Never


“Well, I never!”

Have you ever heard or expressed these same words? When taken by surprise, when the unexpected or unplanned hits us head-on, this simple phrase expresses it all! Fill in the blank.

Never, never, never… A word that can express relief, disappointment, anger, conviction, and so much more.

I never have to go there again!

– We never thought they would do such a thing.

I’m never going to talk to him again!

I’ll never give up.

Sometimes “never” is a positive word, a practical expression of the end of use for some item (That’ll never come clean or That can never be repaired). At other times “never” is a call of desperation. Think of the times when you’ve worked to complete, learn, or do something and you reach the point when out of frustration or exhaustion you just think, “I’ll never get this done!” When we reach such low points, “never” can loom its head and drive our thoughts downward. We struggle with self-doubt, need, or depression… echoes of The Raven’s “nevermore”!

How do we cope when our thoughts take a plunge?! When “never” seems like a dark storm approaching? Pausing for some quiet time and prayer sure helps. It would be so nice to have some support too, someone to help out or to be a sounding board and understanding presence.

That reminds me of when Jesus spoke of satisfying hunger and thirst, not just physical satisfaction but a deeper hunger and thirst for a full and significant life. He knows our need for forgiveness of wrongs, for peace and happiness, and for God. Jesus was saying that all who come to him will never go hungry or thirsty for what really matters in life. He will never turn anyone away who comes to him. Now those are some good “never-s”! *

As we encounter our “never”, surprised by the unexpected or unplanned, may we be drawn to God’s “ever” …ever with us and ever satisfying our greatest longings and needs.

*John 6:35-37
Charlotte-Anne Allen

God is My Hour

In prayer walking with you, oh God
Bowing before You; humbly I fall
Secure in Your presence
Whatever will come

God is my hour

Each minute and second
Our time is revealed
Across ocean’s vastness
Upon this earth

God is my hour

In strength or in weakness
God, you give all that I need
You hold me securely as I turn to You
… Life’s offer to One Who Knows

God is my hour

Morning rise, full of light
Evening come, darkness starshine
Through each day and blackest night
Whatever besets me…

God is my hour

For family, friends, and community
Needy world, where’er I’m found
Thanks be raised that God is here
Faith now offered; comfort bring

God is my hour

To my pastor, Mark Reece, Jr, as he steps out in service
and to all who seek God. Be encouraged.
– Charlotte-Anne Allen

Spam!

“What’s this?” we say
“And that, and that?!
“You’ve won!” says the message
(… a chance to buy this).

New gutters anyone?
Perhaps pay off your loan.
Check out this health package
Now buy these cool clothes!

Come one, come all
Let’s fill up your email
The more the merrier!
5 – 10 – 30 at one wack

No, it’s not spiced ham
But a flood at the gate
Watch for misspellings
And wish them good-bye

No party at this address
Like uninvited mosquitoes
We’ll filter and block
And wish them away

Email, text, phone, or posts
Ahh, that’s done! Good to go.
No more, no more
… Wait. What’s that?

Gracious Grace

Crash! “Oh, no! I didn’t know that was there!”
“Goodness gracious! What happened now?!”
Responding with good grace we cleaned up the mess together.

Ever been in a situation like that? … I was thinking about how we use the words grace and gracious in so many ways. Handy for many circumstances! “Grace” is the middle name we gave our daughter and “gracious” is literally “filled with God’s grace”. They are beautiful words rich in meaning.

What thoughts or pictures do these two words bring to your mind? Perhaps you think of love, kindness, goodwill, forgiveness, generosity, and maybe a certain ease or elegance…

Can you think of some positive uses of these words? Maybe you have another saying or proverb. Here in the south, we “say grace” when we offer thanks to God before a meal. We are grateful when we have “gracious plenty”, whether that is something physical, emotional, or spiritual. A person’s “saving grace” is some quality about them that balances or makes up for not-so-great qualities. Responding “with good grace”, with patience and politeness, is a good attribute to pursue! Whom of us have not appreciated a “grace period” for some overdue or forgotten responsibility or chore? “Goodness gracious” fills many a need for expressions of surprise, dismay, or awe… Sometimes there are just no other words.

What about some other phrases that express our needs or mistakes?! “By the grace of God” acknowledges our own need for God, as well as our humility and our compassion for others who are in difficult circumstances. We all “fall from grace” at times, losing favor or the liking of others, whether it is a word misspoken or unsaid, miscommunication, or any number of perceived or real shortcomings.

I can relate to Paul as he talked about grace in his letters to the church in Corinth. He said, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect” *(1 Corinthians 15:10). He reminds us that it’s God’s grace that brings life and that we need to extend that grace to others. Paul called this the “grace of giving”. Isn’t that a wonderful way of putting it?!

But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
2 Corinthians 8:7

My prayers for us all is that even as we receive God’s awesome gift of grace, we will also excel in this grace of giving.

Charlotte-Anne Allen

Share your thoughts!

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

Reflections on Walking Canes

• Consider wisely what you lean on
• A strong base lends support for the work at hand
• There are times to step back to relieve pressure
• Relieving pressure allows room for healing and rest
• It’s good to have something handy to whack with when needed
• Whack away those doubts and fears
• Making good choices requires forethought and regular practice
• When temptation comes, keep a firm grasp on positive values
• Choose the right material to build character and integrity
• It is good to unload our worries to a listening ear
• Whether climbing peaks or walking across the room, a supportive friend is welcome
• Taking the weight off our shoulders brings great relief
• Shepherds both guide and protect with their staff
• God our Shepherd walks with us and shines through our weakness

Charlotte-Anne Allen

Psalm 23:4 – Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

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

Courage

A heart beating strong
Not one to give up

Inspired… Enheartened
In fear to step out and
Now do what is hard

Assured in spirit
Raise hope, calm hearts
Be steadfast and sure

Through faith prevail
Standing bold and firm

Courage

From “My Words to Live By”
Charlotte-Anne Allen 12/04/2021

Psalm 31:22a, 24a – “But you [O LORD] heard my supplications when I cried out to you for help… [All you] be strong, and let your heart take courage…

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.

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