Thursday, February 27, 2014

Blast from the past series - 7

"Finish the Race"
Posted 5-24-11

I finished my first official race recently. It was a 5K run/walk… I was walking of course. Running is NOT my thing. It has been a huge goal of mine since January of this year to do this. I wanted to prove to myself and be a testimony to others, that “I can do anything with God’s help.” It may not be a big deal to most, but this was a HUGE accomplishment for ME!

I’ve struggled with an autoimmune disease for the past 6 years. It is a disease that affects my muscles. At it’s worst I had trouble swallowing, talking, walking, lifting things, and seeing. The disease weakens every muscle in my body when it’s not under control. I have struggled with these symptoms and more in variations off and on for the past few years. With medication and lots of prayer, it has been under control for the most part. However just a month and a half ago I was in the hospital for a week because of a “flare up.” Some of my old symptoms decided to come back out of the blue to torture me.

No matter what I struggled with symptom-wise, my eyes were set on FINISHING “the race.” I trained the best that I could. Sometimes exercising can make things worse and sometimes it makes things better depending on the day. I spent several months in preparation for the “big day,” not really knowing if I had in fact prepared enough. My goal was to COMPLETE the race and finish strong!

I felt an overwhelming flood of emotions on race day. I was tired, nervous, excited, anxious, proud, and uneasy all wrapped together. The one thing I wish I would have had with me was a walking buddy. But Jesus was with me. As we walked, He reminded me of how far we had journeyed together so far in this life. There have been a lot of ups and downs for me, but He has always been my constant faithful friend.

The race starting line was jammed full. There were wall to wall people. The place was packed with all different ages decked out in their racing attire. The people pushed in at every side waiting with anticipation to begin. It felt like a corral of wild horses about to be released as we started. When the countdown was completed, it was every man for himself.

As we walked you could hear music along the way… small bands were stationed along the path to encourage us. There were signs posted to show us how far we had gone and how far we had yet to go. The streets were filled with people cheering everyone on and encouraging the tired. They were the military, students, grandmas, police officers, mom’s and dad’s. We even saw some “elderly” street belly dancing. I’m not sure that motivated me… but it did bring a smile to my face.

When I got tired, I stopped for a pit stop… a short break to catch my breath and be refreshed. We were given cups of water and sent on our way. The encouragement increased as we reached the end. I’m not sure why, but knowing I was close to the finish line made me pick up the pace. I think it was the idea that it was almost over that propelled me. I pushed through the pain and meditated on the fact that I was a “walking miracle.” Without God’s help, this wouldn’t be possible!

When I crossed the finish line, such a feeling of relief and pride filled my heart… “I DID IT, with God’s help. We make such a good team!” What a sense of accomplishment to know that I finished the race I set out to and I finished strong. This race reminded me a lot of another race that is talked about in the Bible. It is found in …

Hebrews 12:1-2 (MSG)
“Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins.

Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever.

And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!”

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (MSG)
“You've all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You're after one that's gold eternally.”

“I don't know about you, but I'm running hard for the finish line. I'm giving it everything I've got. No sloppy living for me! I'm staying alert and in top condition. I'm not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.”

We are all in a race… a race toward heaven.
 Make sure you are headed the right direction and you are on the right path. There are those ahead of you cheering you on and those behind you following your lead. There are signs to show you where you’ve come from and where you have yet to go. People are pushing in all around you as you journey. Be strong. Push through the pain and link arms with Jesus. He knows the way to the finish line. You can do it! Finish the race and finish strong!

Living to leave a legacy!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Blast from the past series - 6

Life Lessons and Legacy
Posted 1-11-12

My husband turned forty recently. It was a big event for him. He has been dreading it for years. I don’t know why. I guess it’s a natural time to re-evaluate your life and see how you’ve done. I knew he wasn’t looking forward to it, so I wanted to go out of my way to make his birthday special and some how soften the blow for him.

With that said, I decided to make him a special memory book.  What better way to see all of what you have accomplished! I wanted him to see first hand the lives he had impacted and to hear it personally from those he had touched all along the way. The whole project took three months to send out messages, gather notes, and put it all together. I was amazed at the response. There were birthday wishes, thank you’s, and lots of funny stories. Some responses were short and lighthearted while others were long and purposeful. They all were so encouraging!

My husband’s response as he opened it was unforgettable! He was shocked and couldn’t believe his eyes. What was this? How did I get all of these people to write him? His high school friends too? He was overwhelmed. He began to read immediately and was swallowed up into the book. He read it from beginning to end… laughing, smiling, and tearing up. It was powerful. He said it was the best present ever. His life’s impact wrapped up in a book. I think I was touched just as deeply as he.

This is what he posted on his Facebook status reflecting back on it all…
It was the most amazing gift she could have given me as I reflect over the last forty years. It was a huge reminder that the most important things in life are those that we share life with. Thank you to all of you who took the time to share memories, stories, and words of encouragment with me. You ALL are a part of my story and I am who I am today because of each of you. THANK YOU!! 

As I look back over the last forty years I see lots of highs and lots of lows, but what I truly see is a life well lived. I have some regrets, some missed opportunities, and some curves in the road that I never expected, but what I see most clearly are all of you. What I see are my amazing wife and incredible sons. What I see are the people who have loved me, challenged me, cheered for me, shared with me, corrected me, pushed me, amazed me, and laughed with me. This is the essence of my last forty years and you all are what has made this journey incredible....thank you. 

I am the compilation of all of the lives that have touched me and that I have touched and when I compare that to the few troubles and trials......I am well pleased with the first forty years of my life. I thank God for his incredible blessings. I do not take them for granted. I am truly looking forward to my next forty years!!!

The other night we spent some time as a family talking and sharing about the upcoming year. Daddy discussed his memory book and how it had touched his life. He even read some excerpts from it. He explained how it inspired him to live for eternity now. What did he want others to say about him after he died? In order to make that a reality, he had to live that way today! The boys shared how they wanted others to see them and their goals of who they wanted to become this year. It was precious.

Not only did daddy talk about living for eternity, he also talked about leaving a legacy. Passing on what God has done in us to others and letting it spread. What a concept! It’s a domino effect. Be today what you want others to become tomorrow. Many of the notes in his memory book were from students from our many years of ministry as youth pastors. It was incredible to see how much they have grown and what they are doing now to make a difference in their world for God. We’ve had a part in that. We took what God did in us and passed it on to them, who are passing it on now to others.

One excerpt from a student said this…“I owe the greatest part of my success as a leader of this nations finest young men and women (Navy) to your own dedication and leadership of each one of those young souls you cared for like we were your own children. God bless you! Your influence has grown farther than you could possibly imagine. I thank you, my wife thanks you, and my children thank you for helping me find out what it means and looks like to be a man of God.”

Wow… my kids were inspired! They couldn’t believe all of the lives that were touched and changed. They want to make a difference in their world for God. Watch out world, my boys are going to tear it up for Jesus!

What about you? Who do you want to become in 2012? What do you want others to say about you? Who do you want to touch and impact for God? Live for eternity today! Dream big my friend. God has amazing things in store for you. I hope you are ready. 2012 here we come!

Living to leave a legacy!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Blast from the past series - 5

"Can I have a Band-Aid... Life Hurts?"
Posted 10-11-10

When my boys were little they had this weird fascination with band-aids. I don’t know why, but I couldn’t keep them stocked enough in our house. We were constantly running out. I decided to investigate this mystery. I discovered in my search that my boys had a unique philosophy about band-aids. They thought that anytime they hurt that the band-aid would immediately heal them and take all of the pain away. It was amazing.

I tested the theory several times to be sure. When they would get a bump, bruise, or scratch, they cried their eyes out and immediately stopped the minute the band-aid was placed in position. Wallahhhh… they were healed. I wish it were true! This concept seems a little silly, but some of us see God in the same light. We hurt and therefore we want Him to immediately put a band-aid on it and take all of the pain away.

There have been many times in my life’s journey that I wish I could put a band-aid on my life and see it immediately healed. It would be awesome to see all the hurt go away in a moment. It’s a nice idea, but doesn’t always happen that way. God doesn’t promise to take all of the pain away, but He promises to walk through it all with us. He has been there and knows what it means to hurt.

