Valuing ‘Now…’

     I hope you’re having a wonderful summer! Like us, you’ve probably been very busy. I have a hunch, some of you may be ready for slower schedules and cooler temperatures!

     The past few days have been activity-filled ones for us as we celebrated Ron’s 50th high school reunion. Since I’ve been unable to focus on writing, today’s post will include glimpses of our summer in photos from Ron with brief thoughts about the value of this splendid season.

     Sometimes, I fail to value “NOW!”

Oftentimes, nature, like this sunset on Lake Coeur d’Alene, speaks peace to my soul.

     For several months, I felt a nudge in my spirit to form a women’s contemplative prayer group. A vision of what this would look like became clearer when I was in Spain last March. In June, a group of women began gathering weekly for one early-morning hour. We’ve explored aspects of contemplation, practiced silence and become aware of how our hectic, task-oriented lives keep us in a state of “doing” rather than “being.” I hoped this time would become a spiritual oasis for women whose lives and schedules are packed with lists of must-do tasks. I believe this happened. Our group will cease the end of August, but we will probably begin a new group—hopefully, with some of our first-time participants—in October.

     I feel privileged to be able to rub shoulders with women who are in different seasons of life. Each season is filled with a variety of joys and challenges. No matter the season, regardless the difficulties, words spoken by Jesus during His Sermon on the Mount, are a great reminder:

Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. (Luke 12:27 NIV)

This pink bike was a whimsical touch on display at the Ballard, WA Farmer’s Market.

     When I began writing the “Listening on the Journey…” blog (over three years ago), my purpose statement reflected a resolve: “to point people to a never-changing God in our always-changing world [in a whimsical, grace-filled manner].”

     Subject matter in posts is often ‘serious,’ and ‘practical—’ words which are antonyms of ‘whimsical.’ I’m comfortable with this paradox, however, because I often see paradox in scripture, which I find refreshing. Jesus’ message was life-and-death-serious, and yet Jesus exhibited [synonyms of] ‘whimsical—’ such as ‘imaginative,’ ‘creative,’ ‘witty,’ and certainly ‘unpredictable.’

What could be more ‘whimsical’ than a cute, toothless granddaughter riding a carousel?

Two of my favorite guys captured well in this photo taken by 7-year-old Emmi.

     I hope each of you enjoy the rest of summer and ‘value’ every ‘now’ moment. Blessings on your journey…

Sue Reeve

Practicing the Value of ‘Graciousness…’

     Normally, I begin writing Thursday’s blog post the Friday before. Instead of writing today’s post last weekend, though, my husband and I traveled to Seattle on a road-trip-with-a-purpose. We’d agreed to watch our two youngest grandkiddos on Saturday so mama and daddy could enjoy their 11th wedding anniversary sans the two delightful, sometimes demanding children.

     Since my current blog theme has been on “Values,” weekend thoughts turned toward that theme often. I was reminded. Values aren’t only theoretical. Values determine how the rubber of my faith meets the road of my life journey.

     One of my core values is graciousness. Now, mind you, oftentimes this value is more ‘aspirational’ than ‘actual!’ (See http://suereeve.com/valuing-god-confidence/ for additional clarification.) Practical faith, however, helped me tap into that core value this past weekend. First, I realized,

Sometimes graciousness must be valued more than my own plans and convenience.

     This trip was unplanned and unbudgeted. A Jesus-story I return to often at times like this is found in Luke 7:11-17. Jesus was traveling to the city of Nain with a group of folks when their travel was interrupted by a funeral procession. A widow’s only son had died. Scripture tells us Jesus’ “heart went out to [the widow].” He allowed previous plans to be interrupted and stopped to raise the woman’s son to new life.

     My value of graciousness in no way compares to that of Jesus, but the point I want to emphasize is that great examples raise the bar and help us refine core values to which we aspire.

     Then, I was reminded,

Graciousness values ‘unity’ more than ‘uniformity.’

