Thursday, August 1, 2013

that lady in the brown house

"aw mom, you need to be more like that lady in the brown house."

apparently she's a runner.

i ran. once upon a time. i did. seriously, i used to be a runner. well, i suppose, even "used to be" is kind of a stretch. let's just say i've gone through seasons of running. maybe it's more accurate to admit i've even run through seasons of running. in fact, i've run right through seasons of running. (did i wear out that phrase yet?)

but now ...

now i'm
a dog walker.
a child chaser.
a kid driver.
a step climber.
a carpool cruiser.
a cul-de-sac hiker.
a grocery store waltzer.

do these things count?

the boy who compared his mother to the runner-lady in the brown house is ten. he's barely crossed the line into double digits, but somehow, this boy, my son, MY OWN FLESH AND BLOOD, was able to hurtle me across the line of self-doubt. and all it took was just one teensy-weensy comment about a lady in a brown house.

who happens to run.

my son didn't say it to be mean. he wouldn't do that. he was being a tease and a ten year old and that's just the way it came out.

but still...

i walked away from our conversation at the kitchen counter and i immediately thought,
"i really should get back into running.
i really should be a mother more devoted to exercise.
i really should be a better eater.
i really should be ...
                      ... a better cook!

OH, SHOOT -- DINNER! what's for dinner tonight, anyway?

and all of a sudden the frozen pizza i was planning on is no longer an option because of that lady in brown house. because of the-brown-house-lady, i was now fully prepared to run (yes, run!) and purchase something all organicky from the market and run (yes, run!) back home to whip it up. it was only 4:15.  i had plenty of time to rifle through my recipes and race around my kitchen. in fact, if i put on one of those pedometers i bet i could clock a few good miles in my meal making alone.

i don't need TO GO running ... i AM running! i am running around all over the place. all the time. good gracious, i'm running wild. i'm running around half the time like a woman with her hair on fire. my son was wrong. i AM the lady in the brown house. i'm just not wearing spandex and a super cute athleta workout top! but be assured friends, this woman is running!

but this post isn't really about the pounding of our feet, it's about the pounding of our words. because there's nothing like someone's critical words to get our mind running right into the arms of discouragement.

no matter who we are or how good we are feeling, we quickly leap into the sprint of negative thoughts which seem always ready to race around the track of our vulnerable minds.

and, all of us know, it's a hard race to win. when it comes to those well-trampled tracks running deep in our minds, we've often lost before we've even stepped up to the starting line.

just this morning i was complimenting myself on something i'd written and sent off.  just this morning my daughter told me she liked my eye color. just this morning i was feeling good about my clean kitchen floor and the fact that i could finally see the floor in the laundry room! just this morning my husband texted me, "i love you."

just this morning everything was pretty peachy keen.

and then came afternoon. and my son compared me to that lady in the brown house.  and suddenly it didn't matter that we were standing on a clean kitchen floor or that another one of my children liked my eye color.

i was only hearing the words of comparison. because that's what i was choosing to hear.

now, i can easily make this post about the words we choose to utter. because that is REALLY, REALLY IMPORTANT. "death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits." (proverbs 18:21). did you get that? it's LIFE OR DEATH important. and i happen to agree. i've spent some considerable time on both sides of the hurt-feelings-fence. i've been terribly wounded by mean spirited mutterings and i've wounded others terribly with my, as my mother would say, "ability to communicate effectively."

i get it.

i was that daughter -- scratch that -- i AM that daughter or wife or mother or sister or friend who can come up with the quick, snarky comeback. i am owner of an awful arsenal of words -- and i assure you, they are nothing short of weapons.

"there is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." ~ proverbs 12:18

have you ever encountered the sword thrust of a rash word? it's a rather messy business.

my mother told me when i was just barely a teen, (because you only need to be barely a teen for your mother to tell you things like this).  "jody lynn ... (though my name might sound it, we were not country folk. but do feel free to add that twangy draw, it will make the whole thing more interesting) ... she said, "jody lynn, you have a gift with words. and you can use this gift to greatly encourage others or to greatly discourage others. the choice is yours." guess which gift i was using at the time of our little talk? hmm...

but today i want to focus this post not on speaking encouraging words, but on hearing encouragement.  sometimes, it's about choosing to hear good things. "he who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says..." revelation 3:22

did you know it's a choice?

did you know you don't have to wrap yourself up in everybody's opinions or hasty observations?

i didn't have to stand in my kitchen and feel insecure about my running issues -- or lack thereof. i don't have to compare myself to that other mother (brown house or blue) who seems to have it more together. who seems to never lose her credit card or iphone or car keys or children ... or her very mind! (not that i have any idea who could possibly lose any (or all) of these important items ... no idea whatsoever).

i don't have to beat myself up when someone doesn't like what i've done or decided OR COOKED ... i don't have to wear the cloak of another human being's disappointment.

i don't have to listen to words which defeat or disapprove or even bring death.

i belong to Him.

in proverbs 13:3 it says, "whoever guards his mouth preserves his life..." that's the speaking portion. but a little earlier in proverbs we are instructed to, "guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life." (proverbs 4:23).  did you know there's a direct line between your ears and your heart? yes! and i don't know about you, but that part about it determining "the course of your life." well, that makes me a little nervous.

