Our Words can Heal or Destroy

Words are a powerful tool. Some folks never learn just how powerful they are. Rather, by not guarding what they say, they spend their lives wreaking emotional havoc wherever they go. In explanation, loving words can heal a broken bond, while hurtful remarks could destroy a relationship forever. The importance of governing words is sometimes lost on those who grow up in dysfunction, like I did. We can become misguided individuals believing that as long as we aren’t physically abusing anyone, screaming, or cursing; that verbal attacks are acceptable.

What happened behind closed doors when we were children, is often not an acceptable role model for healthy communication. No matter our age, and regardless of how painful our past has been, it’s wrong to think that God allows His children to wound others. West central Ohio’s Pastor Randy Bargerstock shared this poignant truth in a message once. He said that there is a lie that some people believe that when they have been hurt, this gives them the right to hurt others.

The Bible contradicts this falsehood, “The good man from his inner good treasure flings forth good things, and the evil man out of his inner evil storehouse flings forth evil things. But I tell you, on the Day of Judgment men will have to give account for every idle (inoperative, non-working) word they speak. For by your words you will be justified and acquitted, [or]…you will be condemned and sentenced.” Matthew 12:35-37

Not only will we be called to account for our words, but the kind of life that we live today is dependent on healthy communication. After all, Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they who indulge in it shall eat the fruit of it [for death or life].” In explanation, unchecked anger, lack of forgiveness, or bitterness, can drive us to say cruel things to others. In Matthew 12:34 we are told that, “…For out of the fullness (the overflow, the superabundance) of the heart the mouth speaks.”

“If we permit wrong thoughts [or motives] to dwell in our hearts, we will ultimately speak them. Whatever is hidden in our hearts will sooner or later be expressed openly through our mouths,” cautions Evangelist Joyce Meyer.

Dr. Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages also believes that words have great impact. He even identifies, “Words of Affirmation,” as a basic love language for some individuals. “One way to express love emotionally is to use words that build up,” explains the bestselling writer. “Verbal compliments, or words of appreciation, are powerful communicators of love,” adds Chapman.

However, sometimes relationships, and especially marriages, fall into a vicious cycle where partners exchange criticisms and complaints, instead of encouraging words. When a relationship reaches this point, author and speaker, Nancy Leigh DeMoss suggests fasting critical comments for 30 days to break the destructive pattern.

Because a man’s greatest need in relationship is respect, the harm of disrespectful words can cause great division. Since a woman’s primary need is for love, she will also begin to have damaged emotions from constant verbal criticism.

Biblical writer, James understood the power of words. “But the human tongue can be tamed by no man. It is a restless…evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who were made in God’s likeness! Out of the same mouth come forth blessing and cursing. These things, my brethren, ought not to be so.” James 3:8-10

We can’t tame our own tongues, but God can. After all, most of us realize that domestic violence is never acceptable often forgetting that verbal battering is another form of abuse. Therefore, ask the Holy Spirit to guard your mouth during disagreements. In addition, realize that you don’t have to raise your voice to be abusive. Rather a demeaning tone or the viciousness of accusatory words can break a loved one’s heart. I will honestly admit that I’m writing this, because controlling my words has been one of my greatest life struggles.

If you are like me, and you do feel yourself losing control, walk away from the situation, until you are able to deal with the confrontation more calmly. Also, apologize to those you have wounded in the past, assuring them that you are working on communicating more appropriately. Pray for wisdom, requesting God’s help in changing destructive verbal behavior. “But the wisdom from above is first of all pure; then it is peace loving, courteous, (considerate, gentle). [It is willing to] yield to reason, full of compassion and good fruits…” James 3:17

If you have read all of the above, then please watch this incredibly insightful, but very short video that millions of viewers have seen on YouTube. You will be amazed at how we say, what we say, affects our lives. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hzgzim5m7oU

Christina Ryan Claypool is a 1st place Amy Award winning freelance journalist and Christian speaker. She is the author of the book, Seeds of Hope for Survivors. Contact her through her Website at www.christinaryanclaypool.com

Warning: Don’t Wish Away Life’s Precious Moments

Many of us spend lots of time wishing our lives away. Instead of enjoying the present, we wait for things to come to an end. Whether it’s a book, a movie, a concert, or even our growing up years, we often daydream about the ending. This isn’t all bad, since the Bible tells us that, “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning of it….” (Ecclesiastes 7:8) After all, it’s good to work diligently, complete a task, and set a new goal. But it’s not good to unrealistically daydream about the future when we think our circumstances will somehow reach perfection. Anticipating what’s next, we often miss the here and now. We forfeit our present moments of enjoyment, which can never be relived.

Or maybe today’s struggles seem so great, that we can’t wait until tomorrow comes. Yet, the Bible says, “…do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:34 Amplified Bible) A promise of trouble can make one a little jaded about the future, but all God is trying to tell us is to, “Live One Day at a Time.”

