Categories
Reflections

I Lost Baby Jesus: An Authentic Account Of Christmas

Oh my goodness, guys – I lost baby Jesus! I am sharing the story because I made it a goal to be authentic about how Christmas really goes in my house. This is a paragraph I wrote earlier this season:

“I want to refrain from chasing idyllic moments this year. I resolve to enjoy real ones – moments of joyful imperfection, and to encourage you to feel better about yours.”

Mama Lava in An Illusion of Joy or an Infusion of Joy? Part 1

If you read last week’s post containing the 9 Traditions Which have Characterized Our Christian Christmas, you know how important it is, in my house, that Jesus not show up in the Nativity set until Christmas morning.

It was my oldest daughter who exclaimed to my grandkids, “Oh, I bet baby Jesus was born last night! Should we go look by Joseph and Mary?” I half-heard the commotion, but I was busy in the kitchen. I didn’t fully comprehend what was happening until they all came in and my daughter asked, “Mima (pronounced Mee-Maw), do you know when baby Jesus might be appearing in the nativity set?” Her eyes said “uh-oh” as her lips silently formed the words “I’m sorry” from behind the kids.

Nativity sans baby Jesus: 9 Traditions Which have Characterized Our Christian Christmas
Baby Jesus and His manger should have shown up in our Nativity set on Christmas morning!

I said something hastily about how we’d have to check back in there later, and I scanned my brain for the memory of where I’d put baby Jesus. I began to panic because I had no idea. I began to hunt in the most likely places. Then I frantically looked in the unlikely places. All the while I played nonchalant for the kids, but I couldn’t find Him!

On top of our bookshelf, we have a plaque of the letters in the word “PRAY”. I looked for baby Jesus behind the sign and knocked it over. The Y is loose and came off. When I tried to catch it, an exposed screw pierced deeply under one of my fingernails. It hurt so much, and I was already very frustrated with myself.

A plaque made of the letters PRAY: I Lost Baby Jesus: An Authentic Account Of Christmas
The PRAY sign on top of our bookshelf.

Not only had I lost baby Jesus, but I was about to ‘lose my Jesus’. This is an expression we use in my house when we lose our cool. If you haven’t read the post entitled How to be More Certain I Won’t Egotistically ‘Lose my Jesus’, it fits perfectly right here. I needed to re-read it in this moment.

Instead, I ran upstairs under the guise of ‘getting a bandage’ to have a good cry. How could I lose baby Jesus when He was supposed to be the star of the show? I found myself apologizing profusely to the grown, sacrificed, and risen Jesus.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to feel sympathy for our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Hebrews 4:15, 16

And you know what? He answered me. He reassured me that He knew I’d lose his baby likeness and He had worked it into His plan. He wanted me to be authentic about it. He didn’t want the kids to think He showed up in some mystical way when they weren’t looking. He wanted me to tell them the story of His birth and explain the reason why I had kept Him out of the nativity set in the first place.

“This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: if our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.”

1 John 3:19, 20

“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”

Deuteronomy 4:9

So, with bandage in place, emotions calmed, and resolve reset, I returned downstairs. I was authentic with my grandkids. They all followed as I returned to my search. I opened an upper cabinet and there it was, the ceramic manger with baby Jesus inside. “I found Him!”, I exclaimed!

Baby Jesus was found by the emergency candles: I Lost Baby Jesus: An Authentic Account Of Christmas
There was baby Jesus, the Light of the World, with the emergency candles. All seemed to be waiting together for their chance to shine!

And then, out of the mouth of my 5-year-old granddaughter, came the words that were dubbed the quote-of-the-day. “Hey, who put Jesus in the cabinet?” I did. That was me.

What an unfortunate quote to remember from Christmas 2021. Or is it? It certainly makes me think. Have I, do I, put Jesus in the cabinet? Are there times when I ‘put Him away until later’ in my day-to-day routine? And then, do I ever forget Him there, out of sight, out of mind?

If / when I do, I want to be as appalled as I felt when I lost Him on Christmas morning. I hope I never allow so many distractions that I forget where I left Him. But I know that if I ever do, all it takes is for me to change the posture of my heart. If I turn towards Him, He will come toward me too.

