Junk Drawer

A treasure trove!
What great delight
To re-discover things long forgotten

To dig and rummage
And sift things about
Some wooden matches and screws and tacks

Where’s the thingamabob?
Oh wow, I forgot I had that!
And this will be handy to hang things up

Yay! Here’s the screwdriver
I’ve found my best scissors!
What in the world! Now what is this?…

I’m just not quite sure
There’s really no clue
Can’t throw that away, until I know!

Indeed, one day soon
Surely, before very long
It will all be sorted as I clear some things out!

… Now, what was I looking for?!

Where?

“Now what did I do with it?” I ask myself as I rummage yet again through my bag. “I know I put it in here!” At times like this I find myself doubting my memory, which is admittedly not always dependable. My frustration rises and I find myself unable to move on to something else. “Where is it?”

Searches are interesting. They can lead to new discoveries and new ways of doing things. Where would we be without the persistence and inquisitive minds of inventors and researchers? It can also be disappointing or stressful, especially when searching and searching without success. Perseverance can bring rewards, but that sometimes means setting the search aside for a while or allowing ourselves time to calm our mind and think things through. Prayer sure can help with each of these options… Reminding myself, “Oh well, something will work out” does wonders for lowering the stress level!

Have you ever searched for something and found it, only to discover that it was not what you needed or wanted after all? And what about those times when it is rediscovered right where you had looked numerous times? Fresh eyes and encouragement are a help too, along with a dose of patience and perspective!

I’m reminded of the women who went to Jesus’ tomb. The angel knew why they were there, “You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth” he said. Jesus, upon speaking to Mary, asked, “Whom are you looking for?” but she didn’t recognize him until he spoke her name.* How many times have I looked for something but didn’t recognize it because I had the wrong perspective?

While all our searches and questions will not lead to what we want, they can lead to new discoveries and opportunities, growth in faith, and fresh eyes. We reconsider the way we see, understand, and relate to things. Like the women seeking Jesus, God calls us to seek Him and He tells us that when we do, we will find him.* Sometimes I wonder if I’m looking in the right direction or if I need a better perspective. It’s hard to know where to look when the stress levels go up, isn’t it?

I am glad to be reminded that God speaks our name and that He sends others to help point us in the right direction. May you be encouraged!

Charlotte-Anne Allen 3/5/2022
*Mark 16:6, John 20:11-15a
Luke 11:9

Perspective

“Did that get it?” I squinted my eyes and turned my head to view the window I was cleaning, gaining a new perspective as the angle of light shifted. Rubbing out another smudge on the glass, I stepped back to check out my work. Looking good! No more streaks or dirt.

Isn’t life just like that too… especially in relationships with others?! Our feelings, emotions, and reactions are often wrapped up in our own perspective. We lash out or jump to conclusions… because of course that is what the other person was thinking or planning, right?! At least that is our own presumption. Unfortunately, I have found myself regretting my reactions and undergoing deep hurt or upset because I failed to consider where the other person was coming from, their thoughts or intents.

Considering things from the perspective of others brings a wealth of opportunities for positive experiences. Like the unseen dirt or smudges on glass, a shift in the way we see others and a desire to understand or extend some grace is needed. How often do we pause to reflect on the reactions or needs of others, to consider their past or present circumstances? How will looking at them from a different angle help exchange stress for compassion or lead to better understanding?

Perhaps Matthew and Luke had something of this in mind when they said, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” * Don’t we all want to be understood and to be given some grace in those moments when things just aren’t going right? I sure appreciate it when someone recognizes why I may have had a certain reaction and I am encouraged when they offer support and understanding!

Perhaps the next time you are cleaning that window or mirror, when you notice a smudge on your glasses, or when you flip your windshield wipers on… you will pause to consider your own perspective in some current situation. May God, who knows the human heart, grant us peace and a better perspective.

* Matthew 7:12 & Luke 6:31
Charlotte-Anne Allen

Stories

Stories… I love to sit and listen to the stories of others! Shared stories are the stuff from whence wisdom springs. They are treasures, a testimony of times past and present, of growing up years, and of challenges and celebrations.

I remember many family gatherings and the sharing of memories and information, and am glad I collected some of my mother’s remembrances like, “Your grandfather had large hands. I remember how big they were when he held my hand in his.” She and my dad told me of hobbies and skills that our ancestors possessed, where they lived or grew up, struggles and hard times they went through, accomplishments and much more.

Do you remember stories shared through family or friends? As we smile and laugh about past antics and quirky natures, connections are formed. As we learn about struggles and pains, tragedy or overcoming, and doubts and faith, we gain deeper insights. Yes, stories are the essence of humanity.

It’s no wonder that Jesus shared stories, usually in the form of parables. Through them he taught the importance of discernment and truth, teaching in a form in which others could relate. He said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” * I like the way the book of Proverbs opens, expressing the importance of learning, wisdom, and instruction. *

Stories… from the head shaking, foot stomping, belly laughs of epic escapades to the deeply thoughtful, wonder-filled, or heart sighing moments, are of value and worth. They help guide us in our search and desire to gain perspective and understanding, which in turn can nurture compassion for others. May we value and treasure them and approach them with discernment and thought, gaining encouragement, and discovering a deeper connection and love for all peoples.

