I’m Surprised Every Time I Remember It

If you’ve ever wished you could remember a person’s name or the list of things your spouse asked you to pick up, I’ve found a way to make that happen!

In my last

post (you can read it here), I discussed what I learned about memory from a book I read.

It involves using your long-term memory and your short-term memory to produce a mid-term memory you can use for something specific.

I have been using this method to remember my sermons over the past few months, and no longer feel as tied to my notes when I preach.

It’s like the difference between walking a dog with a fixed leash and walking a dog with an expandable leash.

With the fixed leash, the dog gets pulled back hard when he reaches the end. But on the other leash he can keep going a little farther away and the tug back isn’t as harsh.

Here’s how it all works:

You start with your long-term memory of something familiar. For example, I will use my knowledge of the rooms in my house. I know where all the pieces of furniture are; I don’t have to think about them. I can picture the rooms and know what’s in them.

Then I associate the parts of my sermon with the various pieces of furniture in a room. I use multiple rooms for the different points in my message.

For instance, a verse I want to use will be associated with perhaps a chair in my living room. If I’m telling an illustration or story next, I associate it with the next piece of furniture in that room.

I walk my way around the room in my mind, stopping at each piece of furniture for the next bit of my sermon.

The downside is that it takes a while to assign the different parts of my message to the furniture.

I do that by drawing a square on a piece of paper and then boxes for the various pieces of furniture. I then jot a few things down beside each little box and I review that sheet a few times.

The result for me is I am able to walk away from my notes for large portions of time. I know what’s coming next because I have this hook from my long-term memory.

It’s really worked for me. I’m amazed every week that by doing this, I can remember so much of my sermon.

I can’t explain how it works, it just does.

If you have a grocery list and use this method, you could leave the house without the list and remember what you needed to pick up.

In the book, they suggest you make some crazy, outlandish association with the list items and the object you are connecting it to.

But I have found that, for my purposes, it’s not necessary.

Now I just wish I could remember if I wrote about this memory method before.

Here’s the thing: Sometimes when we have sinned, we question whether God will forgive us. Remember that God’s love for you is locked into His long-term memory; you don’t have to think about that or even question it. He also promised that if we confess our sin, He will forgive us. Apply His long-term memory of love of you, with your short-term confession of sin, and it will produce confidence in your forgiveness.

That’s Life!


Question: How would an improved memory help you? Leave your comments below.

I Wanted To Have A Better Memory

Most people would probably say they’d like to have a better memory.

And in speaking with people in the second half of their lives, most feel having the ability to increase their recall of information would liberate them.

In the spring I read a book on improving your memory. When I sat down to write this piece, I thought I might have written a blog post on my first gleanings of the book, but I can’t remember for sure … ha ha.

How’s that for a memory?

But I have applied some of the principles in the book to my preaching and I’m surprised at how well it works … though I can’t say I know how it works.

Everybody has their way of preparing a talk. I happen to manuscript what I’m going to say, and then go over it several times so it doesn’t come across like I’m reading it.

I usually speak for just over thirty minutes, so that’s a lot of words on a page … it would be difficult to memorize them all. But for a few months now I’ve been using a technique to put a lot more info from my sermons into my brain.

In the book it was explained that we have long-term memory, short-term memory and mid-term memory. They are all used for different purposes.

Long-term memory involves things that are locked in your head, which you don’t even have to think about; you just know them. They’re things like your phone number, your address, your way to work, where things are in your house, etc.

In your short-term memory are thing that are current. For instance, when you read something, you can spit out some facts from what you read for the next few hours or even days. But good luck trying to recall that data a week or two from now. It was just short-term.

Often the names of people we just met go into short-term memory.

For example, you remember a guy’s name for a little while, but later that day when you’re telling someone about the person you met, you can’t remember his name any more.

It’s no big deal. You can just ask him his name the next time you see him … if you’re not too embarrassed that your short-term memory is so bad!

Then there is the mid-term memory – being able to remember something in that gap between long-term and short-term memory.

Sometimes we need to remember something for a few days or for a certain event, or until we write our exam. Then we can forget it.

