Journaling my walk with God.

Journaling my walk with God.

Monday, January 23, 2017

So...Do You Guys Practice Courting, or What?

          I am aware that the title of this post is odd, but the reason I'm writing it is because I am asked that question or a very similar one all the time!  I'm not sure if it is because of the way we run our home, our limits on phones, video games, television shows, social media, etc.., or if it is because people have just noticed that none of my children are dating.  It's possible that people make this assumption because we home school and have a large family.  Of course, this assumption would be sort of correct,  unlike most home school family generalizations. 
     There was a time when my oldest was in elementary school that we began thinking about how we would approach dating rules.  A friend of mine told me about how she did not plan on letting her children date.  I had never heard of such an idea!  That is why I'm sharing this.  I do not intend to judge other parents on the decisions they've made for their children.  God will not instruct me on how to raise other people's children.  Please don't attach some imaginary voice of judgment to this post.  That is not my intent.  I post this because I never would have considered this approach had someone not shared it with me, so I'm sharing it for those who are interested. 
     In the Beginning
     After listening to my friend all those years ago, I decided to wipe away every idea I had about what age children are "normally" allowed to date.  I began in God's Word.  I looked into how people in the Bible approached the topic.  Guess what?  They didn't.  It appears that dating wasn't a "thing" in Biblical times.  I am sure that crushes, flirting, giggling girls and boys throwing rocks at girls that they like, were all just as normal then as they are today, but I didn't see any instruction on dating.  I am not saying that this means it is wrong to date, but possibly unnecessary. 
     My second bit of research was to go back into my memory and think of my dating past.  I should preface this by saying that my history in dating was a pretty big disaster.  I did not choose people who had the values I would someday desire in a husband.  Still, I decided to make a list of anything positive that dating brought into my marriage.  The list was very short.  Like, not one stroke of ink kind of short.  I could've made a list of all of the negative things dating brought into my marriage, but I was afraid I would get a cramp in my hand and run out of ink.  I summed it up into one word:  baggage.  All dating did for me, personally was lower my self-esteem, confuse me, wound my heart, etc...  Don't get me wrong, I do have some fond memories of certain dates, but the end result was usually not a positive one.  After I thought through these things, I decided I wanted more for my children.  My husband and I came up with a plan for the future of our children.
The Rules
     My husband and I began discussing what our plan would be for our children when dating became a possibility for them.  I'll be honest, we did not agree at first.  I wanted to lock them up and throw away the key until I had chosen the perfect spouse for them.  (Ok, that may be a bit of a stretch, but it's pretty close).  My husband was on the opposite end of the spectrum and didn't mind the possibility of allowing them to date in high school.  We decided to compromise so that we could approach this topic unified. 
     Our children are told throughout their entire childhood that we want them to enjoy 18 carefree years of childhood.  That is why we wait for the appropriate time for things like phones, social media, make-up, and dating.  Those things and other milestones are gradually introduced when the child shows the maturity and self-control necessary to handle each milestone.  We determined that dating would be one of the last things introduced. 
     The way I see it, we don't trust children younger than 16 to be able to handle the responsibility of driving.  We don't trust children younger than 18 to have the knowledge and decision making skills to vote.  We don't trust youth younger than 21 to have the self-control and maturity to handle alcohol, yet we are expecting youth who are younger than this to handle the responsibility, have the knowledge, decision making skills, and self-control to handle such a huge responsibility as dating!  I am very careful with my children's hearts and I am very intentional about them being careful with the hearts of others.  I want their childhood memories to be filled with adventure, friendships, family time, and exploration.  We came to the conclusion that dating would be a distraction from that.  I'm sure you are wondering where the compromise is.  Here is the little loophole of which my children are fully aware:  IF one of our teenagers makes a friend of the opposite gender with whom they feel they have a possible future and they feel that person is worth "breaking the rules", they will show the maturity to handle a relationship by approaching us respectfully.  I expect that conversation to include a plan for how they will hold themselves accountable to keep the relationship pure and avoid temptations.
