(in)courage, Books, Community, Giveaways

On The Power Of Words, Craving Community And A Giveaway

On The Power Of Words, Craving Community And A Giveaway

Every Thursday I stand in front of 8 teenagers and try my best to help them learn to use their words well. Each week, I hand them a little slip of paper printed with a quote about writing. The quotes serve as inspiration, encouragement and a testimony of the power of words used well. While the main objective I hold for my class is to teach these kids the mechanics of writing a solid paragraph, a good story, and a well supported essay, ultimately I have two other objectives that carry more weight than any of these.

By the time the year ends, my hope and prayer is first, that they don’t hate writing (I can’t imagine such a thing!), and second, that they leave my class understanding the weight of their words–both written and spoken.

 

***

I was in the third grade when my spark for writing lit up like a blazing fire. Two years later my fifth grade teacher, a young bachelor from California, fanned the flames when he turned out the lights, read Edgar Allen Poe to us, and helped us make our first book, complete with cereal box covers. I don’t remember anything else I learned in 5th grade, but I remember the stories. I remember the ways Mr. Jayo loved words and wanted us to learn to love them too.

The very thing that can catapult us into living our dreams can also be the very thing that can topple us.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue and those who love it will eat it’s fruits. Proverbs 18:21

When I received the invitation to write about the power of words for the newly released, Craving Connection, I felt the swell of gratitude immediately followed by the gulping anxiety of having to tell the truth about my own struggle with learning to use my words well.

Before I could write one word for the chapter I needed to straight up confess my own sins when it comes to words:

It seems only fair that I come out right up front and tell you that I haven’t always wielded the power of my own tongue with care. Daily, I fight the temptation and trigger-impulse I have to speak before I think.

With that admission out in the open, I picked a scab and bled a bit more, not because I’m proud of the ways I’ve used words as weapons, but because I hope that my mistakes can make space for you to share your own struggles. That’s what friends do for each other. It’s only in imperfect community that we can truly connect with other imperfect people (amen.) In the admission of our struggles we find hope and encouragement to keep going, to continue the hard work of growing up.

Even as I am teaching kids to use their words well, I continue to learn the power of language, the beauty of it, and the hazard of it. With the ability to speak to large crowds of people in an instant through social media, remembering this feels more critical than ever.

With my “bosom friend” Christine, who speaks life-giving words to me daily.

 

Without a care, we can blast our thoughts at others, like an unwelcome gust of wind that slams a door in its wake.

I wish I didn’t know so well, the damage of words spoken in anger, in haste, without thinking. I wish my own children didn’t know the painful impact of my own lack of discretion when it comes to how I use my words. I’ve cut family and friends alike, with the lashes of my tongue and wept bitter tears of repentance more times than I care to count. I have tasted the rank bitterness of such a death.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue.

In my breaking moments of sorrow, I’ve been helped and healed by the words of friends. when I connect with those who love me, time and again they have spoken truth and grace over me, offering a cool drink to my burning lips. In learning the way of repentance, in learning the art of a legitimate apology, I have found restoration.

The particular reflection I share in Craving Connection ends well, in the sense that I continue to have daily opportunities to speak life and love into the hearts of my kids. But the grace of 2nd, 3rd, and 80th chances isn’t permission for me to let my guard down, and my tongue flap wild.

With my dear friend Annie, who teaches me about grace for my mistakes and reminds me of the power of words.

In our communities (both online and offline) we don’t always get another chance to say the right things. Gossip about a neighbor or acquaintance can end a relationship before it even begins. Speaking out of our ignorance or judgment can build walls between us and our neighbors of other faiths and worldviews.

The expression about sticks and stones breaking bones bones should read differently because cruel words cut like a knife, take forever to heal and often leave scars.

The words we speak in our community matter. Every day we encounter people in our communities who could use a few kind words…Wisely used words can facilitate healing and reconciliation.

A good word produces good fruit.

In celebration, a giveaway for you

Craving Connection is a word-feast created by the (in)Courage community, a community that knows the power of good words. In celebration of this wonderful book, I’m giving away a super-fun box of goodies.

