Preparation

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I lifted my nose appreciatively as the scent of apples wafted through the house, creating images of years gone by. It was the season for apples, one I always looked forward to. In the town where I grew up, we had one large old apple tree and several smaller ones in our backyard. They were the best red apples anywhere! I still remember their sweet crisp taste, although the trees are now long gone.

Gathering and preparing those apples was a family affair. We separated the older apples that the bees, birds, and other insects were enjoying and brought the others in to wash and pare, setting some aside for eating as they were. A lot of preparation went into canning the applesauce, sliced apples, apple butter, and apple jelly, not to mention apple pie, cake, or other goodies. Preparing ahead of time made the work go easier and the results were appreciated during the months ahead.

Preparation is a part of life. Sometimes we are called to prepare things in advance of events, like setting the table for a meal or arranging items for a program. I remember the story of John the Baptist, as prophesied by the prophet Isaiah, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way.” * John’s words got the people who heard them ready to receive the words of Jesus.

While I have learned to “go with the flow” when needed and have enjoyed occasional spontaneous activities, preparation is important for daily routines as well as long-term future needs, goals, or hopes. It reminds me of the movie trailers released as previews to upcoming shows. Haven’t we all at some time, upon seeing a preview or hearing of the anticipated release date, said, “Oh, I’d like to see that!” The movie previews put the word out that something good is coming that we just don’t want to miss!

How can we prepare ourselves to receive the words God has for us? It has been easy in times past to let my good intentions slide away or my quiet time with God to be relegated to a quick, sometimes desperate, “Oh God, please help me today” as I rush out the door. I don’t want to miss the good things coming or the encouragement offered in a mad rush to the next thing.

Like those apple gathering seasons, to receive the full benefit and goodness God has in store for me I have to prepare to receive Him. Times for quiet, for worship, for study, for listening, for fellowship, for obedience, or for action must be intentional. Discovering what these are for us and making them a priority is part of the preparation.

I hope that we can pause to ask ourselves regularly, “How am I preparing to receive God and the blessings, love, guidance, and support He has for me each day?”

*Mark 1:2

Reflections on Bullfrogs

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• Great leaps arise from great thought
• Dive into good tasks with all you have
• Jumping into things without thought can cause unwanted splashes
• Our voices are heard in community
• Speak with forethought as ears are listening
• Sometimes we bellow to draw attention
• Listening to constant bellowing can lead to depression
• Overwhelming others for the sake of gain will backlash
• Big eyes may cause us to overconsume
• When we all want something only for ourselves things can get violent
• The finest looking morsel can sour once gained
• Night can blind us to danger or cloak us in peace
• Wait and watch so you will be prepared
• Good change grows as our Creator works


from “Reflections from the Everyday” caallen

Keep Your Heart

Heart made with stones_beach_by AnnaER_Pixabay

When I was a teen, I helped my neighbor clean her home on Saturday mornings. She was a retired teacher and the bit I earned gave me a little spending money. My parents had taught us the importance of keeping our own home as well. We were expected to clean our rooms each week and beds must be made before we went to school or did anything else for the day. Keeping our home clean, and helping outside the home as well, taught us the importance of caring for what we had. Some seasons or days were busier, but the established pattern of keeping our home in order helped ensure that we would catch up. Of course, a bit of prodding and reminders from our parents were sometimes needed!

There was much more involved in keeping a home than cleaning! My dad was a handyman and he made sure the house was cared for, involving all of us in that work as well. Maintaining a home was a continuing job and safety was important too. I remember always checking that the doors were secured each night.

Like keeping our home, keeping our heart is important too, and it impacts how we develop and grow as a person. For me, this is a life-long challenge! What we allow to come in – our thoughts, what we see, and what we listen to – has an effect for good or harm. A favorite verse in Proverbs says, “keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” *

Good “heart care” prepares us to face temptations and difficulties in life. Leaving my “windows” wide open to negative or unhealthy influences when storms of life come or when things seem dark does not protect or keep my heart. Throwing open the doors to them allows the prowlers to come in. What situations are we putting ourselves in? What do we listen to each day? What are we watching? … I so need God to help me with this heart work!

God reminds us of the importance of examining our heart and allowing Him to guide and help us. I am thankful to Him for giving us positive influence and support of parents, mentors, friends, and Christian community. We can all help each other to “keep our heart” so that what flows from it is good and life-giving.

*Proverbs 4:23

Lententide

trees sunset Light snow Feb 2020

A hint, a tease
Sparkle of light now lingers
‘Midst winter’s chill
Grows ‘lencten’ time

Our heralds the robins
Passing through
Foretell the coming
Of March’s springtide

Prepare, prepare
In contemplation
Sorrow for wrongs
Renewing of hearts

Chill winds still nip and
In dark nights howl
Where is the light which
Warms life and earth

Now one and two
Slow steps to forty
From ashes and regret
To new life springing forth

Come join that journey
Drawn to the source
In quiet solitude
This Lententide

Reflections on Popcorn

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• Youth is full of energy
• Energy can be guided to much good
• Things bursting upon us may catch us unprepared
• We build hard exteriors to shield our inner being
• Holding onto bitterness will cause us to explode
• It is difficult to grow when dry and malnourished
• Accepting our imperfections develops inner peace
• Beauty can come from brokenness
• Cracks allow access to nourishment
• Opening up enables us to receive as well as give
• Things which bring joy are the seasonings of life
• The Spirit within ourselves is the source of good

Reflections on Lamps

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• Small lamps are of great importance
• Light is produced when the connection is made
• We are connected through prayer and faith
• Lamps provide guidance and comfort in darkness
• Without light we often stumble or fall
• Casting light on a subject encourages clarity
• A light in the window welcomes
• A quiet lighted corner is a good place of rest
• Lamps draw others to them
• Care for your lamp so you will be healthy and prepared