The second part of that loophole is that you will be PROUD of the person with whom you want to pursue a relationship.  I expect to meet the person.  I expect them to be around us a lot.  I expect complete transparency.
     If they are showing any signs that they are not mature enough or their character is not ready for a relationship, the answer will be no, without hesitation.  If they sneak to watch a movie or download an app or listen to music that we don't allow, they've proven they are willing to deceive us.  If they have a habit of lying, they've proven their character isn't ready for dating.  If they can't follow a curfew, they've proven they aren't responsible or they feel the rules don't apply to them.  If they can't handle their family obligations of chores and school work, I'm not going to allow the distraction of a relationship. If they seem to be too focused on finding SOMEONE to date, that is a big warning sign that they are not seeking their identity in Christ and they are hoping the relationship will fill a void that is only intended to be filled by God. These are all reasons for me to say no.  Boundaries create security.  My children feel cherished because we protect them.  They know that we protect what we love.  My children know that I think highly of them, therefore my expectations are high.  I don't care if they are star athletes, famous musicians or actors, or straight "A" students.  I do, however expect them to have a good character.  Until they show signs of that, they aren't ready to have access to someone's heart.  Period.  In the meantime, we are doing our best to grow 4 gentleman and one lovely lady.  I pray they will not be nonchalant when it comes to relationships, but will take them very seriously.
    I do know my children are very human and very much sinners in need of a Savior.  I cannot guarantee they will make all of the best decisions.  What I do know is that I have equipped them to make the best decisions and I've equipped them to choose righteousness and wisdom.  If they choose a different path, it won't be because I didn't teach them those things.  I pray that when and if they do fall, they fall into grace.  We NEVER forget to teach about grace and mercy.  God offers it and so do we. I've taught them a lot about grace.  They know they need it and they know I do as well.  They know it is freely available to them.
The Results Thus Far
     So far, this has been a very easy approach.  Because we began at a very young age sharing where we stand on this, our children were not caught off guard.  We were very open about our reasoning.  They know that we want the most carefree and fun childhood possible for them.  Youth is tough enough without adding the drama of dating into the mix.  They know our decisions come fully from a place of love for them.  They know they have a voice in this if they feel they are ready to date someone.  I do know a few precious couples that were high school sweethearts.  I know that isn't impossible. 
     I was directing a youth play one time and a cast member came up and said, "Hey!  I know your son!"   He went on to explain that my son was a leader in his middle school church small group.  He told me that the topic of dating came up in the group.  He shared with me that my son asked him why he was dating when he was only in middle school.  He said that my boy told him that he could avoid a lot of drama if he waited to date.  That told me that this approach was no longer Mom and Dad enforced, but my son had adopted it as his own philosophy. 
     Another night at our church, one of my sons was approached by a group of young men.  They asked him why he never has a girlfriend.  He told them he didn't have time for one and hadn't found someone he was interested in enough to consider dating them.  This shocked those young men.  I love that my children are speaking about this to their peers.  They aren't embarrassed about this philosophy, but proud of it.  They see the stress and drama dating has brought into the lives of their friends and seem relieved to not have to deal with it.  They also know that they are different.  I've encouraged them to get used to being set apart, and occasionally standing alone.  That is part of being a Christ follower. 
    To summarize, the answer to the question, "So.....do you guys practice courting, or what?" is yes?  Not completely?  Kind of?  We allow our kids to have a voice in the matter.  Our way of doing things has been mocked, brought on eye rolls, and created much laughter.  That's ok.  I'm not asking anyone to do things like me.  I'm just here to say that this is one part of youth stress that we have successfully avoided so far.  This is a burden they are released from before it even becomes an interest.  I like seeing kids be kids.  Hopefully, this will help them to understand the responsibility that is involved with matters of the heart.
    




