Using Our Words Wisely

IMG_20170831_145921336.jpgHi there,

One of the good things that I’ve seen come out of Hurricane Harvey is the way so many have bonded together to support, uplift, and care for the victims of this historic disaster. Our empathy for this great tragedy has brought us closer together as a nation and as the human race.

As time moves forward and the empathy begins to wear off, I hope and pray that we can remember to keep a bridle on our “tongue,” as counseled by the apostle James.

A bridle is the headgear used by a rider to control which way a horse is going. “To bridle,” in the way James uses it here, means to control or restrain. By tongue, he means all words spoken or written.

So the question I pose is whether you control your tongue, or let it run free, unchecked. I know I have been guilty of letting my tongue wag freely, and, amazingly enough, nobody wanted to listen to what I had to say. More recently, I have seen freely wagging tongues on social media. We have all fallen into the trap of letting our emotions control what we say, rather than exercising self-mastery to edit our words before they are published to the world.

Those who seem to have the most influence in these tumultuous days, are those whose true agenda is never revealed. They know how to censor their words so well, that their followers do not believe when the truth finally is revealed.

As Disciples, it is of paramount importance that we set the better example of mastery over our tongues. We should not attack, profane, gossip, boast, or be rash in speaking, we should encourage envying, nor strife. We should study and follow the counsel of James (chapter 3) and speak wisdom from above, which is “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.”

I know that I have work to do to bridle my tongue, will you join me?

Blessings,
Sarah

Is the News Driving You Nuts?

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I’m going to be straight up honest here, I don’t like the insanity I’m hearing from “both sides” about current events. Most everyone seems to be trying to stir up the pot more. I don’t like the drama, I don’t like the hypocrisy, and I don’t like the demonization of — well, everyone.

So as I try to stay positive or silent in my social media posts, I struggle to find the sanity. One scripture I studied yesterday that seemed to bring me some peace, it was Galatians 5:22-23.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

This helped me several ways:

  1. It reminded me to breathe and check in with God to listen to the Spirit more.
  2. It reminded me that He has peace for all of us, fully understanding the world surrounding us.
  3. It reminded me to listen to those who have the fruits of the Spirit in their words and deeds.

It also made me think of Matthew 7:15-16.

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

This scripture combined with the first, reminded me to put aside the hateful words of those who have lost their way, and again focus on the good fruits and good trees.

My hope for myself, my family, and you is that we are able to remember to turn down the ravings of a mad world, and tune in to the Spirit more. That we may receive “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, [and] temperance: against such there is no law.”

Blessings!
Sarah

Back to School With a Bang!

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Can you imagine the tension before a horse race with me? The horses lined up snorting, trapped by the confines of the starting gate. Some of them, the more experienced ones, are bracing for the sound they know (and probably hate) so well. Then-

BANG!!!

And they’re off! Road Rage has jumped ahead, but here comes Overwhelmed right behind him, wait, Overwhelmed has passed Road Rage as Sobbing For No Reason leaps ahead of them both. Here’s comes Busy, Busy on the inside and slips past Road Rage into a solid third. At the back of the pack is the favorite, Calm and Collected.

Sound familiar? This craziness is how the first 3 days of school went this year. The kids started a new full day enrichment program which has me driving 4 times across the Denver Metro Area at rush hour. Needless to say I almost died 3 times, and encountered my own road rage for the first time in at least 5 years. Fortunately, they only go once a week. Then we started homeschool, had a birthday, entertained family, organized and executed a church youth program meeting, and more I just can’t remember. I’m pooped and it’s only Thursday.

The horses have hit the ground at full gallop, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to slow down until at least October. When the days are like this, I lean on my scripture study even more. Though I am tempted to put it aside for “just tonight,” I know that will only make me feel worse. So I say a prayer and open up the Good Book. I am subsequently refreshed by communicating with my Maker.

Does this sound like your life too? How do you cope?
Thanks for reading and following along with my journey!

Blessings,
Sarah

 

I Can Learn From the Trees – How to Bend, How to Sway

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There’s an old song by Ani DiFranco that runs through my head when I think about my parent’s mistakes. My parents separated when I was 4, and we stayed with my mom. My mom and dad were very bitter toward each other, and my sister and brother and I often felt that we had to pick sides in the war. I was the oldest, so I felt responsible for my younger siblings and my mom. I sided with her on everything and sadly grew up hating my dad. So here are the lyrics that repeat in my head:

growing up it was just me and my mom against the world
and all my sympathies were with her when I was a little girl
now I’ve seen both my parents play out the hands that they were dealt
as each year goes by I wonder how my father must’ve felt
and I just want you to understand
that I know what all the fighting was for
and I just want you to understand
that I’m not angry anymore
no I’m not angry anymore

every time we fight a cold wind blows our way,
but we learn like the trees
how to bend, how to sway and say
I, I think I understand
what all this fighting is for
And I just want you to understand
that I’m not angry anymore
no I’m not angry anymore

This song has taught me over the years to recognize the valuable lessons that both of my parents had for me. And I’m happy to say that in seeking to understand my father better, we have developed a very strong relationship. I love both my parents dearly and am so grateful for the attributes and lessons I have learned from them through the years.

