'Words to Live By': Keeping Your Mind And Spirit Healthy and Happy

“He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught” (Isaiah 50:4).

It’s not every day that you find out just how wise your friend truly is. I had the privilege of that discovery recently when I received my friend Linda J. Gilden and her co-author Dalene V. Parker’s new book Words to Live By: 52 Ordinary Words That Lead to an Extraordinary Life.

This is really a different kind of devotional. I have a weekly bible study I attend with ladies in my neighborhood, but this is a real added bonus. Don’t be afraid to add this to your spiritual disciplines—you’ll be glad you did. It is an easy read, with gentle, thought-provoking concepts to simmer in the back of your mind and let trickle into your heart throughout the week.

As the title suggests, the authors take ordinary words such as “listen,” “think,” “change,” and “stop” and give you a new way to see the deeper meaning. In their conversational style, the authors illustrate how you can apply these words, not in your vocabulary, but in your daily relationships.

For example, “listen” is the first word:

Communication is important but we sometimes forget it involves two elements—speaking and listening. We become so focused on what we want to say that we don’t listen for a reply. Jesus challenged people to really listen to those around them, to Him, and to God.

This week observe the listening styles of those you are communicating with. Look at your own listening styles as well. Be intentional about being a good listener. Recognize the gift of listening is important to developing close relationships and meeting the needs of others.

Of course, the authors go on to add more details that fully immerse you in a new perspective on the depth of the language we use throughout our day with little thought. Just like so many of the ordinary blessings in life are overlooked and taken for granted, so too are these simple words. Words to Live By pulls the plain wrapper off these ordinary words to reveal the richness hidden within.

What makes this book a treasure is that it gives you a stopping point. We all know that to truly enjoy life, we have to “slow down and smell the roses.” By using this book as a once a week reading, over the course of a year it will give you a chance to stop and savor some of the simplest concepts overlooked in our busy lives.

I wish someone had given me this book when I was a young mother. I often lamented the fact that the “older women” of the church, who were supposed to instruct us younger women, were nowhere to be found. This book doesn’t take the place of a mentor, but it shares a mentor’s wisdom.

“The older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things—that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children” (Titus 2:3-4 NKJV).

In this book, young and old, men and women, will find a wealth of wisdom and insight. I’ve personally made it part of my early Sunday mornings.