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Out of the Overflow

Oh, Christmas. It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Lights, trees, music, presents, gatherings – so much joy! At least, you’d think so. But sometimes the busyness of Christmas can steal your joy and your focus.

If I’m being honest, sometimes Christmas can be overwhelming. Please tell me I’m not alone. All the things that are added to the calendar in December on top of all the things that are on the calendar every month, every week, every day of the rest of the year. It’s a bit much.

I know not every mother is as exhausted and weary as I feel I am. Having two autistic children and a disability myself is tricky at the best of times. I can’t even tell you what a struggle it is to make supper each night when I’m tired and in pain – but my husband is a very hard working man. As much as I’d love to use my disability as an excuse, in my heart of hearts I know that means I’m the one who should be the chief cook and bottle washer. So I suck it up and cook, and the loving and kind man that my husbans is helps me every time I feel I’m not going to make it. And then December arrives…

The parties pile up, the kids come home with invitations to Christmas events, the calendar fills up. My to do list grows – the decorating, the shopping, the baking, the wrapping, the crafting, the Hallmark Christmas movie watching. And then there’s the service projects, the things I look forward to doing every season because I love Jesus and want to share His love with others. It all adds up, and with it all the joy robbing stress that comes with it.

In the midst of the busy, in the midst of the merry, I forget to rest. And not just physical rest, because my weary body demands that daily. Actual rest – soul refreshing rest. If there’s one thing I know it’s that sleep isn’t the only kind of rest a person needs. There are several types of rest necessary, but the most important is to rest in Jesus.

I know that what steals my Christmas joy also steals my Christmas focus – the real, life giving, soul reviving reason there’s a Christmas in the first place. Sometimes I need that little reminder. And I realize I need to shift my focus. Back to the stable, back to the cross, back to the resurrection.

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
Isaiah 9:6-7

When I look to the stable, my soul finds rest in His birth. In the small details, in the big details, in the manger. The manger was where the animals would go to eat. Probably dirty, probably smelly. And there the King of the whole world first layed his head, though He was worthy of so much more. It’s no coincidence that it was intended to be a feeding place. Because my soul finds rest and sustenance in Jesus, the Bread of Life, who promises that all who “eat” from this bread will have eternal life (John 6:51). Which points us to the cross.

When I look at the cross, my soul finds rest in His death. In the overwhelming love He shows in this sacrifice at Calvary. The translation of Calvary is “place of the skull,” and both the cross and the skull are common symbols of death. Jesus knew the reason He was born in Bethlehem (meaning “the house of bread”) was to die so that we could be forgiven in the shedding of His blood. The Bread of Life was born in the House of Bread to give us eternal life. Which points us to the resurrection.

When I look to the resurrection, my soul finds rest in knowing there is eternity with Jesus. His resurrection was the first of many, His resurrected body a glimpse of what is to come for us in eternity (1 Corinthians 15:20). Free of pain, free of sin, perfect and whole. This is especially encouraging to those of us whose bodies are weary, worn and far from perfect.

There are lots of ways to find physical rest, and many tips and tricks to get the lists done, attend the parties, and do all the things. But tips and tricks simply aren’t enough, and I always feel like there’s something missing. Because there is.

It isn’t until I allow my focus to be shifted to the true meaning of Christmas, that my joy returns and my heart overflows with happiness. Out of the overflow, I’m excited to give, serve, and spread love during the holiday season.

Find rest in Him this Christmas. ❤️

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Warm Mittens

It’s getting colder now, especially at night. This past weekend we unearthed a tote from the depths of our downstairs closet revealing hats and mittens, scarves and coats. Providing protection from the elements is important when living in Canada. Change is on the horizon, and as much as we would like to enjoy the fall weather forever, we know what’s coming…winter.

I’m not a fan of winter. The icy streets, the freezing air, the mountains of snow piled high everywhere – it’s not my favorite season, especially because we can have snow for six months of the year. I dislike having so few hours of sunlight, and having so many days where the sky is not blue but a pale grey. No matter how warm our winter clothes are, I’ll probably never warm up to winter.

As I passed out winter gear, everyone seemed indifferent, except for one. My oldest son grabbed his winter hat and gloves and exclaimed, “I’m so glad to have these back! I missed them!” I will admit, it threw me off beat. Why on earth would anyone miss winter clothes? But then he proceeded to tell me how cold he’d been when walking the therapy dog at school and how his heart was warm but his hands were freezing. He finished with a huge grin and said, “WORTH IT!”

