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

Reflections on Gifts

• Gifts from the heart come in many forms
• Give simple gifts freely and daily
• A child’s embrace and trust are to be treasured
• Receiving gives others the opportunity to give
• Material gifts, while nice, should not be overrated
• Do not turn away what is needed when offered in love
• Gifts of time and service express compassion and fellowship
• Examine what you value most
• Share faith, family, home, and strength of community
• Be genuine in giving
• See those in need, be present with the lonely, hear the hurting
• Give quietly and without expectation or demand of personal return
• Do not reserve gift giving for holidays, celebrations, or other remembrances
• Give “just because”
• God gave all because of the greatest of love

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

Feet of a Deer

Strength from above
Or I would fall

To walk the heights
Through fear or grief

Scaling impossible
Chasms and cliffs

Oh God, our help
We climb the heights

Each step with You
Stay by my side

To glimpse Your majesty
With feet of a deer

The Sovereign Lord is my strength.
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer.
He enables me to tread on the heights.
Habakkuk 3:19