Words That Reveal, Heal and Live

with Christen Ditchfield | May 27, 2011

Words, either good or bad, can have a lasting impact. Christen Ditchfield fondly remembers the words of her grandmother and tells how they’ve affected her to this day. Christen reminds listeners to use their words wisely, especially as we invest in the next generation.

Words, either good or bad, can have a lasting impact. Christen Ditchfield fondly remembers the words of her grandmother and tells how they’ve affected her to this day. Christen reminds listeners to use their words wisely, especially as we invest in the next generation.

Words That Reveal, Heal and Live

With Christen Ditchfield
|
May 27, 2011
| Download Transcript PDF

Bob:  The Bible says “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”  So what’s the abundance of your heart like today?  Here is Christin Ditchfield.

Christin:  We need to be counting our blessings.  You know that old song; it’s trite, but it’s true.  Counting our blessings – I’ve learned that in my own life and my own heart.  If I’m constantly complaining and whining and miserable, I make myself more miserable, and I distance myself from God. 

But if I speak words that are words of gratitude, words of trust and faith, then I build up my own faith and I build up my own relationship with the Lord, because I’m focused on him and not on the problems.

Bob:  This is FamilyLifeToday for Friday, May 27th.  Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine.  Have you been thinking about things that are true and honorable and just and pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, worthy of praise?  Then there ought to be edifying words coming out of your mouth.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today.  Thanks for joining us.  I remember a friend of mine one time.  We were talking about prayer, and this friend said, “Almost every time I pray I recite a line from, I think it’s Psalm 19: ‘Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be –

Dennis and Bob:  -- acceptable in your sight, O God –

Bob:  -- my rock and my redeemer.‘” You know that verse, right?

Dennis:  I do.

Bob:  You prayed it a few times yourself?

Dennis:  I have, and you know, it is from our hearts that ultimately words do flow.

Bob:  Yes.  “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh,” I think the old King James says.

Dennis:  No doubt about it.  We have a guest with us, Christin Ditchfield, who joins us again on FamilyLife Today.  Christin, welcome back.

Christin:  It’s great to be with you.

Dennis:  She’s written a book called A Way With Words.  She’s also written fifty other books.

Bob:  So you have a way with words, I guess, if you’ve written fifty books.

Christin:  I guess I do.

(laughter)

Dennis:  She has a way with written words and spoken words; she has a daily radio program called Take it to Heart.  Really, we’re talking about the power of words in people’s lives. 

Your grandmother actually used this principle in your life in a powerful way.  In fact, you write about how some of her words brought life to you.  Share that with our listeners.

Christin:  You know, I remember when I was a teenager I had big glasses and lots of freckles and curly red hair, and I was awkward and unathletic, and socially backward.  My parents were Christians and they wouldn’t let me watch this on TV or listen to that on the radio.  So when I went to school I didn’t know what any of the other kids were talking about. 

I was horrifically shy; I was terrified of having to make conversation with people I didn’t know, to the point of tears and hysterics just of the thought of walking into a room full of strangers.  I had this great fear and this shyness, and yet at the same time I was beginning to fall in love with Jesus and beginning to be excited about what he was doing in my heart and in my life and wanting to share that with others. 

And yet I just couldn’t see how it could be.  I remember my grandmother calling me over one day, and just putting her arm around me and saying, “You know, Christin, whenever I pray for you, I just see you speaking to thousands and thousands of people.  I know God has a call on your life.” 

I can’t even tell you what that meant to me as a shy, awkward, socially backward teenager, trying so desperately to fit in and failing miserably, and thinking, you know, “What hope is there for me?  Where will my life go?  What will I do? Who will I be?”

Dennis:  Is there any purpose for my life?

Christin:  Yes.

Dennis:  Those are years of tremendous confusion, but she understood that and spoke words that brought encouragement and direction to your life.

Christin:  That’s the thing.  You know, she not only prayed for me and had that experience herself, but she shared it with me.  She took the time to tell me what she was praying and what she was feeling, and to speak those words of encouragement into my life.

I think about those words now, and I am so grateful.  I think she was very wounded by words when she was younger, and I think that caused her to have a great sensitivity in her heart for others, and a desire to be an encourager, to do the opposite of what had been done to her, and to speak words of life.

I’m so grateful for that, and for the other men and women that God has put in my life who have spoken the right word at the right moment.  You never know when one little word that you say, one word of encouragement, one compliment, one piece of really good advice might change the course of someone’s life, and change their life for eternity.

