This picture of a cheetah named Bingwa who gave birth to eight cubs makes me smile when I look at the two cubs in the corner. Looking at their mother, heads tilted, as if to say, We just love our mom! We’re so proud of her! I may be wrong, but that’s what I want to be true. Of course, it looks like Bingwa needs a break already, and who can blame her? I can imagine her thinking, What have I gotten myself into? That’s a lot of mouths to feed.

Do we ever know what any other living being is thinking, really? We can barely communicate with each other in this country lately. Even when people use actual words, we don’t always know the whole story.

Last January, an emergency alert was sent to cellphones across Hawaii, warning of an incoming ballistic missile attack. It turned out to be incorrect, thankfully – the alert had been the result of human error. But if even state-of-the-art technology can’t prevent communications breakdowns, what hope is there for human beings?

I actually got myself into a mood this afternoon as I was thinking about the state of the world at large and situations I need to decipher in my own little world. I needed a nudge to get myself back to center and found it in the story of this little boy with spina bifida who was having trouble walking.

No matter what you’re facing today, think of Roman, walking on his own for the first time and sharing the moment with his best friend, Maggie the dog. Small steps that give us a sense of perspective in the big picture. Just what we all need right now.

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Personally, I think this is at least part of what Jesus meant when he said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven…”  (Matthew 18:3)  There’s more to it and you can look it up but the part that I want to focus on today is childlike enthusiasm.

Kids are crazy enthusiastic.  Get them on board an idea and they are in.  It didn’t matter what the project was.  When my son was a preschooler, he committed all the way and we’d while away the afternoon making cinnamon ornaments, building with Legos, or chasing each other around with supersquirters.  Yes never meant, okay.  It meant YES.

I don’t know about you, but I could stand to rediscover some of that especially where my faith is concerned.  At the moment, I suspect I’m more like a teen.  “You want me to what?  Seriously?  I got other things going on.”

What God needs, and in all truth what our society needs, is some childlike enthusiasm and glee.  “What? I hadn’t thought of that but . . . let’s go!”

It sure would be a big difference.

–SueBE

Like many of you out there, I’ve always had questions about the parable of the Prodigal Son. For instance, why was it such a big deal that he asked for his inheritance early? My pastor put an end to my wonderings: to the Jewish people of the time, asking for your inheritance was tantamount to wishing your father dead. It was a breach in relationship that could not be mended. Except that the father in the story does mend it — just as God mends the breaks we make with God, over and over, on a daily basis.

Does God make it too easy for us to return home? Maybe. But if God made it harder, we’d never come. Imagine the waiting God does for us! Perhaps a modern perspective will help:

Waiting became habit;
habit became a life.
Day after day,
your father longed for you.
His world became one chair,
one single pane of glass.
Through the window,
he could track the hour
of every package delivery,
chart the bladder capacity
of every dog on the block.
He missed nothing.
When you came,
he was out of his seat in a shot,
prepared to embrace
even your apparition.
Your real flesh,
on the welcome mat,
made him weep.
Yet all the time
you embrace him,
your eye is on the door.

Letting this one speak for itself today.

–SueBE

Answering God’s call is scary when it means leaving behind the tried and true.  But let me share a little secret.  You were made in his image.  You were born to fly.

–SueBE

I have to admit that I sometimes let the negative voices in my own mind drive me forward.  What if . . . If only . . . Worries, fears, and concerns can push me along.

Fortunately, my husband doesn’t function like that.  He’s my sounding board and has no issues when it comes to telling me I need to get out of my head.

The funny thing is that we are so different in many ways my girl friend’s in college tried to warn me away.  I was a super studious scholarship student.  My grades were my ticket to school.  A long-haired drummer who just happened to also be a business student.  “You don’t know what drummers are like,” warned my friends.

But I’d been praying to meet someone who would love me the way my dad loved my mom.  We had grown up miles apart.  I went to high school with his church friends.  He went to high school with my church friends but we didn’t meet until college.  I’m just glad I managed to ignore the fearful commentary.

