On conquering the world

My friend Cara Meredith invites people to write guest posts on her blog, and she always has the best prompts. Last year she had us write about unexpected moments, and I got to tell a bit of my love story. This year the prompt is rituals, and I loved getting to write about one of the sweetest things that has developed in our home: the unexpected ritual of world-conquering. Here’s a snippet (and here’s the whole link..)

clotho98

It’s 8:11am, and there’s fussing by the front door:

“Where are your shoes?”

“I can’t find my library book.”

“Why didn’t you unpack your lunch bag yesterday?”

“Hurry up! I don’t want to get another tardy note!”

In the flurry, zips are zipped, snacks are packed, and finally, my husband and older kids tumble out the door. I stand with my youngest—both still in our pajamas and slippers—and call out to them: “Bye! Love you! Conquer the world!” My three year old echoes in a voice that echoes down the street: “Conquer! The! World!!!” and his Daddy rolls down the window as he backs out the driveway and shouts back, “bye! Conquer your little world, too!”

Tail lights disappear down the street, and we click the front door closed.

This is how it happens every day.

(Read the rest here)

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons/Clotho98

Kindness (Naomi Shihab Nye)

Kindness (Naomi Shihab Nye)

Kindness

Before you know what kindness really is

you must lose things,

feel the future dissolve in a moment

like salt in a weakened broth.

What you held in your hand,

what you counted and carefully saved,

all this must go so you know

how desolate the landscape can be

between the regions of kindness.

How you ride and ride

thinking the bus will never stop,

the passengers eating maize and chicken

will stare out the window forever.

 

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,

you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho 

lies dead by the side of the road.

You must see how this could be you,

how he too was someone

who journeyed through the night with plans 

and the simple breath that kept him alive.

 

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, 

you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.  

You must wake up with sorrow.

You must speak to it till your voice

catches the thread of all sorrows

and you see the size of the cloth. 

 

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,

only kindness that ties your shoes

and sends you out into the day to mail letters and 

     purchase bread,

only kindness that raises its head

from the crowd of the world to say

it is I you have been looking for,

and then goes with you every where

like a shadow or a friend.

by Naomi Shihab Nye
illustration by Corrie Haffly

There is so much unkindness. So much selfishness in the world. And sometimes, in stark contrast, we see hands of kindness. Our church has been praying for and trying to think of ways to show kindness to Syrian refugees half way across the world, and yet still our brothers and sisters (these images of Syrian refugee children sleeping , for example). When Corrie suggested drawing Syrian refugees for this poem, I knew immediately it was perfect.

The Good Words that Held Me Up through My Hard Marriage

I’m honored to welcome author/speaker Elisabeth Klein Corcoran for the “words that changed my world” series. Elisabeth’s new book, Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage, was released last week.

Living in a difficult Christian marriage is an isolating experience, for a couple reasons.  First, you feel like you’re the only person going through what you’re going through.  Secondly, you feel that if you shared, no one would truly understand. And thirdly, there’s this little thing about being a Christian, in my experience, that led me to stuff the really bad things down, because I thought if I were “found out”, my building-the-Kingdom card would be taken away.

So in the midst of almost twenty years of pain, I learned to share just bits and pieces of my hard road. I didn’t think any one friend could handle it, or would believe, or would know what to do about it. And I didn’t want to be that woman who was only full of her own pain.

Elisabeth and her beloved friendBut Jesus brought a friend into my life who walked closely with me through years and years of heartache. She knew the most.  She leaned in the closest.  My pain didn’t scare her.

And one day she wrote me these words: You would bless ANYONE with the way you choose to handle your marriage.  I know you don’t do it perfectly every minute, but you are amazing!  Most Christian women couldn’t do half as well in your relationship as you have.  You are a godly example whether you feel like it or not.”

She saw my life was out of control. She knew my marriage was unraveling and frail and just barely hanging on. She knew I was messing up at every turn. And yet she spoke those words of life into my soul in a moment when I wanted to throw in every single towel.

And those words buoyed me up.  They changed my perspective.  She called out something in me that I was too blinded by my hurt to see, and that was this: that I was handling things better than I thought and that I still had something to offer.

We all have moments or even seasons in our lives when we cannot see what is true about ourselves.  And we all have the ability to stop what we’re doing and look deeply into the eyes of a friend and speak words that can shift something in her soul, even if for just right then and there.

We all have experienced firsthand the devastation of a careless or intentionally cruel word. But we sometimes forget how a carefully chosen, kind word can bring absolute healing, or can pour courage into someone who is flailing, or can realign a self-misperception that has taken root.

Today, think of one hurting person in your life.  And think of one kind sentence you can say or write or text. You will never, ever regret dispensing sweet words.

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. –Proverbs 16:24

Elisabeth Klein Corcoran is the author of Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage and Unraveling: Hanging Onto Faith Through the End of a Christian Marriage, along with several other books. She speaks several times a month to women’s groups, and is a member of Redbud Writers’ Guild. She lives with her children in Illinois. Visit her online at http://www.elisabethcorcoran.com/difficult-marriage-divorce/ or https://www.facebook.com/ElisabethKleinCorcoran.  She is the moderator of two private Facebook groups: one for women in difficult Christian marriages, and one for Christian women who are separated or divorced. Email her at elisabeth@elisabethcorcoran.com if interested in joining. Elisabeth is a proud Member of Redbud Writer’s Guild and has been featured on Moody’s In the Market with Janet Parshall, This is the Day with Nancy Turner, and Midday Connection with Anita Lustrea.

Do you have a story to share of words that changed your world? I’d love you to be my guest! Read more here.