All hard work brings a profit...Proverbs 14:23
I sat in the bleachers again last night and watched my daughter play her last regular season volleyball game this year and I realized that volleyball and my Christian walk have some things in common.
As I sat watching the ball zing across the net and then back again, I realized that the sin in my life was like that too. I might think I resolve them and move on but sometimes, just like that little white ball, they come back again and I have to think and move quickly to get it out of my life. How quickly I forget our human nature leads us to sin and instead of wishing it would just go away, I should get more confident in planning my defense.
Sometimes the challenges in life resemble the speed of the ball coming across the net. Every now and again you can see them coming at you like a nice, easy high free ball. Other times they fire at you like a kill from above the net. Most of the time I can gather myself and make a good defense, but every now and again things hit you so hard you just go down and need a minute to recover. How quickly I forget each of those challenges, especially the ones that really pound me down are God's way of showing me how much I need Him.
I love the look on a servers face as she watches for the official anticipating that whistle to serve. In that moment all eyes are waiting for the approval of the one in charge...the whole gym is at a pause until that sound. How quickly I forget God has the whistle and it would serve me well to pause more often and wait for his signal before trying to manage everything on my own. He, just like that official can see everything involved and won't let something begin until it's all in order.
Ideally, the ball should be hit three times before going back over the net to the opposing side. One person can't be responsible for all three hits, in requires teamwork. How quickly I forget I'm not in this life alone. It's ok to ask for help and to depend on someone else. The greatest help of all also comes in a set of three...Father, Son and Holy Spirit. That's a pretty unstoppable defense when I think about it.
The whole game was a reminder to me about how we were not created to be solitary creatures. We were created to need and depend on and trust both man and God. The harder we work together, the better the outcome! I love it when the Father allows me to see something old with new eyes!
A Seed To Plant: Take a hard look at something that regularly
happens in your week and see how it might connect to your Christian walk.
Blessings on your day!
That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith as you are
being rooted and grounded in love. Ephesians 3:17
I really needed to stay home and catch up on the laundry. I really needed to check a stack of papers. I really needed to scrub the kitchen floor and write a couple blog posts. I really, really needed to plan for the class of 100 high school students I’m teaching Monday night. Mostly, I really needed to sit still for a minute and catch my breath after three crazy busy weeks. I was however, reminded that God had already planted a seed and encouraged me to make other plans for Friday night and Saturday. I was speaking at and participating in the Transforming Love Women’s Conference. As I rushed home from school and wrestled with my panty hose and got tangled up in my curling iron cord preparing to head off to the conference and take the stage Friday evening I was excited to go but I was being teased by the thought of sweat pants, hot coffee and my cozy flowered chair in the living room.
As usual, the Holy Spirit took over and confirmed that following the nudge of Christ is always the best plan! The conference was spectacular! Simply being in the presence of more than 1,100 other women of faith was uplifting and energizing! The music, the speakers, the Mass and the energy were so inspiring to my weary spirit! I’ve been speaking for many years but Friday night I had a first! I’m still surprised that the Holy Spirit put the words in my mouth but as I concluded my presentation I raised my hand and prayed a blessing over the audience…it just slipped out…not in my power point or my thoughts or my plans…it just came spilling out! I blinked and gulped and thought…oh my, that was something new. As the audience stood and clapped a Dominican Sister in the third row shouted out, in her thick New Jersey accent, “we need to bless Sheri”. The entire audience raised their hands and prayed a blessing over me led by the nun from Jersey. It was amazing! The theme of the conference was Transforming Love and little did I know a transformation would happen in me.
Saturday the energy and transformation continued! The conference center was filled with so many women looking for ways to live their faith, share their faith and love bigger, harder and more compassionately. During one of the
breaks I sat in the lobby and just watched and listened. It was good for the
spirit to see so many hugs and hear so much laughter and friendliness, it was a refreshing change of pace that leaves a mark…I’m still grinning!
