Because Everyone Understands the Language of Love

We have all gone mad.

For months, I have struggled to find words to express the deep feelings of a heart all tangled up. It’s been a hard year.

And then last night I watched as people set an American flag on fire and rioted angrily in the streets. Another riot in a year of riots.

We’re all so starved for selfless kindness, we’re going mad.

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A couple of months ago, I sat in a coffee shop with a friend. She is the kind of friend you who looks past a misspoken word and catches your heart.

“I just felt so alone, SO much,” A tear escaped.

There was fire in her eyes, strength. She gets it. “You know what I think?” She said, “People didn’t know how to care. They couldn’t relate. They felt helpless.”

I went home and I have thought about that for weeks.

I thought about all the times I didn’t know what to do, so I did nothing.

And I have decided it’s time to change how I live. 

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Don’t wait until you understand what it’s like to be stuck in a hospital room for endless winter days, to care.

Don’t wait until you know what it’s like for your mother to die, to care.

Don’t wait until your baby gets hooked up to machines and is given opiate drugs  for pain relief, to care.

Don’t wait to reach out, until you can relate to a stage four cancer diagnosis, or a miscarriage, to care.

Don’t wait until you have a kid to help a mother.

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Don’t wait till you are old and slow, to shovel someone’s walkway or carry someone’s groceries, or it will be too late. 

Because the truth is? Your fear – that you don’t know what to say or do – is irrelevant, if you love.

Love is a language we all understand. 

And to the person in a dark place? Love is all they need.

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And if you are too busy to take the time to care?

Quit busy. It’s not worth it.

Take the time it will take to post another Instagram selfie, to send a text saying “I’m thinking of you.” Use the money you’d spend on a new shirt and send someone flowers. Make an extra pizza and invite your new neighbor over.

Because love is a language we all understand.

Why Your Words Matter {The Second Part}

Souls bleed.

They fracture.

Spirits are crushed and hearts are broken.

Living souls are thwarted.

And this is why words matter.

Most words speak life or death, and there are very few, if any, neutral, in-between words.

Relationships have crumbled and fully disintegrated over poorly chosen words, and real men and women have walked weighed-down and defeated under the weight of a word.

And words are too easy to come by in this time we live, with Facebook statuses punched out on smartphones and instant messaging in too many various forms, and haven’t you ever sent a text you instantly wished you could take back?

So maybe now is just as good a time as any to consider our conversation.

How do we speak? 

I’m washing dishes at the sink and the spring sunshine is warm on my arms.

And I’m thinking about words we speak, how they are easy to come by and impossible to erase. 

I’m especially thinking about them in the context of the body of Christ, because the church community as a whole has a rather poor reputation in the area of the tongue.

You know just what I mean.

How many things do we hear through the grapevine, things we have no place knowing?

How many times have we shared personal details about someone’s personal story — maybe in the form of a prayer request? Regardless of how, we’re pretty good at inventing excuses for information-sharing conversation.

How about the conversations that can happen in the context of mentoring? “Well, I needed to tell my mentor!” and then, “My mentor needed additional insight from her mentor!” We all know how that ends up.

Our words matter because they either feed souls or crush souls, breathe life or hiss death, bless and encourage or tear down and destroy.

We must repent.

The sower soweth the word.

I know it’s out of context, but when I read that verse, it struck me – how we’re all sowers sowing words, good or bad.

Everyone speaks but listening is art, and it’s the listener who sees and gains entrance to the deepest beauty of the soul.

What if we all took care to listen and took time to see, before we dared utter a word? The careless becoming the careful, our language turning lyric, our words no more condemnation but invitation. 

What would relationship be? How would community grow? If the words we scattered were words that would water, never choke? 

We’re all disenchanted with surface relationships and superficiality, and maybe just maybe we’re stuck there as long as we continue to heedlessly talk with ears half-shut and eyes half-closed.

I think this for myself, but I know one thing at least –

words matter an infinite lot.

Why Your Words Matter {Part 1}

The house is quiet, save for the comfortable rumble of my old dryer faithfully tumbling wet clothes dry.

The morning was full of sorting laundry and changing loads, sipping coffee and ladies group with homemade vegetable soup and babies cooing in warm winter sunshine pouring through bay windows, toddlers fighting over pretzels, the free-spirited laughter of friends and conviction.

This one phrase from the book of Mark stands out to me, totally out of context, but I can’t shake how the words seep into my mind.

“The sower soweth the word.”