I thought about his comment the rest of the weekend. How many times I been uncomfortable, or going through something, only to happily declare it was worth it in the end? And how could my heart have been warmed and at peace if only I’d trusted and understood the Lord’s protection?

I look up to the mountains – does my help from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!

He will not let you stumble, the One who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, He who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.

The Lord Himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. The sun will not harm you by day, or the moon at night.

The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.

Psalm 121

I often take the Lord’s protection for granted. I’m the kind of person who lives in the day to day, the here and now. And sometimes, when you’re living life like that it’s hard to see it even as it’s happening. It’s not some big, grand tale of protection.

When I think have an impressive story of protction, I’m reminded of Desmond Doss, a medic in world war two. He was a conscientious objector, and refused to carry a gun. This posed some problems for Doss as he was assigned to an infantry rifle company – no one wanted to fight beside someone who wasn’t carrying a weapon and couldn’t protect them. His fellow soldiers abused and mocked him, and he was even court martialed for failure to obey orders. But Desmond Doss believed strongly in the command from God not to kill, and persevered all obstacles until he and his company were standing on the battlefield in Okinawa. The assignment was to capture and maintain a rock formation they’d termed “Hacksaw Ridge.” Due to poor visability, rough terrain, and a vigilant enemy they were having difficulty. After a small victory, they were shocked by a brutal counter attack and were ordred to retreat back over the edge of the cliff. All able soldiers, excluding Doss, scrambled off that ridge leaving two thirds scattered across the battlefield, wounded and seemingly forgotten. Desmond Doss prayed continually to save “just one more” of his wounded fellow soldiers, sneaking around enemy territory to administer care, under heavy fire and so close he could hear the Japanese whispering to each other. He saved at least 75 people on that day, and all without a weapon to protect himself. A few days later, Doss was wounded and unable to continue, but not before he saved many more. After the war, he was awarded several medals for his efforts. But of his heroism, Desmond says it was nothing – he would risk his own life so another could live because that is what God had asked of him.

The God who protected Desmond Doss from his enemy is the same today. If I look back over my life, I can see His hand of protection in areas where I didn’t even know I needed protection from!

We are walking through a difficult season in our family right now. Every morning of each day, I pray for protection over my husband and my children. I pray Psalm 121 over them and have even hand written these verse for each of them to keep for themselves. When my children are struggling through something, I’m going to stand by their side and do everything I can do to help them. But I need sleep, and I need rest, and I can’t be with them every second of every day. It’s so good to be reminded of a Proector who never leaves our side who doesn’t need to sleep like we do.

When we pray for the Lord’s protection, no weapon formed against us will succeed, and He will silence the voices of our accusers (Isaiah 54:17). When we pray for the Lord’s protection, we don’t need to panic or be fearful because He personally goes ahead of us and doesn’t abandon us (Dueteronomy 31:6). When we pray for the Lord’s protection, He sheilds us and we are safe (Proverbs 30:5). When we pray for the Lord’s protection, the evil one cannot touch us (1 John 5:18).

My son delights in the warmth provided by his winter coat, hat and mittens. He happily puts on each one, knowing full well he will be protected from the cold wind and wintry air outside. Just as warm mittens protect our hands from frostbite, the Lord protects us against the trappings of the world. If we can protect our bodies like this without a second thought, why do we often forget to protect our hearts and our lives when we pray?

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Rest

A few years ago, on a chilly fall morning, I sat at the table with my grandmother sharing a pot of tea. It was quiet in the house, which was abnormal – because wherever we are visiting, we bring the noise. On this particular morning, my husband had taken the boys on a walk through the woods so it was calm. I remember that morning so well. My Grandma reached across the table for my hand and said, “I worry about you. You have such a heavy load. I pray for you all the time.” I smiled and thanked her and we had barely finished our tea when the boys came barelling through the doors with news of their adventures.

It’s exhausting sometimes. Having two autistic children can be challenging enough when I am the one mainly responsible to field the calls and e-mails from the school, to schedule the appointments and therapies, to help strategize and plan everything. It often feels like a full time job! It is, in a way. When you add in my own chronic illness and all the appointments and therapies, and my limited amounts of energy – some days it’s a struggle to do all the things. I understand why my loving grandmother was so concerned, and why she felt the need to pray for me often.

