Are you sure that’s what they said?

Christmas song lyrics can sometimes be confusing.  Here are some that can be particularly difficult*:

Oh Come All Ye Faithful

What some have heard:  Oh come, lettuce, adore him

What is really said:  Oh come let us adore him

Let it Snow

What some have heard: Let us know, Let us know, Let us know

What is really said:  Let it Snow, Let it Snow, let it snow

Winter Wonderland

What some have heard:  In the winter, we can build a snowman, and pretend that he is sparce and brown.

What is really said:  In the winter, we can build a snowman, and pretend that he is Parson Brown.

Away in a Manger

What some have heard:  The cattle are bowling… OR The cattle are mowing… OR The cattle are blowing…

What is really said: The cattle are lowing . . .

Sometimes what we hear and what is real are two different things.

The foster care world is full of this kind of thing.  Here are some you might be familiar with:

From a child who has experienced trauma…

What we hear:  I hate you!

What is really being said:  I am sad and afraid

From a social worker…

What we hear:  No, we can’t do that — that is not our policy

What is really being said:  I am overwhelmed and feel powerless to make systemic change.  If I do, and it goes badly, I am at great risk.

From a pastor…

What we hear:  I’m sorry, we just are not going to be able to promote your foster care event from up front this Sunday

What is really being said:  This is one of 25 such requests I’ve received this week (and it’s only Tuesday) and I am desperately trying to make the best decisions I can for our whole body

When we attempt to understand what is really being said, it doesn’t always change our own hurt or disappointment.  However, it puts us in the best position to meet the real need that other person is expressing.  It’s when we do this that we look the most like Jesus.

And as the classic Christmas carol goes:

“Let every heart prepare a broom”

Or rather…

“Let every heart prepare him room.”


*thanks to for several of these examples.

This post originally appeared in our Foster Roster e-newsletter which is delivered each Friday. We keep it short and sweet and fill it with practical articles, videos, blog posts and other tools for leaders like you working to help kids and families in foster care.  To sign up, go to