He laid his hand on the blind man’s eye a second time…Mark 8:25
The other day I was reading a story in Mark’s Gospel and got things so incredibly wrong. I was so wrong in fact that I had to laugh at my own thick headedness! I wish Jesus would teach me gently but it’s blatantly obvious that what I often need instead is a thump!
When I read the story in Mark Gospel about the healing of the blind man something really struck me. Jesus put his hand on the blind man and put spit on his eyes and then ask if he could see. He replied that he could see people that looked like trees so Jesus once again put his hands on the mans eyes and then he could see. My ridiculous reaction was, “I wonder why Jesus didn’t get it right the first time?” I actually thought about Jesus making a mistake or losing his touch. I wondered if maybe he was exhausted or distracted. I was thinking it was an odd story because I didn’t remember Jesus ever half-healing someone and having to take a do-over. It had me thinking.
I’m afraid to admit it took me longer than it should have to realize it had nothing to do with the ability of Jesus. It was the faith of the man that was the problem. Duh…how could I even think Jesus was “loosing his touch”. I had to laugh at myself for being such a knucklehead! Sheesh…Jesus needing a do-over; what was wrong with me! I couldn’t get it out of my head all day and every time I thought about it I realized the story applied to so many places in my life. I could recall so many times I thought Jesus hadn’t gotten it quite right. He hadn’t heard my requests as clearly as I was articulating them. He hadn’t organized the responses to my prayers in quite the order and fashion I was planning. Let’s not even talk about the times he responded too early or too late.
It’s funny how many examples I could think of in my life where I actually reacted the same way to a situation as I reacted to this Gospel story; what’s up with Jesus? The not so gentle lesson to the story is, it’s not Jesus at all. It’s me being like the man who wasn’t open enough or faithful enough or trusting enough to recognize and accept Jesus and his perfect touch and timing. It’s been several days and I’m still shaking my head. Jesus needing a do-over, what was I thinking!
A Seed To Plant: Pull out your Bible or google this Gospel Mark 8:22-26 and give it a read asking Jesus to show you the times he tried to help or heal and you didn’t have enough faith to understand or accept it.
Blessings on your day!
…”Speak Lord for your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:9
When I was growing up, if I would misplace something and say, “I can’t find it!” my dad would always say, “I’m sure it will be in the last place you look.” He was right…it always was but as a kid that line really bugged me! I
think it probably bugged me because what I would have rather heard him say was, “I’ll help you find it.” That simple statement of the obvious and the reality that I was on my own was his very simple way of letting me know I was responsible. If I wanted that missing object badly enough I had to invest the thought, energy and action into finding what I was looking for.
I heard someone say a couple weeks ago, “God just never listens to me!” I’m sure we’ve all felt that way a time or two when things got bumpy but the question that should always follow that statement is , “How well do I listen to God?” As Christians we can be assured of God’s presence in our lives but sometimes we have to do what my dad always pushed me to do and take responsibility for finding His loving presence in our lives. God speaks to us, but it’s not a bold, booming deep voice from the clouds. God speaks to us daily if we’re seeking and listening. There are four ways He makes us aware of his presence, His voice, and His will.
The first place God speaks to us is through Scripture. Once while I was in the middle of a struggle, I tried a dozen things on my own to make it better and finally after no improvement I did what I should have done first and gone to God’s word for strength, comfort and counsel. When I did finally ask God to speak to my heart, I landed in James and these were the words I read; Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. I heard that loud and clear!
The second way God speaks to us is through circumstances. Sometimes we call them coincidences, but God deserves the credit for those things, not fate. God so loves each of us, He arranges and organizes events and circumstances all the time just to show us how much He loves us and cares for us. Keep your eye out for them!
The third way is through people. Sometimes the right person with just the right word comes along at just right time and it seems to change everything. That’s God, speaking through others. A lady shared a story just recently about being in the hospital and as she was being prepped for surgery a nurse walked in to assist and they just “out of nowhere” started talking about trusting God and feeling His peace. She said it completely removed her fear and she rolled down the hall with an amazing sense of calmness and confidence.
