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 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!
Do not accept anything as truth if it lacks love. Do not accept anything as love which lacks truth. St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
I’ve bumped into several people lately who all shared a similar concern. At one point in the conversation truth in media came up. I think on some level we’re all a little frustrated as we try to figure out who is actually telling the truth. It’s hard to figure out what the truth really is and there is no shortage of folks ready and waiting to jump in and stir up the stories.
I suppose St. Teresa really put it all in perspective in one little quote. For those who might not know her story, she spoke these words as she and a group of other nuns were being loaded on a cattle car headed for a concentration camp. The message she wanted to leave with those who would follow is basic…speak truth in love. I think I will take her words and let them guide my speaking and listening for the next few days and see what I learn. I think it just might change a few things.
A Seed To Plant: Put this quote somewhere visible and let it guide what you say and how you process what you hear.
Blessings on your day!
For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord...Jeremiah 29:11
How many times do we hear the world tell us BE GREAT! Since the beginning of time, greatness has been important. I guess someone has to be in charge and have power but I'm not sure that makes them great. I'm not sure money, stuff or position are the best indicators of how great you are but it seems like we live in a world that uses those very things as the benchmark.
Greatness makes us feel fancy, it can make our chests puff a little and it almost makes us feel like we have a free pass at the yucky stuff. I mean, how many queens scrub the toilet? Greatness means people seek us, smile at us, talk kindly to us and that isn’t a bad thing at all until we look at it from the other direction. As I was thinking about how neat it would be to achieve greatness and be all sparkly, I found a few words in a book by Matthew Kellly that put it all in perspective. I hope he doesn't mind if I borrow and I hope they touch your heart and serve as a reminder of the true definition of greatness.
"Do you want to be great? He was great…born in a stable...served all men...was criticized for His attempts to live and proclaim the truth...and He suffered. He was the greatest. If you want to be great, be little.”
A Seed To Plant: Take some time in prayer and ponder the kind of greatness the Father is calling you to today!
Blessings on your day!
…”My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
I love working with people who have a “can do” attitude. They always seem so full of energy and optimism. I’d like to think that most days I’m a “can do” kinda girl but then there are those days when I’m absolutely not! Some seasons are busier than others and they spread out before us to-do’s and events that just don’t let up. It’s hard to maintain a prayer life, a house, a dozen schedules, the laundry and then plan meals that don’t all come from a bag or box. We try hard to squeeze it all in but if our prayer time gets whittled away things can jump the tracks quickly.
God knew there would be seasons like these. He knew we would loose our way and forget to sit at his feet. He also knew that there would be times when we were overwhelmed and drained so he has a solution. The antidote to our worldly craziness is his GRACE. The blog would be a mile long if I made a list of all the times I reached the “I’m about to loose it” stage and then remembered to ask for his grace. There is always an instant turn around when I stop and recognize my “can do” has turned into a “can’t do” and I ask for his grace to guide me through. He always delivers every…single…time! The following blip was written by Bonnie B Thurston. I have no idea who Bonnie is, but when I read these words in class Tuesday night I knew she had written them for me; and perhaps for you too.
In the accounts of the Garden of Resurrection in the gospels there is a great stone over the mouth of Jesus’ tomb. Who will move it? The women know that they are unable to remove what separates them from the Lord. This is a great metaphor for the spiritual life. We cannot in our own strength, remove what separates us from God and the life God wants us to have in fullness. We cannot bring life from death. But God can and does. The technical word for this is “grace”. Bonnie B. Thurston.
His grace brings life and removes what separates us from him and the life he has planned. All we have to do is ask for it; loads of it, heaps of it, there is no end or limit. We just have to be still and ask him.
A Seed To Plant: Sit still and have a chat with the Father about grace. Ask for it, tell him where you feel weak and worn out and ask him to swoop into your life with giant grace and then enjoy what he does next!
Blessings on your day!
Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
For all of us who have ever spit out the words, “Lord, just tell me what to do and I’ll do it!”, this post is for you. As usual, I was wrestling with this question and overcomplicating the answer. He let me continue to wrestle with it for a few more weeks and then on a random Saturday, I attended a conference I wasn’t really all that excited about going to and right in the middle of it, I got a very simple answer to what I thought was a genius level complicated question.
The man presenting the class said the path to discovering God’s will for our life was found in First Thessalonians. He said it involved three things and then he pointed to the verse you see at the top of this page. I’ve been thinking and praying about it for a few weeks and here’s what I think.
Rejoice always…I’ve discovered rejoicing has very little to do with my personal comfort and satisfaction. I’m reminded of Pope John Paul II’s words, “I’m gonna act like I wished I felt!” When I realize every situation and circumstance is an opportunity to grow in holiness or grow in selfishness, I need to pick the first one. God is with me at every turn; even the wrong ones and he will never abandon me if I call on his help and I can’t think of a greater reason to rejoice. I’m trying to change my “Seriously God!” to “God, not sure what we’re doin here but I’m happy because you’re doin it with me!” Rejoicing is also noticing and praising him for all the great things in a day; giving credit where credit is due. “God it’s so great that you…” is a phrase I think and say a hundred times a day. “God it’s so great that you kept that crazy driver from taking off my front fender. or God it’s so great that you created the pinks of the morning sky, the yellow of my favorite mum and the orange of those pumpkins.” I call it out when things fall in place, when things go the right way and when they don’t. Noticing him and rejoicing for ALL of it puts HIM first in my mind instead of myself.
Pray constantly…all things are prayer when we invite him in. Before our feet hit the floor our first words should be, “Lord thanks for new day, please be the boss of it!” Every situation is an opportunity for prayer. “Lord, be with me as I make this phone call. or Lord please take charge of my work today or Lord, please meet me in the laundry and bless all those who will wear these clothes I’m going to wash and fold.” The more we invite, the more we can turn all of the parts of our day into constant prayer. He will walk through any task with us if we invite him through a simple prayer. He wants to join us in the exciting, the boring, the terrific and the yucky. Truth is, he makes all of it better and if we truly ask him in throughout the day it changes the things we get into. If I invite him in to my evening office time I’m much more likely to be productive rather than get lost on Pinterest or Facebook.
