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,

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Our Family’s Bible Verses: 2017

Our Family Verses 2017-- WellOFaith

Making a Prayerful Decision

This year we’ve been having a few problems with our children’s behavior towards each other.

My husband and I realized this wasn’t completely on them, but fell on us as parents as well. Their behavior reflected on how we treated, acted, and reacted to those around us.

We prayerfully decided to choose two verses for our family to not only memorize, but to truly take to heart.

The Lord wants us to place His words on our hearts and carry them with us–remembering them and understanding them.

Place the Lord’s Words on Your Heart

Our Family Verses 2017-1--WellOFaith

Ephesians 4:29

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Titus 2:7a

In everything set them an example by doing what is good.

One Step at a Time

Every morning we recite these two verses together. So far, both of my children have them memorized.

I on the other hand still need to look at them.

I’ll blame old age. 🙂

We will continue reciting them each morning for the remainder of 2017.

Currently there is still much work to be done, but I know as long as the words are there for my children, in time those words will make an impact in their lives.

And in mine.

What verses do you return to again and again when your family is having problems?

 

Blessings,

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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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2017: Listen

In December of each year, I prayerfully focus on what word will be my focus during the upcoming year. Each year this single word keeps me focused, not on myself, but on God’s will for me. This year, that word is LISTEN. It’s such a small word. Just six letters, but it will be a tool during the next twelve months to help me focus on the LORD.

Each day when I wake up, I’ll pray He will use it to teach me, to guide me through the day. This one little word will be a reminder each day–not only to listen to Him, but to listen to my body and to those around me. This year is a time to truly listen to Him, to be silent so I can really hear His words. It is a time for less talking and more listening.

I’m blessed to have the  love of the LORD, and to get this time to worship Him through this One Word.

Blessings,

Sare

Changes

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet…
1 Corinthians 15:51-52a

On May 6th we welcomed our third child into the world.

She is beautiful, wonderful, and such a blessing to our family.

After two weeks of labor, where i didn’t dilate past four because of scar tissue, I was finally admitted to the hospital. Six hours later, our cuddle-bug was snug in my arms.

She was born at 1527 weighing 8 pounds 3 oz and 21 inches long.

Changes are coming.

Blessings, Sare

Sex Trafficking and the Invisible Victim

This isn’t my usual blog post style, but as I walk with the LORD, the harsh realities of this mortal world hit me. Today, and everyday, let’s pray for these women and children.  If you don’t share anything else, share this.

Walking down a dingy city street, people tend to keep their heads down. They try not to make eye contact with the scantily clad women offering ‘a good time’ to passersby. To many these women aren’t even people. They’re not worthy of acknowledgement, let alone concern. The common belief is women who are on that street chose to be there, and they could leave at any time. The truth is, many of these women are still children who are condemned for making a life altering choice when they’re not even old enough to vote. Society has many names for them; “hookers”, “hoes”, and “prostitutes”. Somewhere, someone once called them “sister”, “daughter”, or “mother”. Our communities should call them victims.

Human Trafficking is the illegal movement of people, for the purpose of forced labor or sexual exploitation. This occurs daily, both internationally and within the borders of the United States. Between January 1, and December 31, 2014 the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) received reports of 5,040 cases of human trafficking. 1,581 of those cases involved children, and 974 of those involved sexual exploitation.

In a story covered by the Seattle Times, the FBI rescued 105 victims of sex trafficking and arrested 150 pimps in 76 cities in a three day period during July 2013. Almost all of the girls ranged from 13 to 17 years-old.  Although the majority of the girls were rescued from the larger cities of San Francisco, Detroit, New Orleans, Milwaukee and Denver, the under-age sex trade isn’t exclusive to large metropolitan areas.  Trafficking happens everywhere, but because the public is unaware of the red flags, it goes unnoticed.

Victims don’t always appear to be in need of rescuing, but are in danger just the same. If you or your friends begin dressing less appropriately than before, have unexplained absences from class, show signs of sexualized behavior, display expensive clothing or accessories, has an older boyfriend or new friends with a different lifestyle, or shows signs of gang affiliation those may be warning signs connected to sexual exploitation.

According to recent arrest records in Kitsap County [Washington], 32-year-old  Ricky Lee Grundy Jr. was arrested on charges of Promoting Commercial Sex Abuse of a Minor, Human Trafficking, and Organized Crime. The records indicated that at the time of Grundy’s arrest he was using Backpage.com to prostitute a 14-year-old and 15-year-old out of a hotel in Port Orchard, a city with only one high school and a population of less than 13,000.

When asked how many minors are affected in the Kitsap County community, Sandy Hill of Freedom13.org said, “You know, it’s hard to get accurate numbers, because the law does try to protect them [the minors].”

