Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tuesday's Top Ten Plus Ten [Drama Free Life]

The first 25 or so years of my life was drama-filled. To my everlasting shame I sent nasty emails, posted status updates on social media that make me shiver, overreacted on all my emotions, gossiped, cast judgement, said things I never ever ever ever should have said, and made everything a huge production. I still struggle with my emotions, selfishness, and that whole self-control piece, but I do believe, thanks to a few God-embedded-changes over the last few years of my life, that I have a drama-free existence. That doesn't mean problems or issues don't happen, it simply means (thanks to these 10 tips I'm about to share with you) that when faced with these tribulations I'm not faced with an overload of emotional, irrational responses from others or myself.

1. Avoid gossip. If I begin to hear whispering, I immediately begin praying that God direct my Words and help me deal with the situation. I either walk away, change the subject or gently correct. Gossiping is sooooooo not worth it for so many reasons: if the person who's doing the talking is willing to talk about so-and-so I know I cannot trust that individual to not talk about me once I leave the room. I have zero trust for an individual who gossips. 2. I do not like the he-said-she-said game. Words are easily jumbled and news too easily mixed up. 3. Sometimes I simply don't need (or want) to know the dirty details of someone else's life. Plus, I completely agree with this simple statement:
Just to add to the reasons why you should avoid this vicious activity, here's a few Biblical truths:
"Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent. Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered." 11:12-13, 
"A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends." 16:28 
"Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler." Proverbs 20:19

2. Think before speaking. I saw this acronym on Pinterest and fell in love with it. It's something I'll hang up in my classroom the day I return to teaching because this one simple act can save on A LOT of drama:
The Bible obviously has much to say about this as well...
"When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent." Proverbs 10:19 
"Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin." Proverbs 13:3 
"Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent." Proverbs 17:27-28 
"Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble." Proverbs 21:23 
"Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him." Proverbs 29:20

3. Think of others before you think of yourself. Selflessness goes a long way. Let go of your pride, your ME-ME-ME attitude, put yourself in someone else's shoes and I promise it'll go a long way in having a drama-free existence. I realize that is the exact opposite of what the world is telling you, but it's what God teaches in His Word. One such example in Philippians 2:3 speaks volumes to this truth,
"Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

4. Let go of your critical spirit. This particular issue was brought up at church two Sunday's ago and I was immediately convicted. What does it mean to have a critical spirit? Well, judgmental thoughts are a good place to start. We also have a tendency to immediately jump to conclusions. Both of which stir hatred and strife in our heart. First and foremost take the plank from your own eye (Matthew 7) and then, as Jesus so clearly states, "... you will see clearly how to take the speck out of your brothers eye." It's so easy to see someone else's faults without recognizing your own, so be careful because the same standards by which you judge are the standards by which you yourself will be judged. Not one person on the face of the planet is perfect, not even you. So as #3 states, let go of your selfishness, put yourself in someone else's shoes, and most of all let go of your pride,
"When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom." Proverbs 11:2 
"Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." Proverbs 16:18 

By the way, all of these are easier said than done. I'm only to #4 and I can tell you not one of these tips are easy for me.

5. Surround yourself with people who share these values. For example, if you surround yourself with people who gossip, you'll find yourself falling prey to that very activity. If all the people in your life are pessimists you're making it ten times harder to be an optimist. If your BFF is an angry individual, most likely, you will be too. And yes, I'll share some biblical truth to go along with this one as well,
"Leave the presence of a fool, for there you do not meet words of knowledge." Proverbs 14:7 
"Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler." Proverbs 20:19 
"Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways." Proverbs 22:24-25

6. Don't put yourself in compromising situations. If the drama's at the bar - don't go or avoid the people who cause it (#5). If the drama starts when you have one too many drinks, put away the drink and begin sipping water. If the drama starts when you insert your opinion, keep your mouth shut. If a certain group of friends are guilty of gossiping every time you hang out with them, avoid hanging out with them. That sounds harsh, but it needs to be a reality, because they are not trustworthy. I compare a group that gossips to a pack of wolves. Once one wolf leaves the pack they immediately pounce, and I promise you that the times you haven't been there, you've been a topic of conversation. I wouldn't exactly call that a group of friends, hence my comparison. It may be lonely for a bit, but if you begin to take the advice stated in #5 you'll find others who share your values and your life will be less dramatic as a result.

7. Mind your own beeswax. I am a fixer. So this one is especially hard for me. I love solving issues. However, I can promise you this: every time I insert my opinion or become involved in a situation not my own, I only add to the drama. This one also goes hand in hand with #1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. If the person didn't come directly to you for help, I'd stay out of "it." If you didn't hear "it" directly from the horses mouth, don't repeat "it" (and even if you did, that doesn't mean "it" needs to be repeated). Yes, of course, there's a Proverb for this too,
"Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears." Proverbs 26:17

8. Wake up every morning with the gospel on your mind. If you wake up praising Jesus Christ for the work He accomplished on the cross you immediately shift your focus from me to HIM. You find yourself set free from the very sins you committed yesterday; knowing that Christ forgave you offers a freedom from the sin of gossip (#1), over-talking (#2), selfishness (#3), a critical spirit (#4), meddling (#6) and worry (#10). Since you are no longer held captive by sin you are free to enjoy God through your day - praise Him, minister to others, pray &etc. Doing this leaves no room for #1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 10. You also begin your day with an understanding that if He saved you for all your sins, who are you to hold someone else's faults against them? (In other words, stop playing God.) Forgive, pray for them, and show love towards them. I love how Milton Vincent states this fact in his book A Gospel Primer, "... I am always willing to show love to others when I am freshly mindful of the love that God has shown me." (p. 24)

When you wake up with the mentality that Jesus worked a great miracle in your life through His death, burial, and resurrection you have a wonderful perspective in trials and tribulations. His gift of salvation saved you from hell and as you bask in this reality every thing else in life gains a different perspective. Nothing, absolutely nothing, compares to that and you can now appreciate all that God is doing in your life to help you grow in Him. Even if it means dealing with trials. You can actually find yourself thankful for them as they work wonders in your life and can now ask yourself, How is God using this to draw me closer to Him?

