Reflections on Pancakes

● The right combination of ingredients brings out our best
● The blending of our experiences shape who we are
● Consider the ways you can improve yourself and then follow through
● Using a fresh perspective opens our eyes and hearts
● Making needed adjustments keeps us out of the rut and enriches life
● Memories are thoughts that bubble up and burst upon us, often at unexpected times
● Be true to your faith and commitment wherever you are
● A calm and even temperament is much to be desired
● Adding some sweetness brings smiles and shares happiness
● Begin all things with a solid base as you look ahead
● Establish positive routines for development and accomplishment
● When we’re feeling the heat, God’s Spirit helps us to rise

Charlotte-Anne Allen

Love You!

“Love you!”

“Love you, too”

These words between friends, family members, or others are an expression of mutual affection and support. Have you ever considered how powerful they are?

For those on the receiving end, these simple phrases can bring a wealth of meaning, can’t they? I’m happy… We’re enjoying each other’s company… You’re special. They can also express empathy and compassion. I’m so sorry… I regret what happened… I still care.

What about when we speak those words? Sometimes it is so easy to say them, especially when we are happy and are spending enjoyable time in each other’s company. In parting, they are reminders for each other which we take with us, lifting each other up and bringing smiles to faces.

Have you ever struggled to say or to return them? Maybe there has been some strain in your relationship, some hurt or struggle… some unkind or ill-spoken thought. How difficult they can be to say in the face of great loss. Death, poor health prognosis, violence, or our own failures… In those times “love you” and “love you too” can be both painful and healing.

As I was reading in the book of Romans this morning, I came upon a word that expresses these very thoughts!

“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” *

I was curious about the word “honor”, so I looked up the meaning for its use in this passage [Yes, a bit nerdy maybe but doing this has really helped me to understand verses in the Bible better!]. It said: “a valuing by which the price is fixed (of the price itself, of the price paid or received for a person or thing bought or sold); honor which belongs or is shown to one (by reason of rank…, deference, reverence)“.

Honor is linked with price and value… and (in that passage) with love! 1Corinthians 6:20 uses the same word, translated as “price”. “For you are bought with a price therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” It struck me of the great price already paid for us through Jesus. Each of us are loved, valued, and honored. Do we love, value, and honor each other to this extent? How do we even wrap our minds around that?!

My prayer for us today, is that we will be more aware of the power of these simple words to and from God and with others. May we use them often, with greater appreciation and understanding. May we be transformed and filled as we both give and receive.

* Romans 12:10
Charlotte-Anne Allen

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

——————————————————————————————————-
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

Temptation

When in the boat and on the way
Do storm clouds strive to lure us away?

Or climbing trails as we then go
Enticing side paths beckon so?

Perhaps in strolling through the mall
Let’s grab the grand and ditch the small?

When at my place reclining at last
Has a chance to serve come… and passed?

Eyes travel to what’s not mine
Make excuses that it’s just fine?

To follow desire when the time’s all wrong
Will there be regrets before too long?

Ears listening to words of spite or strife
What does that do to encourage life?

Fling the door open to invite
Help from God to shine the Light

Temptation scatters as He brings the best
Strength to overcome and then to rest.

Hebrews 4:14-16

A Better Day (Our Easter Journey)

Heading toward Jerusalem
He entered it that day
Shouts of acclamation
Cries to be saved

Walking among the people
He spoke lasting words
Showed us servant giving
As storm clouds gathered

Oh, where now is our Savior
Betrayed by those beloved
In agony and prayer
Obedient Lamb of God

Can there be such compassion
In the midst of fear and doubt
Loss grief despair confusion
Striking buffeting death

What’s this now seen in darkness
Piercing light and open way
Speaks of new beginnings
Life rises out of love

Jesus walks among us
Transforms our doubt to joy
Fellowship for all who come
Hear see eat with him… Believe

Can it be so simple
Toddler’s first wobbly step
God’s strong hand and presence
Direction faith and hope reborn

Light’s rays to guide us
To lift and reassure
Life’s purpose now before us
There is a better day

I Will Lie Down

“Sit boy, sit. Now, lie down… Good dog!” How many have enjoyed the company of their dog or other pet? Have you noticed how dogs will turn around and around to find just the right position before settling down in happy contentment for a time of rest? They like to lie down close to their caregiver or climb up on their lap… even those who have overgrown said lap! There is a special bond and sense of peace from such companionship.

