Thursday, February 17, 2011

Words, Words, Words....

Natural formation named after Lot's wife who became a pillar of salt
On Wednesday evenings this year I've been helping my parents with an ESL (English as a Second Language) Bible study. We started in September with a brief Bible overview, then jumped head-long into Genesis, with the goal to study the book of Genesis in the course of the year. We're currently in chapter 18; almost halfway through! In our small group we have a mix of Jordanians, an East Indian, a few Chinese, some believers, some not. There are also five Americans helping out, though I think I can honestly say we're learning as much as the students! There's nothing like delving into the Bible with international perspectives!

Every week along with reading and discussion, we deal with new vocabulary words (pronunciation and meaning). Last night was no exception as we plumbed the depths of words like lunge, bolt, pillar, and righteous. The other week, a young German woman who's been staying with my folks was able to come and while her English is flawless, she's been having a blast learning new words. The word of the night that week was "carnivorous." You just never know how a word will hit a chord...or a funny bone!

I love words! I love how they can be simple yet beautiful, or simply repulsive just in the way they sound. Recently I read a blog post that used the phrase "limn loveliness" and my heart soared--how awesome a word is "limn!" It just sounds wonderful as it comes off the tongue! (It means, by the way, "to depict or describe in painting or word, suffuse or highlight (something) with a bright color or light.") Then there are words like "mush" which I believe is my sister's all-time least-favorite word (correct me if I'm wrong, Carg!). Just try saying it a few times and I'm sure you'll understand.

But there are times that words are so frustrating. There are times when I'm trying so hard to communicate an idea and I feel like I'm failing miserably, either because the words I'm using are not the words of my audience, or the idea behind them is not carried across. I've spent this week trying to write a letter that is of vital importance to me and I want the point to come through clearly. I want my audience to hear the point, understand it, and most of all agree with it, but I don't know if I can pull it off. My words are limited, and my emotions are a huge encumbrance. Emotions tend to make communication almost impossible at times. Then there's the added pressure of wanting them to be Godly and wise...which is where copious prayer comes into play. Thankfully the Spirit "intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance to God's will" (Romans 8:26&27). If only that always worked in talking with other humans!

On a totally different part of the communication spectrum, I'm enjoying the beginning of words. Just this week my eighteen-month-old Jon-Boy has crossed a line. He's communicated very well up to this point, considering his vocabulary has been made up of "Ommy," "Addy," and something indecipherable that refers to his sister Evie. He also has managed the signs for "please" and "thank you" quite well accompanied by a big, cheesy grin and "EEASE!" But I think we've stepped into new territory. Yesterday he came running over to me clutching something in his fist. "Ba-uuw! Ba-uuw!" he said, and handed me a little ball. Ah! "Ba-uuw" is "ball"--got it! Then this morning we were on a walk and some ducks flew overhead. "Ducks!" I cried excitedly. Jon and Ev were duly impressed and when more ducks flew overhead, Jon stopped and pointed, "Dut!" Later this morning he was trying to copy Ev's rendition of "Happy Birthday," and it was almost recognizable (not the tune, really, but the fact that he was stringing some words together in a sing-song way that ended with "oo"). Someday, that child will have words at his command...if he can ever get a word in edgewise with this sisters!

Never underestimate the power of words....

...And those are my deep thoughts for the day!


  1. Not mush - though that's not one I'm particularly fond of - my least favorite word is "moist." Ugh.

    Good words...and nice Hamlet reference.

  2. Ah yes, "moist"! Wish I had had time to check in with you and double-check! I had a feeling I was off :).

  3. ...And I still think Mel Gibson's version of "words, words, words" is the best I've ever seen!

  4. Amen on that.

    Although the Bug's iteration was delightful that one time.