Tuesday, December 17, 2013


It happens to me all the time.

Because I just want to talk, because I just want to insert myself into any conversation, because I want to relate and connect and be counted, I frequently say things that are embarrassing, things that are mean, things that are inappropriate.  Too often I speak and just like that I wish that I could grab the words right out of the air and stuff them all back in my mouth and swallow them like medicine.

The wise don’t engage in empty chatter. What good are such words?
Job 15:3

Your sins are telling your mouth what to say. Your words are based on clever deception.
Job 15:5

But of course I can’t do that.  Once something is said, it can never be unsaid.  And of course, once it’s said, it forever becomes a part of you.  Who you are.  What you stand for.  Others form an opinion about you, and it is all according to what you say.

Listen to the filth that comes from their mouths; their words cut like swords.
“After all, who can hear us?” they sneer.
Psalm 59:7

We don’t know when our words begin to shape us.  We can’t see into the hearts and minds of others.  Did we drift apart because of something I said?  I can’t believe I said that to them - no wonder they gave me that funny look then walked away.   I haven’t spoken to him again after that one time.  I probably shouldn’t have said that.  My comment received crickets.  I’m so embarrassed – now I’m the joke.  I hope nobody repeats what I just said.  I didn’t mean for it to come out that way.  I hope she keeps what I just said to herself.

With their words, the godless destroy their friends, 
but knowledge will rescue the righteous.
Proverbs 11:9

I love Proverbs.  The words in this book are simple, instructive, and right.  I’ve always admired Solomon’s wisdom, his use of few words to drive home a meaningful point.  Especially when it comes to words, one of my biggest stumbling blocks.  Isn’t it cute how the one thing I love the most is also the one thing that causes me the most strife?  Then again, isn’t that precisely the lesson?

The words of the godly are like sterling silver; the heart of a fool is worthless.
Proverbs 10:20

The words of the godly encourage many, 
but fools are destroyed by their lack of common sense.
Proverbs 10:21

The lips of the godly speak helpful words, 
but the mouth of the wicked speaks perverse words.
Proverbs 10:32

I know that my words bring trouble when I’m counting on them to build me up instead of relying on God to do so.  The holy spirit tells my heart that it is in the wrong place.  I may even pray to God for wisdom like Solomon did all those years ago.

Give me an understanding mind so that I can… 
know the difference between right and wrong.
1 Kings 3:9

God answers me just as he answered Solomon, when my heart moves back into the right place.  God always knows when I’m being sincere.  When I’m not just trying to get out of my sin, when I’m not trying to backtrack, when I’m not trying to cover it up.

I will give you what you asked for! 
I will give you a wise and understanding mind 
such as no one has ever had or ever will have!
1 Kings 3:12

When I’m paying attention, God gives me the words.  When I keep my mouth closed and wait patiently, he teaches me what to say and when to say it.  He reminds me that my words are not important, but his are.

My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words.
Proverbs 4:20

Get wisdom; develop good judgment. Don’t forget my words or turn away from them.
Proverbs 4:5

Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing.
Proverbs 12:18

And when I’m humble, and my heart is aligned with God’s, and I seek him first instead of my own strength and my own wisdom, I know that I  will always have the right words.

I rise early, before the sun is up; I cry out for help and put my hope in your words.
Psalm 119:147

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, 
O Lordmy rock and my redeemer.
Psalm 19:14


(all Bible verses are from the New Living Translation)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

In Training

As my kids get older, their activities become more. 

More frequent, more demanding.  We are not new to the “mandatory” attendance rule that some activities carry, but the gradual increase in frequency for everything makes me feel like I am speeding through each day.  There are no more lines on my calendar for more things.  We carefully planned so that our kids aren’t overscheduled – what happened?

There is practice after school and extra lessons before school.  Games on the weekends, early report times, and on and on.

This is in addition to their regularly scheduled activities and fun events they get invited to.  Celebratory dinners for a job well done get the rapid-fire treatment as we squeeze in a slice of pizza between activities to say hey, good job on your report cards.  Parents of friends are asked to pick up, drop off.  Our cars are running elsewhere and can’t get there on time.

It’s a blessing because we can do it.  They have the ability and we have the resources.  The only thing I feel  short on is time.

Of course there is not more time to add; no more hours will be found at the end or in the middle of the day.  We have to make do with the 24 hours we are given.  And when activities happen at the same time, as they often do, we can only do one thing at a time.

And I would do well to not panic.

As organized as I am with the things in my home, I fall short when it comes to figuring out the timing of things.  Logistics: “the things that must be done to plan and organize a complicated activity or event that involves many people” (hey, how about two or three people?), the “handling of the details” – I am not good at this.  Luckily, my husband is – it’s his job, for goodness’ sakes.  Unluckily for me, when the details of our childrens’ lives must be handled, he is often unable to help.  He’s handling the details at work so that I can handle the details at home.

