Sticks and Stones Can Break Your Bones But WORDS???

[Previous Rural Farmgirl, April 2009 – May 2010]

My post last week on letter-writing seemed to hit a nerve. I was thrilled to see that so many felt the same way about such an important topic. Thank you for that.
As I was thinking about all the posts I received, I was reminded of a girlfriend retreat last year. One of the gals brought a cute box for each of us and a pile of adjectives she had taken the time to write out…words like witty, beautiful, funny, loyal, kindhearted, approachable, and selfless. The list goes on.

The assignment: As one of us was named, the rest of us were to choose the adjectives that best described that person to us. My mind excitedly raced over the words, trying to pre-choose the words to match the friends. But I was most surprised that it wasn’t the words I assigned that stayed with me, but rather the words that were assigned to me. To this day, I can go to the box and recall who assigned what words to me. I still fight back the tears as I recall the love with which they were delivered, each of them adding a tattoo to my heart in ways that are almost indescribable.
As a young woman, I recall being given the advice that if I wanted friends I must “show myself friendly.” I have always taken that advice to heart. I think there is value in those words. So when one of my friends placed in my box the word “approachable,” it felt like I received an A in that life lesson. I go to that little box often, in those moments when I need to know how others see me. In those low moments when I feel whipped by the world, those words bless me. Words like expressive, disciplined, creative, selfless, empathetic, energetic, witty, and resourceful. And it’s not just the words themselves, but the stories behind the words that were chosen. Some of the stories were funny, some poignant and others…well you would have had to be there.
Words. They are funny things, aren’t they? A bunch of letters scrambled together that can be used for joy or for grief, for healing or for pain. I believe that words have power in them. They can be a creative force or a destroyer. I have literally seen the course of someone’s whole life changed by carefully chosen words and dreams destroyed by the careless flinging of others.
Maybe it is because I am a writer that I weigh words. I can sit and contemplate their meaning for long periods of time, trying to give them the value that they deserve. While they all are worthy of interest, I particularly like the adjectives, the very descriptive ones. Those who know me well know that I love the word brilliant. I use it a lot, mostly because I think that it is a word that we don’t attach to ourselves nearly enough. I think that people are brilliant. I am continually enamored with their brilliance, whether it is in what they can create, or think up, or just who they are as individuals.
So as we write our hand-written letters don’t forget to flood them with adjectives telling those we love all the things that they may not be telling themselves. Each one of those letters can become a gift box of their own, full of carefully chosen words.

  1. Postitive words are affirming and can change an outlook or an insight. Brilliant (couldn’t resist!)post! I enjoy writing notes to friends and try to do it often, even sending a handmade card to show them they are thought of with warmth.
    Thanks for your words today!

  2. Linda says:

    Since I was present at the weekend, I can attest to the power of the personal descriptive words given to me. It was very heartwarming and edifying to have imparted such empowerment through these words. I think I felt a little taller and definately a little more weighty having been "added" to. The sting of a slander imbeds in the heart and head, and it takes an act of God (literally) to remove them. Thanks for the reminder, Rene, to choose our words and actions carefully. Sow no more weed seeds, and feed our loved ones and acquaintenances more fertilizer – of the love kind! Thanks for being such a thoughtful, selfless and giving sister. We love and appreciate you tons – more than all words can convey!!!

  3. cynthia says:

    I’m always amazed at how others perceive us. Since HS when my sister told me that my siblings called me "Queenie" behind my back. I was shocked and hurt. I was introverted, shy, not Aloof…why would they think that?
    Over the years I have tried to be more open, more connected to people to be a friend, and recognize the positive in everyone. I try to be open to those that may be left out, because they are shy and possibly not "look at me" people. I have found new friends through my local Farmgirls Chapter, and love every single one, because they are my sisters. I’ll try to remember this for our Holiday Party. It will be so much more meaningful than a $10 gift.


    I think there will always be those that can’t or won’t see us for who we are. I am not sure if that is there issue or ours. I run into every now and again too. It is perplexing. I have come to believe that I can just be the best I know to be and let the rest be.  We are blessed to have so many amazing farmgirls sisters arent we? I would choose words from the heart over a $10 gift any day 🙂

  4. Timi says:

    I think sometimes we spend so much time beating ourselves up about our short comings that we forget that we all have good qualities. It’s always nice to hear it from someone else. I have had moments when someone said something nice about me and I was in shock. REALLY? I was so shocked because I had been beating myself up for so long.
    Since that day, I have always tried to compliment, say something nice, or just be kind to everyone. It ment so much to me that day that I bet it has the same effect on someone else. Spread Nice!

  5. Grace Snodgrass says:

    I too love the hand-written word. Over the years, as my three sons grew, I wrote them love letters and love notes. Some letters were written because I felt they needed an extra boost of love, some because they passed an important mile stone. How fun it was to see them steal away to some private, quiet spot to see what I had written, what memories I would retell of their youth that I treasured. I do this for friends too, especially when life has been difficult or hard. I write love letters telling them how much their friendship means to me and IN DETAIL I describe what I love about them or why they are one of my personal heros or what lessons in life they may have taught me. The usual response is that it took their breath away because they had no idea that they could be viewed in such a way. The fact that I could recall something from when they were twenty or thirty for example, that I remembered their triumphs or was enchanted by some action of theirs THAT they had totally forgotten about, served to remind them of how special and capable they still are.
    My mother wrote all her children love letters when she knew she was dying, to be opened after her death. She always told us she loved us, but oh .. how dear to be able to read her words over and over again. Best gift I have ever received!

  6. Tammy says:

    I am also a firm believer that words have amazing power. It was interesting when I studied the work of Dr. Masaru Emoto in his book "Messages from Water. If you are curious to see what words can do to the human form take a look at that book. We all have the power to effect others. Words and thoughts are things…make them good ones! Today I received a hand written note from my Great Aunt who is 87 and it was a gift as precious as gold! Thanks for reminding us to write!

  7. Jean Daggett says:

    I would like to forward this to a friend that I have not spoken to in two months all because of some words spoken in the negative. She so very negative and I don’t know why. She has a lot of good quality she could think about. If I forward this to her she might take it the wrong way. What do you think?

    Hi Jean,

    Hope you received my email. How are things with your friend?

  8. Laura D says:

    Proverbs 18:21 (NIV) ’nuff said.


    I think that is the "death and life is in the tongue, verse"  correct? Good one!

  9. Sandy Hoover says:

    I remember a sermon of my favorite pastor’s from quite a while back, in which he told a story of a man who went around gossiping unkind words about another person in their town. After a while, the man felt bad, so he finally went to his priest and confessed what he did. For his penance, the priest told the man to take dried leaves and place them on the front stoop of each doorway in the town. After he was done placing the last of the leaves at the last house, the man was to go back to the very first house and begin collecting all of the leaves from each of the houses, and bring them to his priest in a bag to show the priest he had done his penance. But, when the man went back to the first house, all of the leaves had blown away! It was the same at each house he went back to: all of the leaves were gone! He went to his priest and told him what happened, and apologized to him that he could not get the leaves back. His priest said to him, "You see my son, these leaves are like cruel and thoughtlessly spoken words. Once said, you are not able to retrieve them. Only an apology to the person you have injured can give you true relief, and God will know you are truly sorry… God always forgives those who asks."

    My husband and I have taught our children that what they do always has an affect on others, in some way or other. And what they say has an affect on others as well; not only the words, but how those words are spoken. I was taught this from a very young age, and have always been reflective prior to speaking, most especially when talking about sensitive topics, or to a sensitive individual.

    For this, I was recently rewarded (to my astonishment!), when someone who worked for me told me that I had changed the way she lives her life (and that her husband was so grateful for this as well)… she said she had observed how I contemplate what I say prior to speaking, and she has put this into practice and found herself much more peaceful and harmonious with others. This truly humbled me…

    So, yes, words are powerful tools! And they can be amazing! And we should use them for wonderful purposes…

    God Bless,

  10. Gary says:

    You are so right Rene’…!
    Words have great power, and Moses said it best when he wrote:
    "In the Beginning was The Word."
    Words are the cornerstone of civilization, and in cultures beset by strife, it is not suprising to see a rise in slang, and poor communication between people. Well chosen words, beautifully written can open minds, evoke feelings and open doors, which armies cannot breach.
    Brilliant Bloggie…!
    GodSpeed to Y’all…!
    in Tampa

  11. Rene’, You really struck a chord with several of us—loved all of your comments. There
    still is nothing better than a letter from my mom in the mailbox. As she ages, I am thinking I should start saving them. One more thing about "words". I love making pins for
    my friends and coworkers–usually for Valentine’s Day. Last year I used magnetic words from the refrigerator poetry kits mounted on colored cardstock with a gluegunned pin on the back and let each pick one from a huge collection of words. It was so interesting to see who picked each one–depending on their personality or mood that day. Lots of jokes were abound with each trying to pick some for others too. The way we see ourselves is usually so different from the way others do. Bonnie

  12. Carrie says:


    Excellent post! What a fantastic activity for a ladies retreat…something I think that each and every woman I know could benefit from!!! We just need to build each other up SO much!!!

