The Gift of {Strong} Words

Your words matter. Whether you write, speak, or simply want to connect with the hearts of those you love. My friend, Holley Gerth, and I have been talking and praying about words. How to serve with them. How to use them well. We’re writing our thoughts as a series of letters each Tuesday and we’d love for you to be part of the conversation too. Will you join us?



{ Welcome! Click here to download to print this card for the pocket… and heart) }

Dearest Holley,

Christmas almost here, snow deep and quiet here in the north, us readying to celebrate the Word who takes on skin to touch our spirits.

And I think of you Holley, all our sisters, word-women at sinks and by hospital beds and behind desks, giving the gifts of living words to all those around, waiting for the gift of He Who is Letters made into the love of the God-BabeThe Word we can hold on to.

I keep thinking of this too, Holley — Zechariah who had no words for months before the arrival of John, the messenger of The coming Word.  That we too need to space of silence before we can fully hear the message of the Word or give the message of the Word seasons of silence before a season of change. So quietness framing words here too…

And you, Word-girl, you upended me with last week’s letter — can words really change the world? Couldn’t hardly see the screen. How did you know that I’ve begged God to let me help the world with a bent back and dirt under the fingernails?  But yes, you are right — when we give even a clutch of kind words to this little child here, we are giving it to Jesus, and changing the world with His grace.

Someone asked me last week if I had any home-made gifts made up for my family? My heart hurt a bit, Holley — what can I give from my own hands to these people here I love so?

And then, Holley, this memory — it all came back to me:

How I turned the last child’s light out that night and slumped down a door frame and how I cried quiet in the dark.

The mother grief scalds the cheeks —  but what washes away the mother grime?


That night I knew it: I’ve become the parent I knew as a child. The one I looked straight in the face and fierce vowed I’d never be. But my ears ring with the echo of my voice, that voice: Can’t you see what a mess this is? How many times do I have to tell you? What were you thinking?

How did I end up here and I want to muffle out me and the 24/7 forge of children that can liquefy the steely resolve.

I had wept molten. I beg God to burn off the soul dross.

How can a mother be frustrated her child is not as she longs him to be, when she herself is not as she longs to be?

I had run my fingers through my hair and I wail soundless. The clock ticks heavy.

When I find the pillow, my chest hurts hard and I know it: the only air non-toxic to humans is Grace.

I try to inhale it deep. I sleep.

When we wake, we read, for there is a Bread that can break the fast, and it’s the way this version of the text expresses it that unlocks the hard places:

“When you talk, do not say harmful things, but say what people need—words that will help others become stronger. Ephesians 4:29 (NCV)

Stronger. Stronger.

I had looked around the table and into their eyes. Into them. I had held them in my one hand, them pinked and swaddled, and I had made them strong with the milk letting down and the love, and I had witnessed the stretching of the spine, the first tottering steps and I had squealed wonder and I had offered the hand. Mamas make strong.

When we had finished the Bible reading, we reach for hands to pray, I feel little fingers again and couldn’t I do this again?

Just for today:

  • Couldn’t all the words out of my mouth only be the strengthening words? Words that nourish their bones and muscle their hearts.
  • What if I tried to change nothing in children but I focused on only this: Only speak words that make souls stronger.

Like oxygen, couldn’t just speaking strengthening-words change the whole of the atmosphere?


To read the rest of this word-letter to Holley


{ If you’d like to give the gift of strong words,  perhaps print out this little token card to tuck in your pocket, tape to a mirror, place over the sink, to help speak words that make souls stronger… Click here to download (and then print) }