Are you one of those people who is terrible with names?
I must confess to belonging to this group as well.
When being introduced to someone new, somehow their name starts to slip my mind’s grasp only a few minutes later.
This failing bothers me, because I know that people appreciate it when you remember their names.
My late father hit on a mnemonic device to solve this problem: You should come up with some sort of image to associate with the person’s name. That will help fix it in your mind.
He figured this method was foolproof.
Until the day he was in a camera store and met an employee there named Royce.
When you hear the name Royce you naturally think of Rolls Royce, a maker of luxury British cars. So my Dad decided the best way to remember this man’s name was to picture him driving an expensive British car.
The next time my father saw Royce in the camera shop, he confidently greeted him with, “Bentley, good to see you!”
(For those who don’t know, Bentley is another maker of luxury British cars.)
So much for mnemonic devices!
Aren’t you glad that we have a God who is perfect with names?
God not only knows your name, He knew you before you were even given a name.
If you had to guess, what would you say is the most valuable thing in the world by weight?
If you’re a cook, you might pick costly foods like beluga caviar or white truffles. Or perhaps the spice saffron, which can go for thousands of dollars per pound.
If you’re a jewellery lover, your mind might go to precious metals like silver, gold or platinum. You’d know that gold has been revered since ancient times, and sometimes goes for thousands of dollars per ounce.
You’d be getting warmer if you worked in industry and knew that some substances used in things like catalytic converters are very costly indeed. Rhodium and palladium are even more valuable than gold.
These would all be good guesses, but not even close.
What about diamonds as the most valuable thing on earth by weight? Very rare coloured diamonds such as the red can be valued at millions of dollars per gram.
If you’re a scientist, you might get closer by guessing plutonium, used to fuel nuclear reactors. Or you might figure you’ve hit the jackpot by picking antimatter, which might power spaceships one day.
This substance requires inconceivable amounts of energy to generate. It’s estimated that antimatter costs tens of billions or even trillions of dollars per gram.
But there’s one thing on earth more valuable than even that…
If you’re out in the countryside, how can you tell if you’re near water?
You may be able to catch a glimpse of blue and know that you’re near a lake or pond, but sometimes trees may hide it from your view. What then?
You can use your other senses, plus search for indirect clues.
If you hear the sound of waves lapping on the shore or running water cascading over rocks, you know you’re close to water even if you can’t see it.
Hearing the call of the red-winged blackbird can be another clue, because this bird prefers habitats near water.
Your sense of smell might help you detect the presence of water, too. Wet earth gives off a distinctive scent, and the presence of algae in a lake also emits an odour that can be a tip-off.
If vegetation is blocking the sight of a pond or river, even that vegetation itself can be a clue for you. If you see lots of willow trees, you’re bound to be near water, as willows are naturally found there.
So there are things we can look for that indicate the presence of water, even if it’s hidden from our sight.
But what about when we’re trying to determine if God is near?
We might not be able to see Him directly in physical form, but are there still indications that our Heavenly Father is close by?
Gardeners know that storms can wreak terrible havoc with their plant friends.
If the winds are strong enough, mature trees can be downed, leaving a gaping hole where they once stood.
In a garden, the loss of a large tree upsets the ecosystem of the area. It changes all manner of things, from the shade afforded plants in the understory, to the strength of the wind that buffets them, to the amount of rain reaching the ground. The entire microclimate is affected.
But the subtraction of a tree also presents new opportunities for a gardener.
Suddenly, more sunlight and rain can reach the area. There is space now for new plants or trees to grow that couldn’t before. Where once the gardener was limited to plants suitable only for shade, now he or she can consider roses, vegetables or other sun-loving plants.
So I suppose a storm’s effects aren’t always strictly negative for gardeners.
But what about the storms of life? Is there anything good that can come when some disaster leaves a gaping hole in our lives?
If you’re a pilot, there are a lot of things to worry about up in the skies.
Stalling your aircraft is one of them.
If your plane no longer has enough lift to keep you flying, it will falter and enter an aerodynamic stall. You need to take corrective action, and fast.
So how does a pilot get out of a stall?
Nose down, full throttle.
This means the pilot must push the nose of the plane downward and give the engines full power.
To a layperson, this course of action seems scary and counter-intuitive. Surely the last thing a pilot should be doing when they’re in trouble is aiming the plane toward the ground at full speed?
It may seem nerve-wracking, but it’s the only way to get out of a stall. Going nose down, full throttle will give the plane the needed airspeed to regain lift and get out of the stall. Then, the pilot can resume level flight and continue on the desired flight path.
In life, too, sometimes we need to do something that scares us a little in order to get out of trouble.
Like when we sin or make a mistake that we know would displease God.
Some flowers have a trick up their sleeve (or up their petals):
They’re able to change colour.
I recently noticed a beautiful flowering plant heavy with pink blossoms in a neighbour’s garden. When I walked by several days later, I saw that some of the flowers had turned a lighter creamy colour as they matured. I did a double take and had to make sure I was indeed looking at the same plant as before.
Other flowering plants have the same ability to surprise us with shifting colours.
Among them is the aptly named “yesterday-today-and-tomorrow” plant. This tropical shrub has short-lived flowers which change colour as they age. They start out as purple, then shift to lavender and finally fade to white before dropping from the plant.
While flowers that change colour can delight and surprise us, sometimes we need something unchanging and constant in our lives.
Isn’t it good to know that we can count on God to always remain the same?
Can the monstera houseplant teach us something about our faith in God?
This plant, nicknamed the Swiss cheese plant, has become hugely popular in recent times. Much sought after, it has risen to the status of an icon among houseplant aficionados.
But besides being a fun plant to grow indoors, is there anything we can learn from the monstera? Can its example help us grow spiritually?
I believe that just about everything in the natural world can teach us something that can deepen our faith. I like how Ralph Waldo Emerson put it: “Every natural fact is a symbol of some spiritual fact.”
And the monstera is no exception!
Here are 5 things this special and beloved plant can teach us: