Last Updated on March 20, 2018

“Spell cheetah.”

My son writes C-H-E-E-T-A-Y. He knows there is some odd letter on the end.

“Not quite. You are so close! Can you fix the last letter?”


“Almost! It’s H. C-H-E-E-T-A-H.”

He deftly corrects the spelling with his dry erase marker.

“Okay, next word. Spell zebra.”


I put my head in my hands and laugh. “You are right — it should be spelled that way, just like cheetah. But it isn’t. I don’t know why. There’s no H on zebra.”

Spelling has been a big challenge for a few of my children. Developmental delays and learning differences have brought us to various spelling methods, with just-as-various success. I’m not sure my children will all be master spellers by the time they graduate, but it’s okay. I’m more concerned that they learn another lesson about words: they matter.

Words enable us to communicate — or miscommunicate, as the case may be. They help us build relationships — or destroy them. Words carry encouragement, healing, and hope. Or just the opposite. In a culture that values speaking one’s mind, I have to wonder if that’s really such a great idea.

God, in His Word, the Bible, has more than a few things to say about it. For example:

“When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise.” Proverbs 10:19 NASB

“A fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind.” Proverbs 18:2

“Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word makes it glad.” Proverbs 12:25

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” Proverbs 18:21a

“He who guards his mouth and his tongue, guards his soul from troubles.” Proverbs 21:23

“For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.” Matthew 12:34b

And this is just a teeny-tiny sampling. Why do you think God gives us so many instructions about our speech? Most likely because He knows we have a little trouble with it. Okay, a lot of trouble with it. And because it really does matter.

If you’d like to hear more of what He has to say on it, I recommend reading the Proverbs and the book of James in the Bible. And when you realize that you need God’s help to use your words wisely, you can pray this prayer, one of my favorites:

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14

Another day, another spelling list….

“Spell milk.”

“M-I-L-K. May I have a cup of milk?”

“Sure.” As he heads toward the kitchen, I look down at the next word on the spelling list. “How about cheese?”

“No thanks, I already had some.”

He disappears around the corner. I put my head in my hands and laugh.



You just finished reading the blog post “Words Matter” by Megan Rice. What’s next?

Can you remember a time when words caused a difficult situation? Or helped resolve one?

Talk to your child today and teach them this prayer: “”Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14″

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  1. Jennifer Dyer says:

    Thanks, Megan. You’re so right. Words do matter. I think often about that sticks and stones rhyme. Sometimes words can inflict the deepest injuries, but words can also bring someone out of the lowest of lows. Words are important.