Libby Baker Sweiger

Weaver of Everyday Tales

Archive for the tag “God”

What Is Love?

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Romans 12:9-13 New International Version (NIV)

Love in Action

9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

That’s what love is to me.

I cannot love that way on my own. I am only truly sincere with the love of Jesus in my heart loving others for me. I can only hate evil with His heart inside me winning out over my fickle heart. I can only love and honor other people above myself, if I have surrendered my will to His and am asking for His strength and the power of His Life and Love to Reign in my life.

So how can we live our lives as this type of love in action? Only with our Lord. Not on our own. That is for sure. Even if we think we are doing good for other people. We may be doing it on our own. God may not have asked us to do it. We may just be winging it on our own strength. Kindness comes from within yes. From Jesus within in us, from our Lord’s kindness, not some fake niceties we have manufactured on our own.

On our own we are not genuine. We are only trying hard. Trying and falling short. This is what I have found. I want to serve others. I want to give. I want to live a life of unfettered giving and hospitality. I must do this as the Lord shows me, not on my own ~ or I will fall short. So each day I must surrender myself to him and ask him to show me the opportunities in each new day.

Opportunities to show love. To serve. Love in action. That was Jesus. That was His life. That can be my life, surrendered to Him. Hear my prayer, Oh Lord, precious Savior.

What is Love? You are Lord. Make me more like you and less like just me, I pray. Help me to be “joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Faithful in prayer. That is a good habit. Joyful in hope. Those are beautiful words come true. Patient in affliction, that is a real tough one! Be my strength dear Lord to make me patient in the hard times. Patient in the bad moments. Patient in waiting for the end of the trials. Believing always in you.

And lastly, help me to share. Share of what you have given me always with others. Share myself, my time, my prayers, my resources with those who are in need…and keep my heart and home wide open to practice hospitality, generosity of spirit. For some I know have entertained angels unawares!

Thanks Lord, for your love. For your wisdom. Your teaching. Your blessing. I surrender all.

“People are oft…

“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.” ― Mother Teresa

Don’t Listen To Them: Be Kind Anyway!

Mom's 83 Birthday

Mom’s 83 Birthday

“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”
― Mother Teresa

This world is getting too tough for me. You try to do someone a good turn and the naysayers are everywhere. People are afraid of kindness. Oh my brother and I didn’t get any flack for taking mom out to lunch for her birthday. We were rather a small party considering she turned 83. I don’t mean to sound judgmental, I’m just saying.

People are very busy these days and don’t take the time they used to help each other out it seems to me. This week I did some driving for a friend and the naysayers said, that’s his responsibility, why doesn’t he get a car? Never mind he’s just getting on his feet.

When did we lose our sense of community and helping each other out? What about friendship? What about kindness? What about caring and unselfish giving to our friends?

I feel like I’m on a bit of a rant here and you can take me with a grain of salt if you like, but ask yourself this question, when was the last time you went out of your way to help someone other than yourself or a member of your family? Do you think you should? I don’t mean with money, but with giving of yourself and your time?

I think we have lost this quality in our society. I think we are losing it. I don’t think we are connecting with our needs and helping people where they need help. I think people are afraid to ask because they are sure they’ll be turned down. I know I am sometimes.

We all need people we can count on. We all need fellow human beings we can turn to when we need help. We need someone to pitch in to help us get through the day. Do you have people like that in your life? Are you that person in someone’s life? In a few people’s lives?

I know we can’t all be a Mother Teresa. Be we can be helpful to others in some small way we are asked to be. I know we can. We can answer the call to be kind. If we do this world will change ~ at least our corner of it.

The next time you feel the urge to do a favor for someone else, do yourself a favor and do it! You will reap the benefits of feeling love for that person and feeling loved and appreciated back. You will reap the rewards of kindness. What are they? Happiness, joy, peace, blessing, little things like that!

Kind people have purpose in life. They are giving and receiving the blessing of doing so. Their hearts are expanding not contracting, getting bigger and fuller, and they are increasing their capacity to give of themselves.

