lessons in love

The Tongue

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In our small group Bible study, we are covering the book of James. We have covered more than half the book now, and I just love it. James is such a practical book, with a TON of things we can all apply right now where we are in any stage of life. I have really enjoyed working through it, learning some of the background of the author, and really just seeing how I can be better in my Christian walk.

The things we are discussing and learning about in our small group I have learned since I was very young. Growing up in church means you hear many of the same lessons from the Bible over and over. As a kid, this can seem boring and cause you to daydream and not really absorb much. Then, fast forward to my adult life as a Christian, and I really have not applied anything I have been taught or read, which means I don’t have much to strive to work on. And then I think I am doing ok

Until…

I am a mom and realizing I have never really gotten a lot of my vices under control. I won’t go into detail on how ridiculously sinful I am, I do want to share something I have never truly worked on and have (yet again) begun to regret.

My words.

If we have never talked in real life, you may not know this. BUT, if you have ever spoken with me, you probably know I am no good with words. I speak faster than I think, I am not really witty, I often make jokes at others’ expense. I have never been great with words. Encouragement is NOT my spiritual gift, and I think that has caused me to never really focus on controlling my tongue. My gift isn’t in encouragement, so it doesn’t matter what I say or how I say it. I would never come out and say that, but that is pretty much how I live. I have worked on how I speak to my husband, and I feel like I am growing in that area. I have worked a little on how I speak and what I say to the kids….aaaand, I still need to be working on that one.

The one thing I have not ever focused on is how I speak to other people. I just say things, and then I regret them. This past weekend, I attempted a joke at one of my sisters and it was horrible. First, it wasn’t even funny because….I am awful with words. Second, it struck a nerve with her and caused her to cry. I cannot remember the last time I made one of my sisters cry. (Mom, no need to jump in here with the date. I am aware I did it a lot when I lived at home.) ๐Ÿ™‚

I felt so bad as soon as I saw her face. Thankfully, no one around even understood my attempt at the joke; I guess I can be thankful that words do not flow well out of my mouth. But, the point is, I said something stupid and hurtful without even realizing it while I was saying it. I apologized, and she forgave me….but, I can’t go back and put a filter on my mouth. I can’t go back and stop myself from sounding stupid.

James tells us in chapter 3 verse 8 “…no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”ย 

Proverbs 21:23 says “Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.”ย 

Proverbs 18:21 states “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”

There are many passages in the Bible that talk about our tongues, our words, what we are saying. Obviously it is a serious matter if the Bible has covered it so extensively. I searched online for verses about the tongue, and one of the results showed 84 verses! Clearly the tongue is a challenge and something I need to pay better attention to.

I have a desire to be liked, and one of the ways I find people like me is if I am funny; however, I am not great at being funny. My mom and dad areย funny. My siblings are funny. Me? Not so much. I am better at cleaning and baking than being funny. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I should probably just stick to what I am good at, honestly.

So, while I have heard and learned about the tongue many times growing up and even as an adult, I still am so awful at doing it. No filter. No thought before I speak. No control.

James says no one can control the tongue. He says it is like a small spark that sets a whole forest on fire (3:5). Think about that – one small spoken word can ruin someone. One lie. One mean statement, whether true or false. One word to describe someone. The tongue is powerful enough to ruin someone’s entire life. Bullies use words to demean and ruin their victims. And here I am using words without thinking first, which I guess makes me a bully by default.

After starting this study with our small group and now the incident from this past weekend, I have learned a couple of things:

1.I need to STOP and think before I say anything.

Giving myself some time to think through what I am going to say, BEFORE I say it, is always a good thing. I can decide if it is even worth saying.

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2. I need a filter.

We have a sign posted in our kitchen to remind us of what to consider before we speak. Apparently, I need to pay better attention to it!

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3. I have to remember the power of my words. I can either build someone up or tear them down.

There is no point in trying to be funny if it is going to hurt someone’s feelings. I have heard “your child’s inner voice will be whatever they hear from you, the parent.” That is kind of scary, when I think of how hurtful I can be with my words. And when James compares the tongue to a fire, it is a strong reminder (ok, slap in the face) that our tongues can literally ruin a life.

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While I cannot go back and un-say all the stupid or hurtful things I have said, I can go forward and work on stopping myself, filtering myself, and reigning in the power of my words. Obviously, this will not be something I can do on my own. I will need to go to God for overcoming this. Here’s how I plan to stay on top of it:

1.Be in the Word every day and work to memorize more Scripture.

Knowing what God’s Word says about my words and my tone and my tongue are a good start. How can I know how to act if I don’t know what HE says?

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2.Share my struggles.

Whether I talk to my husband (which I usually do first) or my mentor or my mom or my sister….I need to share what I am struggling with to have some accountability for my actions and words. I am really good at assuming I will figure stuff out on my own; I don’t like to be told what I am doing wrong or how to fix it. That is not a good way to live. Marriage and mentorship have really helped me start to correct that. I tell you what, my mom is full of wisdom…but for the longest time I just viewed it as something moms say. Then I grew up ๐Ÿ˜‰ and realized she really does pray for us kids and is pretty wise when it comes to the Bible. The things I used to see as her just telling me what to do were, in fact, godly counsel. It just took me foooorrreeevvverrr to realize it. If you struggle with something, tell someone. Find a godly mentor and share your struggles. They can steer to you Bible passages to help you curb a bad habit or get control over an area in your life with the Lord’s help. They can also pray with and for you, which is such an encouragement to me personally.

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3. Put it into practice…NOW.

I have this habit of reading something in the Bible, thinking of ways to apply it to my life…and then never applying it. Knowing what I know about the tongue and my words really makes me responsible to APPLY it. I can’t say I didn’t know. I can’t say I have never heard of controlling my tongue. I know it, I have heard it, I have studied. I must DO it. I can’t wait for the perfect setting or a calm moment or a sunny day. I have to get into the habit of stopping and filtering and praying and controlling this tongue. I have to make it a habit to rely on the Lord to help me….starting this next time I open my mouth. Waiting til my kids’ runny noses are gone or until I have had a good 8 hours of sleep just won’t do. Putting it into practice should start as soon as I learn it. Reading the Bible and sharing my struggle should propel me into action now. So, I need to get to it. Hurting my sister’s feelings this weekend really opened my eyes to how much I slack in that area and really how much more I need to be aware of my words and the power of them. I have the tools to do it; I just have to use them!

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Do you struggle with your words? Do you have trouble with stopping, filtering, and understanding the power of your tongue? Please tell me I’m not alone! ๐Ÿ˜‰ย 

lessons in love

Consistency….

I mentioned at the beginning of the month that my word for this year is CONSISTENCY. This is my first year to pick a word and really focus on it. This word, though, has been hanging around for several months.

At the end of last Summer, I was really starting to feel overwhelmed. We had just come off of a crazy tax filing debacle (thankfully, it all worked out…just a huge lesson in patience!). We were in the middle of schooling year round for 2016. I was trying to plan for a trip to the Creation Museum and Ark we took in September – our first family vacation. My husband was starting up another semester of Bible school online. And after a nice Summer break, AWANA (kids’ Bible program) was about to start up again on Sunday nights, and I was a group leader for the 3 & 4-year-old kids. All of it was exciting…except the tax filing…but I was just feeling too busy.

I also taught the 2-year-old Sunday school class at church every week at 9:00AM (which actually means we were there around 8:30 every Sunday… and every other Sunday my husband works, so it was just me and five kids rushing to get there by 8:30). I had been really enjoying teaching the kids, but felt a little burnt out with it. Didn’t really feel like I was doing my best or giving 100% at it. On top of that, I was ramping up to be on the steering committee for the mom group at church, as well as continue to meet twice a month with my mentor from our Titus 2 program.

My husband had made a comment about me doing too many things. He didn’t mean anything by it, but I took it to heart. I started thinking maybe Iย was doing too much, and maybe that’s why I wasn’t really enjoying too much of it anymore. I started thinking about how hectic it was trying to get lesson plans done and how we had been winging it the past few months because I just didn’t have quiet time to set aside and work on them each week. I started thinking about how busy Sundays had become and how challenging it was to finish teaching and then gather my own kids and find my husband and get everyone home in time for naps before coming back in the evenings for AWANA. After talking with my mentor about the busyness, she had me write down all the things I was committed to in a given week. Every group, class, study, whatever. After writing it all down, I couldn’t really see how homeschool fit in there at all. There was something almost every single day! She then had me write down the things I needed to be doing or be a part of and the things I could let go of and let someone else do.

After a lot of praying, worrying about other people’s perceptions ๐Ÿ™‚ , and talking with my husband…I decided to let go of some things. I UN-committed to be an AWANA leader – hardest thing to do! One of my dear friends is the director, and I felt awful for having committed and then backing out. I gave her a ridiculously huge explanation, and she was so gracious and understanding my reasons. I then emailed our Sunday School director to let her know I needed to move to only teaching every other week; God was so awesome in filling that position just a few weeks later with a friend of mine. We now rotate every other week with teaching, and it goes so smoothly!

Things changed with my Titus 2 mentor, and she now goes to another church. She and I both discontinued going to the Titus 2 program, but we are continuing our mentoring. It has worked out beautifully, and she is such an encouragement.