It’s a kick in the teeth.  Honestly, it makes me want to cry, this unfortunate order of things.  I am always late, kids are calling me from coach’s cell phones to pick them up, they go without dinner because I planned poorly, we have to turn around because I forgot the socks, the shoes, the ball.  Once we had to make a stop and buy underwear.  I’m a mess.

When I calm down enough, I realize that this is happening for a reason.  I am being taught to build this unnatural talent, this skill set that I don’t have.  Me: the woman who can’t even make hotel reservations without calling back two or three times to change the details because I keep screwing it up - I am training for something.

When I calm down enough, I remember that God has his hand in my life.  Each drive-through day has a pattern that I can’t see, one that I would never have planned for myself, but one that stretches me.  For that pattern, I’m grateful.  It makes me feel not so frazzled, not flailing so wildly.  It makes me feel like there is calm in the chaos.

Does it make me feel more capable?  Nope.  But it does make me not panic, and maybe that’s all I need to be learning right now.  To not stress when I feel overloaded.  To stay calm when the kids are calling from the coach’s phone.  To realize that there are some things that just won’t be done, that sometimes we will just be late, and that’s okay.  

I am in training to trust God with my life’s pattern.

Dear God, thank you for ordering my life.  Please help me to stay calm in the chaos of activities, and to trust your pattern.  Thank you, Amen.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

I Want to Party

One thing that always bugged me about Christmas is how everybody wants everything.

I want a new TV.  I want new clothes.  I want this one huge thing that we can’t afford right now.  I want to have a party.  I want to cook dinner for thirty people, bake hundreds of cookies, buy gifts for the faceless and nameless needy, put up a Christmas tree and somehow find the time to decorate my house like you just walked into a Christmas village.  And I want to do it all in three weeks, preferably with Christmas music playing the background at all times.  Chestnuts and sleigh bells and fa-la-freakin’-la.

Every year there is more to want, and it bugs me because I often not only have to deal with my own wants, but as the leader of a household, I have to make sure other people’s wants happen, too.

It’s easy to get caught up in the tangle of Christmas.  What will make me happy this year?  What will make them happy? What’s going to survive the new year and still be around by July?  Are our desires real?

Jesus gets lost in the wants every year.  We all know he is there, know that he is the reason for the season.  How I hate that phrase.  It’s so trite, so easy to flick off the tongue and forget as soon as it’s said.  There’s no better reason for the season, yet we mention Jesus like we would an unwilling birthday boy we are throwing a party for regardless of his desires.  The party is really for us, and the fact that it’s his birthday makes us feel better about being excessive.

Is Christmas about us or about Jesus?  After all, he came to us as a gift – shouldn’t we go over the top to celebrate that?  The Bible is full of good reasons to celebrate, God-sanctioned festivals and extravagant partying that were built into the Israelites’ very way of life.

The truth is, Jesus is worth our extravagance.   God’s grace is extravagant for us, and though we can never repay it, at Christmas it sure seems like everyone is trying.  The trouble is that often our extravagance is not because of what Jesus did for us.  We are being extravagant because we want to be.

So what do we do?  How do we decipher what is real and what is merely feeding into our insatiable hunger for more?

For me, checking my heart is the first step.  Am I thankful for what God has given me?  Am I doing this for Jesus?  Am I really celebrating Christmas the way it should be celebrated, the way he intended, the way he intends for me?  How does what I am doing feel in my heart?  Am I finding joy in this?

I have to say that some years I’m not.  I’m not enjoying Christmas.  It’s too much, too fast, too loud.  I can’t catch up and it makes me cranky.  What’s more, I haven’t seen Jesus once, and this is his party.  I’m a total buzz kill at Christmas sometimes.

This year I’m okay.  I feel calmer, feel less like certain things have to be done to have the perfect Christmas.  It’s probably just because I’m getting older, and I’m tired of complaining about it.  It could be that I feel like I have more of a handle on things, that I planned better.  It could be because I’ve let a lot of things go that stress me out.

But maybe it’s also because I’m seeing it in a different light this year.  This year more than ever, I’m seeing Christmas as a time to thank God for all that he has given us, a time to consider who I am in Christ and what that looks like – what God intends for me.  I’m seeing Christmas as a gift, and an appropriate time to celebrate.

After all, this is Jesus’ party.  This year, like every other, his life trumps all.  This year, I think I’m really feeling it.


In the beginning the Word already existed.  The Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He existed in the beginning with God.  God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him.  The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.
God sent a man, John the Baptist, to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony.  John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light.  The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him.  He came to his own people, and even they rejected him.  But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.  They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.

So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.  And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

John testified about him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’”

From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.  For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ.  No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.

John 1:1-16 (NLT)