Most of us have struggled at some time with being able to lie down and to sleep peacefully. Our bodies and minds, when stressed, excited, or wound-up by the day, have difficultly settling and relaxing. Have you ever gone to bed exhausted but then your brain just won’t shut down enough to relax?! Our thoughts, even sometimes good ones, just keep churning away! Then too, often the chaos of our world weighs us down or we find ourselves constantly bombarded by negative news or surroundings. Health challenges and any number of stressors just contribute to the tossing and turning!

That reminds me of the story of David in the Bible, who found himself pursued by a jealous king who was intent on killing him. I imagine that David often found himself short on sleep. He certainly had occasion to fear and to find rest almost impossible as he ran for his life! But David showed his continued faith and reliance on God in the book of Psalms as he said,

I will both lie down and sleep in peace.
For you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety.
*

I lie down and sleep. I wake again, for the Lord sustains me. *

David was far from perfect. He was a man of war and made many mistakes, but he valued that special bond with God. Like the dog turning around and around to find that ‘just right’ spot, he sought God’s closeness and comfort.

I know that when I remain tired and unable to sleep well, I am little good for anyone, including myself. Perhaps we can take a lesson from the dog… Can you just imagine climbing up into God’s lap and heaving a sigh of contentment and peace? Can we trust Him enough with our yesterday, today, and tomorrow to allow our minds and bodies to receive His gift of rest? Restored for another day, another hour, another minute.

My prayer for us is that we too will know God’s companionship and experience that special bond. Let Him draw you closer! Climb up into His lap! Lie down and find rest.
God bless.

* Psalm 4:8, Psalm 3:5

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

Inside Out and Upside Down

In this life of ours
It’s those unexpected things
That make us scratch out heads!

What’s in, is now out
What’s up, is now down
We wonder what’s to be done!

We turn ourselves this way and that
Full of worry and of fret
To focus on the ills and strife!

Oh God, remind us Your ways are straight
Through ups and down and ins and outs
When we turn our eyes toward You

New Song

Like this, and this… Now move these fingers. As my beginner self practices the fingering and chords on my classical guitar, I move slowly. Learning a new piece takes time and attention, whatever the difficulty level may be for that person. It’s not enough just to know the notes but takes so much more into consideration, such as movement across the strings and how to play each phrase. It requires effort and dedication over time to make the whole piece beautiful and meaningful, knowing that there will be mistakes but persevering and doing our best. Then too, it is not so much the level of accomplishment as it is the satisfaction it brings to oneself and to others. This makes it fun and exciting.

Encountering new things is a regular part of life. What new things get you excited? Is it that new car smell, an anticipated job, a relationship, or a baby and new life? Maybe you are looking forward to a time of growth, learning a new skill, gaining knowledge, or an opportunity to serve. New things and new times can be hard and unwanted too. Maybe we’re just ready to shed stressful experiences and move forward. As I grow older, there are more things to miss but there are also more things to treasure. Faith in God, prayer, community, and family are vital supports when facing new situations. Working through new things can be a long process.

What if I just continued to play the same guitar piece or practiced the same scales over-and-over without using them to improve my music… never learned new pieces? I imagine that boredom or apathy would sneak in, and I may give it up completely. Where would I be if I just focused on my mistakes and my missed practice, or if I let my enjoyment be affected by feelings of not being good enough? Satisfaction and contentment come, not just from what we gain through our new experiences, but what we can also give to others.

My prayer is that we will be as new songs each day, that we praise God for his great love as He holds us through our pain and through our joy, and that we give even as we gain… May our lives be as beautiful music in His hands.

He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God…
Psalm 40:3

Charlotte-Anne Allen 1/1/2022