All posts by Sue

Traveling Through Off-Kilter Times…

      Ever notice how some days feel out of balance? Routine activities seem a bit askew? Life just feels off-kilter?

      I’ll never forget one off-kilter day.

      I’d spent several hours talking with a group of folks who were reeling from the suicide death of their friend’s teenage daughter.

      The beautiful child’s final act was inconceivable.

            Emerging tragic details were unbelievable.

                  Comprehension of their new reality was surreal.

      I looked forward to returning to the predictable comfort of home that day. Before beginning my drive, I stopped to check a text. Our daughter asked, “Do you and Dad want to come over about 7:00 to learn whether you’re having a new granddaughter or grandson?”

      A few hours later, anticipation grew for anxious grandparents-to-be. Our precious granddaughter, Emmi, swung her little pink baseball bat with all her 4-year-old might. At last the piñata burst open. Blue colored candies scattered every which way. It’s a Boy!!!

      Excitement left us exhilarated.

            Peals of laughter erupted when Emmi announced she wanted her baby brother named “Russel Wilson” after the popular Seahawks quarterback.

                  Our family’s new reality seemed one of good fortune.

      Later that evening while rehashing these two events, their juxtaposition didn’t make sense. In one household, devastated family and friends agonized the tragic suicide death of a mere child while our family delighted in It’s-a- Boy! joy.

      Life journeys are never balanced perfectly. We experience both minor-off-kilter days as well as major-off-kilter seasons.

      So, how does a person of faith navigate off-kilter times?

      A worthwhile starting point is considering the immutable—never-changing—character of God.

      Our human condition is mutable.

            Bodies change. Wrinkles appear. Health wanes.

                  Babies are born. Loved ones die.

                        Relationships transition. Responsibilities fluctuate.

                              Conflicts keep our world in turmoil.

      Scriptures assure God never changes[1], will never leave nor forsake us[2], and that God is, and was and is to come[3].

      Holding fast to these truths ensures that while life may feel off-kilter, we can cling to God who remains rock solid.

Consider & Imagine:

  • Consider off-kilter days or seasons you’ve experienced? What helped you regain emotional and/or spiritual equilibrium? In what ways has God’s never-changing character helped you?
  • Take a few moments to imagine a video playing in your mind of a difficult season you transitioned through. Look at where God’s immutable character was at play during that time?

Prayer:

God who was and is and is to come,

When events of life throw me off-kilter, expand my capacity to trust in your immutable character. Remind my heart that even in my most difficult days, you will never abandon me. Amen

Instead of naming him ‘Russel Wilson,’ Emmi’s little brother is Reeve Benjamin. Last Halloween, Reeve sported a Seahawks jersey bearing Wilson’s #3!

Blessings on your journey…

Sue Reeve

  1. Hebrews 13:8
  2. (Deuteronomy 31:5

    Revelation 1:8

I Don’t Need to be ‘Right…’

Wisdom begins with respect for the Lord,
and understanding begins with knowing the Holy One.
Proverbs 9:10 (NCV)

     My dad’s German/Irish family was big and boisterous. They argued about everything! Their banter was usually good-natured, but skirmishes to prove who was right were ongoing.

     My Scandinavian maternal family wasn’t nearly as noisy, but they were masterful with non-verbal cues implying, “I’m right!”

     Then, there was my faith community. “Being right” often began with the words, “Good Christians don’t…”

     I‘m not sure exactly how it happened, but one day not all that long ago, I had this clear awareness of what a high value I placed on ‘being right.’ Immediately following that realization, I sensed the ‘still small voice’ whisper into my spirit, “It’s okay. YOU don’t NEED to be right!”

     Oh, Lord, show me how to change my endeavor to be right!

     I haven’t won the ‘I-need-to-be-right’ battle, but I’m making progress. Six steps help:


  1. Focus on the rightness of God’s character. Trust God is like the good shepherd who will lead me onto ‘right’ paths.[1]
  2. Follow the Apostle Paul’s suggestion: …in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests, but…to the interest of others…[2] As I become more aware of God’s image (Imago Dei) within every person, I’m more apt to act in this way.
  3. Identify my core values. Evaluate whether there’s congruence between my values and actual behaviors.
  4. Learn more about my personality with its inherent strengths and weaknesses. Again, Paul’s advice is a great reminder: … think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.[3]
  5. Thank God when I recognize personal growth. Acknowledge lapses. Ask forgiveness. Seek God’s help to change.
  6. Accept God’s grace. Extend grace to others and myself.

     Journeys of faith involve spiritual discoveries. Many will demand a personal decision. Will I choose to stay stuck in family or faith traditions? Will I succumb to my own personality? Or, will I listen to the whisper of God’s Spirit suggesting a different way, and choose to trust that God leads me on paths that are right for the good of his name. (Psalm 23:3 NCV)?

Consider & Imagine:

  • Consider a scenario in which you may typically feel the need to be ‘right—’ perhaps, a discussion about a family dynamic, public figure, faith, current event or workplace issue.
  • Imagine choosing to set aside your need to be ‘right.’ What would be different about the way you communicate? How do you think you might feel about yourself? How do you think the response of others toward you might be different? What do you think God might say to you about your choice?

Prayer:

Gracious God,

Thank you for reminding me it’s not so important that I be ‘right.’ Teach me how to relinquish my need to be ‘right,’ and instead, lean into your righteousness.
     ~Amen

Blessings to each of us as we explore our need to feel we’re ‘right…’

Sue Reeve

  1. Psalms 23:3
  2. Philippians 2:3 & 4
  3. Romans 12:3

Wisdom in the Garden…

     Several years ago, I began praying about a “life verse—” a sort of scriptural purpose statement to help align my yearnings with God’s good purpose. One morning, a few short verses jumped off the pages of my Bible right into the depths of my soul. I knew this is the type of woman I wished to be.

     Below is the slightly-altered text of my life verses, Psalm 1:1-3, from the NIV.

Psalm 1

Blessed is the woman
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but her delight is in the law of the Lord,
and she meditates on God’s law day and night.
She is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever she does prospers.

     While participating in a contemplative prayer retreat at Cova San Ignacio in Manresa, Spain last spring, Fr. Javier Meloni, retreat facilitator, encouraged us to take morning prayer walks in the Center’s garden. Generally, I measure the value of walks by the number of steps my Fitbit monitors. Javier’s assignment felt as foreign as the nation to which I’d travelled.

     When walking in nature, he suggested, think of each step as a kiss to the earth from which life is received. Trees, vegetables and fruit grown in the soil are all gifts from the earth God has given us.

     Walk slowly. Study the intricacies of a leaf. Touch the trunks of the trees, feeling unique textures of bark. Observe the differences in shrubs, trees, flowers, even blades of grass.

     Listen to sounds of creation—birds singing, insects chirping, the wind whistling.

     I like trees, and two different ones drew my attention during my first garden walk. One stood alone at the perimeter. An old tree with coarse, deeply wrinkled bark, reminding me of a venerable, aged seaman keeping watch.

     The second tree was like no other in this garden. While most tree branches were still barren that early-spring day, this tree was in full bloom. I noticed signs that revealed pruning in the past. The marks had healed, leaving only smooth scars as evidence.

     The tree reminded me of my “life verses,” and I decided to make this tree “mine” while in Manresa.

     My first nature-walk in the garden at Cova San Ignacio had been a deeply satisfying, sweetly spiritual experience. I was anxious to repeat the exercise.

     The next morning as I entered the garden, this image, which I captured with my cell phone camera, shows how “my” Manresa-tree greeted me!

     As I gazed on the light radiating through its branches, I realized not only do trees need earth’s soil to exist. They need sunlight to create energy essential for photosynthesis that produces oxygen in the life-giving air I breathe.

     What is the spiritual truth for me to learn in this garden-walk experience?

     I concluded that even as “my” Manresa-tree needs both soil and sun to grow, I need to not only meditate day and night on the truth of scripture to yield fruit. I need the very power of the Spirit of Jesus, the one who declared, “I am the light of the world…[1]” to reflect lifegiving light through the branches of my being.

     What wisdom one can find in a garden!

Blessings as you ‘listen’ with your heart to lessons each of us can learn from nature…

Sue Reeve

  1. Words Jesus spoke, found in John 8:12