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Personally, I think this is at least part of what Jesus meant when he said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven…”  (Matthew 18:3)  There’s more to it and you can look it up but the part that I want to focus on today is childlike enthusiasm.

Kids are crazy enthusiastic.  Get them on board an idea and they are in.  It didn’t matter what the project was.  When my son was a preschooler, he committed all the way and we’d while away the afternoon making cinnamon ornaments, building with Legos, or chasing each other around with supersquirters.  Yes never meant, okay.  It meant YES.

I don’t know about you, but I could stand to rediscover some of that especially where my faith is concerned.  At the moment, I suspect I’m more like a teen.  “You want me to what?  Seriously?  I got other things going on.”

What God needs, and in all truth what our society needs, is some childlike enthusiasm and glee.  “What? I hadn’t thought of that but . . . let’s go!”

It sure would be a big difference.

–SueBE

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Like many of you out there, I’ve always had questions about the parable of the Prodigal Son. For instance, why was it such a big deal that he asked for his inheritance early? My pastor put an end to my wonderings: to the Jewish people of the time, asking for your inheritance was tantamount to wishing your father dead. It was a breach in relationship that could not be mended. Except that the father in the story does mend it — just as God mends the breaks we make with God, over and over, on a daily basis.

Does God make it too easy for us to return home? Maybe. But if God made it harder, we’d never come. Imagine the waiting God does for us! Perhaps a modern perspective will help:

Waiting became habit;
habit became a life.
Day after day,
your father longed for you.
His world became one chair,
one single pane of glass.
Through the window,
he could track the hour
of every package delivery,
chart the bladder capacity
of every dog on the block.
He missed nothing.
When you came,
he was out of his seat in a shot,
prepared to embrace
even your apparition.
Your real flesh,
on the welcome mat,
made him weep.
Yet all the time
you embrace him,
your eye is on the door.

This quote from the poet Rumi reminded me a lot of conversations Miss Ruth, Lori and I have had in the past.  Lori discusses limiting God.  My phrase is don’t try to put him in a box.

We are just as likely to put ourselves in a box especially when it comes to doing what God wants us to do.  Sure, some things sound easy.  Don’t steal.  But then again once you get all the details, even that one doesn’t seem so easy.  Covet your neighbors’ new deck?  Yep.  That counts as stealing.

Even the things that seem small are difficult.  What about the things that seem huge?  Noah was tasked with building an ark and gathering the animals.  Moses had to lead an entire people, enslaved people, out of Egypt and across the desert.

What tasks has he called you to do that just seem heart-stoppingly immense?  Our church has answered a calling to feed the needy.  A monthly dinner hasn’t gained the traction we’d hoped for.  Planting the community garden with vegetables for the local food pantry went a lot better.  So far we’ve delivered 3 pounds of carrots, 5 pounds of onions, 7 pounds of loose leaf lettuce, and over 200 lbs of cucumbers. We also made 4 dozen jars of pickles to deliver.  If people could survive on cucumbers alone, we’d have nailed it.  Seriously.

Feeding the poor is a huge task and I’m not going to claim we’ve figured it out.  But working together we made strides.  We are thinking big and planting fruit trees and making new plans for next year’s garden. Fewer cucumbers most likely and someone suggested zucchini.

–SueBE

In adult Sunday school, we are studying the book of Ruth.  One of the things that the study points out is how depressed and stressed Naomi is. She’s lost her husband and both sons.  She has two daughters-in-law and none of them have a way to support themselves.  She felt deserted by God.

Maybe this is why she didn’t see the blessing that was Ruth.  Remember Naomi even tried to send her away. It wasn’t until Ruth gleaned gallons of grain, it may have been six, from the fields of Boaz that Naomi could see that God had not abandoned them.

Like Naomi, we often focus on the storms even when our situations aren’t particularly dire.  A clerk is snippy.  They are out of our favorite coffee.  A package won’t arrive until tomorrow.  Alas and woe!  We focus on what has made us unhappy as we post on their Facebook wall, fire off angry e-mails or sit on hold.

How much better would it to focus on the blessings, the sunshine in our days?  With that in mind, you’ll have to excuse me.  It is still less than 80 degrees.  I’m going to go putter.

–SueBE

Bob Hope, Danny Kaye, Bing Crosby.  They were Bumpa’s favorites and when he was sick I’d spend Sunday afternoons by his side watching them sing and dance their way across the screen.  I spent a great deal of time that fall on the Road to Wherever.

I knew Hope could sing and dance and crack a joke, but who knew he was so clever?  I’m sure someone did but it wasn’t me.  I’d compartmentalized him in my memory.  Singing, dancing, funny man.

Compartmentalization is a huge problem in our world.  Us and them.  Republican and Democrat.  Liberal and conservative.  Deserving and undeserving.

I admit that I tend to get a bit squirmy when a discussion moves towards who deserves help and who doesn’t.  Haven’t we all received help at one time that we didn’t deserve?  Maybe someone helped you change a tire or pay a bill out of the kindness of their heart.  But there is also God’s grace.  We can’t earn it.  We don’t, strictly speaking, deserve it.  But God is loving and kind and charitable.  He gave it to us anyway.

I’m not saying I’m perfect.  Far from it.  We writers compartmentalize all the time.  It’s part of how we pitch ideas and decide what information belongs in a project and what doesn’t.  Sometimes this writing habit finds its way into the larger world.  Sometimes I catch myself.  Other times?  I’m human but I like to think my heart is willing.

–SueBE

Not surprisingly, I’ve been biting my tongue a lot about the situation with The View and Judge P.  Personally, I’ve suspected all along that Judge P. went on the view knowing that she could probably pick a fight and she did it with intention.  She has, after all, a book to push.  On Sunday, a friend posted a “Judge P was just sticking up for poor picked on President Trump because no other President has had to put up with such sass” meme.

Really?  Because I remember people hanging Obama in effigy.  Don’t tell me that fake lynching the man wasn’t serious.  And I’ve seen the anti-Lincoln political cartoons at the Lincoln Museum in Springfield.  Please, let’s not forget how the criticism against him ended.

Sunday I pointed this out.  Another woman came on and challenged me.  No, this is worse than ever before.  So I questioned her – how can you measure it to know?  I seriously debated sending that response but I did.

Then we had a long conversation about how we would both like to see statistics on anti-Presidential commentary and we don’t want to see it just for Trump and Obama.  We want Lincoln and Kennedy and Nixon.  Carter too.  We had a conversation.  And at the end of it we thanked each other.  It is far too easy to justify picking a fight and turning the other cheek does not come naturally to me.

Maybe just maybe we inspired someone else to have a conversation.  It is far too easy to justify picking a fight.  Who knows?  We can only hope.

–SueBE

 

Progress is a tricky thing.  How do you measure it?  Is it all about meeting goals?  Or is it a matter of statistics?

I think this is part of what frustrates us about answering God’s call.  We want that call to be something at which we can measurably succeed – new members brought into the church, a new sanctuary, or perhaps a newly established mission to build a school or hospital.  We like measurable things.

But what if your calling is to be present and share God’s light?  Or to be a listening ear or shoulder to cry on?  How then do you measure success?  By doing.  By serving.

It gets tricky because we want that big measurable success.  Yet, those are our standards not God’s.  You know how it goes – His ways are not our ways.  Success is in doing His will.

Just a little something I’ve been noodling over.

–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

When we were kids, my best friend and I would announce it was “opposite day” and turn our jackets or sweaters around backwards.  Who knew that this silly childhood game would become a national pastime.

Did someone there on the right disagree with me?  Sorry, couldn’t hear him.  I’m already running my mouth again or jabbing my phone to post a snippy response on social media.

Step back.  Take a deep breath.

If this is something you truly believe in, leave off the snotty Facebook posts. Look for a protest march to join.  Write a letter to your Congress people.   Mine is going to include a quote from Romans.  A slightly longer quote than the one used to justify the abuse of children.

Yeah.  I said it – abuse.  But it isn’t a term I selected in anger.  Being slow to anger doesn’t mean ignoring wrongs.  It just means you need to hear them out in good faith.  Then you get to have your say.

–SueBE

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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