Summer’s Waning

bench water sunset_mood-4269040_1280_pixabay

As summer begins to wane here, there is a new feel in the air as thoughts shift and activities focus on the changing season. The cycle of hot days and storms is slowing, although the cool touch of dew in the evenings through the mornings continues to refresh the ground (and bare feet!). The hum of lawn mowers, kids playing outdoors, and voices of those out and about in various summer activities will also continue for a short while. School has already started back for some teachers and students and buses rumble past in their journey to further the education of their charges.

For some, there is anticipation of cooler temperatures and new beginnings and for others there is perhaps a small sigh and a determination to enjoy the last of this season as long as possible. Isn’t that so like all of our lives?

I am reminded of life’s ebbs and flows, like the seasons of the year and waxing and waning of the moon. Difficult times, changing times, happy times, and growing times are all part of our own experience. The familiar passage in Ecclesiastes 3 says it so well, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…”

What will we do with our own seasons – as we move from warmth to cool, to freshening or to dryness, to relaxation or hard work, or from trials to celebration – in an ever-moving rhythm? For good or bad, we hold on to some things and never fully experience or enjoy other things.

Struggling through the waning of things we hold dear is hard! Waiting, letting go, and wrestling with churning emotions is unsettling, a difficult or uncomfortable place to be!
Will the light grow again? Will happiness come? … But I don’t want to say “good-bye”! Even moving through new and positive seasons can be a challenge. It’s so easy to miss the goodness in the sometimes-mad rush of life!

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve made a resolve to intentionally enjoy those positive times, to catch myself in those moments. It has taken some practice! Perhaps it is a satisfying opportunity to help someone else… a new word spoken by a child I’m working with… encouragement or a positive comment from a friend… time to rest and relax after a long day of work… or moments with my family.

There’s so much to be thankful for, whether the season is ending, beginning, or even in the difficult waiting and changing times between them! We can be assured of God’s presence in them all… as we are looking back, looking forward, and taking time for the now.

My prayer for us today is that we will know God’s presence through all of our seasons and find comfort and joy in Him.

*Ecclesiastes 3:1-13, Psalm 23

Above, Beneath, and Upon

songbird n chipmunk

When I was a girl, I loved climbing up into trees. Sometimes I’d take a book with me to read, but often I would just sit… swaying gently in the breeze. I would look quietly around me and up into the sky and imagine what it might be like to experience the world like a bird. Darting from tree to tree or soaring through the air… their perspective must be so different from mine!

From the walkway in front of our small-town house, steps led down to the street sidewalk with a nice place to sit on either side. Beneath them, chipmunks made their home. It was a safe place away from the neighborhood cats! I had learned to sit very still, up toward the house, to watch them scampering back and forth. I wondered what they saw as they looked about at the world towering over them!

We people upon this earth come from such rich and varied backgrounds! Like the birds and the chipmunks which I watched, we each have our own unique perspectives. I’m reminded of the story in Acts 2 about the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles. People from all nations and speaking many different languages were in Jerusalem during the celebration of the harvest festival, known as the Feast of Weeks (Shavout). Can you imagine the crowds gathered and the diversity of the people?! Hear the shouts and voices of people making their way about the city. See the variety of clothing. Smell the aroma of foods cooking…

Then a great roaring rush of wind drew the crowds to where the apostles and followers of Jesus stood. Can you sense their amazement and confusion as they heard, from these uneducated men, the “wonders of God” in their own languages? … And thousands became followers of Christ from this one encounter.

One thing that I had never really thought about was that these very people, from all nations, then came together. They lived, ate, and worked together in their shared humanity. Their very differences were their strengths… Isn’t that so true for us as well?

I try so hard to consider the perspective of others and what might be influencing or affecting them. Some days are just more challenging than others, aren’t they?! It’s my prayer for us today that God will help us to better consider the perspectives of others and to acknowledge our common humanity. Can you see the people? Can you hear the sounds of life? Can you smell the rich aroma?

