“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble; but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
I’m sure we’ve all had those moments when we really wanted to “tell it like it is” or truly give someone a “piece of our mind” but we didn’t . In all truthfulness, that’s probably a good thing and I firmly believe the Holy Spirit clamps down my tongue often before I spit out something I’d regret later. I’ve discovered the older I get the easier it is to keep my negative thoughts to myself and I have the Holy Spirit and a sweet little nun to thank for that. I had several lovely visits with Sister Margaret a few years ago and sometimes her powerful and loving words pop into my head at the most random times. Perhaps her greatest advice was to “let nothing pass your lips unless it leaves a heart better, happier or more in love with the Lord….and that includes your own.”
There is plenty to spout off about and it seems to be in style these days but it doesn’t seem to be making anything or anyone better. So in trying to figure out what to do instead of being sucked down into the mud; I remembered Sisters advice about picking something better. Our days are full of beautiful things but they aren’t always the things I pick to look at, think about or focus on first. Sisters words rang in my ears all last week and here’s how they worked…
*I can think about how challenging it is to teach during a pandemic; all the extras, the changes, the masks, the protocols or I can pick something else. I can pick the kindergartners who were in the middle of a giggle fest as the tried to help each other put on their snow boots.
*I can think about the days that start 40 minutes earlier than any other year or I can wake up and smile because some fabulous mystery person had a brand new fancy Keurig Coffee Maker shipped to me. It was a complete surprise that still makes me smile every time I think about the day that big box was delivered! I can think a bout how rude people on TV are or I can pick the absolute generous thoughtfulness from a stranger who knows that coffee is something I love!
*I can think about the unrest in our country or I can pick the middle lovelies who make me laugh every day and surprise me and frustrate me and remind me everyday that I have the hardest and best job ever because I have a chance to watch them grow as leaders and disciples and I have hope that someday they’ll take all the the life lessons they’re learning and make great leaders…better leaders…faithful leaders.
*I can think of all the ways I fall short or I’m not enough or I can pick the beautiful life God’s given me. The family, friends, community, students, parents; all of them who God has plunked me right in the middle of and be so grateful.
*I can think about the cold and snow and Michigan gray or I can pick the promise of spring that lies under that snow.
*I can think about all the ministry and travel and people I’m missing our on during this pandemic or I can pick the peace and time I have to read, study and be with my family.
*I can think about getting old; gray hairs, joints that don’t move as fluidly as they once did or I can pick the fact that those things have brought me to the stage in life where I get to meet my first grand baby any day now.
*I can think about my baby girl getting married and moving to Missouri or I can pick the joy in knowing she is about to begin a wonderful life together with a mad who adores her and I get to watch their happily ever after unfold.
I think Sister Margaret would want us to focus on inviting Jesus and his Holy Spirit into our own thought and words and actions so we could pick the things that would make the world better, happier and pleasing to the Lord. We won’t be judged in groups or towns or countries…it’s a solo event. I can’t change anything except myself, so this week…I pick positive and grateful and peaceful!
A Seed To Plant: What will you pick this week?
Blessings on your day!
Yet, oh Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay and you the potter: we are all the work of Your hands. Isaiah 64:7
I can close my eyes and see it sitting there on the top shelf of the cupboard above the plates and cereal bowls. I couldn’t reach it, so it was always someone else’s job to put it away after I had carefully dried it. It was a turquoise blue, glass casserole dish, the only one my mom had, and it was something she treasured. My dad gave it to her for Christmas, and if she pulled it out to use for supper, I knew she was going to be making something special. One day when I was about ten, I came home from school and Mom was on her way to a meeting. She asked me to put the casserole dish in the oven at 5 o’clock. I felt so important! I quickly raced to the kitchen and peeked under the glass lid to see what she had assembled inside the dish…it was beautiful; it looked like something you’d see in a cookbook picture. Well, the appointed time had come, I opened the oven door, and as I lifted the casserole dish up to slide it into the oven, it slipped right out of my hands, crashed to the floor, and shattered into pieces. I didn’t even consider the fact that I had just ruined supper. I just felt awful about breaking her casserole dish.
I managed to clean up the mess before Mom got home, and I even began to prepare a “plan B” supper. However, the hardest task of all was to hand Mom that collection of broken glass. She stared at it in silence for a moment, asked me if I was OK and then said, “Well, now it’s time to get creative. Your dad and brothers will be hungry, and it’s almost time to eat.” That was it…no scolding, no lecture, no disappointed glance, it was just time to get creative and move on. It was one of those events that just stuck with me.
I recently heard a pastor say, “God loves broken vessels!” My mind immediately rushed back to our kitchen in Hoyt, Kansas, when I was ten staring down at that mangled mess of turquoise-colored glass and casserole. My mom’s words echoed in my mind, “It’s time to get creative.”
We are each lovingly and perfectly crafted vessels made precisely by the hands of a compassionate potter. When we sin, it’s as if our vessels become chipped or cracked or leaky. I don’t know about you, but I’ve managed to put some real “dings” in my vessel over the years. If you get a crack or a leak in your favorite mug or dish, it no longer functions the way it was intended to. When we sin, we drift a bit from the Father’s love and, just like that broken vessel, we don’t function quite the way we were intended to either. Luckily, we are more valuable than mugs without a handle or casserole dishes broken into dozens of pieces. The Father is never going to throw us out! Instead, he uses our weakness to demonstrate His strength. If we have a chip or a leak, He invites us to come to Him and give Him a chance to restore us; to make us strong and purposeful again. He is the potter that created us. We are the work of His hands. So, if we need to be restored and have our purpose renewed, all we have to do is ask Him, and He will create us anew…as many times as we need it! God loves broken vessels because they require His strength, and any time we give Him the opportunity to show His strength by admitting our weakness, we are blessed.
A seed to plant: Identify a chip or a leak in your vessel, and ask God to strengthen and restore that imperfection in your life. Pick a different one tomorrow and a new one after that but don’t forget to make a list of the blessings you receive as the potter lovingly restores your vessel.
