Tuesday, July 10, 2018

“Yucky…That’s the only word to describe it!”

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. The Bible talks about how hard it is to control our tongues in James Chapter 3… 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 little 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 determined that the best way to teach my boys how to control their tongues would be with a visual reminder of its ugliness. My tool of choice was vinegar.   I shared with them that every time they chose to speak ugly or yucky to others that yucky stuff was going to be put in their mouths as a reminder that we shouldn’t talk that way.  

My slogan was…
            Yucky talk = Yucky taste

It seemed to work to some degree for awhile. I threatened vinegar often 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, the boys want nothing to do with vinegar. Once I was at the grocery store and needed vinegar for a cooking project.  I 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!”

Another time I was cooking in the kitchen 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 how much it looked like a water bottle until my boys came in hot and thirsty.  One went to grab it to guzzle it down (I guess the bottles did look a little similar, but taste very different!)  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 to help us guard our mouths and season our speech with sweetness.

How others respond to our words are determined by several factors:

As we speak to others we need to consider…
How we say it, the tone, the attitude behind the words, the specific words chosen, and the timing of it all.

I don’t know if this is true for you, but I’ve noticed that ugliness seems to fly freely most with family. Why is that?  Why are we the most hateful to those closest to us?  Maybe it’s because we feel like we can really be ourselves around them.  But, what is that saying about our true selves.

Luke 6:45 says...
“Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks…” 

What do the words that come out of our mouths say about our hearts?  (Ouch!)

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

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

I’ve learned over time that our words and habits are transferable to our children. Some families are yellers and they produce children that yell.  Others communicate quietly and have children that have probably never 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 to your family.

With that in mind, I want to be my family’s biggest cheerleader!  I strive to speak words of life to my family daily.  Some days I win at this and other days I fail.  I don’t know about you, but this is a struggle for me at times.   The good doesn’t always want to come out.  Some times my timing is off, the tone isn’t right, and I have a bad attitude.  It’s a good thing that I have God to help me with this.

Awhile back I posted a note on my mirror as a reminder of all of this.  It says… “Choose today to be a Life Giver.” It may sound crazy, but I will catch myself in the middle of sentences realizing… maybe the tone, attitude, or timing is off on this conversation with my family member. Allowing God to help me guard my tongue, watch my attitude, and choose my words wisely makes a huge difference.

I’m on a journey of trying to become more like Christ in this area of my life.  In the process, 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 cannot see. If we are constantly looking at things through a negative, critical lens, 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 I did.  It makes all 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. This 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 with no regrets when it comes to your words.

Be purposeful and intentional about building others up! 

12:34 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 today!

Living to leave a legacy!

Lord, please help me to set my heart on You today.  I know that “Out of the abundance of my heart” I will speak.  Please help me to guard my mouth.  I want to speak sweet and encouraging words like You do to others.  My family sees me at my best, worst, and knows just how to push my buttons to make me upset.  Please help me to control my tongue at home.  I know if I can control my tongue at home, I should be able to control it anywhere.   Help me to learn to bite my tongue when I need to and become intentional about speaking life giving words to others.  In a world where it’s cool to cut down others, help me to be an encourager of the soul.  Lord, help me to reflect You well with my words today.  Thank you for the words of life that you have given me.  Help me to make time and take time to read them.  I love you today and forever.  Amen.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

“Can I have a Band-aid please… Life Hurts?”

 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 away all of the pain.

There have been many times in my life’s journey that I wished this concept was true.  If only I could put a band-aid on it and see it immediately be 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 does promise to walk through it all with us. We are not alone!  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 some time 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 lifetime, but a few 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 and refer me on to the next.  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. In that moment, I decided that regardless of how I felt that I was going to choose to be thankful.   I was thankful to be alive and thankful that I could be with my family. I determined that if I had to live with this horrid pain forever that  I could do it with God’s help.

After SIX MONTHS, we finally discovered the problem!!!  One of the medicines 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 all. A lesson in patience for me I suppose.

I don’t know what kind of pain you are facing today in your life, but the main thing you need to realize is that God has not forgotten you. YOU are not alone!  He is near and wants to walk with you through it all.  No matter how hard things may get, Run TO Him. Keep running to Him when you are hurting, battered, and bruised.  Even when your inclination is to run the other direction entirely (AWAY from God) don't do it!  He loves you dearly friend and wants to be there for you.

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 at times (when I’ve been sick or struggling in the past) like I was hanging from a rope. It felt like it was wearing thin and I was just hanging by a thread. In that moment God reminded me of something.  I was not alone.  He was holding on to the other end of the rope.  I was safe as long as I held tightly on to Him. No matter where you are in life or what you are facing friend… 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 richly today as you face life’s difficulties with His peace, presence, and patience for the journey.

Living to leave a legacy,

God, thank you that you are always there for me no mater what.  I know in this world I will face trouble and difficulties.  It is inevitable.  Regardless of what is happening around me or to me… When I am struggling, hurting, and feeling overwhelmed help me to always run to you.  Help me to trust you with all of my pain, hurts, and heartache.  Help me to surrender my fears to you today and rest in your peace.  Help me to remember that I am not alone.  YOU are there to comfort me, heal me, and restore me!  Sink my faith roots deep in You so that I am always ready for whatever comes my way.  I hold tightly on to you God.  You are my anchor through all of life’s storms.  I pray that whatever life may bring me that in the end I am drawn closer to you and become stronger as a result.  I love you today and forever.  Amen.