Wondering if You've Said too Much + A Prayer

“If I know for sure that something is not the truth, I need to be quiet.

If I have a strong hunch that something is not the truth, I need to be quiet.

If I have even the slightest doubt that something might not be true, I need to be quiet.

But just because something is true does not mean I always need to say it. Motives and manners matter. And so?

If something is true but saying it to someone will needlessly hurt their feelings, I need to be quiet.

If something is true but I know that my reason for saying it is to belittle someone or make them feel guilty, I need to be quiet.

If something is true but I promised to hold it in confidence, I need to be quiet.

If something is true but I know that my reason for saying it is to cause a rift between two people, I need to be quiet.

If something is true but my motive for speaking the truth is to make myself look better by comparison, I need to be quiet.

If something is true and I just feel in my heart that saying it will do nothing but make me feel good, in a sinister sort of way, I need to be quiet.

Bottom line? more often than not, I need to learn to keep it shut. How about you?

I think I have enough duct tape for the both of us.”

[Keep It Shut: What to Say, How to Say It, and When to Say Nothing at All, Karen Ehman]

I compiled some of my favorite verses that remind me to be quiet + my favorite prayer at the end:

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.

Proverbs 18:21

When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.

Proverbs 10:19

Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.

Proverbs 21:23

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Proverbs 15:1

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Proverbs 12:18

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

Colossians 4:6

But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Colossians 3:8

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Ephesians 4:29

Lastly, my favorite prayer:

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. – Psalm 14:19

with love, Damaris

How to Hush our Harsh

How we talk to God is consistently connected with how we talk to others.

When I correct the little girls, I try to instruct them that by learning to listen to mommy’s voice, they are learning to listen to God’s voice. While I teach the children this lesson, the business of the day makes it hard for me to listen to the voice of God and be reminded of the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Instead, I forget to spend a few minutes with God or get distracted, and my tone becomes harsh toward everyone around me (I admit to all the uglies here). I lose patience so much sooner, I snap, I raise my voice, and I don’t follow through with the commands given. Many days, my to-do list is so long that I don’t want to fall behind and take time to pray.

Recently, I was reading (you can read my thoughts on the book here) Keep it Shut: What to Say, How to say It, and When to say Nothing at All. Karen Ehman suggests to take our to-do list into our prayer time! I love the simplicity:

“To pray your to-do list, find a few moments to be alone and quiet. Ask God to bring to mind all that you must accomplish that day. Make a list of everything that comes to mind. Then briefly pray through each item on the list. If more tasks come to mind, simply add them to the list. Don’t worry that it is unspiritual to stop halfway through prayer and jot down an item. If you’re like me, it will help you to clear you mind and enable you to focus better on your time alone with God. He is concerned about the details of your life, even the errands.”

Why do we assume we’ll find the time to be with God? Setting an alert in your phone to pray on a time you know is consistently quiet is a new idea I recently came across. I have been known to write it on my to-do list : ) Some moms find the best predictable time to be at the beginning of nap time, while they sit in the pick-up line at school, during meal prep when the children are snacking or watching a little show, or first thing in the morning. It’s been working for me to pray during Samuel’s morning nap. I sit in the schoolroom at the children’s table and they’re very curious as to what’s new on the prayer list.

I also use a short devotional book. This is the one I’ve been enjoying for the last few weeks. Some days I take a minute to copy a portion of one of the Psalms. Writing it down helps me focus. Other wonderful ways to hush our hearts and minds can be listening to worshipful music during clean-up or an audio Bible app during lunch.

Due to the ebbs and flows of family life, our routines usually change every 4-6 months, so it’s important for us to be flexible and embrace the new rhythms. Being intentional about our time with God will make an immense difference in hushing our harsh. I know from experience!

“Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it.”

– Corie ten Boom

with love. Damaris

The Trap of Comparison

photo credit: N

OK, Confession Time:

  • when the Kirkpatrick’s go on vacation, we plan our itinerary around stops at either CiCi’s pizza or artisan donut shops;

  • to avoid cleaning-up mealtime messes at home, we eat outside at the picnic table – even in inclement weather;

  • when it’s been a long busy day (or week), a dinnertime favorite is cold cuts, cheese, crackers, and dried figs!

I have a feeling that we’re not the only family with quirks and habits a little outside the norm : ) C’mon, feel free to share yours, too!

photo credit: Alexander

We all adopt and implement certain ways of doing things. You can read more about methods of that here. There are many reasons for our particular methods (e.g. our mothers did it, it has always worked well for us, our husband’s prefer it, our personalities, etc.). This is why every family has a unique family culture. This is also a main reason why we often fall into the trap of comparison.

Some of us are more vulnerable than others to fall into the trap of comparison. And I’ve found that there are seasons of life where this is true, as well. Sometimes the proclivity of comparison is rooted in envy or resentment, or maybe it’s ingratitude that masters our thoughts. But when these ungodly thoughts canker our hearts and consume our minds, criticism surfaces in our words. Ouch! These are those cringe-worthy moments we would so love to forget!

Needless to say, critical remarks are unproductive and unhealthy to all relationships. Our conversations are supposed to bring joy, encouragement, and comfort.

photo credit: Alexander

The goal of our daily living is not to compete with others. In fact, this is really just an all-too-effecive distraction of what we’re supposed to be spending our energies on each day.

Time for a heart-check? – Rather than disapproving and critical, are we approachable, affectionate? If so, maybe you know the joy of having a conversation with a friend that had a soothing effect on your own soul.

photo credit: Nathan

Recognizing the goodness of God’s gifts to us is a good thing to share, and discussing our way of doing things (methods) is appropriate, too – if we do so humbly and with graciousness. I often need to remind myself that this type of conversation should have no sense of flaunting. Preaching our methods or spreading anecdotes of our sisters and friends is harmful and destructive.

We need grace to bear and protect one another’s different ideas and methods. I’ve found that being reminded that my home and family belong to God, helps me keep a humble and content attitude before Him and others.

“You keep in in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3

with love. Damaris


Grace Abounding

I don’t know about you, but as I get (ahem) older, I can see how God has led me to learn some very stretching truths. Here’s one – it seems to be a sort of universal human thing – while, in my view, other people’s sin is mostly obscene and glaring, my own sins are always somehow trivial and dismissible. I don’t (and don’t want to) see my sins for what they really are, because I don’t want to see myself for who I truly am.

Well, God certainly does break through our delusions over time, and nothing has shown me my shortcomings (see, that’s my pretty word for sins – I’m already doing it!) as clearly as parenting has and in particular homeschooling. As much as I delight in their education, the responsibility is weighty – I often think that just about anybody else on the planet is better equipped for the job. I am the least qualified, but I’m beginning to see that – hey, it’s all O.K. because, after all, God is the source of all instruction and wisdom. Homeschooling to us means from sun-up to sun-down education, conversation, and training. That’s like 14 hours of grrrrrrr some days! Talk about revealing the bad and the ugly in this very sophisticated sinner that I am!

God’s grace abounded when He gently began teaching me about my habit of frustration and impatience. I began to see that often, during difficult learning situations, I was being unkind and disrespectful to the kids, nipping, and condescending. Looking back, I see now that the real reason for my impatience was a deeply rooted (but often excused) sin of pride for my being inconvenienced. Impatience was not simply part of my temperament, but my serious, God-violating sin.

God began to peel back the layers of my rationalized behavior – I wanted the child to meet my expectation. I wanted the child to stop wasting my time. I wanted to have something to show for my hard-labored day. The child was not conforming to my mold, my plan. Of course, I thought my expressions of frustration were warranted. In the back of my mind I rationalized that if I added “pressure,” than maybe the child would try harder, focus more, and learn faster. So, I would vent, ultimately hoping to receive reward for my effort and my time invested.

I exasperated myself and my little learner, because I wanted to see my measure for improvement, but truth says that Love is Patient. I couldn’t be patient, because I lacked the faith to be patient…that sounds odd, I guess, but I lacked the faith to rest in the fact that all things come from the hand of a good God. “All” – like difficult, flighty, space-cadet, chatty homeschool kids “All”.

I may not succeed at the virtue of patience this side of heaven, but for the abounding grace of God, He continues to change me.

Praise God that He reveals our ungodliness, trains us to live self-controlled, and readies us for good works! {Titus 2:11-14}

with love. Damaris

Banned Words

photo credit: Daddy

“Be kind one to another” is probably the first Bible verse that we try to get our little ones to memorize. A close second is “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” As I type this, I can hear the sing-songie voice in which even to this day I recite these two verses. When they were still little and could only say a few words, the children repeated the verses with us, and we tried to make some application. How amazing it is that while repeating these Scriptures over and over again to our children, God uses the same truths to work on my heart. Through all these efforts, it’s been clear to me that it is God’s words that call us to kindness and obedience – not mommy’s preferences.

As the children have grown, we continue to purpose to cultivate the same truths: “Have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” “Blessed are the peacemakers.” The shortened version that you would hear if you did life with us for a day is just, “brotherly love” and “keep the peace” or “be a peacemaker.”

In order to nurture these attitudes, we also don’t allow certain language. “Hate,” “Stupid,” and “Bored” are the official banned words at our house. House rules! But after almost losing my mind this week, Nathan and I have made an amendment. “Stop,” “stop it,” or any variation thereof are also now on the black list (and nobody wants to be on momma’s black list!) The reason for these additions, is that it finally dawned on us that these words are never spoken with brotherly love, humility, or kindness from the mouths of our children. Of course, now that they can’t say these words, they say something like: “William, would you please twist Providence’s swing in circles instead of mine?” through barred teeth.

It’s obvious that by changing this rule we are not making them holy, but hopefully we can make the path of godliness clearer.

“Whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8.

photo credit: Daddy

with love. Damaris