“Come near to God and he will come near to you…Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”

James 4:8a, 10
Baby Jesus with Mary and Joseph in the Nativity: I Lost Baby Jesus: An Authentic Account Of Christmas
Baby Jesus, found and reunited with Mary and Joseph

As if to punctuate the point of His preciousness to me, my punctured finger throbbed painfully all day and reminded me that Jesus was born to die a torturous death, of which a punctured hand was just a part. He did that for me.

Our Christmas was truly wonderful, but the authentic account includes flaws. I lost baby Jesus, among other things. But thankfully, Jesus does not require perfection. He often is most poignant in our failures. How did your celebration go? Do you have any lesson-learned moments you’d like to share? I’d sure love to hear them!

Categories
Reflections

The One Thing Jesus Wants for His Birthday is Yours to Give if You Will

“WHAT CAN I GIVE HIM”

What can I give Him
As small as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I’d give Him a lamb.
If I were a wise man
I’d do my part.
I know what I’ll give Him,
I’ll give Him my heart.

What can I give Him
To show Him my love?
The stars smile on Him
And twinkle above.
They sing me a song
That shines in the dark.
I know what I’ll give Him,
I’ll give Him my heart.

I know what I’ll give Him,
I’ll give Him my heart.

Lyrics: Christina Rosetti, Cathy Gehr

Merry Christmas: The one thing Jesus wants for His birthday is yours to give if you will
My heart is His…
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Recommendations

Six Simple and Fun Christmas Games to Try at your Gatherings This Year

We are in full-swing holiday mode at our house. How about you? Are you having a large family get-together or are you looking forward to a more intimate celebration this season?

In Part 2 of An Illusion of Joy or an Infusion of Joy?, I said I’d get back to you with some ideas to pull everybody in without adding more stress to your schedule. The pressure of the promise has stuck with me and I’m here to make good on it with six simple and fun Christmas games to try at your gatherings this year.

Silly games bring laughter and make for merry memories. With just a small bit of preparation, these games have gone over huge for me. Most of them are available on the internet, but here you have them in one spot, tried and true and highly recommended.

Paper plate overhead draw

What you need: Pens and cheap paper plates (1 of each per participant. They don’t have to be cheap plates, but since they aren’t holding food, they can be!)

How to play: Each person puts the plate on their head. You lead them through drawing something simple. The plate stays on their heads until the end. We most recently did a snowman. It went something like this. I said:
“Your snowman is made of 3 circles.” I paused while they drew 3 circles on the plate, on top of their heads. Then I continued, pausing between each instruction.
“There is a top-hat on his head”.
“He has 3 buttons down the middle circle.”
“He has 2 eyes.”
“He has 2 stick-like arms.”
“He has a carrot nose.”
“He has 3 fingers at the end of his left arm.”
“He has a scarf around his neck.”
“He has 4 fingers at the end of his right arm.”
“He has a crooked smile.”
“There is holly on his hat.”
The jumping around is intentional. It is difficult to re-find a place when you cannot see it. That is the fun. When your instructions are done, everyone gets to take their plate off their head and see their masterpiece. Pass the plates around and have everyone vote on the best, the most impressionistic, the most realistic face, or whatever categories you want to include.

Behind the back paper rip

What you need: One piece of paper per person

How to play: Each person stands holding a piece of paper behind their back. The instructions are simply to keep the paper behind their back and rip it into a Christmas tree. You may want to set a timer for added pressure, but it isn’t necessary. It is harder than it seems. (You may, or may not, want to add the caveat that folding the paper and ripping symmetrically, which makes it significantly easier, is not allowed.) At the end, have everyone show their masterpiece and take votes on best, most unique, smallest, etc.

Christmas Cell-fie

What you need: One copy of the Item List for each participant. (Click the picture below for a ‘copy & paste’ printable version of the Item List. Feel free to change it up to suit your group!)

Person holding a phone with bokeh lights in the background: Some Fun Christmas Games to Try at your Get-Together this Year
(Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com)
What’s in your phone?

