When to Speak, When to Keep Silent

Such a wrenching riddle: when to speak, and when to remain silent. Who to speak to and who to be very careful not to.

The power of death and life is in the tongue. That’s what Proverbs’ wisdom says, as does James in his epistle, warning about the power of the tongue. And many/most, maybe all of us need to be much more careful about speaking than we are. So much evil, so much harm can come from hateful and thoughtless or contrived and cunning words.

And then there’s another hazard of talk:

Loose lips sink ships,” said the WWII motto.

There’s a corollary to that: “Loose tweets sink fleets!” 

The thing is, we can’t always readily identify the enemy. Of course they’re out there, able to read Twitter feed, but they may also be living right next to us. They may be sitting in the pew next to us. They may even be sleeping in our home with us. But we don’t want to believe that; so we can get very careless, and unwittingly blab whatever we think we know when it’s best some toxic people don’t hear it, and seize our “information” to hurt someone else, or even ourselves.

So keeping mum can be vital. Some talk can make certain people unsafe.

On the other hand, some secrets kept silent keep some people unsafe. Some silence hides serious harm, deep wounds, hidden abuse, and destruction of hearts and souls.

When to keep silent and when to speak? So hard to know. Listening first, as James advises, seems crucial, and I believe he means listening to God foremost, as I pay attention to his words’ context.

So I am listening and considering. Then, perhaps I’ll speak…


Linked to Five Minute Friday/”Speak.”


The Man Who Doesn’t Sing


Picking up on Five Minute Friday’s prompt word (a day late), thinking maybe it’ll help jump start my blogging, I see the cue is “sing”…

I don’t stand beside him in church very often any more, so I don’t know. Maybe he’s finally started to sing again. Our lives cross more in emails and phone calls and visits to “the farm.” He, my son, brings his daughter, my granddaughter, and she runs free and muddy for a weekend before returning to a proper world on Sunday night. And she does sing. Still.

But he doesn’t.

I remember my first memory of her singing in my house. She was still a baby, in for her nap, the intercom on. And I heard soulful singing coming over it. “Deep and wide, Deep and wide,” her little voice crooning, pitch perfect!

But Daddy doesn’t sing.

He used to. When he was little we sang together, he and I, often. Even silly made-up songs. But then we became part of a family where the male persona was connected with not-singing, with claiming not to be able to carry a tune, and all that. Was singing a female realm only? It seemed so, there and then.

So he stopped singing. Lost his confidence in belting out a tune, joining in the hymns at church, laughing songs together.

What a loss, I have often thought. To be free to sing, not just silently mouth words, totally unconcerned about having to produce a certain quality outcome or protect an image, is to my mind one of God’s beautiful gifts to mankind. What better way is there to lift up one’s soul, let it pour out one’s heart and fly free? What better way to praise God with the whole being?

I hope he sings now, if only in secret.


Linked to Five Minute Friday


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Friends, and Friend

Writing in company with the Five Minute Friday bunch on the prompt word, “friend”





Friends come and friends go, like beautiful threads in the weaving of a life. One golden strand may appear and reappear, here and there, throughout the cloth, others will fill in an odd bit of color and then appear no more. Sometimes this will happen with a whole group of different yarns—there together in a cluster for a while, then gone.

Friendship weaves an irregular tapestry in this era of transience and fragmentation. If we all lived only in the same village in which we were born, and traveled no further than twenty or thirty miles from there all our lives (and had no internet!), what a different picture our friendships would make: perhaps an even weave, a regular, steady, and reliable plaid. But then, probably not, for where that kind of lifestyle occurred, death also occurred more frequently, at earlier ages, and the plaid could go quite out of symmetry anyway.

Yet when I saw this weeks’s prompt word, “Friend,” the first two things that actually popped into my head were a Bible verse and a line from a song: “There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother,” and “What a Friend we have in Jesus.” It might sound cliché, but I have found it true. Ever since I found this extraordinary friendship over four decades ago, it has never let me down, never abandoned me or died or evaporated. This Friend has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” and made good on the promise.

I read a few years ago of roadsides staked with billboards declaring, “God is an imaginary friend.”* (My emphasis.)

“Whoah!” I thought, “Whoever you are making this statement, you haven’t known what I’ve known! You haven’t experienced what I have! No imaginary friend could do what Christ has done throughout my life! It’s been incredible!”

