Tag Archives: Spiritual Direction

Capturing Treasured Moments, Memories & Relationships…

     My husband has been experimenting with photography, capturing scenes and objects I will use in my re-designed website. By the way, I plan to launch the new website by the first week of June.

     When I saw this photo, I realized it captures much of what defines me as a woman, who—as I believe is true of most of you–is learning to listen intentionally on the journey of life.

     So, what does this photo say about Sue Reeve, aka Susan, Susie, Mom, Grandma Susie, Su-Su, and Suz? (The last two names are endearments used by our younger grandson, Reeve, and my hubby, Ron.)

     First, Ron captured this scene in the early morning light. I’m a morning person. The best part of me comes alive in the early morning hours.

     Next, my two favorite things about morning are drinking coffee and spending time with God. I like my coffee made from freshly-ground beans, quite strong, very hot, and without anything added.

     My best time with God is spent sitting at a lovely prayer desk my husband designed and built for me several years ago. The glow of a lit candle and my Bible are both reminders God’s Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path[1].

     The cup from Barcelona reflects my love of travel. (Well, perhaps not the travel part. Anyone who’s traveled coach fare internationally knows that’s not particularly pleasant.) I do, however, love reaching the destination, seeing new sites, experiencing unique cultures, and savoring regional cuisine! I spent one long day in Barcelona a couple years ago and fell in love with this lovely city in the Catalonia region of Spain, nestled alongside the Mediterranean Sea.

     The final aspect of this photo, though unseen, is of primary importance. Each item represents a special relational connection. Relationships are extremely important to me.

     The Bible was a Christmas gift from my older daughter Angie when she was 13 years old. Its ancient but ever relevant words fuel my relationship with God, comfort, remind, and guide me daily.

     The pottery goblet on the left was made by my husband’s enormously talented brother, Mike, who passed away about five years ago.

     The mug from Barcelona was a gift from a friend, who was on the same educational pilgrimage to Spain and who is also a student in the same Spiritual Direction program as I. Living in Missouri, Erin is mama to five. Not only is she generous, but also, a very smart seminary student.

     So, what would a photo reflective of you look like? I’d love to hear your story!

Prayer:

Creator God,

Your Word declares I am your ‘wonderfully complex[2]’ creation.

Thank You for the sweet little things, precious moments, memories, and treasured relationships

That fill my life with purpose and meaning,

Reminding me daily of your goodness and grace.

Amen

Sue Reeve

  1. Psalms 119:5 NKJV
  2. Psalms 139:14 NLT

God Delights in Goodness and Truth…

     The Apostle John declares …God is love. (1 John 4:8). If that statement is true, which I believe unequivocally it is, then 1 Corinthians 13:6 could read,

God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

     There’s no doubt about it. We live in a world filled with much evil and pain.

     Theological debates over God’s role in the suffering of humankind have raged for millennia and is not the discussion today. Instead, during this time when we’ve been exploring several verses from the Bible’s ‘love chapter,’ I’d like to say, my firm belief and personal experience are that while God never initiates pain and suffering, God’s mercy and grace can recycle it for a very good purpose.

     The life, death and resurrection of Jesus illustrate that truth like no other. My friend, JC’s, story also testifies to the veracity of 1 Corinthians 13:6.

     I met JC when I went to Spain on an educational pilgrimage in 2018. A fellow pilgrim, she became a sister-of-the heart. I was delighted to learn JC was also going to be a student in the same Spiritual Direction program I began in September 2019.


     After being named first runner-up in a state Miss America pageant, JC became a grooming consultant for Pageant contestants and successful business owner. Now in her middle-age years, JC continues to exude panache and is what I’d call a “woman of influence—” poised, articulate, generous, kind spirited, and a true friend to many.

     Despite numerous good gifts, JC has experienced great loss, pain, and suffering in the past few years: bankruptcy; the death of her beloved strong, body-builder husband following a short and brutal bought of cancer; followed almost immediately with her own debilitating fight with the dreaded “C” word.

     Following our trip to Spain, JC spent a year in Europe teaching music in an International Christian school. During a break in October, she went to Paris. While there, JC walked alone across Love Lock Bridge. She said, “I felt sad not having anyone to share the beautiful city and sidewalk cafés with. Life’s experiences are much more enjoyable when they are shared with a friend or companion.”

     During this season of being alone, JC began working with a Spiritual Director. “Even though I know I am fully capable of walking alone, I discovered on that bridge in Paris I desire companionship.” In her relationship with a Spiritual Director, JC found unconditional love and companionship that revealed Christ’s love and helped her discover who God is and what God’s next step was for her.