We can also become discontent fixating on what we wish we had. Or obsessed with obtaining what we think we will need. So unhappy, in fact, that we forget to be grateful for the here and now.

Maybe that’s why the Apostle Paul tells us in the fourth chapter of Philippians, “I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty.” (Phi. 4:12 The Message)

In contrast, part of our human nature seems intent on not celebrating our current blessings. Instead of savoring the priceless experiences of today, we frequently dream of the fulfillment we will find in our tomorrows. For example, single folks often envy married individuals, while some married people readily joke about how much they miss their carefree single days.

Another example of missing a blessing is the classic story of the young mom [like I once was] who is exhausted by the boundless energy of her tiny toddlers. She dreams of the day when she can send them off to school. But before she knows it, that same mom will be at her child’s graduation wondering how the years flew by so fast.

Many of us will probably attend a graduation or two in the next month, and witness fathers and mothers who have that frozen deer in the headlights look. Some of us can remember fighting back tears, when our own children graduated. Because as parents we were shocked when the end came sooner then we could have ever imagined.

Yet a graduation isn’t an ending at all. The word, commencement actually originates in the root word, commence, which literally means to begin or to start. A graduation is a beginning of a new life for the graduates, but for those of us who love them it often signals our most difficult parental role, the task of letting go.

Jesus had to let His disciples go, when He ascended to His father. Yet like most wise mentors, He had done His best to prepare them for the next stage of life. He even left them with this command, “Go into all the world and preach and publish openly the good news the Gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16: 15 Amplified)

We always paint Jesus as this down-to-business kind of guy, who led his band of men with a heavy hand. But think about it; a boisterous fisherman, a tax collector, and a couple of boys with hot tempers could not have been controlled with rules and regulations. Our Savior won their hearts by being an intent listener, a compassionate friend, and a man who liked to share a good meal. In other words, he lived in the present, and so should we.

The next time you find yourself wishing your life away, maybe it’s not a lesson from Scripture that will call you back. Instead listen to the lyrics from Trace Adkins’ country hit,  that says, “You’re going to miss this. You’re going to want this back. You’re going to wish these days – hadn’t gone by so fast.”  So, enjoy the journey one day at a time, and Happy Graduation!

Christina Ryan Claypool is an Amy Award winning freelance journalist and Christian speaker. Contact her at Christina@christinaryanclaypool.com


Lunchtime Prayer: Something Bold and Beautiful

                  Prayer is something that we should do always. “Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty…” (Ephesians 6:18 Amplified Bible)

     Our prayers can be such a powerful tool, but do you ever think of prayer as something beautiful? I never did, until “Uncle” Gene taught me the truth about the beauty of prayer.

The late Fred Eugene Perine wasn’t my uncle at all, but rather a close friend’s uncle who always treated me like family. After graduating from The Ohio State University with a degree in journalism, he worked at the Detroit News, The Lima News, and the Port Clinton Daily News, among others.

Later, he became a social worker, ultimately achieving the rank of deputy director for Franklin County Human Services. Columbus became his hometown, and social work his occupation. Yet to coin an old joke about newspaper employees, his veins continued to bleed black for the rest of his days.

Our paths crossed infrequently after I was an adult, yet he never missed an opportunity to encourage my passion for writing. He had only heard about my passion for Christ, since that came after we had drifted apart.

More than a decade ago, I was blessed to share one last lunch with Uncle Gene. Of course, I didn’t know it would be our final meeting. It didn’t seem possible that this curmudgeonly mentor who always reminded me of Andy Rooney could ever die.

At lunchtime, Uncle Gene who was in his mid-seventies arrived at west central Ohio’s WTLW TV 44 where I then worked as a reporter and producer. I gave my elderly colleague a “fifty-cent” tour of the station. Even though he had newspapers in his blood, I noticed that he seemed genuinely excited by the studio lights, cameras, and anchor desks. What I didn’t notice was that the still barrel-chested, silver-haired senior had become quite fragile.

Therefore, at lunch when our salads arrived, I was a bit intimidated when asking my impressive mentor if it would be alright to say a blessing. You see, spirituality wasn’t something that we had ever discussed.

Besides, praying in public before a meal can require a combination of wisdom and boldness. Sometimes we need to pray silently by bowing our heads. At other times, we have to have enough courage to ask our companions, if they want to be included.

After all, nobody wants to look like a hypocritical Pharisee saying prayers to impress others. While reciprocally, God’s children need to take time to thank Him for his provision. The Bible says, “Pray diligently. With your eyes wide open in gratitude.” (Col. 4:2 The Message)

Uncle Gene gently said that it would be ok to say a blessing. I reached for his wrinkled hand, and bowed my head while offering a simple prayer of thanksgiving for him and the food. When it comes to prayer, I’ve never stood on formality. My favorite definition of prayer is simply, “Talking to God.”  Not talking to a distant “pie in the sky” kind of God, rather having a transparent conversation with our Heavenly Father who loves us more than we can imagine.

