Psalm 144:4 Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow.

Monthly Archives: July 2012

My Sister

Abi Emmens-Green is my sister.

That is a good thing.

If you don’t have a sister, I recommend you implore your parents to give you one. If they are too old to acquiesce to your request, adopt one, find one, maybe even catch one, you won’t regret it.
If you have fallen out with yours, pull your finger out and make-up, you owe it to yourself and to her to patch things up because sisters are really a mighty blessing.

Sisters are incredible beings, speaking from >33 yrs of experience, I can honestly say that sisters rank among the top 5 things in the world (other contenders include God, parents, spouses, children).

So let me eulogise for a moment about the one blood sister I have. I do have one sister-in-law and a number of other females that I would class as sisters by marriage(s) in the family, all of which I have great affection and respect for, but, no criticism intended at all, none of them can hold a candle to Abi.

Abi & I are wired the same, in respect to humour, protestant work ethic, creativity, taste, (I could go on) and that definitely helps a great deal with us getting on, but most of all, I think the primary reason(s) that we get on so well is because Abi is older, wiser, more mature, more lovely and more humble than me.

Abi makes me laugh, she’s never made me cry (that I can remember, except tears of joy or laughter) but I’ve cried with her and for her and on her and have been a shoulder to cry on for her.

Abi builds me up. She is unselfish and kind and always has a sensible word to say, an apposite bit of advice to give, some astute guidance to offer. Whether we are together or apart, Abi always looks to uplift and encourage me and doesn’t try to pull the rug from under my feet or cut me down. Even when I need my feet putting back on the ground or bringing down a peg or two, Abi finds a way to bring out the positive and gently point me in the right direction.

A rare quality Abi has is in finding ways to be encouraging in any ‘criticism’. It is an incredible gift that she can inspire and be positive in the way she critiques or disagrees with things and that’s something that disarms me, stops me being defensive and then makes me a better person.

Abi is creative and wonderful to work with, I wish we could live closer together so we could work together on stuff more often because just being with Abi gives me lots of ideas.
In fact many of my ideas turn out to be crazy and one of the best things ever about Abi is that she can see / hear one of my crazy ideas and twist it slightly and turn it to deep, helpful, spiritual ends. It’s another gift she has and I remember it from way back when we had a small bible study group in London, when I was a student; I’d say something crazy / mad / funny, just for laughs, and Abi would turn it into some profound spiritual point within 20 seconds.

“This woman must be a saint” I hear you say! And you are right, and I’ll fight bare-fisted anybody who dares to contradict.

She may have flaws, but doesn’t everyone!? She is probably too dedicated / conscientious and probably a bit too generous and definitely has problems with saying ‘no’ when asked to do some things she probably ought not.

I’m not sure what prompted me particularly to write this but maybe I just thought Abi needed reminding how much she is loved and how much she is needed and she probably didn’t want it broadcasting publicly, but if I can’t embarrass my own sister by shouting about how wonderful she is then the internet shouldn’t exist!

Proverbs 7:4 says: “Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and to insight, “You are my relative.”

I’m going to do something very naughty by hacking scripture.

“Say to my sister, “You are wisdom,” and to my relative, “You are insight.”

Abi… You Rock.

Word Power

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me!”

I have no idea who came up with that little rhyme, but you try telling that to a thirteen year-old schoolboy who is relentlessly, verbally bullied by his peers because of some minor difference in his life compared to theirs.
It won’t wash, very quickly, his eyes will glaze over or you’ll get a terse “whatever”.
Perhaps more accurate is the adage coined by English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839:

“The pen is mightier than the sword”

Words have power. Written words have huge power as we can see from the intense and profound effect that the modern era and the printing press have had on our current ‘postmodern’ age. We still heavily draw on textbooks and written material in our education system, we place immense value on reading and writing in our society and those that fall short are often marginalised in the adult world of jobs and employment.

Perhaps not as widely recognised though, is the incredible power of the spoken word. Stories that we share are full of power and meaning, but more than that, the words we speak out loud have the capacity to shape not just our relationships and interactions, but our lives and the lives of others too.

Think of the power words have to break things in ourselves.

To speak out loud the words “hi, I’m Alex and I’m an alcoholic” names the person, the problem and gives ownership of it. All the rehab step-programmes use this style of introduction because something once secret or denied, when spoken out loud no longer imposes the same grip over us.
If we speak truth out loud, we expose the habit, problem or inner thought and make it public, maybe we are then slightly vulnerable and more importantly, we become accountable to those around us, which gives the words the power to re-programme our brains to overcome the difficulty.

Sometimes, we speak out to break a bad thing or air an issue we are having. Words are powerful.

Words are also powerful to build. When we vocalise the words “I can do this” or “I will overcome my addiction” or a relatively well known rallying cry of tour-de-France cyclist Jens Voigt “shut up legs”, we emphasise our ability to prevail. Speaking our thoughts out loud increases the power of the words and backs up the positive “I can do it”.

The same can be said for other people. If our own words can affect us so deeply, think how they can affect others.
The words we speak to our children have huge impact. Encouragement or chastisement, both are appropriate at different times but spoken out loud or even written down, they have incredible power.

And so also the words we use to each other are not just poignant or appropriate, but powerful and meaningful. A few words of encouragement to a friend can have incredible weight, but also, one word can slay people and destroy self-esteem or confidence.

So be careful what you say and maybe make the effort to think first to make the words that come out of your mouth ones that lift people up and spur them on rather than discourage and cut them down.

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire…

…With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.
James 3:3-6 & 9-10

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