Jan 29, 2014

Unleashed Tongue

I love my dog. Okay, sometimes I don't. She's kind of a big, untrained nuisance. Taking her on walks is impossible without her choke collar. Without accountability around her neck, she would take off, dragging me across grass and concrete alike. I've tried to train her, but she's just a big, overgrown puppy. Forever young...and annoying. Still, how can you not love this face?

My dog reminds me of my tongue. When I wear my Wife hat, I feel like I'm the lead in Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew, but in my case, the production is called, Taming of the Tongue. James 3:8 says no human can tame the tongue, and oh, do I agree! The day I found out my husband's love language was words of affirmation, I knew I was in for a life-long lesson. While growing up, I saw words used as weapons. My father had a terrible tongue. Yes, he cussed like a sailor, but it was more than that. He knew exactly what words to say to cut the spirit. Fortunately, he had only wonderful, uplifting words for me. But monkey see, monkey do, right? I learned quickly how to use my tongue to harm instead of heal.

Now, almost ten years into my marriage, I'm still making gigantic messes. Just a couple days ago, I dropped an atomic bomb of nasty words on my hubby's head. I tore him down when my job is to build him up. For whatever reason, I have more difficulty biting my tongue when with the people I love most than anyone else.

Silence is often key. Proverbs 10:19, 11:12, 17:28 all say that holding our tongue is a wise move. Psalm often compares our tongue to that of a sword. Thank God His word is a sharper sword that can cut out our rotten parts, including our tongues. I bumped into a verse that really hit home for me. Psalm 4:4 says, "Don't sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent" (NLT, emphasis mine). 

I'm sure you've all heard this analogy some time during your upbringing, whether in church, home or school, but the illustration is so true, I can't resist using it. Words are like toothpaste.
Once squeezed out, there's no squeezing them back in.

To end, I choose lyrics from an ageless children's song:
"Oh, be careful little mouth what you say. Oh, be careful little mouth what you say. For the Father up above is looking down with love, so be careful little mouth what you say."

Hats off to you, my friend. I will write again, but until then...
hang on to your hat! ;-)

Jan 14, 2014

People Need People

            Most, if not all, my hats require people. How can I wear my Wife hat without my husband or my Mom hat without my daughter? I can’t. And how useless would my writing be without any readers? People need people.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.”

God’s perfect design involves people needing people. Eve was created for Adam because God knew man shouldn’t be alone. The extent of people needing others varies greatly. Introverts recharge their batteries by themselves while extroverts energize with a crowd. I’m not saying people don’t also need time alone. Even Jesus needed time alone.
            During American Lit in college, I had to read a book about a hermit entitled Walden. The most exciting part of the plot was the observation of ants. Ants!  Needless to say, I had a hard time reading through the book without falling asleep. I asked myself many times why anyone would find pleasure in complete solitude. I mean, we use isolation as a way to punish our worst criminals. Granted, being alone with nature is nothing like being alone in a cell.
The idea of safety in numbers has been drilled into my head since elementary school. During field trips, we would always pair up to help keep our group together and protected (or corralled—whatever your perspective). When I was in the Dominican Republic for a mission trip, we were told never to go anywhere by ourselves when not at the home base. All these examples reaffirm what the Bible already tells us in Essclesiates 4:12, which states, “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

The last part’s my favorite; so much for the saying, “three’s a crowd.”

            So, if people in general need other people, how much more do Christians need each other? I believe the verses in Ecclesiastes can apply to spiritual falling and attacks as well as physical ones. Paul encouraged his readers to “not neglect our meeting together, as some people do… (Hebrews 10: 25)” God has a purpose for all of us, and part of our purpose is being a useful part of the body of Christ. Don’t see the value in such a “religious setting”?  Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-31.
            I understand that some of you may have been burned or abused by a church. All I can say to that is I’m sorry. Unfortunately not every church out there is healthy. Some are sick, just like people. And I can honestly say that every church is filled with hypocrites. The body of Christ is built with humans, and humans (expect for Christ himself) are imperfect. I’m sure your family isn’t filled with perfect people, so why expect a church to be? After all, that’s what other believers are: FAMILY.

Hats off to you, my friend. I will write again, but until then...
hang on to your hat! ;-)

Jan 2, 2014

One Step at a Time

Often, as I enter a new year, I feel the weight of every resolution I make. I’ve tried calling them “goals” to make them seem less burdensome, but in the end, I feel like a piano is hanging over my head ready to drop as soon as I fail. Following through with resolutions is difficult for me. I start out strong but then putter out about 2 weeks later. In the end, the piano (a.k.a. guilt) flattens me like a pancake. 

In theory, to form a good plan, you need to set small goals on your way to the big goal like a step ladder. I’ve known this for all long time, but the concept didn’t fully sink in until I read Kayla one of her stories. Although my daughter didn’t understand anything beyond the illustrations, I had a powerful “ah-ha!” moment.

In Ben’s Big Picture, Ben wants to make a work of art for his grade school’s wall. Unfortunately he knows he is lazy at times and is afraid the principal won’t choose him due to this flaw. He is determined to become more “reliable and organized.” I related to this fictional boy immediately being a procrastinator myself.

Ben must also execute a plan for his art project to be done in a month. He sits down with a blank monthly calendar, but no ideas come, and he just doodles in the first day’s square. Soon he realizes that the drawing he made in day one could be part of a bigger picture. He draws on the entire calendar until every day is covered. Then he sees that if he divided the work and painted each day’s portion on the correlating day, he’d have the project completed in exactly one month. I thought, “I should do that!” Here I’m reading to my toddler, and God is using a children’s book to reach me. Wow.

Ecclesiastes 7:8 says, “Finishing is better than starting…” There is no point to my jotting down a first chapter without eventually having a last one. No agent will pick up unfinished work. The summer I worked at Wal-Mart, I ran with a few coworkers every week. Running long distance is not my forte, but one guy advised me to make tiny goals. I’d see a mailbox a couple yards away and set my sights on it. Then, once I passed the mailbox, I’d find another marker to focus on. Before I knew it, I had run the whole way without stopping.

Keep this in mind as you seek to accomplish this year’s resolutions. The big picture may seem overwhelming, but little steps are far more manageable.  Pray for me. With most of my hats having a least one goal each, I will need to do a lot of high-quality planning.

Hats off to you, my friend. I will write again, but until then...
hang on to your hat! ;-)