Friday, September 8, 2017

False Advertising

Hello Friends,

            Facebook asks “What’s on your mind?”
            What's on MY mind? False advertising! That's what!
            I bought a very small bottle (for a dollar) of what I supposed was Pure Vrigin Olive Oil at local store several days ago. That was what the bottle had on the front of it in LARGE letters. Had I looked closely, underneath in much smaller letters in a color that BLENDED in with the color of the bottle it said "Blend", which word I didn't see until I got home. Okay, so I have a bottle of "Pure Virgin Olive Oil Blend". I can live with that. When I saw "blend" I started looking around to find out what the "blend" was. On the back of the bottle in EXTREMELY SMALL, almost infinitesimally tiny letters, so small that most people would need a magnifying glass to read it, it told the percentage of Olive Oil in the bottle! SIX percent! Yes, 6% ONLY!!!!! And in large letters on the front, it said "PURE VIRGIN OLIVE OIL"!
            SOoooooo..... yesterday I was in that store where I had bought this stuff in the first place. I grabbed a bottle off the shelf and took it to the register. The lady at the counter was having trouble with the register... the screen just went blank on the order she had just rung up while I waited to speak with her. The person who looked like a manager came to help. The cashier took the order to ring up at another register, and I started to speak to the manager. I quickly assured him I did not want to buy the bottle in my hand, but asked him if he could read the fine print on the back of the bottle!! He glanced at it, but probably couldn't. I didn't give him much time and I asked him if he knew how much Pure Virgin Olive Oil was in the bottle. I didn't remember the exact number at that time, but told him it was a very SMALL amount.. His response was,"Well, if it were real olive oil, I'd have to charge SEVEN dollars for the bottle!!! And it's flavored like olive oil!" I was NOT expecting THAT response! It did not say "Pure Virgin Olive Oil FLAVOR on the bottle.THEN he proceeded to tell me that their "honey" is not real honey, but just "honey flavored!" He ALMOST sounded PROUD of these facts!
            I was so surprised at his ATTITUDE (not quite so much at the facts) that I was almost speechless! NOT QUITE, though. I just wish I had rebounded quickly enough to suggest that the OIL bottle led people to believe something that is NOT TOTALLY TRUE!! NOT even partially true, really, unless one believes that SIX PERCENT of something constitutes as PARTIALLY true. Technically, I guess they can "get away with it" if no one confronts them, but in MY book, it's WRONG all the way! It should just say “~whatever~ and  Olive Oil Blend” and even then it should give the percentages of on the FRONT of the bottle (in letters large enough to read) with Olive Oil NOT being the first ingredient listed on the front label!
            I happened to be out of olive oil the day I bought it, saw it on the shelf, and grabbed it quickly, thinking it would tide me over for a day or two. It doesn't pay to buy without reading the details. Lesson learned!! (I hope!)

And so for now, Good-bye and God Bless!  and
May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.  Romans 15:33  

Mona in Maine

Friday, July 28, 2017

Trusting God's Covering

Greetings Friends and Neighbors, 

Posting again, but I'm not sure if it's to make up for missing a week, or getting a jump-start on NEXT week! Whichever, I found this poem and thoughts from it-- some time ago.


I will lift my eyes to the One who knows
and loves me in my deepest woes. 
If I but look above to Him,
He'll raise me up to rejoice and win. 
I'll depend on Him for steps each day. 
He IS the One who knows my way. 
When I am tried I'll come forth as gold. 
That is the promise of which I'm told. 
My help does come from God above. 
His creations He will always love. 
He will not slumber nor will He sleep. 
His beloved creatures He will keep. 
In His image we were made. 
He is our strength, our source, our shade. 
Shade protects from sun's bright heat. 
God protects us when we are weak. 
As a hen covers her brood under her wing,
So God covers those who trust in Him.

In thinking about God's help and leading, it's so often hard to trust when we cannot see.  This walk by faith is not easy, but it's necessary.  How do we do that?  I don't have all the answers, but I know we have to simply trust and then be willing to move forward one step at a time. 

Job 23:10 says, "But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold."  The testing or trials ("tried" in KJV) tells me that it's not going to be a bed of roses without a few thorns along the way.  

1 Peter 1:7 (KJV) says "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:" 
and 1 Peter 1:7 (in New King James Version) reads "that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, "

The words "trial" and "genuineness" in these two versions are used in the same place. 
When one goes to a court of law, the trial is for the purpose of finding out what is true, genuine, real.  So in essence, we must be tried in order for our genuineness or the reality of our faith to be seen. 

