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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

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Earhart kind action

Acts of kindness.  Recently I took an online class through Yale. The focus was on rewiring your behavior to elevate your mood.  Basically what habits can we each build that rewire us, replacing anxious feelings with happiness.

Each week, we were given a challenge, a behavior to engage in throughout the week.  One week was random acts of kindness.  It could be as simple as thanking a clerk by name or paying for someone else’s coffee.

I thought it was simply that my father was in one hospital that week and my brother-in-law in another.  I was ragged and worried and this was just too much.  Too much!

But as we finished up the class earlier this week, I read other peoples comments.  This seemed to be one of the hardest habits to build.  “When I stalked through my day thinking ‘I have to find one person to be nice to,’ it really stressed me out. When I loosened up and noted whenever I was nice, it was much easier and I actually did it.”

Observe and engage in kind acts vs treating them like a duty.  One way worked.  The other didn’t.

Maybe this is just another facet of actually seeing those around us and following the Golden Rule?

–SueBE

This past weekend I had my 35th high school reunion.

I had completely forgotten how many people called me Beth.  How do you get Beth from Sue?  You don’t.  Beth, Marini and I ran around together.  We had gone to gradeschool together.   Beth and I were both quiet strawberry-blondes with fair skin.

I quickly learned that the sun is not your friend.  My husband jokingly calls my sunscreen SPF 2000.

But I was standing talking to two women and one of them patted my arm.  “Your skin is so nice.  Isn’t her skin nice?”

Um, thank you?

Taking a compliment has never been my strength.  Instead of just accepting it, I want to downplay it.  Freckles, ugh!

But these women were being genuinely sweet.  They wanted to say something nice and all I had to do to make them feel appreciated was say thank you.  Sure it had taken them a moment to realize that I’m still not Beth . . . oh, we should have switched name tags!  That would have been so funny . . .

–SueBE

 

People used to ask me why I did’t camp with the Scouts.  Because when I did one of two things would happen.  It would rain.

As a Cub Scout mom I reconnected with another mom.  We had been Girl Scouts together.  We shared a tent on a Cub Scout trip and at one point she looked at me.  “Oh, right.  It did always rain when you were at camp.”  Some of us are just talented in unexpected ways.  What can I say?

Sometimes it would storm.  On my only camping trip with the Boy Scouts, we had three tents collapse.  Lightning was slicing through the sky as we put two new tents up.  Me?  I elected to sleep in the car.  My husband and I were the first two up come morning.  The sun was out and birds were chirping.  Then we discovered that one end of the dining fly had been smashed.  We managed to reach the camp stoves, the coffee pots and the doughnuts.  When everyone else got up we had the brew perking away.  “Why are you in such a good mood?” snarled one sleepy dad.  Yes, I laughed out loud but I also handed him a cup of coffee.

God made us so that we can laugh.  He also gave us the ability to cry.

When faced with a crisis, you can select which way to go. I tend to opt for laughter.  Sure, it annoys some people. But if you cry, you won’t be able to smell the coffee.  Me?  I’m opting to laugh with my fellows over a cup of coffee.

–SueBE

 

 

Yesterday we celebrated Pentecost.  I wish I had had my camera with me to get a photo of the communion table.  On Pentecost every brings in a red candle and places it on the communion table.  At the beginning of the service, the pastor lights them all to symbolize the spread of the Holy Spirit.

For those of you who may not know the story of Pentecost, this is Acts 2: 1-12, NIV.

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.  They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.  When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

I’m not sure why this only came to me when I saw the quote above, but Pentecost is a story of God’s love.  This is God meeting the people where they are.  Why do I think that?  Because he sends them the Gospel in their own languages.

I can’t help but think that when he tells us to love one another, he wants us to do the same.  He wants us to deliver his word without preamble and without conditions.  Simple, straight forward and without preamble, just because.

–SueBE

Currently, I am taking a Yale class on happiness called “The Science of Well-Being.”  This is my first psychology class and the professor is discussing what we think makes us happy vs what really makes us happy.  One of the first things that we did was take a character survey to find out which traits are strongest in each of our personalities.

When I saw this quote, it really rang true for me. But then again I just found out that it is official.  Among my top five traits are judgement and bravery.  I wasn’t really happy when I saw the term “judgement” but then I read what it means.  This isn’t about being judgmental.  Instead it is about being able to look at all sides of an issue. Bravery is described as a willingness to act or speak up about something even if your take on things is unpopular.

