The Faith of a Child

The faith of a child is magical. If we point them in His direction, God truly works in them in ways we cannot understand. Only if we all had such faith.

The faith of a child is magical. If we point them in His direction, God truly works in them in ways we cannot understand. If only we all had such faith.

I realized the incredible beauty in the sweet faith of a child as I watched my daughter developing her own.

I had renewed my commitment to Christ, but hadn’t quite allowed His grace to extend to my mothering. God convicted me that my “perfect” parenting meant I wasn’t letting God be in control of her life.

I was still trying to get it right my way!

For both of our sakes, I needed Him to intervene in my heart, so I could learn to share my faith with her in ways that make it living and active in her life.

Romans 10:17 ESV “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

To build the faith of a child, they needed to see and hear and live God’s word.

I had to demonstrate my faith daily, especially in front of my daughter, making a point to live out loud for Him, which meant talking my inner prayer dialogue with her.

Building the faith of a child required living mine more completely, more transparently. Click To Tweet

We talked about obeying God when I made hard choices, when I lost my temper, when we struggled with using our kind voices.

The faith of a child is magical. If we point them in His direction, God truly works in them in ways we cannot understand. Only if we all had such faith.

We thanked God for each new day, for sending His son. We read her bible together, and I spent more time in mine.

After awhile, she began asking questions like, “Do I have Jesus in my heart?” “Am I a Christian?”

I answered she is learning who God is, and when she is old enough to understand, she can choose to ask Jesus into her heart.

With the innocent faith of a child, she asked to do it then, but I wasn’t sure if she really understood.

She was so little, only 4. She didn’t even understand the days of the week yet. How could I let her make this huge decision so young?

How young is too young to make a decision for Christ? Should we ask them to wait? #faithofachild Click To Tweet

Proverbs teaches,

Proverbs 22:6 ESV “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

I became a Christian at 6, but have turned away from my faith many times. Only God’s grace has brought me back, and I really want to show her a faith that avoids falling away.

I really want her to know God’s love and Christ’s redemption, but I had concerns about her actual comprehension of what it all means.

But when she asked again a few months later, I could hear Jesus tell me not to turn her away from wanting to follow Him.

Even when Jesus was exhausted and weary, he would not turn away the children.

Mark 10:13-16 ESV “And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.”

Maybe she doesn’t quite understand yet all the details, but she knows she loves Jesus. And when Jesus said to let the children come to Him, He further taught that we adults should should strive to have the faith of a child ourselves.

So, we stopped eating lunch and prayed together.

“Dear Lord, she wants Jesus to be her savior, to come into her heart. If this is her time to come to you, Lord, please draw her close to and continue to work in her heart. If not, stay close and protect her until she’s truly ready.”

Then I let her pray what she wanted to say. “Dear Jesus, I want you in my heart to help keep the ‘debil’ out and God in me so I know how to not be naughty.” It was sweet and beautiful.

I don’t know if it was truly her decision day, but I don’t believe choosing Jesus is a magical formula of a single prayer. It is a daily life-long dying to our flesh and choosing Jesus as savior.

For now, I have to just keep living my witness; being real in my need for forgiveness when I fail.

Titus 2:7-8 “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned…”

 And celebrate with the angels over my sweet daughter tonight.

Luke 15:10 ESV “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Wish I could have heard the singing. I can only imagine.

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Swimming Lessons

“Mommy is right here. You know I won’t let you get hurt, right?”

“Right . . .” Tiny arm wraps around my neck, clutching me in a death grip.

“You know that I will be here the whole time, right?”

“Right . . .” Little fingers clutch at my hair.

“You’re going to have to trust me.”

“But I don’t trust you!” she wailed at a paint peeling decibel. I’m sure the neighbors were quite certain I was committing various acts of torture instead of just trying to get my child to float in the pool with her life jacket on.

