Seriously. Words are words, right? Why do people make such a big deal about certain ones?
Here’s what I think:
1. As Christians, we are told, “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt…” (Col. 4:6). I have never, in my lifetime, heard someone curse graciously.
2. Many curse words include the name of God. That name is holy. It should be used with the utmost respect. (Ex. 20:6-8)
3. There are millions of words in the English language. We should look for those words that best explain what we are thinking and feeling.
So if you’re upset and feel like cursing, try saying this instead:
- Your choleric outburst has left me perterbed
- Cease your nugatory interactions
- Your boorish behavior is bedeviling
- I do not anticipate ever being required to utilize this information
- I am distressed at your incongruous behavior
- My penurious sibling has refused to compromise
What do you think? Let’s change the world, one big, unoffensive word at a time
People who know me would say, without hesitation, that I am an extrovert. The poster child for extroverts. I love talking, love laughing, love people. I will stand in front of a crowd and do just about anything. It takes a lot to embarrass me, a lot to make me nervous.
I always wore the title “extrovert” with pride. That’s how God made me. I am loud. I speak without thinking and get into trouble, sometimes. Occasionally, my attempts at humor don’t quite make it, causing a spectacular “wap-wah” moment for myself and everyone around me. God has worked in me to make me more aware of others, less self-centered; He is working on me to listen more than I speak. I am not “there” yet, as those of you who read this blog regularly know, but I am growing, hopefully, to look more like Christ and less like a complete idiot with each passing year.
But a few years back, I read the actual definitions of “extrovert” and “introvert” and it made me reevaluate the label I had always given myself. Extroverts, it read, are people who are energized by being around other people. Conversely, Introverts are people who are energized by being alone.
I love people. Love them. But I need time alone. When my kids were little, I was a stay-at-home mom (now, I am a stay-at-school mom). I loved the time I got with my babies. But once every few weeks, when Dave got home, I would go out by myself. Usually, I’d go to Barnes and Noble, buy a coffee and read a book in one of their comfy chairs for a couple hours. I only spoke enough words to order my caramel macchiato, then I was done. I’d find the chair farthest from any other people, and I would read. In silence. It was glorious. When I came home, I was energized. Ready to change diapers and watch Barney and play hide-and-go-seek. I needed that time. I still do. Time alone refreshes me, keeps me sane.
I am an introvert.
Weird, huh? But part of God’s amazing creativity. I know He has to laugh at all these stereotypes we create. He delights in throwing in people like me who just don’t quite fit those. A reminder that we are all unique, we are all fearfully and wonderfully made.
“God delights in giving good gifts to His children.”
It sounds so simple. So easy. But this is something that has taken me years to fully embrace.
“God’s people will suffer.” I get that.
“Life is hard. God is good.” Been there.
But recently, God has been showering me….no, flooding me…with good gifts. One right after another.
And I have struggled.
At first, I felt guilty. So many people I know are struggling. Yet, I have a fabulous family, I am writing books and teaching great kids and enjoying so many blessings every day.
But as I struggled, I have felt God speaking to my soul: “Enjoy, Krista.”
The pastor at the church we attended in Texas used to say that God occasionally gives us “glimpses of the kingdom.” Little reminders that what awaits us is incredible, astounding. These great moments God gives us can’t even begin to compare with the glory of heaven. But, in His grace, God gives us a little taste of what is to come.
So I am learning to enjoy, to bask in these “glimpses of the kingdom.”
It’s a good feeling.
I talk to and hear from aspiring writers who have ideas and dreams but are afraid – afraid they can’t do it, that their idea won’t be good enough. So they don’t start. These folks are usually perfectionists who feel that if they can’t produce a perfect product, they might as well not even try.
Here’s where being a teacher before I became a writer really comes in handy: all first drafts are rough! I have brilliant students. Really. But even the best and brightest turn in first drafts that need work. And I can spot the areas where they need work – that’s my job. If they take time to listen to me, to make the corrections I suggest, their papers are inevitably better. Second (and third and fourth…) drafts are ALWAYS better than the first.
The first time I got editorial notes from the amazing team at Thomas Nelson, I was overwhelmed: 14 pages of notes. 14!! I am NOT a perfectionist, so my first instinct was to delete the email and forget it. That’s too much work!! And it’s all detail stuff. If you read my previous post, you know I hate details! But I thought of my students. I thought of all the notes I leave on their papers, suggestions to make them better. Just like it’s my job to help them improve as writers, it is my editors’ job to help me improve as a writer. And my editors are phenomenal at their job. They are experts at what makes a story good, what is beneficial and what is not. So I printed the notes, took out my highlighter and dug into them. As I read, I saw how right they were. Parts of my story had holes. Some of my characters were dull. My math was wrong. So I went into the manuscript, combed through it and fixed those problems.
