● The right combination of ingredients brings out our best ● The blending of our experiences shape who we are ● Consider the ways you can improve yourself and then follow through ● Using a fresh perspective opens our eyes and hearts ● Making needed adjustments keeps us out of the rut and enriches life ● Memories are thoughts that bubble up and burst upon us, often at unexpected times ● Be true to your faith and commitment wherever you are ● A calm and even temperament is much to be desired ● Adding some sweetness brings smiles and shares happiness ● Begin all things with a solid base as you look ahead ● Establish positive routines for development and accomplishment ● When we’re feeling the heat, God’s Spirit helps us to rise
These words between friends, family members, or others are an expression of mutual affection and support. Have you ever considered how powerful they are?
For those on the receiving end, these simple phrases can bring a wealth of meaning, can’t they? I’m happy… We’re enjoying each other’s company… You’re special. They can also express empathy and compassion. I’m so sorry… I regret what happened… I still care.
What about when we speak those words? Sometimes it is so easy to say them, especially when we are happy and are spending enjoyable time in each other’s company. In parting, they are reminders for each other which we take with us, lifting each other up and bringing smiles to faces.
Have you ever struggled to say or to return them? Maybe there has been some strain in your relationship, some hurt or struggle… some unkind or ill-spoken thought. How difficult they can be to say in the face of great loss. Death, poor health prognosis, violence, or our own failures… In those times “love you” and “love you too” can be both painful and healing.
As I was reading in the book of Romans this morning, I came upon a word that expresses these very thoughts!
“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” *
I was curious about the word “honor”, so I looked up the meaning for its use in this passage [Yes, a bit nerdy maybe but doing this has really helped me to understand verses in the Bible better!]. It said: “a valuing by which the price is fixed (of the price itself, of the price paid or received for a person or thing bought or sold); honor which belongs or is shown to one (by reason of rank…, deference, reverence)“.
Honor is linked with price and value… and (in that passage) with love! 1Corinthians 6:20 uses the same word, translated as “price”. “For you are bought with a price therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” It struck me of the great price already paid for us through Jesus. Each of us are loved, valued, and honored. Do we love, value, and honor each other to this extent? How do we even wrap our minds around that?!
My prayer for us today, is that we will be more aware of the power of these simple words to and from God and with others. May we use them often, with greater appreciation and understanding. May we be transformed and filled as we both give and receive.
• Consider wisely what you lean on • A strong base lends support for the work at hand • There are times to step back to relieve pressure • Relieving pressure allows room for healing and rest • It’s good to have something handy to whack with when needed • Whack away those doubts and fears • Making good choices requires forethought and regular practice • When temptation comes, keep a firm grasp on positive values • Choose the right material to build character and integrity • It is good to unload our worries to a listening ear • Whether climbing peaks or walking across the room, a supportive friend is welcome • Taking the weight off our shoulders brings great relief • Shepherds both guide and protect with their staff • God our Shepherd walks with us and shines through our weakness
Psalm 23:4 – Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Oh! Wow! Look! Look! … Here it comes. Here it comes! It’s coming out!
Have you ever watched a caterpillar forming its chrysalis (cocoon) and then waited … and waited … to see it finally emerge? What an amazing transformation from a creeping crawling caterpillar to a graceful soaring butterfly!
Before the caterpillar enters its cocoon, it’s not just lying around or curled up in a ball somewhere, is it? Think of all that goes on during the long wait. It’s busily moving, finding just the right dinner table… and eating, eating, eating. It needs its nourishment to grow and to prepare for the future. I wonder if it is aware of the coming time of transformation.
What if that caterpillar, in its eagerness for that final vision, decided it wanted to skip the period of eating and growth? Or what if there was no time spent in the cocoon? It seems crazy to even consider that!
So many times in my life, like all of us, I set my sight too much on a final desired outcome. Like the caterpillar, we need nourishment to grow and to prepare. Like the developing butterfly, we surround ourselves with the presence of things that help us to become what we are meant to be. We need time to develop both physically, mentally, and spiritually. Learning new skills, gaining in knowledge and wisdom, and developing our faith are all vital pieces. They are the stuff of life, aren’t they?!
