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So there I was, watching “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” yet again — as I have nearly every Christmas season except for that of its premiere (I wasn’t born yet), when it occurred to me (as it always does) that there are some serious flaws in the storytelling…most glaringly, with the subplot about the Island of Misfit Toys. (Whew! That was a long sentence. Take a breather, readers.)

The “misfits” on this island range from the slightly offbeat — a train with square wheels, by no means unfixable — to the ludicrous — a polka-dotted stuffed elephant (so what? I had a purple plaid stuffed dog). But what always got me, doll-lover that I was as a child, was the little ragdoll. Seriously, what was so wrong about her? She was adorable! She could say, “How do you do?” Why in the heck was she stuck on this island?

Okay, I realize I’m taking a children’s animated show a bit too much to heart. But isn’t that what children do? On the plus side, maybe it was repeat showings of this Rankin/Bass classic that caused me to side with the underdogs, the folks on the outside margins, to begin with. I still do, perhaps because it’s where I see myself.

Only here’s the thing: God doesn’t make misfits. In God’s great plan, there is a “fit” for everyone. It may take awhile to find it, of course. But it’s out there. I doubt my first grade classmates knew what to do with a girl who was already reading at a fourth grade level (at least — the test only went up that high), who made up rhymes instead of playing tag, who had (I kid you not) an invisible “thinking cap” that she mimed putting on before spelling bees.

It took a long while to find “my people.” But find them I did. Some of us are odd ducks (or geese or elephants), while some of us are simply extraordinary. I know some pretty terrific folks — SueBe and Ruthie, for two. My friend Susan is the most thoughtful person on earth. My friend Maria lives a life of quiet but radical spirituality. Caroline — who I have known since first grade — combines brash good humor with erudition…and has never, ever treated me like a misfit.

So for all you “misfits” out there, take heart. There is a slot out there for your distinctly shaped peg. And there are other people, too, who will embrace your particular brand of different. Because, like the residents of the Island of Misfit Toys, you are not wrong…only wonderful, in a way all your own.

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When I prep, I prep like Lincoln.  I’m like that when I prepare a talk.  I outline.  I make notecards.  I rehearse it at least three times. But other times, I’m totally flying by the seat of my pants.

More often than not, the Lincoln approach comes hand-in-hand with doing something that scares me.  Speaking in public is one of those things.  I just have to hope that God helps me sort out the tasks that deserve this amazing attention to detail vs those that do not.

–SueBE

I’ve always loved that line out of the Blues Brothers.  Whenever someone failed to see eye-to-eye with them as they worked to put on a concert to raise money to save the orphan’s home, the explanation was simple.  “We’re on a Mission from God.”

Don’t you wish that line worked in real life?

“We need to collect donations to help the homeless/hungry/incarcerated/illiterate/refugees.”

“Why should I care?  It doesn’t affect me.”

“We’re on a mission from God.”

Oh, wait.  That’s right.  Life wasn’t particularly easy for Jake and Elwood (The Brothers).  Sure, they seemed to have a knack for finding trouble, but things didn’t get a whole lot easier just because they were working to help someone else.

Yet they succeeded in spite of the fact that people thought they might be more than a little off.

–SueBE

 

Maybe it’s because we cleaned out my Dad’s house, more or less, this past year.  Maybe it’s because my mother-in-law moved back to town and gave many of her treasures to her children.  Maybe it’s because my house, larger than the one I grew up in, is FULL with a capital F.  But this quote makes a lot of sense to me at this point in my life.

Stuff is not the answer.  Giving back is the answer.

That’s something I’m think about as we had into this holiday season.  What do I want from my husband?  I want the light and fan put up and the patio cleaned up so that we can better use the space.  I want to eagle watch in January.  I want to head out to Osage and visit one of my friends from junior high.  She lives in the town where my grandmother grew up.

So don’t buy me stuff.  Get a poor family a goat.  Contribute to a literacy program.  Make a donation to the local food pantry.