Proverbs 3:5 ESV “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”

I am asking her to trust me, not her own perceptions, but she can’t see that from just a few weeks old, I’ve been teaching her to swim. First we got her used to water, got used to getting her face wet, pouring water over her head, then we worked on blowing bubbles, then floating in various inflatables and life jackets, learning to kick and paddle even in the tub, then learning to lay flat in the water, kick with straight legs, pull with her arms. It was step by step, inch by inch, but she can’t see that. All she sees is “deep” water and I’m asking her to jump in with nothing to hold her up, promising her that I’ve given her the tools to swim, and that I’ll be there when she falters. But she is struggling to trust what she cannot see or understand.

So how will she ever trust me in the future when I try to stop her from making a huge poor decision, when she needs to respect and believe my wisdom? I am sure I will get many chances to answer this question in far fewer years than I would like, but for today the answer is swimming lessons that are really ‘trust me’ lessons.

I immediately switched my plan from trying to teach her to swim to teaching her that she can trust me. Someone might ask, “Shouldn’t she just trust you, you’ve been there her whole life?”Of course, but what will it hurt to show her again? Why not let her see that in everything, she can trust and believe me?

At some point, she will have to make a choice to look at who I’ve been to her and decide to trust me or not, but at 4, showing her that she can trust me gives her more evidence to trust me in the future. When I think about trusting God, we can look at the Bible and our lives and see He has forever been faithful and trustworthy. He proved it, over and over. I need to demonstrate that kind of steadfastness for her.

“I won’t let go until you say I can.” was my new mantra for the day. We still had quite a bit of screaming, but I just got quieter and closer every time she was scared. I’m just like most of you, winging this whole parenting gig, but I’m trying to understand who God wants me to be for her. Somehow, I just knew that she needed me to be close and comforting, and start small.

I put her chin on my shoulder, my hands under her tummy, my cheek against her cheek as she practiced kicking and paddling. When she got scared or nervous about falling, I whispered to her, like I picture God whispering to my heart when I need to hear Him, when I’m afraid, when trusting Him seems impossible even though I know He loves me, created me, knows me inside and out (better than I know myself, better than I know my daughter).

Psalm 56:3 ESV “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”

It is easy to panic when we’re afraid. It is easy to be scared. When non-Christians see a believer meet a tough situation with strength and peace, they are often surprised to see such calm. We aren’t calm because everything is easy, but because we know God is trustworthy. He has us in the palm of His hand. God doesn’t promise us an easy life, but he promises us help to live it. He promises to be present for us in the darkest times, to hold us up when the world is trying to drag us down.

It took a long time, but she started to quiet down, to know I was with her. To be able to know I wasn’t letting go and would pick her up if she fell. That first day, we spent most of the time just working on trust. It was really hard for me not to push her to swim on her own, but just to let her get comfortable in my hands. We just did everything slowly, I held her tightly. I let her decide when she was brave enough to let go of me.

From a swimming lesson viewpoint, that day probably looked counterproductive. She did less than she had ever done in the past, but we were quiet, no screaming. We spent three or four afternoons in the pool like that, just gradually building trust, less crying and being afraid. We worked on taking off the life jacket and being more and more confident in the water. She is going to learn to swim, eventually. I would rather it take an extra summer and be a lesson in love and patience, rather than fear.

1 John 4:18 ESV  “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”

What is perfect love? I want that! I want to have it, to be it.

Romans 5:8 ESV

“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

God demonstrates perfect love for us in that while we were yet sinners, He sent His son to die for us. He loved us first because He did, not because we were worthy. He loved our children before our grandparents were born. God instructs us, but doesn’t want to hurt us. His instruction is to teach us, to draw us closer, to obey Him, to fear Him in the sense of awe and respect, not terror.

I could have thrown her into the pool. She would have been able to swim enough to pull herself up and get to the ladder. I knew this; she did not. Terrorizing her wouldn’t have made her a better swimmer. It would have broken a trust between us. She would have learned in fear, not confidence. In striving to be more like Christ, more like God, I chose to demonstrate the best understanding of love I have for today and to be patient and gentle, teaching her to trust me.

Isaiah 26:3-4 ESV “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.”