9. Find a discipleship relationship. There's nothing more powerful, besides the very Word of God, than a relationship centered around Christ and His Word as you journey this life together. Pick a woman who displays all the qualities of a Titus 2 Woman and ask her to teach you. It's the process God designed to draw us closer to Himself. It's been a miraculous, life-changing journey for me. There's nothing like the trust, growth and accountability that comes with this relationship. Because of that accountability and growth you'll find yourself wanting nothing to do with things like gossip (#1), over-talking (#2), selfishness (#3), a critical spirit (#4), meddling (#6) and worry (#10 and wanting more of the benefits of the Gospel, learning His Word, praising Jesus for all He is and has accomplished, and loving others (whether or not they deserve it) as a result.

10. Pray continually. Oh man, this was a hard habit to get myself into. I have been working on it since October of 2013 (read about it here) when certain events occurred that forced me to dive head first into this process of praying first and throughout my day. Ever since then I force myself to pray about it continually before picking up my phone. I cannot begin to tell you what a difference it makes! Before I know it, God has resolved the issue before I even need to say or do anything. By praying I am relying on His sovereign hand and allowing Him to do His work in myself and others. It's pretty miraculous what prayer does for drama. Paul called the church of Thessalonians to,
"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thessalonians 5:16 
Each of those command a continual state of dependance on God. By depending on Him, drama flies out the window.

Plus One for Good Measure. (I saved the best for last.)
Trust God. He is sovereign. He is faithful. He is trustworthy. He is the Creator of life and therefore knows and understands each individual and their heart.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6 
Rely on the truths stated in His Word and pray continually. Don't worry about it. He's got whatever "it" is under complete control.

I have been completely and utterly blessed with a beautiful life without a lot of drama for the last few years.  I attribute that to our drama-free church family and the time we spend together studying God's Word. Once the focus shifts from ME-ME-ME to CHRIST so much changes, including the theatrics. That doesn't mean I don't have bouts of issues here and there, but when I apply these tips I'm astounded at how much easier life is. These tips, however, are difficult to apply at times when I'm tempted to gossip and meddle &etc. etc. However, if I give in to that sin, I find myself feeling pretty rotten afterwards and needing to apologize for my actions. Thankfully, God has worked wonders on my heart and has blessed me with more self-control than I had three years ago (or a month ago for that matter).

I encourage you to check out Melany's list because a 16 year old's life without drama is pretty rare. It speaks volumes of her maturity level, but also of her relationship with Christ. Read it. You won't be disappointed.
For added good measure, here are a few tips (written last week) to avoid drama on Facebook.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Me and My Big Mouth [Day 5: Excessive Talking]

Don't worry, just two more days and you'll be done listening to me and my big mouth. I will also try to keep today's post short and sweet so you don't see this side of me come out, which tends to make itself most evident in rambling posts such as these. So I'll focus in on a few annoying manners of excessive talking that need some work in my own life,


Interrupting. Interrupting is synonymous with selfishness. Selfishness is synonymous with a few of interrupting's synonyms such as: bothersome, intrusive, encumbering or meddling. To interrupt shows the listener that what I have to say is more important than what you have to say. And here's the truth behind this act: if I interrupt the person I'm having a conversation with, that person is less likely to listen. I just lost their respect because I did not act with courtesy. Interrupting proves one thing: I am a fool.

I cannot even count how many times I've been guilty of this one and I'm ashamed of it. "If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame." - Proverbs 18:13


Not really listening. This is purely another act of selfishness if nothing else. If I cannot wait for one person to finish a story or spouting an opinion before inserting my own story/opinion/beliefs, I am not really listening. In this case I'll find myself wanting to interrupt. If I'm wanting to interrupt I might as well actually do it because I doubt I'll be able to recount any of the details of what that person just told me anyhow.
"A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion." - Proverbs 18:2


Repetition. Stop telling the same story or repeating the same opinion over and over and over again. Repetition makes the listener stop listening. (Duh.)


Pointless rambling/Recognizing when to just shut up. I've been with my hubby for 8 years now and I'm beginning to recognize that he has this unintentional, get to the point-glassed over look. You'd think 8 years of practicing "getting to the point" and recognizing at least one person's "glassed over" look would help in shutting my mouth. I know it's improved, but I still have work to do. Not everyone wants to hear every thought that pops into my brain! Besides if I shared everything, listeners would be confused (hence pointless rambling). Did you know one of the synonyms for rambling is confused? Point proven. Develop the ability to recognize when to just shut up by asking a few questions:
  • Who did most of the talking in the conversation I just had?
  • Who did we talk most about? (If the answer is me, an apology needs to be made. Ahem, make it short and sweet for pete's sake.)
  • What were some of their facial expressions while I talked?
  • How did they respond to me?
  • Did I ever interrupt this person?
  • Did I ask this person questions? Do I remember their response?
  • Can I recount any details of what this person told me?
Asking myself these questions moves ME out of the spot light and forces me to put the person with whom I'm having a conversation first. Put others first, even in conversations. There's a few reasons why this is necessary, which are clearly outlined in a few proverbs listed below. 

