Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29
I was in 4th grade when I had to memorize Ephesians 4:29. The King James version was required so phrases like “corrupt communication” and “to use of edifying” seem to add emphasis, but there’s no escaping this injunction even in a modern translation– your words are dangerous. And you’re responsible to not only to curb your tongue, but to use it for good.
The current verse is on my mind this week, in part because it was text being used for a sermon series Church of the Resurrection is doing this month. IZ and I are between churches (long story, a different post perhaps??) and so we tune in online on Sunday mornings as a way of staying connected before we start the church hunt in September.
This week’s sermon challenged us to do just that: stop and think. To stand with those who have no voice. And to use our words for good.
That latter challenge isn’t an easy task, as we live in a world where words fly. We blog, text, Facebook, tweet… talk, talk, talk and I wonder how often we ask ourselves, “is this helpful?” Long gone are the days where it is impolite to talk about oneself — today we are encouraged to delve deeply into our backstories and histories, our psyches and our impulses and put it all out there. For everyone to see. In triplicate.
The Apostle Paul wasn’t talking about blogging. Or texting or tweeting. His world wasn’t populated by people glued to their cell phones. What he did know, was human nature. Our modes of communication have changed, but humanity hasn’t. If good old Paul was around today I think he’d still admonish us to watch our words… he’d just be clarifying what he means by “out of your mouth…”
I’m not sure that’s a bad thing — all this freedom of expression. But I am certain of one thing, it is increasingly easy to completely disregard the other in our attempt to see ourselves. I’m certainly guilty of it. And while we may overthink our correspondence, or the blogs we write, we may not be asking the right question of the words we write. Not every post is necessary. Not every post is helpful. Not every post is going help build others up.
But there is good news! There are ways to avoid the inevitable. Ways to curb our tongues while still speaking our truths. We can choose to build others up or tear them down. It’s a choice, these words we speak. Will we choose well?
Note to self: Words from the mouth of the wise are gracious, but fools are consumed by their own lips. Ecclesiastes 10:12
Confession: our house is always a mess. Lately, I can’t keep up and frankly, I haven’t even been trying. Sometimes, life is just busy and you don’t get to choose what falls to the wayside.
However, I do hit my limit eventually. And Friday night, as I headed to bed I looked at IZ and said, “I can’t walk tomorrow–this house has to be cleaned.”
I wish I could say I was one of those people who kept up with cleaning on a daily basis. But, other than making sure the dishes are done every night, I’m not. For the most part, I’ve accepted that this isn’t my strong suit. My gifts and graces do not include ” keeping an immaculate house” and I’m ok with that.
What I will tell you, though, is that I adore a clean house. Who doesn’t really? There is something so hopeful about looking around your space and seeing everything, ok mostly everything, in its proper place. Sure, keeping up with these chores daily would mean not spending an entire Saturday to remedy the mess–but, oh is the effort worth it. Even if it’s done all on one exhausting day.
I woke up yesterday to find IZ and Geo watching anime in the living room. As I began to clean, IZ said, “Don’t worry about the kitchen.” And then he booted our son into his room to clean it and began to clean the kitchen. He did all the floors too. Which meant that I actually had enough steam at the end of the day to tackle the laundry in its various stages of undone.
Clean sheets, vacuumed floors, fresh flowers — it doesn’t take much to remind me how much I love living in this house. Despite the unpainted walls and crumbling carpets. But a man who doesn’t let you clean alone, is priceless.
When we were first married IZ worked in downtown Seattle, just moments from Pike’s Place Market. On Fridays, he would swing by the market on his way home from work and bring me an armful of flowers. Usually big bunches of dahlias, but sometimes sunflowers or wildflowers, anything that was in season. It’s such a fond memory.
We had this huge worktable in our kitchen and I would arrange flowers on it, while IZ would make dinner. It was a chance to catch up on his day. He worked a stressful job and I remember those moments of times of just being present. Listening and supporting and hoping for him, all the things he wanted to accomplish. And it wasn’t lost on me then, either, that in the midst of such turmoil at work, he always made time to bring me flowers.