As believers, we do not live in fear because we know we can trust God, even when life is hard and painful. He is steadfast. Obeying and loving God has given me a peace I never could have anticipated. A strength that I never would have understood with just human understanding. I was a swimmer tossed about by every wave, changing direction, getting pulled under time and time again. Focusing on God’s plan for my life, His purpose for me, gives me strength and peace about my future. I know I’m going to heaven, what else should I be concerned about? Making sure everyone I meet has the same peace and future to the best of my ability and purpose.

She will have to choose her own faith someday. She will have to decide if she loves God for herself, if the Bible is true. Today, I am the person she spends the most time with, the person who is a living demonstration of God for her. I am going to fail at this often, but am growing in my faith daily, which is helping me grow as a parent. I am actively working on reflecting God in all my interactions with her and the rest of my family and friends. Being steadfast and trustworthy in this little way will hopefully be an accurate reflection of our Heavenly Father, holding us, whispering, “I’ve got you” into our hearts when we’re afraid.

I pray that learning to trust me will not only teach her to swim, but to trust God because she could trust me and because I trust Him.

And little by little, she did learn to trust me and to have confidence in herself. Then, just two weeks of swimming (trust) lessons every couple of days, she did what I knew she could all along. She was confident and capable.

We’re still working on floating, but I hold her, and whisper to her, waiting for her to say, “Let go.” But today she swam the diameter of our pool twice without floaties and without my hand touching her. I simply swam beside her and encouraged her to kick harder.

She knows now that I’m trustworthy in this little thing, which will hopefully lead her to trust me in more than just swimming lessons, and lead to a growing trust in God as well.

 

Let’s get intentional, intentional!

“Intentional, intentional. I want to be intentional about my love for you, Lord. Intentional, intentional, I wanna get intentional in my home for you, Lord. Let me show you my Godly walk, let me show you my Godly talk. Intentional, I wanna get intentional.”Olivia_Newton-John_Physical

If you didn’t just have a horrible 80’s flashback of Olivia Newton John’s ‘Physical’, I am sorry. Your life must have taken some horrible turn or you are simply too young to appreciate the power of 80’s music. You may also have missed the memo about my super power – taking random songs and making up words to fit any scenario. I am the Weird Al for the juice box set. Never underestimate the power of a silly song belted at an alarming volume for calming children.

This post started forming in my mind a few weeks ago (before my hard drive went to Geek Squad heaven). I read a great blog post about how to home-school without homeschooling. Author Jamie Martin writes that it isn’t about creating a structure for learning as it is about cultivating a love of learning within your home intentionally.

This isn’t about implementing a structure for home learning; this is about cultivating a love of learning. It’s about filling your home with learning tools based around your child’s interests and passions. Books, good food, good conversation, well-chosen media–they can all work toward this goal.

Ask yourself this question about each activity and item filling your home and your days: Does this point my family toward or away from a love of learning?

– See more at: http://simplehomeschool.net/afterschool/#sthash.TIklGoqs.dpuf

This isn’t about implementing a structure for home learning; this is about cultivating a love of learning. It’s about filling your home with learning tools based around your child’s interests and passions. Books, good food, good conversation, well-chosen media–they can all work toward this goal.

Ask yourself this question about each activity and item filling your home and your days: Does this point my family toward or away from a love of learning?

– See more at: http://simplehomeschool.net/afterschool/#sthash.TIklGoqs.dpuf

This isn’t about implementing a structure for home learning; this is about cultivating a love of learning. It’s about filling your home with learning tools based around your child’s interests and passions. Books, good food, good conversation, well-chosen media–they can all work toward this goal.

Ask yourself this question about each activity and item filling your home and your days: Does this point my family toward or away from a love of learning?

– See more at: http://simplehomeschool.net/afterschool/#sthash.TIklGoqs.dpuf

There were maps, globes, number lines, books, etc. as the decor and art around the house. Everything pointed toward asking questions, prompting discussions as designed intentionally to point children toward wanting to learn.

My immediate thought was, what if we parented for Christ with this level of intentionality? or lived for Christ this intentionally?