I remember taking tests and exams in school.  What trials some of those were!  If I had studied properly and had prepared well, then they weren't so bad.  In fact, I felt like I was sailing though them.  BUT if I had not done my homework, so to speak, or had studied (crammed!) at the last minute, then those tests and exams were not so much fun!  That truth of the matter in those times was that I didn’t know as much as I was hoping for.  And sometimes it was far less!

When I enrolled in a state university at the age of forty-four, I was wearing many hats.  I was no longer single, with just studying and friends on my mind.  (Should I reverse that?  Friends and studying?)  At four-four, I was teaching Sunday School, playing the organ each Sunday for morning services, on church boards, besides wearing the everyday hats of wife, mother of three young teen children, and daughter of an elderly parent. At this point in my life, I knew things had to be different... a lot different... from when I was a teenager in school.  I knew I’d no longer be able to cram at the last minute.  And I actually really learned how to study for the first time in my life.  I had to in order to be prepared for the trials of university exams.  And I did!  And I fully believe that it was because I was learning to follow God’s way and trust Him more and more to lead me..

And so for now, Good-bye and God Bless!  and
May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.  Romans 15:33  

Mona in Maine

Thursday, July 27, 2017

"When Mum's on the Phone"

Hello Friends and Neighbors,                                                                      

I'm late this week, well, so late that I think I'm early!  I didn't write last week.  Life just got in my way and got going faster than I anticipated.  This week isn't much different.  I came home from my daughter's on Tuesday afternoon and now suddenly it's Thursday already.  We leave Saturday morning early for my  annual family reunion, my dad's people.  I always look forward to getting together with everyone, but once the reunion has come and gone, summer's half over.  Well, it seems like more than that.  Two weeks later (approximately) is the annual Blueberry Festival in Machias and then suddenly September hits! And you all know what follows! October and November come much too quickly and we suddenly find ourselves getting the house in Maine ready for winter!

Well, today I thought I'd share a poem that made me write it when my twins were, I don't know, three or four years old probably.  They were old enough to know that when the phone rang, I'd be distracted for a few minutes.  I kept hearing, "When Mum's on the phone it's the dandiest time..." over and over in my head every time I got off the phone.  I wrote the original version when they were very young, but lost it.  This version is similar but not exact.  I couldn't recreate it exactly, have tried several times without success, but this summer I had to do something about it, and the following is the result.  I hope you enjoy reading it at least half as much as I did writing it as I brought back memories. The only part that is really not true is that I'm sure they didn't volunteer to clean up the mess afterwards!!

or...  Twin Hugs,
by Ramona Herrick Boldsen

          When Mum’s on the phone it’s the dandiest time to frolic. We mumble and tumble and climb up the cupboard shelves in the pantry’s allure. There’s so much to see and do and procure from those pantry shelves. Let’s see how much are we able to grab, run, and sample under the dining room table.

          Well, not everything’s tasty, but it’s fun just to try. We just mustn’t get anything into our eyes. Let’s see... there’s oatmeal, and sugar and shortening and flour. We hope Mum keeps talking, at least for an hour.

          Spaghetti and macaroni, we found to crunch on. Cheerios and corn flakes, they’re fun to munch on. Chocolate chips and raisins, oh, look!  There’s more of those wonderful things Mum got at the store.

          Here’s some very dark cocoa. We’ll grab it and try it. Eww, it’s no fun to eat, but such fun to fly it and fling it around, in great little circles. They make mounds on the rug, like little brown turtles. Oops, some rubbed off onto our faces and clothes. We have it everywhere, even onto our nose!

          Oh no, oh no! Here comes our mum now. She’s off the phone, with a frown on her brow. It’s only been minutes, but we tasted a lot of the pantry’s stash. We hope she forgot about our running so fast out of the room. But of course she did not. She followed us soon.

          She’s not looking happy; she’s seen the rug. We’ll jump up real quick and ask for a hug. We didn’t mean harm. We just wanted to eat some of that stuff in the pantry that looked so neat.
          We’ll jump up together and surround Mum with our arms.  It’s Twin Hug time. It’s part of our charms. Our Twin Hugs work nicely, daytime or night. When we get mum in our circle, we join hands and squeeze tight.
          Twin hugs are fun and quite distracting. We hope she’ll forget about how we were acting. We won’t do this again, Mum, so please don’t worry. For making a mess, we are truly sorry. We’ll clean it all up just as fast as we can and then share another Twin Hug; they’re the best in the land.

So now until next time, it’s always night SOMEwhere, so Good Night and God Bless!
Romans 15:33 May the God of peace be with you all. Amen

Mona in Maine

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


Hello Friends and Neighbors,                                                                                           11 July 17
This blog post is something I wrote quite a while back.  I've edited it a bit.  It's extremely long, but I wasn't sure where to cut it in two for separate posts, so here it is all in one big swoop!


The first two thoughts, quotes by two different people, are similar in basic concept... and yet the third point, a quote by another person may be in sync with the second point but not the first point. 
1.  Music... It’s not the sound; it’s the message;        That may be true (although I have heard opinions to the contrary) but there’s also another side to the issue...
            First, this opinion was given by a guy who was in a rock band before he got saved.  His opinion was that rock music was from his old life and that the beat itself was, if not evil, at least stirred up feelings from those days and should be avoided, not just by him, but by all Christians. 
            These statements were made by him in 1969 and so he was young (probably in his very early 20s) and newly saved at the time.  Perhaps he would see it differently now in 2017;  perhaps not.  It would be interesting to hear his viewpoint this many years later when contemporary music seems to be the rage in so many churches. 
            Personally, I have mixed feelings over the issue.  I think it may actually depend on more than one factor.  It might depend on one’s background--  what one grew up listening to and singing.  But I think more than that, it depends on one’s inner preferences which in part stem from not just personal choice, but innate, individual makeup! And these thoughts are not based on research--  only my personal opinion based on how I feel when listening to or trying to sing along with contemporary music. 
            On the other hand, if indeed there is a message in the melody line itself... if the music alone can minister to an individual...  then there is possibility that “I can worship to anything” may not hold true for everyone.

2. I can worship to anything.             First of all, when it was being introduced into the church where I was pianist at the time, I really gave it as much as I could in attempt to learn to play some of the songs.  KEY WORD here is ATTEMPT;  I tried long and hard, working with one or more folks on the music team who were accomplished in that genre.  We’re talking several years, not just days or weeks!  It never quite totally sunk in to my being-- maybe not even enough to say partially! 
            We eventually did learn several of the contemporary songs, but I always felt left out on some of them, doing them basically in my own way, with my own twist on the beat.  I’m not comfortable playing a new chord on the last beat of a measure while still singing in the previous chord--  Or singing in a new chord before playing it!  If this sounds confusing to you, well, it was and still is confusing to me.  I like harmony, and that to me is not harmony! 
            Those measures stir up confusion, not peace, in my soul.  Ending on a chord other than the one-chord also leaves my spirit in a state of unfinished business.  I need the resolution of ending in the one-chord;  when ending in the three-chord or four-chord (I don’t even know which is usually used) it just leaves me up in the air, emotionally and thus, spiritually.  It’s similar to reading a book, coming to the end, and the author hasn’t given a solid resolution to what seemed like were the main threads of the story. 

