Spring Is Coming!

frosty pineHave you ever walked across a frozen field in the cold of winter? The frost sparkling on the barbed wire, the dead branches of the seemingly lifeless trees scraping the iron-gray sky? There is a silence.  A waiting. A wondering. Is everything dead? Will the ground ever produce again? You look up at the sky and wonder why the winter came.  You wonder what God was doing.  Why did He allow the frost? Questions pile on questions, and all around you is only silence.  The only sound is your footsteps against the frozen snow.

winter bare treeWinter can be lonely and frightening.  Blizzards come that threaten to rip you apart.  Storms of anger, and weeping, and sadness overwhelm you.  But between the storms, a beautiful quiet comes.  On the surface, winter appears to be a time of death, but it is also a time when the sap begins to rise in the trees giving them new life.  It’s a time when the earth rests and prepares for new harvest. It is a time of waiting. And the waiting has a beauty too.

Over the frozen expanse of your soul, a silent voice speaks, and if you’re willing to listen, it will tell you that everything is going to be okay. It will assure you of God’s love. In a frozen wasteland, a whisper carries far and is memorable. A connection to God can be forged that is even more potent because of the stillness. Winter makes God’s voice loud.  The whisper becomes a shout. And the shout becomes more real than the frozen snow around you.

ice meltingAs you slowly let go of your disappointment and confusion, almost imperceptibly, spring begins to come. Small things.  Little changes. A trickle of water, a blade of green, clouds parting to reveal a glimpse of blue sky.  Chilly gales become warm breezes. And in the crusted snow, the first crocuses of spring slowly appear. Splashes of color against the desolation.

Questions asked in the middle of winter aren’t always answered immediately.  But as time passes, the truth of Romans 8:28 is revealed. God turns every bad thing into something good. And as that truth settles in and becomes your reality, frozen winter melts into glorious spring. Contentment comes.

If you’re in the middle of winter—if the blizzard winds are howling around and the life you once knew is dead—don’t despair.  You’re going to make it.  Things will change. Never forget that spring is on its way. The crocuses are about to peek out and greet the sun.

purple crocus snow“For the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers are springing up and the time of the singing birds has come. Yes, spring is here!” Song of Solomon 2:12

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The Stained Glass Catastrophe–Revisited

stained glassWhen I was a child, one of the things I loved the most about Christmas was doing crafts with my mother.  Along with my sisters, we would make fabulous ornaments.  One year, my family worked with beads, another year we painted ceramics. Every craft project was fun, but the one I enjoyed the most was the stained-glass ornaments. As Mom helped me, I carefully poured little bits of colored glass into metal frames, and then Mom baked the ornaments in the oven.  After the glass melted and cooled, I was able to hold my stained-glass masterpieces up to the window and watch the sunlight streaming through the beautiful colors.  I felt like Picasso. I felt talented! I was invincible! I was Queen of the World!

The years passed, and when I was in 5th grade, I decided that I wanted to make stained-glassed ornaments again—but this time I wanted to make them without ANY help from my mother. After all, I was practically grown up, and I knew how to handle an oven. My mom quirked an eyebrow at my cocky declarations, but she just cautioned me to be careful and let me alone. Being a middle schooler, I reacted by rolling my eyes. Of course, I would be careful. Sheesh!  

glass-3Feeling VERY mature, I carefully arranged the stained glass beads in their metal frames on the cookie sheet. My work was flawless. It was beautiful. It was the epitome of perfection. With a smug smile at my mother, I pushed the cookie sheet into the oven with flourish. What happened next was inevitable; the corner of the cookie sheet got caught on the oven rack and all the glass beads slid off the tray onto the bottom of the oven.  I was horrified.