How to play: This is a Scavenger hunt each person conducts in their phone. The list assigns points per item and participants tally their score for whatever they can find. Examples might be ‘a contact named Mary’, or ‘a Christmas song ring tone’. Whoever has the most points is the winner. You can decide whether to make it a timed exercise or not, depending on the savvy of the crowd you have. You can also pick a few items and require the winner ‘show and tell’ to prove their win.

Snowball Toss

What you need: A bag or two of marshmallows

How to play: Divide up into pairs and have partners stand across from each other. This is run just like a water balloon toss, but when one partner tosses a marshmallow, the other must catch it in his/her mouth. We have done this many ways:
~ Large marshmallows are worth 2 points and small ones worth 1 point. Partners strategize how they can reach 14 points the quickest. (Go for small and easy, or risk the harder catch for a chance to earn more quickly?) The team with 14 points in the shortest amount of time wins.
~ Set a timer for 30 seconds and the team with the most overall catches in the allotted time is the winner.
~ Start with the partners close to each other for the first toss. Each team who makes the catch takes a step back while those who do not sit down. Each successful catch requires a step back, enlarging the distance between teammates. The last team standing wins.

The Left / Right Game

This is one of my favorites. There are two versions here. The first one is short, sweet and secular. It is good for an office party, or for a gathering where religious content is not allowed. But I prefer the Nativity version, which is the second picture. It is a fantastic way to share the Christmas story with everyone at your gathering. (Click on the pictures below for copy & paste printable versions).

The Short and Secular Left / Right Game story:
The Short and Secular Version of the Left / Right Christmas Game
The Nativity Story for the Left / Right Game: Some Fun Christmas Games to Try at your Get-Together this Year
The Nativity Version of the Left / Right Christmas Game

What you need: At least 1 wrapped gift. I would suggest 1 gift per 5 participants. It does not have to be expensive.

How to play: Everyone sits in a circle, close enough to pass the gifts. You read the story. Every time you say the words “Right” or “Left”, the present(s) get passed to the person to the “Right” or “Left” of whoever is in possession. When the story ends, the person or people holding the gift(s) wins it.

This can be a fun way to do a gift exchange. We had a party where everyone brought a Christmas mug. Everyone carried the one they’d brought to the circle and left with the one they were holding at the end of the story.

Reindeer Ring-Toss

What you need: Antler headbands, rings, Rudolph noses (optional)

This one might take a bit of preparation if you don’t have Reindeer Antlers on hand. I found mine at Party City for $1. If you have a crafty teen in your life, I’m sure they could rig some up for you. Some people can work wonders with pipe cleaners and others can make anything with duct tape!

How to play: I have 2 pairs of reindeer antlers, so we play this game with 2 teams. Each team picks one of their members to be the reindeer, who wears the antlers and stands at least 5 feet from the rest of the team. Their teammates take turns trying to toss rings onto the antlers. The team with the most wins. (The reindeer is ABSOLUTELY allowed to duck and dive to try to catch the rings!)

Each participant can make their own ring by cutting the middle out of the plate they used in game 1 (Paper Plate Overhead Draw). Or the rings can be made in advance with pipe cleaners. I upped the ante this year by purchasing blinking Rudolph noses from the dollar store and using glow sticks as rings. We turned out the lights and played by the Christmas tree.

Reindeer Ring Toss Winners: Some Fun Christmas Games to Try at your Get-Together this Year
Winners!

Our family has been doing Christmas game night for several years now. My husband and I purchase an array of small denomination gift cards as prizes and organize the games. This is our Christmas gift to everyone. It is low stress, and we avoid the mall and the dreaded pressure of shopping for perfect presents all around.

Everybody always shows up, and with 5 adult kids and their significant others, all with jobs and some living hours away, that says something. We enjoy the experience of playing together. In fact, we held this year’s gathering a couple weeks ago because it was the only night on the calendar everyone could make it and no one wanted to be left out. It is one of our favorite nights of the year!