Kindness grows, it echoes as the quote below demonstrates. So spread a little kindness with your family and friends and feel your heart grow. Love and blessings! Libby

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”
― Mother Teresa

The Greatest of These is Love!

I  Corinthians 13:13

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (NKJV)

My husband Mike and I were  married on July 27, 1979 at Colonial Church of Edina. It was a ceremony that we planned ourselves, involved our dearest friends in and gave our hearts to in every way. One thing we did that was especially meaningful for is was to recite the entire love chapter from the New Testament, I Corinthians 13 back and forth to each other one verse at a time. It is a powerful, beautiful chapter and so much of it has remained in my heart and is there for meditation. I read it, and I treasure the memory of it. I like to try to recite it in my head to this day. “If I speak with the tongues  of men and of angels but have not love I am as a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” That part gave me pause today when I lost my temper at a circumstance in my life. Not at Mike. I was frustrated. But he heard the brunt of it. Boy was I a NOISY GONG. Not my best moment!

Later as we were reflecting on the evening before sleep, we remembered the doctor had given me a medication to take for a few days, effective in stopping rebound headaches —  a cortisone type medicine. The side effects are sleeplessness and irritability. AH HA we said. That’s where that came from. It’s not like me to blow my stack like that. I felt so badly for the calm dear man I married who heard me.

For better or worse, in sickness and in health. God has prepared us for the health problems that have taken their toll on both of us. Nothing so serious as to give is cause to fear for life or limb, except maybe once. But, they have been enough to be wearing and came mostly from me. Now we believe we are seeing the end of them for a while and rejoice in the goodness of our Lord and His faithfulness through it all.

I am especially thankful for Mike. Dear one, patient, strong and always kind. Best friend of my heart and mind. Caring and loving man that I married. I will always think the best of him, do the best for him and trust him with my life. He won my heart, earned my trust my faith in him and he is filled himself with the faith of the Lord. I honor, respect him and find him wonderful, funny and huggable. The rest is ours.

Thanks Lord tonight and every night for this good man you gave me. Bless him. Bless his days and his health and work. Lead he and I in your way everlasting. Thank you for the gift of unselfish, giving Godly love and all the wonderful kinds of love!

“When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”

– (Harry Burns) WHEN HARRY MET SALLY

Christmas: Sadness Mixed With Joy

Christmas is a time of great joy.

“For unto us born a Savior who is Christ the Lord.

It is also a time of sorrow. For many people Christmas, Thanksgiving, holiday celebrations can overwhelm them with a sense of loss for those who aren’t there to celebrate with them. They have loved ones who have gone on before them in death, have left in divorce, have died prematurely before knowing a Christmas, or perhaps only knew one. People who lose children are very susceptible to the blues I think, being one of them. So how to handle the holiday blues before they handle you?

Sometimes you can’t. Sometimes you just have to let yourself experience them. But, fight going too low. The healthy hurting of a partly broken holiday heart is manageable. Full blown depression, no matter the time of year requires treatment immediately.

Well I’m writing in the abstract, let me just say, I’m having a bit of trouble this year. I’m missing my little girl and little boy who have unfortunately and unnaturally gone ahead of me. And as for the daughter I delightfully got to raise, it’s not looking as though she will be coming home for Christmas. Nor is my dad coming up.

So right now I am telling myself to snap out of it which is kind of a joke in our family. We are all so sympathetic and empathetic it’s rather the opposite of the way we relate to each other, but we’re fond of saying it to ourselves!

And I’m counting my blessings. I’m so thankful Mike came through his recent surgery so well. And I’m taking the focus off of myself and focusing on others and my Christmas projects, like Christmas cards and decorating and normal things like work.

And I’m praying for my friends to be well for Christmas. Friends who have much more challenging lives that I. Like Heather Siebens who lives in constant pain and Mary Triviski who has recurrent viral Meningitis.

And I am thanking God for the fullness of my life. The new client whose project I start in two days. And the Birthday party we’re having for dad in our party room on the 29th of December that will gather the whole family at last. I am the hub of party planning central.

