You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘faith’ tag.

There are some left-overs I really look forward to; others, not so much. I’ve started to realize that I know very quickly what should really go right into the trash. We may think we’re going to eat it tomorrow, but we didn’t like it the first time. Why re-hash it? Especially if it’s actual scorched-earth-style corned beef hash?👎

Today is the day to go all Marie Kondo and really sort through the things that take up space in your psyche.

Keep  

  • The attention you give to your core responsibilities (take care of family, pay the bills, feed the cat.)
  • The things you are already doing efficiently (keeping track of appointments on your phone’s calendar, washing towels right after a shower so you have towels next time you need them.)
  • The comforts and keepsakes that light you up from the inside (the coffee mug with a lid that looks like a jaunty beret, that tiny candle that looks like a lighthouse, the faith that sustains you like a wood-burning stove of the soul even on the darkest winter night.)

Discard

  • The memories that pop up when you experience the slightest hint of happiness (Remember that thing you did that time? You should’ve done it differently.)
  • Self-defeating habits (Since I gained five pounds, I might as well go all in and demolish the snacks in the house with the word “sugar” or “chip” in their name.)

Once you’ve got your cognitive closets cleared, take a moment to breathe. Congratulate yourself on taking small steps to improve your life. That first step is always the hardest one.  The past is a left-over. You don’t need a make-over. A good habit that you carry over to the next day? We’ll call it a blessed-over.

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This summer, Florissant Presbyterian Church is expanding our garden.  Everything we grow goes to the local food pantry.  Last year, our bumper crop was cucumbers as in 200 lbs.  We also had carrots, onions and lettuce but by far our biggest crop was cucumbers.  We’re going to have a lot of cucumbers again this year but we are trying to balance things out a bit.  We’ve added tomato and pepper plants as well as seeding lettuce, radishes, kale, corn and more.

As the kids are calling it, a baby apple tree.

It is easy to see the change for the better without considering the stresses and strains that come with it.  After six hours in the garden on Saturday my hands still hurt today.  No, I don’t have arthritis but apparently pulling up that much sod is not without consequence.  Would I do it again?  Yes, I would.  I’m sore and my hands are cramping but it is nothing to the cramping bellies from the school children who don’t get their meals at school over the summer.  The thought of feeding those kids keeps me motivated.

It took a bit more than that when my husband unpacked the shipment of bare root apple trees.  Never seen a bare root apple tree?  Imagine a stick with a few scraggly roots.  They looked like Harry Potter wands trying to take root.

But my husband assured me that this was how they were supposed to look.  And, yes, he was sure.  It wasn’t easy to find the motivation to help with those bedding boxes.  But I believed my husband and had faith.  This is a tree?  Then by the grace of God it will grow.

And they have.  All three of them are leafing out.  This makes it a lot easier to focus on the positive changes beginning to take place on our grounds.  The horse shoe pits?  No one has played in years but that’s where we planted the blackberries so no one would accidentally mow them down.

We may not be using the land the way we did 60 years ago when people played soft ball and horse shoes.  But being able to feed our hungry neighbors?  That’s a change worth making.

–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

 

 

Let me just affirm what you already know: Things are lousy right now. There is no equality, no justice. No hope? Sometimes it feels like it. Then I hear a little voice (it sounds suspiciously like Auntie Ruth) saying, “Focus on the bright side; focus on hope.” Sometimes, it feels foolish to hope. But hope, like faith, never claimed to be rational. It just is.

Advice for those who are sinking: First
find a reed, however slender, to grasp.
If muck sucks you downward, lie on your back,
float: improbably, hope will buoy you.

I read the handbook, yet trust forsakes me.
I hover, the slough still plucks and pulls.
Hope, foolish and fleeting, throws me a rope —
faith fills my chest; my heart is a red balloon.

Is it possible to speak about heavy subjects and still keep a light spirit? I think so.

Due to my obvious adeptliness at the Inglish langwich, I give all of the household items around me pet names. My car is named Carrie (pronounced Kahr-ee), my plant is named Plantie, and my phone, for reasons I know savvy readers will understand, is named Really. (Get it? I knew you would!) Words. Yes. Words are my strong soot.

But I think we ought to do a deep dive into the words that people of faith use to describe themselves.

“Christian” really doesn’t apply when you weaponize your faith as a way of targeting people with other beliefs.

“Because it’s a part of history” isn’t reason enough to display symbols of bigotry like the confederate flag. History should be stored in a museum, properly placed into context and used to educate, not perpetuate hate.

“That’s how it’s always been done” isn’t justification for doing the wrong thing, this far into our civilization’s development. The point of evolution is to continue to improve, and not to stay stuck in an antiquated era, like it’s set in stone and society cannot move forward.

The fact that we get to hit the re-set button isn’t just a random occurrence. Every new day is a clean slate. We can learn from yesterday or live the same day, the same way.

PS All of the creative misspellifications in this post are intentional. Have a gud dae!

Today is Easter Sunday, a day on which Christians around the world celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the tomb on the third day after his crucifixion.