These games I have listed are our favorites. We also play a Christmas version of Bingo, do word games, relays, Family Feud, and others. The competition is surpassed only by laughter and our face muscles are always sore the next day from smiling so hard.

Christmas Bingo: Some Fun Christmas Games to Try at your Get-Together this Year
Christmas Bingo with Red and Green M&M Markers.

My parents recently had a family party and we played games there too. Some of our winnings were translated to a dollar amount, which will be donated to charity in our names. I thought that was a great idea!

What do you think? Will you introduce any of these six simple and fun Christmas games to try at your gatherings this year? Do you have any other favorites you’d like to share?

Categories
Reflections

Two Lessons on First Impressions Too Delightful Not to Share

When you think of making a good first impression, do your thoughts turn to how you can be attractive to someone you meet for the first time? I googled “first impressions” and what I found was mostly advice on how to make others like you immediately. The emphasis is on you. You make the impression on someone else.

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

Will Rogers

But what about the other side of it? What about the impressions you first make of other people? Is the responsibility to get it right, to think well of someone, on you or on them? I hadn’t really thought about it until I sat down to write this post.

In full disclosure, this was intended to be a ‘Recipe and a Story’ post. When I mapped it out, I realized it was too long. So, this will be a two-part deal. Here in Part 1, I want to tell you the story. On Friday, I will post the recipe, which – spoiler alert – is for a mouth-watering, crust-less quiche. You won’t want to miss it! If you don’t already subscribe to the Back Porch, now would be the perfect time to do so.

Lesson One

I had done it – I had stepped out of my comfort zone and volunteered to help with an event. As a young, twenty-something year-old, I was new to the large church and acquainted with only a few people. To sign up and attend a meeting with unfamiliar faces was brave for me. I encountered a group of people much like me. We were all a bit awkward, and I was feeling good about it.

“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”

A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

And then Brooke breezed in. Her personality immediately filled the room. Her smile was huge, and her confidence almost knocked me over. Literally. I turned to see the face that went along with the infectious laughter and tripped over the leg of my chair. I sat down hard. She was beautiful. She was graciously greeting and hugging each of the people with whom I’d just clumsily shaken hands. She put me ill at ease.

I made a first impression of her based on other people I’d known with large personalities. I was used to getting bowled over by them. I assumed I was going to dislike myself around her. I expected to spend much of my time trying to avoid her. But I was wrong. And I learned the first of two lessons on first impressions which would stick with me because of her.

First impressions do not always give people the space to be unique.

Fast forward several months. I got to know Brooke well. She was nothing like the others to whom I’d compared her when we first met. She was inclusive and kind. I adored her. I am, by nature, a co-pilot. I prefer not to be in charge, but I will work really hard to assist whoever is willing to fly the plane. Brooke, with her commanding presence and fun reputation, was the perfect leader for me to follow.

“New friends are like new adventures. You never know what lessons they will teach you.”

Unknown

We teamed up officially to lead a small group of women for a semester and that experience cemented our lifelong friendship. It has been a couple of decades, but just this morning, when I saw her big smile on social media, it made me happy. I have a deep respect and appreciation for her. It is a notably different feeling than I had upon my first impression.

Lesson Two

One morning, the group which Brooke and I led was tasked with providing breakfast for all the small groups of women in the ministry of which we were a part. Brooke pulled me aside and showed me the quiche she’d brought. It was still a bit runny, and she asked if I thought it would benefit from more time in the oven. Thankfully, the church had a full kitchen at our disposal, so I agreed with her idea to cook it longer.

My first impression was that the quiche didn’t appeal to me, and I would avoid it when my turn came for the buffet line. There were plenty of choices and I filled my plate with other things, even though the extra baking time seemed to have caused the eggs to set nicely.

I’m sure my breakfast was good. It was nothing memorable, and I cannot tell you what I ate. But several women around me raved about one dish. Brooke’s quiche. By the time I realized I was missing out on something spectacular, it was gone. My first impression cost me.

“Realize the value of putting down your first impression quickly.”

