Try

child bent over to ground

To meet the goal
That’s true and good
A big commitment
But I’ll try

What challenge is this?
The need is great
Working together
Let’s try

That first new step
It looks so daunting!
And what if I fail?
Only try

To fall and rise
Now once again
Discovering new things
Because I tried

Opportunities come
So be encouraged
If you say that I can
Then I’ll try

One foot one hand
A step a reach
How will you know
Unless you try?

World changers that
Both big and small
Not giving up
Just try!

Free to Be

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The car’s packed and we’re heading down the road to new adventures! …I remember my anticipation as a teen going off to college. Along with some normal anxiety, I looked forward to having my own schedule and being able to make my own decisions. I was free to strike out on my own. Free to be me… Rather a scary thought as I look back on that, but my parents and others had prepared me well and my faith in God was real and strong. Growing and maturing is an important step in life.

Free to be. Free to make choices. Free to consider future and present actions… But isn’t it also easy during that pursuit to become too self-focused, missing out on the richness and satisfaction of reaching outward in service and in working with others? We’ve all heard the clamor of the world. “He said…” “She did…” “That’s a lie…” “You deserve…” Perhaps I am just more aware as I’ve gotten older, but selfishness often seems to be encouraged. Talking at once seems to be the norm. People loudly espouse their agenda, poisonous words tearing others apart, hurting and demeaning everyone.

As I discovered during my college days, along with freedom comes new responsibility, greater accountability and consideration of others. As Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians, “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. * In our freedom, I pray that we will remember the element of respect, building up and caring for others, rather than tearing down and destroying.

Of encouragement to me is the observation that when we face common challenges or tragedies, we begin to gain a sense of our shared humanity. When we take time to notice and acknowledge people as important and valued, then differing perspectives, needs, or goals no longer seem as significant. When we reconsider harsh words, there are fewer times to regret. When we choose positive actions, then growth and reconciliation are made possible. When we allow change in our own thinking and perspective, we discover room for compassion.

*1 Corinthians 10:23

 

Welcome

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“Welcome,” I read on the door mat as I crossed it and entered my home. This small mat was more than a place to remove water or dirt from shoes before going in. When we welcome someone, we invite them to enter and we offer hospitality.

Many stores now have greeters who stand or sit near the entrance and welcome those who are coming in. What a difference a smile and a friendly hello and welcome can make on a busy day! My church also has greeters, someone who welcomes those who enter, offers assistance, and provides any needed information.

When we find ourselves in a new place or are unsure of where to go, a welcome is much appreciated! The book of Matthew in the Bible says, “… I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” There is something about feeling welcome which eases stress and encourages us.

How aware are we of welcoming others?

We can welcome others to join a discussion in process, catch up on news, share our day, tell about something that happened. This is just as important as the “hello” we may hear as we enter a business, if not more important. As we welcome others, we are saying you are important to me. You are of value. I recognize you. It is reflecting God, who cares about them.

Jesus welcomed all people to come to him, although some of the religious leaders grumbled about that and criticized him. What an example he is to me and a reminder not to be so critical of others. Sometimes we lose sight of the person on the inside, or we forget that there is always more than we can see, know, or understand. When have we been unwelcoming toward someone because they were different from us or did not live up to our standards?

I’m so glad that God welcomed imperfect me! Just as he welcomed the little children to come to him, he welcomes us all. My prayer for us is that as we are out-and-about each day, we will be more mindful of welcoming others as well.

*Matthew 25:35, Luke 15, Matthew 19:14

Reflections on Kudzu

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• Sometimes we feel swallowed by circumstances
• Too much of a good thing can bring dissatisfaction
• Getting carried away can result in more than expected
• Climbing over others can cause great harm to all
• Cooling off can put things into better perspective
• Good can be found in unexpected places
• Sinking our roots into good soil encourages growth
• Healing comes when we realize potential
• Tenacity can get us through difficult times
• The Vine is our source of strength and life

Pizza & Chicken Nuggets

Pizza n Chicken Nuggets (1)

In my work with young children, I have found that most have one thing in common, their excitement and love of pizza and chicken nuggets. When talking about their favorite foods as a conversation starter, their eyes light up and they want to tell me all about it. Those children have tasted pizza and chicken nuggets. They know it tastes good and they look forward to having it again (and again) with the whole family, sharing a meal together and enjoying the food and the company.

Like those children, we enjoy good things. I was at a gathering recently and smiled to myself as the “roar of conversation” rose and fell as people welcomed others and passionately provided updates and expressed support. I think of how we as people of faith share our “pizza and chicken nuggets” moments, times when God has cheered us on in celebration and times when he has walked with us through grief and stress. Do our eyes light up when we talk about Him? Do we love Him that much and look forward to tasting Him, experiencing Him in our lives every day?

The psalmist said, “Taste and see that the Lord is good; happy are those who take refuge in him” and King David “first appointed the singing of praises to the Lord.” * He said, “Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, ‘The Lord is king!’” * We rejoice because God’s love, forgiveness, and provision is exciting news and good to taste.

When God has walked with us through some difficulty or when we’ve experienced a special time of worship, heard a new song, or gained new understanding … we can offer encouragement to others. God works in us and through us each day and enjoys our thanks and excitement as we are filled. As we tell others, they too can experience and taste of a God who welcomes us to Him… Like pizza and chicken nuggets, we can be glad and rejoice in our faith, whatever life brings.

*Psalm 34:8, 1 Chronicles 16:7-36

 

I Wish

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Stuff of dreams
Of hopes thought prayer

I wish for
A world of promise

I wish for
All to know the
Light that shines

I wish for
Joy down deep

I wish for
Peace within

I wish for
People to
Respect each other

I wish for
Compassion for all

I wish for
Others to be encouraged

Desires of life
Do justice
Love kindness
Walk humbly with God

 

*Micah 6:8