Me Me Me- The Power of the Me

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Forgive my slight absence… we were able to travel during the holiday. Phew! Four kids in a van for a LONG drive… crazy and fun.

A couple of days ago, while playing with my 1 1/2-year-old daughter, I asked “What’s your name?” to see if she knew how to respond.

Her answer:

“Me!”

She even pointed to herself. Try again.  “Hannah, what is your name?”

Big smile.

“Me!” points to herself again.

Mind you, this child DOES know her name. She answers when we call her name. She points to herself in pictures and says “Hannah.” Plenty of evidence that she knows her name.

But she also knows how to say “me.” And boy does she use it! She used to say “mine.”  Now she says “me.” If she has one of her sibling’s toys and they want it back, she moves it as far from them as she can reach and says “Me!” with a pouty face. I’d love to correct her but I don’t much like hearing “mine!” either.

This whole situation reminded me of how people do not have to be taught selfishness. No one taught me to care about myself. No one had to teach me “survival mode” in desperate situations. It is all very natural. Rooted in the depth of the human soul and conscience, we are a people born to think of ourselves. I certainly have not taught my daughter to take what she wants without regard for who it belongs to or their feelings!

Fortunately, we can be taught to consider others. These two desires- loving others and loving ourselves, will always butt heads. Unless loving others somehow satisfied our own selfish desires, we will battle the tension of those two loves.

I’ve been challenged recently with my own walk of faith as well. I get excited over the little things that God does that seem to say, “I hear you” or “I know you.” I pray for blessing and health and favor and safety…. and for friends and family. But it struck me. How often to do I ask, “Lord, what can I do for YOU?” Instead, I’m thrilled by what He does for me. That is not entirely bad. Every parent wants to see their child’s excitement and gratitude over a thoughtful gift! In fact, parents can feel hurt if their child doesn’t respond with some glee.

But how nice it also feels to hear, “Mom, what can I do for you today?” or “Dad, tell me more about you.”

I can’t have a relationship with others or God if I am always so inwardly focussed. How I long to wake up and breathe “Lord, show me my day!” and then follow it sweetly! Or to wake up and naturally think, “How can I love my kids and husband this glorious morning?” Instead, I tend to wake up and think, “Already? Ugh! Just a few. more. minutes.”

I know my story is not necessarily yours. Maybe you do wake up and think of others right away (and sincerely, too. Not in regard to how others effect YOU. That doesn’t count! 🙂

But our stories will all cross over as they relate to our natural tendency to think of me, as my darling daughter so joyfully proves each day. And not just her, but my other three as well. Then again, I usually notice their selfishness because their behavior is impeding on what I want (i.e. a peaceful home!). Bring the selfish-people-total to SIX for our home.

What a beautiful thing, though, that we don’t have to succumb to our natural thinking. We have been given resources galore in how to deny ourselves for the sake of others. And not for our own glory, but for the glory of the One who equips us and guides us into the ultimate love gift: laying your life down for a friend.

Weed your way through my meanderings and decide today whether you want to live a life that is so inwardly focussed that you miss out on many good things or the deeply satisfying walk of setting yourself aside for the sake of others- and watching God meet your needs in the process!


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Perfectly Penned

The pen slides perfectly into my welcoming hand. It cuddles cozily against my thumb and fingers. United, in seamless harmony, pen and hand perform the most amazing of tasks- my thoughts become visible. No longer are they floating through my head unseen. As I think them, they are written. Printed. Perceptible. Perfect. My human hand flows across pages with grace, capturing my many emotions, dreams, hopes, fears, challenges, successes, and prayers. Uniquely. My handwriting.

Then it strikes me. Will my great grandchildren know the beauty of this marvel? Will they experience the collision of notebook, pen, hand and brain, all in delightful accord?

My mind dances with dreadful visions of a possible future. Kindergardeners sitting at their little desks…. learning the alphabet on… ipads? Tap tap tap… their tiny fingers slide across the touchscreen. No need for the handwritten word anymore. Only scrapbooks, journals, and school papers of the growingly distant past remind the world that once humanity could write. Pen in hand. Then. Stylus in hand.  Now. Tap tap tap. ipod, iphone, ipad, and… ibrain.

I wonder if there isn’t some beautiful connection between the development of our brains and the synchronicity of our hands and hearts. What is the cost of this distant fate? The elderly will reminisce the days of handwritten greeting cards and love notes. “The good ‘ol days” they’ll say. I’m sure I will be among them, Lord granting me the days of life to do so.

But its faster. More exciting. Easier. Convenient. Efficient. Time-saving. Freeing.

Will we sell ourselves to technology for immediate gratification? Will we forsake the trials of patience and and the character-building of waiting… all for what appears “easy”?

Computers crash. Technology fails. Batteries die. Electricity is expensive. Spam. Phishing Schemes. Identity Theft. Privacy Lost.

And here I sit typing 🙂 Not bad. Unless I forget how to write. Pen and hand. Unified. Unique. Unforgettable.


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All Words Are Pegs to Hang Ideas On -Aesop

I love words.

I love that a combination of printed letters, together, form a word that holds much meaning. I am always careful to pick my words, intending them to say exactly what I mean for them.

Lewis Carroll wrote, in Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There:

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean- neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

How true this is for me! No more, no less. It is not the quantity of words that I love. It is their precise meaning. “Words should be weighed and not counted” (Yiddish Saying).  It is that the simplest choice of a word can so entirely change what you mean to say. This love affair with language has caused me, often, to think carefully before I speak. Weren’t we told to do that growing up? I mull over my word options as if they were delicious delicacies. My mind thrills in the choices just as my mouth salivates with the aroma of something yummy. I mean what I say.

Unfortunately for me, words are not so carefully tended or admired by all. Many people speak with such carelessness that words spew forth as shallow as a baby’s wading pool. Empty. Void. Meaningless. This is the greatest tragic use of the word, tossed out in all vanity and selfishness. The speaker has forgotten that words are not just for them… but for the listener as well. “The more the words, the less the meaning, and what does that prophet anyone?” said the most wise man of all time, King Solomon (Ecclesiastes 6:11).

How I have often wished that I could go around communicating in whatever language piqued my fancy! To make up sentences using a variety of languages would be divine!  For example, I want to insert any one of the four Greek words for “love” in place of my English variant. How wonderful to use a word that specifically points to the kind of love I feel, rather than grouping them all into one sad and lonely utterance. How fantastic it would be to say, “I sure Phileo chips and salsa!” Then I could more appropriately say, “I eros you,” to my wonderful husband. Different loves.

Actually, I have a small confession. We use multiple languages in our house. We all speak, on varying levels, Spanish, English, Sign Language, and much smaller portions of Hebrew, Italian, French, and a couple others. We use them to say what we mean. It’s marvelous. A guest in our home may overhear (or, in the case of Sign Language, see) us communicating affection in any given language at any given time. My three year old has caught on and begun to create his own language and words to best express his thoughts and feelings. (On that note, I think most toddlers create language as they too, having been “mute” as babies for so long, enjoy expressing themselves in so many ways.)

Mark Twain said it best, “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—‘tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”

I will conclude this little dedication to the word with a “word” of caution. Many people have been hurt by words. Many have been so hurt that, sadly, words hold little value because the action behind them proved to be truer. I have experienced this loss of assurance in words handed to me as well. I have come to the realization that it is not the word that is false, but the heart of the person wielding it. Thus, I have chosen to be a person whose words speak their intention, speak the truth of my heart, so that my deeds are in accordance.

Nathaniel Hawthorne summed it up well when he said, “Words—so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become, in the hands of one who knows how to combine them!”

May we choose to be people of profound integrity, honoring the gift of language that we have been given, being good ambassadors of our endowment of verbal understandings, and self-controlled enough to employ them at the best possible time in the best possible way. “A word out of season may mar a whole life” (Greek Saying).


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