Saturday, March 4, 2017

the problem with kids these days...

This is a repost from a few years back. Let me start by saying, there's nothing wrong with kids these days. I am surrounded by stunning examples of great teenagers every day in my job...and some that are still trying to find their way. What's the matter with kids these days? Nothing. They are just following our lead.

The other day I heard a friend ask, "What is it with the kids these days?" It was the typical conversation that happens after a rough day with students. We often see them make poor choices, but some days just make you shake your head. Often, that 'head-shake' is a result of students who just seem unwilling to give the extra effort needed to excel. Good enough is good enough for them. They do not seem to demonstrate something called "integrity" in their lives.

Let me give an example. Recently, we were having a fund raiser at school to raise money for a charity. Friendly competition was going on in all the classes and my class set a goal of what they wanted to raise. I told them if they met their goal, I'd bring doughnuts for the class. I allowed them to set the goal and while I reminded them each day, it was up to them. (I planned to give to make up any money they needed to make the goal if they didn't quite make it, but I didn't tell them this.)

The final day arrived and we were a little over $15 short. Then one student said something that definitely did not sit well with this teacher...."Can't you just lower the bar as to what we needed to raise?" A chorus of "yeah, we did pretty good - can't you just reward us anyway?" was heard. I stopped right there. No, I could not. I could not in good conscious reward for a goal not met. I loved them too much for that. Now, before you think I'm an awful teacher, I did bring doughnuts another day, making sure they understood it wasn't a reward for reaching their goal but simply because I wanted to bring them. It was grace, not something earned.

This story illustrated something I see in my own children, and in my own life. There is something that is often missing in my life - integrity. The dictionary defines integrity as "adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty." In other words - do I live what I say I believe or do I want credit for just good enough?

My conversation with another teacher made me ask, What is going on with 'kids these days?' The next day, I stumbled upon a verse that answered my question and made it clear. Proverbs 20:7 - "The godly walk with integrity; blessed are their children who follow them." If I want my children to be blessed, I have to walk in integrity. Psalm 119:1 says "Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord." Does my life demonstrate joy? If not, maybe the problem is that I am not walking in integrity. If I want my children joyful and blessed, it starts with me!

Have we, as a people, forgotten how important integrity is? Do I hold others to a standard I do not hold for myself? Do feel it is okay for me to yell at someone in traffic but not okay for my child to yell at their brother or sister? Do I feel it is okay for me to tell a little lie and yet expect my children to be honest with me? Do I cut down my boss or co-workers and yet expect my children to speak with respect toward their teachers and speak kindly toward others at school?

Do I make excuses for my children and yet expect them to try their best to succeed? Do I demonstrate a life of integrity?

I guess it all boils down to this; the question isn't really what is the problem with kids these days. The question is 'What is wrong with us?' because whether we realize it or not - our children are watching and following in the steps we leave.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Not mine...

Today I was hit by one of those random thoughts: My children are not mine. This may seem like a "duh" moment to many, especially those that know my children are adopted, but this time it means a little more to me than it did before.

Anyone who knows me knows that I delight in my kids. I beam with pride when I watch my sweet girl making her way in life. I can be heard far above the roar of the crowd at a football game shouting, "That's MY tiny baby boy!" Still, with that being said, my kids are not mine. Truthfully, they never have been. This applies whether I had given birth to them or not. I just got the amazing privilege of watching these children grow, helping keep the wildlife from eating away at the fruit of their lives and occasionally pull a few weeds from their garden. I get to work and watch and enjoy some of the fruits, but they belong to God, not me.

This is a difficult lesson for ANY parent to grasp. We can get so involved in our kid's lives, loving them and supporting them, that we think what THEY do is actually what WE do...but it's not. This isn't about trying to relive your life through your kids, but more about the way we blame ourselves or feel like we've done something wrong when they make discouraging choices. They are their own unique person, not an extension of us.

I have struggled with this for years and have given my children back to God over and over. It's not that I kept taking them back, but more like I just learned a little more each time on how to let them go. I think we all wish it was a one-time process, but I think God knows we couldn't handle that. He allows us to think that these precious little ones are "MINE!" when they never really belonged to us at all.

It's not just that our children are not an extension of us. We are not an extension of our parents either. Have great parents? That's awesome! They probably did a great job pointing you to who you truly are. Have not so great parents? Not a problem. They don't determine the purpose God has for you. And make no mistake, whether you know it or not, He has a purpose for you. It may not be what you or your parents imagined it would be, but there is definitely a purpose. It is HIS purpose.

Recently I heard a young person say she didn't "feel" loved by God and those around her. I reminded her that whether she felt it or not did not change the fact that she is, indeed, loved. Just because we cannot always see the sun does not mean it has ceased to exist. We simply have moved to a place where we cannot feel it. Like the earth orbits, there will be times when we do not "feel" that sun, but it is still there and soon we will "feel" it again. We can't depend on feelings.

And we can't depend on our feelings when it comes to our children either. There is a knowing that no matter how much we love our children, God loves them more. They are not ours in the first place. He has a unique purpose for them...and for us. That purpose doesn't go away when our "parenting" duties evolve into simply standing on the sidelines as they fulfill their purpose. (Although, I admit that I probably will still be shouting at the top of my lungs, "That's MY tiny baby!" They need to get used to that because I will do that as long as I live. It's not about claiming ownership, it's about rejoicing in what I've seen God do in their lives. That's what you do when someone you love succeeds!) Our purpose was decided while we were still in the womb, not when we carried them, or in my case, when their birth mother carried them.

And with this comes a freedom to love them even more.

This week, my oldest has chosen to go on the same mission trip I have been planning to go on. It will be our first overseas mission trip together. I am so looking forward to this, not because she's mine, but because I will get to watch her from the sidelines as she fulfills her purpose and I get to fulfill mine at the same time. She is her own person and will do things in her own unique way. 

Not mine...I've got to say, I never imagined it would feel so wonderful to let them go and watch them grow. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some growing of my own left to do.

Jeremiah 29:11New International Version (NIV)

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Psalm 139:14-16The Message (MSG)

13-16 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
    you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
    Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
    I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
    you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
    how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
    all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
    before I’d even lived one day.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

I took the bait...

I've tried. Honestly, I have! I've tried to keep my mouth shut, but of course, I have failed...repeatedly. I've written what was on my mind. True, usually I would go back and delete what I'd written, but I wrote it all the same. I tried to stay out of conversations that, well, anyone who has looked at facebook lately can figure out the direction things went. I've tried to remain calm, but still have been misunderstood. Tonight, I figured out something. I took the bait. 

I realized this when I read something written by the nineteenth-century British poet and philosopher, Matthew Arnold: "If ever there comes a time when the women of the world come together purely and simply for the benefit of mankind, it will be a force such as the world has never known."

That's when it hit me. The enemy is using the same tactic he's used for centuries. He's out to divide us. I'm not talking about believers and unbelievers...I'm talking about believers with different opinions. The enemy would try to divide us so that we are no longer in unity, having us fight with one another instead of facing our real enemy.

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." Ephesians 6:12

So that's it. I finally recognized who is dangling the bait in front of me, and there is most definitely a hook inside. I'm not going to say I won't ever fall for it again. There is a part of me that enjoys "coming back with a pithy answer," and when I feel someone has called me out, I enjoy feeling powerful with my words and my "rights". I don't think I'm so smart as to not be pulled into fruitless arguments, but from here on out I will do my best to keep my mouth shut and not bite into the bait. (Did I mention there's a hook inside?)

My friends, men and women, who have found ourselves pulled into arguments about women's rights, or political issues more than ever, we need to stop and pay attention. It is an issue of "us and them," it's just that the "them" is an unseen enemy that would do anything to divide God's children. Let us, instead, stand together, watch each other's back, and reach out a hand to help our brothers and sisters in the fight.

I don't want to fight people anymore, not even in the spirit of "political debate." (I know I have friends who actually enjoy this - I am not one of them.) There's a battle going on and it's not against people. I will do my best to now fight the battle where it should be fought - in prayer.

So how about it brothers and sisters? We aren't really convincing each other of anything on facebook. How about we spend our time with something that will make a difference? How about we remember who our real enemy is? How about, just for now at least, we refuse to take the bait? 

Let's post some "No fishing" signs in our lives and the lives of our families. Let's use our words instead to speak to dry bones and watch as God does something truly worth talking about. 

Ezekiel 37
The hand of the Lord was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones. He caused me to pass among them round about, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley; and lo, they were very dry. He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord [b]GodYou know.” Again He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.’ Thus says the Lord God to these bones, ‘Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life. I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin and put breath in you that you may come alive; and you will know that I am the Lord.’”
So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold, a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, sinews were on them, and flesh grew and skin covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they come to life.”’”10 So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they came to life and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Don't start nothin', won't be nothin'

Today I woke up and thought about a race I had seen online. It was the standard 5k only this one said it would be a challenging race with hills ...

As I sat in my comfy chair and sipped my coffee on this lazy Saturday, I tried to think of a reason not to go...I had none, but there were lots of reasons to go. It was for a good cause - the proceeds went to adopt-a-pet, it wasn't too early in the day - didn't start till 9:30, it didn't cost a lot for the race - even for those late to register like me, and finally, I thought about those "putting on" the race - I've done a few races and I always worry, what if no one comes!

So, I struggled out of my chair and put on my running shoes and headed out the door.
Of course, this made no sense. I haven't trained in forever and I have another race scheduled for tomorrow and I really don't like even semi-cold weather and...well, that's about all I had. 

Then, I had this thought - "Don't start nothin', won't be nothin'." It sort of rang over and over in my head...the only way to do anything is to start.

There will never be a perfect time, or perfect weather, or perfect whatever - and that's not just when it comes to running. There will be days when the run feels effortless and then days when I wonder why I ever put on a pair of running shoes. Again, this isn't just for running. But no matter what the day, if I don't start, then nothing can follow.

I wonder how many of us put off things until the "perfect" time. How many dreams are still sitting on the shelf because someone is still waiting on the perfect time? Books left unwritten, businesses not started, missions left unfulfilled, friendships not developed, schooling put off...all waiting for the perfect time. 

So, today as I recuperate from the race (which was a lot of fun, by the way) I will be mulling over this little phrase - "Don't start nothin', won't be nothin'."

What is it that you've been putting off until the perfect time? Maybe the time to start is now.

Romans 14:8 (ASV) For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; or whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's.

Psalm 118:24-25 (MSG)
This is the very day God acted—
    let’s celebrate and be festive!
Salvation now, God. Salvation now!
    Oh yes, God—a free and full life!

Special thanks to everyone who put on the race today! You weren't kidding when you said there would be hills!!! Still, it was a really great race and loved the day even if my husband said no to me adopting that cute little black and white puppy that Southern Pines Animal Shelter had there today. (And I won first place in my age group - so glad I started!)
Fast and Furious 5k

Saturday, November 12, 2016

It's time to argue...

Arguing has been on my mind a lot this week. It's not just because of what has been going on in the news, but my students have actually been learning how to argue or debate this week as well, and I couldn't be prouder of these young people. I thought I'd share a few moments from my week. 

#1 - When we first started working on arguing, I asked my students what they thought was the purpose of arguing. The overwhelming answer was something about proving your point. No, not quite. The goal of an argument is not to win, but to understand and to be understood. 

I decided we should practice arguing using a very hot topic on whether we should limit salt in our diets - something every young person feels passionately about (NOT!) At one point of the discussion, one student jumped up to make his point with passion. His voice rose and it became obvious that he KNEW his point would annihilate the argument of his fellow classmate. At that moment I said, "Freeze! Nobody move!" I then pointed out the young man's "opponent" and her body language. She sat there with her arms crossed and pushed back into her seat. I asked my students what did her body language tell us. They all agreed that she looked angry and defensive. I then asked, "Do you think she will be won over at this point by the other "arguments"?" The response was a resounding "NO!" Then I demonstrated the way to disagree without being disagreeable...probably one of the most important lessons I think I've taught all year.