Wednesday, January 4, 2017

I Hope She Likes Polka Dots

     Today, at 10:42 AM, my oldest turned 17.  This marks his last childhood birthday.  A year from now, I will be staring at an adult.  Many years ago, when my boy was still in elementary school, David and I discussed our philosophy on dating.  We came to a conclusion on how we would raise our children.  I will share the reasoning behind that in a future post, for those who are interested.  The very shortened version of that post is that our children may not date until they are 18.  18 means they are considered an adult.  18 means they are considered eligible for marriage.  For many, many reasons, we decided that dating was an unnecessary part of youth.    
     The point of this post is that I started a new journey today that I'm excited about!  I wrote my first entry in this very girly polka dotted journal:



     As you can see, I even used my favorite brand of pen, because it is one of the only ones that allow me to give the false impression that I have good penmanship.  :) 

     This journal will be written in everyday over the next year.  This journal will be loaded with thoughts, prayers and memories for my precious future daughter in law, whomever she may be. I'm praying for this girl RIGHT NOW!  She will get this journal on her wedding day.  I have always wanted to do this, but having 5 children, I didn't want to feel pressured to fill out 5 journals at once.  That is why I decided that I'd spend the year before my children are "marriage eligible" praying for their future spouse.  I don't know if she'll be his age, from the same town, state, or even country as him.  I don't know if I'll be giving this to someone in a few years or a decade.  However, I am praying for her now. 
     Marriage is not easy.  It is a tough commitment, but the hard times are nothing compared to the blessings.  I pray I am one of those blessings to her.  I pray our relationship will bless her. 
     I will do this for every one of my children, although the journal for my future son-in-law probably won't be pink and polka dotted.  I'll probably ramble on less and get to the point quicker.  I'll cross that bridge when I get to it....in 7 1/2 years.  For now, I'm praying for you, future DIL...whomever and wherever you are.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Day I was Fired

          Though it was several years ago, I remember the day I was fired so clearly.  It was a Sunday morning, and my husband had been scheduled to work.  I had spent the morning trying to get all five kids and myself ready for church.  We scrambled into the minivan in the usual way.  One child was barefoot, shoes in hand; one child was eating breakfast and leaving a pile of crumbs on their wrinkled button up, one child was brushing their tangled hair, and everyone was very, very grouchy.  As we were exiting the van, one of the little blessings said something quite disrespectful.  I don't remember what they said, I just remember what happened afterward.  I had a  child's backpack on one arm, purse and Bible on the other.  I had the chain of my littlest ones attached to my hand, and my heels were making clippety-clop noises on the sidewalk. I was scolding the child who had been disrespectful and telling them we would deal with the disrespect when we got home.  At this point we had reached the entrance to the church and someone said, "Hi Leigh!"  My tone changed from scolding parent to beaming ray of sunshine.  I replied, "Good morning!"  This caught the attention of the scolded one.  Not wanting to give up their lovely mood, the child reacted to what the he or she had just witnessed, "You sure talk differently to people when we are walking into the church." 
      Voices began to echo in my head.  One was of Mommy Shame.  "The child is right."  "You are so fake."  "All the other moms have it together."  I had spent so many years listening to Mommy Shame and identifying with the condemnation she spoke.  However, that particular morning something changed.  Another voice grew louder than shame.  I turned to my child and said, "I am not scolding these people we meet at church.  I'm scolding you.  That is why my tone changed." 
      After church we began discussing this interaction.  The child pointed out how embarrassed they are when I scold them in public.  That is when I was fired.  I fired myself.  I told the child I was sorry I had set up a system that was unhealthy.  Somewhere along the way I had given myself so much responsibility that should have been theirs.  I said, "I am not responsible for keeping you from being scolded in public.  That is your responsibility.  While we are discussing this, let me explain everything else for which I will no longer carry the responsibility. I am not the protector of your social life.  If you get grounded from important events, you did that.  Not me.  I am no longer the protector of your reputation.  If you are messing up and making bad choices, that does not reflect on me.  It is your responsibility to own it, clean it up and handle the consequences.  Not mine.  I will always, ALWAYS be a soft place to fall.  I will always love you with a tremendous love.  I will always be your biggest fan.  I will always be a safe place for you to share your successes and failures, but I am firing myself from tiptoeing around parenthood.  If I am put into a place where you have to be given consequences, please remember it is not something I did to you, but rather something you chose."
     Just the other day, one of my other blessings was acting up while we were putting up the Christmas tree.  I had to send them to their room for a while.  This child said, "Are you going to make me miss Christmas traditions?"  That would've given me the worst guilt trip in the past.  However, now I have new eyes to see a better way to prepare my kids for adulthood.  I replied, "No.  I'm not going to make you miss Christmas traditions.  If you miss them because of your choices, YOU made yourself miss Christmas traditions." 
     Often, when I am giving one of my children a warning, I will now say to them some wise words a friend of mine shared with me, "You can make a good choice or a bad choice.  If you choose consequences, you do it knowing full well what to expect.  If that is what you choose, it is not something that was done to you, but something you did to yourself."
     I have been amazed at how freeing this has been for both me and my children.  I am no longer wrestling with Mommy Shame or any other voice of guilt.  My children receive full ownership of their choices.  They get full credit for their mistakes, but also full credit for their victories.  When I was parenting from guilt, I was creating an atmosphere where my children and I both gave me too much control.  It created bitterness in both parties.  If my kids knew they were misbehaving, but I allowed them to attend an event anyway because I didn't want them to miss out, they would go knowing they hadn't earned it.  Home didn't feel as safe, because there was no boundary.   I'm so thankful that I fired myself from a job that was never really mine. 

