Sin at the Grocery Store

I confess to sinful behaviour at the supermarket.

I peek into people’s grocery carts to see what they are buying.

I shouldn’t be so nosey.

The Bible tells us to lead quiet lives, and mind our own business.( 1 Thessalonians 4:11)

Nevertheless, all humans have a tendency to compare themselves to others. In Sociology, this is part of Social Comparison Theory.

What others choose to eat is not my business, or is it?

Perhaps, indirectly, it is.

Here in Canada, health care is ‘free’ for everyone, whether you need an antibiotic, or heart surgery, but we pay for medical care through our taxes, and health care costs continue to soar.

Obviously there are some health conditions which are not at all related to what one eats, but there are some that are.

Newfoundland has Canada’s highest rates of obesity, Diabetes and Heart Disease.

Recently, the Government proposed a tax on sugary drinks like Coke and Pepsi, to help moderate people’s dietary choices, but this was met with overwhelming public outcry, as people claimed that this was a ‘tax on the poor.’

Choosing to nourish ourselves and our families well, is an act of love . Choosing healthy foods is not necessarly more expensive, but it does require knowledge of nutrition, careful planning, and creativity.

I try, with God’s help, to look after myself, and others, with careful nutrition.

And so, I may do my small part to try not to bankrupt our health care system, which, in this part of Canada, is getting dangerously close.

May the Lord help us to care wisely for ourselves and others.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Lessons From a Red Dress

Who can resist a bargain ?

I thought I’d order a red dress from Amazon.

My wardrobe is mainly white, navy blue, and camel, with a few black items, and so I thought this would really be cheerful. And what a bargain price was advertised !

When the dress arrived, there were a few disappointments, the first being the sense of body shaming I experienced. The dress was labelled XL ( extra large) !

In North America, I am considered to be a medium sized woman, with a normal BMI (body mass index). However, the dress came from China, and there, according to cultural standards, perhaps I would be considered to be especially ‘large’.

Nevertheless, the dress fit me, and I removed the tag displaying the size.

The next disappointment was the strange chemical smell of the garment, which was decidedly unpleasant. After hanging the dress outside in the sun, and then washing it, the strange odour disappeared.

Suddenly I was overcome with conviction, and realized how petty and entitled my attitude was ! I had complained about the size label, and the smell of the dress , without considering the health and safety of the workers who work in challenging conditions , using a variety of dubious chemicals to make clothing.

May God make us aware that people work in extremely uncomfortable conditions to produce ‘bargain’ products for us.

I enjoyed wearing the cheerful red dress, and remembered the people in far-away factories who had created it.

Nevertheless, I cancelled my account at Amazon.

I’d rather wear the clothes I already have rather than wear items that almost certainly involved some human suffering.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Beer in the Cathedral

Do you agree that in times of stress we are wise to further develop our sense of humour ?

I laughed, (although perhaps I shouldn’t have), when I learned, several years ago through the media, that a cathedral in another Newfoundland outport had been sold, and was going to be turned into a brewery !

The name of the brewery caused me further amusement, since it will be called ‘The Yellow Belly Brewery’. Perhaps the name is appropriate, since selling the historic cathedral as a place to brew alcohol appears to be a cowardly thing to do.

Of course, the town’s parishioners were greatly divided at the decision.

Some lamented, since their ancestors had helped build the church, and it has been the focal point of the community for generations.

Other residents felt less nostalgic, thinking only that ‘times are changing’. Membership had dropped, there was no money for repairs, and the brewery would provide some employment.

Yesterday I checked progress on the brewery, and I could not find any evidence that it is now running. Apparently, beer is not yet flowing in the cathedral.

Perhaps God is not pleased with the proposed project, although the church hierarchy made the deal with the brewery.

The Lord knows that, unfortunately, there are already way too many people with addictions to alcohol in Newfoundland.

Photo is of the cathedral in Harbour Grace, NL

The Unlikely Choir

Have you been asked to do something that you knew would be really challenging ?

The pastor of our little sea-side church asked me, the music director, if I would form a church choir.

At the first practise , six keen women, and two gentlemen arrived.

I discreetly listened to their individual voices, and found that two of the ladies did not sing in tune. ( they lacked pitch accuracy).

