choosing joy

i am truly enjoying the books of daily readings that i've undertaken for this year. the three of them are all so different, that each brings a very different element to my day, and they all seem to be taking turns being any particular day's favorite.

yesterday's favorite, however, was easy to call... and something i needed {and still need} to hear.
Choosing Joy
by Henri Nouwen, Bread For The Journey {January 30}

Joy is what makes life worth living, but for many joy seems hard to find. They complain that their lives are sorrowful and depressing. What then brings the joy we so much desire? Are some people just lucky, while others have run out of luck? Strange as it may sound, we can choose joy. Two people can be part of the same event, but one may choose to live it quite differently from the other. One may choose to trust that what happened, painful as it may be, holds a promise. The other may choose despair and be destroyed by it.

What makes us human is precisely this freedom of choice.
i choose joy.



friday is here, and not a moment too soon.

as i've said before, i'm not a TGIF kind of girl. perhaps because i love my job and all the opportunities that come my way during the week, that while weekends are great, they're not usually necessary for survival... just enjoyment.

this weekend, however, finds me tired. weary. the kind of internal exhaustion that makes one actually wish for a cold or even the flu, if only to stay home and sleep for days.

but life rarely stops simply because we're tired. i've got a fairly busy weekend planned. tonight i am meeting the girls in my small group at Starbucks. with my extended Christmas vacation, i haven't got to see these girls since we met for dinner in early December. it will be good to catch up with these amazing young women.

tomorrow morning i am heading downtown for my favorite beauty ritual—hair color and hand massage–at the Aveda Academy. good times. afterwards, i'll probably stop off at the St. Lawrence market to pick up some yummy things, like asparagus and garlic, and use them to make dinner tomorrow night.

sunday after church, i have my usual 'coffee and set the world straight' date with a good friend, and then, the good part. originally i was thinking of having some friends over to watch the Screen Actors Guild awards, but the lure of getting into my pajamas at noon on Sunday for the glorious rest of the day is just too darn strong.

during this beautiful, blissful Sunday afternoon, i plan to nap, read, write a few letters, and generally do nothing more strenuous than deciding which book i will get to enjoy. {right now, i'm thinking it will be The Book Thief, which i am reading for the second time, but that is subject to change.}

i hope you have a delightful weekend, whatever you find yourself doing.



back in December, shortly after we found out about my nephew's illness, i was hanging out with some girls from my small group over dinner. one of them asked me if, during all the madness, i had someone that i could be talk to about how i was feeling. someone i could pour my heart and raw emotions out to honestly.

to say that i am grateful that my unequivocal answer to the question is 'yes', would be a gross understatement.

i have been so much more than blessed by the amazing friends that have not only stood by me spiritually, but also emotionally and physically, through the last crazy month and a half, let alone beyond that.

...the friend who dropped her life and came running from another country when i most needed my closest of friends.

...the friend who, on the night of my Christmas party, dropped everything to come over and finish all that i couldn't through my tears.

...the friend who didn't mind my after midnight call one crazy night over the holidays, when my need to talk to someone about something—anything— trivial and non-emotional was overwhelming.

...the friends who, even though i haven't seen them in way too long, have no idea how much their messages of love and prayers have impacted my life.

...those who let me rant and cry and laugh, and who are not at all surprised that i can do all three of these things at one time. friends who let me not only be myself, but give me the space and safety to express what i am feeling these days.

how one person can be so blessed, amazes me daily.


let me...

on the wall above my computer at work i have a card that my mother sent me years ago. this is what it says...
When in doubt, repeat this prayer:

let me change what i can.

let me accept that which i cannot change.

let me ignore that which i cannot change or accept.

let me run away from that which i cannot change, accept, or ignore.

let me lock myself in the bathroom, hold my hands over my ears, and hum about that which i cannot change, accept, ignore or run away from.

let me...
i LOVE this card. it makes me happy. but more importantly, it reminds me how easy it is to go from attempting to face and deal with situations that arise in life, to falling into old traps of avoidance and running away.

i've always been big on running away. since i love traveling, it probably makes sense that my defense mechanism of choice is the one that will take me somewhere else. anywhere else. at any given moment i can tell you five places that i would love to be in a heartbeat.

but the reality is that running away, ignoring, or even locking myself in the bathroom is no way to handle life, no matter how insane it gets. for the most part, even for one who doesn't like confrontation, the best way to face life is head on, with the security of knowing that you don't face it alone.

let me face life with the faith and hope that i know are mine in Jesus...



i love new beginnings. january. even the new school year. a chance to start over, unfettered by whatever happened before. even this year, although it feels a bit like i'm beginning a bit late, there are some pleasures that only a new year can afford.

