The Words We Use

An Invisible Weapon

As a child I remember hearing the saying, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me”.

The problem is, words can hurt.

They can leave scars no one can see.

Unlike sticks and stones, the damage done won’t leave visible bruising to the body; Neighbors, friends, family, and teachers won’t see the injuries.

That doesn’t mean the pain isn’t there.

It doesn’t mean the wounds aren’t real.

Words are the invisible weapon that can do lifelong damage and never heal.

It is not what goes into the mouth the defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person. –Matthew 15:11

I’m Going to Be Real With You

My children have these unseen injuries, and I’m the one who caused them.

How’s that for real?

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I can try to rationalize the circumstances when I used words as weapons against the little people God has entrusted me with; it won’t make a bit of difference.

The fact is, I made HUGE mistakes.

I spoke in anger and frustration instead of love and respect.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. –Proverbs 18:21

My tone caused as much damage (if not more) than the words I used. Maybe I could pat myself on the back and say, “Well, I’ve never called them names.” That means nothing when I know I’ve bruised and battered them with words of indifference.

Instead of praising them for their imaginations and efforts, I’ve asked, “Why would you do that?” Instead of saying, “Thank you for trying to help”; it’s been, “Look what you’ve done.”

These words have hurt them time and time again.

Realizing this now, tears at my heart. I’m bleeding from each of the wounds I caused my children.

The Words We Use--wellofaith.com

I swore I would never treat my children the way my siblings and I were treated when we were growing up. I swore my kids would never have a reason to question whether they are loved.

Yet, here I am.

A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perversness in it breaks the spirit. –Proverbs 15:4

When my children acted out, I wondered what was causing them to misbehave. I never stopped to consider it could have been my actions and reactions leading to their outbursts. That my words, said in frustration, anger, or disinterest, might have led them to lash out in search of some sort of control.

This family the LORD has blessed me with deserves more than that.

I Can Change

My children will not grow up questioning my love, or remembering only the harshly spoken words.

I will not be the reason their self-esteem suffers, or they turn away from God and family. I will not push them away with my own actions.

Our Heavenly Father knows my sins. He knows my heart, and my weaknesses. He trusted me to raise these children, and I will do my best, and when I stumble I’ll turn to Him.

I will control my words–both the words themselves, and the tone of my voice. I will focus on praise; on building up my children into strong, mature, loving, adults. I will do my best to let them spread their wings, to make mistakes, to be helpful, to explore life, and be the people God created them to be.

Most of All, I Will Pray

I’ll pray for guidance.

For patience.

For understanding.

I’ll pray for a kind tone and a joyful spirit.

I’ll pray for a million questions from my three-year old, so that I may show him through actions and words that he matters.

I’ll pray for my daughter to try new things–even when they involve me sitting back and ignoring the mess, because I want her to see as well as hear how proud I am of her, and how much I believe in her.

Finally, I’ll pray for each and every one of you who have faced these same problems. Those who have hurt their friends, families, and loved-ones with weapons so powerful they can damage people indefinitely.

Heavenly Father, 

I pray today that you help each of us control our tongues. That we may build one another up in this world. That we use our words to soothe and encourage, not to draw blood. Give us pause when we speak, that our children will not be a casualty of our sinful ways. 

Amen.

 

If you feel led, please share this post so it may remind others they’re not alone in their struggles with the words we use.

 

Blessings,

Sare Signature

 

 

 

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The Power of a Praying Spouse

The Power of a Praying Spouse-- Well O'Faith

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Being the spouse of a hardworking Marine, doesn’t leave a lot of time for date nights or quality time with each other.

In the ten years we’d been married, we’d been together for two anniversaries. The other eight years he was either deployed to Afghanistan, Japan, or away on training exercises that kept us from being together to celebrate.

In February 2016 it was our tenth anniversary, and the first one–in a long time–my husband was home for.

It was also less than a week after the death of my father.

Much to my husband’s disappointment our anniversary slipped past without much more than a sigh.

In the last decade (and a little more) my husband and I have been through a lot.

When we said “I Do”, neither of us really knew what to expect.

He was barely 21-years-old and had never been married before.

I was carrying so much baggage TSA would have been concerned–not to mention the fees I had to pay on all that luggage weight!

Our marriage hasn’t been easy, and there were plenty of times early on when we could have turned our backs and moved on without each other, but we didn’t.

The Power of a Praying Spouse--WellOFaith

We also knew that in order to keep moving forward we needed to start actively being part of each other’s lives. We needed to commit to doing something together that would bring us closer.

Not just to each other, but to the LORD as well.

In January we had joined our small-group (mentioned here). When we were invited to join, we both jumped at the chance. It felt right, and we knew it was just what we needed to help strengthen our marriage.

The first study of the year for our group was an answer to our prayers.

As a group we prayerfully decided to use the books The Power of a Praying Wife and The Power of a Praying Husband by Stormie Omartian.

These books aren’t normally used as Bible studies, but in our case it worked out well.

