Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8
Things change…it’s just a fact! Sometimes it’s a delightful fact, like when the time changes and I get to sleep an extra hour or when the timer dings and the squishy dough has changed into delicious homemade cinnamon rolls. Other times changes aren’t so whippy, like when the sands of time shift, and the only perky thing left is my smile or when my biceps droop south and become a waving flag every time I raise my arm. I thought not having to shave my legs was awesome until I realized those little hairs were sprouting out my chin instead. Oh, and one more; I thought calling myself the most “mature” teacher in the building instead of the “oldest” was great until three kids in one week called me grandma. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m looking at things all wrong; change is gonna happen and I can either roll with it or let it roll right over me!
I’ve decided to roll with it! After all, the things time does to a person are really kinda funny and sometimes I think it’s God’s great way of making sure I get plenty of humility practice. You might wonder what precipitated this “pondering”. It all started when I was standing on a step-stool in the classroom fixing one of the curtains and a sweet middle lovely walked into the room and with shock, asked if it was really a safe idea for me to be climbing on things. I would have given anything to have had the courage to jump right off the third step and shock his socks off but right before I attempted it, I had a vision of me landing wrong and breaking something or putting out an eye and requiring a call to 911 leaving the poor child scarred for life so I just winked and thanked him for his concern and promptly put him on the steps-stool to be the hero and save the classroom from a drooping curtain disaster. That afternoon as I riffled through the piles on my desk looking for that one piece of paper I put in a safe place, I realized time changes lots of things and along with the things that are different, so many things are made better by change; if we have the courage to see them.
I realize I’m really not THAT old but when I’m surrounded by co-workers half my age, it can feel like it. I had a visit not so long ago with my 96 year old Great Aunt Patricia and realized that change and age are part of life. Aunt Patricia has an absolutely infectious laugh, a keen knowledge of the world around her, a savvy awareness of college sports and the Kansas City Cheifs plus enough spunk for a dozen people. As we chatted she made me realize that life isn’t always what you think you signed up for but it’s never more than you can handle. It’s funny, but I didn’t notice gray hair, wrinkles or arm flags. I noticed an amazing woman, who to this day, raises a disabled daughter, cleans her house and goes to Mass often. I don’t see age, I see a wonderful lady who has rolled right along with the changes life has tossed in her lap. If my 90’s can look that funny and spunky and wise; bring it on…I got a true glimpse of my gene pool and I was excited!
A Seed To Plant: What changes are you struggling with right now? Take them to prayer and ask for the patience, wisdom and courage to face them and move through them gracefully.
Blessings on your day!
He must increase, I must decrease. John 3:30
One of the many things I miss now that the Wohlfert house is so quiet is practice. For more than a decade and a half there was always some kind of practice going on. It didn’t matter if it was reading, math facts, band, sports or even target practice for hunting season, it seemed like somebody was always practicing something. There is nothing more humbling than a good hard practice at whatever it is you are trying to get better at. The problem was nobody really enjoyed practice except me. I loved seeing my kids work hard, sweat, be frustrated and eventually trade in frustration for sheer determination. Practice is good for you no matter what it’s for but human nature leads us to desire perfection or success without the work.
Stop for a minute and think of something you need to practice. A little tricky wasn’t it! If you had a hard time coming up with something to practice I’ve got just the thing. I was reading in a prayer book the other day and came across a fabulous one liner that was too good to keep to myself. This simple thought is so power packed it’s going to make for a very short post today. Before you read it though, I want you to think for another minute about three things you’ve been frustrated about recently. If my guess is correct at least two of the things that frustrated you involved another person. So much of our negative energy stems from a reaction or comment or behavior from another person that doesn’t line up with our personal expectations or desires. In the spirit of being frustrated with others and tugging along the negative energy that goes with it; here is that great thought I promised. We all need to practice the art of self-forgetfulness! Pope John Paul II.
Holy cow…how’s that for a show stopper! I think maybe we spend so much time worrying and fussing about how other people see, value, appreciate and honor us that we lose track of the only desire we should be motivated by; pleasing God. If I were to forget my own desires and comforts more often I think I would certainly have more time for faithfulness. If I stopped worrying about who saw me do what or who noticed this or that I wouldn’t have anything to be disappointed about when others didn’t register the “wonder and awe” I thought I deserved. I don’t’ know about you, but I think I just found my new thing to practice… thinking about the Father more and myself less The art of self-forgetfulness isn’t something our culture promotes but since when does our culture promote things that will get us to heaven? I think I’m gonna go with JPII on this one and get my “self-forgetfulness” in motion, how about you…are you up for some tough practice?
A Seed To Plant: This week when you feel frustrated, stop and ask yourself if you are practicing the art of self-forgetfulness. Get ready for some good hard practice!
Blessings on your day!
If you judge people, you have no time to love them. Blessed Mother Teresa
There are three important questions we should ask ourselves each day according to Fr. John Riccardo. #1 Why am I here? #2 Where am I going? #3 How am I going to get there? I’ve been pondering those questions for a couple of weeks and they have changed my heart. I was really thinking about #3 and considered those who showed me how to work my way to heaven. Five years after a truly amazing woman, my Godmother died, I was reminded of a post I wrote about her. I’m sharing it today because it has some great answers to question #3.
This is a post that took a while to put in print. My mind wanted to write it but it took a while for my heart to cooperate. It’s a story of strength, faith and radical kindness. It’s the story of a great blessing…no, not a great blessing…a phenomenal and life changing blessing. It’s a story that might be passed over as common but make no mistake the simplicity of the story is what makes it so profound! I’m writing this story because there are just some stories in life that deserve…no, not deserve… NEED to be told because they really matter and because they have the potential to make us better people just because we heard the story and make an attempt each day to live a little piece of it. It’s my Aunt Mary’s story. I
When Aunt Mary first got sick, she asked me to come home and help her plan her funeral. She didn’t want to burden her family with those decisions. She, Shannon and I spent two amazing days together planning. She had Shannon and I sing dozens of songs for her so she could pick exactly the ones she wanted. We read from Scripture for hours one afternoon until she found the perfect readings. I was feeling very peaceful about it all until she asked me to give her eulogy. We had traded turns crying and being strong several times in those two days but that was my moment to lose it a little. When I told her I’d be honored she threw her arms around me and I was lost like a little girl in one of her world famous loving hugs. When we got it all back together, she told me she wanted to see a rough draft before I returned to Michigan. I laughed out loud and asked why she didn’t trust me. She said she just wanted to make sure I didn’t stand up there talking about her! Above all, she was humble beyond imagination and she didn’t want that to change. She wanted me to use that time to teach the important lessons everybody needed to know in order to live a good life, a life pleasing to God, and so I did. I reminded everyone about the great lessons she had shown us all.
She showed us how to love...everyone! She never knew a stranger and she never missed a chance to smile and say hello. She knew peoples favorite colors and flowers and desserts. She always remembered something about you and when you spoke, she listened. Her spare minutes were spent doing or making something for someone else. Always giving, always paying attention to the tiny details so she could remember you with a surprise “perfect something”. She didn’t think anything about it; “Anyone can do something nice for someone!” she would say. But she did it better than anyone I know. Her signature expression of love was handwritten letters and notes. It was a simple thing but the impact of that simple act is huge. Many nights through her illness I would find Shannon asleep wrapped in a blanket Aunt Mary made her surrounded by a stack of cards and letters from her she had read over and over and over.
She showed us how to serve. That really is our mission as Christians; to serve and not be served. She was a master! It was second nature for her to put other people first because she knew people had a story she didn’t know and everybody deserved to feel like they were important and treated with kindness. Her service was extra special because she did it with such tenderness and sincerity no matter who you were, where you lived or what your past involved.
