“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9
One of the best parts of my job is helping the middle lovelies find direction. We all need people to look up to, to imitate and to follow. Sadly, the choices our culture puts in front of our kids is lacking woefully in the good stuff they need. Several times a week I tell them stories or show them video clips of people doing excellent things. The fine education professors I had at Emporia State University about a hundred years ago told us a bazillion times that if we wanted the lessons to stick, we had to model, model, model and then model some more so I try constantly to show them people who are getting it right. I have to admit though, doing things the right way often takes more energy and thought than doing it the wrong way. I’ve come to the conclusion that sin is pretty easy it’s the resisting that’s tough!
Doing the right thing is always a choice. I visited with a lady several weeks ago after I gave a talk and she told me she had been taught in elementary school by a beautiful nun who always told them “do the right thing for no other reason than because it’s the right thing.” Seems pretty straight forward but after some thought and prayer, it’s deeper than you think. Do the right thing not because you’ll be noticed or get an award or prize. Do the right thing just because it’s right. That was a thought I was peeling around with on my heart and I made a discovery…and not a good one. I realized how many times in a week I thought or even said, “I don’t want to.” Maybe it was because I was tired, or worried or indifferent but there were so many times I just didn’t bother to do the right thing and give a little extra.
This has all been on my heart and I came across a story about a great and holy man that I need to share with you and the middle lovelies. This great man was Pope John the XXIII. He had just kicked off the opening of Vatican II and he was exhausted. He was also battling stomach cancer and feeling it’s painful effects as he retired to his room. One of his aids called his attention to the massive crowd in St. Peter’s Square. He said, “I don’t want to talk, I’ve talked all day.” That was quickly followed as he lifted himself wearily from his chair by a “but I will do it anyway.” He went to the window and delivered his famous “Moonlight Speech.” It was impromptu, heartfelt and beautiful. He did the right thing for the people and more than fifty years later we still remember his words. His message was simple; “give honor to the impressions of this night, which are always our feelings, which now we express before heaven and earth: faith, hope, love, love of God, love of brother, all aided along the way in the Lord's holy peace for the work of the good. And so, let us continue to love each other, to look out for each other along the way: to welcome whoever comes close to us, and set aside whatever difficulty it might bring.”
That night when he had to be running on a completely empty tank, he offered love, peace and a simple message about the right thing to do. It isn’t just the middle lovelies that needed a lesson from Good Pope John…their teacher needed it too!
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of three “right things” you will do today.
Blessings on your day!
Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Proverbs 19:20
It’s easy to find God in church or in prayer but one of the things the middle lovelies and I talk a lot about is finding him, feeling him and seeing his work everywhere. He reveals himself to us in so many ways and I believe music is one of them. Every Tuesday we listen to a song and think about what Christ might be revealing to us through the lyrics. This week we were focusing on really listening instead of talking so much. That topic made the Tuesday Tune very easy to choose. We listened to the song Shut Up and Dance. We talked about the rude nature of the phrase but we came to an understanding that sometimes the phrase shut up could really catch our attention. I admitted there were probably plenty of times God wanted to scream that at me.
One of the kids started with the title and realized that dance was a good thing because in order to dance you needed to be matched up and close to the other person so they saw it as a message to be close with the Father. The kids were quick to point out that dance could be replaced with lots of words. They thought it could be God saying:
*shut up and listen to me
*shut up and pray
*shut up and stop worrying so much
*shut up and be kind to each other
*shut up and remember I made you perfect
*shut up and let me be the boss
*shut up and trust me to take care of the country
*shut up and be nice to everybody
They also thought the song might be about God getting our attention so we would stop doing things that could hurt our soul. When I dug a little deeper this is what they were thinking.
*shut up and stop lying
*shut up and be thankful
*shut up and stop disrespecting everybody
*shut up and quit doubting me
*shut up and stop putting yourself down
There is a line in the song that says “just keep your eyes on me” that was a favorite line because it was great advice. One big thinker said, “If we keep our eyes on the world and everybody else we might head in the wrong direction but if we keep our eyes on him, he will lead us home.” Another line says, “no holding back.” A very insightful fifth grader reminded us “Thats how we’re supposed to love him.”
Once again, I set out to teach but instead it was me who received all those lessons from a 4 minute song. I think maybe I’ll spend some extra time listening this week.
A Seed To Plant: Go to Youtube and listen to the song and begin thinking about all the things God would like you to be quiet and do.
Blessings on your day.
…you should aspire to live a tranquil life, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your own hands…1 Thessalonians 4:11
Do you remember the WWJD bracelet craze? What would Jesus do became the big question for a while. It was a great idea but I think it might be time for a new question. I don’t know about you but I seem to notice a whole lot of folks who think they know what everybody should be doing and they aren’t afraid to tell you. We seem to be running a little heavy on arm chair quarterbacks! Everywhere we turn these days somebody is evaluating somebody else’s words or actions like they are the expert on everything.
Free speech is awesome but it doesn’t mean you always have to use it or that you can use it with careless regard. Some day’s one sentence can turn into an entire segment on the evening news. Two things my mom always said make a whole lot of sense these days. 1) If you can’t say something nice don’t’ say anything at all and 2) Keep your nose in your own business. We seem to be spending a whole lot of time evaluating the thoughts, words and actions of others so that leads me to wonder if it’s time for a new question. I think the new question and bracelet should be WSID? What should I do?
Mother Teresa once asked a group of very influential people what needed to change most in this world to make it better, and more Christ like. Each person answered profoundly with things like; less greed, an end to world hunger, an end to violence and a variety of other truthful answers but she said the correct answer to that question is…ME. What should I do? The reason I think this is the great new question is because in order to know how I need to change and what I need to do I have to depend on God for the answer. If I’m calling out to and depending on Him, I’m less focused on others. I can’t be in charge of anybody else and heaven knows I’ve done enough stupid stuff myself so maybe if I worried less about what everyone else was doing and saying and more about what I was doing and saying I think that would be a very good thing. What if everyone started to ask WSID?
It probably won’t sell any bracelets but it sure would make the world more pleasant and holy. We won’t be judged in groups and we don’t get to weigh in our opinion on anyone else’s final judgement so perhaps we’d be better off just taking care of our own affairs instead of trying to get involved in someone else’s. It’s just a little question but it could have a marvelous answer.
A Seed To Plant: The next time you feel inclined to jump into a conversation or blurt out your opinion, stop and ask yourself WSID?
Blessings on your day!
…I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, Deuteronomy 30:19
October is the month we are called to “respect life”. We are reminded during this beautiful month to think about life in all it’s ages and stages and realize each of us is a precious child of God. Many of us are very passionate about protecting the unborn and we will fight like mama bears if we find out someone is mistreating the elderly. Those are causes we pray and fight for in many ways but what about respecting the life we are surrounded by every day. How are we at respecting our neighbors and co-workers and those folks who annoy us? October is a call to think about the way we respect ALL life. Last week during Adoration I challenged all the students at school to do four simple things to respect the people around them. The message was for the kids but I suppose a lesson in respecting others is good for everyone.