John 16:32-33 says…
“But I'm not abandoned. The Father is with me. I've told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I've conquered the world."

It is inevitable that we will face pain sometime in our life time. It could be the pain of a broken relationship, hurtful words, a miscarriage, financial hardship, disease, death, an injustice, or a physical pain that won’t go away. When we face pain, we can most relate to Jesus and how He felt on the cross. He was willing to suffer to do whatever it took to build a bridge for us to get to God.

I’ve faced various types of pain in my life time, but a couple years ago I experienced extreme physical pain like never before. I had severe stomach pain that wouldn’t go away. I went to every doctor imaginable and each one kept saying we don’t see anything wrong. I felt like I was being sent in circles and nothing was helping. After awhile, my patience ran out. I was vomiting because of all of the pain and on strong pain killers that barely cut the edge off. I remember lying in bed in severe pain one night thinking… why me???? I didn’t blame God I just didn’t understand what He was doing. I decided that regardless of how I felt that I was thankful I was alive and could be with my family. I determined that if I had to live with this, I would with God’s help. After SIX MONTHS, we finally discovered that one of my meds I was taking for the autoimmune disease I have had a side-effect in very few people that caused abdominal pain. A slight change in the dosage fixed it. A lesson in patience I suppose.

I don’t know what kind of pain you are facing right now in your life, but the main thing you need to realize is that God has not forgotten you. He is near and wants to walk with you through it all. Run TO Him, when you are hurting not AWAY from Him.

I read this quote recently and it really stuck with me.

"When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”
~Franklin D. Roosevelt

I remember feeling when I’ve been sick or struggling like I was hanging from a rope. It felt like it was wearing thin and I was hanging by a thread. But God reminded me that He was holding the other end and I was safe as long as I held on tight to Him. No matter where you are in life or what you are facing… run to God. Hang on tight and let Him carry you through. With God nothing is impossible. Pray, trust Him, Hang on, and let God take care of the rest. He is faithful!

“Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they're supposed to help you discover who you are.” ~Bernice Johnson Reagon

May God bless you today as you face life’s difficulties with His peace, presence, and patience for the journey.

Living to leave a legacy,

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Blast from the past series - 4

Life, Lemonade, and Burnt Biscuits
(posted 7/31/10)

I’ve heard it said before “When life deals you lemons, make lemonade.” I guess it’s all about perspective. Life can be unpredictable at times. It doesn’t always follow the natural pattern we lay out for it. It can bring many unexpected and sometimes unwanted surprises along the way. I faced a recent challenge in the kitchen which caused me to come up with my own mantra for life… “When life gives you burnt biscuits, peal off a layer and it’s all good!”

I was making dinner recently and left biscuits baking in the oven, with a timer on in the care of another. I was only planning to be gone for a few minutes, but when I returned the biscuits had already burned. They weren’t just a little brown, they were BLACK. What a predicament… two packages of biscuits burnt and none left to bake. I couldn’t bear to throw them in the trash, so I cut off the bottoms and did what any mom would do, served them up. Maybe the boys wouldn’t notice, after all one was jumbo style and the other was the layered kind of biscuits! Maybe the sheer height and many layers would cover over my mistake. To my surprise the boys loved the biscuits and said they were the best ever… they didn’t even notice the bottom part was missing.

Have you ever felt like life was taking over and not cooperating with your pre-scheduled plan? Things didn’t go as expected. The loss of a job, a shaky marriage, financial hardship, family squabbles, a death of someone close to you, broken relationships, and unfulfilled dreams… the list could go on of all the hurt we have faced in this thing called life. Sometimes we can’t necessarily change our circumstances, but we can change our attitudes. It has been said before that “Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it.” Ouch! If you are like me, I don’t always react in the way I would like when life throws me curveballs. But with God’s help, I can learn to have the right attitude and perspective no matter what comes my way.

Matthew 6:34 says...
“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

I have learned some lessons from my burnt biscuit escapade that I hope will help you on your journey.

