- When surrounded by adversity, rising above it can be daunting
- Encouragement pops chains and pushes back words of ridicule
- We join with others so that our voices may be heard
- Joyful laughter bubbles forth with good company
- Our reactions to others are our own choices
- How we respond makes room for light or drives all into darkest gloom
- We seek many things to quench our thirst
- What we gain may fall flat and leave us without satisfaction
- Thirst for what is lifegiving
- We bob about in confusion when we lack purpose
- A bubbly personality brings smiles and lightens the day
- We are filled and completed by God’s Spirit
“Yaaay!!!” I joined the mob of other kids streaming from the school. Faces were excited and energy was high. The beginning of summer vacation was a long-awaited event! Thoughts of free time, lazy mornings, and summer events filled our minds. Visits to relatives, camping trips, fresh garden food, and (for me) frequent travel to the local libraries to keep my summer reading stack replenished were welcome plans. I still look forward to the warm weather and the change of pace that this season brings. Each season in life is a time of new beginnings.
The Bible is full of stories of beginnings. Some of them were very hard and others were most welcome. What do I do with my beginnings? Times change and events impact our lives, with my family (births, farewells, deaths) … in my work (saying good-bye to a child I have worked with and their family) … my church (as I move from one area of service or commitment to another) … and in the changing responsibilities and seasons throughout the year. Endings mark beginnings.
What thoughts do you have about your own beginnings? As in the excitement of summer, resolve to enter with a positive attitude and assurance of God’s presence and guidance for whatever may come. Whether our beginnings are marked with anticipation or with anxiety, we can take courage.
Ecclesiastes chapter three begins with acknowledgement that “for everything there is a season,” times for beginnings and endings… and new beginnings, and so life goes on. The writer continues with,
“What gain have the workers from their toil?
I have seen the business that God has given to everyone to be busy with.
He has made everything suitable for its time.
Moreover, he has put a sense of past and future into their minds…
I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy
and enjoy themselves as long as they live.
Moreover, it is God’s gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil.” *
As we move with intent in our work and in our rest, I hope that we can look with anticipation and interest. My prayers are that we will take comfort, even excitement, and be strengthened as we face new beginning through our more challenging times. May we remember and know afresh God’s presence with us. As we come to Him in prayer and give thanks for His gifts each day, may we be blessed through our beginnings.
*Ecclesiastes 3:1, 9-12
“I’ll be back in a little while,” my mom would say, as she headed out the door to check on some neighbor. They would often call on “Ms. Marge” with questions or concerns about their health, perhaps needing their blood pressure checked, and my mother was always attentive. With her nursing background, we sometimes referred to her as “the neighborhood nurse.” She would make sure they were alright or encourage them to get to the doctor’s office, often taking them herself. My mom was a very caring and giving person.
We are each a part of “community,” and it is by reaching out to each other, using our unique abilities or interests to support and encourage, that we find fulfillment. Whether in times of unrest and difficulty or in everyday routines, how will we rise to the opportunities that we encounter? How will we give and receive care, and so allow God’s light to shine?
In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, he spoke of his own ministry. “…But we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children. So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.”
I think of my family, friends, and church who have offered their presence, resources, fellowship, practical help, and prayers. What an encouragement! How overwhelmed, humbled, and thankful I have been for them. In big and small ways, we care for each other. It can be hard not to compare ourselves to what others are able to do, can’t it? I’m glad to be able to offer what I can and to express my gratitude when that care is offered to me.
Paul, this time to the Galatians, reminds us, “So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all…” May our words and our actions speak God’s voice, and may we receive and offer grace when we fall short.
My prayer is that we do not miss those opportunities amid the rush and whirl of our daily activities… God bless. Be content.
*1 Thessalonians 2:7b-8, Galatians 6:10
“Wow! Look at that! … and there’s another one!” We smiled as we checked out the growing produce from our summer garden. Careful planting, tending, and watering was producing bountiful crops of tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, corn, squash, and much more. A lot of work had gone into the garden and there was much satisfaction and hope for plentiful provision, both for us and to share with others.
Whether tending a garden, caring for others, or looking after our pets or other animals, nurturing is a part of our daily life. When offered in love and compassion, it is an expression and reflection of our Creator, God. A helping hand or an encouraging word can gladden a heart and bring a smile when exhaustion or stress threatens to overwhelm and reaping benefits of hard work and dedication is rewarding.
God nurtures us, both physically and spiritually. I like this passage from the book of Psalms which expresses thanks to God. Think about it in terms of God’s care in our life as well:
You visit the earth and water it; you greatly enrich it. The river of God is full of water; you provide the people with grain, for so you have prepared it. You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, and blessing its growth. You crown the year with your bounty. Your wagon tracks overflow with richness. The pastures of the wilderness overflow. The hills gird themselves with joy. The meadows clothe themselves with flocks. The valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy. Psalm 65:9-13
Comforting an upset child. Cuddling a pet. Feeding a hungry family. Sitting with a loved one. Protecting those in our care. Being present to support or to share in sorrow. The many small or large acts that we encounter daily offer opportunities.
As we nurture and are nurtured, we can… Pray for those in our care. Rejoice in provision and growth. Rest in God in times of sorrow and drought. Offer thanks and gratitude for His sustaining presence through all things. Acknowledge God’s provision and thank those He brings to us, as we care for each other.
God bless and sustain you through each day. Be encouraged.
- Use your life as a tool for good
- Silence can be an uncomfortable hole that we try to fill
- Being too focused on making your point can stop your ears from truly listening
- Bad habits can wrap themselves around us like roots
- Covered up rot is still rot
- Allow removal of hurtful and negative practices
- Clods must be broken up for the ground to be softened
- Space provides room for growth
- What we put in our lives influences what is produced
- Plant good ideas and strong character
- Avoiding work is like leaving a tool to rust in the rain
- Dig and cultivate to produce nourishment for all
- Hold tightly to values, truth, and faith
- We get a better handle on the Word by reading it often
from “Reflections from the Everyday”
by Charlotte-Anne Allen
I love gardening… flowers, herbs, vegetables, fruits, shrubs. I love plants and digging around in the soil, weeding, planting, and tending. Getting my hands and bare feet into the earth and listening to the sounds of nature is a happy place for me. Good soil. Plant food or fertilizer. Regular watering. Sunshine. All of these in needed amounts. Added to healthy plants with good roots.
This makes me think about the amazing roots! They draw nourishment up into the plant, which in turn provides what the plant needs to grow and flourish. Roots hold the plant securely, supporting it. Strong and deep roots hold firmly. Have you ever tried to pull up an unwanted or unneeded plant that had long, deep roots? It can be quite a job to get up! Shallow roots do not hold securely and are easily pulled up.
Just like those plants with strong and deep roots, God is our source and through Him we can hold firmly. In Paul’s letter to the Colossians, he encouraged them to continue their lives in Christ, “rooted and built up in him and established in the faith.” * Our roots are our connections with God. It is from Him that we draw our nourishment. He sets us strongly in a place where we can flourish and grow.
Have you ever found that you have set your roots into unhealthy places or situations? Instead of drawing positive and nourishing things for our lives, we find ourselves withering and unable to thrive. I’m thankful that through God, we can leave those places, and that He can transplant us when we call on Him for help.
I ask myself, “Am I caring for my roots? … What am I doing to help strengthen or establish the roots of those around me?” Maybe you have asked yourself similar questions too.
May we take positive steps to look at ourselves and our connections to others, not neglecting our root care. Reach down deeply and draw on God our source so that we can grow and better care for and support each other. Through Him we can stand firmly.
* Colossians 2:6-7
• Breathe deeply and fully as you move through each day
• Stout support is important when faced with slippery slopes
• Persevere through difficult spots
• When the way is uncertain pause, wait, and pray
• Those who go before us make our own destinations possible
• Be sure of the one you are following
• To avoid danger or loss be aware of the path
• Follow the signs when you need to change directions
• Be alert for snares along the way
• Making hard decisions not to follow poor leadership brings reward
• The narrow road may climb and twist, but the crest is sweet
• Easy stretches are welcomed times to catch our breath
• A cloudless sky and shining sun warm the spirit
• Quiet hush and cool mists bring peace to the soul who listens
• As you pass through golden meadows, remember life’s simple treasures
• God is like a cool drink from a mountain stream
from “Reflections from the Everyday”
“Rumble-rumble, screech, thump!” My mom cocked her head toward the ceiling as she listened to the sounds of my room-cleaning upstairs. I loved to re-arrange my furniture! I well remember our regular Saturday cleaning routine, a requirement before we could pursue other interests, and especially the more thorough spring or fall cleanings.
Howevermuch we may grumble about the cleaning process, or perhaps like some of us who enjoy it, there is great satisfaction in a job completed. Something accomplished!
For everyday cleaning, it’s amazing what even a few minutes of straightening or putting away things can do. Lost or misplaced items are re-discovered, and we no longer have to hunt for them. Dirty clothes in the hamper. Clean dishes put up. A spot of clutter removed. Trash carried out…
Then there is the deep cleaning, removing accumulated dust and grim of everyday living and use. It requires more effort and intentional planning. Neglecting the everyday or more frequent cleaning can make that job a lot harder too!
This makes me think of “heart cleaning.” Am I as conscious of the condition of my heart, such as my thoughts and intentions or faith, as I am of my home or other surroundings? The psalmist pled, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.” * Clean or pure; not polluted or filthy. He knew that this was a “deep cleaning” job! This was going to require a lot of help!
It’s so easy to let things accumulate isn’t it? Just like dust or clutter can build up in our home, it can also build up within us. That dissatisfaction or irritation. A wayward word. An apology never offered. An unhealthy thought or grudge. The list can be long!
Just like the everyday cleaning of our home or other places, caring for our daily heart cleaning is a positive step and builds our relationship with God, who knows us best. Paul called attention to our need for the day’s accounting when he cautioned us to not let the sun go down on our anger. *
It’s hard for me to turn loose of things sometimes. When things do accumulate or bowl us over, and they will at times, and when those seasons arrive for the deep cleaning, we don’t have to go it alone. God hears our call and pulls out the heavy-duty cleaners, creating “a new and right spirit” within. My prayer and anticipation for us is that we will invite Him to come on in, and so welcome a new season.
*Psalm 51:10, Ephesians 4:26
• Calmness brings soothing respite
• Words washing like gentle rains will soften the earth
• The right ingredients from a pure heart bring healing
• Soft words soothe but harsh words destroy
• Smooth speech in a vengeful heart covers a drawn sword
• A wholesome balance is restored with purposeful application
• Joy lights the eyes and shines from soft faces
• Doing what comes naturally is not always a positive thing
• Healthy habits are both internal and external
• For good or ill, we absorb whatever we cover ourselves with
• Worries can be sticky and cause severe irritation
• We are protected from dryness when we stay close to the Source
from “Reflections from the Everyday”
Charlotte-Anne Allen 03/05/2021
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!