Give thanks in all circumstances…All of them? Yup…all of them! When we give thanks for all things, even the ones we really don’t like, great things can happen. First, if it’s a really lousy situation we’re thanking him for, that gives us a chance to offer that suffering and that is always a powerful thing. Second, it makes us mindful of his power and grace. I have a lot of trouble with my knees and every time I walk and it hurts, I say “Thank you for this pain, please take this teeny suffering and do something good for a soul in need.” I know he will, and it makes things much easier. My mom told me to never waste my suffering and that suffering was the closest path to Jesus’ heart. Giving thanks also allows us to recognize God’s hand in our life. It allows us to see the truth; there is no such thing as luck or coincidence, only God’s providence and the more I notice it and thank him for it, the clearer his Will for my life becomes. Perhaps these three things will help you discover a path to His plan!
A Seed To Plant: Copy down this verse and put it into action this week. See how many times a day you can incorporate these three simple things.
Blessings on your day!
For she said “If I even touch his garment I will be made well.” Mark 5:28
I love it when I find a nugget of something new and cool. I’m in year two of a four year Scripture Study class and we are currently studying the Gospel of Mark. One of the resources we are using is a study book written by Dr. Mary Healy and it is so wonderful. She peels away so many layers of new meaning and understanding to words and stories I’ve heard my whole life.
Last week we were comparing the stories of the healing of Jairus’s daughter and the hemorrhaging woman. To be honest, I had never really paid attention to the fact that the second story was sandwiched inside the first. Two things really struck me and I thought I’d share.
First, Jairus had just begged Jesus to come heal his daughter and Jesus heard his request and they were headed to his house. As a parent, I would have wanted to take his hand and sprint to my house but shortly after they set out Jesus stopped to find out who had touched his cloak. Can you imagine the panic of Jairus? I could just see myself screaming to Jesus in utter panic, “Come on Jesus, she’s so sick, talk to this lady later and for heaven sakes how did you even notice someone touching your cloak in this crowd? I’m sure it was nothing; please, hurry, lets go!” I’m sure to him that conversation with the hemorrhaging woman seemed like it lasted forever and as they were getting ready to head off again, he received news that it was too late. My heart hurt for Jairus thinking about it all from his perspective. How hard to feel like our children are the center of our world and then discover they don’t seem that way to everyone else.
The second thing was a little fact Dr. Healy pointed out in her book. Jairus’s daughter was twelve. That is how long the woman had been bleeding. Holy Cow!! She had been sick for as long as that little girl had been alive. If you think about the little girls twelve years they were probably filled with joy and laugher. In those twelve years they celebrated her birth, learning to walk, speak and learn. Everything in those years had been new and exciting and her family probably adored her. Then you think about the woman's twelve years and realize she had been sick, hurting and she used all her resources and still didn’t get better. She had no joy, no support or family to celebrate her because she was ritually unclean for a dozen years and she was sealed off. She was miserable, out of money, and isolated from people and from her ability to worship in the temple and find comfort among those gathered there to pray. She was closed out and suffering through no fault of her own yet she was treated like a criminal outcast.
When you compare those dozen years it seems so out of balance. As I have pondered these two stories the past week I realize there are some lessons and truths to consider. When I think of Jairus and the panic he must have been in; the urgency he felt, I wonder how many times those emotions are mis-judged. Do we see frazzled parents and stop to think about what might be going on that’s making them that way? Do we offer to pray or talk with them about their worries or anxieties or do we wonder why they can’t seem to get a grip and settle down? It also makes me remember that every child is somebody’s everything and parents deserve to be treated like we know that.
When I think about the hemorrhaging woman I wonder how many people I know who have been suffering for a long time with something I can’t see? How many people are struggling with isolation and judgment and an affliction that just doesn’t seem to get better. I think of those who battle with anxiety or mental and emotional challenges and I wonder if I’m doing all I can to offer support, compassion and prayer; basically everything the woman didn’t get? This Gospel passage made me realize everyone has a story and I don’t need to know what it is but how drastically the world would change if I simply remembered these stories, applied them to people I meet and changed my attitude and behavior toward others. I had to ask myself, have I done all I could to help stop the hemorrhaging or have I made it worse. I’m pretty sure I can do better and I’m thankful for the chance to see this Gospel through new eyes.
A Seed To Plant: Look for the strugglers and pray for them and ask God to show you how you can help. If you are the struggler, take it to prayer and let someone share your struggle and walk with you and help you find healing.
Blessings on your day!
…Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her. Mark 10:42
Do you ever feel like you are at war with yourself? You try to do the right things and live up to the expectations but some days it just feels like you fall short…I hope that’s not just me! I had a lousy day; one of those look under every rock of your life and not really like what you see kind of days. I suppose it’s good to take an honest inventory of your life from time to time but sometimes it’s painful to be honest with yourself. What I came to discover is that I’m probably like everybody else with some good qualities and some not so stellar ones too. As I was thinking about this “battle with self”, I remembered a Gospel story about two sisters who had a battle right in front of Jesus. I could relate so perfectly to this story and the constant struggle to do the right thing for the right reason. As I re-read this Gospel I realized that I can be both sisters; Martha and Mary.
This epic sister conflict reveals the perfect model for our lives as faithful servants! It’s easy to read this Gospel and take sides, but the truth of the matter is we all have an inner Martha and an inner Mary. It’s also easy to read this Gospel and make Martha out to be the “bad guy” sister. Really, can you imagine having the guts to whine to Jesus about cooking and serving! In Martha’s defense, the most important guest of all time was in the living room and there sat the chief helper star struck, completely shirking all sense of responsibility and duty, I’m not gonna lie, I think I would have been a bit irritated myself.
As a Disciple of Christ our vocation includes the Martha stuff like cooking, cleaning and serving. It also includes the Mary stuff like devotion, attentiveness and focus on the better part. This Gospel should inspire us to be a balance of both sisters. We need to realize that when the cooking and serving are done as a prayerful offering to God, it is a powerful form of prayer and devotion. We also need to realize our Mary moments of complete and uninterrupted prayer have to be carved into our daily schedule. I need to read this Gospel several times and balance my Mary and Martha! I need to read this Gospel several times to realize my battle is normal and as long as I keep plugging along trying to do the right thing and keep it all in balance, God will notice, and thank goodness he rewards us for attempts and not just perfection!
A Seed To Plant: How can I make my Martha tasks like cooking and serving more of a prayerful offering instead of complaining about it and feeling unappreciated? How can I be more attentive and focused on Jesus like Mary? How can I find balance and have patience with myself?
Blessings on your day!
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the tactics of the devil. Ephesians 6:10-11
That verse from Pauls letter to the Ephesians are our WOW words this week. We’ve talked all week about being strong, remarkable and warriors for the Lord. I’m wondering how long it’s been since you’ve thought of yourself as a remarkable warrior? The middle lovelies weren’t quite sure it was possible until we unpacked what it really looks like to the Lord.
