All posts by Sue

Remembering at Christmastime…

     For the past 14 years, Lake City Church, where I’m privileged to be employed part time, hosts a Ceremony of Remembrance the first Saturday of December. The lovely event is a time set aside especially for individuals, and sometimes entire families, to join with others to remember loved ones who’ve died.

     I love what our Pastor Rodney, this year’s event speaker, says about the process of grieving:

Grief isn’t what’s wrong with us. Grief is what’s right with us.

     Processing grief always involves remembering. Remembering can be both bitter and sweet. It’s sometimes difficult to determine where bitterness ceases and sweetness begins. Often, the two potent emotions co-mingle. One minute, tears flow, and the next minute laughter erupts. Surely, I observed these types of sacred moments as I mingled and spoke with people at the recent Ceremony of Remembrance

     Remembering helps battered emotions heal. Remembering is healthy.

     Sometimes, remembering is filled with nothing but pure joy. This was the case for me a few days ago.

     I’d been reminding myself the past few weeks to update the photograph of our three older grandchildren in a picture frame that’s been reserved for their photos for close to 20 years. Finally, I got around to the task. When I removed the top photograph, I discovered treasured memories buried below—six years of Christmas pictures from bygone times when my now-so-grown-up grandkids were little tykes.

     The glow of Christmas tree lights reflected on the sweet little faces of precious loved ones all decked out in cute Christmas attire. Christmastime nostalgia grabbed me ‘big time.’

     Each year for eight or nine Christmases, I purchased these grandkids special Christmas outfits. I loved those once-a-year expenditures. Since I’m a good sale shopper, my husband never complained, although I had to agree with him that buying clothes, which may be worn only once or twice, is frivolous! Frivolity or not, I cherished those shopping experiences. The sweetness of the memories I experienced the other day assured me sometimes frivolous giving nurtures the soul.

     One of the treasured Christmas photographs I discovered was of Mackenzie, left, and Sydney, right—today sophisticated 22- and 24-year-old women—wearing one of my favorite finds. I loved the matching Christmas plaid taffeta dresses with embossed black velvet Scottie dogs. Aren’t they adorable??

     Memory is the brain’s mechanism of storing information. As I looked at six years’ worth of delightful memories, reminiscing about Christmases past, I was reminded how quickly years slip away and how dramatically life changes.

     The day came when my oldest grandchild, Sydney, told me she didn’t want me to get her clothing exactly like her younger sister’s. Sydney was becoming her own individual. While my granddaughter’s declaration caused momentary wistful sadness, I honored her wishes. The following photo, which includes Sydney’s and Mackenzie’s younger brother, Jackson, shows the last Christmas outfits I purchased for these kiddos.

     Everyone reading this post holds special memories. Some memories are sweet, filled with joy; some memories are bitter, perhaps filled with trauma.

     Memories related to loss and grief fall on a continuum of bittersweet.

     My story of loss related to my grandchildren growing up is almost all sweetness, holding only a slight a tinge of bitter.

     One woman with whom I spoke recently is dealing with the trauma of recent divorce. She’s reeling from the reality her 25-year marriage has ended. This woman’s fresh memories are raw, filled with much bitterness. All I can do is encourage her to keep taking care of herself, assuring her that in time, sweetness will once again be possible.

     A woman I met at the Ceremony of Remembrance shared with me that 26 years after the death of her infant son, she’s finally taking time to take care of her emotional needs and grieve her deep loss, which as a single mom, she’d been unable to do. This woman exemplifies the timelessness of loss, grief and recovery.

People may die, but love will never die, and relationship will never die.

~ Pastor Rodney Wright

     Whatever memory you hold this blessed season, I’m praying God will add a new measure of peace and joy to your remembrances…

Sue Reeve

Listening to God’s Voice…My ‘Rule of Three’

     The other day I spoke with a woman who’s transitioning from being an acquaintance to friend. She told me she’s trying to become more attentive in listening to God’s voice. My new friend—a very smart lady who graduated from a prestigious university—is in the early stages of “listening” with her spirit. In the process, trust is growing as she becomes more familiar with the voice of the Spirit—a voice she most likely wasn’t taught about in the ‘prestigious’ university she attended.

     My experience with spiritual listening is that it’s a process, which begins with small steps of obedience. The more I say, “Yes!” and take little steps of faith that probably won’t have major repercussions, the more I become attuned to the voice superseding my own human thoughts and logic. My small “Yeses,” to God prepare me for future “Yeses” that will have much more significant consequences—may even carry the potential for risk. (Can you hear the “Yikes!” coming from a woman who likes to play it safe?)

     In my last blog post, (Listening to God’s Voice…Do You Hear What I Hear?) I mentioned two spiritual listening litmus tests that help guide me.

     First, what God says to me must not contradict scripture. I covered this point in a previous post.

     Secondly, it’s important to seek confirmation from trustworthy resources when I believe the voice of the Spirit is speaking. I like to follow a ‘rule of three.’

     The ‘rule of three’ has seemed especially significant the past couple weeks.

     You’re probably familiar with the story of Jesus, Martha and Mary (See Luke 10:38-44). I am the quintessential Martha. My “best”—or perhaps “worst”—Martha surfaces during the Christmas season. As I told you recently, I love everything Christmas. It’s awfully easy to allow so many ‘to-do’ distractions bury the significance of the Advent Season in busyness.