Blog Name Change

     I haven't written in a very long time.  During this break, my perspective has changed.  First of all, I began this blog many years ago to have a space to share the things that were on my heart.  I didn't really know who the "audience" would be, nor did I know if there would be one.  I was ok if people read and enjoyed the blog and ok if no one ever saw it.  I'm still in that same place.  I love, love, love to write and would like a place that my children can visit for years to come to get a glimpse of my thoughts.  I suppose that is the reason for the name change.  I want this to be a journal.  I don't want it to be a place with any agenda.  I'm still ok if a ton of people read it, or no one does. 

     Years ago, when starting this blog, I had just experienced a new level of healing with God.  I had allowed Him to touch on some deep wounds that I had never given over to Him in the past.  I wanted to tell the world about God's mercy and love!  I wanted to share this testimony in a safe place that belonged to me.  All of those are wonderful things, but it put me in a strange place emotionally.  I noticed that I had started identifying myself as a woman who was post-abortive.  That was my deepest hurt and God had released me from it.  I cannot even find the words to share the level of gratitude I felt for the way God had released me from the shackles of my past.  Although I do still feel that way, I have also had to learn that I am NOT identified as a post-abortive woman.  Abortion is a choice I made at a time I did not know the Lord.  My identity is found in Christ and Christ alone.  As far as this blog goes, I realized I had stopped limiting the things I shared to my healing journey.  I started sharing whatever was on my heart.  I want to keep doing that without there being one focus.

     In the past, I named the blog "Digging in the Dirt" because of a poem God placed on my heart after I had gone through post-abortive recovery.  That poem is still on this blog and I am still amazed at how God will dig through the dirt in our lives to redeem every part of our past.  NOTHING given to God will go unused (Romans 8:28).

     One of the additional advantages of the name change of the blog is that people will no longer think it is a blog about gardening.   People who turn to me with advice for gardening will quickly be disappointed.  My garden is where plants go to die.  I've accepted it.  My garden is now full of some beautiful broken pottery that my friend gave me.  I love broken pottery because it reminds me of the story of the woman with the alabaster jar.  She laid everything at the feet of Jesus.  When I decided to lay my brokenness at the feet of Jesus, I experienced so much freedom.  I realized that trusting Him with ALL of my past was an offering--even the broken parts.  God has been faithful to make me a new creation.  However, this new creation still has no green thumb and I'm ok with that.

