Where?

“Now what did I do with it?” I ask myself as I rummage yet again through my bag. “I know I put it in here!” At times like this I find myself doubting my memory, which is admittedly not always dependable. My frustration rises and I find myself unable to move on to something else. “Where is it?”

Searches are interesting. They can lead to new discoveries and new ways of doing things. Where would we be without the persistence and inquisitive minds of inventors and researchers? It can also be disappointing or stressful, especially when searching and searching without success. Perseverance can bring rewards, but that sometimes means setting the search aside for a while or allowing ourselves time to calm our mind and think things through. Prayer sure can help with each of these options… Reminding myself, “Oh well, something will work out” does wonders for lowering the stress level!

Have you ever searched for something and found it, only to discover that it was not what you needed or wanted after all? And what about those times when it is rediscovered right where you had looked numerous times? Fresh eyes and encouragement are a help too, along with a dose of patience and perspective!

I’m reminded of the women who went to Jesus’ tomb. The angel knew why they were there, “You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth” he said. Jesus, upon speaking to Mary, asked, “Whom are you looking for?” but she didn’t recognize him until he spoke her name.* How many times have I looked for something but didn’t recognize it because I had the wrong perspective?

While all our searches and questions will not lead to what we want, they can lead to new discoveries and opportunities, growth in faith, and fresh eyes. We reconsider the way we see, understand, and relate to things. Like the women seeking Jesus, God calls us to seek Him and He tells us that when we do, we will find him.* Sometimes I wonder if I’m looking in the right direction or if I need a better perspective. It’s hard to know where to look when the stress levels go up, isn’t it?

I am glad to be reminded that God speaks our name and that He sends others to help point us in the right direction. May you be encouraged!

Charlotte-Anne Allen 3/5/2022
*Mark 16:6, John 20:11-15a
Luke 11:9

Stay in Touch!

“It’s good to see you!” “How are you doing now?”

“See you soon!” “Stay in touch!”

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!

*Proverbs 17:17, John 15:15, Luke 11:2

Reminders

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.

Foggy Mornings

The cool morning greeted me as I peeked out of the window, then stepped outside. Soft fog gently touched my face and chilled my arms. Drops of moisture clung to leaf and blade, lending its nourishment. Sounds of early morning rising were muffled and the neighbor’s nearby chickens clucked contentedly. The cats’ meows welcomed their morning feeding.

I love these soft foggy mornings, where the day begins more gently. The fog hides or softens our surroundings and I am more acutely aware. The quiet invites me to join in, easing my soul and settling my heart in preparation for the day. In that pause, I breathe deeply and feel at peace.

The prophet Jeremiah spoke of God’s majesty as seen in His creation. “It is (God) who made the earth by his power…He makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth.” * I think of God covering us, like a mist or fog, offering us nourishment and gently touching us to cool our anxious thoughts.

What an encouragement and positive start for our day! As the sun rises and begins to burn off the fog, so we turn to our activities or head off to work. Breathe deeply. Draw on God’s covering presence. Know His touch.

Prayers for you each new day. Be encouraged.

Jeremiah 10:12-13

Reflections on Fizz

  • When surrounded by adversity, rising above it can be daunting
  • Encouragement pops chains and pushes back words of ridicule
  • We join with others so that our voices may be heard
  • Joyful laughter bubbles forth with good company
  • Our reactions to others are our own choices
  • How we respond makes room for light or drives all into darkest gloom
  • We seek many things to quench our thirst
  • What we gain may fall flat and leave us without satisfaction
  • Thirst for what is lifegiving
  • We bob about in confusion when we lack purpose
  • A bubbly personality brings smiles and lightens the day
  • We are filled and completed by God’s Spirit

Stories

Stories… I love to sit and listen to the stories of others! Shared stories are the stuff from whence wisdom springs. They are treasures, a testimony of times past and present, of growing up years, and of challenges and celebrations.

I remember many family gatherings and the sharing of memories and information, and am glad I collected some of my mother’s remembrances like, “Your grandfather had large hands. I remember how big they were when he held my hand in his.” She and my dad told me of hobbies and skills that our ancestors possessed, where they lived or grew up, struggles and hard times they went through, accomplishments and much more.

Do you remember stories shared through family or friends? As we smile and laugh about past antics and quirky natures, connections are formed. As we learn about struggles and pains, tragedy or overcoming, and doubts and faith, we gain deeper insights. Yes, stories are the essence of humanity.

It’s no wonder that Jesus shared stories, usually in the form of parables. Through them he taught the importance of discernment and truth, teaching in a form in which others could relate. He said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” * I like the way the book of Proverbs opens, expressing the importance of learning, wisdom, and instruction. *

Stories… from the head shaking, foot stomping, belly laughs of epic escapades to the deeply thoughtful, wonder-filled, or heart sighing moments, are of value and worth. They help guide us in our search and desire to gain perspective and understanding, which in turn can nurture compassion for others. May we value and treasure them and approach them with discernment and thought, gaining encouragement, and discovering a deeper connection and love for all peoples.

*Mark 4:9, Proverbs 1:1-7
Charlotte-Anne Allen

Walk This Way… I’ll Lead You

Walk this way. I’ll lead you.
Another journey has begun.

We will be companions
As we tread a common path

Walk this way. I’ll lead you.
Staying by your side

And when the way grows rough and steep
My helping hand is there

Walk this way. I’ll lead you.
Together whatever befalls

Sharing hope or wiping tears
Laughing living praying going

Walk this way. I’ll lead you.
The Lord your banner

Positive Presence

When my daughter was very young, she would sometimes awaken at night, afraid and crying. I would go to her and hold her, pray with her, and just be with her until she had relaxed and was able to go back to sleep.

There is something about the physical presence of a loved one that brings comfort and joy. Whether a parent with a child, friends, or family, their nearness fills a deep craving and brings satisfaction through that companionship.

How many of us after long separation have spent hours talking and “catching up” or enjoyed activities together? In the case of illness or injury, the presence of someone sitting quietly close by can bring a sense of security or well-being. Words are not always necessary. What a gift one’s positive presence can be!

In the same way, God’s presence with us is a great gift. In all of life’s challenges, sorrows, and celebrations God is with us. His presence is strong, steady, and eternal even when our pain or busy thoughts and activities are unable to perceive Him.

The psalmist praised God and thanked Him for being with him.

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. *

As David fled enemies and faced impossible odds, he was fearful, angry, and sometimes depressed. Where was God during all of this?! Later, there was guilt too, as he faced his own failures and wrong doings. When the prophet Nathan came to David after David wrongly took Bathsheba, David expressed his great need and desire for God’s presence. He pled with God, “Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. *

While I so greatly need my personal time alone to process and rest, the presence of others is greatly appreciated too. Throughout my life, I have welcomed the comfort, companionship, and support of my family and friends. What a gift it is to know that there are others praying for me and to have good positive relationships with people who accept me for who I am and with whom we can join in our journey to grow closer to God.

How humbling and awesome that God’s presence came to be with us, giving us the ultimate example and filling that need. “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). *

I pray that we may take comfort and strength from Him and faithfully reach out to others, even as they offer their own presence in times of need and times of celebration.

* Psalm 16:11, Psalm 51:11, Matthew 1:23