31 Days :: A Fourth Grade Memoir {words}

Mrs. Hall was my fourth grade teacher. She was blond and short. Her cheeks full of pink blush. Her fingernails always painted. She was sweet and a bit sassy.

I remember she asked a question to the class. I don’t remember the question, but I remember I knew the answer. And believe it or not, I was kind of shy back then. But I took a risk and raised my hand. She called on me and I answered correctly.

“Good job, Little Bit.”

My world turned to slow motion. Little Bit? Oh my. Did she just call me Little Bit. In front of the entire class? I wanted to die.

A few of the kids around me snickered. My face was hot. Mrs. Hall turned to write on her green chalkboard. She had no idea that her term of endearment made me want to rush out of the room in tears and never return.

I was insecure enough about being the smallest of my class. I knew I was little. Always a bit awkward with a perpetually bad haircut.

And then to be called “Little Bit” in front of the e v e r y o n e.

This was death to me.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18:21

The other night before bed, I had Ethan find this verse.
“Boys, do you realize that God has entrusted us with something very important? He has given us a special tool. A tool that has a lot of power.”

At that, I stuck out my tongue, pointed to it and continued to talk…{boys laughing} “We have the power to lift someone up or tear someone down with the power of this. Our tongue! Isn’t that amazing? {tongue back in…boys still laughing} “Proverbs says we have the ability to speak life words or death words to others. Do you know that we are the only thing God created that can take the thoughts in our mind and turn them into words? How cool is that?”

Between the two of us, this is so important to me. I can’t even tell you. Encouragement is extremely powerful. Especially in a culture when so many things we hear and see bring death. People are desperate for words of life.

When researched in the Strong’s Concordance, look at what this word life means:

Life: living, alive; green (of vegetation); flowing, fresh (of water);lively, active (of man); reviving (of the springtime)

We have the power to do all of that. A few spoken words can bring refreshment like fresh, flowing water. A word of life can renew a man like the beauty of Spring. When all has been dead, cold and barren, a life giving word can revive and bring health and growth.

“Grant, can you think of some words that have brought you life lately? What words have made you feel so good inside?”

“Well, when you tell me I did a good job on my school work or threw a good pass at my game. I like that.”

“What about you, Ethan.”

“Um. Well. When you tell me I did a good job on my school work. Or when I threw a good pass.”

{very original}

“What about words that have brought you sadness or, like Proverbs says, death?”

Grant: “When you tell me I’ve ‘crossed the line’ or that I can’t go outside to play.”

Ethan: “Yeah or when you say we can’t go play at Laser Quest.” {random}

“Those are good examples. Do you see how we remember both the good words and the bad. We want to speak lots of life in our home. Can you all think of ways we can speak life to each other.”

And the conversation went on from there. So good.

Have I recovered from Mrs. Hall’s unintentional blow to my self-confidence? Yes. For the most part. She meant absolutely no harm. But this is a great example of how long words can stick. There is no telling what all my children will remember of their childhood. Like Louisa May Alcott writes in Little Women, I pray they remember “good strong words that meant something.” Words that reive and renew.

Lord, today, let us speak words of life to our children. May our words be good and strong. Thank you for entrusting us with the ability to speak a word. It is such a privilege.
-31 Days in the Parenting Handbook

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