The word “beloved” appears in Scripture more than 100 times. That’s a lot of reps, so it must be a word worth remembering. Very often the word was used as a greeting to signify the importance of the people being addressed; God’s people. It was meant to convey the great love the Father had for all the people He created. I have two questions for you today. The first; when was the last time you looked in the mirror and thought, hey, I’m beloved? The second, when is the last time you noticed someone and thought, hey, that is one beloved person? Beloved isn’t a word that takes up much space in my vocabulary but after spending the past few weeks reading and praying with the New Testament letters, I’ve come across the word so many times I decided it was a word I needed to do something with.
It’s a beautiful word but I couldn’t put my finger on what I was supposed to be doing with it. A few nights ago, as He always does after lots of prayer and thought, God gave me the insight to this word I’d been asking for. Unfortunately the message about this word didn’t come in a joyful way. I try really hard to keep my posts light, joyful and inspiring but this day the thoughts are heavy on my heart.
Beloved isn’t just a word. It’s a concept much bigger than seven letters in a row. It’s an action, it’s an attitude, it’s a part of discipleship. I don’t think it’s simply an adjective, I believe it’s a verb. If we act as if we are beloved by our Creator we change. The fruit of that change is that we begin to treat others as if we recognize the same fact about them. This week the students of our local high school are grieving over the loss of one of their own. For the third year in a row the students and families from the two rural communities that make up our high school are learning some of life’s saddest and most difficult lessons. We are blessed to be from communities of very deep faith. Our kids are blessed by a school leadership and staff that love and support them. We are blessed by an army of community faithful who hit their knees immediately to pray for the strength and comfort of God. We are blessed by men and women of Faith who rushed in to lift them up in the middle of the pain and sorrow…again. Once more, there are those all too familiar thoughts of “why” and “if” and “what now”. A thick cloud of confusion and grief hangs, and when it lifts, everyone who was under it will be changed.
As my heart aches for Nick’s family and the friends and classmates, I realize the word we need right now is beloved. We’ll need it next week and next month and next year. If we were each to remember how completely beloved we are to the God who made us, our days would be different. If our days were different we would have a much greater capacity to help others realize how beloved they are. What if we made it a point to treat every single person who crossed our path as if we recognized they were beloved? What if we searched for the things that made people beloved before we searched for the things that made them different? Beloved is friendly, beloved is cheerful, it’s respectful, compassionate, patient and understanding. We have to “do beloved" instead of selfish, judgmental and narrow-minded. Let’s not wait until tomorrow, let’s make “beloved” a way of life starting right this very minute.
A Seed To Plant: Go on a beloved search. Start with a list of the things that make you beloved and then move on to the people you meet today. Find something beloved about every person you cross paths with.
Blessings on your day!
And from that time Jesus began to tell the people…Matthew 4:17
Can you think of something you loved to do as a child that you enjoy just as much today? One of the things on my list is listening to stories from my dad’s childhood. Even if I’ve heard some of the stories again and again I just love to listen to him. I really love it on the rare occasion when I get to sit down with my aunts and uncles and listen to them all chime in and laugh and add details the other might have forgotten. Sometimes I feel like I’m being catapulted right into the middle of the story myself. I can remember the names of people and places that were never a part of my life but their stories have been handed down with such detail and emotion I think I know. I wasn’t alive when WWII ended but I’ve heard my dad tell about that day when he was a little boy and Grandpa closed up the store so they could load up the car and drive around with a picnic lunch celebrating. I’ve never lived in the day of probation but I know stories about young men and their fast cars that carried bootleg whiskey across state lines. I’ve never known a life without indoor plumbing or electricity but the stories make me realize I’m both blessed by my abundance and absent of the simplicity and peacefulness of that time. Not all of the stories are fun, some are hard to tell and hard to hear but they are all a part of the story of my family and God’s fingerprint is so clear throughout. I’m always sad when the conversation ends. I just want to know every part of the story.
Jesus had a magnificent story, a story of heaven. He didn’t talk about it like a distant mystical place; He talked about it like it was home. His stories were rich with detail and hope. He had a way of drawing people in and they would sit at his feet and listen as long as he spoke. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to sit there and listen, to be inspired and amazed and encouraged.
A young person recently made me realize how important it is to share the stories of our life and our family and our faith. I came away from my conversation with her realizing we need to share the most important part of our story…the part that lets people know what God is doing in our lives. Some think faith is a private thing; a personal thing. What if Jesus had thought that very same thing? What if he’d kept the news of his Father private and personal and never shared the details and the emotion with his followers? What would have happened if the Apostles had kept the story of Jesus to themselves?
When you sit down to tell your stories, past and present…tell them the whole story. Tell them how God has been a part of your history, your life, your success and struggle? We can’t assume our others know about our Faith…we have to tell the story for the same reason Jesus did, to inspire, encourage and amaze.
A Seed To Plant: Make a list this week of the ten greatest ways God has been a part of your history. Share at least three of those before the month ends.
Blessings on your day!
There is a time for every season…Ecclesiastes 3:1
Sometimes when my young adult children pass through the kitchen my mind will flash back to days gone by. I had one of those experiences this week and it really put a dent in my perspective. We got another big heap of snow this week and I had yet another snow day. The boys didn’t thought and as I watched them leave for work and college classes I happened to look out the window and see the biggest snow drifts that have ever been on our lawn. There were places in the back yard where the drifts were several feet deep. As I stared at that sparkly snow I realize there were no tracks. Years ago our yard would have been the world’s greatest place to play. But as I walked from window to window all I saw was deep, fresh unmarked snow. No sled marks, no snowmobile tracks no snow angels or tunnels, forts or snowmen. As I stood there getting way too sentimental I remembered the wishes I’d made when my kids were in their snow stomping days.
I remember all too well how long it took to bundle them all up, find 6 gloves and 3 hats and 6 boots that all fit and matched (ok…so they didn’t always match). By the time they all got zipped and buttoned and tied up I was sweaty and frustrated and relieved that they were out the door! I would wish they would stay out and play for hours so I could have some peace and quiet. I remember all the energy it took to get them out there and it never failed, 5 minutes later someone was yelling from the doorway, “Mom, I have to go to the bathroom!” or “Mom, so and so put snow down my back, I need a towel!” or my very favorite, “Mom, I lost my boot in the snow hill!” For the amount of work it would take to get them out there to track up the snow, it never seemed to last long enough. I wished for them to be independent and creative out there in the snow without my help but before I knew it they would be in and the back room would be a mess of wet, cold puddles and drippy snow pants and boots. It would take twenty minutes to get everything hung and mopped up and then we’d do it all over again. Flashing back to that part of winter made that sparkly uninterrupted snow seem less sentimental.
I wondered that morning this week as I stood there staring at the snow how many things I had wished away in my life. It seems like we’re often wishing for the day when we won’t be so busy or when things won’t be so hectic or when the kids get more independent and don’t need us so much. But, are we really satisfied when that day arrives? That snow storm made me realize I should do a better job of recognizing the hand of God in every circumstance and stage of life. Life comes in seasons. It won’t always be the same, which is to say if things are hard it doesn’t mean it will always be hard and if something is simple and lovely that won’t always last either. God works through all circumstances and with each season of life there is growth and challenge and joy if we stop and look for it. There is blessing and benefit in every stage and season of life. Each one has a purpose and God has perfectly designed and arranged it to define and mature a certain part of our holiness. Little kids mean puddles in the entryway, big kids mean uninterrupted snow…each is full of blessing and beauty; I have to ask God to help me find that beauty in every season of my life. God help me find you in the NOW of my days and help me stop looking so hard for you in the “then’s” and the “when’s”!
A Seed To Plant: Say a prayer for your “present”. Ask God to help you recognize His work THIS day without comparing it to yesterday or tomorrow.
Blessings on your day!
Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:11
Does anybody remember the old View Master toy? It was so cool; you just slipped in a circular disc with pictures, looked through the viewing lens and pulled the handle to go from picture to picture. That was some fancy entertainment back in the day! I remember looking through them and pulling the handle as fast as I could to see the pictures go at high speed…it was kind of like watching something in fast forward mode. As I sit here typing, I feel a little like that is what my life has become…pulling the handle so fast everything looks like fast forward. It can be pretty entertaining but I can’t say I always enjoy it.
I don’t think God intended life to be that way however. He has been sending me that message loud and clear the past few days and it hits me right in morning prayer. The harder it is to settle myself in prayer, the more I know I need to slow down and evaluate my “stuff”. I took a few minutes today to do just that and I came across this meditation. It was left by a lovely reader as a comment to one of the posts here at joyful words. I think I’ll share it, because it just seems to fit.
Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I am.
Be still and know.
This week in my prayer chair I will take it line by line and ask God to help me soak it all in and feel Him slow down the speed of the handle on my life’s View Master. In fact, I’ll try to see my life through His lens. I’m betting it will be in slower motion!
A Seed To Plant: Take a week and pray this meditation on Psalm 46:11 with me…let’s see what He shows us about the speed of life.
Blessings on your day!
…Love is kind…1 Corinthians 13:4
I love Valentine’s Day. I will admit I have an unfair advantage for this holiday though. I just love all the Valentine cards I get from my little lovelies. I love to see their cute little lettering and I always giggle when I see how hard they tried to squeeze the 11 letters that spell Mrs. Wohlfert into a space barely big enough for a 5 letter first name. I especially love it when the letters spill backwards uphill to fit on the card. I love the way they give them to me with a hug and a smile as if they have just handed me the keys to a new car. It’s a great day in first grade!
We made our mail boxes today and the room was just a buzz as they cut and glued little construction paper hearts on the giant envelopes we made with stapled red paper. They were nothing fancy but to them, they were great works of art! As we were in the middle of the project one little boy asked me who ever came up with the idea in the first place. I told him I’d share the whole story on Valentine’s Day but as a sneak preview to the lesson I told him the day was the feast day of St. Valentine. He smiled and said “I can’t wait to see what she was all about.” I smiled even bigger and said, “St. Valentine was a boy.” His jaw dropped and he said, “No way a boy thought of all this, you gotta be kidding me!” I laughed out loud!
Although I really enjoy February 14th, one thing about the holiday I don’t enjoy are the little candy hearts with messages. My philosophy quite basically is; if it isn’t chocolate candy it isn’t worth eating! I saw bags and bags of these little treasures the other night when I was buying Valentine treats for my little lovelies and as I stood reading some of the messages I had a thought. What if we read each of those candy messages and added the words “said God” at the end of each one? I started laughing right in the center aisle of the store. Not all of the messages worked, like the one that said UR HOT STUFF, Said God…but most of them worked! When we are reminded in the New Testament letters to pray often and include God in all of our plans and love Him with our whole heart and soul, we sometimes have to think creatively. I do think God reminds us often how much he cares for and loves us; we just don’t always see it. If God is the author of love, who’s to say He can’t write a love note on a heart shaped lump of pastel colored sugar. Here’s what He might be saying to you…BE MINE said God, UR SWEET said God, TRUE LOVE said God, XXOO said God or CRAZY 4U said God.
If you happen to come across some of these little holiday treats this Valentine’s Day, grab a few and see what message God might have for you. For extra credit tell someone else to add the words to the messages they read. Nobody ever said love couldn’t be silly and besides, those icky little candy hearts have now been given a purpose in my opinion!
A Seed To Plant: Get in touch with your first grade self today. Cut out a paper heart and write this verse from 1Corinthinas or any other verse about love on it and randomly leave it for someone who could use a little dose of God’s love. If you really want to be fancy, leave a package of candy hearts with the new reading instructions.
