Day 23: No platform required

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I’ve never sat facing a stage and wished I was the person on it. Not once have I desired a microphone or a raised platform or my face plastered on a screen (unless I suddenly morphed into Anne Hathaway in Les Miserable, and then, only if I also had the good fortune of wearing her wardrobe from The Devil Wears Prada.)  I’d rather sit here with you and chat across screens or someday perhaps, across the pages of a book.

I’d rather meet at the coffee shop and order a cup of something steaming hot and swap different sides of the same story. I’d rather have a meaningful conversation with my daughters, or a moment of quiet talk with my son, than speak to a room full of faces I don’t recognize.

I never want to forget that my words matter most when spoken in the seemingly small areas of my life. Why do we measure the weight of our words by the number of people listening to them?  Maybe our words bear the greatest influence with an audience the size of a sleepy-headed toddler who still sucks their thumb. Maybe they fall on the welcome ears of a sister, a husband, a friend. Maybe our book club, or dinner group, or Sunday school members wait patiently for us to speak life straight through to the heart of them.

My words matter most when I’m willing to get down and dirty with the people listening to them, as we scrape and stumble our way through life together. Your words matter most in the small places too. If we took a moment to notice the ears inclined our way, we would see the capacity our words have to build bridges of reconciliation and benches of respite for the weary in need of rest. Our words will find a place of welcome, no platform required.

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This is the 23rd post in a series called 31 Days of Speaking Life. Want to know more about the 31 Days writing challenge? Hop on over here. Want to receive these posts via email straight into your inbox? Sign up below.

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Day 21: Words like silk

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***This is a re-post from January. It’s suits our theme for the month, and it frees up a little head space for me this week. Thanks for reading!***

The dog visited the groomer a few days ago, and he returned looking like a small dog as opposed to a squirrel. For this, my family is thankful. On arrival, the groomer retrieved her notes on our previous appointment. She pursed her lips when she read, what I can only assume, was a less than stellar report on our last visit. To recap, the dog was matted (due to a series of events, such as an international move and an extended stay with relatives), I signed a waiver stating I was mostly unfit to look upon a dog much less own one, and he came back bald. He made it up to me by pooping repeatedly on my great-grandmother’s oriental rug. It was a dark time.

Since then, every so often, I sat in front of the tv with the dog on my lap, and I brushed out his fur until it felt like silk. The pursed-lip groomer shook her head imperceptibly when I handed him over, and then she gave me a warning: “He doesn’t look matted, but I really can’t be sure yet.” Well, I hightailed it out of there before she could give me a lecture on the state of his teeth or the hair covering his eyes.

When I arrived to pick him up, she smiled and handed him over, along with a “Pawgress Report” in which the dog received an A+. On opening the report, I discovered it wasn’t really the dog who was being evaluated. It was me. “Great job on brushing” she wrote in looping letters. She may as well have said, “Great job on not being a total slacker, Loser.” But, I suppose we take our compliments however we can get them.

When it comes to words of affirmation, I’m a fan. This world isn’t hard-wired for soft souls like mine. It’s not gentle to those of us who gather the words that fall from others lips and then carry them home in a wicker basket to spread out and feast on later. I’ve learned not to eat of the rotten apples and the moldy bread. Most harsh words go straight into the bin, and I feel healthier for it. But, I do feel a distinct hunger for the good words, the ones that not only nourish, but that also satiate and fill me, body and soul.

I suppose that’s why I love quotes and stories and lyrics so much. There is life and death lying dormant in them. All they need is someone to tease them out, to pull them upon one’s lap and stroke the syllables until they’re spun like silk. It’s why I read, and I suppose it’s also why I write. As I do, I hope you will smile a little, and let the good sink down into your soul. Today, let’s give ourselves an A+ for effort–for good words and kind thoughts and for greeting the world with a picnic basket ready to scoop them up as they fall.

What words are affirming you today? A note, a friendly comment, a Pawgress report of your own?

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This is the 21st post in a series called 31 Days of Speaking Life. Want to know more about the 31 Days writing challenge? Hop on over here. Want to receive these posts via email straight into your inbox? Sign up below.

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Day 20: Bridled tongues

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2 “For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. 3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. 4 Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.”

~James 3:2-10

Setting on fire the entire course of life… James’ words haunt me when I think of how my words may have changed or directed the course of my life. I have so many words to regret, judgemental, hurtful, spiteful ones. The words dripping with truth, but also with a venom I didn’t realize I possessed. The yelling, the sarcasm, the words shot like an arrow, meant to pierce the heart.

There are conversations and emails and stupid Facebook posts I can never take back. And for better or worse, they steer the course of my life. My words determine the quality of each of my relationships, from family to friends to editors to readers to agents. Words matter, regardless of where I send them. Sometimes I fear their power because they have the capacity to change everything, to guide me body and soul.

I don’t have the strength to tame the tongue on my own, but I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit working inside of me. When given over to the Spirit, my mouth possesses the ability to speak love. I will learn to speak joy. I can proclaim peace and patience, kindness and goodness, faithfulness and gentleness. I can exercise self-control.

No matter how many parenting books I read, how many times I pray, or how hard I will myself to control my mouth, I know I need to surrender my words and allow the Holy Spirit to cultivate the soil of my heart. My heart gives birth to the words, and when given over to God, good and wholesome fruit will be grow emerge from the once fallow places.

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If you haven’t had enough of my words already, I’m currently writing 40 days worth of daily devotions on the Holy Spirit, in conjunction with Liquid Church’s Firepower series. If you’re interested in learning more about the most misunderstood member of the Trinity or in need of a daily dose of scripture, feel free to sign up for the email delivery of each devotional. You can join at any time, and you won’t miss a thing! ***Link to follow. Ugh. Technology***

This is the 20th post in a series called 31 Days of Speaking Life. Want to know more about the 31 Days writing challenge? Hop on over here. Want to receive these posts via email straight into your inbox? Sign up below.

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Day 19: The best words

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“Poetry: the best words in the best order.” ~Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Have you had your daily diet of the best words today? Do you have a favorite poem? Please share.

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This is the 19th post in a series called 31 Days of Speaking Life. Want to know more about the 31 Days writing challenge? Hop on over here. Want to receive these posts via email straight into your inbox? Sign up below.

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Day 18: Scarcity isn’t always a bad thing

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“When words are scarce, they are seldom spent in vain.” ~ William Shakespeare

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This is the 18th post in a series called 31 Days of Speaking Life. Want to know more about the 31 Days writing challenge? Hop on over here. Want to receive these posts via email straight into your inbox? Sign up below.

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