Tag Archives: neighbor

Can we talk about this?

you are lovedI was sharing my heart with a friend the other day.  I was explaining that I want Great Big Yes to be a place where people can be authentic and feel less alone.  Whether it’s through the blog or Holy Yoga, I want to create space to share the gospel of grace and Jesus’ radical message of love.

It is radical you know.

I don’t want to talk about religion.  I don’t want to try to defend a Church.  I don’t want to get caught up in politics.  I just want to talk about grace.

Unmerited mercy.

Love that knows no bounds.


That’s the radical message.

Forget what you know in your head.  Forget what you think you know.  Forget what you are supposed to know.  Look into your heart.

It’s not about practiced prayers.  It’s not about how many times you showed up in church last year or how much money you gave.  It’s not about who you voted for.

When Jesus was here, the Pharisees asked Him, “What is the greatest commandment?” and Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” –(Matthew 22:37-39)

Gosh, I fail at this!  Sometimes I love God with all my heart and soul and mind and other times I doubt.  Sometimes I fear.  I can worry.  Sometimes I occupy my heart and soul and mind with other things like mind numbing reality TV and junk food.  And my “neighbor”?!? Heck, it’s not even about “loving” sometimes it’s just about tolerating.  Or not judging or condemning. Or not becoming enraged about a facebook post or a comment. Or trying not to hold a grudge.

But He knows this about me.  He knows how hard it is for all of us.  He will never ask us to do something and then leave us alone.  He will stand with us and give us strength.

It’s so much easier in today’s society to hate and judge and vilify anyone who thinks differently than we do.  It’s more radical to love.  It’s more difficult and requires great strength to be open and to listen and to love no matter what.  That’s the call.

But before we can do that, we need to know that we are loved.  Each one of us is loved unconditionally.

I know this is really cheesy but humor me.  Look in the mirror and smile at yourself.  Then say this, “Jesus loves me.  He always has and He always will.  I am loved and blessed.”

If we wake up every day and say out loud, “I am loved and blessed” our lives will be transformed.

We are so tough on ourselves!  When thinking about the “love your neighbor as yourself” part, maybe we do love our neighbors as we do ourselves…poorly and critically and barely.

We cannot give what we do not have.  First, we must accept the love that is offered to us.  It’s free and it’s real and it’s forever.

When we understand in our hearts that we are broken and it is okay, when we know for sure that we cannot do all things and we finally surrender… that is the beginning.

As Brennan Manning (LOVE HIM!) said,  “God loves you as you are, not as you should be”. 

Picture yourself in front of that mirror not able to say that you are loved because you feel broken.  You are standing there trying to utter those kind words to yourself and you can’t.  You feel like a mess, unworthy, not enough, less than, worn out.  You look up and there is Jesus.  Full of love and understanding…and He says it.  I love you.

And you stammer, “But I….” and He says, “I know…” and you start listing all the things that you think separate you from His love.  This goes on for a while until He says, “I know everything about you and I love you.  I’ve seen everything and I love you.  I’ve been waiting for you and I love you.”

That’s what I want to talk about.  How do we open our hearts to His beautiful gift of mercy and freedom and acceptance?

And then…what do we do next?

How do we share that gift?  How do we lead others to that freedom?

Let’s talk about that.

©2013 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™ All Rights Reserved

Is it Your Lucky Day?


I went to the library the other day. I needed a book to help me escape, to “not think”, a place to go other than the political news shows and the internet.  I wanted to laugh.

I walk into the library and ask the woman at the front desk…”I need a fun book, where should I look?”  She pointed me over to the newer best sellers.  I saw books about politics and Steve Jobs and ….ugh.  I knew she didn’t get what I meant.  I started to feel a little lost and then she shouted out…”Oh, a YLD book came in!”  I didn’t know who she was talking to so I asked, “excuse me?” She said, “A YLD book came in!” with a big grin on her face.  I said, “What’s a YLD book?” and she said, “It means, it’s YOUR LUCKY DAY!!!! ”

Woo hoo!  My lucky day!  BRING IT!  She explained that these YLD books are never available and if they are, well then, no doubt about it…it’s your lucky day!

