I’m not sure when I realized what it means to respect another person.  I suspect it is an understanding that has come to me only slowly.

Step 1.  Respect means seeing those around you.  Wait staff. Checkers.  Whoever.  It was shortly after college, out with new friends, when I realized that not everyone had been raised to thank the server when she refilled our water.  Where did they think that lovely glass of ice water had come from?  No, if you are going to respect someone, you look them in the eye and thank them for taking care of you.

Step 2.  Respect means listening.  This was something we talked about in Sunday school.  When people feel heard, they feel valued.  Respect means hearing them.  Really listening.

Step 3.  Respect means not assuming that everyone else is wrong.  I’ve seen this a lot the last few days.  Whether the issue is who forgot to pay for something or whose way of doing things is right, respect means letting go.  Maybe just maybe the other person is on to something.  Even if you don’t immediately see it.

When we do these things, we manage to reflect some of Christ’s light out into the world.  Christ saw.  He sat and listened.  And he accepted the people around him.  He didn’t expect them to be flawless.  He accepted their humanity.

Respect.  It may be a fairly small word, but it means an awful lot to those who receive it.

–SueBE

 

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Last year, our church held a series of discussions based on the book Waking Up White by Debby Irving.  Irving sensed racial tensions in her relationships but as much as she wanted to do right, she worried about offending people.  She knew she was missing something, something that kept her from truly getting it.  The book is the story of how this all changed.

Trying to get people to come to a discussion about this book was brutal.  Most of them expected to be told that they had done something wrong.  At best, they had hurt someone’s feelings.  At worst, they had done actual damage.  Thank you but no thank you.  They just didn’t want the discomfort.

The reality that they missed?  We are all products of our past.  By discussing issues of race, we have the opportunity to learn how our upbringing effects what we see and how we interpret it.  These discussions allow us to be products but not prisoners.  We can see a new way ahead.

Not that we will ever be perfect.  Perfection belongs to God alone but God does give us opportunities to grow.

It’s up to us to take them but first we have to see them and recognize them for what they are.  Opportunities to leave behind something broken and replace it with something better.

–SueBE

Missouri had some seriously wacky weather last week and I know we aren’t the only US state to experience it.  On Wednesday, the high was something like 6 and I don’t even remember what the windchill was.  Saturday it was something like 60 and I noticed that something is sprouting in my flower beds.  Technically, it should be the crocus because they should come up before the daffodils.  But these leaves look a little heavy to be crocus.  I shall see what I shall see when they are a little farther along.

More than anything I wanted to get out the kneeler and start working with a hand rake to pull the leaves out of the beds that line the front of the house. I would get to feel the sun on my back and listen to the bird song while I piddled along.  We have many feet of garden beds – I’m not sure why this seemed like such a good idea.  I’m really not very talented.  We joke that some things thrive in spite of me.

What can I say?  Gardening in moderation makes me happy.  It relaxes me.  When I’m on my knees working in the beds, I feel closer to God.  Is it because I’m on my knees?  Or is it because my hands are in the soil?  I have no clue.   But one thing is sure – taking part in God’s creation is good for the soul.

–SueBE

 

Would you rather:

🔲Take a lawn chair and sit by a landfill.

Or

✅Sit on the beach by the ocean.

🔲Dangle your feet in a brackish swamp by the sewage plant.

Or

✅Skim stones across a crystal lake on a spring day.

Negativity is corrosive to the soul. If you could see it, smell it, experience it in living color, you’d run for your life. But we can’t see it for the pile of stinking garbage it is, so it seeps and creeps into our minds before we know it.

When I woke up this morning, I felt the weight of three issues on the horizon to do with money, health and my son’s well-being.

Sat for some time with my internal Catastrophe Planning Advisor and he offered this sage word of advice:

Panic! 😨

But it hasn’t happened yet.  So why experience it until it does?

It’s like an installment plan of pain. Act now and you, too, can feel bad before the bad thing happens!

Set of guilt-Ginsu-knives that stab me in the back as I try to improve my life? Nah! You’re not here to offer me a fortune from a Nigerian prince. You’re here to steal my peace and make me focus on the problem instead of a plan.

If you could look these negative, nagging thoughts in the face, you’d see they’re lost little souls filled with fear. Look out! Last time you tried to change your life, it didn’t work out. Just stay in your lane. Sure you’re not happy with the way things are but what if you make it worse?

Feel bad less today. Take worrying off your to-do list. Just nix one dark thought and you’ll feel better. The yesness of life is always present, but you have to stop saying no so much to allow yes to find you.

Listen. So it didn’t work out before. Adjust your approach and try again. Face the problem, make a plan, move ahead. This is not a limited time offer. You can sign up for yesness at any point in your life. Why not today?

“I just can’t do it!  It’s just impossible.”

Parents may well recognize this as the adult version of a toddler who is simply spent.  They might be hungry.  They might be tired.  Perhaps the problem is overstimulation and they just need to be in a quiet corner with their binkey.