Each of us was created in the Image and Likeness of God. I used to teach the first graders that meant when God made us, he put a little piece of himself in our heart so he was always a part of us. If we realize God is a part of everyone we meet, and all his children are precious, we realize when we disrespect or hurt someone we are also offending the Creator. Nearly three hundred kids agreed that was a very bad idea! Here are four things we can do to respect each other.
K - Know that each and every person was created and is precious to the Creator. Saying or doing hurtful things to others hurts the Creator.
I - Invite and include others. We love to get invited to parties and weddings and celebrations but inviting others to sit with us, eat with us, pray with us or spend time with us makes them feel noticed and valued.
N - Notice the people around you. Notice if someone is sad or lonely or hurting. We weren’t made to be alone in this world, we were made for community and we all need to know we matter, so be on the lookout for the people who need a little friendship.
D - Decide to show everyone the mercy and love Jesus did. We decide dozens of things every morning why not add this important decision to the list.
When we put all four of these actions in motion, our hearts will change. We were created for life and good. When we hurt or disrespect others we aren’t choosing life. Life is full of enough difficulties and frustrations, we should be about the business of making life a little easier for those we share our days with. The lesson was a simple message for kids but there might be some nuggets of truth for the kid in all of us.
A Seed To Plan: Pick one of the four ideas and put it in motion today.
Blessings on your day!
Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world. Justice Antonin Scalia
Ugh…it’s election season and it’s getting so close it’s hard to stay out of the way of the slinging mud! I think this season bothers me so much because the majority of the conversation is about the mistakes, shortfalls and perceived weaknesses of another person. I get it, I really do…it’s about convincing and quite honestly, the bad stuff gets peoples attention. For as much as I hate all the negative, the arguing and the difficulty actually sifting out the truth, there is one good thing about this season; it forces me to ponder and pray about what I really believe.
Our morals and our beliefs absolutely come into play during an election season and it’s often something people twist and attack. Christianity just isn’t “cool” according to some and it is brushed away and trivialized like the stuff fairy tales are made of. I can get a little huffy when faith is dismissed as a part of the leadership equation because it’s hinged to everything. When I read these words from Justice Scalia I realized it was ok to be offended and suffer as so many dismiss Jesus and his teaching. It made me realize I put too much stock in what the world thinks and it’s ok if the world thinks I’m foolish for believing the way I do. I guess being a fool for Christ is the best kind of foolish their is.
It’s so easy to get overwhelmed with that “hell in a hand basket” feeling as the election draws closer and recently I had a some conversations with some folks who were definitely overwhelmed. In his great timing, someone shared this quote and as I passed it along; we all felt some peace and balance. Trump and/or Biden isn’t going to fix or keep America great. People are. Read to your kids. Show them how to find joy in work. Teach them what respect and kindness is. No politician will ever do that. It’s not the government’s job to teach people how to be happy. I wish I could re-write it and add Pray with your kids. Believe in and trust the one who is the author of happiness and the one who is greatness Himself. America will be great when we remember to live the Gospel.
I suppose the other thing that really bugs me about this season is my intense dislike for conflict! Christians are often under attack during this season and accused of being old-fashioned, narrow minded and judgmental. Those words are hard to hear but maybe they’re true. If keeping up with the times means ditching the Gospel than I think I’ll be old-fashioned. I can’t count the times in the last couple of weeks I’ve heard someone say, “You need to be more open-minded.” It was usually in the context of accepting something contrary to Christian beliefs and again, just because God communicates in crazy ways, I saw a quote from G.K. Chesterton that said “Do not be so open-minded that your brains fall out.” It made me laugh because it just put things in perspective.
As God’s children we can use this season for good. We can use it as a chance to ponder what we believe and how our actions back those beliefs. We can use this time to pray for those who are running for office and those who are doing the voting. We can also use this time to realize that God is the winner…the power…the authority…the everything, and make sure we’re hitched to his wagon!
A Seed To Plant: Just for one day, every time your see a campaign sign or hear a political ad, say a prayer for God’s blessing on our country. For extra credit, do it for a week!
Blessings on your day.
Above all else, guard your heart,for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23
All too often we look in a mirror and think things like, I wish my legs were longer or my nose was smaller. Maybe we notice our eyes or shoulders and don’t even get me started on the hips and thighs! We’re pretty quick to point out which body parts we would like to change but when was the last time you looked in a mirror and recited the list of body parts we really do like? A good friend shared a story with me this week that really made me stop and think about the best body part of all.
My friend and her kindergarten son were outside playing catch with a football. She threw a pass that slipped through his little hands and thunked him square in the chest. His reply was priceless. He grabbed his chest, looked at his mom and said, “Mom, you hit me right where Jesus lives.” Not quite comprehending what he said she asked him to say it again and he matter of factly looked her in the eyes and said, “Yeah mom, you hit me in the heart, you know, right where Jesus lives!” Out of the mouths of babes! His comment just melted my heart!
Every time I saw this little guy walking through the halls the rest of the week I just smiled and thought, now there’s a kid who has learned something really important! He also made me realize how important our heart is. It’s far more than a blood pumping, life sustaining organ, it’s the home of Jesus and I should probably give it a little more thought and honor! So, what is my heart like? Is it a suitable home for the Son of God? Is it tender and open or is it cold and guarded? I suppose if I paid a little more attention to the importance of that body part everyone might benefit.
How’s your heart? Does it give Jesus a great place to hang out or could it use a little re-modeling? It stands to reason that if Jesus goes into our heart and dwells there, the feelings, emotions and actions it stimulates should mirror the one who dwells there.
A Seed To Plant: Take some time in prayer today to examine your heart. Can people tell who lives there?
Blessings on your day!
We were made for another world. C.S. Lewis
In these days of uncertainty, frustration, division and all around craziness we have a job to do. Our job is to be grateful! Yup…you read that right! Gratitude is a powerful thing and I for one need to give it more of my attention. If you're wondering why the need for gratitude, read the words by C.S. Lewis again. They stopped me in my tracks because I realized all I was focusing on was the craziness of the world and I needed to shift my thinking and be grateful for the blessings and the trials of the day because they are the things that will help me grow in holiness and get ready for the world I was really created for. I quickly came to discover I was going to have to begin with my perspective and this little story helped me do just that.
A blind boy sat on the steps of a building with a hat by his feet. He held up a sign which read, “I am blind, please help.” There were only a few coins in the hat – spare change from folks as they hurried past. A man was walking by. He took a few coins from his pocket and dropped them into the hat. He then took the sign, turned it around, and wrote some words. Then he put the sign back in the boy’s hand so that everyone who walked by would see the new words. Soon the hat began to fill up. A lot more people were giving money to the blind boy. That afternoon, the man who had changed the sign returned to see how things were. The boy recognized his footsteps and asked, “Were you the one who changed my sign this morning? What did you write?” The man said, “I only wrote the truth. I said what you said but in a different way.” I wrote, “Today is a beautiful day, but I cannot see it.” Both signs spoke the truth. But the first sign simply said the boy was blind, while the second sign conveyed to everyone walking by how grateful they should be to see.
