On our journeys around the globe this week and next, I’m writing letters home to my girls about things I wish I’d packed and prepared for this life-long journey of marriage. These are four things I wish I’d known right from the beginning that would have better prepared me for this strange and exhilarating task of loving a man for the rest of forever.

Read #1 here.

Dear Girls,

Years and years ago I read a newsletter (this, before the era of blogs) in which Elisabeth Elliot challenged her readers to go one full week without complaining.

I couldn’t do it.

I’ve always considered myself a positive person. I don’t whine, I don’t complain… or so I thought. But I couldn’t manage even one 24-hour period without a negative complaint slipping out of my mouth. I just kept starting over every day until finally giving up.

What struck me is how ridiculous most of my complaints were.

I love rain… yet made complainy fill-in statements about the rain.

I was healthy and rested and well… yet made complainy fill-in statements about being sleepy or achy or something really inconsequential.

I absolutely loved being a mom at home with four great kids… yet made those mom-like complainy statements about how hectic or messy or stressful my life at home was.

Words, I have learned, are powerful definers of how we feel.

And yet we use them so carelessly at times, tossing out complaints just to fill in the space of silence.

What if we took seriously the weight of our words?

What if we decided to choose to guard our mouths and speak only lovely words?

What if we stopped complaining? Permanently?

“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth

but only such a word as is good for edification,

according to the need of the moment.” Ephesians 4v29

What would happen if we did that?

My dear girls, I think it would make all the difference in the amount of joy we squeeze out of this life God has for us.

I think it would make all the difference in the amount of love we were freed to lavish on our husbands and friends and children.

And so, PACKING LIST ITEM #2 is simple.

Be Careful What You Say.

Because after a while, what you say is what you feel…

and then you become convinced of the untruth that you should never have said in the first place…

and eventually all this saying and believing can really wreck havoc with what you say… and what you feel.

It really is a matter of purposing not to say certain things, of putting a muzzle over our mouths, of choosing every one of our words carefully and wisely.

We have the ability to choose to speak only the Spirit-filtered truth because we are Spirit-filled people and that ought to make a difference in what comes out of our mouths.

I wish I’d known that when I married Phil. I’m trying to learn it now.

From my heart,


P.S. Are you learning the power of your own words? Have you noticed how hard it is not to complain? Do you know someone who is really great at using words to bring courage instead of carnage?

We’d all love to hear your stories.