She showed us kindness…to a degree I’ve never seen from anyone else on earth. I think if I could gather all the sugar on the planet I still couldn’t make a heart as sweet as hers! She cried easily and laughed even easier. She loved hard and forgave easy. The last lesson she wanted me to teach for her was the importance of forgiveness. She made me promise I’d say, “Life is too short to carry the heavy burden of an unforgiving heart.” “Make peace and move on to better things”, was another line I promised to share for her. She wanted me to remind everyone that judging and doubting God and selfishness were a waste of time and energy. She suggested more prayer, more faith, more generosity and lots and lots more kindness instead.
She battled cancer like a warrior, she prayed like a saint and she loved with the compassion of Christ himself but I wasn’t allowed to say those things at her funeral so I wanted to make sure I said them now…because they matter! She was one of those people who made your life better just because you knew her. Her generosity and her faith and her courage were legendary and the best way I know to keep her legacy alive is to try every day to live like she did. It’s a tall order but I’m up for the challenge so why don’t you join me and just maybe we can make this world better!
A Seed To Plant: Pick one of Aunt Mary’s lessons and live it this week!
Blessings on your day!
“No one who lights a lamp conceals it with vessel…” Luke 8:16
These ten words are golden! The simple truth of this line is that WE are the light and even when we don’t feel very shiny or glowing, we absolutely are in the eyes of The Father. We were given His light when we were created and we were tasked with letting that light shine during our Baptism.
Often we think we can only shine our light if we can be really sparkly. There are times when we come across someone whose light seems like a blow torch and we are more like a little birthday candle and it’s easy to shrink away and conceal ourselves and feel insignificant. This is exactly what the evil one wants us to do. The truth is, God has given each and every one of us a different way to love and serve. The light he’s asking us to shine is HIM, not us. He wants us to showcase HIS love, mercy and might; not our own. There is no such thing as a light that’s too small or plain. This line from Luke’s Gospel encourages us to trust Him to point us to the places that need His light and he promises to send us with exactly the perfect wattage to show him to those who need to see.
When we think about the pockets of darkness in our world today we can shine His light forth in the way we love and serve others, in our attempts to do the right thing and in our ability to trust and hope in his promises. Letting him shine through us can be a powerful weapon against the darkness that creeps in to extinguish the power of His light. Which of these three ways can you ask the Lord to help you let His light shine more powerfully?
A Seed To Plant: Pray this little prayer each morning. Oh Lord of Light, give me the grace to grow in humility so that I may let YOUR light truly shine through and pierce the darkness. Keep me ever mindful or your guidance as you point me to those who need the hope and promise of your light, and Lord, keep me ever grounded in my pursuits to bring glory to You. Amen
Blessings on your day!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. Deuteronomy 6:5
We fight so hard! We fight for time, resources, attention and the right things. We fight against stupidity, against evil and against anyone who tries to do harm to those we love. It can feel like every time we turn the corner we’re fighting and it’s no wonder we’re exhausted and frustrated because the stuff just keeps comin. Hopefully our biggest fight is the one we wage on worldly attachments as we are trying getting to heaven.
What if I suggested that fighting is exactly the opposite of what we should be doing? My friends, Eternal Life isn’t about fighting at all, actually it’s about quite the opposite. Eternal Life is about surrender! It’s about giving up the fight and letting God do that part. We shouldn’t feel like we’re laying a big job on his shoulders because the fight is already finished…every war that could prevent us from heaven has already been waged and conquered through the Cross. So today is a great day to take a breath and surrender…be still…be quiet…be peaceful knowing God’s done the heavy lifting and we are simply called to make him our everything. The weight of the world was never intended for your shoulders. But how do we begin to give him all? Here are a few things you can do to surrender your life to Christ.
First; Surrender your day, your work, your thoughts, your family and all your worries. Lay them at his feet and say “Lord I give it all to you, now lead me through this day the way you want it to be.” Guess what, you have to do that EVERY single day; sometimes more than once. I heard a priest asked the question, “How long have you been a priest?” He smiled and said, “Since this morning, every day I have to surrender my life to him in prayer so my vocation is new every morning.”
Second; Pray…every morning and throughout the day. Again and again remind yourself that he’s in charge and tell him thank you for his love. Ask often for him to show you clearly how much he loves you. The prayer is the communication between the one in charge (Him) and the one following the plan. (Us) Nothing runs smoothly without that kind of communication; not a company, a school or a family and certainly not a soul seeking God’s presence.
Third; Choose your noise wisely. Pay attention to the sounds that fill your head. It all matters so ask yourself what noise are the people, music and personalities you surround yourself with making. Is it noise that lifts and supports or sound that brings anger, frustration and discontentment. Pick the noise (or even absence of it) carefully. People who doubt, whine, complain and criticize aren’t helping you focus on putting God first.
Fourth; Circle back. Start again with the first thing and go through the list determined to hold on to the world with a lighter grip than before.
Fr. John Riccardo said, “If you really want to measure your surrender you can look two places; your checkbook and your calendar. Those are the indicator of where we’re focusing our two biggest worldly attachments; money and time.” What are yours telling you? Is there enough room for God in your world? I’m working these four steps very intentionally these days and I can promise I’m not there yet but the peace I feel by making even the smallest progress is an amazing grace filled gift! We have NOTHING to loose but my friends we have EVERYTHING to gain. (Cue to the Disney song “Let It Go!”)
A Seed To Plant: Start with the first step every day this week and see how he blesses you.
Blessings on your day!
For I know well the plans I have for you…Jeremiah 29:11
The last three weeks have been a giant lesson in things not going according to plan…or should I say “my plan”. It’s great to be back in school, it’s great to be at camp with the 6th graders, it’s great to be back to a normal routine and it’s great to be enjoying cool mornings and beautiful sunny days. Those are all according to plan but then there are the other things that just don’t seem to get finished or solved. And of course we can’t forget the things we didn’t even see coming!
As I sit here on the porch watching a bunch of twelve year olds canoe, the instructor probably didn’t plan to have on canoe capsize in the first few minutes and I’m sure the Swans swimming peacefully didn’t plan to be chased around the lake by pre-teens in red and green canoes. I’m positive the girls didn’t plan on sharing the shower last night with a woefully lost little tree frog and I know more than a couple kids who didn’t plan on being brave enough to zip line or climb a rock wall. Quite often the stuff that happens in place of our plans is great stuff but sometimes it all catches us by surprise.
For over nine years I have been writing this blog on Mondays and Thursdays. That was something I certainly never planned but it has been something I have enjoyed. Sadly, the past three weeks have been so wonky I haven’t been able to find the minutes I needed to put the posts together. I feel bad when people hop on those mornings to read a blip and there isn’t anything there. Since I don’t see life slowing down anytime soon, I have to change my plan a bit. I need to announce a little change here at the blog. Instead of posting on Monday and Thursday, I will be changing the plan and posting one blog a week on Wednesdays.
This is a change of plans I’ve been praying about for several weeks and I promise that if life settles a bit or if the Lord leads me back to full swing I’ll go back to two posts a week but for now, Wednesday is the day to grab a dose of joy!
A Seed To Plant: If life has left you feeling overwhelmed, take it to prayer and see if the Lord might be leading you to a a little change of plans.
Blessings on your day!
If you love me you will keep my commandments. John:14:15
I think something we all wrestle with in our Christian walk is sin and God’s laws. It’s easy to get discouraged and a little frustrated about God’s laws and how our human nature can make it so darn hard to live within them. We can sometimes look at his laws as restricting and stiff. People have turned away from church thinking that if God really loved us he wouldn’t give us so many rules and regulations. To some, living his laws is like an intrusion on freedoms and pleasures. I was recently reminded of an explanation so crystal clear and beautifully simple it brought me some peace so I thought I’d share!