In order to grow in gratitude I turned to the Saints and grabbed three pieces of advice to help. Maybe they will help you too.
*St. Ambrose said “No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.” I spend too much time attending to things I think are urgent but these wise words helped me realize I needed to shift my priorities and redefine urgent.
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of things you are grateful for and claim the advice of one of the saints and ask them to intercede for you as you pray for a more grateful heart.
Blessings on your day!
He must increase, I must decrease. John 3:30
One of the many things I miss now that the Wohlfert house is so quiet is practice. For more than a decade and a half there was always some kind of practice going on. It didn’t matter if it was reading, math facts, band, sports or even target practice for hunting season, it seemed like somebody was always practicing something. There is nothing more humbling than a good hard practice at whatever it is you are trying to get better at. The problem was nobody really enjoyed practice except me. I loved seeing my kids work hard, sweat, be frustrated and eventually trade in frustration for sheer determination. Practice is good for you no matter what it’s for but human nature leads us to desire perfection or success without the work.
Stop for a minute and think of something you need to practice. A little tricky wasn’t it! If you had a hard time coming up with something to practice I’ve got just the thing. I was reading in a prayer book the other day and came across a fabulous one liner that was too good to keep to myself. This simple thought is so power packed it’s going to make for a very short post today. Before you read it though, I want you to think for another minute about three things you’ve been frustrated about recently. If my guess is correct at least two of the things that frustrated you involved another person. So much of our negative energy stems from a reaction or comment or behavior from another person that doesn’t line up with our personal expectations or desires. In the spirit of being frustrated with others and tugging along the negative energy that goes with it; here is that great thought I promised. We all need to practice the art of self-forgetfulness! Pope John Paul II.
Holy cow…how’s that for a show stopper! I think maybe we spend so much time worrying and fussing about how other people see, value, appreciate and honor us that we lose track of the only desire we should be motivated by; pleasing God. If I were to forget my own desires and comforts more often I think I would certainly have more time for faithfulness. If I stopped worrying about who saw me do what or who noticed this or that I wouldn’t have anything to be disappointed about when others didn’t register the “wonder and awe” I thought I deserved. I don’t’ know about you, but I think I just found my new thing to practice… thinking about the Father more and myself less The art of self-forgetfulness isn’t something our culture promotes but since when does our culture promote things that will get us to heaven? I think I’m gonna go with JPII on this one and get my “self-forgetfulness” in motion, how about you…are you up for some tough practice?
A Seed To Plant: This week when you feel frustrated, stop and ask yourself if you are practicing the art of self-forgetfulness. Get ready for some good hard practice!
Blessings on your day!
…There is a season for everything… a time for healing; a time for knocking down, a time for building. A time for tears, a time for laughter; a time for mourning, a time for dancing… Ecclesiastes 3:1-4
It’s been pretty quiet here at Joyful Words and for that I apologize. It turns out, I though I was a little larger than life and God has used the past two weeks to serve me some patience and humble pie. I was quite sure that I would bounce right back from my knee replacement surgery. My surgeon is a phenomenal doctor and the new knee he gave me was walking without a cane by day three. I was amazed at the mobility and overall fanciness of my two new knees. I began to look at my three weeks off school and I compiled a magnificent list of things to do; I was even thinking I would probably be heading back to school at least a week early. Then things changed. It was at about the week one mark it became very clear that my body and my mind were on two very separate schedules. It seems bone healing isn’t something I can assign a time table to. I offer this observation not as a complaint because I absolutely know how very fortunate I am. I know this pain is passing and I know despite my feeling of complete uselessness right now, I will bounce back quickly and hardly remember any of this.
Last week the reading from Ecclesiastes was God telling me to stop bossing him around. I suppose every now and again I get tangled up in the belief that God loves me when I’m busy. He loves me when I’m productive and teaching, writing, reading or working. I believe that its’ my “DOING” that he loves so the better I DO the happier he is. Nothing like a throbbing femur bone at 3 in the morning to get your attention. I’ve also been schooled the past ten days in timing and deadlines and I’ve been acutely aware of my fabulous ability to compare apples to oranges! My sweet daughter reminded me that in May when I got my first knee I was teaching from home and the pace of the world had screeched to hault. I wasn’t missing my kids and coworkers so much because they weren’t at school either. I wasn’t worried about somebody picking up my slack because nobody was in the building. I didn’t have to worry about what school outfits I could wear these ridiculous compression hose with because my school outfits were sweats!
There is a time for everything…even if you don’t like it! I can’t make bones heal faster or make sleep come. I can’t crank out a bunch of work when the only thing my body is screaming at me to do is sit still and heal. This little hiccup in my September has given me the chance to re-think my puny range of control on anything. I’m beginning to realize that all he asks is all I have…anything I have…everything I have even when it’s impatience and a dented pride. Not one single thing in this world would be different if I was going back to school this week instead of next week. I’m pretty darn certain I wouldn’t get into heaven any easier if I could be back to full function by tomorrow morning. Instead of trying to be the Bionic Woman, I should shut up, sit still and practice being Patient Woman or Humble Woman or better yet, HIS Woman. I’ve had a pretty big dose of “be still” when what I think I was pushing for was a big ole dose of “The Gospel According to Sheri”. Instead of saying, in this Joyful Words silence, “I have learned” it’s much more accurate to say, “ In this silence, I’ve become acutely aware of some lessons I need to work on!” Perhaps they might just be a lesson for you too!
A Seed To Plant: Where are three places you are trying to be the boss?
Blessings on your day!
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17
Growing up we always had a gigantic garden. I loved all the fresh vegetables that came from that garden but the potatoes were my favorite! Many things in life have changed but my love for potatoes has not! The first new little ones of the summer were the greatest. If you’ve ever looked at that first batch of new garden potatoes you’ll notice they are pretty bumpy and dimply and funny looking but they taste so good. Something about waiting so many months for a fresh new batch made them so special.
Potatoes are kind of funny when you think about it. They have to be dug out of the dirt. We spend so much time cleaning things and disinfecting things but during potato harvest you stand there looking into a big hole of dirt thinking YUM, these are gonna taste great! Sort of weird when you think of it but it’s really not so different than a lot of things in our life. God is so good at digging down through the muck and mess of our lives and scooping out the good.
I was at the grocery store the other day and saw a whole selection of baby potatoes. They made me think of new potatoes and I finished my shopping thinking about all kinds of things that are new. Some of the new things in my life have been exciting, like that first batch of new potatoes but some of the changes have been lumpy and bumpy. After nearly thirty years on the farm we moved to town. We’ve been here a month and there are so many things I like about this new address. I love the neighborhood full of kids and families. I love the neighbors who have delivered cookies and plants and the kids who have made pictures for my fridge. I love driving on pavement instead of muddy gravel roads and I’m so grateful for a new home (that’s completely clean). But I miss the noise of mooing and hummingbirds and deer I would watch from my front porch.