     If you are reading this, I do hope you will enjoy the new angle of this blog.  More than that, I pray that it is a place my children can look at in years to come and know my heart, my dreams for them, my love for them, and the ups and downs of my walk with God.  More than anything else, I pray that I glorify God with the meditations of my heart.  I'm a busy homeschool mom of five who loves to fill my calendar with ministry opportunities, things my kids are doing, and theatre...lots of theatre.  I have to force my Martha self to stop and be sit at His feet and be a Mary.  I cherish those moments and some of them, I'd love to share.

Thanks for stopping by!

Leigh

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Today I Prayed For My Wrinkles

      I attended a College of Prayer event today.  I highly recommend it!  You can check it out here.  It is a three year program that challenges you to strengthen and deepen your prayer life.  While there, we obviously spent much of the time in prayer.  While my head was bowed, I ran my thumb over the top of my nose, the part in between my eyes.  I felt a tiny indention, the beginning stages of a wrinkle.  I'm at an age where I know that wrinkles and gray hair are on their way within the next several years.  That doesn't really bother me.  What bothered me was where the wrinkle was located.  That wrinkle can only come from a furrowed brow.  One that is often worried, angry or stressed.  I began to realize that my face would actually show a road map of my legacy.  The meditations of my heart and mind are literally becoming imprinted on my face.
     My prayers began to focus on this new realization.  I began praying, asking for those little lines that fan out on the corners of my eyes.  I've noticed those wrinkles on some of the most joy-filled people I've known.  I also prayed that I would get little rows of commas on the sides of my mouth.  I want indentations in my face that reflect years of smiles and laughter.  I prayed that the wrinkles in my forehead and brow would be few.  I prayed that no frown lines would appear.  I pray that when the day comes that I look in the mirror and see an older woman staring back at me,  I won't panic over wrinkles.  I pray that each wrinkle brings back memories of long nights rocking my babies, family laughter, sweet memories of toddler hands presenting a precious bouquet of weeds, nights out with my friends, flirty smiles with my husband, and exhilarating moments worshiping my Savior.  I pray that I earn each wrinkle with moments of joy and that I wear them without shame! 

     This verse isn't exactly on the same topic, but it has the same idea:

Proverbs 16:31
31 A gray head is a crown of glory; It is found in the way of righteousness.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Stuff Just Got Real!


     The guest pastor at our church Sunday really made me think.  He was talking about sharing the "good news".  He talked about being real.  He talked about Facebook.  This is a place where I struggle.  I don't feel comfortable with the thought that someone would see my smiling family and assume that is how we appear every moment.  Still, I am very uncomfortable sharing frustrations that I might have with my children, husband, family or friends.  I think of Ephesians 4:29 that says we should speak ONLY words meant for edification.  I'm not sure how to achieve the balance of being real and only edifying or building up my loved ones.  Still, I find that I can't relate to people that have it all together.  Sure, I know it is just a Facebook image for them as well.  Their reason for presenting the world with their picture-perfect family may be similar to mine.  However, I want people to know the real me.  I want people to be able to relate to me.  I'm a mess.  EVERYTHING good about me is because of Christ.  I mean that!  I've had people try to correct me when I've said that to them, but let me explain...without Christ, I'll taint even the good things about me.  I know this, because I know me.

     I don't know if anyone even cares, but I thought I'd share a few things that are real.  I thought that if even one person was looking through all of the statuses filled with happiness and successes, and pretty pictures of starched children, and they are feeling beaten up by the world because they don't measure up...maybe they can read this and remember that we are ALL real.  We all struggle.  The same pastor that I mentioned above also said this, "The gospel is evidence of how messed up we all are."  Well, there you have it.  If we present ourselves as perfect to the world, why on earth would they see our need for a Savior?