There were so many great messages and examples from the day but the ones that hit my heart the hardest were the stories of God’s transforming love in the lives of some regular people. We heard from an absolutely beautiful woman named Amy who is a mother of 4. She is a tiny lady who stands like a giant in her witness of God’s amazing love. Amy was married to a police officer who was killed in the line of duty and she shared her story of God’s transforming love as she wades through her grief. Within hours of her husband’s death, she went to Mass and then sat before a news camera and demonstrated the ultimate act of God’s love and forgave her husband’s killer. Nothing but the love of God is strong enough to allow someone to do something like that. She amazed me and inspired me! A lovely and visibly peaceful woman named Eileen shared her story of betrayal, loss, wrong decisions, desperation and finally healing and peace compliments of the love of Christ. The third speaker came as a pair; husband and wife. This amazing couple lived every parent’s nightmare when their daughter and some of her friends were killed in a car accident. I sat tearfully listening to their story; it wasn’t about their grief but rather the public love and forgiveness they offered their daughters friend who was driving and survived the crash. They reached out to share God’s transforming love with her, in spite of their own loss, pain and grief. They simply did what they would have wanted done if it had been their child driving. The strength and love that flowed from them was overwhelming to my heart and my tear ducts! The common denominator to all their stories was God’s love and their message was not… “Look what we’ve done”…it was “look what God’s done to us and through us!” It was incredible!
I think the Lord is very happy when we go to church on Sunday; He’s happy because it’s what He expects from us…it’s spelled out right in the commandments but I think He wants more than that! He certainly gave me WAY more than an empty laundry hamper, shiny floor or pile of corrected first grade phonics and math papers! He had something far greater in mind for me this weekend…He wanted to SHOW me how amazing His love
is. He wants to show all of us but we have to go out and look for the lessons sometimes. It takes effort to go to a conference or a seminar. Sometimes it’s even hard to carve out an hour to listen to a speaker at church…but it can be so amazing if you do. We have to love Him enough to let Him show us His love by bringing His truth and message into our hearts. The next time someone invites you to go to an event and the topic is faith…please say YES! Say YES as quickly as you would if you had been invited to a ball game or a shopping trip or a concert…I guarantee you will be glad you
A Seed To Plant: Make a promise to attend some event that will deepen your relationship with Christ before the end of 2013…then ask the Holy Spirit to show when and where that might be.
Blessings on your day!
For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord...Jeremiah 29:11
How many times do we hear the world tell us BE GREAT! Since the beginning of time, greatness has been important. I guess someone has to be in charge and have power but I'm not sure that makes them great. I'm not sure money, stuff or position are the best indicators of how great you are but it seems like we live in a world that uses those very things as the benchmark.
I found some perfect words to put this in perspective. I'm going to borrow these words from one of my favorite authors, Matthew Kelly. I hope he doesn't mind and I hope they touch your heart and serv as a reminder of the true definition of greatness.
"Do you want to be great? Born in a stable...served all men...was criticized for His attempts to live and proclaim the truth...and He suffered. He was the greatest. If you want to be great, be little."
A Seed To Plant: Ponder Mr. Kelly's words and see if you can find some ways to grow in greatness.
Blessings on your day!
God will command His angels to guard you in all of your ways.
I’m not quite sure what I have done in this life to deserve all the blessings God gives me but last week He outdid Himself! Once you read what three of my little lovelies had to tell me, you’ll realize why I feel so abundantly blessed to be their teacher.
It all began with a simple assignment in the handwriting book…but it led to something so big it took my breath away. Page 27 asked the children to draw a picture of their Guardian Angel and answer the question, “How does your Guardian Angel help you?” I got lots of the beautiful standard answer, “He protects me” and “She keeps me safe.” “He plays baseball when I do and watches over me.” I love those answers because that is truly how they see it and they feel so lucky and safe when they think about God’s loving guardian for them. It really is one of my favorite pages in the whole book! After several minutes, one of the little lovelies brought up her book and read it to me. In her beautiful handwriting she had written “My Guardian Angel helps me be the best version of myself.” I stood there in weepy silence just looking at her sweet smile. Wow! My heart was so tickled at her response and I sat there listening to the next few students with a deep warm smile and then it happened again! A truly adorable and compassionate little boy came to the front of the line and read, “My Guardian Angel maks me good be cus sum tims I be a little bit notty but then my Guardian Angel halps me.” It was complete with a picture of a flying angel in the clouds and a little boy standing on the grass. The angel had a speech bubble that said “You be good!” I was misty-eyed with the happiest and proudest tears ever.
