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

New Song

Like this, and this… Now move these fingers. As my beginner self practices the fingering and chords on my classical guitar, I move slowly. Learning a new piece takes time and attention, whatever the difficulty level may be for that person. It’s not enough just to know the notes but takes so much more into consideration, such as movement across the strings and how to play each phrase. It requires effort and dedication over time to make the whole piece beautiful and meaningful, knowing that there will be mistakes but persevering and doing our best. Then too, it is not so much the level of accomplishment as it is the satisfaction it brings to oneself and to others. This makes it fun and exciting.

Encountering new things is a regular part of life. What new things get you excited? Is it that new car smell, an anticipated job, a relationship, or a baby and new life? Maybe you are looking forward to a time of growth, learning a new skill, gaining knowledge, or an opportunity to serve. New things and new times can be hard and unwanted too. Maybe we’re just ready to shed stressful experiences and move forward. As I grow older, there are more things to miss but there are also more things to treasure. Faith in God, prayer, community, and family are vital supports when facing new situations. Working through new things can be a long process.

What if I just continued to play the same guitar piece or practiced the same scales over-and-over without using them to improve my music… never learned new pieces? I imagine that boredom or apathy would sneak in, and I may give it up completely. Where would I be if I just focused on my mistakes and my missed practice, or if I let my enjoyment be affected by feelings of not being good enough? Satisfaction and contentment come, not just from what we gain through our new experiences, but what we can also give to others.

My prayer is that we will be as new songs each day, that we praise God for his great love as He holds us through our pain and through our joy, and that we give even as we gain… May our lives be as beautiful music in His hands.

He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God…
Psalm 40:3

Charlotte-Anne Allen 1/1/2022

Reflections on Tissues

  • The ability to start fresh brings hope
  • We all have imperfections and regrets
  • We sometimes fill up with junk
  • Clearing out the junk brings much relief
  • Be prepared to clean up your messes
  • Help comes from unexpected places
  • Be patient with yourself and others
  • Memories of pleasant surprises bring smiles
  • Be willing to reach for healthy assistance
  • Removal of stress or worries releases pressure
  • Soft words can strengthen and heal
  • Dance sing express joy and lead others to do the same
  • Daily contact infuses us with our Creators presence
  • God is by your side during darkness and light

from “Reflections from the Everyday”

Nurture

“Wow! Look at that! … and there’s another one!” We smiled as we checked out the growing produce from our summer garden. Careful planting, tending, and watering was producing bountiful crops of tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, corn, squash, and much more. A lot of work had gone into the garden and there was much satisfaction and hope for plentiful provision, both for us and to share with others.

Whether tending a garden, caring for others, or looking after our pets or other animals, nurturing is a part of our daily life. When offered in love and compassion, it is an expression and reflection of our Creator, God. A helping hand or an encouraging word can gladden a heart and bring a smile when exhaustion or stress threatens to overwhelm and reaping benefits of hard work and dedication is rewarding.

God nurtures us, both physically and spiritually. I like this passage from the book of Psalms which expresses thanks to God. Think about it in terms of God’s care in our life as well:

You visit the earth and water it; you greatly enrich it. The river of God is full of water; you provide the people with grain, for so you have prepared it. You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, and blessing its growth. You crown the year with your bounty. Your wagon tracks overflow with richness. The pastures of the wilderness overflow. The hills gird themselves with joy. The meadows clothe themselves with flocks. The valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy. Psalm 65:9-13

Comforting an upset child. Cuddling a pet. Feeding a hungry family. Sitting with a loved one. Protecting those in our care. Being present to support or to share in sorrow. The many small or large acts that we encounter daily offer opportunities.

As we nurture and are nurtured, we can… Pray for those in our care. Rejoice in provision and growth. Rest in God in times of sorrow and drought. Offer thanks and gratitude for His sustaining presence through all things. Acknowledge God’s provision and thank those He brings to us, as we care for each other.

God bless and sustain you through each day. Be encouraged.

Delete!

Delete. Delete. Delete… How in the world had I managed to let so many emails pile up and fill my account?! Sure, I deleted many as a read them, but as they slipped out of sight I soon forgot or was too busy to go back and clear them out. It was so satisfying to finally have them gone and to dump out the trash and spam folders.

Looking through my email, I was reminded of many good things – friends, family, work, church – service given, information and encouragement exchanged. Some things I saved to files on my computer or printed out before deleting them, like family stories or other important events or information. It was good to keep the memories.

There were other things that I’d rather not think about though, like illness or death, finances, missed opportunities, and bad news. Can’t I just delete them and forget them?! … What about those painful time periods in life? It would be great if they had never even occurred! There are other things that I’d like to delete too – like bad habits, thoughtless or poorly timed words or actions, things left undone or forgotten. I don’t like to let others down or cause hurt.

Stress and anxiety can be overwhelming at times, can’t it? Uncertain times can keep us unsettled and trauma and loss bring grief. I am so glad that we can turn everything over to God and to know that He will strengthen and support us. He cares about us and our messes are cleaned and washed through faith in Him. God is our delete button for anxiety and worry (*Psalm 55:22a; 1 Peter 5:7).

It is my hope and prayer that we turn to God for our needed “deletes,” whatever they may be, …making space for peace, forgiveness, or comfort. May we look forward with anticipation!

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

Reflections on Mountains

great-smokey-mountains-Mark Schaefer_Pixabay

• Companionship helps us through the darkest valley
• Life is made up of rolling hills and craggy peaks
• Sometimes the way is sharp and clear
• Other times the path is dim and misty
• Rising peaks can lift the spirits
• Between the mountains there is shelter
• The folds of compassion are places of healing
• Quiet coves bring refreshment and peace
• Obstacles arise under pressure and stress
• Daunting tasks can be accomplished one step at a time
• Getting away from the chaos can bring clarity
• Our Creator’s majesty is reflected in His grand creations

Reflections on Mud Puddles

puddle in the woods_by Anastasiya Romanova_Unsplash

• Who we choose to be is reflected in pools of life
• Life is a mixture of many things
• This mixture can form mud
• Mud may be healing or may clog up the works
• Puddles form when too much comes at us at once
• Allow times of stillness to wash away stress
• Accumulate provisions for times of need
• Friendship is like rainwater
• Rainwater refreshes after long dry times
• We pour ourselves into things we are passionate about
• Run splash enjoy life
• Joy comes when we take time for small pleasures

Reflections on Wheelbarrows

wheelbarrow-full-of-hay_stockvault_600x314px

• We have many options when tackling a big job
• If things become unbalanced, we can tip over
• Loads can be eased with the right equipment
• Gathering resources first will increase success
• When the load is large, work a little at a time
• Easing burdens improves the work process
• We take on challenges so we can move forward
• Dumping anxiety and doubt eases stress
• Step-by-step, progress is made
• Consider your best path to offer services
• Take care of your tools for long and productive use
• Thank the One who works along-side you