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Posts Tagged ‘Proverbs’

mom_aunt_nene_dresses

Juanita & Gloria Damon (my mom) dressed for prom (circa 1945?)

 

I don’t know about you, but I had a mom who wasn’t shy about speaking her mind. She was the youngest of three daughters and admittedly, teased and tormented her sisters most of her growing up years. As a teenager, she was a spitfire who boasted about having quite a few friends who were boys. But once she met my dad, it didn’t take long to say “I do.” She had just turned 18, and my dad was just 21, when they tied the knot. Their marriage lasted almost 56 years, though not without quite a few painful twists and turns. Through it all, my mom stood pretty firm. She had a way of seeing the world and expected almost everyone else to see it her way. I loved my mom, but she was a stubborn woman.

As the middle of five children, I was the born peacemaker. I wanted everyone to get along. I didn’t like fighting…between mom and dad, brother to brother, or even with my sister. My usual way of handling conflict was hiding or running, or lashing out with hurtful words. One of the first sayings I remember my mom telling me: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” She didn’t always live by that motto, but it’s one I’ve tried to use, especially since joining social media. It’s an early lesson I heard that I’m most grateful for.

The book of Proverbs is full of advice similar to my mom’s (and I’m sure she didn’t know it at the time) – “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.” (Proverbs 10:19)… “The mouth of the righteous is a well of life…” (Proverbs 10:11a)… “The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom…” (Proverbs 10:31a). When I get frustrated with the hate and vitriol spewing forth on television and the internet, I try to keep my mouth shut. I’m not always successful. More than anything, I want my lips to speak wisdom…my words to be encouragement…my mouth to speak life into a world that desperately needs words of hope and grace. O Lord, let me hear my mama’s voice one more time: “Kris…if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

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old friends

I remember a conversation I had with my husband when we both decided to join the Facebook frenzy back in 2008. We were trying to learn this newfangled thing called social media. Our kids had recently created profiles on Facebook and we were not about to be left behind. So while discussing all the ins and outs, he asked me about “friends.” What does that mean exactly? He was adamant that he wouldn’t have any “friends” because none of his friends were on Facebook. I tried to explain that “friends on Facebook aren’t really your friends, not as you would know them. They are people who want to see what you post, people who follow you. Facebook just uses the term ‘friends.'”

Since that time I’ve come to realize our culture has embraced the Facebook definition of friend. We know so much about a person, from their photos, profiles, posts and shares, that we really think we are friends with everyone. In reality, when a crisis hits, only a tiny percentage of those “friends” will be there for you…that tiny percentage – those are your real friends.

I’m so grateful for my true friends. They aren’t defined by time spent together, proximity, or age. It doesn’t matter if we are attend the same church, live in the same city, or read the same books. I count as true friends those who are honest, kind, real and lasting. They love me, with or without makeup, money or ministry. I love them the same way. Some of my friends I’ve had since kindergarten…some I’ve gained in the last few months. All are precious to me – not for what they do for me, but because they love and appreciate me for who I am on the inside. They are honest with me – telling it to me straight when I get a little too self-absorbed. And I know they expect the same from me.

Some of my friends live too far to see very often, but when we do, it’s like no time has passed at all. In those cases, social media has been a blessing – keeping up with the lives of my far off friends…though nothing beats a little “mas café” on the beach in Puerto Vallarta with good buddies, or giggles over dinner with high school classmates, or pie & ice cream with the best neighbors ever.

In my 40-days of Intentional Gratitude, I know I need to express my thankfulness to my friends, for they are often “Jesus with skin on” for me.

“A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:14

 

 

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The-Most-Destructive-Words

“Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” What a lie. A big fat lie. Words can cause greater damage than any stick or stone.

We often believe what we hear about ourselves, especially if the speaker is someone in authority or someone we trust or admire. Parents, siblings, other family members, teachers, coaches…even ourselves. I’ve found in my tutoring of students of all ages that my toughest job is getting them to believe in themselves after hearing things like “You can’t” or “You’re dumb” or “You’ll never…” for far too long.

Two solutions.

First, don’t destroy others with your words. Be an encourager, a cheerleader. Don’t bad mouth someone, or be nasty or rude. Avoid saying (or typing in your status bar) anything destructive or negative about another person. No matter who they are. No matter their political party or religious denomination. No matter what you perceive they think of you or have done to you. A well known person once said, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.” Good advice for all of us.

Secondly, do not disparage or bad mouth yourself…not your mind or intelligence, your emotions or your physical body. No matter what someone else has ever said about you…You are smart. You are kind. You are important.

