You are currently browsing suebe’s articles.

Yesterday, Pastor Sean preached on the mustard seed in Matthew chapter 13.  “He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”

Pastor explained that when we think “yum mustard,” we aren’t think like Christ’s audience.  For us, mustard is a wonderful spice.  In Biblical gardens it was a weed but it wasn’t just any weed.  It was a weed that could grow into something as large as a bush or a tree.

So why was Christ telling his followers that faith is like a mustard seed?  Because faith, even a small amount, can have a huge impact.

We are heading into a time of year during which we emphasize Faith.  I’d like to encourage all of our readers to give that Faith the freedom to change lives one small deed at a time.  If you can, you might pay for someone else’s breakfast.  Or you could thank someone for a post that moved you.  Or greet your checker at the grocery store by name.

Small acts are like seeds.  Its up to each of us to decide what we sew.

–SueBE

I’ve had Les Brown’s quote (see above) on my heart all week. I’m not sure why but you know how it is.  Sometimes you read something and it sticks with you.  Then I read Lori’s post two days ago and it started to gel.

When I act, I may or may not have a plan but what I do have is a goal.  Maybe I want to clean off one corner of my desk so that the cat has a better place to nap.  Or I want to reorganize the closet in my office.  I have something I want to get done, and I start looking for ways to make it happen.  This is when I’m likely to try something new and accomplish something.

When I react, I’ve put off acting and disaster is imminent.  Something needs to be done now.  The cat has just lumbered across my desk and that pile of papers on the corner is collapsing.  I have to grab it fast or it will knock over my coffee which may well ruin my key board.  Even if I succeed in catching it all and shoving it back against the wall, this isn’t a pretty solution.  I’ve still got a not mess on my hands.

Nine times out of ten, we aren’t looking ahead.  We know the poor need help and that God wants us to focus on Him.  But we’ve got things to do, places to go, appointments to make.  We aren’t looking for the opportunities or the signs from God.  We’ve got our own agenda in mind.

When something needs to be done now, we are too panicked and frantic to listen for the still, small voice.  But like Lori said, it has been there all along.

This is where prayer and meditation come in.  Even if you only take a few minutes a day, spend them in quiet contemplation.  Light a candle.  Get out your prayer beads.  Sit.  Breath in and out.  In and out.  Listen.  Who knows what nudge you might feel or what voice you might here.

–SueBE

Maybe I paired this quote with a photo of someone in a canoe because it reminds me of my father’s favorite joke.

One day, the area where a man lived started to flood.  It rained and rained and evacuation orders came out. 

Instead of leaving, he prayed for God to save him.  As the waters rose, he ended up on top of his house, still praying. 

Along came the National Guard in boats.  “No thank you!  I have faith in God.” 

The waters rose and rose.  As the water reached his neck, the Guard again came by in a helicopter.  The man sent them away.  But as the water covered his head, the man complained in prayer that God had not saved him.

God responded.  “I sent you a perfectly good boat and a helicopter.  What more did you want?” 

I wonder how often I pray for help and then ignore it when it arrives.  Perhaps I’m praying for a new job and God presents me with something that will reduce my expenses.  Or I want to lose weight and God moves someone to teach a new exercise class.  Zumba? Can any sane person see me doing zumba?

Because of this, when I pray for help, I also pray for the clear vision to recognize aid when it comes my way.  After all, I’d hate to still be sitting on the roof as the water rises.

–SueBE

 

first to apologize

When I was younger, it was made very clear to me that forgiveness meant forgetting.  To forgive someone meant forgetting what they had done.

That always seemed like questionable advice to me.  Forgetting everything could be dangerous if you situation is dire.

Then one day I was walking our church labyrinth with one of our younger members.  She suffers from anxiety and tends to fixate on the things that worry her.  Really fixate.  I explained that as we walked, she could pause at each turn and breathe deeply in and out.

When we left the labyrinth, she told me how much better she felt.  “At each turn, I let go of something, like letting go of a leaf.”

Hmm.  I may not be able to forget entirely but when I realize that I’m holding that hurtful memory in  my hand, I can envision letting it go like dropping a leaf.  I don’t have to carry it with me through my day.  I don’t have to let it shade my afternoon.

I’m sure I’ll have to remind myself of this again and again. I have a tendency to mull things over.  And I’m just as likely to be tormenting myself over something I did wrong.  I just have to remember.  I may not be able to forget but that’s okay.

I can choose to let it go.

–SueBE

Empire model mission.  I had never seen that term before today but I immediately understood what it meant.  Mission from above. Mission from without. Mission where someone comes in and fixes you.

It’s easy to think that we know what someone else needs.  Face it – her life is a mess.  He clearly can’t feed his family.  Look at them!

But I also try to remember those times that someone was totally wrong about me.  I don’t fully understand it, but I seem to invite people to come up to me and give me unsolicited advice.  One Saturday a woman walked up to me in the art museum.  “I watched you walk in and those shoes are bad for you.  You need to get something new so you walk right.”

What I really needed was not to step into a hole the moment I got out of the car.  That would really have helped!

I’ve had women walk up to me in the grocery store, look at the contents of my cart and ask me why I’m poisoning my family with dairy.  Why do I have so much rabbit food and no meat?  And the list goes on.

I’m not sure what it is that makes people think I welcome this advice.  Because really I don’t and I immediately tense up when I see someone coming towards me with that look in her eye.

But I also imagine that this is how a mother struggling to feed her family feels when we tell her what she is doing wrong.  Maybe instead of telling, we need to listen.  Instead of making assumptions, we might learn what mistep led her to this place.  We might learn what our community needs to truly be whole.

–SueBE

 

I wrote a post early in the week and I’ve been meaning to post again. Really I have. I’ve drafted posts and discarded them.

Okay, actually I’ve drafted and redrated the same post. Why so many attempts and no post? Because I’m still trying to process something.

Simply put, someone did something hurtful. Not to me. They went after a friend and the really horrifying thing was that they did it with full knowledge of what they were doing.

As a writer, I often process my feelings by writing. But these are also the writings that aren’t always fit to share. It isn’t that they are too raw or too personal although they may be that too. They are just too “ranty” a lot like the event that started the whole thing.

Sure, Lori, Ruth and I write about serious topics. But we try to do it in a positive way. We write about things that make us mad but we try to end with a note of hope or humor or both. And I wasn’t achieving that so I didn’t post.

Just as I was patting myself on the back this morning for showing so much wisdom, another realization came to me. Writing or speaking. Maybe just maybe I’d be just as wise to occasionally close my mouth and wait until I can be a bit more positive and hopeful.

I was wise enough not to post. Now if I could just by wise enough not to strike back verbally. Two rants do not make a right.

–SueBE

 

I just finished reading Maid by Stephanie Land.  Not interested in maids?  Neither am I but I am interested in social justice, which is really what this book is about.  Land was a single mother struggling to raise her daughter and put food on the table.  Her book describes the trap of poverty and how she simply existed, fighting her way through one emergency after another.

I knew a little bit about how various forms of assistance worked — how even a small increase in income could cost someone way more in assistance.  But what I didn’t know about were the traps.  That to get X energy grant, you have to go to a class, miss work and pay for child care.  That to prove you are poor enough to get help, you have to spend several days standing in line to turn in paperwork, missing work and having to pay for child care.

But if that’s all this book was about, I wouldn’t be recommending it.  Land also writes about how assistance is as much a trap as it is a lifeline.  And that to get out of the trap, the person has to look beyond the current crisis to see the possibilities of tomorrow.  To do this, she needed hope and to believe in herself.

That’s a big one. Hope and belief that you are worth it and that you can do it.  She talked about how encouraging it was when someone whose house she cleaned knew her name and spoke to her like a person and not just a cleaning machine.

To blossom and grow she needed hope and a belief in a better tomorrow and she needed to do more than just get by.  Teach a man to fish.  Help someone build a house.  Give them a means of feeding themselves and passing that gift on to others.  Job training.  Education.  Habitat for Humanity.  Heifer Project.  The Presbyterian Giving Catalogue.  They are all ways to spread His Light, reach out and help someone bloom.

–SueBE

 

One of the things that we talk about on Praypower is grace.  We are saved through God’s grace. It isn’t something we earn but something freely given.  We discuss sharing grace with others and trying to give people the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe they are doing the best that they can.

In yoga, we talk about ahimsa or do no harm.  When I hear that phrase, I automatically think “do no harm to others,” but in yoga it is about how you treat yourself.  That is why our instructor translates it to “honor your body.”

Again, it is a broader concept than you might immediately assume.  It includes many things including recognizing the fact that what you did yesterday may not be in reach today.  Our bodies differ from side to side and from day to day.  But it also means that if you can’t do something, let it go.  Don’t beat yourself up about it.  No self-nagging!

That was a message I really needed yesterday.  It seemed like I was constantly on the wrong foot or a step behind everyone else.  That’s the sort of thing that can really get to you if you let it.  Why can’t I get anything right today?  Sound familiar?  In a society were everything is supposed to be Pinterest perfect it can be easy to beat yourself up.

I’m not going to say that I immediately slipped into ahimsa but I finally got there.  Things went much better after that.  I’m not sure that I was any more in step, but I didn’t let it bother me.

After I saw my husband off to work, I went back to sleep.  That extra hour and half was just what my body and mind needed.  Today I feel much more together.  Tomorrow? Who knows.  I will see when I get there.  And, if I need it, I’ll grant myself a little grace and continue to give it my best.

–SueBE

A group of us had been discussing “Come Walk With Me.”  This is a program at our church where groups of us get together and walk.  Normally my group consists of myself, a female friend and a male friend.  Since Sarah had a meeting it would be only Carl and I.  Another friend drew me aside.  “Does his wife know you two walk together?”

I really wasn’t certain but then the real issue came out.  “What if she thinks something funny is going on and causes trouble for you?”

It still took me a minute because Carl does love a good joke but then I realized that she meant something sexy.  “I think she knows.  I’ll ask.”

Suffice it to say, that raised a real kurfuffle.  But in all seriousness, anyone who knows me knows that I opt for the straightforward.  I do it with big things like this and I do it with little things too.

Yesterday I was not at my most astute.  I had started the day with a migraine and it was gone by the time I made it to church but I was loopy.  I walked right past one friend when she said good morning.  I was at the other side of the fellowship hall before her question registered.  I caught up with her a few minutes later and apologized.  We had a good laugh because really nothing had happened.

But how often, when we are convinced we have been slighted, someone suspects us of something, or someone has left us hanging is it really nothing.  Bounced messages, dead phones and just human nature can compound misunderstandings.

By reaching out, we can pull things into the light and laugh at how silly most of it really is.

–SueBE

 

What huge task are you facing?   Maybe you need to lose 20 or so pounds.  Or your house is full to the rafters and a bit of a mess.  Or there’s that book you’ve been meaning to write.

Huge tasks are daunting.  Not making any progress on them is demoralizing.

Fortunately, a friend of mind has a saying that she shares with the rest of us at times like this.  “How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.”

Even a huge task can be accomplished if you break it into smaller steps.  Don’t contemplate losing 20 pounds.  Focus on 5.  There is no way to declutter and fix up your whole house at once.  Focus on a kitchen drawer – like Ruth’s utility drawer.  Until she wrote that post, I had forgotten that that is what my grandmother called it.  Practical Missouri German that she was, she didn’t have a junk drawer but a utility drawer.  So you want to write a book?  Focus on writing one page.

So many of the things that overwhelm us can be handled by focusing on the small.  The world is an unkind place?  Post a positive quote or a prayer every day.  Smile at your noisy neighbor.  Say good morning.  Hold a door for someone.  Little by little we can all spread God’s light and accomplish mighty things.

–SueBE

Have a Mary Little Christmas

%d bloggers like this: