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“Don’t be surprised when you can’t keep the weight off.”

That’s only one of the many things I’ve had people dump on me about.  And I have to tell you, I’m a little sick of it.

It isn’t that I expect to always succeed.  I don’t and I won’t.  After all, I’m human.  I’m flawed and I’m going to fail.

My desk is still a mess.  The back wall in my craft room is still only half painted.  The linen closet?  I cleaned out one shelf.  Four more to go and I haven’t even bought the paint yet.

But I’ve lost almost ten pounds in the last four months.  Eight.  I’ve lost eight.  And I’m feeling better.

I bought a loom and am learning to use it. I’ve been making ornaments out of felt which is also a new thing for me.

I worked in the church garden this year and am now one of the people who does the yard work.

Oh, and I learned to make tea cup candles.

I’m flawed but there are things I manage to pull off.  I do, after all, have talents gifted to me by my Creator.

And the crazy thing is that you have talents too.  They might not be the same as mine.  In fact, they probably aren’t.  But that’s okay.   Figure out what they are and you’ll know that’s where you stand the greatest chance to succeed.

Does that mean you shouldn’t try anything else? Of course not.  Some tasks will be much harder but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worthwhile.  Sometimes they are actually the most rewarding.  Like getting rid of that 8 pounds.

Will I keep it off?  I’m going to try.  Lord knows he gifted me with the ability to bake but he never said I have to nibble on it all myself.  Tomorrow we have Sunday school so it is the perfect time to try out that new recipe.

–SueBE

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When I posted the above image on my Facebook page, it launched quite a discussion with my aunt.  She pointed out that questions about jobs and houses and college are how we try to connect.  Which is true.

But it may not be the best way.

In diversity training, we learn that there are questions that carry cultural and economic baggage.  If you are middle class, you may not immediately realize this. These questions include:

Where do you work?  Which assumes that not only do you have a job but that it is vitally important.  People who work in service jobs may be okay discussing work with similarly employed people, but management?  Um, no.

Do you own your house?  Another money question.  What’s our hang up?  Oh, right.  We really value money.  But not everyone can or wants to own a house.  Launching into a lecture about “good investments” isn’t going to change their minds.

Where are you going to college?  College is not the ideal choice for everyone.  Some people just aren’t suited to this particular path.  Other people can’t afford it.  Or they can only afford local and non-residential.  Launching into a passionate speech about dorm life or sorority as a vital part of the college/growing-up experience?  Sigh.  Millions of people have grown into functional, thriving adults without this particular experience.  Really.  You’re talking to one of them.

When we launch into these topics, we often are not connecting with people.  We are putting up barriers as we try to direct the conversation toward what matters to us.  What then do you discuss?

With my friend’s youngest son, I ask him what he’s reading.  He is always reading something and it is never what anyone would guess.

One of the teens always has on a t-shirt with a saying.  We talk about her shirts.

Another teen is into all thing super hero so that’s what I bring up.  Or we argue, I mean discuss, the plausibility or implausibility of various movies.  The Meg, for example, would not have been able to survive in the deep ocean without equally huge prey.  He would have also lost his eyes and his countershading since he wasn’t swimming within sight of sunlight.

In the story of the Tower of Babel, multiple languages were created to divide mankind.  Me?  I’ve always assumed we do enough of this ourselves when we assume that everyone values the same things that we do.

–SueBE

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

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

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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