Reminders

Heading home one November evening, I pass the yard with the purple flashing lights of a Halloween skeleton which had been left up. As I turn into my driveway, I see that my neighbor has set out his Santa figure and manger scene. Have you noticed a trend too? As the seasons move forward towards year’s end, decorations are being put out earlier and left up longer. Halloween. Thanksgiving. Christmas…

There is a positive hope in these simple and familiar decorations, despite the challenges our world is facing and adjustments to a “new normal.” They reflect a strength of spirit and make room for happier times. I love the positive celebration of life! This time-of-year is a good opportunity to offer encouragement to others, to realize anew the value of family, community, work, church, giving to others…

As we go about our daily routines, what are we doing to strengthen and help each other? Everyone appreciates encouragement and recognition, or a listening ear. The lighted decorations make me think of the verse that says, “Let light shine out of darkness” (*2 Corinthians 4:6). Think of all the workers, the medical community, educators, transport services, and more who have struggled to keep things running. They have truly been a source of light. How are we impacting others and how have we been impacted by loss and a changing economy? How are we celebrating the good and coming together in our shared humanity?

May the flashing lights of the seasons’ decorations or the quiet humble manger scene be reminders. See through the darkness, give thanks for what we have, and remember the Christ child come to earth. In this journey I pray that we will grow stronger, wiser, more caring… trusting and serving God. May His light shine through each of us.

Winter’s Nip

“Hello,” he says,
“Just passing by today.
But I’ll be back
For a longer stay!”

“It’s been a while.
I’ve been away,
To other climes,
Some cold to lay.”

“It’s quite a job,
The world to view.
Opportunities to enjoy
Outside for a few.”

“A nice warm fire
Will do for some
Who prefer to be toasty
When I come.”

With a nod and smile
He travels on.
But he’ll return
He’s not gone!

Perspective

“Did that get it?” I squinted my eyes and turned my head to view the window I was cleaning, gaining a new perspective as the angle of light shifted. Rubbing out another smudge on the glass, I stepped back to check out my work. Looking good! No more streaks or dirt.

Isn’t life just like that too… especially in relationships with others?! Our feelings, emotions, and reactions are often wrapped up in our own perspective. We lash out or jump to conclusions… because of course that is what the other person was thinking or planning, right?! At least that is our own presumption. Unfortunately, I have found myself regretting my reactions and undergoing deep hurt or upset because I failed to consider where the other person was coming from, their thoughts or intents.

Considering things from the perspective of others brings a wealth of opportunities for positive experiences. Like the unseen dirt or smudges on glass, a shift in the way we see others and a desire to understand or extend some grace is needed. How often do we pause to reflect on the reactions or needs of others, to consider their past or present circumstances? How will looking at them from a different angle help exchange stress for compassion or lead to better understanding?

Perhaps Matthew and Luke had something of this in mind when they said, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” * Don’t we all want to be understood and to be given some grace in those moments when things just aren’t going right? I sure appreciate it when someone recognizes why I may have had a certain reaction and I am encouraged when they offer support and understanding!

Perhaps the next time you are cleaning that window or mirror, when you notice a smudge on your glasses, or when you flip your windshield wipers on… you will pause to consider your own perspective in some current situation. May God, who knows the human heart, grant us peace and a better perspective.

* Matthew 7:12 & Luke 6:31
Charlotte-Anne Allen

Reflections on Leaves

  • Events around us can stir us and carry us
  • We sometimes feel blown about and out of control
  • We gather ourselves as best we can
  • Picking ourselves back up can be difficult
  • Being walked all over can crush one’s spirit or feed resentment
  • Persistence and patience are nothing to sneeze at
  • We long to be swept away from uncomfortable or painful situations
  • A clean wash and fresh start breath life back in
  • May the end results of words and actions bring enrichment to others
  • Build your homes to be places of nurture, warmth, and comfort
  • Listen for the soft answers and quiet rustles to calm your soul
  • Be the fuel to encourage and lead
  • Look for positive opportunities in each season of change
  • Draw from the Source and show bright colors

From “Reflections from the Everyday”Charlotte-Anne Allen

Feet of a Deer

Strength from above
Or I would fall

To walk the heights
Through fear or grief

Scaling impossible
Chasms and cliffs

Oh God, our help
We climb the heights

Each step with You
Stay by my side

To glimpse Your majesty
With feet of a deer

The Sovereign Lord is my strength.
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer.
He enables me to tread on the heights.
Habakkuk 3:19

Foggy Mornings

The cool morning greeted me as I peeked out of the window, then stepped outside. Soft fog gently touched my face and chilled my arms. Drops of moisture clung to leaf and blade, lending its nourishment. Sounds of early morning rising were muffled and the neighbor’s nearby chickens clucked contentedly. The cats’ meows welcomed their morning feeding.

I love these soft foggy mornings, where the day begins more gently. The fog hides or softens our surroundings and I am more acutely aware. The quiet invites me to join in, easing my soul and settling my heart in preparation for the day. In that pause, I breathe deeply and feel at peace.

The prophet Jeremiah spoke of God’s majesty as seen in His creation. “It is (God) who made the earth by his power…He makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth.” * I think of God covering us, like a mist or fog, offering us nourishment and gently touching us to cool our anxious thoughts.

What an encouragement and positive start for our day! As the sun rises and begins to burn off the fog, so we turn to our activities or head off to work. Breathe deeply. Draw on God’s covering presence. Know His touch.

Prayers for you each new day. Be encouraged.

Jeremiah 10:12-13

Reflections on Muscadines

• Waiting for when times are ripe is an exercise in patience
• Develop good and savory aspects of your heritage
• Preparation can be a long process
• Choose that which will build up and strengthen
• Discard that which is not productive or nourishing
• Consider the many ways your interests and gifts can be used
• Be careful of what you surround yourself with
• What you surround yourself with will influence all that you are
• Careful pruning develops better fruit and stronger character
• We project our true character through our words and actions
• May the scent of our actions draw and not repel
• Act compassionately so others may taste of goodness and hope
• Take nourishment through the Son’s light
• Draw wisdom and knowledge through God’s Word

From “Reflections from the Everyday” by Charlotte-Anne Allen

Our Tongue

Sword – Mighty weapon to defend from harm
… Or lethal rod to destroy and cut

Log – Strong support to build and shelter
… Or battering ram to pummel and rend

Pen – Words of encouragement and knowledge
… Or scathing ridicule and lies

Hammer – To join, unify, and bind
… Or offer violence to break and tear

Brush – Smooth and untangle woeful thoughts
… Or jerk and beat and cause only pain

Paint – Beauty flowing from careful application
… Or sprays of anger and frustration

For help or harm
… We have that choice

Think first, ponder greatly
Seek wisdom and grace

Before wielding
that powerful tongue!