But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
As someone who could fit every shred of personal athletic ability onto the end of a Q-tip, I find the Olympics astounding. Seriously, have you watched what those people can do? I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t win a single event at a Kindergarten track meet so watching the speed, agility, flexibility and sheer determined will of the competitors fascinates me. Then I started to wonder…
I started to wonder what happens when they are no longer able to compete? There are more than 10,000 athletes participating in the summer games; how many do you know? These people have dedicated nearly their entire life to this one event. For many they have no time left for anything but preparing for the Olympics so what happens when it’s over? We won’t know their names, fewer than 350 Gold medals will be handed out in Tokyo, so if your whole life has been about this one thing, that’s a lot of work for a pretty slim pay off so I wonder why they work so hard for such a slim chance at gold?
I wonder how they feel when it’s over? Was it worth it, are they content with their outcome and is the memory of the experience enough to sustain them after the competition is all over? I wonder if they ever walk away wishing they had invested all that time and energy into something with a greater pay-out? Very few will ever make it to a commercial or a Wheaties box and given the investment and level of their gift it sure seems like they should!
As I think about the focus and determination required to be an Olympian I am in awe. Sometimes I don’t even have the determination to wash and dry the dishes all at once; I have to divide the task. Then it hit me…there is one event that most certainly deserves the same determination and focus for all of us and the payout is WAY better and reward more precious than a million truck loads of gold medals.
Heaven…heaven is it! I realized that the energy and time Olympians pour into their event should pale in comparison to the amount we invest in growing our holiness. Thank goodness the preparation for heaven doesn’t involve physical running, diving, throwing or jumping. However, it require running from temptation, diving into the Word and prayer, throwing away earthly attachments and jumping for joy that getting the greatest reward imaginable isn’t a competition. There isn’t a limited number of “heaven medals” we’re competing for. The Father desires for each and every one to enjoy the rewards of eternal life with him in heaven. I don’t have to be better than person X, Y or Z, I just have to be the me the Father intended me to be. The secret to our race to achieve holiness is God’s Abundant Grace given in unending supply simply by asking. Not only is he waiting for us to claim our true prize, he will give us everything we need to achieve it. I guess what I really need to ask myself is; would I rather be a saint in heaven or famous on earth?
A Seed To Plant: What are three things you can add to your “Spiritual Workout” to prepare for the ultimate prize?
Blessings on your day!
“If you are wise, you will be reservoirs and not channels” St. Bernard
When my brother Jim was young he would play for hours with his farm toys and cars in the dirt. Dad cut down a big tree and pulled out the stump one summer and it left a huge bare spot in the back yard. Jim quickly moved his stuff to that dirt spot and made roads and buildings out of twigs. That was his spot the whole summer. After a night of heavy rain he went out to the spot to discover a giant puddle right in the middle of his city. He got out his bulldozer and began to dig channels but he quickly discovered that all they did was drain the big puddle and leave him with nothing. In his mind he was trying to create rivers and a lake but in no time at all the channels carried the water away and the giant puddle dried up. It was all very disappointing to a little boy!
When I read this quote from St. Bernard I remembered that little boy and his adventures one hot Kansas summer and I realized our walk with God can be just like those channels he dug in the dirt. If all we are is a channel all we will be capable of is taking from the reservoir until we have drained it dry. Jim tried all day long to take buckets of water and re-fill the reservoir but the channels just kept sucking it dry. St. Bernard continues his thoughts by saying, “The channels let the water flow away and do not retain a drop. But the reservoir is first filled, and then, without emptying itself, pours out its overflow which is ever renewed over the fields which it waters.” In his book God Help Me, Jim Beckman adds, “We are not meant to be channels just moving things from here to there, even good things that we have heard or learned. We are designed to be reservoirs filled to capacity with the very life of God, even overflowing. It is the overflow that becomes our ministry.” I hope Mr. Beckman won’t mind me sharing that piece of his great thinking!
So, the big question…how do we become a reservoir and not a channel? It’s simple, we allow God to fill us…again and again and again until the overflow floods into everything around us. The only way I know to do that is through prayer. If the best we do is offer prayer while driving or waiting at a stoplight or while we sit in the drive-thru line the best we will be is a channel because that kind of prayer life will never fill us. If the best we offer God in conversation is a laundry list of needs and wants we will find ourselves empty and dry. If the best we offer God are our well-intended attempts to fit deliberate, consistent prayer time into our lives the best we will be is a channel. A reservoir takes work and takes time. If we think we just don’t have time for 15 to 30 minutes of reservoir building prayer then we probably need it more than we realize. Another great line from Jim Beckman’s book was in response to the excuses we make about not having time for consistent, intimate daily prayer is “no one ever died of hunger because of not having time to eat.” That screamed to me, you have time for what you make time for!
Sometimes my head spins when I see some of the crazy stuff going on in our culture! I am not a wise or powerful woman who can change much, but I know for sure there is one thing I can change and that’s me; I’m going to work on changing from a channel to a reservoir. We all have a mission to share the love of Christ and the world would be such a different place if we were sharing from the overflow of our reservoir. Just as the earth depends on life giving water, God’s children depend on HIS life giving water so let’s get to filling up our reservoirs!
A Seed To Plant: Take an honest look at your daily prayer life and ask God to show you what changes you can make to become a reservoir.
Blessings on your day!
Just a little message to let you know I'm going to hit the pause button this week. I have a couple of big projects that need some attention. As you pause in Joyful Words blog reading for the week, I would be grateful if you used those reading minutes to pray for some specific intentions sitting very heavy on my heart. In your charity, please lift these intentions to the Father...
*For the soul of sweet baby Alice and everyone who loved her and bears the grief of her absence.
*For sweet Brooke and her family who are courageously beginning the battle against Leukemia.
*For the lovely Audrey, may she be granted the gifts of healing and grace.
*For the Holy Spirit to supply me with the words and love the teachers in the Diocese of Wheeling WV need.
*For happy endings and new beginnings for those experiencing change in their lives.
*For those who struggle with anxiety, worry and depression. May they feel the touch of Jesus in a very specific way this week.
Thank you for the prayers...stay tuned, I'll be back next week with more Joyful Words.
Blessings on your day!
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about all the people knee deep in lousy stuff. I have gotten many emails and texts in the past few weeks from people who need prayer to navigate their way through life. There is sickness, distress, family and job difficulties and some of these requests are swirling really close to home. I’m so happy they ask for prayer, and I’ve been praying my little tail off and absolutely; I trust, I believe and my faith is strong as a bolder but every now and again I just wanna say, “Hey, wait a dog-gone minute God, this is all too much!” I’m sure that comment during prayer is followed by a heavenly face-palm!
The big question I’ve been hearing from those folks struggling is, “If God loves us, why does this lousy stuff happen?” I would have to say that’s a completely fair question and I wish like heck I could type an answer to make it all better but here is the truth, A) God doesn’t MAKE bad stuff happen and he loves us even harder when it does and B) Sometimes there isn’t a simple answer to complicated things. With my heart a little heavy, I’ve spent some time prayin, and thinkin and here are some of the things that made me feel better.
There is a big difference in being involved and being in control. God is completely involved in our lives and the more we pray and grow in our relationship with him, the more involved he will be. Because of our free will, God does not control our lives. Some of the distress I’ve been asked to pray for is the result of someone doing something lousy with their free will and leaving others to suffer in the wake of poor choices. God cannot be in control of that but he can absolutely be involved in our lives as we navigate through it if we invite him to meet us there and lead us through. He won’t wave a magic wand and make it all disappear but he will give us the grace and the strength to endure the difficulties if we ask.