The speaker who offered this illustration showed a slide of his rescue dog Sophie. He told us shortly after he got her, she ran away and he looked and looked but couldn’t find her anywhere. He didn’t know where she was and he couldn’t protect her. Sometime later he got a call from the Sheriff’s department telling him they had his Sophie. Unfortunately in her little get away, she had been hit by a car. He nursed her back to health although some of her injuries never healed. He used this story to illustrate the love and freedom of God’s laws. If Sophie had stayed inside the fence where she was safe, protected and cared for by her master, she wouldn’t have gotten hurt. For Sophie, that fence seemed like a barrier and a hindrance and she felt trapped. In an attempt to escape her restriction she ventured outside the protection and safety of the fence and the result was a disaster.
Our free will is what makes us want to jump the fence. We don’t always realize that if we live within Gods laws, we will be safe and protected by our Heavenly Master. If we’re inside the fence and we are living within the boundaries he has set for us we will remain close to him and he will meet all our needs. If we jump the fence and go outside his laws and his ways we are purposely separating ourselves from him and that is a recipe for disaster. We have a choice to sin or go beyond the boundaries of his loving protection and he will always open the gate and welcome us back after we’ve jumped the fence but the further we stray from the loving protection of his boundaries the more danger we encounter. Jumping the fence or sinning brings great consequences that can take a long time to heal and rob us of our peace. Living inside that fence we will find contentment and true freedom; the freedom that comes from no guilt, no worry, no consequences and complete understanding that you are being lovingly protected and cared for. Inside the fence is the best place to be!
A Seed To Plant: Sit for a few quiet minutes and imagine yourself living contently inside a lush beautiful yard surrounded by a fence. Sit with the knowledge that you have everything you need and there is no danger or stress. Soak up the peacefulness and safety of that surrounding. Now think about the things that tempt you to jump that fence and separate yourself from that place. Ask your loving Master to help you overcome that temptation to step outside the protection of his laws.
Blessings on your day!
Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14
My dad always taught us that if we borrowed something, no matter what it was, we should return it in better condition than it was when we borrowed it. I’m pretty sure that applies to our children too. Before our first baby was born, my Grandma told me that the children I would bear weren’t mine, rather, they were a precious gifts on loan from the Father and it was our primary responsibility as parents, to help them get to heaven. Grandmas thinking may seem a bit countercultural today. The word might have us think our primary task is to get our kids on the most prestigious teams, the most elite dane troops or into the most impressive schools. While we’re aiming for first string, first chair and top score, Jesus is begging us to show our children that nothing is more important than giving him first place in our lives.
Holiness, simply put, is oneness with God so here are a few things we can do as parents to make good on our responsibility to help our kids grow in holiness and give the Lord first place.
*Pray with and for your kids every day. It’s hard for kids to understand the importance of Jesus and His Church if we rarely talk about it.
*Do as I do! Our kids imitate what we model. They need to see us pray, read scripture and trust in the Lord. We are teaching lessons when we’re cut off in traffic, talking about the frustrating co-worker at dinner or putting an envelope in the Sunday collection.
*As you travel to games, concerts, recitals and events, make sure to include some trips to the really important places like Sunday Mass, Eucharistic Adoration or even a quick stop to rest from the noise and chaos in a quiet, peaceful church. As Catholic Christians, we know Jesus is with us always but a special stop to sit in his Eucharistic Presence is good for the soul. It also shows our children that Jesus is important enough to stop for.
*Say NO to the things that don’t point your kids to heaven. That could be screen activity, movies, music or friendships. Their holiness is more important than your popularity.
*Point them to the Holy Ones. The world sets before our children people who don’t always use their gifts and talents to glorify God. Since moving into a cave to shelter our kids from all of that isn’t very practical, we can shower them with stories of the holy men and women of our faith. Many of the saints lived crazy, amazing, adventurous lives and their stories are interesting and inspiring. Put them before your kids to serve as heroes and role models.
“Holy enough” is not a thing…holiness is a continuous journey toward the Father so as we help our children grow in holiness, we will find ourselves growing too and that is a very good thing!
A Seed To Plant: Pick something from the list and make a plan to put it into action this week.
Blessings on your day!
Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:11
It’s been a beautiful summer! I got to completely soak in Grandma-hood and I loved every single second of it. I will miss my full days with the fabulous Lewis but ready or not it’s time to begin a new school year. We had a retreat on Tuesday we learned that the word “Behold” is always spoken before something new and amazing is about to happen in the Mass and in Scripture. I’m looking at next Monday as “Behold Day”.
After finishing the Covid craziness of last school year I knew I needed to find my peace and balance. As humans we aren’t so good at that. I spent hours rocking, stroller pushing and playing with Lewis and as I soaked it all in, the peace and joy he brought my days helped me make some discoveries.
* Time doesn’t slow down; you have to do the slowing. There will always be stuff going on but stillness is
where God can find you and bring peace.
* Things did get done without me. I’ve never been very good at saying no but this summer I discovered that
when you do, someone else says yes.
* Life comes in stages just like books come in chapters. You’ll never get to the great ending if you don’t keep
turning the pages and following along.
* My screen porch is not just architecture and a lawn chair storage area…it’s for sitting, praying, rocking
grandsons, visiting with friends and neighbor kids, writing and reading even in the middle of the day when
there are chores to be done.
* The more you make time for quiet stillness, the greater the peace; the greater the peace the greater the
contentment and with contentment comes clearer perspective, less stress a more prayerful heart and a
happier demeanor. Who knew!
I feel a little like I’m in a lawn chair parked in the shallow ocean water. Life is rolling by and changing but it’s washing over me like warm waves and a gentle breeze. My prayer the first day of summer vacation was “God, help me be still, I’m lousy at it!” Not only did he do what I asked, he has blessed me greatly while doing it. Busy isn’t always a choice, but stillness is…perhaps the best choice we can make.
A Seed To Plant: Look at the week ahead and choose three chunks of time where you will commit to being still and quiet and pray that the Lord meets you powerfully in those moments.
Blessings on your day!
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith… Hebrews 12: 1-2
Oh golly, my head is so full of thoughts, my hands are so full of tasks and my heart is so full of emotions! It’s not a surprise; it’s the week before school starts, I just forget what it feels like until we get here again. There is so much to organize and plan and prepare. I looked around my classroom this afternoon and realized I had 3 bulletin boards started, a scrub bucket of water that made it to about half of the lockers, six feet of lamination that had about a foot cut out and I was looking for something on Teacher Pay Teacher!
It’s easy to get sidetracked when you loose your focus. Being overwhelmed can make me forget which direction I’m headed. As I prepare for a new school year I am so hopeful that it’ will be a normal year; but what if it’s not! As we all get ready to begin there are dozens of voices yelling directives. There is still fear, worry and that feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop. There are still voices arguing about what’s right and what’s best and if I try to take it all in things get fuzzy. But then I remember, God is still in charge and he’s bigger than all of it. As Fr. Ricardo says, “God isn’t worried about any of this!”