Somehow, in the past, I got the idea of planning to be Christ-like in my life wasn’t right, that if I truly wanted to follow Christ I just would, and wouldn’t have to plan it into my day. You know how that turns out? Yeah, I’ll get to it, I’ll do it in a minute, after I check this one last Facebook post . . . and doesn’t get done, or is half-hearted once I’m already swamped with my day.

Intentional is defined as deliberate, conscious, calculated, planned, meant, studied, purposeful.

When I think about being deliberate and conscious in my walk with God, that doesn’t sound forced or false. It sounds exactly right. Taking care that my each and every step and attitude is of Christ isn’t just a good idea, it’s biblical.

Ephesians 5:15-17 (ESV) 15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

When I plan to start my day with prayer, my day starts with a God-centered focus. When I plan to spend specific times of my day focused on Godly interactions with my child and husband, my love for them flows from God’s heart, not mine. When I plan to spend specific times focused on Bible study, those times are blessed with His Spirit. When I leave it to my emotions, physical feelings, I end up letting sin creep into my life and rob me of great opportunities to grow as a Christian myself and to witness to people around me.

Being intentional starts with making choices based on the desired outcome. We want our children to know a loving heavenly father and go to Heaven. Do the things and attitudes I’ve chosen to have in my home point my children toward God or draw them away? Are the activities and priorities of my home directed toward serving and loving God?

Joshua 24:15 (ESV) 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Joshua 24:15

“If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

– See more at: http://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Intentions#sthash.tkgQVQKR.dpuf

Our ‘gods’ today might be different, but we have to choose God, not the ‘gods’  (television, books, selves, etc.) of our parents, friends, or the world in which we dwell.as-for-me

Being intentional as a parent means making sure that what I feed, give, teach my daughter is the best I can offer, not just what’s easiest. Or making sure what is easiest is something good.

Like snacking. I will snack on whatever is easiest to eat. If a bag of M&Ms is the handiest thing in the pantry, that is what I eat. So my intentionality has to start with grocery shopping, with choosing the right things to keep handy. Sometimes that means a bag of M&Ms, not gonna lie.

Like what books are within arms’ reach at bedtime? While we might forage in the living room cabinet or check the bookshelf across the room, many times when bedtime is late or rushed, we just grab what is easiest. I keep her children’s bibles next to our reading chair. Additionally, she has the story of Noah or the Christmas story or God Gave Us Easter, etc.

If we’ve been intentional about leaving Christ centered books handy, then that is what she’ll flip through when she “reads” to herself or when I read one last story before bed, giving me opportunities to share God with her very casually, just as a natural part of our day. Because God should be part of all the parts of our day.

I’m pretty intentional when it comes to what my daughter watches on television. I can set the dial on PBS or Veggie Tales or YouTube “Beginner’s Bible” episodes (we’ve watched David and ‘Giant the Goliath‘ 100 times at least) and leave it there for her allotted viewing time. I keep a stash of appropriate movies and shows in the entertainment center and recorded on the DVR. I’ve got stuff recorded from a year ago. In the moment she is melting down about watching something, and I’m on the phone with Geek Squad :(, I can quickly turn on something that has already passed mommy muster.

I read the books I buy before they come into our home. Even the most recent purchase, a Jesus Storybook Bible, was read before I purchased one. If I can’t read it because I’m ordering online, I read it alone before she sees it, which is good because God Gave Us Easter is so wonderfully written that I cried reading it in my closet before it was going in her Easter basket.

But what about everything else? Have I created a home that points toward our Heavenly Father first and foremost in everything?

I don’t think the decor is the most important part of creating an intentional home, but if God is truly central to our lives, I don’t think he should be relegated to a dusty corner in our houses. Is there evidence of a faith centered life? Kids’ church art on the fridge, memory verses posted for practice? Where is the Bible? I know when I wasn’t listening to God, when I was rebelling, it sat dusty and unused on my bookshelf. Doesn’t do anyone any good there. It is supposed to be directing our every action.

Psalm 119:105 ESV Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

If I want her to see that reading the Bible is something everyone should do, she has to see me do it, like praying. When she sees me behind a computer screen, she doesn’t understand that I can be doing Bible study on Bible Gateway and using parallel text to understand Ephesians 4. It looks the same as posting to Facebook from her perspective.