Mark was telling the parable of Jesus about the sower who sowed the seed, but when I read that one verse, The sower soweth the word I’m not thinking about the sower and the seed and the soil.

I’m thinking in the context of my life.

Everyone speaks words, but to listen is an art, and it’s the listener who sees.

The one who talks who hasn’t first mastered the art of listening, is careless.

But the one who listens and speaks, they gain entrance to the deepest beauty of the soul.

Everyone speaks but listening is art, and it’s the listener who sees and gains entrance to the deepest beauty of the soul.

The words soaked with conviction tumbling through my mind, like the load of wet clothes rotating in my dryer downstairs.

More thoughts coming later…

Dream on Perfect Order

There’s mud spots from wet boots smeared ungracefully across my wooden floor at the entrance to my house.  Stacks of dishes haphazardly fill the kitchen sinks. The washtub in the laundry room is full — of dirty laundry.

And I don’t have kids.

My Dad always said that my imagination was my best friend. As I get older and look back to the old days… more and more, I think he’s right. When I was eleven, I went on a walk with my mom and sister and filled their ears with a make-believe “when-I’m-a-mommy” story.

“I’m going to have thirty-five kids!” I proudly exclaimed.

My sister laughed at me. “Are you going to adopt?”

“NOPE!” I declared vehemently. “They’ll all be natural.”

“That’s impossible!” She said.

“No it isn’t…I’ll probably have two sets of quadruplets and a few sets of twins.”

This time my mom laughed. “Wow!” She laughed again, “You’ll still be pregnant all the time, Renee.”

I thought that was cool. Why wouldn’t I want to be pregnant all the time? Pregnant ladies were pretty. I loved their bellies. I loved big families. I loved kids.

My sister couldn’t talk me out of my ideas. I was going to have a record-breaking family. I was going to be super-mom. I went home and made plans. I wrote down a list of thirty-five names I liked – first and middle, mind you – using one of the tattered Baby Name books on my mom’s shelf. (Did I fail to mention I am one of a very large family?) I planned it all out. I sat and dreamed of how we’d live in this grand old farmhouse and keep our home in perfect order.

I talked to myself and pretended I was a mom talking about my family. I wrote chore duties down next to the child’s name on my piece of paper. (Unlike real moms, I had a cheat sheet.) It was my make-believe mommy world and in my make-believe mommy world we had perfect order.

Push fast-forward about twelve years. Time flies by. Now I’m married – going on two years! I look around my house…I don’t have kids yet but it looks like I do.

But wait…maybe I do. Not kids in the baby sense. In the “I-birthed-you, you-are-mine” sense. But almost every week, I have people in my home. Often young girls at the tender age of sixteen and seventeen. They come and we talk. They leave wet spots on my floor. Sometimes I don’t have time to finish my dishes or switch laundry loads before they get here.

We’re women. We’re talking.  We laugh together. We pray together. We ask big questions. We reach for something more.

I look around at my disheveled, imperfect, dirty house. I hug myself and smile.

Dream on perfect order…I’ve got better things to do.

Precious Dirt

There’s dirt on my floor.

Again.

I just mopped the floor yesterday.

Washing dishes. Changing laundry loads. Creating lesson plans. Visiting with friends. Hosting people in my home. Making meals – again and again and again.

This is part of my redemption.

I look at the dirt and sigh. A small smile plays on the edges of my mouth. I could be frustrated, but…that’s precious dirt.

I feel like laughing inside.

Thank-you Jesus for giving me joy and thankfulness over dirt.

Today I was reminded that there are greater things in life than having a spotless floor. The companionship of friends…strangers who feel like family…people who leave spaghetti smeared into your creme couch cover, people who spill water all over your floor more than once, people who leave precious dirt behind them.

Redemption. Jesus sifting my heart through His hands like sand. I think He smiles down from heaven on days like today. Precious dirt. He knows all about that.

I have to think of all the times I run to Him and crumple at His feet…tired, exhausted, weary, mentally shot…and leave some real dirt behind. I love how it doesn’t stop Him from reaching out a hand of love and mercy.

I look at my dirt on the floor. Sometimes, I admit, I think twice before inviting people over to my house. I go through all the things I’ll have to do to get ready for company and go through all the things I’ll have to do to pick up after company. Things like dirt on the floor I mopped a day ago.

Silly. Why would this stop me from reaching out a hand of love and mercy? It’s not just any dirt, after all. Its precious dirt. The grit that comes from friendship and fellowship.  Dirt that redeems.

Oh wow. Jesus…you are amazing. How do you do that?