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Make the Message Clear

15 Sep

I recently read an entire page of cake inscriptions gone wrong Here are some samples:

  • When my mother-in-law ordered a cake for my wedding anniversary, she made a point of instructing the bakery, “That’s Thompson with a ‘p’.” Later, when she went to pick up her order, she noticed that on the box they had written, “Mrs. Phompson.”
  • For my 40th birthday, my husband decided to surprise me with a birthday cake from our local bakery. “In the middle, please print ‘Happy Birthday Nita,'” he instructed them over the phone. “Then, ‘You’re not getting older’ at the top and ‘you’re getting better’ at the bottom.” When he went to pick it up, he discovered that they had decorated the cake with the words exactly as he had said them: “Happy Birthday Nita. You’re not getting older at the top, you’re getting better a the bottom.”
  • We had a “going away” party for a lady… One of the supervisors called a Wal-Mart and ordered a cake. He told them to write: “Best Wishes Suzanne” and underneath that write, “We will miss you.”  As the picture shows, it didn’t quite turn out right.

Apparently, even floral tributes are not safe.

  • My husband is a mortician. He found an odd card on some flowers sent in honor of the deceased. When the sender of the flowers called to place her order, the florist asked what she wanted written on the card. She said, “Write ‘Rest in Peace’ on both sides. And, if you can fit it in, ‘We’ll see you in eternity..” My husband read the card: “Rest in Peace on both sides. And if you can fit it in, we’ll see you in eternity.”

These cakes  and the flowers point out the risk of trusting others to deliver our heart-felt messages. They might get it wrong!

Remember as a child playing the game “Telephone,” a game where children sit in a circle and one child begins to relay a message that must go around the entire circle. The last child reveals the message ~ and sometimes, what the child is so off from the original message that everyone erupts in laughter.

When a message is important, we need to share it ourselves. We need to be sure people “get it.” Nowhere is this more important than when we share the biblical message of the Gospel.

A child explain the gospel to another young friend, in earshot of his mom. He talked with great passion about Jesus’ death and burial, but left out Jesus’ resurrection. “What about when Jesus rose from the grave?” his mom said. The boy turned around and whispered to his mom, “He’ll never believe that, Mom. I’m just going to tell him about heaven.”

That’s the problem with a lot of messages about the scripture. People (sometimes even pastors) leave parts out, believing the plain truth of the Word of God will be too difficult ~ too strange ~ for people to believe. We can’t help it if people misunderstand, but we need to be sure that the messages we share (especially about the Gospel) are not mis-stated! We can’t make people believe, but we must make the message clear.

The Apostle Paul explained the Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4. But he also asked the Colossian church to pray for him so his messages would be clear (Colossians 4:3-4). He had the facts straight, but he wanted the wisdom to communicate through the Holy Spirit to the hearts of men and women so they would understand.

That should be our prayer as well:  “Lord, help me make the message of the Gospel clear.”

Note: All of the cake and floral inscriptions appeared on “Cake Talk,” Snopes.com:  (1) http://www.readersdigest.ca, 1997; (2) http://www.readersdigest, ca, 1992; (3) Email to Snopes.com, Oct. 2007; (4) email to Snopes.com, 2007

– Dawn

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Those Pesky Idiosyncracies

27 May

It’s been said that married men should forget their mistakes. There’s no sense in two people remembering the same thing.

It’s also been said that marriage is a relationship where one person is always right … and the other is the husband.

Those jokes are funny, but not too kind to the menfolk!

Unfortunately, marriage is a sea of challenges that requires graceful navigation!

I was recently encouraged by a book about this complicated relationship. Elaine W. Miller wrote We All Married Idiots, a book that examines three things we will never change about our marriages, and then she offers ten things we can all work on to improve the husband-wife relationship. (1)

In one chapter, Elaine talks about learning to live with each other’s idiosyncrasies.

“Since living with idiosyncrasies is a part of marriage,” she wrote, “You might as well treasure those peculiar habits. One day you might miss them. I know I did.”

Elaine’s husband Dan was a tapper. He tapped on things. “I think in his mind the whole world is his trumpet as his fingers play a perpetual tune,” she said. “He taps the table when he eats, the steering wheel when he drives, the newspaper when he reads, the pulpit when he preaches, and my shoulders when he puts his arms around me.”

The tapping got hard to take. “If I let it,” Elaine said, “his tapping gets on my nerves. Many times I have said in an irritated voice, ‘Would you please stop tapping!’

“However,” she added, “when he was hospitalized and I was uncertain if he would live through the night, those words weren’t on my lips. I stared at his silent fingers, held his motionless hands, and pleaded, ‘Please, God, let me feel his fingers tapping.’