Blessings on your day!
And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. John 8:32
Last week our word of the week was courage. When I asked the middle lovelies to tell me what courageous things they’d done, I got some; I rode a roller coaster; I rode with my sister when she was just learning to drive and I ate the brown meat at my aunt’s house. They were great but I was trying to get them to something bigger and then…the Holy Spirit saved the lesson when one boy said, “I think it was courageous when I went upstairs on my own and told my Dad I had lied to him and blamed my brother for something I’d done wrong.” BINGO! That’ exactly the kind of holy courage the week was intended to help us think about. It takes a lot of courage to seek and speak the truth.
It’s report card week so in order to complete that task so that I don’t loose my job…I thought I’d just spit out some truths we might need to chew on this week.
**The world fills us so full, we're not hungry for God.
**Temptation is an invitation to leave the truth and enter deception.
**We're trusting Him for eternity but not for earth.
**If we’re jealous; we’re not grateful.
**Complaining is the greatest form of selfishness.
Now, lets pray for the courage to do something great with these truths.
A Seed To Plant: As you sit in prayer this week, carefully ponder those five sentences and ask God to show you how they fit in your life.
Blessings on your day!
…and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.” Matthew 1:23
I don’t know about you, but I love those little “life hack” videos that pop up on my newsfeed. Things like putting hot glue dots on your hangers to keep slippery closes from falling off or 20 ways to organize junk, using random items around the house. Granted, some of them are pretty ridiculous but most of them come from folks who are way smarter and more creative than I am so I find myself watching and saying, “Seriously, that is awesome, why didn’t I think of that!” My mind likes simple, efficient and logical so if someone wants to pass along a little of that I’m gonna soak it up!
What I really love though, is when someone can give me some “life hacks” for my discipleship! Sometimes I can try to do 40 things at once to try to be holier and wind up in a tail spin. That’s usually when I get discouraged and feel like I’ll never be “good” enough to get to heaven. I’m getting better at promptly stopping that kind of thinking and calling it out for what it is…discouragement and we all know who throws that up in our face! That’s when we need to stop and say “Oh No…not today satan! You messed with the wrong disciple!” I know that no matter how crooked my path gets or how twisted around I become, as long as my heart is headed in HIS direction he’s gonna grab my hand and put me on his path if I call out for guidance. It’s like DIVINE GPS. (I’m pretty sure GPS stand for Gods Perfect Strategy) My discipleship and my path to holiness often looks like a fish floppin around on the bank, so anytime I can find a quick “something” to snap me back and return me to water, I’m happy. I found a little something that does just that so I thought I’d share. Like all those great tips and tricks we find on the “inter-webs” this isn’t mine but if it’s helpful, it’s worth sharing so…thanks to no work of my own…here ya go!
It begins with reminding ourselves of a simple fact. Since we were created in the image and likeness of God, then he’s always in us and with us. In short, we don’t need to do a lot of hard fancy stuff to get his attention because we never leave his gaze. I can’t hide from him so I can never really be lost. It’s simple but I can’t count the number of times I forget that. Remembering that is step one, step two is remembering the word WIT. This teeny word can lead us to holiness and save us from bad decisions, stupid actions and regrettable words. Here’s how it works. Jesus, live this day (or this moment; or this event; or this situation) WITH me; Live it IN me; Live itTHROUGH me. If you want the quicker version, at that split second when we’re about to gossip or lie or judge or lip off impatiently, or be afraid, what if we stopped long enough to say “Jesus, with me, in me and through me!” I’m pretty darn sure what would happen next would be a much better outcome. I spend a lot of prayer time telling him how sorry I am for all the stupid stuff I do and say and think. If I put the WIT prayer in action I’m pretty sure I’m gonna have a lot more time for saying prayers of gratitude!
A Seed To Plant: Write down the words to the WIT prayer and put it a few places you’ll notice and ask God to help you make it a frequent prayer in your day.
Blessings on your day!
I have called you by your name and you are mine. Isaiah 43:1
There was a little first grade boy who decided one day that he no longer liked the name his parents gave him, so he picked a new name. It began the day he started writing his name on all his papers with the capital letters ‘ZB’. As his teacher sat down that afternoon to correct the day’s work, she was a bit puzzled but it didn’t take long to figure out who the mystery student was. First thing the next morning she called ‘ZB’ up to her desk and asked if he might be willing to explain. He very politely told her that his parents had made a mistake and given him the wrong name so he decided to fix it himself and just start writing the name he had chosen. She said sweetly to this completely serious little guy, “Sweetheart, you can’t just change your name. That has to be done by an official person.” He shook his head and said, “Oh, I get it. So, can I go talk to the principal right now to change my name or should I wait till recess?” Holding back her laughter, she sent him down to visit the principal right away. The principal welcomed the visit and began by asking the little guy, “So, how did you come up with this new name?” The little boy said, “Well that’s easy! I just picked a cool name that would tell everybody what I’m good at.” The principal looked at the letters ‘ZB’ and said, “I’m not sure I understand.” With all the pride one smile could hold, the little boy stood up and said, “I’m a fast runner so my new name is Zooming Bullet! I just write ‘ZB’ because all those other letters take too long to write and I like to be fast.” The principal sent him on his way promising to make a phone call to his mother to discuss it. ‘ ZB’ raced back to class very content and the principal just sat at his desk and laughed harder than he had in weeks as he pondered what he might call himself if he could choose a new name.
