You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2017.

Travel guru, Rick Steves, tells the story of why he decided to donate his retirement “nest egg” to house homeless women and children. In the 90s, he decided to buy a building complex to help the community. In time, the buildings became uninhabitable due to mold.

“To me, this was actually good mold. God was in that mold. After much thought the right move became clear. I’d tear down the duplexes and replace them with four­plexes, doubling the people I could house and creating a little community I’d call Trinity Way.”

God was in that mold.

Today, I had to contact a company’s customer service about an issue, and I felt myself tensing as I was talking. I had to remind myself that the outcome would not have been improved had I screamed at the representative on the phone.

In the end, I’d say that I wasn’t completely calm, but I didn’t blow my stack. The best I could achieve was to be tight but polite. And that was enough in that moment. Tight but polite.

In Don Miguel Ruiz’ The Four Agreements, he writes:

“Always Do Your Best – Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick.  Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse, and regret.”

In the case of Rick Steves’ vision to house the homeless, maybe that mold was an obstacle that led to a miracle. A blockage that turned into a blessing. Things may not always go as you’ve planned, but sometimes detours lead to a better destination.

Heading into the new year, just a gentle reminder that, no matter who we meet, we’re always talking to God in human form. Sometimes, he even morphs into mold.

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Celebrate the end of 2017 by taking some small action that will forward your goals for 2018.

–SueBE

It seems funny that I’m telling people to connect face-to-face when so much of my work is online.  Sadly, I think that the problem is that screens make it to easy for us to forget that behind that opinion is a human being.  We want to slap down that discouraging, hate-filled image so we post something that is often no less hate-filled.

My recommendation?  Before you comment, think about the person behind the post.  Would you say this to his or her face?  And I’m not asking if you have the nerve to be a punk.  That’s nothing today.

Do you have the nerve to say the hard thing that needs to be said but say it out of love?  Do you have the nerve to see this person as a fellow child of God and still say “I’m sorry but your behavior?  Your words, right here?  Not acceptable.”

We need that human connection.  Some of us get it face to face.  Admittedly that is the easiest.

But inclement weather and illness can get in the way of that person-to-person contact.  When that happens, remember – behind that image, behind that opinion is a broken, fallible child of God.  Truly connect.

–SueBE

 I’m embarrassed to admit this but there are times I use prayer as a short cut.

“God, help me loose this weight.” (Prayer said while dusted with sugar cookie crumbs.)

Prayer is one way that I can connect with God but it isn’t meant to save me from action or activity.  So if you’ll excuse me, there’s a rowing machine with my name on it.  Because I already found the cookies.

–SueBE

This one’s gonna be different. Don’t we tell ourselves that every year? Don’t we start out with enthusiasm, with actual, resolute resolutions that by gum we are going to follow through on? Aren’t we certain that we can cast off the shadow of the previous 365 days simply because the date on the calendar now has a new number attached to it?

Well, don’t we?

I submit that the new year is a fraud, a sham, a flim-flam, a bamboozlement. A year can’t change things. Only we can. And it’s harder to do than a simple resolution might convey. To change one’s self fundamentally requires radical thinking and aggressive discarding of old thoughts, habits, and relationships. Most of us won’t ever do it. We’re too comfortable as we are. Only the most terrible and unexpected events — natural disaster, death, fatal illness — are enough to shock us out of complacency. And then, perhaps, only temporarily.

So…what to do with 2018 and its bright, shiny promises of change and renewal? Start small. Change one way of thinking. Give yourself a mantra — “first impressions are always wrong” for instance — to nip a habit of snap judgment in the bud. Or start each morning by doing one new thing: making your bed, trying a new stretch or simply saying, “I will be open to new possibilities today.” Repeated actions have a tendency to work their ways into our lives in ways we cannot foresee.

Or take up reading a new blog regularly. Work your way one chapter at a time through the bible. Smile at people you don’t know and won’t see again. Anything that might trigger a new, green sprout of thinking, a tiny revelation, an awkward step in a new direction.

And if it all falls apart, don’t berate yourself. January first isn’t the only day for changes. You can do that on February third, April 17th, or November 30th. You can do it anytime. Let yourself be open to nudges and signs and questions. Sometimes that’s the most essential part of change.

If we each turn ourselves one degree, together we can make a revolution — literally and figuratively.

This quote brought to mind Matthew 18:20 – “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

We don’t need vast numbers to come to a green committee or diversity meeting for it to be a success.  Especially if it is a first meeting.  Pull together two or three people.  Work for Christ and he will be with you.  You will also be able to draw on each others energy.

Little by little.  Step by step.  We can make a difference.

–SueBE

Consider the above as you work on your resolutions or goals for the upcoming year.  Schedule time to listen for that still small voice.  He may have something in mind for you already.

–SueBE

 

 

It seems that even when a news story is about this wonderful time of year, it turns dark somehow. Christmas: Overspending Nightmare! Financial Ruin and Crass Materialism, Dead Ahead!

Lest we forget, this is a joyous and blessed season. No need to focus on the negative.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8 NIV

Right next to all the bad news out there, I found some uplifting stories for the holiday.

A mother reported to the police that her son was missing, only to find out that he had secretly gotten a job so he could earn money to buy her a Christmas present. “I just wanted to do something for my mama,” he said.

Three-year-old Esme had been unable to walk until she had an operation. Her parents took her to see Santa and she told him, “Look Santa, I can walk!”

After surviving Hurricane Harvey, Scruffy the deaf dog had trouble finding a forever home. Ashley Pieterse came into the dog rescue and said, “We want you. You’re ours,” and took him home in time for Christmas.

Never forget: there’s just as much good going on the world as there is bad. You just have to curate carefully through the weeds to get to the flowers.

Here’s wishing all of you dear readers a joyous holiday and a happy, healthy new year!

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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