It’s easy to grumble about the need to wait, isn’t it? We impatiently shuffle our feet and are eager to be done with whatever we are waiting for… or to finally participate in a long-anticipated event, achieve our goal, or acquire some possession.
How often do we consider the process of waiting as our success and our purpose? Like the caterpillar busily eating and exploring, we take time to taste life. That reminds me of the Psalm that says, “taste and see that the Lord is good!” * We live the best we can and find contentment in Him. Even God waits! He waits for us to respond or to complete our tasks here. He waited for Noah to finish building the ark! *
I don’t often read in the book of Titus but came across a verse that says “to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait…” * Through the goodness of God, we are being transformed as we prepare for our final great transformation.
My prayer for us all is to live life fully and with contentment in our waiting.
* Psalm 34:8, 1 Peter 3:20, Titus 2:12 Charlotte-Anne Allen
• The good that we create lives on to nourish others • Live in consideration of the legacy you will leave • Things left behind are windows for memories • A little preparation helps prevent unforeseen situations • Commitment results from warm embers and brings about change • Developing strong character and integrity sets one apart • Judging worth by appearance is speaking without experiencing • Seeing ruins may bring both sadness and wonder • Releasing negative thoughts and emotions is not an easy task • When trust is broken relationships can crumble and blow away • A spirit of renewal lends strength to rise above adversity • Humility is not weakness but is gentle strong compassion • A quiet presence during grief brings comfort • God takes the ashes of our lives and creates masterpieces
From “Reflections on the Everyday” Charlotte-Anne Allen
“Sit boy, sit. Now, lie down… Good dog!” How many have enjoyed the company of their dog or other pet? Have you noticed how dogs will turn around and around to find just the right position before settling down in happy contentment for a time of rest? They like to lie down close to their caregiver or climb up on their lap… even those who have overgrown said lap! There is a special bond and sense of peace from such companionship.
Most of us have struggled at some time with being able to lie down and to sleep peacefully. Our bodies and minds, when stressed, excited, or wound-up by the day, have difficultly settling and relaxing. Have you ever gone to bed exhausted but then your brain just won’t shut down enough to relax?! Our thoughts, even sometimes good ones, just keep churning away! Then too, often the chaos of our world weighs us down or we find ourselves constantly bombarded by negative news or surroundings. Health challenges and any number of stressors just contribute to the tossing and turning!
That reminds me of the story of David in the Bible, who found himself pursued by a jealous king who was intent on killing him. I imagine that David often found himself short on sleep. He certainly had occasion to fear and to find rest almost impossible as he ran for his life! But David showed his continued faith and reliance on God in the book of Psalms as he said,
I will both lie down and sleep in peace. For you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety. *
I lie down and sleep. I wake again, for the Lord sustains me. *
David was far from perfect. He was a man of war and made many mistakes, but he valued that special bond with God. Like the dog turning around and around to find that ‘just right’ spot, he sought God’s closeness and comfort.
I know that when I remain tired and unable to sleep well, I am little good for anyone, including myself. Perhaps we can take a lesson from the dog… Can you just imagine climbing up into God’s lap and heaving a sigh of contentment and peace? Can we trust Him enough with our yesterday, today, and tomorrow to allow our minds and bodies to receive His gift of rest? Restored for another day, another hour, another minute.
My prayer for us is that we too will know God’s companionship and experience that special bond. Let Him draw you closer! Climb up into His lap! Lie down and find rest. God bless.
• Giving does not divide, rather it multiplies and nourishes • Generosity in sharing what you have grows blessings for all • Disregarding the value of others brings heartache and misunderstandings • Gather together what is needed to guide you • Our lives are a rich mosaic of colors and patterns • Look for the beauty in small things as well as grand displays • The beauty of a life brought to wholeness gives us hope • God will comfort us in our brokenness • We often struggle when we cannot see the whole picture • Looking at all perspectives and options can help gain clarity • Receiving memories shared by others is like finding missing puzzle pieces • Apply yourself to learning and to gaining skills bit-by-bit • Trying new things adds color and interest • When all is dashed to pieces, there is God to gather us
From “Reflections from the Everyday” – Charlotte-Anne Allen
“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
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!