The fourth way God speaks to us is through prayer. My husband and I couldn’t have raised our children together if we had never talked. I can’t teach a room full of middle lovelies if we don’t talk. I think we understand that we would stumble around in such chaos and frustration if we didn’t communicate with each other. Prayer is our communication with God. It’s the most important conversation we have each day but yet it’s the one that sometimes gets pushed to the side when we get busy or frazzled. The biggest mistake we make is to think we don’t have time to pray. That would be like trying to drive somewhere and being too busy to put gas in the car.
If you feel like something’s missing in your life seek the giver of all good things. He will be the last place you look and now you have four choices.
A Seed To Plant: Pick one of the four and start seeking Him. I’m willing to bet the more you seek Him in these four places, the more you’ll find Him.
Blessings on your day!
But let your “Yes” mean “Yes” and your “No” mean “No”…James 5:12
Wow did this one smack be upside the head! I think I would be shamefully astounded if I counted the times I approached things looking for the “easier” way to do them. More than a few times I’ve re-routed plans and projects searching for increased benefit and decreased personal discomfort! The biggest problem with that is what I usually get in return is minimal satisfaction! I also shudder when I think of the things in my life that lack true commitment and consistent effort.
I remember when Jason was an infant. He loved sleeping if it was light outside but not so much during the middle of the night. Kevin was 18 months old and I remember some of those days and nights felt so long. In my exasperation and exhaustion one day I was pouring out my heart and frustration to a wise friend and she said, “You’re looking at this all wrong; your goal is to get him to sleep so you can sleep too but your mission should be to relax, rock, pray and enjoy your precious son.” I thought she was nuts at first but I was desperate enough to try it her way and she was right. It was hard to remember that I had said “Yes” to motherhood and all that came with it. I was feeling deprived and uncomfortable…it was all about what I was missing and giving up and not what I had been given. The next many nights were different. I rocked and held him with a peace I hadn’t had before and said “Yes” to all the parts of motherhood and believed with all my heart that God would give me the strength and patience to chase my 18 month old the next day even if I didn’t get much sleep. That’s exactly what He did! It didn’t take long before Jason got his sleeping straightened out and I never admitted it out loud but I kind of missed that quiet time in the middle of the night with a new baby.
God calls us so many times a day and He leads us so tenderly but so much of it we miss. I’m so busy trying to make things easy on myself I often lack the consistency to follow through on the things I say “Yes” to in my faith life. I am also painfully aware of the times I vow to say “No” to screen time or procrastination only to let it dribble into my hours leaving little or no time for reading, prayer or study. I think St. James was speaking directly to me. I suppose if I spent more time honoring my yes’s and my no’s instead of trying to negotiate an easier path God would have some abundant blessings for me and I would be filled with great satisfaction. I can be a stubborn woman though!
When I finally stopped fussing about my fussing baby and just enjoyed being in the moment God honored my “yes”. He gave me joy, peace and energy because I was more concerned with the minutes I gained with my baby and less worried about the minutes of sleep I lost. As Lent approaches, I plan to make a list of “Yes” and “No” and I will spend this prayerful season consistently honoring both…I’ll be sure to keep you posted!
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of “Yes” and “No” things that you can offer God the Father this Lenten season. Ask Him to show you where you need to say yes and where He’d like you to say no.
Blessings on your day!
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him. Habakkuk 3:19
It has been one strange winter! We have had more snow days than I can ever remember in one school year. I’ve used the time to get caught up and do some of those yucky chores you dread but I’ve also had some time to watch a few movies. I have not one athletic bone in my body, but I love sports movies. 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!
Q: Did Adam and Eve ever have a date? A: No, they had an apple.
Sorry, I just had to begin today’s post with some Valentine humor…and remember I teach elementary school and bad jokes are a job hazard so I thought I’d share a little “joke love” with you! I watched some video clips about love and Valentine’s Day. The experts they interviewed were a group of 4 and 5 year olds and I must admit I was enlightened. In honor of the todays holiday, I thought I’d put you all in the mood for a little love with a giggle on the side. Here’s what I learned…
*Love feels sparkly when it’s real.
