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Most of us figure you’ve got to be loud to make yourself heard. And who doesn’t want to be heard? I certainly do. It took a revisiting of 1 Kings 19: 9-13 to remind me that God chooses all sorts of ways to communicate. In Elijah’s case, it wasn’t a roaring wind, an earthquake or a fire that revealed God; it was a whisper: a small, still voice.

Lord, I said, I’d like to be a burning bush,
all rush and heat, threat and beacon,
righteous flame dancing from my fingertips
as words singe the page. But no, child,
God replied.

I give you stillness. Silence to sit in,
to dwell in like a stone in clear water.
Open your lips to speak: I will come from you
like a whisper, a breeze, a suggestion. You will have
to train your ears to hear me.

So I listen. I mouth words onto paper;
perhaps they are read. But I know them
to be living, airborne, ready
to join a chorus of whispers
singing one true thing.

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I grew up in a family of secret keepers.  Knowledge was power and sharing it meant, in their minds, diluting the power.  A lot of it was fairly minor.  I would generally find out that we were going to a company picnic or to visit a cousin when it was time to leave.  “What do you mean you aren’t ready?  Hurry up.  We have to go.”  But some of it was big like a cousin adopted out of the family and my mother’s terminal cancer.

As a result, I’m an open book.  Some would say way too open. A big part of being open is admitting when you do wrong.  Apologizing.  It is, in my opinion, another way of shining God’s light into the world. The world is flawed.  You are flawed.  Me?  I’m flawed too.  Letting in the light isn’t always comfortable.  Its like walking out of a dark theater into bright sun.

But it is the only way we can  share His Light in this broken world.

–SueBE

 

The other day during a church discussion, we ended up talking about spending time with people who are different from ourselves.  One woman lived for a while in Hawaii.  In college, I had professors from all over the world.  After college, I worked with students from Malaysia and South Korea. There were times I was the only native English speaker in a room of over 50 people.  I also worked a pow wow for several years.

“We haven’t all gotten to travel like you.”

What?  No.  I was here.  In Missouri.  Missouri is not known for its diversity.

After the discussion, our minister stopped me.  “People who are different from I am fascinate me,” he said.  “I want to learn all about them.  I think you’re the same way.”

I laughed because when I was little, my grandmother would let me older cousins take all us kids across the street to play in the park.  When it was time to go home, they’d often have to fetch me because I was off playing with “the new kids.”  Often these kids were recent Mexican immigrants and didn’t yet speak English.  That didn’t faze me, tag was tag!

Before you decide you don’t have any opportunities to meet a wide variety of people, look around you.  God gives us a wide variety of opportunities.  Me? I’m always on the lookout for someone new and fascinating.

–SueBE

Live in the present.  Live with those who are by your side.  See them.  Here them.  Be there for them.

When I was working with the international students, I learned a bit of Malay.  Not much.  Mostly I could greet people, say thank you and get what I wanted to eat and drink.  Then I asked about verb conjugation.  “How do I say I ate that yesterday, I will eat that tomorrow?”

I got the surprise of my life.  They don’t conjugate verbs.  You learn the verb and you have it.  You need to learn the words for yesterday and tomorrow and a  other handy things like that but that’s it.  No conjugation.

But thinking back on the people I knew, it makes sense.  These were people who lived now.  They were so laid back.

And when another American argued with them, “You have to conjugate.  It isn’t possible not to,” they didn’t argue.  “Okay, yeah.”  She thought she was right, but I knew that phrase.  It means “I’m going to let that pushy American think whatever will get her to shush up and go away.”

Imagine how different our lives would be if we didn’t have . . . how many verb tenses do we have?  I just did a quick search and found 12.  Twelve tenses and all the time references too.  No wonder we are so bad at now.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this but it is definitely something I will keep in mind for the next time I get anxious about yesterday or tomorrow.  Instead, I will try to turn it over to God.

–SueBE

We live in a broken world.  There’s no doubt in my mind that this is true.  As Ruth wrote in “Give the Past the Boot,” we continue to suffer from past events often because we keep replaying past mistakes and harms in our minds.  And in “Until,” Lori wrote about how hard it is to believe in either government or church. The world is definitely broken.

But you know what isn’t broken?  God.

God is whole.  Think about that for a moment.

God. Is. Whole.

It can be so hard to keep moving forward in this broken world.  It seems that no matter what we do, something is still wrong.  In the words of Mr. Incredible, “No matter how many times you save the world, it always manages to get back in jeopardy again. Sometimes I just want it to stay saved! You know, for a little bit? I feel like the maid; I just cleaned up this mess! Can we keep it clean for… for ten minutes!”

But that’s the reality when you are broken people living in a broken world.  And some days that is really going to get you down. That’s why I didn’t post on Friday.