"for as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he ..." proverbs 23:7


my sister is the biology teacher, and she could explain it all 100 times better, but the mouth, ears, heart and eyes all fuse together in a symbiotic (bio word for my sis) relationship -- one effects the other. what we embrace with our ears delves deep into our heart. and after churning a bit there, our eyes and mouth work together to reveal the result. i don't think matthew was a biology teacher either, but he sure nails it: "but what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart ..." (matthew 15:18).

"let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer." psalm 19:14

did you know there are well over 150 verses in the bible which address the power of words? that's no accident. in the king james version the word "tongue" is mentioned 129 times. God knew how much we'd be challenged. God was well aware of the external explosive words and also aware of the internal erosion words. in them, we can either find His delight or we can find our death. it's a choice.

today . . .

what are you choosing to say?

and just as importantly, what are you choosing to hear?

* * * * * * * * 

years ago, in a moment of parenting desperation, i ran (yes, ran) to my office and whipped up a document which i called: "scriptures children need to hide in their hearts and sometimes write down on their papers." i broke it down into the sections which seemed especially problematic for our family. (i.e., grumbling, complaining, unkind words, jealousy, anger, ingratitude). under each of these lovely topics i added several verses which addressed the issue. now, when the kids get a little snippy or ugly or haughty, we pull out this little document and spend some time copying verses from the subject area in need. i haven't done this in a while with my crew -- i must go find that document!

i suppose this is all very english teacher-ish of me. but it's been good for us. it not only offers a measure of discipline, but it allows the child to absorb God's truth. and who, by the way, doesn't need more of that? when one of my little sinners has to copy 100 times, "do everything without grumbling or complaining," it begins to stick. it doesn't mean they won't grumble or complain again, but they will think twice about it ... and, even better, they will become more familiar with God's word. my children have memorized their share of scripture because of yucky sin. and i love that. God really doesn't waste anything...not even our ugly sins!

if you're interested, i'm happy to share the little scripture document with you. just leave me a comment or message and i'll be happy to pass it along. doesn't summer seem to be the perfect time for something like this?

and by the way, it works just as well for adults! =)

so, back to that 10 year old boy.... i'm kind of debating whether he needs to do a little copying of scripture today. i know he wasn't trying to be mean or hurt my feelings, but i just might be saving my boy from a whole lot of future trouble if i can teach him the lesson: say nothing to a woman about her need to exercise -- not even your own mother!

"do you see a man (or boy, as the case happens to be) who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him." ~ proverbs 29:20  


Simply LKJ said...

Great post Jody! As I mentioned our CBS group read Lysa's book Unglued. There is a chapter in which she addresses labels...goes along with what you are saying perfectly!

Hope you are all doing well. The school buses are running their trial routes here already! So thankful we have Katie home for a few more weeks before she heads back to Texas.

Would love a copy of the verses when you get a chance!

Paige said...

uh yeah I want that document!!!!
Love this post by the way:) right where my thoughts are NOW!

Amy said...

I would love a copy!

Melanie said...

I would love a copy of your scripture.

This was great to read.

Lori said...

Great post!

Would love a copy of those scriptures!

Anonymous said...

Hi Jody,
Thank you for this post! It spoke to me so poignantly! Would love that scripture document....
I'm tiring from the bickering between 4 girls.
~ Jenna Feit

Aus said...

Morning Jody - great thoughts here!! I'm in a profession in which physical fitness may - literally - mean the difference between life and death, reaction time and the ability to hang in there until help arrives means a great deal to me! I've run more than my share in hopes of maintaining cardiovascular fitness, and hated every step...

And sometimes I see these runners - and I wonder - why is it that they run?

And sometimes I wonder - is it because they are trying to get away from something...

You don't need to be a runner - you are more "fit" than many people that I know!

When you get a chance - I'd love to see your Scriptural document!! ;)

hugs - aus and co.

Lolly said...

Thank you so much for posting this! I too would love a copy of that document of Scripture verses. Can you email it to me at Thanks so much in advance!

cathy said...

I would LOVE a copy! love this post. Had just finished a devotion for our ladies group on this exact topic! Amazing how God works to edify in ways we can never imagine! thanks for your heart for Him!

Marki said...

Hi Jody, I too, would love a copy of your document, thanks for offering. ( I enjoy reading your blog. God did give you a gift for words, thank you for using it to inspire others - me included! :)
Marki Manby

Leslie said...

I would love to have a copy of that spiritual document you used with your kids!
It would greatly benefit me.

maggie k said...

I would love a copy of the document! My email is: Thanks M

Gail McLaughlin said...

Jody I would love one!

jodymcnatt said...

out of town now -- but will post or send it when i return! =)

Paula said...

Please share! You have incredible insight and I learn so much from reading your posts. If email is needed; Thank you!