I have my Bible out all the time. I don’t know that I’m always reading it in front of her, and need to make that a priority to be more aware and intentional about. I have Godly books and Bible studies and my memory verse notebook lying around the living room. You could say that I’m just lazy and don’t pick up, but I prefer to think of it as letting my living room have that Holy Spirit lived in look.

Creating a home that just points to God in everything is about our attitudes, our service toward others, our choices, our prayers, even what we do when we get angry or frustrated can point toward God. Some of the most real moments have been when I shouted awfully at her and demonstrated true remorse, asking her forgiveness. When she smiles, stroking my hair, saying “Of course I forgive you, God forgives you too if you ask.” I know that with all my failings, all the GMO’s and BPA I have fed her, the days I forgot sunblock, the temper tantrums (mine), the days she watched television all day while I slept through the flu on the couch, despite all that – she sees God in me; she is starting to understand who He is.

I love seeing how the little moments of being intentional about reading the bible with her over lunch, or praying in the car when we see an ambulance, or talking through some tough emotions with a Godly perspective are starting to sprout wings in my little one’s heart.

Although tonight while we were reading and discussing God Gave Us Easter, when I asked her if she could hear God’s voice in her heart, she told me, “No, but if I get my stethoscope I could.” Love her little mind and her sweet heart.

With all the world banging at our children’s mind and hearts, creating an environment of praise and worship in our home, intentionally pointing our children toward eternity could be what protects and directs them.

Proverbs 22:6 (NIV) Start children off on the way they should go,and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

 

Holding Grudges

Are you holding grudges? Is there a hurt you can't let go? What does the Bible say about moving past those rejections to forgiveness?

Holding grudges comes way too naturally. I think I’m above that kind of petty nonsense until I’m faced with someone who has caused me or someone I love deep hurts. Then I realize how angry I still am.

Holding grudges is our feeble attempt to balance the scales, hold them accountable, but I’ve found, the only person paying for this anger is the one holding onto it.

When I think about holding grudges, I think about a woman who has destructively sought to ruin my reputation as a Godly woman. She decided to do her best to hurt me and any witness I might have without any obvious reason.

I have prayed for her for years. I have prayed that my actions regarding her be absolutely the best witness I can demonstrate, that I never stoop to gossiping about her to make myself look better, but it is hard. Are you holding grudges? Is there a hurt you can't let go? What does the Bible say about moving past those rejections to forgiveness?

The completely unwarranted lies she has told about me (using words so dirty they hurt my heart) has cost me friends, made me cry, and literally made me sick to my stomach to walk out my front door. I still have several damaged relationships three years later.

I could tell the truth about her and discredit her, but I don’t.

Titus 2:7-8 ESV  “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.”

I have tried to live this, and it made a difference. She quit her slander campaign, for the most part, and most people can clearly see my growing heart for Christ.

Yet, it’s hard to truly let it go. I know that she must be hurting inside and need Jesus if this is the way she behaves toward someone trying to be a Godly friend to her. But it still hurts. I still feel anxious when I see her, out of discomfort and fear of confrontation.

And it would be really easy for me to stand all self-righteous on my side of the street, but I am not without my own sins.

John 8:7 “. . He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Jesus convicted the Pharisees and people who were just waiting to stone an adulteress, the typical punishment of the day, of their hypocrisy telling them if they were sinless, they could cast a stone.

I’m still not sinless today, and if you had met me before I came back to Christ, you wouldn’t have seen Him in me.

Thank God, I’ve been forgiven and redeemed.

Matthew 6:14 “if you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.”

That is easier said than done. Every time I see or hear about her, I still feel hurt and angry. I hear God telling me to forgive her, not because she deserves it, but because she doesn’t have Jesus and is drowning in sin, and because He doesn’t want me living captive to it anymore.

Inside I feel like crying, “But God, you don’t know what she did, ” in my whiniest voice. “She was so mean!”

God convicts me to remember who the real enemy is.

