Knot Between Your Pearls (Not Only Between Your Pearls)
I was given a lovely strand of pearls as a gift and was told that they were Japanese Hanadama Akoya AAA grade pearls designed by Mikimoto. The triple A signifies the highest-quality pearl, “virtually flawless.” I was overwhelmed with such a gift but accepted it shyly.
I have worn these pearls to weddings and some very formal affairs, but I was always concerned about losing them or breaking the strand, so I frequently felt the need to touch them to be certain they hadn’t fallen off my neck. (Silly I know!)
At one particular event I attended, a woman with whom I was speaking, mentioned how beautiful my strand of Mikimoto pearls were. Naively, I asked her how she knew they were designed by Mikimoto, and she commented that she knew quality when she saw it.
I reached for the necklace yet once again to reassure myself they were still on my neck, and she mentioned she had noticed that I kept feeling for the necklace and proceeded to ask me why. I explained that I feared the strand might loosen and if it broke, I would lose all of my pearls. She giggled and said, “My dear, if that strand breaks, you won’t lose a single pearl. In between each pearl is a very tight knot.”
This got me thinking about how much attention I was giving this gift, first because of how expensive it was and second because of the notoriety attached to it. I am not intimating that I should not have taken good care of the pearls but rather how much value I had given them.
That night as I wrapped the strand of pearls back into their jewelry box, the paper that explains how to take care of the pearls was tucked underneath the cloth in the box. I pulled it out, and it seemed like a scroll!
I read it and thought about how many instructions there were for taking care of pearls. The do’s and don’ts to preserve them seemed endless. I couldn’t help but contemplate how so many of us become engrossed with the care of material things well over the care of the spiritual things.
I decided to make two lists in juxtaposition to compare the instructions of taking care of pearls in order to preserve them and the instructions on how to take care of our “spiritual pearls.”
Pearls are considered gems though they are an organic gem. They require specific care in order to protect and preserve them.
“You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” Ps. 32:7 (NIV)
If pearls get in contact with chemicals like those in basic household cleaners, bleach perfumes, cosmetics, and other products, damage to the pearls may result.
“The LORD keeps you from all harm and watches over your life.” Ps. 121:7 (NLT)
Never use anything rough or abrasive, like baking soda or melamine foam sponges to clean your pearls. They must be treated gently.
“After all God’s disciplining action, the Eternal will take them back with gentle care. After His punishment, there will be healing;” Is. 19:22 (The Voice)
Never use any kind of tarnish remover on your pearls.
“Wash me thoroughly from my guilt, and cleanse me from my sin.” Ps. 51:2 (GW)
Never use any kind of plastic to contain your pearls. Plastic won’t preserve pearls; in fact over time, the plastic will deteriorate them.
“The highway of decent people turns away from evil. Whoever watches his way preserves his own life.” Prov. 16:7 (GW)
Don’t leave your pearls in or on a direct source of heat.
“The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.” Ps. 121:6 (NIV)
Don’t keep your pearls in a very dry room or for too long in a safety deposit box because they need some moisture. After all, they do come from water!
“Let my teachings come down like raindrops. Let my words drip like dew, like gentle rain on grass, like showers on green plants.” Deut. 32:2 (GW)
When planning on wearing pearls, be sure they are the last thing you put on, avoiding hairspray and perfumes and the first thing you take off to prevent yanking on them or breaking the strand.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Rev. 22:13 (ESV)
Only use a jewelry cleaner that is specifically safe for pearls.
“Uphold me that I may be safe, that I may have regard for Your statutes continually.” Ps. 119:117 (AMP)
Store your pearls in a soft cloth and clean them using a soft and damp cloth.
“A soft answer turneth away wrath:…” Prov. 15:1 (KJV)
If you spill something on your pearls, soak them in lukewarm water with an all-natural soap (no detergent!) to remove any stains.
“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Is. 1:18 (KJV)
Sweat can damage pearl luster.
“They shall have linen bonnets upon their heads, and shall have linen breeches upon their loins; they shall not gird themselves with any thing that causeth sweat.” Ez. 44:18 (KJV)
Because pearls are soft, certain wools can cause friction when rubbed up against pearls resulting in abrasion on the pearl.
“It is an honour for a man to cease from strife:…” Prov. 20:3 (KJV)
The more your pearls are in contact with your skin, the more luster and glow they will have.
