Thursday, November 22, 2007

Giving Thanks

I am totally bummed at the moment. We were supposed to be on our way to San Antonio early this morning to celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow with our middle son and his family and in-laws. I'm sorry my husband has been stricken with a virus that has left him highly contagious, though I'm grateful he's not seriously ill. The timing is terrible. Time will tell if we can gather with our imnmediate family on Saturday. So I'm watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV (I do love parades), and writing this as an exercise in gratitude even though at the moment I am as my husband noted, heartbroken. It's not often that we are able to get our family, so the prospect of missing that has me feeling really sad.

But, enough on that. I'm grateful to be here with my husband with a day to relax. I'm grateful for a warm, dry place to spend the day and for food to prepare an unplanned Thanksgiving dinner later. I'm grateful that I can see and hear and walk around this morning, and that while my husband is ill, we are both generally in good health. I'm grateful for my wonderful sons and remarkable daughters-in-law. I'm grateful for our beautiful grandkids. We are blessed with good health, good relationships and work to do that we find rewarding. I'm grateful that we live here in peace and safety. Too many of God's children in this world have none of these blessings that I too often take for granted. Thanks be to God for all the ways my life has been blessed. May you find time this day to thank God for your blessings as well.

Grace and Peace,
Donna Sue

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Nearing the end

I once again find myself stumbling toward the end of the semester. I'm not sure who is the tiredest at this point, me or my students. It has been a great run, but it's almost time for the hardest part of the semester for me--saying goodbye. But before we reach the end, I have to write a few more exams and grade a lot more exams and papers. I was told this week that the policy had changed and finals could no longer be optional, so I'm going to have another two dozen exams to grade than I had counted on. At the moment with Mount Everest in front of me, I'm not all that disappointed that I will not be teaching next semester. But I will be when January rolls around, and I'm not getting prepared for another semester. Hopefully in the future they will find another class for me to teach. I do love the interaction with the students. They are an immense blessing.

But God has been not so gently calling me to "honor my gift," and I'm still sorting out what that means. After much prayer it has become clear that whatever my gift may be it is no longer being a lawyer. It was hard to give up teaching business law, but I know I made the right decision to pass that baton on to another lawyer who is excited about a new opportunity. I think part of what I have to do to honor my gift is to pick back up with the writing. My class seemed intrigued this morning when I told them I was going to go back to my research on Christian vocation and professional ethics and finish the book I started. One student wanted to know if I'd already written it. I still have that part to do. Bob reminded me of my plans for the book, which I will tackle next semester, when he commented that one good way to judge your ethics is by what your mom would say about your actions. Wise advice, and not surprising as he is a wise man. So I shared the title I've come up with for the book: What Would Your Mom Say About Your Professional Ethics? Now I just have to write the essays to live up to the title. I wonder what my mom would say about this project? Unfortunately I'll have to wait until the next life to ask her.

Grace and Peace,
Donna Sue

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Travelling to the Dark Side of the Moon

This past month has been way too busy, with classes, volunteer obligations and a bit part in the Sound of Music at my church, followed by a mission trip to Cuba from which we returned earlier this week. Now I find myself in the grudging stage of knowing I need to return to my life here, but resisting leaving behind the people and the memories of our trip to Cuba. The mission on this trip was to demonstrate to our Christian sisters and brothers in Cuba by our presence that they have not been forgotten.

It was not easy to obtain the required religious license from our government to travel there, and as that license expires the end of this month I don't know if I'll ever have the chance to see these new friends in this life again. I hope so. For in Cuba I saw once again the churches aflame with the Holy Spirit as they proclaim God's kingdom in the midst of poverty, both physical and spiritual.

A familiar Bible text from the prophet Joel was on the lectionary while we were there, and I realized I was seeing it lived out before my eyes, for God's spirit has been poured upon them and their sons and daughters are proclaiming God's message, their old people are dreaming of the kingdom and their young people are seeing visions of a future blessed by God. Once again, as at the end of my first trip to Cuba a year and a half ago, my heart wants to be both there and here at home.

Please pray for all of those Christians who proclaim the reason for the hope they have by their lives and their actions, as the pastor preached last Sunday at the Presbyterian church we attended in Havana. We proclaimed that hope by our presence worshipping and sharing communion together, those of us from the U.S. and the Cubans. I pray one day soon we will be free to travel easily from one country to the other. I want them to come and share their remarkable faith with my fellow Christians here, and I want to be able to return and see the people I have come to know and to love.

Grace and Peace,
Donna Sue