The Weight of Words

I should’ve seen the comment coming, but I didn’t.
Usually it happens that way. Sometimes there’s the usual suspects that you can brace yourself for and know something not-uplifting will likely come out of their mouth upon seeing you.
Then there’s the ones that take you by surprise.
Surprise or not a surprise, those words sting. A lot. And it doesn’t matter if you’re 4 years old or pushing 40, they still hurt. If you’re anything like me, though they may have been forgiven decades ago, those words can still smart at the oddest times many years later.
I’ve been wanting to write about the weight of our words for a long time now, but something happened last night that prompted my heart to write about it in a vulnerable way this morning.

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You see, it started like this….
We were up at my parents’ house last evening for a Memorial Day picnic. Things were going fine and we had the surprise of an older gentleman who worked with Jeff and I  years ago showing up to eat dessert and visit with my husband and I and generally catch up with everyone. When he had his visit in, he got up to leave and shook Jeff’s hand, then came over to me for a hug. This older man gave me a long, heartfelt squeeze, then loudly proclaimed, “Boy, I’ve always loved big women.” Everyone laughed. I could feel my cheeks starting to redden, and he went to joke about how my husband must like them too and made a joke about big barns or barn doors or some such nonsense. Everyone seemed amused at his antics. Everyone except me. I think I was a little flabbergasted and most definitely embarrassed. I saved my tears for later on when everyone was in bed and then broke down in front of my poor neighbor at the bus stop this morning.
Why oh why did this affect me so dearly? Especially as a supposedly confident, grown woman now pushing forty? I know I’m not alone. I have tons of sisters out there who have had to deal with similar things throughout their life and I’m sure can testify to how much it hurts.
I’ve never been petite, or svelte and willowy, or lots of the other things our culture reveres as a standard of beauty. Growing up as a tall, big kid, I have always had to field similar comments here and there. I have heard a whole litany of them. I can remember almost every one too. Even if 10 people could tell me they think I’m smart or kind or beautiful, that one comment about my weight or whatever else can easily drag me down in a tailspin and make me stew and generally feel terrible about myself. I could write a whole article (or series) about the topic of weight/size/etc, but I’ll save that for another time.
Here’s what I have to say to everyone—watch your words. Words hurt, even if they weren’t meant in a mean-spirited way. And I’m not just referring to weight, though that is a majorly sensitive one, especially for women. If I’ve gained weight, you really don’t need to tell me. I can assure you that I realize it already and am probably trying to quietly work on it. Though weight is a main one, it can really be anything. Maybe it’s parenting. Or your job status. Or your house. Or name-a-subject. Words are powerful, especially in this day and age where we are bombarded with them. Whether spoken or written, let’s use them wisely.
If you’ve used your words in a way that hurt someone, whether intentionally or no, please consider apologizing to that person. I am far, far from perfect, so I’m sure that I’ve said (or written) my share of hurtful words in the past. I know I have. I apologize to anyone that I may have hurt in this way, truly I do.
Parents, we especially need to watch what we say directly to, or in front of, our kids. You never know what they will hold onto, whether it be good or bad. We have a responsibility to build our kids up, not tear them down. I’m amazed at what my kids remember me saying to them or just in earshot of them. Usually it’s a very humbling experience to hear back what they remember me saying. Though I’m generally one to speak love and encouragement to my kids, I’m far from a perfect parent.

Lord help us all, right?
Lastly, I’m going to address those of us who have been hurt by words from someone else. They may sting for a long time, but let’s try to forgive. We live in a fallen world and these things are going to happen. What’s most important for me to remember is how much God loves me and treasures me. He thinks I’m awesome, no matter how imperfect I may be. And he thinks you are too!
Let’s use our words wisely this week.

What I’m Into: May 2016

Happy late May. Our May has been SO gray here, but I’m thrilled to see more spring & summery weather in our weekly forecast. In fact, today is beautiful and I love having the windows and doors open. There’s nothing like it!

Here is what our family is into this May:

*Crazy Russian Hacker. If you have no clue what I’m talking about, look him up on You Tube. He does all kinds of science experiments and hacks. My boys are a little obsessed with him right now. I find him pretty amusing too.

*Canada Wintergreen Mints. I remember these minty Pepto-Bismol pink wafers from when I was younger, but hadn’t seen them in a long time until recently. I picked up a bag and have been sneaking in a couple a day. I’m a sucker for most anything minty. Love them.

