Free to Be

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The car’s packed and we’re heading down the road to new adventures! …I remember my anticipation as a teen going off to college. Along with some normal anxiety, I looked forward to having my own schedule and being able to make my own decisions. I was free to strike out on my own. Free to be me… Rather a scary thought as I look back on that, but my parents and others had prepared me well and my faith in God was real and strong. Growing and maturing is an important step in life.

Free to be. Free to make choices. Free to consider future and present actions… But isn’t it also easy during that pursuit to become too self-focused, missing out on the richness and satisfaction of reaching outward in service and in working with others? We’ve all heard the clamor of the world. “He said…” “She did…” “That’s a lie…” “You deserve…” Perhaps I am just more aware as I’ve gotten older, but selfishness often seems to be encouraged. Talking at once seems to be the norm. People loudly espouse their agenda, poisonous words tearing others apart, hurting and demeaning everyone.

As I discovered during my college days, along with freedom comes new responsibility, greater accountability and consideration of others. As Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians, “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. * In our freedom, I pray that we will remember the element of respect, building up and caring for others, rather than tearing down and destroying.

Of encouragement to me is the observation that when we face common challenges or tragedies, we begin to gain a sense of our shared humanity. When we take time to notice and acknowledge people as important and valued, then differing perspectives, needs, or goals no longer seem as significant. When we reconsider harsh words, there are fewer times to regret. When we choose positive actions, then growth and reconciliation are made possible. When we allow change in our own thinking and perspective, we discover room for compassion.

*1 Corinthians 10:23

 

Reflections on Mountains

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  • We hike along life’s steep trails.
  • Cliffs and crags can appear daunting
  • We find shelter and rest in quiet coves
  • Struggles and death come as dark valleys
  • We flee and hide within when there is danger
  • Understanding comes when light casts its rays over the peaks
  • Gazing over broad vistas improves our perspective
  • Improved perspective brings communion
  • One step at a time to achieve the goal
  • Rocks can assist our climb

Rest Stop

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Blink, flash… rumble-rumble. I paused to watch the display in the night sky. Cool air, smelling of rain, drove away the last of the day’s heat. Watching from a distance provided a larger perspective and I considered the power of the storm and the wideness of the heavens. As the storm drew further away, I drew a deep breath and the rain-washed quiet began to draw from mind and body the day’s lingering roar. It was good to stop and rest.

When I find myself caught up in the rush and stress of life, taking time to pause helps both mentally and physically. Can’t you just imagine that “ahh” as you sink into a favorite chair, slide into bed, or arrive home after a long and busy day?! Wherever our “comfort spot” may be, it is a place to rest our soul and calm our spirit for a time.

When the crowd was pressing around Jesus, he too needed a time of rest. For those who wanted to follow him, Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” * Like us in our daily lives, He too had to seek those special times and places alone and in prayer with his Father, God… places of rest and places where daily needs could be met. The book of Mark tells us that the apostles, the followers or disciples of Jesus, had the same challenge and had to be intentional about taking time to rest. After they had shared with Jesus all that they had been doing and teaching, he reminded them of the importance of ‘stepping out of the stream’ for a while. “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while,” Jesus said, “For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So, they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves.” *

I think sometimes we don’t give ourselves permission to step aside and rest. We are driven by so many things… I pray for you “rest stops” along life’s way. Times of comfort with friends and family. Quiet reflection with God who loves you. A welcome place to pause, stretch your legs, and relax before continuing on.

*Matthew 8:20 & Luke 9:58; Mark 6:31-32

Reflections on Roads

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• Roads are paths of decisions
• Those decisions lead to many destinations
• Consider all that you encounter along the way
• Some ways are direct and easy to traverse
• Sometimes things ahead are stormy
• It’s hard to see beauty when moving through our storms
• Potholes and cracks develop from stressful situations
• Remembering our origination can help us persevere
• Roadside stops are helpful to the traveler
• Moving along accustomed routes may give a sense of stability
• Sometimes we get stuck or lost and miss the alternate routes
• Whether through wilderness or quiet streets… we seek clear ways

Get Help!

Get Help

As I was looking over a website, getting familiar with a new platform for work, a handy little button at the bottom of the screen caught my attention. “Get Help,” it read. Definitely an option I needed to remember!!

I have often been very appreciative when guidance was available to instruct me in how to do something… and frustrated when promised or hoped for assistance was unavailable, unclear, or incomplete. Patience has been something I have worked on!

There is within us a healthy desire to learn to do things for ourselves, but I, like many of us, have sometimes struggled when I realized that I needed help. How many of us have encountered a determined child attempting to do something “by myself”?! My father told me once that he had wanted to teach me to be conservative and independent, and perhaps had overdone both!

Whether it is a new experience or endeavor, a life crisis, or some other situation… asking for or seeking help can make us feel vulnerable, yet it also binds us and builds stronger relationships. I’m reminded that God formed us for companionship, to be together and to work together. In the book of Genesis, God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” * I am so glad to have helpers and teachers, those who are patient encouragers.

The book of Psalms is full of references to “help” and reminds me of our ultimate and greatest help. “The Lord is with me; he is my helper.” * In my “Get Help” moments, I can be assured of His presence as I seek a calm spirit and surer direction. What a relief to know that we can lay aside our insecurities, doubts, hang-ups, and “by myself” attitudes and push that “Get Help” button! Actually… I think that I need to just leave that particular window open all the time, don’t you?!

*Genesis 2:18, Psalm 118:7a

Reflections on Dirt

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 This place where we are planted needs nourishment
• As we are nourished, we grow
• Sometimes things are rocky, and it is difficult for our roots to grow
• Our dirt can become toxic and in need of cleansing
• Tensions and stress can be released by working in the soil
• For positive results plant and water regularly
• There are many byways and wonders within the earth
• These ways can be places of peril or roads to safety
• Carefully tend your homeplace which is your support and foundation
• The Gardener watches over the plants in His garden

(Small) Treasures

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“Wow! Look at that!”

“Hey, let me see too!”

When my brothers and I were growing up, my parents always encouraged us to look, to explore, to see, and to learn about nature and things around us. I remember the fun times we had looking at things through a magnifying glass or my older brother’s microscope. Camping trips in our pop-up tent camper were memorable family times full of new sights and sounds.

That curiosity and appreciation for God’s creation continues with me today. I love the warm-weather months when I can be outside more …despite the allergies! Flowers, birds and other wildlife, vegetable and herb gardens, fruit trees, and more, bring me great pleasure. As I mow my yard, I often mow around the tiny wild flowers (aka weeds) and see my neighbor smile as I do so. That is what inspired the poem I wrote a few years ago, Just a Weed, and also led to the naming of this blog.

When God finished creating the world, he looked around at all that he had made, and it was very good! When I think of myself as the tiniest speck in a vast universe, I am in awe like the psalmist who, when he considered the heavens, wondered why God would notice us or care about us. I am overwhelmed that he sees my small self as His precious jewel!

Thinking from that perspective and considering the world around me helps me to notice others and to value each life. Whether struggling with self-image or frustrated with what life is throwing at me, I remember that we are God’s treasure and are wonderfully made! Just as we gaze through a magnifying glass or microscope and discover amazing worlds, God gazes into our deepest being, sees our imperfections, and loves us.

*Genesis 1:41, Psalm 8, Psalm 139:13-14