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If I’d thought about it, I would have matched today’s quote with a photo of chickory.  I didn’t drink coffee until I was in college.  Add decades onto that and you have the date when I had coffee with chickory in it at a Mardi Gras celebration.  “Wow!  This is really good.”

We do a pancake breakfast at church to celebrate Mardi Gras.  When he heard my comment, one of the old timers told me all about chicory as a way to stretch coffee when times are bad.  When I told me Dad about it, he told me that my mom loved coffee with chicory.  Given the fact that she loved STRONG coffee that shouldn’t have been news.

Curious as always, I looked chicory up online.  See that blue flower beneath this paragraph?  That’s chicory.

I was flabbergasted.  I’ve seen this my whole life along Missouri’s rural roads, in vacant lots, here and there across the countryside.  That’s chicory?  I thought it was just a weed.

I try to remember this moment before I get all judgy.  I seldom know why something or someone is essential in God’s plan.  But then again I’m not all knowing.  There was a time I didn’t even know what that glorious blue flower is.

–SueBE

 

Take a deep breath. Then let it out.  I have to admit that I’m feeling pretty good as I write this.  My sciatica may be bothering me but I went to yoga anyway.  At least the way I do it, yoga is slow exercise.

Try to get into the pose.  Tip over.  Realize you’re using the wrong arm/leg.  Redo.  Tip again. Finally get it and then wait.  Breathe.  Wait.

A big part of yoga is holding the pose and waiting in the tension.  Breathe.

It has been good practice for life.  I’m a wee bit Type A.  When I let my inner anal retentive reign, everything has to be just so and it has to be NOW.  Yoga has taught me to ease into things which is a good habit to develop in a multi-tasking, hurried world.

When I take it slow, I have time to listen.  I can see those around me.  And I find more opportunities to project God’s light into this hurried, troubled world.

–SueBE

The enormous pile of stuff in my garage/basement/bedroom/office.  Hunger in my community and the world.  Whether the problem is decluttering or something less personal and more of a community problem, problems like these feel overwhelming.  Where do I start, Lord?  How can I really make an impact?

Step by step.  One small task at a time.

Today I saw a news story that reminded me of this.  At the Sakima Halal Grill in Washington DC, the owner feed every homeless person who comes in.  Because there was a point in his life when he didn’t have money for food, he knows what an impact a single meal can have. (See the video below).

Feed one hungry person one meal.

Recycle, repurpose, or put away a handful of the items cluttering your home.

Write one letter to your congressman.

Sew on one button.

Listen to one person who feels unheard.

Be Christ’s hands and feet. See the poor.  Hear the troubled.  Drip by drip, an impact is made.

–SueBE

I’m embarrassed to remember just how clueless I was in the early days of parenting.  If I like it, he’ll like it.  If it’s important to me, it will be important to him.

Hey!  I can hear you laughing.

Whenever I had the chance, I’d get him outdoors where he invariably found a stick to play with.  Hah!  I’ll show him something amazing, I thought.  He could barely walk when I led him over to see the first violet of spring.  He saw it all right and immediately beat it to bits with the stick.

Yep.  It wasn’t long before I figured out that he was going to be his own person.  Still, we spent time outside.  And he grew up in the church.

The outdoors and the church are both still important to him.  That said, he doesn’t necessarily value the same things that I do.

Flowers and plantings?  The more the better.

Imagine my shock when I heard the plans to clear out a number of trees and the plantings in front.  And he was for it!  My own baby!

But I also took the time to hear what they had to say.  Several of the trees were dying.  Softwoods grew quickly and filled in and looked nice soon after they were planted.  But they weren’t bred to weather our sometimes harsh winters.  They had also grown up to the point that from the street it was hard to see the way in which made our church less than welcoming.

The shrubs and other plantings blocked the view of the decorative brick and tile work on our foundation.  What?  We have tile work?  Yep.  It’s back way back there.

Earth and rain and wind.  Take them into it all but don’t be surprised when God speaks to them through the elements.

–SueBE

Be patient. You never know what someone else is going through.

Not long ago, a group of us were together and one friend lost her stuff.  Full on, grown up lady-tantrum. Yes, we were stuck in a frustrating situation but wow. The rest of us exchanged looks and wondered what the heck had set that off.

Later that evening she messaged me to tell me how stressed she has been.  Um, okay.  As we messaged back and forth, more and more came out.  Everything made more sense. Then a few days later, her husband told me something else that was going on in their lives.  My husband heard about yet a third stressor.

Add it all together and we wondered how they were keeping it together.

Be patient.  You don’t know what someone else is going through.  And they may not be able to discuss it with you.

Be gentle.  Situations are often made worse when we decide a solution has to be found now.  Now.  NOW.  You need some space?  Too bad, my friend.

Be humble.  Maybe you’re made of mellower stuff than I am.  But I know that eventually I’m going to lose my cool and I will be the one in need of patience.  It may be today. It may be tomorrow.  But it will happen.

Christ charged us to love one another.  “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34) Maybe it’s just me but I suspect that patience, gentleness and humility were at least part of what he had in mind.

–SueBE

I grew up on stories of Sunday dinner at my grandparents’.  They had very little. Sure Grandad had a college degree.  He was a mining engineer in a time when many American mines were playing out.  He took any job he could find, working in the mines when there were open, painting cars and managing a service station when they weren’t.

My grandmother had a huge garden and chickens.  You could do that in West Texas even when you lived in town.  Back then feed sacks were made from patterned fabric.  The girls got dresses from the prettiest.  Next up were shirts for the boys.  The least attractive fabrics became underwear.

Sunday dinner was a production.  The whole family was there and often there were several friends.  Whoever needed a meal.  Anyone who craved fellowship. All were welcome.  They’d just wedge another chair in around the circular table.  Chicken, corn, potatoes, biscuits, greens from the garden, corn bread, beans.

As little as they had, my grandparents shared.  Grandad always insisted it was a Southern thing.  I don’t know about that but I did get the rest of the message loud and clear.  What the good Lord gives us, we are meant to share.

At my grandparents’ table, no one ever went away hungry.  And there was also space enough to wedge in one more chair.

–SueBE

 

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

 

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

 

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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