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

Reflections on Christmas Trees

• Surround yourself with positive reminders
• Those positive reminders strengthen hope
• Decorations tell the story of God’s great love
• Keep Christ’s star ever on top to light the way
• Lights show the way and bring cheer and security
• We pray for messengers bringing good news of peace
• A safe place of rest is never too lowly
• Shelter and care are sometimes taken for granted
• The occupation of service is a universal call
• Watch over and guide those precious ones in your care
• Those who live humbly and compassionately are life’s greatest strength
• Like newborn babes and children… we seek nourishment
• Encourage each other and freely offer your all
• The constant evergreen love of God for us is the greatest of gifts

from “Reflections from the Everyday”
Charlotte-Anne Allen 12/12/2020

Hosea 14:8b (God said,) “I am like an evergreen cypress; from me comes your fruit.” NRSV … “I am like a flourishing juniper; your fruitfulness comes from me.” NIV

Isaiah 11:1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. NIV

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.

Windows of Our Hearts

fan electric_by Roy Muz_Unsplash

The hum of the big exhaust fan in the window of our upstairs hallway signaled the beginning of another summer evening. As night drew closer, the familiar voices and sounds of my family about the house or in the yard were comforting and familiar. In those days of yesteryear, I see myself stretched out on my bed or curled up on my window seat reading a good book or just watching life from my bedroom window. To this day these same things in my own home bring contentment and peace.

We always closed the windows and retreated to the cooler lower floor during the day as summer’s heat began to build around mid-morning. Then, as evening’s cool touch came, the windows were opened, and the fans began to draw out the warm air that had built up in our upstairs rooms through the day. I remember breathing deeply of the cool night’s air as it was drawn in and listening to the sounds of life… the voices of insects, tree frogs, and owls and the rhythm of our small-town. The refreshing coolness brought a sense of peace and renewal, especially if the day had been long or difficult.

The windows of our hearts can be like those rooms on hot summer days. Sometimes we close them – perhaps due to doubt, anger, or fear – as we seek to guard ourselves or to declare our own will. I know that when I am hurt, let down, angry, or disappointed I too tend to withdraw and shut off as much as possible from its source. This may bring some relief for a time, until there is room for healing and the opening of those windows.

As we beat against the ills we see, so that our ears are deafened to all else, God’s cool healing breath washes over our world. May we not fail to see and feel it! There is injustice in this world, but there is also the breath of God. Like those fans, as we open our hearts to God, His breath fills us and draws from us that which is stale and stifling… that which has caused hurt.

Have you considered the breath of God? As in the beginning of time, “then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” *

We are living beings, whom God loves, and He said it was very good. *

My prayer for our world is that we will know God’s refreshing and renewing breath. I pray that He will draw from us that which is stale and stifling, driven by hurt, and fill us with the hope of His Spirit.

* Genesis 1:31, 2:7

Reflections on Ice Cream

ice cream_strawberries_by kalhh_Pixabay

        • Trying new things enriches life
        • Take time to enjoy each taste
        • Begin any task with your best ingredients
        • The right combinations make all the difference
        • Transformations can bring much good
        • Sweetened words diffuse tension
        • Pain and grief may hide behind a cold facade
        • Kind acts and a loving presence can bring healing
        • Cool refreshment eases stress
        • An emptied bowl tells of a meal provided
        • Don’t forget the toppings
        • We look forward to the arrival of the Ice Cream Truck


from “Reflections from the Everyday” caallen

Message of Light

sunrise and dark trees ground_spot edited out

Please leave a message… Message me… Our phone rings or lights up; our computer chimes. Flash, blink, music, or buzz.

In our world today, messages have never been easier to send, or to receive. Text messages, emails, and audio-video chats and messages are now the norm for communication. The word “message” itself has become a common verb.

Many of us battle overflowing emails addresses or have given up to overwhelm… either watching them pile up or deleting all indiscriminately. The deluge of information, requests, and offers may lead to “brain freeze” when it comes to discerning what is needed, important, or positive.

So, when we come to those times when our world slows or stills, that spinning churning chaos which has become such a part of our daily lives may need time to slow as well! It’s like stepping into a brightly lit room from a darkened hallway. We blink, breath, and refocus. Our brains gain time and space for deeper reflection.

Whether a slow down time or a shift in normal routine is a result of conscious decision or thrust upon us unexpectedly, it presents a good opportunity. I am thankful for moments where I am able to better see and to receive the positive. Despite the stresses around me, it is like a pocket of calm in the tumble of activity.

I am reminded of Paul in the book of Acts as he stood before King Agrippa. He shared his story of meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus and reminded Agrippa of the words of the prophets and Moses, that the Messiah would suffer, would rise from the dead, and would bring the message of light to all people. * What a gift that message of light is! Just as we enter into a brightly lit room and pause to blink and refocus in order to better see what that light reveals around us… so do our times of reflection and thought allow us to settle closer to God, to receive His reassurance, presence, and peace… and to think of the great price He paid for it and the great love He has for us.

The people living in darkness have seen a great light! **

My prayer for us this week is that we would draw close to God, take notice of that incoming message of light, and be strengthened and comforted to meet the days ahead.

 

*Acts 26:22-23, **Matthew 4:15-16, Isaiah 9:2

Wintery Places

winter snow bush n heart_red outline

A dark night, I draw into my coat against the freezing wind and biting chill. My head aches from the cold air I draw in through my reddening nose. Memories of warmth and light seem dim, as does the path ahead…

Haven’t we all faced similar scenes in life’s journey?! Sometimes our dark nights come gradually, perhaps painfully, as those we love slowly leave us … whether through increasingly debilitating illness, addictions, mental or emotional challenges, or any number of things which result in that withdrawal. Other times we are slammed abruptly by a flying boulder which smashes all that we care about into a pile of unrecognizable debris. We are left feeling numb, angry, or broken.

How do we face life’s times of loss and the resulting debris left behind? It can be a long, cold, and lonely journey. God, who faithfully walks with me and carries me, gives me hope. Through Him, that sometimes-dimming light can grow brighter. He touches me with the joy of His presence.

I’m reminded of some favorite verses in the Song of Solomon. What a wonderful reminder this little-quoted and sometimes misunderstood book of the Bible is! God’s love poem to us!

For lo, the winter is past. The rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth. The time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. *

Like a warm scarf, God’s love wraps around me. I blink at the light shining through breaking clouds and find shelter from the driving wind. There is delight in the sparkle of new snow and clinging icicles. Friends and family bring comfort and fellowship. Warmth welcomes.

Through Jeremiah, God spoke a promise for us all:

The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, with lovingkindness I have drawn you. Again, I will build you and you shall be rebuilt… *

May we find in God’s love poem and His words of promise, comfort in our wintery places. Be encouraged.

*Song of Solomon 2:11-12; Jeremiah 31:3-4a

I Found a Treasure

sunrise_IMG_0887_blue dot edited out

I found a treasure shining bright
Among the rocks and weeds

Not of gold and jewels rare
But something born of seeds

In lowly places there it grew
It lifted its face to warmth of sun

And there upon the peaks and trails
I saw it beckon and began to run

Darkness did not overcome that glow
It shone anew as shining star

Through tossing waves and sliding sand
In sheltered valley or mountain far

A new day risen to setting sun and upon
Nights cool twinkle …I lifted my eyes

There now cradled in God’s great hand
Planted by One both pure and wise

I found a treasure shining bright
Discovered the gift of His great LOVE

* In loving memory of Ron Jeffries