Where?

“Now what did I do with it?” I ask myself as I rummage yet again through my bag. “I know I put it in here!” At times like this I find myself doubting my memory, which is admittedly not always dependable. My frustration rises and I find myself unable to move on to something else. “Where is it?”

Searches are interesting. They can lead to new discoveries and new ways of doing things. Where would we be without the persistence and inquisitive minds of inventors and researchers? It can also be disappointing or stressful, especially when searching and searching without success. Perseverance can bring rewards, but that sometimes means setting the search aside for a while or allowing ourselves time to calm our mind and think things through. Prayer sure can help with each of these options… Reminding myself, “Oh well, something will work out” does wonders for lowering the stress level!

Have you ever searched for something and found it, only to discover that it was not what you needed or wanted after all? And what about those times when it is rediscovered right where you had looked numerous times? Fresh eyes and encouragement are a help too, along with a dose of patience and perspective!

I’m reminded of the women who went to Jesus’ tomb. The angel knew why they were there, “You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth” he said. Jesus, upon speaking to Mary, asked, “Whom are you looking for?” but she didn’t recognize him until he spoke her name.* How many times have I looked for something but didn’t recognize it because I had the wrong perspective?

While all our searches and questions will not lead to what we want, they can lead to new discoveries and opportunities, growth in faith, and fresh eyes. We reconsider the way we see, understand, and relate to things. Like the women seeking Jesus, God calls us to seek Him and He tells us that when we do, we will find him.* Sometimes I wonder if I’m looking in the right direction or if I need a better perspective. It’s hard to know where to look when the stress levels go up, isn’t it?

I am glad to be reminded that God speaks our name and that He sends others to help point us in the right direction. May you be encouraged!

Charlotte-Anne Allen 3/5/2022
*Mark 16:6, John 20:11-15a
Luke 11:9

Weathering

When we awaken to the day
And things are bright and sunny
The sky is fair, and thoughts are clear
We’re eager to get started

Stretch our arms and raise our eyes
To the Maker of us all
To God give thanks and offer praise
He shines His light anew

When there come rumbles warning grumbles
Great flashes crashes gusty tempest
Skies are blanketed and heavy
Hearts fearful searching seeking

Stretch our arms and raise our eyes
To the Maker of us all
To God give thanks and offer praise
His strength and power overcomes

So, when the wind begins to shift
Or dark clouds drift our way
See the shaft of light break through
Be nourished by His cleansing rain

Stretch our arms and raise our eyes
To the Maker of us all
To God give thanks and offer praise
His care for us is true

On those cool morns of cloudy gray
When fog touches with fingers chill
There too is found a quiet peace
As His comforting hands enfold us

Stretch our arms and raise our eyes
To the Maker of us all
To God give thanks and offer praise
A place of rest within our struggles

In winter’s bite and icy dread
There’s beauty in the snowy white
As a joyful child in simple faith
He draws us to His warmth

Stretch our arms and raise our eyes
To the Maker of us all
To God give thanks and offer praise
May He shine on us anew

Inside Out and Upside Down

In this life of ours
It’s those unexpected things
That make us scratch out heads!

What’s in, is now out
What’s up, is now down
We wonder what’s to be done!

We turn ourselves this way and that
Full of worry and of fret
To focus on the ills and strife!

Oh God, remind us Your ways are straight
Through ups and down and ins and outs
When we turn our eyes toward You

Stay in Touch!

“It’s good to see you!” “How are you doing now?”

“See you soon!” “Stay in touch!”

Our desire or need for connectedness is expressed in many ways. It can be challenging to build and to maintain relationships with family and friends when separated by distance or circumstances! Those times when we can talk or correspond with each other bring us closer together… for encouragement, for enjoyment, to share, and to support each other. Working or serving together with others provides opportunities to deepen friendships and to develop new ones.

When my cousin and I get on the phone to each other, we usually talk for at least an hour… catching up, sharing thoughts, and lending support. We do not often get to see each other, as we live in different states, but when we do get together then we talk for hours. Close relationships are special! I am reminded of a verse in the book of Proverbs that says, “A friend loves at all times, and kinsfolk are born to share adversity.” Relationship rises above differences and hardship.

Can you imagine building a positive relationship without staying in touch with that person? What if we rarely or never really talked to them about things that matter? How would they know that we care? Without desire and commitment, there would be no way to develop lasting friendships.

