Reflections on Bridges

wooden bridge in woods_pexels_cropped

• Sometimes the way seems impossible
• By persevering we make a way for others
• We cross from one season of life to the next
• Some roads lead us over roaring torrents
• Other paths cross and meander over quiet ways
• Ways that meet can change the world
• Making bridges together forms strong bonds
• Reach and stretch to pursue positive goals
• Build what is good and strong and enduring
• Move forward with open eyes and positive perspective
• As you travel notice beauty around you and give thanks
• The Son is our greatest Bridge-maker

from “Reflections from the Everyday” by caallen

Windows of Our Hearts

fan electric_by Roy Muz_Unsplash

The hum of the big exhaust fan in the window of our upstairs hallway signaled the beginning of another summer evening. As night drew closer, the familiar voices and sounds of my family about the house or in the yard were comforting and familiar. In those days of yesteryear, I see myself stretched out on my bed or curled up on my window seat reading a good book or just watching life from my bedroom window. To this day these same things in my own home bring contentment and peace.

We always closed the windows and retreated to the cooler lower floor during the day as summer’s heat began to build around mid-morning. Then, as evening’s cool touch came, the windows were opened, and the fans began to draw out the warm air that had built up in our upstairs rooms through the day. I remember breathing deeply of the cool night’s air as it was drawn in and listening to the sounds of life… the voices of insects, tree frogs, and owls and the rhythm of our small-town. The refreshing coolness brought a sense of peace and renewal, especially if the day had been long or difficult.

The windows of our hearts can be like those rooms on hot summer days. Sometimes we close them – perhaps due to doubt, anger, or fear – as we seek to guard ourselves or to declare our own will. I know that when I am hurt, let down, angry, or disappointed I too tend to withdraw and shut off as much as possible from its source. This may bring some relief for a time, until there is room for healing and the opening of those windows.

As we beat against the ills we see, so that our ears are deafened to all else, God’s cool healing breath washes over our world. May we not fail to see and feel it! There is injustice in this world, but there is also the breath of God. Like those fans, as we open our hearts to God, His breath fills us and draws from us that which is stale and stifling… that which has caused hurt.

Have you considered the breath of God? As in the beginning of time, “then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” *

We are living beings, whom God loves, and He said it was very good. *

My prayer for our world is that we will know God’s refreshing and renewing breath. I pray that He will draw from us that which is stale and stifling, driven by hurt, and fill us with the hope of His Spirit.

* Genesis 1:31, 2:7

Reflections on Bullfrogs

bull-frog-Jill Wellington_Pixabay_cropped

• Great leaps arise from great thought
• Dive into good tasks with all you have
• Jumping into things without thought can cause unwanted splashes
• Our voices are heard in community
• Speak with forethought as ears are listening
• Sometimes we bellow to draw attention
• Listening to constant bellowing can lead to depression
• Overwhelming others for the sake of gain will backlash
• Big eyes may cause us to overconsume
• When we all want something only for ourselves things can get violent
• The finest looking morsel can sour once gained
• Night can blind us to danger or cloak us in peace
• Wait and watch so you will be prepared
• Good change grows as our Creator works


from “Reflections from the Everyday” caallen

Keep Your Heart

Heart made with stones_beach_by AnnaER_Pixabay

When I was a teen, I helped my neighbor clean her home on Saturday mornings. She was a retired teacher and the bit I earned gave me a little spending money. My parents had taught us the importance of keeping our own home as well. We were expected to clean our rooms each week and beds must be made before we went to school or did anything else for the day. Keeping our home clean, and helping outside the home as well, taught us the importance of caring for what we had. Some seasons or days were busier, but the established pattern of keeping our home in order helped ensure that we would catch up. Of course, a bit of prodding and reminders from our parents were sometimes needed!

There was much more involved in keeping a home than cleaning! My dad was a handyman and he made sure the house was cared for, involving all of us in that work as well. Maintaining a home was a continuing job and safety was important too. I remember always checking that the doors were secured each night.