Our Monday Message video was about a young doctor named Brianne Feldpausch who started a program that took medical care out into the streets and shelters to care for the homeless. The program is impressive and the kids all agreed that the work of the young doctor featured in the video reminded them of a modern day Mother Teresa. After we talked about how brave and compassionate and remarkable she was, I shared that she was from Fowler, which is the little neighboring town just up the road. Being a remarkable warrior for the Lord doesn’t mean you have to come from a big important place. Lesson number 1.
Our Tuesday tune was about being a warrior that could rise above defeat and disappointment to get things done. When we inserted God into the song and thought about the message he might be sharing through the song, we realized that not every battle is the same and we aren’t called to fight them all, only the ones he chooses and equips us for. We realized that even the greatest warriors don’t win every battle because it’s about persistence more than perfection. Lesson number 2.
On WOW word Wednesday before the verse was written in beautiful cursive in a prayer journal, we talked about armor. We talked about David and King Saul’s armor and what God’s armor really looked like. I saw an image on FaceBook that I completely snitched and used in class. I had two oranges and two glasses of water. The orange with the peel represented God’s armor. We decided that when we arm ourselves with prayer and we seek to do God’s will and follow his plan and ask him to show us the battles he’s asking us to fight for him we are protected. As you plunk that orange with the peel into the water, it floats. Then we talked about fighting battles he hasn’t invited us to fight or that he hasn’t equipped us to fight we’re like the unpeeled orange and we sink right to the bottom. Lesson number 3.
Sometimes our battles are with things like living with honesty, spreading peace in chaos or choosing words that are kind instead of gossip. Sometimes our battle is to spread Gods mercy instead of judgement or to stand up for a cause and speak the truth. As we weave it all together, these words from St. Mother Teresa are a good place to start as we pray for God’s armor and directions. Lesson number 4.
I used to pray that God would feed the hungry, or do this or that, but now I pray that he will guide me to do whatever I’m supposed to do, what I can do. I used to pray for answers, but now I’m praying for strength. I used to believe that prayer changes things, but now I know that prayer changes us and we change things. St. Mother Teresa
A Seed To Plant: Spend some time reading the scripture and the quote in todays post and ask God to point you to the places he’s calling you to be a remarkable warrior.
Blessings on your day!
The secret of happiness is to live every day moment by moment and to thank God for what he is sending us everyday in his blessing. St. Gianna
This school year if off to a fabulous beginning! I have a room of all girls and they are an absolute joy! They are a group that can be candid, honest and open about the things we’re reading and learning. We started the year reading the Max Lucado book, Make Every Day Count. The girls divided up into groups and are taking turns teaching their peers about the author’s ten strategies for living faithfully and joyfully. They have taken their work seriously and are teaching each other some great stuff.
One of the chapters began with the diary of a dog. It highlighted the dog’s daily schedule and it was filled with excitement over the simplest things. It sounded something like this: 5:00 am Oh Boy time to get up, 5:02 am Oh Boy time to go outside, 5:10 am Oh Boy time to eat, 5:15am Oh Boy time to crawl up on the couch, 5:16 am Oh Boy, time for a nap, 6:00 am Oh Boy time for the little humans to get up and play with me. It went on throughout the whole day and every event began with the words “Oh Boy”. You could almost feel his tail wag with excitement as the girls read that part of the book to us. It made us think!
The point of the chapter was to challenge us to look for the flowers of our days and not the weeds. Lots of things are going to happen throughout the course of a day and some of them will be pleasant and some of them not so much. The girls and I made a decision to use the dogs “Oh Boy” line before doing simple or unpleasant things. For the rest of the week in our room you could hear things like, “Oh Boy, time to do handwriting.” or “Oh Boy, time to take a test.” One of my favorites was, “Oh Boy, time to come in from recess and learn some more stuff.” They say it with enthusiasm and silliness and every time one of them says it, the others join in and repeat or they just smile and giggle a little as they get ready to do that task they really aren’t all that excited about.
The “Oh Boy’s” are a dose of positive attitude at the right time because I sure can get cranky or pouty about the same tasks that need to be done again and again so I used the line at home. “Oh Boy, time to do the laundry (I’ll be washing the same clothes for the 50th time).” and “Oh Boy, time to prepare a meal.(That will be gone in fifteen minutes leaving nothing behind but a mess and the thought of doing it all again in a few hours) and “Oh Boy, I get to sweep the floor. (Which I will need to do again tomorrow because people will walk on it and track in grass, dirt and who know what else.)
I caught myself doing the “Oh Boy” thing all wrong and realized I was missing the point. All of those things are my opportunity to serve the people I love the most. Cooking, cleaning, grading papers, planning lessons, sweeping the floor…all of it is designed to give me the chance to love and serve God by loving and serving the ones he’s given me to tend to. When I got my heart straight my “Oh Boy” changed. The smile goes deep when I say “Oh Boy, I get to serve my family” or “Oh Boy, I get to serve 22 lovely young daughters of God.” or “Oh Boy, I get to grow in holiness by cooking, and cleaning instead of doing mission work in a jungle.” Positive perspective is powerful and “Oh Boy, I’m so glad he straightened up my heart and my thinking.
A Seed To Plant: Follow the lesson the Middle Lovely ladies taught and use the “Oh Boy” line in front of your not so terrific tasks this week. I’ll bet it will make you smile!
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!
For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate. Romans 7:15
We had a snap of cool summer weather a few weeks back so I made an industrial sized batch of chili. After it had cooled I grabbed a glass measuring cup to scoop the chili into containers for the freezer. It wasn’t a new task or one that required any kind of special skill but yet I managed to find myself in the middle of a disaster! As I was getting ready to pour the first scoop into the bowl, my brain must have entered some kind of warped fog because I dumped out the chili before I even reached the counter top where the bowl was waiting. In some bizarre turn of events, I found myself standing in a puddle of splattered chili. It was on my feet, my pants, the floor, the rug the cupboard doors and many other tiny little spaces. I’m still not sure how it happened but it took me thirty minutes to get everything cleaned up! YUCK!
