The Singer

The bar was noisy, and exceptionally smokey that night.

A singer stood on the narrow stage. She played a white guitar, and wore a pink lace fingerless glove on her right hand.

I was that singer.

In my youth I was a member of a band called ‘Rhythm and Blondes’. We chose this name because our bass guitar player, Laurie, was also blonde.

We played various gigs in seedy establishments, always hoping that we would be discovered, and become famous. I shudder now when I think about the ungodly lyrics of the songs we sang.

It was obviously sinful, choosing to entertain drunken customers. However, even more serious, was my sin of presumption.

I had been to Sunday School as a child, and at age fifteen I emotionally responded to an altar call at an evangelistic crusade.

Since I had ‘invited Jesus into my heart’, I felt that I was now ‘saved’, so I could now carry on in sin, and Jesus would forgive my sins because He loves me so much.

My reasoning was faulty, however. Of course Jesus forgives sinners – his sacrificial death occurred to buy our pardon, and yet God expects us to genuinely repent and to turn away from a sinful lifestyle.

When we are authentically spiritually re-born, or ‘born-again’, we will obey God’s commandments and we’ll develop a desire to grow increasingly closer to God, to serve Him, and our neighbour.

As we are guided by the Holy Spirit, our character changes, and we begin to see the world, and people, as God sees them.

I didn’t genuinely repent and undergo conversion until a few years later, after I was married. My husband and I were involved in another grave sin – the excessive pursuit of materialism. One Sunday, on one of the rare times I attended church, I listened to the testimony and conversion experience of Anne, a sincere believer whom I really admired. Anne, my neighbour, mentored me as I genuinely invited Christ to guide my life. She helped me as I took my new first steps as a Christian, and we remain close friends.

Let us continue to pray for people who don’t yet know the Lord.

I know that while I was at my most rebellious, people were praying for me.

iStock photo

Acoustic guitar played by a girl and colorful lights

Restaurant Stress

Have you been to a restaurant since pandemic restrictions lifted ?

We left the village yesterday and travelled to a city, and went to a restaurant !

There was a long line up. People were wearing masks, but were allowed to remove them as soon as they sat down. Of course, the irony of this made me laugh a bit.

Loud music was blaring. Am I the only person who dislikes loud dining ?

Our meals were slow in arriving, because it was busy.

Just as I was in the midst of grumbling to myself about the music, and the slow service, I was overcome with conviction.

I looked over at our server, who was moving at a frantic pace, carrying plates of food to waiting patrons.

There were only two servers in this large place. I could see how stressed they appeared.

Then I thought of the cooks, preparing the food. I thought of the time pressure that they are working under, and how stressed they must feel.

I enjoy cooking, but only if I am not rushed. I enjoy ‘slow cooking’.

I thought of the restaurant owner too, perhaps trying to keep costs low since the restaurant had been closed for so long during the restrictions.

As Christ followers, we are to be thinking about the needs of others. Christ gives us the ability to see people as He sees them.

Jesus came to serve, and not to be served.

We left a generous tip for our server. Does God notice how generously we tip those who serve us ?

Yes, He does.

Photo courtesy of Pexels

An Ideal Garment…

Such a hot summer many of us are having -even here in Newfoundland !

Have you thought about what clothing types would be best for such extreme temperatures ?

I thought that the best fabric would be cotton, since it is a cool, breathable fabric.

Then, of course, it should be organic cotton, made from plants grown without toxic pesticides or fertilizers. Most cotton currently grown worldwide is ‘bt’ genetically modified cotton which is produced with lots of toxic chemicals. It is considered to be harmful to the environment.

Also, the ideal garment should be white, since white clothing reflects light. This also would save on textile dyes, which are also harmful to the environment.

In my case, the best garment would be a dress. I don’t wear slacks unless I’m exercising. This is because when I was a girl, we weren’t allowed to wear slacks, and so I never really got used to them.

And the ideal dress would be modest, and loose fitting, for comfort in the heat.

It should also be produced in an ethical factory where workers are paid well.

And, the ideal garment should also decompose naturally, after it has provided the wearer with years of pleasure and comfort.

I can report to you that, after a long time of researching and sleuthing on the internet, I found one dress that fit all of the above criteria !

There is only one problem for me – the price of the dress is $770 US dollars. ( this is about my monthly food budget).

I am still searching for a similar garment, at a lower cost.

May God remind us to pray for cotton farmers who grow a precious crop.

Let us also remember to pray for those who have sewn the clothing that we wear.

Photo from TOVE internet site.

Anger Management

Have you heard of anyone who was required to take a course to manage their anger ?

Our goal, as we reach emotional maturity, is to learn to recognize, tolerate and manage all of our emotions, especially anger, since it has the possibility of turning into aggression.

Anger results when our expectations are not met.

Perhaps we can learn a lesson from Joe, who ‘went beserk’.

Joe’s faulty technique of managing anger was to suppress it and deny it.

When a priest mysteriously disappeared from our Parish without explanation, Joe became angry. He had an expectation that we churchgoers would be told what had happened, but we weren’t.

Joe denied feeling angry and continued coming to church, with the expectation that he would eventually find out what happened.

As the weeks went by, and the silence continued, his anger grew, until he confronted a visiting priest one morning, and demanded to know where the missing priest went.

Joe yelled, and became aggressive. He had the classic ineffective style of ‘bottle and blow’ anger. It was scary.

After he aggressively expressed his suppressed anger, he left, and didn’t return to church.

When we feel mounting anger, it gives us an opportunity to practise our assertiveness skills.

Generally we will feel physical symptoms when our unmet expectations result in anger.

For me, I clench my jaw and my face turns red.

Joe, when he first felt anger at the vanished priest, could have asked for an explanation. That was entirely within his rights.

Our anger, if we are in tune with our emotions, is an early warning sign that our expectations, whether they are realistic or not, are not being met.

We are wise when we try to resolve our feelings of anger while they are in their warning stages of frustration, or annoyance.

We are created in God’s image, and since He feels anger, we do too.

May we pray for the grace to understand our anger, and that of others.

May God give us the ability to be effective managers of all our emotions.

And, may He give us the wisdom to recognize which of our expectations are realistic, and which are not.

Photo by Isabella Kraus

Weak and Strong

Have you ever written a letter of complaint to a company ?

I was growing frustrated trying to remove the lid of my favourite bottle of healthy grape juice.

It was difficult ! I decided that the fault must lie with the grape juice manufacturer ; they must be putting the lids on too tight now…

And so, I started mentally composing my letter of complaint.

However, as a researcher, my training tells me to consider all possibilities.

I thought that perhaps my hand grip strength was getting weaker, and when I tested this hypothesis using a small dynamometer I purchased, I found that my grip strength was now ‘below average’. ( grip strength tables are available online).

Luckily, also available online, are dozens of strategies and devices available, all designed to maintain and strengthen grip strength.

As we age, over-all body strength tends to decline, but, as we become aware of this, healthy exercise can help us maintain fitness.

As we grow older, the Lord seems to stay closer to us, as we seek continued fellowship with Him. When we are vulnerable, He proves to us that we can rely on his comfort, assistance and strength.

Fortunately, technology today is greatly helpful with the challenges that time can bring.

I started a training program to strengthen my hands and arms.

I am happy that my current grip strength is now ‘above average’

I have also ordered an electric jar opener on line.

‘For when I am weak, then I am strong’

(2 Corinthians 12:10)

Photo of dynamometer by Sally

Photo Re-touching Crime

It is now illegal, in Norway, for influencers and advertisers to post re-touched , or photoshopped photos of people on social media, without clearly indicating that the photos have been MODIFIED.

Parliament passed this new ruling earlier this month in response to the ‘body pressure’ that people were feeling when trying to measure up to the unrealistic photos that some people post to make themselves look better. Young people, especially, when comparing themselves to the ‘perfect’ photos posted were showing difficulties with self-esteem.

Violators, who re-touch without notifying that the photos are altered, are now subject to heavy fines.

Out of curiosity, after I read this, I downloaded an app, called ‘Retouch Me’ onto my little phone.

I was shocked to learn that if I uploaded a full-length photo, it could make my biceps look larger, and my feet smaller.

It could change my complexion, and it could remove wrinkles from my skin, and my clothing too !

There was a charge of $20 for the first change, and there were extra costs for any subsequent requested improvements.

I laughed when I saw this, and then deleted the app.

The world is full of deception, and we need to use continued discernment in questioning if things are really what they seem to be.

The Bible rarely mentions what people specifically looked like.

Even Jesus, the Messiah, is not physically described.

The world is superficial, and its values often contrast sharply with God’s viewpoint.

The world looks at outward appearances, but God looks at the heart. ( I Samuel 16:7)

Photo of a fiord in Norway courtesy of Pixabay

Shift Change

Do you find looking at the sky comforting ?

Twilight has been called the time of ‘shift change’.

In Genesis 1:16, the Bible describes the two great lights that God created to illumine the earth.

At twilight, the sun has dipped below the horizon, and we wait for the moon, the lesser light to appear.

Since our rugged island is at high latitude, our twilight times are relatively long, as God delights us with dazzling colour displays most evenings after sunny days. Seabirds fly to their nighttime nests, and the waves make their gentle rhythmic whooshing sounds.

It is a reminder that God is the same, yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

As the Lord grants us His peace, we trust, and we are not afraid.

As the Doxology tells us : ‘As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever more shall be…

Photo by Sally

Microchips ?

Do you have a pet that has a microchip ?

Our puppy, Paris, had a microchip when we adopted her. It was reassuring , because she was frisky, and wandered away from home a few times.

Sweden has been placing microchips in humans, since 2015.

The Swedes are leaders in new technologies, and thousands of Swedish citizens have already accepted microchips which are about the size of a grain of rice, and which are implanted in the left hand between the thumb and the index finger.

The microchips are convenient, people say, since they can replace the inconvenience of using cash or credit cards.

One man, who frequently misplaced his keys, reports the convenience of unlocking his doors with his microchip.

Future implications for microchips could potentially involve their storing one’s medical records, and even one’s important legal documents.

Countries such as the UK, Spain, Germany and Japan are now also exploring the use of Swedish microchip technology.

What seems like the stuff of science fiction is already available, and of course, upon hearing about such new developments, some people will be concerned about what the microchipping of humans may represent.

As always, we ask God for continued wisdom and discernment. We need His continual help as we continue to navigate in this increasingly complex world.

Photo by Sally

A Restaurant Surprise

People left their tables, and rushed over to the restaurant’s windows.

A moose was coming down the street !

The poor animal had become confused, and entered our village. It kept on going until the end of the street, and then swam to a nearby island, from where it was rescued. Moose have poor vision, but they are excellent swimmers.

It was our first experience seeing one of these huge mammals, which can weigh up to 1400 pounds. We had just recently moved to the seaside.

Moose are not native to Newfoundland, but a couple of them were brought over here in 1878.

It was hoped that they would multiply, and thus attract big game hunters to the island.

They multiplied so quickly that our island now has more moose per capita than any other place in North America !

There are numerous highway signs urging drivers to be cautious of these giants that might be on the road. They are one of the reasons that I pray before I drive.

Our ruggedly beautiful island has relatively few native wildlife species.

We have no skunks, snakes, turtles, porcupines, or raccoons.

And, here, living so close to the sea, the air is too salty for mosquitos.

‘All things bright and beautiful,

All creatures great and small,

All things wise and wonderful

The Lord God made them all.’

Cecil Francis Alexander

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

A Prayer For Cheesecake

She did not waste time on small talk.

When Margaret called me twice a month on Wednesdays, she simply said : ‘Can you bring some sandwiches for Sunday?’

I obliged and brought dainty crustless sandwiches to our after service fellowship times. All the ladies brought food ; we looked forward to these times.

I thought, though, that it would be nice to feed others in the village too.

Three times I suggested to our ladies’ group that we could offer a free monthly soup kitchen , or maybe a dessert night to people in the community, as a sign of friendship, and a way to introduce Jesus to others.

However, I am rather soft-spoken, and when I made my suggestion, Susan, the most boisterous of our group would loudly say : ‘That’s too much WORK’, and the ladies would chuckle.

Imagine my surprise when Margaret called and told me that our group was planning to host a dessert night, with tea and coffee, for the public . I felt that my suggestion had been heard !

Immediately I knew that I would contribute my favourite cheesecake.

Then came the disappointing news. They were planning to charge a $7.00 a person admission price for dessert night. I was hoping that dessert night would be free.

The church had some unexpected expenses, and so the ladies organized a fundraiser.

If we wonder why people are not lining up to join our churches, we might consider whether or not we present ourselves as closed cliques to outsiders.

May the Lord make us increasingly sensitive to ways in which we can present the saving grace of the gospel to others.