There’s No Place Like Home

Image by burtamus from Pixabay

There’s no place like home, is there?

A lot of animals would agree with that statement, if they could speak.

Many birds and animals have an uncanny “homing instinct” that allows them to travel thousands of miles to return to the very same location each year.

Monarch butterflies from eastern North America return to the same wintering grounds in central Mexico each year, even to the very same forest.

Sea-dwelling Pacific salmon return to the same river they were born in to spawn.

Pregnant sea turtles migrate thousands of miles across the ocean to lay their eggs on the same beach on which they were born decades earlier.

And then there are homing pigeons, the champions of long-distance way-finding. Their homing instincts are so reliable that they’ve been used in wartime to deliver crucial messages over enemy lines.

But how do they do it?

One theory suggests that homing pigeons may have a mineral called magnetite in their beaks, which acts as a tiny GPS unit. This would allow them to sense the earth’s magnetic fields and their own position in relation to it. If true, it would mean that these birds are essentially flying compasses, with their beaks pointing them in the direction they should go.

It makes me wonder: do humans have a “homing instinct”?

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Have Faith, And Bring Your Umbrella!

Image by Lorri Lang from Pixabay

If you’re a gardener, you know that when you plant seeds in the ground, you can expect results.

Not every seed will germinate, but a great many will. So you need to make preparations beforehand.

For instance, if you’ve planted seeds of climbing plants, you’ll need to provide something for them to cling to as they grow upward. Even if your pea or bean seeds haven’t germinated yet, you still might prepare some trellises or stakes for their eventual growth.

You wouldn’t think of not getting ready for the emergence of your seedlings and adult plants, would you? You have faith that they’re on the way.

Isn’t it funny, then, that when we pray and ask God for things, we often don’t really expect we’ll see any results?

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Sounds Like Paradise

Image of New Zealand by Lars_Nissen from Pixabay

Right now, living in countries like New Zealand sounds like a sort of paradise to the rest of the world.

Some island nations have been able to beat back the novel coronavirus to the point where life is almost back to normal.

People in those countries can once again attend concerts, go out to restaurants or to church, return to their workplaces, and hug their friends and family.

They can pretty much go about their pre-pandemic lives.

For those of us living in countries still battling second or third waves of COVID-19, life in places like New Zealand seems like a dream.

We hope that one day maybe life will be like that for us, too: we long for a world where there are no more restrictions, suffering or death due to COVID-19.

In essence, we all yearn for a release from “bondage,” don’t we?

But even when we’ve been able to put the novel coronavirus in the rear-view mirror, this ache for freedom won’t quite go away.

Why?

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Faster Than The Speed of Light

Artist’s concept of Mars Perseverance Rover, Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

Last week, NASA’s science rover “Perseverance” landed successfully on Mars, to jubilant cheers from scientists back home.

Mission managers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab near Los Angeles had been waiting anxiously for confirmation that the craft had landed safely.

Because it takes radio waves 11 minutes to reach Earth from Mars, “Perseverance” had already settled on the surface of the Red Planet by the time news of its safe arrival reached scientists back on Earth. NASA had to endure a nerve-wracking wait before they got the verification.

We encounter this time lag throughout our universe.

The light from our own Sun takes 8 minutes to reach Earth. Light from Pluto takes 5 hours. It takes 8 years for the light from the “Dog Star” Sirius to reach our planet.

This time lag means that with stars extremely distant from us, we’re actually seeing them now as they were thousands of years ago. It takes that long for their light to travel to us.

It sometimes seems as though there’s a similar “time lag” between our brains and our hearts.

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My Secret Is Finally Out!

Image by philm1310 from Pixabay

Are you a secret cookie dough eater?

Many of us learned as youngsters that raw cookie dough can taste even better than baked cookies. As adults, some of us will sneak a spoonful or two of cookie dough when we’re baking, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

For some of us, however, our addiction to raw cookie dough is rather more extensive. We have a particular problem resisting those tubes of uncooked cookie dough that you can buy in the refrigerated sections of grocery stores.

When we were kids, our Mom would buy a tube of dough and put it in the fridge, but it would mysteriously disappear before she had a chance to bake it.

As adults, our addiction to this surreptitious habit continued. We’d sometimes eat an entire tube of dough without baking a single cookie for our families.

Last summer, the Pillsbury company finally acknowledged what many of us have known for decades: their raw cookie dough tastes darn good, and people can’t resist it. So they’ve developed a formula that is safe to eat raw.

Pillsbury Cookie Dough tubes now state on the label: “Eat or Bake.”