ONE winner will receive:

*Two signed copies of Craving Connections (one for you, and one for a friend.)

*One double package “loved” necklace from (in)Courage (one for you, and one for a friend.)

*One Fujifilm Instax mini 8 (in butter yellow) to capture those special moments of connecting.

To Enter, leave a comment below sharing one of the ways community has helped you when you have struggled with something. For extra entries, share this post on your favorite social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and leave a comment for each share.

*Giveaway open to U.S. Residents only, winner will have 24-hours to claim prize before another will be selected.

 

 

Comments

  1. Vickie Davenport

    As always very though provoking insights! I am just now learning how important Community is! I have been in Christian Television for over 30 years and know the power of the visual platform, but words themselves seem to escape me! Looking forward to the challenges that this book will bring!

    Reply
  2. Our homeschool/church/family community has helped so many times over the years. We have five childr n and our second has Down syndrome. Having support has helped us in growing our faith and in getting through the good and bad days.

    Reply
  3. When I was 18 and found I was pregnant there was no celebration or congratulation-it was a difficult time. When the shock and sadness passed and we were able to open up to our pastor and others in the church I discovered a life changing experience that held the truest definition of community I’ve ever experienced. What could have been a lonely and isolating time became a communal embrace that made the love of Christ very real in my life and created lifelong memories and friends that have impacted how I do life in a very real way.

    Reply
  4. Laura K

    I love the community of women’s bible study groups and have been encouraged in so many ways by sharing my heart and struggles in this trusting environment. I’ve also been able to help others this way, often unknowingly. My online community is awesome as well!

    Reply
  5. avery

    I was raising money for my sororities philanthropy to support heart health. The West chester community has donated so much so that we can put on fundraisers and raise tons of money!

    Reply
  6. Becky Deuel

    It is through community that I am given a different view of who I am. It is through the loving words of our church family that I see ways that I can share and contribute – ways that I didn’t know had value. It is through their words that I see times when I have let pride get in the way of being transparent and asking for help. it is through community that we are all drawn closer to being who we want to be.

    Reply
  7. I crave community daily as I walk with Jesus. I want my light to shine in a community of love that will spread out to the world. I find community helps me grow as a Christian when I share my faith and love for Christ with others. Thanks for the giveaway.

    Reply
  8. I have found out about the importance of community through my lack of it. Moving often and being slow to open up has meant many years of surface-y relationships and that is so draining. I’m ready to put down some roots and open up!

    Reply
  9. Libby

    I have been meeting with the same beautiful ladies for about 5yrs for a women’s bible study/prayer group, every other Tuesday. These ladies have been there for me in so many ways I can’t even count. So many prayers have been lifted up to our Heavenly Father and their love and encouragement have been a saving grace. Community is so important! These women are the sisters I never had.

    Reply
  10. I love having a community of women during Bible studies. It has made me feel “normal” in times I have felt completely isolated. I crave community and the fellowship of digging into God’s Word with other believers.

    Reply
  11. Hahaha! By the time I had my first baby and was screaming into my pillow in the wee small hours I had a whole church full of moms at my disposal. Some would bring food, some would send books, some would just hold the baby while I did something, anything, one in particular I could call at 3am and have her walk me through breastfeeding one more time!

    Reply
  12. I can so identify with “speaking before thinking” – sadly – that’s one reason I am so thankful for my ministry team. They encourage and love me well even when I am not at my best. They also kindly draw my attention to such moments;)

    Reply
  13. So excited! I would love to win this, my cousin is doing it now. I am learning that their is alot of power in the words i use, especially to my children and husband but also to help reach others, this would be a blessing to win! I would read every word and apply it to my life and spread it to everyone! Thanks so much for this chance! God Bless!??☝

    Reply
  14. Sheri

    I saw the title of this book and felt alone and hopeful all at the same time. I am 50 years old and it has been over 20 years since I had a real close friend. I desire it. I long for it. I’ve prayed for it. I have several chronic illnesses so I’m sure that’s part of it. I really try to encourage people in my social media, through cards, and at church. Please pray with me about having a good friend.