     First and foremost, I want to address pictures.  I take several.  I don't mean I take several different photos, I mean several of the SAME photo.  Sometimes, it is a picture of my children.  Maybe the first shot had one crying or angry.  Another shot might show a mess in my house.  I've been known on some days to search out the "clean spot" for a photo.  I justify it by saying that my mess ain't anybody’s business, but really I just don't want people to know that we often have clutter.  Seven people live in this home.  Six of them are usually here 24/7.  Yep...we get cluttered occasionally.  Often, actually.  Also, I hate pictures of myself.  I have crazy hair, I rarely wear make-up and I need to lose weight.  I choose the days when I've taken the time to pull out the Chi and the make-up bag to post a "selfie".  I struggle with the whole weight loss thing because it is a deep internal struggle with which I wrestle.  I was date-raped in college.  It killed my spirit and put me in a constant fight or flight mode.  Every time I begin to lose weight for health reasons, I start to panic that someone is going to hurt me again. Weight has become a security blanket for me.  It's not a fun place to be, but I've recently fallen to my knees, crying out to God to deliver me from this fight.  I'm a work in progress....

     Parenting.  I yell.  Not every day and not constantly, but sometimes I get frustrated and I yell.  Guess what?  It doesn't work.  Never has, never will...but still, I sometimes yell.  I apologize.  I apologize often.  My children are very forgiving.  They are not, however perfect.  Sometimes they talk back.  Sometimes they throw screaming fits.  Sometimes they sneak, lie, steal, and make horrible choices.  Granted, they really are great kids...but they are humans who were born into a fallen world.  Sometimes my children struggle with anger.  Really, really bad and violent anger.  We have taken the child who struggles with this to therapy.  This child is beautiful!  This child has a testimony.  This child is an overcomer...but this road has been hard, and scary, and lonely. 

     My husband really is my best friend and I really do still get butterflies.  Not every day.  Sometimes he does things that annoy me.  Sometimes I'm easily annoyed and my poor husband is the easiest target.  At the beginning of our marriage we fought often and we fought ugly.  I'm excited to say that we rarely fight now.  We barely had a Christian walk when we first met.  We have both started chasing hard after God, so of course He has brought us to a place of unity.  We have common goals and visions for our future.  Still, sometimes I make him very, very angry.  Sometimes I'm not very careful with my words.  Sometimes I'm not nice at all.  I remember one argument where I said something very sarcastic and ugly.  It stopped him in his tracks.  He said, "That was just nasty."  It is not fun hearing that come out of your husband's mouth, but he was right.  I am more careful with my words now, but I still have moments where I disappoint him and myself.

     So friends, my sink isn't always emptied of dirty dishes.  I don't always buy organic.  I never, and I mean NEVER iron. I often feel insignificant.  I second-guess myself.  I care too much what people think.  I can be very, very selfish.  I lose things.  I buy spaghetti sauce in a jar. I'm unorganized. My yard needs a landscaper.  My house needs updating and it may be a while before that happens.  I still wrestle with parts of my past that are not completely healed.  I let things get me mad.  I let things bring me down.  I have a tattoo.  I LOVE my tattoo!  It's a cute purple fish on my ankle!   I NEED my Savior.  Like, desperately NEEEEEED Him!  I'm just a screaming dramatic mess without Him.  Here is what is so very amazing about all of this, though...God is using me anyway!  He isn't waiting for me to "get it together" to use me for His glory.  I'm concerned that our precious, patient God would be waiting a mighty long time if He were dependent on me.  Luckily, He has already had a perfect One walk this earth.  It's not up to me to be perfect.  It is up to me to choose whom I will serve.  The one thing I am confident about in my life, the one thing I don't second-guess, is my choice to follow Christ.  I wouldn't change a thing about that.

**One more thing.  I just completed a spelling and grammar check on this post.  Apparently, I use a lot of fragments, and I’m just rebellious enough that I hit “ignore once”.  ;-)