Bad stuff isn’t part of God’s plan. He doesn’t give people cancer or trap children in a cave because his “master plan” indicated it’s time for it. That is not how a loving Father operates. If a dad decided to go for a walk with his son, and along the way the son stepped in a gopher hole and hurt his ankle that would be a lousy thing. Lousy as it is, the dad didn’t make it happen. He was absolutely there but he didn’t plan it or want it to happen; he wasn’t in control of it, but you can bet your bottom dollar that he instantly became involved. He felt the hurt, he poured out compassion and comfort and he did everything possible to aid in his sons healing.
If God controlled everything, we might think life would be easier and long gone would be fear, suffering and pain. I suppose in some ways that makes sense but because of our sinful nature (thank you Adam, Eve and Satan) we want what we want and we aren’t always so good at trusting and following the rules, let alone being completely controlled, so this idea has some holes. God doesn’t force his love or his perfect will on us, it’s up to us to choose to love, trust, surrender and follow him. When we’re tempted to think God makes bad things happen it’s good to remember a few truths from scripture. Jesus heals the sick; he doesn’t bring about their illness. Often the healing isn’t physical but it is spiritual and the result of that healing can lead to our salvation. Jesus liberates the oppressed; he doesn’t prolong their oppression. Jesus sets the prisoner free; he doesn’t imprison. Jesus restores a broken creation; he doesn’t further cripple it through disease, suffering, and pain.
When I find myself feeling overwhelmed about the sadness or madness of a lousy situation, I have to reach for the three biggest truth of all. They’re stiff ones and sometimes they go down like vinegar but they are enormous truth spoken in even bigger love. The first; every situation no matter how sad or tragic or difficult, is a situation where God can bring about a greater good. The part that makes that really tough to wrap our heads and hearts around is sometimes we hurt too much to see the good and often the greater good is for someone else. The second; Scripture says, there will be trouble and it is only through suffering we can fully come to Christ. When I realize that, and stop to contemplate the suffering of both the Father and the Son; done for me…it really puts things in perspective. Finally, heaven is the reward, not earth. As humans, we cling to the familiar and fear the unknown. If we could begin to unwrap even a tiny corner of the delight, glory and absolute magnificence of eternal life we would run from this world so fast we’d be nothing but a streak!
The lousy stuff is never what we wish for and it’s never handed out as a punishment but there is love, healing, and even salvation when we truly let the Father get involved and walk with us through the lousy. The lousy stuff is where God shows his power, his compassion and his amazing ability to unite, support and draw people closer to each other and to heaven.
A Seed To Plant: Spend some time asking God to be involved in your struggles or the struggles of someone you love. Trust him and then watch to see the way he works.
Blessings on your day!
Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! Psalm 27:14
Dave and I were watching a movie and one of the characters was an Amish woman. She was giving a rather worldly woman a ride in her buggy. The fancy lady was complaining about how slow they were going and the Amish lady said, “One of the secrets to life is realizing that just because you get somewhere fast or do something quickly, it doesn’t add any extra time to your life.” So much truth; probably for all of us.
Jesus was pretty clear that our mission on earth is to get to heaven and that is done by serving others. Perhaps the greatest danger of being in a hurry is feeling like we don’t have time to serve. We are busy folks and there is laundry and meals and cleaning and all the stuff that causes the days to go by in a blur. Since I heard that wise little TV Amish lady speak her truth, it’s been heavy on my heart and in his fanciness he hammered the lesson home.
As many of you know, our lovely daughter has a fabulous groom and they moved to St. Louis MO where she works as an Oncology Nurse. She’s busy learning her way around a big city, a big hospital, a new marriage and navigating her way through all things new. If you know my Shannon you know she goes all in…heart first and she does it if fast motion. Knowing that she’s in the middle of lots of things that are new, my prayer for her the last couple of weeks has been, “Father, help her slow down and see the people you put in her path and show her what they need.” Nobody knew that I was praying those words several times a day except me and the Father who loves us both like crazy.
A couple of days ago I got a text from Shannon in the middle of the day that said, “Awesome God moment today!” She was discharging a patient and after she wheeled him to the parking ramp to get in his car and go home, she turned with the wheelchair to return to her floor. She glanced over her shoulder and noticed an elderly lady having a really difficult time walking and making her way into the hospital. Shannon told her she’d be happy to give her a ride to whatever part of the hospital she needed to go to. As they were wheeling along, the lady shared that her son was very sick. Shannon took her where she needed to go and found out later that day that the son had died very shortly after the mom got there. Her story made me cry thinking about how sad it would have been if that mother had missed her chance to share those last minutes with her son. God truly does put us just where he needs us at precisely the right time.
I’m so glad God helped Shannon notice. I’m so glad her gave her that great feeling of being part of his plan and serving. God chooses to use our gifts and our talents and our time in ways we can’t even imagine or predict. I suppose the question is…do we let him? Do we slow down enough to see who he’s putting in our path or are we too busy with our to-do list? I think the Amish lady in the buggy had time to look around, I wonder what I’d see if I slowed down enough to look over my shoulder more often. Maybe we should all give that a try.
A Seed To Plant: Each morning for the next few days pray these words; “Father, help me slow down and see the people you put in my path and show me what they need.”
Blessings on your day!
Happy Independence day! Since today is a holiday for most folks, (THANK YOU to nurses, farmers, firefighters, law enforcement and all the other folks who don't get holidays!!) I just thought I'd toss up a short post with a simple challenge.
This is the holiday we celebrate our freedom so I'd like to challenge everyone to exercise a practice the world desperately needs. Sometime this week please practice the freedom to pray. Pray in public where others can see, whip out a Rosary in the park or pray before a meal in a restaurant. Go to a crowded place wearing a shirt with a christian message...anything you can think of to express and share your faith publicly...because we can!
The second part of the challenge will take a little more boldness. Ask someone, anyone if they have something you could pray for. If you see someone stressed, frazzled, sad or who just looks alone, very kindly say hello and ask them if there is something they'd like you to pray for. Seems kinda scary but you will be surprised at the outcome! You have no idea the kind of impact bringing Jesus into someones life can make. Don't worry about the who or the where, just ask the Holy Spirit to point out a person and he absolutely will.
If we love Jesus so much and we live in a country where we are free to share that love, shouldn't we be talking about him way more often than we are? An athiest once told a priest that if Jesus was so great and he should really believe in him then why didn't people who believe in him talk about him more?
Enjoy your long weekend, thank God for your freedom and those who protect it and go be Free to Pray.
Blessings on your day!
And the peace that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6
Growing up in Kansas, I was no stranger to whopper thunder storms! The hail, the tornado warnings, the wind and booming thunder was all a part of spring and summer. I am a storm lover and I have my dad to thank for that. As a little girl, when a big storm would come rolling through I remember my dad would look me in the eye and say “it’s gonna be fine, we’re safe.” It was such a simple statement but I remember the calm that came with his words. Once I heard them, I could sit right next to him and enjoy the lighting and the sounds. His re-assuring words put everything in perspective and allowed me to focus on something other than fear.
Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Amazing Parish conference. It was such a fabulous event and my mind and my heart are still processing all the hopeful, happy and exciting events of that conference. Before we boarded our flight, I opened my laptop and on social media I saw faithful Catholics pitted against one another arguing about what should be fundamental church teaching and it hurt my heart. I felt like I was facing a storm and I felt uneasy. As I sat at that conference with more than 600 Catholics eager to find ways to bring Jesus to a hurting world, Fr. John Riccardo said something that brought the same kind of peace and comfort to my stormy heart that my dad’s words always did in the middle of the thunder and wind.