That’s what the mid-term memory is for.

… This is going to be a two part post so I will keep you in suspense until the next one (read part 2 here).

But the key to remembering something for a specific time and place is combining your long-term and short-term memories together.

It’s like combining the colours blue and yellow; they produce green.

You combine long-term memory and short-term memory and what you get is mid-term memory that you can use for a particular purpose.

Here’s the thing: God’s memory is pretty complicated as well. On the one hand, He loves you with an everlasting love – that’s long-term; he’s not going to forget that He loves you. On the other hand, when you repent of your sins, He forgets about them like they never happened –  that’s great news for us.

That’s Life!


Question: What could you use a better memory for? Leave your comments below.

I Just Finished Three Weeks Of Ribs

I thought it would take a week, but it’s taken three weeks for my ribs to feel better.

Usually when I get hurt, a week will do it and I’m back to normal – but not this time.

Three weeks ago I had a nasty fall off my bike and bruised some ribs (read here). I naturally thought I would be back on my bike in a week.

It’s taken a lot longer!

In that time I’ve slept mostly in another bed; in that time, I also had a short bout with a cold. But all the while I still managed to get a half hour of exercise in each day.

A couple of years ago we got a new mattress. Lily preferred an extra firm one, whereas I liked one that had some cushion to it. … It turns out that a firm bed isn’t so great when your ribs are sore.

I ended up spending a few nights on the couch because it was so much softer. Then I moved to our spare bedroom. That bed has a memory foam topper, which used to reside on our old mattress.

Wow, I’d forgotten how nice it was to sleep on that thing! Even with wrecked ribs, it was so nice to sink into it again.

… I think I stayed there an extra night before I moved back to our bed.

The cold I got was unappreciated, and it came courteous of Lily. She had picked up a cold about a week into my rib ordeal and hacked all the way home from our cottage – that’s five hours of recirculating germs flying around the car while I was trapped inside.

How could I not catch something?

But man, did I ever pay for it! With every cough I needed to hold onto my ribs for stability.

And sneezing – that was the worst. It felt like my heart was on fire, and the burning in my chest resonated for about ten seconds after each sneeze.

It was a good thing that cold was short-lived.

The only setback I had – other than sleeping in my own bed the first couple of nights – was one exercise session.

I found that riding my stationary bike didn’t really hurt my sore ribs. It’s mostly a leg workout and I could always bike hands-free when I felt some pain from stretching out to hold on to the handlebars.

It was the treadmill that was the killer. I got back on it way too soon. I started slowly and at first it wasn’t too bad. But by the end, I was holding my ribs because they felt like they were bouncing around inside me – not good.

… That’s all in the past now. It’s been three weeks to the day and I’m not only pain free walking on the treadmill (even jogging), but I just pulled off ten minutes on the rowing machine.

Today, I’m going back to the trails and hopefully I’ll stay on my bike this time.

Here’s the thing:  For many of us, staying consistent at something is not easy. There are all kinds of things that can disrupt even the best routine. When our routine of spending time with God is interrupted, we can get discouraged, frustrated to the point of giving up. Don’t give in to defeat; don’t dwell on the interruption, whatever the cause. Get back to your time with God; with Him you can pick up again like it was yesterday.

That’s Life!


Question: What unexpected thing has interrupted a routine you need to get back to? Leave your comments below.

I Need Those Batteries Now

These days you can’t go very long without needing a bunch of batteries to replace ones that have worn out.

There is a clock in the sanctuary of my church that reads 5:05. That’s not the current time; it’s been showing that time for a week now.

It needs a new battery.

I wear a mic when I preach and every week I take out the batteries and charge them so they are ready to go for the next week.

I’ve been noticing that even rechargeable batteries can’t be recharged forever.

What would we do without being able to quickly pop in a new set of batteries to run our clocks, lights, mics, vacuums, you name it – even our drones?

Especially drones!

I have two drones and the batteries in them don’t last very long.

The battery in my little drone only lasts about seven minutes and the one in the bigger drone only lasts about ten.