When I get like this, my husband has a pretty good idea what I need.  Dinner.  Some knitting time.  A walk in the sunshine. They are all possibilities but first he has to get past my resistance.

It is embarrassing and amazing just how often we get in our own way.  In fact, it makes me wonder how often when I pray for help the solution I need is right there.  Just waiting for me to find the road forward.

May your weekend be Blessed.
May the road you need be in plain sight.
May your companions number among His followers.
May His light show from within.

–SueBE

Had you told me, back when I was a kid, that someday I’d be doing all my writing on a laptop computer, I never would have believed you. (Also, I would have asked, “What’s a laptop computer?” Those were simpler times, folks.) Even during college, I wrote out all of my papers — no matter how lengthy — in longhand before typing them up. My brain-to-pen connection was strong. Nowadays, everything flows through my keyboard. Even prayers.

What is it
that emanates from you:
enters, moves and exits,
dances my digits
across lonely letters,
forming whole words,
little acts of creation —
a platypus, perhaps,
beaked but mammalian,
spare bits that somehow swim —
or a perfect petit four, iced
elegance, consumed in a gulp?
Is it the stuff of charlatans,
tapped alphabets, levitating tables?
Or is it you, yourself,
hunting and pecking,
posing a sort of code,
and do I even interpret one word in three?
Whatever this holy magic is,
please may it always be.

A couple of weeks ago, I was short-sighted enough to disagree with a friend of my husband on Facebook.  I should have known.  Really, really should have known.  It isn’t that I dislike him but I know him.  He is pushy.  I think he’s condescending because I’m female.  My husband counters that he’s condescending because he’s breathing.  Female.  Male.  People in general.  Condescension will happen.

And when it did?  I lost all perspective.  It became the most important part of my evening.  Again and again I looked up his comment.  How dare he!?  The amount of energy that went into verifying, repeatedly, that he had been rude and he’d done it more than once was, in hindsight, embarrassing.  I should have just turned my back on the whole thing.  I should have turned to face something or Someone entirely different.

What if I’d spent that evening doing something God wants me to do?  Using the talents God gave me?  Facing into the Light?  Maybe nothing grand would have happened.  But, if nothing else, I’d have had a much better evening.

And if we did this often and consistently?  I can’t help but think that we’d get a lot more accomplished acting as His hands and feet on this earth.

–SueBE

People who are sun-shiney and optimist no matter what is going on make me suspicious.  What is it they’ve missed?

But I’m not a pessimist. I don’t think everyone is out to get me.  I don’t think everything turns out badly.   Most people don’t even know I’m here.  And the universe? Neutral.

I consider myself a realist.  But over the years I’ve come to handle stress fairly well.  As long as no one is right in my face crabbing at me, I can pretty well just roll with things.   Imagine my surprise when my yoga instructor read us an article that explained why.  Yoga requires holding poses for a period of time.  These poses require using our muscles and focusing.  It is physically stressful.  As we work on these poses, our brains are rewired.  More cells and connections develop in the areas activated to handle stress.  These cells and pathways are there when we have to deal with stress out in the larger world.

Things may not be peaceful but they are managable.  They may not be ideal but they can be endured.   And the quiet at your center? It’s a great place to pause and listen for God.

–SueBE

 

Tell me something is impossible and nine times out of ten I’m going to try to prove you wrong.  I taught myself to knit before the internet swarmed with tutorials.  I had failed to learn from my mom but when my 12 year-old niece acted like I was a simpleton because I couldn’t do it, I had to learn.  Hey, don’t judge. I wasn’t a mom yet.  I didn’t understand that 12 year-olds act like you’re a simpleton just because.

And it isn’t like this trait has diminished with age.  One of my girlfriends calls it my “hold my beer” response.  Half of the joke is that I don’t drink beer, I don’t like beer and I will never need someone to hold my beer.  But if you tell me something is impossible you better step back because I am hardwired to try to prove you wrong.

Some people would call this a weakness and it could be.  But I’m a writer.  Writing is hard and so is getting published.  If I gave up every time someone pointed out how impossible this job is, I’d still have a desk job.

I like to think my innate stubbornness is a gift from God.  Whether or not you agree, it is definitely something I’ve used to my advantage.

-SueBE

 

If, like me, you live in an urban area, going into the countryside can be a shock when it comes to the night sky.  The name “Milky Way” suddenly makes sense to someone who is used to seeing only the very brightest stars.

During the day, we see one star, our own sun.  During a truly dark night, we see many.  It is amazing.

The other thing I love about being in this part of the state?  We have no cell service.  I can disconnect.   I wander down country roads, stopping to check rocks and moss and whatever else catches my fancy.  I can listen and breathe and simply be.  It’s in those times that I’m mostly likely to hear what it is God is trying to tell me.

Darkness and disconnect.  Both allow you to take in the Light.

–SueBE

 

 

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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