I often think about that morning chat over tea. That visit was the last time I saw my Grandma, she passed away the following spring. A few months after she died, I thought again about her words and knew I would miss her dedicated prayers for me. But God lovingly takes care of His children, and shortly before she died, He placed me into a new family. Where I thought there would be a void, God instead gave me an overflowing abundance of love and support.

Last night we met with our life group. We meet together often, aiming for once a week. We talk to each other about how our weeks are truly going, about our deepest struggles. We laugh until we cry at hilarious things that happen or are said. We worship together with our voices raised to Jesus, our hearts full and overflowing with joy. And we pray for each other. We cry out the the Lord on behalf of our best friends, praying for intercession, praying to be filled with the Spirit, praying for His will to be done. And often, when my friends pray for my husband and I, tears fall down my cheeks in gratefulness to be truly covered in love.

I look around the room and I’m so thankful for the gift of friendship. I am thankful for Pamela’s tender heart and kindness. I am thankful for Tim’s passion for the Holy Spirit. I am thankful for many things about Jody, who is one of my oldest friends, but one thing that stands out is how she powerully prays with authority. I am thankful for Ben’s humbleness and knowledge of the scriptures. I am thankful for the way that Brent makes connections in the Word and in life and for his gift of preaching. I am thankful for my friends Karen and Jill and for the way they mother their children (and wish I could be like them, if I’m honest!) I am thankful for Emma’s wisdom and her heart to serve. I am thankful that my friend Michelle gives healing hugs. I looked around the room at these people who are my family, and I feel incredibly blessed.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25

Friends who are family. Living in our own homes, the with connected hearts. When someone Greaves, we grieve with them. When someone celebrates, we celebrate with them. If there’s an emergency, we rearrange plans so we can help.

Together we have witnessed our brothers and sisters walk through a lot of fire. We have prayed them through many trials. Experienced a lot of heartbreak. And it’s the hard stuff that brings you closer together. It’s the hard stuff that makes the Love shine through. Still, I don’t think a week goes by that we don’t laugh over something. Because while we walk each other through the hard stuff, we also help each other find joy. We encourage and uplift each other. We point each other to Christ.

I still miss my Grandma, and think of her often. But I don’t miss her prayers. I am so covered in love and have felt the powerful prayers of the righteous. Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”(Matthew 11:28-30). My circumstances haven’t changed, and my load is still heavy. But my heart is so incredibly light. And in Him, I find true rest.

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The Jesus Factor

Yesterday was my first day at home with both kids in school for the day. It was quiet and calm, my house was pretty clean, so I decided to do something I don’t usually do. I sat down and watched a scary movie.

First, let me explain the magnitude of this. I’ve never been one to just watch be scary movie and be okay. I have friends and family who love the horror genre, who can stand up as the credits start rolling and go on with their lives. Not me. Oh, not ever me. I think about it. Perseverate on it. Walk in fear afterwards, even for days after. If the film is watched on my house, I feel it. Like a dark, heavy presence lurks in the depths of every corner. Something almost demonic.

Several years ago, when my children were very little, my husband convinced me to watch a scary movie. He likes to watch them occassionally, and because I love my husband we popped some popcorn and watched it. The film was about an evil force using mirrors as a gateway to haunt a family. It was absolutely terrifying. When it was over jt was over and we went to bed, I had a hard time falling asleep. The next morning, my husband took the boys to McDonald’s for breakfast so I could sleep in. I was just waking up when heard small voices and felt little hands placed on my bak shove me from the side of the bed. I opened my eyes and rolled over, expecting to see my three year old son. He wasn’t there. Completely awake, I got out of bed and walked into every room of our apartment. Everything seemed normal, but something was wrong. They weren’t home yet.

I don’t know exactly what that was that morning, all those years ago. I just know these two things: those hands and that shove weren’t something that imagined, and the demonic is absolutely real.

I couldn’t watch horror movies after that. Every few years, my husband would suggest one and I would shoot it down. In the last year or two, we’d discovered I don’t mind slasher movies like Scream and we watched the entire Final Destination series and that was okay too. It was just the paranormal ones that did something that completely terrified me. That was, until a year ago.

