Not Hyperbole

I’m reading Fumblerules: A Lighthearted Guide to Grammar and Good Usage by William Safire.

A fumblerule is a mistake that calls attention to the rule. For example, Fumblerule #17 says, “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times: Resist hyperbole.” Safire explains that the word hyperbole means “intended excess,” exaggeration designed to emphasize so wildly as not to mislead.

“I’d walk a million miles for one of your smiles.”

“A thousand pardons.”

“We’ve been waiting forever.”

“All the tea in China.”

“Seventy times seven.”

Hyperbole.

After reading the page on hyperbole last Sunday morning, I went to church, where we sang “Come Ye Sinners.”

The chorus proclaims:

I will arise and go to Jesus
He will embrace me in His arms
In the arms of my dear Savior
O there are ten thousand charms

I thought to myself, “Ten thousand charms! Look! Hyperbole!”

Lyricist Joseph Hart certainly intended to wildly emphasize the charms to be found in Jesus, but it occurred to me as I sang that in this case, “ten thousand” is not hyperbole.

It is a gross understatement. A gross, beautiful understatement.

The charms of Christ are infinite and unfathomable.

“…to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” ~Ephesians 3:18-19

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Spring Is Bustin' Out All Over

Been enjoying the foliage around these parts. And Picnik. I heart Picnik. Lots.

Here, for your viewing pleasure, are various shots in various Picnik styles. My fav is Lomo-ish. Which, according to Wikipedia, is either the Spanish word for tenderloin, a place in California, or a Russian optical manufacturer.

Our driveway.

We have this ground cover milling around in numerous locales.

Little purple flowers the dogs like to chomp.

The Burning Bush.

Same bush.

Itty bitty baby leaves. Bonded by a spider web. Love this one.

Found these next to the shed.

Maple trees are my favorite.

These next three pics employed Picnik’s 60’s feature.

Twiggy moss.

Spider.

This one has the 60’s filter with the Lomo-ish filter over the top of it.

I chose the 60’s style for this one because it showed the most detail on each individual little seed head. That’s what they’re called. Seed heads. Wikipedia told me so.

Another photo style I like is something Picnik calls Orton-ish, which, in addition to being the name of a whole host of places and people, is an official photography technique.

More tree blossoms.

Scotch broom?

Blossom on the tree in the driveway. My cousin says this looks like a face.

Another style I’ve been dinking around with is CinemaScope. It comes in two flavors: with letterboxing and without. I prefer with.

Pond.

This is the field across the railroad tracks from the back of the transmission shop that’s workin’ on our Jeep.

That’s all she wrote.

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Water, Water Everywhere

Jeff and I were discussing an issue on our property today, and as we drew a life parallel, I said, as I often do, “That’s a blog post!”

Jeff agreed. Then he surprised me by saying, “You don’t get to write that blog post. It’s not your story. It’s my story. You’re going to have a guest blogger.”

I’m honored. Take it away, Jeff.

 

Becky has informed you of the amazing goodness of God in His provision of our home we like to call Rivendell. One of the joys of discovering the untamed beauty of this land is mowing. Actually, quite a lot of mowing. 

I try to take advantage of each non-rainy day to do a little mowing. You’ll notice I didn’t say each sunny day. I said non-rainy. This is Oregon. This being Oregon, mowing rain-soaked grass is normal, but down by the pump house, there was a section that was just too wet, too soupy, too slimy to mow. 

We have a water softener because our water is bad out of the well, and the softener expels a little water onto the ground as part of its cycle. At first, I thought the extra soupy lawn was due to softener brine discharge.

As the ground below the pump house continued to become more and more saturated, it became apparent that something else was going on. After looking a little closer, I found the ground was wet even above the pump house. I mentioned to Becky in passing a few times that I thought we had a leak, but today, I finally grabbed my shovel and went looking for it.

It wasn’t too hard to find, and it wasn’t actually that far below the surface.

See that? Just a little tiny leak. Not so bad. Not even hard to fix. The whole repair only took about 45 minutes.

In the house, when I know there’s a water leak, I find it and fix it right away. Who wants a steady stream of water flowing across the floor? But the leaky pipe in the yard was another story. I knew it was there for a few weeks, and I just put off fixing it. I thought, “It’s no big deal,” and I allowed it to remain.

But look.

Everything from the shadow in the foreground to the yellow shovel handle leaning against the grapevine in the background is totally saturated. A pencil-sized leak turned an area almost twice the size of our home into a marshy, boggy mess. The leak is fixed, but the ground won’t dry out for weeks. Small leak, big impact.

I recently joined a Pure Desire small group at our church, and God used the leak in our yard to bring home a point He’s been hammering into me about some secret sins in my life. I was under the impression for many years that they were no big deal, not hurting anyone, not really causing that much damage.

But God is showing me that just like the small leak in our yard, ignoring my secret issues ended up causing a lot of damage as those issues inevitably overflowed into the rest of my life, affecting not only myself but those around me, and tainting my life in ways I never even fathomed.

The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.
~Luke 6:45

But there’s hope for me. And if you relate to what I’m talking about, there’s hope for you.

The water softener in our yard makes the well water good for dishes, laundry and showering, but plug your nose unless you like the smell of rotten eggs. We use an additional filter at the kitchen sink for drinking and cooking. Take a look.

Regular tap water on the right, drinking water on the left. At first glance, both streams of water seem like good options. But the bottles in the background show the difference.

When the well water in the bottle on the right was exposed to air and light for an ample amount of time, the iron content oxidized and changed color. The water flowing from the tap on the right has been softened, but it still makes you sick when you drink it.

The drinking water in the bottle on the left shows what our filtered water looks like over time. It is clean, clear, pure, odor-free, good, and refreshing.

Jeremiah 2:13 says, “For my people have done two evil things: They have abandoned Me – the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all.”

The secret sins in my life look just like our well water when exposed to the light of God. I am just like the people in Jeremiah’s time when I abandon God and seek to fill my desires apart from Him. So many times, I drink rotten water, trying to fill up on things that do not satisfy. It leaves me sick and thirsty, needing more and more.

But when I turn to Jesus Christ and drink His living water, my thirst is quenched and my soul is truly satisfied.

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
~John 4:13-14

When I bottle up the water on our property and get a good look at the poison in the well water, it’s a clear choice which water I’m going to drink. (Get it? Clear?) I’m never going to look at those two bottles and choose the yucky brown stuff.

And when I expose my secret sin to the light and get a good look at how it’s poisoning my life, again, the choice is clear. By the grace of God, I’m choosing the living water of Jesus Christ.

 

Thank you, Jeff, for choosing Jesus, for choosing me, and for helping me choose living water. I love you.

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Spring Finds Rivendell

Hey, look. A post with pics. Been awhile.


Ground cover.


Petunias? Something that starts with P, but I can’t remember what.


Lily of the Valley


Ummm… a purple caterpillar.


Daffodil! I know that one.


Like, grass leaf, or something.


Fir cone. In real life. But as Jeana pointed out, it is also a rose.


This is the backside of the leaves on my rosebush.


No idea.


Tree leaves.


More tree leaves. Different tree.


Oregon grape? Maybe not, though.


Irises?


Tree leaves again. Red.


This is a pretty rock.


This is a mud puddle.


This is Gracie.


This is me. And Huck.


Monkey Jonathan.


Tall Jeff. (See Jonathan’s red shirt underneath?)


Climber James.


“I did it!”


My fav snag.


My fav orchard tree. No idea what kind. Oh. Good thing Jeff pre-approves all my posts. He says hawthorne. It makes apples. But they are teeny. Like berries.


My top fav tree. A redwood.


Peek-a-boo… I see view…


Cherry blossoms. Gorgeous.

“Behold, I am making all things new.” ~Revelation 21:5

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Warrior Prayers and Georgia Pine

Jeff and I get along super great. We’re pretty good roommates, we make each other laugh, we love being together, we’re best friends. I like him. A lot. Best man ever. Best husband ever. Best dad ever.