Charles Webster Hawthorne

The quiche recipe ended up in a cookbook, which our ministry put out as a fundraiser. It became a staple at potlucks and buffet tables for as long as I attended that church. I made it often at home too. Even though it contained spinach, I never had to ask any of my kids twice to eat it. That made it a winner in my book!

My first impression was that the recipe was one to avoid. It didn’t appeal to me. I didn’t think I would enjoy it. I made the same mistake with the quiche as I’d made with Brooke. And I learned my second lesson.

First impressions are at a disadvantage because they do not know what finishing touches are yet to come.

My first impression of the quiche was premature. It wasn’t finished yet. It was not a new concept to me. As a kid, I had a notebook, the cover of which featured the outline of a girl with some tools at her feet. The caption read:

Please be patient, God isn’t finished with me yet.

These two lessons on first impressions were too delightful not to share. The reason they turned delightful was because I was given the chance for reconsideration. But how many times have I lost out because I made first impressions and judged either according to past experiences or without considering the possibilities of the finished product?

The lessons were a gracious gift from God. The friendship with Brooke is something I cherish. And the quiche is simply outstanding. (I can’t wait to share the recipe with you!)

To be honest, there is nothing Brooke could have – or should have – done differently to sweeten my first impression of her. The impression I made was my responsibility. Same with the quiche. In both cases, I made a judgement based on my perception of how things were. And I was wrong.

Orange flowers with a blue background: Two Lessons on First Impressions Too Delightful Not to Share
Photo by Dzenina Lukac on Pexels.com
We don’t want to miss out on something spectacular because we’re blinded by our first impressions.

People obsess about making a good first impression on others. They fuss over their appearance and their manners and such. I want to suggest that we pay as much attention to the first impressions we make of others.

And hopefully the two lessons I have learned are encouraging to you. They prove that a first impression which has gone awry does not have to be the last impression. Isn’t that delightful? We may not get a second chance to make a first impression, but we can look for our first chance to make a second impression.

“I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed this, but first impressions are often entirely wrong.”

Daniel Handler

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

Philippians 1:6
Categories
Reflections

3 Moments When I Felt Your Prayers and Thanked God for You in My Life

Hello to you who make the Back Porch a place I love to be! If you read Three Birthday Cakes, a Turkey, and a Veil, you know my week has been jam packed! It culminated with my daughter’s wedding. Boy was that an event! I felt like I should update you and thank you for the role you all played.

Me hugging my daughter: 3 Moments When I Felt Your Prayers and Thanked God for His People in My Life
The hug after “Her mother and I do”

I know God put it on my heart beforehand to ask you to pray, because He knew what was coming and how much my family would need your petition before the throne room of grace. My week was full of miracles, but, related to my daughter’s wedding, there were 3 specific moments when I felt your prayers and thanked God for you in my life.

Whether or not you enjoy Hallmark-style movies (I do, read 5 Habits to Hone for Relaxing Rest and Satisfying Sleep) you probably know that there is always a crisis just before the last commercial. And then something miraculous (albeit predictable) happens and everything wrong is put to right.

If those are the makings of a good love story, well, my daughter is in the sweet spot. Her wedding story can be made into a movie someday. It had the required elements – last minute disaster, conundrum, and miracle. It started 24 hours before her walk down the aisle.

Last Minute Disaster

The day before the wedding, she woke up with a voice that sounded like an engine trying to rev after sitting idle for much too long. She also had a headache and piercing ear pain. All of that would have been enough, but there was something else. She clearly had pink eye.

It wasn’t just that her eye was pink and goopy and crusty and swollen and looked anything but bridal. It was that she was contagious. We knew because this condition, which thankfully is not Covid, has been making its way through our ranks. She hurried off to the ER to see if there was anything that could be done. She got medications to help with the appearance of sickness, but they could not take it away and she would remain contagious.

She got on the phone and started calling everyone who was expected at the wedding. She told them of her illness and expressed her understanding if they did not want to come. When her voice gave out completely, her fiancé took over the calls. Most people responded somewhere between “I don’t care, I’m still going to dance with you at your wedding” and “I will keep some distance, but I will definitely be there”.

