He’s Already Shown Us

I’m talking about a song today, but, for a change, this is a modern song. Although probably no one would either know or care that I quoted the lyrics here, for copyright reasons, I can’t do that.

So here is the YouTube video.

Aside from the initial ignorance in the first verse, where the songwriter speaks as if he’s able to hide things from an all-knowing God, when I first heard this song, I sort of liked it. But to be perfectly honest, I thought it was a little impertinent. “Show me this, show me that.” As if God is obligated to do what we want in order to secure our favor. I mean, I believe in cultivating a close relationship with God, but does that mean we should go around making demands of Him?

Eventually, I kinda got over myself in that regard. I daresay the Psalms make requests in a tone that could be interpreted as either demanding or pleading. And God does not turn His ear away from our pleas.

With this new viewpoint, I listened to the song some more, and I finally understood why it didn’t ring true for me.

It was the questions themselves.

The songwriter asks the questions almost as if he hopes desperately to receive an answer yet doesn’t really expect one.

But these questions have already been answered.

The songwriter asks God to show him five things:

  1. That a broken life is redeemable.
  2. That God can handle blunt honesty.
  3. That God never lets go.
  4. That God’s love will never leave.
  5. That grace is for people like the songwriter.

That a broken life is redeemable.

Have you read the story of David lately? How he fell into spectacular sin, but when he repented, God redeemed him.

Or the story of Mary Magdalene? She was possessed by seven demons. (If that’s not broken, tell me what is.) Jesus cast them out, and Mary became one of his most devoted followers—and the first to see Him after the resurrection.

Or the story of Paul? The man killed Jesus’ followers, but Jesus redeemed him and the Holy Spirit inspired him to write a large portion of the New Testament.

Those are just a few examples from Scripture. A broken life, be it ever so shattered, is definitely redeemable.

That God can handle blunt honesty.

I’m not sure exactly what the songwriter means by “handle,” but I guess he’s saying he doesn’t want to shock, embarrass, or turn away God by his honesty.

Have you read the book of Leviticus lately? Or Ezekiel? Or some of the other prophets? Some of the laws concerning personal hygiene and physical ailments indicate that God isn’t likely to be embarrassed. And that chapter in Ezekiel about Oholah and Oholibah is pretty shocking if you ask me. (Chapter 23, if you must know.)

I daresay honesty, even the most blunt, isn’t going to be a turn-off for God.

That God never lets go.

Here’s an interesting one because it very innocently hints at a controversial doctrine. I’m going to leave the doctrine alone and peek at few Scriptures.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

-1 John 1:9 NKJV (emphasis mine)

Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.

-1 Peter 4:19 NKJV (emphasis mine)

Ephraim has encircled Me with lies,
And the house of Israel with deceit;
But Judah still walks with God,
Even with the Holy One who is faithful.

-Hosea 11:12 NKJV (emphasis mine)

God is faithful. It’s part of His nature. He’s not going to be the one walking away from you.

That God’s love will never leave.

Let me take you to one of my favorite passages.

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,

nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

-Romans 8:38-39 NKJV (emphasis mine)

God’s love doesn’t run out.

That grace is for people like the songwriter.

Based on the first verse where the songwriter mentions scars, weakness, and hidden things, I suppose he thinks of himself as having a broken life to some extent. I refer you back to point one, where we see that a broken life is redeemable.

Most assuredly, grace is for broken lives. And if I may quote the most famous verse in Christendom …

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

-John 3:16 KJV (emphasis mine)

Whosoever. That covers everyone.

“Show me,” the song asks over and over. But He’s already shown us.

I suppose it’s not the questions I have a problem with. Doubt and insecurity come to every heart. The deeper the heart’s wounds, the more susceptible to those doubts.

The problem is the questioner is looking for answers in the wrong place. He wants a voice from heaven or a supernatural experience or something dramatic.

And while those things are lovely, and I believe they sometimes happen, that’s not where we start.

We start with the Truth God has already given us. His Word.

When we have honest questions, it’s okay to ask them. Then we should go to the Bible and find the answers.

-Miss Darcy

P.S. Lest you think I have a vendetta against MIKESCHAIR, here are two of their songs that I love. 🙂 Enjoy!

