Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transparent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. ~ Sara Ban Breathnach

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Sandi, this book looks difficult...

C.S.Lewis 1898-1963

“Don't think of God in terms of forms, because forms are limited and God is unlimited.” ~ C.S.Lewis

More than one person has told me the upcoming book by Macrina Wiederkehr looks like it might be a bit difficult.  I journaled yesterday morning that it was grace that I began with Joyce's book!

Part of the 130,000 acres of the flooded farmland in Missouri.
Going to Payton's soccer game last evening, I overheard conversations in the parking lot as I came and went.  Osama bin Laden's death and the flooding of 130,000 acres of farmland in Missouri seemed to be the most popular topics, along with questions regarding the soggy fields here in Indiana. I heard a lot of worry, anxiety, and anger being expressed.

"Fill with good news of
God at work in the world."

    Last fall I purchased very attractive notebooks for a group of women from my congregation.  I told them I wanted them to fill the notebook with good news; news where they saw God at work during the next month. The news could come from any source,  newspapers, Internet, Facebook, TV, or radio. At the end of the month, we would meet and share what we had discovered and learned.

We are daily bombarded
 by negative news.
I do not get the Indianapolis Star, but I did begin purchasing one so I could look for local news as well as news within the USA Today. While it was possible to find "good news" stories in the USA Today, I would search for days to find one positive blurb in the Star.  But, since I was the one who gave the assignment, I doggedly attacked the challenge!  When we met a month later I discovered the others had also become discouraged and their notebooks, like my own, were not filled as I had expected them to be.  One woman had even quit because she could not find any positive news! She had begun feeling more discouraged by life in general by looking for something positive.
Three fingers pointed back at me,
"What was my responsibility in this?"

It was not the learning and discovery I had planned to share.  I had expected that we would gather and gain a sense of joy and feeling affirmed by our convictions as Christian women as we shared with one another evidence of God's work.  Instead, we were sad and a bit angry.  We ended up blaming the news casters and reporters for feeding us negative "stuff."  There is an old saying about when you point a finger at someone, there are three others pointing back to you? I began to wonder what my responsibility was in this newly discovered reality.

There are other sayings that are similar to "If you want to see something change, then begin with yourself!" A lot has happened to me and to this world since last fall when I was hit by the reality of negative news and knowing that I have to accept some responsibility.  I am a firm believer that if one person makes a positive change, then that change will affect another,  which then that change will...   I did not take steps immediately, because I did not know what to do.  However, I kept journaling about the question and I continued to pray.  I will admit that I often felt my prayers were being ignored, something I hope to come back to as I journal through Macrina's book.  Still, it was through this process that I got the idea to do a blog...

"WHY?" was a common response.

I continued to think about it but it felt like I needed to learn to speak Chinese! I asked a young woman from my congregation if she would teach me about blogging.  She agreed to help, but told me it was not that difficult.  I didn't believe her and made arrangements to meet in a couple of days. But...then I got curious and lo and behold...I got the beginnings of the thing going!  Over and again, I have journaled how I have grown in my faith and my convictions as I have worked through Joyce's book...I have also gained a measure of self confidence as I worked on the blog!

Our tractors and planters - sit - because fields are too wet
to plant. Seed that should be sprouting remains in containers 

Here's the thing, life is difficult.  Just like almost everyone I know, my everyday -  normal - ordinary life is some times difficult.  Some of the difficulties have come from choices I have made while other difficulties come at me in the form of weather, sickness, terrorism... things I have little control over except for the way I respond. I will admit, there have been times I have felt angry as newscasters have belittled the concerns of Missouri farmers whose land has been intentionally flooded. I have felt a growing concern as I watch the days continue to pass for our own farming operation. It is during times such as this, I am doing my best to keep the words of scripture close to my heart.
"31 So do not worry, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:31-34
26 He replied,” You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the  winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. Matthew 8:26
"Cast your anxiety upon him, because he cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7
It isn't wearing "rose-colored" glasses,
it is recognizing that I am not in control.
I cannot change the weather.  I cannot change what has happened in Missouri.  I cannot change the fact that bin Laden masterminded the killing of thousands of people and that he is now dead.  I cannot change the fact that people I care for are growing older and have concerns which seem to have few good answers. ....