Lessons Learned from Burnt Biscuits:
(God perspectives from the kitchen)

1. Look for the good in every situation!

There is always something to be thankful for no matter how small. I guess at least the biscuits didn’t catch fire and set off the smoke detector. And we were able to eat them… all good reasons to be thankful I suppose.

2. Go with the flow!

Things won’t always go as planned. Look for a back up plan. There are usually many options in each situation you face. Look at them all and choose the best with God's help. I chose to keep the biscuits!

3. Set the tone!

Have you ever noticed how when something goes wrong there is always someone there to watch how you will react to it? It never fails! We can react in negative ways when things don’t go our way. I could have gotten angry, irritated, and set a negative tense tone in my house, but I chose the high road (at least on that day). You have an opportunity to set a positive tone in your family by your reaction to things. Go with the flow and look for the good in it all!

4. Give it to God and trust Him!

Some things just happen and you have to go with the flow. Learn to trust God with the outcome whether it’s good or bad. He has it all under control even when things feel out of control.

Remember it’s all about perspective… seeing things differently. Change your outlook and you will change the atmosphere around you. You can’t change your circumstances, but you can change how you react to them.

I pray you will be challenged this week to face your circumstances with a “different” perspective. You have the ability to make a positive difference in your world no matter what comes your way. Go with God!

Living to leave a legacy,

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Blast from the past series- 3

God Knows YOUR Address
Posted 8/22/10

Did you know that God knows your address? He even knows the city and zip code. Even if you’ve moved a million times, He knows how to find you. You can’t hide from God.

I got a new address book at the first of the year. I put it on my project list to transfer all of the old addresses over to the new address book. For one thing, it was outdated and another it was marked all over. My book was filled with usually the same people who moved several times and filled up a whole page of my address book with their various locations. For some reason I always put it in pen and assumed I wouldn’t ever have to change it. That left a mess in my book as I scratched each old entry out and listed the new one. I’m so glad that no matter where we move and no matter how many times we change locations, that God knows where to find us. He is always up to date in His system with all the details of our lives.

Sometimes life can be challenging, difficult, and even a little overwhelming. It may be so much so that you want to go hide from the world to recover… to go where nobody can find you. It feels like at times we are facing this life alone and it is winning, but that is not true. God is near. He knows where you are and what you are going through. If you invite Him to, He wants to walk through it all with you. He will even carry you when you don’t have the strength to go on.

As many of you know, I have struggled with my health off and on for the past four years however the past year or so has been VERY difficult for me. I had a relapse in my condition and my health went into a downward spiral. It seemed like nothing was helping turn it around and day by day I was getting worse. It is a scary place to be… having no control over what happens to your life. There were times in the last year when I wondered what the outcome would be… Nothing was working. My energy was drained, I dropped weight drastically and couldn’t keep it on, and I was physically exhausted. I remember telling Al one night that “I was done… I give up.” I didn’t have anything in and of myself left to give.

My husband reminded me at one of the lowest points in my life that God will give me the strength I need to carry on. My theme verse for this season of my life has been…

Philippians 4:13
”For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”

It is God who gives me the strength I need for each day. It’s a strength that is given one day at a time. As I focused on that fact and a few other things I will mention below, it helped carry me through one of the darkest seasons of my life. God knew my address and He knows yours. Be blessed and challenged as you read on.

When facing difficult seasons in your life…

1. Think about the Past

It’s easy to focus on the present thinking about how difficult your situation is, how bad you feel, and maybe even how it feels God seems to be no where to be found. You may not feel like you hear Him or feel Him, but He is there. It is at these moments that you need to take time to remember how God provided for you in the past. What victories have you and He had together? What has He done in you previously? What battles have you won? What issues have you conquered? He hasn’t forgotten you… He is there. He didn’t forget you in the past and He won’t forget you now. Choose to Remember.

When I was sick laying in a bed 12 hours plus a day, it was difficult for me to remember the good. “Stinkin thinkin” always tried to take over and consume me, but I tried to push past it to think on positive things. God had been faithful to me in the past and I trusted Him to come through for me now. I clung to that! Take time to remember all the good God has done in and through your life. He has been there working all along whether you realize it or not.

When facing difficult seasons in your life…

2. Celebrate the Present

Focus on the positive things of each day. Negative thinking doesn’t help anything. There is always going to be something bad to focus on, but that doesn’t help or lift your spirit. In most cases negative talk is the vocabulary of fear. It is voicing out all those things that are feared instead of believing and speaking in faith for what God can do. There is a battle daily within us. We can choose to have faith and trust God with the outcome or be filled with fear and worry which eventually will consume us. I choose faith.

When I was sick the only way I could keep from being consumed by fear and “stinkin thinking” was to focus on daily wins. I was looking for the good things in my day… what positive things could I be thankful for today? Today I can… eat more, my voice is stronger, I have more energy etc... These were “daily wins” for me. I celebrated them knowing these were positive moves forward for me. The victory over the battle you are struggling with is made up of a life time of “daily wins”. Don’t miss out on the journey because you are so caught up in the destination. God is there and has been faithful… take time to look around and see HOW He has been taking care of you.

When facing difficult seasons in your life…

3. Focus on the Future

When your head is down because you’ve been focusing on all of the negative things surrounding your circumstances, it’s hard to see beyond today to the future. But God does have a future for you and me. He has a plan. We need to look toward the future with hope and expectancy of what God may do in and through our lives.

When I was sick the only things that truly helped me press forward when I was wavering in my focus, energy, and overall health was my family. Every time I saw my boys it lifted my spirits. I had to push on and get well for them… they needed me, my husband needed me… God had plans for me. I didn’t know or understand what He was doing, but I knew He could always turn things around. A scripture comes to mind that says that…

Romans 8:28
”And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

I started setting little goals for myself to push toward and attain. These helped me to have something to look forward to and celebrate as I reached each one. One of the goals I had was to be able to go to one of my boy’s baseball games. When I first got sick I couldn’t go to any games or practices. The ball park where they played was a long ways from the parking area which meant a lot of walking. When you struggle with energy and have muscle weakness, walking can be difficult. My goal was to make it to at least one game and walk myself there with no assistance. By the end of the season, I reached my goal.

It is important to have something to shoot for and look forward to… set some goals (small goals) to help you keep your focus on what is most important. What could God be up to? What could He be planning for your life? Take some time to dream about it and imagine how creative God could be with the canvas of your life. He is a great artist… trust Him with the details.

When facing difficult seasons in your life… remember God knows your address. One of my favorite chapters in the Bible is Psalm 139. It speaks of how God knows us inside and out. He is interested in what is going on in our lives and is concerned with the details. Trust Him, He is trustworthy.

I heard a song years ago that has stuck with me. It reminds me that God’s presence is with us through all seasons of life…

“The Lord knows the way through the wilderness and all I have to do is follow…”

God knows where we live, where we’ve come from, and where we are moving to… as long as you are following Him, you have nothing to fear.

Living to leave a legacy!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Blast from the past series - 2

"If You Ever Wonder Letter..."
(Posted 12/13/10)

Did anyone ever ask you as a child who you wanted to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a teacher or a nurse. What did you want to be? I also wanted to have a pink jeep like Barbie when I was younger, but I think I changed my mind now that I’m older. The dreams of a child are so innocent and filled with wonder. A life filled with hope for the future.

Those childhood dreams can sometimes be crushed by the pressures of reality. Have you ever felt… unnoticed, unloved, hurt, rejected, or alone? Sometimes life can be painful… and sometimes that pain can be inflicted upon us by those that are closest to us. People can be cruel and hurtful. Words and actions can make heavy imprints on our hearts. They can shape who we become if we let them.

Our words and actions are powerful. They can build others up or tear them down. They can speak life or death. What is inside of us comes out… and words can not be taken back once they are spoken. That is why it is so important that we are careful what we say especially to those closest to us. Not only is, what we say important, but also how we say it.

Children are very impressionable. They are trying to discover who they are and many of them do that by listening to what others think about them. “What a great job on your test!” – I’m smart. “Why don’t you pick your things up… this house is a mess!” – I’m a horrible person. “I can’t believe you forgot that again!” – I’m dumb.“Your hair is sticking up, brush it!” – I’m ugly. “I can’t believe you did that!” – I’m unlovable.

