Reflection on Soot

• Watch what you touch as it may stick to you
• Accumulated experiences shape and form us
• Heated words can burn up friendships
• Act wisely and think to avoid spreading harm
• Pain and struggle can contribute to unhealthy buildup
• Uncontrolled anger spews hurt upon all around
• Miscommunication causes frustration and estrangement
• Covering up mistakes reflects insecurity
• Honesty and humility help to clear the air
• Tough things in life require hard work to overcome
• Uplifting music covers encourages and soothes
• Caring acts grow from compassionate hearts
• Daily prayer is like a good cleaning
• God is our chimney sweep

From “Reflections from the Everyday”
Charlotte-Anne Allen

Cosmos

Summer’s bright splash of color
Swaying in greeting to wind’s light touch
Quiet conductors with raised wands

Now trills the songbirds’ joy
In harmony with busy buzzing
Neighbor greeting neighbor and
Workers moving in steady contentment

They lead an attentive orchestra
Turning to hear their voices and
Lifting faces to welcome soft touch

So, we move to quiet beat
Giving thanks for day’s harmony
For splashes of color and gentle touches
Work well done and songs well sung

Connections

Building growing forming joining
Connections produce the larger whole

Dot-to-dot, white country fences,
Friends and neighbors, family

Look around you everywhere
All with places or parts to play

Birds sitting upon a line,
Small child clinging to your hand

Business office, work and play
Emails filling texts exchanging

But best of all formed and strong
Speaking caring come together

Making connections
To last and treasure

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

Reflections on Garden Trowels

  • Use your life as a tool for good
  • Silence can be an uncomfortable hole that we try to fill
  • Being too focused on making your point can stop your ears from truly listening
  • Bad habits can wrap themselves around us like roots
  • Covered up rot is still rot
  • Allow removal of hurtful and negative practices
  • Clods must be broken up for the ground to be softened
  • Space provides room for growth
  • What we put in our lives influences what is produced
  • Plant good ideas and strong character
  • Avoiding work is like leaving a tool to rust in the rain
  • Dig and cultivate to produce nourishment for all
  • Hold tightly to values, truth, and faith
  • We get a better handle on the Word by reading it often

from “Reflections from the Everyday”
by Charlotte-Anne Allen

Squirrel

What’s that I hear
Loudly scolding “intruder intruder”
Leaping now up grand oak tree
Peering out from high above

An interruption of day’s work
Those wily robbers of bird feeders
And gatherers of nature’s bounty
Ready against winter’s chill

With flip of bushy tail
Now return to busy preparation
Planting storing, hop and poke
Now where did I leave that

Home sweet home in arching bowers
A comfy den or nest just right
To snugly curl within
Awaiting spring’s first touch

Preparation

apple red_peel_pexels_cropped

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

A Bad Rap?

donkey-by Sebastiano Rizzardo_Pixabay

Think now of the mule, the donkey, the goat…
Such creatures as this who bear a great load!

Such poor reputations and so misunderstood
For services provided on a regular basis

Now Jack, now Jenny the sun is well risen…
Come on! You’re well rested! Time for a new day

Let’s go! … Please?!
Hey, wake up! Ah well…

Here Sweetly. You too HeeHaw.
You can join your friends in the cow pasture.

Guard duty today. No, over here…
Ohhh! I’m your friend. Run everyone! Run!

Billy! Where are you going?
Get out of the way! Don’t eat that!

…There we go. All settled now?
All in a day’s work for my unappreciated friends

What’s that? You’re considering getting a camel?
Hey! Watch out! He’ll spit in your eye!

Reflections on Sawdust

sawdust-by Alicja_pixabay

The bits and pieces we leave behind speak of life lived
• We gain in wisdom as we are shaped
• The remnants we leave are our legacy
• A protective surrounding will shelter and nourish new life
• Warmth and support bring contentment
• A soft bed and peaceful rest are not to be taken for granted
• The smell of worked wood inspires creativity
• The unfolding of outer layers can be difficult
• An artist forms things of wonder and beauty
• The Master’s hand can form beauty from the roughest exteriors