As I stepped away from everything, I made a list of the top ten reasons I love my job and why I’m ready to go back to a new school year. As I was finishing the list, I remembered this quote I read earlier this week from St. Jane Frances De Chantal that helped me catch my breath and smile. She said, “Hold your eyes on God and leave the doing to him. That is all the doing you have to worry about.” It’s easy to look at our world right now and find the bad and get caught in the crazy. Without too much effort we might even think things are worse now than they’ve ever been but St. Jane Frances wrote these words to encourage believers in1640, when they believed they were in the middle of the worst times. I suppose it’s all relative! The truth isn’t really in the circumstances, the truth is in the Father. No matter how sidetracked or fuzzy headed or overwhelmed we feel, all we have to do is hold our eyes on him and let him do the doing! I was also reminded that his “doing” is pretty amazing!
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of all the things that have you rattled, worried or discouraged then take that list to prayer and ask the Father to help you keep your eyes on him.
Blessings on your day!
Then I declared my sin to you; my guilt I did not hide. Psalm 32:5
I spent some time in my classroom the other day trying to unpack and get ready to start a new year. After spending three hours there the best way to describe the way it looked as I turned off the light and walked out is “the cupboards threw up!” There were stacks of books, bulletin board fabric and border containers open and bulging out everywhere and piles of “things” on each available flat surface. The chairs are all stacked in a tall pile and the computers are still draped in blue plastic bags with cords coiled into neat spools. It looked so awful I’m not sure I want to go back! It’s amazing how much faster and easier it is to pack it all up in June than it is to unpack it all in August! It reminded me of a cartoon I saw recently that said, “I love vacation; it takes me 4 hours to pack and 4 weeks to unpack!” It was a painful reality when I consider the task every teacher faces when it’s time to get the room ready to go for a new school year.
The reality of the piles and the mess will make it hard to go back in there on Monday but it just has to be done. There is no magic spell or closet full of helpful elves that will sneak in under cover of darkness and get the job done so I’m just gonna have to buckle down and slug through it all. I have to focus on the first morning I will walk in and see that shiny floor, curtains hung, bulletin boards finished and everything all in its place. Eye on the prize kind of thinking I guess! I suppose it’s all so uncomfortable because it causes us to tackle the undesirable and most of us would like to slink away from that any chance we can. As I tripped over piles all afternoon I got to thinking about my bad habits and sinfulness. I’d much rather avoid those than deal with them! It’s pretty easy to take the bad stuff like my shortness of patience or my quick judgements and tuck them away like books in a closet but they need to be dealt with from time to time. If I didn’t acknowledge the mess in my room and the stuff on the bottom shelf I wouldn’t really be ready for my best school year. I suppose my eternal salvation requires the same attention. I realized as I was dusting, sorting and organizing, it’s about more than supplies; it’s about my soul. Every corner of my life needs some inspection, evaluation and action. There are things I need more of and definitely things I need less of!
When my room is ready I will waltz through the door with a light and cheerful heart but in order to get to that point I have to be willing to do the heavy lifting, the scrubbing and the sorting. As I plopped down next to a pile of text books and school supplies I figured I’d better pay twice as much attention to cleaning up my soul and addressing the things that distance me from the Father. Just like my classroom in June, it’s much easier to tuck it all away that pull it all out and deal with it! I think I’ll take some time this week to treat my soul like I do my classroom in August…unpack it all, sort it and do what’s necessary to put it all in order!
A Seed To Plant: Pick a cupboard or closet this week to unpack and clean…after you finish with it, go through the same process with your soul!
Blessings on your day!
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23
Phew…there you have it! Pay close attention to the second word of the verse; yup, it says ALL have sinned and will fall short. It really isn’t new information but there are days we act like we’re the only ones who fall into sin. The really excellent news is that the Father who loves us and takes great delight in us isn’t surprised by our shortcomings. Truth is, he sees it coming before it happens, tries to stop us and still loves us even after we ignore his promptings and do it anyway! That is ALL of us, so today is a great day to pick your sad self up and think things in a new way.
The world does a pretty good job of trying to beat us down and convince us that we don’t stack up. Social media feeds our insecurities and the news fuels our fears and worries. I guess the question becomes; who are you going to listen to and which voices are you going to hear? How about filling our ears with some truth about who God really is, and what he wants us to think…
*Ours is a Father who keeps his promises…Scripture is full of them! Who do you trust more; the Father who created you or the anchorman on the 6 o’clock news?
*We can’t surprise God. After creating all the people who have ever lived and watching all the stuff they’ve done since the beginning of time, I’m pretty sure he’s seen it all so why do we try to hide from his love and think he will turn away from us because of what we might have done.
*God knows more than you do. For crying out-loud, don’t you think the God who knows the numbers of hairs on your head will be able to take care of just about anything you need today?
*Nothing is too hard for God…invite him into your hard things.
*”Holiness consists simply in doing Gods will and being just what God wants us to be.” St. Therese
*”Remain humble, remain simple. The more you do so, the more good you will do.” St. John Vianney
*“Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.” St. Thomas More
*”The truth is like a lion; you don’t have to defend it. Let it loose, it will defend itself.” St. Augustine
*”Unless there is Good Friday in your life, there can never be Easter Sunday.” Fulton J Sheen
God’s faithfulness is joyful, predictable, consistent and powerful. He will never trick us, toss our efforts out on a technicality or leave us on our own. In fact, he knows us better than we know ourselves so remember these words from St. Catherine, “God is closer to us than water is to a fish.” Maybe today is the perfect day to step away from our guilt, our fearfulness and our human weakness to think some new thoughts…His thoughts!
A Seed To Plant: Pick anything from the list above that touched your heart and put it on a post-it note so you can think those thoughts.
Blessings on your day!
“He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me” Psalm 19:18
348 is a pretty big number. What would you like to have 348 of? I’d like 348 vacation days, cups of coffee and slices of carrots cake! I wouldn’t like 348 flat tires, papers to grade or dirty dishes to wash. 348 smiles from sweet baby Lewis would never be enough and 348 family suppers would be far too few. One thing I know for sure, if someone told me the same thing over and over 348 times, I think it would be pretty important and I’d pay attention.
In Scripture, God tells us of his love for us 348 times and yet we still don’t always believe it. We still often focus on what the world thinks and which earthly people love us more than we recall the 348 times the Father proclaims his love for us. We still often mope and pout, feeling like we’re alone and lost and unlovable so maybe today is the day we need to be reminded just how much we are loved.
We sometimes get tangled up in the notion that the Father loves us but he probably doesn’t always like us. We might be tempted to believe that he doesn’t like us when we sin or when we gossip or doubt or stretch the truth a little to make things sound a little better. We might be tempted to think he doesn’t like us so much when we waste our prayer time scrolling through social media and we may entertain the notion that he would like us more if we spent less time shopping on Amazon and more time praying or reading about the 348 times he says “I love you” in scripture. Honestly, that’s human thinking and it couldn’t be further from the truth! See, God not only loves us, he likes us, he wants us and he DELIGHTS in us. How’s that for a message, he delights in us!
God is constantly inviting us to grow in holiness…to grow closer to him. Please don’t confuse that with the notion that God will love you more when you reach some potential you establish for yourself. God created you with magnificent love before even your mother knew you existed and he has never stopped delighting in you since that very first moment. We have visions and plans and goals for ourselves and God’s love has nothing to do whether we check those things off our list. I watch my grandson with such wonder, awe and absolute delight. I notice every teeny little new thing he does and my heart just about bursts. I have visions of the kind of little boy, young man and grown gentleman he will become but I’m not going to love him more then…I’m not going to reserve my love and my delight for when he’s all grown up and has “become” something the world thinks is valuable and important. I’m going to get busy loving him and delighting in him every single step of the way. And that’s exactly the same way God loves us…he delights in us today, tomorrow, next week and he loves us all throughout our “becoming”.
If we could even begin to fathom the Fathers love for us, even the really bad days would be beautiful. Remind yourself today of the message given to you 348 times and then spend some time loving yourself too.