Honestly, I barely looked at the book.  I tore out my library card and tried to get out of there fast before someone tried to steal my book and ruin my lucky day.

Speaking of lucky days…Election Day is November 6th.

November 7th is going to be someone’s lucky day.

I know people are out there saying, “It’s not luck, so and so deserves to be president.”

I get it.  I have an opinion.  I care.  I feel strongly.  I will vote.  Then I will watch and count and try to figure out how my guy can win.  Then I will go to sleep and it will be fitful and anxious sleep.  I will be uncomfortable, flipping channels in my dreams, still counting, still wondering, still hoping.  In the morning we will know.  Maybe.  Or maybe there will be lawsuits and talk of hanging chads.  Oh, never mind, that’s the past…a different time, a different night (week? month?) of fitful sleep.

Here’s what I want to remember.  When we wake up that next morning or whenever we find out who won the presidential election…HALF of the country will be disappointed.



This means your neighbor.

I repeat.  HALF of this country will be disappointed.  Either way.

I have said there are two Americas.

But I’ve thought about that now and I want to take it back.  There is one America.  And it’s beautiful and strong and I am so grateful to live here.  There is one America.

Your neighbor may vote for “the other guy”.  Your neighbor may have a yard sign you don’t like.  Your neighbor may not wave to you in the carpool line on Wednesday.  Your neighbor may have hoped and prayed the night before for the opposite of what you hoped and prayed for.  It’s okay.  She’s still your neighbor.

She’s still your neighbor…the one who brought you a casserole when you moved in.  The one who drove your kids to their activities when you were sick.  The neighbor who gives tirelessly at church or who runs the PTA.  This is your neighbor who you have known for 15 years and always thought was such a good mom and a good friend.  This is the neighbor who knows when to bring wine and when to bring chocolate and she usually shows up with both!  This is your friend.  You love her kids and her husband.  You admire how she handles working full time and raising a family.

Or maybe you don’t know her but have always wanted to.  Maybe she smiles at you when she walks the dog or keeps a beautiful garden that you’ve always admired.  Maybe she works at the coffee shop or the dry cleaner.  Maybe you just see her in passing but she’s friendly and kind.

Maybe she’s the mom that’s fought tirelessly for the kids with special needs.  Maybe your kids have benifitted from her advocacy.  Maybe she’s the teacher who took extra time to help your daughter or the parent who serves on the school board.

Maybe she’s the neighbor that came and sat with you when your mother died or when your child was sick.  Maybe she’s the person you call when you need a hand or a hammer or a cup of sugar.  Maybe she’s the one you call when you just need to talk.  Maybe she’s the friend who invited you to church.

Or maybe it’s your dad.  Your dad who has loved you since the day you were born.  Maybe he can’t even sleep he’s in such a tizzy about the election.  Maybe you are worried about his health.

Maybe it’s the military family down the road who lost a son in the war.  Or maybe it’s a mother whose son is away on active duty now and she is terrified and wants him home.

Maybe it’s your brother whose business has fallen on hard times.  He’s worried about payroll and health care benefits.  He’s trying to survive.

You get the point.  The list goes on.

We are all neighbors.  We are all Americans.

So, here’s my plan for November 7th … smile and wave at my neighbor…no matter who wins and no matter who she hoped would win…because I like her.  She’s a good person…a good American…and we need each other.

God bless my neighbor.  And God bless the United States of America.


Romans 13:9 “whatever other commandments there may be, are summed up in this one rule:  ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

(I love to throw that in wherever I can 🙂 It simplifies things for me when I start to get confused by the external noise. )

Here’s a video/song for fun.  Turn it up people.  Trust me.  Turn it up and remember…we are blessed.

©2012 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™ All Rights Reserved
image of flag from google images and http://cajuncottage.blogspot.com/
youtube video by http://www.youtube.com/user/RavenReality
Picture of book by me.  My lucky day! courtesy of Thomas Ford Memorial Library 🙂



The List

Okay so I was feeling pretty sorry for myself the other day.  It was one of those “down in the dumps” days.

Someone asked me what I was doing now that I wasn’t “working” and I had a little hissy fit.  Inside.  I try not to have hissy fits on the outside. 