Conundrum

Some people, understandably, decided not to come. One of those was the Maid of Honor. The girls had all planned to get ready at her house. This presented a series of problems to solve, and the time was less than 24 hours from “I do”.

My oldest daughter has been with the bride (my youngest daughter) every step of the way, so, it was not difficult to choose the replacement Maid of Honor. But moving her into that position left an empty bridesmaid spot. My son’s girlfriend, who was to arrive just hours before the wedding, agreed to stand in.

1 of 3 Moments When I Felt Your Prayers and Thanked God for You in My Life

Miracle

The original maid of honor offered her dress and – this is amazing – it fit the new bridesmaid like it had been created for her. It was such a relief because we had no time or talent for alterations. We all shed tears of joy and I thanked God for the prayer warriors who were hard at work! It was one of those real God moments when we realized that this was His plan all along.

The Bridal party posing with the backdrops: 3 Moments When I Felt Your Prayers and Thanked God for His People in My Life
The Bridal Party posing in front of the huge backdrops made by my hubby and the guys.

While the girls were hurriedly recalculating wardrobe details and a place for the bride to prepare with her maids, my husband and the boys were putting the finishing touches on huge, curtained backdrops they had built to help beautify the outdoor space where the ceremony was to be held. It was a side yard of the venue, surrounded by fences in need of repair. Covering them was possible, but tricky.

Conundrum

The support posts required were long and heavy. Nobody was sure exactly how to transport them over the 20 (or so) miles between our garage and the wedding spot. My husband rented a pickup truck, hoping to make it work.

2 of 3 Moments When I Felt Your Prayers and Thanked God for You in My Life

Miracle

It did work! The beams slid in perfectly. The tailgate just closed. It was evident that God knew the exact size of the truck bed my husband would rent and put that measurement into his head when he cut the wood. Some would call that a coincidence; I call it a God moment! He heard your prayers and showed us that He was in the details. We recognized His fingerprints.

Because the wedding was held at a busy venue, we were only able to reserve it a few hours before the wedding. We had many hands helping us transform it into the wonderland my daughter envisioned.

While all of this was in motion, I ran home to pick up the food. Some of it was catered, but the rest was in crockpots and refrigerators at my house. There were canned mandarin oranges for topping the salad, and I thought about opening them at home. But in a rush, I put the cans and the can opener into the box I was carrying and returned to the venue. (I know that seems like random information – but stick with me here.)

Conundrum

Anyone who knows my daughter and her new husband knows they love Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider. It was an especially personal touch to have several bottles on each table for toasting the bride and groom. As we put them out in preparation, I realized we had not brought a bottle opener. I dreaded going from guest to guest, asking if anyone had one on their keychain.

3 of 3 Moments When I Felt Your Prayers and Thanked God for You in My Life

Miracle

I searched the venue’s kitchen, hoping to find a bottle opener which we could use. I stopped mid step, remembering that my can opener is a multi-functional tool. I pulled it from the box, and sure-enough, the top is a bottle opener! I thanked God for His foresight as He directed me to place that can opener into the box just a few hours earlier. I had not even thought about a bottle opener, but you all were praying. God thought of it and made sure I had what was needed.

Bride and groom kissing behind bottles of Martinelli's cider: 3 Moments When I Felt Your Prayers and Thanked God for His People in My Life
A Martinelli’s Toast Moment

The ceremony was delightful. It was performed by the bride and groom’s former youth pastor who had helped them navigate the beginning of their relationship. Yes, they’ve been together since high school! He added just the right amount of humor, personal touches, and Biblical truth. The winter sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and the blue sky complimented the dusty blue hues of the chosen wedding color.

Indoors, the Hawaiian food buffet smelled delicious, but I didn’t eat any. In lieu of a cake, my daughter and her groom opted for a donut wall and cake pops. If you read my introduction post, Donuts for Dinner and 5 More Helpful Little Confessions about my Life, it will not surprise you at all that I skipped the buffet line and happily waited for dessert!

