Words Do Matter: Awaken My Heart Weeks 13-16

As you might have guessed I have fallen behind on update posts. The end of summer was quite busy and then I was dealing with my transition to Franny (Franciscan- post to come eventually about this). Week 13-16 focused on words and speaking certain words. Throughout the weeks Emily highlighted much about how we speak about ourselves and others. It also reflected upon how our words affect our actions. Also the weeks were bookended with Loe in a sense as themes started with Speak Love and ended with Love the Poor. Now let's begin with Week 13.


Week 13: Speak Love

Verse of the Week: “ I tell you, on the day of judgment people will render an account for every careless word they speak. But your words he will be acquitted, and by her words you will be condemned.“

—Matthew 12:36-37

Emily asks the readers at the beginning of this week to imagine that you are standing in a room with Jesus in the flesh. In this room every positive or negative thing you have said about someone throughout your life. The positive statements would be illuminated in green while the negative statements would be red. She asked you to consider what color most of the words would be. It was a cool idea. As you see below she asks you to enter into this image and consider which color would be most prevalent.

This week the "Soul Exercises" were:

  1. How do you speak about others? Take some time in prayer to close your eyes and imagine yourself in that room with God. Look back not only on the color of the words you spoke, but also on the specific things you said.

  2. Recall a time when you heard that someone was speaking negatively about you. How did it make you feel? Reflect on how the words you speak about others would make them feel if they heard you saying them.

  3. Has anything come up in your prayer and contemplation this week that you need to apologize for? Consider taking that step of humility and making that apology.

The "Your Heart's Prayer This Week" was:

Jesus, I want to spend my life speaking words of life and love to and about others. I want ot be able to stand with you in that room looking at green walls, and I know I need to make some changes for that to happen. Help me to overcome my insecurities and tendency to compare. Awaken my heart to see each person as my brother or sister in Christ so that I may lift them up in every word I speak. Amen.

I honestly admitted to myself this week that I talk negatively about people much of the time. It doesn't necessarily always make me feel good. Many times I will not know whether negative words are venting or gossip. I am not good at discerning gossip and so to make myself feel better I just label everything venting. I did indeed realize that in some cases I may be exaggerating situations or people's reactions in situations. I have a very biased view and want my position to be right. I have to be willing to be more gracious with others .Though I did not apologize to anyone specifically this week I realized that I need to be more aware of the need I have forgiveness not only from God but others.


Song of the Week: Native Tongue Switchfoot

Week 14: Have Mercy on Yourself

Verse of the Week: None

Emily mentions that amidst a move she discovered a letter written to herself in 2013. She then reflects on how people, women especially, beat themselves up for their mistakes. She talks about how this is not what God wants for us. She encourages readers to take the week "to pray, to write, to forgive yourself and step into peace" (74).

This week the "Soul Exercises" were:

  1. For what in your life do you need to forgive yourself? It could be one thing, or a few. Take some time to pray about what those things are. Then write a letter of self-forgiveness in the presence of God. Include everything; hold nothing back. Ask the Lord to be with you as you write, to help you step into the peace your heart longs for and he desires for you.

The "Your Heart's Prayer This Week" was:

Jesus, show me how I have been unable to forgive myself. Show me how I resent myself for things I did or wish I had done. You have asked me to forgive seventy-times-seven–please give me the courage to extend that forgiveness to myself and live in the freedom you have created me for. Amen.

I took time this week to do just as Emily said. Each day of the week I prayed about what I might need to forgive myself for. Things ranged from experiences I had as a young girl to recent experiences in college. It was no coincidence that this week coincided with the last retreat I attended with St. Francis of Assisi Parish and Newman Center and Cardinal Catholic. It was about the Heart of God the Father. The letter in which I wrote was written in front of the blessed Sacrament. There was much healing going on during this retreat for me and the theme of this week for Awaken My Heart was part of that healing. Forgiving myself is one of the hardest things I do for I am my biggest critique. So the letter was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders and my soul. The lesson I learned about how forgiving yourself truly frees you and allows you peace is something I hope to carry with me into the future.

