Thursday, February 23, 2017

Two Formulas for HAPPY


Recently, a dear friend shared one of her life's philosophies with me:

"Every day I try to make at least two people happy."

Wow. What a neat thought. If we all did this, imagine what our world would look like.


Another wise suggestion floating around Facebook is this:

  • Eat half as much
  • Walk twice as much
  • Laugh three times as much
  • Love immeasurably

It's like a math formula that steers us toward good physical and mental health.

Hmmm. Some things to ponder.

Have an uplifting day!

Photo courtesy Lyn Whaley

 

 

 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

WHY I SIGNED THE LETTER...

Recently, I joined with Christian leaders and volunteers urging the President and Vice-President to reconsider the recent ban on refugees entering our country. I gave it thought and prayer before signing, because Mom always said, "Be careful what you put in writing." I think that extends to whatever you put your name to.

Here are my reasons for signing:
  • The letter itself was well-written and signed by Christian leaders I respect. It was polite, Biblical, logical, compassionate, and most importantly, it was NOT accusatory or inflammatory. I've had enough of that lately. It's evident a lot of careful work went into creating this letter that was posted as a full-page ad in the Washington Post last week. You can read it by clicking here. I especially like that the signers promised to pray for the President and Vice-President for God to give them wisdom dealing with complex issues.
  • The parable of the Good Samaritan is very convicting. I've read it for years in church, Sunday School, and Bible studies. I even taught it in Senior English in a PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL!!! (The King James Bible is Renaissance Literature and this parable is included in the approved textbook.) The gist of the parable is that everyone is my neighbor, not just those I agree with or like or worship with. All of humanity are God's children and should be protected.
  • A verse that swirled around in my mind when trying to decide whether or not to sign, is this one: "Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels." (Luke 9:26)
  • At the core of my Christian belief, is a love for missions--showing the love of Christ through caring for others. I can't set that aside as I view the plight of many frightened people trying to escape horrific situations.

I totally understand those who hold a different viewpoint. That's the beauty of our democracy--we can disagree and still live together in harmony and respect.

Thank you for reading. May God give us all wisdom.


Friday, February 3, 2017

WORLD CLEAN-UP DAY

I was dusting my globe the other day when a funny thought occurred to me:

"What if I could clean up the world just like I'm cleaning up this globe?

What would that look like?"




My mind went to some strange places...from inhaling too much dust, I suppose.

If I could really clean up the world, I would:
  • bring peace to the Middle East
  • bring unity and morality to the U.S.
  • provide fresh, clean water to all Third World countries
  • provide healthy food to all communities
  • clean up the air in China
  • turn all guns into squirt guns
  • turn military budgets of ALL countries into Education Budgets
  • put freezer packs on the Arctic so the polar bears could exist
  • seal all fissures under the state of California

Well, the list goes on and on.

I wonder what God thinks when he looks at the messes we're in. Does he wish we would clean up our act--take care of the earth and the societies he's blessed us with?

Perhaps that's what Heaven will be like: a truly pristine place where love, respect, comfort, compassion, and harmony exist. Most of all, there will be the very presence of God himself. Can't wait.

Meanwhile, I must continue to do some soul-searching about how I am responsible to clean up my corner of this dusty old world.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

STRANGE WEEK IN POLITICS

The events of this past week have caused me to do some introspection. I have a responsibility to make things better in my little corner of the world. I must:

AVOID HYPERBOLE

I should strive to speak in truth and NOT exaggeration

"But I tell you that men [and women] will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned." (Matthew 12 :36-37)

That means FACT CHECKING my own words when necessary.
"Dear Sue: Do not exaggerate just to score a point in a verbal discourse." (Guess that means I can no longer say, "I'm so hungry I could eat a horse!"

SPREAD RESPECT & KINDNESS

"Bloom Where You are Planted"
"Brighten the Corner, Where You Are"
"Pass it On" - Kindness, that is
Pay it Forward"

Respect must become a GRASS-ROOTS LEVEL movement.

SPEAK UP AGAINST:
  • Racism
  • Bullying
  • Inequality
I must use my rights of free speech as an American when I see something that doesn't benefit ALL Americans.

PRAY
  • That legislative leaders will step up and do what's right
  • That the checks and balances built into our government will work
  • That Americans will start dialoging (listening) to one another
  • That evil around the world will be defeated 

Whew! That's a lot of heavy. It's the only way I know how to personally deal with what's going on in this, the country I love.