Inside I was screaming, “Leave me alone! I’m getting the laundry done and food is on the table!” She asked about a book and when is it coming and what have I been writing, etc….she started to sound like the parents on the Peanuts.  “Waaa…waaaa….waaa…”

So I did a little “waa-ing” of my own in my head (Why isn’t the book published? Why isn’t the company making millions?  Why isn’t the bathroom redone?  What have I been doing with my time????)   and then proceeded to be irritated the rest of the day.

Clearly, this brought up some issues for me.

Women have it tough today. I know men have it tough too but I can only write about one at a time and today it’s about the ladies.  Here is what’s on the list for the moms of today:

  1. Look good (Yes, I realize I put this first and it’s pathetic but really, if you do everything else on the list and you look like crap, you have failed in today’s world)
  2. Be skinny (see above)
  3. Be a kind and loving mother (who is also a teacher, doctor, therapist, preacher, cook, trainer, driver)
  4. Be intelligent and educated  (they are not the same and both are expected)
  5. Remember birthdays
  6. Make money in a career that you love and are passionate about
  7. Dress well
  8. Have a beautifully decorated home
  9. Volunteer
  10. Have great sex with your husband
  11. Be a compassionate and available friend
  12. Go out socially for drinks with friends and other couples on a regular basis and text, email and call said friends on a regular basis
  13. Read and be able to discuss everything
  14. Go to church and nurture the spiritual life of your family
  15. Do something important (as in write a book, feed the hungry, go on a mission, go on Oprah, sell out Madison Square Garden, score Justin Beiber concert tickets…) and be able to smile politely when the neighbor brags that she has done all of that and ran 5 miles this morning
  16. Plan ginormous birthday parties for your kids
  17. Keep up with the upkeep – nails, waxing, highlighting, working out, possibly nipping and tucking and botoxing, yoga-ing, breathing, meditating, shopping…the list goes on
  18. Sign up for 3000 camps which means being online and ready for the competitive sign up and find a way to pay for all of it
  19. Plan a carpool that involves spreadsheets and year in advance planning
  20. Plan vacations that will thrill and excite everyone in the family and will impress the neighbors and find a way to pay for it
  21. Eat right and feed your family healthy meals every minute of every day while smiling and asking them about their day
  22. Doctors, eye doctors, dentists, orthodontists, dermatologists, OT, PT, speech, tutors, haircuts – make and keep these appointments for multiple children and yourself and your husband
  23. Play dates – don’t get me started with this one – what ever happened to “Go out and play and don’t come home until dinner” (I think it went away with “Honey, be a doll and fix daddy a martini for the road.”)
  24. Keep up on your kids texts, emails, facebook, twitter, instagram and whatever new way they are communicating with the world

I realize we have choices and we do not have to buy into the culture that tells us to do all of this.  However, even if we have the strength and clarity to be counter-cultural in this arena, we are not immune from questioning ourselves and our choices.  Many women wonder…Am I doing enough?  Am I enough? 

When I was young, I wanted to be a mom.  I really did.  I didn’t think about any of those things on the list.  Only about the love I would give and the love I would get.  Being a mom is sacred business.  I don’t want my kids watching me turning it into a burden and a competition.  I don’t want them to see a mom that isn’t satisfied.  Because the truth is, my dreams did come true. 

I didn’t dream about any of  those things on the list.  I dreamed about love.  And I got it. 


My daughters asked me the other day about when I was young.  They asked me what I had hoped to be “when I grew up”.  It was an enlightening moment.  My answer was really uncool and not want they wanted to hear. I wrote a poem about it.   I want to share it with you.  It’s kind of sad but absolutely true and I believe a sign of our times.  It makes me wonder what will be on the “list” for our daughters if and when they have children of their own.   


My daughters asked me “What did you want to be?”
“A mom” I said.
“But what else?” they asked.
“Nothing” I answered.
“C’mon, nothing else? What did you want to do?” they pressed.
“I wanted you that’s all.  All my dreams came true,” I said with tears in my eyes, stunned by this new realization.
They just walked away.
©2012 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™ All Rights Reserved


©2012 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™ All Rights Reserved