Reflections on Jigsaw Puzzles

• Giving does not divide, rather it multiplies and nourishes
• Generosity in sharing what you have grows blessings for all
• Disregarding the value of others brings heartache and misunderstandings
• Gather together what is needed to guide you
• Our lives are a rich mosaic of colors and patterns
• Look for the beauty in small things as well as grand displays
• The beauty of a life brought to wholeness gives us hope
• God will comfort us in our brokenness
• We often struggle when we cannot see the whole picture
• Looking at all perspectives and options can help gain clarity
• Receiving memories shared by others is like finding missing puzzle pieces
• Apply yourself to learning and to gaining skills bit-by-bit
• Trying new things adds color and interest
• When all is dashed to pieces, there is God to gather us

From “Reflections from the Everyday” – Charlotte-Anne Allen

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

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

Stay in Touch!

“It’s good to see you!” “How are you doing now?”

“See you soon!” “Stay in touch!”

Our desire or need for connectedness is expressed in many ways. It can be challenging to build and to maintain relationships with family and friends when separated by distance or circumstances! Those times when we can talk or correspond with each other bring us closer together… for encouragement, for enjoyment, to share, and to support each other. Working or serving together with others provides opportunities to deepen friendships and to develop new ones.

When my cousin and I get on the phone to each other, we usually talk for at least an hour… catching up, sharing thoughts, and lending support. We do not often get to see each other, as we live in different states, but when we do get together then we talk for hours. Close relationships are special! I am reminded of a verse in the book of Proverbs that says, “A friend loves at all times, and kinsfolk are born to share adversity.” Relationship rises above differences and hardship.

Can you imagine building a positive relationship without staying in touch with that person? What if we rarely or never really talked to them about things that matter? How would they know that we care? Without desire and commitment, there would be no way to develop lasting friendships.

The same is true with our relationship to God, isn’t it? Jesus told his disciples, “I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.” Can you imagine that?! I’m so glad that God wants a relationship with us! As we build closer connections to God, through prayer, our faith community, and by studying His Word, we learn more about Him. We grow in our own faith and our words and actions let others know that we care.

My prayers for each of us – busy, stressed, struggling, thankful – are that we may rise each morning and lie down each evening knowing that we have a faithful friend in God, who is always by our side. Stay in touch!

*Proverbs 17:17, John 15:15, Luke 11:2

Reflections on Clouds

  • Many things contribute to our formation
  • We choose to be cooling and soothing or a disappointing wet blanket
  • It takes energy and intention to encourage and build up those around us
  • Seasons of storms are part of life
  • Change springs upon us or silently grows
  • We sometimes drift far from home
  • Rising to challenges can be very difficult
  • As experience accumulates, we are better able to nourish others
  • We seek to shield those we love from hurt and harm
  • A protective covering and caring arms bring comfort and strength
  • Settling down on a quiet slow day brings great contentment
  • A day to drift brings peace and releases stress
  • Celebration is great when darkness and strife are broken
  • Like light bursting through dark clouds, let God shine through you

from “Reflections from the Everyday” c-a allen

When clouds are full, they empty rain on the earth” Ecclesiastes11:3

Good Scents

Memories awakened
Stories told
Contentment reigns
When good scents unfold

Indoors and out
Eyes shut
Breathe deeply
Open mind’s door, and smile

Bold cinnamon and apple pie
Minty goodness and lemonade
Bubbling stews and filling soups
Herbal teas and fragrant coffee

Rain on earth and garden’s care
Freshly cut grass and flower’s bloom
Sharp freshness of new-fallen snow
Ocean breeze and mountain stream

Clean laundry and sheets on the bed
Suds in dish water and lotion for hands
Sweet smell of a child snuggled close
Scents to comfort and renew … Good scents!

New Song

Like this, and this… Now move these fingers. As my beginner self practices the fingering and chords on my classical guitar, I move slowly. Learning a new piece takes time and attention, whatever the difficulty level may be for that person. It’s not enough just to know the notes but takes so much more into consideration, such as movement across the strings and how to play each phrase. It requires effort and dedication over time to make the whole piece beautiful and meaningful, knowing that there will be mistakes but persevering and doing our best. Then too, it is not so much the level of accomplishment as it is the satisfaction it brings to oneself and to others. This makes it fun and exciting.

Encountering new things is a regular part of life. What new things get you excited? Is it that new car smell, an anticipated job, a relationship, or a baby and new life? Maybe you are looking forward to a time of growth, learning a new skill, gaining knowledge, or an opportunity to serve. New things and new times can be hard and unwanted too. Maybe we’re just ready to shed stressful experiences and move forward. As I grow older, there are more things to miss but there are also more things to treasure. Faith in God, prayer, community, and family are vital supports when facing new situations. Working through new things can be a long process.

What if I just continued to play the same guitar piece or practiced the same scales over-and-over without using them to improve my music… never learned new pieces? I imagine that boredom or apathy would sneak in, and I may give it up completely. Where would I be if I just focused on my mistakes and my missed practice, or if I let my enjoyment be affected by feelings of not being good enough? Satisfaction and contentment come, not just from what we gain through our new experiences, but what we can also give to others.

My prayer is that we will be as new songs each day, that we praise God for his great love as He holds us through our pain and through our joy, and that we give even as we gain… May our lives be as beautiful music in His hands.

He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God…
Psalm 40:3

Charlotte-Anne Allen 1/1/2022

Shepherd

The Shepherd cares for you and me
Protector, guide, and great provider
God’s words spoken since time began
To prophets and kings who guided the sheep

Near Bethlehem town that starry night
A host of angels brought good news,
To humble shepherds who watched their flock,
Of a new ruler born to shepherd us all

They quickly went and found him there
The Christ Child born to humble home
Departing then they joyfully told
The amazing story… He’s here, he’s come!

Follow the Good Shepherd, source of all life
Who brought us hope to share with all
Shepherds we too, now care for His flock and
Remember the story of that first Christmas night

Charlotte-Anne Allen 12/25/2021

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…