    Thanks so much for sharing this with us-

  13. Mariellan says:

    Thank you for reminding me today about the power of words. One of our beloved ministers always said, "You may be the only smile a person has today." I think that applies well to what you wrote about the words we have for others today.


  14. Debbie says:

    Wonderful blog! I used to tell my daughter the best way to make friends was to "be a friend". I love words, in song, letters, or even conversation. But, most of all God’s Word. I think that He has inspired you in your writing as well. I enjoy your blogs so much and have gained much in reading them. You are "brilliant"! And beautiful too! Keep on with your words!

  15. LisaLu says:

    What perfect timing…I am having trouble in my place of business right now. Two of my employees went at it during a group meeting. Harsh words, hurt feelings, misdirected anger. I asked them to work it out between themselves (this didn’t happen), I asked for them to apologize, one refused, and the tension is quietly building. I think I will post words, thoughts, positive encouragement in the lunch room, maybe the walls will come down. I am very concerned about the moral of the others, as well as the possibility of asking someone that has been with me for 8 years to please leave.
    If you have any word suggestions, words with hope, please pass them on…..
    Thank you for the inspiration, this is just what these two need!

    LisaLu~ Sorry that you are having to deal with this.. Sometimes I swear there is a dark hole that just sucks us in, and sanity flies out the window. Mutual respect in the work place is a must . It almost always come down to "someone" not feeling honored. As a boss you may need to "up your game" and give to each of them what they aren’t giving to one another….Build them up to each other, pointing out their unique attributes that they each bring to the company~ I use to work as a office manager, I have to tell you, I don’t miss it.  Here is my word list for you:
  16. suzy says:

    Great story Rene’, This one reminded me of a few years back when I was working with some really great people,who I really loved but wasn’t always sure how they felt about me. On my birthday everyone wrote a note and placed it in a tin teacup with a lid. I unwrapped each one and the sweetest things were written.Also, at the same place at the end of the season , one girl who I had worked closely with ,gave me a card that blew me away.She expressed how much she enjoyed working with me and what an amazing and talented person I was. I have always been lacking in self confidence, so you can imagine how important those words were to me.Anytime I feel blue , I reread those notes and they sooth my heart.I try to make a point to compliment people and find something good in everyone.If you look close enough it is there.Sometimes a small act of kindness makes a big impact on someone’s life. Love to all, Suzy (Texas)

  17. LisaLu says:

    Thank you for your understanding. You hit it right on the mark! I’ll get to work on this right away! Thanks again sister!

  18. Brenda says:

    This was a wonderful blog and wish I had read it earlier this week as the Sunday School lesson I taught this week was from James 3. James talked about the power of our tongues. There were so many wonderful examples that I could have used. God’s wisdom in the use of our words is very important and more and more I see how important it is to "Think first, Speak last".

  19. Monicarose says:

    What a great idea for a farmgirl meet up! Thanks for the powerful blog and idea for our monthly meetup project..We’ll do that project in Oct. Thank you! Thank You!

  20. Toni Myers says:

    STICKS & STONES CAN BREAK YOUR BONES, BUT NAMES CAN NEVER HURT ME………was ‘one’ of my Mother’s favorite quotes, BUT HOW UNTRUE IT WAS & IS !!!
    I received a ‘lot’ of NEGATIVE words when I was a child from unkind school mates, & even my mother at times, but I THANK GOD, HE taught me ‘my SELF WORTH’ is in HIM, AND WHO I AM AS HIS CHILD.
    But i also know, what Scripture says about KIND words to others, & that to ‘have a friend, we must be one’, HOW TRUE.

    GOD has given me all the self confidence I didn’t have as a child, and has used my life to reach out to others, which has GREATLY BLESSED ME !!! LOVE, ‘GOD’S KIND’ of Love, and FRIENDSHIP ARE 2 OF HIS BEST GIFTS to us.
    Thank you Renee, for your ‘brilliant’ ‘BLOG site’ !!!
    toni ;o)

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