Reflection on Soot

• Watch what you touch as it may stick to you
• Accumulated experiences shape and form us
• Heated words can burn up friendships
• Act wisely and think to avoid spreading harm
• Pain and struggle can contribute to unhealthy buildup
• Uncontrolled anger spews hurt upon all around
• Miscommunication causes frustration and estrangement
• Covering up mistakes reflects insecurity
• Honesty and humility help to clear the air
• Tough things in life require hard work to overcome
• Uplifting music covers encourages and soothes
• Caring acts grow from compassionate hearts
• Daily prayer is like a good cleaning
• God is our chimney sweep

From “Reflections from the Everyday”
Charlotte-Anne Allen

Vistas

Looking out upon such vistas
Endless vault of sky above
Sunshine’s glow and feathery clouds
Or stormy and heavy laden with rain
Night’s darkness broken by heaven’s shine

The earth spreads ever before us
Rolling hills and shaded byways
Surging seas and sandy beaches
And the packed mass of humanity
Rushing past upon busy highways

Light’s beacon beckons life
Sometimes elusive and sometimes bold
Calls us and draws us to security
To calm and quiet our anxious thoughts
Come closer breathe deeply

God’s arms to enfold us.
He weeps. He laughs.
He comforts. He strengthens.
We look upon eternal vistas
And give Him thanks and praise.

Beginnings

“Yaaay!!!” I joined the mob of other kids streaming from the school. Faces were excited and energy was high. The beginning of summer vacation was a long-awaited event! Thoughts of free time, lazy mornings, and summer events filled our minds. Visits to relatives, camping trips, fresh garden food, and (for me) frequent travel to the local libraries to keep my summer reading stack replenished were welcome plans. I still look forward to the warm weather and the change of pace that this season brings. Each season in life is a time of new beginnings.

The Bible is full of stories of beginnings. Some of them were very hard and others were most welcome. What do I do with my beginnings? Times change and events impact our lives, with my family (births, farewells, deaths) … in my work (saying good-bye to a child I have worked with and their family) … my church (as I move from one area of service or commitment to another) … and in the changing responsibilities and seasons throughout the year. Endings mark beginnings.

What thoughts do you have about your own beginnings? As in the excitement of summer, resolve to enter with a positive attitude and assurance of God’s presence and guidance for whatever may come. Whether our beginnings are marked with anticipation or with anxiety, we can take courage.

Ecclesiastes chapter three begins with acknowledgement that “for everything there is a season,” times for beginnings and endings… and new beginnings, and so life goes on. The writer continues with,

What gain have the workers from their toil?
I have seen the business that God has given to everyone to be busy with.
He has made everything suitable for its time.
Moreover, he has put a sense of past and future into their minds…
I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy
and enjoy themselves as long as they live.
Moreover, it is God’s gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil.” *

As we move with intent in our work and in our rest, I hope that we can look with anticipation and interest. My prayers are that we will take comfort, even excitement, and be strengthened as we face new beginning through our more challenging times. May we remember and know afresh God’s presence with us. As we come to Him in prayer and give thanks for His gifts each day, may we be blessed through our beginnings.

*Ecclesiastes 3:1, 9-12

What’s Up?

What’s up?” I say in greeting you,
In comfortable companionship.

Just hanging out and sharing life
Now there’s no rush with you and me.

Oh, nothing much,” …but some days are long,
Going here… Doing this and that.

Just for now, let’s take a breather.
So, what is up with you?

With friends who care, we can be ourselves
And share our time and space.

To hear each other and really listen,
Offering support and being a presence.

What’s up?” we say in recognition,
Doing this thing called life together.

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.

Reflections on Garden Trowels

  • Use your life as a tool for good
  • Silence can be an uncomfortable hole that we try to fill
  • Being too focused on making your point can stop your ears from truly listening
  • Bad habits can wrap themselves around us like roots
  • Covered up rot is still rot
  • Allow removal of hurtful and negative practices
  • Clods must be broken up for the ground to be softened
  • Space provides room for growth
  • What we put in our lives influences what is produced
  • Plant good ideas and strong character
  • Avoiding work is like leaving a tool to rust in the rain
  • Dig and cultivate to produce nourishment for all
  • Hold tightly to values, truth, and faith
  • We get a better handle on the Word by reading it often

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

Hearken

Soft rustle at woodland’s edge
Shyly peering out at winter’s passing

Long slumbering beneath earth’s cold bite
Now reaching out a questing toe

Chill breezes steal day’s brief warmth
And residents shiver in protected nooks

Frost yet bites tender growth
Then yields to dawn’s new light

Nostrils raise to scent and tread
And life stirs within seed and soil

Rain-washed earth and ways are
Streaked with plants’ golden offerings

Stone and wood yield welcomed warmth
Hearken, hearken …

Reflections on Mountain Trails

• Breathe deeply and fully as you move through each day
• Stout support is important when faced with slippery slopes
• Persevere through difficult spots
• When the way is uncertain pause, wait, and pray
• Those who go before us make our own destinations possible
• Be sure of the one you are following
• To avoid danger or loss be aware of the path
• Follow the signs when you need to change directions
• Be alert for snares along the way
• Making hard decisions not to follow poor leadership brings reward
• The narrow road may climb and twist, but the crest is sweet
• Easy stretches are welcomed times to catch our breath
• A cloudless sky and shining sun warm the spirit
• Quiet hush and cool mists bring peace to the soul who listens
• As you pass through golden meadows, remember life’s simple treasures
• God is like a cool drink from a mountain stream

from “Reflections from the Everyday”