*Earl Grey Tea. Though I am a serious coffee lover, I do enjoy the occasional cup of tea. (Especially since we’ve had all these yucky dismal days!) I really enjoy Earl Grey, which I like to brew nice and strong. Sheesh, I also just realized that I sound like a total old lady with my pink mints and tea bags;)

*Abide With Me by Matt Maher.  I absolutely, positively am in love with this song right now. It is such a great one that captures a bit about what it’s like to walk with the Lord everyday. Click on Abide With Me to give it a listen.

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*Colossians 3. My husband and I have been working through this chapter as a couple and in leading a group of young adults in Sunday School. The above verse was one I had adopted last year as a verse to dwell on and try to live by. The whole chapter is awesome though.

*Poppies. This is the right time of year to see vibrant poppies blooming along the road in certain spots. We just planted several in a flower bed in our yard, so I’m hoping they make it! I think they are SO beautiful.

I hope that you are finding beautiful and encouraging things in your day to day life as well, whether it be big or small.

Mother’s Day Card Humor

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms, Grandmas, and Moms-to-be out there!

I love Mother’s Day. Not because I get showered with lavish gifts and pampered silly by my family. Um, no….that usually doesn’t quite happen around here (though my husband does typically knock out a lavish breakfast for me, so there is that…).

What I love most about it (besides just spending time with my offspring) is the fun handmade cards I get from my kids. Though I don’t keep every blessed thing they have ever made, I do usually hold onto the Mother’s day cards they make, especially the ones that give me a chuckle.

There’s nothing like a Mother’s Day card made by your child that can either elate you– or deflate you. Or just make you crack up laughing. Their perceptions of me are usually very elevated (usually the younger they are), or sometimes a little too real.

Here are examples from my own kids that I’ve held onto…

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First up is something that I have 5 versions of. We were fortunate enough to have all of our kids attend the same preschool, with a lot of the same teachers along the way. I have one of these from each kid. My hand print with their little hand print inside of it. The text reads “Hand in hand, We will be, Together forever, You & me.” So sweet. I would love to hang all of these up, framed and in an obvious location, but I’m sure it would now embarrass the daylights out of most of them.

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Then there’s this. Though many of their praises involve my cooking for them, according to Joey his favorite thing to do with me is “Go to Burger King.”

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I think this was from two years ago. The school bus was kinda cropped out of the picture, but what you’re seeing is a Mommy heart greeting and hugging her little hearts as they get off the bus. How sweet, right? Well…this is the example of reality mixed with sweetness. If you can read the word bubble, one of my little hearts is immediately asking “what’s for supper?” Absolute truth. This is really what they ask almost every single day as they get home. Though sometimes “What’s for snack?” comes before the supper question. You can see where their priorities lie, right?

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Now we come to the fill-in-the-blank ones. These are usually good.

Though with one like this, it kind of forces them to be sweet. According to this child, I am “pretty as a princess.” Hey, I’ll take it….

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According to the same child, I am as awesome as a police car. I’m not sure what that means, but hey, a little boy thinks police cars are way cool, right?

His twin wrote this…

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I’m also awesome as transformers. For some reason I’m rather glad he didn’t try to depict me as a transformer…probably not a pretty picture…

I don’t have a picture of it, but a couple years ago one of them wrote that “My Mom’s favorite thing to do is _______.” He filled in “laundry.” Maybe because he sees me do it all the time! Oh well, I’m glad they think I like it I guess.

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What you can’t see in the above picture is the wording before my not so great picture. It reads, “My Mom is smart. She knows________.” My son filled in “a lot of health.” I have no clue where or how I know a lot of health, but I guess that’s good???

My most favorite card is an example from my oldest, probably when he was in about first grade. I don’t have the example of this anymore (unfortunately!), but I laughed every stinking time I came across it.

His fill in the blank read as follows: “My Mom is an _________________” He filled in “awsm runr.” Translation=awesome runner. I died laughing when I read it. Dear friends, I don’t run. At all. I like to walk, and I can do so at a pretty brisk pace, but I DON’T run. The same kid wrote that my favorite thing to do was exercise. Um, no….he also wrote that I like to cook rice a lot. Well, apparently I do know “a lot of health,” so there you go!

This year didn’t boast as many cards (yet), but one kid came home with something about how great a driver he thinks I am (no offense, Dad) and that Mom “almost always cooks supper for us.”

Well, I shared some fun little examples of what my children think of me.

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I may not really be the Best Mom Ever (who is?), but I’m just proud to be their Mom.