Choosing Our Words

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I wasn’t going to say something. I was trying to keep my mouth shut. But the coffee kicked in earlier than usual and gave me some extra caffeinated courage. The following words are not meant to criticize, only to offer another perspective.

When yesterday’s news story and pictures emerged of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge standing outside St. Mary’s Hospital proudly showing off their third child, they were met with much joy and the expected storm of comments and opinions. There were plenty of happy congratulations and joyful reactions but there were also a lot of opinions and statements that rubbed me the wrong way. That red dress! Her perfect hair! I didn’t look that good until three years after I had my baby! Oh, poor Princess Kate!

It made me wonder. How do we know that the Duchess of Cambridge was not completely happy and did not relish in that moment? How do we know that standing in front of the crowd did not remind her of how proud she was to be a princess, a wife, a mother, a woman? How do we know that the dress wasn’t picked out by the Duchess, for this exact occasion, for some special reason, and she couldn’t wait to wear it?  And honestly, what new mom wouldn’t like her hair and makeup done?

Critiquing others online has become the newest, most easily accessed type of tabloid reading. We need to stop relating to each other by comparisons. Stop giving compliments with underlying tones of sarcasm, dripping with false empathy. We need to stop using our own experiences as the ONLY benchmark for what others should do, should say, and what they should look like.

Yes, maybe the comments and posts meant no harm. Yes, we absolutely have a choice to ignore, not to read and not to respond. And, yes, everyone has a right to their opinions (I am giving mine now.) But all this represents part of a bigger issue.

Words have become more accessible than ever and virtual platforms are available to anyone at anytime. I believe we need to choose our words more carefully than ever before. Words hold the power of life and death, of creating positive influence or gaining negative attention. Words gather people together and hold them attentive.

And ladies, we use our words A LOT! Younger generations of women are watching us, seeing how we interact, listening to the comparisons and the comments, forming their own opinions and reactions, and they are gathering and influencing their friends based on our example. So, let’s be good examples. Let’s practice pointing out the positive and affirming uniqueness. Let’s use our words for good influence so that our comments would be uplifting to others and celebrate people for who they are, no matter what we may think they are or the situation may be. Let’s be the positive change, one word at a time.

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The tongue has the power of life and death and those who love it will eat its fruit.

Proverbs 18:21 (NIV)

 


78 Kind Things to Say to Your Kids

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Yesterday, I wrote about the power of words and how the loudest echos can be created from the quietest, smallest voice. Today, I want to challenge you to start looking for ways to use kind, powerful words with some of the smallest people we know- our children.

Words have a way of lasting years and years after they are said. When we speak encouraging words, we are giving our children an emotional boost of hope, support and confidence. Pray for opportunities and quiet moments to embrace and use those times to support and build up your children. Read Bible verses that speak to their identity in Christ.  Pray that God’s life-giving words and our kind words would root deeply into our children’s hearts. Root so deeply, that when they are faced with challenging and difficult situations they might sow the strength and confidence those words have grown.

Here are 78  “starter” phrases for you to use. They are not only for our smallest children, they work for our children who may have grown taller than us too. If speaking words of affirmation is difficult for you, try saying one or two words at a time and work up to speaking several each day. Like with anything new and with some practice, speaking encouraging words will start to feel easier to do and your children will benefit from your practice.  I would love to hear from you and add your ideas to this growing list.