So now I am smiling. Writing always makes me happy and I found this great quote about the bittersweet emotions surrounding Christmas:

“In this way Penelope’s happy and sad feelings got all mixed up together, until they were not unlike one of those delicious cookies they have nowadays, the ones with a flat circle of sugary cream sandwiched between two chocolate-flavored wafers. In her heart she felt a soft, hidden core of sweet melancholy nestled inside crisp outer layers of joy, and if that is not the very sensation most people feel at some point or other during the holidays, then one would be hard pressed to say what is.”
― Maryrose Wood

Mike & I Thanksgiving 🙂

I wish all of you a very Happy Holiday Season, whatever you celebrate and a very Merry Christmas too! Here is a picture of Mike and I taken at his cousin Becky’s at Thanksgiving. Isn’t he looking well? Love to you all! Libby

Nothing To Fear

In the Depths God is There by Mark Chatwin

When we were kids we believed in things that go bump in the night. We had our dad check under our beds for the boogey men. Not every night, but some nights when TV was too scary or 2nd grade too overwhelming. And there was an old wives’ tale going around that said if you were falling in your sleep and didn’t wake up before you landed you would die. Now I believed that one for sure. I don’t know what reliable soul told me that one, but I believed it. I fell in my dreams, but I always woke up before I landed. Whew! I’d think to myself and go back to sleep. I used to dream all the time I could fly too. I had bad dreams, but also very fun, freeing, wonderful dreams.

Now I’ve mentioned that I was very ill with bi-polar disorder when they first discovered it. Probably because my boy Davey was very sick and I had to keep him going. I used all my physical and emotional stores to care for him, so that when the illness hit me, I didn’t have a lot left to fight it with. It hit me hard. And then little Davey died after I’d been in the hospital about 1 month or so. With that to absorb I got worse. I had excellent care, and many people loved me and were praying for me. Yet many days it felt like I was fighting very hard and going nowhere.

Before I got sick my favorite Psalm was 139 and when I was feeling really bad I would recite it to myself, as much as I could remember:

Psalm 139
1 O lord, thou hast searched me, and known me.
2 Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.
3 Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.
4 For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.
5 Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.
7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.
12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

One night I was lying in my bed trying to sleep. Sleep was the hardest thing for me, because it was hard for me to quiet my mind and get peaceful. I was just lying there fretting about this and that. All of a sudden, I heard the still small voice within me say “let go”. Let Go? That isn’t right I’ve gotta fight this thing. Persistently the thought was there, “Let Go.” Finally I let myself relax and inwardly say okay. Suddenly I felt myself falling fast and hard not like in a dream, more like in a horror flick. I thought, oh no I’m going to die. I’m not ready to die. I don’t want to die I want to live, please Dear God, let me live. I kept falling and falling and falling. Then I landed, not hard, but soft and gently. And I didn’t die, nor did I feel awake. I felt surrounded by the warmest, strongest, most all-encompassing, dearest love I had every felt or even imagined. I knew it was the amazing love of God.

Then it struck me I had hit the very depths and God was there. I had gone as low as my soul could go, and God was there surrounding me his love. And then I knew like the Psalmist, that I could climb to the highest heavens and descend to the deepest depths and no matter where I went the love of God would be there before me. “If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost part of the sea, even there will thy had lead me and thy right had will hold me.” I was sick, but I was no longer afraid.

My doctors said that from that night forward, I started to get well. They didn’t need to tell me, I knew I was, but it was very nice to hear.

When God Found Me

I was always really curious about God. I remember driving my Sunday school teachers down at Hennepin Avenue Church crazy with questions. How can we talk to God? How does He talk to us? How do we know He will answer our prayers. How can we get into Heaven?

It bothered me a lot that they didn’t have answers for most of my questions. I had asked my grandmother Meme, a Methodist — and all I got was — try your best and be a good girl and hope you get in. The vagueness of the reply troubled me greatly. Also I didn’t think I was a particularly good little girl. I teased my little brothers, sometimes my sister and didn’t help my mom enough! When I got older, 7th grade I remember getting mad and saying bad things in my head at the minister’s sermons because he sounded so vague and irritatingly non-committal about everything. When I thought about my questions and my thoughts later, I was sure a girl who was mean to a minister — even in her head — was not headed for anyplace too good at all! This continued on until I turned 13 and was in the 8th grade in Jr. High.