School is new! I’m happy to be back face to face with the middle lovelies. There are a lot of things that make teaching this year a new experience but it’s so good to be back. Going to mass outside on a beach towel and wearing a mask and eating lunch with my teacher family sprinkled many feet apart across the whole cafeteria is all new. Teaching in four different rooms in order to keep the kids safe and healthy in one spot is a very strange new. Not pulling a chair up next to a sad or struggling student or holding hands to pray together is a strange new too.
I’m getting my second shiny new knee this week and I’m grateful for that but it’s another new thing. Thinking about all this new stuff left me feeling a little old and overwhelmed. Then I remembered those great new potatoes didn’t always look so great so I thought about God looking into my life which at the time felt a little like a big ole dirty potato hole and saw things a little differently. I think I was resisting a little, wanting things to stay the same because it was comfortable but then I saw the beauty in the bumps and dimples. I began see the beauty in the new. I miss the farm but it’s a proud and happy thing to realize that Kevin was determined and successful enough to buy the farm. Yes, I will miss Shannon when she moves to Missouri after the wedding but she will be getting married to a fabulous young man and they will build a wonderful life. Then I began to think of another exciting new. New life, God’s promise that life is meant to move forward and change and in February Jason and Katie are going to have a baby that will bring so much new life and change and joy to our family.
When I see it through his eyes, I don’t see the bumps, dimples and dirt that comes with change and new stuff, he helps me see the growth, the love and my need for him.
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of “new things” happening in your lie and invite God into those new things. For bonus points, enjoy some potatoes this week!
Blessings on your day!
For we walk by Faith and not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7
Sometimes scripture can reach right up off the page and punch you in the nose! This verse socked me hard just as I was getting ready to throw my own little pity party. I’ve had several “careful what you wish for” moments this week and instead of throwing a fit, I decided to see what my Father had to say about things and this is right where I landed!
We follow a mighty God and he always leads us perfectly but sometimes we freak out a little when we realize we can’t see Him, or the path He has for us. I had to remind myself that my sight and His work were not necessarily a package deal. I have to live like I trust Him and live like I love him. This fall He has asked me to do some pretty crazy stuff and my heart has wound up in a twist several times but through it all I know He leads me.
It’s crazy how we go through warps of time where we are called to question everything we do. There are seasons of life where change seems to come at you like rapid fire from a Nerf gun. They aren’t all painful but they just keep coming. My role as a mother and wife has changed as the kids have all moved out. My role as a teacher has changed as education standards and practices have changed, my speaking ministry has blossomed and provided exciting travel opportunities and another ministry opportunity appeared from nowhere. I’m doing crazy fun things like meeting amazing people, doing radio interviews, not cooking every night because there are actually leftovers and helping 6th grade football and volleyball players learn to lead school prayer services. I’m beginning to realize that I’m not so young anymore. Several times recently I’ve been at meetings or events and found myself the oldest person in the room. My hair is sprouting some gray and my eyes have led me to be the owner of multiple pairs of reading glasses stashed everywhere! I’ve wondered a hundred times lately if I’m smart enough, funny enough, dedicated enough, energetic enough, young enough, old enough, prayerful enough and compassionate enough.
When I read this verse from Corinthians I realized I’m asking too many questions and trying to apply logic to God and that never works. I’m trying to SEE when He’s asking me simply to believe. That is so much easier! I don’t have to have answers to any of those silly questions, I just have to remind myself that I AM HIS and none of the rest of it matters. He will put me where I should be, doing what I should do, the way He wants it done, when it’s time. I just have to remember to walk by faith and find the joy He’s so generously sprinkling along the journey.
A Seed To Plant: Sit a while and pray about those spots you are having trouble navigating by faith and not by sight.
Blessings on your day!
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
Every marketing genius works their entire career in hopes of being the one who creates that slogan that catches everyones attention and makes their product a household name. Some of those slogans stick for years. I’m pretty sure I can still sing the McDonalds Big Mac song and I can still sing “I’d like to buy the world a Coke.” We know how to “Just Do It”, “Have it your way.” and “Leave the light on.” If only we could get the really important stuff in life to stick like a commercial.
I like to have the 6th graders choose a Scripture Verse to guide them through their last year at St. Mary School. I ordered a pack of scripture cards with the verses printed in really cool, eye-catching fonts and designs. As I was cutting them up and getting them ready for the kids one caught my attention. I think it just might be the most catchy slogan I’ve seen in a long time.
The card said, John 3:16…be a whosoever! I had to think about it for a minute and then I just laughed. It was a perfect one liner. One of those statements that just sort of snaps you to attention. The goal in this life is to live it in such a way we get to heaven. The question then is, who gets to heaven. The answer is right there in John 3:16; whosoever believes in God. I want to be a whosoever! The beautiful part of this verse is that I have to realize being a whosoever is possible because of what God gave us through his Son, Jesus.
It’s all here…the motive, the result and the promise. A whosoever lives like they recognize and appreciate the gift of Jesus. A whosoever realizes what they need to do and what the reward will be. The whosoever knows the promise and tries to live like they believe it! A whosoever is who I want to be. If I take control and forget to ask the Father for his plan, I’m not being a whosoever. If I gossip and behave selfishly, I’m not a whosoever. If I fumble my way through the day leaning on God’s guidance and believing in his power, then I’m on the road to being a whosoever. I think I might be saying to myself, “That wasn’t very whosoeverish!” Maybe it’s a slogan that just might help you point yourself in the right direction too.
A Seed To Plant: Make a “Be a Whosoever” sign and stick it somewhere visible this week and see if it changes your thinking and your actions.
Blessings on your day!
You have been told, O man, what is good, and what the Lord requires of you: Only to do the right and to love goodness and to walk humbly with our God. Micah 6:8
Well then, there you have it! The Prophet Micah summed it all up in one brief verse of Scripture! Do the right thing, love things that are good and walk humbly with God. So I’m wondering; if it’s that simple how do I manage to mess it up so often? I think the place where I get all snarled up is trying to make things more complicated than they need to be. I can be the “Queen of Overthinking” and it just leads me farther away from the honest, simple root of my purpose…anybody with me there? (I am seriously hoping there are readers out there nodding their head in agreement!)
Let’s see if I can back up the truck and do a better job with these three simple expectations. Step one: “do the right”. I guess I should ask myself, the “right” for whom? More often than I probably even recognize, I’m interested in doing what’s “right” for me! I have a tendency to do “Christian good” when it’s convenient for me. I’m good at helping and praying and doing nice things when it fits in the schedule but what about when I really have to go out of my way to do good? I also have to stop and ask myself about how many times I don’t “do right”. What if I know there is a conversation going on that I should keep my nose out of but I just have to listen in anyway, what do I do if the talk turns into gossip, how do I “do right” and get out of that conversation? I suppose this simple directive should keep me out of those conversations in the first place.
