and amen!

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