“But as for me, my hope is to see Your face. When I am vindicated, I will look upon the holy face of God, and when I awake, the longing of my soul will be satisfied in the glow of Your presence.” Ps. 17:15 (The Voice)
Check the strand of your pearls to be sure the knots are not (haha!) fraying or dirty. The knots are very important because they keep the pearls from rubbing up against one another as well as securing them in case the strand breaks. If you find the knots are unclean and the strand seems weak, it is time to have them restrung.
“Here I stand secure and confident before all the people; I will praise the Eternal.” Ps. 26:12 (The Voice)
“Now to the One who can keep you upright and plant you firmly in His presence—clean, unmarked, and joyful in the light of His glory—“ Jude 1:24 (The Voice)
“So now what? We who are strong are not just to satisfy our own desires. We are called to carry the weaknesses of those who are not strong.” Ro. 15:1 (The Voice)
If we transpose the “care for pearls instructions” to the care for ourselves and others, then I trust the value of all life would increase in our conscience, and our worth would never diminish.
The Voice- https://www.biblegateway.com
NIV-New International Version, Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Read more about caring for your pearls: http://www.pearlhours.com/index.php?pearl-care.html
Read more about caring for yourself and others at https://www.biblegateway.com
The only face you should make is a smile!
I heard this great concept in a lecture by Herbert Reike, CSB (Christian Science Teacher and Practitioner). He said that he was having a conversation with a man about happiness and asked the man whether he was happy. With a long face, the man said to him, “Well, I’m happy enough.” He replied to the man, “Well, why don’t you tell your face about it?”
We won’t always have experiences that promote joy and happiness, for we know that life has a way of challenging us, but overall are we even taking the time to count our blessings and acknowledge the good we have already received?
I came across this quotation that seemed to sum up the concept of smiling and laughter being healthy:
“Your sense of humor is one of the most powerful tools you have to make certain that your daily mood and emotional state support good health.”
~ Paul E. McGhee, Ph.D.1
Some of the benefits of laughing include muscle relaxation, stress reduction, aids in dissolving conflicts, decreases fear in the mind, and much more.2
If we look at faces throughout the day and even at our own at times, smiling would certainly lift our otherwise sullen expressions.
After many arduous experiences and overcoming grief, I knew it was time for a mental facelift so I decided to practice keeping a smile on my face throughout the day and as I would fall to sleep at night. This was a very difficult task especially right before turning in for the night, and I knew I needed prayerful support to pull this off. I dug into the scriptures and found many citations on the importance of keeping hold of joy in one’s life.
In the book of Proverbs 17:22, it is written, “22 A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones” (KJV). That explained why I wasn’t so flexible and my knees hurt!
I then found this verse in John 16:22, “So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (ESV). I had been counting all of my losses and had forgotten what to look forward to. I smiled when I was reminded that my joy in Christ is secure. Then what really sealed this for me was when I read this citation in 1 Thessalonians 5:6, “Rejoice always” (ESV).
As I continued my research, I discovered an article about Norman Cousins and how he surpassed the prognosis from his doctor that he would not live longer than a few months after being diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis, a rare disease of the connective tissues. Mr. Cousins turned to laughter as one of his treatments and lived 26 years more after his diagnosis.3
According to Cancer Treatment Centers of America, “Laughter therapy, also called humor therapy, is the use of humor to promote overall health and wellness. It aims to use the natural physiological process of laughter to help relieve physical or emotional stresses or discomfort.”4
With all the information that I had gathered, I knew it was time for me to make a change.
I kept praying for more joy and to keep a positive attitude. I had reminder notes around to smile and began putting smiley faces on everything that required my signature. I used smiley emoji faces on emails, Skype, and text messages and then compiled a list of my favorite comedies that I purchased of which I frequently watched.
When I felt my face begin to droop, I immediately turned that frown upside down even if I didn’t feel like it. When I stirred during the night, I would remind myself that I’d better be smiling.
After months of continuous practice, I saw a great improvement in myself. My eyes were brighter, my skin was firmer, and my attitude was changing for the better. And people noticed; in fact, one friend of mine asked me if I was getting Botox injections!
Frowns, scowls, under-eye bags, red eyes, even wrinkles, do not characterize a happy person, but choosing to be happy rather than complaining and murmuring is a great way to bring light to one’s face and turn that frown around. In his lecture, Mr. Reike said that sickness is a “frown on your body” and with all the health issues that people face today maybe by adding dosages of laughter and keeping a smile on your face, the prognosis will improve as it did with Mr. Cousins.