The same is true with our relationship to God, isn’t it? Jesus told his disciples, “I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.” Can you imagine that?! I’m so glad that God wants a relationship with us! As we build closer connections to God, through prayer, our faith community, and by studying His Word, we learn more about Him. We grow in our own faith and our words and actions let others know that we care.

My prayers for each of us – busy, stressed, struggling, thankful – are that we may rise each morning and lie down each evening knowing that we have a faithful friend in God, who is always by our side. Stay in touch!

*Proverbs 17:17, John 15:15, Luke 11:2

Reflections on Clouds

  • Many things contribute to our formation
  • We choose to be cooling and soothing or a disappointing wet blanket
  • It takes energy and intention to encourage and build up those around us
  • Seasons of storms are part of life
  • Change springs upon us or silently grows
  • We sometimes drift far from home
  • Rising to challenges can be very difficult
  • As experience accumulates, we are better able to nourish others
  • We seek to shield those we love from hurt and harm
  • A protective covering and caring arms bring comfort and strength
  • Settling down on a quiet slow day brings great contentment
  • A day to drift brings peace and releases stress
  • Celebration is great when darkness and strife are broken
  • Like light bursting through dark clouds, let God shine through you

from “Reflections from the Everyday” c-a allen

When clouds are full, they empty rain on the earth” Ecclesiastes11:3

New Song

Like this, and this… Now move these fingers. As my beginner self practices the fingering and chords on my classical guitar, I move slowly. Learning a new piece takes time and attention, whatever the difficulty level may be for that person. It’s not enough just to know the notes but takes so much more into consideration, such as movement across the strings and how to play each phrase. It requires effort and dedication over time to make the whole piece beautiful and meaningful, knowing that there will be mistakes but persevering and doing our best. Then too, it is not so much the level of accomplishment as it is the satisfaction it brings to oneself and to others. This makes it fun and exciting.

Encountering new things is a regular part of life. What new things get you excited? Is it that new car smell, an anticipated job, a relationship, or a baby and new life? Maybe you are looking forward to a time of growth, learning a new skill, gaining knowledge, or an opportunity to serve. New things and new times can be hard and unwanted too. Maybe we’re just ready to shed stressful experiences and move forward. As I grow older, there are more things to miss but there are also more things to treasure. Faith in God, prayer, community, and family are vital supports when facing new situations. Working through new things can be a long process.

What if I just continued to play the same guitar piece or practiced the same scales over-and-over without using them to improve my music… never learned new pieces? I imagine that boredom or apathy would sneak in, and I may give it up completely. Where would I be if I just focused on my mistakes and my missed practice, or if I let my enjoyment be affected by feelings of not being good enough? Satisfaction and contentment come, not just from what we gain through our new experiences, but what we can also give to others.

My prayer is that we will be as new songs each day, that we praise God for his great love as He holds us through our pain and through our joy, and that we give even as we gain… May our lives be as beautiful music in His hands.

He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God…
Psalm 40:3

Charlotte-Anne Allen 1/1/2022

Shepherd

The Shepherd cares for you and me
Protector, guide, and great provider
God’s words spoken since time began
To prophets and kings who guided the sheep

Near Bethlehem town that starry night
A host of angels brought good news,
To humble shepherds who watched their flock,
Of a new ruler born to shepherd us all

They quickly went and found him there
The Christ Child born to humble home
Departing then they joyfully told
The amazing story… He’s here, he’s come!

Follow the Good Shepherd, source of all life
Who brought us hope to share with all
Shepherds we too, now care for His flock and
Remember the story of that first Christmas night

Charlotte-Anne Allen 12/25/2021

Tender Child

This special child
Now held so close
Cradled softly in loving arms
Resting, trusting, safe from harm

Compassion born
Full of grace and truth
Heaven announced
Good news, great joy

Peace and goodwill
Now come, make haste
True light’s glow
Awaken our hearts

Cast aside our fears and doubts
Draw us close as tender child
To treasure words of hope
Christ Jesus come to earth

*Luke 2:8-20, John 1:14, 16

Courage

A heart beating strong
Not one to give up

Inspired… Enheartened
In fear to step out and
Now do what is hard

Assured in spirit
Raise hope, calm hearts
Be steadfast and sure

Through faith prevail
Standing bold and firm

Courage

From “My Words to Live By”
Charlotte-Anne Allen 12/04/2021

Psalm 31:22a, 24a – “But you [O LORD] heard my supplications when I cried out to you for help… [All you] be strong, and let your heart take courage…