“Let the Waters Rise”

“All to Jesus”

My Life Like a Castle

I read a devotional a while ago that talked about our need to allow God to conform our lives to His blueprint. I sat back and pondered that for a minute, thinking about what God’s blueprints might look like.

Perhaps because I’m mildly fixated on the Middle Ages these days, it came into my mind that God’s blueprint for my life might be a castle.

A castle is a seat of authority.

The castle’s owner rules from there over his domain. The majestic walls, besides being practical, also declare the owner’s power.

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

-Matthew 28:18 NKJV

Jesus is supposed to be the owner of our lives, yes? Our lives are supposed to be a seat of His authority. For everyone to see.

The best place to build a castle is on a hill.

It strengthens the defenses, and it also makes the castle visible. If a hill wasn’t readily available, castle builders would often build a hill before they built a castle.

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.

-Matthew 5:14 NKJV (emphasis mine)

Jesus’ light is supposed to shine brightly in our lives. Like a castle on a hill. Impossible to hide.

A castle is a place of safety.

It is built to withstand attack. It is guarded well. It has watchmen always vigilant. And it offers safety to those under its care.

[that you may be] strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy;

-Colossians 1:11 NKJV (emphasis mine)

But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one.

-2 Thessalonians 3:3 NKJV (emphasis mine)

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

-1 Peter 5:8 NKJV (emphasis mind)

God delights to strengthen us according to His glorious power. He Himself guards us from our enemy. But He requires us to be the vigilant watchman who calls upon Him the moment we see the enemy approaching.

A castle lasts for generations to come.

Granted, they eventually fall into disrepair. But even among the ruins we see traces of their original power. And they don’t deteriorate in a single lifetime.

The righteous man walks in his integrity;
His children are blessed after him.

-Proverbs 20:7 NKJV

When one person’s life is wholly dedicated to Jesus, his or her children will reap benefits. God lets our righteousness carry forward into blessing for our children. If the generations eventually turn from Him, the blessing will cease. But the goodness carries further than we know.

A castle often stored riches.

The lord of the castle delighted to collect the best furnishings he could afford. He cared for them and passed them down to his children. Carved and inlaid furniture, dishes of precious metals, gorgeous tapestries, beautifully wrought weapons.

Then He said to them, “Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old.”

-Matthew 13:52 NKJV (emphasis mine)

The treasures we fill our castles with are mined from the Word of God. We bring forth things new, such as the words of Jesus, and old, like the truths the prophets preached.

Our treasures are worth so much more than gold. They are the very words of life for the whole world. Truly. Our treasure can save the world if the world would only receive it.

So I went on pondering about the idea of my life as a castle, and I found it appealing. Why would I not want my life to represent God’s power and riches?

And then it hit me.

A castle is a target.

Every single part of a castle is designed for defense, to hold back enemies.

The fact it’s built completely of stone? That’s the toughest material available.

Those glorious towers? Height is a great advantage for hurling stones, melted lead, and flaming pitch on the attackers below you.

Those pretty scallops (called merlons) along the tops of the walls? Archers take refuge behind them, shooting between the merlons.

Those massive, awe-inspiring, twenty-foot-or-more thick walls? Gotta make it hard for a battering ram to puncture it or a team of diggers to undermine it.

And that iron portcullis? It’s needed to protect the gate—the castle’s weakest point.

The castle sits on a hill because it’s harder for attackers to reach it. But its position also announces, “Here is the seat of power. Control this, and you control the surrounding land.” If you’re out to conquer as much ground as you can, you start with the castles.

Also, it’s kinda hard to miss. It’s practically daring someone to take it on.

We Christians have an enemy who walks about as a roaring lion, seeking anyone to devour. A castle is a challenge he’s often very willing to take on.

Because most castles have at least one weakness. The devil is only too happy to find it.

A castle is not comfortable.

They’re beautiful and inspiring from a distance. But they’re not luxurious.

Those beautiful tapestries have a practical purpose. They provide some insulation. Stone is cold and drafty, and the lord of the castle can’t afford enough wood to keep the whole building warm. Winter’s rough.

Because a window is a potential breach-point, a castle can’t have many windows and the few they have are small. Not a lot of light and fresh air inside those stone walls.

Castles are centers of work. Hard work, either mentally or physically. Sure they hold feasts and balls at times—but that’s a lot of work in itself. It isn’t a playhouse for grownups.