     The sermon on Sunday prior to our Seattle trip was entitled “Unity Lived Out.” A young pastor delivered the message, which was part of a series from Ephesians. Jared made two points I thought were powerful despite their simplicity:

  1. Unity comes from within while uniformity comes from outside.”
  2. Unity requires diversity.”

     The Apostle Paul, tasked by God to promote unity within the early Christian church, wrote, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28 NIV)

     Since I enjoy experiencing different cultures and tend to embrace rather than disparage differences, this isn’t generally an area of concern for me. But, I was reminded last weekend, graciousness requires personal choice and is a prerequisite to promoting a spirit of unity.

     Seattle, especially during tourist season, is much more diverse than the North Idaho hamlet in which we reside. Graciousness is required when I don’t understand the language or cultural norms of those with whom I share space. Even the difference in driving and parking stretch one’s value of graciousness!

     Finally, I realized, no matter how well honed,

My graciousness is nothing but a mere reflection of God’s amazing grace!

     Throughout our Seattle-area weekend, I was aware of God’s graciousness. Ron captured snippets of divine grace in these photos:

After enjoying a delicious seafood meal Friday, Ron and I experienced God’s graciousness in a sun set over Lake Washington.

Flamingos

Hippopotamus

Cranes getting ‘prettied up!’

Giraffe (my favorite animal!)

Magnificent birds and animals—all exhibits of God’s gracious creation were on display at Woodland Park Zoo. After waiting in line for almost an hour to see two rhinoceros, a zookeeper announced the wild animals had decided to stop cooperating. Instead, two hot, tired grandkids cooperated by posing for a picture in front of an exhibit poster.

Luscious organic nectarines

Masses of brilliantly-colored summertime flowers

Sunday morning, we explored Ballard. Colorful fruits, veggies and flowers—exhibits of God’s gracious bounty—were beautifully displayed at the Farmer’s Market. Finally, before a departure seafood lunch, we visited the impressive Ballard Locks.

Remember my earlier reference to parking? Everywhere we went, this was a challenge. Four different times, we asked God to bless us with a parking spot—not because we feel entitled but because we believe God delights in giving good gifts to His children. Believe me, in the Seattle region, a good parking spot is a good gift! Each time we asked, we found a great spot. Again, God’s graciousness was revealed. (BTW, God has not ALWAYS answered my prayer in the same way, which made the gifts this time seem extra special!)

As I conclude today’s post, my prayer for each reader is that you will sense the gracious goodness of God in whatever place you are right now…

Sue Reeve

Valuing God-Confidence…

     I’m a first-born who’s struggled most of her life with wanting and trying to do IT ‘right’” Yet, always there’s been a nagging awareness, sometimes shrouded in shame, that I don’t—in fact, often, I can’t—do a lot of life according to my standard of ‘right.’

     At times, uncertainty has kept me from enjoying the abundance of living life to its ‘fullest’ because I worried too much about its ‘rightness!’

     When I established my personal set of core values several years ago, it didn’t take long to realize I wasn’t consistently living up to what I valued. A seminar—ironically, taught by a first-born—helped me reconcile at least a measure of my angst.

     Dr. Sam Rima, [1] author, pastor, spiritual director, and older brother of my lead pastor, Mike Rima, noted a distinction between ‘actual’ values and ‘aspirational’ values. I may not have embraced Sam’s distinction in the way he intended, but I found the delineation strangely comforting. I realized, aspirations

     encourage me to reach higher,

          challenge me to dig deeper

               inspire me to stretch wider than my current reality.

     Furthermore, they remind me when my ‘actual’ behaviors aren’t congruent with heartfelt values, and motivate me to

     examine misaligned behaviors,

          ask forgiveness when I miss the mark,

               persevere—one step at a time.

     Philippians 1:6 is a favorite verse of scripture. In a letter to his friends in Philippi, the Apostle Paul reminded them (paraphrased a bit from the NIV):  

[you can be] confident of this, that [God] who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion…

God-confidence is powerful in our progressive journeys of faith.

     As you continue to persevere in your journey, prayerfully exploring your core values, I hope you’ll join me in the confidence God is with us. God will help each of us enjoy ‘fully’ the good work created for us, and the strength to climb ‘rightly’ each step looming ahead.

Blessings on your journey…

Sue Reeve

  1. https://www.soulformation.org/samrima