Why Words Matter

Love my morning coffee.

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Yesterday, however, I grimaced after the first sip. Too much Half n Half.

The flavor overpowered the coffee. So I brewed more coffee. Poured it into my mug to dilute the Half n Half. Didn’t help.

At the end of the day, a mug of cold coffee sat on the patio table where I’d left it.

That evening, I noticed there were two similar cartons in my refrigerator. Turns out I’d poured Whipping Cream instead of Half n Half into my coffee.

Words matter.

This isn’t the first time I’ve used or bought something without reading the words on the label. Ever tried Unsalted Pretzels? I still have them if you’re interested.

Lately, people need Google Translation to figure out what I’m saying:

Me: “Hey, I’m going to Home Depot for groceries.”
Friend: “You mean Holiday Market?”
Me: “Didn’t I say that?”

I don’t mind poking fun at myself, but,

Words Matter. They’re more than letters and phonetic sounds.

Just look up “word” in a Bible concordance.

  • “A harsh word stirs up anger.”
  • “How delightful is a timely word.”
  • “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth.
  • “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you.”

Add mouth or tongue to the word search; you’ll have a field day.

I wonder how many words are in the English language?

file000278512533As a child, whenever someone bullied me, I’d respond, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”

This rhyme worked about as well as rubbing my rabbit’s foot for good luck. But I’m no longer a child; my skin is thicker.

I’ve spoken, heard, written, and read more words than I can count. Good. Bad. Some words I can’t spell or define, but I know that….

Words have the power to ignite wars, civil strife, family feuds. And crush individuals.

Words also have the ability to challenge, inspire, and heal.

We get to choose our words.

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Years ago, my friend’s husband was brutally murdered by three male strangers. They broke into her home—intent on stealing—and were surprised by her husband’s presence. I won’t say more.

Justice was served. Those men were condemned and sent to prison. However, it didn’t alleviate my friend’s heartache.

So she prayed and sought the Lord for counsel.

Eventually, she wrote each of those condemned men a letter in which she shared the Gospel of Christ. 

She included the words: “I forgive you for murdering my husband.”

One of the men wrote back. He said he’d been praying for a sign to know he’d been forgiven.

Her words were like a balm to that man’s soul. His words made my friend weep for joy.

How is it possible for a grief-stricken widow to rise above her sorrow and share the Gospel with condemned men? How was she able to forgive?

By God’s grace, and a willingness to obey God’s Word.

“Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:28.)

Christ’ Words, not mine.

And His Word matters. Even in this…especially in this …volatile world.

Have You Felt Invisible?

Have you ever felt invisible?

ID-100111764 Even though you were in a room with people who knew you?

I remember a little girl in kindergarten. One day, during recess, she went to the edge of the playground and sat with her back to her peers.

She said, “I just wanted to know if anyone would notice.”

Imagine being that five-year-old girl. Surrounded by classmates who jumped rope, climbed monkey bars, and laughed—oblivious to her.

Or if they noticed the solitary figure, they weren’t concerned enough to ask her, “Why are you sitting alone?”

They didn’t call her name or beg, “Come and play.”

Who knows what motivated that little girl to sit alone with her back to the crowd. Did the need for affirmation, backfire? Did she build walls of self-protection?

What painful thoughts stabbed her as she waited, and waited, wanting…

To be Noticed. To be Missed.

How does it feel to be invisible?

To hear people talk around you, but act like you’re not there. To have someone ask you a question without waiting for the answer. Or never listen to your words.

Once, there was a man who suffered from seisures, possessed by demons. He lived alone in the tombs, outside a town. People thought him mad, and tried to chain him. But he escaped, and ran wild.

So they avoided him. Pretended he wasn’t there.

Did he feel invisible?

Then one day a Stranger came along and saw the man. The Stranger took pity, and healed him with His words.The people were amazed when they saw the man, in his right mind, sitting at the Stranger’s feet.

How did this happen? Who is this Stranger?

Fearful, the people told the Stranger, “Go away. Leave us alone!”

But imagine the joy of that man who had lived alone among the dead, and was now set free?

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A life forever changed because Someone noticed. Someone cared.

One act of kindness–even from a stranger–can make a difference. Because maybe deep down, inside of us, we’re like that five-year-old girl.

We want Someone to notice.

Can you remember a time someone made a difference in  your life?

Do you know WHO the Stranger was who healed the man?

(Woman Image: Courtesy of Frame Angel at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Broken

It is nine days into the New Year and I’m just now packing Christmas decorations. Thirty-two years of Christmas past can’t be shoved thoughtlessly into a closet.  

Round, colored ornaments go into boxes with individual slots that resemble egg cartons. Hand-made ornaments and souvenirs, that look ordinary to any stranger’s eyes, are swaddled in tissue paper and placed in protective plastic bins ….accompanied by family memories I revisit every year.

I also collect nativity sets that require special handling. My favorite one was purchased in 1981 B.C. (before children) when my husband and I first moved to California. The figurines are wide-eyed children, forever young, although there are signs of aging: Joseph’s broken staff, the angel’s missing halo, and the shepherd boy’s glue-filled cracks.

When the Shepherd fell off the mantle, years ago, I glued him back together like Humpty Dumpty with the exception of a hole that remains in the back of his head. Nobody notices. We have to get close to see the scars and know he’s BROKEN.

I’ve been broken more than once. Have you…………..

Ever felt brokenhearted over the death of a loved one, or by the betrayal of someone who “supposedly” loved you?

Ever been like King David who felt alone, “forgotten …like a broken vessel?” (Psalm 31:12)

Has chronic pain, anxiety, or depression given you a “broken spirit that dries the bones?”(Proverbs 17:22)

Nobody notices. We have to get close and personal to see the scars and know someone’s BROKEN.

Psalm 147:3 says “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Sounds patronizing, but I know His Word is true. Three miscarriages in a row taught me to rely on the Lord to bind up my wounds from a broken spirit, and show me I could trust Him even in this.  

God restores broken lives, but brokenness is a good thing when it makes us aware of sin and leads us to repentance. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17)  

Before I wrap the Shepherd boy like a mummy and place him in a box, I put the tip of my index finger into the hole on his head.

Thoughts trigger. Wasn’t it Thomas who insisted on putting his finger into the holes on Jesus’ nail-scarred hands? The apostle refused to believe in the resurrected Christ unless he also put his hand into the hole on Jesus’ side (John 20:24-28). And when this proof came, Thomas cried out, “My Lord, and My God.”

Tears spill on my cheeks, “Lord, life is hard, forgive me when I doubt your love and goodness. Your ‘body was broken for me’ (1 Cor. 11:24and that is all the reason I need to bring you praise.

      With that happy thought, I wrap tissue paper around the broken Shepherd boy and place him in a box, to rest in the coming year next to Jesus.