And, of course, castles are hard to keep clean and tidy. Considering just the sheer space, and the people coming and going, and the work done in and around the building, and pets, and vermin, no wonder a castle could be a messy place.

Not to mention the structure is a challenge to maintain.

A lot of people think gunpowder brought about the end of the castle era. Actually, before gunpowder had been harnessed enough to blow down a castle, the nobles had started drifting away from the castle life. They preferred more luxurious manor houses with bigger windows and better heating and decadent furnishings. Castles were great for defense but too uncomfortable and too costly to maintain.

Maybe we Christians have that attitude about castles.

Oh, a vibrant Christian life is awesome to see, but it’s just not for me. It’s too much work. The enemy is constantly hounding you if you try to be a front-line, sold-out Christian. We don’t all need to be strong castles, right? It’s too costly. It’s messy. It’s cold. And it makes you stick out like a sore thumb—or like a castle in a suburb of vinyl-sided houses.

Yeah, we’ve got plenty of excuses. Instead, we’ll go for our manor homes. The luxurious mansions, the American dream lifestyle.

But the American dream lifestyle is about us. Our wants. Material things. Things that don’t last.

The castle-life is about Jesus. His will. His kingdom. Eternity.

Aye, it’s hard. Really hard. And it may not look pretty from the inside.

But in the grand scheme of things, don’t you think it’s worth it?

-Miss Darcy

The Cry of Gettysburg Battlefield

I dread each sunrise,
sure the rays of the Greater Light
will shine on glistening red.
Red, as far as man’s eye can see,
the dark, bright red of Blood.
I’m grateful for the clouds
when they hide me from the Sun.
But nothing can erase
the pain.

A man of great renown
once called me hallowed.
I know not why, for I will call me

A century and a half have passed,
and still
I groan beneath the weight.
I cannot bear the grief
of so much Blood.

Eleven thousand acres by man’s measure.
Oh, how small, how small!
when faced with all the burden of
this Blood.
For here two armies met.
Seven thousand died;
their Blood flowed out upon me;
Life drained out.
Three-and-thirty thousand bled
from wounds
until they saturated me,
until they hid from me the sky,
and still
more Blood flowed over me.

I opened my mouth and received it,
for such is the duty of Earth–
to receive, to cover, to grant rest to
the Blood that is spilled on our face.
I opened my mouth,
and I choked.
It was too much to bear.
Too much, too much,
the Life lost on my ground.

A hundred years of rain
cannot wash away the taste
of salt and iron and Death.

I ache
under the weight of this Curse.
I wonder if they feel it,
these children of men who walk upon me now
to view the site.
Do they feel the crushing burden?
Can they sense the grief,
the agony,
of bearing so much Blood?

I cry out, yes, I groan;
I plead for some relief.
Yet no one hears,
no one–
but God.
I beg of my Creator
that He would set me free.

“The Time has not yet come.”

When will it come,
that Day
when Fire destroys all Earth?
For then will I be free from
this deep pain.
Then will I be created anew,
in a world full of Life.

Where no more Death can touch me,
and no more Blood is spilled.
And surely then
in ecstasy
I will again cry out;
with Joy I’ll shout to Him,
the Lamb,
who, by His Blood,
Redeems all things.

-Miss Darcy

Who’s the Boss? | Tips for Oldest Children, Part 2

Notice to younger siblings: Please do not throw this blog post in your older sibling’s face. Forward them the link, if you like, but don’t tag them in public on social media. Take it easy on them. Some of us “oldests” have trouble finding our role–as I’m sure you know. 😉

Last time I wrote about how oldest children are born to lead, and a great way to do that is to set a good example.

Today I want to talk more about that concept of leadership. There are lots of different ways to go about it, and not all ways are equal.

Oldest children have a reputation for being bossy. Most of the time we’ve earned it. The urge to tell others what to do and how to do it just seems to run in our veins.

But, fellow oldests, your siblings don’t need a third parent.

(Okay, I’m referring to most healthy families here. If a family is so dysfunctional that the oldest child has to step up and be a “parent,” then they’ll need more help than my little blogs posts can provide.)

The parents have the right to issue an order and expect it to be obeyed–no questions asked. The oldest child has no such right.