Everyone I know was raving about the movie The Bird Box. There were memes all over every social media app. It popped up in my Netflix suggestions and I told my husband we should watch it because everyone else was doing it (I know, I know.) We knew nothing about it, and the Netflix synopsis was extremely vauge. We pressed play and after thirty minutes, I knew I’d made a mistake. But I couldn’t just turn it off. I had to see the whole thing through to the end.

As usual, once the movie was over my husband was fine. But I couldn’t stop perseverating on that creature. Unseen, powerful and completely terrifying. But, something didn’t sit well with me. In the film, the people who see the creature immediately commit suicide. So in a short period of time, whole cities were completely deserted as all the inhabitants died. As I thought about it, I wondered but what about the Christians? Of course Hollywood didn’t factor them in when making a movie. How would a demonic force react when the presence of Jesus in their life flowed out of them? Well, I guess that wouldn’t make a good horror film. But it did do something in me.

Jesus and his companions went to the town of Capernaum. When the Sabbath day came, he went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority—quite unlike the teachers of religious law. Suddenly, a man in the synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, “Why are you interfering with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” But Jesus reprimanded him. “Be quiet! Come out of the man,” he ordered. At that, the evil spirit screamed, threw the man into a convulsion, and then came out of him. Amazement gripped the audience, and they began to discuss what had happened. “What sort of new teaching is this?” they asked excitedly. “It has such authority! Even evil spirits obey his orders!” The news about Jesus spread quickly throughout the entire region of Galilee. Mark 1:21-28

Demons, evil spirits and the evil forces in this world know who Jesus is. Not only do they know of Him, they fear Him.

This week a new album came out that my boys couldn’t wait to listen to. (Okay, I’ll admit it – me too!) One of our favourite bands, Rend Collective, put out an album of children’s songs called SPARKLE. POP. RAMPAGE. One of the songs is called Not Afraid, and it features these perfect lyrics:

If you say I’m an overomer

I will overcome the monsters

I may be small but I’m a fighter

Cause you are strong and fear is a liar

I’m not afraid of the dark, the dark is afraid of me

I’m not afraid cause your heart is shining bright in me

Be bold, be strong, be brave, hold on

I’m not afraid anymore, your love glows in the dark

Today I put on heaven’s armour

The sword and shield can not be conquered

I raise a shout cause I’m a warrior

Your battle cry will lead me onward

I know this song is intended for children – but friend, in stopped me in me tracks. I don’t need to be afraid because with Jesus in my heart and with soul fixated on Him, the demons in this world are afraid of me. So yesterday, I sat down with my husband and watched IT! which has lots of creepy and scary moments throughout and I was not afraid. I even laughed at some parts. And last night, when I lay my head down on my pillow, I drifted off to sleep in peace.

I’m not writing this to suggest you take advantage of the next rainy weekend and binge watch a bunch of horror movies. In fact, I hope you don’t. We are accountable for all our time spent and overloading on one thing is probably not good idea when we should be taking captive every thought and making it obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). I’m of the opinion that what we watch, read, listen to and prioritize in our lives vastly affects our attitude and actions. Instead, I’m writing this just to share the freedom I’ve found in knowing Jesus. Even in a small (but not significant) part of my life.

As I was heading to bed last night, my usual thoughts crept up – what if Pennywise tries to prey on my kids while I’m asleep? And then laughter bubbled up as I crawled into bed. No, it would be afraid of them too. We all have the Jesus Factor.

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Lay It Down

If my heart was a boat, it would be beaten and battered by wind and stormy seas. If my heart was a ship, it would have been wrecked from all the burdens I carry and don’t know how to throw overboard. It hurts sometimes, to let go. And yet, I feel in some way I am constantly being asked to let go. Let go of expectations, let go of hopes and dreams, let go of hurt, just lay it all down and walk away.

And I know it will be good for me, and I know it will show obedience, but I can’t seem to let go of some things. Because some things break my heart. Some things just aren’t fair.

This weekend, a bunch of youth from our church went away to a large youth convention. They had a great time, I’m sure. They learned, they experienced and they grew in love for Jesus. They had fun together, being together. I loved seeing their pictures, but then it hurt a little too… because my sons didn’t get to go. It was a choice we made as parents – and it was the right choice – but it still hurts.

It’s not fair that they can’t go away for a fun overnight trip. That they can’t enjoy being together with others. That their lives are just a bit too complicated for something like that to work. But it’s not just that, really. On a smaller scale, it’s difficult even to get together with the youth on a Friday night. They just don’t fit in. And it’s not fair.