Step two: “Love goodness” I don’t think Micah was simply referring to lovely flowers and other good things found in creation. I think he was challenging us to something bigger. Here’s the deal with loving goodness…it isn’t always fashionable, popular or common. Loving goodness requires us to love without judgment. It means we look for the good and Christ like even in people who look very different than us. We can be pretty narrow in our description of what is “normal” in this society and turn a squinty eye at things that diverge from that vision. I believe the greatest sound and sight EVER is a child! They are the ultimate “Good” created by God. Not long ago I was visiting with a family who was joyfully announcing the upcoming birth of their 7th child and I was so excited for them and honored to share in their joy. That baby will be the most loved child on the planet! As I walked away from the family I overheard two women speaking critically about them and one woman said, “How do they think they are ever going to give that many children what they need? She doesn't even work so they are doomed to a life of hand-me-downs and Wal-Mart shoes.” I wanted to speak but the tears stung in my eyes and my heart hurt so bad I couldn’t even talk. if I had that moment to re-live I would ask when Nike’s and designer clothes became more important in forming Children of God than the overflowing love of a family. Loving goodness means having great compassion and respect for EVERYTHING God created and doing everything in our power to defend it without casting worldly judgments.
Step three: “Walk humbly with our God” The real trick with this one is to realize we can’t be in charge! It really should read, “Walk humbly BEHIND God.” We might do a better job if we remembered we can’t be first in our Christian walk, God Himself must occupy that spot. Walking humbly means coming to terms with the fact that we are NOTHING without HIM and the more we give Him credit for, the more He blesses us. God doesn’t need our approval or our praise in order to build Him up and support His ego or self-esteem…He needs praise and adoration from us so we can practice humility and submission to His will for our lives.
A Seed To Plant: Pick one of the three ideas from this reading from Micah and put it to work this week. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you choose the one your soul needs most!
Blessings on your day!
My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life. Psalm 119:50
I don’t always like doing hard or yucky stuff. As a kid I was more than happy to help my grandma do dishes or dust. I’m pretty sure I thought it was great stuff and I did it with a smile on my face! But when my own mom asked me to do the same things it was dreadful and I was known to occasionally insert some drama while I tried to worm my way of helping her.
This week more than 300 people I spend my school day with have been asked to do something hard and undesirable. In order to come back to in-person school the staff and 6th graders are masked all day and the younger kids are masked on the bus and while in the halls or working in groups. My classroom has been above 80 a couple days this week, making the mask even more undesirable. No matter where your opinion lands on the issue, the fact is, we do what is asked because that’s how bad we all want to be there. The kids have been amazing and so resilient! I’m so proud of them. The big lesson this week has been about suffering. Doing something hard or undesirable can be considered a suffering and the same grandma I helped dust and do dishes always said, “Don’t waste your suffering.” This week we made that our focus in an attempt to follow our friend Samantha’s advice and “Stay Positive”.
I don’t like hard stuff but I can easily do hard stuff for someone else so that’s the premise behind the question “Who are you wearing your mask for today?” It’s so powerful to pray for someone but it’s even more powerful to offer your suffering for them. It’s really as simple as saying, Lord, I offer this suffering to you. You can offer it for something or someone specific or ask the Lord to use your suffering to bless a soul in great need. We were on day two of answering “Who are you wearing your mask for?” and someone said they would wear their mask for someone who was having a tumor removed from their brain. We all agreed we would join in and offer some of our mask suffering for that intention too. The next day we found out that the surgery was such an amazing success the patient went home the same day they had surgery. When that story was shared I think every single person was touched and inspired and overwhelmed by the goodness of our God who took a simple suffering and used it in such a mighty way. As we walk into the building and put on those masks there is a change in attitude when we think or say, “This is for___.” I’m so happy to be back in school. I’m so happy to surround myself with middle lovelies who are so eager to grow in their faith and become disciples.
I hope the next time you have to do something hard or undesirable instead complaining, you’ll offer that small suffering to God. The result is great grace outpoured in powerful ways.
A Seed To Plant: Pick a suffering you can offer to God this week and before you do it, remember to think about “Who it’s for”!
Blessings on your day!
…“Come and see.” John 1:46
I’ve been going to school for decades but this morning feels like my first, first day ever! One of the amazing teachers I work with posted a meme yesterday that said starting school this year was going to feel like flying a plane while we were building it! Truth!!
Today some are starting school in person like St. Mary in Westphalia, some are starting virtually, some are starting at home and some are waiting. Each decision was made by a small group of people who are doing what they think is best for the kids they serve. What once was a universal thing, consistent across the board, has become a crazy assortment. I was feeling a little uneasy about that until I read the line, “come and see” from todays Gospel.
Even though the first day of school looks a little wonky, God is still the Father of us all. He is still bigger than a virus or any policy maker. He’s waiting to meet us in the new, the challenging and the weirdness of this new school year. He’s inviting us to dive in and do what we’ve been asked to do and “come and see” what he’s got planned. I won’t enjoy teaching in a mask all day when it’s 90 degrees in Michigan but I’m so excited to see the next crew of middle lovelies I can hardly wait to bust through the front door of school.
Today I ask your prayers for students, parents, teachers and school leaders as we all try to figure out how to live out our vocation. Please ask God to remind us to “come and see” where he’s working in all of this.
A Seed To Plant: Pray for children today!
Blessings on your day!
“Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.” Luke 15:31
I heard someone on the radio the other day talking about the story of the Prodigal Son so I decided to give it another read and do some thinking on it. Every time I read the story I get angry with the first son. According to the customs of his time, asking for his inheritance was the same as saying his father was dead to him. As a parent I just can’t imagine what it must have felt like to be so bitterly betrayed by my own son. As I read on, I sometimes find myself cheering for the second son…the one who was obedient, hardworking respectful and never asked for anything. He seems like the good son for sure…or does he? Surely the first son is the bad son…or is he? As I prayed on this passage from Luke’s Gospel I began to see myself in both sons. I’m not gonna lie…I didn’t like that idea very much!
I saw myself in the second son but not for good reasons. Yes I try to be obedient to God’s will and yes I try to be grateful and conservative and not demanding but this wasn’t what was stirring in my heart. The second son was all about entitlement. He wasn’t concerned about his brother, he was concerned about himself. He didn’t stop for 2 seconds to see the relief or joy in his father’s eyes. He didn’t stop for 2 seconds to realize what a tremendous act of “pride swallowing” his brother had just demonstrated. And he certainly didn’t stop long enough to think about how extravagantly his father would shower him with love if given the chance. It was a gigantic open and shut case of “that’s not fair!” Why is it we have such a hard time being genuinely happy for others when good fortune comes their way and not ours? I guess I need to think more about the blessing of generosity and less about keeping score. I heard a story not long ago about a wealthy couple who had attended a fundraising event and won the big cash prize. The audience was full of second sons who whispered among themselves about how that couple certainly didn’t deserve to win. What all those whisperers didn’t know is that the couple humbly accepted the cash prize and used every penny of it to buy groceries, diapers and gas cards for two struggling young families in their church.