  1.  You are loved.
  2. You make me smile.
  3. I believe in you.
  4. You are a hard worker.
  5. Can I help you?
  6. I’m sorry.
  7. Will you forgive me?
  8. I forgive you.
  9. You are creative!
  10. Great discovery!
  11. You are kind.
  12. You are a good friend.
  13. You are a good listener.
  14. I’m listening
  15.  Your ideas matter.
  16. You can say no.
  17. You make a difference.
  18. You belong!
  19. Here is a place for you.
  20. Tell me what you are thinking.
  21. Thank you for helping me.
  22. Would you like to help me?
  23. Thank you for trying.
  24. Great job!
  25. I like how you ______.
  26. I see you trying.
  27. You are brave.
  28. You can learn from your mistakes.
  29. Your mistakes do not define you.
  30. Keep up the good work!
  31. I like you.
  32. Thank you for being you.
  33. God made you special.
  34. You have a lot to offer.
  35. I like spending time with you.
  36. You are fun to be with.
  37. I am excited to see you try.
  38. You figured it out!
  39. Well done!
  40. Thank you for following directions.
  41. Thank you for sharing.
  42. I trust you.
  43. I appreciate you.
  44. Thank you for being honest.
  45. You are joyful!
  46. You are loving.
  47. Thank you for waiting.
  48. You are patient.
  49. You give the best hugs.
  50. I like when you hold my hand.
  51. Please sit next to me.
  52. I am grateful that God made me your mom.
  53. You have a great sense of humor.
  54. You have a sweet and gentle spirit.
  55. I will help you with that!
  56. What a fantastic idea.
  57. Let’s do it together.
  58. Good thinking!
  59. Thank you for answering me.
  60. That was a kind thing to do.
  61.  God gave you special gifts and talents.
  62. Let’s pray about it together.
  63. You are good at ______.
  64. You are important.
  65. Thank you for helping your friend.
  66. That is wonderful news.
  67. I am proud of you.
  68. You mean the world to me.
  69. I love you to the moon and back.
  70. You are beautiful inside and out.
  71. You made my day!
  72. You are generous.
  73. You are helpful.
  74. Don’t give up.
  75. That’s a great question!
  76. I learn new things from YOU
  77. I love your enthusiasm.
  78. I LOVE YOU!

 


A Web of Kind Words

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Words are powerful. They can be used to express love or hate, help create or destroy, strengthen or weaken, bring hope or despair. History is full of characters who have used wise and foolish words resulting in both successful outcomes and precarious situations. Bible verses and proverbs caution us to think before we speak.  Many famous, important people have said many grand, important things regarding the weight of our words. But…

Sometimes the gentlest voice creates the loudest echo.

The other day, I was reminded of one of my favorite books. Charlotte’s Web is a beautiful story of kindness, love and friendship. Charlotte, a well-spoken, common house spider befriends an insecure, innocent runt of a pig. The story takes place on a farm where the changing seasons are a force that dictates new beginnings and endings. One day, Wilbur discovers the truth of his fate as a farm pig and the news throws him into a state of “hysterics” and despair. Charlotte uses her quiet voice and calming words to help Wilbur compose himself. With compassionate resolve, she vows to think of some way to save her friend’s life.

Charlotte’s plan is masterfully thought through and put together. In a mysterious, quiet way, she does what a spider does best. Charlotte weaves together a miracle.  Her web is much more magnificent than the average spider’s web though. In the center of her dew covered, glistening web, are the woven words “SOME PIG.”  Those words ultimately change Wilbur’s future and the course of his life.

The miracle is not in the actual creation of the web but in the influence of her words. Four times, Charlotte quietly weaves life and confidence into Wilbur. At first, he is unsure, insecure and hesitant to believe, but in time he rises to the occasion and begins to see himself as Charlotte sees him. A terrific, radiant, humble pig!

How often do we refuse to see ourselves in the GOOD ways others see us? Are we quick to dismiss a compliment or word of encouragement? Do we answer life-giving words with negativity? “But I’m not patient.” or “No, you are wrong. I am just about average.”  Do we dismiss compliments with a joke and a let down? “Oh, you cannot be talking about ME leading worship. I have a horrible singing voice.” (I said that one yesterday morning!)

Maybe we should start accepting rather than dismissing. Start thanking instead of throwing away.

AND…. We can all be Charlottes. All of us have the ability to weave webs of words that encourage and support someone’s hopes and dreams. Charlotte was small in size but big in the heart and bright in mind. She did what she could with what she had to give. She quietly, lovingly and creatively made a difference. Her words created lasting echos in Wilbur’s life.

Whether is be your husband, children, neighbors, friends, store clerk, or the local barista. A kind word can be replenishing and restorative. It can help build up and encourage. Kind word are actions. They do not stay static and often their effects gets multiplied and passed on and on and on to others.

This week, I want to encourage you to use what you have. Be bold and creative. Speak quietly or loudly or write and weave. Use what God has given you to make a difference in someone’s life. Speak kindness and goodness that creates loud echos in another person’s life.

Sometimes the gentlest voice creates the loudest echo.