From the moment we are knit in our mother’s womb, we are named by the God who created us. I am a firm believer that there is divine influence as Christian parents name their children. There is usually a strong story to our names whether we are knowingly named after a Saint or given a treasured family name, there is usually a reason. Do you know who you are named after and why? When Dave and I were picking names for our children we picked the middle names first. Each of them bears the name of a powerful Saint and a family member who we hoped would provide a strong example of faithfulness and goodness and in all three cases were heavenly saints themselves. Kevin, our oldest has the middle name James. James is the name of my father’s cousin who was killed in WWII. I shiver every time I read the telegram from the US Navy informing the family of the bomb attack on his ship. James is also the name of my mother’s brother who died of Leukemia at the age of 16 and finally, it was the name given to my older brother who has attributes too many to type! His name has a history of strong, brave, faith-filled men. Jason, our second son has the middle name Richard. Richard was the name of Dave’s brother who left this earth far too early but who lived each day with a huge spirit! Shannon, our daughter is named after my mother, Barbara. Her legacy could take up a whole blog itself!
I truly believe God knew them by name before they were born! It is absolutely amazing how our children resemble the characteristics of the people they were named after. Kevin looks like and shares so many of the same interests and mannerisms of my older brother sometimes it gives me the chills. When Jason was little he was the proud owner of a huge stubborn temper…the same temper and stubborn streak that used to cause his Uncle Richard to hold his breath and pass out. In both cases that temper mellowed into a strong confidence. As for Miss Shannon I have begun to discover that she is all of her grandmother’s greatest attributes bundled into one lovely person! Is it a coincidence, I don’t think so! If God loved us enough to create us so wonderfully and perfectly he wouldn’t leave our name to chance…He had a hand in that too.
We are His and He knows our name! He knows who we are and we will never be lost! I often wonder what my name says about me and I wonder what God thinks about the life I’m living under the name He gave me
A Seed to Plant: Find out the story of your name if you don’t know it. Take some time to think about your name and the memories and impressions you and your name will leave with others when you are absent.
Blessings on your day!
When the Lord saw her, he felt compassion for her. He told her, "You can stop crying.” Luke 7:13
Happy 2021! I hope your new year of off to a lovely start. Mine sure is! Here at the Wohlfert house we have our first grand baby coming and a wedding coming and all of us are healthy and happy and content. We have jobs we love, and kids that are happy, healthy and settled. We have everything we want and everything we need. We are thankful and that seems like the best way I could imagine to begin a new year. It wasn’t a New Years Eve of wishes and resolutions but rather one of gratitude and prayers for those who aren’t in the same comfortable boat as we are. I suppose when life is good, its the best time to reach out, pray for and offer help to those who are struggling. It’s a great time to remember that life is a long series of peaks and valleys…it isn’t always easy and it isn’t always hard. One sustains you through the other and helps you keep your balance and is a constant reminder to lend a hand to those in the valley and be assured of the help and prayers of those on the peaks.
Every New Year I write a post about my “word of the year”. This year I just couldn’t come up with one. I prayed all of December and didn’t really get a sense about anything so I began to wonder if it was a “thing” that had run it’s season then late last week I kept getting the word STOP. I thought, there…that’s it, I’m supposed to stop all of this and move on. But after I had resigned myself to that idea I kept reading, hearing and seeing that word STOP. I was a little befuddled and actually got sassy enough to say, “OK God, I got it…I’ll hang up the word of the year thing.” But the word kept coming…then I got it…my word is STOP. Got it…but what kind of word is that? It seemed so opposite…isn’t this whole thing supposed to be about a word that inspires action? Isn’t it supposed to be about doing something to grow in holiness? Isn’t it supposed to be a verb that draws you closer to heaven? I thought that’s what I’d been doing with my word each year! So STOP was just weird to me!
After a little thinking and praying, I discovered that the word STOP appears in Scripture more than 300 times. Sometimes the references are about us stopping something and sometimes it all about God stopping something. We are encouraged to stop being fearful, stop being lazy, stop ignoring commands and stop worrying. God stops storms and trials and enemies and destruction again and again when his children look to him with love and trust. After a little more thought I came up with a whole list of STOPS that would help me grow closer to the Father. I need to stop comparing and stop looking ahead and stop thinking of ways to “fix everything”. I need to stop thinking about how things look and stop fussing about how many places I fall short. I really need to stop chasing the myth of perfection because the measuring stick for that was not created or endorsed by the Father and I absolutely need to stop thinking there will ever be a day when my good deeds will earn me bonus points in the eyes of God. If I do only one thing with this word, it would be to stop listing to the world! That would be a great year. So here’s to a wonderful new year of stopping!
A Seed To Plant: Do you have a word or a Scripture or a thought for the year?
Happy New Year and Blessings on your day!
“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” – 2 Corinthians 9:15
I suppose everyone has a memory of a really special Christmas gift. My favorite Christmas gift memory is actually about someone else gift. I was a senior in high school and my brother was already finishing his second year in the Navy. He’d been at sea the year before so having him home for Christmas that year would have been gift enough but he brought a surprise present for my mom that touched us all.
My mom wasn't a fancy lady. She worked hard, loved hard and told it like it was. There was no pretending or fluffing things up, and you always knew where you stood with her. She was honest and probably one of the most generous and passionate women I ever met. She always had this beautiful look of peacefulness about her when she was holding a baby or a rosary. She had a secret wish for a set of beautiful china dishes which always seemed a little strange to me because she wasn’t about fancy, non-essential things; that wasn’t her style.
Some things are sealed tightly on your heart, that Christmas morning watching her open those crates with her beautiful china packed so carefully is one of those memories. The second part of that memory is the smile on my brothers face as he watched her laugh and cry and squeal as she unpacked each piece. When she was finished I remember them hug like they’d never stop. Her first adult child put his hands on her cheeks and said, “I could never tell you how much you are loved or how sorry I am for all the days I made being my mom harder than it should have been but I figured this would help you know.” My heart knew a gift even more beautiful than china was unfolding across the living room.
Mom believed that china was for special occasions and events but at least once a month we’d use the china and she’d always remind us that we were her most special people of all and that even a random Tuesday could be a special event if you brought a thankful heart to the table. After Jim died those dishes took on an even greater pricelessness. Jim was not one for being sentimental but every time she held one of those dishes I think she remembered that Christmas morning. I saw more than once as she’d hold a cup or a plate in her hands, tears streaming down her cheeks how important it was to speak what’s in your heart. One sentence on a snowy December 25th morning brought joy, peace and healing balm for a hurting heart. To this day, I’m still not sure what was more precious; the china or the thought and words that were shared with the gift.
Fast forward nearly forty years and the china found it’s place in our new house yesterday. Mom’s china has been my great treasure for thirty years. She asked me to take it and remember it’s true value when she was dying. I followed mom’s example and used it with my own family growing up to remind them that they were my most special people. I realize it isn’t at all practical but it has some lessons to teach. It’s about connection and tradition and family. It reminds me how important it is to let those we hold dear know exactly what they mean to us. It’s about gratefulness, reconciliation and the beautiful treasure of a great surprise!
As a mom I still find myself still trying to make sure Christmas is memorable and beautiful for my family. The truth is, not every Christmas will be…it can’t be! I remember lots of Christmas mornings and Iots oranges and walnuts in my stocking. I remember ribbon candy pulled from the bottom of my stocking with fuzz on it; which by the way just made it even more delicious. I remember the dog knocking over the tree and a new hand sewn dress hanging by the tree ready to wear to Christmas morning mass. They weren’t all spectacular…they didn’t need to be. I remember my mom praying by the Christmas tree each year praying that God would help us see his Son more clearly than the lights and presents. All these years later I realize how powerfully God worked through her simple prayer. The “China Christmas” was about so much more than dishes; it was about lessons I’d need sooner than I realized. I’m so thankful to be the keeper of my mothers treasure. As I was unpacking her treasure yesterday I was reminded that some Christmases are happy and wondrous and some feel like there are holes and missing pieces. We are so conditioned to want everything to be shiny and delightful. As I stepped back to look at the new cabinet with the china, I realized it was parked right under the Nativity Scene and I remembered mom’s prayer…God, help me see your Son more clearly…there he was, looking right at me from the wooden stable built by my Father -in-law. That little ceramic Baby Jesus caught my eye and buttoned up the lesson. For all the ways this Christmas might be different; the meaning, the promise and the hope are still there. This year perhaps the circumstances that might be leaving us feeling a little hollow, might allow us to see the gift of God’s Son more clearly because he’s the most treasured gift of all.
Blessings on your day and Merry Christmas!
Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord… Psalm 95:1
We made it! It’s Christmas break and teachers everywhere are breathing a gigantic sigh of relief and rest! As challenging as this fall has been I’m so very grateful for nearly 80 days of in person teaching. When I look back over the past few months so much has looked different…but my favorite things have remained the same. Kids are still funny, kids are still curious, kids still laugh and fuss and learn. The kids I spend each day with have rolled with everything we’ve asked of them. They recorded their Christmas program outside, they eat their lunch in the classroom, they have survived without all those delicious homemade birthday treats the St. Mary Mom’s are famous for and the big one…no dodgeball matches!
Last week we added a new tradition to our schedule. Every classroom took to the streets with a list of people who needed some Christmas cheer and we caroled. It was the first activity parents could join us for and we loved having them. More than 300 of us tromped through town stopping at houses, spreading ourselves across the whole lawn and we sang…maybe not well, but each lawn was dotted with about 40 spaced out little bodies belting out a familiar tune. It was such a good feeling to be doing something that seemed normal and while the event was designed to bring cheer to others, we all felt happier when we walked back into the building.
The school caroling event came on the heels of another joyful event in our little town. Just a few days prior, a flat bed trailer decked out with lights, decorations, Santa and five extremely talented men pulled into town. These guys made their way through town stopping in front of church and throughout the neighborhoods for little concerts. King and Country and the Trans Siberian Orchestra have nothin on these guys! The show was amazing and the joy they brought to all the folks lining the streets was matched only by the bands wives and children that followed the float in golf carts and Rangers. The whole thing was such a gift.
In the wake of change and uncertainty and disappointment over the last many months it seems Christmas music has the power to restore order to my heart. Whether it’s kids singing Away in a Manger on a cancer patients front lawn or the school principal playing electric guitar on a flatbed wagon rolling down the street, music focused on the joy of the most blessed season of the year makes a difference. It’s funny that these voices and these songs remind us that something great is coming, even in the midst of the yuck…sort of like it all went down a couple thousand years ago. It’s a powerful reminder that some folks were too stuck in the yuck to notice it when it happened the first time but hopefully a band on a wagon and 300 kids singing on the lawn are a signal for all of us to get ready and focus on the glory of Christmas because it promises to bring the same hope, the same love and the same glory it did the first time.
I heard a Christmas song for the first time last night and it just keeps tumbling in my mind. It was beautiful but more importantly it made me stop and check my perspective. It reminded me that we can see things one way but if we switch our focus things can look all together different. The song was Mary Had a Little Lamb. You’re probably thinking “whose fleece was white as snow” I know I was but then it all changed and I was so surprised. We get so used to seeing things through our tunnel vision, trying to prescribe the outcome that we miss the surprises. The song was beautiful and ended with the words, “Mary had a little lamb and when she looked into his eyes she saw the Lamb of God.” I had tears stinging my eyes. It wasn’t fluffy with four legs, it was Jesus the Little Lamb of God, come to save the world. He came in a way so unexpected…and brought everything a hurting world needed…he can absolutely do it again…in our hearts if we’re ready! Are you ready?
A Seed To Plant: Listen to and SING some Christmas music this week. Fill your heart and your home with some joy.
Blessings on your day!
“Make straight the way of the Lord.” John 1:23
As we prepare to enter the final week of Advent, I like to take a look at all the characters in the journey and the story of Jesus; I like to think about what they add to the story of Jesus and our salvation. One of my absolute favorites during Advent is John the Baptist. He was so bold, so unconcerned with the opinion of the world and so devoted to the task of getting to heaven. I guess you could say he inspires me with both his attitude and his words.
I remember a stage in my early teenage years when my bedroom frequently looked as if there had been an explosion of some sort, and it drove my mom nuts! One Saturday morning I “cleaned” my room and did not meet her standards. I had cleared a straight path from my bed to the door and quoted a version of these very words from John's Gospel and showed her how I had clearly made “a straight way for the Lord”. She assured me he was going to need a much wider path.
My moms assurance is true today! I realize I don’t always make the path to my heart straight or wide. I need to give God room to come into my heart and do His mighty works of mercy. I have all kinds of things in the way that make His way tricky to maneuver. I make Him wind His way around jealousy and pride and selfishness. The path hooks to the left when I toss in impatience and judgmental thinking. The way really goes sideways when control, bitterness and gossip get tossed into the mix.
Making straight the way of the Lord means keeping my eyes on Him. When my eyes are on Him and I’m preparing for Him to work in my life, I discover I’m moving in a straight and forward direction. He is the guide that straightens my way every time I re-adjust my focus on His way and not my own.
A Seed To Plant: What blocks or kinks the path between Jesus and your heart? Spend some time in prayer asking the Lord to straighten and widen the way to His love and mercy.
Blessings on your day!
Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4
When I was a junior in high school I was being a goof ball in Swing Choir class and wound up with a solo part in the fall show. I was a “choir” voice and never wanted to do the solo thing but it all just sort of happened. After that show, I started singing a lot. It was fun to discover a gift I didn’t know I had but when I went off to college two years later, I quickly discovered my gift was pretty small town. I remember going to audition for a spot on the music ministry team at the campus parish and I heard the first ten voices ahead of me and I quietly snuck out the back door because I didn’t have a fraction of the gift those folks did. It was a very humbling experience to say the least. I realized I had two choices. I could be jealous and pouty and wallow in self pity or I could go to mass each weekend and soak in those beautiful voices and be grateful for those who chose to share them. I went with the second choice! One year later, I did audition and get a spot on the music ministry team and being surrounded by those whose talent was bigger than mine pushed me to work hard and get better.
Everybody knows you improve your skill when you work with someone who is a little bit better at something than you are. In education we call that scaffolding. We have to seek out those who do well, what we’d like to get better at. God’s kingdom isn’t going to advance much if we become better golfers, tennis players or cooks but it will advance if we become better disciples. Pope Francis recently shared his “Secrets to Happiness”. Since happiness is something this world could use a little more of, I thought I’d share a few of the popes secretes to happiness.
*Play with children
*Spend Sunday with family.
*Look after nature. “We have to look after creation and we are not doing it. It is one of the greatest challenges we have.”
*Respect those who think differently.
*Help people find employment: “Bringing bread home is what gives you dignity.”
If I asked for your new year wish list, I’d be willing to bet many of you would mention the desire to be happy and healthy so these words come at a perfect time. Instead of waiting to “get happy” or “receive happiness” perhaps we need to create it ourselves and your gift this first month of the new year is 5 things you can do to make it happen. What would happen to this new year if we decided in the midst of all of our busyness and nutty adventures, to cultivate happiness and share it with everyone who crosses our path? I think it would be a great addition to 2017. I’m gonna do it! Happiness is a top priority task for the year…who’s in?
A Seed To Plant: Pick one of the secrets from Pope Francis and add it to your week. Good luck and BE HAPPY!
Blessings on your day!
Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue was freed and he spoke blessing God. Luke 1:64
Sunday was a glorious day!! I had the opportunity to do LIVE ministry. Since last March, speaking to a group in person has only happened a few times. Advent is usually one of my busiest times and this was my first event. It was so wonderful to be doing something I love with real people, in real time in a real church. We were properly spaced and masked and followed all the safety precautions and there was so much joy and connection my heart was full. In my 2 hour drive to the Detroit area parish I did some thinking about this line from Luke’s Gospel.
This verse made me take a hard look at what has got to be my greatest blessing and my greatest burden all lumped into one…my mouth! As a Catholic Speaker and Catholic School Theology Teacher, I have abundant opportunities to use my mouth to speak great words about our God and our faith. I wish this were the case all the time, but truthfully, when I ponder these words from Zachariah I am reminded of the dozens of times each week I use my mouth for words that don’t build the Kingdom of God on earth at all!
I need to take a big lesson from Zachariah. He was mute for months. If I imagine being struck mute I almost panic; it’s like I’d loose my most used human feature! If I did become mute and suddenly and unexpectedly regained my voice, I wonder what I’d say first. Truthfully, it probably would be something ridiculous like, “Lets go get pizza!” or “What the heck was that all about!” Not our friend Zachariah, the first words he spoke after months of silence; blessing, praise and worship. He focused on what he was grateful for and not what he had suffered or missed.
Zachariah used his silence to grow closer to the Father and unite himself to his perfect plan and his impeccable timing. The fruit of that silence was gratitude and awareness of the greatness of God. This passage from the Gospel of Luke contains a golden nugget for growing in holiness; find some silence and follow it with some time spent blessing and praising God for his mighty works in your life.
A Seed To Plant: Take a few moments to sit in the silence and replay your words from the last day or week follow it with these words: “Loving Father, open my eyes and still my words so I can truly recognize your presence and offer blessing to you for the many wonders you are working in my heart, my family and my world.”
Blessings on your day!
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3
When you teach in a Catholic School with nearly 300 students and each classroom has a set of Rosaries, that’s lots of beads and crucifixes that just don’t always stay together. Every year a 6th grader emerges who becomes the “Rosary Repairman”. This year I have a Rosary Repairman Extrodinare! Justin can fix any Rosary no matter how broken it might be. He works with speed and precision and intention. I handed him a whole bag of broken and mismatched and knotted Rosaries thinking it would take him weeks to get the mess tended to. I think he had them perfectly restored using some spare and new parts in less than two days. I’m always a little excited when a teacher brings me the broken ones because it tells me someone has been using them and that is great news!