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of things you like about yourself, thank God for those things and then find a couple of those 348 places God spoke his love for you and jot them down so they can sink in.
Blessings on your day!
But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
As someone who could fit every shred of personal athletic ability onto the end of a Q-tip, I find the Olympics astounding. Seriously, have you watched what those people can do? I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t win a single event at a Kindergarten track meet so watching the speed, agility, flexibility and sheer determined will of the competitors fascinates me. Then I started to wonder…
I started to wonder what happens when they are no longer able to compete? There are more than 10,000 athletes participating in the summer games; how many do you know? These people have dedicated nearly their entire life to this one event. For many they have no time left for anything but preparing for the Olympics so what happens when it’s over? We won’t know their names, fewer than 350 Gold medals will be handed out in Tokyo, so if your whole life has been about this one thing, that’s a lot of work for a pretty slim pay off so I wonder why they work so hard for such a slim chance at gold?
I wonder how they feel when it’s over? Was it worth it, are they content with their outcome and is the memory of the experience enough to sustain them after the competition is all over? I wonder if they ever walk away wishing they had invested all that time and energy into something with a greater pay-out? Very few will ever make it to a commercial or a Wheaties box and given the investment and level of their gift it sure seems like they should!
As I think about the focus and determination required to be an Olympian I am in awe. Sometimes I don’t even have the determination to wash and dry the dishes all at once; I have to divide the task. Then it hit me…there is one event that most certainly deserves the same determination and focus for all of us and the payout is WAY better and reward more precious than a million truck loads of gold medals.
Heaven…heaven is it! I realized that the energy and time Olympians pour into their event should pale in comparison to the amount we invest in growing our holiness. Thank goodness the preparation for heaven doesn’t involve physical running, diving, throwing or jumping. However, it require running from temptation, diving into the Word and prayer, throwing away earthly attachments and jumping for joy that getting the greatest reward imaginable isn’t a competition. There isn’t a limited number of “heaven medals” we’re competing for. The Father desires for each and every one to enjoy the rewards of eternal life with him in heaven. I don’t have to be better than person X, Y or Z, I just have to be the me the Father intended me to be. The secret to our race to achieve holiness is God’s Abundant Grace given in unending supply simply by asking. Not only is he waiting for us to claim our true prize, he will give us everything we need to achieve it. I guess what I really need to ask myself is; would I rather be a saint in heaven or famous on earth?
A Seed To Plant: What are three things you can add to your “Spiritual Workout” to prepare for the ultimate prize?
Blessings on your day!
“If you are wise, you will be reservoirs and not channels” St. Bernard
When my brother Jim was young he would play for hours with his farm toys and cars in the dirt. Dad cut down a big tree and pulled out the stump one summer and it left a huge bare spot in the back yard. Jim quickly moved his stuff to that dirt spot and made roads and buildings out of twigs. That was his spot the whole summer. After a night of heavy rain he went out to the spot to discover a giant puddle right in the middle of his city. He got out his bulldozer and began to dig channels but he quickly discovered that all they did was drain the big puddle and leave him with nothing. In his mind he was trying to create rivers and a lake but in no time at all the channels carried the water away and the giant puddle dried up. It was all very disappointing to a little boy!
When I read this quote from St. Bernard I remembered that little boy and his adventures one hot Kansas summer and I realized our walk with God can be just like those channels he dug in the dirt. If all we are is a channel all we will be capable of is taking from the reservoir until we have drained it dry. Jim tried all day long to take buckets of water and re-fill the reservoir but the channels just kept sucking it dry. St. Bernard continues his thoughts by saying, “The channels let the water flow away and do not retain a drop. But the reservoir is first filled, and then, without emptying itself, pours out its overflow which is ever renewed over the fields which it waters.” In his book God Help Me, Jim Beckman adds, “We are not meant to be channels just moving things from here to there, even good things that we have heard or learned. We are designed to be reservoirs filled to capacity with the very life of God, even overflowing. It is the overflow that becomes our ministry.” I hope Mr. Beckman won’t mind me sharing that piece of his great thinking!
So, the big question…how do we become a reservoir and not a channel? It’s simple, we allow God to fill us…again and again and again until the overflow floods into everything around us. The only way I know to do that is through prayer. If the best we do is offer prayer while driving or waiting at a stoplight or while we sit in the drive-thru line the best we will be is a channel because that kind of prayer life will never fill us. If the best we offer God in conversation is a laundry list of needs and wants we will find ourselves empty and dry. If the best we offer God are our well-intended attempts to fit deliberate, consistent prayer time into our lives the best we will be is a channel. A reservoir takes work and takes time. If we think we just don’t have time for 15 to 30 minutes of reservoir building prayer then we probably need it more than we realize. Another great line from Jim Beckman’s book was in response to the excuses we make about not having time for consistent, intimate daily prayer is “no one ever died of hunger because of not having time to eat.” That screamed to me, you have time for what you make time for!
Sometimes my head spins when I see some of the crazy stuff going on in our culture! I am not a wise or powerful woman who can change much, but I know for sure there is one thing I can change and that’s me; I’m going to work on changing from a channel to a reservoir. We all have a mission to share the love of Christ and the world would be such a different place if we were sharing from the overflow of our reservoir. Just as the earth depends on life giving water, God’s children depend on HIS life giving water so let’s get to filling up our reservoirs!
A Seed To Plant: Take an honest look at your daily prayer life and ask God to show you what changes you can make to become a reservoir.
Blessings on your day!
Just a little message to let you know I'm going to hit the pause button this week. I have a couple of big projects that need some attention. As you pause in Joyful Words blog reading for the week, I would be grateful if you used those reading minutes to pray for some specific intentions sitting very heavy on my heart. In your charity, please lift these intentions to the Father...
*For the soul of sweet baby Alice and everyone who loved her and bears the grief of her absence.
*For sweet Brooke and her family who are courageously beginning the battle against Leukemia.
*For the lovely Audrey, may she be granted the gifts of healing and grace.
*For the Holy Spirit to supply me with the words and love the teachers in the Diocese of Wheeling WV need.
*For happy endings and new beginnings for those experiencing change in their lives.
*For those who struggle with anxiety, worry and depression. May they feel the touch of Jesus in a very specific way this week.
Thank you for the prayers...stay tuned, I'll be back next week with more Joyful Words.
Blessings on your day!
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about all the people knee deep in lousy stuff. I have gotten many emails and texts in the past few weeks from people who need prayer to navigate their way through life. There is sickness, distress, family and job difficulties and some of these requests are swirling really close to home. I’m so happy they ask for prayer, and I’ve been praying my little tail off and absolutely; I trust, I believe and my faith is strong as a bolder but every now and again I just wanna say, “Hey, wait a dog-gone minute God, this is all too much!” I’m sure that comment during prayer is followed by a heavenly face-palm!
The big question I’ve been hearing from those folks struggling is, “If God loves us, why does this lousy stuff happen?” I would have to say that’s a completely fair question and I wish like heck I could type an answer to make it all better but here is the truth, A) God doesn’t MAKE bad stuff happen and he loves us even harder when it does and B) Sometimes there isn’t a simple answer to complicated things. With my heart a little heavy, I’ve spent some time prayin, and thinkin and here are some of the things that made me feel better.
There is a big difference in being involved and being in control. God is completely involved in our lives and the more we pray and grow in our relationship with him, the more involved he will be. Because of our free will, God does not control our lives. Some of the distress I’ve been asked to pray for is the result of someone doing something lousy with their free will and leaving others to suffer in the wake of poor choices. God cannot be in control of that but he can absolutely be involved in our lives as we navigate through it if we invite him to meet us there and lead us through. He won’t wave a magic wand and make it all disappear but he will give us the grace and the strength to endure the difficulties if we ask.
