Alligator Waiter

Chef Specials
 
What’s for lunch today?
Want some alligator bites,
Or shall I bite you?

Any time we get within driving distance of Ponce Inlet on Florida’s Atlantic Seaboard, our car just seems to take us there! The inlet is protected from the Atlantic’s prevailing winds, so the sun always seems especially warm in spring, and the birds are just as interested in us as we are them.

We often stop for lunch at Salty’s Hidden Treasure Restaurant, where the food and ambience are unparalleled and the fish on your plate was caught that morning.

This particular day, we planned to order sandwiches, but a waitress came by with a plate of “alligator bites” (“cajun wild gator tail” the menu explained) that she would give us for half price if we wanted them because she had misunderstood the order from another table, and they would otherwise go to waste.

Yes! We were game to try. Better to lunch on alligator than have alligator lunch on us, we figured! 🙂 It was fun to try something new, even if (like rattle snake and most exotic meats) they did taste strangely like chicken (haven’t you noticed too?)!

BTW, have you ever tasted the bread of life and the water of life? They don’t taste like chicken McNuggets, but I guarantee you’ll be back for more once you savor some. Jesus himself is the spiritual “Bread of Life” (John 6:35) and offers us the “Water of Life” (Revelation 21:6). If you want to grow spiritually, take Him in through meditating on the Bible. Jesus doesn’t bite you, He feeds you!

“O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.”
(Psalm 34:8)

What’s the Scuttlebutt? How about a Scuttled Bucket?

If you’re like me, you’ve heard the term “scuttlebutt” used as a synonym for “gossip,” but I never knew the derivation until we visited Nelson’s Dockyard in Antigua. Before people knew how to purify water, sailors would store fresh water gathered from local streams for their voyage in caskets. A “butt” was a casket used for storing water, and a “scuttled butt” was a casket that had been scuttled (by cutting a hole in it so people could get the water out). During the voyage, the “scuttlebutt” was the current casket, usually sitting on the main deck, where the sailors could come to drink, and—like employees around a water cooler today—people would often catch up on news and swap stories while drinking the water.

There are so many things I’ve never really reasoned through, but at this fascinating museum of naval history, they made a point out of the fact that water from local streams would not be very clean, and after being stored for weeks on end, it became foul. However, that was all they had, so drink it they did. Better than dying of thirst, although there were times when drinking it resulted in their dying of bacterial infections or other disease-related illnesses.

Do you believe in heaven? There were many people in previous centuries who did not believe in a “new world” across an apparently endless sea. However, there were also a few brave sailors who believed—at least enough to attempt crossing the ocean. For those who believed and were willing to travel, and survived the trip, they really did find a new world. On their journey, the sailors had to drink water to keep them going, but if the water was putrid, it may have killed them at any rate.

This is true for us in the spiritual realm as well. Some people don’t even believe in a “new world” called heaven and have no interest in searching for it, but for those of us who do, we’re off on an adventure in a “fellow ship” with other believers. On the way, we need to drink water to survive the trip. The only pure water that remains clean and healthful throughout life is the water of the Word of God. Every other type of spiritual water is just from the “scuttlebutt;” it’s gossip and rumors gathered from local sources that are never pure and always leave a stench in the end . . . perhaps even causing death to those who drink.

In John 4:14, Jesus taught: “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” In Revelation 21:6, Jesus tells John in a vision: “It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

When we are spiritually thirsty, let’s forget the scuttlebutt and go straight to Jesus and the Bible for our refreshment!

And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).

 

Rise Up, My Love (298): Deep Calling to Deep

Song of Solomon 8:14 “Make haste, my beloved…” A few weeks ago in Alaska my husband and I watched the pulsing flow of two great V’s of snow geese and heard their urgent cries calling their fellows on as the rose above the clouds and disappeared into heaven. In fall the whole world seems to become restless…waiting, watching…preparing to fly away…where? Can’t you feel the pull in your own heart? “Deep calleth unto deep.” I think it’s the deep, inarticulate longing within the heart of man to escape this sin-cursed earth and fly up into the bliss and rest of heaven.“Just a few more weary days and then, I’ll fly away;
To a land where joys shall never end, I’ll fly away!
I’ll fly away, O glory, I’ll fly away” (Albert E. Brumley).

And, for those of us who love God passionately, it is the longing to be
“Face to face with Christ, my Savior, face to face—what shall it be?
When with rapture I behold Him, Jesus Christ who died for me”
(Carrie E. Breck).

