Delete!

Delete. Delete. Delete… How in the world had I managed to let so many emails pile up and fill my account?! Sure, I deleted many as a read them, but as they slipped out of sight I soon forgot or was too busy to go back and clear them out. It was so satisfying to finally have them gone and to dump out the trash and spam folders.

Looking through my email, I was reminded of many good things – friends, family, work, church – service given, information and encouragement exchanged. Some things I saved to files on my computer or printed out before deleting them, like family stories or other important events or information. It was good to keep the memories.

There were other things that I’d rather not think about though, like illness or death, finances, missed opportunities, and bad news. Can’t I just delete them and forget them?! … What about those painful time periods in life? It would be great if they had never even occurred! There are other things that I’d like to delete too – like bad habits, thoughtless or poorly timed words or actions, things left undone or forgotten. I don’t like to let others down or cause hurt.

Stress and anxiety can be overwhelming at times, can’t it? Uncertain times can keep us unsettled and trauma and loss bring grief. I am so glad that we can turn everything over to God and to know that He will strengthen and support us. He cares about us and our messes are cleaned and washed through faith in Him. God is our delete button for anxiety and worry (*Psalm 55:22a; 1 Peter 5:7).

It is my hope and prayer that we turn to God for our needed “deletes,” whatever they may be, …making space for peace, forgiveness, or comfort. May we look forward with anticipation!

Reflections on ICICLES

  • Life is ever-changing
  • We are formed by our experiences
  • There are times for growth and times for reflection
  • Cold centers can form from adverse conditions
  • Frozen hearts are difficult to thaw
  • Slow drops and warming temperatures bring good changes
  • How we use something determines its effect
  • Some strive to cut and others to heal
  • Wisdom must be applied for positive results
  • The longer we hold onto grudges and anger the larger they grow
  • A firm and strong beginning helps establish the outcome
  • Stating the point clearly and well decreases confusion
  • Reflect beauty and light as you grow
  • The Maker holds us tightly and creates masterpieces

from “Reflections from the Everyday”
Charlotte-Anne Allen 02/06/2021

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 am glad I 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”

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

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”

Attitudes

Lord, help me to remember that nothing is going to happen to me today that you and I can’t handle together (An old preacher’s greeting to each new day).” As I looked at the small green slip of paper, which had been carefully typed (on a “real typewriter”) and cut out by my mother, I thought of the positive attitude she had always shown in life. She was a great encourager, a strong support for my father and us kids.

Have you ever considered the tremendous impact our attitudes have on our thoughts, perceptions, and actions?… Positive attitudes lend themselves to a better approach on life, how we react to stressful situations, to resolving conflict, in interactions, and with any decision making. Negative attitudes do the opposite, as we struggle more in these areas and are more likely to give up.

But it is much more than that! What impacts our attitudes? From very early in life, perhaps even day one, our attitudes are being formed. My mom often reminded me to take one thing at a time when faced with an overwhelming task, like schoolwork or major decisions to make. An awareness of how our attitudes affect us allows us to look at and to approach life through a much broader lens and with greater understanding.

Have you ever just made up your mind that you are going to have a good day? While not knowing what each day brings, I have found that beginning with a better attitude helps me to approach things more positively. Do some people just “rub you the wrong way”? Instead of stewing about them, what if I decided to respond with a caring attitude and supportive actions or words that were not dependent on their response or lack thereof? Looking beyond sharp responses, unkind words, or silence requires some major attitude adjustments before they are encountered.

Attitudes are constantly developing and revising as we grow and mature and as life experiences occur, hence we hear admonitions to change our attitude or to examine our attitude when situations warrant. Phrases such as, “Watch your attitude” or “You need to change your attitude” come to mind!

As an early “attitude lesson,” I remember when a neighbor’s grandkids were calling unkind things across the fence between our yards. My mom encouraged us to respond with a positive and friendly attitude and when we did friendships were formed and we enjoyed our time together. “Attitude adjustments” are often needed in all ages and stages of life.

How much control do we have over our attitudes and what can we do about it? How can honest examination and understanding improve our physical as well as our mental or emotional health? What part does our faith background play in our attitudes? I ask myself these questions and think about how my attitude is helping or hindering my relationships, my level of stress, my openness to God’s call each day, and my trust in Him.

Just thinking about this and about life in general has already begun to shift things for the better. I have a feeling that I will be working on my attitude for the rest of my life, and that is not a bad thing! My prayer is for us all, as we dig in and take an attitude check each day. We may be pleasantly surprised at the difference it makes!

Reflections on Mouths

We choose to build up or to tear down
• Consider your words before you speak, and you will not lament the after
• Criticizing in condemnation shuts the door on growth and grace
• A careless tongue is like a roaring volcano
• An open mouth without consideration often spews flames of hurt
• Words of encouragement sweeten the most bitter
• What you say or don’t say reveals your character
• Wise instruction is a great treasure
• The words of others which you eat and drink, will come back up in your own voice
• Harsh words shred our soul and tear our heart
• Restraint is a strength, so cover your mouth when needed
• Fresh air breaths light into a day like songs of praise
• Friendship and respect welcome all words shared
• Give heed to the eternal Word which is full of grace and might