Bloganuary Day 31

When I was a child, I could see so many more stars and I would wonder at them. Now, a star is a reminder of infinite possibilities. In Genesis, God told Abraham: “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be”.

As I look back on this blogging exercise, what are the possibilities that I now see? I think it has stretched me a little, although I’m not sure how this has changed my focus or my style. I found the earlier prompts inspiring, but the later ones, much less so. As a result, I skipped a few days. I noticed some fellow beginner bloggers like me doing the same, or dropping out altogether, which was a pity as some are pretty talented. There is substance in what they write and I was hoping to read more.

So if you’re reading this, and you’ve noticed my likes and comments, please continue — don’t stop 🙂 I’ve enjoyed your writing, but I may not follow you because your main blog topic isn’t within my area of interests. But once I notice you’re focusing on something I really like, I will follow 🙂

As for me, I have built my community a little in this exercise, but I hope in time to have a bigger, more vibrant community where we can share our experiences and so enrich one another.

I mean, we can always wish upon a star, can’t we?

What about you? What has your experience been?

Bloganuary Day 30

I’m attracted to a small tree I can see from my balcony window. From my viewpoint, it looks like it has been stripped of all its leaves but it stands there, defiantly blooming, wearing bright red flowers on top like a cap. The trees next to it are giants.

I wonder — who planted it? Unlike the other trees that are carefully arranged in a line and are about the same age, it seems so random. Did it grow from a seed that was carelessly dropped by a flying bird, and the caretakers of the land decided to just let it be? Or was it deliberately planted?

Perhaps one day I’ll walk down to the field and ask the quizzical caretakers how it came about.

Meantime, whenever I look out my balcony window, I admire it. I am amazed by how it stands alone in a field that doesn’t look that well-cared for — in some places, the grass has dried or has disappeared. But there it is, blooming its bright red blooms.

I guess I’m like that tree: I’m uniquely myself, I don’t look or sound or behave like others. I can stand out at times, unintentionally, for just being me, blooming where I’m planted, against the odds. Just like that tree.

Bloganuary Day 28

The past few days, I have been listening to The Voice 2021, a reality TV singing competition. Singers contest to be chosen by one of four coaches in a blind audition — all the coaches can’t see who is singing unless they press the red button, which will swing their chair around.

I loved the fact that the four coaches, accomplished singers themselves, were often transfixed by the contestants’ vocal tone, range and techniques. In response, John Legend would often give a shout out “Oh yeah!” or “Sing it!”; Ariane Grande would leap up and prance a little; Kelly Clarkson would stand and proclaim, “Pick me! Pick me!” whenever there was an outstanding audition; and Blake Shelton would often wax eloquent about his past record of coaching singers who eventually won. I find their unique personalities refreshing and their friendly rivalry to woo contestants to their team quite comical.

And of course, there were the contestants. They were all super-talented, but during the blind audition, I was immediately captivated by the harmonies of the sibling trio, Girl Named Tom. All four coaches wanted them, but they picked Kelly Clarkson (she was the first to turn around, although that may not be the reason they picked her), and Coach Kelly helped them win Season 21.

So, here’s my playlist consisting of my four favorite GNT performances:

I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Bloganuary Day 27

It’s by a running river where sea eagles hunt for fish and otters play in the waters, where the breeze blows and the trees sway in harmony along the banks. It probably takes me an hour to walk from one end to the other, but in that hour the wind softly buffets me, like an old friend.

At the other end, as fluffy clouds float by, I watch herons stalking fish or turtles basking motionless in the last hour of the setting sun. Sometimes, I gasp in awe as the occasional eagle swoops low as if to say Hello.

It’s a beautiful world, filled with diversity.

Bloganuary Day 24

He resembled Leonardo da Vinci’s drawing of the ideal man, but transformed into a living, chalk white sculpture. I, wearing a dress, was trying hard to swing on a high trapeze. I looked years younger, and I was messing up the trapeze act, trying to get the twisting ropes to swing straight.

Da Vinci’s ideal man came up, tall and strong, and said bluntly, “That is not for you,” and led me away.

Next, I find myself alone in a room with an open door. I am standing barefoot in a scallop-shaped pool filled with fresh water and have a large conch seashell in my hand to use as a scoop.

And then I see a 30-ish man, smartly dressed in collared T-shirt and belted trousers in front of me. He was so eager to get into the pool that he hadn’t taken his shoes off. Looking at me with expectation, he was standing in the clear, clean water, both feet clad in a pair of brown suede boat shoes.

