Free to Be

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The car’s packed and we’re heading down the road to new adventures! …I remember my anticipation as a teen going off to college. Along with some normal anxiety, I looked forward to having my own schedule and being able to make my own decisions. I was free to strike out on my own. Free to be me… Rather a scary thought as I look back on that, but my parents and others had prepared me well and my faith in God was real and strong. Growing and maturing is an important step in life.

Free to be. Free to make choices. Free to consider future and present actions… But isn’t it also easy during that pursuit to become too self-focused, missing out on the richness and satisfaction of reaching outward in service and in working with others? We’ve all heard the clamor of the world. “He said…” “She did…” “That’s a lie…” “You deserve…” Perhaps I am just more aware as I’ve gotten older, but selfishness often seems to be encouraged. Talking at once seems to be the norm. People loudly espouse their agenda, poisonous words tearing others apart, hurting and demeaning everyone.

As I discovered during my college days, along with freedom comes new responsibility, greater accountability and consideration of others. As Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians, “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. * In our freedom, I pray that we will remember the element of respect, building up and caring for others, rather than tearing down and destroying.

Of encouragement to me is the observation that when we face common challenges or tragedies, we begin to gain a sense of our shared humanity. When we take time to notice and acknowledge people as important and valued, then differing perspectives, needs, or goals no longer seem as significant. When we reconsider harsh words, there are fewer times to regret. When we choose positive actions, then growth and reconciliation are made possible. When we allow change in our own thinking and perspective, we discover room for compassion.

*1 Corinthians 10:23

 

Reflections on Mountains

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  • We hike along life’s steep trails.
  • Cliffs and crags can appear daunting
  • We find shelter and rest in quiet coves
  • Struggles and death come as dark valleys
  • We flee and hide within when there is danger
  • Understanding comes when light casts its rays over the peaks
  • Gazing over broad vistas improves our perspective
  • Improved perspective brings communion
  • One step at a time to achieve the goal
  • Rocks can assist our climb

Open

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Open heart now do we heed
Understanding gain

A treasure box with gifts to share
Revealing many things

Open mouth what do we speak
In kindness wisdom not in folly

Careful words produced with thought
Teaching truth and life

Open ears what do we hear
To know the words just spoken

Among the mad uproar and chaos
Listening and discerning

Open eyes what do we see
Wondrous things and tragedy

Hold outheld hands to offer aid
Touching hurt and bringing healing

Open doors we knock in faith
Pass through gates of life

Walking leaping now made right
Prisoners no more

Open

From “My Words to Live By” c-a allen

Southern Rhythms

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Anna Grace and Joseph Lee
Mary Jane and Patrick James
Polly Sue and Charles Thomas

Southern names with long traditions
Folks and family and ties that bind
…Echoes too of days gone by

Celebrations and building community
Proudly looking to new tomorrows
Trading stories and raising kids

Long warm summers and cooling days
Hard-working lives and close-knit ways
Country folks and city slickers

Local grills and jawing guys
Department store sales to catch the eye
Lazy times and long day’s work

Fishing and farming
Reunions and schooling
Parades and speeches for passers-by

Sunday worship and Christmas plays
Small hometowns and storefront displays
Dusty roads and rain-filled skies

Life’s rhythm like swaying trees
Flowing creeks and drifting clouds
Voices echo… fade and grow

Reflections on Dirt

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 This place where we are planted needs nourishment
• As we are nourished, we grow
• Sometimes things are rocky, and it is difficult for our roots to grow
• Our dirt can become toxic and in need of cleansing
• Tensions and stress can be released by working in the soil
• For positive results plant and water regularly
• There are many byways and wonders within the earth
• These ways can be places of peril or roads to safety
• Carefully tend your homeplace which is your support and foundation
• The Gardener watches over the plants in His garden

Reflections on Reflections

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Sometimes we see things sharply and clearly
• On other occasions all is dark and clouded
• What we see is not always what others see
• What others see may be the opposite of our own observations
• Exaggerated reflections bring fun laughter
• Reflected images give us new perspectives
• Considering other perspectives is beneficial to all
• Our actions and words are a reflection of our character
• Struggles and joys are expressed in what we say and do
• Thoughtful reflection often yields positive outcomes