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.

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

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

Right Here, Right Now

“Thank you, God, for this day. Be with me and guide me.” These and similar thoughts and prayers are my daily morning greeting.

Whether we’re someone who awakens quickly, fully alert and moving, or are someone who slowly regains consciousness through blurry eyes and reluctant body where moving is concerned, we all have in common our needs or plans for the day.

With each day’s beginning, we also have a choice about our attitude and our outlook. Our thoughts and responses will likely follow what we have chosen to focus on. Are we dwelling on the negative? Do we make a conscious commitment to see the positive? I am learning to capture the bright spots, to be more aware of them, and to be thankful for those moments.

As I stood at my kitchen sink one day, humming to myself as I washed dishes, I was suddenly aware that I was happy. There had been frustrations earlier with my office work. I was concerned about the health of some family members. There were any number of things to get me down. But “right here, right now” I was happy. I repeated that to myself and smiled, and I thanked God for the “right here, right now” times. I am thankful for moments when I can refocus and trust that God walks with me, and I with him, when my focus turns away from stressful things and rests in Him.

In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he urged people to think on things that are good and positive. He urged them not to worry but to rejoice and to know that God was near and that His peace would guard our hearts and minds. * These words themselves are cause for happiness and hope.

How many times have we rushed on to the next thing without fully appreciating or acknowledging our spots of joy and happiness? Yes, bad things happen. Yes, some days are exhausting. People die or face pain, frustration, or tragedy… Then too, there are the powerful moments, when we realize in the “right here, right now” that happiness and peace comes from our great and loving God and His presence with us. Memories and moments can burst upon us and make us smile, even through our tears, and laugh and know God’s awesome love in the midst of it all.

My prayers for us all are to gather those moments and smile and exclaim to ourselves, “right here, right now… I’m happy.” God bless.

*Phillipians 4:4-9

Reflection on Soot

• Watch what you touch as it may stick to you
• Accumulated experiences shape and form us
• Heated words can burn up friendships
• Act wisely and think to avoid spreading harm
• Pain and struggle can contribute to unhealthy buildup
• Uncontrolled anger spews hurt upon all around
• Miscommunication causes frustration and estrangement
• Covering up mistakes reflects insecurity
• Honesty and humility help to clear the air
• Tough things in life require hard work to overcome
• Uplifting music covers encourages and soothes
• Caring acts grow from compassionate hearts
• Daily prayer is like a good cleaning
• God is our chimney sweep

From “Reflections from the Everyday”
Charlotte-Anne Allen

Vistas

Looking out upon such vistas
Endless vault of sky above
Sunshine’s glow and feathery clouds
Or stormy and heavy laden with rain
Night’s darkness broken by heaven’s shine

The earth spreads ever before us
Rolling hills and shaded byways
Surging seas and sandy beaches
And the packed mass of humanity
Rushing past upon busy highways

Light’s beacon beckons life
Sometimes elusive and sometimes bold
Calls us and draws us to security
To calm and quiet our anxious thoughts
Come closer breathe deeply

God’s arms to enfold us.
He weeps. He laughs.
He comforts. He strengthens.
We look upon eternal vistas
And give Him thanks and praise.

And Then … Crickets

“What’s that?!” I asked myself as the shrill call of a cricket broke the silence. I searched the room and discovered the location of the small but vocal insect. Was he calling out for his lady love? Perhaps challenging a contender for that love? The cricket suddenly went quiet as it sensed my presence.

Quiet… Have you ever experienced that awkward silence after someone says something embarrassing or inappropriate? It’s just “crickets,” they say. Or perhaps you’ve worked and planned or struggled to complete some project or event. You speak about it with passion… and then nothing, little or no response! It’s enough to dishearten the best of us, isn’t it?!

There are so many examples of just this in the Bible. The prophets, those sent to bring warning or instruction, were often ignored and the people refused to listen to them. The disciples and early church had their difficulties with this too.

So, what do we do? Being contented in my own path and voice keeps me going, although moments of doubts happen. Choosing to continue, finding that path or calling, and being obedient and trusting God for fruit all help us to follow that vision.

For me, that could mean reevaluating or revising what I’m doing or saying… or writing. It also brings my attention and prayers for that one who did hear or will hear. This is building on one, and one, and one… even in the face of apparent “crickets.” We don’t always know or realize the positive, or negative, impact one person has on another one. Don’t undervalue the significance of solitary encounters and their possible life-changing resounding effects.

Just as the cricket’s voice calls out to others, keep on singing. Keep on striving. Keep on following your passion. Let your words encourage and strengthen. Let your actions speak. Lift up the “one” who God places in your path… and listen for the voices of fellow crickets. God speaks in the quiet.

Reflections on Tissues

  • The ability to start fresh brings hope
  • We all have imperfections and regrets
  • We sometimes fill up with junk
  • Clearing out the junk brings much relief
  • Be prepared to clean up your messes
  • Help comes from unexpected places
  • Be patient with yourself and others
  • Memories of pleasant surprises bring smiles
  • Be willing to reach for healthy assistance
  • Removal of stress or worries releases pressure
  • Soft words can strengthen and heal
  • Dance sing express joy and lead others to do the same
  • Daily contact infuses us with our Creators presence
  • God is by your side during darkness and light

from “Reflections from the Everyday”