The Bible teaches us that excessive, long-winded-ness shows our folly and selfishness. 

"When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.
- Proverbs 10:19 
In other words, whoever cannot hold their tongue reveals their errant, blundering ways; but one who is careful and discerning is considered wise.

"Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin." 
- Proverbs 13:3
Must I explain this one?

"Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.
- Proverbs 17:27-28
This is one of my favorites! Have you ever had a "conversation" with someone who loves to talk? They talk and talk and talk and talk and you finally stop listening before you lose your marbles. (So so so sorry to anyone I've affected in this way.) This truth amazes me: the people who rarely speak are the one's that most people want to listen to; if they're talking, it must be important. 


Like I said in the beginning of this post, after today there is one more topic to discuss in this series. I want to answer the question, What should be on our lips? In the mean time, go back and check out what should not be on our lips:

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Me and My Big Mouth [Day 4: Harsh Words]

I have a tendency to speak sharp and severe words, especially to those I love the most - my husband and my daughter. In the past the people on the receiving end of my harsh words were my students. I had high expectations in my classroom. I expected students to work hard, to be respectful, and kind. Today I realize that it wasn't my expectations that were harsh, but my response to their failing to meet them. To further my idiocrasy was that I expected them to be respectful and kind to me and to others, but I was failing to treat them in the same manner.

On many days, I still find myself unsuccessfully meeting the biblical expectation to be kind. Which leads me to my discussion on day 4's topic in this series titled, Me and My Big Mouth...

Harsh Words

Women's discipleship revolves around one vital purpose: our conduct. When women are discipled their objective is clearly defined in the church namely that the word of God may not be reviled by opponents. Titus 2:3 illustrates the qualities that qualify an older women to disciple and those are the same qualities that she is asked to pass on. One of those qualities is kindness.

There's been too many times, in my anger and frustration, where my conduct was anything but kind. I still struggle with it and am constantly praying for a change of heart and that my words are His Words.

There's a few reasons why this is necessary,

"There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." 
- Proverbs 12:18
In other words rash words hurt. Synonyms for rash include words like careless, reckless, thoughtless, and inconsiderate. This proverb teaches us to think about how our words will affect the hearer before speaking them.

"A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." - Proverbs 15:1
The resulting contrast between kind words and harsh words is pretty obvious after reading this proverb.

"She opens her mouth wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue." - Proverbs 31:26
Proverbs 31 illustrates a wife, mother, and godly woman who lives her life to serve others and glorify God. Speaking with kindness is one of the ways she does this.

Ephesians 4:25 begins with the explanation that we need to speak truthfully with one another not letting the sun go down on our anger, because we are one in Christ. There will be times that one will be rightly angry, but self-control is key. Kindness is still necessary. Paul goes on to explain why kindness with one another is necessary even when we're rightfully angry, "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. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." - Ephesians 4:29-32

I pray these four passages lay on my heart, so in moments I need the reminder to speak kindly the Holy Spirit brings it to mind and I honor and glorify Him in all that I say and do.

The next topic for this series on Me and My Big Mouth will be on excessive talking; here's what I've written so far...

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Tuesday's Top Ten [What to Avoid on Facebook]

I'm notorious for putting myself in situations I shouldn't on Facebook. I open my fat mouth and things come out in a way I never intended and I end up looking like a fool (hence my series on "Me and My Big Mouth" I'm currently undertaking). I've also written quite a bit about my issues with Facebook:

I know I'm not alone because I see posts that raise eye brows or make skin crawl. Based on a few of my own mistakes and being witness to others, here's 10 things to avoid doing on Facebook:
  1. Venting/Ranting. It doesn't affect outcomes. Most importantly, negativity from one person allows others to jump on the negativity bandwagon. 
  2. Unless asked, avoid posting opinions on someone else's status. Unless you can do this while having a friendly debate, refrain from spouting sentiments. It usually leads to an unnecessary argument, name calling, and hurt feelings. Fact of life: we are never going to agree on everything. Fact of life #2: Disagreeing does not mean we cannot be friends. 
  3. It is not necessary to share opinions on anything held near and dear to one's heart more than once. (See #2) Self-control is key (and yeah, I'm ever-so-guilty of this one too.)
  4. Complaining. This relates to #1 but they're a tad different in that one involves anger and the other involves whining. Neither characteristic is attractive. They are related in that it doesn't affect outcomes. And why start a negativity train? 
  5. Fixing. A few days ago I witnessed someone cyberbullying someone else. It was a minor offense, words were posted that would definitely hurt, but no threats were made or death wishes asked by the attacker, but it was wrong nonetheless. I had this deep urge (still do) to fix the situation, even though it isn't mine to fix. I just happen to be a friend of a friend. Not.my.business. On a serious note, however, please do not post something to affect someone else in a negative manner. It only encourages others to join you and you have absolutely no idea how much words hurt (if you want to know 10 reasons why words are powerful, check out this read). I'm not sure if my comments on the horrible post would've helped or just made it worse. Ugh, I hate the urge to fix it! It simply won't leave my brain alone.
  6. TMI. How many times have I been guilty of over-sharing? Uh, too many to count. There are just some things people don't need to know. I'm thinking there needs to be a TMI checklist including anything to do with sex, marital fights, toilets, etc. etc.
  7. Inappropriate Selfies. I personally do not like the duck face, or the kissy face, or the sad face selfie, or the how-many-times-can-I-take-a-picture-of-myself-and-create-a-collage selfie, or the selfie that shows off way too much of one's "well-endowed places". Some selfies have a time and a place. Most are just tasteless. 
  8. Announcing Vacation Dates. Did you know your insurance company has -in fine print- that they can and will deny coverage of a break in (for example) if you post all over social media when and where you'll be leaving your house empty and unguarded? You'll be surprised how many of your "friends" will take advantage of the opportunity to check out your place while you are gone. Be careful.
  9. Sharing an article before checking its validity. I've seen too many posts shared by individuals claiming it to be truth, thus starting a wildfire of trouble in their community. Here's the truth about the internet: not everything you find is reliable. If it's a blog or wikipedia source (as two of endless examples) double check to find out if what's written is legit. Anyone can create a blog and everyone can go to wikipedia to write whatever their heart desires. Reminder: just because it's on the internet does make it true. 
  10. "I'm not naming names, but..." If a post ever begins with that statement, or if something is written about someone else without mentioning their name, avoid it.at.all.costs. Better yet, don't even go there.EVER.
Just because I write this list doesn't mean I follow it perfectly. There are still unfortunate moments I forget my own advice and/or the advice of others (like Melany). I find that it's way too easy to type, hit post, and never see the response of the people reading it beyond a "like" here or a comment there. Be careful with what you say, what you share, what you announce... because judgements are made on your character and if you don't care what others think of you, well, you might begin to care if you're robbed, lose a friend, squander your reputation, or denied a job, scholarship, or any other opportunity because you posted something you shouldn't have.

Even if you don't care what others think you should care what God has to say about what we say. Believe it or not he has a lot to say about our words. If you need a good starting point, see what I've written about words:

Just in case you need more tips on what to avoid on Facebook check out this awesome list of 15 things to avoid on Facebook that offers more on legality and identity safety. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Me and My Big Mouth [Day 3: Gossiping]

The last top ten Melany and I wrote was about watching what comes out of our mouths. It was this post that inspired to me to finally publish this series that has been sitting in my draft box for months on end. The first day I talked about cursing, yesterday venting, and today's topic is on an all too common issue: gossip.
I find it hard to resist questions that begin with, "Have you heard...?" And if I give into the temptation to participate in the "talk of the town" I feel heavily convicted. There's so many reasons for this, but, as always, I'll use the Bible to explain why because it is through His Word that the Holy Spirit works within us, reminding us of His truth. It's quite obvious that humans have struggled with gossip since the beginning of time. In fact, the author of Proverbs illustrates why it's so difficult to resist, "The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels..." (Proverbs 26:22) Yup. I'd say that about sums it up.

There's more to that Proverb that I'll get into later, but for now we need to recognize the fact that our fleshly, rotten self craves the details of our neighbors dirty laundry. Admitting the fact that we're all malicious slanderers and gossips should be humbling. We're all in the same boat. More humbling still is the point Paul Maxwell made in his blog post titled, "What Gossip Says About God" which had a few statements that hit me like a ton of bricks, "What we say reveals what we believe." As if that statement wasn't big enough, I read this: "Gossip is the opposite of how the Son speaks to the Father about you."

Yeah, I think that one needs to be on repeat.

In fact, Maxwell's entire sentence following this one amazing statement had me in awe of our perfect and wise God: 
Gossip is the opposite of how the Son speaks to the Father about you. The Trinity talks about you behind your back. And it would be really encouraging if you heard what they said. When they talk about your sin, there is hope and a plan (1 Corinthians 1:21Philippians 1:6). When they talk about your suffering, there is help and a purpose (James 1:3).
I encourage you to read every bit of this awesome post because it will give greater depth than anything I mention here, but I want to spend some time talking about why Scripture is so absolutely clear on gossiping by asking a few questions I hope you already know the answer to...

Does gossip build trust in a relationship?
No. Definitely not. Anyone who is willing to gossip to you about someone else is probably willing to gossip about you to someone else. That truth doesn't exactly inspire trust for that person does it?

Does what we say reveal our own hearts?
According to the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 15:18-19, YES! "... what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander." That scripture alone reveals why I feel so heavily convicted about participating in gossip (aka slander). Babbling reveals my sinful heart which should leave me ashamed.

Not only does it reveal my evil thoughts, but it shows my foolishness, my lack of self-control and that I lack sense, "Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remands silent. Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered." (Proverbs 11:12-13) Foolishness, senselessness, untrustworthiness are qualities exposed by my lack of self control; and that leaves me full of shame and regret for revealing those ugly characteristics to someone else.

Does gossip ruin friendships?
The wisest king in history shared in many Proverbs that this is absolutely true! "There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." (Proverbs 12:18) In other words, gossip hurts. Due to this fact, king Solomon explains that it does ruin friendships, "A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends." (Proverbs 16:28) If you value your friendship you won't participate in gossip with that person, or gossip about that person. Both prove you are an untrustworthy individual not worthy of a close friendship.

Does gossip build up or tear down?
Paul tells the church in Ephesus that one way to remain unified as Christians is to, "Let no corrupt 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." He goes on to demand that all, "... bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." (Ephesians 4:29, 31-32) I'd say gossip and corrupt talk and bitterness and slander share many similarities and accomplish the exact opposite of what unifies and builds one another up: kindness, grace, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness.

If we give in to all the juicy details of gossip, who's the center of our focus?
It obviously is not Christ who is kind, full of grace, tenderhearted, and forgiving. And if HE isn't the focus of your mind, your heart will be revealed. Don't forget how He, as our perfect mediator between us and God, talks about us to God. If you don't remember, visit Paul Maxwell's article titled, "What Gossip Says About God" mentioned earlier. 


When I hear something about someone it's soooooo tempting to call up a friend or unload on my husband all the juicy morsels as soon as he comes home, but I pray that in my moments of weakness the Holy Spirit reminds me to talk to HIM. I love this advice, 
He is WAY better at solving issues, calming the heart, and sending reminders of His Word to our mind; like this verse, "For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases." (Proverbs 16:20) Don't add kindling to the fire. Keep your trap shut and the gossip and fighting stops with you. You'll build trust, reveal your heart, keep your friendships, build others up, and keep Christ as your central focus by doing that one simple act. BUT it's one of the hardest things to do, so when you're tempted, pray that God give you strength, wisdom and the words according to HIS Word. 


John Piper has many sermons and blog posts on this particular topic and there's one short blurb that I wanted to copy and paste in it's entirety: Talking to People Rather Than About Them. It's short, sweet, and to the point. It's quite obviously worth checking out!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

"I just NEED to VENT!"

Day 2 in the series, "Me and My Big Mouth" is on the art of venting. You could also label this as complaining or ranting or whining....

Unfortunately, the art of venting is one I've perfected over the years. I've used the, "I just need to VENT!" or "I NEED to get this off my chest!" excuse more times than I can count. In the last year especially, I've learned that "venting" leads to gossiping and saying hurtful things that should never even enter my mind. You see, by allowing my heart and my mind to go there, I'm losing focus of scripture. And scripture is very, very clear on venting, gossiping and foolish talk. 

When I lose self-control and allow my mouth to vent, I'm doing the exact opposite of what Paul teaches in Romans 12:1-2, "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." By studying the book of Romans I learned that the first 11 chapters explain the "mercies of God" and by understanding these mercies (or things we do not deserve, but have received anyway as a gift from God) I can live my life as a "living sacrifice". In other words, my entire life - what I say, how I act, and what I think - should become spiritual worship. John Piper states that spiritual worship means that we should "use our minds and hearts and bodies to express the worth of God and all that He is for us in Jesus.

Scripture is very clear that venting is not a form of worship.

"A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back." Proverbs 29:11

I've been a fool more times than I can count and I fail in holding it back daily. My lack of self control leaves me feeling icky and crawling on my knees in repentance to a holy and blameless God. 

The easiest thing for me to do is call my sisters and friends in an effort to "get it off my chest" (whatever "it" is). When in reality God is asking me to "vent" to Him. My first response to anger, frustration, drama, conflict, &etc. should be to pray. Pray in all circumstances. Why should that be of first and foremost importance in a Christian woman's life? BECAUSE...

He is sovereign. He is trustworthy. He is exceedingly wise. He is faithful. He knows all things. He is the beginning and the end and He holds the universe in His hand. If I vent to my friends about whoever and whatever, I forget His majesty and I forget that He is in control, and as a result I am being a fool. 

On the day when I'm faced with drama in my family, or tension in my marriage, or harsh words exchanged between friends, or a close friend or family member has made a terrible decision, or the sky is falling, or or or or or or... I simply need to pray

I want to be a woman who, on the day I meets Christ face to face, can honestly say, "I trusted YOU, Lord, all the days of my life. And whatever drama came my way, You proved over and over again that You are faithful, trustworthy, sovereign and exceedingly wise!"

To rest in Jesus Christ is the ultimate joy, because I have nothing to fear. I can rejoice in tribulations, drama, conflict and whatever else comes my way. The only question I should ask is, "How are You using this to draw me closer to You?" and "How can I glorify you as I persevere?" As long as I take whatever "it" is to God in prayer, all the while trusting Him to handle it with His perfect wisdom and timing, I'll never have to call a friend and begin the conversation with, "I just NEED to VENT!"

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." Proverbs 3:5

Day 1 was cursing, today venting, what does tomorrow hold? Gossiping. Oh, boy....

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Series on Me and My Big Mouth [Day 1: Cursing]

Yesterday's Top Ten Topic was reasons to Watch What You Say. Unfortunately that idea was one that came from hard lessons learned. Like when I spewed vomit all over Facebook through private messages, status updates, a friends wall... or from times I sent emails I never should've sent... or gossiped... or cussed... used harsh, angry words... irritated others with my know-it-all attitude... etc. etc. This top ten topic was an excellent prelude into this series that's been sitting in my draft section for many, many months.

The series has been floating around as drafts because it's embarrassing to admit sins and struggles aloud, but I believe that confessing my sins and struggles to fellow believers unifies us as we face struggles together and allow the Holy Spirit to work within us as we study His Word. There's so much healing that occurs when we pray for and counsel one another! That is why I will continue to be transparent.

Starting today I decided to write about me and my big mouth. Over the last few of years my mouth has tamed significantly in five major areas:
  1. Cursing
  2. Venting
  3. Gossiping
  4. Harsh Words
  5. Excessive Talking
After I talk about each area and why those areas have been a source of frustration for me as I'm learning more and more about God through His Word, I'm also going to spend some time talking about what should come out of my mouth. The above list is what I don't want to participate in, but there are times that those things are the first to pop out of my trap. Thankfully it's way less than what it used to be and it was my big mouth that forced me to understand the meaning of conviction and correction and how to deal with it (hence this embarrassing post). I'm utterly ashamed of who I once was! Thank goodness God is continually working on my heart and forcing change in those areas I listed (among others). I'm not entirely sure why, but over the next few days, as I talk about those 5 areas, I want to give a picture of who I once was and then talk about four pieces that are asked of a Titus Woman:
  1. Teaching what is good.
  2. Love & Kindness
  3. Self-control
  4. Purity
Over the next few days I'll also share different verses that give reason to think about what comes from the mouth. Starting with...

