Posts tagged words
THE POWER OF MOMS… to change a culture of criticism

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.

Ephesian 4v29


I sat at my desk in my cabin under the Redwood tree, a month or so ago, with a plate of cookies fresh out of the oven, a pot of tea steaming, a lovely book by Sally Clarkson feeding my soul with truth.

She writes truth so full of grace, with infinite understanding. By the end of the book I’m sure we’re old friends. She mentors me across the miles in her hope-filled way of talking about life and relationships and disciplines and following Jesus fearlessly. She admonishes me to, “Own Your Life” and I want to, I will, I rise to her belief in me, and in all the women who read her words.

I want to read more, so I look her up in Goodreads. She’s written a long list of books about family and being and the value of motherhood. I’m intrigued. Why haven’t I ever heard of her before now?

I scroll down to the comments— reader’s takes on specific books. Someone named Traci was less than impressed and wants us to know why:

I found myself…. skeptical that all the things that come up in family relationships and child-rearing could be solved with a cup of tea and a heart-to-heart, as seems to be suggested throughout the compounding list of what being a wholehearted mother entails.”

More words like “formulaic”, “overwhelmed”, “not relevant”, “insular”, “too much to swallow” convince me to steer clear. I don’t buy the book.

And then, this morning, with another pot of tea at my elbow, chocolate chip cookies hot out of the oven swiped from the plate I’m taking to Matt and Simona’s house this afternoon, I pick up her book again.

I like this woman, this writer of wisdom. Once again I look up more books by Sally (she doesn’t know me but I know her and she’s one of my dearest friends!)

This time, the reader’s comment simply saddens me. Maybe it’s because I just read these words by another writer I like:

“… I think we’re in danger of thinking that constantly evaluating and rating things is an innocuous practice. And I don’t think it is. I think that mindset is corrosive and dangerous over time.

I think it’s worth asking about what happens over time to your insides when you decide to be a hater… crusading for something or other.”

~Shauna Neiquist, in Savor

I grieve over a culture so intent on being heard that graciousness is lost in the facade of truth. A woman sitting at home, sure and certain that a writer she’s never met must be wrong because she doesn’t connect with metaphors that seem simplistic to her. And so she types out cutting words that sum up a message the author spent hundreds of hours crafting... as irrelevant. An entire book boiled down to “everything solved with a cup of tea and a heart-to-heart”.

What has happened to us? The Church, God’s people, the ones for whom Jesus prayed with such agony,

“I have given them the glory You gave Me,

 that they may be one as We are one

—  I in them, and You in Me—

so that they may be brought to complete unity.

Then the world will know that You sent Me

and have loved them even as You have loved Me.”

John 17v22,23


I grieve an emerging culture of criticism. With the advent of the Internet, what used to be whispered behind people’s backs (bad enough!) is now broadcast in bold print. Via blogs and tweets, podcasts and even sermons, Jesus’ followers are feeling unabashed freedom to blast each other mercilessly.

I grieve, not only for us, but for our children, who will grow up thinking such rabid critique is normal. I want to shake these free-speech exploiting criticizers by the shoulders and tell them what my little Matthew used to say to his older, arguing siblings:

Do’na be mean!

Instead of joining the lambasting with more of my own, I choose to believe in the power mothers have to change their worlds-- to change our world… one potential criticizer at a time.

Some thoughts…

1. The culture of the grace has to start in our homes.

When building up is practiced daily and tearing down is disciplined persistently, we create a culture in which truth and mercy blend into a safe place where children grow into adults who will lead their own generation with grace.

2. A culture of humility starts with mom.

When a mother learns to apologize sincerely for her own outburst instead of blaming her kids and husband for pushing her to the point of craziness, the whole family learns to accept responsibility for their own crabbiness—

Voila! Lessons learned by example are lessons learned for a lifetime.

3. A culture of mercy begins towards mom.

When mom turns mean because she’s frustrated and overworked and over worried and just plain exhausted… children have a chance to learn how to give mercy. Instead of rolling their eyes and muttering more meanness, children can learn how kindness and sweet words replenish even the most harried among us. Mothers aren't perfect. There are lessons to learn even in the midst of a mama-meltdown.

4. A culture of niceness-no-matter-what is best taught in the midst of real life.

There is power in a mama who ferociously guards her children from decimating each other with their words. A mother who disallows sarcasm and who doesn’t permit herself or her children to poke each other’s soft spots is raising a generation of leaders who will think twice before sending off a nasty email.

5. A culture of big-picture truth rather than jabbing pettiness can best be taught by moms.

Moms have a way of knowing their children and do well to help their children know and understand each other. Is it any wonder that the book of Proverbs so often pairs wisdom with understanding? A wise mama puts her child’s behavior in context to the brothers and sisters who are most bothered by it. In doing so, she has an influence on the way her children will grow up to handle people they don’t agree with. Nicely.

 Isn’t it a radical thought that a band of determined Jesus following moms might have a chance to influence the next generation of leaders, talkers, bloggers, opinion makers— even politicians?!

Wouldn’t it be amazing if, indeed, Sally Clarkson is right? That a hot cup of tea and an understanding chat just might solve all most the problems of our world?

From a heart longing for a culture of kindness,


P. S. Okay moms, please speak up! I am loving hearing from mothers who are taking their roles seriously and changing the culture of their homes. Tell us how you’re managing meanness in your home. What words are working?


Some people make cutting remarks,

But the words of the wise bring healing.

Proverbs 12v18 NLT

…an encouraging word cheers a person up.

Proverbs 12 v25 NLT

I followed a car in bumper-to-bumper traffic, inching forward while lanes merged on a too-busy afternoon. A sticker on the back seemed to echo words to me over and over as I pondered how to respond to someone whose unkind words had cut deep: Believe in nice!

At first it seemed like one of those ridiculous slogans that sound sweet but say nothing. Believe in nice?! Like believing in Santa Clause or the Tooth Fairy or a Fairy God-mother whose magic wand works miracles.

I couldn’t get those words out of my mind. Over and over, to the rhythm of the slow going road, like a mantra I heard them:

Believe in nice. Believe in nice. Believe in nice.

My mind wandered from my worry about how to respond to this someone who seemed so antagonistic, to these believe-in-nice words that made no sense.

Lord, is this You?

Believe, Di, believe in the power of nice.

My breath caught. I know what the word believe means. I know that in God’s Word, to believe in God means to entrust oneself to God.

As in completely, entirely.

As in being willing to so entrust myself to Him that I do the hard thing, the impossible thing, the thing I don’t want to do but must if I’m to please Him and stay close to Him. He was telling me…

To believe that His power is in the nice.

And then a verse we’d memorized over and over again as a family joined the believe-in-nice mantra:

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths,

but only what is helpful for building people up

according to their needs,

that it may benefit those who listen.

Ephesians 4:29 NIV

Okay, Lord. I believe, I entrust myself to You. Instead of responding with all the venom that keeps coming to my still-to-be-completely, really redeemed mind, I will be nice.

I believe in the power You bring when I choose nice.

I looked to my left, still stuck in traffic, I stare into a mini-van driven by a tired looking mama. Kids in the back, obviously harassing each other. Arms flailing, mouths spewing, faces skewed into ugliness by the hurt and anger and not-niceness of their siblings— and their momentarily not-nice selves.

Believe in nice.

The look on that mama’s face about broke my heart. She didn’t know what to do with her herd of rampaging buffalo in the back. So she did what she’d been taught: nothing. Just let them work it out themselves. Don’t interfere.

When that didn’t work (okay, I was staring, but what else is there to do during a stalled rush hour?) Mama whipped around, opened her mouth wide and… saw me staring.

I smiled sympathetically. She smiled back. A moment of knowing.

I wanted to get out of my car and climb into hers and tell her what I know now, now that my kids are grown and my car is empty of arguers:

I wanted to tell her… that there is power in being nice.

That encouraging words give courage to kids whose feelings are hurt and tempers are short. That her own niceness to both the wounded and the wound-er can bring hope and healing.

I wanted to tell her it’s her job to enforce niceness.

That if she doesn’t the meanest one will win. The quiet child will sink, letting the words wreak havoc. The not-nice one will keep being not-nice because anger is an incredibly effective way to control people.

I wanted to tell her to soften her words.

