words matter

I was wide awake in the middle of the night with a restless puppy. If I get woken up like that, I’m up, at least for a good hour or two. #frustrating. So, I did a little Pinterest searching. Better than Amazon prime shopping, right?!😜.

I came across this great article about positive/negative words and how they affect plant growth. This experiment is not new- it has been around for a while and is a great illustration showing how words matter. How we speak to others matters!

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In the blog post I read, the author explained how the plant on the right was talked to with positive, loving, encouraging speech. In fact the container was even covered with positive words written out on it. On the left, the negative. Put-downs, hate, discouraging speech was spoken to it and negative written words covered the container. And you probably guessed how it turned out.

Our loving, good, positive words bring life to others. They build up and contribute to a life of thriving. And when we choose words that tear down? It’s stifles. It can make others feel weak. It takes life out of them.

This past week we have probably all witnessed this. It’s been a tumultuous week of feelings  swinging vastly on the pendulum of emotions. One simple click of “post”, “send”, “tweet” has brought forth words of all kinds. Words that encouraged, words that offended. Words that showed grace, words that ripped apart.  Words that left a sting.  Words that extended a branch.  Words that affected.

BUT… we often reflect outwardly what we struggle with inwardly. At least I do.

I had never considered this illustration with how I speak TO MYSELF.  I can be so guilty of this. I get in a routine and I do good with my healthy choices, my time management, my effort in relationships. And when I do, I feel good about myself. I speak nicely to myself. My inner voice is all rainbows and unicorns.🌈🦄  And I tend to approach things with that same attitude

But when any of those efforts slide? When I splurge on bad foods, skip the workout, spew forth a thought without thinking, or put minimal effort into my marriage or parenting when I know better?  I don’t cut myself much slack. I don’t extend myself much grace. And the negativity begins. My inner self-talk becomes putting myself down. I find fault with everything I do. The rainbows turn to clouds and unicorns to something more like angry birds. 🐤😡🐦 And I begin feeling a little like this withering plant. A little more lifeless, a little more crumbly.  And that is how I find myself living my day to day- with a negative vibe in things I say and do.

We, of course, need to pay attention to how we speak to others and always seek to speak words that bring life.  Words that show respect. Words that don’t intend harm. But… we often need to get to that place by first looking in.

Have you paid attention to how you speak to yourself? Being content on the inside means there’s a greater chance you will spread that joy and good feeling to others on the outside. As you try to be healthier, help others, and live better, are you considering your self-talk? It matters! When you stumble, remember… Be kind to you. Show grace to you. Love you! Be intentional about this. Practice this. Live this. The picture illustrates so well how you’ll grow and thrive when you do. And when you get your heart feeling good on the inside, it’s becomes so much easier to spread that encouragement outwardly.❤

a tree out of season

 

Do you notice anything about the photo below ?  I spotted this little scene earlier this year on one of my many treks down Highway 6 to Target.  In fact, it jumped out at me so vividly, that I turned my car around and pulled over just to snap this pic.  When I look at this image, I see spring in full bloom, nice and green, fresh flowers, plants neatly growing with each other.  And then there’s the orange tree.  It’s gone ahead and jumped to autumn.  It’s out of season from the rest of it’s surroundings, doing what it can to grow in the season it appears to be in, but seemingly just a little out of sync.

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Have you ever felt like this autumn tree?  Like, everyone is in their season of pretty… of all kinds of got-it-together-ness and you’re  ….. not?  I have!  There have been so many times that when I look out around me, I see everyone’s lives sort of like spring… bright and colorful, fresh, neatly planted.  They seem so in sync with their surroundings.  And all the while I’m sitting by my lonesome in fall… feeling more like those cheery colors are fading out and the now brittle leaves are getting ready to shed at any time.

Seasons can be good.  They’re often anticipated and expected.  They give us variety to life and can be something to look forward to.  They can bring with them a welcome change from what has been and encourage traditions and newness for the months ahead.  If it wasn’t for seasons, life could be pretty monotonous and dull.

But, not all seasons are times of refreshment.  Some seasons very much throw us off.  They can come unexpectedly.  And some seasons bring about change that we would rather not go through, much less embrace.

The bible  talks about all kinds of seasons in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:

For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.

A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.

A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.

A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.

A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.

A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.

A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.

A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.

The seasons of life can be good.  And they can be scary.  They can be joyous.  And they can be full of worry.  And unfortunately, we don’t get to choose our season.  We don’t get to pick one everyone else is in, which stinks because I really don’t want a season of crying when everyone else is laughing.  That’s just no fun.  And I don’t want to be gathering my stones if everyone else is able to be carefree and tossing theirs about.  Nope.

I don’t want my scene like the one I saw on Highway 6 last spring.  I don’t want to be out of season from everyone else.  I would much prefer we all bloom and then we all shed.  All at the same time.  There’s safety in numbers, right?

