Mothering, Prayer, Words

Words: Making Words Count

Meme: Word Count super imposed over a dictionary page

@JeanneTakenaka

In May, I participated in a twelve-day Instagram writer’s challenge. It was both stretching and fun. We were given a different word each day and created posts about those words relating to our writer’s life. 

As I contemplated each word, I discovered correlations between writing life and real-life. I’ve expanded on the original posts, and I’d love to read your thoughts on these words as they relate to your life as well.

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Stories of the heart are built by adding word count. I belong to an online group for writing 1000 words in one hour. Not everyone does this, and not everyone who’s part of the group is adding word count to their manuscripts. But it’s a great community where we hold each other accountable to work on our projects. For any book to come to a place of completion, words must be added in the creating of said book.

As important as it is to build word count in a book, it’s even more essential that we make our real-life words count. 

A photo of a couple sitting on a dock and facing the water


Do I speak words of life over my sons, or are my words like verbal vomit over their heads and hearts? In my first drafts I pour initial thoughts onto the page that I later get to re-work, erase, finesse. 

The thing is, in real-life, we don’t get re-do’s when we mess up in what we speak to others. Our first draft words will make an impression that’s written on a heart, in thoughts. We must be careful in what we say. 

A father and son hiking up a path, their backs to the camera

We can’t police every single word that slips from our mouths, I know. Feelings sometimes overrule our reason. We say things we regret after the heat of emotion cools from molten lava to rock. But that’s the thing. Once the results are cooled to rock, there’s no changing the impact.

I’ve spewed out words I later wished I could erase . . . to my husband, to my boys, to friends. Whether they were spoken in the passion of a moment in a way that left the hearer wounded . . . or words whispered in gossip . . . or things spoken that inadvertently hurt another, my words have impacted my hearers. 

A bowl of "word rocks" with encouraging words like hope, peace, trust, believe, rejoice, courage

Words matter.

Mothering, like no other calling God’s given me, has challenged me to finesse my words—my tone—before anything leaves my lips. God is helping me to not allow emotion dictate how and what I say. I’m guessing I’m not the only one who’s said things to my kids that I would never, ever say to anyone else. The conviction from doing this has been a deterrent to letting emotion rule how I say things. 

The Lord is challenging me to be authentic in what I speak to others, but to do so with grace and His guidance. It’s hard, sometimes, when I want to blurt out my frustration, my anger, with a person or a situation. 

A father and daughter standing at an exhibit at a zoo

I’m learning to filter my initial first-draft words through these questions: 

1. What impact will my words have on the hearer’s heart? 

2. Will these words be life-giving to the hearer? 

3. If they are hard words that still must be spoken, how can I say them in a way that will speak the truth in love? 

It’s not easy to press my lips closed until I evaluate what I want to say through these questions. But, doing so helps me to be more intentional about speaking words that count in a good way. 

Meme: "When my heart is to make words count—and when I pray God will help me speak them effectively—I believe He honors that prayer."

Even when hard truths must be shared, I pray that they will speak life, love, and encouragement to the hearts receiving them. Because when my heart is to make words count—and when I pray that God will help me speak them effectively—I believe He honors that prayer. He enables me to moderate the message and my tone in a way that brings Him glory and reminds the hearer they are loved. 

Though in my stories I can pore over the words I add—I can take the time to make sure I convey just the right message for readers—the process still requires prayer and intentional effort.  

A father and son walking on a path toward a cabin

I need to take time to mentally edit the words I plan to speak to others so they convey the accurate message in a way that points them to the Lord rather than inflicting hurt. 

What about you? How do you make your words count? What’s one thing you do that helps you speak words of life, especially when they are hard truths?

Click to Tweet: Feelings sometimes overrule our reason. We say things we regret after the heat of emotion cools from lava to rock.

I’m linking up with #TellHisStory and #RaRaLinkup

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35 thoughts on “Words: Making Words Count”

  1. I try to speak my heart
    with guarded words and phrase,
    so’s not to tear apart
    and set another’s soul ablaze.
    Sometimes I have to bite my tongue
    and count to ten real slow;
    depends on whom I stand among,
    for I may need to land a blow.
    But usually I keep my peace
    and keep my speech quite wholesome,
    for I enjoy work-release
    more than D-block back at Folsom.
    And when only the hard will do,
    I say it fast – in Urdu.

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    1. Andrew, you are right. There are different ways words need to be spoken, and various audiences who will hear them. I laughed out loud at how you speak the “hard” . . . real fast in Urdu. Thanks for sharing your wisdom, my friend. I’m praying for you and Barb.

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  2. In many ways writing is much easier because we have the chance to think about our words and redraft them if necessary. It’s far too easy for our spoken words to come out in a way that’s hurtful or unhelpful, even if that’s not our intention. I love the questions you suggest thinking about before we speak. Even taking a short pause to consider the impact of our words can make a big difference.

