Use Your Filter

images (1).jpgThe one who guards his mouth and tongue keeps himself out of trouble. (Proverbs 21:23)

Guarding our mouth doesn’t mean we’re always silent. There’s a time to speak and a time to be silent (Ecclesiastes 3:7). When we speak when we shouldn’t, we get ourselves into trouble. It’s happened to me more than I care to admit, and probably more than I realize.

The photo reminds me that speaking when we shouldn’t puts us on the hook. It takes us where we don’t want to go. And it hurts – ourselves and others – even if we don’t realize it at the time.

The solution is simple – difficult and challenging but simple. We need to use our filter. Actually, we need to use God’s filter. We only discern best when we rely on Him.

Now when we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we also guide the whole animal. And consider ships: Though very large and driven by fierce winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So too, though the tongue is a small part of the body, it boasts great things. Consider how large a forest a small fire ignites. And the tongue is a fire. The tongue, a world of unrighteousness, is placed among the parts of our bodies. It pollutes the whole body, sets the course of life on fire, and is set on fire by hell. (James 3:3-6)

Stupid

proverbs_12_1__wallpaper__by_plmethvin-d4e190cWhoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but one who hates correction is stupid. (Proverbs 12:1) 

Well, that’s to the point.

I was raised never to call anyone stupid, but the truth is some choices and behaviors are stupid.

We don’t see it at the time. We can rationalize stupidity. Like hating correction? “What kind of correction? Who is doing the correcting? Do they really know what’s going on? Do they have authority to correct me? I think I’m right. I know better. I’m not going to let anyone boss me!”

Well, that settles it. The line is drawn. When someone rejects correction and discipline because of pride, he or she is stupid. Or if you want it to sound a bit nicer, he or she lacks knowledge.

Either way, the very person who needs correction and discipline refuses it.

Before we point a finger at too many others, we might want to take a good look at ourselves, because none of us is always enthusiastically willing to accept correction and discipline.

Maybe today is a good day to learn a lesson.

Never Wise Enough

13shutterstock_211224619-700x467Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning…The wise store up knowledge. (Proverbs 10:13a, 14a)

Wisdom is spoken and applied, not just thought about. It’s not something we figure out, making a list of pros and cons to decide which side to choice. It’s not flippant, dependent on our own limited understanding and perspective. It is God’s.

Wisdom is stored and added to and readily available. It grows. Because it’s God’s, it’s endless. We won’t gather it all in this lifetime. But that shouldn’t stop us from seeking as much as we can. But it can’t be quantified and measured. It expands and retracts. It ebbs and flows. And part of that has to do with our humility and willingness.

Speaking wisdom and being silent requires discernment. It requires wisdom. It requires reliance on God. And some of us are not willing to rely on Him. We’d rather gather what we think of knowledge and wisdom on our own. Which isn’t very wise.

Seek it, speak it, store it, share it.

At The Crossroads

crossroads-confusing-sign-595x335Doesn’t Wisdom call out?
Doesn’t Understanding make her voice heard?
At the heights overlooking the road,
at the crossroads, she takes her stand. (Proverbs 8:1-2)

We may not be clear at all times, but the crossroads are revealing. We are faced with options. Whether we are under pressure or have time to process, gray separates into black and white. We know we need to take a step. We may not be completely certain of which way to go, but we stand up, turn, gaze forward, and walk.

With Wisdom and Understanding, we have courage and assurance. Even when we misstep, Wisdom and Understanding correct us. God knows. He helps. He guides.

Without Him, the crossroads are disorienting.

With Him, we proceed in faith.

Instruction to Live

Green Apple In Woman HandsKeep my commands and live. (Proverbs 7:2a)

People often think that God takes all the fun out of life. That with all His commandments and expectations, life is somehow less than it can be.

Not true.

Not even remotely true.

God fills life. His commandments add fullness. There is freedom in obedience.

God’s instructions aren’t just “do not,” but “do.”

Do pursue Him.

Do honor Him.

Do love Him and others.

Do let Him change and grow you.

Do know how much He loves you, how He has sacrificed for you, what He has planned for you.

Do live.

