“When surrounded by adversity, rising above it can be daunting.“
from “Reflections from the Everyday” (Fizz) c-a allen
“Now, hold your breath. Put your face in the water… and blow,” the swimming instructor said to our shivering group standing in the shallow end of the pool. Those long-ago swimming lessons at the local recreation department were something my brothers and I had looked forward to. I just never really got comfortable with the whole experience. On our last day, I struggled to stay above-water in the ten-foot end while my older brother cheerfully treaded water and joked with them.
Like all of us, there have been times in life when I’ve struggled to stay “above-water.” Adversity comes to us all. There are the very real struggles of trying to figure out our place in this world… wondering about life, death, and faith… working through difficult relationships… or dealing with feelings regarding value or purpose.
I value the example and encouragement of others as I work to learn something new or try to keep on through challenging or difficult situations. Getting through that last swim test was a satisfying accomplishment! I literally had to “rise up” to keep my head above water. I get stressed when I have to learn new complicated (for me) tech-related things for my work. When family members, or other loved-ones, encounter health or emotional struggles, I can only offer my prayers, presence, and help. I just want things to be okay… That can be tough.
I love the writer of the book of Psalms. Just like me, in all their humanity, they were imperfect and weak. Sometimes doubting and despairing; nevertheless, they remind us of more… ultimately acknowledging and having faith in the one who lifts up our head.
But you, Oh Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, and the one who lifts up my head. Psalm 3:3
Isn’t that great?!! Whether we’re “surrounded by adversity” or rising to a new and hopeful day, knowing that God lifts us up will give energy to our step and calm to our soul. No matter how daunting the task or how stressful our day, God helps us to rise above it. I pray that God will encourage you and bless you as you take these thoughts with you.
Charlotte-Anne Allen 7/18/2021 *This post is dedicated to my mom, who would have been 97 today. Love you mom.
“Yaaay!!!” I joined the mob of other kids streaming from the school. Faces were excited and energy was high. The beginning of summer vacation was a long-awaited event! Thoughts of free time, lazy mornings, and summer events filled our minds. Visits to relatives, camping trips, fresh garden food, and (for me) frequent travel to the local libraries to keep my summer reading stack replenished were welcome plans. I still look forward to the warm weather and the change of pace that this season brings. Each season in life is a time of new beginnings.
The Bible is full of stories of beginnings. Some of them were very hard and others were most welcome. What do I do with my beginnings? Times change and events impact our lives, with my family (births, farewells, deaths) … in my work (saying good-bye to a child I have worked with and their family) … my church (as I move from one area of service or commitment to another) … and in the changing responsibilities and seasons throughout the year. Endings mark beginnings.
What thoughts do you have about your own beginnings? As in the excitement of summer, resolve to enter with a positive attitude and assurance of God’s presence and guidance for whatever may come. Whether our beginnings are marked with anticipation or with anxiety, we can take courage.
Ecclesiastes chapter three begins with acknowledgement that “for everything there is a season,” times for beginnings and endings… and new beginnings, and so life goes on. The writer continues with,
“What gain have the workers from their toil? I have seen the business that God has given to everyone to be busy with. He has made everything suitable for its time. Moreover, he has put a sense of past and future into their minds… I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live. Moreover, it is God’s gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil.” *
As we move with intent in our work and in our rest, I hope that we can look with anticipation and interest. My prayers are that we will take comfort, even excitement, and be strengthened as we face new beginning through our more challenging times. May we remember and know afresh God’s presence with us. As we come to Him in prayer and give thanks for His gifts each day, may we be blessed through our beginnings.
“I’ll be back in a little while,” my mom would say, as she headed out the door to check on some neighbor. They would often call on “Ms. Marge” with questions or concerns about their health, perhaps needing their blood pressure checked, and my mother was always attentive. With her nursing background, we sometimes referred to her as “the neighborhood nurse.” She would make sure they were alright or encourage them to get to the doctor’s office, often taking them herself. My mom was a very caring and giving person.
We are each a part of “community,” and it is by reaching out to each other, using our unique abilities or interests to support and encourage, that we find fulfillment. Whether in times of unrest and difficulty or in everyday routines, how will we rise to the opportunities that we encounter? How will we give and receive care, and so allow God’s light to shine?
In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, he spoke of his own ministry. “…But we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children. So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.”
I think of my family, friends, and church who have offered their presence, resources, fellowship, practical help, and prayers. What an encouragement! How overwhelmed, humbled, and thankful I have been for them. In big and small ways, we care for each other. It can be hard not to compare ourselves to what others are able to do, can’t it? I’m glad to be able to offer what I can and to express my gratitude when that care is offered to me.
Paul, this time to the Galatians, reminds us, “So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all…” May our words and our actions speak God’s voice, and may we receive and offer grace when we fall short.
My prayer is that we do not miss those opportunities amid the rush and whirl of our daily activities… God bless. Be content.
• Do we leave positive or negative evidence of our presence? • Consider where you place your foot as you seek your destinations. • An appetite for doing good benefits everyone. • Retreating to a safe dark nook can bring respite in times of need. • We can get too comfortable in our hideaway. • Just getting up and moving can be a slow and challenging process. • There are times to take things slowly. • Above all things, seek wisdom to see the way. • Some things draw us closer, and others repel us. • Sometimes our actions leave a trail of destruction. • Put out your feelers and be sensitive to others. • God’s Spirit surrounds us and draws us along the right path.