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Thankful We Can Find Freedom…

     My husband and I were looking for covered bridges in Bennington, Vermont, when we happened on an impressive monument dedicated to a Revolutionary War general. Memorials like this are scattered throughout New England, the birthplace of our nation’s freedom.

     The inscription on the plaque read:

     Although it wasn’t the official designation, I named this impressive monument Finding Freedom.

     We assume great military officials like General Stark will be masterful strategists and inspiring leaders. I believe God is also strategic, and words recorded in the Bible inspire those who pay attention.

     Events happening in our everyday lives or words we hear from scripture may seem coincidental, but I wonder. Might they really be divine interventions and inspiration meant to help us find the freedom our soul craves?

     Many months ago, as I was reading the letter the Apostle Paul wrote to his friends in Galatia, a certain verse stuck to my soul like one of those kids’ Velcro toys stick to whatever surface the manufacturer provides.

     Throughout our time in New England, Galatians 5:1 often returned to my thoughts.

     The Passion Bible translates Paul’s words like this:

Let me be clear, the Anointed One [Jesus] has set us free—not partially, but completely and wonderfully free! We must always cherish this truth and stubbornly refuse to go back into the bondage of our past.

     As I read General Stark’s message urging his soldiers to ‘stubbornly refuse’ to submit to bondage, that message seemed to fit with the one Paul delivered to his friends

     Our country was built by men and women who desired freedom from religious oppression, excessive taxation, lack of opportunity, tyrannical government, and even the same old, same old ways of doing life. Mistakes were made, and injustices occurred in the process of our nation being established.

     The pursuit of freedom often begins with a noble, cherished truth, but along the way, flawed humans err. I’m so thankful that because of God’s love, failures can serve as a dark backdrop on which the jewels of God’s mercy and grace shine brightly.

     I hope you’ll enjoy the following photos, all of which depict aspects of freedom for which our forefathers and foremothers longed and fought.

The Old North Church is the oldest standing church in the City of Boston. It was made famous by Paul Revere’s midnight ride, immortalized by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, which you may remember began:

Listen my children, and you will hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere

Paul Revere

From the steeple of the North Church, two lanterns hung, warning when the British were leaving Boston: “One if by land, two if by sea.”

The USS Constitution, known as ‘Old Ironsides, was used in the War of 1812. The stately wooden ship still sits in Boston Harbor. That tall, pointed tower in the background is The Bunker Hill Monument.

Fort McClary, Kittery Point, Maine, built in 1808, was a military site used for defensive fortification.

     Bondage comes in forms other than oppression caused by political environments. If there’s a bondage with which you struggle, a freedom for which you long, I hope these scenes from history as well as encouragement found in words of scripture will help you dig in your heels of faith and find courage to persevere and win whatever battle you’ve been called to fight.

     I’m praying for you…

Sue Reeve

Thankful for Joyful Moments…

Sun setting over Lake Champlain, Burlington, Vermont

     One morning while on vacation in Vermont, my husband and I sat in silence drinking our morning coffee—a delicious dark roast blend from the Vermont Coffee Company. Ron was doing research to find a just-right duffle bag. I was reading a book I found fascinating about the Enneagram.

      Taking my eyes off the page in order to swig a sip of coffee, I glanced over at my husband and thought, I sure do love this guy!

      Ron and I have been married over 40 years, and the scene I just described isn’t un-familiar. I call times like this, moments of companionable silence. For me, they represent joyful interludes in the everyday activities connected to marriage.

     Joyful moments are gifts to the soul. I love the way Brene’ Brown describes them as “gracefully strung together…”

     One recent Saturday, I enjoyed joyful moments with several people who are dear to me.

     In the morning I met my daughter, Angie, for a latte at Starbucks.

     Then, the two of us picked up a take-out lunch and enjoyed pleasant lunchtime moments with my mom and Angie’s Grandma Kathy. Mom is at a stage in her journey when she loves reminiscing about bygone moments.

     During the day, I spent a few minutes visiting with each of my two sisters.

     Later in the afternoon, I headed to a different Starbucks to enjoy a decaf Americano with my younger daughter, Sarah.

     You may have noticed, my memorable moments are often experienced over a cup of coffee!

     I never want to minimize how precious it is to share joyful moments with my beloved spouse, family members or cherished friends.

     I also never want to take for granted the privilege of special moments spent with God.

     For you who’ve read my blog any length of time, you know over two years ago, I was introduced to contemplative spirituality, which is changing radically the way in which I connect with God.

     Inspirational moments spent practicing disciplines of solitude, silence, lectio divina and most recently, the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises are being “gracefully strung together.” As a result, I know my soul is being transformed. Trust, gratitude, and faith in God is increasing.

     Moments matter, and I thank God for them. Moments may be experienced while walking in the beauty of nature; sharing memories with an aging loved one; chatting over a cup of coffee; glancing lovingly at your spouse; or sitting alone quietly, simply BEING with God.

In New England, magnificent houses of worship are plentiful. We saw this beautiful church in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

     I am thankful for you and pray you may be blessed with many memorable moments…

Sue Reeve

Staying Thankful in the Storm…

The weather was chilly and windy as we watched the sun set over Lake Champlain, a large freshwater lake with shores that stretch from Vermont—where we were—into New York and Quebec, Canada.

     During our New England vacation in October 2019, many days were stormy. As I said in my last post, I realized early on I needed to choose my attitude about the less-than-ideal weather conditions. Was I going to be grumpy or grateful? An ‘Attitude of Gratitude’ begins with a decision.

     The first time I learned about the power of thankfulness to literally change brain chemistry was at a conference several years ago in Seattle, Washington. The event was designed to assist participants learn ways to help victims of violent crimes. One presenter told the large crowd about a significant research project.

     Individual brain scans were done on a group of people dealing with mild to moderate clinical depression. One segment was prescribed an anti-depressant medication; the other was instructed to write down each day five different things for which they were thankful.

     Follow-up brain scans showed the act of documenting thanksgiving was as effective as medication! (Caution: Always consult with your physician before altering medications.)

     Even though God wasn’t highlighted in this presentation, I listened with amazement, thinking how marvelous it is when modern science confirms the truth of ancient words of Scripture. The Bible makes references to thanks around 100 times.

     As I looked at our recent vacation photos, I recalled times when my preoccupation with difficult life circumstances prevented me from seeing the beauty of God’s love.

     There have even been times when I’ve doubted God’s goodness and questioned whether God hears my prayers or even cares about my personal storm. These musings cause me to wonder.

How often have I missed seeing God’s grace because I was so focused on menacing conditions or my unmet expectations?

How many times has my grumbling been so loud that I’ve been unable to accept the Spirit’s willingness to still the clamor in my soul?

A boat firmly anchored during the storm on Lake Champlain.

     Elizabeth Barrett Browning, an English poet from the Victorian era, describes poignantly how we often relinquish the holy for the mundane.

Earth’s crammed with heaven
And every common bush afire with God;[1]
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes;
The rest sit around it and pluck blackberries.

     As I pondered a prayer to conclude today’s post, my mind returned to the words of this simple, yet profound childhood prayer:

Thank you for the world so sweet;
Thank you for the food we eat.
Thank you for the birds that sing.
Thank you, GOD, for EVERYTHING!

Stowe, Vermont

During this month of Thanksgiving, I pray we will see the beauty of God’s love, and thank God no matter what…

Sue Reeve

  1. See story of burning bush in Exodus 3