And at some point shortly thereafter, I thought, “I could write a whole book, with a title something like, How I Know God is Not an Imaginary Friend.” In fact, I think I still might…


(Went a little overtime here, but wanted to finish that thought.)


*Footnote: This happened in Colorado in late January, 2012. I guess these signs were only up for a couple months. Then was when the terribly dry weather came and the worst wildfires on record for the state followed. The ones that spread to near the billboards’ locations were caused by… lightning strikes. Articles reporting on the signs going up said they were there to spark a debate. Hm, something sparked something, seems like.

**Photos above show rugs handwoven by Tom Knisely, author and weaving instructor, taken at a presentation on rug weaving. Rugs shown may or may not be included in the book on rug weaving he published shortly thereafter.

A Happy Snow Day To-Do List

Yes, I’m buried in the blizzard. And since many of you who read may still be thus buried, I’d like to share my “To-Do’s Day” list for yesterday, right out of my journal, barely edited. It was a good day, a lovely day, all in all…

To Do Today:

  • Enjoy a Snow Day! It’s 9:45 AM, DST, and we have not had a vehicle pass on the road in hours! The snow plow has not come at all, and it’s a little hard to tell just where the road is anyway. There are no tell-tale tire tracks or indentation ghosts of them. It is an official Snowstorm, slated to become a blowing blizzard. On such days, I stay warm and cozy in my fluffy robe longer than normally “acceptable,” dawdle and dally more, loving it! (Thank You, Father!)
  • Stand at the kitchen window where the suet cage hangs, and watch the birds outside—with all the kitchen lights turned off, to keep the secret seclusion of shadows.
  • See how fat Mama Cardinal (over on the maple branch) has made herself look, in her down-filled coat, manufactured by her own feather ruffling-fluffing. (Think how you might find more warmth from some of your own feather fluffing.)

  • Stand still and quiet, face propped by elbows resting atop counter close to the window—a foot away is good—and watch while the chickadees and juncos cling to the outer sill beneath your view, retrieving seeds the bigger birds have scattered there as they attacked the frozen suet to free up breakfast. Do not move except to smile when a tiny soft-feathered head peers over the window frame right in front of your shadowed face.

  • And enjoy, enjoy, their antics.
  • Do a load of laundry or two, laundry room door closed to muffle the noisy washer. It’s a good day to catch up while otherwise dawdling—at least until the power fails later, if it does.
  • Alternate little tasks that just strike your fancy: like tidying the table-linens drawers in the kitchen, inspired by husband’s major clothes closet purge. Think about the 80-20 rule like you did with your own clothes closet… Alternate inviting tasks like these with sit-down sessions to catch up in journals. (Yes, plural. I’ve got four, no, five, going at once right now, though I usually stick to just one…)
  • Do a bit of collage; messing with texture paste and images clipped from magazines and junk mail that caught your heart and may speak a message your words or conscious thoughts could not.
  • Thank God for all the blessings:
    • the warm house
    • the hot water
    • the so-far enduring electrical power
    • the alternative power the generator provides if the grid fails
    • the good hot coffee
    • the well-stocked supply of smooth-writing gel pens and materials over which to glide them, forming words and thoughts and aspirations…
  • and so on…


When I Was Abandoned

When I was abandoned,

I sat

in silence


Shadows fell dark around me…

Emptiness echoed off formidable mountains devoid of green…

For a while.


Then I came to realize, to recognize, to know…

I was not alone after all.


I read then of Old Testament “widows,”

How the Hebrew meant “desolate woman, bereft,”

which needn’t mean widowed as we understand it—

only desolate… perhaps forsaken,

left standing solo in the unlit night,

holding the empty bag…


How God is a defender of any such “widows”

Who turn their tattered souls toward Him…

How He said to one such devastated bride,

“Fear not—for your Maker will be your husband.”



“Yes,” I said. “So be it, amen.”


And so He was—

Better Husband than any fallen man on guilty earth could ever be:

More faithful Father,

Greater Giver,

More knowing Helper…

Closer Companion,

Deeper Lover of my soul.


Never alone anymore since then.

Abandoned to learn I was never abandoned,

Left free to sit in the silence of peace,

Alone with Him.




Writing in community (not just alone) with the Five Minute Friday free-write crowd, on the prompt word “Abandon.” Visit here to find the link-up to many other responses to this challenging word!