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loveI don’t remember what our plans were for our first anniversary, but I still remember my friend’s reaction.  Why weren’t we going somewhere for the weekend?  What was wrong?

When she married and had her first anniversary, I saw what she had been expecting.  A trip.  A B&B.  Hoopla.

The reality is that we don’t mind trips or B&Bs or hoopla but we’re just as happy with dinner out.  Or dinner in.  Maybe a movie.  Or a hike.  Love doesn’t have to be flashy to be love whether it is the love between my husband and I or God and I.

Love is love.

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Doubt“I don’t know what God wants me to do.”  A friend has been doing a lot of praying lately as he seeks God’s path for his life.  A new job?  School?  A new city?  The choices are endless and so is the doubt. Why is God silent when we ask, plead, and demand answers?

When this happens in my life, I suspect that the silence can mean one of three things.  The first is that I’m not really listening.  I know what I want and what I want God to say.  With my goal in sight, I just want God to tell me that I’m right and tell me right now.  Frankly, what I need to do is sit down and shush.  Only then can I hear that quiet voice which, unfortunately, may very well tell me something that I don’t want to know.

There is also the possibility that I don’t like the answer that I’m getting.  Certainly THAT can’t be the plan.  Thanks but no thanks, I’ll wait for the real answer, God.  Yeah.  I can be a little slow.  Like the time I clearly heard God telling me to join the choir.  Clearly.  But I didn’t listen because I hadn’t sung in over 20 years.  And I have stage fright.  And I’m not as good as . . . my excuses were endless.  But that’s okay.  God is persistent.  I’m slow but I eventually got the message.

Last but not least, there are the times that God really is quiet.  Maybe now isn’t the time for the solution that we need.  Or we really shouldn’t make the change we are demanding.  Have faith.  The answer will come but it will come in God’s time.

The key is keeping calm, keeping quiet, and keeping open to hear.

–SueBE

Fast 2Is your calendar as full as mine?  When my calendar looks like this, I have a hard time connecting with God.  That’s why I try to make sure that there are a few days with few to zero obligations.  Slower days.  Quiet time.  Time with God.

–SueBE

Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I followed through on some of the impulses that flit through my mind. For instance, on the way home from the vet this morning (on foot; the vet’s office is just up the block), I thought strongly about sitting down on the sidewalk and crying. Would anyone have noticed? I did pass the mail carrier on the way. Surely he would have looked askance at me. Then again, I’ve walked home from the vet in tears before, and no one gave me a second look. And I don’t exactly live in a remote enclave — along with the vet’s office, the street holds a police station, fire station, Girl Scout headquarters (great for receiving one’s cookies before everyone else does), two dentists’ offices, a park and a bus stop. There are people about, believe me. But here’s the rub: Each one of us is so attuned to our own self-doubts, miseries, anxieties and pleasures that we often have no space in our vision or hearts for anyone else’s.

Maybe that’s a good thing. It’s hard enough to navigate one’s own life without taking on the baggage of others. Our own suitcases are plenty heavy, thank you. I, for instance, did not ask the mail carrier how his day was going. Maybe he was up all night with a sick baby. Maybe his mother is in the hospital. How would I know? I was stuck in my own woes. But we did exchange a smile, at least. And here’s the thing — I meant it. I like people generally, and hope our mailman has a nice day. And he, at least in that moment, felt the same way about me.

Maybe if I turned my vision outward more often, I would find that most of us are struggling with one thing or another, but are willing to reach out with positivity anyway. We are never as alone as we think we are. God made us responsive to one another from the get-go: Babies seek out human faces, quickly learning to smile so as to elicit a response should hunger, thirst or other need occur. It is instinctive behavior. Perhaps we are all just infants, whatever our age, looking for someone to respond to our smile, just in case we should ever need them down the line. Perhaps that’s what a smile is — a social cue passed from one to another to admit both our own inherent weakness and transmit the possibility of solidarity. I need you, and you need me. We agree, yes?

I won’t tell you to smile (though your heart is aching), or to let a smile be your umbrella: No one likes being told to feel something he or she does not feel. But know this — a smile is a gift, and you never know how much it might mean to someone else until you give it. In the uptick of facial muscles lies the hand of God. Pass it on.

ISimplicity have to admit.  This one was a little tough.  It isn’t that I’m an astonishingly complicated person it is just that what is simple is important to me.  It is one of the ways that I leave room in my life for God.  Chosing what to photograph wasn’t so much a matter of “I don’t have any ideas” as it was “I have too many ideas.”

I finally chose to photograph one of the shadow boxes I finally finished for our family room.  I have friends who move in and have all their art up and the house decorated in four weeks.  In comparison, I’m on geological time.

This shadow box contains an ammonite (lower) and a trilobite (upper).  They are two of the fossils that my now sixteen-year-old found when he went on a fossil hike as a grade schooler.  He slipped and sat down in a muddy creek and when I came to pick him up the teacher’s aide was worried that I’d be mad.  I still remember this young man trying to calm me down and Jared turned around to show off his mud — hips to ankles.

Our family room is full of simple treasures like this.  A sheet of mica from a geology class.  A mason jar of crystals from a hike.  Another full of shells from the beach.  All are simple treasures that remind us of the many blessings and experiences we have experienced in God’s world.  Gentle reminders about why we need to be good stewards.

–SueBE

FaithWhen I think about the religion of my childhood and being raised in faith, I often think about my grandmother and my great aunt Nettie. Anyone who asked what they were, got a funny look.  “Christian.”  Further explanation, when you could get it, told of small town upbringing with churches so small they couldn’t afford a pastor.  They shared with several Baptist churches in the surrounding counties sharing one minister, one for the Lutherans, etc.  Where did you go on Sunday?  To whichever church in your town had a minister that week.

Faith was faith.

And that’s pretty much how I feel.  I have worked with and known people of a wide variety of faiths ranging from the Abrahamic religions to Buddhism and Janism.  Learning about their faiths has consistently strengthened my own as well as helping me respect the growing variety in my community and in our world.

Faith is faith.

–SueBE

eagle flying pink couldsWhen I was a child, I was a voracious reader. I devoured every book I could find, and once came across the phrase, “something suddenly went awry.”

Since I hadn’t heard the word in real life and had only ever read it in a book, for years, I thought the word “awry” was pronounced “AW-ree.” Finally, I heard someone use the word in a conversation, thus: “uh-RYE” and realized I had been saying it wrong in my mind all those years.

As a youngster, I also thought that John the Baptist was the founder of the Baptist faith. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized “Baptist” wasn’t his denomination… more like his profession, if you will.

So many times, we may not have all the facts, so we make assumptions. It’s nice to have someone knowledgeable nearby to ask questions, but often, we’re left to our own devices, trying to figure out life as we go along. It could feel like we’re winging it until we learn how to fly.

There are many ways to share your faith with a world in crisis, but to me, the most effective way is this: to offer a kind word. To encourage people. To remind them that help is as close as a prayer. And when you learn how to do it, to fly as high as you can, showing them that, no matter how many times things may go awry, it is still possible to soar.

rainEven when life is super busy, take a moment outside to just be.  You can find God’s still small voice in the sound of the wind or the patter of the rain.  Or, on another day, in the warmth of sunlight.  God is there.  Take a moment and hear Him.

 

SilenceTo truly connect with God, we need to sit in silence so that we can listen, just listen.

GratitudeToday is Valentine’s Day which is an anniversary of sorts for Dan and I.  We started dating Valentine’s Day thiry-one years ago.  Today, we got to see a church friend accept her boyfriend’s proposal.  So many reasons to Thank God.

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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