But that’s not life.  We aren’t meant to be in the exact seasons at the same time.  I need to pay attention to what’s around me so that I see the full picture, not just my piece.  It doesn’t matter if I’m the autumn tree or if I’m neatly growing with all of my surroundings.  I need to be able to see the fresh blooms of some and the shedding leaves of others.  We are meant to lean on each other and do life together.  That’s where it’s beautiful.  That’s why the juxtaposition works.  Just look at this photo again.  The colors of both seasons very much compliment each other in such a beautiful way.  One stands out BECAUSE of the other.  Their differences are what makes it interesting.  And I think that’s how life works, too.  Fresh spring flowers and autumn trees- they CAN grow together in unexpected ways.❤️

 

 

 

seasons of stories

“He made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he put eternity in man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11.

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I am loving the @womenlivingwell study! I am learning about Solomon and realizing how similar his story of seeking earthly joys seems to our world today. I came across this previous note I made in the margins of my bible. It is from a women’s retreat I attended a couple of years ago.

I relate to it personally, but I think it can relate to so many of our stories here. We ALL have stories. I love following all of the stories I see on Facebook and Instagram, on Twitter, and on the blogs I follow. I find myself  learning so much day to day. I see people who are real and genuine in their fails, and so inspiring and humble in their successes. Let’s keep sharing, keep living out and telling our stories. Every part of His story is important. Every part matters…. YOU Matter.

Here’s what my jotted down notes say- notes from an incredibly wise young speaker:
“Our stories are going somewhere on purpose! Some days I feel I may have a larger part of God’s story than other days, but to God every part is important. Every part is intertwined and interdependent. Even the smallest of “parts” can have an impact for years to come. I need to remember that.”❤️

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

levees and friends

This past spring, our city has gone through a deluge of rain. In fact, it was the second year in a row Houston has been hit with such a downpour. The floods that ensued have been devastating. Our suburban neighborhood, designed with a levee of protection, has been one of several around the city spared by the rising waters.  This levee is a a raised embankment that channels the waters of the overflowing Brazos away from us. The waters have risen, the roads have even shut down in places, but the levee has protected us, leaving our homes, and our families, dry and safe.

levee at camp sienna

Storms happen in life. Hard times hit us all. Psalm 107:29 says, “He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves.” The bible doesn’t talk about IF the storms come. It assumes they DO.  Storms of grief…. of worry and fear.  Storms of sadness and anger .  Storms of the need to let go, but the lack of trust to do so.  Our storms are full of emotions that often drive our actions and attitudes day to day.  Storms, that on some days, leave us covered and trapped.

This past spring has been a season where we have experienced the emotional kind of rains. Losing pets is tough, especially on your kids who grew to know them like a sibling.  Helping your child grieve and learn a new normal is hard but necessary.  And, to put in bluntly, bullying sucks.  The word can be overused, I know, but when your child experiences it it is real.  Really real.  Ugly words said can leave a stain on your heart for years to come.  Words that came unexpected from former friends, people you had a love for and trust of. And as a mother, witnessing this can rip at your heart in a way you hadn’t felt before.

As I reflect back on the last several months, I begin to realize…. just as the levee has protected our homes and community from devastating floods, so too, has our family experienced the same kind of protection by our friends.

All around, we have had friends loving us, being sad with us, and just taking on some of our heartache in order to protect us from the flood of emotions that grief and hurting hearts bring. These friends acted just like the levee does. The storms came, but the rise of waters that follow the downpour have been channeled away from us by each act of love and friendship… by prayer.

Watching my daughter be on the receiving end of some rather obnoxious nastiness was hard to do. Mommy claws can be SHARP and LONG. But seeing true friends walk with us through that ordeal helped us deal. And it wasn’t always big noticeable acts… these sweet friends just loved on us through simple acceptance and kindness and prayers that we never specifically heard out loud, but we felt in our hearts.

levee fully surrounded home

I have to be honest with myself here. Am I like a levee? Do I help shield the storms of life from taking over my friends?  Do I help build up and protect from the heavy burden of hard rains?

I have had so many friends go through so much this last year. SO MUCH. We can’t change the fact that the storms will come, but we can try to keep the flood waters from overcoming those that we love.  Do I share in my friends’ hard times, taking on some of their heartache, and just love on them?

If I can do that, I can help guide the remnants of their storm away from them, protecting them from the flood of emotions that can easily swallow us up. Galatians 6:2 says “Carry each others burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” When I read this, I realize it is my DUTY as a Christ follower to carry burdens with my friends. Jesus does so for us all the time. Every day. All day. No matter how big or small the circumstance.  Jesus, our crown-wearing prince, is our ultimate protection.   Is it any coincidence that in my research of levees,  I came across the diagram below, showing that the top of a levee is called a crown?

levee diagram

So… am I following His lead… am I like a levee? Do I raise up and protect others during their time of storms? Do I help to channel away all the murky waters of sadness and fear, frustration and heartache?

Every time I come up on one of these strong embankments, I will try to remember to ask myself this.  It will be a self-check of sorts.   Rains come, waters rise, but the strong embankment of friendship can protect from the flood of it all.  Friendship that can last a lifetime if it’s grounded in the one who gives us ultimate refuge.” Carry each other’s burdens…. “