We need to be especially sensitive with the words we speak to our children. Not only do we need to keep from speaking the negative to them, we need to purposely speak the positive. Speak the obvious to them… after awhile they will start to believe it. “You are beautiful!” “I love your handwriting.” “Thank you for helping me. You are so good at helping others.” Look for the positive… you are building your child’s self-esteem daily with your words. It is at times overwhelming to know that “my words” are molding my kids daily. Wow… what a responsibility.

Each child has a self-esteem bank. It is active daily. There are deposits and withdrawals made. Life in general at times can drain their accounts. As a child, most of their time is spent at school. School can be a very negative environment. They are cut down, discouraged, and most days come home defeated. We need to be the ones as parents who actively make deposits daily into their bank. If nobody else encourages and lifts their spirits up, we need to be their biggest cheerleaders.

I am constantly trying to watch my words with my boys. Not only do I need to be purposeful about what I say, but I also need to watch my careless words. If I fail and something comes out that I didn’t want to say, I need to fix it immediately. By fixing it I mean… say you are sorry to your child for your tone, bad attitude or ugly words, and ask them to forgive you… and WAIT for them to say they will. This shows them that you fail just as they do and how to move forward afterwards.

Self-esteem is important. It defines us. It is our opinion of ourselves reflected for the world to see. I had a low-self esteem as a child. I didn’t think other people liked me. I thought I was ugly, unlovable, insignificant, and unnoticed. As a child we decide who we are based on everyone else’s opinions of us. What do they like about us? What do they dislikeWe look for imperfections in ourselves and wait for someone else to confirm it to us.

I’ve decided this Christmas that I am going to give my children the gift of an “If you ever wonder letter.” I want to give them a constant reminder of my never ending love for them. I’m going to write them a letter sharing “my opinion” of them in case they ever wonder. I am going to speak life-giving words to them to make impressions on their hearts for the future. No matter what age they are if they ever wonder about my love for them… this will be a spoken and visible reminder.

As we grow into adults, we can face moments of discouragement and may have doubts along the way. Am I loved? Does anyone care about me? Why am I here? Does my life make a difference? In those moments of doubt, I want to be the steady determining factor of my boys moving forward with a healthy self-esteem.What would your life have been like had you been given a letter like this? In your moments of doubting, would this have made the difference?

It wasn’t until I was older that I discovered who I really was through a relationship with God. I was seeking for others to tell me who I was instead of seeing myself through God’s eyes… after all, He made me. I realized that it was God’s opinion that mattered most and He was the only one I needed to seek to please. My favorite chapter of all in the Bible is Psalm 139… it speaks of how well God knows me.

13 -16 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother's womb.
I thank you, High God—you're breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I'd even lived one day.

God knows us better than anyone else. It’s good to know that not only does God know me, but He loves me too. In case YOU ever wonder…

YOU are an amazing, intelligent, gifted, giving, compassionate, loving, kind, sensitive, tender-hearted individual whom God loves, made on purpose, and has a purpose for your life.

This Christmas season choose to seek God’s opinion over man’s. It will change your whole perspective and YOU in the process.

Living to leave a legacy,

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Blast from the past series- 1

This month I will be posting some of my favorite posts from the past 4 years. 
I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Yucky Talk=Yucky Taste
(posted 8/8/10)

Have you ever looked at your tongue before? It’s definitely not the prettiest part of our bodies. Our tongue is the organ of taste and speech. James 3 talks about how hard it is to control our tongues… one minute we are speaking good and the next evil. One minute we are encouraging others and the next minute we are tearing them down. It’s a mystery.  I learned when my boys were young that they struggled with this immensely. I immediately set out on a mission to “fix” their ugly talk and teach them to speak words of life.

I decided the best way to teach my boys how to control their tongues was with a visual reminder of it’s ugliness. I chose to use vinegar. I told them every time they chose to speak ugly or yucky to others that yucky stuff was going to be put in their mouths. Yucky talk = Yucky taste. It seemed to work to some degree. I threatened vinegar and they would “try” to do better. The taste lingered in their mouths as a reminder of their bad choice of words. To this day, we sill use the vinegar reminder to help them control their speech especially with each other.

