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Yesterday, this image popped up in my feed.  Something beautiful coming out of darkness?  I just wasn’t feeling it.  Then I read Lori’s “Don’t Look Away.”

From the late 19th to the mid-20th century, Native American children were removed from their families.  They were put into boarding schools where they were punished for speaking their languages.  The purpose was the exterminate entire groups of people.

During World War II, Japanese American were herded into internment camps.  They were forced to live in dirty, substandard conditions.  Many lost the farms they had built on the West Coast.

Now we have children huddled in kennels.  If dogs were found in conditions like this, the Humane Society would come and get them.

Again, we are in darkness.  How can something beautiful come of it?

That’s up to me and to you.  We can decide that never again will the color of a person’s skin dictate their humanity.  We will look for that spark of Christ’s light in every person we see whether their eyes are blue, green or brown.  Like the Samaritan, we will decide that there are risks but the need to do right is so much greater.

The choice is ours, yours and mine.

–SueBE

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I don’t even remember the full context of the conversation.  We were discussing that God is neither male or female. That’s how we can both be made in God’s image.

“Oh, yeah!  And people of all races and abilities. And all of creation.”

::cricket cricket cricket::

Clearly as far as this person was concerned, I had just jumped the shark, gone too far, walked into oblivion.  And I have to admit that for me this understanding came in stages.  Men and women and all of humanity came first.  Only later did I come to appreciate the fact that all of  creation itself reflects God.

I’d always sought God out in the outdoors.  Listening to the wind and watching cloud shadows cross the desert.  But a piece of art work brought it all home to me.

At a distance, this is an image of Christ.  Closer, you see it as dozens and dozens of natural images.  There are flowers and fronts, birds and beasts.  Taken individually, you see that one plant or animal.  Pull back and you see the big picture – God in Christ.

Every plant.  Every animal.  Every human being.  Each is an imperfect, incomplete reflection of the One wharped and wavering and still capable of showing us something greater.

–SueBE

 

 

When I created this image, I didn’t realize just how appropriate it would be.

We just got a new movie camera.  All of us want to use it for various things.  As is so often the case, I am the last one to get my hands on the technology.  First I couldn’t get it to record.  Then I accidentally turned on the light.  And how do you play the recording back? Once I figured that out I realized that somehow I hadn’t recorded any sound.

Finally, I had the tech sorted out and, once again, I hit record.  Sadly it was trash day and the windows were open.  Then the senior cat noticed I wasn’t in my office.  She had to search for me, calling throughout the house.  Mwow!

Just as I finished a hopefully passable recording, my son stepped into the room.  “Remember, your first couple of videos will be really bad.  You sound ridiculous.”

The glare must have been warning enough but he still started laughing.  “Mom, we all sound ridiculous when we start.  You’ll get better.”

And isn’t that the good in this particular situation?  I will get better.

It will take time and for a while something new will go wrong each time I try to record.  But with each failed attempt, I’m learning something new.  This time, I just happen to be applying the gifts God gave me to learning new technology.

If at first you forget to turn on the microphone, try, try again.

–SueBE

 

Recently my college son decided that he wanted to try contact lenses.  This is something I wouldn’t let him try when he was younger.  I can’t wear contacts.  As soon as my eyes detect anything, the tears come.  And I’m not talking moist eyes.  I’m talking tears running down my face and washing out the contact lens.

But he’s twenty.  He’s old enough to make decisions and deal with them.

At Crown Optical he did great.  They were impressed with how quickly he got them in.  He had a bit of trouble getting them out but after about ten minutes, he managed.

He wore them for a while yesterday when he got home from work but after about two hour was ready to take them out.  The right one presented no trouble. The left?  There was cussing and banging.  Yeah, I’m not sure about the banging.  After about 20 minutes, he got the left one out too.  He looked like someone jabbed him in the eye.

It doesn’t matter if it is a task you put before yourself or one that God intended for you.  If you don’t try, you can’t succeed.  And even if the first attempt is less than ideal, more often than not, we get another chance.

Try, try again.  And just think?  Ninety-nine percent of the time, it doesn’t require putting your finger in your eye.

–SueBE

Going to church on Sunday is great.  No really. It is a big part of how I recharge my spiritual battery.  Sitting amid the choir, I soak in the music and gaze up at the descending dove in the window.

When I leave church, I have a tendency to get busy.  I’ve got a checklist and things to do.

Pick up something for the food pantry.

Check on so-and-so.

You see we are the hands and feet of Christ and part of that means moving and acting among the people.  I had a great reminder of that just this past week.  As you leave the Toddhall Retreat Center you see a sign.  “You are now entering the mission field.”

Go.  Walk among the people. Help them see the light of God.

–SueBE

 

Do all things with joy.

I spent last weekend at Toddhall Retreat Center.  There were fourteen of us who went up there to write for the weekend.  At meal time, we’d head on over to the dining hall to see what they had prepared for us.  As a mom, I have to tell you that I love it when the shopping, cooking and clean up just happen.  Would it be pushing it to far if I said it was a miracle?

Take a tray. Get your utensils and then move through the line.  Come dinner, I noticed that everyone in line was seriously upbeat.  I wondered what we were having.  Then I stepped into the serving area and was greeted with an amazing smile.   As she plated your chicken and rice, she also served up a great big, sincere smile.  I found myself grinning back.

Each and everyone who made eye contact with this joy-filled woman came away with their own heaping spoonful of joy.  A single person armed with a serving spoon and a smile, she also shared a heaping spoonful of all that is good and right with people today.

Seeing eyes and a big smile.  Why not be that person for someone else today?

–SueBE

 

I grew up on stories of Sunday dinner at my grandparents’.  They had very little. Sure Grandad had a college degree.  He was a mining engineer in a time when many American mines were playing out.  He took any job he could find, working in the mines when there were open, painting cars and managing a service station when they weren’t.

My grandmother had a huge garden and chickens.  You could do that in West Texas even when you lived in town.  Back then feed sacks were made from patterned fabric.  The girls got dresses from the prettiest.  Next up were shirts for the boys.  The least attractive fabrics became underwear.

Sunday dinner was a production.  The whole family was there and often there were several friends.  Whoever needed a meal.  Anyone who craved fellowship. All were welcome.  They’d just wedge another chair in around the circular table.  Chicken, corn, potatoes, biscuits, greens from the garden, corn bread, beans.

As little as they had, my grandparents shared.  Grandad always insisted it was a Southern thing.  I don’t know about that but I did get the rest of the message loud and clear.  What the good Lord gives us, we are meant to share.

At my grandparents’ table, no one ever went away hungry.  And there was also space enough to wedge in one more chair.

–SueBE

 

A couple of weeks ago, I was short-sighted enough to disagree with a friend of my husband on Facebook.  I should have known.  Really, really should have known.  It isn’t that I dislike him but I know him.  He is pushy.  I think he’s condescending because I’m female.  My husband counters that he’s condescending because he’s breathing.  Female.  Male.  People in general.  Condescension will happen.

And when it did?  I lost all perspective.  It became the most important part of my evening.  Again and again I looked up his comment.  How dare he!?  The amount of energy that went into verifying, repeatedly, that he had been rude and he’d done it more than once was, in hindsight, embarrassing.  I should have just turned my back on the whole thing.  I should have turned to face something or Someone entirely different.

What if I’d spent that evening doing something God wants me to do?  Using the talents God gave me?  Facing into the Light?  Maybe nothing grand would have happened.  But, if nothing else, I’d have had a much better evening.

And if we did this often and consistently?  I can’t help but think that we’d get a lot more accomplished acting as His hands and feet on this earth.

–SueBE

People who are sun-shiney and optimist no matter what is going on make me suspicious.  What is it they’ve missed?

But I’m not a pessimist. I don’t think everyone is out to get me.  I don’t think everything turns out badly.   Most people don’t even know I’m here.  And the universe? Neutral.

I consider myself a realist.  But over the years I’ve come to handle stress fairly well.  As long as no one is right in my face crabbing at me, I can pretty well just roll with things.   Imagine my surprise when my yoga instructor read us an article that explained why.  Yoga requires holding poses for a period of time.  These poses require using our muscles and focusing.  It is physically stressful.  As we work on these poses, our brains are rewired.  More cells and connections develop in the areas activated to handle stress.  These cells and pathways are there when we have to deal with stress out in the larger world.

Things may not be peaceful but they are managable.  They may not be ideal but they can be endured.   And the quiet at your center? It’s a great place to pause and listen for God.

–SueBE

 

Tell me something is impossible and nine times out of ten I’m going to try to prove you wrong.  I taught myself to knit before the internet swarmed with tutorials.  I had failed to learn from my mom but when my 12 year-old niece acted like I was a simpleton because I couldn’t do it, I had to learn.  Hey, don’t judge. I wasn’t a mom yet.  I didn’t understand that 12 year-olds act like you’re a simpleton just because.

And it isn’t like this trait has diminished with age.  One of my girlfriends calls it my “hold my beer” response.  Half of the joke is that I don’t drink beer, I don’t like beer and I will never need someone to hold my beer.  But if you tell me something is impossible you better step back because I am hardwired to try to prove you wrong.

Some people would call this a weakness and it could be.  But I’m a writer.  Writing is hard and so is getting published.  If I gave up every time someone pointed out how impossible this job is, I’d still have a desk job.

I like to think my innate stubbornness is a gift from God.  Whether or not you agree, it is definitely something I’ve used to my advantage.

-SueBE

 

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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