Bob:  How many years ago was it that your grandmother would have said something like that to you?

Christin:  Well, let me figure out how old I am now. 

(laughter) 

It was probably about 25 years ago.

Bob:  And it still brings an emotion back to think about it, doesn’t it?

Christin:  It does. To think about that hurt and that pain that I was going through as a teenager – oh, how many of us had difficult teen years, and yet to think of how that touched my life, the hope that it gave me. 

And now, that is what I do.  I travel all over the country and I speak to thousands and thousands of people, and every time I walk up on that platform, you know, I pause for a moment and thank God for what he has done and for the amazing miracle in my life, and for my grandmother’s prayers and for her words of encouragement.

Dennis:  Yes.

Bob:  You know, what you’re talking about here applies to everybody, but I do think grandmothers and grandfathers have power that they don’t recognize in the lives of their grandchildren, just to intentionally affirm and to speak.  You have 17 grandchildren, right?

Dennis:  Right.

Bob:  Has it dawned on you that you’ve got power and that Barbara has power to give hope and to encourage these kids who are growing up?

Dennis:  Oh, yes.  I won’t tell which child I did this with, but one of them was struggling with his or her writing of the alphabet, okay?

Bob:  Yes.

Dennis:  I told the mom, I said, “You tell this particular grandchild that Papa will give him a buck for every page of the alphabet in capital letters and in lower case letters that he does where it passes Papa’s test.”  So I ended up getting a complete list of the alphabet, all the pages, and I only paid this child twenty bucks.  There were a few of the letters that weren’t –

Bob:  Didn’t pass muster.

Dennis:  Well, it was my statement to him as a grandson, I’m tipping off at least fifty percent of my grandkids at this point, it was my statement to him that I believed in him and that I thought that he could do it.  I just wanted to motivate him to be able to do that, and encourage him in the process and have a little reward. 

You don’t have to be a teenager to go through tough times.  Kids who may not fit well with school, and just don’t – books aren’t their deal.  Maybe athletics is their deal and they’re struggling with education at that point, and a word fitly spoken – what is that Proverb? – is like an apple of gold.

Christin:  That’s right.

Dennis:  I was thinking, Bob, as Christin was talking there, how the emails you and I get from listeners, the letters we get –

Bob:  Yes.  How encouraging that is.

Dennis:  It really is.  In fact, listeners don’t know this, but I’ve saved a bunch of their emails and letters over the years.  In fact, this is going to be a real challenge for my children and grandchildren some day.  They’re going to have some boxes –

(laughter)

to go through, because there are words that are written that we write to other people and we have no idea when that person receives that letter what their day has been like.

Bob:  I’ve got this manila envelope that’s up above the dryer in – and I don’t know why it’s up above the dryer – but in the laundry room, there are some shelves there, and on the top shelf there is a manila envelope.  If you were to pull it down, you’d find a bunch of little notes that have been written over the last several years, where somebody will write a note and I’ll go, “I’m not throwing that one away.”

Dennis:  Yeah, right.

Christin:  Yes.

Bob:  “I’m keeping it.”  It goes in the manila envelope, and it’s not like I get it down all the time and read through it –

Dennis:  Right.

Bob:  But there was a time recently where I just went to the envelope and pulled out a letter that I remembered and reread it, and it blows a fresh wind of hope into your sails when that happens.

Christin:  That’s right.  Words have power, and they have the power to build and to inspire and to encourage and to heal the wounds of the past.  We can give godly counsel and encouragement and advice. 

I’m thankful I have four nephews and having been a teacher, education is really important, and I’ve enjoyed working with them in some of their school work and things.  But I’m also enjoying sharing with them a little bit of my faith journey, how “when I was your brother’s age,” or “when I was your age, that’s when I first fell in love with Jesus.”

Dennis:  Yes.

Christin:  Let me tell you, I took one of them to the Christian book store a couple weeks ago and I helped him pick out a new Bible.  Now that he’s getting older, he needs one with not so many pictures.

(laughter)

Dennis:  Yeah, right.  Right.

Christin:  But I didn’t just buy him the Bible.  Thankfully the Lord encouraged me, and I sat there and I shared with him when I first began to fall in love with the Scriptures, and how I first began to read, and what exactly I did, and how I kept a prayer journal, and began to teach him that. 

It’s such an opportunity to invest in the lives of our children, our grandchildren, our nieces and nephews, the people that we come into contact with.  A simple word, a few minutes, a story, and we can change their lives.

Bob:  Did you do that on the spur of the moment?  Did it just come to you in the moment, or do you at the beginning of a day stop and think, “Okay, where can I plant some encouraging words today?”  Or do you just let it happen?

Christin:  That’s a good question.  I think the best for me is when I do a little bit of both when I make the choice to be deliberate and to look for people that I can encourage, or to identify people that God has put in my life.

You know, sometimes it’s an interruption of our day.  I’ve got a to-do list a mile long, and I’m sure you have one, too, but there are times when God puts it on your heart:  set it down, pick up the phone, go for coffee, and speak into that person’s life. 

When you see the tears well up, when you see that God is ministering to them, you know that it’s worth it.  Okay, the laundry can wait, but I’ve just had a chance to be the voice of Jesus in their life and to speak his words of hope and comfort and healing.  There are other times it is very spontaneous and spur-of-the-moment, but I think it starts with an overall awareness of the power of those words.

Dennis:  You know, one thing that you’re modeling that we haven’t heard that much of here on FamilyLife Today is being a good aunt, you know?

Christin:  Yes.

Dennis:  Or a good uncle.  I mean, truthfully, I look back on my experience of being an uncle, and I wouldn’t give myself real high marks, and yet, really, I had no excuse because I had aunts and uncles that surrounded my life as a boy growing up.  A lot of them teased me, not in a hurtful way, but in a teasing way to make me aware that I was loved --

Christin:  Right.

Dennis: -- and that I was an insider.  I think we need to be doing more as aunts and uncles, because young people today need a chorus of voices speaking into them, turning them away from the culture, the world, their own selfishness, and calling them to what God wants them to be and do with their lives.

Christin:  That’s right.  I think sometimes we can fill the gap.  Moms and Dads get tired and worn out and stressed out and frustrated and don’t always have the patience to listen and interact, so that’s where I see my role as an aunt and my friends.  I had aunts that modeled that for me, to step in and be a voice in their lives, to take the time, sit and listen to those stories, and build something into their life. 

Encourage them, and back up what Mom and Dad are saying, you know, so that it’s not just Mom and Dad that say this, but a chorus of people, as you said, who are teaching them the truth of Scripture and giving them words of life.

Bob:  We have a mutual friend, Dennis and I do, who from time to time, usually on a weekend, my cell phone will ring and I’ll look and I’ll smile, because it’s this particular friend, and I know why he’s calling.  He’ll call and he’ll say, “Are you preaching tomorrow?”  I’ll say, “Yeah, I’m preaching tomorrow.”  He’ll say, “What are you preaching on?” and I’ll tell him about the passage that I’m going to be teaching on. 

He’ll say, “Well, let me pray for you.  I was just thinking about you, and know you’re getting ready, and I want you to preach it, and let me just pray for you.”  He’s a preacher, too, so we usually talk about what he’s preaching on, and we share it back and forth. 

And you know, it takes a moment, and I think, “How many guys is he doing this with?  How many other people is he calling and doing this with?”  But it’s one of those ways that he’s marked me, just to know that when I get up and preach the next morning, to know that he has prayed for me, but that he cares about what I’m getting ready to do.  It makes a difference in how I preach.

Dennis:  He’s talking about somebody who’s being intentional and about encouraging someone else.

Bob:  And how infrequently do we do that?

Dennis:  Exactly.  Another way we use our words in a very, very powerful way, is by telling people what they need to hear.

Christin:  Yes.

Dennis:  Not what they want to hear.

Christin:  And that’s tough.  We walk a fine line.  The Scripture talks about speaking the truth in love, and sometimes we’re too quick to speak the truth, but not in love.  But at the right time, being honest with someone, being truthful. 

I’m thankful that God has put friends in my life who will listen while I rant and rave and vent out my frustration or my hurt or my anger, and then will point out to me that’s not such a godly attitude.  There’s room for growth.  I need to be patient.  I need to be more understanding.  You know we can do that for each other. 

Being a good sounding board is not agreeing with everything the person says, but is saying, “I love you, and I understand, and I’ll listen if you need to vent,” but then at the right time and in the right moment, especially if we have a relationship with that person, we can speak into their lives and say, “Here’s what I see.  Here’s what I hear you saying.  Is that what you mean to say?”  And give them the opportunity to grow.

Dennis:  Sometimes there’s the need to hear what a friend is going through, as I did earlier today, and then after he’d shared what he was going through, instead of offering three points and a poem or a solution, I told my friend, “I just have to tell you.  I’m really sad.  It really makes me sad that you’re going through what you’re going through.  That’s just a hard thing.” 

I have to tell you, that goes against my grain as a man, because men tend to want to fix things.

Christin:  Right.

Dennis:  We can certainly take a lot of this advice, at least I can, with my own wife, not trying to fix her problems, but making sure first and foremost I’ve had compassion and understanding on her problems, and you use words to communicate that.

Christin:  And you know you can use words to get what you need.  In my relationship, I share with my parents what I’m going through, and I’m blessed to have them as godly counselors still in my life as an adult.  I have learned to say to my dad, “I just need to vent, and I need you to listen.” 

(laughter)

Dennis:  In other words, “Dad, park it.”

Bob:  “Don’t fix it.”

Christin:  “Don’t try to fix it.”  I’ll say that to my friends, or I’ll ask them to tell me, “What are you looking for?  I can come up with solutions for you.  I can help you brainstorm.  But if that’s not what you need, I don’t want to rattle off a bunch of useless advice.  Tell me what you need. 

“If you just want me to listen, I’m here.  If you need some encouragement, if you need some ideas, I’ve got those too, Lord willing.”  Shoot up one of those little prayers, “Lord, help me.” 

But articulating what we need, and sharing with them, “This is where I am,” and asking them for what we need, for a listening ear, or for godly advice.  Sometimes I will come to my dad and say, “I do not know what to do about this.  What do you think?”  I’m grateful for the godly counsel that he’s given me.

Bob:  Christin, I think it’s in the heart of a lot of wives and moms and women to want to be encouraging, to want to use the power that they have for good.  Why is it so hard to do?

Christin:  Oh, because we’re human beings.

(laughter)

Dennis:  Yes.

Christin:  Because our knowledge and our understanding is imperfect, and because so many times we think we know what’s best for other people, and we are intent on doing for them or helping them to what we think is best, and that’s not necessarily God’s best.  We can’t see their heart, and we can’t know every detail of their circumstances, and sometimes the advice we give or the encouragement we give is so misguided. 

So that’s where it comes back to really asking God to show us.  And each relationship is different; each child is different, our relationship with our spouse or our boss or our coworkers, each relationship is different, and we relate to one another differently. 

Thank goodness we don’t have to get it all figured out.  We have a source we can go to, and we can ask the Holy Spirit, moment by moment, day by day, “Give me the words to say that will bring life to this situation.  Give me the words that will be a blessing to this child.  Help me to encourage my spouse in a way that they will hear it and that it will be a blessing to them and it will bring life to them.”

Dennis:  Life has a way of knocking the props out from under us, and we can go through seasons where the seasons get a little long sometimes, and it’s easy to kind of look back over what’s been taking place, and to start whining, complaining, griping, and worse. 

We’re just in need, I think, sometimes, as James talks about, “looking into the mirror” of the Scriptures and doing a little self-examination, and take a look at our mouth as to what’s coming out.  Fortunately in my life I’ve had some friends who have loved me enough to say, “I really don’t want to hear any more.”

(laughter)

Now, they didn’t say it that bluntly, --

Christin:  Right.

Dennis:  -- but they recognized the rut I was in, and they loved me enough to jar me out of the rut.  We can use our words to lovingly, compassionately let somebody know, “Why don’t you use words that are praiseworthy?” 

I think there is something within our own spirits, our own hearts, where we’re prone to gripe and complain a lot, and to look at our circumstances and kind of go, “You know, it’s a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day and I want to move to Australia.”

(laughter)

Christin:  That’s right.

Dennis:  But we need to encourage one another to get out of those and words can be that crowbar to dislodge people.

Christin:  That’s right, and we can choose to speak words, make it a habit, make it a purposeful thing, to choose to speak words in our own lives, words of gratitude, words of appreciation.  We need to be counting our blessings.  You know that old song; it’s trite but it’s true -- counting our blessings and being grateful for the things that God has given us. 

When we speak those words in our own lives – I’ve learned that in my own life and my own heart – if I’m constantly complaining and whining and miserable, I make myself more miserable, and I distance myself from God.  But if I speak words that are words of gratitude, words of appreciation, words of thankfulness, words of trust and faith, then I build up my own faith and I build up my own relationship with the Lord, because I’m focused on him and not on the problems.

