You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2018.

Where did we get the idea that we should alway win?  Seriously, I don’t remember my mom telling me that.

Besides winning carries with it its own set of problems.  Something that authors talk about is the imposter syndrome.  Following a big sale, you start to wonder.  Do I really deserve to be here?  Can I do it again?  What if this was just a fluke?

Authors may talk about it but I bet the rest of you feel the same way periodically.  What if, after a promotion, you simply can’t do the job?  What if you come to regret the move into the new house?  Getting into your dream college?

This is why it is vital that we all be true to who and whose we are.  Christ was clear.  Honor God.  Honor your neighbor, which he defined rather broadly. Help the poor.  Work with the talents God gave you in doing these things.  Be true. Live up to your light.

The rest?  You’ll win some.  You’ll lose some.  That I remember hearing from my mom again and again and again.

–SueBE

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Today I am working on a rewrite.  For those of you who aren’t writers, let me explain.

With every new story, poem or article, we have an idea in our head.  It is golden and glorious because it is new and fresh.  A first draft never lives up to our expectations.  Many people never get past that.  Writers who manage to publish live on hope.  Maybe just maybe the next draft will fix whatever needs fixing.

Hope and determination aren’t limited to writers.  We just get to pair them together on a daily basis.

Pair them with your own God-given talents and see where they take you!  You may not get it right the first time, but that’s okay.  Be like this little guy and hold on to your hat and head for tomorrow.

–SueBE

 

God has been so good to me.

Photo by kazuend on Unsplash

People always seem surprised to hear me say that. I’ve got progressive MS, walk with a cane and I’m partially blind. A surgery intended to correct a macular hole did exactly the opposite and left me without usable vision in my right eye.

Afterwards, when I asked the surgeon’s partner if I’d ever see again in that eye, he shrugged. I persisted, asking why my eye wasn’t healing. The doctor literally, actually, honest-to-God said this:

“Bad luck?”

As if it was a question. I pondered: could it be that when they were offering “bedside manner” class in medical school, he’d called in sick that day?

For years, I stewed about that surgery, imagining what it would be like to sue the pants off of the doctors in that practice. To take ownership of their Bentleys, their Labradoodles, their Rolexes.

I wished ill on them for a long time, until I realized that if the doctor had made a mistake, there’s nothing I could do to reverse it. By that point, it had been years and the statute of limitations had passed. Both legally and spiritually.

The surgery had taken its toll on my eye. The aftermath of anger took its toll on my psyche.

It wasn’t until recently that I was able to let go of my anger.

I have to re-phrase that.

Let go of my unforgiveness.

This is even more toxic than anger.

When you get angry, it’s usually a temporary state. Almost a form of insanity. You snap, you yell, you throw the remote. You get over it. You come back to your senses.

But with unforgiveness, you’ve set your anger into stone.

Wishing ill on someone who’s done you wrong is like saying, “Smite them, Lord! Break out that lightning bolt! At the same time, give me a life sentence of misery, obsessed with vengeance when I could have had joy. Kay. Thanks. Bye!”

That hole in my eye had led to a hole in my soul.

You can’t say “bless me” and “curse you” at the same time.

What’s different now? Well, I still live with physical limitations. The vision in my eye never returned. The most important thing that changed was my focus. The lens through which I see the world, if you’ll pardon the pun. I’ve learned to keep my eyes on the good in life and never look back.

When I saw this quote, I immediately recalled one of the year-long Bible studies I did in our church’s women’s circle.  The topic for the 2016-2017 was Who Is Jesus? The cover image was a photomosaic.  This is a compilation of photos used as mosaic tiles.  In this case, photos of the natural world, combined to create an image of Christ.

Look on it too closely and you see only each animal or plant – the bear, the owl, the fern.  And while these things are fascinating in themselves, pull back and you see Christ.

You, me, that annoying dog barking next door?  We are all parts of the Creation.  Pull back, look at the whole, and see what you can see.

–SueBE

If you feel like the struggle for freedom and human rights just goes on and on, you aren’t alone.  Even Coretta Scott King has commented on it.  When I was in college we worked to project Native American lands from big coal.  Now the struggle is against big oil and those who want to use these lands as dumping grounds.

The poor will always be with us.  Those are Christ’s words.

Sadly, many use this phrase to excuse ignoring the needs of the poor.  “Oh, well. There are always going to be poor people.” Why help if they are always going to be there?

This has never felt right to me.  Christ saw those others chose to ignore. He listened.  He healed.

Today I saw an interesting interpretation of Christ’s comment in this post.  Jesus was quoting another passage of our Bible that is also part of the Torah.  This means that the passage would have been well-known to his followers.  Here is the full text from Deuteronomy 15, verse 11.  “For the poor will never cease out of the land; therefore I command you, You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in the land.”  When Christ’s followers heard the phrase “the poor will always be with us,” they would have known the rest.  “You shall open your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor.”