The Power of a Praying Spouse--Well O Faith

My husband and I discussed the readings each week and the prayers provided within the chapters guided us to new depths of prayer for each other. Within the first week I’d already noticed a difference in the way we interacted.

Not only did the readings bring new insight into how and why to pray for him, they opened up a new understanding of myself.

I highly recommend grabbing a book for you and your spouse. They’re a quick read and well worth it.

If you’ve already read one of these books, what did you think? How did it help you?

Blessings,

Sare Signature

SAD: Why Living in the PNW is Hard.

SAD: Why Living in the PNW is Hard

SAD: Why Living in the PNW is Hard

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Living in the Pacific Northwest is Hard

Almost four years ago my little family and I returned to the Pacific Northwest. This relocation has been a struggle for several reasons, but one of the biggest struggles we’ve had to deal with is my ongoing battle with Seasonal Affective Disorder–SAD. Although the struggle didn’t start out as hard as I expected it to be, it has recently gotten worse.

I spent four years living in the desert, a place where it was sunny almost every day. On those rare occasions when it wasn’t, every part of me knew it. Those days were miserable for me, and made me grateful for each and every sunny day.

I also realized how blessed I was to no longer be living in the PNW.

The LORD had other plans for my little family though, and one day we packed up and headed back to the trees and mountains I’d grown up around. The PNW is beautiful. There is no denying that, but to be beautiful it spends quite a bit of time gray and dreary. For someone who needs the sunshine to be mellow and happy, the trade-off comes at a high price.

Summer Makes Me Come Alive

Today is beautiful. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and there is just the right amount of breeze rustling the trees. Spring is here, and summer is approaching. I’ll be honest and say summer makes me come alive.

The past few months have been hard for me. Our family thrives on schedules and routines because, when it comes to me living in a state that spends close to six months a year with little sunshine, routines help me to not completely become a hermit. It also keeps the SAD from getting so out of control that I end up becoming a shadow of myself.

Sadly, this year those schedules and routines haven’t helped as much as they have in the past.

Making the Connection

I can’t really lock down when this ongoing battle became noticeable;  when the depression started interfering with my life. All I know is one day I realized I’d started putting off going places. I’d started finding reasons to not leave the house–to excuse myself and my family from social events because they felt like obligations–and that feeling stressed me out.

During the winter months I struggled with this a lot. Since the loss of my father and the suffocating feeling I had from the bleakness of the weather, I found myself leaving my home less and less. I’ve stepped away from several things I enjoyed doing, because I couldn’t convince myself the recovery time it would take me afterward was worth it.

The only things I’ve managed to maintain throughout this time are things directly involved with my children. No matter how hard it is for me, I don’t want to let them down. They enjoy their time at AWANA and Classical Conversations community day.  It wasn’t (and isn’t) their fault that I have a hard time functioning without glorious sunshine.

I’m Worried Too

My husband worries about me, and my friends worry about me. They’re afraid I’m not just going to become a hermit, but a full-fledged shut in.

If I’m honest, I’m worried about that as well.

You see, I love my church, but when this suffocating sensation turns to panic at the thought of leaving my home Sunday morning and facing people, I know there is reason to be concerned.

Today, I’m feeling great, and that knowledge can lull me into a false sense of security. It can cause me to forget the way I feel when it isn’t sunny and beautiful.

Sunlight therapy isn’t enough (though, I highly recommend adding it if you suffer from SAD!), and neither is the medication I gave in and started taking four years ago.

I need God to help me through this, the same way I need Him in every aspect of my life.

Blessings, 

Sare Signature

10 Books to Read for Personal Growth in 2017

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A List of 10 Books for Personal Growth in 2017

 

Each year I compile a stack of books–some paper, some digital– to help me grow as a person. This year I’m particularly excited about my choices. I’m also honest enough with myself to know I might not get through them all. However, I thought I’d share them (in no particular order) with you. Maybe you’ll find a few new additions for your own “to-be-read” pile.

The List

This isn’t an exhaustive list, and I’ve been known to add more books to the pile as they catch my eye; my husband spends a lot of time fretting over the lack of space we have and my never ending fascination with having my own library.

What are some books you have on your reading list for 2017? Please share them in the comments.

What I Remember: Tea with My Father

What I Remember: Tea With My Father--Memories are a wonderful thing to hold onto when your loved ones are no longer with you. A nice cup of Irish Breakfast Tea helps me to remember rainy mornings with my dad.

Today is my father’s birthday. He’s no longer here to celebrate it, but each year on this day, I still say a prayer and send him a wish. It’s quiet, and it’s ours.

Memories Can Be Sweet

When I was in junior high and high school, my father and I would get up early in the morning, before either of us had to leave for the day, and we’d drink Irish Breakfast tea in the quiet kitchen. Living in the PNW meant waking up to complete darkness and rain streaking the windows. Tea was a perfect accessory to strengthen our resolve to leave the house.

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Even today I enjoy Irish Breakfast Tea

It was a calming ritual that made even the worst days a little easier to deal with. That short amount of time was always a wonderful experience, especially considering neither my father nor I were morning people.

The pang of my father’s absence still lingers in my heart; sometimes more poignant than others. This morning was one of those moments where sweet memories I hadn’t thought of in years flooded my heart. I found it fitting that they came to me while spending time with my Heavenly Father, and drinking my morning cup of Irish Breakfast tea.

Memories Help Us Grow

Though my father is no longer physically with me, and we haven’t shared the early morning silence of a rain-soaked morning since I graduated from high school, those moments led to the moment I had this morning. Everything we experience in life leaves a mark on us, whether good or bad. These experiences with my father leave me with the desire to make similar memories with my children.

Remember today to embrace the good moments, even amid the chaos and pain of living life in this fallen world. God doesn’t promise it will be easy, but He does promise it will be worth it.

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When I Was A Perfect Parent

I once was a perfect parent. Before I had children of my own.

When I was a Perfect Parent

I Was a Perfect Parent

As a teenager, one who obviously knew it all, I believed I would be a certain way as an adult. I was one of those people who believed I knew how to handle whatever life had in store for me. This included parenting.

*Insert slightly insane laughter here*

There is a meme floating around the internet that states: “I was a perfect parent. Then I had children.”

It would be funny if it weren’t so incredibly accurate. Too many people (me included) believe they’ve got it all figured out–life, fitness, parenting, their make-up; only to have reality kick them solidly in the solar plexus. My old friend, Reality likes to remind me of its presence regularly.

When I was still a perfect parent–living under my parents’ roof, wearing clothes they bought for me, talking on the phone (a landline!) they paid for; I swore I would never treat my children the way my parents treated me. I wouldn’t keep my children from doing what they wanted, make them do chores, or tell them no. I would be different. I’d understand them, and treat them with “respect”.

I’m sure God chuckled at my plans. My parents did.

When I was still a perfect parent--living under my parents' roof, wearing clothes they bought for me, talking on the phone (a landline!) they paid for; I swore I would never treat my children the way my parents treated me. I wouldn't keep my children from doing what they wanted, make them do chores, or tell them no. I would be different. I'd understand them, and treat them with

Before the birth of my youngest my niece and I spent some time sitting on a bench overlooking the Puget Sound. The sun was warm, the sky was clear, the seagulls were begging scraps of our lunches, and it was a much-needed break from the hustle and bustle we’d been dealing with for the last few months. Taking a few moments to enjoy the beauty the LORD has created, and to truly appreciate it helped to relax my anxious heart.

It also helped me to understand something about myself.

I’m not a perfect parent. In fact, teen me would spend a lot of time rolling her eyes at adult me. I might have thought my parents were strict, but they were nothing compared to how I am as a parent. Part of this stems from a moderate battle with anxiety, but not all of it. Simply put, my priorities have changed, as have my views.

God is the Perfect Parent

God has blessed us with three beautiful children, not to be perfect parents, but to teach them and train them up in what is righteous. Much to their dismay, that includes horrors like sweeping, making their beds, and cleaning bathrooms, and picking up toys. It also requires them to spend time with us, to not put their friends above the LORD or their family, and to forgive each other when we stumble.

Something else that comes along with this is the amount of freedom we allow our children to have. Our eldest is only nine, and regardless of how my husband and I were raised the world is a much different place today than it was twenty years ago. Yes, she can play outside without constant supervision, but there are rules that have to be followed, and consequences if those rules are ignored. This is a relatively new freedom for her, and I still have several bad moments where I want to keep her in the house away from any chance of getting hit by a speeding car (see, anxiety). I’m taking it a day at a time, and maybe I’ll be more relaxed when they’re visiting me in the retirement home.

The point is, there are no perfect parents on Earth, except God, and of course those who have never had children. We as a society (especially women) spend so much time judging the merits of one person over another that we seem to forget we’re all just stumbling along doing the best we can. Have some people lost their way? Yes, but that isn’t for us to judge. There are people in this world who have been called to help those who have fallen. Instead of casting blame and pointing fingers, it’s time for us to come together and build each other up, and to raise our own children with love, compassion, and grace.

 

How Patience Helps Us Grow



Each morning as we sit around the breakfast table we do a devotional as a family. Once in a while the topic will spur deeper discussion with my nine-year-old daughter; usually she remains silent while she drinks her milk and stares at me as if I just asked her when she was leaving for the moon.

This morning, the topic was patience, something I’ve never been particularly good with. I’m more of an instant gratification person. Of course, three children later, instant gratification seems more like a fairy tale, and patience is still something I’m struggling with.

Often I wonder what lesson the LORD is teaching me on the (many) days my children conspire to make me crazy. I assume it is patience, but until today, I didn’t truly understand what that meant in a spiritual, Christ-centered way.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us–they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation. And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.

Romans 5:3-5

It’s such a wonderful feeling to know how much God loves us, even when we aren’t patient. The Bible is always here to help; to remind us to rejoice even when we’re struggling, because we have the Holy Spirit, and it continually fills us with His love.

Blessings,

Sare