The first son…what could he possibly have to teach me? I smugly thought I would never be so bold, wasteful, irresponsible and disrespectful. God wouldn’t let it off my heart so I stayed a while longer and thought about that lousy first son and as I sat and prayed, he began to sprout some redeeming qualities. I began to consider things like his courage, humility and desire to reconcile. He knew he had hurt his father but something deep inside him wanted to make that right. He wasn’t asking to have everything back to normal; he was willing to be a hired man, not a son. True, his return might have been motivated by selfish reasons like hunger and pride but I can’t even imagine being brave enough to take the risk. He had to be willing to own up to every one of his mistakes and face the judgment and consequences that might come. He left home prideful and arrogant and he returned broken and weak and a complete failure, but yet he returned. As he walked down that road to his father’s house every weakness was on full display. I’m not sure I could muster that kind of honesty. I can go to all sorts of lengths to conceal my weaknesses and failures; it must have been quite a task to lay it all on the line like he did. I noticed that not once did the son offer any kind of excuse or rationale for his behavior. He just told it like it was and hoped to be accepted in spite of the brokenness he brought with him; I don’t know about you but I could take a lesson there!
I spent so much time thinking about the sons, I forgot the star of the story…the father. The father in this story is our father too. Our Heavenly Father loves us with the same unconditional love as the father in the story. He will always welcome us back no matter what we’ve done or where we’ve been and he will be so happy to see us there will be great rejoicing. He loves us even when we’re too busy keeping score to realize only he knows the perfect reason blessings are bestowed as they are. I realized he wants us to know his forgiveness and his generosity. He wants us to remember our job isn’t to focus on the behavior of his children; our job is to focus on the love of the Father.
A Seed To Plant: Pick a favorite Gospel story and give it a read with fresh eyes, asking God to put you right into the story so he can reveal his truth and love to your heart.
Blessings on your day!
For where two or three gather in my name, I am there among them.’ Matthew 18:20
The past two weeks have been a giant “welcome back”! I didn’t realize how much I missed live ministry and physical connection until it came barreling back into my calendar. I’ve been meeting with teacher friends, celebrating weddings and presenting teacher retreats. I’m typing this blog from a teeny airport in Kearney Nebraska at the tail end of a fabulous weekend spent with some beautiful Catholic women. My heart is so full and I am so grateful to have been a part of the two or three or many who have gathered!
After months of very little on my calendar, it took a bit of recalibrating to get back into full school/ministry mode. As I have been traveling this month I realize we are all readjusting. Some folks are are like labrador retriever puppies released from a basket. They are so happy and exited and they wanna hug everyone and talk to everyone and be right next to everyone. I’ve discovered some folks are fearful and nervous about being out and about. They want to keep their distance and they want others to do the same. The third group of people I notice are those who really aren’t sure what to feel. Guess what…they are all ok! Each group is right…each reaction is correct. I’ve gotten much better these past few weeks at noticing, observing and respecting. I suppose those are skills we can all work on a little.
I’d like to thank the lovely ladies in Nebraska and the beautiful Catholic School Teachers I’ve spent time with this month for some great lessons. I’ve learned that you can see people smile even if they’re wearing a mask. I’ve learned you can sense emotion and offer comfort even if you’re six feet apart. I’ve learned that we truly are made for connection. I’ve learned that despite the apprehension about a virus, most folks really want to get back to some kind of regular or familiar. I’ve learned that compassion trumps opinion and listening is more therapeutic than ever. I’ve learned that this pandemic has affected us deeply and so very differently and those differences are best handled with understanding and respect. It really isn’t a good time to pick sides because when we’re fragile, confrontation just adds to the brokenness and division we are all desperately trying to figure out and mend.
I have tremendous respect for leaders who are responsible for bringing people back together. I’m thankful for teachers who are coming back because they love kids and they know they have to figure out how to get them together because they need it so much. I’m thankful for a group of Nebraska women who choose to attend a Catholic Conference and open up their worried hearts to the love of the Father. I’m in awe of the people who shared their struggles and their burdens with me this month, reminding me that we desperately need connection so we can share and laugh and pray and sometimes cry together about the craziness that has swirled around us these past months. Mostly I have realized how important it is to pray for each other and remember everyone is trying to do the best they can and when we do gather, know He is there too.
A Seed To Plant: This week pray for school teachers and leaders as they prepare to welcome kids back to school…however that looks.
Blessings on your day!
Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:11
Good morning! The new house is almost ready...the old house needs some cleaning before the new farmer takes over...there are about 70hundred boxes that need to be moved and dealt with...a few schools have asked me to come help them prayerfully get ready for this crazy new school year...I need to get ready for this crazy new school year myself. My head is pretty full of lists and ideas and details so my writing will be quiet for a while. God is so busy working in all of this great stuff going on...there is so much to celebrate and be excited about...I know he will work mightily in this mess and I know I'll have so many things to write about as I stand back and watch what he does, but for now...I just need to put the laptop away and get busy. I'll be back with more joyful words soon...I just wanted to let you know it's gonna be quiet for a bit.
A Seed To Plant...drag out and pray the litany of trust I posted a couple weeks ago...we could all use it as we head into August!
Blessings on your day
Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. Luke 24:45
I don't know abut you but I feel so much better with some laughter in my day. As I was thinking about getting ready to go back to school I realized I really needed to laugh so as I sat with my new planner I closed my eyes to remember funny moments in my teaching career and one immediately popped into my head and a blog just seemed to follow!
One spring afternoon, my students were taking a bathroom break and one of the boys came running back into the classroom and announced in a very loud voice, “Hey Mrs. Wohlfert, Johnny (name changed to protect the innocent) got his thing stuck in the thing.” My dumbfounded, “What?” was met with a grin and a “you better get in there quick!” After making sure my first trip into a boys bathroom was safe and clear, and it was established that the “stuck thing” was a commonly visible body part, I wiggled open the stall door and I was greeted by the sight of one of my most curious minded first grade boys kneeling on the floor with his arm stuck, clear past the elbow, in the double roll toilet paper dispenser. The harder he tried to pull it back out, the more tightly it became wedged by the paper divider. He was pinched, frightened and crying. Once I freed his arm, he crawled on my lap and sobbed. When he settled down a little, I asked, “So, what exactly were you trying to do?” He sniffed and said,“Well I think I just wanted to figure it out.”
I don’t know about you,but I spend a lot of time trying to figure things out myself. How many times have you heard people say,“Life doesn’t come with an instruction manual.”? I think we get busy trying to figure out how life works on our own, and like Johnny, we get stuck! The truth is, life does come with an instruction manual, and the wise Christian, spends time with it each and every day they wake up and draw breath. All the answers are there, all the wisdom is there, all the comfort, hope, peace and direction we could ever need lies right there in the Bible between Genesis and Revelations. God has spelled it all out for us, clearly and lovingly.
I remember the first time I picked up Scripture and cried out to God to get me out of a pickle. I closed my eyes, opened up my Bible to find the answer and landed right in Matthew’s Gospel, reading about the genealogy of Jesus. “How is this supposed to help?” I screamed. It turned out His help was there in that long list of names I couldn’t pronounce. He was pointing me to my family; all those people are my people! Their lives tell a story of faithfulness and mistakes and triumph and tragedy. They model what to do and what not to do. That chapter was the introduction to the Fathers love, faithfulness, mercy and discipline. They were just waiting for me to ask for help and guidance. Even when we don’t know quite what we’re asking for, God is there, ready to use His“instruction manual” to guide us. He loves us too much to make us figure it out on our own.
Many will say they don’t often read Scripture because they don’t always understand it. The key to understanding Scripture is to ask God to reveal its meaning to you. Each time you pick up His word, ask Him to open your heart and your mind so you will be ready to absorb a word or a phrase. I think we’re much better off focusing on a small passage rather than a page or whole chapter. Once you ask God to guide your understanding, read the passage slowly and carefully and then just sit and let it percolate in your mind and your heart. Sometimes He uses Scripture to help us figure something out on the spot, other times He intends for us to save that instruction for later. Either way, He’s using His word to inspire, guide and instruct.
A seed to plant: Make a promise right now to carve out 15 minutes each day for the next week. Commit to using that time to sit quietly with Scripture. Begin by asking God to open your heart and mind to understand the words He would have you read. If you aren’t sure where to begin, pick one of the four Gospels, the stories and instructions within those pages are amazing! I guarantee, these will be the best minutes of your week!
Blessings on your day!
…You are fearfully and wonderfully made…Psalm 139:14
I was looking through some beginning of the school year questions the other day and one that I’ve seen dozens of times held my attention for a long time. The question was, if you could be any animal which would you be. I pondered lots of choices and dismissed most of them for silly reasons. I didn’t want to be a lion or gator because I didn’t want people to be afraid of me. I didn’t want to be a cheetah because I hate running and I didn’t want to be a skunk for obvious reasons. I wondered about being tiny like a hummingbird and giant like a hippopotamus. After much thought I settled on a dog.
Dogs are loyal, enthusiastic, friendly and affectionate. Puppies especially are adorable and tend to bring laughter and delight. Dogs are also intelligent, helpful and easy to get along with. They don't need a lot of expensive stuff and they are usually very content. In my mind, it was the answer that made sense. The funny thing is that those are all qualities I really admire in people. I thought about this question far longer than I care to admit so then I turned it to prayer and wondered what the Father was teaching.
Animals have characteristics that are meant to help them survive and take their place in the order of creation. The same is true for each of us. We aren’t supposed to all be alike. Each of us was perfectly created by the Father who loves us to be, act and think differently. Our differences were meant to make us stronger and to help us grow in holiness. We seem to have lost sight of that. We would never expect a shark to be as cuddly as a kitten or a giraffe to snuggle up at the foot of our bed. We wouldn’t expect a tiger to help bring in the cattle and elephants perched in trees chirping delightfully would be a little terrifying. Maybe God was reminding me to open not only my eyes but my heart to the differences he purposefully designed in each of us. We have so much to learn and appreciate and respect when we walk among God’s sons and daughters but we have to open our eyes and notice.
As I pondered the silly question that started all of this I realized it helped me notice the beauty in everything God created. The next day I found this line in a prayer book and it seemed like the perfect lesson. Lord, Lord, I could learn so much if I would notice before I nag and pray before I panic.
A Seed To Plant: Spend some time this week with that line from the prayer book and if you really want a distraction think about the animal question too.
Blessings on your day!
Whoever watches his mouth and tongue keeps himself from trouble. Proverbs 21:23
This is a weird post…I have no words today. Every now and again when I’m busy or just can’t get the words right he leads me to a re-post that fits but that isn’t the case today. Today, I just don’t have words and I think that’s exactly where the lesson is. The lesson today is “Sheri, just shut up!” I think I’ve been entered into the school of silence. I think he put me there because there is too much talking…too much reading…too much listening…way too many words being hurled around…too much pontificating and judging. Maybe I’m not the only one who needs to come to the school of silence. There is so much to navigate right now and I think if I’m busy thinking and talking and planning I can’t hear him tell me how to do all of this.
Two of my favorite saints suggest that silence might be just what we need a little more of. Their wisdom brought peace to my troubled soul this morning. So I’ll do as they suggest and just be quiet and ask the Father to quiet my noisy mind, my swirling heart and my busy hands so I can remember the sound of his voice whispering his plan.
Patience, prayer and silence; these are what give strength to the soul. St. Faustina
Silence is God’s first language. St. John of the Cross
A Seed To Plant: Turn off the noise…all of it for an hour or a day and steep yourself in his silence.
Blessings on your day!
Do not be afraid…1 Kings 17:13
The other night I was making dinner and I reached in the cupboard to grab the olive oil. I pulled out the dark green bottle and began to pour, only to discover that instead of a stream of oil coming from the bottle all I was seeing was a few drips! I immediately got frustrated at the inconvenience. Instead of quickly finishing up, I had to go dig through the pantry and hopefully retrieve a full bottle. After just a few seconds of looking and re-shuffling the pantry I found a full bottle and returned to my task. As I stood there in my kitchen stirring I was wondering who it was who emptied the old one without replacing it and why couldn’t they have just taken a few more seconds to replace the bottle instead of leaving the work to me. Then like a smack to the head, I remembered the story of the widow and Elijah from the Old Testament.
If you remember the story, Elijah shows up at this widow’s house during a time of famine and asks her for some water to drink and something to eat. She looks at him and lets him know she’d love to help but can’t. She honestly reports that she has only a bit of oil and a tiny bit of flour and she was getting ready to prepare the last of it for a meal for herself and her son…get this…and then they were going to die because there was no more food. Pause there for a minute…replay…I’m going to use the last drops of oil and spoons of flour to make a cake (yum ?) for us and then we will prepare to die. Not, then I will go to the pantry and get more oil. Not, then I will run to the store and buy more oil or go to the neighbor’s house and borrow more. I will use what I have and that is the end of it all. I can’t even imagine!
As I stood in my kitchen embarrassed about my little empty oil bottle tiff and the widows story I began to see things differently. I glanced over at a full pantry. Behind me was a full refrigerator and on the counter was a bowl of fruit all of which could probably feed a village in some places of the world and suddenly the word plenty was the only one I could think of. I have plenty; plenty of food, plenty of money, plenty of clothes, plenty of EVERYTHING but yet I often focus on what I don’t have instead of what I have plenty of. All of the sudden I felt pretty small, pretty foolish and pretty ungrateful.
