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I would love to have a debate with Thoreau.  Scratch that. I’m almost certain we are equally opinionated and I would end up dumping him out of his little row-boat into Walden Pond.  Truth is vital, but it needs to be tempered with love.

A friend believes that more than anything we need to hear the unvarnished truth.  She’s been known to give someone a bucket full of reality in the middle of a dinner party and then announce to any and all, “You hadn’t straightened her out but I took care of it.”  I’m still having trouble looking my sister-in-law in the eye.

The crazy part of the whole situation is that I’m all for truth.  I loathe being lied to but I also acknowledge that truth without love is often more of a weapon than a gift.  No, you don’t really want to know what I think about your hair cut and please oh please do not ask me if those pants make your butt look big.

Yesterday Lori wrote about Christ’s light.  How about holding that truth into the light before you share it with everyone?  Do you see a glimmer of love or is that a stain of malicious intent?  Love and truth together can do remarkable good so share them far and wide.  The other?  I’m not sure what you should do with it but sharing it is probably a really bad idea.

–SueBE

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A noisy blue jay is claiming my yard as his own. I could go out and tell him otherwise — or, better yet, my cat could — but I’m going to let the bird have his little triumph, just for a moment. We all need some light in our lives, even if it is short-lived.

I guess the trick to faith (and hope) is noting light where you see it, even if it’s reflected, or dim, or possibly artificial. At least it gives you a moment to see things more clearly, to assess where you are. At best, it reminds you that life is worth living.

What are your most reliable light sources? Mine are my husband and family, my friends, my faith. Nothing shores me up like the words “Glory be to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end, amen.” It reminds me of God’s constancy, which will endure long past the moments of darkness.

Choose your light carefully: Don’t look exclusively to people or places to buoy you up. Make sure the light is grounded in something more permanent — like love. People fail you; love doesn’t. Places change; love is eternal. Anything you depend on for light that is not fundamentally anchored in love will not sustain you.

When you find light, turn to it like a plant seeking sun. Bask. Store up sense memory for those times when you doubt the presence of light again.

Also, share the light with others. Please. This may be our greatest charge as humans and our biggest source of failure. I don’t know you, but I love you. I think you are a good person. Come stand in the light with me; our togetherness will make it grow.

A number of my friends are librarians and one of them recently told a story on herself.  No surprise, dealing with difficult library patrons is annoying.  She can’t just give them to another librarian.  She can’t find something to do in the back.  And she has to keep them from impacting how she deals with the next person.

While they are griping, she takes a deep breath and says to herself, “This is a child of God.  Remember that – child of God.”  It may not change how this person behaves, but it does change how she views them.  She says that she has actually felt the tension draining from her shoulders.

So many of us seem to embrace the aggravation and the anger that people bring into our lives.  We post about it online.  We retell the story again and again.  How different might our outlook, and our days, become if instead we said this small, high-impact prayer?

“This is a child of God.  Remember that – child of God.”

–SueBE

I don’t agree with this quote 100%. There have always been those, such as the enslaved, acting out of fear for their lives.

But it is something to think about.  How often do we act out of fear?  The sales of alarm systems, security lighting and real estate in the outer suburbs depend on it.

How different would things be if instead of acting out of fear, we acted out of determination to be the people God created us to be?  To fulfill the mission he has put in front of us?  To show his light in all we do? I can’t help but believe that this would impact how we treat each other and what we manage to accomplish.

–SueBE

“But that’s the way we’ve always done it.”  My husband and I laugh whenever we hear this.  Our theory is that most people don’t have very good memories.  If they’ve done something a certain way two or three times, it becomes how they have always done it.

But then again we also laugh when people comment on the “good old days.”  Yeah, life before running water and antibiotics was idyllic.  There’s a reason that all the women in those historic photos look like they are angry or exhausted.  “Take the photo.  Today is laundry day/baking day/help put up a new fence day.”

Joking aside, it is easy to get in a rut.  We try something to solve a problem.  It doesn’t work.  We try it again.  It still doesn’t work.  Unfortunately many of us keep trying the same thing or we just give up.  This problem can’t be solved!

I’d love to say that I always remember to ask for another opinion.  It is the smart thing to do.  After all, God has given us all gifts including how we think.  Not all of us think the same way.  That’s why it is important to ask for help.

That said it is important to remember.  When someone asks for advice, we need to listen.  We need to think.  We probably need to go beyond how we’ve always done it.  God has given us the tools we need to solve many a problem but we do have to remember to use them.

–SueBE

 

 

I thought of Miss Ruth’s post from yesterday when I saw this quote.  We all have two choices in life.

  1.  Be a mediocre copy of someone else. This doesn’t mean you have to copy someone else but if you are constantly contemplating what they will think when you X, Y or Z?  You are more their person than you are yourself.
  2.  Be ourselves.

I was raised to be #1.  The most commonly heard chorus at home was “What will the neighbors think?”  As an adult, I realize that if the neighbors are spending that must time thinking about me, their lives are sorry indeed.  But I spent a lot of time as a teen considering every single action.  Occassionally I would break free and do my own thing, but not often enough.

