Our Tongue

Sword – Mighty weapon to defend from harm
… Or lethal rod to destroy and cut

Log – Strong support to build and shelter
… Or battering ram to pummel and rend

Pen – Words of encouragement and knowledge
… Or scathing ridicule and lies

Hammer – To join, unify, and bind
… Or offer violence to break and tear

Brush – Smooth and untangle woeful thoughts
… Or jerk and beat and cause only pain

Paint – Beauty flowing from careful application
… Or sprays of anger and frustration

For help or harm
… We have that choice

Think first, ponder greatly
Seek wisdom and grace

Before wielding
that powerful tongue!

Right Here, Right Now

“Thank you, God, for this day. Be with me and guide me.” These and similar thoughts and prayers are my daily morning greeting.

Whether we’re someone who awakens quickly, fully alert and moving, or are someone who slowly regains consciousness through blurry eyes and reluctant body where moving is concerned, we all have in common our needs or plans for the day.

With each day’s beginning, we also have a choice about our attitude and our outlook. Our thoughts and responses will likely follow what we have chosen to focus on. Are we dwelling on the negative? Do we make a conscious commitment to see the positive? I am learning to capture the bright spots, to be more aware of them, and to be thankful for those moments.

As I stood at my kitchen sink one day, humming to myself as I washed dishes, I was suddenly aware that I was happy. There had been frustrations earlier with my office work. I was concerned about the health of some family members. There were any number of things to get me down. But “right here, right now” I was happy. I repeated that to myself and smiled, and I thanked God for the “right here, right now” times. I am thankful for moments when I can refocus and trust that God walks with me, and I with him, when my focus turns away from stressful things and rests in Him.

In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he urged people to think on things that are good and positive. He urged them not to worry but to rejoice and to know that God was near and that His peace would guard our hearts and minds. * These words themselves are cause for happiness and hope.

How many times have we rushed on to the next thing without fully appreciating or acknowledging our spots of joy and happiness? Yes, bad things happen. Yes, some days are exhausting. People die or face pain, frustration, or tragedy… Then too, there are the powerful moments, when we realize in the “right here, right now” that happiness and peace comes from our great and loving God and His presence with us. Memories and moments can burst upon us and make us smile, even through our tears, and laugh and know God’s awesome love in the midst of it all.

My prayers for us all are to gather those moments and smile and exclaim to ourselves, “right here, right now… I’m happy.” God bless.

*Phillipians 4:4-9

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

Oink Oink, Moo, Vrrmm … Oh God!

pigs two piglets-by skeeze_Pixabay

“Oink-oink, moo, woof-woof, meow!” As the toy animals bound about the room, I smile and watch the interaction with the parents. “Vrrmm” they exclaim as another toy bounces off the couch or across the floor. Are you smiling too as you see this in your own mind’s eye?! Perhaps you too see the pig, the cow, the dog, or the cat. Here comes the toy car or favorite truck! The joyful play of a young child is a thing of wonder.

In my work with preschoolers, as a speech-language pathologist, I have seen that great communication is possible even without words. The process of learning to use words to communicate can be a challenge for them and their families. Sometimes a single simple word – a name, a “wow,” or an “uh-oh” – says it all! Having options other than their voice is important too. A gesture, a picture, or an electronic voice can also give assistance and success.

There have been times in my own life when I simply had no words to express my deepest feelings. Whether faced with unexpected joy or with great sorrow or hurt, I could only feel. When I see a magnificent display of God’s world, perhaps a sunrise, a rainbow, or a grand vista, my whole being lights up… “How beautiful!” In times of tragedy when the hurt and grief is too great, my mind and body are torn.

Some moments I treasure for myself. Some moments I am not ready or able to share… Some moments I want to and need to share, but I just have no words.

How, in our need, can we communicate what we are thinking or feeling when our insides are so scrambled up, especially when we are hurting or angry? Just as a young child expresses themselves, a simple “wow” and “uh-oh” can convey a lot. The parent or caregiver, who knows and understands their child, can supply the needed words. Silence speaks as well.

We too have a Helper, someone who speaks for us to God, who knows and understands us. I am reminded of a verse from the book of Romans. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” (NIV) *

Isn’t that encouraging?! We have a voice and an Advocate*. We do not have to stress over expressing ourselves to God. A simple “Oh, God” or just resting in silence as He hears our heart is sufficient.

I am so thankful to God who understands us all. We are His children, sometimes joyously bounding about the room with our “oink-oinks” or “vrrmms” or other times curled upon ourselves in voiceless pain. Whether our words pour out to Him in great torrents, with simple utterance, or are voiceless… He gets it!

My prayer for us today is that we may be encouraged that He hears us and knows us, and that we can come before Him as a little child.

*Romans 8:26, John 14:16-17

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

In the Quiet of Your Presence

Grand Tetons_Sep 2017_by Kathy Owen

Photo by Kathy Owen
Grand Tetons

In the quiet of your presence
Come sit with me
My companion
During loss and distress
Pain anger despair

In the quiet of your presence
The touch of your hand
A welcoming shoulder
For tears grief
For memories laughter

In the quiet of your presence
Great storms tumult
And pounding waves
In fear anguish
Drawn to your haven

In the quiet of your presence
Oh whys and what nows
No and no and no
Reef of danger or
Rock of safety

In the quiet of your presence
Blessed stillness
Washed
By shared tears
Battered and worn

In the quiet of your presence
Oh God!
Hold me
For I am bereft
Cold lost alone

Resting
In the quiet of your presence

DIGGING IN MY TOES!

bare feet from back_wet_jeans_105776_pexels

Ah! The joy of releasing tired, hot feet from the confines of shoes and socks! My mom and I used to kid about our “hillbilly blood” because our shoes inevitably fell off when we came home. Warm summer rain showers were the perfect opportunity for my brothers and me to splash barefoot up and down our gravel drive in town. On summer trips with the family, I remember digging my toes into the soft warm dirt of my grandparents’ country drive. Have you ever walked through a wet vegetable garden and ended up doubling the thickness of the soles of your shoes with mud?! Just walking becomes an effort.

Sometimes our lives get like that, mired down with stuff that drags us down and overwhelms. We splash barefoot before God in our pain and doubt and it is difficult to see joy. When His wonderful grace and love showers down upon us, we in our weariness do not always see it. We may be unable to receive until it has had time to soak in. I love the words of the psalmist who wrote, (God) lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. * Like on those warm summer days, we can dig our toes into the strength of His being. God lifts us up and sets us on solid ground. What joy and release when we stand with Him in faith, free of the confines of life which weigh us down!

* Psalm 40:2