Bad stuff isn’t part of God’s plan. He doesn’t give people cancer or trap children in a cave because his “master plan” indicated it’s time for it. That is not how a loving Father operates. If a dad decided to go for a walk with his son, and along the way the son stepped in a gopher hole and hurt his ankle that would be a lousy thing. Lousy as it is, the dad didn’t make it happen. He was absolutely there but he didn’t plan it or want it to happen; he wasn’t in control of it, but you can bet your bottom dollar that he instantly became involved. He felt the hurt, he poured out compassion and comfort and he did everything possible to aid in his sons healing.
If God controlled everything, we might think life would be easier and long gone would be fear, suffering and pain. I suppose in some ways that makes sense but because of our sinful nature (thank you Adam, Eve and Satan) we want what we want and we aren’t always so good at trusting and following the rules, let alone being completely controlled, so this idea has some holes. God doesn’t force his love or his perfect will on us, it’s up to us to choose to love, trust, surrender and follow him. When we’re tempted to think God makes bad things happen it’s good to remember a few truths from scripture. Jesus heals the sick; he doesn’t bring about their illness. Often the healing isn’t physical but it is spiritual and the result of that healing can lead to our salvation. Jesus liberates the oppressed; he doesn’t prolong their oppression. Jesus sets the prisoner free; he doesn’t imprison. Jesus restores a broken creation; he doesn’t further cripple it through disease, suffering, and pain.
When I find myself feeling overwhelmed about the sadness or madness of a lousy situation, I have to reach for the three biggest truth of all. They’re stiff ones and sometimes they go down like vinegar but they are enormous truth spoken in even bigger love. The first; every situation no matter how sad or tragic or difficult, is a situation where God can bring about a greater good. The part that makes that really tough to wrap our heads and hearts around is sometimes we hurt too much to see the good and often the greater good is for someone else. The second; Scripture says, there will be trouble and it is only through suffering we can fully come to Christ. When I realize that, and stop to contemplate the suffering of both the Father and the Son; done for me…it really puts things in perspective. Finally, heaven is the reward, not earth. As humans, we cling to the familiar and fear the unknown. If we could begin to unwrap even a tiny corner of the delight, glory and absolute magnificence of eternal life we would run from this world so fast we’d be nothing but a streak!
The lousy stuff is never what we wish for and it’s never handed out as a punishment but there is love, healing, and even salvation when we truly let the Father get involved and walk with us through the lousy. The lousy stuff is where God shows his power, his compassion and his amazing ability to unite, support and draw people closer to each other and to heaven.
A Seed To Plant: Spend some time asking God to be involved in your struggles or the struggles of someone you love. Trust him and then watch to see the way he works.
Blessings on your day!
Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! Psalm 27:14
Dave and I were watching a movie and one of the characters was an Amish woman. She was giving a rather worldly woman a ride in her buggy. The fancy lady was complaining about how slow they were going and the Amish lady said, “One of the secrets to life is realizing that just because you get somewhere fast or do something quickly, it doesn’t add any extra time to your life.” So much truth; probably for all of us.
Jesus was pretty clear that our mission on earth is to get to heaven and that is done by serving others. Perhaps the greatest danger of being in a hurry is feeling like we don’t have time to serve. We are busy folks and there is laundry and meals and cleaning and all the stuff that causes the days to go by in a blur. Since I heard that wise little TV Amish lady speak her truth, it’s been heavy on my heart and in his fanciness he hammered the lesson home.
As many of you know, our lovely daughter has a fabulous groom and they moved to St. Louis MO where she works as an Oncology Nurse. She’s busy learning her way around a big city, a big hospital, a new marriage and navigating her way through all things new. If you know my Shannon you know she goes all in…heart first and she does it if fast motion. Knowing that she’s in the middle of lots of things that are new, my prayer for her the last couple of weeks has been, “Father, help her slow down and see the people you put in her path and show her what they need.” Nobody knew that I was praying those words several times a day except me and the Father who loves us both like crazy.
A couple of days ago I got a text from Shannon in the middle of the day that said, “Awesome God moment today!” She was discharging a patient and after she wheeled him to the parking ramp to get in his car and go home, she turned with the wheelchair to return to her floor. She glanced over her shoulder and noticed an elderly lady having a really difficult time walking and making her way into the hospital. Shannon told her she’d be happy to give her a ride to whatever part of the hospital she needed to go to. As they were wheeling along, the lady shared that her son was very sick. Shannon took her where she needed to go and found out later that day that the son had died very shortly after the mom got there. Her story made me cry thinking about how sad it would have been if that mother had missed her chance to share those last minutes with her son. God truly does put us just where he needs us at precisely the right time.
I’m so glad God helped Shannon notice. I’m so glad her gave her that great feeling of being part of his plan and serving. God chooses to use our gifts and our talents and our time in ways we can’t even imagine or predict. I suppose the question is…do we let him? Do we slow down enough to see who he’s putting in our path or are we too busy with our to-do list? I think the Amish lady in the buggy had time to look around, I wonder what I’d see if I slowed down enough to look over my shoulder more often. Maybe we should all give that a try.
A Seed To Plant: Each morning for the next few days pray these words; “Father, help me slow down and see the people you put in my path and show me what they need.”
Blessings on your day!
Happy Independence day! Since today is a holiday for most folks, (THANK YOU to nurses, farmers, firefighters, law enforcement and all the other folks who don't get holidays!!) I just thought I'd toss up a short post with a simple challenge.
This is the holiday we celebrate our freedom so I'd like to challenge everyone to exercise a practice the world desperately needs. Sometime this week please practice the freedom to pray. Pray in public where others can see, whip out a Rosary in the park or pray before a meal in a restaurant. Go to a crowded place wearing a shirt with a christian message...anything you can think of to express and share your faith publicly...because we can!
The second part of the challenge will take a little more boldness. Ask someone, anyone if they have something you could pray for. If you see someone stressed, frazzled, sad or who just looks alone, very kindly say hello and ask them if there is something they'd like you to pray for. Seems kinda scary but you will be surprised at the outcome! You have no idea the kind of impact bringing Jesus into someones life can make. Don't worry about the who or the where, just ask the Holy Spirit to point out a person and he absolutely will.
If we love Jesus so much and we live in a country where we are free to share that love, shouldn't we be talking about him way more often than we are? An athiest once told a priest that if Jesus was so great and he should really believe in him then why didn't people who believe in him talk about him more?
Enjoy your long weekend, thank God for your freedom and those who protect it and go be Free to Pray.
Blessings on your day!
And the peace that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6
Growing up in Kansas, I was no stranger to whopper thunder storms! The hail, the tornado warnings, the wind and booming thunder was all a part of spring and summer. I am a storm lover and I have my dad to thank for that. As a little girl, when a big storm would come rolling through I remember my dad would look me in the eye and say “it’s gonna be fine, we’re safe.” It was such a simple statement but I remember the calm that came with his words. Once I heard them, I could sit right next to him and enjoy the lighting and the sounds. His re-assuring words put everything in perspective and allowed me to focus on something other than fear.
Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Amazing Parish conference. It was such a fabulous event and my mind and my heart are still processing all the hopeful, happy and exciting events of that conference. Before we boarded our flight, I opened my laptop and on social media I saw faithful Catholics pitted against one another arguing about what should be fundamental church teaching and it hurt my heart. I felt like I was facing a storm and I felt uneasy. As I sat at that conference with more than 600 Catholics eager to find ways to bring Jesus to a hurting world, Fr. John Riccardo said something that brought the same kind of peace and comfort to my stormy heart that my dad’s words always did in the middle of the thunder and wind.