There are reasons we won’t always smile and laugh, but there are also many reasons why we should. And with the scientific evidence pointing to how laughter is beneficial to good health, then why not try it out for yourself, and turn that frown into a smile?
–E. E. Cummings said, “The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”
1“Laughter Is the Best Medicine: The Health Benefits of ...” Accessed October 20, 2016. http://www.helpguide.org/articles/emotional-health/laughter-is-the-best-medicine.htm
3 “Norman Cousins: The Man Who Laughed In The Face of Death.” Accessed October 20, 2016. https://healdove.com/alternative-medicine/normancousins
4 “Laughter Therapy: Cancer Treatment Centers of America.” Accessed October 20, 2016. http://www.cancercenter.com/treatments/laughter-therapy/
Facing your fears! Yikes!!!!!
FEAR: Forgetting Everything About Reality
FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real
When my son was in high school, he played a video game in which the objective was for the heroine or hero to rescue the princess who was being held captive in a tower.
Before any character could get anywhere near the tower or even reach that level, they would have to gain power, courage, strength and pass many tests along the way.
In the beginning the player could pick the character they wanted to be. Each had basic similarities. For example: they were all human, each with a special ability, potential for greatness and they all commenced at the same mark so that each one had equal abilities to succeed.
The game challenged each player to go from the starting point to higher levels, but only after defeating a variety of demons and monsters.
Each time they defeated a demon or monster, the player acquired gold coins which they could use to purchase larger and more effective weapons or potions. Every time a character drank the potion, the character grew in size, making it easier to debacle the enemy.
The better equipped the characters, the better their chances of destroying the enemy, thereby getting closer to the tower to set the princess free.
I want to point out that back then I wasn’t very good at this game and though I got very close to the tower, I wasn’t able to free the princess. Each time I climbed another level, it became more and more difficult not to slide back to where I began.
Comparing myself to others players who were much better than I discouraged me and having to start over again was, needless to say, very trying. But what really caught my attention was how I was influenced into believing that running or hiding from the demons and monsters would get me closer to my goal.
The incident that prompted me to this realization was when a friend with whom we were playing shouted, “Run, or you will be killed!” when they saw that I was being confronted by a demon. I immediately pressed the button on my controller that moved my character in the opposite direction of the enemy. In an instant, my character turned into smoke then disappeared. I discovered that I was back at the beginning and had to start all over again!
After doing this repeatedly (no judging; we’ve all been there!), following yet again my friend’s cry to retreat, my son said to me, “Mom, if you keep running from the demons you’ll never beat them. Use the weapons you’ve gathered along the way, like your potion that makes you bigger, faster and stronger, and take that demon out!”
I took his counsel and really focused. I held the controller with more confidence and ended up annihilating that demon, which gave me the poise to face another and another. After defeating many evils I was now ascending!
I realized that avoiding the very thing that I needed to face and overcome didn’t lead me to higher levels but rather forced me in reverse.
Eventually, I was able to join the other players who had already reached a higher plane and we were all faced with a very, very large and threatening monster. It took all the firepower we had along with synergy to defeat it and though we weren’t successful the first several times because one of us was always making a mistake (okay, it was me!) I didn’t give up nor did anyone give up on me.
After several attempts, we finally demolished the monster and off we went to yet another higher level. Eventually, my son rescued the princess (I was hoping they would marry) and he was made the hero.
Facing fears, demonic thoughts, and monstrous challenges are no easy tasks and they require much courage, determination and strength to overcome.
At times we will find that we have to go it alone and other times the help we need from others is vital. But no matter what the intimidation, no matter how large or fierce it seems to be, if we don’t face it and defeat it, sooner or later, one way or the other we will end up repeating it.
By the way, this princess eventually got free from the tower of fear and has since learned to keep a great distance from the monsters and demons who locked her in that tower. Last I knew, she’s really been doing her best to live happily ever after!
Finding Kindness, Not Trash
Once a month on a Friday in our neighborhood, there is a bulk pick-up day. This is when residents put out any items that they do not want anymore but don’t fit in the trash cans.
Neighborhood residents usually begin putting these unwanted items out Wednesday evening, so it is common to see people driving up and down the streets looking for something they find valuable amongst the bulk.
Back home as a child, I saw someone going through our trash one day, and I commented negatively about that to my mom. She gently corrected me by saying that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Following that wise idiom, she took me to a thrift store and encouraged me to find something I would wear. I rummaged through things at first with much hesitation, but then I found a sweater. I bought it for five dollars, brought it home, hand washed it, and lo and behold, it became one of my favorites.
