Your Words Carry the Weight of Power.

I remember driving as a passenger one day and being told that Satan lives within me.I was trapped in the car and wanted to open the door and fall out onto the concrete. Granted, I was being a brat. Yes I was a turd and a thorn in this persons side, but no matter your age or your background, that is no sentence to tell anyone.

I remember standing in my closet choosing clothes for the day when I was told that I didn't belong in my family. That I may as well run away and never come back. Yes, as siblings we are young and we say things we do not mean, but words are power. So that is what I did: I packed my purple bag and ran to the pond across the wheat field from our house. I was a burden and I didn't belong. I was annoying and I would bless this family more if I weren't existing.

I remember hearing the words: My arms were chubby. My toes were too short. I had polish sausage fingers. Sex is bad. Our bodies are bad. Loren doesn't want to marry a dumb woman so puts her brain on a shelf.

Each of these words have affected my life in a multitude of ways. For too long, I had carried them as my identity. I used them to define who I was and what I was worth. And was I so, so wrong?

I remember many words said unto me...and as I write this, I cannot help but know that I have hurt others just as deeply, if not deeper, with words that have left my mouth. It bothers me to think that I have etched lies into other humans; that my voice carried the weight of an identity crisis and I had no idea. I also remember being stared straight into my though he was peering into my soul, with tears in his eyes while my own streamed down my face. We were sitting at a cafeteria table at Winema and he told me I was worth. I was value. I was beloved. Beloved of Christ. The entire week was a turning point in my life. I continued carrying the baggage of unnecessary shame and lies for months...but their words were Christ's words and they were slowly replacing the lies. They were are so patient with me.

Words are power.

They bring life and they bring death.

A man I once saw as a hero said, "It takes 10 positive words/statements to remove the 1 negative lie we believe." Ten. To replace the one.

If grace were an ocean, we're all sinking.

I see many things as a {youth} pastor's wife. I observe on the surface how parents treat their children, their kids who are growing into adults. I hear stories from hundreds of kids while at camps every summer. Sometimes, it makes me cringe. Sometimes, it brings back too many sour things to think on. Sometimes I am forced to my knees to beg Jesus for strength to keep going. I know, I only see and hear one side of the story. I also will be the first to admit that we are each broken and there is a reason that we hurt one another -- but that doesn't justify or bring truth to the lies we are told by action or word.

Camp was full of stories and baggage and brokenness. Two weeks of hundreds of middle schoolers = a lot of yucky broken stories. I touched on this here, Why Your Story Matters. If it were not for the power and strength of Jesus, I would have died last week. I am certain. I would have allowed my heart to shrivel and harden and turn off - I would have built sound walls of protection over my beating raw heart. But because of Jesus, and only by His grace, I remained raw and vulnerable. I listened with a real heart, ready to mourn and willing to celebrate.

One of the most impacting revelations I had all week was this:

If I am entrusted with a soul's broken story, will I steward it well? When someone shares their story and their heart, when I am handed insight into someone's life, I have a few options:

1. I can listen, harden my heart, try to make light of their pain, make a joke or two, and try to move on. Ignore that this is someone's reality.

2. I can listen; my heart raw, I cry with them, mourn with them, feel with them...and move on, not saying much. Never bring it up again out of fear. Fear of offending, fear of stepping on toes, fear of {hu}man. {I often do this}.

3. I can listen. Keep my heart raw and vulnerable and willing, be so prayerful while they share...and then use my words to build them up. Use my words to shed light and hope and truth. Use my words as power and tell them that this was not God's plan. This is not God's heart. This is not God's definition of "self" for fact, He claims them much more. He claims them as His, covered by the red blood of Christ. I can share with them that, though this does not justify or validate the hurter's sin, they are just as broken. They are just as lost and they have no idea how deeply loved they are either.

We can keep silent, which is often more of a blessing than not. But we can also create hope and encouragement with our words, when flowing from the right posture.

With a humble heart and willing words, we can bring the only Hope they may ever be told. We can tell them of His glorious Love and plans of freedom. We can share that His heart is for them, not against them. That even in the suffering and the pain and the brokenness, we can find freedom and experience joy. Real joy. Not fleeting happiness, but unending joy.

Oh my friends, our words are power.

When we spend time in the silence, letting God fill our hearts and speak soft words of wisdom and love and Truth, we can go out and we can speak power. But the key is spending time in silence with our God. The key to being men and women of power is to be in the presence of God himself, allowing Him to fill us full. Only then is His spirit able to speak through us; only then will we change this world.

mother teresa quote, no greater love

I will never forget the eyes staring back into mine while I told Truths I have been yearning to tell. It was more like soul to soul than mouth to ears: "I see the way you are often treated, and it is not okay. It is not God's heart. It is not God's plan. And He loves you so much. So much more. He is real - He isn't just an idea. And I want you to know that. I want you to fall so madly in Love with Jesus Christ because His heart for you is unending. And only in Him will you find peace and joy. I promise. I promise."

|To empower is be powerful|

My question for you is: will you choose to be powerful for Christ's Kingdom, or for your own kingdom? It cannot be both.

mother teresa- our words have power

In closing, I have been dwelling on this quote:

"All our words are useless, unless they come from within. Words that do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness." Mother Teresa, from No Greater Love.

I have a long ways to go. I fail daily and I hurt others without even realizing it. My friend Lorna had this as her Facebook status:

"The greatest oak tree was once a little nut who held his ground."

May we hold our ground on Christ and let Him transform us by His presence. I praise Jesus for His grace and have been leaning into it more than ever. As I realize how deeply un-incredible I am, as I become aware that I am nothing...I fall to my knees in thanksgiving, acknowledging that He is everything and He brings me value. He brings me worth. His words are power and I can choose to use them. I can choose to spend time with Him, filling myself with Him, so that He may flow out of me.

Join me?

|Verses on our words/tongues| Proverbs 18:21 Matthew 12:36-37 Proverbs 12:18 Here is an entire list of them: click here.


A little encouragement for your day.

Today I met with two people, because that is part of my life. During those very real conversations, I was reminded how grateful I am to be where I'm at, I am so grateful to Jesus.

I am grateful to be in the lives of so many young girls. As I shared about my girls with two different people today, I teared up. I let one tear drop, but besides that, mostly just pooled wet eyes. I couldn't help but share encouraging stories because these girls are this generation. These girls {and guys} will speak into my kids' lives. These girls will be our governors and dentists and teachers and Jo Anne's employees and writers and church planters. These girls love Jesus. This is the real deal: we aren't playing youth group, we aren't playing Christian, we are living the Bible. I am tearing up thinking about them, friends.

Today, I shared about the girls. I got to encourage older ladies by telling real stories about younger girls who are sold out for Jesus. The 12-14 year aged girls who bring prayer requests like this to small group:

"This guy _____ in Science class is so mean. Every day he cusses and calls me names and is so insulting to the teacher. He writes bad words on the board. He makes fun of Jesus to my face. But I know that it is because he is so broken and doesn't know the love of Jesus Christ. I know that he doesnt realize how loved and valuable he is. So, I want to pray that I can have patience with him and that he would experience Jesus for real and be saved."

I sit staring at my computer screen, in awe. Every week for the last 3 years, I have witnessed these girls carry this heart.

1 Timothy 4:12 Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.

Did you know they are on fire to fight human sex slavery? I mean real life sex slavery in our neighborhoods. We had Liz from House of Engedi visit our youth group to share about it (read that post here). Since that time, we had 4 girls do research projects for their 8th grade Mock Congress on Human Trafficking. We had 3 of them represented at the Opening Celebration for House of Engedi, highlighting their goals and dreams in comparison to a victim of human slavery. We had 4 of them play a part in the House's informational video, which I will post when it comes out. These girls get angry, I mean fiery angry and broken and filled with a passion to DO SOMETHING in the name of Jesus Christ to fight for these victims. These girls know how valuable they themselves are, they walk in the light of Jesus every day, facing the struggles of Middle and High School. They want to share this same light and grace with the victims of the darkest of darknesses: sex slavery. These girls are world changers. They're heroes, but not because of what they've done - they are heroes because they have experienced the transforming love of Jesus Christ and desperately want everyone else to, too; they are passionately pursuing ways to share His love.

Yes, they get excited and worked up about pigs and dogs and cats and bad grades and new clothes and all of that. But they keep their eyes on things that matter and their hearts pursue something greater than themselves: Jesus. They are all about Jesus.

When you feel discouraged about this world's future, remember these small snippets I have shared. Remember the young girls who are chasing Jesus and fighting this battle, through Jesus. Remember that 12 year olds are on mission with you and there is hope. I know there are plenty more out there than the few I know. Remember that Jesus offers more than we can comprehend. Remember that and then chase Him.

Jesus always offers hope.

Humans. They are worth investing in. Young lives. They will change this world.

I am deeply grateful for where I am right now. All glory to God the Father, who through His mighty power can accomplish infinitely more than I can ask or think. (Ephesians 3:20). That verse has been so true in the last 3 years of my life. I believe it will only get better.



Linus Pauling 8th grade graduation

Husband + I at 8th grade graduation. Love living on mission with him.

Linus Pauling 8th grade graduation