What Your Tell Says About You (and Me)

A dear one in my life stutters when she’s nervous and I get it. I look her deep in the eyes, still all my outward movement, and patiently wait. I want my steady focus to assure her I’m listening, because I completely understand.

Photo: LeBrvn, Creative Commons, cc license

When I was younger, my words poured out stumbling and halting in other ways. Spilling sentences in breathless, breakneck speeds, I raced through my thoughts, gasping air in gulps. Slamming words and phrases into each other, I peered anxiously at my listeners, dumping my words and watching their nonverbal signs.

“Jeni, slow down. Take a breath,” my parents would say. “Enunciate.”

And I didn’t figure it out until decades later, learning to speak in measured rates and digging underneath the surface for the why. In middle school insecurity, I was afraid my listener would leave. Rushing my impressions and opinions, I tumbled words in junior high hallways, in church youth group rooms, and on yellow school buses.

Talking fast was my give-away tell, but you probably have one too. I see teens who stand with hunched shoulders beside shorter friends, worried they’ll stand out or look different; and I see how others preface their thoughts with humor — only their eyes giving them away.

Coming off two weeks of speaking engagements, truths from Bible lessons and marriage sessions ring loudest in my own ears, and they make me smile. From the God who leans into biblical King Solomon’s dark bedroom on a quiet night two weeks after a public prayer, I read his intimate words: “I heard your prayer, Solomon…”

Whether Valentine’s day falls for you in an aftermath of red-hearts and chocolates, or with heart-aches and hungers, I read God’s words engraved immortal. I hear you. I see you. When your voice is turned towards me, when you cry out for me, I will hear you and turn to you. Your words do not fall to the ground unheeded. They do not clatter and crash.

Take a breath, dear one. Stand tall, dear friend. Say what’s on your heart, my friend, and let it match your eyes. He’s listening. 

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  1. Lisa notes... on February 17, 2016 at 2:31 am

    This is such an important message, Jennifer. God does listen, and we never have to feel rushed in his presence. I appreciate you sharing about your give-away tell. We all have insecurity embedded somewhere in us, and it comes out in different ways. Thankful for grace to help us with those ways.

  2. Houseofmills on February 17, 2016 at 4:47 pm

    Encouraging words! Thanks friend.

  3. caryjo on February 17, 2016 at 6:29 pm

    And lots on my heart!! Thank you for asking re: Uganda. My husband and I were there off and on from Jan. '91 to Feb. '04. Did what we could, when we could, and helped many in an unusual way. NOW, in Omaha, we have about 250 Bhutanese from Nepal that are in our lives here. I'm in their church and Dave fixes home situations or gives and fixes their computers and has played piano at weddings when they wanted him. Sorry to say so much and talk so long, but you grabbed my heart. With the dementia increasing and my brain and body issue and my extreme tiredness during the day and in bed at night for about 12 hours. AND can't drive any more as was officially said in 2 months ago, and all I can do is worship and pray and rejoice to the Lord many times in the day and several times at night. NOW I'll shut up. Sorry if I've bugged you too much. But I didn't know how to get in touch with you to answer the questions you laid. I'm very happy that you were also in Africa. I've been at short times in Morocco and Kenya, but LIVED in Uganda!! Bless you…

  4. Unknown on February 17, 2016 at 7:25 pm

    Excellent and wise words. All of us have some insecurity and weakness. Funny thing is, even the ones who don't appear to have any weaknesses, and believe they don't, are afflicted in the worst way; they don't believe they have a weakness…. and there it is, their weakness.

    As a young kid I had a speech impediment. It may have caused some insecurities, but it brought humility into a life and soul that was desperate for it, just didn't know it…

    Excellent and thought provoking post!

  5. Bill (cycleguy) on February 18, 2016 at 10:50 pm

    I have seldom been at a loss for words…good and bad. I hopefully have learned as I have aged (gracefully) that my words are important…but so it the tone with which I say them.

  6. Dolly@Soulstops on February 19, 2016 at 11:53 pm


    Great wisdom and compassion in your words. So very grateful for how God does truly see us and hear us…we don't need to hurry or edit our thoughts…comforts me to no end when I can remember this truth…blessings to you and yours 🙂

  7. Wise Hearted on February 20, 2016 at 1:17 am

    Good reminder Jennifer to listen well for that sweet still voice that wants to speak truth and encoruagement into our souls.

  8. Jackie Sommers on February 21, 2016 at 6:28 pm

    Hi Jennifer! Thanks for visiting my blog. I love yours! Wanted to let you know that I touched base with both illustrators I talked to Morgan about and they are both happy to hear from her and answer her questions! Blessings!

  9. cabinart on February 22, 2016 at 3:38 am

    How interesting that talking was a struggle for you and now you bless groups with your talks!

  10. Cheryl Barker on February 25, 2016 at 4:33 am

    Jennifer, so good to know we have a Father who we can always turn to, one who always listens and loves us no matter what. How blessed we are!

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