Traffickers select and groom their victims by finding them at malls, coffee shops, arcades parks, or walking down the street. Any place that young children and teens hangout is prime hunting ground for these men and women. In many cases, traffickers will use young men and women in the same age group as their targets to build trust and create relationships. They’ll approach the children, and strike up a conversation asking pointed questions about their age, family, school, and what their schedules are like.

Children and teens are often easy to manipulate, because they’re young and inexperienced. Their relationships with their parents are either strained or broken; many feel their parents don’t understand them, and their opinions don’t matter. Traffickers know this and use it to their advantage. They offer these girls their youthful dream of family and acceptance, and once the girls have bonded with them, it is a slippery slope into the sex trade.

Sexual exploitation comes in many forms. The women on the street corners selling sex are most often the victims of trafficking. The looks-too-young-to-be-eighteen woman dancing in that club is also likely to be a victim of trafficking, and is too young. Massage parlors and topless barista shops have also been found to be one-stop shops for underage, trafficked girls. The “barely legal” actresses on pornography videos are also potentially the victims of trafficking.

While the girls and women appear to be doing this work by choice, the reality is much different. They’re dancing on that stage, standing on that street corner, or waiting in that hotel room, because they have been emotionally and physically convinced that is what they are for. In their minds they are only worth the money they make for their pimp. In other cases, these girls belong to a gang, and consider their traffickers as family, while they’re sold and traded like property. These girls and women have twisted understandings of what love is. Others are just afraid, because they have been controlled by blackmail and threats involving either bodily harm to themselves or to younger siblings.

We as a society are guilty of perpetrating the victimization of these women and children. Sharedhope.org states that “online pornography is driving the explosive growth of child sex trafficking.” Child pornography has become more than a $3 billion annual industry, and statistics from Demandingjustice.org show 1 out of every 5 pornographic images is of a child; and 55% come from the U.S.

In Washington State the sentences handed down for offenders who are caught purchasing sex with a minor are a minimum of two years, but a recent Seattle area study showed the average offender spent 0.6 years behind bars, and 30% of the offenders received suspended sentences.  However, Washington State is improving. In 2010 the state legislature passed the bill SB6476, revising provisions related to sex crimes involving minors. Since then the penalties for trafficking and purchasing minors has increased. SB6476 imposes the impounding of vehicles used to commit commercial sex abuse of a minor; defendants can no longer claim they did not know the victim’s age; minors are consistently defined as anyone under 18-years-old, and the victims have access to special services and shelters they otherwise did not have.

Human trafficking happens anywhere there are people, and the victims are often far from home unaware of where to go for help. There are victim services located all across the nation, specializing in victims of sexual assault and human trafficking. Several in Western Washington include: Scarlet Road in Bremerton (scarletroad.org), a non-profit organization helping victims in Kitsap and Mason Counties; Rebuilding Hope Sexual Assault Center in Tacoma (sexualassaultcenter.com) works with victims in Pierce County; and the Organization for Prostitution Survivors (seattleops.org), a non-profit organization working with victims in King County.

If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking in Washington State, there is help. Contact Washington Anti-Trafficking Response Network (WARN) at 206-245-0782.

Changes in Life

Each new day that dawns brings changes, whether we notice these changes or not doesn’t make them less important. Not every change is HUGE. Not every change makes you stand up and take notice.

Every once in a while, though, a change (or even several) will occur that makes a HUGE and noticeable difference in your life. This year has already been a year of changes, and not all of them have been positive in their nature, even if they have led to positive things.

While each of these major life changes are important to who I am as a person, some of them deserve their own blog post, so I won’t include them here. Today, though, I want to focus on two things that have added a positive spin to my chaotic life.

Not long ago my husband and I contemplated purchasing a home, but as we began the process we quickly realized my student loans were going to be a huge (like $72,000 huge) hurdle. This led to our first aha moment. Even though this wasn’t really a positive thing for us, and it was a huge  disappointment, it came to be a huge blessing.

I started praying for something to come up that would help me use my soon to be finished degree and help me to pay down the student loans before they’re due.

This led to wonderful change number one.

A wonderful opportunity to help service members, veterans, and their spouses was introduced to me, and I have been able to join the team as a freelance writer; creating professional resumes and bios for these members as they transition to life in the civilian world. It has already proved to be exciting, educational, and although not exactly what I had expected, is pretty perfect for me.

The second amazing change to occur happened by chance. I was scrolling through my Facebook feed when I saw an announcement about Usborne Books and More. I’d heard of them in passing before, but had never really taken the time to look into them. This time, it felt like there was a tap on my shoulder nudging me to check it out.

It didn’t take me long to realize this was something I could truly get behind. As a book worm with a family of avid readers, I’ve always been a huge proponent of engaging children and adults with good books instead of video games. Joining the Usborne Books and More team definitely fits well with my family. I’m excited that these opportunities came just when I needed them to, and I’m so thankful to have the ability to remain home with my children while I work toward paying off those student loans.