Then the dream ended, and I woke up with a “Hmmm?” in my mind.

This was in the late 80s.

Thirty years later, I am helping people get clean.

10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

1When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

John 13:10-17

Bloganuary Day 22

It seems easier to trust Google more than we trust God. Google has all the answers. Type in anything and the answers, true or false, will come up in a millisecond.

Trusting God is a more… esoteric experience. But He challenges us to do exactly that:

It’s a heart matter, a love matter actually; people in love may act in quite irrational ways — at least that’s how pragmatic people will view it.

In my culture, we’re urged to get the 5Cs — cash, credit card, car, condominium, and membership in a country club. That’s a sign of having “arrived”.

In contrast, God tells us to be counter-culture — give up everything, including all the signs of having “arrived”, and follow Him. That is not comfortable. Not at all.

There’s even more. He says:

Jesus, I have found, has a tendency to up the ante.

Years ago, I was faced with that choice — to choose what the culture tells me is the right thing to do, or to choose what Jesus tells me to do. I did the latter.

It has been an excellent decision.

Bloganuary Day 23

“So how did you meet this man, whom you think is so special?” I asked a little sceptically.

“I was on the streets, looking for ‘business’,” she said coyly. Mary usually dressed like a model, with smooth black hair, impeccable makeup, stylish clothes sitting well on her — she was stunning. But today, she wore blue shorts and a white T-shirt, her long hair in a pony tail, face makeup-free which meant small acne scars showed up on her pale skin.

“And this man came up to me from around the corner. I thought I would have some business today. But he was… unusual. He wasn’t looking up and down my body as they usually do. He was looking right into my eyes.” Mary looked faraway as she recalled the memory.

“His eyes were bluer than blue, and I felt myself drawn right in; there was so much depth in them, such understanding — I felt he knew the deepest secrets of my heart — and yet, and yet… it sounds so trite, but I felt he loved… he loved me.” The last few words came out in a rush, almost as if she couldn’t quite believe it.

“I was stunned. Then I cried, and I couldn’t stop crying. I didn’t even know why I was crying. And then when I looked up, he was gone”.

Mary was crying again, and I fumbled for a tissue. I waited as she wiped away her tears and blew her nose. She asked:

“Do you know who this man is?” I thought she already knew, as I’d spoken about him before. But I guess she wanted me to say it, so I did.

“Sounds like Jesus,” I said.

“Can He appear and disappear, just like that?” Mary asked incredulously.

“Well, He has been known to do that on rare occasion,” I answered with a small smile.

“Why did He appear to me?”

“Perhaps He was answering the cry in your heart — to be loved. Not used.” Mary stared at me, looked down, then looked away; tears were forming in her eyes again.

I knew it was going to be a long day.

Bloganuary Day 19

I became a member of a traditional denomination in 1989. Sometime in the early 90s, we had Sunday evening services, held in the then “new” wing, about 13 years old that time. These would finish around 9pm or later, depending on the preacher. A friend and I were regulars.

One Sunday, after the evening service had finished, my friend was walking down the stairs towards the main road, I following behind, when she suddenly exclaimed: “Something touched my leg!” We stopped and instinctively looked to the right where there was a cluster of green plants, about waist high. The bushes were moving in a deliberate manner as if something was pushing past, except that “something” couldn’t be seen.

I wondered about that intrusion:

  • What was that?
  • As Christians, we know there’s a boundary between the seen and unseen world, which is not to be crossed. But something crossed it anyway.
  • Third, why was my friend vulnerable to it?

Today’s question brought back a minor incident which I thought I had forgotten. I guess it’s still filed somewhere in the back of my mind, in the “Mystery” drawer, where I had put it 30 years ago.

Bloganuary Day 18

Not a book. It’s a Zoom call, a teaching on the “Structures of Time”. The title intrigues me. And there are no other details.

Will it zero in on the phenomenon that some people experience of waking up at 3am every night, heart pounding? Or the interesting coincidence others experience of always looking at their watch just when 2.22 strikes, or 3.33….

Is the talk about a new tool to get people unstuck from their past? Some people’s past haunts them, a remnant PTSD perhaps. We have existing tools to help, maybe this is a fresh perspective.

Anyway, whatever it is, the title is enough for me to calendar this and join the Zoom tomorrow at 7.45pm my time.