Two other women sang in tune, but decades of cigarette smoking had affected their vocal chords, and they now preferred to sing an octave lower than the rest of us.

Both gentlemen had lovely tenor voices.

None of the choir members could read music, but they had a great enthusiasm for wanting to praise the Lord.

And so, my challenge began. It was time consuming to find hymns that the members could learn by rote (memory), and also challenging to transpose the music into a key where everyone could sing.

But we persisted, enjoyed wonderful fellowship, and each week, amazingly, we continued to improve.

Eventually we were invited to sing at other local churches, at long- term care homes, and even at a Christmas Concert televised on cable t.v.

The unlikely choir was successful, because despite our challenges, the Holy Spirit blessed our sincere efforts to worship.

God sees all of his children’s heartfelt desires to praise Him.

I never told the two choir ladies that they did not sing in tune. That really didn’t matter, since God loved their music.

Photo courtesy of iStock.

Photo of Trinity Newfoundland with iceberg and lighthouse in the distance

No Escape, and Cheese Buns

Do you enjoy welcoming new neighbours?

I made my favourite cheese buns, and brought them over to Sue and Brian’s recently renovated 1898 home.

They had moved to our village from Ontario just before the pandemic began.

Rural Newfoundlanders are somewhat Xenophobic (fearful of strangers).

They want to make sure that newcomers are not ‘running away from something’. Somewhat affectionately, they call a newcomer a CFA (Come From Away)

Have you found that people sometimes think that they can run away from things, people, or situations ?

If a job dissatisfies , the philosophy goes – find a new one! This applies to a spouse as well, or friends that have becoming challenging.

However, this is a fallacy, because, essentially, what we are trying to escape is ourselves, and this is impossible.

I love the title of the book ‘Wherever you Go, There You Are’, by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Wherever we move to, our thought patterns, attitudes, beliefs and ways of interpreting the world remain constant, unless we consciously work to challenge, and change our behaviours and beliefs.

Although our new homes and environments can provide new levels of novelty and distraction, eventually our level of life happiness, or dissatisfaction re-emerges.

Things of the world can entertain or distract us, but they can never provide the deep inner peace that we are all seeking.

St. Augustine reminds us that our hearts are restless, until they find their rest in God.

Ultimately only a relationship with God, through Jesus, will satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts.

As our relationship with the Lord deepens, we find that we are comfortable, and content wherever we are, for the Lord directs our steps.

He seeks to give us the inner peace that we all desire.

Photo by Sally

Laurie, and Smart Carts

Today is a time to think about the value and dignity of work.

I was recently checking out at the grocery store, and chatting with my friend Laurie, who works at the cash register.

I always turn items so that bar codes face towards Laurie, so that she can see them, and scan them more easily. Laurie has thanked me for doing this, as it makes her work a little easier.

She has told me a few times that she fears that her job may soon be eliminated, as technology advances. She left school at 16 to have her son, and she believes that job opportunities are limited for her. She is dependent on her job.

Laurie may be right. Already, Smart Carts are in use in some Sobeys grocery stores in Canada, and at the US chain Kroger.

The carts automatically calculate the price of items placed in the cart, and allow customers to pay directly, thus eliminating the work of cashiers.

Let us pray for those who would like to work but have no jobs, for those who work hard at jobs but still remain poor, and for those whose jobs are in danger of being eliminated.

Jesus clearly demonstrated the dignity of work. He, and his foster father, Joseph, were carpenters.

Internet photo of Smart Carts.

The Bench

A bench has divided our village.

It was placed earlier this summer, and I rest here when I’m out walking.

A local church, seeing the colourful bench, felt inspired to have an outdoor ‘worship service’.

They brought outside their ultra powerful sound system, with speakers loud enough for a Rock Concert.

Then they broadcast , at great volume, throughout the village, that God had made two sexes, male and female.

They videotaped and posted their worship service on social media, where it caught the attention of national media.

Our local administration was interviewed by reporters, and the controversial video created division and hurt throughout our community. Another church, whose music minister and his husband are both talented musicians, was especially offended.

We know that ‘the evil one’ loves to create division.

Everyone in the village has an opinion about the bench, although most will not say anything.

How do I feel about the bench ?

I am only a housewife theologian, who follows the guidance of Jesus, who taught us to love our neighbours as we love ourselves.