“Funny how our perspective on idiosyncrasies changes under different circumstances,” she said. “Many will admit the very thing that bugs them is what first enticed them to their beloved, and what they will miss the most when their loved one is gone.”

I remember reading about a woman who hated her husband’s snoring. She complained and poked him through the night. But after the man died, she told a friend she’d “give anything to hear that man snore again!”

Those pesky idiosyncrasies are simply more proof that we are all unique, and the truth is, every marriage has them. It is our attitude that makes the difference. Elaine explains that love is kind (according to 1 Corinthians 13:4). And what does that look like? “Being kind to your mate means overlooking those oddities that sometimes drive you crazy. The next time your love does the idiotic, remember this ~ you married an idiot and so did your spouse.” (2)

Elaine points out that the words “idiosyncrasy” and “idiot” both come from the same Greek root word (idio) meaning “common man.” In other words, we all do things that are a bit eccentric or peculiar from time to time.

As I thought about this, I realized how many times simple kindness and grace ~ and especially loving words ~ have acted like soothing oil in my own marriage. (Sometimes I can’t believe that my husband has put up with me this long!)

Rather than focusing on each other’s quirks, we’ve chosen to concentrate on what is good, pure, lovely, etc. (see Philippians 4:8). Some of those pesky idiosyncrasies remain, but they aren’t “issues” anymore. We’ve learned to love and accept each other and try to see each other through the eyes of the Redeemer we both love.

When I stop to think that God created me with unique idiosyncrasies ~ and He loves me ~ it encourages me to share the same kind of love with others, especially my spouse.

How about you? When you think about your spouse (or if you’re not married, a boss or a parent or someone else you have a relationship with on a regular basis), is there something that the person does that really bugs you? Could love, acceptance, patience and mega doses of grace ease your frustration?

(1) Elaine W. Miller, We All Married Idiots (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, 2012), p. 7.

(2) ibid, p. 7.

Elaine Miller is a member of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA) and has authored two other books, Splashes of Serenity: Bathtime Reflections for Drained Moms and Splashes of Serenity: Bathtime Reflections for Drained Wives. http://www.splashesofserenity.com.

Spend Holiday Time Together!

5 Dec

This is one of my (Dawn’s) favorite LOL’s in our book, LOL with God … and I remembered it while my husband and I were out to dinner … both using our cell phone calendars to plan our Christmas holiday events.

At a restaurant, a waitress told my brother- and sister-in-law, Tom and Janice, that two days earlier, she was waiting on a table of 10 people. After a short time, the manager asked her why she hadn’t taken their order yet.

“They all have their hands close to their chests, and their heads are bowed,” she said. “They’re praying, and I don’t want to disturb them.”

“No,” the manager said. “Look closer.”

To her surprise, the waitress realized the people weren’t praying; they were all on their cell phones, texting people! (1)

I had to laugh when I saw this Christmas card on a friend’s Facebook page!

That’s almost too true to be funny, isn’t it?

We can be right next to each other during the holidays, and completely miss spending time with each other. We can get so caught up in the activities of the season or in preparations  for big events that we don’t take time for significant, daily communication with those we love  ~ and by that, I mean chatting about more than, “What should we buy Uncle Jake?”

Good communication skills are often overlooked at Christmas when family members feel pressured and busy.

Remember these communication tips:

  1. Listen carefully to what a person is actually saying, not what you think he or she is saying.
  2. Make eye contact. Interaction is more personal and successful when you look into a person’s eyes.
  3. Think a moment before you answer. You’ll never regret something foolish that you didn’t say (Proverbs 18:13). It helps to think so you can give a wise answer (Ecclesiastes 5:2a; Proverbs 15:2, 28).
  4. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Listen to understand, not to judge (Proverbs 17:27). Especially during the holidays with its added stresses, be forgiving, not quarrelsome (Proverbs 13:10; 17:142 Timothy 2:23a)
  5. Respect the person, even if you don’t agree with his or her opinion or perspective.
  6. Build trust by being open and honest (Proverbs 24:26; Ephesians 4:25-27). Admit when you don’t know an answer, but offer to help the person find an answer or solution.
  7. Speak with kindness, gentleness, and love (Proverbs 15:1; 16:24; Philippians 4:5; Ephesians 4:15a).
  8. Voice your appreciation … often (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

Along with practicing good communication, plan some quality time together. Sharing experiences is a gift that keeps giving. It creates warm memories and closer bonds.

Here are some fun Christmas ideas ~ Continue reading

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