My son, forget not my teaching, keep in mind my commands; Proverbs 3:1
Today begins the crazy, fun, joyful week known as Catholic Schools Week! Catholic schools across the country will be celebrating the gift and the blessing of Christ centered education. I am so thankful for the chance to teach in a Catholic School. It’s absolutely a gift to be able to incorporate Christ into every conversation and activity that makes up my day. Some worry about the right time, or the right opportunity to mention Jesus or faith and I realize I often take it for granted that I can talk about it six hours a day AND get paid for it.
As we all head off to school for ER day; dressed as anything that ends in ER, I’m sure there will be lots of laughter and creative costumes. I didn’t want to be the only one enjoying some laughs today so I thought I’d share a few Catholic School Student comments. Some are from my students, some are borrowed from other teachers but all of them demonstrate the joy and humor of the child.
* If the Apostles were such good guys, why did they go around chopping things up? I had to point out that it was the ACTS of the Apostles not the AXE of the apostles.
* I’m sorry honey, the song Silent Night does not contain the words “Round Blonde Virgin”
*No, the Deacon said “Go forth and preach the Gospel!” Not, “Go forth and preach the gossip!”
*The Psalm response states, “The Lord is kind and merciful.” Not, “The Lord is kind of merciful.”
*Hosanna in the highest is correct; Lasagna in the highest is not.
*The Holy Ghost is not a cousin to Caspar even if they are both friendly.
*I understand there was no room at the inn but hotels. com wouldn’t have been a thing 2,000 years ago…no honey, it wasn’t because the wifi wasn’t strong enough.
*No, I wasn’t there the night Jesus was born, that was a few years before my time.
When every day includes faith and kids its’ a winning combination! I want to thank all those who support Catholic Education. There are so many who sacrifice time, energy and money to make the work we do possible so please know that you will be included in our prayers of thanksgiving this week.
A Seed To Plant: Take some time this week to pray for all children in schools everywhere!
Blessings on your day!
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2
My mom was quick with the “one-liners”! She had a way of cutting right to the chase in less than ten words, and her powerful lines had a way of knocking the wind right out of you. Those powerful lines were always spoken with great love and usually served up with a hug and a smile and I’m absolutely certain a prayer before she fell asleep that same night. Her goal was to help us get to heaven so she always said there was no time for messin around with the business of motherhood. One day I came home so excited that I had been given a solo part for an upcoming concert. Her response still sticks in my mind like a label on a jar! She stopped peeling potatoes for a minute, smiled and told me she was proud of me then motioned me over so she could kiss my forehead. A millisecond later she went back to peeling potatoes and said, “Now, don’t let it go to your head! Pridefulness isn’t pretty on anybody!” That was her style, love hard and speak the truth without any extra words.
As I continue to pray about what God wants me to BE, he keeps sending me back to the word humility. I decided to spend some time praying and reading about humility and found some stuff that is helping me realize it’s much bigger than I thought. Many of the great saints have written about humility. Padre Pio, Mother Teresa, St. Francis deSales and St. Benedict just to name a few. As I read their teachings I decided to share a few of the things I’m learning because I get the feeling that if we all acted humbly, this world would be completely transformed. I picked four from among the many suggestions offered by the saints to start with. I may have to write a part 2 and a part 3 later.
I keep coming across this quote; “It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.” —Saint Augustine. If sainthood is our mission then humility seems to be one of tools of the trade. True humility comes when we put ourselves third. Humility is not a sign of weakness or passiveness; it’s the opposite. True humility allows us to see and act like Jesus.
First Humility Practice: Talk about yourself as little as possible. If we believe God truly knows the desires of our hearts and if we do everything to please him rather than those here on earth, this makes perfect sense.
Second Humility Practice: Choose the more difficult or less appealing jobs. There is great humility in doing the task nobody else wants to do. Vacuuming is one thing but cleaning out the produce drawer with all it’s hidden squishy, fuzzy contents is quite another.
Third Humility Practice: Don’t worry about other peoples business, don’t talk about other peoples business and don’t even be curious about things that don’t concern you. We sometimes get curious and try to hear the news under the disguise of being “concerned” or “wanting to know the facts so we can pray for them” but the saints challenge us to be honest about our motives. Do we need to have our nose in someones business or can we use that energy to beef up our prayer life instead. Will knowing the “rest of the story” help us get to heaven or just give us some new information we can’t do something positive with?
