Behold, I am doing a new thing…Isaiah 43:19
Fourteen years is a long time to do something don’t you think? That’s the number of summers the Wohlfert kids have taken livestock to the Clinton County 4-H fair and it’s been one of the best things we’ve ever been a part of. I can’t even begin to write about all the ways 4-H has positively impacted their lives and Dave and I are so grateful for all the 4-H lessons, people and experiences that have helped mold and shape our kids over the past fourteen years. I’m having one of those weepy mornings as I type this post because at the close of the fair tonight it will be time to end this chapter; our fourteen year run will be finished and I’m not gonna lie, I’m having a hard time with that. For those readers who have parented kids through high school you know that senior year is full of “lasts” and last night’s livestock auction was the final high school last for Shannon.
It would take no effort at all on my part to let this ending wash over me like a heavy blanket and dwell on the fact that the Three Little Wohlfert’s have seemingly grown up in a blink right before my very eyes. I might be tempted to get out their baby albums and allow myself to be absolutely swallowed by past memories of chubby cheeks and first steps and cry about how empty my house is going to feel but that’s crazy because that would make this all about me…not them. God blessed Dave and I with three cool kids and it’s been our job to do our best to raise them in a way that would please Him. The greatest goal of any parent is to send great humans out into the world that can make it better. That’s a tall order for sure and the society we live in doesn’t help us much. I think that’s why I’m so grateful for all of our 4-H years because they did help; a lot! The kids were surrounded by great adults who were excellent examples of character, leadership and faithfulness. Each summer dozens of grown-ups who volunteered to be leaders, judges, show organizers and fair board members demonstrated and challenged the kids to be hard working, fair, honest, humble and grateful. I realized this isn’t nearly as much about an ending as it is a beginning.
I remember as a kid, watching the game show Let’s Make A Deal, where contestants had to pick a door. I always liked looking at the contestants faces as they waited anxiously to see what secret prize waited behind their door. Instead of worrying about my empty house, or time that has passed too quickly I’m at the point where I can enjoy my children as they see what unfolds before them. Just like the game show, sometimes they will pick the wrong door and be disappointed but hopefully because of the opportunities and experiences they have had growing up, they will lean on God’s wisdom and he will help them make the choices that will reveal beautiful surprises and blessings. I realize that endings are necessary; tricky sometimes, but necessary because without them, there would be no beginnings. Both require faith, trust and effort and if you do it right, both will leave you stronger, better and a little closer to the one who orchestrated the greatest beginning of all times! When you really think about it, the final ending will lead to the ultimate beginning we’re all aiming for!
A Seed To Plant: Take some time this week to reflect on things in your life that you should begin and things that you should end in order to make room for a new beginning that will lead you closer to the Father.
Blessings on your day!
She is clothed in strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. Proverbs 31:25
How many readers think this verse from Proverbs is talking about them? This past week I crossed paths with a few folks who seemed to be consumed with fear and worry about the future. I can tell you that they were not laughing at the days to come and I struggled to help them move from worry to peaceful faith. As I thought and prayed about these conversations I found this verse and it made me smile.
Have you ever stopped to think about what makes one person worry and another one not worry at all? Some of us look to the future and smile; others look the same direction and feel a pang of worry, dread and maybe even fear. Some might say worrying is just a part of your hard-wiring but I suppose we all carry a little bit of worry with us most days. I read once that there is a big difference between worry and concern. Being concerned about something inspires us to organize, call on resources and to handle things as best we can and leave the rest to God. Worry is more like doing everything possible and still fretting about God being able to do the rest according to your plan.
When the boys were little they had some plastic toy swords and the movie Peter Pan. They would have sword fights anywhere; the barn, kitchen, and yard you name it they would imagine a scene and play like crazy. Surprisingly, there were no casualties until the night they snuck the swords under the covers. The fight that night was a small disaster leaving two little boys with some red marks, a black eye and a giant scrape to the belly. When the dust settled and we were trying to sort it all out, the problem boiled down to the darkness. In the light, they could see and anticipate what was coming but in the darkness of their bedroom they couldn’t anticipate and react to what they couldn’t see coming. They lost their guide and their protection.
The Proverbs 31 woman who can laugh at days to come is one who doesn’t sit in the darkness of worry. Why? What makes her so immune to the worries and woes of the day? I think the answer to that question comes in the first part of the verse; strength and dignity. The really important part of the puzzle though is the realization that the strength and dignity come from God not from the world or within. When we think of strength, we typically think of muscles and physical power which requires work to attain. When we talk about strength from God the opposite is true. In order to be powered by the strength of God we have to do nothing but rest in him and know he will do all the heavy lifting! Gods strength sees all the obstacles and shifts in the path, he simply asks that we let him love us enough to maneuver us through them. If we can’t rely on God’s strength it’s kind of like having a sword fight in the dark; there is no way to anticipate and react to what we can’t see coming.
Laughing at the future doesn’t mean we see what’s coming; it means we are strong enough to face it because we know God will defend, protect and love us through whatever comes our way. He loves us too much to put us in a situation that is beyond what we need. Yes, sometimes we need struggle and difficulty but he knows how much and for what reason. We need to work on laughing at the days to come because when it all boils down to the bottom of the pot, it’s kind of funny that we should worry about something God has already orchestrated right down to the most teeny tiny detail.
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of the things that worry you. Ask God to bring you strength this week as you pray daily for him to transform your worry to peace.
Blessings on your day!
For they have all contribute from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood. Mark 13:4
I have always loved this Gospel because it demonstrates true humility and complete trust in such a beautiful way. I also have to admit that it was a Gospel that also made me very angry and hurt during a difficult time for our family. I left the work world for 12 years to enjoy the blessing of staying home with our kids and when I returned to the work force it was to teach in a Catholic School. There have been times when jealousy pinched me a little as I watched others buy cottages, take exciting vacations and contribute easily to their children’s college education. Thankfully those moments were short lived because I knew that God had a plan for us and those things just weren’t a part of it. We were committed to providing a Catholic education to our children and supporting our Parish financially so there were many times we felt like the widow who had given all she had. Honestly, it’s a great feeling to know that God will meet all our needs because we’ve done all we could to meet his with our finances. We were at peace.
Then came the day when we bought a used car for our kids to drive and the police showed up to take it from us because the man we bought it from had stolen it from an elderly Alzheimer’s patient. He went to court and was ordered to pay us back but the likelihood of that was grim; he had no job, no stability, no family...he was a broken man. We were hurt and angry and out nearly ten thousand dollars. When I prayed for the strength to forgive, show mercy and move on I asked God for a verse and guess where I landed...this Gospel. “Really God”, I screamed, “We’ve given it all, we’ve scraped, and sacrificed and been content without fancy stuff and you point me to this verse as if we haven’t given enough!” It took several days of forcing myself to read and re-read this Gospel but one day I realized that we hadn’t. We hadn’t offered up every last coin of bitterness and resentment toward this man. We hadn’t offered every last coin of thanksgiving that we had been blessed with faith and love and witness that allowed us to provide a very different life for our children than this man’s parents had given him. We hadn’t offered up every last coin of independence. We hadn’t admitted that God is rich and completely trusted that he would continue to meet all of our needs. He really did want it all and when we joyfully presented it all to him, like the widow, we were rich. God’s mercy and peace are amazing. The more we let go of that last coin the more we saw God blessing us and caring for us. What started as a giant bummer turned into a giant lesson in trust and mercy!
A Seed To Plant: What are you hanging on to? What are the coins of great price that prevent you from offering your entire livelihood to God in love and trust?
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