• Always be alert when approaching crossroads
• Knowing when to go and when to stop aids activities
• Pause to assess the landscape before proceeding
• We all need to slow down in order to avoid accidents
• Waiting for changes can be difficult
• Sometimes the change goes smoothly and without pause
• Collisions may occur when we are impatient or distracted
• Regular maintenance helps ensure continued health and best service
• Obeying traffic signals is important for interaction with others
“Ouch! That hurt!” …Whether a scrapped knee or elbow or a stumped toe, childhood memories for this tomboy keeping up with three brothers included the inevitable mishaps. My mother’s gentle, but no nonsense, ministrations with band-aide or ice packs taught me of compassion and strength. Care and concern was mixed with encouragement that all would be well.
Jesus modeled this gentleness and strength throughout his ministry. He reached out to heal and to provide for those who came to him. He also called them to show by their good life that their works were done with “gentleness born of wisdom.” *
Wow! That’s not so easy! We have all had our rather “unwise” moments when we’ve blurted out things without considering their consequences. “Bite your tongue,” people used to say when less than thoughtful words came out, or “I had to bite my tongue to keep from saying what I was thinking!” In listening to people, especially in news reports on television, it seems many are talking at once with little respect for others. Self-control and kindness are often disregarded… Our words and actions do not always reflect wisdom or a gentle spirit!
It can be tough to say or do things in a gentle (and more positive) manner, rather than just from a “self” focus. It seems significant that when Paul told the Galatians about the “fruit of the Spirit,” the last two fruits he listed were gentleness and self-control… We have to work at it, but the results are worth it.
One thing that helps me, is to take time to rest and de-stress as regularly as possible. It’s so much harder to respond in positive ways when I’m overly tired! Sometimes I need to remove myself from a situation or conversation, if only briefly, so I can calm down or take time to think first. We all learn what works best for us.
Gentleness? God grant me a gentle heart, so I can serve You better!
• Coffee comes from carefully tended and ground seeds
• This tending brings forth the flavor of the coffee bean
• We all benefit when we care for each other
• Mutual caring develops the gifts we have been given
• As we ripen we are made ready for use
• Roasting prepares us for the future
• To bring out the best flavor we are ground exactly
• Ground beans have great potential
• The wash of water brings out good and needed qualities
• Enjoyment and satisfaction come from well brewed cups
• Old experienced grounds have much to offer
• We owe much to the Tender of the beans
“Ahhhh!” Tearing plastic wrap off to place over a plate of food takes a knack! Have you ever wrestled with it, only to end up with a wadded mess or pulling out half the roll in attempts to get off a small piece?! After carefully pulling the mess apart or taking the whole roll out of the box and rolling some of it back up, the job is finally done.
I am reminded of a young child fearfully clinging to a parent when faced with a new situation or new people. It may take time to calm those fears as hands pat, kisses convey love, or words explain. That clinging speaks of a trust and a need which is basic for us all.
The psalmist spoke of clinging to God. “Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.” Like the child clinging to that source of security, when we hold determinedly to our source of help and strength we are comforted.
Likewise, when I climbed the ladder to the roof of our house to clean out the gutters (Yes, I did that!) …I clung to the ladder and to the snow guards, secure as the work was done.
We have that same security in God as we cling to Him and to His words. Paul, in his letter to the Romans, said to “cling to what is good.” Sometimes things may seem to be a wadded-up mess, but when we stick with God, He helps us work through our difficulties. Our lives reflect His presence… Because He is our help, we can sing, confident that His hand holds us up.
• Unexpected or misunderstood actions can create alarm
• We raise the alarm when threatened or endangered
• It is wise not to ignore a warning
• When alarm is raised we may react unwisely or prematurely
• When we react unwisely others are affected
• We often emit foul odors when threatened
• Attempts to protect ourself may be perceived as being antisocial
• Beauty is difficult to see when we focus on the negatives
• Negative expectations can create bad outcomes
• Positive expectations guide peaceful encounters
• Skunks want to enjoy good food and family like we all do
I see it! There it is! As we approach the broad river and long bridge, our excitement mounts. Hours of watching for landmarks and anticipating our visit with relatives were soon to be rewarded. There’s the road, we proclaim as we turn up the hill on a winding country lane.
Whether traveling to visit family or friends, a special concert or conference, sports event, or other occasion… it is satisfying to finally arrive and to be a part of the activity. Focusing on landmarks, road signs, and other directions (maybe that voice from our smartphone), we are guided to our destination.
In my work, I do a lot of traveling over back roads to provide services in homes and day cares. I like to know how to get from destination to destination before I head out, although I am up to an occasional “adventure” as I connect less familiar roads when needed. Landmarks are welcome aides.
The prophet Jeremiah encouraged the Hebrew people to return not only to the land of their people, but also to God. Set up road signs; put up guideposts. Take note of the highway, the road that you take. Return, Virgin Israel, return to your towns, he said.*
But how do we get there? How do we travel through this life and how do we recognize the “road signs” to God? It can be a difficult and long journey. The landmarks may be new or forgotten along the way. The psalmist said, But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.*
I love that God gifted us all with an awesome road sign, his Word to us… a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.* Announcements! Encouragement! Cautions! Wake-up calls as well! As we look forward, God shows us. This way! There it is! I welcome suggestions, wise counsel, and support from others, especially those who have traveled similar paths. Think of all the people in life who have in some way impacted your movement from one destination to another. Decisions, small and large, are guided by our relationships with others and by our life experiences. Our faith is central to that.
The angels announced, “This will be a sign to you. You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” The road signs were true and “the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
With all the “stuff” crowding my vision and thoughts, I don’t always see the road signs. May God grant us quiet moments to refocus, to see and praise Him, our hope and our guiding light for each day. There it is!
*Jeremiah 31:21, Psalm 39:7, Psalm 119:105
• 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.