What’s in a Word? Actually Quite a Lot
—Grace & Truth Linkup

What we say and what others hear are often two different things.

We stayed with our grandkids this past Monday and Tuesday. I smile when I hear the words that the 3-year-old uses:

  • going barefoot is “tippy-toe”
  • a Kleenex tissue is a “tennis shoe”
  • a mustache is a “stachio”

Why? Because that’s how she hears us saying those words, even though that’s not what we’re saying.

We mimic what we *think* we hear.

It’s cute when kids do it. They’re just learning.

But it’s not so cute when adults get our words wrong. They’re supposed to know better.

Relationship experts often suggest you ask your partner to mirror your words back to you, to see if you’re being heard correctly.

How does that work for you?

When Jeff and I do it, it’s rarely 100% accurate. When we repeat back what we heard, we usually get something wrong.

We may physically hear each other, but our filters get in the way of understanding each other. 

So we have to try again. And sometimes again and again until we finally understand properly.

I’m guessing God does this with us a lot. He tells us something, then waits to see how we interpret his words.

We probably get it wrong the first several times with him too.

But we need not give up. We can listen again. We interpret again. Repeat. Again and again.

God has all the patience in the world to wait on us as we grasp to understand him. We never get it 100% right. 

I wonder if he smiles at our misinterpretations like I smile at my granddaughter’s. . . .

Featured Post

Barb chose “Abide” as her One Word this year. Each month she has been going hard with God after this word and what it means in her life.

This past month, Barb wrote down many different words regarding Abide. Although her post is short, the meaning is deep.

Take a glance at the picture she shares at her blog, and see which words you most connect with as you abide in God.

“ABIDE—A WORD MAP”

Sometimes one word can explode into many.

Is there a word you often misunderstand? Share your thoughts in the comments. Then link up below.


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1. Share 1 or 2 of your most recent CHRISTIAN LIVING posts. (No DIY, crafts, recipes, or inappropriate articles.) All links are randomly sorted.

2. Comment on 1 or 2 other links. Grace & Truth linkup encourages community.   

3. Every host features one entry from the previous week. To be featured, include this button or link back here on your post (mandatory to be featured, but not to participate).

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Grace and Truth_Meet Hosts

We encourage you to follow our hosts on their blogs or social media.

MAREE DEE – Embracing the Unexpected
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

HEATHER HART & VALERIE RIESE – Candidly Christian
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LAUREN SPARKS
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LISA BURGESS – Lisa notes
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Now let’s link up!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


On the Blog—June 2021

Here are brief summaries and links to all the posts in June 2021.

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7 Books I Recommend—June 2021

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”
– Stephen King

Below are 7 books I recommend from what I finished reading in June. 

[See previously recommended books here]

books-i-recommend-june-2021

Nonfiction

1. The Making of Biblical Womanhood
How the Subjugation of Women Became Gospel Truth
by Beth Allison Barr

making-of-biblical-womanhood

Our pride often tells us *we* understand what the Bible means, not only for today’s audience, but also for its original audience. Including understanding women’s roles. But Beth Allison Barr takes us back through history to show us the path that led us here. Maybe our idea of “biblical womanhood” isn’t so biblical after all? I highly recommend this book. I give it 5 stars.

[My book review here of The Making of Biblical Womanhood]

2. Storyworthy
Engage, Teach, Persuade, and Change Your Life through the Power of Storytelling
by Matthew Dicks

storyworthy

This is another 5 star book. Author Matthew Dicks is an award-winning oral storyteller (and an elementary school teacher, a novelist, a wedding DJ, etc.). This book is a fascinating compilation of how Matthew tells true stories from his life to win storytelling competitions. I have zero plans for that. But I I do want to better write and remember my own stories for myself. I picked up lots of great tips here. (I also love the podcast he hosts with his wife Elysha, Speak Up Storytelling, as well as his daily blog.)

How do you remember the stories of your life? Watch Matthew Dicks TED talk here on Homework for Life. He explains how and why he keeps up with his stories. He also explains it in chapter 3 of Storyworthy. I’ve started doing it myself (but not daily).

3. How to Tell Stories to Children
And Everyone Else Too
by Silk Rose West and Joseph Sarosy

how-to-tell-stories-to-children

Not intentionally, this is a second book I read this month on storytelling. But the focus here is totally different from Matthew Dicks’ Storyworthy. How to Tell Stories to Children is about spontaneously telling fiction stories to entertain and engage children in your life. This doesn’t come naturally to me, so I appreciate the encouragement and advice in this book on ways to improve.