As I was scrubbing up the mess trying to figure out how I had managed to do something so crazy I thought of this verse from Romans. Talk about an experience in not doing what I want and doing what I hate! While I was doing clean up, I decided to think about the positives of the whole situation. One of the tasks on my summer to do list that hadn’t been completed was to scrub all my kitchen cabinets so I got to take that off my list. Another bonus was related to my kitchen rugs. I have a habit of purchasing kitchen rugs with a bright pattern. Make no mistake, that isn’t because I am a master designer with artsy flair, it simply means that kind of rug hides lots of spills and I don’t’ have to wash the rugs as often. It was past time for a good rug washing and thanks to the chili event I had no choice. The third positive thing that came from the disaster was probably the most important of all. As I crawled around my kitchen scrubbing I realized that I was on my knees; a good place to be and I had to slow down and focus on just one thing. I don’t know about you but I’m not as good at either of those things as I should be. I spend a big chunk of time each morning in prayer but I’m nestled into my comfy prayer chair with my coffee and it’s a very cozy way to begin my day. I’m tellin’ ya, being on my knees on that hard tile floor made prayer a different experience. My mind didn’t wander like it does in comfy prayer; I was focused.
I know for a fact that when St. Paul wrote this letter to the Romans he wasn’t thinking about chili spills and scrub buckets but I do believe Scripture has a way of grabbing you right where you are. Splattering chili was not what I had planned but as I crawled around scrubbing I realized I focused on what I wanted, and on doing things with my own power far too much of the time. We like things to go our way and according to our plan. I think that is one of the ways sin sneaks in and takes over. When I realize sin has gotten a hold of my attitude or my behavior I find myself in the middle of something I hate. I’d like to say that only happens once in a while but that wouldn’t be true! It was great food for thought as I crawled around on my knees. When I finished I was determined to spend more time on my knees in focused prayer talking with my Father about all those things I hate doing that I need His help with. I realized the truth of this verse is that unless I surrender everything to Him the cycle is just going to continue again and again. Who knew a chili spill could contain such an important spiritual lesson!
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of things you seem to do that you don’t want to do then hit your knees with that list and ask Sweet Jesus to help you make a change.
Blessings on your day!
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Matthew 24:24
You never know the weight of another persons cross. Those words occurred to me tonight as I watched 44 6th graders tromp through the rain after evening prayer headed back to their cabins. As I type, we are finishing up our first day of camp and some of those middle lovelies headed off heavy footed and heavy hearted.
I think camp is great and it’s a time to watch the kids bond, build friendships, conquer challenges and grow as young leaders. I love everything about camp (except for the tissue thin mattresses) and it isn’t a burden to be here in any way but for some of the kids that isn’t the case. I watched as some of them began to realize mom and dad were pretty far away. I watched some of them worry about the thunder and rain. I wondered how many of them were a little heavy hearted because they wouldn’t be able to creep into mom and dad’s room if the thunder woke them up. For some of them, it will be hard to fall asleep and Friday seems so far away. To a middle lovely those are heavy crosses to bear the first night of camp.
To some folks, those crosses might seem trivial but to a 12 year old a hundred miles from home that isn’t the case. There were lots of hugs and winks and promises to pray for a good night of sleep. I try to explain as best I can that they will feel so strong and proud when they accomplish this tough thing and there are lots of reminders of the protection and comfort our Guardian Angels. The truth is, none of that makes much sense in the middle of the situation. It’s usually after the fact that we see how God was busy working in the situation all along. God doesn’t tell us to suck it up or tell us to stop whining because the cross really isn’t THAT heavy. Instead he helps us carry them when we ask. Tomorrow morning things will look very different and they will be back to the fun. That is a reminder that crosses aren’t meant to be carried forever. He gives us rest and sometimes he bears all the weight himself.
God is always reminding us of his love and mercy if we’re paying attention. My heart was a little heavy this afternoon as I watched the middle lovelies laughing and having a great time together and I couldn’t help thinking about their classmate Samantha that died when these kids were in the 4th grade. Many of us who love this class call on her heavenly intercession to bless and strengthen this terrific class often and not long after I had prayed a decade of the Rosary asking for that very thing, it started to pour. A few minutes later the sun popped out and we saw a rainbow over the lake and the other 6th grade teacher was telling us that she had been told a rainbow was a sign of love from someone in heaven. I realized as I saw that rainbow that Samantha came to camp with us too. That beautiful rainbow only lasted a little while but it made that cross a little easier to carry.
As I pray for the middle lovelies to have good sleep, I ask the Lord to help me be aware of those who need help with their crosses instead of trying to determine how heavy I think they are compared to mine.
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of the crosses you’re carrying and then ask him for help because we’re not meant to do all the heavy lifting ourselves.
Blessings on your day!
…so that I may come to you with joy by the will of God and be refreshed together with you. Romans 15:32
One of middle lovelies shared a book with me last week and I flipped open to a random page in hopes of finding some inspiration for todays blog. First crack open I found something great to share. Last week I wrote about the giants that make us feel like grasshoppers and the story of St. Benezet (who I have never heard of) from Dominic’s book seems to be the perfect follow up.
St. Benezet was a shepherd but felt God calling him to solve a problem. It seems there was a spot along the Rhone River near the saint’s home where many people died trying to cross the river so Benezet felt he was supposed to build a stone bridge across the river so people could have a safe crossing. The first problem was, he was a shepherd and not an engineer. Problem two (which is a big one) he had no experience, money or materials.
I think this is about the point in the story when I would have tossed up my hands and said, “Sorry God, you asked the wrong person, I have no way to accomplish this giant task!” Lucky for the people of this village that wasn’t how he responded. He told the Bishop about his situation and he amazingly supported the project in all ways despite the obvious problems with the plan. Both men truly believed that it was what God WANTED. I don’t know about you but I sometimes tend to see the reasons things won’t work before I see the reasons God might want it to. I also often forget that God can do anything he wants.
Benezet worked tirelessly for seven years on the project. I’d like to say he cut the ribbon and stood proudly at the grand opening of the bridge to hear the townspeople cheer but that’s not the truth. The truth is , he died before he ever saw the project completed. Many people who were inspired by his hard work and his dedication to God’s request completed the bridge after he died. There was celebration both for the bridge completion and for the many miracles that happened through the intercession and prayers of St. Benezet.
This humble shepherd’s life tells a great story of faith, trust, obedience and humility. If we look at the great Cathedrals of old and a simple stone bridge over the Rhone River we see that they share something that seems to escape modern culture…humility. Most of the great architects and builders never saw their work to completion. They didn’t need the accoladed of humans to fulfill them. They set out to do a task using their God given gifts and talents and they did it to bring Glory to God, the giver of the gifts and not for their own credit or glory.
Benezet’s story is a great reminder to me that God can use us any way he needs to for his purposes. It made me think of that famous quote, “God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called.” Those are truthful words so my prayer is, “Lord, get me out of the way and show me where you need my service. Lord, allow this little grasshopper to do giant things when you ask!”
A Seed To Plant: Spend some quiet time in prayer asking the Lord where he might be asking you to serve or build a bridge. Then ask him for the humble obedience to follow his plan.
Blessings on your day!
…we cannot attack these people; they are too strong for us. Numbers 13:31
I was reading the story of the Israelites in the book of numbers and it seemed like such an ancient, un-relatable story at first. I picked up a commentary on this particular section and it talked about the Israelites scoping out their new land and finding the Anakim who were known as a race of giants. (Best guess is that they were somewhere around 9 feet tall. One of the most famous of this tribe which were defeated and scattered was none other than Goliath of David and Goliath fame.) The Israelites told Moses they must seem like mere grasshoppers compared to them. That image stuck in my head!
Take a minute and just imagine a giant and a grasshopper standing side by side…pretty lopsided image isn’t it. Things get really spooky when we think about ourselves being that grasshopper standing next to a 9 foot tall person who could squish us. It sort of makes you shake in your boots a little doesn’t it.
All of this vivid imagining led me to wonder about the times and situations that make me feel exactly like that grasshopper next to the giant. Sometimes the giant is finances or poor health or a mountain of laundry flanked by piles of paperwork. Sometimes it’s loneliness or infertility or a troubled relationship. Giants come in many forms for sure! The Israelite grasshopper were terrified and overwhelmed at the thought of facing down something as big and powerful as a giant. Many of them were ready to turn tail and run because they just couldn’t fathom a way out of the situation. I can honestly say I have shared their hopelessness. When I’m tired and the list of tasks and responsibilities is far beyond what little is left in my tank it’s tempting to want to run off screaming!
The grasshoppers faced the giants though. They might have felt silly and unprepared and unequipped but they charged it to battle. They might have felt overwhelmed and outnumbered but they went after it head down full steam ahead. The image of grasshoppers leaping toward a giant seems funny at best. I can imagine a cartoon giant simply swatting those grasshoppers away with the flick of a wrist. That image doesn’t provide much hope and courage either but that’s because we’re missing the point.
It doesn’t matter how “grasshopperish” we feel and it doesn’t matter how fierce and mighty the giants of our day are; the answer lies beyond the grasshopper and the giant. The Israelites didn’t drive the giants off because of their own power or brilliance or skill, they triumphed not because of WHO they were but because of WHOSE they were.
As we face the giants in our path, we need to arm ourselves with the truth of WHOSE we are. There is no giant that can match the power, strength and wisdom of the God who created us in his image. He will fight for us, he will rescue us and he will strengthen us for any battle. In case you have been feeling a little “grasshopperish” lately, maybe this will help you tackle your giants.
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of the giants making you feel like a grasshopper and ask the Lord to show you how to conquer each one of them.
Blessings on your day!
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as if working for the Lord, not for human masters. Colossians 3:23
Happy Labor Day! Some of us are resting and playing today but many are hard at work just like any other day. I have some simple thoughts today...what if we prayed for a greater respect for all workers instead of comparing.
I wonder what this world would be like if we had as much respect for the Doctor that repaired a heart as we did for the mechanic who repaired his car so he could make it to the hospital? What if we valued the farmer who raised the food as we did the super star who did the commercial to endorse it? What would happen if we honored the God who gives the gifts and talents we turn into our careers and occupations instead of categorizing and judging based on the financial reward we receive from the world?
There is dignity in the work we do and that dignity is magnified when we remember two things. First, it all starts with gifts and talents from the Lord and second, we are meant to serve others in all we do including our work. When I think about things that way it makes even the yuckiest parts of my work seem to have a greater purpose.
A Seed To Plant: Today lets take some time to pray for all who work and for those who are looking for the true work the Lord has for them.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12
I’m sure we’ve all heard the line, “if you aren’t part of the solution; you must be part of the problem.” They are wise words but perhaps a bit misunderstood. I think being part of the solution doesn’t necessarily mean solving the problem single handedly but rather making an honest attempt at working toward something better. There are some mighty problems in this world to be solved and I sure shootin didn’t cause them, plus I know for a fact that I am not in the position to solve them. So should I throw in the towel and go cry in the closet? Nope! I was reading an article about an amazing woman named Dorothy Day and she had one little idea that put it all in perspective for me.
Dorothy Day was a saving grace to so many who were left physically, spiritually and emotionally crippled by the devastation of the Great Depression. Her motives and actions were genuine, compassionate and life changing. She provided a beacon of hope during a time when there wasn’t much. She didn’t solve the financial problems of the day but she worked in her own way to be part of the solution one person and one family at a time. She didn’t offer money, but rather provided the most basic needs of the suffering. She offered dignity, shelter, hope and joy…so much joy. She didn’t give a lot ,but what she gave mattered greatly. She said, “We contribute to the misery of the world if we ignore beauty and joy in life. If we seek the will of the One who sent Jesus, we need to open our hearts to joy.”
It’s not hard to find the problems, but we get in a big pickle when we have an even harder time finding the beauty around us. It isn’t often we see a smiling baby or a gorgeous harvest moon on the front page of the paper or newsfeed but when we do see them they give us a lift. Who doesn’t love a good giggling baby video shared on social media? They just let us escape for a few minutes. After reading the article I realized my role in the solution was easier than I thought. It’s my job to connect with beauty and joy. John Ruskin was a famous art critic from England who used to say “We have the duty of delight.” That line made me realize we sometimes see joy and beauty and peaceful things as frivolous and non-productive. We think we have to work and take things to task and ponder serious matters in order to be responsible, informed citizens. Did you hear that, I think God just belly laughed!” We’ve got it so twisted up it isn’t even funny.
God is the maker of joy and beauty not the creator of evil, cynical, corrupt or absurd so why not focus on the things he made and leave the rest of the mess alone? Dorothy Day didn’t solve the problem of the Great Depression, but she sure was a solution to those she was able to bring delight to. Sounds like a much better way to spend my day, what do you think?
A Seed To Plant: Take some time to sit and make a list of things in your world that are beautiful and joyful and then go about the duty of delighting in them instead of stewing over problems you can’t solve. It is perhaps the most important work we can do!
Blessings on your day!