From that time on, I never frowned upon dumpster-diving or trash-picking, and the value of that lesson found its way back to me when, during the week of bulk pick-up, my neighbor put out an old paddle boat that was in pretty good condition.
I was working from my home office that day, and as I was looking out the window I saw a man trying to get the paddle boat on the roof of his tattered van. He was struggling because he couldn’t lift it himself. However, he kept trying.
He would occasionally stop, bend over and wipe the sweat off his face with the bottom of his shirt and often looked up and down the street for help, but there wasn’t anyone nearby.
I thought about how I could help him, but I knew that my physical presence would be useless besides cheering him on. I couldn’t do nothing, and watching him tire himself out without making any progress was giving me a feeling of helplessness. So as I am accustomed to doing, I turned to silent prayer.
I prayed to know that the Christ is always on the scene even though invisible to the corporeal sense of sight. I acknowledged that because this man had found something worthwhile, then surely God would lend him a helping hand to lift up that boat and take it with him.
As I remained in prayer, I was tempted to peek and see if someone had come to his rescue, but I resisted until I was certain in my heart that love would find its way to meet that man’s needs.
After some time, I heard a truck pull up, and that’s when I got up and looked out the window. Another man arrived with a trailer attached to his truck, filled with a lot of unique items that seemed to have come from the bulk.
He stopped in front of the man with the paddle boat, got out of the truck, and approached him with a very big smile. Though I could not hear what they were saying, it was obvious this man wanted to help, and the look on the struggling man’s face reflected relief and gladness.
He reached out his hand to shake the helper’s hand, and within a few seconds, both men had that paddle boat on the roof of the van. Then the man with the boat touched the other man on the arm before he headed back to his truck and extended his hand once again offering more gratitude. He shook the hand of the man who helped him as though that man had given him a precious gift.
They were both smiling, their hands clasped in one another’s, as they were talking. That was followed by them waving bye to each other.
I was moved by this experience because both of those men found a treasure amid the trash that would be more valuable than the items in the man’s trailer or the paddle boat, and that was brotherly love.
When I first discovered Amazon, I was so impressed with the idea of being able to order just about anything from one place. This seemed like a great option to battling over parking spaces at the mall, waiting on line at stores, and feeling limited in buying options. In addition, as a Prime member, I appreciate the return policy at Amazon.
Because I have been an Amazon shopper for some time now, I have purchased items such as nail polish, fountains, pet supplies, clothing, ancient grains, laundry detergent, and much more. It is a very useful and most needed all-in-one on-line mall that has saved me from panic on many occasions when I have needed to order last minute items.
One afternoon, over lunch at my house, my friend and I were discussing how great we thought Amazon was, and I told her that I had found a great pair of jeans along with a fabulous blouse. She laughed, asking rhetorically, “Is there anything you don’t find on Amazon?” I said that I was still looking for the perfect man for her and that I would probably be able to find him on Amazon. And that’s when I hurried down the hallway and got my laptop. I opened it and clicked on Amazon.com, and my friend asked me what I was looking for. I said, “Let’s see if we can find you a great guy.” We laughed and began the search!
I typed the word “men” in the search window, but what came up was “beard growth.” We cracked up! I then typed in “single men,” and book options popped up. Then I entered “loving single men,” and more book choices appeared. I changed the search to “find me a husband” being sure to refine it to Prime only. A book popped up, entitled Please God, Find Me a Husband by Simone Lia. My friend and I looked at each other, surprised, and then she asked me whether I thought that was a sign from God. I told her that I think God was telling us that even though Amazon is a huge virtual marketplace with lots to offer, when it comes to finding love, we won’t be able to find it from there or anywhere else but in God. I then added, “But if you could find it there, it’s best if you are a Prime member because if you needed to make an exchange or return the man, it’s easy peasy with Prime.”
We laughed at ourselves and decided to look for some fair trade tea instead and leave the matchmaking to God.
During one of my monthly visits to my hairdresser, we ended up conversing about cultural influences and traditions.
He’s a “southerner,” I’m from the Arabic culture, and my best friend, who was with me that day, is Italian.
There was woman in the salon who began talking to my best friend – well it was really more like flirting with him – and after she left, my hairdresser, Mr. Southerner, commented that it seemed as though she really liked Mr. Italian. I concurred and explained that wherever we go, he always seems to attract someone. Mr. Southerner said, “I can see why.”