I don’t get much flying time before I need to replace them.

The problem is they don’t take standard AA batteries. They have their own shape and connections so you can’t just go to the store and buy new ones.

You usually have to order them online and they generally come from China which takes a long time. … Replacement batteries for my little drone arrived the other day and I’d been waiting for them for two months!

I think it’s China’s secret way of crippling the west. If they just hold out on the batteries,  we in North America will be at their mercy.

Forget weapons and armies, they’ve got our batteries!

And the batteries for these drones are a step backward in technology. You don’t want to overcharge them; that will damage them.

You don’t want to recharge them if they still have some charge left in them either. They have a memory, so they will only remember to charge for the shorter amount of time.

And you don’t want to let the battery run down too low because, if it does, it won’t take a charge at all.

My brother found that out the hard way; that’s why he has two batteries on order right now.

We need batteries to be more reliable and to last longer. They can figure out how to get a car to run on batteries for an hour; we need someone with that kind of know-how to make our drone batteries last that long.

The keyboard I write this blog on needs a battery to power it. I’ve had it for over a year now and I still haven’t had to change the battery … That’s the kind of battery life I’m talking about.

And while they’re at it creating a better battery, they should make sure we can just leave it sitting around for a month or two without fear of it draining all on its own.

After all, it’s not like the energy produced by Niagara Falls, where we have to use it right after it’s produced.

Here’s the thing: This week I was reminded that a Christian has everything we need in us for life and godliness – that everything is the Holy Spirit. He never runs out, never has to be recharged. We just have to use Him and work with Him to produce in us the character qualities that God wants to see in us.

That’s Life!


Question: What do you need recharged right now? Leave your comments below.

It Was A Second Thought That Got Results

My second thought produced success. You know, that’s when you had decided against something, then changed your mind, and it turned out to be the best decision you made.

Recently I bit the bullet and bought a new MacBook Pro. I was about due since my last one was eight years old.

Once my new computer was in my possession, the big task was to transfer all my files, applications and information from my old mac to my new one.

Luckily, Apple has an easy way to do that. Basically you hook up the two computers together and clone the old one on to the new one.

In the end, everything is there – passwords, logins … there’s virtually no other set up to do.

Sounds nice and easy … except my old mac is so old that hooking up the computers is a little more difficult. To make things worse, the new computer has a connection that is not common yet: USB-C.

So I went on a search for the connection I needed. I went right to the store I purchased my new laptop from. I searched the aisles and then had an employee search the aisles. The connection was nowhere to be found.

I tried a second store that was close by and, though the employee was very helpful, he was unable to locate the adaptor that I needed to connect my two computers together.

So I tried a third store. This time I was fairly confident I would find what I was looking for.

This store is not an official Apple Store but it’s the closest thing to it. It even looks like an Apple Store in its set up. And like the official retailer, this place only sells Apple, and Apple-related products.

Unfortunately, they didn’t have the adaptor either. Not only that, but the employee didn’t even know what I wanted to do.

The one place I thought would understand my need offered no help or even knowledge.

I questioned the clerk, “You’ve never heard of Apple’s migration processes?”

He replied, “I’m a law enforcement student.” … interesting information about his future plans but his answer had nothing to do with the question I asked him!

I left the store discouraged and ready to give up my quest for the day.

There was one other store within walking distance, but I figured since they specialized in PC’s they weren’t going to have the adaptor I was looking for.

Besides, if a Mac store didn’t have it, what were the chances?

I started walking in the direction of my car.

But then I had a second thought: “I’m so close to this place, why not just go in and see?”

I walked the three blocks up the street, went in, and within about 30 seconds, spoke to an employee. I told him what I was looking for and he walked me directly to a shelf, reached up to the very top and then handed me my adaptor.

Amazing! … On second thought, I was super happy.

Here’s the thing: When is it the right time to give up on seeking something from God? You may have been asking Him for direction, or a solution, or even a miracle, but so far you’ve received nothing. Is it time when you’re feeling hopeless? … On second thought, your answer might be just around the corner.

