Reflecting on Off….

OFF by Michael EbbrechtIt’s been a rough week or two. I’m sure you have all had weeks like this, weeks where you feel a little off, as if life is simply overwhelming. So I was draw to this deceptively simple photo by my friend Michael Ebbrecht. I love the old brick and the rusted switch. It seems this switch and its three leads have survived all sorts of bad weather. The switch might even be stuck, rusted in one position. That’s how life feels to me right now, as if I’m stuck. Perhaps each individual problem doesn’t seem like much, but things just seem to multiply. It started with a trip to the emergency room in an ambulance while my husband was out of town. My daughter and good friend stayed with me, as they ruled out my heart and sent me home. This week meant more medical tests, each ruling out another possibility. So the mystery remains, while the prospect of another round of severe pain still looms over me. At the same time, my daughter and dog both had health issues, and an accident totaled my car. I don’t know about you, but at times like these, it’s difficult not to turtle in, to simply crawl into the corner and lick my wounds. The temptation to feel like a victim, to ask ‘Why me?’, to simply give up, can be hard to resist. It’s easy to cancel a party, or convince yourself that you just don’t have the energy to deal with a visit from a friend or your family. Most of all, I am tempted to skip prayer. I just can’t spare any time at all, simply can’t be bothered, and frankly, would rather not talk to God. Yet if I yield to that temptation, I’m the one severing the connection. I cut myself off from the Source of All Life, the Compassionate Creator, the Architect of the Universe. Make time today to peel away the rust, to reconnect the power, to turn the switch back on. Begin to pray again, even if it’s only an uplifted eye, a heartfelt sigh, a frustrated groan. Picture yourself leaving your burdens at the foot of the cross, as the Holy of Holies cradles you in his arms. Pray for the strength of the Almighty, rather than relying on your own. Most of all pray for patience and discernment, to be present to each situation as it arises. And remember, this too shall pass, and all shall be well, in God’s time, not our own. Text by Connie Chintall ©2012, Photo by Michael Ebbrecht ©2012, used with his permission

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Reflecting on Balance….

Calm winter mornings bring back old memories, of good times and bad. Yet what endures is the arch of our lives, how we live, rather than the particular circumstances. We may feel on top of the world, as if no one and nothing can touch our high spirits. Then perhaps we receive sad news about a dear friend, carefully laid plans are torn apart by unseen circumstances, or a long desired opportunity is laid waste. We soldier on, certain we can handle the big challenges of life, only to crumble in the face of a silly detail. So I was drawn to this haunting photo entitled ‘Unbalanced’ by my new friend Michael. I love how the path works its way around the tree, with branches all to one side. I imagine strong winds bending the tree into its present form, with roots deeply anchoring the trunk. And I especially like how the snow clings to the furrows of the fields in the distance, waiting for the warmth of spring to begin again. At first glance, this lopsided tree may seem unbalanced, but closer consideration reveals a greater stability. Rather than struggle against the prevailing winds, this tree grows in a more favorable direction, swaying to keep from breaking. Perhaps we lose our sense of balance when we work too hard to remain firm, to stand strong. Our hearts can break if they become too brittle, or simply bend if we allow ourselves to remain vulnerable, to lean on those who love us and care for us. Take time today to soften your heart, to allow the Holy Spirit to flow through your life. Lay your burdens at the foot of the cross, trusting whatever you ask is but a little thing to the same Lord who conquered sin and death. And remember if you remain deeply rooted in your faith, swaying with those you love, the good times will be defined by what you bring to life, not what life brings you. Photo by Michael Ebbrecht, used with his permission

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