As the beads melted into a stained-glass mess on the bottom of the oven, I waited for my mother’s reaction.  She didn’t yell or even sigh.  She just got a butter knife and helped me carefully scrape up the mess. When we were done, I found myself looking at her in a new way—not as a child rebelling against authority—but as a child feeling love for someone worthy of respect.

glass-5I learned a lot that day.  I learned that I wasn’t invincible, that warnings should be heeded, that the fun of crafts is doing them together, and most of all, I learned that my mother is the nicest woman in the world. Looking back on it; however, I also learned an important lesson about God. Down through the years, there have been times when I’ve told God to back off and let me handle things on my own—usually because I haven’t wanted to follow His instructions. Inevitably, I end up falling on my face, and when I do, God doesn’t yell or sigh or make me feel small.  He just fetches a butter knife and helps me clean up the mess. And each time He does, I realize that God isn’t just wonderful—He’s also KIND.

Whenever I look at stained-glass, I think about my mother who didn’t rebuke me when she had the chance. And I also think about our kind God who never turns His back on us when we make a mess.

 

glass-1“Give thanks to God and bless His name. For the Lord is always good. He is always loving and kind, and His faithfulness goes on and on to each succeeding generation.”  Psalm 100:4-5

“But You are merciful and gentle, Lord, slow in getting angry, full of constant lovingkindness and truth.”  Psalm 86:15

 

The Presence of God

ornament 2Down through the years, I’ve heard some people dismissing God as a silly myth. I’ve heard others declaring that God is far away and unconcerned with the puny mortals inhabiting the Earth. I might have bought into their opinions if I hadn’t experienced something unexplainable at 2:00 a.m. on Christmas Eve long ago.

When I was in middle school, I was worried and concerned about many things—especially my looks. Even though I was young, I was almost six feet tall. I towered over my classmates. I felt like a hulking giant. Cinderella had tiny, dainty feet, but my feet were enormous. I definitely wasn’t princess material. I was awkward, clumsy, and at times, painfully shy. Life–as I saw it–wasn’t easy.

christmas-4During Christmas vacation, I tried pushing my worries aside, but I couldn’t manage it. When I went to bed, my troubles swirled around me like a big, black cloud. I tossed and turned. I thought about my problems and tried to find solutions. Unless I wanted to chop my feet off at the ankles, there weren’t any. I desperately wanted to be pretty, but in my opinion, I was just a freak of nature.

christmas sceneBy the time Christmas Eve arrived, I was a moody, grumbly, icky mess. I couldn’t sleep again, so at 2:00 a.m. I crept from my bedroom and went to the living room. My parents and siblings were all fast asleep. Padding across the carpet in my bare feet, I plugged in the lights of the Christmas tree and sat on the couch to watch the embers flickering in the fireplace. Turning my head, I looked out the window and saw Orion twinkling in the inky black sky.

I sat for a long time, reviewing my problems and mourning the fact that I wasn’t “princess” material. I felt like a weirdo—an ugly weirdo. I wished things could be different—that I could be different.

christmas-2As a tear snaked down my cheek, I saw my mother’s music box on the window ledge. The music box depicted a lovely angel playing a piano. I had always loved that music box. Even when I was little, listening to it play “Silent Night” would fill me with joy.

Even though I felt awful, I picked it up and wound it. Deafening silence cowered and slunk away as the music box played. As the soft sounds of “Silent Night” filled the room, my turmoil started to recede. When the music ended, I wound the music box and listened to the song again. As Orion made his way slowly through the dark sky, I listened to “Silent Night” over and over.

About the tenth time through, I started singing the lyrics softly, “Silent night. Holy night. All is calm. All is bright.”

I looked at the flickering embers. I studied the lights of the Christmas tree. I tipped my face up to the sky and watched Orion.

christmas-3Silent night. Holy night. All is calm. All is bright.”

As the music box wound down and the music stopped, I sat in silence staring at the fire. Suddenly, I felt a warm peace surrounding me. It felt as if a cloud of love was wrapping around my body, encasing me in a soft, heavy quilt. Sighing, I closed my eyes. The peace in the room was so thick—so tangible—that I felt I could touch it. I sighed again.

spruceSuddenly, I heard a soft, quiet voice whispering inside my heart. The voice wasn’t audible, but it was powerful. I knew it was the Lord. God simply said, “I made you. And I love you for who you are.”