Fourth Humility Practice: Recognize your talents, gifts and graces then promptly thank God for them and move along. We should use them well, but the ambition to be the “best” is not going to build our humility. I think my mom knew this one because after my first solo performance, she lovingly said, “Sweetie, that was so good and we’re proud of you but just remember, you might sing prettier than a dozen people, but there are hundreds that sing better than you, so thank God for the gift and don’t let your imagination turn you into a rock star.”
Humility keeps us grounded, balanced and rooted in the Lord. If I can master these first four practices I will have many fewer nights when I go to bed and feel guilty or embarrassed, how about you?
A Seed To Plant: Pick one or two of the practices and sit with the Lord to make a plan of attack to put it into motion in your life.
Blessings on your day!
I have made you, I will carry you, I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46:4
Have you ever made a promise you didn’t keep? When a promise is broken it’s a lousy feeling no matter which end of the promise you’re on. I can remember being in 5th grade and a friend of mine had just received a new cartoon/joke book and I wanted to read it so bad. I promised to give him a dime if he would let me borrow it before everyone else that wanted to look at it got a chance. He let me borrow it and I remember thinking how much more I would have enjoyed the book if I could have actually made good on my promise. I knew good and well that I didn’t have any money to give him and I knew mom and dad wouldn’t have given me the money for such a silly thing. A dime had great value and money was to be used for necessary things only. I couldn’t even finish reading the book that night because I knew I’d have to explain to my friend the next day that I’d broken my promise and I felt too lousy to enjoy the book. I don’t know why that story sticks with me to this day but every now and again it bubbles up in my mind. When I saw this verse the memory of the broken promise sprung up and I realized how my weakness is one of his most amazing strengths.
We are a pretty stubborn and independent people sometimes aren’t we! I forget the truth of this verse from the Prophet Isaiah…often! I’m pretty good at trusting God when things are hard or crazy. I’m pretty good at knowing he will rescue me but while reading this verse and considering what it promises something new occurred to me… probably something he’s been trying to tell me for years! Here’s the revelation…HE MEANS ALL THE TIME! I tend to think I can coast along and tend to the easy stuff saving his service for the tough stuff or for when I’m in over my head. I think I honestly convince myself that when things are smooth I can handle it so he can assist someone who has a bigger need or a heavier cross to carry. It’s almost as if I think I’m doing him a favor by not bugging him so much. The problem with that is when I’m not depending on the truth of his promise I get the false sense that I’m in charge and that never ends well.
Everywhere I go I seem to hear the phrase, “work smarter not harder”. Well duh…I think that’s exactly what this verse is saying. Working smarter means completely living the truth of this verse…everyday…when things are great and when they’re not! If we really believe in these promises from our Loving Father, life just gets better and better. He will never break a promise…ever. If I look at the disappointments in my life I might be tempted to think God wasn’t there for me but the truth is those disappointments that felt like broken promises came at exactly those times when I was trying to take care of things myself and give him a break. So…I think I get it now! This one little verse spoken a few thousand years ago still has enormous truth and promise even today. I think I’ll tape them somewhere important so I can read them again and again. I promise God, I’ll pay more attention to them!
A Seed To Plant: Join me in putting this powerful verse somewhere visible and pray with these words this week.
Blessings on your day!
Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. Hebrews 5:8
My word for the year is BE. I’ve spent the last two weeks praying about what God wants me to BE most. I’m here to tell you, he’s made it perfectly and painfully clear. I sort of forgot how clear he can be when I honestly and humbly ask him to show me something. It has been an ugly couple of weeks. On the outside I looked ok…my shoes matched and my teeth were brushed; you know, the important stuff for the world to see, but on the inside I’ve been a train wreck. Of course I didn’t want anyone to see that, I just tried to keep it all tucked away because as a general rule, we don’t like folks to know when we’re a hot mess but for some reason part of my “BE-ing” is to tell you what he’s shown me. Even though he’s been challenging me in a gigantic way, he’s also lovingly allowed me to stumble across some mighty words from some Holy Saints to guide and direct me.