Just as we were ready to move on with our day, one last little lovely brought over his book. He is always one of the first ones to finish and I hadn’t noticed that he hadn’t reported in yet. When he showed me his book, I noticed his page was full and I could feel an avalanche coming on…and that’s exactly what I got! He had written, “ He helps me to know God. To love God. To glourify God. To adore God. Give thanks to God. Do good sacrifisis. Respect othurs. Do good deeds. Tell othurs abowt God.” All I had were tears of enormous blessing and joy! I was inspired by the depth and beauty of his answer to say the least!
These little lovelies are 7 and they were this inspired by one simple sentence. They “GET IT” they know what their mission in life is and they
know who will help them get it done. They amaze me and I’m so glad I have a way to share their faith, wisdom and simple, sincere love of God with all of you. The next time you’re tempted to think a child is too young to understand something, ask them anyway…you may just have your breath taken away!
A Seed To Plant: Rent or borrow (no need to have your own) a child and
have a conversation about God, Jesus, angels or saints. You just may be in for the greatest Theology lesson of the week!
Blessings on your day!
So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. John 5:19
I find genetics absolutely amazing! Parent teacher conference night is one of my favorite events of the school year because I love seeing how the kids resemble or imitate their parents. It’s fascinating to see how things just seem to “run in the family.” Sometimes academic or athletic ability seem to seep into each new generation. The same can be said for musical, theater or artistic talents too.
I started reading a new book last week and there was a chapter on prayer. The author, Matthew Kelly talked about the “prayer giants” from each generation that just seemed to hold the whole family together like glue with their constant prayers. It made me wonder if praying could be genetic too. After several days of careful thought I’ve decided becoming a prayer giant is about more than genetics or birth order. I don’t think prayerfulness is inherited like a great jump shot or speedy feet; I think it’s learned or developed by following a great example. Who is the prayer giant in your family? If I were a bettin woman, I would be willing to bet you called to mind someone older than you as the prayer giant in your family. I’ll admit, so did I at first…but then I gave it some more thought and I came up with a different idea.
What if there were more than one prayer giant in the family? What if a prayer giant was little? Then I really began thinking about what makes someone a prayer giant. I have a little boy in my class this year that can get more absorbed and lost in prayer than most adults …and I am amazed! I have two little lovelies who are always the last to get ready for recess and the past few days they ask before going out if I’d like them to say a prayer they know...and I am touched! I had the privilege of hauling a small group of teenage girls somewhere and they spent the entire trip discussing the ways God is working in their lives and praying together…and I am inspired! I attended a healing prayer service last Sunday and I was amazed at the number of children and teenagers enthusiastic about being prayed over…and I am awestruck. We have a new pastor in our parish who has a prayerfulness and faith about him that changes people…and I am thankful. I had a visit with the beautiful grandmother of one of my little lovelies recently and as she hugged me and told me thank you, she prayed over me as comfortably as if she were reporting the day’s weather…and I am blessed. In the book it made it seem like each family had “one” prayer giant but what if each family had more? Wouldn’t that make a difference! What if instead of trying to figure out who the prayer giant in your family is…you decided to become the prayer giant! That would leave a mark on the world for sure!
Our first response to anything should be prayer…prayer in times of thankfulness, prayer in times of sorrow, prayers in times of celebration,
prayer in times of sickness and health. What if we demonstrated to everyone we love that prayer is where we always begin and everything that happens after that will be better. What if we trained, inspired and taught so many prayer giants by our good example that instead of looking to see who the prayer giant was, we would be searching to see who it wasn’t!
I haven't finished the book, but I have given lots of thought to the actions of the prayer giants I know so here's how I think it begins; 1) Set aside the first 10 minutes of the day to speak with God, ask for His guidance and invite Him into your heart and your day. 2) Make a list of everyone who needs prayer or blessing and put it in your pocket. 3) Throughout the day make sure you are praying for people more than you’re talking about people. 4) Every time you are compelled to complain…about anything say a prayer for one of the people on your list instead. 5) Pray for each person in your family by name every day. 6) End your day by telling God thank you for every blessing of the day followed by an apology for all the places you fell a little short. Even giants start out small! If we all begin here, we just might make prayerfulness genetic!
