Keep Looking Up!

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     The gospel of John, Chapter 6, tells about a time when some of Jesus’ disciples had difficulty accepting his radical teachings. As a result, many deserted him. Whenever, I’ve read this passage, I always stop to ponder a portion I find especially poignant–verses 67 and 68,

     Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?”

      Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life.

     I love Peter’s question, “Lord, to whom would we go?” There have been times when my life has been difficult, and I’ve wondered if putting forth the effort to follow Christ is worth it. But, invariably my heart, even like Peter, asks, “Sue, if you didn’t have Jesus, to whom would you go?”

     I’m a big fan of traveling life’s journey when the road is smooth and easy. I love it when I’m healthy, when I feel full of energy, fulfilled and appreciated. I enjoy resting comfortably at night, confident those I love are safe, healthy, and happy.

     Yeah. I like “easy.”

     But, life isn’t always easy as I discussed in my last “Soul Care Discovery” post.

     For the past several weeks, I’ve been struggling with one pesky upper respiratory problem after another. The accompanying fatigue has left me feeling a bit emotionally vulnerable. The other evening, I told my husband that for the first time in my life, I was feeling old and worthless.

     Normally, I’m a glass-half-full sort of gal, and I know this stinkin’ thinkin’ will pass, but I don’t like emotions such as these that create uneasiness in my soul.

     I have friends and family who are traveling through much more difficult times than I am right now:

  • Recurrence of cancer.
  • Deep, dark clinical depression.
  • Unwanted divorce.
  • Living with a family member’s mental illness—trying to make sense out of senseless behaviors.
  • Life-altering surgery.
  • Rejection from adult children.
  • Wondering if a special child will be able to survive—perhaps even thrive—despite his/her special needs.
  • Shameful aftermath of unwise relational choices.
  • Eldercare questions and concerns.
  • Worries about safety of loved ones living in storm-infested regions.
  • Actual safety planning for family and friends living in those same regions.
  • Reality of aging, asking:
    • Where do I fit in at this season of life?
    • Shouldn’t my equity of wisdom and experience matter for something?
    • Will anyone want a woman with all these wrinkles?

     The other day, a quiet farming community only a few miles from our hometown experienced the unthinkable horror of a school shooting. My friend’s precious granddaughter was one of the innocent victims. She’ll most likely be all right, but another grandma, mama and dad will never see their beloved boy who lost his life trying to reason with his friend, the shooter.

     These past few days I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on the painful circumstances so many folks are navigating. Like I’ve said before, I don’t much care for trying times. Yet, I realize some of the most precious gifts I’ve received, some of the most insightful moments I’ve experienced have been realized during difficult days. Often, it wasn’t until long after the fact, but I have always been able to see eventually God’s good hand guiding me over every seemingly insurmountable mountain.

     I wish I had some magical answers for my friends who are hurting, some quick fixes, some absolute assurances, but I have none of those. I can only reply, like the disciple, Peter, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life.”

     During our trying, difficult times, let’s try to keep looking up!

     I’m praying for you, and I appreciate your prayers for me…

Sue Reeve


2017: Sue Reeve’s One-Year ‘Soul Care’ Discovery Journey…

Discovery #8

Soul Care Discovery: The journey – It Ain’t Always Easy!!

(Ain’t—-a slang contraction for is not, are not, am not, do not or does not—isn’t even an easy word for me to type. When I was growing up, my mom included “ain’t” in a quite lengthy list of words “nice” girls shouldn’t use. While I appreciate my mother’s insistence on minimal slang, the contraction ‘ain’t’ seems appropriate for today’s post.)

     The last ‘Soul Care’ discovery post I wrote was celebrating the “easy” summer season through which my soul has been traveling. At the time, I reminded myself not to get too comfortable with this “easy” season. After several trips around the sun, life has shown this granny “easy” isn’t a perpetual phase.

     Recently, (August 30, September 7 & 11) I reprinted a story written several years ago, which I entitled ‘An Extraordinary Journey.’ The story represents a time in my journey that wasn’t easy.

  • I was trying to support my husband in his demanding, high stress career.
  • I was working full time in a rewarding, well paying, but nonetheless, stressful and often difficult, environment.
  • I was navigating parenting concerns related to living with a sweet teenager who at times struggled being a teenager, as well as missing an older daughter and precious grand babies who lived in California—a land too far away for my liking.
  • I was struggling with chronic pain, difficult to diagnose because it manifested in one place in my body when actually, the source of the pain was elsewhere.
  • But, possibly eclipsing all the other ‘not-so-easy’ circumstance for this woman who doesn’t enjoy driving, especially during winter, I was on the road each workday, commuting nearly two hours.

Nope, the journey – it ‘ain’t’ always easy.

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Life isn’t always like a fun merry-go-round ride

     Today, August 31st, as I write this blog post, I must stop periodically to accommodate a coughing fit. I’ve been struggling with a nasty ‘bug’ that despite antibiotics and codeine-laced cough syrup has been hard to squish!

     Since I’ve been stuck at home recuperating the past few days, I’ve watched more television than usual, mesmerized by heart-wrenching scenes of the devastating disaster occurring in Texas.

     While my heart has been warmed watching heroic recovery acts, I’ve also been at times disturbed and at times disgusted with the blaming and complaining, even though my crisis-management training taught me such is typical behavior whenever folks are bombarded with traumatic stress. It seems easier to blame than simply take responsibility for that which—at the time—I have knowledge to understand and control to manage.

     I’m feeling sad about the recent death of a lovely, godly lady—a woman younger than I who was extremely diligent about self-care—and yet passed away after a valiant fight with a deadly disease.

     Even though my daughters are amazing women—admirable in their life roles—I still have twinges of parental concerns, often wrestling with the best ways to support my girls at this stage of their journeys. Ahhh, once a mama, always a mama, I remind myself!

     Then, there are grandparenting concerns! Three of our grandkids are navigating the uncertain season of young adulthood. Another will enter first grade with accompanying challenges related to learning and sometimes cruel peer pressures. Yet, another—a trying, transitioning two-year old—will be making a new day care adjustment. Sometimes, I’m tempted to worry rather than simply pray and trust God cares and loves each one a whole lot more than I do.

     Several of my family members are struck with the reality every stage of life has a unique set of difficulties. As we support our mother in her nonagenarian decade, we see advancing age, diminishing strength and waning health make next-step decision-making an often scary, painful challenge.

‘Soul Care’ Practice when the journey ‘ain’t’ easy:

     So, how does this apply to my ‘soul care?’ John Ortberg, in Soul Keeping, the book which challenged me to take a one-year ‘soul care’ discovery journey, reminds readers the word “easy” is used only one time in the Bible, which was when Jesus assured his followers he would always be willing to teach them, travel alongside them and help carry their burdens.  

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV)

As I close today, I’m asking God will help each of us learn to share our burdens with Jesus—even those that ain’t easy…

Sue Reeve



Sue’s Note: Today’s post is the third segment of a story I wrote during the early 2000’s.[1]

I hope you’ll enjoy this post, and that in reading about how God intersected my story, you will recognize ways in which God has intersected your story.

The last post ended:

     Several months passed, and I decided I needed a partner to support my new spiritual journey. I asked my friend, Jackie, if I could routinely check in with her. We started meeting weekly. One week we discussed the short-term mission trip to Africa she would make with her husband, Duane, a surgeon.

     While Duane spent long hours in a Cameroon mission hospital, Jackie experienced great joy conducting Bible studies for native women searching for truth that transcends time, ethnicity, age, race or gender. My friend updated me regularly via e-mail messages providing personal glimpses into rich African culture.

     One of Jackie’s messages altered my life.

Now, I continue:

     Jackie had been teaching a study on The Lord’s Prayer. As an aside, she told me, she shared the story about how her friend in the United States prayed according to exit markers while commuting to work. Afterward, Jackie said, a woman approached her excitedly, sharing she too prayed according to the markers along the road while she “trekked” one hour each day to and from work. The African woman told my American friend she didn’t think another person in the world prayed like her, and said my story encouraged her.

     Tears welled, splashing down my cheeks as I re-read Jackie’s e-mail.

     Coincidental? I think not.

     I believe the God who knows everything and loves everyone miraculously linked the hearts of two ordinary working women living continents apart.

     A plethora of emotions erupted as I pondered the woman in Africa with whom I shared this unusual bond. First, I felt humbled for all the time I spent complaining to God. While I commuted in a comfortable car, heated in winter and air conditioned in summer, the woman in Cameroon walked unprotected during dreadful summer heat and torrential monsoon rains.

     Jackie’s story of the African woman reinforced a sense of God’s divine love for me. In turn, I felt greater love for God, and I also felt deep love for this woman, whose skin color was different than mine, whose culture was unfamiliar and whose name I had not yet learned.

     I knew God understood when I added my “commuting friend from Cameroon” to my freeway prayer agenda.

     Also dawning, was new awareness of a larger meaning for my existence. As I prayed for my friend in Cameroon, I felt a deep sense of global connectedness even though I had never traveled internationally.

     The next year when Jackie and Duane made a second trip to Africa, I sent my friend a letter and bookmark with a poem I’d written. Jackie returned with a letter and family picture. I now knew my friend’s name was Pauline. She had a husband and three sons who were about the same ages as my grandchildren.

     My prayers changed. I often prayed for Pauline and her family right after praying for my married daughter and her family. She became more than my commuting friend. She was my spiritual African daughter.

     In the following years, Jackie and Duane took pictures of our family, gifts for each family member plus a check to help with the boys’ educational expenses. Pauline told me the little boys ask when they will see their “grandmom from America.”

     I found it hard to imagine. The journey of prayer, begun in my car when I said, “Okay, God, I can do that,” had miraculously spanned the globe.

     Several years have passed since my prayer journey began. My husband finally convinced me I needed to trade in my Toyota prayer closet with its 242,000 miles. Sadly, I bid farewell to the little green car that frequently felt as holy as a beautiful cathedral, a sacred sanctuary where my spirit joined with the God of the Universe.

     I look in the mirror, confirming I remain an ordinary woman. But, I now realize I am intimately connected to an extraordinary God. He knows my name. He values me so much He whispered gently and convincingly, inviting me to join with Him on a journey—an exciting lifelong adventure—sure to be filled with many more extraordinary moments.

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While I commuted in a comfortable car, heated in winter and air conditioned in summer, the woman in Cameroon trekked unprotected during dreadful summer heat and torrential monsoon rains. And, God was teaching each of us valuable lessons on our individual journeys.

Sue’s Note: As I conclude this trip down memory lane, thoughts have surfaced about the impact of this experience on my journey today. In a future post, I’ll review some of those insights. Until then, I’d like to ask you to consider:

  • What experience (or experiences) from your past have impacted your faith journey?

Today, wherever you are on your journey, I’m asking God to bless you…

Sue Reeve

  1. In 2007, this story was published in Therese Marszalek’s book of short stories entitled, Extraordinary Miracles in the Lives of Ordinary People…Inspiring Stories of Divine Intervention.