[More notes here on How to Tell Stories to Children]

4. Untamed
by Glennon Doyle

untamed

If you like honest and vulnerable memoirs, Glennon Doyle’s books should be on your list. In this one, as in her other books, she explains how she’s choosing to live her life with bravery and authenticity, as a mother, a wife, an activist, a believer, and as just a fellow human being in this world.

5. The Influential Mind
What the Brain Reveals About Our Power to Change Others
by Tali Sharot

influential-mind

Do you wish you could change someone’s mind about an issue you disagree on? Likely we all do. This book authored by a neuroscientist explains why some of our first instinct tactics often fail (such as, just show them the data!) because that’s not how our minds works. Fascinating information here.

6. Divine Echoes
Reconciling Prayer With the Uncontrolling Love of God
by Mark Gregory Karris

divine-echoes

How does God actually work in our world? What is the best way to pray to him? What should we ask him for (and not ask for)? Nobody can answer these questions with complete certainty. The author Mark Karris suggests we may be putting too much responsibility on God in our prayers and not enough on ourselves. This book offers interesting insights I hadn’t considered.

7. The Biggest Bluff
How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win
by Maria Konnikova

the-biggest-bluff

Because my One Word this year is Uncertainty, I was drawn to this book. It’s written by a journalist who took a year to become a professional poker player. She wanted to learn how uncertainty, chance, skill, etc., intersect not only in poker, but also in life. Her journey is interesting, even if you’re like me and know absolutely nothing about poker.

Reading Now

  • Think Again
    The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know
    by Adam M. Grant
  • Kent State
    by Deborah Wiles
  • White Awake
    An Honest Look at What It Means to Be White
    by Daniel Hill
  • We Need to Talk
    How to Have Conversations that Matter
    by Celeste Headlee
  • Noise
    A Flaw in Human Judgment
    by Daniel Kahneman
  • Black Buck
    by Mateo Askaripour
  • The Book of Longings
    by Sue Monk Kidd

What good book are YOU reading this month? Please share in the comments.

My books on Goodreads
More books I recommend

sharing with Modern Mrs. Darcy


Share Four Somethings—June 2021

Here are my “four somethings” from June. I’m sharing at Heather’s.

Plus my One Second video from last month . . . 

[click here if you can’t see the video]

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Something Loved

  • CALCULATOR APP 

This may seem silly, but I love this free calculator app, Numerical. I downloaded it a couple years ago. I highly prefer it over the standard calculator app that comes pre-loaded with the iPhone.

numerical-app

Why is Numerical better? It does lots of things. But my favorite thing is it shows the history of your whole transaction, i.e., you can catch your typos.

If you’re adding a long string of numbers, with this calculator you can actually SEE that whole string of numbers as you go, instead of just the most recent number. If you make a mistake, you can easily find and correct it instead of having to start all over. 

Even though we use online banking, I can’t sleep at night unless my checkbook is balanced by hand every month. (I’m not the only one left, right?) So having a good phone calculator makes the job easier. 

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Something Read 

  • ALL THE BOOK OPTIONS

This is more about HOW I prefer to read instead of WHAT I’m reading. It’s how I’m currently reading The Book of Longings, the latest novel from Sue Monk Kidd.

Thanks to public libraries, my very favorite way to experience books is to have all three options for the same book at the same time:

1) the hardcopy when I want to see and turn pages,
2) the ebook version on my kindle when I want to read in bed or on my phone  
3) the audio version when I’m driving or doing chores around the house

book options

And all of these three are free with a library card (aren’t public libraries the best?!!).

It’s not always easy to stay synced when I switch back and forth, but it usually only takes a second. It’s worth that.

Rarely does this line up at the same time with one book. But for this book, I’m enjoying that I have all three options together for two weeks.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Something Treasured

  • AN INSIDE VIEW

Thanks to covid vaccines, we’ve been getting inside views again: of restaurants, church services, public events, etc.

It’s been refreshing to meet friends again for a meal without having to choose only places with outside patios and decent weather; to sing beside fellow believers and take communion together inside our church building; to visit inside people’s homes again without wearing masks.

May I never take these things for granted.

And may the rest of the world find themselves in this place sooner rather than later. My heart and prayers go out to those countries who are still in the fight of their lives.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Something Ahead

  • ANOTHER SHOT AT A SHOT

Since our third grandchild arrived on May 4, we’ve only had one weekend so far with all three grandkids in the same place at the same time. We did take a photo of Jeff and I with all the grandkids together that weekend, but as is typical, I really hated the way my hair looked that day (it’s an ongoing problem, I confess), along with other things I don’t like about my photos.