I was thinking about this scripture the other morning as I watched Justin find the broken Rosaries I had put on his desk, grab his repair kit and swiftly begin his work. To be honest, I think he loves it when he finds some brokenness waiting on his desk for him. There is a challenge to restoring them and returning them to a classroom ready to be used for their intended purpose again. I think he sees those broken Rosaries the same way God sees our brokenness. It doesn’t make us worthless, it makes us needy. Those broken Rosaries need Justin, his tools and his patience in the same way we need the Father in the midst of our brokenness.
Every single one of us is broken. We’ve experienced broken dreams, broken relationships, and broken promises. We’ve lived through pain and loss and consequences that have left us chipped, cracked and leaking but none of that matters to the Father who loves us in the middle of our broken pieces. In fact, he loves us so much he can’t wait to restore and refine and repair us but we have to bring all our brokenness to him. Justin can’t restore all those Rosaries unless someone brings them to him. Just like the Father, he doesn’t ask questions or make judgements or discriminate about which ones get to be repaired, he just restores them and returns them so they can complete their purpose.
I was listening to an Advent video from the Unshakable Joy series by Chris Stefanick and he said something that really hit my heart. He said, “If you use something for a purpose it wasn’t intended for, it gets broken. If you use a microwave as a fork warmer, it’s gonna get broken.” How often are we left feeling broken because we headed down a path that wasn’t intended for us. How many times have we been left feeling cracked, chipped or leaking because we invested in a relationship or a behavior that led us away from God’s intended purpose for our life? How many times have we tried to use a microwave like a fork warmer and found ourselves left like those broken Rosaries that wind up on Justin’s desk?
This Advent let’s take some time to look at our brokenness and lay it at the feet of Jesus and ask him to repair, restore and refine us so we can get busy doing the things we were intended to do.
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of the brokenness you feel in your life and ask Jesus to swoop in and repair and restore you.
Blessings on your day!
And what I’m saying to you, I’m saying to all: Stay awake! Mark 13:37
I thought of my Dad at mass Sunday. Swirling among the words that you hear the first Sunday of Advent like watch, wait, prepare Father said “Pay Attention!” It grabbed me and I thought of one of Dad’s most famous one liners; “Pay attention…always pay attention…it doesn’t cost anything to pay attention!”
I guess it’s my Advent message so now I’m offering it to you too. The thing about paying attention is that you have to be in the present to do it. You have to be HERE, NOW…even if here and now aren’t where you want to be. As 2020 winds down (Thank you Jesus!) we’re thinking about wanting to be somewhere else…as if the mayhem and sadness of all of this will magically disappear one month from Tuesday. Advent is a time to get ready and the time for that starts now. I have to make room for him today…here…now…not when I think I will like things better. The funny thing is, he’s not “there” in that land of “normal” or “what used to be”. He’s HERE…NOW…today in this weird, strange, bizarre and surprisingly beautiful season.
I had to adjust my thinking a little today. Jesus is coming and things may not look much better on December 25th. I’m caught between warning him about the giant mess he’s about to enter and suggesting he wait a while longer until things get better. Then it hit me…HE makes things better and the thing he wants to make “better” the most is ME! Things aren’t changing, so it occurred to me that I’m the one being called to change and if I don’t PAY ATTENTION I’m gonna miss it all! When you study a little Scripture it’s pretty easy to see the world was pretty much a giant mess when Jesus came the first time so I don’t think he’ll be surprised or frightened or dismayed at all. I think he’ll find the good in all of it and all of us!
For the next few weeks I’ll be trying to pay attention. I’ll be sure to check the corners and the unexpected places where I might find Jesus trying to grab my attention. Scripture tells us he could always be found in unexpected places like sinners homes, with prostitutes, with the poor and in a stable. Paying attention is the work of the expectant. It’s a place of noticing, observing, eyes-wide-open attention each day but it’s not a place of fear or a place of excitement. It’s something different; it’s looking and expecting with hope but not prescribing the outcome. It’s no time for “fearful doom” thinking and it isn’t time for “Jesus make me feel warm, fuzzy and gleeful.” It’s paying attention with faith knowing that his will is perfect and he will reveal it little nuggets at a time. It’s being so expectant that even the teeniest of those nuggets fills us with a joy that leaves us breathless until we see the next one.
This Advent is different because this year we have something (thank you Covid) we usually don’t have; TIME! We aren’t rushing to parties and concerts and events. On one hand that can seem a little sad but wait…haven’t we all said in the past, “I could do Advent better if I had some time and wasn’t so busy!” Here we go…lets make this a really great Advent…let’s pay attention and prepare for him HERE and NOW! My prayer for the first week of Advent is to pay attention to the places I need to make room. I’m asking him to show me what needs to be shoved to the side and what needs to be tossed completely out to prepare room for HIM.
A Seed To Plant: Make a short list of specific things you can do to prepare and pay attention now that we have a little more time.
Blessings on your day!
And he will separate them one from the another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Matthew 25: 32-33
When I heard the sheep and goats reference in this Sunday’s Gospel, I had a flashback to a wonderful story from a few years back. It’s the story of the perfect advice from a wise mom to her kids. As we seem to be all tangled up in picking sides these days, this seemed to add some wisdom to the importance of picking the TRULY right side.
In the parable of the sheep and the goats, Jesus is separating the sheep; the obedient loving followers from the rebellious, stiff necked, defiant goats. Now, anybody who reads this scripture wants to be a sheep for sure! In fact, most of our journey to Christ centers on being more “sheeplike” so we wind up at his right hand. Recently I visited with a really great mom. I’ve had the privilege of teaching a few of her children and they are completely cool kids; knowing the parents explains it all. They are a faithful, prayerful, loving, big Catholic family. The mom will admit they try really hard to get it right but sometimes it all goes a little crazy. Mornings can be the craziest time of day with clothes, breakfast, lunches and the bus that always sees to show up a wee bit before everyone is ready. She said she had to come up with a quick, direct and attention grabbing way to hammer home a message about how to live the day! I asked her what she said and she winked and told me I should ask the kids. So, I did just that.