“The nation doesn’t simply need what we have. It needs what we are.” St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
I tell classes and audiences all the time that God calls us each to serve in a unique way according to the gifts and talents he’s blessed us with. He has clearly pointed out that I haven't been taking that statement to heart. He has thrown a spotlight on the fact that I spend too much time yearning to “make it big” instead of serving wherever he sends me. While I’m dreaming about speaking in huge convention centers and being noticed as a “Catholic Rock Star” he has made it very clear that I’m being prideful and wishing for someone else spot. He very clearly pointed out that whether there are 15 gathered in a church basement, 22 sitting in my classroom or a thousand in an auditorium; they are all HIS. My talents are about serving HIS children not my ego. He has made it very clear that I am to serve where he puts me. I’m wrestling with BE-ing content and BE-ing in the present. The world tells me to dream big and go for it; God is inviting me to be humble and use the gifts he gave me to bring glory to him.
To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often. -St. John Neumann
While part of me sees the need to be content; he’s been glaringly pointing to the areas of my life where I desperately need to make big changes. Like a pebble in my shoe, he’s been pointing them out many times each day. I made my list of things I needed to do better in 2018 and he keeps pointing them out like a bad movie stuck on rewind. For at least a decade a few of the things on that list have remained the same. He’s asking me to be serious about those changes. If I really want time to read more or pray more I have to hack away some things to make that time; like Facebook and Twitter. One day as I was pondering more prayer while scrolling my newsfeed, my computer went completely black…message received! If I really want to be stronger and healthier I have to change what I eat and how I move. Those are changes that I have always struggled with but one day last week as I was thinking about all the reasons it’s so hard to make those changes, the chair I was sitting on literally broke beneath me. I’m telling ya, he’s challenging me in every corner of my life!
It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels. -Saint Augustine
Pride and humility are a big battle in the life of a christian. Humility has nothing to do with weakness and complacency but rather has everything to do with living the Gospel message and acting like Jesus. In the past two weeks I’ve had several people point out mistakes I’ve made and places I’ve fallen short. Those situations have been uncomfortable and embarrassing but God has called me to look at myself honestly and react humbly. I guess I didn’t get it right the first few times so he’s given me a few more opportunities to get it right. I’m truly a work in progress in this area and it’s clear he isn’t going to let up until I get better. Stay tuned because I have a feeling I’m going to be doing some studying about humility and pride and I just may have to share some lessons.
God is good, even when he isn’t easy on us. The past two weeks haven't been pretty! I’ve cried, felt defeated, embarrassed and frustrated. There has been darkness, sadness and then times of joy as I have felt his loving presence throughout this whole process. This was a tough post to write; it’s pretty raw and perhaps not as joyful as others but it’s real!This tiny little word, BE has turned out to be mighty. As I get ready to hit the publish button, I have to BE confident that he’ll use my “hot mess” of a life this month to touch a heart or two.
A Seed To Plant: Spend some time in prayer asking God to show you what he desires for your life and then see if you’re getting in his way.
Blessings on your day!
Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled. Luke 1:45
I used to love watching shows about pioneers. I thought the whole covered wagon, cornbread baking, sod busting thing was great. I sometimes daydreamed about being a pioneer woman and thought about the excitement of such a new adventure. I also thought the long skirts would be a great idea to cover up my pudgy legs. Then I became a wife and mother and realized how hard things can be even in this modern world with machines and apps for everything so I figured the whole pioneer woman gig was out of the question. Or was it?
Now, one thing is for sure, I will never travel the frontier in a covered wagon nor will I likely ever bust sod and use it for a roof but the whole new adventure thing might not be such a bad idea. I got to thinking one day that maybe being a pioneer could mean something different than the prairie. Fr. Pierre de Chardin once wrote, “We are called to be pioneers; pioneers who stand on the edge of great beginnings, of unseen futures. Pioneers filled with unwarranted confidence that visions give.” Maybe I could be that kind of pioneer; I don’t think it comes with a long skirt and wide brimmed hat, but the new adventure part is the same.
I think the key word in Fr. Pierre’s quote was vision. I can set goals or make resolutions; I can even pick a word for the year but to have a vision is something big. I think our desire to be logical and systematic makes it difficult to be a pioneer. When you really think about it, pioneers set off on adventures that didn’t seem safe, logical or systematic at all. They really had to trust. Some of the best things in life happen with that kind of start. Look at Mary and Elizabeth…neither of them was the common candidate for motherhood. Elizabeth was too old and Mary was too young and not even married yet but they trusted, followed and radically changed the world. If we wait until everything is in order to make a new beginning, we’ll likely never get started on the journey.