The widow’s story continues when Elijah tells her to go ahead and make him some food and the Lord will take care of her and her son. In an unbelievable act of faith she uses the rest of her resources to feed Elijah and as promised, her oil jug and her flour jar never ran dry. The story is about so much more than kitchen staples! God offers the same promise to us each and every day. Just trust me, I will take care of you because I love you and I will reward your faithfulness. The widow loved God more than she loved her stuff. The widow was generous and trusting to an extreme; and her generosity and faithfulness were rewarded to an extreme. It’s a story that offered me perspective and reflection. It made me think about my own gratefulness and trust and generosity. I can’t change all the crazy stuff going on in the world right now but I can’t help but think how much different things would be if we focused on a few of the widow’s lessons and figured out how to use them in our own life.
A Seed To Plant: Read the story from 1Kings 17:7-16 and ask God to help you reflect on the story and show you how he wants you to draw closer to him.
Blessings on your day!
The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him I trust and I am helped…Psalm 28:7
A few weeks ago I said that “I don’t know” was probably my most spoken sentence. As the craziness seems to escalate and the unanswered questions keep piling up, I have tried to swap “I don’t know.” for “Jesus show me how.” It brings me peace because I know he will guide us through this whole mess but I asked for more peace, more understanding and more loving calmness for my family, my friends and my school family. As he always does, he gave me exactly what I asked for, and as usual, I didn’t pick up on it right away. Three times in the last week I have come across this prayer and finally got it. I’m a little slow on the uptake sometimes but the third time I “stumbled onto” this prayer I realized it’s exactly the balm my soul and spinning mind needed.
At a time when there have been so many lines drawn in the sand I’m not sure where to step, I needed to re-claim the truth. I needed to remember the way to heaven is paved by my trust in Jesus, not my trust in a human. “I don’t know” what the first day of school will look like but I know “Jesus will show me how” he wants me to reach my students that day. I’m pretty sure “did you wear your facemark” and “did you maintain proper social distance in 2020” won’t be on an entry exam to heaven but I’m sure every uncomfortable thing…every sacrificial thing…every difficult or ridiculous thing I’m asked to do can help me grow in holiness. When my head starts to spin about whose bossing us around and why, I have to come back to, Jesus I trust you…I know I am your beloved daughter and I know everything I do on earth is a part of my path back to you if I trust, surrender, obey and REMEMBER HOW ADORED I AM BY THE ONE WHO CREATED ME! So todays post is the balance and the truth we all need a big ole dose of today.
Litany of Trust
From the belief that I have to earn Your love … Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear that I am unlovable … Deliver me, Jesus.
From the false security that I have what it takes … Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear that trusting You will leave me more destitute … Deliver me, Jesus.
From all suspicion of Your words and promises … Deliver me, Jesus.
From the rebellion against childlike dependency on You … Deliver me, Jesus.
From refusals and reluctances in accepting Your will … Deliver me, Jesus.
From anxiety about the future … Deliver me, Jesus.
From resentment or excessive preoccupation with the past … Deliver me, Jesus.
From restless self-seeking in the present moment … Deliver me, Jesus.
From disbelief in Your love and presence … Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being asked to give more than I have … Deliver me, Jesus.
From the belief that my life has no meaning or worth … Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of what love demands … Deliver me, Jesus.
From discouragement … Deliver me, Jesus.
That You are continually holding me, sustaining me, loving me … Jesus, I trust in you.
That Your love goes deeper than my sins and failings, and transforms me …Jesus, I trust in you.
That not knowing what tomorrow brings is an invitation to lean on You … Jesus, I trust in you.
That You are with me in my suffering … Jesus, I trust in you.
That my suffering, united to Your own, will bear fruit in this life and the next …Jesus, I trust in you.
That You will not leave me orphan, that You are present in Your Church…Jesus, I trust in you.
That Your plan is better than anything else … Jesus, I trust in you.
That You always hear me, and in Your goodness always respond to me …Jesus, I trust in you.
That You give me the grace to accept forgiveness and to forgive others …Jesus, I trust in you.
That You give me all the strength I need for what is asked …Jesus, I trust in you.
That my life is a gift … Jesus, I trust in you.
That You will teach me to trust You … Jesus, I trust in you.
That You are my Lord and my God … Jesus, I trust in you.
That I am Your beloved one … Jesus, I trust in you.
A Seed To Plant: Print or write this prayer and pray it when you feel unsettled, uncertain or anxious about the world around you.
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. I was weeding my big flower bed (completely yucky task!) recently and 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 led me to think about the story of manna in the book of Exodus. 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!
And he said, “The one who sows the good seed, is the Son of Man Matthew 13:37
With everything swirling around in the world today it’s easy to get overwhelmed. As I think of going back to school next month, I wonder what that will look like. When I talk to parents, I feel the uncertainty and concern bubble up into the conversation. I don’t have any answers but I do know that the Father will bring us out on the other side of all this and we will all be ok! I saw this little story the other day and it reminded me that we are in the middle of making some history. This whole pandemic…this whole weird season of our lives… will be remembered. The how is the important part…how will we remember it and how will history remember the way we lived through it. That made me think.
A man was watching his eighty year old neighbor planting a small peach tree. He inquired of him, “You don’t expect to eat peaches from that tree, do you?” The old man rested on his spade. He replied, “No, at my age I know I won’t. But all my life I have enjoyed peaches - never from a tree I planted myself. I’m just trying to pay the other fellows who planted the trees for me.”
I don’t know how any of this started…I don’t know how any of this will end, but one thing is for sure, our attitude, our actions and our prayers will have an impact on our children, our grandchildren and the folks who remember all of this. So I guess the question is, am I going to plant peach trees or thorn bushes. Both will last and both will be noticed for a long time to come but only one bears a desirable fruit that brings good. History is full of great, simple, faithful people who weathered storms and tragedy and chaos I can’t even begin to imagine. When I hear their stories I am inspired by their faith, their determination, their strength and their perseverance. Those who lived through war and economic disaster and telegrams of lost sons in war bore a burden that hurst my heart to think about but most of them planted peaches and when I read about their lives I’m filled with hope.
“I don’t know” seem to be the most frequently used words in my vocabulary these days and I suppose it’s time I remember what I DO know. I DO know that the Father loves us. I DO know I will teach and children will laugh and learn and succeed and stumble and I will be blessed to watch it all! I DO know gratitude, trust, compassion, mercy and kindness are running shorter than fear, doubt, arguing, blame and dishonesty these days. I suppose we could think of the first five as peaches and the second five as thorns. I think I’ll get busy “planting peach trees” so my students and children and grandchildren will have something good to enjoy beyond all this craziness.
A Seed To Plant: Spend some time in prayer thinking of ways you can trade thorn bushes for peach trees.
Blessings on your day!
Click on the items below to expand the options available to you to explore the Joyful Words blog.