Final note to self: "Remember, God's in charge. I read the Book and he wins!"

"The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." (Deuteronomy 31:8) Moses' advice to Joshua who was taking over as leader of the Israelites.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

RAINBOWS ABOUND

Enjoy these photos a dear friend shared with me. Occasionally, she is greeted with this phenomenon: rainbow colors reflecting off the heavy cross sculpture displayed on an end table in her living room.




She's not sure why this happens or what time of day/year it occurs. She just smiles, as she sees it as a reminder from God:
  • I'm here.
  • I'm awesome.
  • My Presence is all around you.
Science would explain it as sunshine hitting a beveled window or mirror just right and deflecting in prism-like drops of moisture. Even that explanation is a phenomenon, because God is the creator of science. Isn't he amazing?

We all need rainbows because,

Life is tough.
The world is a mess.
The future looks frightening.

Take heart, blog readers. Look for "rainbows" that serve as reminders of God's existence. He's in charge and he loves you.

What might that look like?
  • An amazing sunrise or sunset
  • A child's laughter
  • An act of kindness
  • Funny animal antics
  • A hug from a friend or loved-one
A paraphrase from the book The Story (the whole Bible in readable form from the NIV translation) goes like this: "He [God] had rescued his people from slavery, showed them his power, guided their steps, given them his law and gifted them with his presence." (The Story, page 71)

Gifted them with his presence. We have that in today's unsettled world. We must look all around and take note.

And, as my friend says--

Rainbows are free!

 

Monday, January 2, 2017

HAPPY NEW YEAR

HELLO 2017!


Resolutions, goals, promises. Whatever you call them, let me offer a few ideas:

  • Create a MISSION STATEMENT for yourself for the new year--much like organizations or committees do to focus a team's goals.

  • Make a list of PRIORITIES. What is important in your life? (Remember: "People are more important than things.")

  • List 2 or 3 GOALS for each priority.

Make sure each priority and goal aligns with your mission statement.


Review this every 3 or 4 months to see how you're doing.



GOODBYE 2016!





 

Monday, December 26, 2016

My Favorite Day of the Year



MY FAVORITE DAY OF THE YEAR!

by

Sue Faris Raatjes©

December 26th was my favorite day of the year when my four children were young. The frenzy of our holiday season looked like this:

·         Holiday parties
·         School events
·         Shopping, wrapping, decorating
·         Work responsibilities
·         Church programs
·         Service projects

Why do we do that to ourselves? We cram everything into the three weeks after Thanksgiving. Holidays are fun and memories are important, but often they drain a family.

That’s why I liked December 26. The pressure was done. The children were happy to stay in their jammies all day and play with their new toys. No sibling arguments because, well, it was Christmas and you don’t argue when Santa is so generous.

The best part of the day for me was reading a new book. My husband always gave me a book for Christmas. Often it was one by the late Erma Bombeck. Bombeck was a humorist who began her career writing for a Dayton, Ohio, newspaper. Her column, “At Wit’s End,” morphed into a book, then many books, and a successful writing career.


(In case of fire, I get people and pets out first, then my signed Erma Bombeck collection!)


Her books were a lifeline for women managing homes and raising children in the 1970s. She gave credibility to the difficult tasks and tedium that defined their days—especially for those who were stay-at-home moms. She helped me stay sane.

Two writing tips I learned from her:

·         Be real. She connects with readers because she isn’t afraid to show her true self. Look at the cover of her book, When You Look Like Your Passport Photo, It’s Time to Go Home. 

      A powerful aspect of her writing is how she transitions from humor to pathos. All of her books are hilarious. Then bam! About two-thirds through she hits the reader with an in-depth concept that rips the heart out. Her chapter about sending her last child off to kindergarten makes me cry every time I read it. I read it when I sent each of my children off to kindergarten and then again when I sent them away to college or work. That’s powerful writing.

Erma Bombeck was a long-time resident of Paradise Valley, Arizona. She gave generously to The National Kidney Foundation Arizona and founded the Authors’ Luncheon that supports that organization. Sadly, she died in 1996 from complications of a kidney transplant

This quote from her sums up her feelings about her gift of writing:

            “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I had not a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.’”

My adult daughter has memories of me sitting in the recliner chair, the day after Christmas. I’m reading a Bombeck book and laughing out loud. Thanks, Erma.


·         Erma Bombeck Writing Workshop - University of Dayton every Spring
·         Authors’ Luncheon - Phoenix every Fall