Three Things My Friends Know About Me

If you read these blogs, you know a little about the things I think about, but you probably don’t know a whole lot about ME.  So here’s a post that breaks with my usual content to give you some insider insights.  If you were to ask my friends about some of the quirky things I do, here are three that are likely to come up.

NUMBER 1. I sometimes wear this hat.  I LIKE this hat.  It’s warm and, um, stylish?  I have friends who pretend they don’t know me whenever I wear it.  This does not stop me from wearing it.

Janet with a stringed winter hat

I like this hat even better when the wind is blowing!

NUMBER 2. THIS is one of my all time favorite photo poses.  (I use it… a lot.)

Janet with arms open

Janet with arms open wide

I can’t help it.

Janet with arms open wide

Life is exciting!

Janet with arms open wide

And I’m excited too!

NUMBER 3. Whenever I am someplace new and see water – a waterfall, creek, river, ocean, lake, bog, etc. – I MUST touch it.

Hand in waterfall

I have no idea where this impulse comes from, but I if this is not a practice you share, I highly recommend you start.  Just be careful so you don’t fall in.

touching lake water

Ah, clear cool water.

touchign ocean water

Waves are tricky when you’re trying not to get your feet wet!

touching water in a harbor

If I remember correctly, it was about 7 degrees Farenheit out this day. I just HAD to see how cold the water was. (Very.)

So there you have it.  Three fun facts about me.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled blogging.

Forsake thou not thy friend, and the friend of thy father… (Proverbs 27:10).

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Biblical Hebrew: Week 1

Allow me to tell you what I think I know about the Hebrew alphabet.

There are 23 letters in the Hebrew alphabet.  Some people say there are 26.  And immediately we come upon the main lesson of Week 1: In Biblical Hebrew, there is an alternate opinion, spelling, symbol, and/or pronunciation for just about everything.

Of the 23 letters in the Hebrew alphabet, six of them, when they appear at the beginning of a word, have a dot known as a dagesh.  For three of these letters (bet, kof, pey), this dagesh changes the pronunciation.  (These are the three additional letters some scholars consider part of the standard alphabet.)

Five letters in the Hebrew alphabet  (kof, mem, nun, tsadeh, pey), when they appear at the end of a word, have a different symbol known as a “final form.”  Pronunciation does not change.

The Hebrew alphabet contains no vowels.  Three letters (heh, vav, yod) were, at one point in the history of Hebrew, used as both consonants and vowels.  Later, a series of dots and dashes were used to represent vowel sounds, but because the written text was considered sacred, these consonants-used-as-vowels could not be removed, and two of these letters (vav and yod) were simply incorporated into the new vowels.

Hebrew alphabet

From http://www.jewfaq.org/alephbet.htm. Just for the record, about half the names of these letters are spelled differently than how I learned them. There are also 27 letters here (The 5 final forms are listed and shin is listed as one letter rather than two like I learned.)

There are 12 standard vowel points. Three of these (hireq, tsere, holem) have two forms either with the historical consonant or without.  There are several names for each form.  Of these, one of them (at least as we are going to learn in this particular class) changes sound.  Hireq plene (a.k.a. hireq yod), which is a yod with 2 horizontal dots under it, makes an “ee” sound; hireq (a.k.a. hireq defectiva), which is the two horizontal dots without the yod, makes a short “i” sound.

I could go on for a long time about the intricacies of Hebrew vowel points, but let me shift to one final piece.  in addition to vowel points, there is also something called Shewas (pronounced “shwahs”) represented by two vertical dots under the letter symbol.  There is a vocal shewa that makes a slight grunting sound, and a silent shewa that makes no sound at all, but represents the “closing” or end of a syllable.  I think there’s something else that represents the end of an open syllable (one that ends in a vowel) but I haven’t gotten that far yet.  There are five letters in the Hebrew alphabet (ayin, aleph, heh, het, resh) that do not take regular shewas.  They take composites that contain both a shewa (two vertical dots) and either a patah, segol, or qamatz (which are three of the standard vowel points.)

So in summary, The Hebrew alphabet contains approximately 23 letters, 6 alternate beginnings (3 which change sound), 5 final forms, and 5 that take composite vowel symbols.  There are 12 vowel points, 2 shewas and 3 composite shewas.  There are duplicate sounds, duplicate symbols, and alternate names and pronunciations.  But once you get that down, you’ve got the Hebrew alphabet.

Piece of cake.

There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning, but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me (1 Corinthians 14:10-11).

Unchangeable

The other night I went to the grocery store to buy ice cream.  It was on sale, and I was really looking forward to a carton of my favorite, Cookies and Cream.  Unfortunately, as is often the case with sale items, there was no Cookies and Cream in sight.

Sigh.

I was standing in the freezer aisle debating whether to skip the ice cream or get a less desirable flavor when I decided to not give up the hunt so easily.  Maybe there was a carton shoved back behind some of the others.

I dug through first one shelf and then the other.  I sorted through stacks of Rocky Road and Vanilla Bean, and Peanut Butter Cup.  And would you believe my luck?  There in the back I suddenly uncovered a rogue carton of Cookies and Cream.  I snatched it up triumphantly and placed it in my cart.

I was about to walk away when I suddenly realized that what I really wanted was Chocolate Chip.

So I opened the freezer case again, replaced the Cookies and Cream, and bought a carton of Chocolate Chip.

So far I have been happy with my purchase, although I expect at any moment to begin craving Cookies and Cream. (Help me out here.  Am I the only one who does things like this?)

Isn’t it good to know, amidst all our idiosyncrasies and changeability, that there is One who is not tossed so easily by whimsy?  We worship the unchanging, everlasting, eternal God.  He is the one who is, and was, and is to come (Revelation 1:8).  He does not change with the weather, or the season, or the year, or the culture.  Our God is the great I AM.  He was there when time began, and He will be there at the end of time and the beginning of eternity.  No matter what is going on around us, we can rest securely in the firm foundation of our unchanging God.

Think about that the next time you’re deliberating an ice cream selection.

Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am” (John: 8:58).