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I’m convinced that the totality of woes in this world are utterly determined, enacted and exacerbated by human selfishness — the almighty “I.” You know: I am the center of the universe; my needs are most important; everyone who isn’t me is other, and they are the problem. What we entirely forget is that we completely dependent upon one another, not just for day-to-day life, but for the overall progress of humankind. When it comes to saving the planet, saving the future or saving our souls, I is not going to cut it.

We must change our capital “I’s” into lowercase ones. For instance: I explain, sermonize, pontificate, demand; i listen. I order the world for my own benefit; i put the good of others first. I build walls; i build bridges. (You get it.) If we fail, humanity fails. No less than that hangs in the balance.

Let us whittle our serifs into tittles. (No, I’m not being obscene; “tittle” is the name of the dot on the lowercase I; serifs are the decorative little lines on a capital I.) It is the only way to become like Jesus. Yes, I know the consensus is to capitalize all things God-related out of respect, but Jesus was the littlest “i” person in all of history. Everything he did was for us — not just the “us” who lived in Middle East during his time, but all of us, for all generations, including those yet unborn. Jesus saved all of us from eternal death. Let me put it this way: Think of how many people Jesus actually knew. Now think of how many people Jesus has saved. It takes great heart and complete abandonment of ego to give one’s life not just for your friends, but for people on the other side of the planet, centuries apart from your own existence. None of us can even imagine doing that, much less do it.

The world has nearly come to ruin numerous times because of big I’s. It has always been saved by small ones. So, which do you choose? As for me, I’ll just be over here whittling down my serifs.

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This phrase in the Bible shows up more than once: “And it came to pass.”

I’ve always taken that tiny snippet of Scripture as inspiration.

Here’s why: it didn’t come to stay. It came to pass!

Whatever it is in your life that’s holding you back, getting you down, tearing you up. It came here for a reason. And it’s just for a season.   

Even though I reside on the sunny side of the street, we’ve all been down that dark alley. I’ve learned some things that have helped me stay in a positive frame of mind.

Tell but don’t dwell. Tell your story but don’t dwell on the pain of the past.

Follow but don’t wallow. Follow your heart and share what you’ve been through so others know they’re not alone, but don’t wallow in the negative emotions of it.

Make sure it’s useful and truthful. It’s not helpful – to you or those around you – to talk trash about your ex or go into gory detail about the ways life hasn’t been fair to you. It is helpful to be human about it. Here’s something I’ve been through. Maybe it’s happened to you, too. Let’s share what we’ve learned from it, and if it’s still in our life, how to deal with it.

Bask in the positive. You learned from it, lived through it, found a way to rise above.

Be in the present. The past is a springboard. It may have refined you, but it doesn’t define you.

Moving forward with optimism is the antidote to a painful past. No matter what your life may have been like before, every new day is a chance to start again.

I understand that I’m not on your list, or anyone’s.
Take me anyway.
I realize I don’t fit right, run both too large and too small,
break easily and bolt through batteries like heartbeats.
Make me yours, despite it all.
Take me without bright paper or bows,
without tinsel or tags to distract from what is surely
not as dear as myrrh and nowhere near gold.
I’ve soiled the cloth you wove me of, that infantile innocence
that shone from my newly opened eyes.
Spin me anew.
May this white Christmas describe the state of my soul.
May I be the present under the tree.
May I be what is wanted:
fresh hay, animal heat, the company of shepherds,
pure and clean as a newborn star
nodding “yes” above a manger.

Tomorrow is another day.  Thank, God.  Literally.

I’ve been playing with a cold since Thursday night.  First was the sneezing and snot phase.  Yesterday, was coughing and a pounding headache.

Today?  Today seems much better.  Granted it’s only 10 am but my head doesn’t hurt so I’m going with it.  Today is much better.

That’s the great thing about a new day.  It is an opportunity for improvement.  A chance to get it right.

In adult Sunday school we are studying Ecclesiastes.  We are currently working our way through the first chapter and what it teaches us about prayer.  This line in the lesson brought me up short.  “Prayer seeks what God alone can do. Prayer comes from a careful consideration of what belongs to human effort and what requires God’s intervention. For example, we don’t ask God to reduce or increase or weight if that change is an expected outcome of proper diet and exercise…”

As if this wasn’t pointed enough.  One of our Bible passages in church yesterday included Luke 3:11 when people were listening to John the Baptist.  “John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”

How often do we all pray for God to solve our problems and to solve community problems?  Problems that we could address ourselves.  Quite frankly, we know what to do.  We just don’t want to do it.

What an uncomfortable feeling.  But that’s okay.  Discomfort can be taken as a nudge to do something different, to do something better, to get it right.

With that knowledge we can wind the clock  Tomorrow is another day.

–SueBE

 

If two people are discussing education in America today, chances are that they are discussing the education crisis.  Me?  I’d like us to focus instead on the many teachers who inspire.  Why am I thinking of this right now?  I saw this post today:  “Thinking about changing my major to education! I like the idea of structuring your own class and being open to helping students!”

You know that a young man has had influential teachers when he is considering changing his major to education.  Good teachers not only help their students learn, they inspire them.  They are people who use their God-given talents for the good of all.