*Mark 4:9, Proverbs 1:1-7
Charlotte-Anne Allen

Reflections on Stars

• Starshine inspires awe and wonder
• Imagination leads to inspiration and discovery
• Discovering what forms the whole leads to greater understanding
• Coldness and distance are a matter of perspective
• Light can seem distant when we are in a dark tunnel
• We often crave guidance and assurance of our way
• Having a reference point helps determine our position
• Argument is a heat that burns deeply
• A positive personality brightens those around them
• Gaze into the clear night sky and feel your worries recede
• The vastness of the heavens is a small taste of eternity
• Our Creator knows every star by name

Look Up!

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“Listen! What’s that?!” The child that was me craned her neck and shielded her eyes as she searched the sky for a passing airplane or helicopter… If conditions were right, I could follow the trails of high-flying jets or passenger planes as they painted a pattern through the air. I sometimes felt a little dizzy as I focused on the world above me.

There were so many things to discover while looking up, elusive songbirds in the trees, majestic mountain ranges as we traveled for a weekend of camping, and ever-changing cloud formations to catch the imagination. Church steeples all around rose above the surrounding buildings… proclaiming the hour, chiming music, or directing our eyes and thoughts to heaven above.

The Bible uses a lot of images about “looking up” and “going up.” That makes a lot of sense doesn’t it, as we think of God on high?! A favorite verse from the Book of Psalms, (a “Song of Ascents” that was sung as people went up to worship) says, I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.*  Jesus looked up when praying to his Father, when blessing the loaves and fish, and when giving thanks.

When I look up into the sky by day or night or up into a majestic old tree, there is a sense of being a part of a great thing. As I look out and up at rolling mountain ranges, I am a small speck in God’s vastness. Think back or imagine yourself as a small child looking up at your parents, teachers, or others. The whole world takes on a different perspective!

I think too of how I can be focused on my own thoughts or schedule and I fail to look up and see others around me, to be aware of their needs, struggles, or celebrations. Sometimes I have allowed my self-focus to block out my awareness of others. In the book of Luke there is a story about a short man named Zacchaeus who had difficulty seeing too.* I think his difficulty involved more than his height! When Jesus came into into the town of Jericho, he looked up and saw Zacchaeus in a tree craning his neck to catch a glimpse of Jesus. Jesus saw more than the outside of Zacchaeus perched in that tree, didn’t he?! When Jesus offered him fellowship, Zacchaeus’ life took a dramatic turn. After he came down from that tree, he looked up and found Jesus who showed him a better way and who saw him as a person of value and worth.

My prayer for us is that we will look up and see God ever before us. May he open our eyes and widen our view so that we can see the worth and value of others, just as Jesus looked up and saw Zacchaeus. In so doing, perhaps we will begin to hear, above the roofs and the clamor of the world, the chiming of music… and to give and receive the gift of fellowship. Look up!

Psalm 121:1, Luke 19 

Above, Beneath, and Upon

songbird n chipmunk

When I was a girl, I loved climbing up into trees. Sometimes I’d take a book with me to read, but often I would just sit… swaying gently in the breeze. I would look quietly around me and up into the sky and imagine what it might be like to experience the world like a bird. Darting from tree to tree or soaring through the air… their perspective must be so different from mine!

From the walkway in front of our small-town house, steps led down to the street sidewalk with a nice place to sit on either side. Beneath them, chipmunks made their home. It was a safe place away from the neighborhood cats! I had learned to sit very still, up toward the house, to watch them scampering back and forth. I wondered what they saw as they looked about at the world towering over them!

We people upon this earth come from such rich and varied backgrounds! Like the birds and the chipmunks which I watched, we each have our own unique perspectives. I’m reminded of the story in Acts 2 about the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles. People from all nations and speaking many different languages were in Jerusalem during the celebration of the harvest festival, known as the Feast of Weeks (Shavout). Can you imagine the crowds gathered and the diversity of the people?! Hear the shouts and voices of people making their way about the city. See the variety of clothing. Smell the aroma of foods cooking…

Then a great roaring rush of wind drew the crowds to where the apostles and followers of Jesus stood. Can you sense their amazement and confusion as they heard, from these uneducated men, the “wonders of God” in their own languages? … And thousands became followers of Christ from this one encounter.

One thing that I had never really thought about was that these very people, from all nations, then came together. They lived, ate, and worked together in their shared humanity. Their very differences were their strengths… Isn’t that so true for us as well?

I try so hard to consider the perspective of others and what might be influencing or affecting them. Some days are just more challenging than others, aren’t they?! It’s my prayer for us today that God will help us to better consider the perspectives of others and to acknowledge our common humanity. Can you see the people? Can you hear the sounds of life? Can you smell the rich aroma?

 

Reflections on Ants

ant_edited closeup Sahara_ca

Size does not determine wisdom
• Don’t disregard the value of hard work
• Never pausing to rest will soon burn you out
• Things which look enticing may also bring negative results
• Never consider things from only one small perspective
• Focusing on only what is right before us can blind us to everything else
• Regular communication is key to life
• Working together for a common purpose brings results

• Helping those who are hurting strengthens everyone
• There are seasons to draw together and seasons to venture forth

 

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