Did anyone ever say anything to you that you will remember forever?

Being over 50, my ears have heard many words. Some words I wish I could recall. Some words I would like to forget. But there are three things people once said to me that I believe I will remember forever.

1. “You will always have beauty in your life.”

I took biology my sophomore year at Edina High School. Mr. Ehlert was my teacher: a quirky older man who sported bow ties, tweed jackets, and a grizzled beard. He would lecture every day, and our task was to take attentive notes in our all-important notebooks. Our grade depended heavily on these notebooks, which we offered for grading every few weeks.

It was — and is still — my habit to doodle in notebooks, so mine was filled alternately with words, pictures and word-pictures. I might have written out the process of metamorphosis in words, with arrows, or doodled a whimsical caterpillar~butterfly combo as my pencil flew across the pages.

We handed in our notebooks one Friday and got them back the next week. In my notebook, he made comments and asked occasional questions. He did not scowl at my doodling — instead, he approvingly referred to my artsy note- taking when he wrote:

“You will always have beauty in your life.”

I have never forgotten that little comment — the memory of it has grown over the years and made me feel richer.

2. “You smell like Jesus, Lisa.”

I remember the day I walked to my p.o. box at college, opened it and found a simple note, that began with a Bible passage:

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us reveals the fragrance of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”

You smell like Jesus, Lisa!

I looked around the mailroom. Who had sent me this encouraging, anonymous message? Who thinks I *smell* like Jesus?!

Looking back, this period of my life was sometimes more selfish and stinky than spiritually fragrant! Although the message could have been the result of someone’s Bible class assignment, or sent in bulk to several people, my spirit soared and I have pondered over and cherished this verse ever since. It’s also good to remember that if we ever eke out a Jesus fragrance, it is only because we have His power to do it. The rest of the verse says: “And who is adequate for these things?” 2 Corinthians 2:16.

 3. “You never complain!”

Betsy was a beautiful southern lady, twenty years my senior. She hosted a small group at her home, simply to build God-focused encouragement into the lives of women.

I remember the time she looked me in the eye and told me: 

“Ly-suh…I never hear you complain! You never complain, do you?”

Betsy didn’t live with me, and my husband certainly could have told her the real truth, but as I reflect on her words, I realize that the moment she said that, she pronounced upon me something to live up to; something like a prophecy:  

I am someone who doesn’t complain. I will be someone who doesn’t complain.

Her words have diffused power over the years, and have caused me to hold my tongue or think of my blessings instead of my lack. I only hope that I will be a “Betsy” to others who need one throughout their journey.

This is Betsy.

Conclusion

The value of looking back at these three comments is to cause me to be inspired to do the same for others.  Our words are powerful. These three people probably had no idea of the impact of their short messages. They didn’t preach a sermon at me, or lecture, or use fancy words; but the effort they took to speak something kind ended up being as valuable to me as gold.


Gracious words are like a honeycomb,

sweetness to the soul and health to the body.

Proverbs 16:24

Featured top photo by:  Bermix Studio on Unsplash

Photo by Mariana Ibanez on Unsplash

{ Untamed & Dangerous }

sarah-louise-kinsella-463250-unsplash.jpg

The tongue.  That fiery, kind, brutal, life-giving, encouraging, poisonous puppet.  It doesn’t do the damage on its own; there’s a mysterious channel that runs from the heart and brain, looking for a way to get out. So, the tongue obliges, spilling its venom, or healing balm — whichever the heart dictates.

“She’s written about the tongue before,” you say.

Yep. I wonder why? Because it’s an ongoing, never-ending battle. I’m not what you’d call “a talker.”  But, I think a lot of thoughts and they boil just like anyone else’s.

So, I had a lot of these bubbling thoughts the other day — and it was a stinky brew. There was a real and present danger that it was going to force its way out of my mouth, via the formidable tongue.

Which led me to read (again) the words from the book of James (see bold words below) And, I read and wrote and summarized what I was reading, hoping that I will totally understand and assimilate the living, powerful word of God. The basic thing I want to remember: the tongue is untamed and untameable — humanly speaking.  That doesn’t mean, however, that I cannot try to control it.  When I ask God for His help, He will give it.