“Make haste, my beloved!” When will our Lord return? Do you wonder? I know that “of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father” (Mark 13:32). But, whenever God the Father gives Jesus leave, our heavenly bridegroom will indeed “make haste!” The swift appearance of our “Bright and Morning Star” (Revelation 2:16) will turn night to day in an instant, surely in a blaze of glory more stunning than the sunrise I enjoyed this morning!   “And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (Luke 21:28). “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him” (Revelation 1:7). Christ will come “in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Corinthians 15:52). “For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:27).  Beloved, our Bright and Morning Star is coming back, and it is my fervent prayer that he comes soon, not only because I want to be with him forever, but also because nothing else can end the pain and suffering all around us! My husband and I recently saw an IMAX film at the science center in Vancouver, B.C. called Forces of Nature dealing with the tremendous activity of natural disasters, including volcanoes, tornadoes, and earthquakes. This magnificent film from the field of science made no mention of the Bible, but I couldn’t help but remember the verse: “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows” (Mark 13:8).

I was filled with awe as the documentary discussed the fault line in the Middle East that is producing a series of earthquakes at an ever-accelerating rate. Could this fault line be related to the splitting of the Mount of Olives that will occur when our Lord returns? “And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, with is before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south” (Zechariah 14:4).

Dear Father, we cannot know the day or hour, but we know that Jesus, your son, is coming, and our hearts long for him to “make haste!” “The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now” (Romans 8:22) waiting for Christ’s return to set all things right. Help us to “be patient, therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord” (James 5:7) and to “take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is” (Mark 13:33), so that when Jesus returns we may share the Apostle Paul’s testimony: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

 

Tastes of India? Pure Foods and Pure Water

I think the strangest things I’ve eaten in this past month were crickets and bone marrow…   but these weren’t items we were expected to eat on our trip to India and Nepal!   These were some of the upscale tapas offered on the menu of the Ox and Tail restaurant in Rochester, NY, where Alan and I had dinner with our son, Stephen last Saturday night.

Did I like them? Actually, no. Would I order them again? Definitely not!
But, did they make me sick? Believe it or not, the answer is “no.” So, how is it that I can eat disgusting (sounding…and tasting)
food in America without getting sick,  whereas Alan and I ate a lot of gourmet-appearing food  but were still sick the entire time we were in India and Nepal,  despite eating in extremely elegant places that catered to Western tastes? Part of the problem might have been that,
although we ate at some amazing venues  —including some palaces and UNESCO world heritage sites—  we were on a “discovery tour,” which included picnics on river banks in jungles,  buffets in over 100°F. heat under tent awnings in remote areas, steamy dinners in the jungles of Nepal,  and some gracious dinners prepared and served in local homes.We were always careful to drink only bottled water  and tried to choose our food very carefully  (although sometimes I wasn’t really sure what I was eating…), and we tried to make sure all the meats were well cooked. Unfortunately, these precautions weren’t enough.

I usually have a stomach of steel, but not this trip! I assumed it was simply that Westerners aren’t used to the types of bacteria in India, but after returning homeI learned that sanitation and water pollution is a huge issue in India, not  just for foreigners, but for everyone. Diarrhea is the fourth highest cause of death in India today…way ahead of any type of cancer! Several of the men on our trip required prescription-strength medications to recover, and about halfway through the trip, I began to worry that Alan and I might be too old for this type of travel.  After returning and thinking about things, I would like to offer this brief list of ideas for any adventurers who want to travel to India or other very remote areas of the Eastern world:
*Only use bottled water, never tap water, or ice cubes made from tap water.
*Take seriously all the precautions suggested by your travel guides
*Carry and use hand sanitizer before eating
*The one couple who never got ill took acidophilus tablets, which are an over-the-counter probiotic; I plan to use them too if I ever go again.
*Before you go, get a prescription for ciprofloxacin (or whatever medication your physician recommends for you in case of serious diarrhea and dehydration). Finally, I’d like to suggest that not only do our bodies require pure water for good health, so do our hearts and minds!

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8).

Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him” (Proverbs 30:5).

And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely” (Revelation 21:6).

Do You Know What the World’s #1 Pay-to-Visit Monument Is?

