I love the way Miss Ruth put this in her post.  Burden and blessing.  Like Ruth, we’ve been having drain issues.  Ours quit working completely.  Burden. But my husband could fix it which saved as a $250 bill to start the new year.  Blessing.

Our area is just coming out of a period of dangerously cold weather.  Our temps were well below freezing between Christmas Eve and yesterday.  I know the wind child dipped below zero.  Many days were between about 8 and 12 degrees.  Water mains and frozen pipes abound.

At the outset of this cold snap we were really worried whether or not anyone would come to Christmas Eve service.  Would people come out on such a freezing cold night?   Looking out at the congregation from my position in the choir loft, I wasn’t surprised by some who chose not to attend.  They’d already messaged me to let me know that the cold was just too much.  The surprising part?  These were many of our younger members.

Sitting in one pew was a man who uses a walker.  Recently widowed, he comes to church to interact with others.

On the other side of the aisle was a gentleman who had recently gotten out of the hospital. He had a bad reaction to some of the medication he is on to fight cancer.  He and three family members took up one pew.

“Why did they bother coming out in this cold?” asked one usher.  The cold – that’s been our recent curse.

So why did they face it?  Because they can.  They are celebrating this ability to get out.  To see and be seen.  That’s a true blessing.

What do you have on your list for today?  I’m rewriting an assignment.  Again.  They brought in a new expert who wants changes, Changes and more CHANGES.  If I let it, that would feel like a curse.  But really, it will make for a much better book and the better the book the more likely it will be to help one of our young readers.  Definitely a blessing.

Thank you, Miss Ruth!

–SueBE

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Photo by Alex on Unsplash

This morning, I found myself thinking of the things in need of repair in my house. Clogged sink. Broken fence. Electrical issues. That led me to ponder all the things I’ve yet to accomplish in my life.

It occurred to me that dwelling on things I don’t have is counterproductive. The weight of absence and lack takes up space in your soul, leaving no room for good things yet to come. And those you already have.

Counting your current blessings is recruitment for future blessings.

My favorite popcorn movies were on t.v. today. The Day After Tomorrow, followed by Kate and Leopold. These might seem like small things to count as blessings, but they came at the exact moment they were needed.

Every problem can be broken down into two parts: The burden and the blessing.

It’s bitterly cold outside. That’s the burden. We’re inside with the heat on, wearing comfy sweaters. That’s the blessing.

There are things in need of repair in my house. That’s the burden. They’re not so urgent that we can’t wait to get them fixed. That’s the blessing.

One of my pairs of shoes has worn down and they have no arch support. That’s the burden. But as I said, one of my pairs of shoes… I have other shoes. That’s the blessing.

Every problem in life contains those two parts. The burden and the blessing. Sometimes shifting focus toward the good in life is just a matter of degree.

Unlike Neil Gaiman, she is probably hoping he doesn’t start the New Year with a mistake. Still – try new things.

When I pair an image with a quote, I’m hoping for something that challenges viewers or makes them think.  I’m sure when I picked this one I was thinking — yes, yes, try new things!  Really push yourself.

This morning, as I stumble out of bed and begin to post it I realize – um, no.  This would not be a good time to make a mistake.

Ah, well.  Clearly, I made a bit of a mistake.  And really this is still a valid quote.

So what new things are you trying this year?  Me?  I’m going to make another attempt at journaling.  You have no clue how many times I’ve tried this and failed.  But I am a compulsive list maker so I’m going to try a bulleted journal.  I’ll be getting started on that this afternoon in my warm, fabulous dining room.  We are supposed to be getting ice and have been warned to stay off the road.  So I’ll scare up a journal or a notebook, my markers and colored pencils and get creative.

Part of the reason that I’ve chosen this particular thing to try is that I feel God calling me to spend less time online.  Yes, it is a great way to connect with people like my gal pals here but it is also endless.  I need to get back to more concrete activities.  Hence, this project in paper.

–SueBE

 

There is so much noise in society today.  People telling you to buy.  Music and sound bites.  It can be hard to keep track of the small voice of God and the inner voice that urges us on.  That’s why, at least for me, quiet it vital.  Spend some time listening today.

–SueBE

I admit it.  I’m a list maker.  It is how I keep track of things.  Do you have this?  Have you done this?  Don’t forget that thing there.

I’m not as bad when it comes to other people.  I tend not to confuse what they have with who they are.

When it comes to me, I often put action above being.  Take some time today to simply be.  I’m not saying you have to just sit. Do something quiet that you enjoy.  Color.  Do a puzzle.  Read a book.  Work with clay.

As I type this list, it strikes me how many of these things are equated with childhood.  The time when we are allowed, oh so briefly, to play, to laugh, to count happiness as an accomplishment.

It give new meaning to Matthew 19:14. “Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them! For the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

I’ve only checked two things off todays list but if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go sit on the sofa and read a book.

–SueBE

 

Why did Jesus have to be born during the holidays?