That’s Life!


Question: What have you almost given up on? Leave your comment below.

A Phone Call Rearranged My Day

My afternoon got rearranged with a simple phone call, just a random call put through to me.

Fridays are sermon writing days for me. Don’t get me wrong here, I work on my sermon all week, but Friday is the day that I put all the research and study together and write it.

The morning is the best time for me to write. I’m focussed, energized and think better and faster at that time of day.

It seems that once I take a break for lunch, I don’t have the same focus or energy, and sermon writing slows down considerably.

This week I had a fairly productive morning but had a hard time getting back to writing after lunch. I had a few other things on my mind that distracted me.

Then I got a phone call. I get phone calls like this regularly – maybe once a week – from someone who needs some help.

The story she gave me was long and complicated, and I wasn’t sure I believed everything she was telling me. Still, I didn’t want to turn her away in case she really was in need and I could do something to help.

I told her that the only way I could assist her was to meet her at the bus station and purchase a ticket for her. I don’t give people cash.

Well, she said she needed to check a few things first and would call me back.

I was thinking there was a good chance I wouldn’t hear from her again, but about 15 minutes later the phone rang and it was her.

This was the second time I had to stop my writing process and change gears.

She had discovered that getting where she wanted to go was not going to be possible, so she had a Plan B.

She asked if I could pay for a night’s stay in a motel. I replied that I could do that, but first she needed to check if a room was available.

When she called back the third time, I had not really been able to write anything more on my sermon. However, just before the phone rang, I had a brainwave and was ready to write a bit more.

She told me that she reserved a room at a motel, could get a ride, and would be there in about 10 minutes.

I said it would take me a little longer but to just wait in the lobby and I would get there shortly.

I got off the phone and quickly tried to put down the thoughts I had had just before I picked up the receiver.

I was almost finished my sermon; I just needed an illustration and would try to think of something while I drove to the motel about 15 minutes away.

When I got there, she was nowhere to be found. The front desk clerk had no reservation and no knowledge of this person.

I hung around for a few minutes and then drove back to the church … all that for nothing.

The whole ordeal sidetracked me from my sermon and I didn’t even end up helping her … but it sure changed my day.

Here’s the thing: We like to know the end; we crave resolution. But with God there is mystery, and sometimes we have to be okay with the mystery. It’s in the mystery that faith and hope can grow.

That’s Life!


Question: What mystery do you have to live with? Leave your comment below.

I Was All Ready, But Not Really

I was ready; I had my things all set to go. I just needed to get there in time, or so I thought.

We were up at our cottage and the sun was finally going to come out at the end of the day. I thought this was my chance to finally film a sunset with my drone.

Not long ago, I wrote how I lost a drone in an attempt to get some video of a sunset over Lake Huron (read here).

Well, after that disaster, I got a replacement drone and this was the first time I was back at the cottage with it.

I wasn’t sure I would get a chance to capture a sunset; it had been cloudy most of the day. But I was going to be ready … just in case.

I had charged the battery and had my phone, which acts as the controller for the drone, charging as well.

I knew I was set, but as it got closer to the time that the sun would sink below the horizon, I got busy doing something else.

So though I was all ready to go, I suddenly had to fly into hurry mode, to gather my equipment and head down to the beach.

I walked as fast as I could, but my sore ribs from a mountain bike crash a week earlier (read here) kept me at a slower pace than I wanted to go.

The sun was still in the sky as we got onto the beach, but I knew it would drop fairly quickly out of sight.

I synced the drone with the controller and waited, not very patiently, as it acquired the necessary satellites to operate.

It seemed to take forever, but finally was able to take off. I cautiously wanted to keep it from flying out over the water like the last time I tried to film a sunset, so I didn’t take it up too high.

I thought I would snap a few pictures first, although when I went to do that I didn’t hear the usual shutter sound. That didn’t stop me from taking a few more.

Then I turned on the video camera and that’s when I realized I had all my stuff ready to go except one thing.

Nothing happened when I pressed “record”, but a little dialogue box came up on my screen. It read, “no SD card on board”.

“Whaaaaaat?!”, I muttered. And then I remembered the one thing I didn’t do was put the SD card into the drone. It was back at the cottage.

Unbelievable! I had been dying to take some sunset scenes at the beach; I even lost a drone doing it. Now, after anticipating it for so long, I had forgotten to bring the little card that would enable me to record the sight.

This picture is the scene I missed capturing with my drone.

Here’s the thing: You can think you are ready for what is coming next. You can have your relationships in order, your finances in order, even have your health right where you want it to be. But if you miss one thing – a relationship with God through Christ – you will miss capturing what will matter to you eternally. Don’t neglect those things that you think are secondary or down the road. Be ready now.

That’s Life!


Question: What have you missed that was really important? Leave your comments below.

It Was The Worst Or The Best – You Be The Judge

I crashed my bike the other day and it was either the worst or the best crash of the year.

I usually have a number of crashes to pick from in determining my most spectacular crash. This one rated up there. The bike was alright, but my body suffered a little more than usual.

On the trail I was riding, there is a section that goes right through a corn field. It’s pretty cool riding along a 4-foot wide trail with walls of corn about 6 1/2 feet high on either side of you. Your elbows slap the sheaves of corn as you ride through this gauntlet.

On one bend in the trail, I took it a little fast and maybe a bit wide. I got too close to the stocks and, before I knew it, I spilled all over the place.

I hit my head on the ground; I think I bounced at least once. I had the wind knocked out of me, so I gasped to get my breath back.

And, oh ya, I was sore.

The thing is all I could think about was the guy gearing up to go biking when I had set out. I figured he would be coming along at any moment. I was hidden by the corn and a curve in the trail so I could see an even bigger crash looming.

The only thing I could think of to do was what you do when you get hit in hockey: get up fast and try to make it look like you’re not hurt.

I was aching and still a little dazed but I kind of flopped on my bike and started riding.

By the time I got out of the corn I didn’t think of checking to see if I was okay. My head cleared and the pain had subsided.

I just rode on.

As I continued on the trail, I kept thinking, “I’m going to be sore tomorrow.”

I was right about being sore, but wrong about the timing! I started feeling really sore on the drive back, and by the time I got home I was not moving very well.

The ground where I had fallen was like cement and, in talking to a guy who farms, I learned that the corn sucks everything out of the soil.

I’ve felt sidewalks that have more give to them than the spot where I fell!

I figured I had bruised some ribs, and though my wife and daughter think I might have cracked a few, I’m holding to my diagnosis.

I talked to a friend who said cracked ribs can take 6-8 weeks to heal … I definitely don’t have that kind of time to give to the healing process.

Here’s the thing: Depending on how you look at something difficult, it can either be the worst or the best. My fall may have been my worst crash this year, but certainly not my worst crash ever. I could also look at it as the best crash this year, the most spectacular because it was a big crash but I walked away from it. In your life, God can give you the right perspective to have when going through difficult or troubled times. Look to Him – what you’re going through could be the worst, or maybe it’s the best.

That’s Life!


Question: How has God helped you see the positive in difficult times? Leave your comments below.

I Have To Admit It: She Was Right

I like being right; I think most people do. So I hate it when Lily is right and I’m wrong.

It happened the other day and, don’t get me wrong here, she was wrong in so many ways, but right when it counted.

Lily wanted to see the Snowbirds – and I’m not talking about Canadians who go down to the southern States to ride out the winters. I’m talking about the Canadian Air Force Snowbirds,  the world famous pilots and planes that do acrobatics and synchronized flying at air shows.

Living in Kingston, we get to see more than our fair share of them and this past weekend they were here to put on a show.

I could tell Lil was very determined to see them so I didn’t put up a fuss or even comment on how many times she’s already seen them. I just asked, “When are we leaving?”

I wasn’t paying too much attention to her answer, but in the back of my mind I thought she was cutting it close.

I was right. The traffic was bumper to bumper all the way to Fort Henry, over which the Snowbirds would be performing.

