Beginnings

“Yaaay!!!” I joined the mob of other kids streaming from the school. Faces were excited and energy was high. The beginning of summer vacation was a long-awaited event! Thoughts of free time, lazy mornings, and summer events filled our minds. Visits to relatives, camping trips, fresh garden food, and (for me) frequent travel to the local libraries to keep my summer reading stack replenished were welcome plans. I still look forward to the warm weather and the change of pace that this season brings. Each season in life is a time of new beginnings.

The Bible is full of stories of beginnings. Some of them were very hard and others were most welcome. What do I do with my beginnings? Times change and events impact our lives, with my family (births, farewells, deaths) … in my work (saying good-bye to a child I have worked with and their family) … my church (as I move from one area of service or commitment to another) … and in the changing responsibilities and seasons throughout the year. Endings mark beginnings.

What thoughts do you have about your own beginnings? As in the excitement of summer, resolve to enter with a positive attitude and assurance of God’s presence and guidance for whatever may come. Whether our beginnings are marked with anticipation or with anxiety, we can take courage.

Ecclesiastes chapter three begins with acknowledgement that “for everything there is a season,” times for beginnings and endings… and new beginnings, and so life goes on. The writer continues with,

What gain have the workers from their toil?
I have seen the business that God has given to everyone to be busy with.
He has made everything suitable for its time.
Moreover, he has put a sense of past and future into their minds…
I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy
and enjoy themselves as long as they live.
Moreover, it is God’s gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil.” *

As we move with intent in our work and in our rest, I hope that we can look with anticipation and interest. My prayers are that we will take comfort, even excitement, and be strengthened as we face new beginning through our more challenging times. May we remember and know afresh God’s presence with us. As we come to Him in prayer and give thanks for His gifts each day, may we be blessed through our beginnings.

*Ecclesiastes 3:1, 9-12

Summer’s Waning

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As summer begins to wane here, there is a new feel in the air as thoughts shift and activities focus on the changing season. The cycle of hot days and storms is slowing, although the cool touch of dew in the evenings through the mornings continues to refresh the ground (and bare feet!). The hum of lawn mowers, kids playing outdoors, and voices of those out and about in various summer activities will also continue for a short while. School has already started back for some teachers and students and buses rumble past in their journey to further the education of their charges.

For some, there is anticipation of cooler temperatures and new beginnings and for others there is perhaps a small sigh and a determination to enjoy the last of this season as long as possible. Isn’t that so like all of our lives?

I am reminded of life’s ebbs and flows, like the seasons of the year and waxing and waning of the moon. Difficult times, changing times, happy times, and growing times are all part of our own experience. The familiar passage in Ecclesiastes 3 says it so well, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…”

What will we do with our own seasons – as we move from warmth to cool, to freshening or to dryness, to relaxation or hard work, or from trials to celebration – in an ever-moving rhythm? For good or bad, we hold on to some things and never fully experience or enjoy other things.

Struggling through the waning of things we hold dear is hard! Waiting, letting go, and wrestling with churning emotions is unsettling, a difficult or uncomfortable place to be!
Will the light grow again? Will happiness come? … But I don’t want to say “good-bye”! Even moving through new and positive seasons can be a challenge. It’s so easy to miss the goodness in the sometimes-mad rush of life!

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve made a resolve to intentionally enjoy those positive times, to catch myself in those moments. It has taken some practice! Perhaps it is a satisfying opportunity to help someone else… a new word spoken by a child I’m working with… encouragement or a positive comment from a friend… time to rest and relax after a long day of work… or moments with my family.

There’s so much to be thankful for, whether the season is ending, beginning, or even in the difficult waiting and changing times between them! We can be assured of God’s presence in them all… as we are looking back, looking forward, and taking time for the now.

My prayer for us today is that we will know God’s presence through all of our seasons and find comfort and joy in Him.

*Ecclesiastes 3:1-13, Psalm 23

Reflections on Ants

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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

 

New Year’s Dawn

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Northwind chill and bundled frame
Speaks of New Year’s coming dawn

Sunlight bright or blowing snow
Quiet breath catches in anticipation

Laugh of children and calls to come
Homemade soup to warm one’s bones

Barking dogs or honk of horns
Season’s tide begins to turn

Twilight’s glitter and dark’s bright star
Contemplation of time now past

Frosty morn and day’s cold rise
Hope’s dream and New Year born

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.

Light Dancing

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Light dancing on splashes
Of gold, red, and orange
Beckons to passers-by.

Greens and browns
Wave their fronds,
Seasons past and to come.

Evening’s chill
Brings thoughts of tomorrow,
As time tolls; prepare!

Day’s warmth
Welcomes memories
Of life, laughter, and tears.

And so we dance,
Welcoming light’s hope,
In quiet contemplation.

And so we dance,
Resting sorrow
In those swaying boughs.

And so we dance,
For life’s joys
In our Creator’s being.

Light dancing on splashes
Of gold, red, and orange
Beckons to passers-by.

PROVISION

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I admit to loving the warmth of summer with its planting, gathering, family cook-outs, and time outdoors (yes, even mowing the yard). As the days begin to turn cooler and a hint of fall is in the air, many people are busy bringing in final offerings from gardens, vines, and trees. Others gather groceries and supplies and check to see that all is ready for the colder months ahead. Each season’s change marks new tasks, expectations, and hopes.

It’s easy to become preoccupied with the daily tasks: bills to be paid, cars repaired or replaced, income secured, homes maintained, food and clothing provided… For me this past year, as soon as one need was addressed something else came up… and often two or three challenges pounced at once! Yet each time, even as worries threatened to invade my thoughts, my thanks and prayers turned to God’s provision. As I get older, I am more and more aware of my parents’ model of quiet assurance that God will meet our needs. “One-thing-at-a-time,” my mother would reassure me. They instilled in me an appreciation for the simple, and the calm, and the good in small things. I have learned to enjoy and appreciate what I have rather than always wanting more and I’m growing to trust that things will work out, not always as expected or desired but trusting that good will grow from challenges and needs.

One well-known passage in the Bible, Psalm 23, speaks of God’s provision for us. It doesn’t promise that there will be no dark valleys, but it does promise that God is with us always. What wonderful assurance that we will lack nothing and that we will be refreshed, guided, comforted, and provided for even in the presence of adversity and difficulties! The book of Psalms is full of these reminders.

In the New Testament, Matthew had some great things for us to consider about worry and God’s care for us. “Isn’t life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” Then he reminded us that God knows that we need them. My mom would say, “It’s okay to be concerned but we shouldn’t worry” and Matthew echoed this thought when he said, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

In this season of gathering and preparation, I pray that we will be strengthened and assured of the provision of God, who cares for us all.