Today, I'm going to talk about...


If a word happens to fly out of your mouth, don't apologize to me. There's no need to apologize for something I'm guilty of doing myself. Curse words were a part of my normal vocabulary just a few short years ago. I find my former vocabulary baffling. Why did I talk like that? It sounds so silly! Despite my current feelings about cussing, I still let one slip once and awhile and I curse myself for it. I hate it when that's the only word coming to my measly brain and as a result it's the word that pops out. I don't excuse myself, I simply want to smack my forehead in frustration. Here's why...

1. It makes me sound like an uneducated fool who can think of nothing better to say.

2. It does not build one another up. Some people find it offensive. I really do want people to take me seriously (most of the time, sometimes I get carried away with sarcasm). But in all seriousness -- by cursing am I helping them or do they stop listening the moment anything comes out of my mouth?
"Let no corrupt 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." (Ephesians 4:29) 
3. It does not set me apart. As Christians, Christ is working within us to set us apart from the world. Vulgarity does nothing to show that we are followers of Christ. The Bible teaches that we need to be imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1) and one such way in which we are set apart is by what we let out of our mouths. Ephesians was written to bring the Jews and the Gentiles together through the mystery of Christ. We are unified through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. By cursing I am not unified with my fellow believers because I am not walking as Christ walked, which is why the bold statement is singular and the explanation plural. WE are called to imitate Christ, and when I sin by cursing, I am not walking in a manner worthy of my calling in Christ, which in turn does not unify believers in any shape or form. Which goes back to 1, 2 and 4: when I lack wisdom and self-control, it does not build my fellow believers up, which equals division instead of unified Christians.

"Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving." (Ephesians 5:4, which applies specifically to sexual vulgarity)

4. It shows how desperately I lack self-control. This one is kind of two fold. One of the things Paul writes in Titus is the key to women's discipleship: our conduct. The older women are to teach the younger women what it means to display reverent behavior. Two of those behaviors older women are supposed to teach are self control and purity. If I lack self-control with my mouth by cursing I am also guilty of impurity. To be pure means that I am clean and modest in the way that I dress, what I say, how I look at someone, how I talk, &etc. To lack self-control by cursing, my conduct is the exact opposite of purity. Cursing shows a dirty, immodest mouth that does not build others up, set me apart,  or proclaim the glory of God.

And that is my goal in life.

Soli Deo Gloria = To God Alone be the Glory (Latin Term)
As a result of these truths, I am working on what comes out of my mouth because I simply want to glorify HIM. Cursing, venting, gossiping or complaining does not do that. I'll prove it to you over the next few days. Stay tuned for tomorrow's topic on venting (it's a doozy).

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Tuesday's Top Ten Plus Ten [Watch What You Say]

Words are powerful.

Just ask a 30 year old who remembers every last word a bully expressed 20 years ago! Whether it was stated to her face (or behind her back) about her weight, face, hair, or anything of self-value doesn't matter. What matters is that a lack of judgement in words expressed have a lasting impression. Just ask anyone who has ever posted something on Facebook to see it spread like wild fire. Just ask Bo Palini who's rant on Husker fans was recorded for all to hear and the uproar because of it or Justine Sacco, who's random, thought-to-be-funny, tweets ruined her life. Whether you agree or disagree with those people is not my point. My point is that words ran rampant, for all to hear, and words cost a few people listed above their job, their public influence, and their livelihood. That is why the Bible teaches us to guard what comes out of the mouth carefully.

"When words are many, transgression is not lacking but whoever restrains his lips is prudent." 
-Proverbs 10:19

"Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent. Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered." 
- Proverbs 11:12-13

"He who guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin." 
- Proverbs 13:3

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

(And that's just the beginning!)

Like all of you I've been guilty of posting things I shouldn't on Facebook, or sharing too much here, or sending an email I wish I never would've written in the first place. Here's 10 reasons to guard your mouth and speak carefully, not just on Facebook but in all walks of life, because words are powerful. 

1. Words last forever. Even if you didn't write it down, or post it on Facebook, someone out there somewhere will remember what you said because it affected them somehow.

2. Here's the thing about social media -- once you've said it, you can't take it back. Even if you hit delete, it's still there (whether it's floating around cyberspace or stuck in someone's head).

3. You are being watched. Some companies or schools (as a couple examples) check you out and accept or deny you based on what you say. You could lose your job for opening your trap (remember Justine Sacco's story) or lose an opportunity because of that angry rant you posted a year ago about your ex boyfriend. Or not considered for a position because you cuss incessantly on all your posts. Seriously.

4. It's evidence against you. Whatever you say or post publicly can be used against you in the court of law. As a teacher who chose to crack down on bullying issues, there were two specific instances where charges were brought on an individual for nasty messages sent and a social media hate page. I asked the individual who was being affected to print them off and bring them to me, by law the principle had to contact the chief of police and an investigation ensued. Did you know that all but 9 states have laws that could allow prosecutors to bring charges against an individual for cyber-bullying (source)? (In other words what you post on social media could land you in jail.) Here's the reason bullying has become an issue: 10 years ago when someone was bullied, they went home to peace and quiet. Teens didn't have cell phones and Facebook did not exist. Written words are published in a matter of seconds and left for everyone to see, becoming a permanent reminder of what others think. Coming home no longer gives peace and quiet because logging on Facebook or receiving nasty text messages is the direction bullies tend to take. Words are becoming more powerful because of social media. Mean words are becoming easier to say because you can type it, send it, not see the reaction, and have others easily and immediately hit "like". On that note (that words are easier to publish and that they could get you busted), did you know that if you are a minor posting a picture of yourself drinking could land you a 'minor in possession' charge? Or bragging about the party you attended? Words are evidence. Don't be fooled.

5. What you say, shows your heart. If all that comes out of your mouth is trash, hateful messages, anger, ridicule... according to Jesus' teaching, your heart needs some work.

6. You are responsible for what you say and act, no matter how you feel. In other words, let your anger, frustration (and emotions in general) pass before you say anything. That will take time. Saying something in an emotional state leads to destruction and regret; trust me. 

7. With words, you can show wisdom, or proved a fool. No explanation needed here. 

8. Words are powerful. You can hurt someone with what you say, you can encourage someone with what you say, you can win someone over with what you say, you can persuade, entertain, show love, compassion... and all girls understand this truth very well...

9. The most influential people understand words are powerful and use them to persuade the crowds. Hitler is one example. He was a powerful speaker and influenced a mighty large group of people for destruction and hate. He convinced many people that Jews were dirty, ugly, uneducated and should be eliminated. When I read the book titled, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak it hit me just who powerful words are with this one simple quote:
“The young man wandered around for quite some time, thinking, planning, and figuring out exactly how to make the world his. Then one day, out of nowhere, it struck him - the perfect plan. He'd seen a mother walking with her child. At one point, she admonished the small boy, until finally, he began to cry. Within a few minutes, she spoke softly to him, after which he was soothed and even smiled.  
The young man rushed to the woman and embraced her. "Words!"  He grinned.  
But there was no reply. He was already gone. 
Yes, the Fuhrer decided that he would rule the world with words.”  
10. What you say about someone else, says a lot about you. (This one relates to #5.) Do not trust a person who spends all their time gossiping or arguing, because once you leave, most likely, the topic will be you.

I will argue that there are times you need to say something in order to help someone and it may hurt, so here's a few questions you need to ask yourself before speaking: What is your motive for saying it? Check your surroundings: will it humiliate them? Should it be said privately? Should it be said now or is it something you can think and pray on before saying it? Is what they're doing/saying hurting or affecting the people around them? If so, do or say something, but before you speak, THINK:

Sitting as a draft is a series on me and my big mouth. I'm thinking this is a good prelude into this topic I definitely need to work on daily. I will continue to make an effort to make His Words, my words, by studying His Word daily, and that starts with guarding what comes out of it. After all, our chief goal in life is to glorify God in all aspects of life, including what we say.

Don't forget to check out what Melany has to say about this hefty topic!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Tuesday's Top Ten Plus Ten [Qualities of a BFF]

Melany and I decided to tackle another rather large topic this week. I'm curious to see how many shared 'qualities of a BFF' we have written....
Thankfully, I have many people in my life that enter into this BFF category (one of them being Melany's mother), which makes today's top ten easy to write. God has blessed me with many BFF's who uphold these particular qualities that I find extremely valuable and that I myself try to uphold:
Especially in my marriage with my #1 BFF!
Trustworthiness. Prayer requests are huge for me in this one. I trust that this BFF is keeping whatever I told them to themselves, but also actually taking whatever "it" is up in prayer. If I ask them to pray and they say absolutely, I trust they will. I also want confidence in their discretion. To be trustworthy one must keep promises, tell the truth, and follow through on what is said.

Selflessness. I was the queen of selfishness. I only thought of my own desires and how to attain them, irregardless of how it affected those around me. If I focus on putting Jesus first, others second my myself last, I find more joy in life than I ever thought possible. (JOY = Jesus Others Yourself) Putting others first helps me attain trustworthiness, offer forgiveness without measure, and extend love without expecting anything in return because this is what Jesus does for me.

Really Listening. Women are guilty of this irritating trait that while listening to someone they allow their own thoughts to interfere. When I find myself doing this, I'm only ever thinking of what I could add to the conversation rather than truly listening to my friend. Women's brains never shut up. In order to truly listen we must make a conscience effort to do so.

Be Committed. What's a friendship (or a relationship in general) if one isn't committed to making it work? Whether it's your spouse or a BFF, recognize that relationships take work. Recognize that to love is a choice you make to be committed. Believe it or not Nicholas Sparks has the right idea  here... "Pattern of Devotion" - I like that and it need not apply only to marriage...

Hold one another accountable. I have two specific memories in mind with two different BFF's who pointed out my error with my best interest in mind and held me to a standard I wasn't keeping, all the while knowing I should. If you have a friend who's willing to hold your feet to the fire, keep 'em. They are the one's who love you unconditionally and are not willing to see you screw things up. In one situation it took me two weeks to get over myself and realize that my BFF was right, and when I accepted this fact, made the necessary changes, and thanked her, our relationship grew ten fold.
When I realized my defensive behavior was me trying to justify, I grew leaps and bounds.
(Read about dealing with accountability and the conviction and correction that comes with it and then take this piece of your relationship seriously. How are you to grow in character without trials, tribulations, mistakes made and lessons learned? God uses all of that and so much more to draw you closer to Him. He'll use your BFF more times than not, I can promise you that.)

Be Kind and Loving. With accountability one can seem harsh, and sometimes directness has it's place, but these qualities must be remembered in all circumstances. There is so much that loving kindness does in a friendship, holding one accountable is one such act of kindness (if done so with selflessness). Put your friend before yourself - with Christ being our perfect example - and these qualities will seem easier to act upon (notice I didn't say easy).

Be understanding. Sometimes things come up and sometimes things just happen. I like to remember this truth in regards to this quality:
Be Transparent. If one isn't willing to recognize their imperfections and admit them out loud, pride will get in the way of any relationship. If you're not transparent in sins, mistakes, skeletons in the closet, etc. etc. how can your BFF pray for you? Hold you accountable? Help you?
Plus, if one isn't transparent, the next two qualities of a BFF will be rather difficult...

Quick to Forgive. I cannot imagine any of my friends living up to these expectations perfectly day in and day out. I also struggle with someone who throws me to the dogs the moment I screw up. The truth of the matter is this: at the end of the day not one person on the face of the planet is perfect, least of all me. I want confidence in the fact that when that day comes, that I royally screw up, our friendship isn't lost forever.

Quick to apologize. On that same note, one must be willing to admit faults, ask for forgiveness and take the necessary steps in order to repair the situation and relationship. No one is perfect and the friend who's willing to admit their imperfections is a trustworthy and selfless BFF worth keeping.

(Want to know more about this incredible friendship? Read my page titled, The Gospel.)

The women who I have a discipleship relationship with fit into this topic for so so so so so so so so many reasons. I encourage you to find your own discipleship relationship, for it is the process implemented by Jesus Himself and was commanded to continue until His return (read Matthew 28:19-20). I promise that if you find a relationship centered around learning about Him, you will find your earthly BFF. (Read about discipleship here.)

Before signing off, don't forget about Melany's list!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Tuesday's Top Ten [Motivate Me]

We all have those days where we don't want to do a single thing (like today when it's snowy and cold outside and all I want to do is snuggle up to a good book and a cup of tea). I also know we all have a few tricks to help us through those moments (and yes, I put a few of them to use today).

Melany and I decided to share a few our own personal tricks that motivate us to get it done (whatever "it" is) when our mood suggests we do otherwise.
1. Music. I have specific playlists with songs relating to titles such as: God is Great, God is Sovereign, Sanctify Me, God is Faithful, Rest in Christ, Christ Alone, &etc. Each one helps me focus on God rather than my myself (and my crummy mood). 

2. Prayer. Each time a mood strikes that prevents me from being thankful, positive, or motivated to accomplish what's set before me, I pray that God changes my heart. "Give me a servants heart. Help me to joyfully accomplish each task as I glorify you in all that I say and do." It's amazing how quickly He begins to work on my heart and mind. Even if my mood doesn't change, I somehow "get through" each task as I talk to Him.

3. Make a list and check it off. Having a visual to show what I need to accomplish and what I've already finished is a huge motivator for me. There's just something about checking an item off my to do list that impels me to complete the next one. Getting started is always the trick though...

4. Write in my thankful journal. When I begin to focus on all that God has blessed me with, my attitude begins to change dramatically. There are times I just need to sit down and write. Sometimes just reading about all that I was thankful for in the days prior helps so much.

5. Fresh air and sunshine. Depending on the weather, of course, I use this one often. There's not a lot that's more refreshing than vitamin D and a breeze.

6. Bible reading. There's nothing on the face of the earth that will provide more hope and encouragement than the promises outlined in God's Word (read Romans 15:4). You need a reminder that God is faithful, sovereign, and worthy of all our trust? Go to His Word. Like I said before, once I focus my mind on the things of God, I forget about my attitude and joyfully serve Him because He is SO WORTHY OF IT.

7. Discipleship relationships. When I'm down in the dumps I shoot a text or vox the women who hold me accountable to God's Word and ask them to pray for me. It's so encouraging to know there's a group of women who understand and are willing to tackle your struggles alongside you with prayer and words of encouragement. Even if it's something as simple as, "Will you pray for me today? I really have a crummy attitude..." I don't hesitate because it's the small things that can derail a person's will to achieve a goal.

8. Reminding myself of His purpose for my life. I have a Homemakers Creed hanging up above my "to-do" list that I believe perfectly describes my role as a Christian wife and mother. If I'm needing some motivation I reread these belief statements (or Titus 2 or Proverbs 31), resign my name, and get to work. Sometimes I need to do this multiple times throughout my day and ask, "Okay God, help me remember what YOU'RE calling me to do for YOUR glory!" He's pretty good at answering that prayer.

9. Rehearse the gospel to myself daily. The gospel cultivates within me a joy that is incomparable to anything else on the planet. It is in this message that I find encouragement, hope, humility, and the utmost desire to serve a God who has accomplished a mighty powerful work in my life and in my fellow believers. It is because of the gospel that I can be thankful in all circumstances, because I deserve absolutely nothing but hell. So if there's even a drop in my cup I should be thankful for it. Heck, if I even have a cup I should be thankful! When I view circumstances in this light my attitude is uplifted and my cup is overflowing.

10. Adopt the "Just Do It" attitude. Even after trying these techniques my "want to" doesn't always change, but the necessity of completing a task remains the same. I have to remind myself on many occasions to simply "suck it up cupcake" and do it - irregardless of how I feel. And when I apply #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. 7, 8, and 9 to this attitude - 9 times out of 10 - I'm motivated because I got off my butt and was able to check off one thing on my list, thus improving my attitude for the next item and so on and so on (see #3).

You have probably figured this out by reading previous posts as well, but I am not big on "self help" and "self love". I believe in relying on a great and mighty God who can work wonders in our lives - in the big and small moments. I have recognized that if I fail to notice Him at work in the small moments of my life, I fail to notice Him at all. Once I began to glorify Him for something as simple as changing my attitude, it was easy to see Him at work in all aspects of my life. I hope the same for you!