To respond to the car full of chaos with soothing gentleness. That if she doesn’t, she’ll regret it at the end of the day, feeling as ugly as she sounds. 

I wanted to tell her about the tremendous power of nice.

That wise words are like medicine, that gentleness turns away anger. That she has the power, for just a few years, to teach her children that truth and nice go hand-in-hand.

I wanted to tell her that entrusting yourself to God means choosing to be nice no matter what.

Even in traffic. Even on hard, hot days with not-nice kids spewing not-niceness on each other.

I wanted to tell that mama that He knows how hard it is to be nice.

That He managed, even on the Cross, with blood running down in sticky rivulets, with a crowd of jeering mockers, with their spittle on his face— even then to be kind, forgiving…

To believe in nice.

The traffic cleared. We passed a wreck on the side of the road. Glass shattered, the bumper crunched, a car seat in the back. People had been hurt.

And I prayed…

… for the child in the wrecked car who may have been hurt.

… for the children in that angry mini-van who were hurting each other—and themselves.

… for the mamas in both cars, that they would believe in the power of God to be nice, no matter what.

… for myself to believe in the power God gives to be nice when all I feel is mean.

From a heart still struggling to believe in the power of nice,


P.S. And you?

Can you tell us how you teach your children the power of nice?

Can you tell us what has helped you to believe in the power of nice?

Or who?



(image by Hillary Kupish)

Like apples of gold in settings of silver
is a word spoken in right circumstances. Proverbs 25:11

Dear girls,

I started this series, He’s Not Your Prince Charming, so long ago I cannot seem to find it’s beginning. It has been a revealing and satisfying journey for me to share with you things I have learned and am still learning after 35 years of marriage to a good and godly man.

I’ve written to you about the beauty of a woman’s sexuality, about attitudes and admiration and freedom and friendship. I’ve told stories, attempting to be honest, trying to present truth with hope and just a tad bit of real life hilarity.

And I’ve heard your stories. You have given me the greatest gift a woman can give to a friend— your truth.

I’ve laughed and I’ve cried and I’ve worried. Sometimes I’ve smiled so wide into my computer that my husband has wondered what in the world I’m so excited about! I just keep telling him these are my girls

That’s who you are.

You’ve listened and you’ve passed my words to people you love. Sometimes you’ve disagreed or pointed out holes in my thinking. You’ve added your own hard earned wisdom of how to do holiness in real life. You’ve counseled each other… nothing thrills me more!

Here is what I hope you have learned as we’ve talked:

  1. That no man can satisfy that deep craving every woman has for intimacy and worth and validation and beauty.
  2. That Jesus is the one you’re craving.
  3. That He wants to draw you near in your brokenness more than He wants you to be perfect.
  4. That He craves you too. Will I ever get over the wonder?


  1. That loving a man is an act of worship, by faith, in the One who calls us to love passionately, purposefully, beautifully.
  2. That loving this way will take everything we have: our intelligence, our willingness, our creativity, our intuition and our wisdom.
  3. That loving this way is a calling, an honor, and a choice.
  4. That loving a man well can only come out of a place of being loved well by the One Man who fills your heart to overflowing.

And more… that God specifically urges wives to love their husbands by being…

  1. his lover
  2. his friend
  3. his partner
  4. his admirer

A couple of weeks ago, my blog team met and spent a long evening talking about what’s next. And though we could keep talking about how to love our men forever and ever… we realize that our lives are rich with relationships that need our focus. We have friends, parents, sons and daughters and roommates. And each of us is intent on drawing closer in intimacy with God in a way that is authentic and life changing.

With those priorities in mind, we have come up with a new series called simply WORDS. My focus will be on sharing with you what I want my girls to know. Things that I want to pass on; truths and wisdom I am learning or have learned that have made all the difference in my world.

For the next few weeks we will be reposting from He’s Not Your Prince Charming, reaching way back in the archives to remind and reteach and rethink what we’ve been learning together. I hope you will add fresh comments to shed new light on these posts.

In the meantime I will be writing ahead for the new series, studying, reading, thinking, and praying about what to say and how to say it.

And, drums roll… writing my first book. My dream of publishing a book is finally coming true. No doubt I’ll be sharing snippets here and there as I chip away at it for the next few months.