We’ve grown up. And moved too many times. And these days, when I want flowers, I just go get them. The downside, I suppose, of working from home. He doesn’t have a flower stand to swing by on his way home for work.
So, it was a lovely moment this afternoon, when on our way home from his haircut he pulled over to my favorite flower stand and bought me a bouquet. His day, his week has been complicated and stressful and there’s not much I can do to remedy the problems he’s facing right now. But once again, he’s there with flowers reminding me again that the definition of love is putting the other first.
When he got back in the car, he leaned over and gave me a kiss, “Here you go, Friday Flowers.”
What makes a cherry chocolate scone taste sweeter? Giving up sugar 10 days before you eat it!
IZ and I have been off sugar for 10 days. I should clarify, we’ve given up processed/refined sugar. We still eat a wee bit of fruit and there’s the reality there’s sugar in everything– so, we’re aiming to be 95% sugar free this August. (We’re taking it a month at a time!)
But today is Regatta and Regatta typically means eating homemade cherry pie on the porch while watching the fireworks. Plus, one of our lovely neighbors is throwing a party. An Ice Cream Social …. with ice cream. We adore this neighbor (and most of our neighborhood!) and wouldn’t dream of missing her party. But it does create a bit of dilemma: go to the party and not eat ice cream (kinda rude!) or break our sugar fast for the day.
We opted for the latter. I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand to bump into people who give up sugar/chocolate/coffee/dessert for Lent… and then piously tell you all about it. Typically while you’re shoving a piece of said sacrifice into your own face. Yay! My inner snark goes off and I start to not like you them… a little. We didn’t want to be those people at an ice cream party, “Oh, we’re off sugar. But you know, go ahead and enjoy. Don’t mind us.”
So, I completely apologize if you’re reading this while consuming a candy bar. I’m not giving up sugar because I’m holy–if that helps. I’m not even giving it up because I think sugar is toxic (though, it probably is??). I’m giving it up because nothing else is working! IZ and I pound out at least 25 miles a week and have for months, but nothing is budging. Sure, my calves are like stones, but my middle is hanging on to the fat like a toddler with a precious toy.
When you google this charming little fact, Dr. Google suggests that my problem is one of 2 things. 1: Perimenopause, or 2: Too much sugar. There’s no doubt 1 is at hand . . . but I can’t shake the hunch that sugar might be part of the problem as well. (Or the suspicion that it’s going to take more than a month to figure it out!)
So, for the next month (or two or three) no mochas, no chocolate, no refined sugars or processed anything.
Except today–today we’re breaking our fast. We’re 10 days in, so it feels like such a reward! IZ, lover of cherry pie, opted for cherry chocolate scones instead of pie. Less sugar and he knows I will only eat a sliver of pie and he didn’t want to get stuck with the whole thing.
Let me tell you! 10 days without sugar makes everything sweet taste sweeter. I cut back the sugar in these scones (1/4 cup instead of 1/3) and they taste like I added more! We sat out on our porch this morning and savored our little cheat.
We’ll be back on our fast tomorrow, which makes today just a wee bit sweeter.
IZ: Yes. And that’s what happens when you leave me in charge of unloading the groceries.
Me: But where in the fridge? I’m not seeing them in the veggie drawer?
IZ: That’s because they’re not a vegetable. Look in the fruit drawer.
Me: Really? *eyeroll*
IZ: And while we’re on the subject–tomatoes are berries and that’s why I keep them in fruit drawer. Stop moving them.
Me: It’s come to this? Seriously?
IZ: And you know where cucumbers go?
Me: Don’t even do it…
IZ: Next to the melons.
IZ: And you know where melons can go?
Me: I’m leaving now…
IZ: In. My. Hands.
And this, friends, is foreplay. I’m ashamed to say the boy got lucky after that conversation. I’ll insist that it was because he used the vacuum and made dinner that night. But it’s probably because I find his corny sense of humor charming. That and he calls what I have “melons” when clearly, they’re more like grapefruit.