The boys really don’t like vinegar. Once I was at the grocery store and needed vinegar for a cooking project and asked one of them to get me some from the shelf and they said, “no, mommy we don’t need anymore vinegar… PLEASE. We promise to talk nice.” I was cooking in the kitchen recently and had a bottle of white vinegar set out on the counter. It was turned so you couldn’t see the label. I didn’t realize it looked like a water bottle until my boys came in hot and thirsty and one went to grab it to guzzle down. I guess the bottles do look similar, but they taste very differently. I stopped him just in time.

Vinegar… a visual reminder that Yucky Talk = Yucky Taste. I wonder what God would choose to use with us. What if every time we spoke negative, harsh, or ugly words God gave us vinegar? It doesn’t taste very good by itself… just ask my boys. I surely wouldn’t want to have it all the time. Sometimes I think we need a visual reminder of some sort to help us with our speech. There are some things that I have noticed that can make all the difference as we speak to others: how we say things, the tone, the attitude behind the words, the words chosen, and the timing. I don’t know if you have noticed this, but all the ugliness seems to come out most with our family. If we are spouting out ugliness to strangers, there must be a lot of ugliness in our hearts.

Hmm… think about it. If your speech had a taste, what would yours taste like? Sour, bitter, sweet…

Psalm 119:103 says
“How sweet are your words to my taste, they are sweeter than honey.”

Lord, please help us speak sweet words like you. It seems like our families see us at our best, worst, and know just how to push our buttons to make us explode. If we can control our tongues at home, we should be able to control them anywhere. What a great place to practice making your speech sweeter. They may think you are up to something, but with God and His help all things are possible!

I’ve noticed that words and habits are transferable to our children. Some families are yellers and they produce children that yell back. Others are quiet and the children have never even heard their parents argue in front of them. Negative parents produce negative kids and positive parents produce positive kids. With God’s help, you can stop the transfer of negative qualities and pass on a fresh, healthy, and godly heritage for your family.

With that in mind, I am choosing to work on my speech daily and strive to speak words of life to my family. I want to be their biggest cheerleader. It doesn’t come naturally to me, but I strive every day to do it. I have posted a note on my mirror as a reminder to me that says, “Choose to be a Life Giver today.” I catch myself in the middle of sentences realizing… maybe the tone, attitude, or timing is off on this encounter with my family member. When I change my words to make them sweeter, I have noticed that I get a better response from everyone in the house. I have not arrived. I’m on a journey of trying to become more like Christ in this area of my life. Here are some things that may be helpful to you as you endeavor to gain control of your tongue:

Bite your tongue! (Prov. 21:23)
You’ll never be sorry for the hurtful words never spoken. Sometimes the best thing to do is to say nothing and pray. Let God guide your tongue.

Be positive!
 (Phil. 4:8-9)
Being positive is a part of having faith. Faith is believing God for what seems impossible. The Christian walk is a walk of faith. We need to believe God for the things we can’t see. If we are constantly looking at things through a negative, critical lense, our Christian walk will become a defeated one. If you have been raised in a negative home, this is something that will take time, but with God’s help you can do it! Positive people rub off on to others. Make friends with some positive people or marry one like me and it helps make the difference!

Be purposeful! (I Thes. 5:11)
Look for opportunities to build others up (especially your family). A lot of people have low self-esteems because they are torn down so much that they can’t lift their heads. The world is an ugly place. I want my home to be a safe, refreshing, and encouraging place for my family to be. Don’t withhold speaking words of life daily to others. Say, “I love you” often. Use words like please, thank you, and I’m sorry. Live a life of no regrets when it comes to your words.
Be purposeful and intentional about building others up!

Luke 6:45 says…
“Whatever is in your heart determines what you say.”

Fill your heart and life with more of God and you will have words of life to give to others. Remember it’s a journey. It’s not easy, but with God’s help and lots of practice we can tame this ugly tongue.

Choose to speak words of life today… give someone else the gift of a kind word, build self-esteem, and learn to sweeten your words. You have the ability to change your world, one word at a time. Be intentional!

Living to leave a legacy!