“Recalling the emotions of that walk alone is what drew me to see the value of Spiritual Direction and developed the desire within me to be there for others.” JC is quick to point out, “A spiritual director doesn’t take the place of Christ, but the director is desiring with every moment and prayer to be pointing a person to see Christ’s love even in life’s darkest days.”

     With a twinkle in her eye, JC relates, “Six months later I returned to Love Lock Bridge with my personalized padlock on which I had hand-written JC loves JC. I attached the lock to the bridge and tossed the keys into the Seine River. I am still alone, but I am not alone because I have Christ and a Spiritual Director.”

     JC has experienced 1 Corinthians 13:6 first-hand. Even though she has faced deep pain and suffering, she knows God did not delight in the forces of evil she experienced. Furthermore, she walks with joy in this truth:

God is love!

My prayer for each of us:

God Who is Love,

Please help each of us walk in this amazing truth JC has discovered.

Amen

Sue Reeve

Spiritual Direction – My Life Story: Chapters with Hurtful Encounters

Sue’s Note: As long as imperfect people populate an imperfect world, interpersonal conflicts will exist. Often, they’re unexpected; at times they’re unjust. Always, they sting. If we’re not intentional to forgive and re-establish emotional and spiritual equilibrium, they grow bitter roots in our souls.

While I have no solutions, I have learned there is only one soul over which God has given me responsibility to steward. The only soul-adjustments I can make to deal with hurtful encounters are within me. I don’t like them—in fact, I abhor them—but I’m learning hurtful encounters are often the catalyst that leads me to recognize my behavioral blind spots and helps me take steps leading to my soul’s refining. It may even—always my hope and prayer—lead to relational healing.

Today’s post deals with a hurtful encounter I experienced.

     The conversation came as a complete shock. Huge waves of painful emotions flooded over me. Perhaps you can relate.

          First, disbelief.

               Yikes! No way did I see that coming!

          Then, anger.

               It’s not fair! I don’t deserve this!

          Followed by bewilderment.

               “Why me?” “Why now?”How could I have been so misunderstood?”

          Finally, an all-too-familiar voice of condemnation kicked in.

               Where did I go wrong? Why am I such a failure?

     My head understands feelings are simply feelings. Disbelief, anger, bewilderment and condemnation are all normal reactions to an unexpected, hurtful encounter. I know what matters about feelings is how I choose to manage them.

     Will I react in a manner I’ll regret later? or

     Will I respond in a way that has the potential for healing?

     Even though the first option is where my petulant, immature self would like to go, truly, I desire the second, much more mature option.

     How do we process hurtful encounters?

     For me, crafting words is therapeutic. The morning of my hurtful conversation, I set aside a housekeeping task. It could wait. Instead, I began typing. Over two hours passed when I felt my tummy grumble, glanced at the clock and realized it was way past lunchtime.

     In several pages of paragraphs, I’d documented a lifetime of other heartrending or traumatic experiences. I recalled life lessons learned and ways in which God had woven extravagant grace into a heartbreaking mess many times and in many ways.

     As I wrote,

          I thought, and

               I prayed about the best next step in this current dilemma.

     My soul encouraged me to remember my story is my story, and the stories of others are their stories.

     A challenging chapter is being written in my friend’s story.

          I care.

               I’d like to help.

                    But, HOW?

     As I asked God to show me how to respond wisely and graciously, the ‘still small voice’ seemed to say the best course of action is to simply WAIT. Let God accomplish what only God can accomplish.

     Okay, I’ll wait, but Lord you know I don’t WAIT well!

     I’m a ‘doer,’ a ‘fixer,’ a ‘goal-setter,’ an ‘advice giver.’ I’ve tried before to help someone edit the details of a chapter in his or her story. My motivation may be pure. My heart may be in the right place. My assessment and advice may be spot-on.

     But, taking on the task of helping ‘edit’ another’s narrative doesn’t work. In fact, in modern-day terms such behavior is called co-dependency.

     Reigning in my co-dependent tendencies is challenging, but the Spirit keeps showing me God does a much better job than I when it comes to re-writing a life-story narrative.

     God understands the heart and history behind every reaction and choice.

     God cares about every chapter.

     God can heal any pain.

     Best of all, God desires to guide any willing soul toward a beautiful solution.

     In this dilemma, as I waited, I prayed, both for my friend and for myself. Our pain was real. The situation was difficult. Emotions are complicated.

     Today, I’m praying for you, my reader friend! I believe some are walking through a similar circumstance. I hope and pray these words will encourage you and point you toward our never-changing God is our always-changing [sometimes in not-so-nice ways] worlds.

Blessings on each of our stories…

Sue Reeve