What is your vision? What do you see within yourself that could use a new beginning? Be a pioneer and set out to find that new place or thing. Be a pioneer for peace, patience, mercy or trust. Blaze a trail so bold others can’t help but follow! Can you make a plan to bring the hopeful newness of life to your heart, your home, workplace or community? Great things have to start somewhere…go ahead…YOU be the pioneer! What new beginning are you going to pioneer? Think big…think mighty…think Godly but mostly think about the needs of others and the mercy of God. If you need someone to join your wagon train just let me know!
A Seed To Plant: Dear Lord, give me the strength to bust out of my comfortable-ness and be a pioneer of something really important to you.
Blessings on your day!
And behold I am with you always… Matthew 28:20
I’m always fascinated when I see a crime show on TV and the investigators go through the process of dusting, taping and analyzing finger prints. It’s just utterly amazing to me that there are millions and millions of people on this earth yet none of us has the same fingerprint. How is that possible? We’re not talking about a large area of skin to create unique patterns…our fingertip is really small but yet each of us has a print that is completely different! When my students ask me how that can be, I smile and tell them, “It’s so amazing only God could do that!”
A few years ago, several homes in our area were broken into; ours included. I watched as the Sheriff’s Deputy dusted many spots in our home with the grey finger print powder I’d seen the detectives use on TV. It was so interesting to watch the prints become clearly visible as the powder was brushed over an area. It was almost as if they had appeared out of thin air. I watched with such interest, I think the Sheriff’s Deputy must have thought I was nuts! He was so immune to the process, I’m sure he had done it hundreds of times but being a “first timer” I found it so interesting.
The uniqueness, with which God created millions and millions of different finger prints, is the same uniqueness with which He loves and cares for each of us. Like that Sheriff’s Deputy, it’s easy to become immune to the ways God leaves His finger print on our days. Very often His finger prints can be so gentle and slight they go completely un-noticed. We can get busy about our everyday tasks and not realize how many times God leaves His prints as He organizes every detail of our day. He guides and guards and blesses us constantly and we are often unaware. The very fact that we and those we love arrive home safely at the end of each day is a really big finger print but sometimes we need a dusting of that grey powder to make us see.
There are times when God leaves His print on us for the sole purpose of passing it on to someone else. Sometimes seemingly random people, often people I don’t even know very well, will pop into my head and I get the sense I should pray for them and maybe email or call them to tell them I’m praying for them. I start with the praying part and hope that’s good enough…but more often than not, I get a stronger sense that I need to make contact and tell them they have been prayed for. Out of the dozens of times I’ve responded to that nudge from God, never once have I had a person react negatively…the response has always been one of gratitude, joy and comfort. I sent an email once to a woman in South Dakota who I had been put in contact with when I first started this blog. We had exchanged two or three business like messages and then out of the blue one morning in prayer I got a strong sense that I should pray AND tell her I’d prayed. So, after some “toddler like” feet dragging, I sent the message and within hours she replied and said she had been “overwhelmed and overloaded” with a project she felt God calling her to do. She had prayed that God would give her assurance that she was on the right track and shortly after that, she opened the message telling her she had been lifted up in prayer. She told me later that at that moment God’s love for her was confirmed and she faithfully pressed forward with the task, recognizing God’s finger print fully stamped on her day! The next time you are tempted to say something was “good luck” or “coincidence” take a minute to thank God for what it really was…His finger print on your day!
A seed to plant: Keep a piece of paper handy today and jot down each and every time God touches your day with His loving finger print. Make sure it’s a long piece of paper because once you purposefully start looking for all those finger prints, you’ll be amazed at how many times a day it happens!
Blessings on your day!
But it came to pass…Nehemiah 4:1
Lots of things aren’t meant to last forever. We keep the goods and toss out the package. We put in a new light bulb, trash bag or battery, fully expecting them to run their course and have their usefulness pass away. Those things aren’t surprises, but when we really think about the way this tiny bit of scripture applies to our human experience the words take on a surprising meaning.
There are seasons in our lives when things feel like a blanket of heavy wet snow settled in on our hearts. Things can be hard to navigate and our faith can be tested. When we’re smack dab in the middle of one of those seasons, things can just seem to pile up and make us feel sad, confused and overwhelmed. Those are the times this verse, that appears over and over in scripture, takes on a profound meaning. This little nugget of hope reminds us that our struggles, grief and suffering aren’t here to stay, they came to pass. One December nigh when my heart was in one of those heavy seasons, a beautiful stranger shared the story of loss and grief that overwhelmed her school one year early in her teaching career. At the last mass of their school year, the parish priest gave a homily and shared a very simple message. He said, this won't stay, we find comfort in God's word and his word says, "It came to pass", not "It came to stay. That lovely lady had no idea how much I needed to hear those words!
As we celebrate the birth of the Newborn Infant King, it’s the perfect time to take stock of the things that have come to pass. Our troubles, worries, anxieties and difficulties will pass, but the gift of God’s own Son, Jesus will remain. His peace, his mercy, his inexhaustible compassion and comfort remain with us forever. There is absolutely nothing so hard or sad or confusing that it would make the Father turn away. We can’t scare him, trick him or run him off. He is there patiently waiting for us to ask him into our mess.
The fact that we gaze on the precious gift of God’s Son as an infant in the manger every December is a reminder that we can begin again. Each Christmas as I approach the Manger Scene on the altar, I breath a little sigh of relief and feel grateful that we celebrate his humble beginning on this earth. I look at that tiny baby in the manger and remember that the greatest thing ever known to mankind started small. Just like little Jesus, we are allowed to take baby steps. As I gaze at him this last weekend of Christmas, I’ll pause a little longer to thank him for the reminder that his love stays but the troubles and sinfulness we all struggle with have come to pass. I’ll take an extra minute to marvel at how smart God was to send Jesus as a cute, chubby, adorable baby boy because babies always capture my attention and make me smile. I’ll remember to thank him for being so generous with his grace and I’ll ask him to help us recognize and surrender those things that have come to pass.
A Seed To Plant: Before the Christmas Season ends, pause and pray these words; Infant Jesus, as we gaze on you this Christmas, remind us to welcome you and keep you with us always!
Blessings on your day!
Happy New Year! So what are your hopes and wishes for this fresh new year? Today is a day of new beginnings. Some of us will excitedly and optimistically make resolutions, some of us will make great new plans and some of us will just take a nap and hope 2018 will be sprinkled with some laughter, fun and good health.
We got home from a wonderful trip to Kansas last night but with 7 in a Chevy Traverse, leg room was not plentiful but quiet time to think and pray certainly was. I've been thinking about my "word" for the year. I seemed to get nowhere with that...or so it seemed. Somewhere in Illinois yesterday afternoon I was beginning to give up in frustration. I was hoping for a big fancy word, maybe one packed with tough stuff to slug my way through or a smart word that would inspire me to study up and get smart. I kept coming up blank! To be honest, I always secretly hope for a sparkly word to make me seem holy and reassure me I'm doing just what God wants me to be doing but last night when we pulled in the garage, I still didn't have clue. But this morning sitting under a Christmas quilt next to the Christmas tree, I got my word.
I was just sitting in the quiet house, enjoying the glow from the tree, sipping hot coffee and it hit me. My word was clear as a bell! It's not a fancy, smart or sparkly word at all. It isn't a hard word, an impressive word or a holy word at all. My word is BE. Just be...that's it...that's all I got. On cup of coffee number 2 I began to see what he was asking me!
Before I crawl out from under the cozy blanket and prepare for the sixty plus guests that will be coming this afternoon, I think this is what my word means...
BE quiet...listen for my voice
BE still...sit with me and trust me with the details
BE silent more often...just shut up and pause
BE mine...I love you more than anyone else; let me show you just how much
BE content...I've got it covered with goodness left over
BE open...I have surprises, challenges and grace you can't even imagine
BE restful...I can do more things in a blink than you can do in a year...let me do the heavy lifting
BE forgiving, merciful, honest, cheerful
JUST BE! Don't be in charge...JUST BE!
My word is a gift. It's permission to surrender, slow down and put my hand in his. I was tempted to sit longer and map out how to "do" this word, but instead I will pull out my Rosary, pour another cup of coffee and just BE...he'll show me how to BE this year.
May the peace of Christ bless you and those you love this day and throughout this beautiful new year!
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