Stories

Stories… I love to sit and listen to the stories of others! Shared stories are the stuff from which whence wisdom springs. They are treasures, a testimony of times past and present, of growing up years, and of challenges and celebrations.

I remember many family gatherings and the sharing of memories and information and collected some of my mother’s remembrances like, “Your grandfather had large hands. I remember how big they were when he held my hand in his.” She and my dad told me of hobbies and skills that our ancestors possessed, where they lived or grew up, struggles and hard times they went through, accomplishments and much more.

Do you remember stories shared through family or friends? As we smile and laugh about past antics and quirky natures, connections are formed. As we learn about struggles and pains, tragedy or overcoming, and doubts and faith, we gain deeper insights. Yes, stories are the essence of humanity.

It’s no wonder that Jesus shared stories, usually in the form of parables. Through them he taught the importance of discernment and truth, teaching in a form in which others could relate. He said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” * I like the way the book of Proverbs opens, expressing the importance of learning, wisdom, and instruction. *

Stories… from the head shaking, foot stomping, belly laughs of epic escapades to the deeply thoughtful, wonder-filled, or heart sighing moments, are of value and worth. They help guide us in our search and desire to gain perspective and understanding, which in turn can nurture compassion for others. May we value and treasure them and approach them with discernment and thought, gaining encouragement, and discovering a deeper connection and love for all peoples.

*Mark 4:9, Proverbs 1:1-7
Charlotte-Anne Allen

Reflections on Rowboats

• Strength of character is an asset
• Dedication and hard work are commendable
• Working together brings about strong finishes
• Think and pray before making commitments
• When you make a commitment stick to it
• Keep your goals ever before you
• Remember to take time out for a slower pace
• Spend quiet solitary time to reflect
• Join others in relaxed company
• Letting go of anxiety develops inner peace
• Mind and body absorb whatever you immerse yourself in
• Thoughts turned to the Spirit lead to contentment in life

from “Reflections from the Everyday”

Enter

Standing at the threshold
What lies ahead
Sunlight gleams
Pointing the way

Pausing attuned
Listen to silence
Or the singing of birds
Peaceful and warm

Drawing breath deeply
Fragrances from life
Bring back memories
Poignant or comforting

Searching eyes seeking
Cool shadowed woodland
Bright lawns or gardens
Faces and homes

Reaching out a hand
Taking the first step
New year’s dawn brings
Anticipation and prayers

He’s Here

The journey was long
And the way was hard
Over steep rocky places
And mountainous trails
… Now he’s here!

Tired out and hungry
We patiently went
Trying not to be anxious
Though thirsty and hot
… He’s here!

In uncertain times
Will there be a home
What about my loved ones
How will we survive
… But he’s here!

Missing my family
So far far away
How I long to be near them
And share the good news
… That he’s here!

Home safe and sheltered
Though not what I thought
Only a few visitors
To brighten the hours
… And welcome him here!

Look to the future
One day at a time
Be strong there’s tomorrow
Hear Mary’s good news
… for Jesus is here!

Holy

Christmastime! For me, no matter what the year had brought or what the circumstances may have been, the songs of Christmas brought renewal and anticipation. “O Holy Night” … “Silent Night, Holy Night” … They are reminders of the “holy one” which the angel foretold of to Mary, this baby who grew to show us the way and to bring us hope (*Luke 1:35).

Holy, special, set apart, belonging to God. The words and songs bring to heart and mind the mystery and awe of God and of coming before Him in worship and praise. Can you imagine it? Can you see and hear the story unfolding on that holy night?!

And the angels rejoiced at the birth of His Son to a world so in need of him. Like the shepherds drawn to the stable and the wise men who came from distant lands, we are drawn to that baby, Jesus. The light of that star is the light we too seek.

O Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining.
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth…
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.

The holiness of God. The holiness of that night. The holiness of infant Jesus, God’s Son, Emmanuel (*Matthew 1:23). When the world is dark and cold. Emmanuel. When the sun rises fresh and bright. Emmanuel. When we miss loved ones. Emmanuel. When the lights of Christmas shine. Emmanuel…

I am thankful for that holy infant Jesus, who came to us on a dark night. When I struggle with doubts and fears or am feeling worn or alone or afraid, the events of Jesus’ birth are welcome reminders of God’s holiness and presence. When joy and happiness surround me from family and friends and awesome new life, the Christmas story draws me into the life of that other family so long ago.

