Surround Us

I wrote this poem several years ago. It is still so applicable to us each day
a call, a remembrance, a celebration, an affirmation of God’s Spirit and love for us.
May it bring us peace and hope.

Surround us, oh Lord
Guardian protector Father
Wrap us in Your holiness
Surround us, oh Lord
Strong sure eternal

Surround us, oh Lord
Refresh renew restore
Nourished by Your Spirit
Surround us, oh Lord
To grow in wisdom and stature

Surround us, oh Lord
Great One mighty and present
Strong and sure deliverer
Surround us, oh Lord
That we too may stand

Surround us, oh Lord
Wrapped in Your breath
Sustained and filled
Surround us, oh Lord
Satisfier of our souls

Surround us, oh Lord
Our firm foundation
Shield and defender
Surround us, oh Lord
With the cloud of Your being

Surround us, oh Lord
Your comforting presence
Banish our fear
Surround us, oh Lord
Abba Father and King

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Thanks to God, who surrounds us each day
May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.
Psalm 33:22

– Charlotte-Anne Allen

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 Jigsaw Puzzles

• Giving does not divide, rather it multiplies and nourishes
• Generosity in sharing what you have grows blessings for all
• Disregarding the value of others brings heartache and misunderstandings
• Gather together what is needed to guide you
• Our lives are a rich mosaic of colors and patterns
• Look for the beauty in small things as well as grand displays
• The beauty of a life brought to wholeness gives us hope
• God will comfort us in our brokenness
• We often struggle when we cannot see the whole picture
• Looking at all perspectives and options can help gain clarity
• Receiving memories shared by others is like finding missing puzzle pieces
• Apply yourself to learning and to gaining skills bit-by-bit
• Trying new things adds color and interest
• When all is dashed to pieces, there is God to gather us

From “Reflections from the Everyday” – Charlotte-Anne Allen

Weathering

When we awaken to the day
And things are bright and sunny
The sky is fair, and thoughts are clear
We’re eager to get started

Stretch our arms and raise our eyes
To the Maker of us all
To God give thanks and offer praise
He shines His light anew

When there come rumbles warning grumbles
Great flashes crashes gusty tempest
Skies are blanketed and heavy
Hearts fearful searching seeking

Stretch our arms and raise our eyes
To the Maker of us all
To God give thanks and offer praise
His strength and power overcomes

So, when the wind begins to shift
Or dark clouds drift our way
See the shaft of light break through
Be nourished by His cleansing rain

Stretch our arms and raise our eyes
To the Maker of us all
To God give thanks and offer praise
His care for us is true

On those cool morns of cloudy gray
When fog touches with fingers chill
There too is found a quiet peace
As His comforting hands enfold us

Stretch our arms and raise our eyes
To the Maker of us all
To God give thanks and offer praise
A place of rest within our struggles

In winter’s bite and icy dread
There’s beauty in the snowy white
As a joyful child in simple faith
He draws us to His warmth

Stretch our arms and raise our eyes
To the Maker of us all
To God give thanks and offer praise
May He shine on us anew

Good Scents

Memories awakened
Stories told
Contentment reigns
When good scents unfold

Indoors and out
Eyes shut
Breathe deeply
Open mind’s door, and smile

Bold cinnamon and apple pie
Minty goodness and lemonade
Bubbling stews and filling soups
Herbal teas and fragrant coffee

Rain on earth and garden’s care
Freshly cut grass and flower’s bloom
Sharp freshness of new-fallen snow
Ocean breeze and mountain stream

Clean laundry and sheets on the bed
Suds in dish water and lotion for hands
Sweet smell of a child snuggled close
Scents to comfort and renew … Good scents!

Winter’s Nip

“Hello,” he says,
“Just passing by today.
But I’ll be back
For a longer stay!”

“It’s been a while.
I’ve been away,
To other climes,
Some cold to lay.”

“It’s quite a job,
The world to view.
Opportunities to enjoy
Outside for a few.”

“A nice warm fire
Will do for some
Who prefer to be toasty
When I come.”

With a nod and smile
He travels on.
But he’ll return
He’s not gone!

Seeking Comfort

Day in day out
We have ups and downs

When times are dark
And hearts are torn

Shattered deeply…
Where do we turn?!

Lean on God’s strength
Embrace His light

A starry night
To wrap us ‘round

Gentle touch
Or presence near

A listening ear
Someone to hear

A sunny smile
Upon a child’s face

Warm sun’s touch
Or cool shade’s shelter

Quiet solitude
And a place to shout!

Now draw us closer
As we come

Seeking comfort

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

What’s Up?

What’s up?” I say in greeting you,
In comfortable companionship.

Just hanging out and sharing life
Now there’s no rush with you and me.

Oh, nothing much,” …but some days are long,
Going here… Doing this and that.

Just for now, let’s take a breather.
So, what is up with you?

With friends who care, we can be ourselves
And share our time and space.

To hear each other and really listen,
Offering support and being a presence.

What’s up?” we say in recognition,
Doing this thing called life together.

Nurture

“Wow! Look at that! … and there’s another one!” We smiled as we checked out the growing produce from our summer garden. Careful planting, tending, and watering was producing bountiful crops of tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, corn, squash, and much more. A lot of work had gone into the garden and there was much satisfaction and hope for plentiful provision, both for us and to share with others.

Whether tending a garden, caring for others, or looking after our pets or other animals, nurturing is a part of our daily life. When offered in love and compassion, it is an expression and reflection of our Creator, God. A helping hand or an encouraging word can gladden a heart and bring a smile when exhaustion or stress threatens to overwhelm and reaping benefits of hard work and dedication is rewarding.

God nurtures us, both physically and spiritually. I like this passage from the book of Psalms which expresses thanks to God. Think about it in terms of God’s care in our life as well:

You visit the earth and water it; you greatly enrich it. The river of God is full of water; you provide the people with grain, for so you have prepared it. You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, and blessing its growth. You crown the year with your bounty. Your wagon tracks overflow with richness. The pastures of the wilderness overflow. The hills gird themselves with joy. The meadows clothe themselves with flocks. The valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy. Psalm 65:9-13

Comforting an upset child. Cuddling a pet. Feeding a hungry family. Sitting with a loved one. Protecting those in our care. Being present to support or to share in sorrow. The many small or large acts that we encounter daily offer opportunities.

As we nurture and are nurtured, we can… Pray for those in our care. Rejoice in provision and growth. Rest in God in times of sorrow and drought. Offer thanks and gratitude for His sustaining presence through all things. Acknowledge God’s provision and thank those He brings to us, as we care for each other.

God bless and sustain you through each day. Be encouraged.