As I let go of things and said “no” more to things, I could see where I was able to be more consistent in the activities that God was directing me to be involved in. Homeschool become a much bigger priority (as it should), and I started using Sunday nights as my planning time, while the kids were in AWANA. If Arthur is working, I just lug all my books to church and plan in our little cafe area. If he is off, I stay home and he takes the kids (he is a sub for the older kid groups). I feel so much more prepared and able to be consistent on Monday mornings with getting our lessons started by 9:00.

So, before I chose the word CONSISTENCY for this year, God was already moving me in that direction back in August. I am very thankful He patiently waited for me to get it through my thick skull that I can’t volunteer for everything just because there is an opening. I just can’t. It isn’t fair to my family or to the position I am filling.

I have noticed myself saying “no” a lot more since the start of the January. I was asked to fill a really awesome homeschool co-op director position for this coming Fall, and I just had to turn it down. I knew right away that it would be too much for me, with Ethan not really schooling yet and having four older kids that are.

I am able to be more consistent with our meals because I have more time to plan and execute the menu. We are able to do a 4-day school week, with a flex day for errands or library visits or whatever. If we were still doing all those other things, I probably wouldn’t enjoy our school time as much because I would still be overwhelmed. And with my husband in school, I work to make sure he doesn’t feel like there is anything he needs to do around the house, so he can focus on his readings and writing his papers.

Consistency is very important. Boundaries and limits are, too. Knowing where to draw the boundary or where to set the limit is key. Prayer and Bible reading are the biggest keys in all of this.

I write all of this to share that God is so wonderfully patient. And His desire is for us to know Him and follow Him. Without prayer and Bible reading, though, I am unable to know or follow Him because I won’t know anything about Him or what He has to say. Really studying what I am reading and not just reading to check off my to-do list is something that is new for me, too. I tend to rush my Bible reading/study in the morning, completely forgetting what I’ve read just 10 minutes later. I am learning to take my time, read and reread the passage and pray over it. That helps me a lot with understanding and applying the truth in the passage.

So, this post wasn’t really a well planned post. Just some thoughts in my head about how God has been working me to be consistent in specific areas of my life even before I decided to pick a word for this year. And that the only way I would have come to this conclusion and really focused on this word and these areas is through prayer and Bible reading/studying. He is changing me, and I can see/feel it. I pray my husband and kids can see it, too.

I also pray that I continue to let Him change me.

 

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.”

Psalm 37:4-5

Household · lessons in love

Controlling Our Tongues

I am going through a Proverbs 31 study on my own. I have done it several times since I purchased the book about 10 years ago. Each time I go through it, something new jumps out at me. Today was about verse 11…”she brings him good not harm all the days of her life.” The author of the study got into detail of how we, as wives, can “bring harm.” It was more than the typical saying hurtful things or lying to our husbands. She wrote about pushing our husbands to live beyond our financial means by constantly talking about things we wish we had. I do not walk around saying I wish I had a million dollars, but I am extremely guilty of saying things like “we should do _____” or “look, that ______is on sale this week.” I also tend to talk about wanting a patio and going camping and other random and unnecessary objects. Things we don’t need but things I really want and my husband might just get if I talk about them enough. Then I justify the purchase by telling myself “well, he wants to get it.” As if my prodding had nothing to do with it.

What an eye-opener today. The author mentions several things I need to be careful talking about. These things have no place in building up our marriage and will ultimately just build a wall between us:

-burdening him with things I really want but we cannot afford
-gossip about what I read on social media (ugh!)
-trivial things about my day that have no consequence(i stubbed my toe….a waste of breath to report on that)
-complaining about the children
-angry words (that, in turn, put him in an angry mood)
-whining or nagging about something he did or did not do around the house.

All those are things I have a problem with. I always feel the need to unload every bit of info on my husband in the evening. As if he does not have enough going on in his mind.

Two verses that spoke to me today:

Proverbs 19:13
“…A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping.”

How annoying I must be some days!!

Ephesians 4:29
“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

Looks like I need to bite my tongue A LOT more!

What I am learning is that God wants to hear everything I worry about or desire or am upset about. My husband is human, too, and he has his own worries and desires. I shouldn’t burden him with every thought that pops into my head. Instead, my goal should be to edify him, make him feel loved, and be submissive. Our home is my job, and blabbing in his ear is a distraction from what my purpose is. I cannot be the wife he needs and wants if I spend every breath grumbling or deceiving to get what I want. AND I am teaching our girls the wrong way to build a marriage.

Time to regroup and build up my wonderful husband! ๐Ÿ™‚