Trust in the LORD. Have faith, do not despair. Trust in the LORD. Psalm 27:14
I really enjoy traveling and meeting people in all the cool places the Father invites me to tell his story. August has been a 4 state month and I got to add so many new faces and names to my heart. I’ve been privileged to hear stories of great joy and tremendous struggle. I’ve had the chance to laugh with people, cry with people and pray with people. I’m so grateful for the adventures he sends me on but sometimes the travel can be tricky. I’ve discovered that air travel is a great way to build trust and surrender and as usual; the Father doesn’t disappoint. God has showed up in some pretty fancy ways this month so I just thought I’d tell you my favorite stories.
*The West Virginia story…the retreat finished early Friday afternoon but the only flight I could book didn’t leave until 7:30 Saturday night. I was not thrilled about spending more than 24 hours in a hotel room and airport waiting but I told God I’d look at it as a chance to practice Psalm 46:11 Be still and know I am God. I did however put in a request for a little travel blessing to see if there could be any way he could get me home earlier. As I wrapped up the retreat ,Mary Ann, the lovely woman who invited me to WV told me she was leaving to drive to Michigan and offered to take me along. Instead of getting home at 1am Sunday morning, I actually got home at 8:30 Friday night. Talk about a travel blessing!
*The Texas story…my flight from Lubbock to Dallas kept getting bumped back and my layover in Dallas had been whittled down to 45 minutes and I was a little concerned about hiking through that big airport in such a short time so when Tricia dropped me off I asked her to say a little prayer at 8 pm so I could scoot quickly and catch that last flight from TX to MI. As I got out of her truck I got a text that the flight to Dallas had been bumped another hour and I’d miss my connection completely. As I walked into the terminal I heard an announcement that a flight to Dallas was in the final phase of boarding. I scrambled through security and noticed it was 4:09 and that the flight was departing at 4:23. They saw me coming with my shoes in my hand and quickly changed my reservation and got me on that flight just as they were about to close the door. I really savored my 2 hour layover in Dallas that evening!
*The Iowa story…I was so excited that after a two day training I would be able to finish up Saturday afternoon and get a 7pm flight home. Getting home Saturday night was exciting since Monday is the fist day of school. My excitement faded a few weeks before the trip when the airline cancelled that evening flight and put me on a 6am flight Sunday morning. In an attempt to avoid having the folks from St. Paul the Apostle parish do a 4am pick-up, I decided to be brave and take my first go at an Uber. I loaded the app, scheduled the pick up and set my alarm for 3:30am. I waited in front of the hotel for my Uber and they didn’t come so I headed back in to the hotel and called both of the local cab companies and they had no cabs available. I said a quick prayer, “Lord I came to Iowa for you so please get me home.” As soon as I finished that prayer the man at the front desk re-appeared and introduced me to a member of the maintenance staff at the hotel and said that she would be happy to give me a ride to the airport.
I’m sitting here in the Chicago airport early on a Sunday morning with such a full heart and giant smile because I just can’t believe how faithful he is. I always remind myself that the God who could part the Red Sea could certainly arrange a flight schedule so I could get where I needed to be. He rewards that trust again and again and sometimes he even shows off a little so I can be reminded of how fancy he can be. I’ll be home by noon and that gives me plenty of time to hang out with my husband and finish up a few things to get ready for a whole new batch of middle lovelies on the first day of school tomorrow. God is so good!
A Seed To Plant: Sit for a few minutes and think back over the month of August and make a list of things that have happened that were evidence of God taking care of the details of your life then make sure you thank him!
Blessings on your day!
“No one can serve two masters.m He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and man.” Matthew 6:24
It’s almost time for school to begin and I wanted to practice my question asking and I decided to begin with the Joyful Words readers. Question one: What are the things you love or really like? Question two: What are the things that occupy your time your thoughts and your actions? And finally, question three: What are ten things you just can’t imagine living without?
I’m sure all of our answers would provide a wide variety of information and if I had the chance to read everyones answers I imagine I would be persuaded or inspired to change some of my own. I read a quote from St. Bernard the other day that actually bubbled up these questions. The quote was this, “What we love, we shall grow to resemble.” My first reaction was; sweet, I love Jesus so I’m growing to resemble him! Then reality slapped me up side the head and it didn’t take long for me to hone in on all the ways I DO NOT resemble Jesus and that led to the three questions I’m proposing to myself and all of you who read these words.
No matter what shows up on your answer sheet it’s a great reality check and opportunity to adjust our thinking because ultimately we can’t serve two masters as Matthew reminds us in his Gospel. I can still enjoy the things of earth like coffee and sitting on my porch but I need to keep everything in the order that points me to the Father.
A Seed To Plant: Take some time this week to ponder and write down your answers to the three questions and then let the words of St. Bernard guide you to have a great conversation with the Father.
Blessings on your day!
To every thing there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven: Ecclesiastes 3:1
It’s that time again! Time to look at my classroom and see everything neatly in its place. The floor is shiny, the books are in order, the pencils are long and pointy and the top of my desk is clearly visible. Its quiet and settled but not for long.
As I stood in the doorway taking one last look before I turned off the light I smiled about how quickly the room would change and I laughed because I wouldn’t want it any other way. Some things in life are just meant to be used and get a little messy. It might be nice if the floor would stay shiny and the sink didn’t get all splattered up but that isn’t life. I’ll take the commotion and the movement and the scuffing up because it means we’re moving and doing and learning and living. I realized my faith can be a little like my classroom.
If I wanted, I could probably institute a set of ridiculous rules to keep my room in perfect order. We could be scrubbing the sink and floors and organizing the book shelves and cleaning desks every ten minutes to keep it fancy looking but that doesn’t seem very reasonable. My faith isn’t meant to be pulled out and practiced only in perfect, shiny conditions. God doesn’t love me because my life is all in good order. He still loves me if I get a little smudged and wrinkled. If I wanted to keep everything in order I could sit in church all day so I wouldn’t get messy but then I wouldn’t be living my faith or sharing my faith. My faith, like my classroom, would probably do best with a “full steam ahead” philosophy.
I save my favorite job for last; the desk note. More than a hundred times in Scripture we are referred to as God’s Beloved and I think we forget how very much he loves us. On each desk written above the students name are the words God’s Beloved. I sit at each desk as I write and bless it with Holy Water and pray for the student who will sit there and I pray that I will be the teacher that student needs me to be. I ask God to remind me daily how much he loves this child so that I can love them too. As I switched off the light I prayed a prayer of blessing over the tidy, shiny room and thanked God for this incredible work he’s called me to do. I asked him to remind me that I am his beloved and to make me act like I knew it. I headed to my car and couldn’t help but smile a little bigger.
A Seed To Plant: Write the message “God’s Beloved (your name)” in a couple of places where you will see it often and then soak in the truth of that message. It’s true when you’re shiny and when you’re not!
Blessings on your day!
Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28
I love rocking chairs and my favorite place to rock is outside on a porch or a deck. When I have the chance to sit and rock, there is a peace and calm that just seem to wash over me. It’s funny how quickly you fall into a gentle rhythm when you rock; something often missing from the chaos of our days. There are a lot of things we do quickly but rocking in a rocking chair isn’t really one of them. Its funny how just a few minutes of gently moving back and forth can cause you to slow your roll and breathe.
In all honesty, I’ve never really thought too much about rocking until this weekend. I was sitting in a rocking chair on a patio looking out at the dry Texas Prairie. I was just taking in all the beauty of the redish brown dirt and dry landscape. I noticed as I rocked that it was so flat I could see for miles. I sat there just soaking it all in watching a couple of rabbits hopping around amongst the rose bushes. It was dry and hot but the wind was blowing a bit so I didn’t really notice the heat. The view was beautiful in its own way. As I rocked, it occurred to me that just last weekend I was rocking in West Virginia and the view was so very different. As I rocked last weekend I looked out on the tree covered mountains. Everything was green and there were flowers of every color within my view. From that rocker I could also see and hear two beautiful fountains. I remember just sitting there soaking it all in until the mosquitoes chased me inside.
As I rocked away in West Texas thinking about rocking in West Virginia I thought about rocking on my own front porch looking out at the corn field as we chatted with the neighbors who stopped by for a visit. This summer I’ve rocked in a lot of different places. I got the chance to rock on the porch with my dad and my brother who live more than 600 miles away. I’ve rocked and prayed. I’ve rocked and laughed. I’ve rocked and sipped hot coffee. And last night I rocked and cried as I prayed for the soul of my good friends dad who lost his battle with cancer. This summer I’ve rocked babies to sleep and listened to the tales of my favorite new nurse. As I type this blog on a late night flight back home to Michigan I realized the Father has used something I love to teach me something important.
As I pondered all my “rocking” it occurred to me that those times stick so vividly in my mind because the all have something in common. I slowed down and opened my eyes to what was around me. In the slow gentle rhythm of the rocker I was able to soak in the beauty of my surroundings. I was able to soak in the presence of those rocking with me. I was able to just be still, shut up and take in all in. When I think about it, I was really seeing God and his goodness in the Texas prairie and the West Virginia mountains and the Clinton County corn and in the sleepy baby Francis and the giggly baby Silas. I felt the love of God as I laughed and prayed with family and friends. In a rocker I am reminded of the slow and gentle ways God is a part of the rhythm of every moment of every day. The trick however is to slow down and recognize it.
I love how fancy God gets sometimes with his lessons. It would have been so easy for him to make something in my life come to a crazy screeching halt to teach me to slow down but instead he let me learn while enjoying some beautiful stuff and people all while rocking in my chair. Is he great or what!
A Seed To Plant: Take a few minutes this week and sit in a rocking chair. Let yourself slow down and allow God grant you some peace.
Blessings on your day!
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased, listen to him.” Matthew 17:5
In the first half of chapter 17 in Matthew’s Gospel we read the magnificent story of the Transfiguration. You would think that after seeing something as indescribably amazing as the Transfiguration, Peter, James and John would never doubt or struggle with trusting the will of God again. I mean really, after seeing what they had just seen how could they ever doubt, question or stray from God again. But in his infinite wisdom I think God knew they would because they were human so as if the events of the day hadn’t been powerful enough, he included a simple and precise verbal statement, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” The key phrase is at the end…listen to him. I don’t know about you but I sure could use that reminder every now and again.
I had a professor in college one time that handed out a test. It was the standard fill in the bubble test that we had seen dozens of times before. As the question and answer sheets circulated around the room he strongly advised waiting until he had finished making announcements and giving directions before beginning. I’m a people pleaser so I sat there listening to him ramble on as I watched everyone around me quickly reading and filling in bubbles. I was just about ready to tune him out and get started when I heard him quietly say, if you’re still listening to my voice, put down your pencil, don’t say a word and in five minutes bring your test forward, you will receive a perfect score on today’s exam. I thought a perfect exam score was awesome but as I read this passage from Matthew, I realized what I could gain from listening to HIM would most certainly blow that right out of the water!
God demonstrates his power and presence in our lives all the time but in our weakness; we often don’t listen to him. Sometimes it’s as if God’s grand workings in our lives make us feel entitled to float along with independent holiness instead of falling to our knees in thanksgiving and submission. I’m famous for taking the “holy glow feeling” that comes from identifying God’s handiwork and using it to plug along on my own instead of truly listening to him. I have to remember to listen and look for Jesus all the time; in times of blessing as well as times of struggle. He knows what’s best, he knows what’s right, and even when I’m in the middle of a hissy fit determined to do it my own way, he just patiently waits for me to listen and do it his way!
A Seed To Plant: When do I find it most difficult to “listen to him?” Father of wisdom, show me where I need to listen and guide me to live my life like I’ve heard your voice.
Blessings on your day!
Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, (love) is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…1 Corinthians 13:4-8
I remember hearing a long time ago that if you were dating a person and you wanted to really understand if they were the “right person” you should read this passage from 1 Corinthians and insert their name. I thought that was excellent thinking but I was already married so I didn’t give it much thought. I have no idea what made it pop into my head the other day but it just sat there. Today I woke up to the news of more shootings and more folks sharing their opinions about gun control evil people and the woes of the world.
As the bad news bubbled in my heart I came across this quote by St. Teresa of Calcutta. "Spread love everywhere you go: first of all in your own house. Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to a next door neighbor... Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting.” I’m not sure we understand how important it is to love one another. It was the basic command of Jesus yet we seem to get it so very twisted up.
As all of this tumbled around in my heart and my head I remembered that I have absolutely no control over anyone else actions but my own and it made me start to think about how I loved others. The teacher in me thought about a scoring rubric or grading scale for judging my “love ability.” Somewhere in the middle of a really long bike ride on a beautiful Sunday afternoon this reading had a purpose and I realized the rubric already existed. I pulled out the New Testament, found 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and began to read it slowly inserting my own name. It sounded like this, “Sheri is patient, Sheri is kind. Sheri is not jealous, Sheri is not pompous…” I’ll be honest, there were parts I really couldn’t say out loud because they weren’t consistently true. I wanted to say “Sheri is not quick-tempered…most of the time or Sheri endures almost all things.” It was not an easy read! It was glaringly obvious where I fall short.