I even shared a personal story that had happened on Facebook. In an attempt to reach out to an old friend who was upset about the way the election had gone and how angry she was at anyone who had voted for the other candidate. I opened a dialogue intended to reaffirm that despite differences of opinion, people could still be friends. Before I could finish typing a second response to her, one of her other "friends" jumped in and basically cussed me out, dropping the "f" bomb more than once. (The response from my students was an expected "Oooooooooo!" My students see me as someone who does not back down, I guess.) I shared with my students that I knew I could have a sharp tongue. My first response was to start typing a very snappy response, and I am a very fast typer! Then I felt that little nudge inside that said, "Stop. This is not the way," so I took my finger and pressed "delete, delete, delete" until all my "perfect" comebacks had disappeared from the screen. Instead I typed, "I am sorry that you felt this was the best way to respond to someone who was truly reaching out a hand of friendship." It pretty much ended the Facebook conversation. 

One of my students blurted out - "Whoa, you killed her with kindness!" I had to agree but told him that was not my intention. My intention was to build a bridge of understanding...because that is what arguing is supposed to be, listening and talking to each other to understand. I had them copy a quote that said, "Don't raise your voice, improve your argument." ~ Desmond Tutu. "Improve your argument," I like that.

#2 - I learned a new appreciation for a young friend of mine who loves to argue. A lot of my personal friends can guess who this might be.  I used to joke that if I was holding an apple, Channing would argue it was an orange. I don't think I've ever met someone who truly seemed to ENJOY arguing like this young man. I need to also state that I truly admire this young man who I've known since birth. He is a thinker like none other I know. But this week, my appreciation for him grew even more because I now think there is a method to his madness that I'm not sure even he recognizes. Every time Channing questions what someone says, he is attempting to understand and even more than that, he is challenging the other person to examine and understand what they have said. When I say I believe something, I need to able to clearly explain WHY I believe it. WHY is this the viewpoint I hold? I can't rely on hearsay or opinion, I need to be ready to give my evidence. I have to admit, this often frustrates me because it causes me to have to really THINK and since it usually happens at the end of the day or on the weekend, my brain is tired. But it does give me something to think about along the way. I examine my evidence. Can't say he's ever changed my mind, but he has caused me to make sure I really believe what I say I do. You've got to love someone like that.

#3 - I don't like to argue, mainly because I can have a very sharp tongue and, though I've been accused of many things, being soft spoken has never been one of them. To avoid this in the past, I have simply shut my mouth and avoided the subject all together. But now, I am trying to spend more time listening and learning to articulate my reasoning to those who are also ready to listen and begin a dialogue. We may not change each others' opinion, but at least we will be able to understand each other and see each other as friends with different opinions instead of enemies...and that's what true arguing is supposed to do. (Now if I could only get those who disagree with me to see that this is the purpose for arguing in life.)

I'm sure there are other things that I've learned, but I've already talked too much. Let's just say, I think I learn more in my classes than my kids and I'm so thankful for the opportunity to help instruct the future. I tell them, they are already farther along than some adults I know. Now to learn from my own lessons. I may fail at times, but I truly want to understand and be understood. I don't want to "argue" as the world knows it, but as it was originally intended to be used. 

Happy arguing, my friends.

1 Peter 3:15-18 (Message)
Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They’ll end up realizing that they’re the ones who need a bath. It’s better to suffer for doing good, if that’s what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad. That’s what Christ did definitively: suffered because of others’ sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all—was put to death and then made alive—to bring us to God.

Proverbs 15: 1, 4
1 A gentle response defuses anger,
    but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire.

4 Kind words heal and help;
    cutting words wound and maim.

Excerpt from The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis (by the way, this is a letter from the "head demon, Screwtape" to his protege, Wormwood.)

My Dear Wormwood,
Be sure that the patient remains completely fixated on politics. Arguments, political gossip, and obsessing on the faults of people they have never met serves as an excellent distraction from advancing in personal virtue, character, and the things the patient can control. Make sure to keep the patient in a constant state of angst, frustration and general disdain towards the rest of the human race in order to avoid any kind of charity or inner peace from further developing. Ensure that the patient continues to believe that the problem is “out there” in the “broken system” rather than recognizing there is a problem with himself.
Keep up the good work,
Uncle Screwtape

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Living the Dream

I had a dream...

No, I'm not about to quote Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous speech. This is just the random thought that was in my head this morning. Actually, it's been on my mind quite a bit lately. I HAD a dream...and I wonder what happened to it.

At the tender young age of 57, I'm starting to wonder whatever happened to that dream I felt the Lord first put on my heart when I was only 16. I vividly remember standing in church saying I felt a call to ministry...I'm sure everyone in the congregation of that tiny Baptist church loved my zeal all the while knowing that "women don't go into ministry unless they become missionaries." Still, I had a dream that I felt God had placed in my heart.

Over the years, that dream has changed a little. For a while, I did serve "in ministry." I worked at church as Children's Director/receptionist/bulletin and newsletter developer, (that meant I typed and ran copies.) Still, I had the secret dream that felt unfulfilled. I knew that the dream included speaking before people...lots of people. I know that sounds pretty arrogant, but honestly, I felt like God was placing a word of encouragement and challenge in me that I had to share.

After God blessed us with two children, ironically, I felt that my time as a Children's Director was coming to a close. I went to my pastor who prayed with me for direction and within just a few months, I found myself in a classroom teaching full time. I didn't even have a "teaching degree," but I went through the Alternate Route program in my state and my BS in Advertising became my foot in the door of the classroom. (Pretty fitting since advertising is a lot like have to convince your "audience" that they need your product enough to buy in.) 

I started by teaching in a private Christian school but still felt that I wasn't quite where God wanted me - yet. The very next year, He directed me to a public school only a mile from my home. And yes, I do mean directed me. I vividly remember feeling that "nudge" to go by that school at a very particular time of day, only to run into someone who was once again, my foot in the door. Long story short - I worked in that school for 7 years. I still run into or hear from former students that remind me of how blessed I was to be a part of that school.

Then, I felt the Lord direct me to step out in faith because He was getting ready to move me. Trouble was, I had no idea where! Of course, God knew and it was the perfect place for me to teach. I was blessed to teach there for five years before once again I felt that nudge. 

This time, I felt led to another school in my district that I really knew very little about. I wasn't even sure where it was. When I asked others, the first response was "Why do you want to go there?" with a very questioning face. Evidently, no one wanted to go there. All I could say was, I think God is leading me. Turns out He was and I have had an awesome four years at this school. I've had good days and bad, but don't we all; still, I love this school and community. But I've got to be honest...I still have that dream - the one I had back when I was 16. 

I remember going to my pastor, (yes, the same one) a few years back and sharing my dream of writing and publishing and speaking. His response was something along the lines of, "What can I do to help you with this?"  I told him, "Nothing." I just felt I needed to speak to my spiritual covering and check with him to see if I was off base. I was totally leaving it up to God as to how He wanted to go about making this happen. That was it. The skies didn't open, the angels didn't sing, I didn't quit my job and suddenly hit the evangelistic speaking circuit. I went back to my classroom.

Since then, I have self-published some of my writing in limited supply and actually have been blessed to have two of my blogs shared in a book of devotions, but mostly it's just been tapping out on my computer and sharing on facebook and occasionally checking to see if anyone has read the blog. No speaking engagements, no big book deals, just words on the computer screen. 

Other friends who have been writing for only a short time excitedly tell me of the book they are having published and I smile and cheer for them all the while wondering why my writing still only graces the screens of a few friends and loyal supporters. But the dream? Well, if anything, it looks like the dream is getting farther and farther from my reach. 

Then this morning, out of the blue, came a thought. 

My dream was to share encouragement and challenge while standing before a crowd of people...and in an instant, my students flashed into my mind. 