 

Free to Be

chick looking_pexels-photo-202164

The car’s packed and we’re heading down the road to new adventures! …I remember my anticipation as a teen going off to college. Along with some normal anxiety, I looked forward to having my own schedule and being able to make my own decisions. I was free to strike out on my own. Free to be me… Rather a scary thought as I look back on that, but my parents and others had prepared me well and my faith in God was real and strong. Growing and maturing is an important step in life.

Free to be. Free to make choices. Free to consider future and present actions… But isn’t it also easy during that pursuit to become too self-focused, missing out on the richness and satisfaction of reaching outward in service and in working with others? We’ve all heard the clamor of the world. “He said…” “She did…” “That’s a lie…” “You deserve…” Perhaps I am just more aware as I’ve gotten older, but selfishness often seems to be encouraged. Talking at once seems to be the norm. People loudly espouse their agenda, poisonous words tearing others apart, hurting and demeaning everyone.

As I discovered during my college days, along with freedom comes new responsibility, greater accountability and consideration of others. As Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians, “’I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but not everything is constructive.” * In our freedom, I pray that we will remember the element of respect, building up and caring for others, rather than tearing down and destroying.

Of encouragement to me is the observation that when we face common challenges or tragedies, we begin to gain a sense of our shared humanity. When we take time to notice and acknowledge people as important and valued, then differing perspectives, needs, or goals no longer seem as significant. When we reconsider harsh words, there are fewer times to regret. When we choose positive actions, then growth and reconciliation are made possible. When we allow change in our own thinking and perspective, we discover room for compassion.

*1 Corinthians 10:23

 

Open

butterfly dovetail on clover-1541704_960_720_pixabay

Open heart now do we heed
Understanding gain

A treasure box with gifts to share
Revealing many things

Open mouth what do we speak
In kindness wisdom not in folly

Careful words produced with thought
Teaching truth and life

Open ears what do we hear
To know the words just spoken

Among the mad uproar and chaos
Listening and discerning

Open eyes what do we see
Wondrous things and tragedy

Hold outheld hands to offer aid
Touching hurt and bringing healing

Open doors we knock in faith
Pass through gates of life

Walking leaping now made right
Prisoners no more

Open

From “My Words to Live By” c-a allen

Get Help!

Get Help

As I was looking over a website, getting familiar with a new platform for work, a handy little button at the bottom of the screen caught my attention. “Get Help,” it read. Definitely an option I needed to remember!!

I have often been very appreciative when guidance was available to instruct me in how to do something… and frustrated when promised or hoped for assistance was unavailable, unclear, or incomplete. Patience has been something I have worked on!

There is within us a healthy desire to learn to do things for ourselves, but I, like many of us, have sometimes struggled when I realized that I needed help. How many of us have encountered a determined child attempting to do something “by myself”?! My father told me once that he had wanted to teach me to be conservative and independent, and perhaps had overdone both!

Whether it is a new experience or endeavor, a life crisis, or some other situation… asking for or seeking help can make us feel vulnerable, yet it also binds us and builds stronger relationships. I’m reminded that God formed us for companionship, to be together and to work together. In the book of Genesis, God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” * I am so glad to have helpers and teachers, those who are patient encouragers.

The book of Psalms is full of references to “help” and reminds me of our ultimate and greatest help. “The Lord is with me; he is my helper.” * In my “Get Help” moments, I can be assured of His presence as I seek a calm spirit and surer direction. What a relief to know that we can lay aside our insecurities, doubts, hang-ups, and “by myself” attitudes and push that “Get Help” button! Actually… I think that I need to just leave that particular window open all the time, don’t you?!

*Genesis 2:18, Psalm 118:7a

Reflections on Dirt

pot of dirt soil gloves_ca

 This place where we are planted needs nourishment
• As we are nourished, we grow
• Sometimes things are rocky, and it is difficult for our roots to grow
• Our dirt can become toxic and in need of cleansing
• Tensions and stress can be released by working in the soil
• For positive results plant and water regularly
• There are many byways and wonders within the earth
• These ways can be places of peril or roads to safety
• Carefully tend your homeplace which is your support and foundation
• The Gardener watches over the plants in His garden