May 30, 2021

The Power of Our Words Guest Post by Ruth Ann Adams

My nine-month-old grandson delights us with his vocalizations. He is listening, experimenting, enjoying the sounds he makes. As he grows, his early babbles will lead to a world of language and communication that is yet beyond his understanding.

Madeleine L'Engle tells us:

"When the words mean even more than the writer knew they meant, then the writer has been listening. And sometimes when we listen, we are led into places we do not expect, into adventures we do not always understand."

As writers, we know that words have a power beyond themselves. The Gospel of John states: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (1:1, NIV). Jesus is identified as the Word, the ultimate source of truth. God chose to bring the universe into existence through words. The spoken and written words of God possess creative power. Since we are God's children, made in His image, our words also contain creative ability.

When we sit down to write, we begin a journey. Whether we make careful preparations or follow an unknown route, there is a leap of faith involved. What will we create? Where will our journey take us? What obstacles or surprises will there be along the way?

Writers understand what it means to have an uninvited character show up and insist on staying. Or perhaps the main character, or even a minor one, turns rogue and decides that he or she will dictate the story. A non-fiction writer may be plagued with an annoying idea that was not part of the outlined plan.

Of course, the decision is with the writer. Characters can be eliminated or ignored. An idea can be tossed aside. But sometimes we may need to listen.

Madeline L'Engle reminds us that our words mean more than we know. Many times, God has spoken to me through an image, detail, perceptions of a character or glimpse of a thought. This might be a detail such as a character's choice of a butterfly-patterned bedspread, reminding me of the potent image of new life from difficult circumstances. What we say and what we write possess the power to encourage, instruct, inspire and protect. We will not always, perhaps not often, be aware of how our writing impacts others.

Allowing ourselves to listen may lead to unexpected adventures. Some years ago, my husband and one of our daughters planned a surprise trip to England, Scotland and Wales. Touring England, especially the city of London, was the dream of a lifetime. England was all I had hoped for, but I was completely taken off guard by my reaction to Scotland. I fell passionately in love with the rolling green hills, Scottish traditions, music and romance this land had to offer.

Sometimes as writers, we wonder whether the road not taken, the story not told, might have been the best of all. If we listen well, we will take some of these roads. We will be amazed that the side trip is beyond what we imagined. We will listen to creative nudges, to God's heart, and with our words satisfy the hunger in the hearts of others, even if we don't foresee the impact.

Over the next months, my grandson will continue to experiment with sounds. His babbles will turn into words, sentences and conversations. This progression will be a largely unconscious, biological process. Acquiring language skills will thrust him into adventures that he has no concept of now. His vocalizations are more than he knows, and our words as writers are more than we understand.

Ruth Ann Adams is a high school English teacher, pastor’s wife, mother of five and grandma of one.  She has been published in anthologies and magazines. Ruth Ann has a passion to bring God's love and  encouragement to others. Her blog, 5 X Mama, can be found at











  1. Thanks for this post Ruth Ann. One of my grandsons is nine months old and loves to make a lot fo sounds, so I totally get the analogy!

    1. Anonymous4:12 pm GMT-7

      Thank you,Tracy!Nine months is a delightful age!

  2. Hi Ruth Ann! I enjoy your post so much. As a grandfather I can relate to our grandchildren and their experiments with sound. A line in your post I relate with is, "...I fell passionately in love with the rolling green hills, Scottish traditions, music and romance this land had to offer." Scotland is the land of my birth. I have lived in Canada most of my life. The fact remains, however, I still have memories of my first ten years surrounded by the beauty and spirit of Scotland. Thank you for the sensitivity of your words tugging at my heart.

    1. Anonymous4:19 pm GMT-7

      Thank you,Alan!What a wonderful birthplace!Our trip to Scotland was a love at first sight experience
      For weeks afterwards,I played a recording of a Scottish song and experienced again the emotions I felt in Scotland. Thank you do much for sharing your heart response!

  3. This shows there's no place as powerful as home in our lives.

  4. Thanks, Ruth Ann, for encouraging us to listen and not be too swift to dismiss what may be quietly right before us.


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