Dear Kids: What You Need to Know About Duck Dynasty, Justine Sacco, and Christmas

Dear Kids,

Saw one of you boys sitting here in a messy house last night, reading a book by the light of the Christmas tree.

Reading words.

My heart about burst.



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 A guy I know often mails books.

And every time the postal clerk asks him the obligatory question about if there’s anything hazardous or flammable in the package, he always speaks truth: “You bet — words.”

Whoever said sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you?

Was dead wrong.

Ask a bearded guy from Louisiana or a tweeting PR exec en route to Africa to comment on that.

Don’t ever forget it, kids:

There is nothing more explosive than words.

Words are nitroglycerin. Words can literally ignite a heart, detonate like a global bomb — or explode in your face.

You heard of that wiry man from backwater Louisiana who was asked what he thought by a man with a recorder?

He said what he thought — but he and his family confess now that he expressed those thoughts coarsely —- unfiltered.

Listen, kids, listen like your life depends on it, because it does:

You can mean something — but if you say it mean, no one can hear your meaning.

Have convictions — but if you don’t have compassion, you will have trials.

Please, say what you believe — but please, always be love.

Or you’re an annoying, clanging cymbal who a whole lot of people will be desperate to make silent.

Ask Justine Sacco. One woman, PR exec for the parent company of Vimeo, who yesterday tweeted 140 stinging characters that slapped and offended — and then boarded her no wifi plane. When she got off her flight 13 hours later, she found herself a hashtag that was trending worldwide, apparently fired from her high profile position, and hunted down on every social media channel by an angry mob running her off the internet — who said they wanted her dead.

Words leave your mouth, your keyboard, but words don’t ever expire quietly in a void — they always explode in hearts.

Every verb you utter causes a corresponding action, a movement, in every listener.

Measure your words — they determine the distance of your relationships.

Type up a Facebook status update — and it can be radioactive forever. Don’t be fooled by your keyboard: the Internet doesn’t have a delete button. Screenshots can make your words have a half life of eternity. Social media is exactly that — social. It impacts you socially for as long as you are a member of society.

One tweet can be the last tick in the bomb that detonates your life.

Speak slow. Off-the-cuff words too often slap.

Hear me, get this, don’t ever forget this: The tongue is the tail of the heart. The heart is known by how the tongue wags.

There is something else, kids, and I say this as a woman who scratches down words, writes books, who speaks words:

You are going to get the words wrong.

And so is every one else.

The guy from Louisiana and the jet-setting PR exec Africa bound and the neighbor next door and the pastor on Sunday morning and the friend over coffee and your wife in the car and your husband at the back door and your kids everywhere and I have and I am going to and you are and you are going to.

100% guaranteed.

The only words that are infallible — is the Word of God Himself.

So — we grant grace.

Grace is air — without it we all die.

And can I, chief among sinners, who sins daily with words, confess, kids?

Sending word-offenders to their room, figuratively or literally, may only polarize the situation and freeze positions. Cold hearts never changes words. Silencing people may not be the most effective way to educate people.

Here’s a life truth to ink somewhere into you:

When you disagree with someone — don’t dismiss them. Dialogue with them.

Exiling them, firing them, dismissing them doesn’t change them — or you.

It’s a strange but powerful paradox that upends everything: Listening is what changes words.

And words are the explosives that aren’t meant to injure people but explode new inroads — that can rightly demolish walls, destroy chains, dynamite through the impossible to the possibilities of new vistas, new ways, new destinations.

Welcome every conflict as the best possible growth opportunity. Conflict is always a blinking cursor to start a conversation toward change.

Remember what G.K. Chesterton said? That bigotry is “an incapacity to conceive seriously the alternative to a proposition.”

If Chesterton’s on to something — and time has proven he usually was –then is it that…. bigots end conversations and big people start change through conversation?

We’ll make hot chocolate tonight, drive around and look at the Christmas lights, Christmas lights twinkling everywhere — blinking a bit like cursors.

And we’ll see it everywhere today — how the whole weary world rejoices — rejoice that the Word has come, the Word incarnate, the Word in the flesh.

The Word has come down in the midst of our conflicts and our messes and Jesus Christ, The Word, He’s lit the world. Everywhere, lights. He’s the final Word, the igniting fire that goes on forever and kindles and warms and saves.

You can see it today — the whole weary world drawing nearer now, coming close to rejoice.

Because the Babe in the manger is the ultimate blessed proof –

that Love always has the last word.



In the beginning was the Word.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God…

The Word gave life to everything…
and His life brought light to everyone.

The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.” ~ The Bible, Word of God