I used to love youth group, when I was a teen. I went off with friends and did my own thing for a few hours a week. I learned things, I laughed a lot and I got to enjoy being in a safe place. I imagined it would be the same for my kids. I imagined it would be a place where they could be themselves, listen to the word being taught and have fun with their friends. But, it’s not like that for them. At all.

I cried myself to sleep thinking about how it’s not fair that it’s not always a safe place and it’s because they’re there. It’s not always fun, they’re not always laughing, they’re not ever going to have the same experience as I did, or my husband did, or our friends did. They don’t really fit the mold. They don’t really fit anywhere, and it’s just that little bit that crushes my heart. They don’t fit.

I had to lay it down and let it go and it was so hard. It was so soul crushingly hard to weep for the normal experiences my children will never really have. It was so awful to think about the fact that the only friend they truly have are each other, when I’ve always had good friendships that enriched my soul. So I cried, and cried and cried.

But then something amazing happened. As I surrendered it all, a peace settled in my heart and I was able to see the things I couldn’t see before, when the injustices of normality were choking me.

My kids may not be able to go to a large conference to grow and be encouraged in their faith, but God meets them when they’re sitting on their beds reading His word or blasting worship music at full volume. They may not really fit the mold at youth group, but there’s a whole group of AMAZING leaders who work with them to make it an enjoyable experience for them and every week they can’t wait to go back. And while they don’t really have many friends, they have a whole village of adults who love them and cheer them on in their own way.

Maybe it doesn’t look the same as my experience, and maybe it never will. But the important things are still there. And it’s so beautiful to see.

We are on the cusp of summer break, just a few weeks away. And after what I’m praying will be a peaceful and relaxing summer (because I for one, could use a little break from the crazy), we are heading into a season of the unknown. A season of fears, tears, and a whole lot of rocking the boat. But somehow I’m not as afraid as I thought I’d be. Because the best part of letting go is laying it down and surrendering it over to a Mighty God who is sovereign and who already knows the outcome.

And even though I feel like we are going to come up to some pretty rocky seas, and we might overturn our vessel a few times, we aren’t going to drown. Because no matter how heavy laden our lives are, no matter how many extra burdens I carry for these kids so they don’t have to, He’s guiding us through it all. And He won’t let us sink.

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Hello

Hello, 2 year old me. I see your wide eyed wonder. I hear your peals of laughter. I see the joy bubbling up inside of your soul. I see your happy. I’m so glad you held onto all of that as you forged through life’s journey.

Hello, 6 year old me. I see your curly hair that you hate (you will miss it later). I see your happy home and your white piano whose music breathes life into your soul. I see the light in your eyes but I know you miss your Grandpa and you’re jealous of your baby sister. (Spoiler alert – she’s awesome and you’ll be best friends). Hold on, little girl. It’s going to be okay.

Hello, 10 year old me. I see you rocking that oversized t-shirt as you lounge around the cottage on a rainy day reading a book. I’m glad you never lost your love for reading. It will help you a little later when you’re struggling with overwhelming emotions and you just need to write about it. Write away, girl. It’s good for you.

Hello, 15 year old me. It’s been awhile. Looking so cool and confident, loving your place in life. Hold on, my friend. Your world is about to get torn out from under you. Moving to another province, leaving behind all you know. All your friends, all your relatives, everything. It’s going to break your heart. But you’re going to be thankful for it in the end, I promise.

Hello, 20 year old me. You’ve come a long way since that heartbreaking move. You’ve made friends, you’ve almost finished university, and you’re just about to meet your husband. Most importantly, you’ve found Jesus. You’ve joined a church you love and you’re ready for whatever life brings.

Hello, 25 year old me. I see that joy from two year old me still lives on. Good. Keep laughing, girl. You’ve been married for a few years and have the cutest little toddler. You don’t know it yet, but before the year is up you’ll have another baby boy. But buckle up, buttercup. Things are going to get tough.

Hello, 28 year old me. I see your grey hair. It’s been earned, I know. You are mere weeks away from the first autism diagnosis. You’re worried about why your legs are so sore and you’re fearful for what is to come. But you’re beautiful sister is getting married today and you’re the maid of honour, so you smile. And you look beautiful, too.