Anyway, when I finished my prayer, and said, “Amen,” I opened my eyes, and was shocked when I saw tears in my surrogate uncle’s eyes. In three decades of knowing him, I had never seen him cry. As a single tear began to cascade down his weathered cheek, he brushed it away with his stubby hand.

Thinking I had somehow upset or offended him, since we had already entered the politically correct era, I quickly offered an apology. Instantly he assured me that everything was fine. He explained his tears by softly saying, “Beautiful things always make me cry.”

It was my turn to be shocked again, since this was a side of Uncle Gene that I had never seen. Sometimes, I think of his reaction when I’m feeling intimidated about bowing my head and blessing my meal in public. Praying publicly can require us to be a bit bolder than we would like, but you never know who this simple witness of our love for Christ will touch.

Christina Ryan Claypool is a Christian speaker and Amy Award winning freelance journalist. Contact her through her website at www.christinaryanclaypool.com 

Preparing for Mother’s Day without Mom


            After someone you love dies there are many questions about them that suddenly seem unanswerable. Especially, when death comes without warning. Maybe you can’t remember what their favorite flower was, when they fell in love for the first time, or what parting advice they would give those who follow in their footsteps.

            You frantically search your memory bank at a loss for filling in the missing pieces, berating yourself for not listening more intently. Somehow, this is heightened when you grapple with questions about your own mother.

Perhaps, you think of conversation you once had. How like most children regardless of your age, you selfishly shared your own happenings. While your mom, patiently listened intently focused on your well-being, never expressing her deepest desires or besetting fears.

            With Mother’s Day approaching, the second without my mom, it could have been my experience to battle the frustration of not knowing more about her journey. After all, often our mothers don’t seem like individuals with lives of their own, until we have children. Then we realize the true sacrifice of motherhood is always putting your offspring’s needs first.

            We take grandparents for granted, too. In explanation, when my maternal grandmother died in 1993, I was saddened by how little I knew about this dedicated nurturer. Despite spending a lifetime chatting, I was at a loss to sketch a complete portrait of her. I cried when I realized I didn’t even know what Gram’s favorite color was. Finally settling that it must have been blue, but I’ll never know for sure.

            Unlike my grandmother, when my mother, Glenna Giesken Sprang left this earth on October 13, 2010, she didn’t leave any questions unanswered. Even though she died abruptly from a kidney stone gone terribly wrong, she had the foresight to write a memoir titled, “Reflections from a Mother’s Heart.” The then 74-year-old matriarch gave her children this unusual gift on Christmas 2006.

            I didn’t read the 58 page spiral bound booklet when I received it. My life was moving at a fast pace, and I erroneously thought I knew most of what was recorded in it. Absentmindedly, I placed it in my white wicker magazine rack never realizing that when I sat down to study its pages, Mom would be gone.

            Through a question and answer format, she shared countless childhood experiences, romantic memories, convictions about her core values, and an explanation of her abiding faith, despite some difficult days. Mom also expressed her belief that we all have our own unique story.

            In some ways, I deeply regret not taking time to read this memoir while she was alive to discuss it with her in detail. In other ways, it has been such a gift reading it now. Sitting down with a cup of coffee and pouring over the booklet’s informative pages, has been like having one of our marathon conversations.

            In explanation, for the last three decades of our lives, Mom and I lived 600 miles apart, and long-distance truly was “the next best thing to being there.” Through our phone provider’s family plan, we racked up priceless moments.

            I also visited my mother in Philadelphia whenever I could, but it wasn’t often enough. Because I never imagined that she wouldn’t be here for the huge 80th birthday celebration that I had hoped we would have for her on May 3rd this year.

            A very wise nurse once told me, that when we love someone deeply, “We always think we will see them one more time.” Besides, we can’t believe that the one, who gave us birth, tended our banged-up knees and broken hearts could ever leave us.

            Despite the fact that she is no longer here, Mom remains in our hearts and in the legacy of her words. For example, in her reflections, one of the most important life lessons that she records is a reminder that, “….all things work together for good for those who love God.” [Romans 8:28]

           Based on this Biblical promise, she writes, “When you’ve messed up…remember this. There is no mistake so big that God’s mercy is not bigger. I have found…that some things I considered failures turned out to be blessings.”

            Another lesson, “Always try to leave a person…a little happier for having met you – encourage,” she advised. Based on this, my own parting advice is why not surprise your loved ones with a Mother’s Day extraordinaire? Don’t let those words of appreciation go unsaid.

             If there are deep wounds between you and your mom, try to find it in your heart to forgive. This might be the greatest gift you can give to her and to yourself this year, because you never know when it will be your last. In parting, from the road less traveled, I wish you all the very best this Mother’s Day!

            Christina Ryan Claypool is an Amy Award winning freelance journalist and an inspirational speaker. This column was originally published in the Sidney Daily News on May 9, 2012.