Fr. John pointed out three truths. First, our world is crying; wailing actually. Second, our church is crying and third, we…me, you, all of us are not alive by chance in fact we were born for exactly this time. Then came the words my heart needed most… “God is not nervous right now!” It was like my dad saying, “it’s gonna be fine, we’re safe.” Those words were like a giant blanket of peace. I still hear those words echo in my mind and I think, of course he’s not nervous…he’s God and he has equipped us for exactly this time and place. Fr. John reminded us that Jesus doesn’t NEED anything but he WANTS our hearts. How often do we wonder what we need to do instead of enjoying the fact that we are desperately wanted simply so he can fill our hearts with his love.
In posts to come, I will share some of the amazing jewels from the conference but for now, I just want to leave you with a few simple words. God’s not nervous…we aren’t needed; we’re wanted!
A Seed To Plant: Sit with these simple words, be comforted by them and ask God how he wants them to change your heart.
Blessings on your day
… Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you… Exodus 16:4
I sometimes have this picture in my mind about making it to heaven and having an “orientation seminar” with God and His angels and saints. To amuse myself while driving or doing yucky tasks, I sometimes compose a list of questions I’d like to ask during the Q and A part of that meeting. Some of the questions are biggies and some are completely silly. During a long drive recently, the list of silly questions got pretty long. The list topper that day was, “God, if carrots and cucumbers are supposed to be good for us, why didn’t you make them taste better than things that are bad for us like chips and cheesecake?” I love my fruits and vegetables don’t get me wrong, but seriously, there is a very good reason the summer ice cream shop on the corner doesn’t sell broccoli splits or caramel cabbage sundaes!
This silly question stayed with me for several days and really made me laugh as my morning readings took me to the book of Exodus and the story of the manna. It’s a beautiful story of God and His loving faithfulness. I wondered what it would be like to just see your food appear, morning and night with no effort on your part! Seriously…meals I didn’t have to plan, prepare, serve or clean up…that would be heaven! It didn’t happen once a week; it happened every day. The food was sent in the perfect amounts and nobody had to analyze its protein and carbohydrate ratio, dispute its nutritional density or scrutinize the label. It just came and it was perfect! If you read a little further in the story it isn’t long before the Israelites threw a hissy fit because they wanted meat…it came and then they threw another fit about being thirsty. Each time God answered their whining in a miraculous way. He made it SO easy for them! I have read that story time and time again and I’m always a little stunned that the Israelites could be so whiney and demanding. They lacked appreciation and after all they had witnessed God do for them they still experienced doubt, denial and rebellion. I’m pretty quick to think I would have been a much more faithful dessert traveler. I think I might have even been Moses right hand girl. I wouldn’t have doubted no-sir-re! I would have been awed, amazed and completely obedient. Or would I?
The “or would I” leads me back to my silly question about zucchini verses French fries! Do I have the strength to know the truth and act obediently? Do I know some choices are better for me than others…sure! Do I always make those good for me choices…absolutely not? Do I try to wiggle out of the “hard way or the right way” and settle for the “easy way”…yes I do more often than I’d care to admit probably. So you might be wondering what lettuce, cookies and the Israelites all have to do with one another and here is the connection…strength to trust and follow the will of the Father…especially when there is a choice available that seems easier or tastier or more self-gratifying. I have to be more willing to experience a little self-denial. If I really want to live as a disciple, I have to stop throwing a temper tantrum about silly little stuff that brings me happiness and comfort. I mistakenly think those simple pleasures that bring temporary good feelings matter. The truth is, they can’t even compare to what God has in store for us. It’s kinda like having a bucket of sand and thinking you have a sea shore. It took the Israelites 40 years of wandering…I wonder how much longer I’ll be wandering before I truly master the lesson of living in His will instead of wandering my easy path! The road to the Father is paved one joyfully offered sacrifice and one loving act of obedience at a time. Lord, give me the strength to get to You!
A Seed To Plant: Be consciences of little sacrifices and acts of self-denial you can offer to the Father this week.
Blessings on your day!
…”My Grace is sufficient for you”… 2 Corinthians 12:9
I read a story the other day about a young man who sheepishly approached an older gentleman asking for parts to repair his food truck. He was hesitant to ask because the older gentleman also owned a food truck, and not just any food truck but one of the most popular BBQ food trucks in the area. The older gentleman asked the young man what kind of food truck he had and as he kicked in the dirt a little, he hesitantly answered “BBQ, just like you.” The man laughed, gave the young man the parts he needed and then offered him some advice about how to make his business grow and succeed. Much to the young mans surprise the guy even gave him one of his famous recipes. The young man thanked him sincerely and began to walk away. He made it half way to his car then he turned around and said, “I just have to know why you did it? I’m the competition and you just did so much to help me and I gotta know why?” With a big smile the older man told him that he served a Mighty God who had more than plenty of graces and blessings to go around. He went on to explain that one of the greatest ailments in our world today is greedy competition. We forget our mission on earth is to help each other…help them with their health, their success, their family, their happiness and ultimately to help them get to heaven. With a wink, he said I can’t possibly feed everyone who wants to eat good BBQ myself so I’m helpin you take care of God’s hungry children too. He asked him if he knew his friend Jesus because getting to know him is the best help imaginable. He’s the one who makes sure graces and blessings never run dry and there is never a moments competition for them.
If we stop and think about all the silly things in a day we make comparisons about and all the minutes we spend evaluating and processing it seems pretty ridiculous. Maybe it’s human nature to wonder how we stack up in the eyes of our kids, our parents, our friends or our neighbors but the older gentleman in the story is right, God has plenty of grace and blessing to go around whether we’re the best or the 32nd best at something. God isn’t gonna love me more and give me more grace if my kids are the best behaved in church or get the top grades in school. Social media likes and shares don’t bestow more grace in my day. God could care less if my hair is cute, my lawn is spiffy, my thighs are slim or my cinnamon rolls are blue ribbon quality and always delivered thoughtfully to a neighbor in need. I think some days he up there slathering us with grace just because we got out of bed, fed the kids and threw up our hair with a bread twisty! We don’t have to be the best anything but we are supposed to help someone work toward their best. We’re supposed to lift each other up not be rivals.
I had a mom tell me once that she always pulled into the morning drop off lane at school with hair, makeup and a great shirt and it seemed to make her one of the “fancy moms”. What the others didn’t know was that most mornings she was wearing sweats, pj pants, running shorts and occasionally just her underwear with her long fancy shirts, blazers and sweaters. She admitted playing the game for months and months until one day her son tripped and fell and smashed his science project. As he lay crying on the sidewalk she instinctively jumped out of her SUV and ran to comfort him wearing her fancy top and a pair of her husbands boxers. She said it was one of the moms who had pj pants and a bread twisty hair tie who ran to her aid and gave her a trench coat and a hand with her sons project. She admitted through tears, that was the day she learned what kind of woman she wanted to be…the kind that helped others rather than competing with them…the kind who wasn’t afraid to look like life was hard some days and just showing up was worthy of blessings and grace.
Discipleship is tough work folks and it’s best done with help. Jesus started with twelve but that was the only time there was a limited number! Let’s help each other do the important work of spreading the word and love of Christ…we’re not fighting for “disciple of the year” and God will give us all the grace we need to grow in holiness but I think he might give extra on the days we help another along on their journey to him rather than trying to shove them out of the way to get his attention.
A Seed To Plant: Where do you struggle with comparison? Take that to prayer and ask God to help you swap that for a spirit of peace and glimpse at yourself through his eyes. Then begin each day asking him to point out anyone who might need your help this day.
Blessings on your day!
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. Matthew 22:37
Dave and I spent another great weekend traveling from Graduation party to Graduation party visiting and laughing and celebrating. It’s fun to watch people enter a room and see what they do and how their presence changes the atmosphere of the room. It’s fun to see how people find a seat and navigate the crowd. I did a little people watching this weekend and thought I’d share an observation and a quote today that seemed simple and important.
“God does not germinate in sad souls. He wants a heart that is free and happy.” St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi I noticed this weekend that the sad souls were easy to spot and so were the happy ones. I’ve come to the conclusion that it really has very little to do with life circumstances and personality but a great deal more to do with peace; the kind of peace that comes from contentment in Christ. I’ve spent time talking with lots of folks who were experiencing trials and some who were in the midst of exciting times and there were sad and happy souls in each camp. I believe the happy souls have something bigger than a positive attitude going for them; they have a clear understanding of this verse from Matthew. The truly happy souls love God no matter what and through it all. They are the ones who can talk about the exciting blessings in their life and give God the credit and they are the ones who can talk about the struggles and tragedies in their life and acknowledge God’s presence, wisdom and love in the midst of it all.
The happy souls seemed to think of others first, they ask about you first, they talk about the delicious food and beautiful weather. They take your plate and offer to bring you a fresh drink. They have a servant’s heart and I think there must be a strong tie between a servant’s heart and a happy soul! They are happy and free like the quote suggests because they know they don’t have to be in charge; that is a job reserved for the God who loves them. They are not required to think and plan and organize their lives, they allow God to do that and they are simply left with the task of loving him and loving others. Some of the happy souls were loud and outgoing, some were quiet and reserved but the thing that made them all so beautiful was the way they humbly let the light and compassion of Christ shine on others rather than on themselves. Whether we realize it or not, the happy souls are the ones we gravitate toward because they just make us feel better.
The whole thought of happy souls left me wondering why we make it so hard. The lesson was cemented into my heart last night as I tended our sprouting garden and wondered what kind of soul I was giving God to germinate in. Humm…I’m sure I will be thinking hard about that this week!
A Seed To Plant: Spend some time in prayer this week and evaluate what kind of “soul” you are and ask God to help you be a great soul for him to germinate in.
Blessings on your day!
In the beginning was the Word. John 1:1
Welcome to the first blog from my screen porch! I’ve wanted a screen porch my whole life so I’m feeling pretty grateful this morning. I love entertaining people, but a mosquito is never a welcome guest so I’m pleased to be outside typing with my coffee and no buzzy little friends!
This first week of summer break began with a gigantic exhale and the cutest four month old grandson you can imagine. Gramma duty was the best possible shift from crazy school to lovely summer. While I watch this beautiful, happy little person I realize how much I missed or was too busy to really notice when my own kids were this age. I watched Lewis for ten minutes as he tried to pick up a teething toy and get it into his mouth. I’ve watched him increase speed and agility as he tries to grab his toes and pull them to his mouth. There has been no hurry…no rush…no impatience…no agenda and that has felt amazing. He can take as long as he wants to finish his bottle or fall asleep on my shoulder. As I laid him down for a nap, I realized it wasn’t that way with my own kids because there was laundry and cooking and other kids but with Lewis and summer I’m free to soak it completely in. Absolutely nothing else is important or urgent when he’s here. It made me wonder a few things.
The first thing my wondering led me to decide was that God probably looks at us pretty much the same way I look at Lewis. He probably wants to remind us that he is as mesmerized and dedicated to our every move and accomplishment…all the time, not just a few hours a day. I don’t know about you but I need that reminder often.
The second thing I wondered was what kind of Grandma will I be. I’ve only been at it a few months but I want to be a good one. I also wondered what Lewis will call me when he’s old enough to talk and I even wondered what kind of impact I might have on him and what he would tell others about me when he was older. All of that led me to a book I started reading over Christmas break and didn’t finish. I know I’ve only been out of school a week but I already feel the desire to assign homework. The book is called I AM ______. How would you fill in that blank? How would your family fill in that blank, your friends, your co-workers? And the big question, how would your Father in heaven fill in that blank. I think for most of us, the Father’s words might look different than our own and that’s a summer project! The other big thing I’m wondering is, who are we letting fill in our blank? Are we letting the world fill it, are we filling it or are we taking a cue from the Creator? I think this is going to be some important work this summer so we’ll begin with todays Seed To Plant. Speaking of seeds, landscaping around the porch is on the summer list so I’d better post this and grab my shovel.
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of ten ways you would fill in the blank I AM _____. For extra credit, ask three people to fill it in for you. Then take that list to prayer and ask the Father what he sees.
Blessings on your day!
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Luke 12:34
(This is a re-post but as I’ve been chatting with so many families lately that are just so relieved it’s summer and everyone can slow down and catch their breath a little this post just seemed to fit the time.)
Sometimes summer’s greatest gift is a few extra minutes to catch up on everything that got piled a foot deep during the busy spring! This summer brings those extra minutes none too soon! There are a hundred “little something’s” that need my attention. One of the things that seriously needs my attention is proper grocery shopping. Rushing from spring ballgame to event I ran to the store for emergency goods and just enough to get us through the week. The need for a thoroughly organized trip came to light when we ran out of ketchup two weeks ago. We can have the same bottle in the fridg for a month or two so I didn’t think too much about it. I just made a mental note to make sure hamburgers didn’t appear on the menu until I’d made it to the store. Unfortunately I didn’t really realize how often I needed just a little bit here and there until it was gone. One of the kids asked for meatloaf last week and I need ketchup for that. We were out of milk so scrambled eggs became the breakfast of choice and one of the kids likes just a little ketchup…oops! Then there was the night one of the kids grabbed a burger and fries on the run and brought them home. The girl at the drive thru forgot to throw in a packet of ketchup so what would have been no big deal turned out to be a big “OH MY” when again one of us stared into a ketchup-less fridg. After a while it just became funny. If it weren’t for the groans I’d skip buying it for another week just to see how many times someone reaches for it!
Sunday breakfast is a big deal at our house. It’s one of my favorite times of the week because everyone is usually home and I love having everyone’s feet parked under my kitchen table even if it’s just for 20 minutes! After we got settled at the table and prayed, someone asked for ketchup for the hash browns and I just busted out laughing and promised to go to the store early this week. As we continued with breakfast, I realized ketchup and prayer have some similarities. Sometimes we view them as just a tiny little extra to enhance what’s on our plate. Sometimes the comfort and peace that comes from a consistent prayer life are taken for granted like the ketchup; until we’ve got something on our plate that really requires it. We can even manage to seemingly get along just fine without it for a while until…wham…we need it and get frustrated when we can’t reach out and grab it. And honestly, if we fall out of the habit of consistent prayer we may not even realize it right away. Of all the things on my shopping list ketchup is one of the less expensive items so I didn’t go without because I couldn’t afford it or it was in short supply, I just forgot! Kinda like prayer don’t you think…it doesn’t cost anything to pray, it doesn’t require anything more than stillness and time…but sometimes we forget until we get in a tough spot.
As I get organized for my summer and my fist proper grocery shop in a while I’ll first make sure I take some time to re-organize my prayer time. I really don’t want to run out of ketchup again so it’s a priority item on the shopping list but I REALLY don’t want to run out of great conversation opportunities with my Heavenly Father so I’ll make sure that takes the highest priority…way above ketchup!
A Seed To Plant: Take a look at your summer priorities and make sure you give quiet peaceful prayer minutes the top spot!
Blessings on your day!
You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14
The last days of school are crazy! It’s always a mix of emotion and the anticipation of summer freedom tossed in with the teachers efforts to keep kids engaged and productive creates quite a sight. Since the school year has been so weird, the final days have had an added element of weirdness as well! Yesterday was the 6th graders last day and amidst the frenzy I saw a simple, quiet lesson unfold.
The last day was a little like a freight train leaving the station. We started by emptying and cleaning desks and lockers and the energy built momentum like that train was headed downhill. There was laughter, chaos and multiple attempts to see how close they could get their toes to the line. As the day went on they continued to pick up speed and it was a mix of excitement, nervousness about leaving a place they were familiar with and middle school silliness. By mid afternoon the volume from our classrooms was at an all time high. And then it wasn’t!
You might wonder what happened that allowed forty noisy, excited, nervous, giggling frenzied adolescents to fall silent…for 45 minutes. You might be wondering what stopped that freight train of emotion and movement…it was 6th Grade Send Off. It’s one of my favorite St. Mary School traditions and it happens on the last afternoon of the 6th grade school year. The whole school gathers to send them off and the teachers who have been a part of their life for the past seven years one, by one, share memories of their class. Each teacher offers advice to grow in discipleship and a piece of wisdom from Scripture and the Saints.
Yesterday, more than any other year, they listened with complete focus. The noise and chaos was gone because they wanted to hear the teachers they loved and respected speak positive things about them and offer their wisdom to them. They wanted to hear what they'd done well, they wanted to know that they were valued and would be remembered. They wanted to take the good advice of people who loved them and they wanted to laugh. It’s not a time to talk about mistakes and shortfalls, it’s a celebration of the good and the hopeful and the positive and they really needed to soak that all in. As I watched them soaking it all in I noticed their smiles, their tears their looks of accomplishment as they listened to the nods of approval from people who knew them, loved them and had seen them at their best and their not-so-best. They needed to know they would be missed and that they had left a good print.
As I stood there, eyes sweating, I realized that’s really what we all need. We need to be affirmed. We need to know that we’ve left a good print and that we are valued. We all need to have someone close to us point out our good and we need to be offered the hope and encouragement of Scripture and Saints every now and again. We need to know we matter! It is the nature of the twelve year old to test and push and sap your patience dry; it’s what they do but no matter what silly stunts they’d pulled, it all melted from my mind as I saw them standing there at send off. It didn’t matter because when you really care about someone, realizing they are God’s child, it’s easy to focus on the good. I suppose that’s a lesson the Father wants to glue in our mind. When he gazes at us, he doesn’t see our noise, our shortfall, our “freight train” moments, he sees the good, the potential and the best efforts of the child he loves. So you see, that event for the kids…I guess maybe it wasn’t just for them.
A Seed To Plant: Pick three people today and tell them something positive. Let them know in some way that they are loved, valued or appreciated.
Blessings on your day!
Wait for the Lord, take courage; be stouthearted, wait for the Lord! Psalm 27:14
Wait is not my favorite word! I’m more of a GO kind of girl rather than a WAIT kind of girl! I saw a great quote the other day that said “Our willingness to wait reveals the value we place on the object we’re waiting for.” It made me stop a while and think about my posture and attitude while waiting, needless to say, I didn’t really like what I discovered about myself.
The quote caused me to stop and figure out what I was waiting for. As I began to make my list, I realized some of the things were pretty silly. When I thought about how much I actually valued some of the things on my list I understood why waiting is hard. Most of the things on my list weren’t important enough to wait for or really even wish for so I crossed all those off the list. When it boiled down to the bottom of the pot here’s what I learned; the only thing on my list really worth waiting patiently, courageously and stoutheartedly for…is meeting Jesus. Most of the stuff on my list, like Godly spouses and happy marriages for my children or fun, peaceful retirement will just come in Gods own time, but Heaven…that’s the one I need to focus on. I suppose if my focus is really truly there every day, everything else will be just as God desires…in his time…for his purpose and in his ultimate perfection. As I came to this conclusion my peace was interrupted by panic when I thought; what if God doesn’t give me what I’m waiting for? Then my heart answered my mind as only God can instruct it to and I heard; if he doesn’t give me what I’m waiting for, that means he’s got something better…just wait and see!
Here’s another thought I have about waiting, it isn’t work. It doesn’t require great effort like scrubbing the porch or organizing the office files or sorting the junk drawer. (All silly things I’ve been waiting for…I told you there was some silly stuff on my list!) If we truly live the words of this verse from Psalm 27 our lives will get instantly calmer, more peaceful and much easier. I’d like to end this post with a passage from Jim Beckman’s book God Help Me, “Think of the image of a sailboat. The boat doesn’t do anything burdensome to respond to the wind in its sails – it simply moves forward propelled by the wind. The sailboat responds by moving forward, but it is the wind that is carrying it.” What are you waiting for? If it is something of great value than be still and know God will provide the wind to move your sailboat! I’m thinking it just might be the perfect time to wish for a sailboat instead of a speedboat!
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of all the things you’re waiting for. (Silly ones too!) Tuck it away for a day or two. When you get it back out, ask God to give you eyes to see his plan and his timing as you evaluate each item on your list and think about its value.
Blessings on your day!
“The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil.” Mark 4:26
How on earth did we get to the middle of May? Sometimes I think the school year started last week and the next minute it seems like this school year has lasted a decade! It’s been a year of change, adjustment, re-routes and do-overs. Routine and deadlines have been challenging to say the least. We’ve all tried so hard to do right by the kids and the parents and give the kids some sort of “normal” through it all. Some days I feel like we got it right and other days it’s all felt like a giant ball of knotted yarn.
As we fly into these final couple weeks of school I tend to see all the things I did’t get quite right or wish I could do-over. At the end of every year I wonder if I did enough, if I reached them all, if I gave them enough joy and knowledge and desire to be great disciples and this year that worry is super-sized! For everyone rushing to get “back to normal” and forget this mess ever happened I suppose we can’t “throw the baby out with the bath water”. There have been great things…amazing things…funny things that have happened this year that will leave a positive impact on us all and I try to remember that when I look at the list of a hundred things I still want to cover and do before the first week of June!
The Father always seems to know when to send the right words at the right time. As I was digging in my book bag looking for that REALLY IMPORTANT thing I wrote on a scrap of paper the size of a postage stamp, I found a quote I had written down last October. Just because God likes to show off, it was stuck to the tiny note I was looking for in the bottom of my bag. The line on this little note is exactly what I needed to hear as I barrel into the end of this school year. Written in green ink, in my loopy cursive hand I read the words, “Those who do the Lord’s work are in the business of planting SEEDS not TREES.”
I am reminded that that things take time. I’m not in charge of the whole process, just a part of it and that brought me peace; maybe we all need that little nugget of peace today.
A Seed To Plant: Offer a simple word of encouragement to someone today, say a prayer, write a note, send a text…something to tend a seed God is growing.
Blessings on your day!
but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
I have seen these words several times lately: “You Can’t Pour From An Empty Cup”. I suppose here is truth to that saying and I think the original intent was great. I think it’s important to take care of yourself but the more I think about it, the more I see it differently. Honestly, the more I thought about it, the more I realized it bugged me and I found it completely false. I scratched my head wondering why I was reacting so stubbornly to a line meant for good. After lots of thought and prayer, I realized God was using this line to get under my skin and remind me of some important things I had been forgetting. Since I can’t seem to get this off my mind, I’m guessing this might be a message some of you need to hear too.
The truth is, YES YOU CAN! We do it all the time. As parents, teachers and friends we often give even when we don’t think there is anything left in the tank. If a child comes to me frustrated and hurting I’m sure not going to look at them and say, “sorry child, please come back when I’ve had a little “me” time.” If a co-worker, parent or friend stops in to share their struggles I’m not going to ask them to come back after I’ve taken a nap. Teaching during a Pandemic has stretched me so far I thought I’d snap but as teachers we just keep finding a little more in the cup to pour out. As parents, we do the same again and again and again. We just keep pouring, hoping there are enough drops left to get us through the day.
The world would have us believe that success depends on our effort and energy. The world would have us believe that we deserve to be happy and we have to carve out that happy time ourselves and we deserve to take time for ourselves to re-charge so we can do more stuff. The world would have us believe that if our cups aren’t full we will crumble up in a heap in the corner somewhere. As usual, the world doesn’t get it right! Thank goodness we have something more truthful, hopeful and joyful to turn to…a Father who loves us so enormously we will never be empty.
The Father loving reminded me that he’s in charge of my cup! It is precisely in those moments I feel like I have nothing left to give I’m supposed to turn to him and he will give me EVERYTHING I need…he will give me EVERYTHING he’s asking me to give to one of his children. He will give me more than enough. His love, his grace, his compassion is more than enough!
One last lesson…don’t wait until you feel empty to turn to him. Pray continuously throughout the day as you pour again and again from your cup because sometimes we pour things out in places he hasn’t called us to pour. The final reminder were words spoken in the Gospel when Jesus said “I have not come to be served but to serve.” Those words are our mission on earth too. I’m supposed to serve God and serve others and I suppose the emptier my cup, the more I have done the work the Father put me on this earth to do and that should bring a joy that fills my cup to overflowing. This life really isn’t about me at all and I needed to be reminded of that. Worrying about MY cup and expecting to always “feel good” about life is crazy but trusting the the Father will always make sure I have what I need to pour brings a sense of peace and contentment to these crazy days. I think the saying should be “I Serve A God Who Always Fills My Cup!”
A Seed To Plant: Spend a few extra minutes in prayer these next days and don’t forget to take your cup to the Father for a re-fill.
Blessings on your day!
…I came so that you might have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10
How many times have you scratched your head and wondered what you could do to be a bigger promoter of the culture of life? It seems all too often that the value of human life is being diminished right before our very eyes and it can feel defeating…but, like He often does, God takes over and demonstrates His truths in a profound, simple and beautiful way!
He sweetly whispered this morning…you demonstrate the culture of life when you allow people to witness it and when you celebrate it. That’s just what happened in sixth grade last week! For 24 days 20 middle lovelies carefully turned and tended pheasant eggs inside the incubator three times a day. Every day they checked the chart to see what the babies were developing and we marveled at God’s genius growing inside those shells.
We all got to stand around the incubator and cheer on the little ones who just need one more push to break free. We watched them make their grand entrance into life. They are a gigantic mix of emotion; excitement, happiness, anticipation and pride. It’s been a while since I’ve hatched eggs with a classroom and it was great to rediscover the joy of the whole experience and I got some big lessons and as we all try to respect life I thought I’d share.
Lesson 1…Birthdays are the best day ever so we should sing Happy Birthday no matter what.
Lesson2…Beauty is in the eye of the one who loves hardest. “Mrs. Wohlfert they looked wet and ugly on the picture chart but when I see him for real he’s beautiful because he’s ours.”
Lesson 3…It’s ok to hug the person next to you when someone is born…even if you’re a boy and the person you just excitedly grabbed is a girl. New life is worth an awkward or embarrassing moment.
Lesson 4…Struggles are part of the journey. Watching one of the pheasants struggle for more than twelve hours to hatch was tough but that little birds arrival was met with the greatest cheers of them all.
Lesson 5…Life is magnetic! Those little birds are always being watched and there is laughter constantly around their pen. We are drawn to the miracle that resulted at the end of those many days; we are mesmerized by God’s genius!
Lesson 6…Supporting and respecting life comes in many beautiful ways. Especially when two very talented 12 yr old boys stay up later than they should building a fabulous pen so the birds can stay in 6th grade longer.
Lesson 7…It feels great to love something more than you love yourself and it’s important to put somebody else’s needs ahead of yours…even if it is just a chick.
We are uniquely created to respect and appreciate life, I think we just forget it sometimes and need a sweet fluffy reminder! The middle lovelies may not remember learning about multiplying decimals or independent clauses but they will remember how precious life is and how 24 days during the spring can teach so many important lessons. I suppose God was reminding me today that the best way to promote the culture of life is to dunk somebody right into the middle of it!
A Seed To Plant: Spend some time this week praying that we become a culture with a greater respect for life.
Blessings on your day!
We love because God first loved us. 1 John 4:19
Do the words “he started it”, no, “he started it,” followed with a louder “uh-uh HE started it!” seem familiar to anyone? Growing up, I remember one family car in particular. It was a 1970 something blue Plymouth Fury III. You could compare its size to a modern day pontoon! I remember that car well because that’s the car my brothers and I rode in most. The boys always sat by the windows and I took the middle. Middle child, middle seat my mom would say. Personally, I think I was placed there due to my sweet demure nature so I could be the peacemaker and have a positive effect on my brother’s behavior. (I’m sure my little brother will confirm that story.) If I had a quarter for every time I got stuck in the middle of a “he started it” duel in the back seat of that car, I could probably buy my own Plymouth! We really knew it had gone too far when mom would reach into the glove box and pull out the ruler and as predictable as the rising of the sun, she would say, “I don’t care who started it, I want it stopped right now!” She would then begin waving the ruler fiercely.
At this point in my life, I realize two important things about mom and her ruler; 1) She was 5’12” with very long arms but that car was so big I l don’t think she could have reached us from the front seat and 2) She NEVER intended to…it was simply a diversion tactic. (She was so good!) Looking back, that was a lesson in God’s love. She was a loving parent and she didn’t want to hurt or harm, she wanted to redirect and refocus us.
When we consider the enormous love God has for us and take a look at this verse from John’s first letter we realize without a doubt “He started it!” He wins…He loved first! Now, thanks to human nature, we often think if we didn’t win, then we lost but in this case His winning is our greatest prize! God’s love for us can’t be outdone! It’s too huge, amazing, perfect and astounding! Here is the really good news…it’s not a contest! God is not asking us to love bigger or better than Him, instead He’s asking us to share the love He gives us in tiny little ways with everyone He puts in our path each day. As if that wasn’t enough, here’s the kicker…DESERVING has nothing to do with giving or receiving His love. It’s a free gift; it’s always there, always fits perfectly, never expires, and won’t run out no matter how much of it we give away to others!
There are a million ways to share His love with others. I recently bought 5 platters on a clearance table and decorated them with the words “pray and pass platter”. The objective is to pray for the person/family who will receive the platter filled with homemade goodies, fruit, fresh produce or whatever you can think of and then they will enjoy the treat and then pass on some prayers and goodies to someone else. As we live on this earth our main objective should be to share the love God started. Unlike the duels in the backseat of the Plymouth, this is something that should never be stopped!
A seed to plant: Make a list of 5 acts of love you can share with people in your life during the next week. Include prayer for the recipients because asking God’s blessing on someone is a great expression of His love! Be sure to share the stories of how reflecting His love touched others!
Blessings on your day!
I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me. John 10:14
I once had a pink sweater. It was the perfect shade of pink and it was soft, comfy and had very cool buttons. It was one of my favorite sweaters of all time! I use the words “once had” sadly! The demise of the famous pink sweater came at the hands of one of those dreadful “Hello My Name Is” stickers. I have never been a fan of them and I’m famous for forgetting to take them off before walking into the grocery store or gas station. I went to a conference a while back and got one of the dreaded labels and proceeded to run several errands after the conference while still wearing it. It was a long day; a rushed day; a careless laundry day and I chucked the pink sweater into the washing machine with the blue sticker still on it. The rest is laundry disaster history…blue ink streaks down the front, sticky wads of goo in a rectangular shape and purple sharpie drizzles where the name seeped through the whole sweater. It was beyond help and I blamed it all on that stupid label! I realized that day, some labels really stick.
I came across this verse in one of the Gospels recently and it made me think about labels. We are labeled as His because we are created in His likeness and image. Sometimes being labeled can be a good thing and sometimes not so much! People have been trying to stick or unstick labels for generations. Sometimes those labels can be destructive like the one on my sweater and sometimes they can bring pride and peace like the label that marks us as His. Of all the labels we have been given, the one most frequently used in Scripture is “beloved”. I like that label don’t you?