Like keeping our home, keeping our heart is important too, and it impacts how we develop and grow as a person. For me, this is a life-long challenge! What we allow to come in – our thoughts, what we see, and what we listen to – has an effect for good or harm. A favorite verse in Proverbs says, “keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” *

Good “heart care” prepares us to face temptations and difficulties in life. Leaving my “windows” wide open to negative or unhealthy influences when storms of life come or when things seem dark does not protect or keep my heart. Throwing open the doors to them allows the prowlers to come in. What situations are we putting ourselves in? What do we listen to each day? What are we watching? … I so need God to help me with this heart work!

God reminds us of the importance of examining our heart and allowing Him to guide and help us. I am thankful to Him for giving us positive influence and support of parents, mentors, friends, and Christian community. We can all help each other to “keep our heart” so that what flows from it is good and life-giving.

*Proverbs 4:23

Reflections on Ice Cream

ice cream_strawberries_by kalhh_Pixabay

        • Trying new things enriches life
        • Take time to enjoy each taste
        • Begin any task with your best ingredients
        • The right combinations make all the difference
        • Transformations can bring much good
        • Sweetened words diffuse tension
        • Pain and grief may hide behind a cold facade
        • Kind acts and a loving presence can bring healing
        • Cool refreshment eases stress
        • An emptied bowl tells of a meal provided
        • Don’t forget the toppings
        • We look forward to the arrival of the Ice Cream Truck


from “Reflections from the Everyday” caallen

Message of Light

sunrise and dark trees ground_spot edited out

Please leave a message… Message me… Our phone rings or lights up; our computer chimes. Flash, blink, music, or buzz.

In our world today, messages have never been easier to send, or to receive. Text messages, emails, and audio-video chats and messages are now the norm for communication. The word “message” itself has become a common verb.

Many of us battle overflowing emails addresses or have given up to overwhelm… either watching them pile up or deleting all indiscriminately. The deluge of information, requests, and offers may lead to “brain freeze” when it comes to discerning what is needed, important, or positive.

So, when we come to those times when our world slows or stills, that spinning churning chaos which has become such a part of our daily lives may need time to slow as well! It’s like stepping into a brightly lit room from a darkened hallway. We blink, breath, and refocus. Our brains gain time and space for deeper reflection.

Whether a slow down time or a shift in normal routine is a result of conscious decision or thrust upon us unexpectedly, it presents a good opportunity. I am thankful for moments where I am able to better see and to receive the positive. Despite the stresses around me, it is like a pocket of calm in the tumble of activity.

I am reminded of Paul in the book of Acts as he stood before King Agrippa. He shared his story of meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus and reminded Agrippa of the words of the prophets and Moses, that the Messiah would suffer, would rise from the dead, and would bring the message of light to all people. * What a gift that message of light is! Just as we enter into a brightly lit room and pause to blink and refocus in order to better see what that light reveals around us… so do our times of reflection and thought allow us to settle closer to God, to receive His reassurance, presence, and peace… and to think of the great price He paid for it and the great love He has for us.

The people living in darkness have seen a great light! **

My prayer for us this week is that we would draw close to God, take notice of that incoming message of light, and be strengthened and comforted to meet the days ahead.

 

*Acts 26:22-23, **Matthew 4:15-16, Isaiah 9:2

Reflections on Toilet Paper

toilet paper rolls_pexels-photo-3963085_Vie Studio_Pexels_cropped

• Cherish the moments you have each day
• Unfulfilled need is a deep distress
• We need each other to clean up messes
• Soft and comforting words bring relief
• Absorb the good qualities of others in your life
• Consider the commonplace to gain appreciation
• Recognize what is important before it is gone
• Knowing we are useful gives us confidence
• Extend your vision and respect each other
• Inner quality brings joy and contentment
• Chewing on worries only creates new worries
• Look to the Maker and know He is close at hand

Flash! Crackle! Boom! Crash!

lightning-1056419_1280 WikimediaImages from Pixabay _cropped

The child that was me clutched the covers tightly around her shoulders, her frightened eyes wide in the night. The summer storm roared in as rain pounded the metal roof above her head. Wind rattled the tree limbs outside and buffeted the house.

Sizzle! Bang!

Springing from her bed, she raced to the top of the stairs, calling, “Daddy! Daddy!” … and she heard his reassuring voice above the sound of the tempest outside. His footsteps sounded on the stairs and then he was beside her, comforting her.

… I well remember that long-ago night. Staying with me until the storm passed, calming and reassuring me, my father’s presence brought safety and security. The rumbles of thunder slowly grew distant and the flashes of lightning gradually ceased.

There have been many more storms since then, storms of life, tempest tossed. The faith that was instilled in me as a child revealed our Father God, though sometimes the pounding storms distracted me. The dark has a way of intensifying things doesn’t it? Where is hope in the middle of our storms?! It is difficult to hear God’s voice above stress and pain and His footsteps have gone unnoticed or forgotten.

A browned, slightly wrinkled piece of paper is a remnant of one of those stormy seasons of my life. It reads, “He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still” (Psalm 107:29). Posted in my kitchen all these years, it is still a daily reminder that God is always with me, reassuring me and calming the storms.

Even after my father returned to his own room, his presence lingered in my mind. I knew that he was close by. I knew that he loved me, demonstrated by sacrificing his own sleep even though he was exhausted after a long day of work. My family was around me and we had survived the storm together!

Psalm 107 says so much about the storms of life. Wandering in the desert, hungry and thirsty, trouble, and darkness… We encounter and struggle with all of these. In times of distress, we can have hope and reassurance that we don’t face that alone. God delivers us. He brings us through, and His love is steadfast. I’m so thankful for that!

Just as the child that was me heaved a sigh of peace and drifted off to sleep, so can we all rest secure in God’s presence. He holds life in His hands and He’s always close by.

“He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed” … a reminder and a promise for us all. “Peace, be still!” *

*Psalm 107, Mark 4:39

Reflections on Mountains

great-smokey-mountains-Mark Schaefer_Pixabay

• Companionship helps us through the darkest valley
• Life is made up of rolling hills and craggy peaks
• Sometimes the way is sharp and clear
• Other times the path is dim and misty
• Rising peaks can lift the spirits
• Between the mountains there is shelter
• The folds of compassion are places of healing
• Quiet coves bring refreshment and peace
• Obstacles arise under pressure and stress
• Daunting tasks can be accomplished one step at a time
• Getting away from the chaos can bring clarity
• Our Creator’s majesty is reflected in His grand creations

Wintery Places

winter snow bush n heart_red outline

A dark night, I draw into my coat against the freezing wind and biting chill. My head aches from the cold air I draw in through my reddening nose. Memories of warmth and light seem dim, as does the path ahead…

Haven’t we all faced similar scenes in life’s journey?! Sometimes our dark nights come gradually, perhaps painfully, as those we love slowly leave us … whether through increasingly debilitating illness, addictions, mental or emotional challenges, or any number of things which result in that withdrawal. Other times we are slammed abruptly by a flying boulder which smashes all that we care about into a pile of unrecognizable debris. We are left feeling numb, angry, or broken.

How do we face life’s times of loss and the resulting debris left behind? It can be a long, cold, and lonely journey. God, who faithfully walks with me and carries me, gives me hope. Through Him, that sometimes-dimming light can grow brighter. He touches me with the joy of His presence.

I’m reminded of some favorite verses in the Song of Solomon. What a wonderful reminder this little-quoted and sometimes misunderstood book of the Bible is! God’s love poem to us!

For lo, the winter is past. The rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth. The time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. *

Like a warm scarf, God’s love wraps around me. I blink at the light shining through breaking clouds and find shelter from the driving wind. There is delight in the sparkle of new snow and clinging icicles. Friends and family bring comfort and fellowship. Warmth welcomes.

Through Jeremiah, God spoke a promise for us all:

The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, with lovingkindness I have drawn you. Again, I will build you and you shall be rebuilt… *

May we find in God’s love poem and His words of promise, comfort in our wintery places. Be encouraged.

*Song of Solomon 2:11-12; Jeremiah 31:3-4a