When I first began journaling with Joyce's book I spoke of having to acknowledge that I am helpless and it is from this place of helplessness, that God is able to work within me. God is able to work within me so that I can truly begin to see him working through all of life; life that I perceive as "good" and as "bad".  That is one reason I have posted a Google News link on my blog.  Right above the link it says, "Seeking to See God in The World".  This is my reminder to look for God in the headlines.

New life doesn't just appear..
it takes time and effort.
I agree that Macrina's book may be a bit of a challenge, yet any new growth does not just magically happen with the snap of my fingers.  It takes effort to crack the hard shell of old learning, habits, and fear. It takes effort to begin to stretch in ways that are unfamiliar in order to keep pushing up through the darkness. It takes effort to break through the final crust in order to feel the warm light on my face, that wonderful ah-ha moment.  It takes effort to reach down as deep as I can reach in order to seek not only the needed nutrients to grow but to also gain stability so that I might stand firm against the storms that will surely come. Only after all the stretching and pushing...will I become more aware of the love that surrounds me. Hummmm. I think I might get one of those grains of corn or beans in our barn, waiting to be sowed, and place it on my desk as an image for myself as I begin journaling with this book.

...but he couldn't blow the little house in.
I am reminded of that old Sunday School lesson of the Wise Man and the Foolish Man.  Or...I could keep it really simple and consider the lessons from the fairy tale of the Three Little Pigs!

Life can be difficult and it does seem that we hear more negative news than news that lifts us up.  Still, even in the negative news, I believe God is....  But, before I can see him there, I need to open the eyes of my heart in order to see him in the ordinary days of "me", just one ordinary person.  Or, as Macrina says, "Seeing the Holy in the Ordinary."

This book is a new adventure with all kind of thoughts and ideas waiting to be seen and discovered! AND I know I am not on this journey alone.  That knowledge helps a lot! I have others who I see week to week who are walking a long side me.  And then there a blessing, think back to everything I have learned about "blessings" from Joyce. This blessing can be found in many forms. My favorite, the one I keep in my heart, is the one used by a great friend and pastor at the end of each worship service:

May the love of Christ go with you.
May He go before you to show you the way.
Behind you to encourage you.
Beside you to befriend you.
Above you to watch over you.
Below you to lift you up and
within you to give you to give you peace.

A new song by Kristian Stanfill - Always.  It is so new...there aren't many videos to choose from...still it has great words! Always...

Lord, sometimes digging into your Word, working to put my roots deep into your truths in order to grow strong, able to resist the strong winds of life, .... Lord, sometimes it is HARD! Please send your Spirit to rest upon me.  Help me to remember to first ask your Spirit to help me! Yes, God, it sometimes does seem difficult to grow in your ways, yet, I know by seeking to know you in my ordinary days, that I will live from a place of joy, of peace, and of love. AMEN.

Many Blessings ~ Sandi


  1. Life is difficult and it just keeps getting more complicated. Our new book, A Tree Full Of Angels is also complicated. The best part so far is the title but angels are not my thing. I will move forward accepting the difficulty of putting aside my preconceptions and enjoying the journey.

  2. Why do we get so much enjoyment out of the negative? Whether it be news media; a book being read; a new restaurant tried; a first impression--it just seems like we take a critical look first rather than just look for the best which helps us to be our best.

  3. I love the analogy of the seed and new life. May God allow each of us to grow in His time and His way with the study of this new book.

  4. I would love to turn on the news and see some good news for a change! This is why I don't get the paper or watch the news. I get it online.