Assumptions: Ten Steps to Avoid Them

I’ve been considering how assumptions can strain even the strongest of relationships. An assumption can compromise trust on both sides. An assumption often means choosing to believe the worst when we could have chosen to believe the best. An assumption is often the result of fear or insecurities, a self-protection mechanism. An assumption rarely makes things better. An assumption proclaims loudly that we know a person’s heart and have determined their intentions. An assumption can hurt the heart of those we claim to love and add insult to that injury.

How can we avoid the snares of wrong assumptions, faulty conclusions and unfair judgements?

#1 Don’t. Just don’t. When you are tempted, refuse to assume. Get the facts. Ask a question. Find clarification before you come to a conclusion.

#2 Give the benefit of the doubt. Choose to believe the best until the facts (not feelings) prove otherwise. Feelings are fickle.

#3 Remember the character of the person in question. Does this sound like them? Does it line up with what you have experienced with them before?

#4 Keep in mind your state of mind. Are you already aggravated with the other person, put out with them, have a bone to pick?

#5 Err on the side of mercy. Don’t be so quick to give them what they deserve. Justice knows how to locate them if justice is required.

#6 Say you are sorry. When you were wrong, admit it, don’t excuse it. Apologize and hope they are willing to apply mercy when you weren’t.

#7 Consider the consequences. How will your relationship change? Will it cost you dearly if you assume incorrectly?

#8 Avoid words like obviously, apparently, undoubtedly, clearly when determining the intentions of another person’s heart.

#9 Forgive. Offer do-overs and second chances. If you were right and they were as rotten as you imagined, keep in mind, we all make mistakes.

#10 Decide now and often that you will not lump people together. All men. All teens. All southerners. All politicians. Yes, even all politicians. Each person deserves the opportunity to prove themselves, make their own way and even their own mistakes.

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The Measure of a Miracle

Almost a week ago my girls brought me a little chick that hadn’t hatched properly and even though the situation looked quite hopeless, we tried against all odds to save this one little chick. I was quite frankly amazed that it survived through the night. When it began chirping I was astounded. When it began trying to stand and then walk, we cheered it on. When it began to drink a little water I knew there was a real chance. We were witnessing a miracle one little chirp and step at a time.

Yesterday, I saw a change and even the kids noticed. I realized that after all our effort, the chick would likely not make it. This morning I discovered I was right. I had to tell my children who were disappointed as we had all hoped for the best. What unsettled me the most was the nagging thought, “So, it wasn’t a miracle after all.” That lead me to wonder what the measure of a miracle is.

I will have a devotion time with my children this morning about the matter. I want to impress upon them several truths. I’d like to share those with you.

First, it is okay to care about one little chick that didn’t seem to have much of a chance. That may seem an odd thing to say, that it is okay to care. But, in this day and time I think it is something we need reminding of. I think that far too many people are comfortable with not giving a care about situations that seem hopeless or too risky. Too many times folks avoid getting involved.

Second, it is okay to try when there are no guarantees. The effort, the compassion, the investment of time and energy is still worth it even when the results aren’t what we hope for. When we pour ourselves into another life (even the life of a little chick) we don’t get to control the response or the end result.

Third, it is okay when our hopes are disappointed. Disappointment is a part of life. If you are going to care and if you are going to try, you can be sure you are going to have times of disappointment. What we do with that disappointment is a matter of choices. There will be those who recoil from the chance of more disappointment and withdraw from the race. There will others who take a deep breath and willingly take the deep plunge into caring again, trying again.

Which person are you? Have you determined to play it safe, wade in the shallows, stay close to the shore? Are you willing to take a chance and care when there isn’t much of a chance, try when there are no guarantees and hope again instead of past disappointments.

The measure of a miracle is not necessarily how we might determine it. The measure of a miracle is a little chirp than was never expected. The measure of a miracle is in the difference it made in the lives it touched.

“What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin ? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.”
Matthew 10:29 NLT

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Fine-Feathered Family

Baby chicks have started hatching on our little homestead and it is one of our favorite signs of spring. Chickens were our first homestead animal and the lovely eggs they produce have been but the cherries on top of the sweet moments they have provided. When we got our first few, we were continually delighted with their antics.

Have you heard of the term pecking order? We saw that established and demonstrated often. We also witnessed the worth of a really good rooster. Our first and best was Jethro. Oh, yes, we named them all, each and every one. Jethro was a fierce protector with his feathers glistening as he strutted in the yard. He kept a wary eye out for danger of all sorts. He located the best bugs and made sure his hens got first chance at them.

One of the most comical sights to behold was when the flock would take dirt baths. First they’d find a nice dry spot of dirt and then would squat and waller and flap their wings until the dirt had infiltrated every itchy spot of their feathered selves. After a thorough dusting they looked cleaner than they started. It was a mystery. A feathered mystery.

I could go on longer than you might care to read about our feathered friends and maybe one day I will. But, today I want to tell you one more thing and absolutely the most amazing thing we experienced with our chicken observations. When a hen goes broody, that means that she is ready to set a clutch of eggs. She is ready to commit to the eggs that she has claimed as her own, to go without food and water if necessary, to provide the perfect temperature and protection required until they hatch.

I say the ‘eggs she has claimed as her own’ because a broody hen doesn’t care one bit who laid the egg. Her only concern is what needs doing next and she intends to see that it is done. Interestingly, for the most part, the smaller hens, particularly the bantam breeds make the best little brooders. We have a little mixed variety that we named Pepperocinni. Solid black and petite compared to most chickens, she has been an wonderful little momma hen and has hatched many chicks, most of whom quickly outgrew her size-wise.