But we’ve had this one fight, see, about the boys. Ever since… well… ever since we’ve had the boys.

My claim has been that Jeff sometimes speaks to the boys in a tone of voice that causes permanent damage to their psyches. Jeff’s counterclaim has been that I don’t trust him at all as a parent.

Two extreme claims from two extremists. Yep. That’s how we roll.

Do I trust Jeff with the boys? Of course I do.

Is he permanently damaging their psyches with his tone of voice?

(Shoot! If only I didn’t have my rule about Jeff pre-approving all my blog posts!)

(I’m kidding.)

(He knows I’m kidding.)

Anyway, I’m sure the truth lies somewhere in the middle. I’m sure I’m a teeeeeency bit untrusting of the tone of voice that mayyyyyyyyyybe causes a teeeeeeency bit of damage to their psyches.

(You should see what Jeff looks like when he narrows his eyes at me. He’s fearsome.)

I have a point. I do. Really.

We believe in the united front thing. Jeff’s, like, WAY exponentially better at it than I am. Mostly because on this issue, I have a history of turning into a mama bear. Rrrrrrraaawwwrrrr… You breaka my kid, I breaka you face.

It took my mom (marriage counselor extraordinaire) a few years to convince me that while it wasn’t certain that Jeff was causing permanent damage to his boys’ psyches by his tone of voice, it was nearly scientifically proven that my vocal, defiant reaction to possible damage was absolutely causing certain damage.

It took me a few more years to believe her.

Now I’m, like, perfect.

Just kidding. (Again.)

The past couple of years, it’s been all quiet on the western front onaccounta God helps me wait until Jeff and I are alone before I spew mama bear vitriol at him. Those are his very. favorite. talks. EVER.

(Still kidding.)

Here’s the thing. God is using Warrior Prayers to march Jeff and I past looking united as parents to actually being united as parents.

It’s a miracle!

I trust a little more, he uses that tone I hate a little less. This is the Georgia Pine stuff of our marriage. Ain’t no road too long when we meet in the middle.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The middle is Jesus Christ.

For He Himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility. ~Ephesians 2:14

P.S. You may need to visit my blog to see this awesome, awesome video. What do you think they’re fighting about? My money’s on the mullets. Or the, um, coordinating checker pattern.

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Lifebreath

An older couple sauntered hand in hand into the grocery store. I shoved my cart into the parking lot, aiming for Jeff’s truck, wishing he’d been able to join me on this shopping trip.

A shriek.

My head snapped up.

A woman was reaching through the side door of her minivan. She tossed aside a lime green sippy cup and a candy box. It rattled. A toddler stood, looking on.

“Call 9-1-1!!” she shouted.

I pictured my phone, sitting on the coffee table at home.

A man and woman rushed toward her.

“OH MY GOD!!!!!” she screamed at the top of her voice. “KEVIN!!!!!!!”

The first responder was already on the phone. “He’s not breathing,” he told the dispatcher calmly.

A small boy, around age five, was yanked from the back seat of the minivan, his face flushed, his body limp. I saw his face from where I stood frozen across the parking lot clutching my keys. He was dying.

My stomach dropped. I hauled my eyes away. He was choking. Airway cut off. Just like Dad.

God, please don’t make me see this, I pleaded silently as I put groceries into the truck.

Go over there.

I knew that Voice.

I can’t.

But I told you to go into all the world and preach the gospel.

But he’s dying Dad’s death. Please don’t make me watch.

I couldn’t not watch. My eyes stole back to the scene. More onlookers. A strong woman had wrapped both stout arms around the boy’s middle. She jerked her hands into his diaphragm again and again. He flopped around, unresponsive.

I shuddered and looked away.

Avoiding the crowd gathered around the tragedy, I searched for a cart return. It was across from them. I would have to get closer before I could flee altogether.

I couldn’t make my legs move.