My eyes popped open. The peace and love surrounding me increased. Again the voice said, “I made you. And I love you for who you are.”

As I sat on the couch blinking, the voice said firmly once again, “I made you. And I love you for who you are.”

ornamentThe peace and love that I was feeling was overwhelming, and suddenly, it was mixed with unspeakable joy. I looked down at my huge feet and smiled. God made my huge feet. God LIKED my huge feet! I studied my impossibly long legs and grinned. God designed my legs. He LIKED my legs. Standing, I went and looked at my reflection in a mirror. I studied my messy hair, my crooked teeth, the pimple on my chin—and I smiled. God made me. God LOVED me. God LIKED me just as I was!

Standing in the middle of the living room, I hugged myself. Tipping my face up toward the ceiling, I whispered, “I kinda like you too, God.”

 

christmas-1Silent night. Holy night. All is calm. All is bright.”

Cheer up, don’t be afraid. For the Lord your God has arrived to live among you. He is a might Savior. He will give you victory. He will rejoice over you in great gladness; He will love you and not accuse you. Is that a joyous choir I hear? No, it is the Lord Himself exulting over you in happy song.” Zephaniah 3:16b-18a

 

Penelope Marzec #2–Author Interview

penny-m

Dear Friends, I’m honored to have Penelope Marzec on my blog today! Penelope is one of the most talented people that I know. She writes, paints, sings, and takes beautiful photographs! Not only is she talented, she’s also incredibly kind. I consider her a wonderful prayer partner and a lovely friend! Penelope is a beautiful person, and I’m so glad that I know her! And guess what??? I have exciting news! Penelope’s latest book, Hoping for Joy, was just published a few days ago!

Danele: Penelope, I’m delighted to have you with us today!

Penelope: Thanks so much for the warm welcome. I’m very happy to be here. Your blog is always interesting, insightful, and a joy to read.

Danele: Thank you! That’s so nice of you to say! I appreciate all of the support you have given me, and I can’t wait to learn more about you. Can you tell us where you feel the presence of God the most?

Penelope: I feel the overwhelming presence of God most in nature. I enjoy walking along trails in the woods in the silence of my own thoughts, but most of all I enjoy walking by the ocean. I was fortunate to grow up along the shore and though I live further inland now, the ocean is not far away. Huge, powerful, and mysterious, the ocean is truly awe-inspiring. Just to sit on a rock and stare out at sea gives me a deep sense of peace. The waves rush in and out with a thunderous rumble. There’s a timelessness to it, helping me to understand the concept of how God is, always was, and always will be. I pray everywhere, but when I’m beside the ocean, I am transfixed by the majesty of it and I don’t have to say anything. I am consoled, calmed, and healed.

Danele: That’s so beautiful! Your words have just painted a lovely picture for me! Thank you for sharing your heart! Now, Penelope, here’s another question for you–has God ever revealed Himself to you in a humorous way?

Penelope: I know God watches over us, but I also am very much aware that He has a sense of humor and sometimes His angels in disguise are quite different from what anyone would suspect. I know this because many years ago, when my daughters were young, I was a Brownie Scout leader. One fine afternoon, I drove to the scout headquarters to pick up pins and badges for the girls in my troop. It was quite a distance from home and way out in farm country. I had my three daughters in the car with me. The car was aging, but it hadn’t given me any trouble–until the engine simply stopped dead on the return leg of the journey.

Danele: Oh, no! That’s awful! What happened next?

Penelope: We were in the middle of nowhere, with a wheat field on our side of the road. However, there was a small bar and package goods store not far away on the other side of the road and the car had enough momentum to coast into the parking lot. Fortunately, the bar had a telephone. (This happened long before cellphones and long before we signed up for Triple A.) I called my husband who promised to rescue us, although he had to leave work.

Danele: I’m glad you were able to get a hold of him!

Penelope: Me too. As we waited outside the bar, men came out and laughed at me. “Hey, lady, what did you do, forget to put gas in the car?” Not one of them offered to help in any way. I was fuming!

Danele: I can understand why! That’s awful!

Penelope: My husband finally appeared, but he couldn’t figure out what was wrong with the car. Then a battered car pulled up beside mine. A very short, older woman got out. Her gray hair was straight and covered by a beret, her only nod to fashion. The rest of her outfit was frumpy. She asked about the car, opened the hood, put her hand over the intake of the carburetor, and told me to start the car. After a few sputters, the engine caught.

Danele: That’s marvelous!

Penelope: Maybe she wasn’t an angel, but I sure thought she could qualify as one. All of us have hands to do God’s work but not everyone takes on that responsibility. While all the men didn’t or couldn’t help with the car, that one older woman knew the trick and solved the problem. God sent someone to help, but while she appeared to be an unlikely candidate for the job she was more than capable. God must have had a good laugh. As for me, I was extremely grateful.

Danele: I would’ve been grateful too! I’m so glad that she helped you out! What a fun story! Now, before I let you go, can you give us a list of the books you have written?

Penelope: Of course! Daddy Wanted, Patriot’s Heart, Patriot’s Pride, The Cowboy’s Miracle, and Hoping for Joy. Hoping for Joy was released on December 16, 2016.

Danele: Congratulations! I’m so happy for you! There’s nothing quite as exciting as having a book released! Can you share a little bit about Hoping for Joy with us? And can you also give us a purchasing link?

Penelope: Sure! Hoping for Joy is part of Prism Book Group’s “Love Is” series, based on 1 Corinthians 13. My book is drawn from the part of Scripture that reads, “love always hopes.” The story is set in a small seaside town with an amusement park. The heroine, Hannah, stares at the diamond ring on her finger and believes her hopes for a wedding are gone as her fiancé, Logan, puts off the date.  She wonders if he loves her anymore. She considers handing him the ring and moving on. He has no faith in the Lord. Should she stop praying for a fiancé with no faith?

But Logan is troubled. He hopes to save his sister from her addiction while helping his father raise his young niece. With his life in turmoil, his dreams have vanished. One night, his sister holds a knife to Hannah’s throat and robs her. Will Hannah forgive him? What will he do with Joy, his sister’s child? Where can he turn for help?

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N2U0XE6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1481907783&sr=8-1&keywords=hoping+for+joy

Danele: I wish you all the best with your new release, Penelope! Thank you so much for being here! I’ve had a great time talking with you!

Penelope: It was my pleasure. I truly appreciate being invited. It’s an honor!

 

Friends, Penelope is such a wonderful person! If you would like to learn more about her, or her books, please follow the links below. I hope you have a wonderful day!

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/penelopemarzecbooks

Twitter: http://twitter.com/penelopemarzec

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/penelopemarzec

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/marzecpenelope

Website: http://penelopemarzec.weebly.com

Blog: http://penelopemarzec.blogspot.com

 

Locket Greedy

grandma-5When I was a senior in high school, my grandmother died. I loved her very much, and I was devastated. What made it even worse was that I’d begged God to let her live. I didn’t see why God had to take her away. I thought it was mean.

Later, after the funeral, the extended family went to Grandma’s house to dispose of her belongings. Several of us were in Grandma’s bedroom sorting through clothes when one of my relatives spotted a locket on the dresser. I spotted another one. We asked the rest of the family if we could have the lockets as keepsakes. They agreed.

locket-1My locket wasn’t very large, and it definitely wasn’t expensive. But I thought it was lovely. I planned on putting a picture of Grandma in it. I was going to wear it constantly to remind me of her love and kindness. I was drowning in nostalgic memories when one of my young cousins came into the room. I loved my cousin very much. She was kind, tenderhearted, and gentle. She was beautiful inside and out.

