Make Over My Mouth Project 2012: The Best Kind of Friend

Neat Porch Swing 
“The best kind of friend is the kind you can sit on a porch swing with, never say a word, then walk away feeling like it was the best conversation that you ever had.”
“The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing…not healing, not curing…that is a friend who cares.”
Henri Nouwen 
“The more the words,
   the less the meaning,
   and how does that profit anyone?”
Ecclesiastes 6:11
Father in heaven, help me to be the kind of friend who knows when silence is best. Show me how to comfort in times of grief and despair, times when words are not enough. Help me to know when to refrain from offering advice, platitudes and cliches and simply give my presence and compassion. 
Amen.

Make Over My Mouth Project 2012: Quick to Listen

Fluid Forms Streets Earrings Left
“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”
James 1:19
One of my problems in speaking is that when there is a lull in conversation I feel like I need to fill it and so I start to talk about myself. Or I complain about the weather. Or I choose to prattle on about something insignificant.
James tells us we are to be slow to speak and quick to listen. His formula for a pleasant talk might look something like this:
Slow to Speak + Quick to Listen = A Good Conversation

What if I followed that formula? What if instead of talking about myself, I asked the other person a question? What if I used the pause in conversation as a time to listen and learn something new?
Here are 5 intriguing questions to get others talking:
  • If You could replay any moment in your life, what would it be?
  • What is your favorite holiday (or season)? Why?
  • What’s the best surprise you’ve ever received?
  • What word would you say describes you best? Why?
  • If you could meet any one person, whom would you choose?

Today let’s use one of these questions and be quick to listen and slow to speak.

photo credit

Make Over My Mouth Project 2012: Quiet?

shhh

There is a time for everything…

a time to be silent and a time to speak.
Ecclesiastes 3:1a, 7b

When my nephew, Seth, was three, my sister called with the news that her husband’s brother had died. She asked if we could watch Seth for a week while they made a trip to West Virginia for the funeral and to take care of cleaning out the brother’s house. I quickly agreed. I knew Seth would have a lot more fun playing with his cousins than going to the funeral of an uncle he had never met.


My own kids were about 11 and 8 at the time and were able to entertain him quite a bit, even when I was occupied with giving piano lessons. The only trouble was that Seth had not yet learned how to use his “inside” voice. Even though I taught piano lessons in the living room—which was across the whole house from the family room where he was playing—I could hear his voice! Then I would hear one of my kids try to tell Seth, “Quiet.” And Seth would reply, “QUIET?” Apparently it was a foreign concept to him.

We finally gave up and I would just greet my piano students with an explanation of the situation and ask them to excuse my houseguest who seemed to have no understanding of “Quiet.”

Sometimes I’m still like that. I think of something to say. 
Complaining words are on the tip of my tongue. 
A little juicy “news” about a friend is about to leave my lips. 
Angry outbursts are on the way up my windpipe. 
The Holy Spirit whispers, “Quiet,” but I ignore Him and blurt it out anyway. 
Too often I’m reckless with my speech, thoughtless with my words.
This week let’s concentrate on using discretion when we speak. 
Listen to the Holy Spirit. When He whispers, “Quiet,” obey.

The Art of Listening

A meaningful way to use silence is to listen to someone else speak. Did you know listening is an art? I’m sure that you have met people who are exceptional listeners. They are the ones who always make you feel special. The people that know the right questions to ask. The friend you can’t wait to see.
One of the ways to be an expert listener is to know the questions to keep others talking. This involves hearing the other person’s words and asking follow up questions. Here are some ways to show you are interested and want to learn more.
Questions to ask to learn more:
  • Can you give me an example?
  • What do you mean by that?
  • Tell me more. What was that like for you?
  • On the other hand, what do you think?
  • What will be your next step?
Yesterday I met a woman who said she used this technique at a business function. In the process she made a new friend who thought she was fascinating. This new friend invited her to vacation at the friend’s Italian villa!
Listening isn’t all bad!

Study to Be Quiet

Quiet Zone
photo by www.CGPGrey.com

“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life.”
1 Thessalonians 4:11 NIV

“Aspire to live quietly.”
1 Thessalonians 4:11 ESV

“Study to be quiet.”
1 Thessalonians KJV
Quiet. Something so elusive that we must make it our ambition to find it. A virtue we are to aspire to. A quality we are to study. Why is it so hard to live a quiet life?
Maybe Paul was thinking of women when he wrote to the Thessalonians. After all, women are estimated to use 9000 words every day while men only speak approximately 6000 words. It is much more difficult for us to be quiet!
Plus Satan is always trying to unquiet us. He is constantly attempting to get us upset about little things. To provoke us to yell at our kids. To tempt us to gossip about our friends. To entice us to snap at our husbands.
Today let’s study to be quiet. Just for today  I will make a goal to be quiet when I am tempted to say something I will regret later.I will make it my ambition to shut my mouth before hurtful words spill out. I will aspire to live a quiet life–just for today.