Lily seemed upset with me that she had picked the same time to leave as thousands of others had. I think she wished I’d driven a different route or driven on the sidewalk to get around the streaming line of traffic in front of us.

Three times she told me what I should do after it was too late to do it. It was like the past and her present were all convoluted together.

Lily’s stress was mounting as it became more and more apparent that we would be in our car trying to find a parking spot when the air show was going on.

I couldn’t take much more so I parked the car, probably about 2 or 3 kilometres from the Fort.

We got out and started walking past a line of cars that were barely moving … mind you, we were walking at a good clip, but I could tell that Lily wanted to walk even faster.

When we arrived at Fort Henry we had to walk up a hill. All along that hill there were people sitting down waiting for the Snowbirds to arrive.

I thought we could just join them, sit on the side of the hill and count our blessing that we made it before the show began.

But no, that’s not what Lil wanted. She wanted to walk to the top of the hill and then go around the back of the Fort, overlooking Lake Ontario, because that was the best backdrop for the planes.

I thought, “She’s being greedy. We made it on time; now she’s pushing it.” But though my legs were tired, we got there just minutes before the planes came roaring overhead.

I have to admit, seeing the Snowbirds from that vantage point was truly spectacular. She was right.

Here’s the thing: I know this is true in my life, and I’m sure that it’s true for you: There are many times when I think I know what is right and best for me, or a family member, or for work, yet God doesn’t seem to bring what I think is needed. Unlike us, who are right some of the time, God is right all the time. Somehow we have to get our minds and emotions around that fact … even though it might go against our better judgement.

That’s Life!


Question: What was something you thought was right, but in the end it wasn’t? Leave your comments below.

Running Shoes Don’t Last Forever

I guess the life expectancy of my running shoes had reached its limit and then some.

I can’t remember when I bought them, but I do remember buying a pair about 22 years ago. I can’t say for sure that the runners I have now are those, but let’s just say I’ve had this pair for a very, very long time.

There was a time when I would go through a pair of running shoes every year. They were my go-to, every day shoes.

Since then I find I don’t run very much, so they just stay in the closet, collecting dust until I go on my treadmill or rowing machine. … I guess that’s why I’ve been able to keep them so long.

This year though, I decided to play baseball, so out came my trusty running shoes.

I wore them every Monday this spring and summer, but these shoes will never feel my feet inside them again.

Last Monday they simply disintegrated. I don’t know why they chose this past week to break down and I don’t know why they blew up all at once instead of gradually.

When I put them on before ball, they seemed to be in really good shape. I had no thoughts of needing to replace them this year at all.

The only thing I can think of is that the infield was made of red clay and was pretty wet … and we were just taking batting practice.

The pattern was to hit 10 balls, take a break while another guy hit ten, and then hit another 10 balls.

It might have been a combination of things, including extended time in the batter’s box dragging my toe through the wet clay as I swung through the pitch.

For the first 10 balls, I decided to hit right-handed. I noticed that a bunch of clay had gotten up inside the tread on one shoe.

For the next ten, I decided to hit my natural way – left-handed – and this time it was the other shoe that filled up with clay under the tread.

I then took my turn fielding balls.

By the time I finished my next at bat, the soles of my shoes were flapping like the tongue of a big old dog who’d just finished slurping down his dinner meal.

I walked back to my car feeling like I was wearing clown shoes! It was such an odd feeling.

The shoes were done, finished, not even good enough to cut the grass in.

Last night I went out looking for a new pair of running shoes. Cross trainers seem to be the type of shoe best suited to my activities. … $100 later and I’m ready for baseball next week.

Here’s the thing: In life, most of the time, we manage just fine. We even handle struggles with not too much sweat. But every once in a while the wheels fall off, the shoes disintegrate, life blows up in our face. This happens when we are least expecting it, usually when we are not ready for it. If you’re not in the habit of turning to God, you can really find yourself lost, floundering, panicked. Begin a relationship with God today – if you haven’t done so already – because He can put your life back together.

That’s Life!


Question: What unexpected thing has blown up in front of you? Leave your comments below.