Fellow cookie dough eaters: our secret is finally out!

And yes, I’m admitting that I’ve been a surreptitious cookie dough eater, too. There, I’ve said it.

Frankly, it’s a relief to have it out in the open. It feels liberating to finally admit my secret “sin.”

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You Can’t Go Wrong With These Ingredients!

Woman peering anxiously into oven. Image by press 👍 and ⭐ from Pixabay

When you’re trying out a new recipe for the first time, do you ever get apprehensive that it won’t work out?

I certainly do. That’s why I usually stick with one of my mother’s tried-and-true dessert recipes.

I worry that if I bake a dessert I’ve never attempted before, I’m bound to mess it up. I fear that I’ll disappoint the people I serve it to, and tongues will wag.

As I walk by, people will whisper, “There’s that woman who serves fallen soufflés!”

Or, “Isn’t she the one who bakes cookies that are as hard as hockey pucks?”

In the worst-case scenario of my imagination, my baking debacle will be so embarrassing that I’d have to leave town.

With some recipes, however, you really can’t go wrong, even if you’ve never tried them before.

Brownies, for instance.

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God Will Go Ahead of You

Cow eyeing something suspiciously. Image by ArtTower from Pixabay

Do you ever get a bit anxious when faced with something completely new?

Like how to find a new job in an economy that’s unlike anything you’ve seen before? Or how to navigate a world that’s turned upside-down?

Many of us shrink from the prospect of entering uncharted territory.

And we’re not the only ones: even some animals balk when confronted with something unfamiliar.

Cows are notorious for disliking disruptions to their routines and environments. They’re particularly averse to new gates. Cows are made so nervous by new entrances and openings that they’ll stubbornly resist going through them.

This trait is so well known that it’s given rise to the phrase, “like a cow looking at a new gate.” It means to view something with bewilderment and confusion, as though to say, “Are you serious? I’m not going through that.

Do you feel this way when faced with the uncertainties that the new year may bring? Is fear of the unknown keeping you from stepping forward in faith to realize your dreams?

Fear has a way of paralyzing us, so that we stay stuck where we are instead of trying something new.

But we needn’t be afraid.

God will go through the gate ahead of us.

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No Matter Your Age, There’s a Miracle For You!

Stained glass window depicting Gabriel and Mary. Image by Dorothee Quennesson on Pixabay

When we think of the Christmas story, we often focus on the birth of Jesus as the only miraculous event that occurred.

And indeed it was an awesome miracle: the virgin birth of a baby who would become the Saviour of the world.

But there was another miraculous birth that happened around the same time, described only in the gospel of Luke.

The angel Gabriel told Mary she would conceive without having had relations with her betrothed, Joseph. The Holy Spirit would come upon her, and she would give birth to a son, who was to be called Jesus.

This was no doubt astounding news to Mary. But the angel didn’t stop there: he had another amazing news flash.

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The Seeds of Your Comeback Are Already Forming

Magnolia Buds in Winter. Photo by Pitsch on Pixabay

It can be hard to hold on to hope when winter is coming, can’t it?

The trees and shrubs seem barren of any evidence that life will ever reemerge. It can be rather depressing.

But if you look closely at certain plants during winter, you’ll see something exciting:

Flower buds!

Yes, some plants, such as magnolias, actually set their flower buds for next year during the previous growing season. You can see these buds on the branches all winter long.

In the case of magnolias, the buds are encased in a hairy protective scale to insulate them from the cold, almost like a silvery fur coat. When the time is right the next spring, the flowers are all ready to burst open into glorious bloom.

Isn’t it encouraging to know that the promise of next year’s flowers is already there during the bleak winter?

In the same way, the seeds of your comeback are forming deep within you.

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How Are You Sleeping?

Photo by Danny Chang on Pixabay

How have you been sleeping recently? Do you find yourself waking at night, worried about the future?

Wish you could sleep as soundly as your pet?

Cats and dogs have an advantage when it comes to sleeping deeply. They’re predator animals: in the wild, canines and felines are hunters. Large predator mammals generally spend more time in deep non-REM sleep than their prey.

Prey animals such as rabbits or deer, the hunted, spend more time in lighter non-REM sleep. They also experience very little REM sleep at all. Their survival is dependent on being permanently alert, and the paralysis of REM sleep would make them too vulnerable to their predators.

I wonder if the poor sleep we humans often experience relates to our feeling “hunted,” relentlessly chased by worries, deadlines, and obligations?

Is there a way we can calm our anxious minds and get a good night’s rest?

Yes! I believe the Bible offers some tips to help us sleep better.

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