Not that we can all be teachers.  I helped in the classroom for about 20 minutes every morning when my son was in first grade.  By minute 18, I was glancing at the clock.  “Come on. . . come on. . .”  The kids were great but it wasn’t the place I was meant to be.

As the year draws to a close, I may be thinking about changing this up next year but I’ll still be writing. Writing is definitely my niche.

What about you? Have you found the place where you can use the talents God gave you?  Have you found a way to reach back and help another?

–SueBE

 

I’m doing again. Trying to buy Christmas, that is. Trying to bring home God-made-manifest in a series of shopping bags. Trying to echo God’s ultimate gift of love with stuff hauled in from the local mall. It is, of course, an endeavor doomed to failure.

Even the Grinch realizes by the end of the story that Christmas doesn’t come in a gaily-wrapped package. But even knowing that at a cellular level doesn’t stop the rampant commercialism of the holidays. You feel the tug of it everywhere you go. How can I show the people I love that I love them? How about a brand new set of knives! It’s enough to put a damper on anyone’s spirits. Gift-giving becomes a burden, rather than a joy.

So where do we find Christmas if not under a tree? Inside of ourselves. And how do we kindle that spark while being simultaneously bombarded by cookie-baking, house-trimming, gift-wrapping, covert buying and endless card-addressing?

I wish I had an answer to that. Maybe it’s a little like touching a butterfly: You can chase it around, offer bait, call out to it…and nothing is likely to happen. But if you just sit still and wait, quietly and patiently, it may very well land on your outstretched hand.

As the calendar turns to December, let us not chase down Christmas with a net and a cage. Go where the season pulls you — to church, to volunteer opportunities, even to a cozy evening on the couch with Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory. Tell your loved ones you love them. Let God find you this Christmas, waiting, ready, snug as a manger filled with fresh hay.

This coming Sunday marks the beginning of Advent.  Advent, the season that prepares us for the coming of Christ.  A time of anticipation and preparation.

Last Sunday, we discussed Glory and what it means to each of us.  The author of our lesson discussed the way we use the word in our daily lives.  “Not me,” I told the group.  “I don’t tend to use it.  When I say glory, I think God.”

Across the table, one of our engineers nodded.  “Awe.  Wonder.  Splendor.  The vastness that is God. It is bigger than anything we can imagine.

And, in all honesty, I have to say that pretty much sums God up for me.  Bigger than anything I can imagine.  Relatable?  Not in the least.

Personally, I think that is why Christ came to Earth as a baby.  A baby you can cradle in your arms.  A baby you can see and love and at least begin to understand.  Vastness understandable through Love.

–SueBE

Once again, I find myself teaching adult Sunday school.  I desperately want to succeed as a teacher and to me that means one thing.  I want to stir up a discussion.

Before class, I read the chapter we are covering. I read the lesson.  Then I read about how to teach it.  Sometimes I just don’t feel like I’ve gotten enough from these sources so I go online and look for other studies and discussions.  I’m not looking for answers as much as I’m looking for things that surprised me or contrasting perspectives.

Our study this time is on the book of Ephesians.  We’ve discussed predestination, glory and what it means to be Blessed through Christ.

The group ranges in age from 35 to 85.  We are accountants, engineers, gardeners, librarians and a writer.  It really surprises me when we all see something the same way but I like it best when we don’t because that is when I learn to look at something from another perspective.

–SueBE

 

Do you feel broken by recent events? I hear you. It’s hard to live in the here and now when here is untenable and now is rife with violence, greed and anger. Perspective helps, so let’s go back to the Sermon on the Mount. You know what Jesus said: “Blessed are the peacemakers, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice,” etcetera. Notice what he didn’t say? “…for they will inherit the earth — in twenty minutes!” Nope. All of those rewards Jesus talks about? Those are things that will happen in heaven, in the hereafter — “next life” stuff.

So how do you make it through this life when real justice will only occur in the next? Think long-term. Even the king of the fruit flies only lives 24 hours. Sure, he can buzz as loud as he likes, even assemble a fruit fly army…in the end, he is a nothing in a sea of nothingness. He is a grain of sand. He is a mote, a distraction, a flicker, an afterthought. This life is brief. The next life is eternal. Why waste time on negativity, selfishness or anger when there is so much joy to look forward to?

I’m not asking you to ignore life or to ignore the inequalities and injustice that surround us. Just the opposite. Keep working on it. Don’t give up because of “this world” distractions. Those are just fruit flies. Swat them away. Keep plugging away at justice, mercy, love and hope. Because that’s what will matter in the next life. And next life stuff is awesome. I want to be there for it. Don’t you?

I’m late getting to this today because I voted.  It is lunch time here and, dare I say, I’m already really tired of hearing about the elections.  Really tired.  I’m also fed up with politics and people trying to skew facts to suit their politics.

Today a friend posted an article about many Mexicans not having to come to America.  “Maybe because Mexicans are Americans?” That’s something we tend to forget.  While we in the United States are American, so are Mexicans.  And Canadians.  And Guatemalans.  And a whole lot of other people.

But when we get caught up in rhetoric, we forget that.  We forget that our country is not a continent no matter how hard we try to forget that.

Christ was pretty clear on it all.  He ate with tax collectors.  He healed the unclean.  He turned over tables and stepped beyond boundaries.  I’m guessing he might have even talked to both blue and red.

–SueBE

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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