Wednesday, May 24, 2017


At least 1 million words are in our dictionary. One study has found that the average 20-year-old American knows as many as 42,000 words. But 42,000 is just a fraction of the words we could use.  We reduce our vocabulary even more by using significantly fewer of those words when we verbally communicate with each other. Our reduced vocabulary puts limits on our ability to communicate. Regrettably, we have even more problems with words!
Words often mean different things to different people. Words have different emotional impact. To say, “That really makes me mad” may signify to one person that you are irritated, and to another it may be a frightening warning of  a volatile  explosion soon to come.  People often are more focused on their feelings than they are the words we say, and therefore care more about how we make them feel than anything else. 

Then, of course, we tend to comment on things that are either none of our business or things we know nothing little to nothing about, so our words are not always factual. Words often have less than precise meanings, so when we step away from “yes” and “no”,  it can get quite confusing.  

We also often make mistakes at times when we speak. Most of us have misspoken at one time or another and said something  stupid or cruel. Do we always really mean it? No. We often say things under the influence of our fleeting emotions.
I could go on and on. Wouldn’t it be handy to simply have a way to transfer information and feelings from one person’s mind to another? Actually, that in itself would really cause problems unless we had a way to be very selective. I remember Mel Gibson in WHAT WOMEN WANT was in trouble all the time because he was picking up the exact thoughts and feelings of the women around him!

All of these thoughts remind me that words can be very difficult because they really matter. We should work hard on ourselves to be as kind and precise and careful as we can with our communication. But, because we know words are difficult, we should cut each other a little slack from time to time with how we feel about someone who has violated us with words. We need to realize that neither we nor our language is perfect. Responding with kindness and asking for more information has a better chance of improving communication  than responding with words of our own that may multiply problems.  
Perhaps we should just pray this prayer:
            “Lord, fill my mouth with worthwhile stuff, and nudge me when I’ve said enough.”

Or, David said it more eloquently:
            “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

My Mother's Day Tradition

In 2009, the May after my mother went to heaven, my personal Mother's Day tradition began. I leave immediately after the last service to visit the cemetery where my mom's beautiful but worn out earthly glove is buried. It's not sad for me –  it's a reflective, wonderful time of thanking God for her and doing little things to take care of this spot where her earthly remains were placed.  I know she is not there – she is risen! Just as he said! Two years ago I planted a rosebush. It was good today to see it springing back to life again after the winter.  My sister Jeannie helped me take care of that rosebush. We would take turns stopping by the grave as we visited Dad, bringing jugs of water to make sure the little rosebush made it.

This year, in a surprising twist of life I did not anticipate and did not want, I found myself tenderly tending and showing devotion in this sacred place to the two tallest women in my life. Jeannie's glove now lies beside my mother's.  I came today expressing love and appreciation in humble and very humanly limited ways to my gracious and loving mother and sister, both of them wonderful mothers.

Charlie and I used to occasionally go to cemeteries on dates,  and even take our children there on walks from time to time. I know -- we're kinda strange.😉 But we found it interesting to look at the gravestones, to find the oldest one there, and to see what things might have been stated on the gravestone that told about lives lived. When ever I was there, I had a sort of curiosity about the assortment of things, small trinkets and decorations,  I would find around some of the cemetery plots. There was a tombstone – a flower or two. Wasn't that enough? 

Now that two of the dearest people in my world have gone ahead of me to heaven, I understand. Today the rosebush is coming to life, but it's not there yet. Jeannie's husband and girls are having her stone set soon, and there's no way to plant something alive and real until that happens.   Though Mom and Jeannie need no gifts for me, I need a tangible way to say for myself again,  "Thank you. Thank you for the incredible investment you made in my life. Thank you for making heaven closer and dearer.I am doing everything I know how to honor Jesus and you. Until I see you again, I will honor you with your favorite things, with a break in my day of celebration, to remember, to laugh, to express my covenant with you and God one more time to live honorably and generously until I join you at the table for that great celebration feast in our heavenly home."

What wonderful mothers you have been! What a legacy you have given to me and to the whole family! I am more grateful than words can say.

And now, it's time to get on with the life I now live. The kids and grandkids are coming over to celebrate me. The table is spread here today, we're having a feast-- I don't even have to fix it! My job today is just to sit back and enjoy, to gratefully treasure the life I have been given, and work on my own legacy. It's a good day, a blessed day.

Happy Mother's Day, indeed.