Now as I sing this song, I hope that my oldest son, who lives with his father, can forgive me for my mistakes as a mother and noncustodial parent. I hope one day that he can see me as the strong tree, who did not fall when the rains and snows came, who did not break when the winds of the hurricane howled around me. Though I did have to bend nearly to the ground, and I had to sway and give up much. But I hope that he can see that I worked constantly to stay rooted in his life, to show him my love; to shade him, when he was near, from the heat of the world on his little shoulders.

One day I hope that he can be like the tree, as I imagine Our Savior to be, standing firmly rooted in what is right, and when necessary, turning the other cheek.

Do you struggle to remain Christlike in the storms of life? What have you found that works for you?

Blessings,
Sarah

I Never Realized Gratitude Could Be So Hard!

I have been pondering the difference between rich and poor often this month. It stems from a realization of my own wealth. I grew up quite poor most of my years, and developed quite a disdain for “the wealthy.” So this epiphany from Sunday school that I am, in fact, Richly blessed is seriously disconcerting to me.

We’ve all heard it before, we are richly blessed by our loving Father in Heaven. But what does that truly mean to us. Well to me, until last week’s lesson, it meant blessed with intangibles; strength, determination, hope, etc. But today, I see it differently. I live in a weather-resistant home, with a car, a cellphone, and a computer with internet; my family eats 3 meals a day, or more! We have, what they jokingly call, #firstworldproblems.

Lightbulb! Hey kids, guess what?! I’m richer than 90% of the Earth’s current inhabitants! Not to mention those who have gone before. And, I’m willing to bet that since you have the tools and knowledge to read this, so are you!

Did you let that sink in? You are Rich, too.

So how am I coping with this astounding revelation of God’s Love? To be honest, not well. I’m usually wavering around awed humility, but this morning I realized I was angry about it.

I actually wanted to be poor again. This scripture didn’t help: James 1:9-10 “Let the brother of low degree (poor) rejoice in that he is exalted; but the rich, in that he is made low…” So this has been going ’round in my head. “I don’t want to be rich, I don’t want to be made low. I am low, I’m struggling to pay the bills just like everyone else.”

But here’s the thing, we are struggling to pay the bills for our luxuries. We are not fighting for our very survival.

—Disclaimer: I’m about to get painfully graphic here.—

We are not watching our infants starve to death before us. We are not forced to sell our daughters into sex slavery to pay the bribe money to keep farming land we have held for generations. We are not buying moldy bread with the coins we receive by shoveling people’s fecal matter out of the street. We are not trying to shield our children from the destruction of our roof because a bomb just took half of it away. We are not being sent walking thousands of miles from camp to camp trying to find one that has an extra spot of mud to lie down in. We are not searching desperately for loved ones whom we lost while fleeing from war and tryanny. We are not living in the same puddle of mud for 5 years watching our children die of dysentery. We are not forced to smile for some old man while he tears apart the once innocent fabric of our insides.

You and I are Rich. And we need to come to terms with it, and decide what, in His name, we are going to do about it.

Venturing Outside

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Something that can be hard to remember for a book-loving introvert, is to go outside, everyday (and walking between your car and house, work, store, church, does NOT count). I do remember to send my kids outside every day. I’m a big believer in the many valuable effects of playing outside. And living in the Mountain West, we get plenty of days of sunshine, so I can send them out all but 1 or 2 days a month.

But while my kids are joyfully playing in the sunshine, I’m usually seizing the moment to clean or prep something, or to write, budget, email, anything I need to do to get caught up. I have a few precious moments not being taken by the kids, so I usually keep them to myself.

But not today. Today I tackled a mountain of weeds in my garden that were taller than my kids, and I conquered them. I ventured out into the sun and the heat (it’s not bad today, only 83 degrees, with a nice breeze) with my sunhat and my pink gloves, and I waged war with that mountain. And I won! The best part? I got them before most of them went to seed, Yay!

I’m feeling good, and maybe I’ll have some autumn vegetables planted in a few weeks. I should really go outside more often.

Now back to my desk and that blog…

Blessings,
Sarah