Song of the Week: Burn the Ships for King and Country

Week 15: Go Bravely

Verse of the Week: ”I can do all things in him who strengthens me.”

—Philippians 4:13 (RSV)

Emily fill this reflection mainly with the story of a disabled man who she saw learn to surf. The man got knocked down but kept getting back up and eventually caught a wave. She reflected that many times in our lives we believe the "I can't". The story was possibly meant to inspire us that we should keep trying. At least she said she said she learned (or was reminded) from watching this happen that Philippians 4:13 is true; we can really do all things through Christ.

This week the "Soul Exercises" were:

  1. Where have you fallen prey to lie that you "can't"? Where have you given in to the idea that you're not capable, or just not good enough?

  2. If you run into a situation this week that you think you cannot handle, speak out loud or in your heart the words of Philippians 4:13–"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." See how saying this verse changes your beliefs or attitude in this moment. Adopting this practice in life can change your approach to everything.

The "Your Heart's Prayer This Week" was:

Jesus, there are so many days where I struggle to believe I can do all things through you. I feel defeated as I depend on myself rather than you. I get discouraged by my lack of progress and feel like bowing to the lie "I can't". Give me the grace to live Philippians 4:13 with my whole heart–to speak it out loud in moments of defeat or discouragement and in times of desperation and struggle. Give me the courage to proclaim the truth out loud, the truth that will remain forever, that I can do all things through you who strengthens me. Amen.

I reflected on many areas where I fall for the lie "I can't". This week did not work complete healing in all areas but opened me up to Christ in a way so that these wounds may eventually healed or be forgotten (or both). This week brought to the surface one of my biggest flaws that is defining myself by what others think of me. Many of the "I can't" instances for me stem from a fear of letting others down. I also realize that my dream of being an author may be impeded by how I would write my stories and what I would include or exclude. I buy into the notion that a secular publisher would never publish me if I did not add in points with which I would be uncomfortable. However, if it is God's will that I am to be a published author then he will make it happen and lead me to the right publisher (secular or not).

Song of the Week: Brave Sara Barellies

Week 16: Love the Poor

Verse of the Week: None

Emily shared her experience of living in L.A. and witnessing the many homeless people lining the streets. She touched on how many times we may try to avoid the homeless or those we see on the street. One day she stopped an asked one their name which was {insert name}. She noted how it made his face light up. She encouraged readers to both value safety and remember that Jesus calls us to love those who are less fortunate then they are (because they are God's children- of course).

This week the "Soul Exercises" were:

  1. What is one concrete way you can love the poor this week? Go out of your way, take time, make the effort to do it.

  2. Have you ever had an impactful experience with the poor? Whether it was with someone in a foreign country or someone down the street, contemplate why the experience made an impression on you and what God revealed to your heart.

The "Your Heart's Prayer This Week" was:

Jesus, you have a deep love for the poor. Help me have that same love. Shape me into a woman who gives food the to the hungry, clothes the naked, and drink to the thirsty. Awaken my heart to see the humanity of the poor and to share in that humanity whenever I can. When I extend my hand to the poor, help them to see not my hand, but yours. Amen.

I donated money online to a local food bank in Indianapolis this week. It was hard for me do much more for it was nearing the end of the school year at Ball State when this week came around. Perhaps, I should have tried harder. Though I didn't interact directly with the poor person I mentioned in my reflection experience, I still recognized that even a brief glimpse of someone can have a major affect on your life. I once saw a homeless disabled veteran on the sidewalk in Chicago (or it could have been Indy). I remember feeling sad because this person had served our country, but now was on the street. I learned from that experience that our country has much to do in terms of both helping the poor and also our veterans.

Song of the Week: Another Day in Paradise Phil Collins

These four weeks taught me the true power of words. Whether it is to others or to oneself, words do in fact matter. Love and forgiveness are intertwined in a way I never truly understood until these weeks. If I can not forgive myself, why do I expect to find it so easy to forgive others. Love is all about seeing the face of Jesus Christ in others which is something I hope to grow in as a result of this devotional and all things that the Lord leads me to.

Pictorial Prayers