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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Day 26

Two weeks left.  One of the greatest blessings of the last few weeks is the time spent writing.  It has been such a joy to write and encourage people about the wonderful gifts God has bestowed.   My goal has been 2/day.  I put my hand over each card praying for words for each person I care so dearly about.   I pray for words of encouragement and exhortation.  I don't know how successful its been from the recipient point of view, but for me its been heavenly.  

The other great joy has been during my "exceptions".  I love to talk.  Since my conversation is so limited both in time and subject matter, I have found myself reveling in those moments of verbal expression.  They are moments I can now cherish and not regret.   They are now holy moments and no longer common.  They are special.  They are unique.  As the sheer volume of my words has decreased, the power of them has been amplified.  Can you imagine what it is like to actually think about everything you say before you say it?

I was thinking of the story of Jesus and the woman caught in the act of adultery in John 8.  Don't you love Jesus' response when all the self righteous legalists brought this poor woman to him?  They were looking to accuse.  They were hoping to entrap and ensnare.  When they ask for his verdict, what is his response (at least initially)?  Silence.....................................  How profound is that?  Writing in the sand, he doesn't react to their prompts.   He takes his time.  I wonder what effect that silence.............................had on everyone.  They are emotional.  They are ready to debate.   They are itching for an argument.  And what does Jesus do?   He soothes the situation.  He diffuses ......preparing them to receive what he is about to say, by saying nothing.   Jesus knew what he was doing.

I am an uncle again!  Liza Mae, weighing 9lbs 3oz, measuring 21 inches long, didn't say a word.  She may have cooed at little.  But when I saw the perfect beauty of God's design in her little mouth, fingers, and toes, I heard God.  There was nothing audible, but He most definitely spoke of his new little cutie patootie creation and said, "It is good!"

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Day 22

Well .....half way home.... and there are several observations I would like to share.

1. Generally, although guys more often express "envy" of what I am doing, they are usually more uncomfortable trying to communicate with me via my slower mediums
2. Girls conversely, often say something like "That would kill me.  There no way I could go without talking". Yet they seem most understanding and patient with my experiment.

There are some big exceptions to rules 1 and 2 above.

3. I've probably been taking too many siesta's from this experiment.  I need to do better.  It is a great thing though to have to continually ask yourself, "Is this worthy of opening my mouth?"

4. I can waste just as much time or be just as productive, silent or talking.

5. Candace is horrible at reading lips.

6. The convenience of drive thru's being removed my diet has gotten better.

I was quite excited and encouraged by a good friend of mine who said she's been applying this fast to her mornings.  She doesn't say a word until she drops the kids off at school.  She told me it has helped her stress level tremendously.  I like that I am introduced by my friends as a. my preacher who is doing this interesting fast.  b. my idiot brother who cannot speak.

Blessed are those who call on the name of the Lord.  If the only thing I use my mouth for is uplifting and encouraging....all the better.

Its funny when folks talk louder or slower or reach to grab my dry erase board when they want to tell me something.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Creative Prayer

A good friend recently recommended a book to me.  Its called Creative Prayer: Speaking the Language of God's Heart.  So far ...incredible.  I wish I'd read it before my sermon Sunday.  He asks, "If we were summoned to the Oval office to present our agenda for the country, would we spend any time to prepare?  To measure our words carefully to make sure they were appropriate?  To express them in the most memorable way possible, so they'd linger in the mind of the chief executive?  Of course we would."  He then goes on to argue that our difficulty in prayer often stems from lack of preparation and creativity.  We don't engage our five senses and our enormous imaginative capabilities when we go to our father in heaven.  That resonated with I tried it some today.

As I prayed I swayed.  I prayed some contemporary Christian songs.  I prayed outside in the in the midst of his heavens and earth.  Breathing in and out I imagined God breathing into me the breath of life.  I vocalized God's blessings.  It was an incredible day.

It has got me excited to try new things.  We are made in the image of a creative God.  We are reflecting his nature when we express ourselves imaginatively.  I wouldn't consider myself creative according to ordinary classifications.  Art, I like it.  Music, got the radio on all the time.  Interpretive dance, no.  Yet in the art of living.....Yes, I think I am.  And I think all of us are capable of painting artistic masterpieces on the canvas of life.  We all have the ability of Mozart, Michelangelo, and Da Vinci.  It may never be recognized by anyone other than God, but who cares?  Isn't there a spark within us all that intuitively tells us God has crafted us especially according to his design?  We are all special and unique and each exceptionally designed to commune with God in extraordinary ways.   Think about it.  Most of us, as believers, wouldn't argue that we are all unique.  If we accept that, why would we reasonably feel the need to clone our prayers?  And if you want to reference the Lord's prayer I would argue there is a world of meaning between what we should pray and how we should pray.

When you tell a story do you try to keep it as monotone as possible?  Why not?  Its not nearly as interesting for you or the hearer.  Maybe it is time we stop lifting up our one dimensional prayers, putting on our thinking caps and revel in new ways to tell our Father about our day.

We guys, so long, farewell, auf wiedersehen goodbye

Friday, September 9, 2011

Day 10 - Speaking

One or two other advantages of not speaking I have gleaned.  1. When communicating via eraser board it is OK to "talk" with you mouth full. 2. You have by default more time to think about what you say before saying it.  3. You learn the value of the economy of words.

Colossians 4:6
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

I think its important for your conversation to be full of grace.  I read recently that the average person speaks about 16,000 words/day!  How much grace do you think it takes to fill 16,000 words.  Methinks a lot!  How many of those words tend to be idle?  How many hurtful and destructive?  

If everyone could utter 16,000 grace filled words a day, this world would be a better place.  Words of grace are kind, compassionate, and generous.  They are given with love.  Seasoned with salt, to me, implies an intellect at the disposal of such love.  One can say something lovingly from their heart.  That's great.  Yet to say something so it will be understood as loving, is to speak grace filled words seasoned with salt.  

Its interesting how these words of encouragement are framed as a response....."so you will know how to answer everyone."  Responding to someone implies interaction.  There is connection.  If we just talk to someone......that connection is not necessarily present. 

I've been trying very hard for my words to find a voice of their own.  I want my written words to convey me well.  Who I am and what I think.  Its tough.  In some ways this has been harder than any of the others.  Yet one thing has become abundantly clear.  It is a wonderful blessing to have a voice.  

Monday, September 5, 2011

Day 5/6 Speaking

One of my favorite passages of scripture is Ephesians 4:29, "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."  I have found adhering to this much easier when I am limited talking to and about God.  Its actually been a great tool I hadn't counted on.

For example, on Monday and Thursdays I do Meals on Wheels.  One of the college students, Candace, often goes with me on Mondays.  She is very talkative in general and would have been more comfortable than most creatively finding a way to have a mostly one sided conversation.  However, when she found out I could talk about Godly things, that is exactly what we did.  Now its not as if we normally only talk about ungodly things, but there is a significant difference between football and faith.

That is the positive side.  The negative side has been just as beneficial.  On Sunday I got aggravated at an individual.  Not an uncommon occurrence any day of the week.  I wanted so bad to talk to some other folks about this individual but couldn't.  See, I have this bad habit of cloaking my motivations.  I have this ability to vent about people while carrying on a semblance of care and concern for them.  Really what I want to do is complain.   Not healthy.  There is a time and place to address faults and grievances yet I've found that it generally needs to be addressed to the given individual.....not others.  Kind of a Biblical concept, eh?  Well anyways. This is a learning process for sure.  Just loving that I can do something like this.  Thankful for the ability to tell those around me how much I care about them.  Grateful I can lift up songs of praise to my God.

Friday, September 2, 2011

day 2 - Speaking

Well, made it through 2 whole days without saying an extraneous word.  Quite the accomplishment if I do say so myself.  No lies, exaggerations, excuses, or feet in mouth.  I did accidentally say something to Darlene when she came into the office today.  Just forgot.  I prayed with my friend Amanda.  I read my memory verses out loud.  I laughed, and sang some hallelujahs.

I also got this man that came to church today for some help to call someone and pretend he was me.

Here are some observations....
1. Going through the drive-thru is much more difficult.
2. If you point at your throat and don't speak everyone automatically assumes laryngitis.
3. Thumbs up and thumbs down have become the two most important gestures in my vocabulary.
4. Helping move big furniture without being able to speak is dangerous.
5. Its fun trying to communicate with a dry erase board.
6. I stink at charades.
7. Its harder memorizing when you can't vocalize.
8. I felt myself not making as good eye contact with people because I knew they would be more likely to speak to me and I wouldn't be able to respond well.
9. I'm texting like crazy.
10. I'm trying to figure out how to communicate with my Granny who doesn't text or email.  (may have to do some letter writing)
11. Silent speaking helps a lot.  Most folks can lip read a word or two.

Its tough.  You don't appreciate the power of a word until you do without it.  I mean the Lord spoke each day of creation into existence so even a human word must have some significance.  I've noticed the void left by my silence although awkward, has left room for some other folks to share things they might otherwise not have done.  I can easily monopolize conversations talking about me things.  I'm hoping if I don't have anyone else to cordially chit chat with, that it will help me appreciate and look forward to my chitchat time with God.