Click on the family picture to enlarge the panel and read through the card.
To download, print and share the Advent/Christmas devotional booklet mentioned above, save this PDF and print double sided, flipping on the short edge. To print out just the prayer journal, save this PDF and print double sided, flipping on short edge. The first devotion is tied to the Sunday before Advent, November 22. The prayer journal is dated from November 23 to January 5. Advent blessings, dear ones!
Come, Lord Jesus: Devotions, Prayer Journal and Prayerful Coloring for Advent and Christmasis a booklet I created for and with Lutheran Social Servicesof Wisconsin and Upper Michigan (LSS). It includes seven devotions linked to the Sunday before Advent, the four Sundays of Advent, Christmas Eve, and the Twelve Days of Christmas. The prayer journal offers dated boxes to note prayer prompts between November 25 and January 5. The line art in the booklet invites prayerful coloring. Request free print copies or download pages online. To print the devotional in a booklet format, save this PDF and print double sided, flipping on the short edge. To print out just the prayer journal, save the PDF and print double sided, flipping on short edge. Below, find additional information and ideas to help individuals, families and Continue reading →
Since 1985, every year on October 9, I remember a terrible-wonderful time of healing and abundant grace upon grace. The first time I told the story was in the December 1986 issue of Family Computing magazine. On October 9, 2010, “Life-changing Grace,” a LivingLutheran blog post remembered the 25th anniversary with gratitude. Below is a slightly edited version of that post. —Sue
It’s been 30 years. Thirty years since the time of amazing, undeserved and life-changing grace upon grace.
The Edison-Swifts in 1985
On September 24, 1985, I took almost 5-year-old daughter Annie to the pediatrician to be checked for a possible ear infection. He discovered an abdominal mass.
After 36 surreal hours, we had a diagnosis: Stage 4 Neuroblastoma, a deadly childhood cancer. We had a prognosis: My husband, Paul, and I were told it was highly unlikely that Annie would live to see her sixth birthday.
Normal ceased, replaced by test upon test, procedure after procedure. I imagined handing out a list of things not to say after Annie’s death. The don’t-say list included, “God needed another angel in heaven,” and “It’s for the best.”
At this point in the story, even after 25 years of practice, I stumble. The details, etched in my memory, heart and face make the story too long. So, I will summarize: For 10 days there was no hope. Continue reading →
As a piece of popular theology, “Let go and let God” is trite and profound, hurtful and helpful.
It is hurtful when served with a side of “get over it already” or “you just have to trust.” The thinly veiled accompanying message might be “You are taking too long to grieve” or “If you faith was stronger you wouldn’t worry–consider the lilies of the field” (Matthew 6:25-29).
It is trite when the perceived meaning reduces God to a Magic 8 Ball decision-maker (“It is certain”) or absolves personal responsibility (“God’s work, not mine”).
On the last day of the NGO Forum on Women (Beijing, China, 1995), I witnessed a transformational act.
It had been an empowering, world expanding 10 days. I listened to women wanting to be both faithful and feminist, demanding full human rights, protesting globalization and its representative Ronald McDonald, celebrating the power of “Grandmothers for Peace,” selling and singing, cooking and eating, walking and talking. And, everyone was talking about the keynote speaker for the closing event: Hillary Rodham Clinton, then the U.S. First Lady.
We jumped on a Thanksgiving-weekend promotion to create this Christmas card, to double as a “We’ve Moved” announcement. The e-edition you are reading now offers additional “hyphenated life” news.
While setting up the tripod for the family photo session, we captured this favorite picture of Walter and Sally.
Lest you think all was “Christmas-card perfect” that afternoon, here are some of the outtakes.
In June, we bought a 15-year-old ranch house in Watertown, Wis. It has three bedrooms, two baths, two-car garage, home-office for Paul, dining room, eat-in kitchen, small laundry-room, living room with a fireplace, and an enormous basement. Before moving in, we had wood floors installed and replaced the tub in the master bath with a walk-in shower. It’s close enough to Bethesda for Sue to come home for lunch.
Check out photographer Annie in the mirror.
The bedroom where Walter sleeps has capacity to sleep four: a bunk bed with a trundle and the original Umma’s motorized saucer chair. When Sally graduates from the Pack n Play, she’ll take the trundle. The storage-chest steps for the bunk bed remain in boxes until the kiddles are old enough to be trusted on the top bunk.
Initially we made great progress unpacking the boxes in storage for three years. Once our household reach enhanced operational-level, however, our motivation plummeted. Anything takes precedence over further unpacking and organizing.
For the first time in years we put up a full-size Christmas tree. Here’s the story about buying our firstChristmas tree.
Last week Sue learned of her acceptance in the 2015 Certificate in Theology and Ministry program from Princeton Theological Seminary. There are six five-week online classes, meeting Thursday evenings: Old Testament, New Testament, Forgiveness and Reconciliation, Theology for Faith and Life, Pastoral Care, and Congregational Leadership.
Annie tells us that Walter led their Advent devotion before lunch today. He sang “This Little Light of Mine” and gave this prayer: Dear God, We know you have been there a long, long time in heaven. You shared with people a lot of things and you’ve been nice to them. Amen. This reminds us of almost-5-year-old Annie’s Song of Community, and prompts us to ask, Hello, hello, how are you doing?
Greetings from Paul and Sue, pictured here with Annie and Sean, Walter (3 in October), Sally (1 in August) and Hank-the-Dog. This card doubles as a “We’ve Moved” announcement. In June, we bought a house. Our new address:
617 Chadwick Dr, Watertown, WI 53094
In February, Sue became Bethesda’s Corp. Dir. of Faith Life Resources, which includes coordinating the Summer Institute on Theology and Disability (BethesdaInstitute.org/theology). Paul has a dedicated home office and continues working as a Web Analyst/Developer for the ELCA Churchwide Office in Chicago.
January: Paul had a successful cardiac ablation-no more afib! Celebrated the life and witness of Sue’s Aunt Sally. June: Flew to New York with Annie and Sally for Rachel (Paul’s niece) and Matt Lauster’s wedding. September: Attended the memorial service for friend Mim Woolbert. Annie and Sean arranged for a surprise “Sue and Paul birthday” breakfast with dear friends. October: Joined the Edison-Albrights for a holiday in Door County (cherries!). November: Annie receives 2014 Brave Preacher Award from The Beatitudes Society; so proud. Bought our first-ever snow blower; used it twice.
Love, Sue and Paul
P.S. For more pictures and stories see the e-edition.
Tomato Soup with Hamburger, Sweet Potato and Beans
AKA Sue’s Chili
The soup Sue calls chili.
On Facebook, I announced my first soup – making in the new house: chili with diced sweet potato. When asked for the recipe I was undaunted even though I have never made any soup the same way twice.
What has me humbled as I start writing down the ingredients, however, is the realization the person recipe-asking is from Texas. Texas, where chili is king. Oh dear, I had better confess. This is a slightly sweet chili with beans. Maybe I should call it Tomato Soup with Hamburger, Sweet Potato and Beans.
3 lbs ground beef, browned and drained
2 large sweet potatoes, cubed
Although not in this batch, cubed celery root (celeriac) is a yummy addition
3-4 cartons of rustic cut tomatoes in puree
½ bottle ketchup (2 cups?) with an equal amount of water
small carton (1 cup) unsalted chicken stock
1-2 TBS of Penzey’s Chili 3000 spice (I usually get more creative with the spice drawer—including cumin, cinnamon and chili powder—but last time I got too creative and didn’t love the result. Since the ingredients are high in sodium, I do not add additional salt.)
2 large onions, minced fine in food processor
whole stalk of celery, diced fine
1 small can diced green chilies
Usually add sweet peppers (green, orange or red) but didn’t this time
4-5 peeled cloves of garlic, smashed (so you can fish out again)
Two large cans of red kidney beans, rinsed
Two small cans of reduced sodium black beans, rinsed
Since my soup pot was full, I added the beans to the containers, not the pot. I’ve been known to do the same with the browned hamburger.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” —John 3:16 NRSV
Why Not Capitalize the Godly He?*
Resist the urge to capitalize pronouns for God. Illustration by Ann Rezny, graphic designer at the Herron Studio.
1. Because pronouns for God are not capitalized in the Bible or standard stylebooks like AP and the Chicago Manual.
2. Because pronouns for God are not as clear as names for God.
I once asked a group of about 50 colleagues, “When someone signs a letter, ‘In His Service,’ who are they talking about?” I was surprised to learn most thought this meant “In God’s Service,” not “In Christ’s Service.”
Using names for God instead of pronouns is especially important when writing something for reading aloud, for example, a devotion. Listeners cannot hear the capitalization or scan back to determine the subject of the sentence.
If it is necessary to capitalize gendered pronouns to make it clear the reference is God, rewrite.
3. For some, capitalizing pronouns for God is a sign of piety and respect. For others, this seems as antiquated and stodgy as using thee and thou.
While readers are unlikely to notice lowercase pronouns for God, capitalized pronouns call attention to themselves. Thus, a capitalized He runs a greater risk of a negative reaction.
* Many people, myself included, prefer not to limit God to gendered pronouns–he or she. Capitalizing pronouns for God emhasizes the limits of the English language and a too-small image of God. This post, however, is an appeal to the faithful for whom God is, and always will be, a he. It is a case for lowercase.