And I get the irony of today’s quote.  I really do.  But there’s also a beauty in it and I think that’s why the Diary of Anne Frank continues to be such a popular book.  Anne Frank was someone who saw the light and life in the world.  She knew it was broken.  But she also looked for that glimmer of light.

What can you do today? It doesn’t have to be big.  And it isn’t going to fix everything.  But it might be the thing that catches someone’s attention and turns them toward God, God the Whole, God our Light.

–SueBE

 

So I bought a frozen pizza that was on sale for less than a dollar. Turned on the oven and put the pizza in to cook. Once it was done, I tried to pull it out of the oven, but it got stuck on the rack. After a struggle  to get it out of the oven, I was really hungry and took a bite. Instantly, I regretted it, as it was still too hot and it burned the roof of my mouth. To boot, it was flavorless, as if I was eating the box it came in. All that work and it tasted like cardboard.

And I thought, how many life experiences are like that?

You twist yourself into contortions for someone else (insert situation here: a peer group, a romantic interest, a potential employer, etc.) and end up looking back on it with regret. They didn’t like you anyway, even after you changed yourself to make them like you. And you didn’t like yourself in that context either. That wasn’t you.

When the past comes at you with all the weapons in its arsenal – shame, guilt, and regret – whip out the shield to fend off all efforts to get under your skin and into your soul: faith. Faith that every day is a clean slate and a chance to start again – on your own terms. Faith that the choices you made in the past were your best efforts at the time, and helped you build an acumen for action going forward. Faith in the fact that life is good and you deserve every good thing it has to offer.

And as for that negative narrator in your head, reminding you of times you’d just as soon forget? Put on your boots, kick it to the curb, and keep moving.

I can make myself believe
that voting still matters
that good will win out
that women will be heard
and people of color respected

I can make myself believe
that redemption is possible
that no one (even me) is useless
that justice is a-comin’
and blue waves can save

I can make myself believe
all manner of fairy tales:
Father knows best
blind obedience is my duty
and we can pray away the pedophiles

But I cannot believe in America
(not really)
or in my Church
(not absolutely)
until men believe in change.

This quote applies to so many areas of life.

Are you active in your community, working to help improve the things that need improving?  Or do you move?

Do you volunteer in your children’s schools?  Or do you put them in private schools to avoid the bad element?

Unhappy with your church?  Do you work to make changes or do you go in search of another?  I have to admit that here I’m lucky.  I’m Presbyterian.  The members govern the church.  We hire the pastor.  It is ours.

But I’m also lucky because I’m an idea person.  I don’t see a problem and panic.  I see a problem and start looking at the possibilities.  In truth, it is a tendency that can annoy other people.  Even if I don’t know how to take step 1 (turn of the water flowing across the floor), I know who will know.  So you make that phone call.  You get a mop.

I don’t have Edison’s patience.  Honestly, I don’t know that I would have found 10,000 things that didn’t work as I struggled to make the lightbulb.  But that’s okay.  That’s Edison’s thing.  I can do my thing to make the world a more beautiful place.

When we act as Christ’s hands and feet, we aren’t just looking for greener pastures.  We are looking, in my not-so-humble opinion, for ways to make the pasture greener.

–SueBE

I really do think that we reflect our thoughts.  If nothing else, our faces bear witness to our personalities.

For example, my son has what we lovingly call “resting smirk face.”  He always looks like he’s thinking something irreverent.  A kid with that smirk has got to be up to something.

And, as his mom, I can tell you that if he isn’t up to something now, he will be in just a few minutes.  That’s definitely how God made him.

Me?  I wish I had a resting smirk face.  But I’m often running over some problem in my mind.  How could she have done that?  And really? How did he think that lie wouldn’t come back to the rest of us?

I’d love to say it doesn’t show in my expression, but I’m pretty sure it does.  Which is yet another reason to turn these things over to God. Dump the replays.  Dump the worries.  And fill in the empty places with His light and perhaps just a bit of mischief.

–SueBE

This is a saying that I can see as the heart of a parable.  Why?  Because it is really about so much more than planting a tree.

It is about all of those days where you find out about a mistake that you, or someone else, made days, weeks or months ago.  Do you fix the mistake or throw up your hands in defeat?

It probably comes as no great surprise, that I’m a fixer.  I research and fiddle and compare until I get it to work.  I am very “I’ll do it myself.”

But that also means that I have I hard time acknowledging that someone else might now how to do it.  More than once my husband has come along with the solution only to get snarled at.  Not that that stops him.  He too is a fixer.

And that’s what we need today.  People who are willing to fix things that have been wrong for a long, long time.  That’s what Ruth wrote about in her post, Somethings Got to Change. When people of any given demographic know that they will be WRONG simply because they are black/male/unemployed or whatever, then something has got to change.

That’s what being the hands and feet of Christ is all about.  Helping those who are the least in our society.  Fixing what has been wrong for a very long time.

–SueBE

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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