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courtyard

Our courtyard garden.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the meeting.  Two visiting pastors had come to discuss with us the possibilities of becoming on Earth Care congregation.  Honestly, I liked the idea but worried about how much work we might have ahead of us.  Try though I might, plastic forks and paper plates still rule at church pot lucks.

When I got to the conference room, I was pleasantly surprised to find 17 people seated around the table.  That’s not a lot but it’s something over 1/10th of our congregation.  When I worked at the university I learned that any turn out over ten percent is a wild success.

Then I started to flip through the packet.  The church has to score so many points to earn the certification and it isn’t a permanent thing.  I saw things “holding services outside.”  St. Louis’s summer heat, fall rain and winter winds do not lend themselves to outdoor worship. Next I spotted “motion detectors on light switches.”  No. We don’t have those either and how much would they cost. That worry was echoed by several other people in the meeting.  Could we afford to take this step?

But this was a worry our visitors expected.  One of them tapped her finger on the packet.  “One of the criteria is an earth-friendly banner.”  We stared blankly at her.  “The green banner in front of the church.  It’s the Tree of Life.”

Wow. How had I missed the connection?

Page by page, we went through the packet.  We realized that we earn points because of an appropriate bulletin board, paper recycling, a community garden, re-usable table clothes (no kidding!), and more.  In the end, it looks like we can make one change and earn the certification.

How often do we label something “nearly impossible” when, truthfully, it isn’t?  How often do we miss our connections to God’s creation, both human and nature?  Fortunately, all it takes is a little encouragement to open our eyes.

–SueBE

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Every now and again I manage to delude myself into thinking that I’m in control of my own life, and I’m doing a pretty fine job. Sometimes this feeling lasts for days. Sometimes it lasts for months. Eventually something happens that makes me see just how delusional that line of thinking really is.

I entered summer on a high. I’d written five books in 15 months. The first was already out, the fourth already getting good reviews based on the galleys, and I had the summer ahead of me to take some time off.

It was still June when I started having troubles walking and sitting. Then in hurt when I stood and when I spent time in bed.

Fortunately, it was a pretty easy diagnosis. I have sciatica and, as sciatica goes, I had a pretty mild case. But the funny thing about a mild illness is that, even if it is only mildly painful but keeps you from sleeping or being active, it isn’t long before you’re in the dumps.

It is amazing how willing I am at times like that to declare that I am not self-made. Yeah, I see the irony. Sitting at a desk, bad posture and not paying attention to the ergonomics of my work space. There was a lot I could have done to reduce even this mild sciatica, yet now I was willing to acknowledge God as my creator.

But God wasn’t done with me yet. What can I say? I can be a little slow to catch on.

Even as I got better, the depression got worse. But that’s when another irony hit me. I was now willing to admit that I’m not self-made and I am part of His creation. That means that I am part of the family of believers. I didn’t have to go through this alone, but that’s what I’d been doing. I hadn’t asked even my closest friends for prayer. In fact, I’d mentioned it to almost no one but that needed to change. A few people here and a few people there, I let my sisters and brothers in Christ know what was going on.

Honestly, for an introvert like me, the response was a tad overwhelming. Lori and Ruth have, not surprisingly, numbered among my prayer champions. Their encouraging e-mails have lifted me up.

Then there are the people from my church. One woman broke her hip this spring. She’s still using a cane but she managed to catch me in the hall. How am I doing and do I need the name of a good doctor? Then there’s the friend whose father-in-law just died. I almost ended up in tears when he stopped me at the wake to ask how I was doing.

Prayer after prayer, things are looking up. I wouldn’t say that I’m at 100% and ready to go it alone, but isn’t that the point? Going it alone isn’t something I need to do because I am His and we are many.

–SueBE

I don’t know what it is about me.  Introvert though I may be, I seem to invite intrusive questions and comments from strangers.  I’m amazed at how many of them are about my son. When I was pregnant, people would ask me what he was going to be. “I don’t know. I haven’t met him yet.” I know it sounds rude but I was mystified. And it’s probably just as well that I didn’t try to guess because it is clear that God is the one that chose his talents. Me?  I’d have done a few things differently.

In many ways, we’re a lot alike.  We’re both introverts who genuinely like people to a point.  When we’ve had enough, we’ve had enough.  We both love movies and books and super heroes and gaming and animals and science and history.  That’s a lot of common ground, but God also gave him interests and talents that are entirely his own.

One of his all-time favorite Scouting experiences was Pack and Paddle, a leadership training course that required him to spend a week backpacking and canoeing.  Me? I have a house. Why would I sleep outside? After the zombie apocalypse fine, but for fun?  No, thank you.

Then there’s swimming. He adores swim team and the sense of camaraderie. Water is his element and he’s actively swimming from early June until mid-November. Although parents are required to work only one swim meet, I usually work more like 6.  I’d rather be on deck and close to the action in spite of everything.

This summer, someone told my son that he’s lucky I love the water.  “She’s always here.”

These assumptions may confuse me, but my son laughs. “You’re kidding right?  She hates water.”

The thing is God created us as two very different people.  My son loves things I don’t — swimming, camping, and rock climbing. But that’s okay. You will never find him knitting, crocheting or writing. We each have our God given talents.

We just need to remember that God knit him together to be one person and He knit me together to be another. The key is remembering that our Creator loves us in our diversity and we need to do the same.

–SueBE

My Mother's Day may not be your cup of tea, and that's okay.

My Mother’s Day may not be your cup of tea, and that’s okay.

Mother’s Day is a tricky topic. I’ll admit that this is my 3rd attempt to write a Mother’s Day post.  Part of this issue is that, for me, Mother’s Day is a mixed bag.

I know for a fact that Sunday will not be a day to celebrate me and nothing but me, morning to night. Part of the reason is that Mother’s Day and my husband’s birthday have a sneaky habit of coinciding.  Then there’s the fact that my son is coming home from a school trip at 6 am after driving for 10 hours.  He’s going to need to get some sleep and then get some homework done. I’m hoping we can squeeze in lunch out and the latest Avengers movie.

Yes, the Avengers.  That’s my version of a wild and crazy Mother’s Day dream.

Not your cup of tea?  Then don’t pick it up.

Part of the reason that Mother’s Day is a mixed bag is that it means something different for everyone. There are the women who want nothing more than a spa day and a massage.  Me?  I’d rather spend time at the archery range as a family.

Then there are the women who have lost children.  Or have never had children.  Or who have lost their own mothers and grandmothers.  For many of them, Mother’s Day is like knowing someone is about to tear off a band aid.

The chance that we are all going to get a perfect Mother’s Day is pretty slim.  But what can you expect?  Perfection is for God alone.  We, on the other hand, aren’t even close, but that doesn’t change something important.  We may not be perfect, but we are His. He created each and every one of us, different as we are.

There is no one perfect Mother’s Day, because we all need something different out of it simply because we are a marvelously diverse bunch.  And that’s okay, because that’s the way God made us.

–SueBE

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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