First thing the next morning I asked he son what his mom said to remind him to be a disciple. He told me that when he and his siblings leave the house, his mom yells to them, “Have a good day and DON’T BE A GOAT!” Four simple words…don’t be a goat! How’s that for a living color example for life! I asked the young man what he thought his mom meant and he smiled and said, “thats her way of saying veer toward God’s right hand and make sure you don’t do stuff you’ll be judged negatively for and then get sent to the left because it’s kind of hard to get from the left back to the right, it’s just easier to stay to the right and not be a goat.”
A Seed To Plant: Make yourself a little sign that says Don’t Be A Goat! Then take some prayerful time to identify the places in your life you act a little more like a goat than a sheep.
Blessings on your day!
Oh, give thanks to the Lord! Chronicles 16:8
“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all!” If I had a dollar for every time I have heard or spoken that phrase I could probably buy that new baby Kuereg I’d love to put in my classroom! But honestly…during nutty times like these, some days it takes some thinking to come up with something good to say when my world feels as messy as a teenagers bedroom!
As I was thinking about that the other day the Holy Spirit gently reminded me that I can always say thank you because God is constantly doing things I can be thankful for.
I sat for a few minutes to make a thank you list and things that have happened recently started popping into my head. The Father knows so well what we need that the first few made me laugh. I guess those are the ones I’m supposed to share.
*I was thankful for new shoes…I opened dozens of boxes in the clearance section and found a shoe that was like walking on a cloud! Perfect fit, on sale for $17.99, great style and color but there was only 1 in the box. I searched through twenty more boxes and came up empty. I was so disappointed. As I was leaving the shoe section, clear over in the mens shoe department I found the shoe on display. I knew it couldn’t be a mans shoe but I still searched all the shelves looking for more and there were zero! I picked it up and it was the same size so I knew it was the match! Nothing like a treasure hunt! Thank you God for helping me find things that just go together.
*I’m thankful for little surprises, like the parent who had flowers delivered to school and the only “common” area we can share this year is the front desk where we stop each morning to record our temperature and fill out the health form. God often adds beauty where we don’t see much so we have to be looking.
*I’m thankful when someone I love gets a surprise gift. The 3 day old dead bird that came from a coat pocket wasn’t the best gift for the Kindergarten teacher but I was thankful for the giant laughs that we all shared when we heard about her gift.
*I’m thankful for simple things and a FABULOUS principal to work for during this craziness. His simple gift of “you may were jeans until Christmas” was priceless and I’m so happy! (see why I needed new shoes)
*I’m thankful for good feedback. According to a lovely little student we’re teaching a lot of good things at St. Mary School but she reported that she’s a little disappointed she hasn’t learned about massage yet and she’s very curious about when we might be teaching that.
Even as the crazy roars on…we have so much to be thankful for and pondering those things leaves you feeling much better!
A Seed To Plant: Keep a running list this week of things to be thankful for…it’s good for the soul and the attitude.
Blessings on your day!
…and I will raise him up at the last day. John 6:40
We live in an “on demand” world. Movies on demand, drive through meals, pharmacies, groceries and dry cleaning just to name a few. We can order practically anything under the sun and have it on our front porch in two days, so waiting and being last aren’t usually part of our daily routine. I’m constantly on the search for ways to get things done faster and more efficiently in order to save time so I can cram more stuff into my day.
As I worked my way through this Gospel, I got excited reading about what will come to me, what Jesus will do for me, where my faithfulness will lead me. It’s such a hope filled collection of verses. I need to see Jesus, believe in Jesus and know that my faithfulness is what he’s asking of me. St. John lays out some beautiful steps to eternal life in this short Gospel but then comes that ending; the last day. I have to wait until then? What???
My fast paced mind wondered if I could speed things up a little because I don’t like waiting and who knows when the last day really is anyway! As I prayed with this reading a while I remembered my Grandma who taught me how to make the perfect Angel Food cake from scratch when I was little. She would smile and remind me that beating all those egg whites took time and baking it took time and cooling it upside-down on a coke bottle took time. She would pat my impatient hands and say, “Great things happen in the waiting!” So, I will keep believing, hoping, praying and wanting him ferociously while I wait for that last day!
To each day I need to add the words, “Loving Father, please use you gentle hand to slow me down. Grant me a spirit of patience as I notice the ways you are working in my life and help me prepare to be raised up on the last day!”
A Seed To Plant: What are you hurrying with? Where are the areas in your life God might be calling you to slow down and wait for him to work?
My Grace is sufficient for you. 2 Corinthians 12:9
Teaching during a pandemic...making sense of the political aftermath of the election...preparing for teacher conferences on a computer screen...keeping track of which kids are in quarantine and which ones are just out for a day...writing deadlines...report cards...lesson planning...voicemails...emails...cancelled and rescheduled speaking jobs...one persons virus fear and panic vs another's disregard...IT'S All GETTING A LITTLE HEAVY!
I'm feeling a little like I've run out of words and gas in my tank and at the end of the day I feel like there was more that didn't get done than did. There is a list of things I look back on and wish I had spent more time on or done differently. Last night all the kids were over for Sunday supper and when they left, I immediately zipped into high gear to finish getting ready for the week and write this mornings blog and I realized I had nothing left so I decided to just call it quits for the day. I instantly began feeling guilty about all the things that still didn't get finished after a weekend off school...I should have pushed harder, I should have stayed up later and as the tears started to roll down my cheek I remembered this verse.
He is enough! His love is enough! His peace is enough! His GRACE is everything. I think the Holy Spirit popped this little line into my head to remind me that I'm not in charge of anything...I'm not responsible for being perfect...these are crazy days and I can't trudge through them like nothing is different. I am reminded I need to lean a little harder on him. So for today...what I've done is enough. Maybe you needed this little reminder today too. The world is nuts...but we are enough. We are enough because we are his.