What if you were to label yourself; what would your tag say? Would it say faithful, patient, loving, trusting, honest? I guess the bigger question is, does the way you live your life match your label? I’ll be honest; sometimes my actions don’t match the label I might think I’m wearing. I may think I’m patient but am I snippy with others? I may think I’m loving but do I share that love freely with ALL people who cross my path? We are His and He knows us, our best label says we are HIS BELOVED…we should make sure we live like it. People read those “Hello My Name Is” labels and they believe what they read. Maybe I should stick one to my shirt today that says “Beloved Child of God”…that’s something that I’d like to stick! Living up to that label would never ruin anything…even my favorite sweater!
A Seed To Plant: What is the label you would most like to be known by? What is the label you’d most like to peel off and throw away? Lift both ideas up and ask the Good Shepherd who knows YOU to help with your label.
Blessings on your day!
The Lord hears the cry of the poor. Psalm 34
When I hear the word poor I usually think of no money…anyone else think that? I know financial poverty is not what the Psalmist was referring to so I paused to think about the bigger meaning of these words. I pondered all the areas of my life where I was poor and here’s what I came up with.
There are days when I am very poor in patience. My tongue can be snappy and my judgments quick. One of the great casualties of being poor in patience is not being a good listener. I wondered how many things happened on these days that could make me richer if I wasn’t so busy being impatient. Lord, on these impatient days,help me remember to cry out for your calm and your peace.
Sometimes I am poor in trust. When my pockets seem to be emptied of this treasure I decide to take control and do God’s work for Him. I tend to look to heaven and say “I got this one God!” I can tell ya how that usually works out. When I’m poor in trust I doubt His love for me and the wisdom of His plan…silly me! I forget that I’m looking at one page of the story and He’s holding the whole book! Lord, on the days I lack trust, help me remember to say the words Jesus, I trust in You.
More often than I’d like to admit I’m poor in acceptance. I have to remind myself often that things in my life are organized specifically the way God needs them to be. When money is tight or when success seems to find its way into someone else’s life it’s tough not to get discouraged. One of the things I work on with my middle lovelies is celebrating when good things come to others because they are blessings from God. All too often instead of celebrating with others in their good fortune we evaluate all the reasons it should have happened to us instead. When I’m poor in acceptance; Lord remind me to keep my nose in my own journey.
I think I am the poorest when I fail to live in the present. God has created THIS day for me. Yesterday is already finished and tomorrow isn’t a guarantee. The people, the opportunities, the joys and the challenges of THIS day are His gift to me and it’s my job to soak it all in and ask constantly through the day what the plan for all of it is. When I get this right, I feel His blessings. Recently I had a mountain of a day to climb; jobs, tasks, deadlines, projects and a teacher evaluation scheduled on top of it all. I woke up that morning feeling like limpy lettuce! It wasn’t even 5 in the morning and I wanted to go back to bed and be done with the day. I threw up my hands in morning prayer thinking God, how in the world am I supposed to “rejoice and be glad”when I’ve got a day like this! I then stumbled across the word surrender several times in my readings and prayers that morning. So, that’s what I did…I flat out said, “God, if you plan to be hearing from me during evening prayers tonight, you best be sending re-enforcements because I can’t get this all done and still be joyful.” I gave Him the day and I just sat back and watched Him show off! I was very rich indeed that day. Things fell in place, help I didn’t even request showed up, and the middle lovelies were particularly bright and funny that day. The grand finale to the day was a cancelled meeting and plopping into bed at 11:40 only to realize that I’d smacked the wrong button on my alarm clock that morning and it was really only 10:40. That was just icing on the cake! The Lord hears our cries…especially when we see and ask for help in the places we’re poor. Try Him…cry out and see how He answers
A Seed To Plant: Spend some time in prayer asking God to help you see the areas where you are poor. He’s waiting to hear and answer your cry for riches in these areas.
Blessings on your day!
My Lord and my God. John 20:28
The story of Doubting Thomas has long been one that made me shake my head. How could he be so…doubtful? After walking with Jesus for so long and being such a close part of his miracles and healings and teachings; how could he not get it? Even if I could understand his doubt on some level I still think “until I put my hands in his side” was a little over the top!
That used to be my thinking until I realized I was Thomas…often! It wasn’t a realization I wasn't proud of but it was true none the less. My “inner Thomas” looks like this…
*Planning, plotting and worrying about so many things as if I’m in charge of everything myself.
*Sometimes feeling swallowed with frustration wondering when this Pandemic will ever end.
*Overthinking kids, grandkids, finances and retirement.
*Fretting about people who are sick, struggling or that I have no influence with.
*Sadness about people who aren’t treated justly, fairly or compassionately.
My “inner Thomas” can leave me thinking it’s never going to get better and the divisions will just grow and the church will shrink and those struggling will continue to suffer. I stamp my foot and tell Jesus he should do something right now. It’s almost like, “Do this now Jesus and make sure I can see it!” I suppose that’s no different than asking to feel his nail holes. When Thomas realized it was Jesus he said, “My Lord and my God.” I should say the same thing when I see his work in my life. My “inner Thomas” needs to look at the things the Lord is doing all around me instead of the things I think he’s “not” doing. When I see the warm spring days, when I see my perfect Grandson, when I go to a job I love every day, when I realize I’ve been given an amazing family, when I see the excitement of a lovely woman just weeks from her wedding day, when I hear laughter and receive the Eucharist or when I realize we’re all still standing after the craziest year imaginable! When people get well, when people find hope, when a moment of peace sweeps over me or when a kindergartner brings me a card that says I love you. Every single one of those things is Jesus in action but like Thomas, I can be doubtful. My Lord and my God, please help me see you working and be grateful instead of doubtful.
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of all the places you have seen Christ working in your life this month and thank him for the ways he’s trying to dispel your doubt.
Blessings on your day!
The Lord remembers his covenant forever. Psalm 105: 8
I have a small set of completely useless talents! One of those useless talents is being able to remember song lyrics from decades ago. I don’t mean to brag, but I can sing songs that are even older than I am. Now, don’t be too impressed because I’m also the same woman who can’t remember 3 things at the grocery store and about the only room I can walk in to and consistently remember why I entered, is the bathroom. I remember random silly things but there are days when I forget ten times more than I remember. I like to console myself and say it’s because I just have so much important stuff to think about I run out of room in my brain!
Thank goodness God has a better memory than me! I’m so grateful for this reminder from Psalm 105 and it makes my heart peaceful to know that even on those crazy days when I forget to ask God for help or peace or assurance, he never forgets me or the covenant he made with his people. He remembers all the important stuff. He doesn’t remember just when it’s convenient or when it serves his purpose; he remembers his promise to love us all the time!
Sometimes we can make our way through lent and come out on Easter Sunday feeling like we didn’t get it right. We sometimes forget our lenten promises and when Good Friday rolls around we start to feel guilty for forgetting how much we wanted to show our love to Jesus though our sacrifices and penances. Now would be a great time to remember that our lenten works have no real bearing on the glory of Easter. Jesus wouldn’t be more “risen” if we had remembered all the things we promised on Ash Wednesday. God isn’t going to put us on the “B list” because we didn’t complete six weeks of perfect sacrificial piousness. His covenant promised his love, compassion, care and correction whether we ate chocolate during lent or not.