A Seed To Plant: Begin the 6 steps for becoming a prayer giant TODAY!
Blessings on your day!
Yet we are courageous, and we would rather leave the body and go
home to the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:8
Sorry I missed everyone last Thursday…after 16 months of Thursday posts, it felt strange not putting one up….it just didn’t feel like Thursday! I flew to Kansas for a couple days and it was great to “go home” and Thursday night it was also great to “come home”…I’m so blessed to have two great homes!
The trip was terrific! I had a chance to speak at a youth leadership conference which was a blast! One of the guests in the audience that day was my favorite high school teacher…I’m sure everyone thought we looked EXACTLY the way we did back in 1982! I had a chance to visit my old high
school and surprise three former classmates who all work in the school. I got to visit with best friends, old friends, new friends and family…it was perfect! As wonderful as it was, coming home was even better. I was met at the airport with a giant hug from my lovely daughter and outside was my handsome husband ready to take my bag, kiss my cheek and haul me home. The house was all in order and it’s a great feeling to be welcomed home with a huge squeeze from a teenage son who isn’t even hungry!
Then if that wasn’t enough, Friday morning the hugs, high fives, smiles
and hello’s from my little lovelies made me feel like the luckiest woman
As I curled into bed Friday night I was overcome with the thought of coming home and I realized that the warm feelings in my heart as I replayed the events of the past few days would absolutely pale in comparison to the joy
and warmth Christ will feel when He welcomes us home! I think it’s so easy to settle in to the comforts of our home and our life here on earth and not even realize this is nothing compared to the welcome home we were created to receive. It took a lot of work to get ready to leave my little lovelies. First graders do something different every 10 minutes so the plans and the collection of “stuff and supplies” that had to be organized and left behind
for the substitute teacher was almost enough to convince me to stay here. But…God is good, it all got done and he sent a spectacular woman to substitute so I could go on my way. Going home to heaven is a little like that I think! It takes a lot of work to get ready. We just can’t wake up one morning and say…hey I think I’ll go to heaven! It’s a trip that takes lots of planning and preparation but it’s so worth it!
I spent a day with my beautiful Aunt Mary. She has stage 4 cancer so it was a day of every emotion! We were talking about the things that make home and family and life on earth great. The book of Revelation describes heaven as something so much more magnificent than earth. I told her making that
correlation in our head and our heart would have been as hard as Henry Ford looking so proudly at his Model-T and trying to compare it to a modern day Cadillac…the differences are so drastic his mind simply wouldn’t have been able to comprehend it.
It’s been said that home is where the heart is…it is a wise thing to check your heart and make sure it is in the presence of God because we don’t
want to miss out on the greatest “Welcome Home” party ever…the one we will receive in heaven. Don’t forget to spend time each day getting ready for that party.
A Seed To Plant: Do something special to welcome home the people you share your home with. If you live alone, do something to welcome home a neighbor. Remind them it’s just a sample of the joy that awaits as we prepare for our heavenly welcome home.
Blessings on your day!
For the Glory of Your name deliver us… Psalm79:9
Humm…that’s a thought! How many times have we asked to be delivered from something? Maybe we ask to be delivered from an illness an inconvenience, a temptation or danger. We ask God to rescue us from situations all the time. I don’t know about you, but I’m usually asking to be delivered from something because it will make things easier for me. If I pray for deliverance it’s all about what God can do for me.
I was sitting in mass with my twenty little lovelies Friday morning and for the first time in 5 weeks I felt like I could truly settle in and focus. The difference between a September first grader and an October first grader is huge. They are getting used to the routine and they know what to do during mass so my eyes aren’t continuously scanning the pews to make sure everyone is “ok” and “in-focus”. As I tuned in, I heard these words from Psalm 79 and they had all new meaning to my ears and my heart. I guess I had always
pictured people being delivered for their own good and not really for God’s
glory. There have been plenty of times I’ve been delivered and I have spoken to God with a grateful heart but still, it was all about me! This Psalm made me realize sometimes God works in ways designed specifically to make people take notice of His greatness.