I’m trying to squash my pride so I’ll show you (but I’m also showing you because I think the grandkids are so adorable!):

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I’m hoping they’ll all be here together this weekend for July 4, mainly because I want to have them all together!, but also (vainly) so we can take a new photo. (Even though I probably won’t like my hair that day either; how frivolous to be concerned about hair this summer instead of covid.)


previous Share Four Somethings

What’s a highlight from your June? What are you looking forward to in July? Share in the comments.


Can You Tell a Good Story?
—Grace & Truth Linkup

It’s Friday night and I’m sitting on the floor in our bathroom, towel at the ready. I’ve run the warm bathwater for my 3-year-old granddaughter.

We’ve been playing hard all day at Granna’s house. She needs a bath. I’ve already put clean sheets on her little bed.

But she’s balking. She doesn’t want to take a bath.

Now what do I do?

I pull out the bag of mermaids.

When my husband Jeff wants to quiet the grandkids after a long day, he sits with them on the living room floor. He pulls out the plastic quart baggie with a dozen or so plastic mermaids. We’ve had them since our own daughters were girls.

And he tells stories.

He’s good at it. He makes them up on the fly. Stories about the mermaids eating on the island; mermaids racing to Spot (the dog); mermaids resting on the rocks.

But me? I’ve never been good at making up stories. I’ve tried a time or two. The last time I had our granddaughter in the car and she was crying about her car seat, I started in on a story. . . Once upon a time there was a girl in the car. . . . 

It went nowhere.

Maybe my timing was off.

The mermaid stories work for Jeff, but I don’t expect them to work for me.

But this night in the bathroom, I take one mermaid out of the bag and SPLASH her into the tub.

And I begin a tale.

Before long, all the mermaids are living their dream story in our bathtub. And so is my granddaughter.

This time I’d hit storytelling gold. Thank you, plastic mermaids.

Everybody got clean that night.

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A New Book About Storytelling

So now I’m inspired to try telling more stories.

But since I lack natural abilities to make up stories, I grabbed a review copy of this book as soon as I saw it: How to Tell Stories to Children by Silke Rose West and Joseph Sarosy.

How to Tell Stories to Children

My answer to most any problem is first to read a book about it, yes?

I have now finished this book and while I still don’t think creating spontaneous stories will become my specialty (I’d much rather pull out a storybook and read together!), I feel a little more prepared now.

Here are a few things I learned, in case you need to better your own storytelling skills, too, whether for your kids, grandkids, or friends.

“Everyone is a good storyteller, and no expert can replace the intimacy of a story crafted from within a child’s own environment by an attentive and loving parent or caregiver. Why? Because storytelling is about the relationship, not the narrative.”

“The first step is to find a common object from within your child’s environment. This might be a toy, but it could also be a place you visited, or a butterfly….Whatever it is, make sure it’s something that caught your attention too. You are an important part of the story, and we don’t want to lose you.”

The key to simple, effortless storytelling is to remain present and let the story flow. In other words, we’re not looking for a script, a beginning or an end.”

“The goal is not a perfect story. The goal is connection. Being a good storyteller, therefore, is mostly about showing up and paying attention.”

The authors give lots of practical tips and share lots of examples of their own stories. It’s a fun book that will inspire you to tell more stories, too, with or without mermaids. 

Featured Post

Because of my feeling incompetent at telling stories, I love what Jennifer shares in this week’s featured post about three things we need, one of them being: a feeling of competence. Ta-daaaah!

Jennifer reminds us through the story of Jesus with the woman at the well that God meets our need for (1) worthiness, (2) belonging, AND (3) competence.

Read all of Jennifer’s inspiring words here, then add your own link below.

THREE OF OUR GREATEST NEEDS
by Jennifer Smith

Thanks for sharing, Jennifer! Here’s a button for your blog.

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Are you good at making up stories? What’s your secret? Do tell! Share in the comments.

My thanks to NetGalley + Houghton Mifflin
Harcourt for the review copy of this book


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1. Share 1 or 2 of your most recent CHRISTIAN LIVING posts. (No DIY, crafts, recipes, or inappropriate articles.) All links are randomly sorted.

2. Comment on 1 or 2 other links. Grace & Truth linkup encourages community.   

3. Every host features one entry from the previous week. To be featured, include this button or link back here on your post (mandatory to be featured, but not to participate).

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Grace and Truth_Meet Hosts

We encourage you to follow our hosts on their blogs or social media.

MAREE DEE – Embracing the Unexpected
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

HEATHER HART & VALERIE RIESE – Candidly Christian
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LAUREN SPARKS
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LISA BURGESS – Lisa notes
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Now Let’s Link Up!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

When Tragedy Feels Personal – 8 Children from Girls Home Die in Alabama Accident
+ Frame the Moment to Last

I didn’t hear the news until Sunday morning. My daughter Jenna sent me a text about the wreck.