Last year, Pepperocinni had just hatched five little chicks when we decided to supplement the flock with ten chicks that we purchased from the local feed store. When you buy baby chicks, then you must provide everything they need. Instead of the warmth of the momma hens downy feathers to sleep in and stay cozy, a heat lamp must be provided. Instead of a nesting box a cardboard box is their home. I was distressed, as you might can imagine if you know me at all, at the situation.

My heart is especially tender towards such situations. After all, like Pepperocinni, I know all about claiming little chicks as my own and nurturing them, loving them, raising them, doing what needs to be done. One thing about it though, chickens might hatch any egg, but, once those eggs are hatched, they are quite committed to them and them alone. outsiders, even tiny chicks, are not tolerated.

I decided to try the impossible and we brought Pepperocinni in a tub with hay and her five chicks right into the living room and next to her the tub of ten little orphan chicks, which is how my heart saw them. We all stood quietly and held our breath as I began the experiment. The room was filled with the chirps of baby chicks and I gently scooped one baby chick up and stealthily put it in the tub next to Pepperocinni. The little momma hen’s eyes seemed to widen a bit as she stretched her neck around suspiciously and spotted the new chick. I stood ready to quickly undo what I had done if she refused the chick. I knew that would include a sharp peck on the head of the fragile little creature.

That’s when it happened. Right before our eyes, she stretched out her wing and pulled the chick in to be nestled safely with her five. Tears came to my eyes. It was beautiful. Tears are here again as I write about it. It was a tiny feathered miracle and we got to see it. One at a time I offered each of the ten motherless chicks to Pepperocinni and watched astounded as she accepted each and every one. This tiny little momma now struggled to cover all fifteen chicks with her feathers of protection, love, warmth and acceptance. When she managed it, remarkably, it was a sight to behold. She looked double her original size and tiny little beaks poked out all over.

Sometimes as a foster/adoptive mother I have felt a lot like Pepperocinni appeared. I have often felt as if I’ve taken on more than my capacity to manage. But, like Pepperocinni my mothering instinct outweighed common sense. I could not ignore what needed doing and I’m so glad. I do so delight in being a mother hen of my seven adopted children.

During the days that followed the forming of this special fine-feathered family we were able to enjoy the rest of the story. Pepperocinni taught the baby chicks to recognize her voice, run to her for protection, scratch for juicy insects and yes, even to take dirt baths. A fine-feathered family indeed.

I not only could relate as an adoptive mother, I also related spiritually. I’ll never read the words of Jesus in Luke 13 again without thinking of that day when Pepperocinni stretched out her wings to accept a chick that needed covering.

“How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.” Luke 13:34

I’m so glad that He loves us. I’m so glad that He gave me my little flock and created our own fine-feathered family. I understand. I get it. It’s about choices and stretching ourselves beyond our own abilities so that we must lean heavily on Him. And when I am feeling vulnerable, I know just where to run.

“Guard me as you would guard your own eyes. Hide me in the shadow of your wings.” Psalms 17:8

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Word Blindness

Two of my seven children have recently been diagnosed with dyslexia. Upon hearing the diagnosis, I sat down and cried. I cried because I knew this would be difficult. I cried because I felt unprepared and ill-equipped. I cried with relief that there was finally a name to put to what had caused much frustration on our part.

One of the terms used for dyslexia when it was first identified in the final years of the 1800’s was ‘word blindness’. The more I’ve read, the more intrigued I have become by dyslexia. Did you know that people with dyslexia are not ‘slow’? They are not incapable of learning. They are not dense. They are not lazy and lacking self-motivation. They do not have below average intelligence. They are often above average intelligence. And some of the top people in many fields have dyslexia. Some of the most brilliant, creative people that live today, have dyslexia.

As I read list upon list of famous dyslexics I was shocked. I was also made hopeful.

Steven Spielburg
Walt Disney
Leonardo Da Vinci
Nelson Rockefeller
George Washington
Albert Einstein
Thomas Edison
Alexander Graham Bell

I could go on and on. I listened to a top surgeon explain how he couldn’t read a newspaper. I listened to Whoopi Goldberg explain how stupid she felt she was as a child. I was amazed.

Here are eight great short videos explaining dyslexia.

http://www.ncld.org/types-learning-disabilities/dyslexia/what-is-it-like-to-be-dyslexic-videos

Here is one of many good articles about how to talk to your child about dyslexia.

http://www.dyslexia.ie/information/information-for-parents/talking-to-your-child-about-dyslexia/

We are attending Visual Therapy to assist my youngest son who is nine. We are fortunate to have a very caring and knowledgable doctor to guide us. My fourteen year old son began with Light Therapy. We are seeing improvements, slowly but surely. I am encouraged.

One of the most emotional moments early in this journey that we have just embarked upon was when I saw an example of what a person with dyslexia sees when looking at printed words. My heart grieved when I thought of the times I would say to my sons, can’t you see? Don’t you see? Look again. Try harder. Trace it. Write it. Focus. Concentrate.

http://www.dyslexia.com/library/information.htm

Their despair was equal to mine. What was I doing wrong? I was failing my children. I needed to try harder, try again, show them so they could understand. But, in truth I did not understand myself.

They had word blindness. I had solution blindness. Together, we are figuring this out. Learning differently. Strategizing. Conquering. Succeeding. Moving forward. Making progress.

I’ve talked a lot about crossroads this year and how we all must choose our paths. I never wanted to travel this detour marked Dyslexia, but, I surely won’t let my children travel it alone. So, we are taking the road that will be rough and sometimes nothing more than a dirt path. The trip may be challenging, the destination will be worth it.