Gratitude, the Tongue and One Amazing Sentence

Gratitude, the Tongue and One Amazing Sentence

And so the story goes.

“Mom, what’s for dinner?” the hungry teen asked. “Dad is grilling chicken,” Mom said. Her reply was met with a furrowed brow on teenage son’s face. “What? Chicken again?” Grimacing, sighing, lonnngggg face ensued. This is a story that happens in our home … every … single … week. It does so because, clearly, I have been diligent to teach my children to be thankful and grateful in the little things.

Honestly, I don’t mind this all that much. We have bigger fish to fry in this house of  four teens, four children within seven years of each other. Two currently drive. We have had three casts. Four rounds of stitches. A broken rib. A broken clavicle. A chipped kneecap. A scooter accident involving three teeth knocked out. You get the picture. You have your own stories. But the chicken story was different this night.

We were hosting missionaries from Poland.

Adam and Tamara are about the sweetest people we know. We have worked alongside of them for 15 years. They are humble. They are kind. They are simple. They were missionaries during Communism. Their stories of sacrifice and commitment would shred anything you could imagine. I’m convinced if Hebrews 11 were written today, it would have their names listed in this Hall of Faith. Adam stopped what he was doing and listened to my son speak these words. The next 30 seconds felt like 11 hours.

Time. Stood. Still.

I couldn’t imagine what Adam was thinking. “Oh, these American kids … so ungrateful, so spoiled. All these luxuries of life, and he isn’t even thankful for a good meal.”

When we lived in Eastern Europe for a few years, we learned quickly what was “normal” for meals. Beets and cucumbers for breakfast. Cheese on butter bread for lunch. Soup for dinner — the same pot of soup served on Monday was served through the week until Friday. One time we went to our neighbor’s house for dinner. They were so excited to serve us chicken soup. Yes, you can guess what’s coming. The chicken in the chicken soup had been in their yard for about six months. They had one chicken, and we were their honored guests.

How did Adam actually respond? He threw his head back and laughter and more laughter came forth.

“Oh, teenagers! They’re the same around the world.”

Relaxing and then laughing with him, I said, “I am so thankful to hear that.” With one sentence, Adam made me feel fine. His words did not make me feel guilty. His words did not make me angry or frustrated. I didn’t feel judged. He made me feel OK. With one sentence, Adam took a lot of my emotions and simmered them down. Amazing what one sentence can do!

No one can tame the tongue. With it, we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. James 3:8,9

Do you ever wonder about the weight your words carry? With your spouse, with your children, with a friend, with a neighbor? They can carry trust, love, empathy, care, grace and peace. They can carry life. They also can carry the opposite of all these words.

Oh Lord, help me! Help me give to others the words that they need to experience Your grace and peace. May my words somehow and in some way lead others to You. Help me initiate conversations that are life-giving. Fill my heart with great love so that it overflows with words that draw us to You.

Have you ever had an experience in which someone’s words were life-giving?

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joan.webJoan Parsons, with two teen sons and one preteen girl under her roof — and one son away at college! — is thankful for her husband and naps. Between laundry loads and fixing beef, you might find her in the McDonald’s drive-through ordering a coke with extra ice and a chocolate chip cookie … because this is her happy place.



1 Comment
  1. Wonderful story – nothing like a little dose of perspective. Thank for sharing!

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