*Daddies make the best Valentines because they think you’re perfect.
*If you want someone to be your Valentine you have to share your most special thing with them.
*Kissing doesn’t have anything to do with Valentine’s Day it’s only about being happy.
*Sometimes your mom will make you give a Valentine to everybody even if you don’t want to because it’s good for you to practice love. I don’t get it but she tells me I will understand someday.
*You should never get married until you are at least 21 years and 345 days old; that’s important.
*Love means everything that’s good like Jesus, puppies and chocolate.
*When I get big I will want high heels, fur coats and lots of chocolate for Valentine’s Day but now I just want a cookie and everybody being nice to me.
*I don’t want squishy hugs and kisses; I want people just to play fun games with me and laugh with me.
There you have it! The perfect Valentine’s Day tutorial delivered right to your computer! As I listened to the kids I was struck by the simplicity of it all and the truth of it all. As I look over the list it almost seems like a to-do list from Jesus. It’s just what he’s shown us; His “daddy” is the best Valentine we could ever have, show kindness, show love to all; even when we don’t want to and simple blessings like laughter, compassion and happiness are powerful. We make it so tough sometimes don’t we! I also have a new word to describe that feeling I get when I have truly recognized God working in my life; sparkly real love! I’m hoping to enjoy that sparkly real love feeling as I ask God’s blessing on you and those you love this Valentine’s Day.
A Seed To Plant: Take a tip from the kids list and share God’s love with someone this Valentine’s day. If you are interested in giving someone high heels, fur coats, chocolate OR COFFEE…please let me know I think I can help find just the right person.
Blessings on your day and Happy Valentine’s Day!
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23
It seems that lately I have found myself in the middle of the same conversation about a dozen times. The conversations happen at functions where my peers and I see our children are walking through the door as grown-ups. I’m seeing the kids that played in my basement and ran through the sprinkler in my front yard and sat in the seats in my classroom getting married, having children and talking about their careers. I’ve been bumping into these grown up young people that are talking about their jobs and their lives. I talked with one young man who fixes cars and it seems like he just learned how to drive last week …and then there was the boy I watched learn to read who was talking to me about the reading scores of his own students and there was the boy who teased girls with a fury that I watched say I do and promised to spend his whole life loving a beautiful girl; something he swore in elementary school would certainly NEVER happen to him. As the moms and dads gather to visit, we always say the same thing; “how did that happen…I guess I blinked.”
Last weekend our school celebrated it’s annual Dinner Raffle which is a huge, amazing event that since it’s inception twenty years ago has raised over one million dollars for our school. I had the privilege and the honor of being a part of those first five years and to see how much has been accomplished over the years was pretty awesome. As I looked up at that 20th Anniversary banner I realized that when it started my college senior was a toddler and her oldest brother was in kindergarten. Again I said, “how did that happen…I guess I blinked.” It’s funny that those words ring with a little twinge of sadness. I miss the 3 little Wohlferts and their friends jumping on the couch cushions and playing baseball in the basement thinking I didn’t know. I miss squealing girls and dance parties and the smell of nail polish wafting up the basement stairs. I miss feeling like Old Mother Hubbard after the friends went home and mostly I miss walking into my house and seeing a big ole heap of shoes that belonged on the feet of the kids gathered in the basement.
Last night at a wonderful wedding, I watched a big group of young grown-ups from all 3 little Wohlferts classes and I realized I’d been looking at it all wrong. Every time I stopped to chat with one of them I felt really old! I felt like I lost something and wanted it back. I felt like I wanted to re-play it all to make sure I hadn’t missed something. As a mom, I sometimes look back on my “less than stellar” mom moment and want those back for a re-do. Those words kept coming into my mind, “I must have blinked!” I realized as I was watching them dance and laugh and enjoy themselves in their fancy clothes, that the blinks weren’t really about me. I keep thinking about my age and how I would like to go back in time and how much I miss those great mom moments but when I took myself out of the equation, I realized those blinks were full of beautiful things.