Photo by Sally

Conquering Fear

We had an intruder at our place this year !

It was an aggressive and persistent Ring-billed gull.

These are the kind of guys who give seagulls their bad reputation. We have enjoyed another gull’s company since 2017, but he is a Herring Gull, who is quiet, shy, and unassuming.

The intruding gull was obnoxious, sat on the back deck, and stared at us through the glass door with his intense yellow and black eyes.

Of course we didn’t feed him, but he kept hanging around. He had a horrible repertoire of ear-piercing shrieks and screeches. Our peace had disappeared.

Our neighbours knew we were upset, and told us to get a decoy owl, as this would , for sure, frighten the rude intruder away.

So we drove all the way to a Canadian Tire store, and bought a decoy owl, which we placed it on a pole. For two days we had peace , with no pesky gull.

The third day, the bold gull returned, sat on a rock, and stared menacingly at the owl. When he realized the owl didn’t move, he grew more confident.

This morning, I noticed that the gull had completely conquered his fear. He was sitting triumphantly on the owl’s head !!

Often, in our spiritual walk, we can walk in fear of those things that really can’t harm us.

A friend of mine said that fear is :

F-false

E-evidence

A-appearing

R- real

If we look around at the media, there are many things that could frighten us, but we choose to stay focused on Jesus, who promises to be with us at every moment of our lives.

One of the advantages of being old ( and there are many) is that I can look back on countless times when I may have ‘feared’ something, but the Lord has brought me through every difficulty. Often, with the passage of years, our faith strengthens, as we discover that Jesus is completely trustworthy.

He will always stay with his beloved.

Therefore, we follow Christ’s directions to us. We will trust, and not be afraid.

Ultimately, choosing to exercise our faith, rather than to be overwhelmed by fear is an act of our will, and is empowered by the Holy Spirit, who dwells within us.

Photo by Sally

Thirst

I saw Wayne walking down the road without a shirt on.

It was a sizzling hot day in the village, and he looked exhausted.

Wayne suffers with alcohol addiction, which likely made him somewhat dehydrated, and that can be problematic in high heat.

He approached me and asked if I had some change so he could buy a bottle of water.

Like many of us, I don’t carry money these days, except for a twenty dollar bill for ‘cash emergencies’.

This was an emergency if I ever saw one.

I gave him the bill, he thanked me, and headed towards the Convenience Store.

The store also carries beer, and yes, it crossed my mind what Wayne would buy, but I’m sure he quenched his thirst that day.

Now that we’ve established rapport, the next time I see Wayne, I may tell him about Jesus, the source of living water who quenches all of our spiritual thirst.

‘Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them. John 7:38

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

***names are always changed in my posts

Searching For Amy

We’ve been searching for Amy for almost two years.

She is not a puppy that we lost, but one that we are hoping to adopt.

Golden Retrievers are in high demand, especially since the pandemic. We are currently still on a wait list, but we have her name picked out already. She would be our third Golden. A large fenced yard , and swimming opportunities are great for these loving, athletic dogs.

Dogs are so beloved by their owners because they are always so glad to see them, and they always let their owners know that they are highly adored !

Do we consistently tell our loved ones how much we love them, not only through our words, but also through our body language and expressions ?

Sometimes I see people scowling at their loved ones, and this confuses me. People are extremely sensitive to others’ facial expressions.

Infants as young as five months learn to recognize their parents’ facial expressions. Our children especially focus on our eyes, and they are much more sensitive to changes in our expression than we realize. Human recognition of emotions, and the ability to tolerate differing emotions begin in infancy. Moms especially need to be sensitive to this. Emotional intelligence is a learned communication skill.

I let my family and friends know, always, that they are precious to me. I smile when I see them. I look at them fondly, with admiration. My husband knows, by the way I look at him, and my facial expressions, how much he is loved.

He knows how I feel even when I am silent. (Sometimes we think words are most important.)

As Psychologist Albert Mehrabin states, up to 93% of human communication is non-verbal.

God also looks at us, his beloved, with great love and affection. Through Jesus, we are his adopted children. He looks at us with the loving, protective gaze of a parent. He guards us as the apple of His eye. (Psalm 17:8)

May we pray for the grace to be able to consistently communicate to others how precious they are to us, and to God.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay