Care

“I’ll be back in a little while,” my mom would say, as she headed out the door to check on some neighbor. They would often call on “Ms. Marge” with questions or concerns about their health, perhaps needing their blood pressure checked, and my mother was always attentive. With her nursing background, we sometimes referred to her as “the neighborhood nurse.” She would make sure they were alright or encourage them to get to the doctor’s office, often taking them herself. My mom was a very caring and giving person.

We are each a part of “community,” and it is by reaching out to each other, using our unique abilities or interests to support and encourage, that we find fulfillment. Whether in times of unrest and difficulty or in everyday routines, how will we rise to the opportunities that we encounter? How will we give and receive care, and so allow God’s light to shine?

In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, he spoke of his own ministry. “…But we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children. So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.”

I think of my family, friends, and church who have offered their presence, resources, fellowship, practical help, and prayers. What an encouragement! How overwhelmed, humbled, and thankful I have been for them. In big and small ways, we care for each other. It can be hard not to compare ourselves to what others are able to do, can’t it? I’m glad to be able to offer what I can and to express my gratitude when that care is offered to me.

Paul, this time to the Galatians, reminds us, “So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all…” May our words and our actions speak God’s voice, and may we receive and offer grace when we fall short.

My prayer is that we do not miss those opportunities amid the rush and whirl of our daily activities… God bless. Be content.

*1 Thessalonians 2:7b-8, Galatians 6:10

Forecast

Clear today and not a cloud,
The sun is warm, and body relaxed.
When life is good, I walk about,
And pause to give my thanks.

Sometimes the fog descends on me.
It’s hard to see ahead.
Gloomy thoughts blot out the sun,
And anxiety hovers near!

The wind will often tear and break.
It throws us for a loop!
What’s down is up; all now is snarled,
And chaos strives to reign.

When frigid times do freeze my brain
I find I cannot think at all.
Pain or stress, or simply choices,
Cause me to become immobile!

Heatwaves come and sunrays fry.
No relief in sight amid the drought,
But seeking hope when growing parched.
Where is water to be found?

Clearing air, shows me the way.
Cool soft breezes, touched by friends.
Calming care, to lift and sooth.
Helping hands, to offer aid.

Sacrifice

Giving selflessly is not always convenient.
When done in love, this is no loss!

Offered in laughter, pain, or sweat,
The greatest sacrifice is self.

Look then at our world around us,
At those who give in sacrifice,

Parent’s heart or family’s bond
Friendships dear or stranger’s face.

Giving brings the greatest gains,
Healing, helping, lifting spirits.

True sacrifice… It takes more effort
And it comes from deep within.

Love’s celebration. Glad thanksgiving
Greatest sacrifice … Savior’s touch

Cleaning

“Rumble-rumble, screech, thump!” My mom cocked her head toward the ceiling as she listened to the sounds of my room-cleaning upstairs. I loved to re-arrange my furniture! I well remember our regular Saturday cleaning routine, a requirement before we could pursue other interests, and especially the more thorough spring or fall cleanings.

Howevermuch we may grumble about the cleaning process, or perhaps like some of us who enjoy it, there is great satisfaction in a job completed. Something accomplished!

For everyday cleaning, it’s amazing what even a few minutes of straightening or putting away things can do. Lost or misplaced items are re-discovered, and we no longer have to hunt for them. Dirty clothes in the hamper. Clean dishes put up. A spot of clutter removed. Trash carried out…

Then there is the deep cleaning, removing accumulated dust and grim of everyday living and use. It requires more effort and intentional planning. Neglecting the everyday or more frequent cleaning can make that job a lot harder too!

This makes me think of “heart cleaning.” Am I as conscious of the condition of my heart, such as my thoughts and intentions or faith, as I am of my home or other surroundings? The psalmist pled, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.” * Clean or pure; not polluted or filthy. He knew that this was a “deep cleaning” job! This was going to require a lot of help!

It’s so easy to let things accumulate isn’t it? Just like dust or clutter can build up in our home, it can also build up within us. That dissatisfaction or irritation. A wayward word. An apology never offered. An unhealthy thought or grudge. The list can be long!

Just like the everyday cleaning of our home or other places, caring for our daily heart cleaning is a positive step and builds our relationship with God, who knows us best. Paul called attention to our need for the day’s accounting when he cautioned us to not let the sun go down on our anger. *

It’s hard for me to turn loose of things sometimes. When things do accumulate or bowl us over, and they will at times, and when those seasons arrive for the deep cleaning, we don’t have to go it alone. God hears our call and pulls out the heavy-duty cleaners, creating “a new and right spirit” within. My prayer and anticipation for us is that we will invite Him to come on in, and so welcome a new season.

*Psalm 51:10, Ephesians 4:26

Majesty, Power, and New Life

Majesty.” That’s not a word that we use often is it? When we do, it is usually associated with some chosen leader or self-imposed ruler and the power they represent. We may use this word too, when describing spectacular scenes and acts of nature.

I am thinking today of the majesty of life itself, the awesome and most wonderful spark which cannot be duplicated by humankind and which is expressed in living things. “And it was good… And it was very good!” the book of Genesis proclaims.

We celebrate new life in the birth of children to family and friends… We treasure the life of our animal companions… And we depend on the life which rises from the soil and provides us with our daily food. There is majesty in the love of God. There is freedom in the discovery of God’s power and presence.

The writer of Chronicles expresses God’s majesty so well in David’s prayer:
10 David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying, “Praise be to you, Lord, the God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. 11 Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours… You are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. 13 Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name. *1 Chronicles 29:10-13

How often do I set aside my anxieties to simply sit in God’s presence? When do I release all my expectations and desires to His care? Do I offer up thanksgiving when things seem to be falling apart, when illness or economic stressors loom large? What about those times when I just feel so alone or abandoned? … These are all things which grow large in our eyes, hearts, and mind!

Yet, there’s God. Just God. He sits in His holiness and draws us to shelter on His lap, as a parent holds their child. He comforts us, protects us, and loves us anyway. He is this and more. I am so thankful for Him! This is my prayer. That we will allow God to draw us to His majesty each day. May we experience his mighty power, be comforted, and raise our heart in thanksgiving. May we take that spirit of God’s majesty with us, reminders to be thankful and to fill ourselves with His wonder.

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

Reflections on Telephones

phone wood background_Jessica Lewis_pexels

• Communication is a circle not a one-way line
• The gift of language is a foundation upon which all is built
• Fruitful communication requires more than one sender 
• Take care not to spend all your time in self-absorption
• Touch another life in positive support and compassion
• Affirm worth and heed subtle calls for help
• Words once spewed from our mouth cannot be recovered
• Flashy ads and gadgets can distract us from what matters
• Seek knowledge with careful thought
• Value learning for a fuller and richer life
• When dark clouds gather we need each other
• Giving someone your full attention is priceless
• The sound of a caring voice can bring sunshine to a life
• Listen to God who hears our calls

from “Reflections from the Everyday”  by caallen

Look Up!

sky n contrails_countryside-384624_1280_Skitterians_pixabay

“Listen! What’s that?!” The child that was me craned her neck and shielded her eyes as she searched the sky for a passing airplane or helicopter… If conditions were right, I could follow the trails of high-flying jets or passenger planes as they painted a pattern through the air. I sometimes felt a little dizzy as I focused on the world above me.

There were so many things to discover while looking up, elusive songbirds in the trees, majestic mountain ranges as we traveled for a weekend of camping, and ever-changing cloud formations to catch the imagination. Church steeples all around rose above the surrounding buildings… proclaiming the hour, chiming music, or directing our eyes and thoughts to heaven above.

The Bible uses a lot of images about “looking up” and “going up.” That makes a lot of sense doesn’t it, as we think of God on high?! A favorite verse from the Book of Psalms, (a “Song of Ascents” that was sung as people went up to worship) says, I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.*  Jesus looked up when praying to his Father, when blessing the loaves and fish, and when giving thanks.

When I look up into the sky by day or night or up into a majestic old tree, there is a sense of being a part of a great thing. As I look out and up at rolling mountain ranges, I am a small speck in God’s vastness. Think back or imagine yourself as a small child looking up at your parents, teachers, or others. The whole world takes on a different perspective!

I think too of how I can be focused on my own thoughts or schedule and I fail to look up and see others around me, to be aware of their needs, struggles, or celebrations. Sometimes I have allowed my self-focus to block out my awareness of others. In the book of Luke there is a story about a short man named Zacchaeus who had difficulty seeing too.* I think his difficulty involved more than his height! When Jesus came into into the town of Jericho, he looked up and saw Zacchaeus in a tree craning his neck to catch a glimpse of Jesus. Jesus saw more than the outside of Zacchaeus perched in that tree, didn’t he?! When Jesus offered him fellowship, Zacchaeus’ life took a dramatic turn. After he came down from that tree, he looked up and found Jesus who showed him a better way and who saw him as a person of value and worth.

My prayer for us is that we will look up and see God ever before us. May he open our eyes and widen our view so that we can see the worth and value of others, just as Jesus looked up and saw Zacchaeus. In so doing, perhaps we will begin to hear, above the roofs and the clamor of the world, the chiming of music… and to give and receive the gift of fellowship. Look up!

Psalm 121:1, Luke 19 

Reflections on Chairs

Chair on a porch_pixabay

• A good foundation lends strength to the outcome
• We need each other for support
• Sometimes we need a little help getting to our feet
• Adding a personal touch makes a positive difference
• Chairs can be a place of gathering
• Welcome others to a place of rest
• A secure lap brings much comfort
• Balance work and relaxation
• Reliability is an important feature
• The Chairmaker brings strength and encouragement

From “Reflections from the Everyday”