That’s a joke, of course. But it hints at a concern that becomes more and more clear to me with each passing year: At a time when we should be contemplating the great mysteries of our faith, we become too busy with holiday planning to do anything of the sort.

Well, the holidays are over now. Things have settled down for the most part. And I am left wondering: What happened to the Christ in Christmas?

Oh, he was there on Christmas Eve, during Mass. I remember feeling the physical presence of him keenly on our shared birthday. And then I got busy. And who got shoved aside in favor of planning and baking and socializing? You guessed it.

This is entirely my fault. I am certain there are people who are able to mix the social with the personal, who can see God clearly in everything they do, in the people they are with and the festivities set before them. I’m not one of them.

I require contemplation, quiet and serenity to access my spiritual side. The holidays aren’t exactly conducive to those requirements, at least not for me. So God gets set aside.

I’ve decided that my theme for the coming year will be “assent.” Assenting to God’s plans for me no matter what they are or how frightening the prospect. Fully letting go of my own plans for my life and placing myself entirely into God’s hands. Like Mary’s own fiat: I want to say “thy will be done” and mean it.

But that means letting God in at all times, not just selectively, when the time is right. (Okay, it involves more than that, but one problem at a time.) How is an introvert like me going to deal with living in the world while also removing myself from it? I can’t, after all, have it both ways.

How do you keep God present in your life, even when things are at their busiest? How do you live in a state of tension between being present to living and present to God?

I really want to know, readers. Clearly, if I’m going to give God the “yes” I want to give, I’ve got to have a plan. So tell me — how does one live a spiritual life and a temporal life simultaneously?

Because becoming a hermit is looking really good to me right now.

I don’t tend to see myself as a self-limiting person but sometimes it seems that I am.  On January 1st, The Boys came over to cook some epic chili.  They watched a video of a recipe they wanted to duplicate, more or less, and I tried not to cringe.  pepperoni?  Bacon?  In chili?

But I managed to keep my mouth shut.  As long as they didn’t find the package of bacon I had hidden in the deli drawer in the fridge, I could make us all bacon and eggs if need be.  While I went to visit my Dad and do our shopping, they did their own and got to work.  The result?  Wow.  I never in a million years would have chosen this recipe but it was so good.   So good.

There’s a reason that God sends bold, brassy teens into our lives. They are there to remind us to see beyond the limitations we’ve place on ourselves.

–SueBE

When I do make a resolution or set a goal, I tend to go big.  Clean up my office.  That may not sound like a Herculean task but this room is a serious mess.  Everyone in the family dumps things in here including me.  That said, it is better than it was in early December.

Starting about half way through the month, I started picking up in here daily.  But only baby steps.  I worked for five minutes a day.

That’s right.  Five minutes.

My thought was that if I could keep it up, more or less, throughout the Christmas season, I’d truly be on to something.  And I’ll admit that there were days I didn’t manage it but when my husband was doing plumbing work and a hose exploded in the basement?  I got to pick up down there instead.

The thing is that 5 minutes a day is do-able.  Five minutes are so … minor.  A lot of systems to encourage people to do things say fifteen minutes.  But that’s a quarter of an hour.  I’m not sure what it is about being able to state it in portions of an hour but it feels daunting.  Five minutes?  Pfft.  I can squeeze that in.

And the funny thing is that I’m seeing progress.  Two stacks on my desk are smaller.  One pile on the floor is gone.  So is a box that got dumped in here New Year’s Eve.  Today I’m targeting another floor pile and one of my bookshelves that is a huge pile of stuff.

Baby step by baby step, I’m making progress.

What task has God laid before you this year?  Don’t be intimidated.  Instead, think about what you can do five minutes a day.

–SueBE

 

Even when water moves calmly and quietly, it changes the world. That’s something I definitely need to remember because I have a tendency to come on strong.  But when we are too loud and aggressive, even when we are doing God’s work, people feel backed into a corner.  Our aggression is reflected back at us.  hackles raise.  All of this reduces the amount of progress that might be made because so much energy is spent on negative reactions and attempts to calm them.  

Instead, we need to flow forward.  Circling. Lifting.  Buoying up.  And gently wearing away the harsh edges of this world.

–SueBE

How do you nourish your soul?  One of my girl friends rides her bike.  I crochet and knit.  I also belong to our church choir.  That’s why I knew I had to pair this quote with a musical photo.

Choir nourishes my soul.  I’m far from the best.  Every now and again I manage to successfully read a bar or two of music, but my soul soars when we sing.

My soul also benefits from having the kids hang out here.  Last night, we celebrated New Years Eve by inviting a friend’s kids over so she could go to dinner. My son invited one of his younger friends over and the four played video games for hours.  Seriously – hours.  When Mom’s dinner was over she brought her knitting and we sat in the living room and listened to the kids shout and laugh.

Find something that buoys you up.  You don’t have to be the best at it.  You just need to benefit from it.  Nourish your soul.

–SueBE

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