Blessings on your day!
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23
If someone asked you what holiness was could you give a good answer? I thought I could, but then something changed! Before this thing happened I would have told them holiness was going to church, saying prayers, doing good deeds, SEEING and BEING Christ to others…that’s what I thought. But then…I read something that stopped me in my holiness seeking little tracks!
Holiness is dying to self! What? I read those words again and promptly shut the book and put it down because I didn’t like that. I pouted about it for the rest of the day and then came back to those words later that night. I like going to mass, I like praying, I like doing sweet, thoughtful things for others, isn’t that enough? After some feet dragging, silent temper tantrum throwing and finally a very ungraceful surrender, I realized how true those words really were. I can add and do all I want but it’s about the subtracting; the dying.
As eerie as it sounds, each prayer journal entry this week has started with the words, Lord, help me die a little more today. No, I’m not loopy and I haven’t been sniffing the ink in the ditto machine I’m serious and it’s a lesson that’s HARD! Holiness is all about being close to Christ; so close I’m hidden in him and I can’t do that if I have my own stuff in the way. If you’re anything like me it’s a daily objective to make things easier and more comfortable for myself. I call it efficiency sometimes. I say I’ve earned it sometimes. I think its standing up for what I’m entitled to sometimes. The bottom line is this…I want what’s best for me, what’s most convenient for me, what’s easiest for me and I need to die a little because getting my way isn’t making me holy.
So how do I need to die? (That just sounds weird doesn’t it?) I need to die to my desire to be appreciated and recognized for everything. I need to die to my desire to eat anything I want because I like it and think it’s yummy. I need to die to my desire to be right all the time. I need to die to my desire to make comparisons and judgments. I need to die to my desire to tell God what I need and what he needs to take care of. I need to die to complaining because that is the greatest form of selfishness. I need to die to my desire to offer my opinion and perspective all the time. I need to die to impatience and worry. And I really need to die to my desire to organize, plan and evaluate everything. All of these things minimize the amount of room God has to work in my mind and my heart. All of these things separate me from God when what I really want is to grow in holiness. My sacrifices in dying to self in these ways are what God is inviting me to do…wanna join me and do a little dying?
A Seed To Plant: Write down the ways you need to die to self and then get busy growing in holiness.
Blessings on your day!
To be a saint, be who you are and be that well. St. Francis DeSales
The beginning of November is a little like a saintly new year celebration. The feasts of All Saints and All Souls always tosses me into great thought about my own holiness and God’s plan for my sainthood. I know I’ve written it a hundred times but it bears repeating…we are called to be saints. That’s what God’s plan for each of us is…it’s what we were created for. He made us in his image and he wants us back in heaven where we will be saints. It’s the plan and thankfully the process isn’t rocket science. Love him, serve him, fail, ask forgiveness, love a little harder and with his never-ending grace, someday we will claim our sainthood…completely because it’s his plan!
Even though we celebrate All Saints, that sure doesn’t mean All Saints are the same. The truth is, saints are as completely different as you can imagine because each of us has a deeply different path to sainthood. The only thing that is the same is God’s desire to have us home and among the Communion of Saints. I thought it might be a great day to pause and pray and think about your sainthood. Fr. Mike Schmitz said, “The big question is…if we are all called to be saints, how do we answer that call? The simple answer…We act like they do!” This week, of all weeks can be a great opportunity to do just that.
The election has had a way of bringing out the ugly in some folks. It seems that Covid has become more a matter of politics than public health. It seems that seeing the good in others makes us weak, indecisive, and disloyal. It appears that red and blue and black and brown have become volatile words instead of colors that each add beauty of the fabric of our life. It seems that people are seen ONLY for the group they seem to be assigned to like they are one big lump. As chaotic and ugly and negative as the climate seems right now we have a powerful opportunity to work on our sainthood. Just because this seems to be the way society is behaving, we have a choice to see it the same and nod our head or see it differently and do a little tending to our own soul…which is by the way, the ONLY thing we have any control over! St. Francis DeSales also said, “Saints have a strategy for their lives because nobody has ever accidentally lived on purpose.” So what’s your strategy for the days and weeks to come as we head into the election and the aftermath that’s sure to follow? How about a saintly strategy that includes…
*Praying for the winners and the losers. Ask God to grant them the grace to accept the outcome with humility.
*Ponder the dignity of everyone…big, small, powerful, weak, those you agree with and those you don’t.
*God’s mercy will never allow him to give up on you…maybe we should spread that around a little. Merciful eyes see God even when a persons actions reflect something different.
*People are sometimes lumped into groups whether they asked to be or have great reason to even be there…there’s always more to the story than you know and it’s probably wise to be sure we know who’s telling the story.
*EVERY SINGLE PERSON, waking this earth was created in the Image and Likeness of God, we don’t have to agree with them or like them but we absolutely do have to remember this powerful truth.
*Sometimes God takes the long, windy, rocky, bumpy, ugly path to get us someplace we need to be. The sights along the way are certainly meant to teach us something if we’re watching, learning and listening. I’m sure Moses and the Israelites didn’t always see beauty in the desert but the trip was worth it!
*Trust in the Lord with all your heart! He demonstrates his love for his children again and again. Besides, if he could take care of the Red Sea, he can surely take care of a White house. We aren’t the boss of anything but saints revel and rejoice in the power of the One who is.
If we are going to use this nutty time to “act like they do” it might be a good idea to plan our strategy and be mindful of the example we’re setting for others. I don’t know about you, but I sure could use a heap of grace to use these next days well so I can “be who I am and do it well.” I am a woman of joy and optimism…even in days like these. Who are you?
A Seed To Plant: Pick one idea from this post that can help you live your sainthood in the days and weeks to come.
Blessings on your day!
“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!
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