Pilings for Eiffel TowerWhen it was first proposed, there was an outrage against the very idea of building it, and on  Valentine’s Day, 1887 a signed petition was published Looking Up Inside the Eiffel Towerin the popular Parisian newspaper, La Temps, stating:

Lacy Ironworks of Eiffel Tower“We, writers, painters, sculptors, architects and passionate devotees of the hitherto untouched beauty of Paris, protest with all our strength, with all our indignation in the name of slighted French taste, against the erection … of this useless and monstrous [tower].”

Travel Pro InsigniaToday, even my luggage has this monument’s iconic symbol as part of their trademark, and now I know why! Eiffel Tower6.91 million people paid to soar nearly 1,000 feet to the top Eiffel Tower at Night 3of the this massive monument last year, Eiffel Tower in Paris Franceand that’s more than pay to experience any other monument in the world! Under the Eiffel TowerWise tourists can get reservations months in advance. Selfie at Eiffel TowerNot so savvy visitors sometimes have to stand in line for hours. Eiffel Tower and flowering treeI remember about 10 years ago when my sons Jonathan and Daniel spent their summer in France…they climbed the tower in the heat of a 107° day, Descending the Eiffel Tower 2but I don’t recommend it! Eiffel Tower from the Arch of TriumphBetter to save your steps for climbing the Arc de Triomphe Arc de Triomphe from Eiffel Tower ar Night(which isn’t nearly as high and has no elevator service). Eiffel Tower as seen from Jardins du TrocadéroWe rode up on a blissful spring evening Roue de Paris at Night from Eiffel Towerand enjoyed watching all the twinkling city lights blink on. Eiffel Tower from Palais de ChaillotWe were advised to take the subway to the stop for the Palais de Chaillot Eiffel Tower as seen from Jardins du Trocadéro 1and then walk through the Jardins du Trocadéro, Eiffel Tower as seen from Jardins du Trocadéro. Picnickerswhere picnicking on the lawns makes for a pleasurable and romantic evening. Eiffel Tower at Night Close upGreat tip! If you go to the Eiffel Tower, be sure to pay for a ticket to the top level Seine River at Night from Eiffel Towerand go straight there, working your way down Louve at night from Eiffel Towerafter you’ve had a chance to soak in all the beauty of “The City of Lights.” Joel on top of Eiffel Tower(You stand in line less this way.) Eiffel Tower Towers over ChurchesThe upper platform’s top level is the highest public observation deck
in the entire European Union, Sunset from Eiffel Towerand to me the most beautiful time of day is to go near sunset Sunset skyline of Paris from Eiffel Towerso you can see the city moving from day to night. Jardins du Trocadéro and Palais de Chaillot at Night from Eiffel TowerBut, start a little earlier than you think, View of Seine River from Eiffel Towerbecause it will take you longer than you think to actually make it to the top! Aerial View of Eiffel TowerSo, what do you think of one of the world’s best recognized symbols Eiffel Tower at Night 4having such a rough start? Descending the Eiffel TowerFor one thing, if you’ve got a good idea…don’t give up; Descending the Eiffel Tower 1you never know what might happen in the future! 🙂Lights of Paris from Eiffel TowerAlso, for the sake of full reporting, I do want to point out that there are a number of sacred temples and cathedrals around the world Notre Damethat attract even more visitors (like up to 30,000,000 a year), but they are free of charge to the visitor (though obviously not free for their tireless builders).Eiffel Tower from Air The Bible reminds us every believer is a temple to God, Hôtel national des Invalides at night as seen from the Eiffel Towerand that salvation is a free gift, already paid for by the blood of Christ. Eiffel Tower at Night 5All we have to do is accept the gift and it’s ours. Want the gift? Just ask! View of Eiffel Tower from Sacre CouerAs one who’s already accepted Christ, I am inspired by the Eiffel Tower Sun setting behind Eiffel Towerand pray my life becomes a beautiful monument to God’s grace! Descending the Eiffel Tower 3Also, speaking of rough starts, my parents thought I was nuts to become a Christian, but to me, it’s the best decision I’ll ever make…Statue of Eiffel at Towerincomparably better than the decision Gustave Eiffel made when he accepted the ingenious plans from the two engineers who actually designed the Eiffel Tower!  Eiffel Tower and Seine RiverI am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely (Revelation 21:6).  Eiffel Tower #1 Paid-to-ascend MonumentWhat? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)Travel Pro

(Also in the interest of full disclosure, on this trip I may be borrowing photos taken by my husband or sons, so it will be a bit of a joint project. However, I will give credits if any of the photos belong to anyone other than the four of us.)