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    1. Lesley, writing is easier, isn’t it? But sometimes (perhaps oftentimes) the spoken word can be even more powerful. And, in a world where screens monopolize time and attention and make it so easy to spout off words, our spoken words must be weighed and considered if we are to be effective communicators. Thanks for sharing your perspective!

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  3. I’ve learned a lot over the years about words that cannot be unsaid, so I’m more careful than I used to be, but even so, a little heat is all it takes to make the unfortunate sentences come thick and fast. One helpful tool for me is silence. When I’m especially tired or conflicted, I practice as much silence as I can manage, responding to questions and functioning in the world, but offering NO editorial comments.

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    1. Michele, I’ve been the speaker of words that should never have been said . . . more times than I care to admit. I think there’s wisdom in our words that is gained by age and experience. And I would completely agree with you…there’s a time for silence, and when silence is the more effective communication. Great wisdom, friend!

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  4. Jeanne, such a good post. This is what I will be thinking on for a bit >>”Our first draft words will make an impression that’s written on a heart, in thoughts.” The words we utter cannot be edited. I want to be more careful with the words which come out of my mouth. May they be remembered as loving, kind, and true. Blessings!

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    1. Joanne, I’m glad this post spoke to you. God has had to show me many times that careless words can leave deep wounds. I am the recipient and survivor of careless words that hurt me, and it took decades to really work through some of them. And, I know I’ve spoken them too. Thank goodness the Lord continues to work on us and on our hearts to conform us to the image of Jesus. I like your goal for your words—to be remembered as loving, kind, and true.

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  5. Wow, Jeanne. This is inspired. This is some powerful challenge. And it has everything to do with loving well, blessing others, building relationships.

    I’m so tired of of people saying that words don’t matter. They most surely do.

    You’ve offered us wisdom in each and every paragraph. I’m going back to re-read yet again.

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    1. Linda, you’re right. How we speak has a whole lot to do with loving well. I think our words and tones indicate what’s really in our hearts. I like that you want your words to show loving well, blessing others, and building relationships. I somehow think that’s what God intended…

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  6. Jeanne, you have expresses so eloquently here what all writers know in their hearts – words do matter. I think every parent, spouse, and child has said words they wish they could have back. Unfortunately, life does not have a delete button. We can, however, express remorse for hurtful words and, as you write, remind ourselves to think before we speak in the future.

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    1. You’re right, Laurie. I like how you took this a step further. When we do speak hurtful words, we can express remorse and ask for forgiveness and seek reconciliation. There’s grace in that, I think.

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  7. Words DO matter. I’ve started praying daily that God use me as His instrument. That helps filter His light through my words, I hope, as I’m trying to shine Him through my words.

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  8. I just realized that my soft voice can cause me not to say anything when in a noisy place because it takes my voice box too much effort to do so. And this has probably helped me to not say things I will regret later. But definitely have said things I should not have especially to my children. Yes, we have to remember God’s grace is enough, and not live in condemnation. And sincere apologies can help. With today’s world of edited words on social media, I do wonder about the following generation not gaining the experience I had from speaking words in phones, etc. It’s through speaking words on the fly that we also learn the lessons of how our words count.

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    1. You’re right, Lynn. It’s easy for some of us (definitely for me!) to live with condemnation when I’ve said something that hurt a person. There is grace and forgiveness when we humble ourselves and ask for it. I often wonder how today’s young people will communicate as they mature and move into the work force and “adulting.” Learning to express our thoughts—what’s on our minds—is an essential life skill.

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  9. “I need to take time to mentally edit the words I plan to speak to others so they convey the accurate message in a way that points them to the Lord rather than inflicting hurt.” Amen!

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  10. There are truly no do-overs once words spill from our lips. I like how you mention to mentally edit words BEFORE they leave your lips. Oh, what a great prayer and practice…to ask the Lord to help us do this.

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  11. YES! Ain’t this the truth. What’s said flippantly and perhaps not even meant in a moment of frustration can leave a scar on the heart of another forever. We must be careful and vigilant. Thank you for this!
    x Anastasia | MightyMemos.com

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    1. Anastasia, I’m so glad you stopped by! I would imagine we’ve all been recipients (and probably speakers) of flippant words. My husband has taught me much about thinking through my words before I speak them. He’s sooo good at it.

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  12. Our words matter. And our words are so powerful. They can have a lasting impact but, no doubt, we share most of our words without much thought at all. Such wisdom in learning to censer our words and using them for good. I’m much better at it than my younger self…but it is a lifelong work in progress!

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    1. Jennifer, our words truly DO matter. We need to be continually thinking about what we’re about to let loose from our mouths before the words escape so we can make sure they have a positive impact on our hearers. I’m like you, this aspect of growing will be a lifelong endeavor!

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  13. It would be so easy if editing was allowed when speaking words as it is in our writing. You are doing a wonderful job with your sons. God knows your heart and turning to Him in prayer is the best choice every time.

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    1. Wouldn’t it be an amazing thing to be able to edit our words before they were heard? I’m thankful God knows my heart, and that He is continually conforming me into the image of Jesus.

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