Then came college.  At that point in my life there were too many neighbors to keep everyone happy.  I had to find my calling.

Whether your calling is to be a teacher, a doctor or a parent, there are others doing the same thing.  Your job?  Bring your own special way of doing things to this path that God has put you on.

Sometimes I worry that I’m a bit too myself.  Maybe just maybe I should tone it down.

Then I run into a friend I haven’t seen in years.  Before taking her Mom to chemo, she goes on Facebook to check out what the rest of us are up to.  “Keep posting, please!  You always crack me up and I need that.”

3 parts sarcasm.  2 parts irreverant lip.  What do the neighbors think?  At least some of them get it and that’s good.  Because this is the me that God made.

Find your calling.  Find your light.  God made you to be you.  Not to be me or Ruth or even Lori.

–SueBE

My birthday is coming up next month, so I’m hoping to encounter some German Chocolate Cake and a new pair of sneakers (if my son is reading, hint-hint!) While I’m all for presents and cake, I don’t like surprises. I agree with Angie Dickinson, who told friends she’d never appear on the show, “This is Your Life,” and when they conspired to surprise her anyway and got her to the set, she walked out!

Now, I do love a surprise ending in a movie. A good play on words. A clever juxtaposition. I was tickled by this observation in an article about hidden writing that was recently found in ancient manuscripts in a desert monastery: “For a monk who lives in the Sinai desert in Egypt, in the world’s oldest working monastery, Father Justin replies to emails very speedily.” Researchers who visited had to “follow the monastic spirit of the place and Father Justin’s schedule, breaking for lunch and Vespers.” He didn’t put his faith on hold, despite the fact that this was an important scientific find.

I also like this unexpected revelation about Lauren Ridloff, a deaf actress who stars in the Broadway play, Children of a Lesser God. When she went to a deaf camp as a teen, the kids spoke exclusively in sign language. Not having to focus on what her words sounded like to others meant she could put all of her energy into signing to express herself. She never spoke again, changing her life for the better as a result.  

All of this to say, it’s okay to show up in life as yourself. Some may drift away if you do, but the ones who just “get you” will stick around. After all, this is your life. You might as well live it your way.

It’s all over the news. Social media, too. People screaming at one another, slapping, beating, threatening, harassing…and for what? For wearing the “wrong” T-shirt. For trying to go swimming at the local pool. For wearing a hijab. For being brown-skinned.

When all we can do is lash out at one another for being “different,” we are in the deepest of deep trouble. If interculturalism teaches us anything, it’s that no two of us are exactly the same. Unless we can deal with that, we are in for one heck of a free-for-all. And nobody is safe.

Forget about beating
swords into ploughshares;
let’s focus on the lightest
of legerdemain, on simple
manipulation of the bones.
Let us turn fists into flattened hands.
Let us bring to each other our brokenness,
our humility. Let us be weak. Mild. Silent.
Let us bow to the God in one another.
And if we cannot, we must lie down at once:
We are already dead.

“A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.” That’s one of those things my mom said all the time.  When I was a kid, I thought she meant that we need to know a lot.  Because if we know a lot, we won’t make mistakes.

Of course, when I was a kid, I also thought that the story of the Garden of Eden was all about obedience.  And that’s definitely part of it.

But as I got older and graduated from high school and then went on to college, I started to wonder about the Tree of Knowledge.  Why was God so keen on keeping us away from it?  People do great things with knowledge.

The older I get, the more certain I am that people are pretty clueless.  Although this was a moment of clarity for me, God knew it all along.  Tree of Knowledge?  Can we toddler proof the Garden?

–SueBE

The last month has been super stressful.  We finally finished cleaning out Dad’s house.  It was brutal.  Because he’d had a stroke before he moved out, we couldn’t just look at a box and say “junk.”  The top item might be a mailer.  Next is an old Christmas card, a screwdriver, a table knife and, at the bottom, an antique cook book.  That box of envelopes?  We opened them all and found $425.00.

In addition to working at Dad’s, I’ve been working.  So far this year I’ve written and rewritten 4 books under contract and I’m working on 4 more of my own.  And because everyone needs more stress, I just contracted for 2 more.  What can I say?  I like electricity and food.

Choices like these shape us all.  I’ve brought way too much from Dad’s into the house.   When I’m working a lot of hours, I’m not always good about picking up as I go let alone as I bring things into the house.   To say it is now cluttered is an understatement.

Since we got home from the Smoky Mntns, I’ve made a point of picking up a little each day.  In two days, I’ve emptied a box, found four empty boxes and taken all of those plus packing material to a friend who is moving.  Every time I walk past this space at the bottom of the basement stairs, I smile.  Space, apparently, makes me happy.  I think that’s part of why vacations are so relaxing.  We are in open uncluttered spaces.

I’m also crocheting like mad.  I need to figure out an instruction on the llama pattern but I’m also finishing up a black bear.  Making something with my hands nourishes and calms me.

Feeling stressed?  Unable to hear God’s voice as you go through your day? Take a look at what you are doing.  Then look for a simple change you can make that will open up space where you need it.  It might be physical space.  It might be space in your heart or mind. Let what you do shape you in a positive way.

–SueBE

 

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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