Beginnings

“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

Enter

Standing at the threshold
What lies ahead
Sunlight gleams
Pointing the way

Pausing attuned
Listen to silence
Or the singing of birds
Peaceful and warm

Drawing breath deeply
Fragrances from life
Bring back memories
Poignant or comforting

Searching eyes seeking
Cool shadowed woodland
Bright lawns or gardens
Faces and homes

Reaching out a hand
Taking the first step
New year’s dawn brings
Anticipation and prayers

Reflections on Cicadas

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• Transitions may cause both anticipation and anxiety
• Be watchful and allow time for outcomes to develop
• Value the past for it prepares us for the todays and tomorrows
• We grow accustomed to the familiar and the constant
• The cries and words of the forgotten are paid no heed
• Loss is felt the greatest when we first realize absence
• The roar of circumstances can drown out all else
• The effects of our experiences crawl into all areas of our life
• Our soul is carried in the swell and fall of majestic music
• Join your voices for the cause of good and wholeness
• A joyful chorus gains strength as others join in
• Lift your voice and your hands when the season is right
• Hear the words of the One who calls us to Him
• Gather nourishment for each day from God our source

from “Reflections from the Everyday”

He Comes!

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Anticipation
Hurry hurry
He’s coming now!

Excitement
Hear the shouts
See the crowd

Honor
Palm branches laid
Robes spread before him

See
He comes to you
Righteous victorious

Lowly
Upon a donkey
Only a colt

Ruler
Giver of life
Bringer of hope

Rejoice
Your King comes
Hosanna, save

 

*John 12:12-19, Zechariah 9:9

Rabbit Trails

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Running here and running there
What am I to do?

Let’s go this way
Wait, look at that!

So much now to discover
…Where was I going?

Oh yes, that’s it
Complete my task

Now just a little further
Travel down this trail

Did you hear that?
I love that tune!

Reminds me of happy times.
You remember when…

Come let me show you
What I found the other day!

… Sun’s now setting?!
Day’s now waning?!

But there are more trails to trod!
Open eyes ears heart

Hmmm… so true!
Living life to the fullest!

Finding new horizons
Down those rabbit trails

 

Yearning

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“I hope they get here soon. I can hardly wait to see everyone!” There’s something about time together with friends and loved ones that satisfies us deep down. We wait in anticipation for visits or celebrations, yearning to see them. We’re thankful for opportunities to be with family and friends and for the support and encouragement of others.

Time alone is important too. I value and look forward to my alone times because those moments turn me and stretch me toward our Creator. Struggles and challenges in life make me aware of my own neediness. Quiet times allow me to listen from the depths of my being.

One of my favorite pieces of music is “The Yearning” by Craig Courtney. He expresses so well our struggles and our desire for a better future, for Emmanuel… God with us. “There is a yearning in hearts weighed down by ancient grief… hearts that in the darkness hide… a yearning for tomorrow.”  We find joy in a “Lord who visited His own.”

Job longed to see God. He said, “I will see God. I myself will see him with my own eyes, I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” Job had a lot to face and yet he still looked to God!

Don’t we all want things to go well and to make it through any difficulties? We want full and meaningful lives. We yearn for God with us. May our yearning be satisfied as we approach God, thanking Him for His sacrifice and provision, and may we live in anticipation and fullness of life, guarded by His presence.

*Job 19:26b-27

Autumn’s Tinge

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Autumn’s tinge is in the air
Now lightly nibbles
Now backs away

Grasses fading
Flowers too
Chill of evening
Cold mornings’ dew

Speaks of time to come
Days shortening
Sunset’s advancing glow

Leaves stirring
Lift and part
Now spin and whirl
In joyous dance

Autumn’s tinge is in the air
Its nose uplifted in anticipation
Of the new season’s approach

Hide and Seek?!

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“…98-99-100. Ready or not, here I come!” The excited words of the children’s game of “Hide and Seek” are familiar to all of us. I remember well my childhood days of playing outside in the summer twilight with my brothers and neighborhood friends. As we hid among the bushes, behind a shed, or a corner of the house, the one who was “it” would try to find and catch us, as we ran laughing about the yard.

Life is marked by a series of “seeking.” We all have those times of anticipation, doubts, and questions. What will I do when I graduate from high school? … Where will I work? … What do I really believe and why? … How can I honor God as I search for the best path? … Who will I marry? … Where will I live? … What is that next step in life, as an individual or as part of a larger community?

Like in those childhood days of “hide and seek,” sometimes the growing shadows and cooling air of twilight bring comfort and rest. Friendships and laughter encourage us, and faith is strengthened… At other times, we find ourselves darting about, straining to see through the darkness or to hear any indication of the presence of someone who cares. “Ready or not, here I come!” We may question life and wonder if there is a God. The writer of 1 Chronicles said, “If you seek him, he will be found by you…”

That is such a comfort! But, sometimes I have just been too exhausted and overcome to seek Him. The psalmist turned this around when he asked God to “seek your servant!” Luke reminds us that God’s Son “came to seek and to save.” There God is, already with us and looking for us while we struggle with our own confusion or need. Not hiding, but patiently and lovingly waiting before us.

I am so grateful for God, who seeks us and who encourages us to seek Him! I pray that He will grant each of us faith to trust Him more, knowing that He is with us even when we are struggling or unable to sense His presence. Thank you, God… for being that companion along the way, for next steps and new directions.

 

*1 Chronicles 28:9, Psalm 119:176, Luke 19:10

Springtime Promise

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Brrr!! The calendar says springtime, but cold rain, sleet, and snow have been falling! Some people find the cold season invigorating. For me, those first buds and sprouts are a promise that warmer days are coming and with that promise comes anticipation. Even as the earth stirs as from sleep, I too stir… contemplating the year ahead and the winter past. It reminds me of some verses from a seldom read passage in the Song of Solomon, which my father loved: 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.

I look forward to new opportunities and growth, windows open wide to greet fresh air, and summer gardens and lawns. Even the responsibilities of work, church, and family seem more enjoyable. It is easier to turn loose of the “stuff” that tends to pile up during cold, lonely, or difficult seasons. When faced with challenging times, my mom would often say, “this too shall pass” … and she was right! Even as winter passes into springtime, so life moves on. Mom’s reminder and optimism was much appreciated, not that all would always turn out as wished but that we can be assured that God would get us through.

How my impatient or hurting self sometimes struggled to see that though. It is in more recent years that I have come to better experience the peace God provides for each day. Snow melts and sunshine warms! That’s why I love the springtime. Flowers appear. Singing comes. Life is renewed.

*Song of Solomon 2:11-12 (also known as the Song of Songs)