Sticks and Stones

“Don’t gobblefunk around with words.”  – Roald Dahl, The BFG

Words. Large, small, beautiful, nonsensical. Intelligent Magical. Whimsical. Inspiring. Irrational. Thoughtless. Angry. Destructive. Words.

Is there a greater force? Our words have the power to cripple a person in our path. Our words have the power to heal and build bridges. And our words are the products of the fires we kindle in our souls, whether bright and beautiful or uncontained and catastrophic. And really, that’s the true issue. It’s our hearts. Every person on the planet makes daily choices about what to fill up and pack down and revisit in their hearts. And from those choices, spring other choices. What we fill up with spills out. Our input determines our outflow.

Today I have attempted to avoid social media when I could, because of the venom spilling out of all types of people. It spewed from some sources that did not surprise me. But it also spewed from some places and some people I didn’t expect. And it made me sad. I found myself trying to wipe their words off my body like an unforeseen, sticky cobweb.  That stupid cobweb becomes permanent body art. Our words are the same. Once said, they can never be unsaid. Once heard, they are often never forgotten. We should all take that extra 30 seconds to consider our motive before we put it out there. I say that as I’m typing a dumb blog. The irony is not wasted on me, I assure you.

I’ve been thinking a lot about words, and not just because of social media and current events. I’ve been thinking about words because I love them and I understand their raw power. And because I write and I know I need to be discerning.

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 3:8-10

Every person on the planet makes daily choices about what to fill up and pack down and revisit in their hearts. I make these choices too. I’ve got to think about that more. I’ve got to do better about that.

If I get that part right, the rest will follow.






The World My Children Know

On September 11, 2001, I was preparing my entire family to attend a birthday party. My infant son was dressed and strapped into his carseat. My in-laws were visiting and coming a tad later in a separate car. And Ben was waiting 10 minutes away to celebrate being 2. I gathered the gift, my baby, and my loose ends and awkwardly bumbled out to the car. And then I drove my CRV across town to the party. I tried to listen to the radio. To music. But reporters kept breaking in. Because by then, the first tower had been hit by a plane. I had absolutely no idea what I was hearing reported. I couldn’t  understand. If they were making themselves clear, I was too foggy to get it. I didn’t know what it was, but I did know something big had happened. One reporter said that in 30 years of reporting the news, this was the worst thing he’d ever seen. What had he seen? I immediately called Todd from my cell phone. He was still at home.

“Turn on the TV,” I said. “Something terrible has happened. Tell me what it is.”

He turned on our TV and watched the 2nd plane hit, the second tower fall, followed by the first one. He watched New York burn. He watched people run screaming. He reported it all to me as I looked in my rearview mirror at the infant legs of my son kicking in his converse sneakers.

When I pulled into the parking lot of the rec room where the party was, I was rattled. My friends were all inside, putting gummy worms into cups of ice cream and oreos. They hadn’t heard the news. Soon it was all we were talking about. Inside that room, it was Oreos and 2 year olds. But when I walked out into the lobby for supplies or the restroom, the news as it unfolded was echoing from a station. Bouncing off the tile walls and floor. Inside was one world. Outside was the other.

Were we at war? Who had done it? What did it mean? I didn’t know. I couldn’t grasp it. I didn’t have time to cry. After all, we were celebrating.

I distinctly remember sitting down next to baby Andrew during that party and looking intently at him. He was still strapped in his carrier, still wearing his converse sneakers. But now I had added a cardboard party hat to his ensemble. He was playing with his own fingers. He smiled at me. He could see himself in the large wall of mirrors next to us. I looked at him and ached. What kind of world would he grow up in? I remember asking myself that question. I didn’t know the answer that day.

I know it now. I know the world he’s growing up in. It’s not the same world I knew when I was his age. He’s only known this world. This new world. A world steeped in a level of brokenness I can’t fathom–can’t really put words to. A world we look at out of focus because we are looking through a veil of tears. A world of Sandy Hooks. San Bernardinos. Orlando night clubs.

A world of hatred and insanity.

I don’t know what to say to my children. I don’t know how to equip them to see what they’re seeing and cope with what may come because I didn’t have to walk through what they have to.

My brain feels soft and tired tonight as I reflect. As I try to come up with an answer. Not to the problem. But to them. To their questions. To their wide-eyed looks of confusion when the news breaks.

To my children. My innocents. The future of America. This is what I want you to know. It’s the best I can do.

Dear sweet ones,

Don’t let the hatred of people cause you to question the love of God. Don’t let the terrible wrongs committed by some blind you to the rights done by so many others. Don’t confuse this world with the world to come. Don’t let the darkness of the world around you hide your view of Jesus. He’s there. Keep looking. Don’t let what you see–what is and what may be— keep you from shining.
You must shine.

Be a beacon. A helper. A light. A weeper. A lover. A comfort. A joy. A friend.

Be fearless.
Even in the face of fear, be fearless.

Be an overcomer. Because Jesus overcame.


As long as one light still shines, it will never be truly dark.

God help you–God help us all–to be that one light.