Hello, 33 year old me. It’s been an awful year so far. And it’s going to get worse. Your beloved grandmother just died. A sweet childhood friend will go home to glory just a few months later. And another close friend a few weeks after that. You’ve been told your chronic illness is killing you and you have mere months to live. Your son is having difficulty transitioning to a new school and things are going to be tough for awhile. But that’s a genuine smile. And there’s a hope in your soul that cannot be tamed.

Hello, 36 year old me. You’ve been through a lot. You’ve had a lot of high highs and really low lows. You’ve fought a good fight and the Lord has been gracious. You’re not dying anymore, though the road ahead is long and burdensome. You’re finally comfortable in your own skin and don’t really care what others say or think about you because your identity isn’t wrapped up in that, it’s wrapped up in Christ. You finally got that nose ring you’ve been wanting since you were 15. Finally.

Life is a journey. Up and down, this way and that way. There’s lots of exciting things, and there’s lots of difficult things too. Some days I don’t know how we keep trucking along. But we do. All of us together, wrapped up into one package. It’s a little bruised, very deformed, but beautiful in its own way. Everything that makes us me.

There’s a lot of stuff to come that will be challenging and heartbreaking. But there’s this gift that two year old me discovered and that’s laughter. It’s so freeing, so healing. And then there is Spirit given joy which conquers every heartbreaking thing we’ve gone through so far and will conquer every difficult thing we go through in the future.

Hello, future me. Stop worrying about things you can’t control and lay it down at His feet. It’s going to be okay.

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Words Burn

I had a dream that my house was burning down. Flames of fire, flickering throughout. Smoke billowing from every room. Heat rising, paint bubbling, ash smouldering. And in the midst of it, my family was standing in our living room together, holding each other close. Until someone was burning. And all the while, I’d had advance notice the house was going to go.

Why didn’t we leave? Why did we stay? As if that burning question wasn’t enough, I’d somehow known the fire was coming.

I woke with a start, my heart racing and my palms sweaty. As if I’d just been through something uncomfortable. In a way, I had. I fumbled through my morning tasks, but my mind always returned to my dream. To the fire, to my son being burned. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. And then it slowly started to make sense to me, and everything was clear.

Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. James 3:3-6

Earlier that evening, I’d read this passage to my son, who has been struggling with controlling his tongue. It seemed like the perfect end to a lecture about him being more respectful of us as parents, about him stopping himself before he starts. About him praying for wisdom, and asking for help if he can’t do it himself. So I read that passage and didn’t think about it again.

Until that dream.

Sometimes God uses dreams to get our attention. To teach us something, to correct us. And this dream spoke some truth over my life. Because my son is my heart, but sometimes he’s a lot like me. Sometimes teenager me comes raging back into my life through his words. And sometimes, if I’m being honest, adult me needs to watch her words too.

When emotions are high, words burn. When feelings are hurt, words burn. Words burn, and if we’re not careful, they can set our whole life on fire. And sometimes we know that, but we don’t take heed. Sometimes we stand in a burning room and watch the fire swirling around us until it’s too late.

When words burn, we are hurting ourselves. When words burn, we are hurting others. I couldn’t stop thinking about my dream, and I can replay it in my mind as I watch my son’s arm burn. I see the angry embers sizzle and pop, landing on him and catching fire. He doesn’t scream. He doesn’t cry. He just looks at me, and through his eyes I can see right into his soul. And I know I’ve failed him.

If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. James 3:13
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29
Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3
From the fruit of their mouth a person’s stomach is filled; with the harvest of their lips they are satisfied. The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18:20-21

Our tongues have the power of life and death. We can choose to speak life into our words, or let the fire take over with words that spark flames. We can be helpful and encouraging, or we can tear another person down. But we can’t tame our tongue. Only God can.

His wisdom is what tames the tongue. His peace is like crashing waves over our lives, putting out fire and healing our hearts. Words burn, but He heals the wounds they leave behind.

In my dream, my choices burned my house to the ground. Words burn, and my life was on fire. My words, my actions, my choices hurt others. But the story doesn’t end there. When I saw my son burning, I screamed – which is always what my first reaction is in an emergency. But then I prayed, crying out to God to help and have mercy on us. And the house dissolved away, and we were standing by an ocean. Holding hands, all four of us. Watching the waves. I looked down at our hands, and my son’s arm was perfect. I looked at his eyes, and they were filled with joy. His eyes, as blue as the ocean stretched before us.

Words burn. But perfect peace can heal more than we can ever imagine.