by Melissa Fraley

To me, church embodies both connection and community. When I think about the last ten months I try to think less of the difficulties and more about how faith and connection have lifted me up.
When my children were very young, I taught them to pray using a formula of sorts: thank God, ask God to help others, and ask God to help you if needed. Starting with being thankful set our focus on the positive. A focus on the positive lifted us all up and helped us to see what was good even on the tough days. We had faith that God would be there, that he would help, and that there was always something to be thankful for.
During the tough days and months we have all collectively experienced I have found help in God, in the sense of community I have with you all at Pine Shores – even from a distance, and in both old and new and creative ways to stay connected. I have also found help in focusing on the good that has come from this. I have been forced to slow down and appreciate the quieter moments. I have gained more time with my children. I have developed deeper friendships with the few that are in my “pod”. I have remained connected because of technology – something that had often made me feel less connected. I have been able to stay connected to my church community and take the time to hear God.
God is with us. Always. Psalm 121: 1-2 says, “I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Sometimes we feel alone, but when we stop and take a breath, we can hear the Lord leading us toward help. I encourage you each to stop and breathe – and let the Lord lead you.
When you need to feel lifted up through your faith in God, I invite you to think of the community you are always connected to as a part of Pine Shores – and maybe to try one of these ideas: Listen ~ https://youtu.be/TfiYWaeAcRw
Write ~ Make a gratitude jar or a smile file. https://www.therisingspoon.com/2019/11/diy-gratitude-jar.html
Connect ~ Reach out to someone – by text, by phone, through FaceTime or Zoom, by writing a letter, or just waving to and talking with a neighbor. Open your Pine Shores directory – or the directory on the app if you have it…
Remember, you are part of a community at Pine Shores. You are loved.

Scripture Reading: Psalm 121:1-2
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Reflection Questions:
How do you feel connected to Pine Shores?
How do you lift up or encourage others?
What are the factors that make you a half-fill or half-empty kind of person?

Prayer: Lord God, thank you for being there, for helping us through these times, for lifting us up. Amen.

To view previous readings click HERE