Donuts hanging on pegs: 3 Moments When I Felt Your Prayers and Thanked God for His People in My Life
The Donut Wall

Someone said that nobody can quite get a crowd up and dancing like my daughter and her husband and I saw that firsthand. Siblings, cousins, extended family, toddlers, and friends, all celebrating together and having a great time – it was definitely a blessing for this mama!

There were so many willing and serving hands that we finished both set up and clean up with time to spare. Many hands really do make light work! I finished the evening exhausted, so thankful, and in awe.

Thanks to you all for praying. Thank you to everyone who sent a thought, verse, or sentiment to my daughter and her new husband. I printed them in a card, and they were perfect.

This post has highlighted 3 moments when I felt your prayers and thanked God for you in my life, but honestly, there were many more. It was a day full of miraculous touches and divine interventions. The best part is that, when it was all said and done, it was evident that it went off just as God had planned it. I could feel Him wink as I looked back in humble admiration.

And you were a part of it- my Back Porch support team. I appreciate you all so much! And please, if you need prayer covering, let me know. Not only do I owe you, but it would be my absolute pleasure to serve you in this way.

You all are simply the best!

Categories
Devotions

Wait, What did You Mean by That? The Second Nature of Second Guessing

“Just to clarify…” If I had a dollar for every email I sent with those words, I don’t think I’d have to send them anymore. I’d invest those dollars and retire. I am frequently second guessing my understanding of things. Can you relate?

I have noticed that people seem more distracted and less prepared lately, me included. Those qualities do not make for clearer communication. I frequently want to interject “Wait, what did you mean by that?”

And sometimes, even with our best efforts and preparation, our words land with meanings which are different than we intended. It can be a good thing when someone second guesses their first inclination about what we meant. Written words are especially prone to misinterpretation.

The texting world is a great example. I think emojis are intended to help me understand the spirit with which a message is sent, but still I second guess. Apparently, each emoji has an assigned emotion, but I don’t know what they are. I have to interpret the face and let’s be real, a wink could mean a lot of different things!

I saw something like this the other day. I have recreated it as I remember it.

Font matters: Wait, What did You Mean by That?  The Second Nature of Second Guessing...
Words alone aren’t always enough to convey a message!

When I saw the graphic, I read the two notes to myself in very different voices. It was second nature to me to assume one was a promise and the other a threat. Contemplating this brought to mind two other instances I’ve encountered lately where I second guessed the meaning of a message and its implication.

The first was when someone told me that I seem very content. I smiled and thanked them, because it made me feel good. But then I second guessed their motives. Had that been a compliment or an accusation? What did they mean by that? I am happy with what I have and who I am. But did they mean it to say that I should driving and striving for improvement? I’m still not sure.

The other thing was something Jesus said. And it wasn’t so much a matter of not understanding what He meant. His words are living and active (Hebrews 4:12), meaning they hit differently, depending on the condition of my heart. This is what He said:

“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

Matthew 6:6

If I read these words during my quiet time, with my Bible open and my heart pure, they are sweet, aren’t they? They reassure me that, even when nobody else can see me doing the right thing, God sees. It makes me feel like I don’t need anybody else’s recognition or praise.

But yikes! The words here say that God sees what I do in secret. What if I’m doing something sneaky and naughty? This verse takes on a whole different meaning under those circumstances, doesn’t it? Suddenly, it is anything but reassuring. I feel like a deer in the headlights, second guessing what I think I’m getting away with.

To be honest, I don’t think we can ever get away from misunderstandings entirely. Maybe we all do well to cultivate a second nature of second guessing. But I want to focus mine to be more productive.

Instead of fussing with insecurity and obsessing over what was meant by the little comments people make, I want to use my second guess to give people the benefit of the doubt.

Sometimes, believing the best of someone will literally mean I need to wait and find out what they meant. Other times, it will just be a decision I make in my heart to believe the best of them. After all, God knows the truth and He rewards what nobody else sees. And I never have to second guess His word!

Are you a second guesser? Do words return to your mind with an uncertainty as to what they mean? Or maybe you are characterized by confidence and rarely think twice about things. I guess we all have a second nature inclined one way or the other. What is yours?