My cousin saw the lockets, timidly put her hand on my arm, and asked, “Can I have a locket too?”

grandma-7My heart plummeted. I knew there wasn’t another locket. Holding my locket tightly in my fist, I went through the motions of looking for another one. I was seventeen, and I’d been trying to grow closer to the Lord. I knew that it was my responsibility to listen for God’s voice. At that moment, I heard the Lord speak clearly. His quiet, gentle voice wasn’t audible, but it resonated deep inside my spirit. God simply said, “Give her your locket.”

My thoughts raged and whirled. My grandma was dead. God could have saved her. God let her die. Now, God wanted to take my locket too. I wanted to wear that locket in Grandma’s honor. I didn’t want to give it away.

Deep inside my spirit, God’s voice repeated, “Give her your locket. Give it to her. Give it to her. Give it to her.”

Anger and pain wrapped around my heart. I couldn’t believe what God was asking. It wasn’t fair!

Give it to her. Give it to her. Give it to her.”

grandma-3Turning to my sweet, kind cousin, I said flatly. “I’m afraid there isn’t a locket for you.”

My cousin’s eyes filled with pain as she nodded and turned away. She didn’t whine or complain. She simply accepted my statement. I felt a wave of remorse. I knew she was hurting just as much as I was. She deserved the locket—she was such a nice person, and she was younger than I was. My grandmother was extremely kind, and I knew she wouldn’t approve of my stingy behavior. I also knew my other relatives would probably have given away the locket if they were in my shoes. Tightening my white-knuckle grip around the locket, I decided that I didn’t care. The locket was mine.

Again, I felt God say, “Give her your locket.”

Remembering my grandmother’s funeral and my vain prayers for God to spare her, I hardened my heart. I wasn’t giving anything else away—not even an inexpensive, department-store locket. It wasn’t fair of God to ask me to! God had taken so much from me already! Glaring up at the ceiling, I shook my head. Mentally, in an extremely snotty way, I told God to shut up and get lost.

locket-2A few seconds later, one of my relatives shouted for everyone to look. She pointed at a beautiful, expensive locket hanging from the bedpost. The locket was absolutely stunning. It wasn’t a piece of cheap jewelry—it was an heirloom. Unanimously, my relatives smiled at my young cousin and placed the gorgeous locket around her neck. Grateful tears flooded her eyes.

I looked down at the tiny trinket clutched in my fist. I knew that if I had given my locket away, I probably would’ve been given the heirloom instead. I was extremely happy for my cousin, but I felt horrible inside. Instantly, I realized how greedy and silly I had been.

grandma-6My cousin wore her lovely locket the rest of the day, and she wore it constantly for years after that. I never put my locket around my neck. The trinket had changed from a beautiful symbol of my grandmother into an ugly reminder of my petty greed. Even though my locket doesn’t bring back good memories, I’ve never thrown it away. In fact, every day, I see it hanging in my jewelry box. I keep that locket as a visual reminder not to ignore God’s voice. I keep it to remind me to be kind, tenderhearted, loving, and generous.

I wanted a locket to keep my grandmother’s memory alive in my heart. I wanted it to remind me of her kindness and love…

Come to think of it—maybe that locket was the perfect keepsake for me to have.

 

grandma-8Then Jesus said unto them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed, a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.‘”  Luke 12:15

When she speaks, her words are wise, and kindness is the rule for everything she says… Charm can be deceptive and beauty doesn’t last, but a woman who fears and reverences God shall be greatly praised.” Proverbs 31:26 & 30

 

Lisa Lickel #3–Author Interview

Lisa Lickel A

Dear Friends, it’s my ABSOLUTE pleasure to welcome Lisa Lickel back to my blog. Lisa has supported me in so many ways! Not only is she a terrific author, she’s also a BLESSING!

Danele: Hello, Lisa! My readers and I are glad that you’re able to be with us today!

Lisa: Hi, everyone! I’m so pleased to return to dragonflydanele. Danele, your support and encouragement mean so much to keep me going in my career.

Danele: Your encouragement means a lot to me as well! I was just telling my readers how much you’ve helped me! I’ll never forget some of the excellent writing tips you’ve given me! They’re precious gems! I can’t wait to learn more about you! Where is your favorite place to pray?

Lisa: Everywhere, anytime! Prayer is an ongoing conversation, listening and talking, giving and accepting. Prayer is worship; prayer is an act of love and devotion. It’s an active, living devotion, and should be part of everything I am.

Danele: That’s so true! Prayer is awesome! I love the fact that the Creator of the Universe wants to spend time with us! Now, here’s a different question for you–how has being a Christian influenced your writing?

Lisa: When I first began to learn to write professionally, I didn’t even know there was a difference between faith-based and mainstream markets. I was a Christian who happened to write…little did I know! I’m glad there’s a market for Christian fiction, and I’m glad there are certain rules and obligations and boundaries about how to write faith-based material. When I see more and more writers getting not just close to the boundaries but crossing the line of using vulgarity or suggestive imagery, I am glad for those rules. Sure, and yes, I have gotten very close to those lines and my readers let me know it. In UnderStory, I walk along the cliff in a way, too, to suggest and show some depravity in order to contrast the light–the fight against too-common contemporary problems. Conflict is what drives every story, and if there is no struggle to overcome, to be better, there is no story. The challenge and the joy is in using grace to creatively share the problem without lowering the situation to the level of depravity or allowing the “bad stuff” to leave a bad taste.

Danele: That’s a wonderful way to put it, Lisa. Life is full of challenges, and some of those challenges belong in our stories. They make our books pertinent to our readers. But I agree that we need to keep the standard high. Like you, I want my books to always honor Christ. I want my stories to point people to God. Now, here’s another question for you, why do you think it’s important to go to church?

Lisa: Worshiping in communion with others is important. Where two or three are gathered in His name, He is there, and I firmly believe that sharing the experience, the joy of worship, is what we are called to do. We don’t have to do every part of worship the same way, but certain communal acts like Holy Communion unite us in our faith. Sharing and reciting similar creeds shouldn’t be a rote repetition, but a unifying declarative experience. Singing the same hymns or worship songs brings us together as we practice a faith in one Lord, universal and catholic. We can’t get that from worshiping on our “own.”

Danele: That’s so true! Thank you for sharing your heart! Before I let you go, can you give us a list of the books you’ve written?

Lisa: Sure! First Children of Farmington (Early Reader historical series), Buried Treasure Mystery SeriesMeander Scar, A Summer in Oakville, Healing Grace, Brave New Century (Anthology), The Last Detail, Everything About You (Novella), Innocents Pray, and UnderStory. 

Danele: I know that your newest book is UnderStory. Can you please tell us more about it?

Lisa: My book UnderStory is about perception and prejudice, how we look at the world based on our perceptions of self through our upbringing. We are all biased in some way and it colors our world. Our bias show how willing we are to see what we want to see, whether it’s another person’s outward appearance, or whether we want to believe in the purity of another’s actions when they seem to help yet we feel something is wrong. The underlying theme of UnderStory is prejudice—how we look and perceive others and judge them and ourselves by the way they look, whether we can see the physical or emotional scars. Lily Masters is born with a genetic condition, Poland’s syndrome, which colors her world, makes her feel unloved and unwanted, and although she’s learned to hide her condition and feelings, get a good job and function in public, she can never again connect with someone who would learn about her physical problem and reject her. When Lily is rescued by a biracial Literature professor, Cam Taylor, who is dealing with prejudice on so many levels, and they are stranded together, she begins to learn not to judge people and situations by what others say or even by her own standards. Lily and Cam’s journeys are about learning that shame is a reaction they choose based on others’ perceptions and standards, not something they have to accept. Learning to free herself from the bonds of self-loathing, Lily realizes how to be strong and fight for her family and how to accept love as well as give it. Cam comes to a peaceful place as he learns to see the world through what is, not through what he anticipates.

Danele: I know that UnderStory has received an endorsement from Lorilyn Roberts, an award-winning author and the founder of the John 3:16 Marketing Network. Can you please share what she said?

Lisa: Of course! “Lisa Lickel weaves together a masterful tale of intrigue and romance, and the multilayers of complexity will leave the reader turning the pages. The characters are well-developed, and overarching themes involving racism and prejudice will resonate with the reader. The story takes place in the Midwest—in a small town that harbors a big secret—perhaps more common than anyone dares to imagine. UnderStory is one of those rare books that’s not only a great read but makes a statement about what’s most important—in the midst of depravity, unfairness, and greed.” —Lorilyn Roberts

Danele: That’s fantastic, Lisa! Can you share a purchasing link with us?

Lisa: https://www.amazon.com/Understory-Lisa-J-Lickel-ebook/dp/B01N3JMMXQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1479507598&sr=8-1&keywords=understory

Danele: Thank you so much for talking with us, Lisa! I’ve had such a great time chatting with you!

Lisa: I am grateful for the opportunity to share my work with your readers, Danele. Thank you.

 

Friends, Lisa is such a kindhearted person! If you would like to learn more about her, or her books, please follow the links below. I hope you have a wonderful day!

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/lisalickel

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/lisajlickel

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Lisa-J.-Lickel/e/B002D66ECC/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1479505339&sr=8-1

 

Yanking A Dog’s Ears

microphoneI have very strong opinions. Luckily, most of the time, I’ve learned to keep them to myself—for which the world is eternally grateful. Over the years, I’ve discovered that my beautiful pearls of wisdom aren’t always appreciated. In fact, my bits of advice can sometimes be seen as downright annoying. It took a while for me to realize that I didn’t always have to speak my mind. At first, it was VERY difficult not to share my thoughts. I was certain that the WHOLE PLANET would benefit from my golden words of wisdom. Fortunately for the sanity of my family and friends, I’ve discovered that I’m not always the wisest person in the room. And most of the time, I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut unless I’m directly asked for advice.

megaphoneOver the years, there have been times when I’ve said something and immediately wished that I hadn’t. The most dramatic lesson I learned occurred when I was in college. I was spending a vacation with one of my friends. On the third day of my stay, my friend had an argument with her husband. I was in the room with them, and they were very open about what they were discussing. As the argument continued, I quickly formed an opinion. I felt that my friend’s husband was completely right. And I thought my friend was TOTALLY wrong. I knew exactly what to say to change her mind. I was sure that my opinion was necessary! I was positive that my input was VITAL.

three-monkeysAs the argument continued, I opened my mouth to contribute, but before the words left my tongue. I heard the Lord speak. His voice wasn’t audible, but it was powerful. It was as if a message was dropped into my brain. The Lord simply said, “Excuse yourself and leave the room.”

 I’m not always the brightest bulb in the box, but I know enough not to ignore a direct heavenly order. I meekly excused myself, went to the guest room, and shut the door. I curled up in the rocking chair by the bed and reached for my Bible. I didn’t have a good grip, and the Bible slipped and fell open on my lap. When I looked down, I saw Proverbs 21:23, “Keep your mouth closed and you’ll stay out of trouble.”

I had to laugh! Rolling my eyes at the ceiling, I asked, “God are you talking to me?”

angry-dog-2I closed the Bible again and opened it at random. The first verse I saw was Proverbs 26:17, “Yanking a dog’s ears is no more foolish than interfering in an argument that isn’t any of your business.

Leaning back in the rocking chair, I closed my Bible and chuckled. I stayed in the guest room until my friend called me for lunch. By that time, her marital spat was over and things were back to normal. I’ve often wondered just what would’ve happened if I’d opened my big mouth and interfered. It’s quite possible that I would have lost a friend.

I learned a big lesson that day, and it’s one that I think about whenever I’m tempted to give an unsolicited opinion. Before I open my mouth, I ask myself if I’m about to yank a dog’s ears. Through experience, I’ve discovered that it’s great to have opinions, but most of the time, it’s even better not to voice them.

 

tin-can-phoneThe man of few words and settled mind is wise; therefore, even a fool is thought to be wise when he is silent. It pays him to keep his mouth shut.” Proverbs 17:27-28