pleasures like beginning a new book {or two} of daily readings. i know that even in May someone could pick up a book of daily readings, devotional or otherwise, but there is something that irks me deep inside at the thought of starting a book in the middle, that just keeps me from doing so.

so, this week, i am getting caught up on the daily readings that i missed while i was away from the three {yes, three} books of daily meditations that will be part of my journey this year. you might ask, 'why three?', and the only answer i have for you is 'why not three?' :-)

in truth, these are three that i have wanted to read for a while, and since i am in the perfect january window, and choosing between Rilke, Buechner and Nouwen seems pretty much impossible, here we are. {you can find out all three here.}

today's reading from Henri Nouwen's book, Bread For The Journey, is definitely one that i needed to hear. living alone, on the other side of the country from my family, i have grown accustomed to the benefits of solitude. however, after 25 days of living at my parents, and being surrounded by family, since returning home, my heart has been fighting the aloneness. this is what Mr. Nouwen writes on day 21...
Solitude is the garden for our hearts, which yearn for love. It is the place where our aloneness can bear fruit. it is the home for our restless bodies and anxious minds. Solitude, whether it is connected with a physical space or not, is essential for our spiritual lives. It is not an essay place to be, since we are so insecure and fearful that we are easily distracted by whatever promises immediate satisfaction. Solitude is not immediately satisfying, because in solitude we meet our demons, our addictions, our feelings of lust and anger, and our immense need for recognition and approval. But if we do not run away, we will meet there also the One who said, "Do not be afraid. I am with you, and i will guide you throughout the valley of darkness."

Let's keep returning to our solitude.
so, this is my goal right now. to once again grown comfortable with and embrace the solitude.



i've had a day.

it was a perfect storm of madness of different varieties, and i have had all the madness i can take. so, the moment i finish this post, i'll be heading for bed. it is my sincere hope that tonight's sleep will be the 'reset' button that i need to make it all go away.

i've said it before, and i know i'll say it again, but Rilke must really have been the perfect man. he always seems to have the perfect words even when i don't know what i need to hear. and today, i need to hear the last couple lines of my very favorite poem...
The Man Watching
by Ranier Maria Rilke
by rainer maria rilke

I can tell by the way the trees beat, after
so many dull days, on my worried windowpanes
that a storm is coming,
and I hear the far-off fields say things
I can't bear without a friend,
I can't love without a sister

The storm, the shifter of shapes, drives on
across the woods and across time,
and the world looks as if it had no age:
the landscape like a line in the psalm book,
is seriousness and weight and eternity.

What we choose to fight is so tiny!
What fights us is so great!
If only we would let ourselves be dominated
as things do by some immense storm,
we would become strong too, and not need names.

When we win it's with small things,
and the triumph itself makes us small.
What is extraordinary and eternal
does not want to be bent by us.
I mean the Angel who appeared
to the wrestlers of the Old Testament:
when the wrestler's sinews
grew long like metal strings,
he felt them under his fingers
like chords of deep music.

Whoever was beaten by this Angel
(who often simply declined the fight)
went away proud and strengthened
and great from that harsh hand,
that kneaded him as if to change his shape.
Winning does not tempt that man.
This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively,
by constantly greater beings.

i needed to be reminded that on these days, when i am feeling defeated on so many levels, that God can use even this defeat. my defeat.

until tomorrow...



hi there.

it's been so long since i wrote, i almost feel like i need to reintroduce myself to you.

i'm suzi. or susanne, suze, sue, depending on how close we are or how we were introduced. pretty much any variation of the name with the total exception of susan. to quote whitney houston, my name is not susan.

now that we've got that out of the way, this place is where i usually write my thoughts, ideas, musings. i say usually, because during those times when i don't want to know my own thoughts, ideas and musings, when i am scared of what i will find there, on those days i don't write.

there have been quite a few of those days lately.

but tonight i am breaking the silence.

last night i spent some time talking to God about the fact that in many ways, i don't know how to pray about Jayden and his situation. i won't bore you with all the details, but in essence, i asked God to tell me how to pray for this craziness.

i didn't have to wait very long for the answer.

this morning i heard about someone else who, in the midst of their own craziness, when asking for prayer, asked not that something miraculous would be done, but that they would be okay with whatever God was doing.

instantly, i knew this was my answer.

and this is now my prayer, not only for myself, but for my family.

that's all i have for tonight.

i'm back.


and the final tally...

...of books i read in 2010 is 57 instead of my goal of 75.

my end of year thoughts, as well as favorite books of they year are here.

happy new year!

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