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Have you noticed how many people feel strongly about both the Cross and the Flag?  They have no qualms about stating that both are of primary importance.  Which is cool.  I guess.  If it works.

But it seems like the majority of people who manage to pull this off are a bit Old Testament.  “The problem was that they didn’t go in and kill all the foreigners like God told them to do.”  “They tolerated people who believed other things.  That’s what got them in trouble.”  It’s amazing the things I overhear simply because people assume that as a Christian I will agree with them no matter what they say.

Sorry guys.  I too manage to hold both the Flag and the Cross in my heart.  But I’m holding the Cross of Christ.  When Jesus came, he preached a message of love, mercy and forgiveness.  He directed his followers to take care of those around them.

That may be what makes my expectations for the Flag a bit different from those of many people.  The mayor of Puerto Rico should not be begging us for help.  There should have been no question of raising shipping limits.

The Cross and the Flag.  The Flag and the Cross.  I have no problems reconciling the two.

–SueBE

 

 

 

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It doesn’t matter how great you think your country is, there is probably something you would love to change.  Think about what that is.  Now think what action you can take to bring that about.

I’m a writer so, among other things, literacy and books are very important to me.  And clearly I’m not the only person who wants to encourage people to read.  I say clearly because I just read a series of posts on Facebook about Little Free Libraries in my area.  I’d spotted one of them but not the others.  I will now be on the lookout.

I also saw a Tweet about a woman who is giving books to Trick-or-Treaters.  That sounds like fun but we tend to get something like 100 kids.  This thought would make my husband super happy and he’d probably even volunteer to haul the books to the front door.  And really, as I look around my office, I realize that I’ve got 600+ books in here with me.  Another 100 or so in my bedroom.  Maybe, just maybe…

–SueBE

 

 

It seems like justice should be easier to achieve.  Why can’t we get the supplies to Puerto Rico that the people so badly need?  And get these supplies off the docks and out into the country itself?  Why do Americans have to go overseas for life saving surgery?  Why does the ACLU have to get involved before a city requires just action from its police force.

The reality is that it is a lot easier for us to look after our own self interests.  To ask ourself ‘what is this going to cost?’ instead of ‘who is this going to save?’

God knew that.  Christ knew that which is why he reminded his disciples – this is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  (John 15: 12).

–SueBE

I have to admit it.  For those of you who hadn’t already figured it out – I was  and still am an Obama fangirl.  This is one of my favorite Obama quotes.

At the moment, there are so many causes and situations where people need our help.  There are still protests going on in my area.  Protests than can easily become another act of violence against African-Americans.  Protests that, after dark when new participants come out, easily turn into riots.

There are so many people throughout the US and the Caribbean who need post-hurricane help.  Efforts to help those in Puerto Rico again and again seem to be hobbled by politics.

Mexico City.  Bangladesh.  Syria.  The list goes on and on.

It can feel overwhelming to the point that we want to pull back and pull into ourselves.  And you may need to do that for a while.  Perhaps you’ve been sick.  Or you’re going through a divorce.  Or there is something else on your plate, something that is pulling down your energy, sapping your strength, and leaving you numb.

And that’s okay.  After all, even as we look over each other, sometimes we are among those who needs some TLC.

–SueBE

(for my mother)

“I hope you never go through this,” she says, but there is no other way.
All roads lead here. All things must pass.
Think of life as a beautiful bird,
watch as time plucks your feathers one by one.

You sail through childhood like a happy ship
until you hear, “Girls can’t do math.”
Or “girls aren’t strong.”
You are young enough to wonder why. Pluck.

You grow into womanhood, revel in newness
like a just-born foal, kicking up its heels.
The world notices in strange new ways.
You learn fear. Pluck.

Then — when did it happen? You’re not so young
and it comes to you at once that your worth,
the price tag of your being, was bound in what you were.
You disappear like vapor. Pluck.

Menopause takes what you’ve finally learned to love,
memory, ripeness, uncanny feminine ability.
You ask yourself, what are you now?
Thinning bones and lost days. Pluck. Pluck.

When does it dawn that you are mostly chicken flesh,
shivering and practically naked?
When do you know that you
no longer know?

Perhaps when the last feather falls you see:
God was there all along, collecting your plumage,
saving it, knitting it into a most fantastic garment.
And when you die, you wear your feathers anew, this time as wings.

And you soar, at last.

Knowledge is like paintHow do we know what we know?  It sounds like a riddle or a tongue twister.  But think about it.  How do you know something?  Is it because someone told you?  You saw it with your own eyes?  Or you experienced it?

There are a wide variety of ways to attain knowledge.  Many animals learn only from their own experiences.  Eating X made me sick.  

Other animals can learn by witnessing another experience something.  That’s going to leave a bruise!  

Human beings can learn in yet another way.  We can learn through what we hear and what we read.  God gifted us as a species with insatiable curiosity.  My advice to you — Listen to people who are unlike yourself. Read, read and read some more.

Why?  Because you can’t paint with an empty can. 

–SueBE

Photo by Karl Fredrickson on Unsplash

The other day, I watched a church service live-stream on Facebook. It occurred to me that I was seeing the exact moment of the lie taking place – yet no one was lying on purpose. The pastor asked if anyone wanted to accept Christ, and many came forward to pray. At the end, he said, “Congratulations! Now you’re born again! All things are made new!”

The lie is in the mood music they’re playing. The warm, welcoming church workers guiding people into their religion. The parishioners nodding as if you’re doing a great thing, this is a big step, your life is about to completely transform!

But that’s the lie of it. That’s the production. The musical number of it.

We expect all vestiges of our former life to just fall away. For all of our insecurities and problems to disappear. Poof! For this encouraging crowd of fellow believers to be there for us always, patting us on the back and giving us a high-five.

Not that anybody’s lying about what faith can do for you. It truly can change your life completely. But that’s the heart-work. That’s work you and God do together, and it happens over time, like a scroll unfurling. No one else can do it for you, and there is no magic prayer to make it happen instantly.

When I took the altar call years ago, in my mind it was more like the “alter call,” as if it would completely change my life instantly. What I came to conclude is that you walk the path with God and maybe alchemizes into of course. Is that you, God? solidifies into a firm foundation of faith.

It’s like that “Just Say No to Drugs” commercial from years ago, that showed an egg frying in a pan, with the voiceover, “this is your brain on drugs.”

In our version, we’ll show the sun rising, flowers blooming, and the earth turning. Massive, mystical, magical happenings – the only common denominator is the One holding it all together.

Good people, This is your soul on God.

Yesterday we had a new experience at our church.  We worked with a number of other local congregations to care for local homeless.  We helped something like 200 people.  They got a hot meal and clean clothing.  Children got shoes, a stuffed animal and a book.  Pastor Sean and I painted faces.  There was a band and a lady doing balloon animals.  Two hundred people got to come in out of the 90+ degree heat for the day.

What impressed me most was that for the most part these people were just people.  The kids and I discussed super heroes, favorite classes, and teachers that are too strict.

With the adults, I discussed the age-old St. Louis question – where did you go to school?  I hedged my bets a little and pointed out that my mom graduated from Beaumont.  She and her parents went to Cote Brilliant Presbyterian Church.  A school and a church deep in the city.

Little boys teased me about my favorite comic book character (Loki) and the little girls talked me into letting them help paint.

Yes, I saw signs of problems deeper than homelessness.  A few people clearly had substance abuse problems and/or mental illness.  But for the most part? They were just people.  And their kind words thanking me for taking time with their children lit my heart.

We are all connected with the lamplight that shines from the love of God.  Definitely something we should remember.

–SueBE

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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