How to Make a Difference Today

I’ve been a little “off” lately.  A bit of a cranky pants.  And as I examined why, the thing that I noticed was that I’ve really been neglecting the soul rhythm of time in God’s Word.  So this morning I started on a new Bible reading plan, breathing in Genesis 1.

And two things clicked together – God’s words for me, and words for others

First, when I read… I read, pray, & meditate (RPM).  Actually it’s not usually in that order, but RPM is catchy :).

I read the passage and meditate on it.  And what I mean by meditate is that I try to pay attention to verses God quickens my spirit to, and specifically I ask “What does this passage teach me about God and about myself?”

Then I pray the passage into my life.

Here’s what I breathed in from Genesis 1:

  • God is powerful.
  • His Word is powerful. It makes a difference.
  • Words are powerful.
  • God’s words call out life and beauty.
  • I am made in HIs image.

So…then I pray about reflecting God’s image.  How can I call out life and beauty today?

Second, I received the Best. Note. Ever. from our daughter, Katy.  It was another reminder to me of the power of our words to call forth life and beauty in others.

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As our communications guru friend reminds us, “Words Matter!”

Katy’s note was a tangible example of someone reflecting the image of God – making a difference with her words.

This practice of note writing has been a powerful one for me.

Years ago I felt prompted to write a mentor from college who I had been out of touch with.  I thanked him for his influence in my life, growing me to be a leader more like Jesus.  He wrote back that my note had come at the lowest day of his life, where personal challenges had tempted him to believe maybe nothing he had done in ministry had really mattered.   That little note I wrote at that exact time made a difference.  God used it, and God can use your words too.

I try to reflect each morning on different people, conversations, experiences…Is there something I’ve noticed, or some conversation where someone else was affirmed and I haven’t told them?  And I’m reminded of this sign at the airport:

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Here are a few of thingsI’m learning:

  • Emails are ok, but there’s something special about receiving a “real” card with someone’s personal penmanship that you can save.
  • Being super specific is the key to a life-giving note.  There’s a huge difference between “I really appreciate you.” and “The way you welcomed me with a hug and a smile the other day made me feel so loved. It was such a reminder of God’s care for me.”
  • What’s not turned to praise is turned to pride.  We’re all in this together.  We’re dependent on God and His gifts to us through those around us.  Let’s encourage each other!

What is YOUR experience with words of encouragement?  What would you add to what I’ve learned?  Share in the comments!

 

 

 

Kingdom Conversations

One of the amazing blessings of my life is that John serves on the World Vision International Board and I get to tag along as he travels with them.  Seeing new places and learning about new cultures is enriching, but I also get to spend time with remarkable, godly people I admire!  This week we’ve been in London and Windsor with these friends.

One of the things I notice is the power of a mantra my friend Sharon repeats often: “Words matter.”  Too many, too few (a compliment left unshared), life-giving words, words of gratitude or complaint.  Our words can be the thermostat that sets the temperature of a conversation.  If God is noting the temperature I set with my words, I’m wondering how often it would be set at “foot in mouth”, or “insensitive”, “self-centered”, or “gossipy”.

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Sitting at lunch yesterday my friend Helen didn’t just let the conversation drift.  She asked the seven women around the table, (all of us new acquaintances) to share what one of our passions is.

After the first person spoke, another woman at the table suggested that we pray for each person after they shared.  What could have been nice chit-chat became a lovely, richer time of fellowship because these two women took the opportunity to set the temperature of our conversation, creating a God-honoring environment.

Whether it’s our friends on the board here, or mentors elsewhere, some of the things I’ve observed about Jesus followers who know that words matter are:

  • They listen really well.  They are present and will sift through the extraneous and pick up on the important heart issues.
  • They ask good questions.
  • They find things to affirm.  Their speech is “seasoned with grace.”
  • Even when asked for advice, they limit what they say. (This one is a huge one for me to learn from!!)
  • They model what Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.”

What is it that you think makes the difference between conversations that lift our minds and those that lower them?

One More Gift…or Two

At our house the carols have been sung, candles lighted, cookies eaten, snuggling done by the fireplace.  The tree has been given multiple compliments so that it feels secure in its loveliness, and bags of festive crumpled wrapping paper and shiny bows carted out to the trash.

Yes, the gifts have been opened and oohed and aahed over, but there are a few more…A couple I didn’t get delivered to friends and tennis coaches, and Christmas cards still to mail.  Maggie’s fiance, Austin arrives today and his gifts are still waiting under the Christmas tree.

All this gifting focus has prompted me to think about several other gifts that are there every day, but may sit around un-given or unopened in the new year.

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The Other “F Word”

One afternoon when Katy was in kindergarten she got off the bus and informed me that she had learned “the f-word.”

“Fart.”

She later told us she had also learned the “sh-word”

“Shut up.”

Honestly, in our family the real “f-word” isn’t fart.  And it isn’t another word that might come to mind.

It’s “fine”.

To my mind, “fine” may be the most terrible word in the english language.  And words matter as my friend Sharon always reminds me.

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Word Fatigue

The other day in our small group, one of the women was describing the feeling of heaviness, helplessness, and lethargy she felt upon return from a year in Africa.  I said it sounded like she had experienced “compassion fatigue” – the sense of overload you have when you’ve seen too much suffering, heard too many stories of loss and spent time with people in despair, too many requests for more money.

Visiting a church recently, I felt like I experienced a similar phenomena.  “Word fatigue”.

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How to Write a Better Marriage Story than TomKat

Dear Max and Emily,

What a picture of joy!  It was a hot Minnesota summer afternoon and there was laughter and dancing and prayers and great hopes for your future together.  You were surrounded by people who love you.

So…right.

You did a lot of hard work to get to this place.  You did the pre-marital counseling thing and the financial seminar thing, and you really tried to honor God in every way as you walked towards marriage.

And now you’re here.  You’re married.

But the news these days is filled with stories of TomKat and John Edwards and Kim Kardashian, and Arnold Swarzenager.  And a thousand  million more examples of infidelity and “irreconcilable differences” and custody battles.  Disheartening, eh?

Why do you think you’ll be different than Kim and Arnold and whoever?  What will give you an edge so you won’t be another bad statistic in a few years.  Or 15?

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