During the blinks all those kids I loved grew into young adults I love. All the playing and laughing and shenanigans forged great friendships, loyalty and a boatload of stories and memories. During those blinks they all matured and found their path. During those blinks they became independent, dedicated and driven. During those blinks I realized they have all become exactly what we wanted them to…great humans! Last night I saw dresses, heels, ties and tuxes but when I blinked I saw those school uniform solid color polos and superman t-shirts and little league jerseys and it made me smile. When I opened my eyes again and saw the grown-up version of all those little people, I realized that I hadn’t missed a thing; I had been there every moment of the journey and I stopped to realize all the amazing things that unfolded right before my eyes. I blinked again and I could still go back to blanket forts, sword fights with wrapping paper tubes, 4-H fairs and the prom. I realized I’d always have the blinks but the great opportunity to talk to a young adult and realize they had become exactly what they wrote about becoming in the 4th grade was worth the wrinkles and gray hairs that are a part of my look.
If we don’t blink nothing happens. If we don’t blink we’ll all be stuck. As I sat in mass this morning I saw one of my very favorite students who lost her mama when she was just a second grader. She has always had a special place in my heart and I realized how beautiful and necessary the blinks really are as I watched her snuggle and sway gently with her gorgeous baby girl in her arms. I blinked and she grew into a beautiful wife and mother and I could almost feel the joy and the happiness come from that little families end of the pew. God flooded my heart with joy and my eyes with tears and reminded me that the blinks are beautiful and with each one; with each stage that passes, we get another chance to see the great things he does in our lives. I made sure to say a prayer for all the beautiful blinks and the blessings that followed.
A Seed To Plant: Time isn’t meant to stand still…God is constantly working, so instead of feeling things have passed you by, look at what he’s done and hope for the beautiful things to come.
Blessings on your day!
“May the Lord repay every man for his righteousness and his faithfulness…” 1 Samuel 26:23
Growing up, we had a neighbor who was one of the dearest, sweetest souls God sent to earth. We loved her so much that my brothers and I called her Grandma Marge. We weren’t related to her, but we sure were connected at the heart. Grandma Marge knew heartache, she knew injustice and she knew sadness. She also knew and loved the Lord with a fire and a passion so what bubbled from her soul was joy and laughter and a wisdom that could see right through you. She lived a wee bit more than a century and that keen wit, sweet heart and wisdom shined like a light right to the end. Grandma Marge was a master at noticing and teaching my brothers and I lessons with very few words.
Grandma Marge was one of the few people who knew that chocolate and coconut are my favorite flavors ever. I didn’t tell her it was my favorite that but she always had candy when we stopped by for a visit and I guess she noticed that was the one I always picked. I remember one day my mom sent my little brother and I over to her house to borrow some eggs. Of course we sat down for a great visit and the candy bowl was out on the table. I remember that there were circus peanuts and candied orange slices (BLECK!!!) and one of the chocolate coconut candies. I figured I was safe because my brother loved both of those awful orange candies but for some bazaar reason he ate the one I wanted. I did’t say a word and remember politely telling Grandma I wasn’t hungry. I didn’t think any more about it and after our visit she handed us the bag with the container of eggs, and we headed home. Not long after we got home, my mom called me into the kitchen to help fix supper and she told me to look in the bag from Grandma Marge. In the bottom of the bag there was a little brown sack with a note and 3 chocolate coconut candies. The note said, “I’m not the only one who notices when you do a good thing. Love, Grandma Marge”
Her note seems to scream a very relevant thought right about now. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has heard and seen the craziness in our country lately and I’m also sure I’m not the only one who has felt sick to my stomach and cried and prayed sometimes feeling numb with disbelief and dismay. We’ve absolutely been called to fall to our knees and pray but I’ve been feeling like it’s just not enough. I’ve been wondering how to make our nation collectively take a deep breath and begin again honestly, kindly, prayerfully and justly. Late last week I asked God, what in the heck can I do? As I sat quietly waiting for a nudge or a thought my mind went racing back to that note from Grandma Marge.