Now let me preface this by saying that I believe I had a big old hole in my heart. I believe I was missing God and I also know I was missing my dad. Now my parents had separated four years earlier and divorced when I was 10. I saw my dad every weekend and intellectually I comprehended the thing and was even behind it. I did not believe my parents belonged together. My dad was also much happier with my step mom, who I really liked and who really liked me and all the kids. My sister Sara, their only child hadn’t come along yet. But despite all this, I was a daddy’s girl. One who had followed my dad around every minute of my life until the day he left and I just plain missed him fiercely. After he moved out he treated us more and more like a grandfather than a dad I thought. He wanted all our time together to be special I imagine, so he spoiled us a bit and didn’t discipline us much…well we were probably on our best behavior too…at least that was my child’s impression. So I missed my dad. The one who used to YELL, Elizabeth Diane Baker if I was in trouble! The firm hand of guidance, and the safety I felt in that.

I didn’t know what to do with my new-found freedom, so a big part of me was looking for God. Probably the best idea I could have had. That all brings me back to the year I was 13 and in the 8th grade. I was walking home from school one day. I probably missed the bus because it was a two mile walk and I didn’t usually make my way on foot. I was passing by a church and noticed some pretty cool looking kids hanging out, playing in the side yard. I went over and talked to them, liked their banter and decided I’d go there the next Sunday when they asked. As the oldest child in the family I had certain privileges, as well as the safety of our neighborhood and those long ago times. When I told my mom I was walking to a new church on Sunday she let me go! My family drove down to Hennepin Avenue and I walked on a sunny spring day to Colonial Church of Edina and sat myself down in one of the pews.

Well, what did you know but my quest had ended? God had found me! On that sunny side street among friendly, playing children He had set the stage for me to walk right into a place that didn’t intellectualize tired old dogma, but told the story of the New Testament and the love of God in His son Jesus. I was home!

So that’s why I say God found me. Sure I was looking. But I think He set a pretty attractive trap and caught Himself a Libby and changed the course of her whole life! What do you think? Oh, by the way, my mom and my sister and brothers followed me to that church. It was great driving with the family again. We all felt we were home.

Growing Up Close!

I like this quote because it reminds me so much of holidays and Sunday dinners with my brothers and sisters, my cousins, auntie and uncle, mom and dad, Grandpa and Meme — as we called my maternal grandmother:

“I like to see people reunited, I like to see people run to each other, I like the kissing and the crying, I like the impatience, the stories that the mouth can’t tell fast enough, the ears that aren’t big enough, the eyes that can’t take in all of the change, I like the hugging, the bringing together, the end of missing someone.”
― Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

We had such fun together, such incredible fun. We all talked at once when we first got together as if we hadn’t seen each other in ages. Things never quieted down from there, but we did organize. We each had matching cousins. Somehow my mom and her sister had managed to have their children at about the same time. We each had a cousins in our same grade in school. Linda and I came the closest, the first-borns, being only one week apart in age! Now that had to be a little miracle! I think then everyone liked it and tried to keep it up from that time on. 🙂 My sister Suzy had Marnie, my brother Bill broke with tradition and had little Muffy for his twin cousin and my brother Scott had David. Then my parents separated and broke the streak — and my cousins kept coming with a delightful bonus: Danny!

Here is a recent picture of my beloved childhood playmate and lifelong friend…my cousin Linda and I at my brother Bill’s wedding this summer:

Linda and I

When I said we got organized at our family gatherings I meant we broke into groups and put together plays and entertainment for the grownups as we always called them! How this got started I’m not sure, but it was in our blood. My grandparents were both wonderful at acting, Meme in school and Grandpa was the best Scrooge ever in The Christmas Carol at Hennepin Avenue Methodist Church for many years! We performed for their delight, praise, laughter and applause. And our parents’ too of course. Whose did we covet the most? My grandfather’s. He had the biggest, deepest, most wonderful laugh in the world. What a fabulous time we all had and the love was thick in the air! Of the nine of us, I acted in High School and College and my brother Scott went on to act professionally!