 

Tips for the Mother of the Bride

11752544_10154083830341040_4093527192806219828_nI don’t have all the answers. Every wedding, bride, and the dynamics of the families involved are different, but maybe you can find a few tips that help you.

  1. It’s not your wedding. Repeat if necessary. It is not your wedding. It’s not your engagement, your reception, your bridal shower, your photographs, your cake, and so on.
  2. Just because you’ve been married doesn’t make you an expert on weddings.
  3. Just because you’re on Pinterest doesn’t make you an expert on weddings.
  4. Just because every detail isn’t how you’d do it doesn’t mean it’s not a fantastic idea.
  5. Cheer your daughter on with all the gusto you have.
  6. Cheer your son-in-law on with all the gusto you have.
  7. Use common sense when pinning and choosing Pinterest projects. Not all do-it-yourself projects are money-savors, and definitely not time-savors.
  8. Encourage your daughter and son-in-law to make decisions together. Every decision about the wedding they’re able to work through together without your help, whether you agree or not, is good practice for their marriage.
  9. Focus more on the marriage than the wedding.
  10. Help your daughter and son-in-law focus more on the marriage than the wedding.
  11. Pray often.
  12. Refrain from building up the wedding day as something out of a fairy tale. It might be, but weddings can be imperfect and still be fantastic.
  13. Laugh as often as you can.
  14. Take cues from your daughter. Give her space when needed. Be available when needed.
  15. Remember there is more than one family involved. Welcome them.
  16. Communicate about expectations and roles, especially about who is responsibility for paying and planning what and when.
  17. Be realistic. Work within the budget and the style, even if it’s within your means and preference to go above and beyond.
  18. Have an emergency kit on hand the day of the wedding. Include the obvious items of safety pins and bobby pins. If the dress is white, have a spray bottle of hydrogen peroxide to clean up anything that gets on the dress. Have plenty of sewing options. You never know when you’ll need to sew someone into a dress.
  19. If you don’t sew, have someone who does ready and willing to help.
  20. Think through your day. Have a game plan, even for yourself.
  21. Be flexible.
  22. Be prepared to get ready in stages throughout the day. You might be needed for unexpected miscellaneous duties at a moment’s notice.
  23. Take deep breaths every now and then and savor the moments, even when it’s hectic.
  24. Show respect. To your daughter. And your son-in-law. To family and the wedding party. To people who help.
  25. Ask a friend to be your back-up the day before and day of the wedding. You’re going to need someone who is one step removed from the “inner circle” of the wedding to keep you sane with reality checks, smiles, and Starbucks. (Thanks, Shannon!)
  26. Wear waterproof mascara, even if you don’t think you’ll need it.
  27. Wear comfortable shoes, or plan to go barefoot at the reception.
  28. Help override the stereotype of the domineering mother-of-the-bride. No more Momzillas.
  29. Have a plan for the week after the wedding. Know what is best for you. Do you need to stay busy, get everything reorganized, or escape on a mini-vacation?
  30. Write a note of encouragement to your daughter and son-in-law shortly after the wedding. Encourage them every chance you get.

Enjoy the process. Enjoy the day. Enjoy your daughter…and son-in-law. You are about to expand your family. Love them well.

3 Steps

download-1I often consult with teams, and while the idea is for me to help them, I often come away inspired with new ideas or reminders of old ones.

Years ago, I met with a team who shared their approach to meetings.

  • Discuss
  • Discern
  • Dream

Simple, yet effective. The discussion portion was filled with ideas, planning, and evaluating/celebrating recent events and interactions. The discernment portion was filled with prayer and honest reflection of what God was leading them to do: sorting through the yeses and no’s. The dreaming portion invited them to soar, explore the possibilities, and plant seeds for what they’d need to discuss and discern in the future.

They included the practical and the creative. They worked together as a group while allowing individuals to share their passions and concerns. They didn’t get distracted with the nonessentials that often derail our meetings.

I’ve found the same approach works for journalling. Whether you journal prayers or everyday thoughts, the discussion portion helps you get organized. You can journal whatever is going through your mind and heart. Discernment helps you focus on what needs your attention and which decisions are the best to make at that time. Dreaming inspires you to hope toward the future.

Give it a try!