On Saturday, June 19, 2021, around 2:30 p.m., a vanload of young girls, their ranch director Candice Gulley, Candice’s two children and two nephews are returning home.

Only two hours to go.

Their special beach vacation to Gulf Shores is over, but their summer is just beginning.

Tropical Storm Claudette is dumping torrential rain onto Interstate 65 as they travel. When they are about 35 miles south of Montgomery, vehicles begin to hydroplane. 

In a moment’s time, seventeen vehicles collide.

One of these vehicles is the van with the young girls from the Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch.

And in another moment, the van catches fire, as would six of the other vehicles that afternoon.

A bystander quickly pulls the driver, Candice, out of the van, but the fire spreads too quickly to save the others.

Eight children die in the van that day.

In a separate vehicle, 29-year-old Cody Fox and his 9-month-old daughter also die.

It’s too shocking to fathom.

Read more here.

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I was at the ranch myself six years ago. I remember exuberant life among the girls who lived there. The extraordinary caring of the staff who lived with them.

It’s made this tragedy even more horrific to me.

So I’m reposting below this article I wrote in 2015 after my visit to the Girls Ranch.

It was a good day I’ll never forget. . .

. . .in contrast to June 19, 2021, a horrible, horrible day that many will never forget.

May those who remember be surrounded with God’s love through his people for years to come.

We’re asked to please pray for their ranch family. And for ranch director Candice Gulley who remains in serious but stable condition in the hospital after losing her own 4-year-old and 16-year-old children in the accident.

If you’d like to contribute toward funeral expenses, medical costs for the injured, and counseling for those affectected, here’s the GoFundMe link for the Tallapoosa County Girls Ranch.

tallapoosa-county-girls-ranch-gofundme

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FRAME THE MOMENT TO LAST

[originally posted May 11, 2015]

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Fourteen young ladies come out of the two houses.

They live there temporarily, when they’re not living with a relative or in a foster home or as a runaway. In these houses they are fed, clothed, cared for.

And on one special day in November, they are about to be framed.

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It is Jenna’s idea. These girls aren’t a project to her or a ministry opportunity.

They are real people; they are young friends.  

So on this Tuesday a professional makeup artist shows up at the ranch to give free makeovers. A stylist to give new hairdos. And a photographer to make it permanent.

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As the mother of the photographer, I get invited to tag along with Jenna and take pictures, too. I knew she’d developed her own friendships with the girls, including one in particular, and I am excited to meet them all myself.

Like most teenage girls, they giggle through the make-up and hair sessions. They gawk at the changes in each other. They haggle over who will wear what, and the stash of extra clothes brought in gets divvied up.

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Then it is time for the pictures.

One by one—and then sometimes two by three or four—they strike a pose and flash their best smiles or serious looks for the camera.

Then in no time, the afternoon is over and we pack up our gear, hug goodbye, and drive away.

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But it’s not over.

Later that weekend, as Jenna begins editing, she calls me with excitement. The pictures are turning out great. The girls show up as gorgeous as they are.

Despite years of pain, of abuse, or of neglect, their beauty and hope still rise to the top. It looks different on each girl, but it’s definitely there on each of them.

The final step comes a few weeks later in the mailbox. I open the package of fresh photos—printed 5x7s of faith, that someone cares, and that someone is worth caring for.

Jenna matches each picture with a frame. Then carefully wraps and ribbons and later gifts these photos and more to the girls to be amazed at their own beauty.

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What will each girl do with her photos?

Some will probably go to love interests, some traded among each other, and some probably tucked away in the next packing box as they move along to the next home.

But I pray that the memory of that day in November travels with them wherever they go. That when they see their pictures, they remember that they are loved, that they are valuable, that their life is framed with purpose.

In a frame, things look more official. More real. More permanent. This is who I am; can you see me?

Life never stays static. But catch a fleeting moment at the right time, and it brings more than pleasure for the day; it carries stability and confidence into tomorrow.

Take the shot, freeze the moment, and capture a memory. A memory of a day getting made up, dressed up, and photographed. There may have been tears before (and bruises—I saw some) and tears after, but on that day, I saw smiles and heard laughter.

That was caught in the photo, in the frame, and hopefully in the heart.

A single day can last much longer if it’s framed properly.

In the daily lives of these teenage girls, already marked by impermanence and uncertainty, moments need to be captured forever.

On that day, we celebrated the moment. The girl. The life.

I hope they will remember. I know I will.


When we read of tragic car accidents or when children die, we all take it personally for various reasons. Share your thoughts in the comments.