Fr. John pointed out three truths. First, our world is crying; wailing actually. Second, our church is crying and third, we…me, you, all of us are not alive by chance in fact we were born for exactly this time. Then came the words my heart needed most… “God is not nervous right now!” It was like my dad saying, “it’s gonna be fine, we’re safe.” Those words were like a giant blanket of peace. I still hear those words echo in my mind and I think, of course he’s not nervous…he’s God and he has equipped us for exactly this time and place. Fr. John reminded us that Jesus doesn’t NEED anything but he WANTS our hearts. How often do we wonder what we need to do instead of enjoying the fact that we are desperately wanted simply so he can fill our hearts with his love.
In posts to come, I will share some of the amazing jewels from the conference but for now, I just want to leave you with a few simple words. God’s not nervous…we aren’t needed; we’re wanted!
A Seed To Plant: Sit with these simple words, be comforted by them and ask God how he wants them to change your heart.
Blessings on your day
… Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you… Exodus 16:4
I sometimes have this picture in my mind about making it to heaven and having an “orientation seminar” with God and His angels and saints. To amuse myself while driving or doing yucky tasks, I sometimes compose a list of questions I’d like to ask during the Q and A part of that meeting. Some of the questions are biggies and some are completely silly. During a long drive recently, the list of silly questions got pretty long. The list topper that day was, “God, if carrots and cucumbers are supposed to be good for us, why didn’t you make them taste better than things that are bad for us like chips and cheesecake?” I love my fruits and vegetables don’t get me wrong, but seriously, there is a very good reason the summer ice cream shop on the corner doesn’t sell broccoli splits or caramel cabbage sundaes!
This silly question stayed with me for several days and really made me laugh as my morning readings took me to the book of Exodus and the story of the manna. It’s a beautiful story of God and His loving faithfulness. I wondered what it would be like to just see your food appear, morning and night with no effort on your part! Seriously…meals I didn’t have to plan, prepare, serve or clean up…that would be heaven! It didn’t happen once a week; it happened every day. The food was sent in the perfect amounts and nobody had to analyze its protein and carbohydrate ratio, dispute its nutritional density or scrutinize the label. It just came and it was perfect! If you read a little further in the story it isn’t long before the Israelites threw a hissy fit because they wanted meat…it came and then they threw another fit about being thirsty. Each time God answered their whining in a miraculous way. He made it SO easy for them! I have read that story time and time again and I’m always a little stunned that the Israelites could be so whiney and demanding. They lacked appreciation and after all they had witnessed God do for them they still experienced doubt, denial and rebellion. I’m pretty quick to think I would have been a much more faithful dessert traveler. I think I might have even been Moses right hand girl. I wouldn’t have doubted no-sir-re! I would have been awed, amazed and completely obedient. Or would I?
The “or would I” leads me back to my silly question about zucchini verses French fries! Do I have the strength to know the truth and act obediently? Do I know some choices are better for me than others…sure! Do I always make those good for me choices…absolutely not? Do I try to wiggle out of the “hard way or the right way” and settle for the “easy way”…yes I do more often than I’d care to admit probably. So you might be wondering what lettuce, cookies and the Israelites all have to do with one another and here is the connection…strength to trust and follow the will of the Father…especially when there is a choice available that seems easier or tastier or more self-gratifying. I have to be more willing to experience a little self-denial. If I really want to live as a disciple, I have to stop throwing a temper tantrum about silly little stuff that brings me happiness and comfort. I mistakenly think those simple pleasures that bring temporary good feelings matter. The truth is, they can’t even compare to what God has in store for us. It’s kinda like having a bucket of sand and thinking you have a sea shore. It took the Israelites 40 years of wandering…I wonder how much longer I’ll be wandering before I truly master the lesson of living in His will instead of wandering my easy path! The road to the Father is paved one joyfully offered sacrifice and one loving act of obedience at a time. Lord, give me the strength to get to You!
A Seed To Plant: Be consciences of little sacrifices and acts of self-denial you can offer to the Father this week.
Blessings on your day!
…”My Grace is sufficient for you”… 2 Corinthians 12:9
I read a story the other day about a young man who sheepishly approached an older gentleman asking for parts to repair his food truck. He was hesitant to ask because the older gentleman also owned a food truck, and not just any food truck but one of the most popular BBQ food trucks in the area. The older gentleman asked the young man what kind of food truck he had and as he kicked in the dirt a little, he hesitantly answered “BBQ, just like you.” The man laughed, gave the young man the parts he needed and then offered him some advice about how to make his business grow and succeed. Much to the young mans surprise the guy even gave him one of his famous recipes. The young man thanked him sincerely and began to walk away. He made it half way to his car then he turned around and said, “I just have to know why you did it? I’m the competition and you just did so much to help me and I gotta know why?” With a big smile the older man told him that he served a Mighty God who had more than plenty of graces and blessings to go around. He went on to explain that one of the greatest ailments in our world today is greedy competition. We forget our mission on earth is to help each other…help them with their health, their success, their family, their happiness and ultimately to help them get to heaven. With a wink, he said I can’t possibly feed everyone who wants to eat good BBQ myself so I’m helpin you take care of God’s hungry children too. He asked him if he knew his friend Jesus because getting to know him is the best help imaginable. He’s the one who makes sure graces and blessings never run dry and there is never a moments competition for them.
If we stop and think about all the silly things in a day we make comparisons about and all the minutes we spend evaluating and processing it seems pretty ridiculous. Maybe it’s human nature to wonder how we stack up in the eyes of our kids, our parents, our friends or our neighbors but the older gentleman in the story is right, God has plenty of grace and blessing to go around whether we’re the best or the 32nd best at something. God isn’t gonna love me more and give me more grace if my kids are the best behaved in church or get the top grades in school. Social media likes and shares don’t bestow more grace in my day. God could care less if my hair is cute, my lawn is spiffy, my thighs are slim or my cinnamon rolls are blue ribbon quality and always delivered thoughtfully to a neighbor in need. I think some days he up there slathering us with grace just because we got out of bed, fed the kids and threw up our hair with a bread twisty! We don’t have to be the best anything but we are supposed to help someone work toward their best. We’re supposed to lift each other up not be rivals.
I had a mom tell me once that she always pulled into the morning drop off lane at school with hair, makeup and a great shirt and it seemed to make her one of the “fancy moms”. What the others didn’t know was that most mornings she was wearing sweats, pj pants, running shorts and occasionally just her underwear with her long fancy shirts, blazers and sweaters. She admitted playing the game for months and months until one day her son tripped and fell and smashed his science project. As he lay crying on the sidewalk she instinctively jumped out of her SUV and ran to comfort him wearing her fancy top and a pair of her husbands boxers. She said it was one of the moms who had pj pants and a bread twisty hair tie who ran to her aid and gave her a trench coat and a hand with her sons project. She admitted through tears, that was the day she learned what kind of woman she wanted to be…the kind that helped others rather than competing with them…the kind who wasn’t afraid to look like life was hard some days and just showing up was worthy of blessings and grace.
Discipleship is tough work folks and it’s best done with help. Jesus started with twelve but that was the only time there was a limited number! Let’s help each other do the important work of spreading the word and love of Christ…we’re not fighting for “disciple of the year” and God will give us all the grace we need to grow in holiness but I think he might give extra on the days we help another along on their journey to him rather than trying to shove them out of the way to get his attention.
A Seed To Plant: Where do you struggle with comparison? Take that to prayer and ask God to help you swap that for a spirit of peace and glimpse at yourself through his eyes. Then begin each day asking him to point out anyone who might need your help this day.
Blessings on your day!
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. Matthew 22:37
Dave and I spent another great weekend traveling from Graduation party to Graduation party visiting and laughing and celebrating. It’s fun to watch people enter a room and see what they do and how their presence changes the atmosphere of the room. It’s fun to see how people find a seat and navigate the crowd. I did a little people watching this weekend and thought I’d share an observation and a quote today that seemed simple and important.
“God does not germinate in sad souls. He wants a heart that is free and happy.” St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi I noticed this weekend that the sad souls were easy to spot and so were the happy ones. I’ve come to the conclusion that it really has very little to do with life circumstances and personality but a great deal more to do with peace; the kind of peace that comes from contentment in Christ. I’ve spent time talking with lots of folks who were experiencing trials and some who were in the midst of exciting times and there were sad and happy souls in each camp. I believe the happy souls have something bigger than a positive attitude going for them; they have a clear understanding of this verse from Matthew. The truly happy souls love God no matter what and through it all. They are the ones who can talk about the exciting blessings in their life and give God the credit and they are the ones who can talk about the struggles and tragedies in their life and acknowledge God’s presence, wisdom and love in the midst of it all.
The happy souls seemed to think of others first, they ask about you first, they talk about the delicious food and beautiful weather. They take your plate and offer to bring you a fresh drink. They have a servant’s heart and I think there must be a strong tie between a servant’s heart and a happy soul! They are happy and free like the quote suggests because they know they don’t have to be in charge; that is a job reserved for the God who loves them. They are not required to think and plan and organize their lives, they allow God to do that and they are simply left with the task of loving him and loving others. Some of the happy souls were loud and outgoing, some were quiet and reserved but the thing that made them all so beautiful was the way they humbly let the light and compassion of Christ shine on others rather than on themselves. Whether we realize it or not, the happy souls are the ones we gravitate toward because they just make us feel better.
The whole thought of happy souls left me wondering why we make it so hard. The lesson was cemented into my heart last night as I tended our sprouting garden and wondered what kind of soul I was giving God to germinate in. Humm…I’m sure I will be thinking hard about that this week!
A Seed To Plant: Spend some time in prayer this week and evaluate what kind of “soul” you are and ask God to help you be a great soul for him to germinate in.
Blessings on your day!
In the beginning was the Word. John 1:1
Welcome to the first blog from my screen porch! I’ve wanted a screen porch my whole life so I’m feeling pretty grateful this morning. I love entertaining people, but a mosquito is never a welcome guest so I’m pleased to be outside typing with my coffee and no buzzy little friends!
This first week of summer break began with a gigantic exhale and the cutest four month old grandson you can imagine. Gramma duty was the best possible shift from crazy school to lovely summer. While I watch this beautiful, happy little person I realize how much I missed or was too busy to really notice when my own kids were this age. I watched Lewis for ten minutes as he tried to pick up a teething toy and get it into his mouth. I’ve watched him increase speed and agility as he tries to grab his toes and pull them to his mouth. There has been no hurry…no rush…no impatience…no agenda and that has felt amazing. He can take as long as he wants to finish his bottle or fall asleep on my shoulder. As I laid him down for a nap, I realized it wasn’t that way with my own kids because there was laundry and cooking and other kids but with Lewis and summer I’m free to soak it completely in. Absolutely nothing else is important or urgent when he’s here. It made me wonder a few things.
The first thing my wondering led me to decide was that God probably looks at us pretty much the same way I look at Lewis. He probably wants to remind us that he is as mesmerized and dedicated to our every move and accomplishment…all the time, not just a few hours a day. I don’t know about you but I need that reminder often.
The second thing I wondered was what kind of Grandma will I be. I’ve only been at it a few months but I want to be a good one. I also wondered what Lewis will call me when he’s old enough to talk and I even wondered what kind of impact I might have on him and what he would tell others about me when he was older. All of that led me to a book I started reading over Christmas break and didn’t finish. I know I’ve only been out of school a week but I already feel the desire to assign homework. The book is called I AM ______. How would you fill in that blank? How would your family fill in that blank, your friends, your co-workers? And the big question, how would your Father in heaven fill in that blank. I think for most of us, the Father’s words might look different than our own and that’s a summer project! The other big thing I’m wondering is, who are we letting fill in our blank? Are we letting the world fill it, are we filling it or are we taking a cue from the Creator? I think this is going to be some important work this summer so we’ll begin with todays Seed To Plant. Speaking of seeds, landscaping around the porch is on the summer list so I’d better post this and grab my shovel.
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of ten ways you would fill in the blank I AM _____. For extra credit, ask three people to fill it in for you. Then take that list to prayer and ask the Father what he sees.
Blessings on your day!
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Luke 12:34
(This is a re-post but as I’ve been chatting with so many families lately that are just so relieved it’s summer and everyone can slow down and catch their breath a little this post just seemed to fit the time.)
Sometimes summer’s greatest gift is a few extra minutes to catch up on everything that got piled a foot deep during the busy spring! This summer brings those extra minutes none too soon! There are a hundred “little something’s” that need my attention. One of the things that seriously needs my attention is proper grocery shopping. Rushing from spring ballgame to event I ran to the store for emergency goods and just enough to get us through the week. The need for a thoroughly organized trip came to light when we ran out of ketchup two weeks ago. We can have the same bottle in the fridg for a month or two so I didn’t think too much about it. I just made a mental note to make sure hamburgers didn’t appear on the menu until I’d made it to the store. Unfortunately I didn’t really realize how often I needed just a little bit here and there until it was gone. One of the kids asked for meatloaf last week and I need ketchup for that. We were out of milk so scrambled eggs became the breakfast of choice and one of the kids likes just a little ketchup…oops! Then there was the night one of the kids grabbed a burger and fries on the run and brought them home. The girl at the drive thru forgot to throw in a packet of ketchup so what would have been no big deal turned out to be a big “OH MY” when again one of us stared into a ketchup-less fridg. After a while it just became funny. If it weren’t for the groans I’d skip buying it for another week just to see how many times someone reaches for it!
Sunday breakfast is a big deal at our house. It’s one of my favorite times of the week because everyone is usually home and I love having everyone’s feet parked under my kitchen table even if it’s just for 20 minutes! After we got settled at the table and prayed, someone asked for ketchup for the hash browns and I just busted out laughing and promised to go to the store early this week. As we continued with breakfast, I realized ketchup and prayer have some similarities. Sometimes we view them as just a tiny little extra to enhance what’s on our plate. Sometimes the comfort and peace that comes from a consistent prayer life are taken for granted like the ketchup; until we’ve got something on our plate that really requires it. We can even manage to seemingly get along just fine without it for a while until…wham…we need it and get frustrated when we can’t reach out and grab it. And honestly, if we fall out of the habit of consistent prayer we may not even realize it right away. Of all the things on my shopping list ketchup is one of the less expensive items so I didn’t go without because I couldn’t afford it or it was in short supply, I just forgot! Kinda like prayer don’t you think…it doesn’t cost anything to pray, it doesn’t require anything more than stillness and time…but sometimes we forget until we get in a tough spot.
As I get organized for my summer and my fist proper grocery shop in a while I’ll first make sure I take some time to re-organize my prayer time. I really don’t want to run out of ketchup again so it’s a priority item on the shopping list but I REALLY don’t want to run out of great conversation opportunities with my Heavenly Father so I’ll make sure that takes the highest priority…way above ketchup!
A Seed To Plant: Take a look at your summer priorities and make sure you give quiet peaceful prayer minutes the top spot!
Blessings on your day!
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