The Cross is the universal emblem of the Christian faith, and its poignant significance resonates around the world. But another symbol I hold dear is the rock. The stone that was rolled away after the resurrection always reminds me: you don’t have to stay in bondage. If you think you can’t get out of an abusive or untenable situation, remember the stone that was rolled away. You can and you will. Pray about it, then get up and go.

There’s also something solid and unchanging about the symbol of a rock in a changing and challenging world.

When I think of Psalms, this is the one I always return to:

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Psalm 18:2 NIV

In that passage, there’s so much “strength” mentioned that I feel encouraged every time I read it. Like I’m getting stronger just sitting here. Now that would be an exercise plan I’d sign onto: sit and strengthen. That could be a thing!

The core principles we learned as children are like bedrock. Treat people well. Take care of your body like a temple. Do the work in front of you with all your heart. Be forgiving of yourself and of others.

I may not belong to a particular denomination, and my pew may be this chair I’m sitting in right now, but between the rock and the cross, my faith has a firm foundation. Easter blessings to you and yours!

At 3 AM, I woke up suddenly, and these words popped into my head:

Major drama in one minute.

Within a minute, a massive clap of thunder shook the house. Lightning flashed and crackled. Torrential rain flowed like a river from the sky. It was as if a switch was flipped. Peaceful. Click. Tumultuous. It turns out to have been a micro-burst, a powerful storm that knocked down trees.

It was the kind of sudden loud surprise that makes you curse, even if you really don’t curse. What the -! Holy -!

And in that surprised, scared, angry space, I actually had this thought: Well, if you can warn me it’s coming, Lord, why can’t you just make it not happen in the first place?

Bad things happen to people. It could be the loss of a loved one. A betrayal by a spouse. I’m not sure what the net benefit will be as you go through it, but going forward, it builds your resilience muscles. It gives you experience to make informed choices in the future. It will almost certainly deepen your reserves of compassion, now that you know from the inside of the tunnel how scarce light can be till you pass through it.

It’s not that unexpected, unwelcome things aren’t going to pop up like a sudden storm. They are. Who knows why. All I can assume is that God’s got his reasons. But you are going to get through them. Sometimes you’ve just got to hold on until morning.

Coaster, sans arachnid

Once, as I was watching TV, I reached for my hazelnut coffee. It was placed on a coaster that resembles a throw rug with tiny strings on it. As I drink my coffee, I have to make sure it’s centered so it doesn’t spill. Usually I just grab those little strings to adjust it. This time, I wasn’t paying attention. I grabbed the strings and tugged, only to look down and realize that it wasn’t the strings of the coaster I was pulling on. It was the legs of a spider!

Mildly freaked out, I said “Aaah!” He said the spider version of “Aaah!,” making a jerking motion with his legs. All those crazy legs. Mercy. He ran off and I started to go after him to squish him (there wasn’t time to capture him with my trusty Bugzooka and take him outside).

I realized that he’d gotten my message without my even trying.

He wasn’t coming around me again, not after that tiny torture session. Tickling my toes? What manner of fresh heck is this? What are you, giant creature with flame-orange hair?

As a general rule, impinging on my space will never get you a warm welcome.

This goes for spiders on my coffee coaster, of course, but also for:

  • People who decide to park their car in front of my driveway.
  • Salespeople peddling stuff I don’t need that I’ll end up putting directly into the attic.
  • Zombies sent to my house inadvertently by a faulty GPS (Gory People Search.)

The best way to make a point, no matter how important you feel it may be, is to give people their space. So if you’ve found faith and want to share it, be sure to ask permission. Respecting others’ decisions speaks well of your religion.

You have to have faith.  Faith that what you are doing matters.  Faith that you will find what you need.  Faith that God will provide.

Otherwise?  Why even try?

I always think of this when I hear the story of the Good Samaritan.

Before the Samaritan came along, a priest and a Levite walked by the beaten man.  They walked on by because if he died, they would be unclean.  They would have to pay fees and make sacrifices to once again become clean.  Sure, he might be okay but they didn’t have the Faith needed to take the chance.

The Samaritan? He wasn’t the same culture as the victim.  If the Samaritan tried to help and the man died, his family would probably take revenge on the Samaritan.  After all, wasn’t he the last person seen with the victim?  The Samaritan could take shelter in a city of refuge, but his family would still be at risk, because the victim’s family could seek revenge against a son, brother or nephew. This was much bigger than a simple risk of his ability to perform temple rituals. This could be a matter of life and death.

But it was the right thing to do and the Samaritan helped.  He got involved.  He had faith that it would turn out okay and he did something big.

With faith, we can all do great things.

–SueBE

The crocus are up and blooming.  Winter is heading out the door.

And, in all truth, it is about time.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love winter.  Snow and cold?  Love them.  I think I like snow days more than the kids do.

But I also have seasonal depression.  By the time spring rolls around, I need a bit of sunlight to lift me up.

Today, I’ll head to the arbor and see if the new rose-bush we put in survived.  If not, I’ll have to replace it.  And my husband went to the nursery to see about the apple trees for the community garden.

The thing about fruit trees?  You aren’t going to benefit from them today.  They are an investment in tomorrow.  To me, they are a symbol of faith.  We will plant this and it will grow.  And tomorrow?  Tomorrow we will benefit.  Spring will come again and again.

–SueBE

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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