The fifty days of the Easter season are the perfect time to hit a “remember re-set”. God isn’t honored just through our sacrifice; he’s honored by our joy and gratitude. Easter is the absolute perfect time to be more joyful and grateful. We are an Easter people which is to say we are a people who were created to celebrate the joy and happiness of the Resurrection and the new beginnings it promises. That too was a part of the covenant God will always remember. I keep thinking about that line about happy christians and it makes me giggle so I’ll repeat it again; “There are way too many christians running around looking like they’ve been baptized in lemon juice!” Are we gonna mope about your lenten weaknesses or realize with enthusiastic happiness and joy that Easter makes all things new! What needs to be new with you? This is the season that begs us to believe the unbelievable and profess the spectacular and revel in the unfathomable! How about turning from the lent guilt and running head first into the magnificent gift of love the Father will never forget to show us. Absolutely, we are not worthy of such a gift but lets remember that he already knows that and it doesn’t matter. The gates of Heaven were flung open not because we deserve it but because the Father promised and because he wants us with him. That is something we need to remember! This Easter Season let your focus be joy, after all, someone died for you and then his Father raised him up!
A Seed To Plant: Find a great image of the Risen Jesus and pray with it each day to remind yourself that it was a gift for you from the Father who will never forget his promises.
Blessings on your day!
Yet it was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured…Isaiah 53:4
Happy Holy Week. I LOVE this week. It’s holy and sacred, which means “set apart”. But as I type on the first day of the week I have to ask myself, what will I set it apart for? How will it be different? Jesus and his extravagant love already made it holy but how will I honor that? As I’ve been preparing for this week I asked myself those questions and the Father sent some very simple ideas in response. Today I share those with you and invite you to set apart this week, don’t let it slip by and be ordinary, invite Jesus to make it holy in a way only he and you can.
*Switch R’s! This week go from RUSH to REST. Nowhere in Scripture does it say, “Come rush with me!” Jesus didn’t rush…he went about things in a purposeful, deliberate fashion. He noticed things along the way and he often stopped to rest and pray. This week, find some time to rest…with Jesus, not Netflix.
*Join Ignatius! Who? St. Ignatius of Loyola is known for his passion for imaginative prayer and Scripture reading. Fr. Mark Toups of Ascension Presents has a great 10 minute imaginative prayer meditation about putting yourself in the Garden with Jesus. Go to YouTube and look for Fr. Mark Toups, What Makes Holy Week Holy. It’s a gift you want to give yourself!
*Get your Liturgy on! Go to Mass on Holy Thursday…we’ve all got stuff to wash from our feet and our heart so imagine yourself at the last supper being tenderly cleansed and fed by Jesus. Be there on Friday, not to re-live the brutality but to face the truth of of how much you are loved and how great the sacrifice that was made on your behalf. On Easter, celebrate not only Jesus’ resurrection but your own…what are the things he can help you “rise from” in your life…take those and offer them to him and share in his Glory!
*Give the Gifts! This week shower someone with love for no particular reason. Allow the Father to wash away the guilt of sin you carry in your heart. As Jesus fed us at the Last Supper, reach out and feed someone this week; a neighbor, a shelter or a food pantry. Easter brings the promise of new life, share that promise with someone who is struggling, pray for them, take them flowers, send a message…just reach out to offer hope and joy so they might see His light in their darkness.
One final thought this Holy Week comes compliments of a gentleman who shared the most powerful sermon he ever heard. He told me during a Holy Week long ago the priest had the shortest, most heart changing sermon he’d ever heard and it has stuck with him for many, many Holy Week’s since. He said the priest asked them to picture Jesus on the road to Calvary. Imagine him after one of his falls and as he struggles to get up imagine him making eye contact with you. As his eyes lock on yours, imagine him saying, “It’s ok, I’m doing this for you!”
A Seed To Plant: Sit with the short sermon and the suggestions above and ask Jesus to lead you into a week that is truly “set apart”.
Blessings on your day!
I have brushed away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like a mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you. Isaiah 44:22
A couple weeks ago my grandson, Lewis was baptized. It was such a great day and I took lots of pictures. I was on my way to Oklahoma City last week to do a training and as I sat in the airport preparing, I found the perfect picture to teach a tough lesson for us to truly understand.
It’s hard for us to accept the love of our Father in Heaven. We have a tendency to think that when God looks at us, he sees the sum total of all our mistakes and sinfulness. We know he loves us but we can’t quite grasp how much. As I was thinking about how to use this verse from Isaiah and teach the absolute love of the Father, my phone buzzed. I answered the text and decided to look at pictures of Mr. Lewis, which is my new favorite thing to do! I was scrolling through the Baptism pictures and zoomed in on one photo where in the midst of all the commotion, Lewis was looking straight up at his daddy and Jason was looking straight down at Lewis. Their gaze was locked and each of them had a look of complete adoration on their face. Lewis looked up with trust and love and Jason looked down with pride and complete and perfect love. That picture perfectly captured what it’s really like when we turn to our Father and he looks down on his children. I added that picture to the training and it was met with a powerful response because it’s a truth we all needed to see in living color.
I was chatting with some friends about this picture yesterday and one of my friends, a mom of young boys added to the story. She said that one of her sons had lost his temper and hit her on the arm while calling her “mean mom”. Quite a while later he came to her feeling very sad and gave her a hug and apologized for what he’d done. She told us she had already forgotten all about it and gone on with her day but she was so struck by how deeply it bothered him and how quickly she had dismissed it because it was just a “toddler moment” for her son. We laughed as we stood there thinking about how different God’s perspective really is. There are so many times we do things he really doesn't like but they aren’t permanent marks etched in his memory to be dredged up every time he thinks of us.
As we finish out this last week of Lent and head into Holy Week, it seems like the perfect time to ponder what the Father really sees when he looks at us. Imagine his gaze and soak up his love and mercy.
A Seed To Plant: Spend some time in prayer asking the Father to help you see how much he loves you.
Blessings on your day!
“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.” Blessed Mother Teresa
Now there is a Lenten challenge! There is just some advice that needs to be followed and this power-packed tidbit from Mother Theresa begs to be heeded. I shared this quote during prayer with the middle lovelies last week and they all agreed it would make the world a whole lot better but then one very honest young man said, “But man Mrs. Wohlfert, that’s just so hard to do.” I told him I agreed completely!
This quote has been heavy on my mind for several days and I’ve discovered it’s much easier to live these words when you’re in control of the situation and interactions are pleasant. When I really thought about it hard I was pretty good at living this challenge; I would slow down, look people in the eyes when they spoke and be still until they were finished with the conversation. It seemed a bit awkward at first but after a few days it became more second nature. I was feeling pretty good about it until that situation I hadn’t planned for; you know the ones that catch you by surprise and tilt you off your balance. I had one of those situations this weekend and I totally blew it…I was frazzled and almost instantly I reacted and it wasn’t a reaction that matched the quote! I wasn’t the Wicked Witch of the West or anything but as I replayed the event I realized my reaction was based on selfishness and pride. A few hours later I was still really heavy hearted about the whole thing so I stopped to pray about it. (I don’t know why I always wait so long to do that!) After just a few seconds of quiet prayer it was very clear that I needed to apologize. I needed to call myself out on the selfishness and pride. I needed to admit that I was thinking of myself first and others second and I had to admit that I hadn’t left anyone better or happier with my snappy reaction. The more I tried to talk myself out of it, the more I realized I needed to do it and do it soon. After a giant gulp of pride with a huge serving of humble pie on the side, I made the apology and shared the story of my failure to live out this quote. The apology was graciously accepted and thankfully my reaction was a much bigger deal in my mind than in actuality!
The funny thing about the whole situation…I was the one who left feeling happier and better. Crazy, I thought that was the gift I was going to give; not the one I was going to get. God is good and lesson learned…for today anyway! Thank goodness God expects progress not perfection!
A Seed To Plant: Make it your goal this week to live this verse. Think about the people it will be easiest and hardest to live it with and then ask God to bless your attempts.
Blessings on your day!
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