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“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

 

 

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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

“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

 

Each and every day opportunities come our way.  We can’t take advantage of all of them.  I think that’s one of the toughest lessons I had to learn as an adult.  Our time and energy are finite.  We can only do so much.  Fortunately, some things can be slipped into even an activity filled day.

What?  I was just talking about not taking on too much.  Now I’m encouraging you to do more?  Calm down.  Encouraging others only takes seconds.  Of course, so does shooting them down and it seems to be the way we most often relate to each other any more.

Yesterday, one of the women in adult Sunday School suggested that a group of the older women gather at church during the week to walk in the fellowship hall.  It is cool in the summer, warm and not icy in the winter.  It is someplace they can feel safe.  In short, it is a great idea.

But no.  One of the men had to shoot her down.  “Walk the mall.”  The mall in question is in a horrible location.  Due to road closures it is difficult to reach and because of this most of the stores have closed.  Sure, it is huge but it is also a ghost town. These women just don’t feel safe there.

“Then they should go to Menards.”  Sigh.  The church is five minutes away on side streets.  Menards is 15 to 20 minutes of highway driving.

As an idea person, I get it.  When one person suggests something, it is easy to start tossing out ideas of your own.  Or we could do this or this or this.

What is more difficult is to encourage someone, especially someone who doesn’t often speak up.  Take just a few seconds today and encourage someone.  Maybe it is the girl who swipes your membership card at the fitness center or the kid picking up kickboards after the swim lesson.  Acknowledge them and watch it make their day.  It is a great way to share God’s light and love with another.

–SueBE

Freedom and love.  Just think about what we can accomplish when the two go hand-in-hand!

–SueBE

 

 

 

 

Devotion doesn’t mean that you have to go along with anything and everything.  Have you seen the video from South Carolina where a white pool patron called the police on a black pool patron, challenging her right to be there.  You have to have a magnetic key card to enter the pool.  She had one but that wasn’t good enough.  When she wouldn’t divulge her address as proof that she lived in the development, he called the police.

Personally, I felt for the police officers.  They had to deal politely with both parties.  They asked to see her key card so that they could show the disgruntled white guy that her card worked on the lock.  But they also apologized to her.

Once at our pool, someone complained to the management because a muslim family was swimming in yoga pants and long-sleeved shirts.  At least that’s what the garments looked like.  Our pool rules state that you will wear swim attire and not street clothes.  This woman was sure she had won and would get this family thrown out.

But the pool manager wasn’t having it.  He pointed out that this was an exception to the rules because of their religion.  “Oh, then I can wear whatever I want and call it religion?”  “No, ma’am.  But you are free to leave.”

Bigots don’t have to get their way.  And people don’t have to be rude as can be.  Devotion and honor.  They can go hand in hand with standing up for someone.  If only I was calm enough to do it when I’m upset.  This is probably why I admire this ability so much in others.

–SueBE

In my heart and mind, I know Langston Hughes said it right.  I just wish that I had memorized his words.  Not long ago, a friend asked us why our church has a green committee.  What on earth does environmentalism have to do with

Heart beat.

Cricket.

Mute confusion.

Finally after far too long I pulled together a coherent answer.  Caring for the environment is part of God’s call to mankind to be stewards of the earth.  Not exploiters.  Stewards.  That involves care and awareness.

But environmentalism also has to do with social justice.  The poor and exploited are the ones at risk of not having clean water, healthy food and an environment that isn’t actively killing them.  Do unto others.  Love your brother.  Take care of the earth.

For me, they are all strands of faith.  But, like I said, too bad I didn’t have this poem memorized.

–SueBE

When you decide to help someone or not, do you examine their situation with love?

Now I’m not talking tough love.  You know the kind I mean – you made your mess, now go deal with it yourself.

What I mean is the love that you would show your grandmother.  Or your best friend.  Or your dog.  Yeah, that’s quite a variety and I’m being a bit cheeky but pick whichever being you love the most.

The love we show each other should resemble the grace God has given us.  I always imagine that God is a lot like my Dad.  When we went into the city after he told us not to, he didn’t make us tough it out when we locked our keys in the car.  When I leaned all crazy in one of mom’s good chairs and got my elbow stuck through the slats . . . well, I did get a comment after that one.

But he always approached the situation with grace.  That’s the love we  need to have in our hearts for each other.

Now I think I should go make something special for Dad.  I may have been the easiest kid but that’s probably because I didn’t argue before I did something ridiculous.  I just did it.

Thank God for grace.

–SueBE

 

Helping others.  I’m all for it.

But I have to admit that I prefer social justice to charity.  What’s the difference?  I can feed someone today or they can feed themselves for a lifetime.

That said, it can still be tricky because the solution has to work for them, not for me.  Telling them to do things my way may not work.  That means that I have to trust them to know what they need.

We live in a land settled by a variety of people.  They weren’t all farmers or fisherman.  Life has never been one-size-fits-all.  God created us in spectacular diversity.

Just a little food for thought as you wave the Red, White and Blue.

–SueBE

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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