Every day, I get the opportunity to share the hope of God and encouragement from His Word and the challenge to hold tight to the promise that He has a purpose for your life. Oh, don't worry; I am not violating the rules of the public school classroom. I don't specifically preach the "gospel" as in Bible verses, and there are never any altar calls in my classroom. Instead, I just share the promises I know are true in simple everyday conversation. I challenge them to be thankful in all things, to be gentle with those they disagree with, to listen more than speak, but to not be afraid to speak when they see injustice, and most of all I share hope and love - not hope and love that could possibly come from an old, out-of-touch, somewhat quirky teacher, but hope and love that comes from my Father. Real hope. Real love.

So, I guess you could say I am living the dream, it just didn't look like I thought it would. 

I am still writing - and I do my best to share what I believe God shows me. Sometimes it's just for me, but every once in a while, it touches someone else as well. And the speaking? Well, I've been teaching now for 17 years. The first year I taught art so I had about 240 students (more or less). Since being in the regular classroom, I've taught at least 60 students each day, most years closer to 75. So, you do the math, (because I'm an English teacher!) I've shared what God has given me with hundreds...maybe even close to a thousand lives. It may not look like what I thought it would, but my life really is a dream come true.

Jeremiah 29:11The Voice (VOICE)

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Eternal, “plans for peace, not evil, to give you a future and hope—never forget that.

John 10:10b The Message
I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.

Numbers 23:19The Voice (VOICE) 

God is not a man—He doesn’t lie.  God isn’t the son of a man to want to take back what He’s said, Or say something and not follow through, or speak and not act on it.

World English translation: Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not make it good?

Thoughts to ponder:
1. Do you have a dream that you know God gave you but it doesn't seem to be coming to pass? Take another look at your life. Is it possible it has already come true, just not in exactly the way the limited human mind can see?

2. What difference will it make in your life if you realize that the dream has not died, it just looks a little different than you imagined.

Please feel free to comment or share...and as always, thank you for reading.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Do you understand the words comin' out of my mouth?

Words - I've never been at a shortage for them, and at times they have gotten me in trouble. I can even talk with my "foot in my mouth," which a skill that not everyone has! Lately, however, I've noticed it's been getting more and more difficult to have conversations with people without stepping on toes. People who were once "friends" are "unfriending" or growling under their breath at those they once were busy "liking" on facebook. Many of my friends have vowed not to say ANYTHING remotely political because of the backlash they get from posting their opinions.

I recently posted on facebook something I first said during the 2012 election. "Think of the those running for President. Ask yourself, "Does my favorite candidate even know my name?" Now think, if something should happen in your life (not on the natural disaster level - just normal 'life' stuff) would the candidate come to your help or those around you? 
I'm thinking, it's not worth alienating those around you to support your candidate. The day after the election - the president, whoever that may be, still won't know your name. Those around you will still be the ones who will come when you are in need.Vote your conscious and leave the results up to God. Reach out to those around you...those from both parties. They are your friends." 

It's crazy that we've found ourselves here once again. 

Then this morning I read a verse that made me start to think about the words that are "coming out of my mouth."

Isaiah 61:1 - "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners"

I had to stop and think. Are those the kind of words that are coming out of my mouth? Words that proclaim good news to the poor? Words that bind up the brokenhearted? Is there freedom in my words or anything that would release those trapped in darkness? 
I have to be honest; I'm not so sure. 

At times, my words are cutting or sarcastic...sometimes out loud and sometimes just in my head, but they are there. Sometimes my words are self-serving, making me feel smart or superior. Sometimes my efforts to be funny with my words sound insensitive or crass. Sometimes my words are simply idle chatter of no substance at all. 

But I want the Spirit of the Lord on me and I want it to be evident. No short term argument or funny meme is worth losing that. 

I'm afraid that those around me do "understand the words that are coming out of my face" and they aren't necessarily fulfilling Isaiah 61:1...and it's time that I changed that. I want to spend the words I'm given to proclaim good news, not bad. I want the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart to be pleasing to God. (Psalm 19:14)