The quote above pretty well summarizes the last few weeks for me.  The only Planned Parenthood clinic in Missouri is on the verge of being closed down.  Ooooo, Planned Parenthood!  I can feel hackles going up across the blog-osphere.

When you say Planned Parenthood, many people think abortion but not all of their clinics perform abortions.  They also provide medical exams for women who don’t have insurance and can’t afford to pay the bill at your typical OB/GYN’s office.  There are college students and young working women who get their PAP smears and well-woman exams at Planned Parenthood.  That’s right.  They go there for cancer screenings not to get rid of unwanted fetuses.

If you don’t approve of abortion, I get it.  But I also see the much larger part of what Planned Parenthood does which includes saving lives through early diagnosis. And if not condemning this organization is an unpopular stance among Christians?  See Bravery, trait #5 on my list.

I hope we can be civil to each other even when we disagree, but even if we disagree, I’m willing to take a stand for women who need the health care Planned Parenthood provides.

–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

My grandfather was a salesman for Westinghouse.  He spent his week dressed in a suit making calls on various customers, showing them the latest in electrical boxes and the like.  Many a building in downtown St. Louis contained components that he had sold.

When he got off, he’s head to his suburban home and sip a martini.  Evenings he grilled on the patio around which he had planted a variety of roses and mums.

I spent a lot of time with my grandparents and it would have been easy for me to learn to see the world as urban (good) and all those other grubby people.  But that wasn’t Bumpa’s way.  He also loved to hunt mushrooms so he knew many of the farmers around St. Louis.  His favorites were the morrells and he knew where to find them.  He’d bring a gift for the farmer and chat for a while before heading into the woods to look for mushrooms.

He also loved to fish.  When we’d go down to the lake, we’d stop and spend time with another farm family he knew.  I have no clue how they met but to reach their  land, you drove down a narrow country lane and then too a hard right across a field, nosing a gate open with the hood of the car.

My childhood memories include following men in overalls and women in gingham out to various barns to see calves, lambs and piglets.  Me?  I don’t, by any stretch of the imagination, have the skills of a farmer but I love the sound of rain on a corrugated roof, the taste of a garden ripe tomato, and the crunch of an apple fresh off the tree.

I’m thankful my grandfather taught me these things.  They help me appreciate God’s creation all that much more.

–SueBE

I’m not sure why it is there but whoever designed the addition to our original church building decided to include a courtyard.  it is about 20 feet squared with an open top.  In the summer it is a bit of a hot box.  For years we had one member who took care of it as a tribute to his late wife, but when Kinny died nobody immediately took up the mantle, or in this case the trowel.

The chairs aged and were unsafe to sit on.  Weeds took over the beds crowding the roses and the dogwood.  The pergola stood tall not because of upkeep but because it is PVC.  It will be there for decades.

People talked about fixing it up.  But no one got around to it in part because it is kept locked and few people have access to the area.

But one person wouldn’t give up on the idea that it mattered.  She had faith and a niggling idea that good things would happen if she just tried.

So she came in and got the key in the front office.  She weeded and clipped.  She hauled and she watered.  And she waited to see what would happen come spring.  Faith often involves a lot of waiting.

Only a handful of hyacinth came up.  And none of the tulips had survived.  But last week she opened the blinds for the entire choir to see.

Roses and primroses galore.  All because one person had faith that she could make a difference.

Listen carefully and you will likely hear a still small voice nudging you to take a stance, take action, and make a difference.  Whether or not you step forward is often a matter of faith.  The best thing about faith is that even a little can enable you to do something striking if only you will try.

–SueBE

 

 

Recently, a friend confided to me that I mutual acquaintance is “not fond” of me.  To put it simply, she doesn’t like me.

Hmm.  Okay.

Nope. I’m not going to let it bother me.  Part of the reason for my calm attitude is that I know why she doesn’t like me.  I refuse to play the game.

I’m not going to trade a secret about someone for a secret about someone else.  I’m not going to try to guess who did what.  I’m not going to ante up.

I’ll be honest.  When I was younger, you could sometimes draw me in.  But I’ve learned.

Like G-ma always said, “Play nice or don’t play.  God doesn’t like it when we treat other people poorly.”  Be genuine.  Speak truth.  And let the others be.

–SueBE

 

 

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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