3. There’s a message in the melody.              Traditional hymns, on the other hand, bring me a sense of peace and strength--  a sense of well-being, joy, and deep worship within my soul.  It’s not just the words, although the words have some deep and joyous messages.  The music itself also ministers to my spirit in a way that  strict, true contemporary music--  i.e. Christian rock music--  has seldom done. *1
            I think perhaps if I had not had to try to play the contemporary Christian music, I might enjoy listening to it a lot more than I do.  But often I just don’t even want to listen to it because it stirs up so many frustrating memories of feeling inadequate at the piano--  an inferior musician, compared to those who understood and felt the beat and rhythms of the contemporary songs. 
            Singing the contemporary songs*2 is often even worse... I go through the motions of singing, but they often do not comfort my spirit or feed my soul like the hymns I grew up with.  Singing the old hymns (and even the newer hymns) is a breath of fresh air to my spirit.  If a church is going to use contemporary music, I also believe that it needs to be a combination of both.  The church we attend in Florida is a large church that actually has four weekend services (not counting Sunday evening.)  It has a Saturday evening and Sunday 9:30am contemporary service... and two Sunday morning services at 8:15 and 11 am with traditional hymns.  I realize this is not possible for a small church, but if one really feels contemporary is needful, then incorporating both styles into its services would be a great compromise, because my opinion is that traditional hymns are very necessary also.  The main reason I continued to attend a church in Maine for several years is because of my love and friendship with the pastor’s family. And the pastor always preached a great message. The church went strictly to contemporary after I married and started going to Florida for the winters, consequently I was no longer playing the piano there.  The music style (NOT the musicians!) just didn’t do that much for my spirit.  I seldom felt really uplifted from it the way I do when singing the traditional hymns, although the young, new musicians were doing a fantastic job! I was so proud of them!
            We’ve attended the contemporary service on Sunday morning in Florida a few times and it’s the same thing.  The musicians are doing a great job, but the music is just music, basically, to me.  It doesn’t sink down into my spirit the way traditional hymns do.  And listening to a great southern gospel style quartet or a great blend of a ladies trio or any combination of voices in any number singing the great old hymns of the faith can’t be beat in my opinion.  They can be rendered slow or fast... depends on the occasion and the moment, but the words and music of those old hymns are a combination that ministers to me in a way that few contemporary songs have ever done.
            So overall, I can agree on some level that it probably is not the music, but rather the message, but as far as worshipping to anything...?  Well, I guess I would have to argue that since we are all created as distinct individuals with different likes and dislikes, desires, dreams, and on and on, that perhaps there is something about the music itself that ministers.
            We don’t all have the same favorite color or food or climate--  (some like it hot, some like it cold...!)  --so why should we have the same taste in music?  Why is yellow, bright sunshine yellow, my favorite color?  I didn’t one day look at the spectrum of colors and say,  “I’m going to choose yellow for my favorite!”  Yellow is the color that draws me; just seeing something yellow makes me feel happy, contented, joyful, peaceful.  Yellow ministers to my soul!  Why?  I don’t know.  That’s not to say I don’t get some of those feelings from other colors as well.  Deep orange, deep red, blues, greens, purples...  and pastels are beautiful in certain situations.  Depending on where they are and how they are used, many if not most of the other colors will also bring out some of those sensations, BUT...!   Yellow is my above-all favorite!  Case closed!  Even black has its place at times, but it doesn’t bring out the emotions that other colors do, and it definitely doesn’t do for me what yellow does!
            Food--  we all have such varied taste in foods.  What some folks love, others cannot possibly put even a small taste of it their mouths.  Just the smell of it will make them walk in the other direction.  Are you a vegetable lover or a meat lover or some of both or do you strongly dislike some of both?  I’m for the vegetables.  I will eat meat (if I HAVE to!  lol!) but I seldom, if ever, actually crave it!  And some meats are definitely more tasty to me than others!
            And as to weather... I always used to say, “I’d rather sweat than shiver!”  Well, I’m modifying that now to “I’d rather not do either one!!”  Having lived in Maine all my life, I know what shivering is all about in the wintertime!  Now having spent several winters in Florida and staying long enough usually to experience at some of the sweating, I can truly say, “Neither one is optimal!”  I have learned that as we say in Maine, “I’m spleeny!”  There’s a middle ground where the temperature is comfortably warm and comfortably cool. I prefer staying in between the two!  It’s in between needing to turn on the furnace and needing to turn on the air conditioning!  Try somewhere above 65 and below 80!   Now some folks love the Maine winter temps with snow and some folks love the Florida summers... I’ll take the opposite of both!!!
            And getting back to music, I think I’ve finally determined that my preference in music isn’t JUST a choice, just as yellow isn’t a conscious choice.  It IS ME.  Although I was exposed to many colors as a young child, and I was not exposed to contemporary Christian music (basically because it didn’t exist at the time!) but I’m thinking that my preferences for things aren’t always so much a choice as they are a part of what makes up my personality... ME!
            I think I can find a middle ground in music... some of the contemporary music is okay... I’m not super excited over most of the middle ground music on the contemporary side, but some of it really is okay.  But that said, most of that still doesn’t really minister to my inner being like the old hymns and southern gospel style.  Note that I said “MOST” because there are some that I really do enjoy.  But I think that the accompaniment to the music makes a big difference also in how it sinks in or not.  The style, the instruments and how they’re played, the rhythms, the melody... some are melodies very varied melodically and others just repeat the same short melody lines over and over, which to me can be very boring and unsingable in a worshipful way.  It depends on the song.  The same could be said for some of the old hymns of the faith... In fact there is such a hymn that took me some time to get used to and to be able to appreciate the words and meanings because there was just a bit too much repetition in the melody.  It mostly depends on the arrangement of the melody and how the rhythm fits in with it. 
            So yes, it’s not the sound, ultimately.  It IS the message, but if the sound is an irritant to an individual’s inner psyche, then the message probably isn’t going to get past the sound.  It’s called packaging!  A child is quite apt to choose the brightest, prettiest wrapped package over one wrapped in plain brown paper.  And adults are probably not too far away from doing the same thing.  When it comes to music, given a choice, I’m much more likely to walk into an auditorium where there’s a rousing southern gospel quartet singing, than into a room with a band playing and singing a contemporary song.  It’s what I like... the blend of great four part harmony with a great piano accompaniment that lifts my spirit.  To take the comparison further, fill that first auditorium with a congregation lifting their voices to “How Great Thou Art” or “Great is Thy Faithfulness” or “In the Sweet By and By” or a multitude of the other old standard hymns and fill the other auditorium with a loud band, no matter how well they play and sing, leading the congregation in one of the latest contemporary Christian songs, and well, at this point, I probably don’t have to say which auditorium I’d quickly enter! 
            I don’t appreciate “loud” just for the sake of being loud!  I have come to realize as I’ve gotten older that my ears are very sensitive to very loud sounds.  So I cannot appreciate loud music when it’s so loud it is uncomfortable in my ears.  I’ve been in services when that was the case, and at least once or twice I had to leave the auditorium because of the loudness;  it was just too uncomfortable for me.  I couldn’t enter into singing the songs because first and foremost, the decibel level was just way too high.  It was contemporary (the congregation was singing along with prerecorded music) but I don’t remember if the songs were some I could enjoy or not.  The loudness of the sound cancelled out any possibility of enjoying the music.  On that note, I was at a concert at the Bangor State Fair one time when I would have enjoyed the music; the songs, the words, the message, the accompaniment were all a style I would have enjoyed immensely. The sound itself would have been great, BUT the volume was WAY too high for comfort.