The struggle is ongoing.  There will always be a need.  And we have been called to open our hands today and tomorrow.  Amen.

–SueBE

Recently another writer asked me to share my five-year plan.  When I didn’t have one, she was flabbergasted.  “How are you going to get where you want to go without a five-year plan?”

God?

Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t that I’m so much more faithful than the next person, but seriously?  Does everything really go the way you planned?  If so, we need to meet because I’ve only ever read about people like you.  Never met one.

I periodically try to make a month-long plan.  Take January.  I had no deadlines.  I could work on my novel.  How’s it coming?  Well I haven’t gotten to work on it much.  “We need you to rewrite this manuscript before it goes to print.  We know you’ve already done it once but…”  And I landed a new job and accepted an invitation to a writing retreat in May but I have to send in a manuscript now.

I have vague sketchy plans.  They’re more like guidelines.  It cracks my friend Kathryn up.  She has a detailed plan.  And an alternate.  And another alternate just in case.  Me?  I know I need to get there — yep, that spot off in the distance.  I have a fair idea what the next two or three steps will be.  After that?  I’ll figure it out.  Don’t worry.

I’m not like this with everything.  But I do manage to pull it off in my work life.

Why?  This may sound a bit mystical but I believe God is at the wheel.  Work always comes when I need it.  Opportunities arise that I never would have conceived of on my own.  I’m not going to say it all comes together easily.  It’s been a lot of work (see above rewrite) but I’m helping create books that give something to young readers.

Five year plan?  I’d like to finish this novel but I’ll also be open to what opportunities come my way.  After all, who know when I’ll come to a turn in the road.

–SueBE

If there’s one thing you ought to know about me by now, it’s that I’m a Catholic. And if there’s one thing that you ought to know about Catholics, it’s that we love Mary. No, we do NOT worship her. We do NOT pray to her. We ask for her intercession because she is the one human being in all of history to have had an intimate relationship with God in all three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. No one knows God better. No one is closer to God.

When children fall and hurt themselves, they run to their mother. So do Catholics. Our “falls” might be physical, mental or spiritual. But when we hurt, we reach out to Mary for comfort. She is our advocate.

The quintessential Marian prayer is the “Hail Mary.” It is taken partly from the words of Mary’s cousin Elizabeth when she saw Mary coming to visit her and recognized what was happening to her — Mary was carrying the Savior in her womb. Here’s how it goes:

Hail Mary, full of grace!
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners
now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

The Hail Mary is the most basic prayer needed to pray the rosary. There are a few others — the Our Father, the Glory Be, the Apostles’ Creed — but the Hail Mary is the foundation.

Why so much talk about Mary? Call it passing on the words of my people. My own relationship with Our Lady has brought peace to my life, and I think it could help you, too. The single thing necessary for building a relationship with Mary is simply the desire to do so. Just open the door. Talk to your Mother. What, you’re too busy? Don’t worry about it. Start with the Hail Mary. Let it lead you home. Mary can become your confidante and prayer partner. After all, Mother knows best.

Sitting on my bedside table is a copy of Waking Up White by Debby Irving.  If you haven’t read it, Waking Up White is a memoir about race in which Irving discusses her own early misconceptions and how she eventually woke up.  As I was reading last night, it brought to mind the above quote from Lewis.

Race is a tricky thing.  It can take a long time to realize this if you’re white because you may not realize that your own race is baseline normal.  This means that anyone who isn’t white, or white enough, is abnormal. I can’t think of anyone who isn’t white who fails to understand this most likely because it is daily reality.

But if you’re white?  You can stumble along oblivious.

That almost makes it sound like I think races are separate and isolated but they aren’t.  How we see race is a function of different peoples bumping up against each other just like the rooms in a house.  Most houses have multiple rooms – kitchen, bathroom, bedrooms.  Together they make a building a house. Our racial issues are not the problems of black people, Asians or First Nations.  They took all of us, white people included, to come into being.

If you haven’t read Waking Up White, I recommend it.  I’m sure some of you have already come fully awake but if you have the book also contains talking points to help initiate discussions.

–SueBE

 

 

This is a talent that I admire in others – the ability to consistently lift others up.

It isn’t that I’m entirely oblivious to others.  I notice people.  I watch people.  I observe.

But our pastor?  He connects.  When someone comes on strong, he steps forward and engages.  He seems to know what it is they need.  To me, it is almost mystical.

To the people with this talent – thank you.  Thank you.  Maybe one day it will click with me just how you do it.  I am in awe.

–SueBE

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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