     Shortly before Thanksgiving this year, a voice within began cautioning me about my tendency toward becoming much too distracted by all the activity of Christmas. I was listening rather passively until three back-to-back devotional readings—all from different sources—addressed the story of Martha. This confirmation convinced me the cautionary voice in my spirit was indeed the voice of The Spirit. I knew I would do well to heed that voice.

     For starters, I’ve decorated the house far less this year.

     Entertaining will be simple—perhaps serving guests homemade soup, salad, crunchy bread and a fuss-free dessert with coffee. Instead of worrying so much about preparations, I want to focus more on meaningful conversations.

     Each day I plan to read an Advent devotion reminding me this is the season when Emmanuel—“God with us”—came to a weary world in order to show humankind the exact likeness of God.

     Of Martha, Richard Rohr says, “Martha was everything good and right, but one thing she was not. She was not present—not present to herself, her own feelings of resentment, perhaps her own martyr complex, her need to be needed. This is the kind of goodness that does no good!” Then, of Mary, Rohr says, “Jesus affirms Mary, ‘who sat at his feet listening to him speak.’”[1]

     This Christmas season, I am determined to diminish my ‘Martha-ness,” and be more like Mary who sat at the feet of Jesus, “listening…”

     As I was writing the final paragraph of this blog post, I received a message from my friend and ‘listening’ sister-of-the heart, Cindy. With her permission, I’m sharing a slightly edited version of her message. I’m sure it will encourage and challenge you even as it does me.

     “I want to be intentional this Christmas. I want to honor God, be His light, and give love…all of this from an overflowing heart, not from a rushed, drained, stretched-to-the-limit mentality.  

     Sunday, I heard God’s still small voice!! I like to go to church on Saturday night, and I did. At 8:34 a.m. Sunday, while still in my Christmas p.j.’s, it seemed God was telling me to go again. I knew if I hurried, I could make it to 9:00 church. Believe it or not, I was in my favorite seat, WITH MAKEUP and free church coffee in my hand by 8:56. Little did I know when I said YES to that still small voice at 8:34…that in less than 24 hours God would have used me 3 times to love and support others. 1) My friend was going through “it” and needed prayer for her relationship with her daughter. 2) Another friend who became a widow this year cried in my arms after church. 3) A friend told me about a young woman with two little children who has brain cancer, and we devised a way to help this young mom and her family through a raffle at a women’s tea this coming Saturday.”

     Cindy concluded. “Yeah, listening [with the heart] stretches the “Am-I-crazy?” button a bit, but WOW, how it fills us with wonder when we listen – God uses us to get his work done! Amen!”

A beautiful wreath displayed on the Coeur d’Alene Resort-by R.Reeve

Listening to God’s voice—A great way to end the year!

Thank you, Cindy! To all my reader friends, I’m praying as I close that God will use you in some small (or even BIG) way this Advent season to be God’s way of getting His work done!

Sue Reeve

  1. Richard Rohr, OFM, Center for Action and Contemplation, November 22, 2017

Listening to God’s Voice…Do You Hear What I Hear?

     Recently, in my Listening on the Journey… blog posts, I’ve been focusing on what I call A Magnificent Obsession: Listening for God’s Voice. While listening to Christmas music a few days ago, I was reminded that when it comes to listening with one’s spirit, God speaks in a variety of ways.

     God’s design for each of us is unique. In addition to our distinctive physical and personality traits, each life tells a different story, developed through diverse family of origin, cultural and generational influences. Each factor seems to influence the way in which God speaks to individuals.

     I’m one of those people who absolutely loves Christmas! Many of my friends don’t care a whole lot for the hoopla of this holy holiday, but I adore most everything Christmas!

     Ron laid down a household ‘law’ a few years ago: No Christmas music played until the day following Thanksgiving. We still abide by his loosely-laid-down ‘law,’ but, naturally, since I’m a lover of Christmas, I’m always excited when we begin listening to the cherished music of this blessed season.

     A Christmas song I like very much is the simple but touching tune asking this question: Do You Hear What I Hear.[1]

     God knows the one-of-a kind you and the inimitable me, and chances are we will not hear the divine voice in the same way. While I believe this is amazing, I also realize spiritual listening can be fraught with problems.

     Unique is wonderful, but I’ve heard some mighty strange stories about how people think God spoke to them. While it’s very important to me to listen with my heart for the voice of God, it’s also important not to be weird! That’s why I believe litmus tests are important. I have two firm rules.

  • First, what God says to me must not contradict scripture, a point I covered in my last post.
  • Secondly, it’s important to seek confirmation from reliable resources. I have a ‘rule of three’ I like to follow, which I’ll unwrap more in my next post.

     Until then, I hope you are not only enjoying, but also hearing in a new way, some special sounds in your spirit during this magnificent time of the year!

Sue Reeve

Even nature, I believe, listens to the divine voice in unique ways. Each year the region in which we live is visited by flocks of majestic eagles during December and January who’ve “heard” in the special way only an eagle is designed to hear, that Lake Coeur d’Alene is filled with scrumptious kokanee salmon. A few days ago, during a walk along the lake, Ron caught this handsome fellow pondering the situation. Isn’t he an amazing creature?

  1. According to Wikipedia, Do You Hear What I Hear? was written in 1962 (lyrics by Noel Regney and music by Gloria Shayne Baker) as a plea for peace during the Cuban Missile Crisis. I listened to this Carrie Underwood version while writing today’s post, and it was beautiful.