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

Transformation

Oh! Wow! Look! Look! … Here it comes. Here it comes! It’s coming out!

Have you ever watched a caterpillar forming its chrysalis (cocoon) and then waited … and waited … to see it finally emerge? What an amazing transformation from a creeping crawling caterpillar to a graceful soaring butterfly!

Before the caterpillar enters its cocoon, it’s not just lying around or curled up in a ball somewhere, is it? Think of all that goes on during the long wait. It’s busily moving, finding just the right dinner table… and eating, eating, eating. It needs its nourishment to grow and to prepare for the future. I wonder if it is aware of the coming time of transformation.

What if that caterpillar, in its eagerness for that final vision, decided it wanted to skip the period of eating and growth? Or what if there was no time spent in the cocoon? It seems crazy to even consider that!

So many times in my life, like all of us, I set my sight too much on a final desired outcome. Like the caterpillar, we need nourishment to grow and to prepare. Like the developing butterfly, we surround ourselves with the presence of things that help us to become what we are meant to be. We need time to develop both physically, mentally, and spiritually. Learning new skills, gaining in knowledge and wisdom, and developing our faith are all vital pieces. They are the stuff of life, aren’t they?!

It’s easy to grumble about the need to wait, isn’t it? We impatiently shuffle our feet and are eager to be done with whatever we are waiting for… or to finally participate in a long-anticipated event, achieve our goal, or acquire some possession.

How often do we consider the process of waiting as our success and our purpose? Like the caterpillar busily eating and exploring, we take time to taste life. That reminds me of the Psalm that says, “taste and see that the Lord is good!” * We live the best we can and find contentment in Him. Even God waits! He waits for us to respond or to complete our tasks here. He waited for Noah to finish building the ark! *

I don’t often read in the book of Titus but came across a verse that says “to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait…” * Through the goodness of God, we are being transformed as we prepare for our final great transformation.

My prayer for us all is to live life fully and with contentment in our waiting.

* Psalm 34:8, 1 Peter 3:20, Titus 2:12
Charlotte-Anne Allen

Bright Stars

Bright stars piercing the night with their clarity
Or shimmering through tree branches and distant cloud
What vastness and might you speak of!
What awesome power and beauty!

We look, we behold such majesty
Mind does not contain
The works of our Creator
And His great love for us

Stretch our arms wide
We who stand below in our smallness
Securely wrapped in the arms of God
Bright stars showing us His splendor

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

Moments

Oh, that time would stand still!
In those moments of bright clarity
Treasured in our hearts and
Seared in our memories

Of those we hold dear
For life and love and family
Friends and church gathered ‘round
God’s holy ground, simple and true

We open eyes to brilliant color
Ears to laughter and tears
A gentle touch and helping hands
Life’s essence … caught in a fleeting moment.

Charlotte-Anne Allen 2/25/2022

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

Reflections on Leaves

  • Events around us can stir us and carry us
  • We sometimes feel blown about and out of control
  • We gather ourselves as best we can
  • Picking ourselves back up can be difficult
  • Being walked all over can crush one’s spirit or feed resentment
  • Persistence and patience are nothing to sneeze at
  • We long to be swept away from uncomfortable or painful situations
  • A clean wash and fresh start breath life back in
  • May the end results of words and actions bring enrichment to others
  • Build your homes to be places of nurture, warmth, and comfort
  • Listen for the soft answers and quiet rustles to calm your soul
  • Be the fuel to encourage and lead
  • Look for positive opportunities in each season of change
  • Draw from the Source and show bright colors

From “Reflections from the Everyday”Charlotte-Anne Allen