May the light of that star and the events of that story draw you too to our holy God and bring you comfort and peace.
—————

Luke 1:35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. NIV

Matthew 1:23 “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” NRSV

Charlotte-Anne Allen
12/20/2020

Reflections on Christmas Trees

• Surround yourself with positive reminders
• Those positive reminders strengthen hope
• Decorations tell the story of God’s great love
• Keep Christ’s star ever on top to light the way
• Lights show the way and bring cheer and security
• We pray for messengers bringing good news of peace
• A safe place of rest is never too lowly
• Shelter and care are sometimes taken for granted
• The occupation of service is a universal call
• Watch over and guide those precious ones in your care
• Those who live humbly and compassionately are life’s greatest strength
• Like newborn babes and children… we seek nourishment
• Encourage each other and freely offer your all
• The constant evergreen love of God for us is the greatest of gifts

from “Reflections from the Everyday”
Charlotte-Anne Allen 12/12/2020

Hosea 14:8b (God said,) “I am like an evergreen cypress; from me comes your fruit.” NRSV … “I am like a flourishing juniper; your fruitfulness comes from me.” NIV

Isaiah 11:1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. NIV

Squirrel

What’s that I hear
Loudly scolding “intruder intruder”
Leaping now up grand oak tree
Peering out from high above

An interruption of day’s work
Those wily robbers of bird feeders
And gatherers of nature’s bounty
Ready against winter’s chill

With flip of bushy tail
Now return to busy preparation
Planting storing, hop and poke
Now where did I leave that

Home sweet home in arching bowers
A comfy den or nest just right
To snugly curl within
Awaiting spring’s first touch

Majesty, Power, and New Life

Majesty.” That’s not a word that we use often is it? When we do, it is usually associated with some chosen leader or self-imposed ruler and the power they represent. We may use this word too, when describing spectacular scenes and acts of nature.

I am thinking today of the majesty of life itself, the awesome and most wonderful spark which cannot be duplicated by humankind and which is expressed in living things. “And it was good… And it was very good!” the book of Genesis proclaims.

We celebrate new life in the birth of children to family and friends… We treasure the life of our animal companions… And we depend on the life which rises from the soil and provides us with our daily food. There is majesty in the love of God. There is freedom in the discovery of God’s power and presence.

The writer of Chronicles expresses God’s majesty so well in David’s prayer:
10 David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying, “Praise be to you, Lord, the God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. 11 Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours… You are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. 13 Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name. *1 Chronicles 29:10-13

How often do I set aside my anxieties to simply sit in God’s presence? When do I release all my expectations and desires to His care? Do I offer up thanksgiving when things seem to be falling apart, when illness or economic stressors loom large? What about those times when I just feel so alone or abandoned? … These are all things which grow large in our eyes, hearts, and mind!

Yet, there’s God. Just God. He sits in His holiness and draws us to shelter on His lap, as a parent holds their child. He comforts us, protects us, and loves us anyway. He is this and more. I am so thankful for Him! This is my prayer. That we will allow God to draw us to His majesty each day. May we experience his mighty power, be comforted, and raise our heart in thanksgiving. May we take that spirit of God’s majesty with us, reminders to be thankful and to fill ourselves with His wonder.

Reflections on Brakes

  • Days are full of starting and stopping
  • Slowing down allows space for thought and resolution
  • Gaining speed brings us to new places
  • Look ahead to determine impact, needs, and goals
  • Checking the rear mirror keeps us alert to approaching situations
  • Resist danger by being prepared to brace yourself
  • Sometimes change is indicated or is thrust upon you
  • Timing of actions and words can be critical
  • In times of change, you may need to slow before continuing
  • Be alert to oncoming traffic when facing challenges
  • Digging in your heels makes it difficult to make progress
  • Keep aware of others and the impact you may have
  • Early warnings help us to prepare or to change course
  • The Conductor provides guidance in applying and letting up on the brakes

from “Reflections from the Everyday”