Even if your parents go on a date and put you “in charge,” I guarantee your younger siblings won’t appreciate your acting like a parent. And they’ll be quick to tell you so.

Does “You’re not Mom!” or “I don’t have to obey you!” sound familiar?

Although your siblings instinctively want to look up to you (even if they don’t realize it), you’re still “one of them.” So why should you boss them around?

As an oldest child, you can’t just be a dictator. You don’t have the authority. It’s not your power.

Your power comes when your younger siblings want to listen to you.

When you can suggest (not command) something, and your siblings figure it must be a good idea because you said it, that’s a position of power.

As I’m sure you know, that is no easy position to reach. But it’s not impossible.

You get there by gaining your siblings’ trust.

You have to be worthy of their trust, and you have to prove your worthiness over and over (and over) before you can expect them to willingly listen to you. It’s a long process to gain and keep trust.

But it’s worth it.

So don’t be bossy like everyone expects you to be.

Oh, it might work for a little while. Your loudness or pushiness might force them to do things your way right now.

But over time, they’ll just think you’re a know-it-all. And who likes a know-it-all?

Instead, give in to what they want to do. (Not always, but often.) You can still say things such as, “I’d like to do this.” But don’t be rigid on the little things.

Let your younger siblings make choices. You’re not the only one who can have a good idea. Let them live without feeling like you’re looking over their shoulder all the time, ready to holler, “Not like that! Don’t do that! Do this!”

Prove to them that you are on their team. Here’s one way to do that:

Don’t Belittle Them

When they’re trying to tell a favorite family story or family joke, don’t interrupt to correct up the details. (Most of the time, those details don’t matter.) Don’t roll your eyes. Don’t make a fool of them or steal their limelight.

When they’re scared of the dark or spiders or thunder or dogs, don’t act like they’re stupid. Talk to them in the darkness; don’t mock their nightlight or make creepy noises. Hunt down the spider and get rid of it. Sit with them while you listen to the thunder. Stand close to them when the scary dog walks by. And don’t cop a superior attitude when you’re being their hero. Act like it’s the most normal thing in the world for you to help them. Because it is.

Don’t act like their accomplishments are nothing. Cheer when they hit the home run. Say, “Great job!” when they’re talking about their good grades. Be impressed when they show you the latest project they worked hard on (even if you think it’s silly).

When they get excited, don’t treat them like idiots. You have things you love. So do they. What’s important to them should be important to you, as well.

Basically, try not to make them feel like a little kid. Maybe they are still little kids. But you know how you don’t like to be treated like someone too young to be important? They don’t enjoy it, either.

Do Brag on Them

Do it when they can hear you. Brag to your parents and grandparents. Even to your friends once in a while. Don’t overdo it so you embarrass them, but mention their accomplishments like you’re proud of them. Act like your siblings are cool. Because they are.

Building trust isn’t easy. But it’s worth it.

Whenever you interact with your siblings, think about what you’re doing. Ask yourself if your behavior will help them trust you.

If the answer is yes, then good for you! You are living your birthright well!

If the answer’s no, then change your behavior. It’s not too late. Everybody messes up. (I still mess up, and I’ve been at this for twenty-one years.) Keep trying. Keep praying. You can do this!

Don’t try to be the boss. Be their partner. Give them every reason in the world to trust you.

Okay, I want to hear from you all! Oldests, what have you done that helps your siblings trust you? How have you messed up from time to time?

Younger siblings, what helps you know you can trust your oldest sibling? Or how do they act that warns you it’s not safe to trust them?

-Miss Darcy

P.S. If you don’t want to comment, head to my “Connect” page and shoot me an email. I love to chat about siblings. 🙂

A Hand Held Out

My desk sits right beside my bedroom window, which overlooks our front yard. Right across from our driveway, another street T-bones into ours. We have a two-story house, plus we’re at the highest point in our neighborhood, so I have a pretty good view of the goings-on.

Which makes for excellent spying.

Now I don’t really spy with binoculars or anything, but I do love to people-watch. So if I catch a glimpse of movement outside, I’ll pause my work and watch a neighbor unload their groceries or whatever.

(Incidentally, one of my neighbors just pulled into his driveway, and I paused my writing to spy on him.) 🙂

But earlier this week, I spied something that made me very sad.

A couple was walking down the sidewalk on the street across from me. The woman had her cell phone in her hands, texting, from all appearances. Then she stuck the phone in her back pocket. They turned around and walked back up the sidewalk.

As they reached the end of the sidewalk where they step onto the street, the man’s left hand reached out as if he wanted to take the woman’s hand. At that exact moment, her right hand went to her back pocket and pulled out her cell phone again. Soon both hands were busy tapping the screen.

And I wondered what on that phone could be so much more important than the person she was with.

Maybe it was their children who needed them to return home. Maybe.

Or maybe it was just a friend she was texting. A friend who, through the cell phone, became a third wheel on their walk.

I forgot to look for wedding rings, so I don’t know if they’re married or dating. I’m not sure which would be worse.

If they’re dating, love is in its springtime, when everything is fresh and new and special. Yet this woman didn’t want to hold her boyfriend’s hand?

Or if they’ve been married a while, they probably don’t get much time alone together to just walk and talk. Yet this woman didn’t want to hold the hand of the man who has committed his life to her?

It’s a good reminder to me. I don’t have a smartphone, actually. But I have a computer. Writing (and everything that entails) keeps me glued to the screen a lot.

But then there’s social media. I tell myself I’m keeping up with friends I don’t see much. In reality, I end up wasting an exorbitant amount of time looking at mindless stuff I’ll forget within an hour.

I live with my four favorite people in the whole world–my parents and two sisters. The people I love most. The ones who love me most. Honestly, what on this device could possibly be so important that I would rather interact with it than with my family?

I don’t want to be oblivious when those I love hold out their hands–literally or figuratively–because they want to get closer to me.

-Miss Darcy

Power of the Birthright | Tips for Oldest Children, Part 1

Notice: Younger siblings, please do not throw this blog post in your older sibling’s face. Forward them the link, if you like, but don’t tag them in public on social media. Take it easy on them. Some of us “oldests” have trouble finding our role–as I’m sure you know. 😉

I’ve been an oldest child for twenty-one years. My sissies kindly say that I’m a pretty good big sister. I’m still not perfect, and I’ve misused my role all too many times. But I’ve come to realize that being the oldest not only comes with privileges and responsibilities. It also has power.

I remember the moment when my younger sister Molly told our Bible study group that she trusted my biblical advice. That if I said something about the Bible, she was likely to believe me over even respected Bible teachers.

Good thing I was sitting down. I felt all the honor of her trust and respect, and all the weight of the responsibility. It kinda blew me away. I mean, what if I got something wrong and led her astray?

See, I’ve always wanted to be a good big sister. (I mean, really, which of us sets out to be a sadistic jerk toward our younger siblings? I hope not many.) But I didn’t fully realize the power of my role until then.

Somehow the fact that I’m older–even if by only two years–makes a difference in how my siblings view me. I learned to read first. Learned to drive first. I’ve been there as long as they can remember. There was never a time when Darcy wasn’t there–older, stronger, oh-so-much-wiser. (That stronger/wiser thing has evened out as we’ve grown, but still… It might not be much, but I’ve still had more experience than they have.)

Just by its very nature, the role of an oldest child is leader.

The younger siblings instinctively know this. Why do you think they love to say you’re not their boss? Because they instinctively feel that you are their superior in some ways, and they jolly well don’t like it. 🙂

So, fellow oldest child, you don’t feel like a leader? Not your personality type? Not your preference?

To be perfectly blunt: tough. It’s your job.

Although you may never lead anyone else, leadership of your siblings is your birthright.

Oh, you can abdicate. You can kinda let life slip by, and someone else will take your role. Maybe a younger sibling with a personality geared more toward leadership will step up. Maybe your siblings’ friends will usurp your position of admired, looked-up-to role model and supporter. Or maybe some dumb, yet popular celebrity who couldn’t care less will become the person your siblings respect.

You were born to lead. Don’tcha think God knew what He was doing when He placed you in your family?

But you can sell your birthright. Esau did. He sold it to his just-a-few-minutes-younger twin brother for a bowl of stew. He even swore that he meant it. (Yes, I know the birthright was a tangible thing in their case, but stick with me.) Later, Esau regretted it bitterly. (Check out Genesis 25 and 27 for the whole story.)