The bonus for me was that years later — when I was hospitalized for bi-polar disorder — that hit me at 9 months post-partum with my second child, Davey I had a this wonderful hugging bunch of people in my corner. Meme came to visit me nearly every day and brought me my favorite: red licorice. My grandfather was too sensitive. I cannot imagine he would have been able to see me in there, but perhaps he did. His heart was so tender that he wept when he said grace for our brood on Sundays and every holiday I remember. He loved us so much. So did Meme, but I think she was made of sterner stuff.

I’m so happy they lived long enough to see me happily married to Mike. We were a happy foursome for two years before my grandfather passed at the age of 83. He loved Mike. And why not? They are a lot alike! Tender-hearted family men who laugh and cry at the triumphs of their family!

My grandfather had many wonderful sayings. He loved to scramble words up and say things backwards like, “You’re feeling well, how are you looking?” And we would howl with laughter! His best one ever was after we had spent a glorious wonder-filled, laughter-busting-out-all-over hugs and love fest day together at he and Meme’s house he’d say goodbye with a big smile and tears in his eyes: “Come again when you can’t stay so long!” Hahaha Love you Grandpa! Next time I see you we will be seeing each other forever! 🙂 Love, Lib

A Mother’s Ring

Davey and I Laughing!

“A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.”
― Carl Sandburg

Davey was not my first baby, he was my second. I think about this story often in the fall. My first baby was a girl named Shirley Deborah. Though sometimes people talk about little Davey who lived nearly a year and was a joy to all who knew him, no one ever mentions little Shirley and she is all but forgotten, except to me. She was a lovely dark-haired baby girl like her sister Abby who was born healthy and strong 7 years later. Little Shirley appeared healthy, but was a preemie, only 7 month gestation and she died, unfortunately while I was in labor in October of my 23rd year. They were preparing for a preemie and I’ll never forget when the inconsiderate doctor yelled out when she was born: No need to get ready for a preemie! But the nurses who tended me were angels. Their names: Shirley and Deborah. They told me just what she looked like and encouraged me to hold her and bond with her and mourn her passing. I couldn’t do it. I was so young. I felt she was torn out of me like the infected placenta that had cut off her blood supply and killed her. I didn’t want to bond. I was afraid my heart would break. Now I wish I had. All the memory I have of her is of a tiny casket on a hillside, that is until now and the mother’s ring, but I’m skipping ahead.

The very foolish small town doctor that delivered her so insensitively said we could get pregnant right away again and we did. This time we went full term. Davey was born. At 6 pounds 7 ounces he was no giant, but he looked healthy and we rejoiced. Our joy was short-lived because the next day the pediatrician said he must be moved to Children’s Hospital downtown because he had a bad heart murmur. We stayed in a hotel near the hospital and I stood with him every day and barely cared for myself, hoping and praying him back to health. At two weeks he went into heart failure, we called my now ex-husband from school (seminary) and kept vigil. I tried and prayed so hard to put him in God’s hands during his angiogram. He did not die, he started to improve! We had him for 11 glorious months. He was a precious gift! But our little angel was not made for this world, he had a very complicated heart problem and what we didn’t know….didn’t have a spleen. His first cold killed him. No one’s fault. No one could have known. Our precious Davey was gone. And so it would seem was my ex. Still wounded from the loss of Shirley, he couldn’t bear to look at me, so I was without my little family. But not alone. My own family rallied around. My faith in my Lord gave me strength…eventually I began to live again. And now I have two stones for my ring.

A year after my divorce I met and later married the dearest man on the planet. Three years into the marriage, we got pregnant with my darling Abby girl.

Me, Abby and Mike

She was and is healthy and strong and a treasure for her dad and I. Abigail in Hebrew means her Father’s joy or Initiator, Life Giver of Joy! And she truly is!

Last night I ordered a mother’s ring at my husband’s encouragement. In it are the names and birthstones of your children. No longer will Shirley be my secret and Davey rarely talked about for everyday. I will wear on my right ring finger a gold band with the names: Shirley, Davey and Abby on it and each of their birthstones. Now this mother’s heart won’t be kept in darkness, but live free in the light of day!

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