*1 After writing the above, I started reading the, Spiritual Anorexia, How Contemporary Worship is Starving the Church by Doug Erlandson.  The author stated several reasons why he believes churches should not change over from traditional to contemporary.  He does not say that contemporary music should be totally omitted from the worship service, but on the other hand neither should traditional hymns.  One of his points that rang true with me when I was reading is that contemporary music, rock music, is meant to be performed by a vocal band, not sung by a congregation.  It is performance music and it doesn’t have a lot of “sing-a-long-ability.” *2 I have often felt that way, not about all contemporary worship music, but about a lot of it.  I have gotten used to some of the older contemporary pieces and some of them are not so bad, but I still don’t get the same inner peace and strength from most of them that I get from most traditional hymns.  I especially am moved when singing the traditional in a congregation where the hymns that are meant to move along are sung with gusto and the ones that are contemplative and searching are sung with the tempo that assists that experience. 
            Music IS an experience. It can be a great experience or not so much.  Mr. Erlandson also states that there is much repetition of phrases in the contemporary and that those standing up for contemporary can cite Psalm 136 as a case in point for using repetition in writing such music.  But, he goes on to say that in the Psalm, there are lines stating points why God’s “mercy endureth forever” between each “His mercy endureth forever.”  It does not just repeat the same phrase over and over without other phrases. 
            There is also in many contemporary songs a repetition not just of word phrases but also of melody phrases.  This is sometimes true in traditional hymns but again it’s not predominant as it is in so much of the contemporary. 
            Mr. Erlandson also states that one of the excuses folks use for switching away from the old hymns of the faith is that folks today like to sing what they know and that contemporary music in necessary to draw folks into church today.  His argument against that is that he knows of a church where they use most, if not all, hymns and that the church is strong and growing numerically.  Granted it is only one example, but I still say that if the music is presented right (not all slow and dead sounding) then folks of all ages will be able to enjoy it.  There’s nothing wrong with giving an old hymn an upbeat rhythm and being sung like folks mean what they’re singing.  And just HOW are folks today going to know these old hymns if the churches are throwing them away?
            Another point he made in his book, although a minor one, is concerning the hymnbook itself.  Many churches today, even for the traditional services, are using technology casting the words on a screen up front instead of using the hymnal.  Although there is nothing inherently wrong with this, it is more difficult for those who read music to learn a new hymn sometimes, depending on the hymn.  I can usually sight read a song I’ve never seen before and follow along with the piano or organ without much trouble at all.  If I don’t have the notes in front of me, I may have to hear it two or three times or more before I begin to “get” it.  Even then, it is far easier to sing a new-to-me traditional hymn than a new-to-me contemporary song.  As Mr. Erlandson said, one can usually easily feel (hear) one’s way through a hymn but contemporary music often seems to have no rhyme nor reason to its patterns.  Hence, its sing-a-bility and learn-a-bility levels are much lower as a general rule.

Well, here are my thoughts on church music.  You're more than welcome to disagree with me.  As I've said, these are my opinions.  That's how I feel and your taste may be totally opposite to mine.  And that's fine with me.  I can agree to disagree and still be friends!

Until next time, it’s always night SOMEwhere, so Good Night and God Bless!
Romans 15:33 May the God of peace be with you all. Amen 

Mona in Maine