Bob:  When our kids were little, and I’ve asked our team to get this song cued up – you may remember it – we had the CD, I guess it was a cassette back then, of Steve Green singing scripture songs.  One of the ones that we used to sing to one another around the house was the verse “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking guile.” 

The second time we’d sing it we’d grab our tongues.  We’d actually hold onto our tongue, because it was a good reminder:  sometimes you need to hold your tongue.  And we’d walk around the house with our fingers on our tongue, singing (demonstrating) “keep your tongue from evil, keep your tongue.”

(laughter)

There’s so much in Scripture about the power of the tongue, about the power of words for good or for evil in relationships, and yet I think we take it way too lightly.  You’ve done a great job in this book of calling us back to the power that a woman has with her words, that all of us have with our words.

Dennis:  Yes, and I just appreciate your writing it and being on FamilyLife Today.  I think, Christin, you have exhorted and implored many to watch the power of the tongue and to tame the tongue.  Thanks for being on the broadcast.

Christin:  Thank you.

Bob:  And before we’re done, we’ll see if we can get Steve Green to lead us all in singing that song.

Dennis:  Do we have to hold our tongues?

(laughter)

Bob:  We’ll see.  We have copies of Christin’s book in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center.  It’s called A Way With Words.  Go online at FamilyLifeToday.com for more information, FamilyLifeToday.com, or call 1-800-FLTODAY to request a copy.  That's 1-800 “F” as in Family, “L” as in Life, and then the word “Today.”

Well, I don’t know what plans you have for the holiday weekend.  Hope you and your family are able to get together, and I hope your job lets you have a little extra time this weekend to relax and enjoy the beginning of summer. 

One of the things we look at here at FamilyLife with summer coming on is that over the next couple of months we will probably see a little bit of a decline in the donations that we receive from listeners.  That’s the case for many ministries like ours; a lot of churches face the same kind of thing. 

And that’s one of the reasons why we had some friends who, a little more than a month ago, came to us and said, “Let’s see if we can encourage listeners during May to help support the ministry, so that as you head into summer you’ve got a little bit of a surplus to deal with.”  And they agreed that during the month of May they would match every donation we receive here at FamilyLife on a dollar-for-dollar basis, up to a total of $750,000. 

We’ve been working real hard this month to try to get the word out, make sure that everybody knows about this matching gift challenge.  We’re getting down to the wire, and that’s why we’re asking you if you can, today, go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, or call us toll-free at 1-800-FLTODAY, and do whatever you can do, make whatever kind of donation you can make, $10 or $20, $50 or $100, $500 or $1000, whatever you can do. 

Help us take full advantage of this matching gift opportunity.  Next week is when we hit the matching gift deadline, so we need to hear from you as soon as possible.  Again the website, FamilyLifeToday.com, or call toll-free at 1-800-FLTODAY, and we just want to say thanks in advance for whatever you are able to do in support of the ministry of FamilyLife Today.

Hope you have a great weekend, and to wrap things up today, here is Steve Green from the Hide “Em in Your Heart series for kids.  You can decide whether you want to grab your tongue or not.

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  Have a great weekend.  We will see you back Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today

Steve Green:  Now you may be able to tame a bucking bronco or a wildcat, but you just can’t tame a tongue.  If your tongue is always getting you into trouble, saying things that shouldn’t be said, here’s something you can do.

Child:  Psalm 34, verse 13:  Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies.

Music: 

Keep your tongue from evil, keep your tongue

Keep your tongue from evil, keep your tongue

And your lips from speaking lies

Keep your tongue from evil, keep your tongue.

Steve Green:  Now grab hold of your tongue while we sing it again.

Music:

Keep your tongue from evil, keep your tongue

Keep your tongue from evil, keep your tongue

And your lips from speaking lies

Keep your tongue from evil, keep your tongue.

Child:  Can I let go of my tongue now?

Bob:  FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas. 

Help for today.  Hope for tomorrow.

Music copyright:

Title: Keep Your Tongue from Evil - Psalm 34:13

Artist: Steve Green

Album: Hide 'Em In Your Heart, Vol. 1 (p) 2003 Sparrow Kids

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Fun, engaging conversations about what it takes to build stronger, healthier marriage and family relationships. Join hosts Dave and Ann Wilson with FamilyLife Today® veteran cohost Bob Lepine for new episodes every weekday.

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