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
“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.
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.