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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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July 22, 2009

Washing out my raunchy mouth

"It's hot as HELL out here!"

Yep. That was me bellowing in my driveway as the kids and I set out on yet another 100-plus-degree day in Central Texas.

Among the words that have mindlessly spilled from my mouth in front of my three children, this particular sentence wasn't my classiest moment. And if you know me, you also know that I'm not one for understatement. Rather than ending my sentence with the gentle exclamation point you read above, I instead punctuated my weather report with a four-letter word that can only be described as "lavatorial."

Suffice to say, it isn't fit for print.

Although the Lone Star State does, in fact, sometimes feel as hot as the Underworld, that's still no excuse for my foul-mouthed tirade. All too often this summer, I've found myself using words that would make me blush if I heard them echoed back by my children.

As a family and faith writer, I'd love to tell you that I never swear in front of my kids. That would be a lie. I also would love to report that I always use my words in ways that model for them the hallmarks of Christian living -- gentleness, patience, kindness and the like. But that, too, would be a lie. In fact, it would be such a lie that it would actually reach the caliber of a "damned lie."

It is time for Mommy to wash out her mouth. I decided to learn more about why I swear and how I can break my raunchy blue streak.

Timothy Jay, the author of "Cursing in America," says swearing often results when strong emotions of frustration and anger collide. He's right. Some of my most creatively profane expressions - complex sentence structures that, if diagrammed, would impress an English professor -- have resulted from that very scenario.

An online trip to the Cuss Control Academy, led by anti-swearing guru James O'Conner, also gave me some practical ideas for curbing my crudeness.

Fortunately, today's weather report calls for highs only in the mid-90s. That translates into a different type of forecast for me: lower-than-normal chances of cussing.

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