I Will Lie Down

“Sit boy, sit. Now, lie down… Good dog!” How many have enjoyed the company of their dog or other pet? Have you noticed how dogs will turn around and around to find just the right position before settling down in happy contentment for a time of rest? They like to lie down close to their caregiver or climb up on their lap… even those who have overgrown said lap! There is a special bond and sense of peace from such companionship.

Most of us have struggled at some time with being able to lie down and to sleep peacefully. Our bodies and minds, when stressed, excited, or wound-up by the day, have difficultly settling and relaxing. Have you ever gone to bed exhausted but then your brain just won’t shut down enough to relax?! Our thoughts, even sometimes good ones, just keep churning away! Then too, often the chaos of our world weighs us down or we find ourselves constantly bombarded by negative news or surroundings. Health challenges and any number of stressors just contribute to the tossing and turning!

That reminds me of the story of David in the Bible, who found himself pursued by a jealous king who was intent on killing him. I imagine that David often found himself short on sleep. He certainly had occasion to fear and to find rest almost impossible as he ran for his life! But David showed his continued faith and reliance on God in the book of Psalms as he said,

I will both lie down and sleep in peace.
For you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety.
*

I lie down and sleep. I wake again, for the Lord sustains me. *

David was far from perfect. He was a man of war and made many mistakes, but he valued that special bond with God. Like the dog turning around and around to find that ‘just right’ spot, he sought God’s closeness and comfort.

I know that when I remain tired and unable to sleep well, I am little good for anyone, including myself. Perhaps we can take a lesson from the dog… Can you just imagine climbing up into God’s lap and heaving a sigh of contentment and peace? Can we trust Him enough with our yesterday, today, and tomorrow to allow our minds and bodies to receive His gift of rest? Restored for another day, another hour, another minute.

My prayer for us is that we too will know God’s companionship and experience that special bond. Let Him draw you closer! Climb up into His lap! Lie down and find rest.
God bless.

* Psalm 4:8, Psalm 3:5

Reflections on Jigsaw Puzzles

• Giving does not divide, rather it multiplies and nourishes
• Generosity in sharing what you have grows blessings for all
• Disregarding the value of others brings heartache and misunderstandings
• Gather together what is needed to guide you
• Our lives are a rich mosaic of colors and patterns
• Look for the beauty in small things as well as grand displays
• The beauty of a life brought to wholeness gives us hope
• God will comfort us in our brokenness
• We often struggle when we cannot see the whole picture
• Looking at all perspectives and options can help gain clarity
• Receiving memories shared by others is like finding missing puzzle pieces
• Apply yourself to learning and to gaining skills bit-by-bit
• Trying new things adds color and interest
• When all is dashed to pieces, there is God to gather us

From “Reflections from the Everyday” – Charlotte-Anne Allen

Weathering

When we awaken to the day
And things are bright and sunny
The sky is fair, and thoughts are clear
We’re eager to get started

Stretch our arms and raise our eyes
To the Maker of us all
To God give thanks and offer praise
He shines His light anew

When there come rumbles warning grumbles
Great flashes crashes gusty tempest
Skies are blanketed and heavy
Hearts fearful searching seeking

Stretch our arms and raise our eyes
To the Maker of us all
To God give thanks and offer praise
His strength and power overcomes

So, when the wind begins to shift
Or dark clouds drift our way
See the shaft of light break through
Be nourished by His cleansing rain

Stretch our arms and raise our eyes
To the Maker of us all
To God give thanks and offer praise
His care for us is true

On those cool morns of cloudy gray
When fog touches with fingers chill
There too is found a quiet peace
As His comforting hands enfold us

Stretch our arms and raise our eyes
To the Maker of us all
To God give thanks and offer praise
A place of rest within our struggles

In winter’s bite and icy dread
There’s beauty in the snowy white
As a joyful child in simple faith
He draws us to His warmth

Stretch our arms and raise our eyes
To the Maker of us all
To God give thanks and offer praise
May He shine on us anew

Attitudes

Lord, help me to remember that nothing is going to happen to me today that you and I can’t handle together (An old preacher’s greeting to each new day).” As I looked at the small green slip of paper, which had been carefully typed (on a “real typewriter”) and cut out by my mother, I thought of the positive attitude she had always shown in life. She was a great encourager, a strong support for my father and us kids.

Have you ever considered the tremendous impact our attitudes have on our thoughts, perceptions, and actions?… Positive attitudes lend themselves to a better approach on life, how we react to stressful situations, to resolving conflict, in interactions, and with any decision making. Negative attitudes do the opposite, as we struggle more in these areas and are more likely to give up.

But it is much more than that! What impacts our attitudes? From very early in life, perhaps even day one, our attitudes are being formed. My mom often reminded me to take one thing at a time when faced with an overwhelming task, like schoolwork or major decisions to make. An awareness of how our attitudes affect us allows us to look at and to approach life through a much broader lens and with greater understanding.

Have you ever just made up your mind that you are going to have a good day? While not knowing what each day brings, I have found that beginning with a better attitude helps me to approach things more positively. Do some people just “rub you the wrong way”? Instead of stewing about them, what if I decided to respond with a caring attitude and supportive actions or words that were not dependent on their response or lack thereof? Looking beyond sharp responses, unkind words, or silence requires some major attitude adjustments before they are encountered.

Attitudes are constantly developing and revising as we grow and mature and as life experiences occur, hence we hear admonitions to change our attitude or to examine our attitude when situations warrant. Phrases such as, “Watch your attitude” or “You need to change your attitude” come to mind!

As an early “attitude lesson,” I remember when a neighbor’s grandkids were calling unkind things across the fence between our yards. My mom encouraged us to respond with a positive and friendly attitude and when we did friendships were formed and we enjoyed our time together. “Attitude adjustments” are often needed in all ages and stages of life.

How much control do we have over our attitudes and what can we do about it? How can honest examination and understanding improve our physical as well as our mental or emotional health? What part does our faith background play in our attitudes? I ask myself these questions and think about how my attitude is helping or hindering my relationships, my level of stress, my openness to God’s call each day, and my trust in Him.

Just thinking about this and about life in general has already begun to shift things for the better. I have a feeling that I will be working on my attitude for the rest of my life, and that is not a bad thing! My prayer is for us all, as we dig in and take an attitude check each day. We may be pleasantly surprised at the difference it makes!

Summer’s Waning

bench water sunset_mood-4269040_1280_pixabay

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