The power of Words

Your words have power

I had my first emotional breakdown since Adeline was born this past week… and it wasn’t pretty. Starting work again has thrown all the routines and knowledge about motherhood that I thought I had right out the second story window. (see this post for proof.)

I took Adeline to the office with me on Wednesday and we ended the morning super fussy and flustered. She was hungry on the way home, so she was crying… which then got me crying because I knew she was hungry and I also felt like I’ll never get a handle on this working mom thing.

I felt like I wasn’t giving anything 100%. I wasn’t giving Adeline 100% or work 100%, which translates also to feeling like a failure at everything. So when I got both of us, the car seat and my three bags in the door (we’re still crying), we nursed and I just straight up cried ugly tears. I let them roll, apologizing to Adeline for making her feel insecure about getting food and telling God that I just can’t do it all. I can’t cook, clean, care for and mother my daughter, work and still have a drop of myself to give to my husband every day. I just can’t.

But it feels like I should.

It feels like I should be able to do all of these things to the same extent that I did them before Adeline, but I’m pretty sure I’m putting that “should” on myself. I worry my coworkers are bothered by Adeline’s needs while she’s there, I worry they won’t think I’m adequately present, I worry she doesn’t feel like her needs are met like they are when we’re at home (she 9 weeks old, I really don’t think she’s making these comparisons…), I worry my bathroom will never be cleaned again, I worry I won’t sufficiently get myself playing guitar well enough to lead again, blah blah blah.

There are so many worries in that paragraph!

All that to say, after I cried it out, I remembered I had an unopened envelope of encouragement cards from my baby shower. The sweet hosts asked the guests to write me notes of encouragement, and then they sealed them up for a future day when I’d need those words.

Yesterday was that day, and boy did I get my crying in for the month! This time, though, they were happy tears. Tears full of remembering the truth that God is in this with me, tears of feeling loved and built up from women speaking truth into my insecurities, tears of reading about the gifts God has given me called out on paper and witnessed in real life from these ladies.

Words have such power.

Use your words to encourage those around you... you never know how deeply those words can hurt or build up!

Thank you for using them to encourage me when I needed it most.

I encourage you today to think about someone in your life you can encourage. Send them a quick text or give them a call and speak some life into them. Call out and affirm their gifts that you’ve witnessed, thank them for ways they’ve loved you or shown up when you needed them, etc. You have no idea the weight and power those words hold. Let’s be a community who look to uplift and encourage each other!

Your words hold power. Let's be a community who is quick to build up the people around us. Click To Tweet

Cool winter mornings & great friends.

Winter ain’t got nothin’ on me yet.

I kicked off this morning with a nice winter walk to meet up with two girl friends for breakfast downtown. One of them lives only a block away, so we walked together, all bundled up in our hats, gloves, boots and warm coats. The air felt cool and crisp, so wonderfully clean and promising. There’s something just so lovely about early mornings partnered with the anticipation of the new year.

We met to catch up and discuss The Best Yes– we are reading it together and I am so excited for the encouragement this will (hopefully) bring to all of us! God has been speaking loudly to my heart through the various things I’ve been reading over this past month, and that only gets me more hopeful for all he is going to do in my heart in 2016.

Today I’m incredibly grateful for friends who push you to change – to be challenged, to read, to discover more of who you are – and who (most importantly) accept and love you for whoever that person turns out to be.

I’m thankful for the cool winter air and the freedom today to enjoy it, to treat myself to breakfast out, to run errands and to hang out with Jacob. We are soaking up our last days of vacation gladly.

Diet Coke: Fuel for Life

Photo circa April 2012, our pre-married selves 😉

One of my favorite parts about college was the fact you were basically dumped into community. You went to class with people, ate with them in the cafeteria, and shared a huge building to live in together. Especially at a small school like mine, you couldn’t help but be immersed in life with those people.

The best part about that for me was all the “dates” I’d have with my friends throughout the week – lunch with Brandy, dinner with Mosby, roommate dates with Kelly, etc. The “dates” never ended. For me, college was a time of really intentional relationships during a period of time I was desperate to figure out who I was. (I am still doing that, by the way.)

Lunch with Brandy was absolutely one of those weekly standards for me – and here’s where the Diet Coke comes in. The girl loves Diet Coke, as did I, and one day while we were chatting over lunch, one of us jokingly called it “fuel for life.”

Now every time I see or drink Diet Coke, I always think “Fuel for Life” and then of course remember Brandy. We called it that because not only did we love drinking it, but sometimes it felt like legitimate “fuel for life” while studying for finals, finalizing papers, staying up way too late with friends, just making it through the day, etc.