The Best Answer to Anger

“The best answer to anger is silence.”
The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking;
      the mouth of the wicked overflows with evil words.
Proverbs 15:28 NLT
Father, help me to think before I speak. When I am tempted to respond in anger, let me remain silent or I may overflow with words that stab hearts and sever relationships. Teach when to speak and when to remain silent.

Christ’s Silence

This is the kind of life you’ve been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step-by-step.
   He never did one thing wrong,
   Not once said anything amiss.
They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back. He suffered in silence, content to let God set things right. He used his servant body to carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way. His wounds became your healing. You were lost sheep with no idea who you were or where you were going. Now you’re named and kept for good by the Shepherd of your souls. 
1 Peter 2:21-24 The Message
Jesus, I am humbled by Your example. You took all of my mistakes, my willful stubbornness, my apathy and selfishness on Yourself and paid the price I should have paid. You took the filth of the world and suffered our punishment.
 
Yet You were silent. You did not complain when the soldiers drove nails through Your hands. You didn’t threaten revenge when You suffered. You didn’t retaliate when You were insulted.
 
Lord I confess I tend to complain when the weather is a little chilly. I gripe when things aren’t going my way. I grumble when I don’t feel well.

Help me to follow Your example. Live through me. Help me to use silence instead of griping, quiet instead of complaints. Help me to focus on You. Thank you for suffering the punishment that was mine. Thank you for freeing me from sin, help me to live the right way.

Be Still

be still, and know
photo by jonerichall

“Be still, and know that I am God”

Psalm 46:10 
I love these words. “Be still, and know that I am God.” These eight simple words bring relaxation to my body just by reciting them. They create pictures of serene sunsets in my mind. They produce peace in my soul.
But life is hectic. How often do I actually take time to “be still”?
What does “be still” mean anyway? 
I remember hearing author Cynthia Heald speak on this verse once. She said that God’s admonition to “be still” was a little like a mother telling her children to “Be still!” in church. She pictured a parent shaking her child by the shoulder to get him to settle down and pay attention if he knew what was good for him. To be still is to obey God’s command to be quiet because He knows what is best for us.
John Piper, author of Desiring God, writes about coming back from vacation and feeling overwhelmed by all the tasks that needed to be done. So what did he do first? He went to his quiet basement and read Psalm 46. He told himself, “Be still, soul! Stop rehearsing. Relax. Breath deep. There. Now, know this: God is God. God is God. Just be still and let that hit you. Let it grow.” (Click here to read more.)To be still is to relax knowing God is God.

Pastor R.C. Sproul, also writes about Psalm 46. he reminds us that we cannot come to the point of relaxing in God’s arms until we remember His great love for us. “We will rest in His sovereignty when we remember not just that He is almighty, but that He who is almighty loves us with an everlasting love.” (Click here to read more.) To be still is to rest in God’s love.

What does “be still” mean in the original Hebrew? Today I found out on the site hebrew4christians.com that, “The command to “be still” comes from the Hiphil stem of the verb (רפה) rapha (meaning to be weak, to let go, to release), which might better be translated as, “cause yourselves to let go” or “let yourselves become weak.” To be still is to let go, to surrender to the almighty God who loves you more than life. To loosen our grip on our issues and problems and trust in God’s ability to manage everything for the best.

Take some time today to be still.
 
 

Listening With Your Eyes

There is a time for everything…
a time to be silent and a time to speak.
Ecclesiastes 3:1a, 7b 




There are times to be silent. One of those times is when we are listening to others. However, even when our mouths are not communicating, our bodies are.

Seven-year-old Jenny came home from a birthday party and breathlessly began to spill out all of the details of the party to her mother. Mother continued peeling potatoes for supper while she listened to the account. Finally Jenny stopped in mid-sentence and said, “Mom you’re not listening!”

Mom reassured her, “Yes I am, I heard every word.”

“But Mom, you’re not listening with your eyes!”

Jenny needed to see that she had her mother’s full attention, but her mother was not providing that in her body language.

Listening is more than just hearing . It is involvement in what the person is saying. Here are five ways you can use body language to send positive messages to the person you are conversing with:

  • Maintain eye contact. Try not to glance away while the other person is talking.
  • Lean forward. This shows you are interested, not bored.
  • Open up your arms and body. Crossing your arms makes you look defensive and guarded.
  • Relax your body position. Avoid hunching your shoulders, swinging your leg, or tapping a pen.
  • Nod and smile. This gives visual clues that you are listening and the other person should continue speaking.

Even when we are quiet, our bodies can speak volumes. Use body language to signal your interest and empathy for your friends and family.

The Silent Friend

Neat Porch Swing

photo by ‘Playingwithbrushes’
 
“The best kind of friend is the kind you can sit on a porch swing with, never say a word, then walk away feeling like it was the best conversation that you ever had.”
“The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing…not healing, not curing…that is a friend who cares.”
Henri Nouwen 
“The more the words,
   the less the meaning,
   and how does that profit anyone?”
Ecclesiastes 6:11
Father in heaven, help me to be the kind of friend who knows when silence is best. Show me how to comfort in times of grief and despair, times when words are not enough. Help me to know when to refrain from offering advice, platitudes and cliches and simply give my presence and compassion. 
Amen.