God’s Word is full of His words of unconditional love and acceptance of who you are. Are you calling God a liar? Start reading through Proverbs and inserting your name.

“The speech of KRIS is worth waiting for…” (Proverbs 10:20a) Or “The speech of KRIS clears the air…” (Proverbs 10:32a) Or “The words of the wicked kill; the speech of KRIS saves.” (Proverbs 12:6) One of my favorites is Proverbs 16:24 – “Kris’ gracious speech is like clover honey – good taste to the soul, quick energy for the body.”

I’m attaching the link for a more in depth article about the power of our words if you need more convincing but this Scripture from James states it pretty clearly.

“It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.” (James 3:5-6 MSG)

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squirrel

Remember Dug, the loveable golden retriever in the Disney movie “Up?” He had a couple of famous lines such as “I have just met you and I love you,” and “I do not like the cone of shame.” Dug was also the character many with ADHD identified with because he was easily…“Squirrel!”

Dug’s tendency to be sidetracked by just about anything was fun in the movie but distractions aren’t always entertaining. They can keep us busy but cause important things to be derailed.

Distractions, by definition, prevent us from giving full attention to something else. Lately there has been a big “Don’t Text & Drive” ad campaign to keep us from being distracted by our phones while operating a vehicle. Too many passengers in a car may be a distraction for a young driver. The many different social media websites can certainly be distractions from accomplishing more important tasks.

Today I’m going to try to give up distractions in order to focus more fully on the essentials. My faith, my family, my work…these are all areas I need to keep in my vision without “squirrel-moments” taking me down “rabbit trails.”

avoid-distractions

Is Facebook calling your name? Did you just get a notification on your phone that someone responded to your latest status? Wanting to check your Twitter timeline? How about posting your latest food creation on Instagram? Did they add a new TV series to Netflix? A new book by my favorite author? Two chocolate chip cookies left? Is reading this blog actually a distraction for you?

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
(1 Corinthians 10:13) ESV

On a beautiful day, after a long winter, there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking time out of your busy day to enjoy a walk, or meet a friend for coffee, or change up your routine. But don’t let distractions become your norm. By staying focused on the important people and tasks in your life, you’ll have more time for those beneficial distractions later on.

“Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.”
(Proverbs 4:25-27) ESV

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help_button

Day 11 – Asking for help and advice makes me stronger

Maybe you can’t see this issue as one of “giving up” anything. But I choose to think of it as giving up my need to control and decide on my own. I’m not giving over my life to anyone but acknowledging that maybe, just maybe, someone else may have insights and wisdom which would benefit me. I’m a big believer in the wisdom of wisdom. Solomon fills the pages of the book of Proverbs with sayings about obtaining wisdom, choosing wisdom, listening to wisdom. For instance, Proverbs 19:20 says “Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise.”

Thankfully I do have wise people around me who I listen to and learn from. My husband is my best friend and one of the wisest men I know. He is my confidante, my go-to guy when I need to vent (sorry about that), and when I need counsel. And he’s not afraid to tell me what he thinks. Most of the time. I do think I can be scary sometimes.

We’ve also got two young men who have learned the same principle. Asking for help and advice isn’t a weakness. Both have people in their lives, including their parents, who they trust to give wisdom, not just spout platitudes. For that we are very grateful.

But maybe you think, “I don’t need anyone – I know what I need to do – I’ve got enough common sense to take care of this on my own.” If that works for you every time, go for it. But I’m pretty sure that’s not the case. At one time or another, you probably have made a decision or chosen a path you wished someone had warned you about. In fact, that wise guy Solomon says “The way of the fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.” (Proverbs 12:15)

Advice from friends is okay but sometimes listening to the wisdom of men can get you into a bind. See 1 Kings 12 where Solomon’s son Rehoboam gets into some serious trouble. Verse 13 says “Rejecting the advice given him by the elders, he followed the advice of the young men…”  This doesn’t work out well for him and only results in the splitting of Israel into two separate kingdoms. Not everyone is capable of giving out wisdom. But I know Someone who knows all, sees all and wants to see you succeed.

Jehoshaphat (godly king) tells the evil king of Israel (in 1 Kings 22:5) to seek the counsel of the Lord before heading into battle. The Psalmist says “I lift my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1) Your greatest source of wisdom will always be in the counsel of the Lord. So when you need help – ask for it. Find godly advisers, mentors and friends who you trust will give you sound counsel but in the end, trust in the wisdom which only comes from God.

Eph. 1:16-17 – I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you may know him better.

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