See, it wasn’t really about the stew. Or his younger brother’s petty manipulation. Esau’s birthright should never have been treated that way even in jest, let alone in earnest. The problem was Esau despised his birthright. Counted it worthless. Unimportant.

So, how do you value your birthright? You have an opportunity to lead your younger siblings into Light, and Truth, and Righteousness. (Conversely, you could lead them down a pretty path to hell. Yep, that power is yours, too.) Or you can abdicate, and your birthright will default to whoever happens to step up.

Come on, you don’t really want to risk that, do you?

About now you may be thinking, “Yeah, yeah, whatever. You don’t know my siblings.”

Fair enough. Your siblings are individual people. Every single relationship–and I do mean every. single. relationship.–is different. But I think general principles can be adapted to fit all manner of situations.

You know one of the most powerful ways to lead? By example.

Quit rolling your eyes. 🙂

“But my younger siblings don’t respect me enough to follow any kind of example I set!”

Wrong. Unless they are already utterly and completely corrupted, they won’t be able to help themselves. If they see you living a content, fulfilled, honorable life, they’ll secretly respect it, even if they never indicate so.

Even if they call you “Miss Perfect” or “Mama’s boy.” (There are a lot of worse things in life than being called “goody-goody,” by the way.)

On the other hand, if they see you failing, your leadership might be debased to a case of “What Not to Do.” This is not as powerful, just sayin’.

So one way to lead is to get all your own ducks in a row.

Not that you’ll be perfect. Not that you’ll never ask for help. Not that you’ll never apologize.

Knowing when to ask for help, addressing your imperfections, and apologizing when you need to are actually signs that you’re keeping those ducks in formation.

And when you’re consistently doing well at this thing called “life,” it’s easier for your siblings to respect you. It’s how you strengthen your role.

Whatever you do, don’t act uppity when you get things right.

When you do your chores and schoolwork, when your parents say “Great job,” when your siblings say “How come he gets to…?” Don’t brag. Don’t smile smugly. Don’t rub your accomplishments in their face.

An air of superiority is the quickest turn-off for a younger sibling. Just be genuine in trying to do right, and be honest when you make mistakes.

Because you were born first, all your little actions have power.

Don’t waste them. Keep your daily life following Jesus, not only for yourself, but also for the siblings who are watching you.

Okay, so I’m just getting warmed up on this subject, but I’ll hush for now. More to come soon, Lord willing. Meanwhile, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Oldests, how have you noticed your birthright of leadership? How have you used it? Or have you used it at all?

Younger siblings, whatcha think? What makes you respect your oldest sibling? What do they do that drives you crazy?

And if you don’t care to leave a public comment, head to my “Connect” page and shoot me an email. 🙂

-Miss Darcy

Actions Versus Words

“Actions speak louder than words,” goes the old saying. And there’s truth in that.

If I tell my sister I love her, but I never spend time with her, never show interest in her interests, never give her a nice gift, never let her choose the movie, never help her with a task, never go out of my way to serve her, how is she supposed to believe that I love her?

On the other hand, if I give her the best birthday and Christmas gifts, regularly do chores for her, always let her choose the movie, always drop my own work when she needs me, but my mouth is full of cut-downs, insults, teasing, and rebukes, don’t you think she’ll doubt the sincerity of all my loving actions? Won’t she wonder why under the sun I do nice things for her when I apparently can’t stand her?

She’d think me a hypocrite with some ulterior motive. And why shouldn’t she?

“Actions speak louder than words,” they say. But maybe that’s a bit of a cop-out.

Maybe words are actions.

If we say actions are stronger than words, then we could assume that words don’t really matter that much. And if words don’t really matter, then we can let our tongues run away and spout whatever we feel at the moment. If words don’t really matter, then we can berate and mock our friends whenever they get on our nerves. As long as we do nice things for them otherwise.

That doesn’t sound like a healthy relationship, does it?

Of course not. Because our words need to line up with our actions. We ought to be kind in practical, tangible ways. And we ought to make sure our words are kind as well.

Take a look at this passage from the book of Job. When disaster befell Job and all his goods and even his children were stripped away from him, three of Job’s friends came to “comfort him.” Their version of comfort was to accuse Job of wrongdoing and urge him to repent so God would bless him again.

Here’s how Job felt about it:

“How long will you torment my soul,
And break me in pieces with your words?