I can’t change the world but I can change me. There will always be awful stuff going on in the world, there always has been and one powerless teacher from Michigan isn’t going to end world violence but God isn’t asking me to. He’s asking me to love others as he loves me. This reading from St. Paul’s letter is a great place to start. The cool thing about it is, if I try harder to get it right, not only will I feel better, but the Father will be pleased and who doesn’t want a new way to please the Father. It might sound so simple but I really believe the world will get better if we all learn to love a little harder.
Blessings on your day!
A Seed To Plant: Spend some quiet minutes reading this passage and inserting your name and see where the Holy Spirit leads your heart.
Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, his love is everlasting. 1Thessalonians 5:18
Todays post is more of a homework assignment than a message. I keep running across a quote which I'm sure is familiar to many of you. It's funny how it just keeps popping up so I'm guessing that's a pretty clear message for me and perhaps for you too. It's actually perfect timing too because I'm on the road and this was just the perfect quick little nugget for an already late Thursday post. My prayer is that the Lord does something beautiful in your heart with this homework assignment.
Here's the quote: "What if you woke up and the only things you had left were the things your thanked God for the day before?"
The assignment: Pray on those words for a while and then make a list of what you would have today. The second part of your assignment is to make a list of the things you want to make sure you wake up with tomorrow. And just so you know..."THANK YOU GOD FOR EVERYTHING" is cheating. Let's really take some time to go through a detailed accounting of all the things we need to say thank you for.
Blessings on your day!
Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5
Every now and again I run across something that just doesn’t seem to belong or have relevance anymore. I was cleaning closets recently and found an old rotary dial phone with a long spiral cord. I also have a potato slicer and French fry cutter that belonged to my Grandma Thelma. She used it in her kitchen when I was little girl. Both of those items have been replaced with more modern, convenient, efficient updated models so the old ones are cast aside as if they are no longer useful. There is a key word in this scripture passage from St. Matthew’s gospel that might seem as irrelevant as those old treasures hiding in my closet. That word is meek.
We strive to be strong and successful. We pray for the grace of patience, perseverance and wisdom. We admire people who are confident, powerful leaders with vision. To tell others our goal is to grow in meekness would be a little like seeing a rotary dial phone in a Verizon store! To be honest, when I came across the word meek the other day I decided to give it a look and some prayer. I think I need to change my opinion about that word. I think it’s a word we might all be able to relate to better than we thought and I’m certain it’s something we could use more of.
Long ago in biblical times the quality of meekness was highly respected and aspired to. We tend to view it as weak, timid or passive but that was not the message Jesus was teaching when he shared the Sermon on the Mount. Meekness in its true meaning is the opposite of those things. Being meek doesn’t mean you are weak and have to take everything like a door mat, it means an active and deliberate acceptance of undesirable circumstances that are part of a bigger picture we can’t see. Being meek doesn’t mean throwing in the towel, it means giving God authority to do what he wills with our life. True meekness can be measured by how closely related we are to the will of the Father. When we make that relationship first, we are content in his love and his control of our life. If we let him be in charge we realize everything happens for a purpose and we trust in his plan. If we are more centered on ourselves and our comforts and our pride we tend to fuss and complain and point out all the things that don’t go our way. If we are low on meekness we tend to see the world through the lens of poor me instead of God’s got it all figured out!
If someone rich in meekness is treated unfairly or wrongly it doesn’t mean that doesn’t sting, but vengeance or revenge isn’t part of their reaction. Their first reaction is to pray for the person who has wronged them and give the rest to God. A meek soul realizes that God is the source of justice and that all situations contain lessons. Sometimes the lesson is for us and sometimes the lesson is for somebody else and taught through us. In order to grow in meekness, we have to admit regularly that we are not equal with God. Through our great dependence on Him we grow and we trust and we think WAY more about him than about ourselves. I suppose meekness is a bit like realizing we truly need to settle into second place and stop trying so hard to be in charge, on top and number one. I don’t know about you but I have a lot of meekness building to do!
A Seed To Plant: What are some of the areas in your life that could use a little more meekness? Spend some prayer time this week with this old word with a great and misunderstood meaning.
Blessings on your day!
“I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.” Proverbs 8:17
The day was so beautiful it caught me by surprise. I was driving to Indianapolis to pick up my girlie and about thirty minutes into the drive I had this overwhelming feeling of peace and gratitude. The weather was perfect. Blue sky, no humidity, bright sun and 75 degrees. The day couldn’t have been more perfect. In the quiet of my drive I realized that I had no impending deadlines, no yucky task that was pressing on my time and nowhere else I’d rather be at the moment. I couldn’t help but smile; one of those really deep smiles that comes from somewhere down around your knee caps! I just started to pray in gratitude for all the things that made it a perfect day.
As I was soaking it all in, my mind wandered to all those I love who are suffering. Families with sick loved ones and families facing tough decisions and folks knee deep in grief and struggle. I prayed for them one by one as they popped into my mind and wished they could be with me, enjoying the perfect day I was right in the middle of. The emotion of their pain and struggle washed over me and I felt it in my heart but after praying for each one, my mind and my heart went back to the perfect day God had laid out for me.
After another hundred miles I said out loud in my car, “Man I wish every day could be like this!” I smiled and drove on for a while and then it hit me. If every day was like this one, I wouldn’t be struck by the peace and I wouldn’t notice the perfection of such an ordinary day. Nothing was spectacular about the day. I hadn’t won anything, I didn’t have more money than I had the day before and the world was still full of pockets of ugly but the day was a gift. As I kept driving I realized that the purpose of days like this was to fill my soul with the grace, love, presence and tenderness of My Father for days that weren’t like this one.
I soaked it all up and in my mind I bottled it up to put away like a treasure in my heart and the next time the day isn’t so lovely or easy or perfect I’ll remember this day and know that more will come. I’ll remember what it felt like and what a gift it was and know it can’t last forever but then again neither can the yucky days. I’m grateful for the day and I’m curious about how many others there have been along the way that I missed. Mostly I just thanked him for the glory of a perfect ordinary day!
A Seed To Plant: Think about a day that was a perfect ordinary day and ask God to help you put that memory like a treasure in your heart to save for a day you need it.
Blessings on your day!
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