That’s how I’d prefer to celebrate this season.  If you push me for what I want, all that sounds good is some sparkly lights, a plate of cookies and some music.

–SueBE

 

The quote is a little convoluted but I can’t help but believe that the idea it expresses is an important one.  So often, we don’t act when we could because we are afraid what other people will say.

They will judge.

They will whisper.

They will criticize.

And the reality is that yes they will.  But should we let that stop us?  Recently, I worked the church craft fair with a friend.  I was in charge of the church craft booth.  I still laugh when I say that because I was surrounded by people telling me what to do.  It was kind of hard not to think of myself as the scape goat.

But working with my friend, who is in charge of the fair as a whole, we had a lot of fun.  And we have some new plans for next year.  Sure, the changes that we plan to make will mean more fussing but that’s okay.  Working together we can share a laugh and keep on keeping on. When you’re acting for Him, it doesn’t make sense to let them hold you back.

–SueBE

Photo by Nina Strehl on Unsplash

Well, I took a catnap yesterday, and had a dream in which a voice was slowly repeating three letters.

“C…H…U…”

CHU. Huh. Doesn’t ring a bell. So I looked up “Chu” to see if it means anything in another language.

In Japanese, it’s the sound of a kiss.

In French, it’s the past participle of “choir.”

In Vietnamese, it means “all right.”

All of these translations lead in to my post for today, about the way we engage with each other.

An unwanted kiss is not a kiss at all. It’s an assault. In reaction to all of the men in the news accused of impropriety, there has been a choir of voices calling for change. Jane Fonda said the answer to dealing with toxic men in power is to put women in charge. Maybe, but I’ve got to say, I’ve worked for women managers who were toxic as well.

I think the answer may be to regard each interaction as a micro-loan of energy.

Of course, this is already a concept, and it’s called “karma.” But if we think of it as exchanging a gift with every interaction, it’s easier to develop it as a habit.

What if you realized that every time you were disrespectful to someone, karma would come back instantly, only – here’s the twist – not to you, but to a loved one? In a way, it happens that way already, if you think of the whole of humanity as your extended family.

Most people want to do the right thing. They want everyone to be “all right.” I truly believe that. Maybe in this moment of revelation and demand for action, we can rise above our need for a pound of flesh and get back to the golden rule.

There’s a little more truth in that statement than I care to consider some days.  But I still have to admit that it’s true.

I didn’t want to teach adult Sunday school again.  I just don’t have time to do it justice.  But one of the other women agreed that together we would teach judges.

I’m not going to say it’s been a blast.  But in teaching this, I realized how little I knew about this critical book of the Bible.  Just in reading the text of Judges, I learned a lot.  I learned even more in the conversations with our pastor.  And I came out of it all with an idea for a work related project.

None of this would have happened if I had taken the easy route.  The view from the top of the hill really is worth the climb.

–SueBE

I have to admit that my husband is so much better at this than I am.  I think about everything I didn’t accomplish yesterday.  I try to correlate all I have to do tomorrow.  My biggest concern is that I would probably be more efficient if I lived in the now.

But that’s not truly the important issue, is it?  The issue is what we miss when we ignore now as we focus on today and tomorrow.

Fortunately we have the perfect now moment going on today.  We will be attending a wedding.  Today we will be celebrating.

Tomorrow?  There will be time enough for that when it gets here.

–SueBE

Too put it mildly, I march to the beat of a different drummer.  Always have.  Always will.  So I’m used to being slightly out of step with mainstream society.

Maybe that’s why I’m so grateful for my fellow Green Committee members.  Like myself, they care about the Earth and those who share it, human and animal.  In addition to connecting with fellow members of my congregation, this committee has helped me connect with other people in my presbytery and across the country who share my dreams for a better tomorrow.

They have definitely made this past year more interesting.  And, if anything, just a bit more hopeful.

Spend some time this week, contemplating the dreams and dreamers who make you life just a bit more interesting.

–SueBE

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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