    Reply
  15. Sarah

    Small groups/church community groups have helped me a lot. I move around a lot and always try to join a group at my church, it’s important to meet together to encourage and pray for one another.

    Reply
  16. Heather

    when I am struggling with patience in the trenches of motherhood, a dear friend is just a text away with humor and wise words. When I need prayer or immediate advice, I fire up a group text with my mil and sils.

    Reply
  17. Morgan F.

    My community is currently very small, with my closest friends being both my boyfriend and my best girl friend since 5th grade. However, I’m totally okay with that because I’ve learned (and always known deep in my heart) that friendships are about the *quality* not the *quantity*. I’m always open for new friendships to form and sometimes wish I had more friends. I know I am so blessed with the friends that I do have though because I know some people go their wholes lives searching for the kind of connections I’ve found with my best friends. I seriously don’t know what I would do without Jensen. She just gets me on a whole different level and I’m forever grateful God brought her into my life in the 5th grade (I’m now 22). I’m very interested in reading Craving Connection and would love to win a signed copy for me and my best friend, Jensen! She’s my soul sister for life and I know she would love this book just as much as I know I will 🙂

    Reply
  18. Erin Wallace

    We are the body of Christ designed for community. I find if I am not plugged into a group of fellow Christians on a regular basis, I am lacking God’s best for me. Our small group community at church is such a blessing!!

    Reply
  19. This article made me think of: “Mother Spirit.” I moved to a community Mike’s away from where I lived, across three states, in order to be with my “Sister community.” My sister’s allowed me to vent, feel secure again, smile, laugh and be while again, after a crazy divorce. To this day, I love them all for who they are and will never for get their labor of Love. Selah.♥ They helped me believe in Love again, Agape.♥

    Reply
  20. Amanda

    A good friend took me out to dinner last night to encourage me after a hard week. She’s also texted me several times during the week to let me know she’s praying for me.

    Reply
  21. I didn’t much believe in online community. However, the relationships begun there have come alive offline. I have this incredible sense of community for which I routinely thank and praise God.
    Who would have thunk?

    Reply
  22. Crystal

    I lost my parents in less than three months time span. My church family helped my family out in so many ways. It certainly helped me as I journied through my grief.

    Reply
  23. Corey

    Community showed me that I didn’t have to be perfect at everything (I already knew it wasn’t truly possible), but that we are each an imperfect piece of the whole body. I learned that when I am weak, then I am strong.

    Reply
  24. I’m so thankful for Community who are covenant people… who have walked with us through every stage of our adult lives… who give space and grace…. but who also know when it’s time to press in and hold up! Whether it be marriage, parenthood, church life, etc –community makes it better… every . single. time.

    Reply
  25. When I moved to a new state and decided to go to a new small group at my church, I expected for it to take a while to connect with the ladies there. I was so wrong. They welcomed me with open arms right from the start. They made me feel connected and cared about and it began some treasured relationships for the years to come.

    Excited to read this book and your chapter Kris! Love, Kristin

    Reply
  26. Amy

    Coming out of an online writing friendship that was manipulative in every shape and form and caused me to suffer from PTSD still, now, a year later, I have to say the community I have surrounding me LISTEN and do not judge. They LOVE and do not turn their faces away. They ENCOURAGE and do not downplay what I’ve experienced. I praise the Lord for his care in guiding me to precious friends.

    Reply
  27. Oh goodness, one comment on how community helped with something? That means I need to choose. What a gift to look back and realize there are many examples which come to mind.

    One of the most powerful times was when we were fostering on a ranch in the country. We had up to 12 children in the home and didn’t know people in the area. I felt very isolated in the work we were doing and missed my church family. The pastor’s wife of a nearby church reached out to us. They had adopted through foster care and wanted to be a blessing to us. She spoke with our nanny and I’ll never forget what was said.

    Their church wanted to adopt us. And they did. They did many things to bless us in this season and I still have friendships form this connection. When I heard these words, I wept in gratitude. It still brings a huge smile thinking about it.

    Reply

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