Listen before you answer. – Proverbs 18:13 GNT

Modern technology is wonderful. I can now keep in touch with my kids, who live in various states, and my brother in Alabama on a daily basis. I can send and receive pictures, memes, messages. I can encourage, remind, inform.

What I can’t do is deal with a frustrating software function on my phone that changes my words while I’m typing. It’s called “autocorrect.”

While its purpose is to correct common spelling and typing errors and save time, it doesn’t always save time and it doesn’t always correct correctly. Hence I’ve dubbed it “autoINcorrect” because a good deal of the time it changes the word to one I didn’t intend.

I admit, my fat fingers fly on the tiny keyboard and often hit the wrong key, but I’m perfectly capable of noticing and correcting my own mistakes. After all, I’m a writer, editor, and former English teacher. I know my grammar – so well one of my editing clients calls me a “Grammar Nazi.”

So I’m more than irked when Otto Korreck (another name I dubbed the irritating function) changes my words and hence the meaning. How dare it! I know what I intend to say. Otto doesn’t. Otto only thinks he knows what I intend to say.

One day while retyping and resending a message – and grumbling about the time wasted correcting Otto’s mistake – it hit me: I can be like Otto.

I, too, can misinterpret what another person is saying because I assume what the other person means. I don’t listen. I’ve tuned them out because my mind is reviewing the story I want to tell (related to what the other person is saying, of course) when he pauses long enough for me to jump in with my two cents.

I act like I’m listening. I nod, murmur appropriate phrases to show my (fake) sympathy or understanding. But my mind is all but truly listening.

Listening is different than hearing.

Hearing happens. We hear sounds all the time – the dishwasher running, a neighborhood dog barking (or cow mooing), traffic on the road, wind chimes. Some we block out; some we stop and listen to.

Listening is a conscious act that you choose to do. It requires concentration and time to allow your mind to process the sounds.

My mother was good at hearing but not truly listening. It irked me to no end because I just needed someone to listen (and commiserate). I didn’t need the preaching and teaching session she launched into when I was done. I wondered if she really heard and understood what I was saying. She was too busy preparing her message to really listen to me.

Do I do the same? Do I only hear other people and not truly listen to them?

Listening involves the heart. Listening involves shutting off my mind to the stories and things I want to say. Listening means putting the other person’s needs first. After all, it isn’t about me.

The person probably doesn’t need me trying to fix her problem. She just wants to vent. She just needs someone to listen with compassion and sympathy, someone to squeeze her hand or give her a hug.

In his epistle, James tells us to be quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19).

The Amplified version expands the meaning and tells us to be careful, thoughtful listeners, and when we do speak, to carefully choose our words so they show we’re reflecting on what was said (and thus listening).

Don’t be another Otto Korreck. Listen with your heart.

Remind me, Lord, that I have two ears and one mouth. Help me to use them to minister to others. Amen.

Read and meditate on Philippians 2:3–4.

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Let Me Count the Ways



The greatest of these is love. – ­1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways . . .” begins one of the most famous sonnets by nineteenth-century British poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

“Wait a minute!” you say. “Valentine’s Day is over. Shouldn’t you have written about love  last week?”

Yes. And no.

You see, love isn’t something to celebrate only on Valentine’s Day, wedding days, or anniversaries. Love should be celebrated every day, every minute, every second of the year—with every breath you take.

“What a romantic!” you think—and you’re right.

Romantic love, though, is only one kind of love. The kind of love I’d like to address today is the everyday kind of love. The kind we miss if we aren’t paying attention.

There are more ways of showing love than sending flowers, giving chocolate, murmuring sweet nothings, and buying overly expensive cards because we can’t put into words the feelings that are deep in our hearts.

Here are four simple ways to show someone you love them. Since I love acrostics, I’ll use the word T-A-L-K.

2017-02-16-11-43-37First, take time for them. No matter how busy you are, stop what you’re doing and give them your attention. Now, I know we need to set boundaries, but sometimes we set those boundaries too close, too tight, and push away the very ones we want to draw near.

Too often during the time I spent with my children when they were little, I was thinking of what I should have been doing, what I was going to do next, etc. I wasn’t giving them my undivided attention. I don’t make that mistake with my grandchildren. When they come, it’s Grandma Time and out come the games and the teapot.

Look up Psalm 90:12 and reflect on TIME.

great_job_post_it-resized-600The second way is to show appreciation. Notice the little things they do. Say thank you. I know how unappreciated I feel when I make dinner and someone has to find something wrong with it (too hot, too cold, too bland, too spicy, or “different”).

“Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them” (Ephesians 4:29).

Remember the words of Mother Teresa: “There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.”

listen-with-your-heart-tee-shirt_designThe third way is to listen. Once again, give that person your undivided attention. Don’t be half-listening and half-thinking of what you’re going to say when they’re finished talking. Listen to understand, not to reply. Most times that person doesn’t want answers or for you to fix whatever is wrong. They simply want someone to listen to their heart. So listen with yours.

And remember: you have two ears and one mouth. The Amplied Version of James 1:19 notes that you should “be a careful, thoughtful listener.”

I love what Frank Tyger said: “Be a good listener. Your ears will never get you into trouble.”

hersheys-kissAnd finally, demonstrate your love by showing kindness. Intentional kindness. Do little things—a chore that person usually does (like making the bed or loading/unloading the dishwasher). Put a note in his/her lunch. I like to put a Hershey’s kiss on Dean’s pillow when I go to bed. I’m usually asleep when he comes to bed, so that’s my goodnight kiss for him. He doesn’t like chocolate, though, so he puts it up on the bookshelf. When I make the bed the next morning, I enjoy it (I love chocolate!). That’s kindness going two ways.

“Be gentle with one another, sensitive” (Ephesians 4:32 The Message).

Once again, I quote Mother Teresa: “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness.”

So, tell me, how do you T-A-L-K?

Father, never let me pass up a chance to let others know I love them. Amen.

Read and meditate on 1 Corinthians 131 John 4:7–21

(c) 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.