Today is our 30th anniversary.  My friends saw a wild, partier.  I found someone whose faith is stronger than my own, who stays calm when I’m in panic mode and who knows when it is time to pull me out of my head.  God answers prayers. We just need to listen.

–SueBE

 

The Lyft driver drove me to my doctor’s appointment, and as we pulled into the parking lot, he told me he was a pastor, and asked, “Do you mind if I pray for you? Because I believe Jesus heals.”

“So do I,” I said. “I’ll take all the prayers I can get.”

He came around to help me out and held the car door open. I said, “‘Preciate that, son. And thanks for your prayers.” I went into the building. As I got onto the elevator, I realized he was still standing by the open car door. He finally – reluctantly – went back to the driver’s seat.

Oh. Did he intend to stand there next to the car and hold hands to pray with me? Right there? That would have been different. In that case, I would have declined. It wasn’t just the issue of praying in public, but also of its being done in that location. Blocking the doorway where ambulances drop off sick patients for their medical appointments.

In some ways, his prayer would have been a performance. Publicity for his church. He could just as easily have prayed for me as he drove away. It reminded me of the time an acquaintance zeroed in on me at a gathering. Said she really wanted to talk to me. She’d heard about my health issues. That I’d gotten separated. She said, “I really think you could benefit from my support group.” It turned out to be Transcendental Meditation. So she’d sought me out, thinking I was a mess. Huh. I literally said, “Thanks, but no thanks,” and left.

You can help people in a way that really benefits them, or you can meet the quota of your clique. Souls saved. Public prayers accomplished. Check.

The best way to represent your beliefs is to be a human being. Offer an ear to listen. A word of kindness. If you keep pushing your product despite resistance, you’re just another door-to-door salesperson.

This morning, a young mother posted a note of thanks on a community forum. Grocery shopping had been going awfully – something about having to have 3 under-6 girls who were tired and cranky along for the trip.  She was almost in tears when up walked another mom who loaded this lady’s groceries in the car and had her son take the cart back to the corral. This was the bit of help she needed to shift her day from dreadful to blessed.

Seeing and acting.  We need to do both.  When we do, even in a case as minor as helping a mom at the grocery store, we have a huge impact.

–SueBE

I thought my dear friend (and pet-sitter of 19 years) had disappeared. I couldn’t reach her by phone. My messages went unanswered. The number I found in the white pages had been disconnected. I was so miserable, I wept.

Turns out it was all a product of a faulty telephone and some bad timing. I am understandably relieved, but in those moments of panic, I realized just how delicate life can be….

The world is a fragile place,
held together by gravity and spit,
like a spider’s web or soap bubble,
ever poised to fly into fragments
at the least puff of wind.
We can build a shell of sorts
by holding hands — prayer will
brace the dam more firmly
than cement. If someone is standing
alone, we must pull them in
like a wandering balloon.
Be gentle with your hands
and with your words:
You never know who
might be crumbling.

Sometimes I wonder how everyone else knows how we are supposed to be thinking or be dressed.  I remember showing up to a casual reunion get-together.  I don’t even remember what I was wearing  Absolutely everyone else had on cropped khaki pants, sleeveless blouses and wedges.  Well, all of the women.  It was a bit stepford.

I’d love to say that this was the only time I’ve experienced a moment where I’m out of sync but it is actually pretty common.  Fifty Shades of whatever?  Nope.  Not even interested.

And we don’t have Netflix.  We have wifi and internet.  And we check out movies from the library.

On my kitchen stove at this very moment are a percolator and a cast iron skillet.  Of course, the tablet is sitting on the breakfront.

I don’t worry about it too much.  I’ve always been this way even when my mom was trying to “doll me up.”  Poor Mom.

Just as we have many talents, we have many personalities.  Every now and again I try to be the person someone else wants.  Bad, bad decision.  So much better to be the unique, quirky person God made.  He’s got a job for me and I’m fairly certain I have to be me to pull it off.

–SueBE

 

 

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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