When my husband and I were attending language school in Costa Rica, one of our teachers told us, “You have to make a million mistakes before you become fluent in Spanish. So start making your million.” He said that to free us from the fear that we will sound stupid (we did) or make mistakes (I once offered a guy a beer when I meant to offer him cherries). Everyone makes mistakes. Expect it – don’t avoid it. It is as true for writing as it was for language learning.
So start writing! Leave the red and green squigglies there. You can come back to them later. Just keep writing, keep working. Get that first draft done. Sure, it’ll be a mess. They always are! But make that mess. You – and others – can clean it up later. But don’t let fear of failure keep you from writing. You may have a book that I need to read! So get to it! Start making your million.
I am great at starting things. I love tossing around ideas, planning for the future, dreaming big. Put me in a room with other creative people, and I could come up with all kinds of great plans. Actually making those plans happen, though…I am NOT great at that. Turning ideas into reality requires attention to detail. I do not love details. Details are boring. Tedious. Blah. And when I do get around to completing the “blah,” I want praise, pats on the back, a “Wow, you did all that? You’re amazing!!” I want to be recognized for enduring the horrors of details.
I came across this quote in my bible study a couple weeks ago, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind since:
“The thing that tells in the long run for God is the steady persevering work in the unseen. It is inbred in us that we have to do exceptional things for God; but we have not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things. It does require the supernatural grace of God to live an ordinary, unobserved, ignored existence as a disciple of Jesus.” – Oswald Chambers (emphasis mine)
For me, the idea of being “exceptional in the ordinary” means to finish what I start, to persevere in the sea of details. It means working alone and unseen to accomplish a task, even when I might not get any credit for it, any pats on the back. To complete the tasks God has given me out of love for Him. Not giving up because it’s too hard, not making “noise” while I’m doing it so I get attention. Just plodding along, even when it isn’t fun. Even when I’d rather be doing something else.
I am still in the process of learning this lesson. I am not “there” yet. But I am grateful that God shows me where I am and points me to where He wants me to be. I am grateful He is a God who finishes what He starts. “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Phil. 1:6
I’m really not a hoarder. I have moved too much to hang on to a lot of things – it’s just more junk to pack up and move when it’s time to pack up and move. For those of you “regulars” to my blog, you know that our family has packed up and moved a bunch: we went from Tampa to Texas to Costa Rica to Spain back to Tampa from 1999-2007. Lots and lots of boxes those years. Lots of garage sales. I have gotten rid of toys, games, dishes, sheets, even an antique rocking chair (still kicking myself over that one) and a kitchen table my husband spent months refinishing.
But I am having a really hard time getting rid of these shoes…
I bought these shoes just a few months before we left Spain. They weren’t all that expensive. I bought them at a store called “El Campo” – kind of like a K-Mart. But they were cute, and I have worn them quite a bit over the past six years. I have worn them in the rain and they have gotten wet. They stretched out so much that my feet slip out of them when I walk. The insides, once soaked, dried and cracked, scraping the soles of my feet as they slide out. And still, I can’t get rid of them. Not because I couldn’t find another pair. I could. But these are from Spain – they lived in my cute little walk-in closet in our piso in Madrid. I don’t have any other wardrobe items from Spain. I have souvenirs, pictures, but that’s not the same.
And that’s why I’m having a hard time getting rid of them. It doesn’t feel like throwing away an old pair of shoes – I can do that. It feels like throwing Spain away. And I can’t do that. It has been six years, but that country got in my blood, the same way Texas did. It is part of me. And I am sad knowing so many years have passed since I lived there, that all I have left are my memories and some dusty souvenirs.
I get attached to places. Really attached. I sink my roots in deep, hang on tight, and when I am ripped away, I leave bits and pieces of myself behind.
I almost feel like the shoes need, not to be thrown in the trash, but to be buried. Would that be really weird? Burying shoes? OK, yes, it would. But it’s not the shoes…it’s the memories, it’s the country. I don’t want to throw Spain away. I want to remember it, my time there, the lessons God taught me there, the people He allowed me to meet there.
This is the tough part about moving a lot – knowing when to let go, what to let go, and how to hang on.
My pastor made a statement a while back that still sticks with me: “Negative people attract negative comments.”
He went on to say that if you hear people complaining, criticizing, bad-mouthing often, it is most likely because those people hear you doing the same.