I remarked, “God bless him,” referring to my best friend, and added that if my mom had been with us, she would’ve spit on him 3 times. That got inquiring minds interested and I was asked why she would’ve spit on him.
I explained that she would spit on him to chase away the devil, to ward off any “bad luck” from coming upon him and prevent any reversal of his good fortune, like a talisman.
From there, Mr. Italian went on to explain how in his culture when someone says “God bless you,” it’s in reference to sharing good fortune about someone. He gave the example of his mother bragging about her grandson’s (Mr. Italian’s nephew) musicianship. She kept saying, “God bless him” after each comment she made about him. “Your nephew is so talented, God bless him, and had such a great performance, God bless him, he continues to amaze us, God bless him.”
Mr. Southerner added that where he grew up in the south when someone said, “God bless you” it inferred a sympathetic expression. He gave examples such as, “Oh, dear. I’m so sorry you’re not well today. God bless you.” or, “Poor thing, she’s so homely. God bless her.” He joked that when someone said that to him he just knew something was wrong with him.
I said that’s better than being spat upon on by 12 adults in the living room because I was told I looked pretty in the dress I was wearing for Easter, and even worse when I had friends over and had to explain what the spitting was all about. (Not a great way to keep friends!)
As we laughed about how our cultures have influenced us, I mentioned the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” It explains pretty much how I grew up, especially how my mom carried around a pair of tweezers in her housedress pocket and would pull it out at random to tweeze any unsightly hairs on my chin. (Love you, mom!)
Mr. Italian shared that his parents still cover their furniture with vinyl, the chandelier and lamps could light up a cathedral and candles of all the patron saints made their house look like a monastery. He then asked if we ever got into trouble for throwing bread to a sibling when setting the table. I cracked up and said that I thought that only took place in my house. He explained that throwing bread was considered a “sin” in their house because it was disrespectful to Jesus!
Someone overheard that and asked if we were allowed to throw the bottle of wine or if that was also disrespectful because it represents Jesus’ blood. I said we didn’t drink wine, we drank Arak (Levantine alcoholic spirit in the anise family) but didn’t throw it. Mr. Italian said he never threw a bottle of wine because they drank them before they got to the table and Mr. Southerner said that in his household they only drank sweetened ice tea, which they never threw.
Cultural traditions are fun and in some cases very important and though they may fade from generation to generation they certainly make for interesting conversation!
“William Roedel Rathvon, CSB, (December 31, 1854 – March 2, 1939), sometimes incorrectly referred to as William V. Rathvon or William V. Rathbone, is the only known eyewitness to Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, of the over 10,000 witnesses, to have left an audio recording describing that experience. He made the recording in 1938, a year before his death. A graduate of Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and a successful businessman, he became a practitioner of Christian Science healing, served as a public lecturer, Church treasurer and director of The First Church of Christ, Scientist in Boston, Massachusetts. He was treasurer from 1911 until he was elected to the Church's Board of Directors, on which he served from 1918 until his death in 1939. From 1908 to 1910 he was correspondence secretary for Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy. He also authored "The Devil's Auction" often republished without attribution as "The Devil's Garage Sale".
The Devil's Auction
William R. Rathvon -1912
It was once announced that the devil was going out of business and would offer his tools for sale to whoever would pay his price. On the night of the sale they were all attractively displayed, and a bad looking lot they were. Malice, envy, hatred, jealousy, sensuality, deceit, and all the other implements of evil were spread out, each marked with its price. Apart from all the rest lay a harmless looking, wedge-shaped tool, much worn and priced higher than any of the others.
Someone asked the devil what it was.
"That's discouragement," was the reply.
"Well, why do you have it priced so high?"
"Because," replied the devil, "it is more useful to me than any of the others. I can pry open and get inside a man's consciousness with that when I couldn't get near him with any of the others, and once inside, I can use it with nearly everybody, as very few people yet know that it belongs to me!"
"You say you use this wedge of discouragement with nearly everybody - with whom can't you use it?"
The devil hesitated a long time and finally said in a low voice, "I can't use it in getting into the consciousness of a grateful man."
It hardly need be added that the devil's price for discouragement was so high that it was never sold. He still owns it and he is still using it.
: the act of making something less likely to happen or of making people less likely to do something
: a feeling of having lost hope or confidence
: something (such as a failure or difficulty) that discourages someone
: the act of making something more appealing or more likely to happen
: something that makes someone more determined, hopeful, or confident
: something that makes someone more likely to do something
Always feel encouraged to love! Encourage others!