-Job 19:2 (NKJV)

Can you hear the pain in his voice?

His “friends” never raised their hands against him. But their words crushed him. Maybe long ago his friends had done him a good turn, and he them. Maybe their actions had proclaimed their mutual friendship. Yet here they are tearing him apart with their words.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones…” But words can torment the soul and fragment the heart.

Words have power.

Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!
And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity.

-James 3:5-6a NKJV (emphasis mine)

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue,

-Proverbs 18:21a NKJV (emphasis mine)

Job also had this to say about his friends’ words:

“I have heard many such things;
Miserable comforters are you all!
I also could speak as you do,
If your soul were in my soul’s place.
I could heap up words against you,
And shake my head at you;
But I would strengthen you with my mouth,
And the comfort of my lips would relieve your grief.

-Job 16:2, 4-5 NKJV (emphasis mine)

Job’s friends used their words to make him miserable. They pushed his soul toward despair and death.

But they didn’t have to. They could have chosen to speak words of comfort. Words that urged his soul toward hope and life.

We shouldn’t go around assuming that our actions are loud enough to convince our loved ones that we love them. What message are our words sending?

Maybe we’ve gotten very good at guarding our tongues. Maybe we hardly ever let anything unkind slip out. And that’s great.

But do we keep silent when we have opportunity to speak a word of encouragement? Sometimes silence is a form of speaking. Make sure your silence is saying what you want it to.

One more thing: not everything Job’s friends said was wrong of itself. Their statements weren’t necessarily untrue or unrighteous.

But the right word at the wrong time, in the wrong place, or to the wrong person is the wrong word.

Words can have power coming from anyone, even a stranger. But words have the most power with people we’re close to. If I don’t know you, your insults aren’t going to hit home the way insults from my friend would.

So should we not be extra careful how we speak to those we love?

Don’t ever think words don’t matter. They can kill. Or they can heal.

When you speak, that’s just as much an action as when you punch someone in the nose.

So go love someone with your words today. (Just make sure your other actions aren’t contradicting you.)

-Miss Darcy

A Tale of Two Fish

I got my first pet fish a little over a year ago–a gorgeous blue half-moon betta with metallic aqua on his tail. I named him Caspian, after Prince Caspian from Narnia. Cass for short, or for people who couldn’t pronounce Caspian.

I had him almost eleven months before he died. (Amazing how attached you can get to a leetle fish.) I didn’t want that tank to sit empty, so I scrubbed it clean and went to the pet story that very day and bought another betta. I almost bought a red one, but apparently I can’t resist the blue ones. I came home with a dark blue veil-tail, which I named Rilian (after Prince Caspian’s son).

I guess I expected them to be almost identical. A betta fish is a betta fish, right?

But these two fish weren’t the same. They had different personalities.

Yeah, I see you rolling your eyes, but most people acknowledge that dogs have their own personalities, so hang with me a little longer.

Caspian was an arrogant little thing. Loved nothing better than to admire his reflection. If I traced my finger along the outside of his tank, he ignored it. Flared his gills most ostentatiously. And he hated it when I cleaned his tank. I had to chase him round and round the tank before I could scoop him out into the holding cup. (I always figured he’d work himself into a heart attack, but he never did.) He’d just sit and sulk until I put him back in his freshly cleaned tank.

He had the funniest way of turning his nose up at you. He wasn’t the sort of pet I baby-talked.

Rilian is very personable. When someone puts their face up to the tank, he swims over to say hi. He wiggles and flares his gills gently and follows your finger along the tank. He’s better at aiming for his food than Caspian was. And he doesn’t mind it when I scoop him out of his tank for cleaning.

Altogether, he’s more approachable. I can call him Rilly sometimes without his being insulted. 😉

So perhaps their “personalities” have to do with the way I interpret their behavior. But the fact is these two fish behave differently.

God cares about His creation so much that He bothered to give two little betta fish different “personalities,” so to speak. Two betta fish that might have died in the hatchery or at the pet store, and absolutely no one would have cared beyond the fact they’d lost a very small amount of cash.

The God who made the stars also cares about little fish no longer than my finger.

He makes them beautiful, and He makes them unique.

“Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God.

“But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

-Luke 12:6-7 NKJV (emphasis mine)

-Miss Darcy

I Am Thankful, 2017

I’m gonna try to keep this short and sweet. (Here’s where you roll your eyes at the idea of me writing anything short.)

In semi-random order, I am thankful for…

  • …the stunning truth that the Creator of the galaxies considers me someone worth dying for.
  • …my priceless relationships with friends and family. I may be an introvert and a writer, but friends that exist only on paper and in imagination don’t really compare to friends who breathe the same air I do.
  • …grace. From God, from my family, from random strangers. I make mistakes. I need grace.
  • …the necessities: food and clothing. I also have a warm home, hot water, a car, modern conveniences, technology, and a host of other things. Maybe if I didn’t have these I could justify my complaining. As it is, I have no reason to complain.
  • …language, written and spoken. Communication through language is an awesome gift from God that I usually take for granted. And it would leave a huge hole if it suddenly disappeared.
  • …the Bible. I don’t know how I’d live without this Book. And it’s in my mother tongue. Invaluable.
  • …that I can write. Even if no one else reads it, writing is a deep source of joy to me.
  • …beauty in nature. God didn’t have to make the world pretty. But, oh, didn’t He?
  • …rest. Sometimes I need it desperately, and it is sweet.
  • …music. Music affects the soul in a way words can’t. Which makes it far more powerful than we think.
  • …health. So many don’t have it, and I’ll enjoy it as long as it’s mine.

Under three hundred words. 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving!

-Miss Darcy

Aurora’s Folly, Part 2

Last week, in Part 1, I wrote about Princess Aurora from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, and how short-sighted she was. When she discovered she was a princess, all she could do was cry over a man she’d only met once. And we are so prone to be like her. When God asks us to follow Him fully, all we can think of are the worldly pleasures we’ll lose instead of the eternal riches we gain.

Yes, such behavior is foolish.

It’s also dangerous.

See, after Aurora cried her first storm, her aunts took her to the palace where she would be presented to her parents that evening. They sneak her in carefully, lest the witch Maleficent spy them. Aurora is still miserable. Her aunts give her a gold crown, symbolic of her royal rights and royal duties. She looks at herself in the mirror, puts her head down on the table, and bursts into tears again, poor thing.

So her aunts kindly give her a moment to herself before she actually has to meet her parents and the man she’s betrothed to.

And it’s then, when Aurora is weak, sad, and not herself, that Maleficent comes. She comes invisibly with a bizarre, mesmerizing ball of green fire. Aurora sits up, entranced. Then she stands and follows the dancing green ball through hidden passages in the castle up to a tower where the ball becomes the fateful spinning wheel whose spindle is to prick Aurora’s finger.

By now, her fairy aunts are looking for her, calling to her. But Maleficent’s voice bidding her to touch the spindle is more powerful, aided by the enchantment. Aurora touches it and is instantly cast into a magical, ageless sleep.

You see, Satan is a huge proponent of hitting a fellow when he’s down.

Bad guys in stories sometimes have a sliver of conscience left. Satan doesn’t.

In fact, the devil’s absolute favorite time to strike is when his victim is already weak.

Aurora was weakened because of her grief. But it was self-imposed grief. Sorrow because she couldn’t have what she wanted exactly when she wanted it.

Following God requires us to give up the things of this world. And when we pout about it, or downright refuse to do it, we put a wedge between ourselves and the God who loves us so much.

What starts as slight discontentment can fester into self-pity, depression, frustration, even resentment or rebellion towards God. All of those things can quickly distance us from our Lord.

When we are not walking close to Jesus, we are dangerously weak.

And Satan is only too happy to attack when we have drifted away from our Source of power.

It’s easy, and tempting, to think that a little complaining or a little rebellion won’t hurt anything. After all, it’s such a little bit.

But little things grow. Ever watched a bruise on a peach consume the whole fruit with rot? Ick.

But with Jesus, there is always hope.

Even if the devil has come in our weakness and cast us into a horrid pit from which we have no energy to rise, Jesus can pull us out. We need only to call to Him in repentance, and He will come and rescue us. He won’t leave us even if we have to endure certain inevitable consequences.

Still, don’t you think prevention is more desirable?

-Miss Darcy

P.S. Here are the clips of Aurora’s arrival home and Aurora’s enchantment, in case you wish to see them. It’s a mercy I never saw the latter as a young child–would have creeped me out to no end.