Made me think.
The first person I thought of wasn’t a complainer. Actually, she is the exact opposite. My friend, Gina, works with me. Gina is one of the most positive people I have ever met. She always has a smile and always has something good to say. Sometimes I go out of my way to pass her in the hall just to be encouraged. She is just that kind of a person.
And you know what? I would never, ever think of being negative with her. Why? Because, when you’re around Gina, you want to be positive. You want to find the good in people. Just like she does.
I was challenged by my pastor’s comment to look for what is good, not pick out the bad. To love the way Jesus does – lavishly, mercifully. He knows we are flawed, but He loves us anyway, and He offers to help us become better, more like him.
It isn’t the power of positive thinking I’m promoting. But it is the power of positive living — made possible by the power of God working in our lives and touching those around us.
“Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.” Eph. 4:29, The Message
We might not all say it, but we ALL feel, at one time or another, some of us more often than others, that we are not good enough.
We look at others and see so many who are smarter, prettier, richer. We see girls who seem to have it all together and we get discouraged because we are SO not together.
Just about everyone struggles with these feelings. Seriously. I can’t tell you how many girls I’ve talked to who are beautiful, stunning, yet look at themselves in the mirror and think they are the ugliest girl on the planet. Or girls who seem to breeze through even the toughest classes, but are wracked with worry every night before a big test. Sometimes the girls who seem to know everyone feel incredibly lonely and unloved.
Becoming a supermodel or a famous singer or a movie star doesn’t change it, either. Believe it or not, those folks have even more pressure than we do. Many of them struggle with insecurity to a degree that would shock most of us “normal folks.”
So here’s the deal: The problem isn’t that you’re not good enough. The problem is that you are believing a lie. That lie comes straight from the Father of Lies himself, and the way we battle with him is by using Truth – the Word of God. Replace those lies with Truth every time they come into your mind. Every time.
Here are a few verses of Truth to start with. Memorize them. Write them on a post-it and stick it on your bathroom mirror, your bedroom wall. Fill your mind with ”whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Phil. 4:8 Fill your mind so full of Truth that there is no room left for the lies.
Ps. 139:13-14 “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
I John 3:1a “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!”
Romans 8:17 “Now if we are children, then we are heirs —heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”
I am a people pleaser. I desperately want to be liked. Over the years, I have compromised in ways I am ashamed of simply to avoid conflict. I have kept my mouth shut when I should have spoken, and I have spoken when I should have stayed silent, all in an effort to make those around me like me.
Worse, though, than any of that, is that my desire to please people can often take precedence over my desire to please God. Some of the those compromises I talked about? They were made when I refused to really live out parts of the Bible that might make others not like me. Parts that make people uncomfortable. But as I study God’s word, I see over and over again that believers were very often hated. Most of the prophets of the Old Testament were giving incredibly unpopular messages. The disciples were mistreated. Jesus, himself, told his followers that they should expect persecution – expect to be hated.
I don’t like that. I don’t like when people dislike me, disagree with me, think I’m terrible, narrow-minded, wrong.
But God reminds me through Paul’s words in Galatians, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
I have to choose – I can be a people pleaser OR a God pleaser.
I know the right choice. And I also know when I focus on being a God pleaser I am far more at peace. I can let go of my worries about what others think about me, what others say about me, what others write about me. I can take comfort in the fact that my Creator, my Savior loves me. He is with me, guiding and directing and teaching me. In fact, if I am totally honest, I draw closest to him during those times when I am disliked by others. I am driven to God in my weakness.
I don’t know if I will ever completely be free from my people-pleasing tendencies. But I can work daily to choose Christ over people, to let go of my selfishness (because, ultimately, that is the root of my people-pleasing attitude), to be completely obedient to the One who tells me He has plans for me, good for me, works for me to accomplish for Him.
I know people who spend entire weekends making holiday goodies. And they think it’s fun.
I know people who get cookbooks for Christmas. And like it.
I know people who have people over for dinner just to try a new recipe.
I am not one of those people.
Don’t get me wrong. I like eating holiday goodies. In fact, I’ll eat just about anything. Except broccoli. Or green beans.
No, thanks. It’s a necessary evil. Something forced on me. Like root canals and taxes.
I do it, but it isn’t pretty. And it isn’t fun. And it often results in the smoke alarm going off.
(the only difference between me and this lady is that I don’t have blonde hair…or an apron)
Take home lesson: If you don’t like cooking, write a blog. Your family will get tired of waiting on dinner and go out for Chik-Fil-A instead.