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!
Heading home one November evening, I pass the yard with the purple flashing lights of a Halloween skeleton which had been left up. As I turn into my driveway, I see that my neighbor has set out his Santa figure and manger scene. Have you noticed a trend too? As the seasons move forward towards year’s end, decorations are being put out earlier and left up longer. Halloween. Thanksgiving. Christmas…
There is a positive hope in these simple and familiar decorations, despite the challenges our world is facing and adjustments to a “new normal.” They reflect a strength of spirit and make room for happier times. I love the positive celebration of life! This time-of-year is a good opportunity to offer encouragement to others, to realize anew the value of family, community, work, church, giving to others…
As we go about our daily routines, what are we doing to strengthen and help each other? Everyone appreciates encouragement and recognition, or a listening ear. The lighted decorations make me think of the verse that says, “Let light shine out of darkness” (*2 Corinthians 4:6). Think of all the workers, the medical community, educators, transport services, and more who have struggled to keep things running. They have truly been a source of light. How are we impacting others and how have we been impacted by loss and a changing economy? How are we celebrating the good and coming together in our shared humanity?
May the flashing lights of the seasons’ decorations or the quiet humble manger scene be reminders. See through the darkness, give thanks for what we have, and remember the Christ child come to earth. In this journey I pray that we will grow stronger, wiser, more caring… trusting and serving God. May His light shine through each of us.
• Waiting for when times are ripe is an exercise in patience • Develop good and savory aspects of your heritage • Preparation can be a long process • Choose that which will build up and strengthen • Discard that which is not productive or nourishing • Consider the many ways your interests and gifts can be used • Be careful of what you surround yourself with • What you surround yourself with will influence all that you are • Careful pruning develops better fruit and stronger character • We project our true character through our words and actions • May the scent of our actions draw and not repel • Act compassionately so others may taste of goodness and hope • Take nourishment through the Son’s light • Draw wisdom and knowledge through God’s Word
From “Reflections from the Everyday” by Charlotte-Anne Allen
• Watch what you touch as it may stick to you • Accumulated experiences shape and form us • Heated words can burn up friendships • Act wisely and think to avoid spreading harm • Pain and struggle can contribute to unhealthy buildup • Uncontrolled anger spews hurt upon all around • Miscommunication causes frustration and estrangement • Covering up mistakes reflects insecurity • Honesty and humility help to clear the air • Tough things in life require hard work to overcome • Uplifting music covers encourages and soothes • Caring acts grow from compassionate hearts • Daily prayer is like a good cleaning • God is our chimney sweep
From “Reflections from the Everyday” – Charlotte-Anne Allen