Blessings on your day
Jesus summoned the twelve and sent them out two by two. Mark 6:7
When my kids were little, one sentence that could guarantee a wrinkle in my patience was, “I do it myself!” I appreciated their independence but sometimes they chose the most impossible tasks for a toddler to try solo and they always seemed to do it when we were in a hurry. They just didn’t understand that it was ok to ask for help when the job got tricky.
This passage from Mark’s Gospel reminds me of that very same lesson I tried to teach my kids so many years ago…we don’t have to do it ourselves. God sent the apostles two by two. The “original evangelization” was so important it took a pair or a team. The “new evangelization” is just the same. We are called to share the Gospel and to live the Gospel. Lucky for us the instructions Mark wrote about in this passage are still as relevant today as they were when he wrote them.
We need to work together and admit we don’t always have the best ideas and abilities; God gave all of us gifts and talents to be used to further His kingdom. We need to trust in God’s provisions; He loves us too much to let us go hungry or penniless. He will provide for our need not our greed. Finally, we need to let the Holy Spirit guide us. Sometimes our work is about just planting the seeds of His love and then stepping aside so He can finish the work.
A Seed To Plant: What is the Father’s mission for you? How is He calling you to further His kingdom and who can you join up with to complete your mission? Loving Father, show me how to serve. Please guide my way and instruct me as I combine my time, talents and treasures with others who are willing to further Your kingdom.
Blessings on your day!
He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. Psalm 25:9
I have a wonderful friend named Sheila who is an absolutely amazing first grade teacher. If God ever specifically created a person to do exactly one specific thing…it would be her hanging out every day with first graders. She also just so happens to be a beautiful writer and she often writes about her adventures with her little lovelies. She wrote a piece last fall that touched my heart and made my eyes all wet and leaky. She wrote about how touching and heartwarming it is at the beginning of the year when someone slips and calls her mom. I remember thinking, oh my gosh…I feel that same way. We both agree it’s a sign that they are comfortable and feel so at home they mistake our title for the love and compassion of someone else they love…their mom. It really is pretty cool. It’s a perk of teaching young children who just laugh and give you a hug when they do something that would freeze them in embarrassed panic if they were a few years older. It’s all just so “come as you are and it’s ok” in first grade. But God does use my little lovelies to teach and form my thoughts, actions, words and perceptions.
My word for the year is discipline and I’m applying it liberally and successfully in some spots and not so much in others. As you can guess, I’ve started with the easy spots and haven’t quite given my full effort to the tougher ones. It’s no mistake that God sent me that word the same year I turned half a century old! I don’t move quite as quickly as I did a few years ago and teaching lessons on the floor is great until it’s time to get up after being curled up like a pretzel for 20 minutes. Heaven help me if I forget to park myself near the cabinet or my reading chair for a boost up because I certainly don’t pop right up like a jack-in-the box! I had one little lovely ask me why I stopped to pray after we worked together on the floor. I looked at her a bit curious and said “I’m not sure what you mean?” She said “Every time you get up you stop on your knees before you stand all the way up, I wondered what you prayed for,” Bless her little heart…thank goodness she didn’t realize that getting up is a two-step process…rear end to knees and knees to standing. I felt very 50! On another January day I was kneeling down to help a little girl with her math and she looked carefully at my head and began to dust off my hair. When I asked her what she saw she said, “Oh nothing, I thought you had snow in your hair but I guess it’s stuck there.” What she had discovered was the little patch of gray hair I have sprouting up by my bangs. I also had a little lovely watch me carefully as we were doing poems one morning and ask me later how I did that trick with my arms. After careful questioning I discovered he was referring to the fact that my arms would keep moving by themselves even after I stopped moving them on purpose. I wanted to tell him that only happens when the gun show goes south!
I have had several loving servings of humble pie this January but the big slice came this week! Three times in two days three different little lovelies called out my name and they didn’t say Mrs. Wohlfert or teacher or my favorite, Mom…it was a new one…three times this week I heard, “Grandma”!!! WHAT??? Are you kidding me? Add that to the “snow” in my hair, the two step “get up” from the floor, the arms that wiggle like jello AND my AARP membership promotional materials that arrived this week and I feel like I’m ready for false teeth a house dress and a lap blanket!
God has such a sense of humor! He is also so very kind…these lovely little reminders have come through my beautiful little lovelies so they aren’t hurtful in the least. Their humor and innocent honesty made it very clear that I’ve been granted one full month with the word DISCIPLINE and I have yet to hit the treadmill or do a workout dvd. I suppose my excuse of not walking because we have 25 inches of snow on the ground and snow piles as high as buildings (no kidding…really) isn’t working for me anymore. Some people get their reminders through the rude comments of co-workers, I get a room full of seven year olds who are fascinated by my jello arms and think I’m praying for them every time I get off the floor. I guess that’s like humble pie with frosting on top! I’d better start liberally applying my word to all the parts of my life that need it! Lord help me do the things I don’t enjoy!
A Seed To Plant: Did you choose a word for 2014? How’s it going for you? Let’s pray for each other as we get busy doing the things we don’t always enjoy!
Blessings on your day!
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him. Habakkuk 3:19
The kid in all of us remembers the excitement of a snow day. I experienced something new; many schools here in mid-Michigan had a “snow week”! The cold and the wind and the snow just kept coming and coming so the schools stayed closed. I got a lot of things done last week for sure but with the lesson plans done and the papers checked, I had some time to watch a few movies. There is something completely wonderful about curling up with a blanket and a good movie in the middle of the afternoon. I have not one athletic bone in my body, but sports movies are among some of my favorites. I love it when the underdog wins, the hopeless find hope and the least expected turns out to be the most amazing. I have pulled four of my favorite quotes from 3 great movies for today’s post and added a twist as if they were each spoken to us by Jesus Himself.
It’s ok to think about what you want to do until it’s time to do what you’re meant to do. (The Rookie) If Jesus said that to us, I think He’d follow it up with “so put your plans and your dreams at the foot of my cross and I’ll take it from there. Oh, and by the way, I’ll come up with something WAYYYY better for you than you’d ever dream up yourself. Wait for it….Wait for it!”
You’ve taught me to judge a man by the soul of him, rather than the look of him. (Remember the Titans) That’s Jesus talking… but all too often way too many of us still haven’t learned that lesson. It’s easy to see this quote in terms of race but I think it’s much bigger than that. What about seeing the soul of a homeless person or a person lost in alcoholism or someone struggling with anger or mental illness? It’s not always easy to see beyond the first look sometimes but we’re supposed to.
When I told you not to get your hopes up, that didn’t mean I wasn’t going to. (Invincible) One of the things that really hurts my heart is when I visit with someone who has no hope. It hurts my heart even more when I see a person smash someone else’s hope. Hope is a very powerful thing and it can make amazing things happen. Hope is a grace and it’s freely given to each of us but we have to make sure we know that putting our hope in Christ is what we need to do. When we tell someone not to get their hopes up, we seem to be trying to protect them but I suppose Jesus would remind us to say instead, put your hope in Me because I have only the best for you….I will give you far more than you could hope for.
Sometimes bad things happen for no particular reason at all. (Remember the Titans) I see two big lessons of faith in this line. Lesson one, don't try to blame everything on something or someone and don’t try to explain, justify or second guess God’s motives because He sees our whole life, not just one event. Lesson two, no particular reason you can see or understand at this moment, but give Him time, He will reveal the reason and He will bring blessing and goodness because of it. I suppose it’s also helpful to remember that sometimes the lesson and the blessing are meant for someone else and it just comes through us and our circumstance.
There, I feel better now, thank you for allowing my lazy snow day movie watching to be used for a good purpose.
A Seed To Plant: Think of a line from one of your favorite movies that has meaning and enforces a Gospel teaching in your life. If you have time, share it with us in the comment section so we can be inspired as well.
Blessings on your day!
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