I can’t control a single person. I have no influence over anyone in power. I am not eloquent and persuasive. All I can do is share God’s truth and slather everything in prayer, but yet I was feeling so inadequate until her note reminded me of the truth. God notices when you do a good thing. God sees his faithful, especially amongst a see of unfaithfulness. Thank goodness we aren’t judged in groups or by city, state or nation. He sees us each as his beautiful child and he will notice our deeds and actions. That note from several decades ago brought me peace in my turmoil. I pondered all of it for a few days and wondered if being faithful myself was enough, and, as usual, God gave me a wink of encouragement last night. I am taking a fabulous class about Scripture and as we were wrapping up our discussion on the book of Judges which is a story of one destructive, bloody, devastating battle after another the teacher reminded us that God recognizes the faithful in all times and circumstances. Grandma Marge was right, she wasn’t the only one who noticed things.
A Seed To Plant: Write the words BE FAITHFUL on some sticky notes or cards and scatter them as a reminder that our job on this earth no matter what the chaos around us is pretty simple!
Blessings on your day!
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not swerve from it. Proverbs 22:6
Things aren’t always what they seem. More often than I’d like to admit, I get things all settled in my mind only to realize I’ve seen it completely from the wrong perspective. The world can be pretty clear about what, who and how we should be and it’s pretty easy to slide right into that groove. God really wanted my attention and he got it, as I took a lesson from a mom about my age with a tall son named Kevin. Coincidence; not at all, God doesn’t do coincidence…he does; I love you so shut up and pay attention!
At first glance, her Kevin looked like a regular, tall handsome looking young man in his mid 20’s, just like my Kevin. But after just a few seconds, I realized he wasn’t the same at all. Her Kevin had the cognitive abilities of a seven year old and they were at the airport just watching planes take off because it was his favorite thing to do and it was their weekly Saturday morning date. I remember feeling sad and wondered if they ever felt cheated out of the things most of us take for granted. After hearing her story, I realized I was looking at things through a cloudy lens.
The mom talked about how her son was the greatest teacher of faith and all things good she could have ever imagined. When he was born, she worried about all the things he’d miss. As he got older she realized how lucky he was, and how lucky she was to be his mom. She shared that he was always up at dawn to go to a job at a workplace for people with disabilities and he approached each work day with such contentment and peace. He always finishes what he starts, delights in helping with any task, not because it’s important or hard or prestigious but because it’s helping someone and he feels accomplishment simply because it’s completed.
Her son has an innate sense of truth and trust. He doesn’t lie; it isn’t in his nature or ability. He trusts and prays with unshakable faith. He finds delight in tasks like doing the laundry and vacuuming the house. He realizes it’s helpful and productive and that brings him joy. He has no concern for fashion or material goods. He enjoys the simplicity of watching birds, planes and anything in nature. When he sees something beautiful or exciting in nature he always says, “Thank you God, I really liked seeing that!” He is capable of only goodness and sees each new day, even though it will be a repeat of the one before it, as a new and exciting gift from God.
Every parent worries about their child. We want them to be happy, to find a good job, to have enough money to enjoy life, to have a good education or training. We want them to be good and kind and mostly, we want them to get to heaven. Kevin’s mom said she sees all those things in her son every single day. She admitted that he takes a different kind of time and love than his siblings but he’s the child she worries about least because he, by nature, is saintly and lives without the temptations and sin that can put a wedge between us and the Father’s plan. That is the ultimate peace for a mothers soul she shared.
That encounter left me with a changed mama heart. I realize how many things I pray for in regard to my children. I pray for passed tests and high cattle prices and job promotions. I pray for their friendships, future spouses and their happiness. If I’m being truthful, I pray so hard and so often for things to be easy and peaceful for them. I will probably still pray for all those things but I realize I haven’t seen the whole picture and I thank Kevin’s mom for teaching me that those aren’t the greatest hopes to have for our children. I will pray a lot more for my children’s contentment, for their joy, for their peacefulness and for their ability to resist the noise of the world and more clearly hear the voice of the Father guiding them on the path he has planned for them.
A Seed To Plant: Spend some time thinking about the ways you pray for your children, godchildren, grandchildren of nieces and nephews. Decide if perhaps your prayers for them need a new perspective.
Blessings on your day!
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