Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Grace on a Thursday: in Sarah's words

Hi dear friends.
I am knee-deep in serving at VBS this week. I had this notion I would have a couple opportunities to blog, but no. No way. It is way too demanding, and the heat is making me feel even more tired than I should be. Which is why Sarah is my favorite person in the world right now because she is guest-posting today! Yay for Sarah and her beautiful words. She has written such a vulnerable post for you all. Please show her some love, because I know this came straight from the center of her heart. And then, be sure to check out her blog, Handbags N Pigtails, because she has great words on mothering and wifering (like that?) and the rest all the time. Plus she makes really cute purses. But most of all, I greatly respect her faith, her witness, and her intentional mothering, and I'm thankful to know her. 

Hey everyone! I’m Sarah from Handbags*N*Pigtails. I’m a small town girl who grew up with big city dreams but ended up right back in the same small town. I’m married to my high school sweetheart and best friend and I’m “momma” to two sweet-hearted little girls, ages 5 & 7. I live my life ever grateful to the Lord for having bigger and better plans for me than I could have ever imagined and want to always be in the center of His will for me, whether that means raising my girls today or serving on the mission fields of Central America years down the road.

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans to prosper you and to give you an expected end.” Jeremiah 29:11

Currently, our lives are anything but boring as we serve in numerous church ministries, remodel our 1860s home and carve out family time. But I wouldn’t want it any other way. Our family motto is “less TV, more creativity” and we make that happen by staying busy with hobbies. My husband Eric is a teacher/coach by day and a balloon artist/beekeeper/youth leader by night. The girls enjoy gymnastics and violin, and my passions are sewing and thrifting, aside from spending time with my little family. We take nothing for granted and try to hold it all very loosely in our hands.

I am very humbled that Leslie asked me to guest post here for Grace on a Thursday. When she first asked me about sharing something, I had no idea what it would pertain to. But over the past few weeks God has really been speaking to me, convicting me to my core about the words that come out of my mouth. And I felt him pinpoint three different areas in my own life that need changing when it comes to the words I speak: 1.) Death & life, 2.) Controlling my tongue and 3.) My reactions to situations and how I let them affect me.

Death & Life

I’m sure we’re all familiar with the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.” Well I’m here to tell you that’s a big.fat.lie. Words do hurt. And how do I know this? Because I’ve been at both ends of the stick.

I was once friends with someone who became offended over something I was completely unaware of. And when the situation came to a head, I was on the other end of some very hurtful accusations and angry words. I had no control over how this person felt about me and could do nothing to change her perceptions of me. I felt helpless. Misunderstood. Crushed. And as though I were 2 inches tall. In truth I’ve never really forgotten those words. They still resonate in my mind at times when the enemy is trying to discourage me. When he tries to make me believe that I AM those things.

But I’ve also been the one dealing out harsh words myself. Most often to my kids when I’m having a bad day or when my patience is running thin. And how do I know that those words are hurting them? Because I can see it on their faces. When I overreact to their bickering. When one of them stains a brand new dress. When I just can’t take it anymore. They are there, the recipients of the first thing that comes out of my mouth. Sometimes there are tears. And there I am, guilt-ridden and teary-eyed myself. Because the last thing I meant to do was crush them. But it happens.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue” – Proverbs 18:21

“A soft answer turns away wrath but grievous words stir up anger”-Proverbs 15:1

“Pleasant words are sweet to the soul and health to the bones”- Proverbs 16:24

Controlling My Tongue

One of my favorite lines from a movie comes from the Anne of Green Gables series. Yes, I’m an Anne fan. She is known for being the hot headed redhead who speaks her mind. And she’s constantly being reminded to “bite her tongue.” I am convinced that line was written for me. Because there are times I should literally do it. As always, the book of Proverbs provides some insight when it comes to all of this:

“He who shuts his lips is esteemed a wise man” - Proverbs 17:28

“When words are many, sin is not absent but he that holds his tongue is wise” - Proverbs 10:19

“He that keeps his mouth (guards his lips) keeps his life (guards his life) but he that speaks rashly will come to ruin” - Proverbs 13:3 & 21:23

“There is more hope for a fool that for one who speaks hastily” - Proverbs 29:20

Over and over again I am kicking myself for talking too much. Saying stupid things. Useless things. Cracking jokes just for the sake of saying something. Why is it that I feel the need to always say something? Because I am imperfect. Human. Fallen from grace. And yet, God is always there with a new dose of grace for me. Another chance. Redemption from my imperfect self.

Being Slow to Anger

I’ve kind of already mentioned this but it’s such a big issue for me that I felt it needed its own bullet point. One of the things I’m praying for is deliverance from anger. I used to think I was a patient person. And then I had kids. They have tested and tried me in ways I could never have imagined I would be tested. But its been good to me. Because they’ve showed me who I truly am. And sometimes I don’t like that person very much.

How do I react when my girls misbehave during church? Or don’t pick up their toys right away? Or if they whine for what seem like hours on end? When I stub my toe? Or when my email account refuses to let me send a guest post the night before it’s due?

My first reaction might be to yell. Or say something I’ll regret five minutes later. To unleash on my unsuspecting (& innocent) husband. Or any number of reactions. But I’m not proud of any of them. I want to handle these things with grace myself. To have that soft answer mentioned above. To be, dare I say, even unaffected by stressful situations. But I’m not there yet. And so I cry out for grace. Because only my Savior can give it to me. Not my children or my husband. And I certainly can’t get it from a shrink or even my best girlfriends. Only Christ has that gift.

“One that is slow to anger has great understanding but a quick tempered man shows folly” - Proverbs 14:29

“He that rules his spirit is greater than he who takes a city” - Proverbs 16:32 & 25:28

“A fool gives vent to his anger but a wise man keeps himself under control” - Proverbs 29:11

So how would I survive without God’s grace? I shudder to think of that. Because I know I would be lost without it. His grace makes it possible for me to let go of my failures and wake up every morning to a day “fresh, with no mistakes in it.” (That’s another bit of Anne phraseology there, if you didn’t catch it).

So if you’ve stuck around long enough to be reading this final thought, thank you. Now you know I’m far from perfect. And my point in including the above scriptures was not to push it down your throat but merely to share some encouragement with anyone who might possibly suffer from the power of their words as I do. If nothing else, Im totally preaching to the choir here. But I look forward to the day when God will deliver me of this. And then His grace will be poured out for yet another one of my flaws.


  1. This one hit close to home for me. Thank you for your honesty. I try to remind myself every morning that it's a fresh start, but by the end of the day I'm often so frazzled with my kids fighting all.the.time. that I loose my cool way too easily. I too know the look in their eyes f a crushed little girl and it brings me to my knees that I could do that to them. Thank you for the scripture references. I need to commit them all to memory.

  2. The Lord has actually been working in my life and convicting me of pretty much those exact same issues. Sometimes I am so quick to lash out with my tongue or speak death instead of life... Thank you for the reminders and for sharing. I don't know why but it's encouraging just to be reminded that I'm not the only one going through these kind of situations.

  3. Wait a minute - I thought you were perfect! JK, I really admire you for sharing your current "challenge areas" in life. You are being authentic, sharing, and offering scriptural guidance toward meeting these challenge - exactly what God would have us all do. Thanks for inspiring me with your real-ness. I deal with some of the same problems and will reference the verses you shared. Also glad to "meet" this blog today, now following! Love and hugs, Laurie from Scene of the Grime

  4. This post meets me right where I am. Thank you!

  5. I could "ditto" everything you said, and the previous commenters said. I sometimes wonder what's wrong with me, why I feel like such a monster. Its so funny that lately, everything I've been dealing with, the Lord is just trying to say{if I'll listen}, "Give it all to me." I don't think my habitual worrying is going to cure anything, neither will it help my attitude. Sorry for the book...;)