But the best part about all of this is that Brandy and I are still friends, even though she lives in Delaware, I live in New Hampshire and we met in school in Tennessee. We have the occasional FaceTime date, but we primarily stay in touch through our blogs! Which is why I’m excited to share a sliver of her with you today in this post.

While we joked that Diet Coke was our “fuel for life,” if we’re honest, we substitute a lot of things into our lives that take the place of Jesus – our true “fuel for life.” Yes, I’m going there. He fuels our lives, which means he fuels our marriages, blogs, ministries, work ethic, attitude, desire to take action in serving others, and our online presence. He fuels all of us. As much as we often pretend – our spouses, praise from others, coffee, exercise, studying the Bible, food, etc. are not what fuels us. They simply can’t. Jesus is the only one who fuels us because he bridged the gap we could never cover ourselves, he gives us new life through his death and in all of these things, he sustains us.

 

He bridged the gap we couldn’t cover ourselves.

For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. – Romans 8:2-4

He gives us new life through his death.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. – 1 Peter 2: 24-25
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. – 2 Corinthians 5:17

In all things, He sustains us.

You know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. – Deuteronomy 8:3

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. – John 15:4-5

Did you experience that kind of community in college? What do you tend to replace Jesus as your “fuel for life” – coffee, friends, approval, your spouse, your parents, grades, success at work, etc?

Make sure to go check out my friend Brandy‘s blog to see her take on our Diet Coke Friendship & how she relates to Jesus fueling her life.

4 Biblical Truths on Friendship

Friendship

Friendship is one of the gifts I hold dearest to my heart. I love that God designed us for community and leads us by example in how to love each other. There are things other people do for me that touch my heart in ways I can’t imagine living without, you know?

Because I love people and am so thankful for the gift of friendship, I think it should be held to a high standard. Friends aren’t to be taken advantage of, forgotten about or left out hanging out to dry. We are called to love our neighbors as ourselves, our friends included.

As I’ve been thinking about friendship this month, here are 4 Biblical truths that shed great light onto how we should live life with our friends.

1. Live with a spirit of steadfast love and faithfulness. (Proverbs 3:3)

Love your friends with a steadfast love after God’s own love for us, and a spirit of faithfulness. Being faithful to a friend in steadfast love means loving them even when they’re in a sour mood, it means celebrating with them over life’s joys and it means crying with them when they’re in the pits of despair. It means sticking together through life, no matter what comes at you.

2. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)

Relationships are hard – feelings get hurt, bitterness threatens to simmer in the pits of our hearts and we don’t like being wrong. But forgiveness is a powerful thing, and we have a great example of the power of forgiveness in our God. He washed away our sins, the sins that he knows we will continue struggling with, the sins we have yet to even commit! Despite that knowledge, he sent his Son to pay the price for us to be in a relationship with him. That’s quite the example of forgiveness. Fight for your friends the way God fights for us.

3. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. (James 5:16)

Have you ever shared a deep hurt with a friend who then asked to pray over you? Prayer brings healing, and it brings you closer together. I not only want to be quick to comfort my friends, but I want to be quick to pray with them.

The other key part of this truth is that in friendship, we should feel free to confess our sins to one another. The benefit of accountability only extends as far as we can be truthful. I don’t want surfacey friendships, where we can only discuss the easy and light parts of life. I want friends who will get into the battle with me – who will patiently listen to my confessions, but who will call me out of my sin and remind me of the truth of the gospel. I want to be that friend for my friends.

4. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Like I wrote in the letter to myself last week, life is short. And it’s not all about us – it’s all about Him. Let’s not let this life waste away with our worlds revolving around ourselves. Let’s get together with friends, let’s laugh, let’s study the Word, let’s stir each other up to love and good works! Let’s stir each other up so that, above all else, we strive to be faithful to the One who made us and gave us all we have.

Do you have friends like this? If so, tell them, “Thanks!” today! They are diamonds in the rough. Are you this friend to your friends? How can you grow to be more like this kind of friend?

The weight of words & a good reminder

The inspiration to write comes at the oddest of times. Just when I think I have nothing left – not even an ounce of something worthy to share, something comes out of the blue and knocks me off my feet. Have you ever started writing and been surprised by the ending?

To be honest, that’s one of my favorite things about writing. I learn so much about myself and how I see the world around me as I let my fingers type and my mind roll with it. It’s pretty dang fun.

Lately I’ve been working on a few posts that require a lot of rewriting. My writing flow has not come as easily and the topics are heavy, which doesn’t make a great mix. To make it even more complicated, I’ve been reading through Proverbs and have been so struck by the weight that words hold. It’s so easy to just let whatever first comes to my mind fly out of my mouth (or onto the screen) without pausing to think – is that helpful? is it necessary? is it uplifting? is it truthful? is it God-glorifying?

Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him. – Proverbs 29:20

Shew. Does that sting anyone else at all? There are several relationships in which I really struggle to rein in my words, let alone my thoughts, and it’s not pretty. The weight of that realization has been heavy on me these past few weeks. I’m also reading Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin, which I’ll be sharing more details about Monday! But one of her first points is the ever important reminder that the Bible is about God. The Bible teaches us about God’s character, and drawing near to him, studying him, learning more about him is what makes us desire to be more like him. That is what gives us guidance in tough situations.

The Bible was not written for us to find the how-to answers we seek when life gets tough. It’s not there to tell us where to go to college, whom to marry, where to work and go to church… but it does teach us about God’s character, gives us glimpses of who he is, what he’s like and how he calls us to be holy as he is holy.

For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity. – Proverbs 2:6-7

So not only am I attempting to be more thoughtful about the words I express, but I’m also reminding myself to draw near to God and learn about him in my Scripture study, rather than looking for a solution to my problems. Isn’t it funny, how we can take a book so clearly about the King of this earth and make it about ourselves? And by funny, I mean such perfect proof that we so desperately need him.What does writing look like for you? Have you experienced days when you’re surprised by what you write? Have you felt the weight of your words in a way you wish you hadn’t?

Hospitality as a lifestyle

Truthfully, I once thought hospitality meant keeping the house clean and the fridge full. While I think that’s definitely a part of hospitality, it’s one of the many facets that make up an entire life posture.

Hospitality is one of my favorite nouns. It’s something I strive for, hope to be known by and hope to bless many others through. But it’s much more than a simple noun: it’s a way of life, an attitude, and a practice.

A girl named Meg (pictured above) befriended me in high school. She taught me a lot about hospitality in the sense of doing life together. She invested in a lot of people, but she fit all of them into her life in a way that felt natural. She called friends while driving, invited me along on errands and showed me slices of her life authentically. More and more, I see hospitality as just that – authentically living with others. 
Real life isn’t always inviting a friend over for coffee and a homemade slice of perfectly chocolate-frosted cake. More often, it’s inviting friends over when I still need to grocery shop and my rug needs to be vacuumed. Most often, it’s inviting a friend along while I run errands or need to build a set for the youth group. It’s sharing my life in ways others feel part of it and see me for who I am – an imperfect daughter who is loved by God as I am right in those messy moments. I want to share that with friends because it’s their truth, too, and yours, reading this now. You’re loved right now, in your life that often feels haphazard and oh, so scattered. You are so loved.

We have had nine visitors since we moved to new England this past January. I think first that tell you we have some really awesome friends and family members. It has blessed us abundantly to have our closest people visit us and share life with us for a weekend here and there. But having so many visitors has also shaped my perspective on the art of hospitality.

With nine visitors in a span of 8 months, our lives can’t come to a halt every time someone spends a weekend with us. We have to keep going… so those friends are along for the ride. For example, last weekend our dear friend Erica stayed for five days and she not only helped me sew and paint a set for the youth group kick off, but also spent 13 hours with us at church from the Sunday morning service until youth group was finished. She didn’t sit off to the side, either – she was in the thick of it with us. And, you know what? She loved it! She loved seeing a true slice of our lives here and getting to experience our day to day shuffle.

So for those of you who look at the word hospitality and feel your shoulders getting heavier quickly, breathe a sigh of relief. I have a few reminders for you:

Your house needs to be livable, not perfect. 

I totally get it – I’m a clean freak, too, even when people aren’t coming to stay with us! I appreciate a clean home, but I can’t let myself get bent out of shape over it. Life is too short to worry about the dishes and un-vacuumed rugs. Do what you can and then forget about it – your guests will feel comfortable anyway.

Don’t feel pressured to make a big show. 

Whether you have friends coming into town or are just hanging out with your local friends, don’t feel like you have to set aside additional time to do that. Do things with them like grocery shop, go for a walk, work on that craft you had been planning to finish, or do the dishes together. I understand your desire to do something big for out-of-town guests.. if that is your true desire, go for it! Just don’t feel like every second of each day needs to be that way. 

Be authentically you.


There’s nothing I love more than truly knowing someone. You know that friend who just gets you? You have probably shown each other the real “you” behind all the masks and pretenses. Your friends don’t need you to put on an emotional or physical show to win them over, either. Be you – it’s less work and more rewarding. The sooner you learn that, the sooner you will be able to rush less, worry less and grow more.

Please leave your thoughts in the comments below – I would love to hear what hospitality means to you and how you’ve grown in being YOU recently!


*This post first appeared as a guest post on Banana Grove Designs

signature