The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
Finding the sacred in everyday life
10 things to make life better this week
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Marketta Gregory never meant to be a columnist. \x34I trained to be a newspaper reporter -- one who tried to her best to be objective. I covered religion for a few years and felt like it was the best job a curious woman like me could ever have. ...
Simply Faithful
Marketta Gregory never meant to be a columnist. I trained to be a newspaper reporter -- one who tried to her best to be objective. I covered religion for a few years and felt like it was the best job a curious woman like me could ever have. Every day I got to listen as people told me about the things that were most important to them, the things that were sacred. But the newspaper industry was changing and few papers could afford to have an army of speciality reporters. So, I moved to cover the suburbs where, as luck would have it, they have plenty of religion, too. Eventually, children came into the picture. One by birth and another two months later by foster care/adoption. I struggled to chase breaking news and be home at a decent hour, so I made the move to what we journalists call the dark side: I took a job in public relations. (Don't worry. I work for a great non-profit, so it's not dark at all.) When I gave my notice at the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, the executive editor asked me to consider writing a column on a freelance basis. She didn't want the newspaper to lose touch with its religious sources, and she still wanted consistent faith coverage. I was terrified. It took me about 10 months to get back to her with a solid plan and some sample columns. And so it began, this journey of opening up my heart to strangers.
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By simplyfaithful
Aug. 11, 2013 12:01 a.m.

Who isn’t interested in a week that makes a soul sing?
A handful of simple suggestions for you and yours…
1. Take time for a handwritten note. Surely you can think of a reason. Someone to thank. Someone to share a joy with. Someone you’d like to send a photo to. (This note card is from LouLouBlue, a company that started after its founder discovered how an uplifting note can start to heal a broken heart.)
2. Enjoy a fine quality ice cream cone. My grandparents had a tradition of eating an ice cream cone with the evening news. Maybe you could get by with that tonight? (My husband found these cones at Wegmans. They have different flavors of cones but I can’t stop eating the chocolate cookie ones.)
3. Put five or six books that you really want to read in one (highly visible) place. We’re trying to get the younger boys in the habit of a morning devotional time, so I arranged some of their books in a wooden box close to our table.
4. Find a young person to admire. Every generation seems to complain about the one that follows. Let’s break that trend this week. If you can’t find any young people you like, borrow one of mine. This is Scott Gordon, one of the newest Eagle Scouts in Rochester, NY. He has already given hundreds of volunteer hours to his church and his community and may continue to serve us all by joining the Navy. He is a young man of honor and integrity.
5. Create something that brings you — or someone else — joy. Those of you who have driven historic Route 66 may have seen the Blue Whale of Catoosa, Okla. It was built as an anniversary gift from husband to wife (an anniversary gift I would have discouraged from my husband) and more than 40 years later, it is still bringing joy to those who stop by to fish or to just stroll along the water’s edge. Your creation doesn’t have to be as large as the Blue Whale, but is there something you could do for a smile?
6. Listen to someone else’s story. Sharing stories is sacred. Can you find time to really listen to someone’s heart this week? If you’d like to find out more about someone but don’t know how to start asking questions, browse this list. If you use Pinterest, consider following my board of family traditions and history. You’ll find plenty of suggestions for saving and documenting family stories.
7. Use cloth napkins. Reducing the number of paper products you use doesn’t have to be a hassle — or even expensive. Use scrap fabric or worn out clothes. Cut squares and hem.
8. Go see a drive-in movie. If there isn’t a drive-in nearby, consider setting up your own in your driveway or backyard.
9. Play until your diaper is fuzzy. Play flag football. Swim in a creek. Chase the kids on the beach until your bottom is dragging. Carve out one day to wear yourself out with something fun.
10. Do something dangerous with your faith — use it. I thought my highlighter might run out of ink when I started reading “Going All In” by Mark Batterson. It’s convicting and challenging. It’s water to all of us who are thirsty for something more from religion. You can read it for yourself when the book releases in September, but for now, here’s a glimpse:
“When did we start believing that God wants to send us to safe places to do easy things?… Jesus didn’t die to keep us safe. He died to make us dangerous. Faithfulness is not holding the fort. It’s storming the gates of hell.”

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