Looking down at my fists gripping the cart handle, I took a breath and started pushing. Somehow, my body followed. I peeked again. Four adults had the boy upside down, trying to borrow gravity to save his life. His face was purple.

See? They’re doing everything they can. There’s nothing I can do.

Shoving my cart into the return, I noticed one of the bystanders staring at me. My mind interpreted her look as reproachful, as if she silently reprimanded, “How can you go on like nothing’s happening…”

I began to tremble as I made my way back to the truck. I glanced again. The boy was upright now, still limp, knees buckling as someone tried to see if he could hold his own weight.

The truck seemed miles away, but I got there eventually, fumbling with my keys.

Go over there.

No. There’s nothing I can do. I can’t watch him die Dad’s death.

My key danced all around the truck’s keyhole before it finally went in. Snapping the handle up, I jumped in, clattered my seatbelt into the buckle. Dizzy. Breathe, Becky.

Turning the key in the ignition, I revved the engine and cranked the shifter into reverse. I knew I would have to look behind me to back out. Gripping the steering wheel, I held my breath and turned my head.

The cluster of people was too large. I couldn’t see the boy anymore. The same onlooker watched me. My tire found the curb and rolled up onto it. Concentrating on steering, I finally got the truck pointed in the right direction.

I drove away without another look.

Following the car in front of me, I made the left-hand turn onto the main road. My head felt floaty. I knew I couldn’t hyperventilate. I tried to steady my breathing.

One white-knuckled hand clutched the steering wheel. The other curled stiffly around the shifter.

Suddenly, I felt his presence next to me. He knew what I’d seen, why I was sad. I felt his hand cover mine where it lay on the shifter. I felt the compassion emanate from his spirit.

I don’t deserve this comfort, I thought. I ran away. I know I should have stayed, but there was nothing I could do. I couldn’t watch, and there was nothing I could do…

Suddenly a form flashed to mind. The toddler. The brother! He’d stood watching, comforted by no one, alarmed, scared, alone.

My trembling intensified. Oh, Abba! I could have held the brother!

My heart broke in anguish for that little brother.

Again, the compassion, the feeling of the hand covering mine on the shifter. Mercy.

I couldn’t get home fast enough. I needed to see my boys. See them breathing.

James stood in the driveway, waving. Standing upright on his own two feet. Smiling brightly. Breathing.

Jonathan ran toward me. Grinning ear to ear, full of life. Breathing.

I shut the truck off in the middle of the driveway and stumbled out. Jeff walked toward me, grinning. He studied my horror-stricken face as he approached, and his grin faded. “What’s wrong?” he asked, alarmed.

I couldn’t talk. I buried my face in his chest, clutching at his t-shirt and ripping out bits of his chest hair as I gasped rapidly for air. “You smell good,” I mumbled. Of woodsmoke. He’d been building up a fire in the fire pit for our evening hot dog roast while I ran to the store for fresh veggies and s’more stuff.

The boys came over, hugged me, curious. I squatted down, concentrating on breathing, staring at the ground. Ivy. Pine cones. Needles. Chocolate brown earth. I couldn’t find any words at all.

I broke suddenly away from my bewildered men and strode abruptly to the truck’s passenger door. Jerking it open, I grabbed six bags of groceries in one hand, the milk jug and two more bags in the other hand, and walked too swiftly toward the house.

The logical center of my brain pointed out that I really couldn’t carry that many heavy bags of groceries at one time, ordinarily. They seemed weightless to me.

Jeff kept pace with me, trying to help with the groceries, shadowing me into the house. I dropped the bags in the kitchen, kicked off my sandals and made a beeline for our bedroom, wanting to compose myself before I worried the boys further.

I collapsed to the floor and buried my face in a giant stuffed bear taking up temporary residence in the corner of our room. Pressing my hands to my forehead, I tried to push the images and sounds out of my brain. The flushed face. The mother’s terrified cries for help. The limp body. The 9-1-1 call. The Heimlich maneuver. The body suspended upside down in midair. The face turned purple.

Jeff waited. Finding my voice, I muttered raggedly, “I just saw someone die.”

“What?!” he demanded.

“A little boy. In the parking lot. He was choking. He couldn’t breathe. Just like Dad.”

Between gasps for air, I pieced together the story. Jeff was speechless.

“I have to check the fire,” he finally said. “I’ll be right back.”

I sat up, cross-legged. A tear finally escaped from the corner of my right eye.

Jeff returned, joints popping and cracking as he lowered himself next to me on the floor and wrapped his arm around my shoulders.

The tears came freely. I blubbered, “I should have stayed! God told me to stay, but I couldn’t watch! There was nothing I could do! And then, partway, home, I remembered–”

My voice broke. Jeff hugged me tighter.

“I remembered th-the brother!” I wailed, shaking with sobs. “I could have held the brother!”

Leaning into Jeff, I cried myself out. He held me strong.

Finally, tearfully, illogically, I asked, “Are you mad at me?”

“Of course not,” Jeff replied, shocked. “Why would I be mad at you?”

My face crumpled. “You would have stayed! You would have helped! You would have realized what was going on and been the first one there. You would have known what to do… You could have saved him…”

He couldn’t deny it, of course. Jeff is great in a crisis.

“Am I in trouble?” I asked again.

“No.”

“But… I’m overreacting. Am I overreacting?”

“No. This is a normal response for what you saw.”

Calming slightly, it finally occurred to me that I wasn’t 100% sure the boy had died. My head snapped up. “Maybe he survived,” I said.

“We’ll watch the news later tonight and see.”

Later tonight? I needed to know now.

“Would they report something like that on the news? Maybe I could call WinCo…”

“Maybe…” Jeff sounded doubtful.

I didn’t want to ruin our evening. The fire burned bright, the hot dogs were ready to roast. I chopped up fresh veggies and arranged them on a platter, numb to my own actions, watching the horror again and again in my photographic memory. Dumping the ranch mix into the sour cream, I left my task half-finished and marched to the living room.

My cell phone indeed sat uselessly on the coffee table. I snatched it up as I googled the phone number of our local WinCo. Punching in the numbers, I perched on the edge of my chair, breathing. In. Out. In. Out.

“WinCo Foods,” a female voice announced pleasantly.

What to say? I hadn’t thought that far ahead.

“Hello?” she asked.

“Ummm… hi… I’m calling about the little boy in the parking lot. Did he survive?”

“I have no idea,” she said with compassion. “I wasn’t aware that anything had happened.”

Good sign, I thought.

“Would you like me to page a manager?”

“Umm… there was an employee who went out… very tall… blond… maybe a mustache?”

“Okay,” she said, and put me on hold.

A male voice picked up, “WinCo Foods.”

“Hi… I’m wondering about the status of the little boy in the parking lot. Did he survive?”

“Uhhh… I’m not sure. Daniel is the one who went out there. I can page him for you if you’re curious.”

“Yes, I would really like to know,” I said quickly.

On hold again, I argued. I’m not curious. I’m… what am I? I’m not just curious, am I? I need to know if I just saw someone die Dad’s death.

For the third time, “WinCo Foods.” But he added, “This is Daniel, how can I help you?”

“Hi… I’m wondering about the little boy in the parking lot. Did he survive?”

“I think so,” he responded gently. “He was cryin’ pretty good when the paramedics took him away… so that means he was breathing. And he had swallowed a malt ball, so it wasn’t a hard candy. It was dissolving the whole time, and eventually it opened up his airway.”

“Okay… Good… Thank you for telling me.”

“Sure.” Click.

Still holding my phone to my ear, I stared out my living room window, across the fields to the distant hills beyond, more numb than ever.

He survived.

Jeff came into the living room. “Well?” he asked.

“He survived,” I breathed, tearing up again. “I’m so glad.”

“Good,” Jeff said, emotionless. All business.

“Are you sure you’re not mad at me?” I asked yet again.

He hesitated, trying to figure out what he was projecting. “No… but I have no idea what to say… maybe you should call your mom and talk to her about it?”

“Maybe later… I don’t want to ruin our evening,” I mumbled. Or Mom’s, I added mentally.

“Okay, well, the hot dogs are ready. Go sit by the boys. I’ll finish mixing up the dip.”

I went.

James grinned at me and reached for a hug. Thank you for breathing, I wanted to say, but that seemed silly.

Jonathan wormed his way under my other arm to give his own comfort. Two boys. Breathing. Alive. Whole.

Thank you for sons who are breathing, I prayed silently.

We had a wonderful evening, roasting hot dogs and marshmallows, chatting, laughing together, playing tag with the smoke.

I had to take AdvilPM. Not because I couldn’t shake the near-death experience. Not to continue to manufacture a crisis already averted. But up until then, my mind had purposely steered clear of imagining what it actually looks like when someone’s airway gets cut off. When their face changes colors.

I know this sounds totally odd, but watching asphyxiation happen brought a small sense of peace. The boy was limp, lethargic, unresponsive, unaware. The part of my brain that ran the comparison noted that maybe Daddy was as unaware during the part that would have hurt the most.

Maybe dizziness…

then nothing…

…then Jesus.

Had God’s mercy carried Daddy into unconsciousness as his lifebreath ebbed away?

Yes.

God loves to pour out His mercy. Even in death.

Maybe I could have been a help to the situation in the parking lot. Maybe holding the brother, maybe offering to follow to the hospital in the mom’s car, maybe praying aloud, maybe laying my hands on that little boy’s head and beseeching God to spare his life.

God didn’t need me, obviously. He had the situation well in hand. As always. But He allowed me to witness it, and wanted me to get closer, to see it more clearly. To be part of it. I think maybe to give me peace about my daddy’s suffering.

But not just that.

God didn’t want to show me pain. He wanted to show me joy. To show me Himself. To show me that He is mighty to dissolve malt balls. He is mighty to open airways. He is mighty to restore. He is mighty to heal the brokenhearted. He is mighty to bind up their wounds. To bind up my wounds. To bind up that boy’s wounds. To cause him to suck back into his lungs… lifebreath.

My God is mighty to save.

“Who among all these does not know
that the hand of the LORD has done this?
In his hand is the life of every living thing
and the breath of all mankind.”
~Job 12:9-10

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Warrior Prayers and Puzzle Pieces

This week, Jeff and I prayed over our boys for obedience, submission to authority, integrity, avoiding foolishness, and pride. (We pray in the evenings, so we’ll hit purity tonight.)

The first thing we learned was how much we need prayer for those things ourselves. Ummm… yeah.

The second thing we learned was how funny God’s sense of humor is… the boys had specific issues pertaining to each area we prayed for. Or at least God heightened our awareness of those things.

The third thing we learned is that our God sees what we need beforehand and provides in advance. Okay, well, we knew that already, but each time we see it in action, we are in awe all over again.

My awe is even expressed outwardly! (This is funny if you know Jeff. He epitomizes the phrase “Strong Silent Type.”)

Okay, so here’s what happened.

I had lunch with a friend last week and asked her about a prayer request she’d given at Bible study pertaining to one of her children’s upcoming appointments. She described a scenario that popped my eyes wide open with the “me too” factor.

After doing a little research, Jeff and I were completely convinced our sweet son fit the same scenario. We’ve spent the past several days marveling (me outwardly, Jeff inwardly) about all the puzzle pieces suddenly fitting perfectly into place. Impatience is replaced with compassion, confusion is replaced with knowledge, fear is replaced with peace. Our son makes perfect sense to us now, and so do the last nine years.

We haven’t worked out all the details yet of where to go from here, but how perfect is the coupling of this completed puzzle with a month of specific prayer for our boys! How beautiful that our discovery is saturated with more angles of prayer than we would ever have come up with on our own.

“The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” ~James 5:16b

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