The next time I feel the need to be delivered from something I will remember to give God permission to work through the situation for His glory. That means I might have to wait a little longer for Him to deliver me…which means I have to be patient…and trusting…and understanding! Boy He can be so bossy can’t He! I suppose if I look at it with new eyes, I’ll realize that being in a situation that I need to be delivered from is sort of a privilege because through that situation I have a chance to glorify the God who loves me and will most certainly deliver me in His perfect timing. I guess when it all boils down to the bottom of the pot it looks something like this; We get in a pickle…we ask God to deliver us…then we wait patiently for His delivery…He delivers us in an amazing way and in the meantime Glory is given to God Almighty, which by the way is the purpose we were created for anyway. I guess if we do it right, that makes us not just the distressed and delivered, but the glory helpers too.
Thank you little lovelies for being so calm and prayerful at Mass that this message could hit my heart!
A Seed To Plant: The next time you need to cry out to the Lord for help, be sure you tell Him you’d be happy to help bring glory to Him through your situation. Let us know how that turns out!
Blessings on your day!
“The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knows them that trust in him.” Nahum 1:7
We’ve seen those four words a million times as we handle coins…In God We Trust. We see them on currency so often we may have even become unaware of their presence or their meaning in regard to these great United States of America. Since a surprise lesson on patriotism Tuesday morning, I see those words with new eyes.
The day began like any other, nearly 20 teachers and staff lined up across the basketball court facing 270 some St. Mary’s students ready to say Morning Prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance, but on Tuesday we were joined by some very special guests. There were three VFW members and one member of the Ladies Auxiliary among us. These honored guests had come to do a lesson on the Pledge and the proper way to handle the American flag. As I listened to them passionately explain the meaning of our Nations Pledge I was touched by their love for the country they had been called into war to defend. I always tell my little lovelies that we’re never too old to learn new things and Tuesday morning was proof of that statement. I want to share what I learned about folding the flag because its symbolism is as rich in patriotism as it is in Faith. Perhaps you are a much wiser American than I am and all of my new knowledge will be old stuff to you, but just in case you didn’t know that the flag is folded 13 times for 13 different reasons, maybe you’d like to read on a little bit farther. Here is what those 13 folds symbolize.
First fold) A symbol of life Fold2) A symbol of our belief in eternal life Fold 3) Made in honor and remembrance of the veterans departing our ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the defense of our county to attain peace throughout the world Fold 4) Represents our weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in times of war, for His Divine guidance Fold 5) A tribute to our country for in the words of Stephen Decaur, “Our country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right, but it is still our Country right or wrong” Fold 6) For where our hearts lie; where we place our hand when we say the pledge Fold 7) A tribute to all Armed Forces, for it is through them that we protect our country and our flag against all her enemies, whether they be found within or beyond the borders of our republic Fold 8) A Tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day Fold 9) A tribute to womanhood and Mothers. For it has been through their faith, their love, their loyalty and their devotion that the character of the men and women, who have made this country great, has been molded Fold 10) A tribute to Fathers, for they too have given Sons and Daughters for the defense of our country Fold 11) Represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies in the Hebrews eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob Fold12) Represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies in the Christians eyes, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit Fold 13) When the flag is completely folded, the stars are in the uppermost, reminding us of our nations motto, In God We Trust.
How is that for a pretty tight connection between the Creator and the Nation He created? The roots of this country are not connected to Washington DC or the elected officials who have an office there. The foundation of these United States lies with the God who is responsible for our very being. If you ever really want to solve a problem…and I mean REALLY SOLVE a problem, you have to trace back to the root. If we want to solve the problems our nation is facing…lets go back to the root and drop to our knees in prayer. I’ve heard plenty of grumbling about congress, the President and government in general but I have a question…when is the last time we have prayed for them and put into action those words from our Nations motto…In God We Trust?
A Seed To Plant:
Stop and gaze at a flag today and re-read the symbols for the 13 folds.
While you’re at it, recognize the flag as an invitation to prayer for this great nation and those who defend and govern it. For extra credit, fold a flag with someone and teach them what you’ve learned.
Blessings on your day!
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