Reflections on Ashes

• 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

Reflections on Muscadines

• 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

Reflections on Garden Trowels

  • Use your life as a tool for good
  • Silence can be an uncomfortable hole that we try to fill
  • Being too focused on making your point can stop your ears from truly listening
  • Bad habits can wrap themselves around us like roots
  • Covered up rot is still rot
  • Allow removal of hurtful and negative practices
  • Clods must be broken up for the ground to be softened
  • Space provides room for growth
  • What we put in our lives influences what is produced
  • Plant good ideas and strong character
  • Avoiding work is like leaving a tool to rust in the rain
  • Dig and cultivate to produce nourishment for all
  • Hold tightly to values, truth, and faith
  • We get a better handle on the Word by reading it often

from “Reflections from the Everyday”
by Charlotte-Anne Allen

Reflections on Rowboats

• Strength of character is an asset
• Dedication and hard work are commendable
• Working together brings about strong finishes
• Think and pray before making commitments
• When you make a commitment stick to it
• Keep your goals ever before you
• Remember to take time out for a slower pace
• Spend quiet solitary time to reflect
• Join others in relaxed company
• Letting go of anxiety develops inner peace
• Mind and body absorb whatever you immerse yourself in
• Thoughts turned to the Spirit lead to contentment in life

from “Reflections from the Everyday”

Reflections on Mouths

We choose to build up or to tear down
• Consider your words before you speak, and you will not lament the after
• Criticizing in condemnation shuts the door on growth and grace
• A careless tongue is like a roaring volcano
• An open mouth without consideration often spews flames of hurt
• Words of encouragement sweeten the most bitter
• What you say or don’t say reveals your character
• Wise instruction is a great treasure
• The words of others which you eat and drink, will come back up in your own voice
• Harsh words shred our soul and tear our heart
• Restraint is a strength, so cover your mouth when needed
• Fresh air breaths light into a day like songs of praise
• Friendship and respect welcome all words shared
• Give heed to the eternal Word which is full of grace and might

Responsible Freedom

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I’ll be able to do whatever I want, whenever I want.” What budding young adult upon first striking out on their own, or dreaming of doing so, has not had that thought or something very similar? Children too, fret at times under the authority of their parents or others.

I can remember similar thoughts of my own and I see in my mind’s eye that eighteen-year-old me as she headed off to college. Admittedly, there was a little anxiety as well. Though I was “on my own” I did not leave all behind nor dump what had been instilled in me for the previous eighteen years. I brought with me my faith, my values, life’s teachings, and lessons learned from my parents and others. I realized that with this newfound freedom, there was also great responsibility.

As unfinished and developing human beings, we allow our thoughts, emotions, and actions to drive how we react to others. The familiar, “He (or she) hit me first” of children is echoed in many forms for we adults. We justify ourselves by placing blame and by not recognizing our own responsibilities within our freedom to choose.

Paul said this well in his first letter to the church in Corinth. I like that my Bible titles this section as “The Believer’s Freedom.” He said, “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. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. *

Wow! That was pretty radical and certainly not something usually promoted, including today. Two words that stood out for me in Paul’s statement are “beneficial” and “constructive.” Not everything that we have the freedom to do results in good. Not everything we have the freedom to do serves a useful purpose or builds up others. While this freedom may be related to written laws or practices it is much more than that. This freedom has to do with personal character and integrity. It has everything to do with personal faith and commitment. Tied into all of this is compassion, love and care for others, and mutual respect.

That doesn’t make it right” is a common response to the child’s declaration of “He (or she) hit me first!” What are our thoughts, our reactions, or our words to everyday situations? Do they reflect responsible freedom? Do they shine Christ’s light? This is a challenge for us all, I think.

I pray that I will better walk the path of responsible freedom. May we all seek and follow that path, ever striving for that which is beneficial and that which is constructive. All praise and thanks to God who draws His children closer to Him.

*1 Corinthians 10:23-24

A Bad Rap?

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Think now of the mule, the donkey, the goat…
Such creatures as this who bear a great load!

Such poor reputations and so misunderstood
For services provided on a regular basis

Now Jack, now Jenny the sun is well risen…
Come on! You’re well rested! Time for a new day

Let’s go! … Please?!
Hey, wake up! Ah well…

Here Sweetly. You too HeeHaw.
You can join your friends in the cow pasture.

Guard duty today. No, over here…
Ohhh! I’m your friend. Run everyone! Run!

Billy! Where are you going?
Get out of the way! Don’t eat that!

…There we go. All settled now?
All in a day’s work for my unappreciated friends

What’s that? You’re considering getting a camel?
Hey! Watch out! He’ll spit in your eye!

Reflections on Reflections

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Sometimes we see things sharply and clearly
• On other occasions all is dark and clouded
• What we see is not always what others see
• What others see may be the opposite of our own observations
• Exaggerated reflections bring fun laughter
• Reflected images give us new perspectives
• Considering other perspectives is beneficial to all
• Our actions and words are a reflection of our character
• Struggles and joys are expressed in what we say and do
• Thoughtful reflection often yields positive outcomes

WALK

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“Wait momma! Slow down!” Growing up just off the main street businesses in our small town, we often walked a block or two when we needed to go to the store or post office. I remember well my brothers and I trotting down the sidewalk with our mother. She happily strode down the sidewalk with all of us hurrying after her.

We also enjoyed walking on the trails at a nearby state park or on family camping trips. Walking is a good way to get outside, enjoy the fresh air, and stretch our legs. It provides opportunity for time alone to enjoy the quiet or to contemplate life as well as time for companionship and conversation with friends or family.

I think of the time Jesus spent with his disciples and other followers. Living in Capernaum, he walked along the shores of the Sea of Galilee and he often walked to quiet out-of-the-way places to pray. As they traveled, can you just imagine them walking through those hills and valleys and stopping in small towns and villages along the way? *

More than just physically walking, “walk” is often used to describe “living.” Walk in his ways. Walk with integrity. Walk in darkness. Walk in the light. Walk in wisdom…

As we “walk,” we choose where we will go and who we will follow. Our walk reflects our values and our character. We choose to walk with others or to walk alone.

I think about my own life, where I have walked in the past and the path I am now following. My prayers are that I will walk faithfully, doing my best to show by that walk the great love of our Creator God. Wherever we find ourselves, may our walk be a daily reflection of Him.


* Matthew 4:12-13, 18; Luke 6:12