Cleaning

“Rumble-rumble, screech, thump!” My mom cocked her head toward the ceiling as she listened to the sounds of my room-cleaning upstairs. I loved to re-arrange my furniture! I well remember our regular Saturday cleaning routine, a requirement before we could pursue other interests, and especially the more thorough spring or fall cleanings.

Howevermuch we may grumble about the cleaning process, or perhaps like some of us who enjoy it, there is great satisfaction in a job completed. Something accomplished!

For everyday cleaning, it’s amazing what even a few minutes of straightening or putting away things can do. Lost or misplaced items are re-discovered, and we no longer have to hunt for them. Dirty clothes in the hamper. Clean dishes put up. A spot of clutter removed. Trash carried out…

Then there is the deep cleaning, removing accumulated dust and grim of everyday living and use. It requires more effort and intentional planning. Neglecting the everyday or more frequent cleaning can make that job a lot harder too!

This makes me think of “heart cleaning.” Am I as conscious of the condition of my heart, such as my thoughts and intentions or faith, as I am of my home or other surroundings? The psalmist pled, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.” * Clean or pure; not polluted or filthy. He knew that this was a “deep cleaning” job! This was going to require a lot of help!

It’s so easy to let things accumulate isn’t it? Just like dust or clutter can build up in our home, it can also build up within us. That dissatisfaction or irritation. A wayward word. An apology never offered. An unhealthy thought or grudge. The list can be long!

Just like the everyday cleaning of our home or other places, caring for our daily heart cleaning is a positive step and builds our relationship with God, who knows us best. Paul called attention to our need for the day’s accounting when he cautioned us to not let the sun go down on our anger. *

It’s hard for me to turn loose of things sometimes. When things do accumulate or bowl us over, and they will at times, and when those seasons arrive for the deep cleaning, we don’t have to go it alone. God hears our call and pulls out the heavy-duty cleaners, creating “a new and right spirit” within. My prayer and anticipation for us is that we will invite Him to come on in, and so welcome a new season.

*Psalm 51:10, Ephesians 4:26

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 Bridges

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• Sometimes the way seems impossible
• By persevering we make a way for others
• We cross from one season of life to the next
• Some roads lead us over roaring torrents
• Other paths cross and meander over quiet ways
• Ways that meet can change the world
• Making bridges together forms strong bonds
• Reach and stretch to pursue positive goals
• Build what is good and strong and enduring
• Move forward with open eyes and positive perspective
• As you travel notice beauty around you and give thanks
• The Son is our greatest Bridge-maker

from “Reflections from the Everyday” by caallen

Autumn’s Tinge

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Autumn’s tinge is in the air
Now lightly nibbles
Now backs away

Grasses fading
Flowers too
Chill of evening
Cold mornings’ dew

Speaks of time to come
Days shortening
Sunset’s advancing glow

Leaves stirring
Lift and part
Now spin and whirl
In joyous dance

Autumn’s tinge is in the air
Its nose uplifted in anticipation
Of the new season’s approach

Reflections on Snowmen

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• We all feel a bit rolled about sometimes.
• As we roll about, we accumulate stuff.
• That accumulated stuff contributes to our formation.
• As we are formed and grow, wondrous things can develop.
• Development comes individually and with others.
• Much enjoyment can be had when friends create new things together.
• Added accessories increase appeal and develop personality.
• Materials needed for use may be seasonal.
• Each season brings its own appeal.
• Simple pleasures and activities bring joy.
• A snowman’s stay, although short, brings smiles to others.
• A smiling face lifts one’s spirit.