Forgive by focusing on the real enemy between us. We are on the same side against him. Click To Tweet

Then today, I listen to Paul speaking to Timothy from prison.

2 Timothy 4:16 Paul says no one stood with him at his first trial, everyone deserted him, but “. . . May it not be charged against them!”

Other believers left him alone on trial for his life, for his life! And he prayed that it not be held against them!?!?

He prayed for their forgiveness in the midst of suffering.

I still don’t have complete peace about it, but God has been bringing me through this for years. He will continue to use even this for my good (Rom. 8:28): to teach me humility, forgiveness, how to live a Godly example, and to share with others walking this painful journey.

If Paul can forgive his friends deserting him in the fight for his life, why am I holding grudges?

I know I need a savior. I know how I lived without one. I can’t have any pride in my own salvation.

She is just as worthy as saving as I am.

Hard to stay angry if I let myself be truly humbled by this truth. If I didn’t have to deserve or earn it, neither does she.

She is as worthy of God's grace & forgiveness as I am. Letting go of grudges starts with humility. Click To Tweet

I’ve got many hurts stored up in my heart that I need to learn to let go, because it’s about grace, not holding grudges.

And holding grudges prevents me from healing from my past, from being an encouragement and blessing to those around me, and from giving all the glory to God for who I am today.

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Be careful little tongue

Washing the dishes this morning, I accidentally sliced my finger on a rough edge of a pitcher lid. I groaned. Speaking from experience, a deep, bleeding gash on my fingers or hands is about the worst for a mom. For the next few days, I am going to have to think about every time I go to wash something or wash my hands. As a mom, this means pretty much every chore is going to require planning so I don’t use my weight in band-aids.

‘I am going to have to be intentional about how I use my hands,’ I thought. Then I felt that God-nudge, the way He usually puts a thought in my head. What if you had to be that intentional with your tongue? What if there were a cut on your tongue and every word had to be planned carefully? How would that change the way you talk all day long? Would it change the way you speak?

Does God ever convict you so hard you cringe?

If you’re like me, I can usually get a hold of myself before I DO something I’ll regret, but too often my mouth just keeps on trucking. Because we can’t see words, we sometimes mistakenly believe they do not have the power that they really do. I don’t know how I ever convinced myself to be less than perfectly careful with my words. I have lived most of my life with the scars of cruel and careless words.

I thought I was a smart, funny,  and basically valuable person until I started kindergarten. I distinctly remember not fitting in, kids teasing me, and calling me names. It was the first time I felt like there was something fundamentally wrong with me, but not the last. A devastating level of teasing continued until I was in high school, which was better because I could choose with whom to associate, but I still heard plenty of judgmental words defining me. I searched the truth of those definitions. I questioned who I thought I was. I rebelled against who they said I was. But I rarely just flat out ignored those words.

I should be the first person to know how powerful words can be, how especially the cruel ones can cut a heart to pieces, but I’ve lived in some sort of denial bubble about the way my words can affect my child, even though I’ve grown much more conscious of how my words and tone can affect my husband and friends.

I don’t think I’m overly cavalier about my words. I don’t run around swearing or insulting people, but if one negative comment can haunt me nearly 40 years later, am I being as cautious about my mouth as the rest of my home? I’ve got plastic covers on my plugs, safety door knobs, medicines put up, but certainly haven’t given as much thought to filtering my mouth as I should, as God calls us to do.

Proverbs 13:3 Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.”

Proverbs always does such a good job of getting right to the point. We are to guard our mouths. Guard means to watch over to protect or control. Instead when we say the wrong things, we say it ‘slipped’ out, as if by some magical accident. The reality is we got so caught up in our own emotions, usually anger, that we didn’t choose to censor ourselves.

James 1:19“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;”

James makes our responsibilities pretty clear. We are to listen first. What we are feeling and what we have to say are deliberately supposed to follow listening to others. If nothing else, when I stop myself from saying something when frustrated or angry, I often decide that nothing needed to be said. Sometimes, it is my own issue, not the other person’s; sometimes I decide I didn’t have anything uplifting to offer; sometimes I decide the other person isn’t in a place to hear me in love.

Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

My husband and I were about to have an argument, in the car, in front of our daughter. We were ten minutes from home and ticked off. How we talk to each other in front of her will have long reaching consequences into her life. How I respond to my husband will affect our marriage. He was angry. I was angry. He told me to drop it. I didn’t want to drop it. I wanted to let him know how I felt; I wanted to solve it right that second. The unhappy feelings inside me begged for an instant solution. I prayed for God to give me strength to control myself, to know that it didn’t have to get resolved this second, to wait until I could choose the moment and my words carefully. I quickly felt peaceful about it. Once we were home and had both taken a breath, I was able to choose words that respected him and loved him and explained my feelings without criticizing him. No more argument.

Learning this lesson with our little ones is all the more crucial because they cannot stand up for themselves, won’t call us out on our destructive behavior. They will assume it is their fault. They will ingest our poison as a statement about them, not us.

Old school parenting tells us to count to ten when we get angry. Sounds like pretty good advice to me although I find that praying during that ten seconds is more productive. Even if you feel so upset or angry that you feel out of control, if someone important called or came by at that exact moment, most of us could summon enough self-control to speak kindly to that person. If we could summon the patience and control to speak kindly to our boss, pastor, or neighbor, shouldn’t we even more so find the energy to filter our mouths for our most important audience?

Our children are going to make us angry. We need to search our hearts for the source of that anger, if it is selfishness or righteous, but even in righteous anger, we should be mindful of our choices.

Ephesians 4:26 In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,”

We quote this verse often as marriage advice, but in context is instructions for Christian living in general. If our closest neighbors are our family, our closest examples of Christian community are in our home.

We all fall down from time to time. We all need to seek forgiveness daily. But where we put our focus and heart is a big factor in determining where we let the rest of us go. The Bible even tells us that our mouth is a good gauge of our hearts.

Proverbs 15:28 “The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.”

James 1:26If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.”

As one of the ladies in my Bible study group likes to say, BAM, in your face, convicted! If you’re really struggling with being careful with your tongue, words, tone, are you seeking the Lord with all your might? I find the more time I spend reading the Bible, praying, meditating on what is good and wholesome, the less I lose control of myself. If I spend a few days thinking, I’m good, I’ve got this . . . well, let’s just say, we all know pride goeth before the fall.

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

God’s word has a lot to say about what we say. I can’t even do this subject justice, but the verse from Ephesians sums up the main ideas nicely. Depending on the translation, the verse instructs us not to use corrupting, foul, unwholesome, hateful, filthy, or hurtful words. We are to use words that build up others, perhaps this includes Godly conviction of sin, but only when as an extension of God’s grace, his loving, unwarranted forgiveness, so that we are ministering to those around us.

Have you tried and tried to control your mouth, to seemingly no avail?

James 3:8-10 “But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From IMG_3328 - Version 2the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.”

When James teaches that no one can tame the tongue, he is saying that we need to give it to God. We need to bring our entire selves to the feet of Christ and ask for the sinful parts of us to be buried with our sins. We need to ask God to give us the conviction and tools to be Godly.

Words like, “I’m sorry” and “Please forgive me” have power too, but they don’t erase what came before. Having the humility to apologize and ask forgiveness is important modeling for our children. It teaches them we’re human, how to be real about being flawed, but it doesn’t necessarily erase the harsh words that came before.

Do you remember the children’s song “be careful little tongue what you say, for the Father up above is looking down in love, so be careful little tongue what you say.” Right now, I’m hearing it in a child’s voice in my mind, conjuring the image of my daughter standing next to Jesus watching me.

Matthew 12:37 “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

God’s condemnation of me is scary enough by itself, but my witness will be a large factor in drawing my daughter to Christ or pushing her away. If we believe that Christ is truly our salvation from hell, our salvation from a Godless world, then I want that salvation for her. It is a pretty frightening image, but with all I know of psychology, sociology, and Christianity, my words may not only condemn me, but also my sweet daughter, if I do not make sure they are full of grace, so be careful little tongue what you say . . .

Be Careful Little Tongue Part 2