From a heart overflowing with love for each of you,


P.S. If there is a topic you’re longing for me to address, please let me know in the comments. My own list is growing…





Ruth 1v6-22

The Journey (Part Four)

(Click here to listen to the second Ruth teaching) 



Verse of the Week:




More Words from the Father:

Philippians 1-2:18



From my Heart:

Empty…or Full?

“I went out full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.” - Naomi (Ruth 1:21)

What’s this? Naomi complains to her friends that she left Bethlehem a decade or so ago with full coffers? She fled a famine full?

And now, with the House of Bread overflowing with food and a beautiful, loyal, committed daughter by her side she’s come back with nothing? Empty?

Naomi sounds like a lot of us.

“College is a tough time. So much work, so much pressure, a poor college student. If I could just finish…

then I’ll be happy.”

“No one is asking me out. Poor me, nobody loves me. If I could just find a husband…

then I’d be happy.”

“My husband just doesn’t understand me. If only I could get a different husband…

then I’d be happy.”

“Saving for a house is so hard. We both work fulltime, we’re exhausted and have nothing left over. If we could just buy a house of our own…

then I’d be happy.”

“This house is too small. We need more room, a bigger yard, a nicer neighborhood. If only we could buy a bigger house…

then I’d be happy.”

“All my friends are pregnant; a life growing inside of them. I want a baby. Then we’d be like a real family and…

then I’d be happy.”

“I hate being pregnant! My feet are swollen, my back aches, and I can’t sleep. If only I’d have this baby now…

then I’d be happy.”

“I’m up all night, I’m exhausted all the time and all I do is change diapers. If only my kids were in school…

then I’d be happy.”

“My kids drive me crazy! All I do is drive them from school to practice to lessons to games. I’m just a taxi driver with no time to myself. If only the kids could drive…

then I’d be happy.”

“My teenager is crazy! He drives too fast, leaves wrappers in the car and a mess in his room, and besides that, his music is too loud. If only he’d grow up…

then I’d be happy.”

“I live in an empty nest. It’s too quiet around here. I’m lonely and bored…

If only I could be happy.”

Does that sound like a litany you’ve heard before?

Always wishing we were in a better place…

a different season…

constantly complaining…

never happy with now.

The fact is, if you and I are completely and unreservedly surrendered to God, then

this now,

right here,

is our sweet spot.

Stinky diapers, crazy teenagers, less-than-ideal husband and all. And that, my dear friend, is just the way it is…

From my heart,


P.S. Check out the secret in Philippians 3:12, 13!





No one word in the English language is capable of capturing the exact meaning of this Hebrew word, hesed. All renderings only approximate the original. Instead, translators ended up using a smorgasborg of words such as…





Loyal, steadfast, unfailing, love.

And yet this hesed is a crucial aspect of who God is and a part of His character which Satan most often lies about in order to dissuade us from the love of God. Psalm 136 is the “classic text for understanding the significance of this word.” In this passage it is used 26 times to proclaim God’s kindness.

Naomi had completely forgotten God’s hesed in the first part of our story. Instead, she felt that God was against her: afflicting her with harsh and punitive discipline (Ruth 1:13, 20, 21). Yet by chapter 3 of the book of Ruth we will see Naomi begin to thaw in her attitude towards God. She recognizes that it is the hesed of God that moves Boaz to gentle acts of generosity.

Watch for this theme of lovingkindness throughout the book of Ruth: on the part of Boaz, in Ruth toward Naomi, Naomi toward both Ruth and Orpah, and in Ruth toward Boaz.

Most of all, it is imperative that we recognize the daily hesed of God in our own lives…and that we be pouring the hesed leftovers into the lives of the people God puts in our path.




“For the hand of the Lord has gone forth against me.” - Ruth 1:13 

Naomi uses a familiar Hebrew colloquialism to explain her circumstances. Later in the story she will realize that her assessment is entirely wrong, but for now she’s convinced that God is very much against her.

This term is known as an anthropomorphism: a figure of speech which attributes human physical characteristics to God. In Scripture, God is described as having arms, hands, eyes, and ears. This can also include actions and feelings, i.e. “sleeping” (Psalm 121:4).