2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Power of Life and Death

He emerged from the pool with a look of exhilaration.  My little boy had successfully jumped off of the diving board into the deep waters without the assistance of floaties.  He was so proud of his accomplishment!  I was so proud of him for overcoming his fears.  What he said next is what caught me off guard and broke my heart for just a moment.  Breathlessly, he asked, "Mom, was that good?"  I smiled as I stared at my brave little man who was standing before me, dripping and shivering. "That was wonderful!" I replied.  Then he smiled with a look of satisfaction, "...and _________ said I'd never be able to swim."  I left the name blank intentionally.  The intention of this post is not one of revenge or insult.  My heart is that people would think before they speak to ANYONE, especially a child. 
      I wish I could tell you that the quote from above was from an insensitive child.  It wasn't.  It was said by an adult.  They weren't mad, they weren't frustrated, they weren't having a bad day...they were just stating their personal opinion.  One other thing I should point out is that this incident happened on our first trip to the neighborhood pool this year!  My son was remembering words spoken over him from a year earlier!  Those words that seemed like a harmless observation to the person who said them had been written on the heart of a boy who trusted this adult, and even believed that the adult's opinion was a fact.  
     I've heard people say that our tongue is the strongest muscle in our body.  I don't know if that's true, but I do believe it is the most powerful.  I also know what God's word says:
Psalm 52:4 You love every harmful word, you deceitful tongue!
Psalm 64:3 They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim cruel words like deadly arrows.
Psalm 140:3 They make their tongues as sharp as a serpent’s; the poison of vipers is on their lips.
Proverbs 15:4 The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.
Proverbs 18:21 The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
Proverbs 25:23 Like a north wind that brings unexpected rain is a sly tongue—which provokes a horrified look.
Proverbs 26:28 A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin.
James 1:26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.
James 3:6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
James 3:8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
James 3:9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.
     This incident reminded me of a conversation that my husband and I once had.  I was telling him about an event from my childhood.  I told him that I must have been about eight.  I was dancing.  I remember how much I loved to dance!  I loved making up dances.  As I was twirling about, performing what I believed to be a masterpiece in front of an imaginary adoring audience, someone caught me. My pretend audience quickly faded and I was hurled back into reality as this person laughed at me and made fun of that dance.  I remember feeling like a fool.  I remember making a vow that I would never put myself in a situation to be laughed at again.  That's a pretty sad vow for a girl who loves theatre and adores the stage!
     My husband was so sweet to listen to me pour my heart out over a past hurt.  It was what he said next that has stuck with me, "What is really sad is that you remember those words so clearly."  His statement revealed two things to me.  First, I realized that I had some bitterness that I needed to pray over and release.  Second, words spoken to a child (or anyone) that seem small to you can crush their spirit, drive them to make vows, change who they are or who they were created to be.
     This gave me a new sensitivity.  Not just for the words coming out of my mouth, but the message that comes with those words.  Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean that I’ve been able to achieve a completely tamed and gentle tongue.  I wish I could say that I have perfected this in myself, but I haven’t.  I'm a work in progress.  Now that I understand this though, I have started training myself to reflect on discussions that I’ve had with my children, my husband, and my friends.  I can start coming up with a plan for how I will tame and train my tongue the next time circumstances arise that normally would have pushed my tongue to the point of launching arrows.  If it’s too late, and the damage is done, I can go speak truth over any lies that might have been heard.  I have had a few moments where I’ve had to sit down with my husband or child and start the conversation: “When we were talking, I’m concerned that my out of control mouth spoke lies over you. I apologize. Will you forgive me?"
    A few days ago, my husband and I were trying to make an important decision.  We disagreed on which decision was the right one, but I knew that ultimately, he needed to make the decision.  I began asking him several questions and after a minute I noticed he was getting a little aggravated.  I took a deep breath and a pause to collect my thoughts and reflect on our conversation.  I said, “I’m concerned that my questions are sending you the message that I don’t trust you to lead our family.  That is not true.  I love you and I trust you.  I just know that I’m called to support you and I thought the best way to support you was to make sure you’ve looked at this decision from every angle.  I trust whatever decision you make.”  A peace washed over me and seemed to wash over my husband as well.  The tension disappeared.  I would have been offended by his frustration just a few weeks ago, but that little boy of mine had to overcome a lot in order to replace the lie that he would never be able to swim. I didn’t want my husband to spend any time wondering if I respected him and trusted him.
   One last note….James 3:8 says that no HUMAN BEING can tame the tongue.  I thank God that HE can!  I’m praying He’ll do that in me a little more each day so that I’ll catch those words and tones in my voice before they spew out of my mouth.