This is my uninspired paraphrase of James chapter 3, the revealing and helpful “tongue chapter” of the Bible:

We are prolific stumblers.  If you don’t stumble when you use your tongue, you must be a mannequin or a robot.  Just like small bits guide the big bodies of horses…and just like seemingly insignificant ship rudders control unwieldy, bulky ships, the tiny tongue effects enormous power and potential — for good or evil.

Forest fires are started by a small spark, and the tongue’s work is like that at first — a mini controlled blaze – one that turns into a menacing, chaotic firestorm.

The tongue is the Creator’s design, but it is a notoriously sinful member of our bodies — staining lives, reputations, and setting relationships ablaze. The tongue is a useful weapon in the soul-enemy’s arsenal.

Wild creatures worldwide have been tamed by humans — but not the wild, unruly tongue. It never can be tamed.  It’s restless and seems to be always itching for trouble.  Our tongues are double agents — blessing and cursing at will. How can both poison and healing come out of the same opening?  But that’s the sad truth about the tongue.  Kind words, and cutting words; helpful and damaging, encouraging and murderous — all pouring out of the same mouth…

James 3: 2-10 from the Bible:

For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.

How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind,but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. ~ James 3:2-10 ESV

 

Photo credit: Sarah Louise Kinsella

{ Orange You Glad? }

boris-smokrovic-146294I looked up the word of the day, as I always do

(even though the word was ORANGE.)

I looked up its synonyms and its antonyms

(there were no opposites.)

While browsing, I noticed an opportunity to click on something

(which I hardly ever do.)

There were six words to avoid in writing

(and, I guess, in speaking.)

For my own reminder, I will list them here:

OBVIOUSLY

ACTUALLY

LIKE

HONESTLY

BASICALLY

LITERALLY

 

And, just so I don’t neglect the word of the day,

here is a poem about the word

ORANGE.

It’s inspired by one of my favorite poetry books: Hailstones and Halibut Bones, by Mary O’Neill.

Orange 

Child of red and yellow,

This unrhymable and eccentric

Showoff

Shines in the spotlight of

Autumn leaves

Neon

Sports team colors

And blaze orange

Hunting gear

A juicy-fragranced color

Like no other.

Orange.

© Lisa M. Luciano 😊 2017

clarisse-meyer-154825

Photo credits:

Boris Smokrovic: Butterfly

:Clarisse Meyer: Pumpkins

{ A Gentle Answer }

You can’t control what another person says. But if someone’s angry words ignite a conversation,  you can stall an emotional explosion.

Proverbs 15:1 says, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Harsh, angry words + gentle answers don’t seem to fit together.

But it’s God’s way.

The loud, angry person sounds tough. But the person that replies with a gentle answer is stronger.

Try it some time.

A surprisingly gentle answer can prevent an angry spark from detonating an outburst…or damaging a relationship.

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”– Proverbs 15:1

 ~ Lisa

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/detonate/

Using Writing Tools

I’m audio-reading Writing Tools: 55 Essential Strategies for Every Writer, by Roy Peter Clark. I need to grab a copy of the print book, take notes and apply at home. Audio titles are for car listening and aren’t great for taking notes.

Three excellent quotes that I gained about writing from the intro and first chapters:

  • “Writing is a purposeful craft.”
  • “Writing tools never have to be returned.  They can be cleaned, sharpened and passed along.”
  • “Let your writing flow early; you can reach for a tool later.”

Here are the first three tools, summarized:

1. Begin sentences with subjects and verbs.

2. Place strong words at the beginning and end.

3. Use active, strong verbs 

Once I got used to chopping up my work, sucking out unnecessary words, and strengthening the verbs, it became a satisfying part of writing.  Usually, my draft gets better as it gets smaller.

So, I dug into my files and retrieved some writing samples for practice:

The Heaven Story — original version

My eleven-year-old daughter wrote a story.  She wrote pages and pages; it seemed to flow endlessly and effortlessly.  It was an amazing tale of a girl that went to heaven and came back.  I wondered where she got the idea. When she sat me down to read it aloud, she said, “Now, don’t cry when you hear it, or it will make me cry.”  And, at the end, we both cried. 74 words

The Heaven Story — revised version

My daughter Ava wrote a story. She scribbled pages that narrated a young girl’s round-trip journey to heaven. Where did she get her ideas? We cloistered ourselves. I awaited a private reading of her tale. “Don’t cry — that will make me cry,” she said. She read the story aloud, glanced up, and noticed my wet eyes.  60 words