Yet it was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured…Isaiah 53:4
Happy Holy Week. I LOVE this week. It’s holy and sacred, which means “set apart”. But as I type on the first day of the week I have to ask myself, what will I set it apart for? How will it be different? Jesus and his extravagant love already made it holy but how will I honor that? As I’ve been preparing for this week I asked myself those questions and the Father sent some very simple ideas in response. Today I share those with you and invite you to set apart this week, don’t let it slip by and be ordinary, invite Jesus to make it holy in a way only he and you can.
*Switch R’s! This week go from RUSH to REST. Nowhere in Scripture does it say, “Come rush with me!” Jesus didn’t rush…he went about things in a purposeful, deliberate fashion. He noticed things along the way and he often stopped to rest and pray. This week, find some time to rest…with Jesus, not Netflix.
*Join Ignatius! Who? St. Ignatius of Loyola is known for his passion for imaginative prayer and Scripture reading. Fr. Mark Toups of Ascension Presents has a great 10 minute imaginative prayer meditation about putting yourself in the Garden with Jesus. Go to YouTube and look for Fr. Mark Toups, What Makes Holy Week Holy. It’s a gift you want to give yourself!
*Get your Liturgy on! Go to Mass on Holy Thursday…we’ve all got stuff to wash from our feet and our heart so imagine yourself at the last supper being tenderly cleansed and fed by Jesus. Be there on Friday, not to re-live the brutality but to face the truth of of how much you are loved and how great the sacrifice that was made on your behalf. On Easter, celebrate not only Jesus’ resurrection but your own…what are the things he can help you “rise from” in your life…take those and offer them to him and share in his Glory!
*Give the Gifts! This week shower someone with love for no particular reason. Allow the Father to wash away the guilt of sin you carry in your heart. As Jesus fed us at the Last Supper, reach out and feed someone this week; a neighbor, a shelter or a food pantry. Easter brings the promise of new life, share that promise with someone who is struggling, pray for them, take them flowers, send a message…just reach out to offer hope and joy so they might see His light in their darkness.
One final thought this Holy Week comes compliments of a gentleman who shared the most powerful sermon he ever heard. He told me during a Holy Week long ago the priest had the shortest, most heart changing sermon he’d ever heard and it has stuck with him for many, many Holy Week’s since. He said the priest asked them to picture Jesus on the road to Calvary. Imagine him after one of his falls and as he struggles to get up imagine him making eye contact with you. As his eyes lock on yours, imagine him saying, “It’s ok, I’m doing this for you!”
A Seed To Plant: Sit with the short sermon and the suggestions above and ask Jesus to lead you into a week that is truly “set apart”.
Blessings on your day!
I have brushed away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like a mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you. Isaiah 44:22
A couple weeks ago my grandson, Lewis was baptized. It was such a great day and I took lots of pictures. I was on my way to Oklahoma City last week to do a training and as I sat in the airport preparing, I found the perfect picture to teach a tough lesson for us to truly understand.
It’s hard for us to accept the love of our Father in Heaven. We have a tendency to think that when God looks at us, he sees the sum total of all our mistakes and sinfulness. We know he loves us but we can’t quite grasp how much. As I was thinking about how to use this verse from Isaiah and teach the absolute love of the Father, my phone buzzed. I answered the text and decided to look at pictures of Mr. Lewis, which is my new favorite thing to do! I was scrolling through the Baptism pictures and zoomed in on one photo where in the midst of all the commotion, Lewis was looking straight up at his daddy and Jason was looking straight down at Lewis. Their gaze was locked and each of them had a look of complete adoration on their face. Lewis looked up with trust and love and Jason looked down with pride and complete and perfect love. That picture perfectly captured what it’s really like when we turn to our Father and he looks down on his children. I added that picture to the training and it was met with a powerful response because it’s a truth we all needed to see in living color.
I was chatting with some friends about this picture yesterday and one of my friends, a mom of young boys added to the story. She said that one of her sons had lost his temper and hit her on the arm while calling her “mean mom”. Quite a while later he came to her feeling very sad and gave her a hug and apologized for what he’d done. She told us she had already forgotten all about it and gone on with her day but she was so struck by how deeply it bothered him and how quickly she had dismissed it because it was just a “toddler moment” for her son. We laughed as we stood there thinking about how different God’s perspective really is. There are so many times we do things he really doesn't like but they aren’t permanent marks etched in his memory to be dredged up every time he thinks of us.
As we finish out this last week of Lent and head into Holy Week, it seems like the perfect time to ponder what the Father really sees when he looks at us. Imagine his gaze and soak up his love and mercy.
A Seed To Plant: Spend some time in prayer asking the Father to help you see how much he loves you.
Blessings on your day!
“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.” Blessed Mother Teresa
Now there is a Lenten challenge! There is just some advice that needs to be followed and this power-packed tidbit from Mother Theresa begs to be heeded. I shared this quote during prayer with the middle lovelies last week and they all agreed it would make the world a whole lot better but then one very honest young man said, “But man Mrs. Wohlfert, that’s just so hard to do.” I told him I agreed completely!
This quote has been heavy on my mind for several days and I’ve discovered it’s much easier to live these words when you’re in control of the situation and interactions are pleasant. When I really thought about it hard I was pretty good at living this challenge; I would slow down, look people in the eyes when they spoke and be still until they were finished with the conversation. It seemed a bit awkward at first but after a few days it became more second nature. I was feeling pretty good about it until that situation I hadn’t planned for; you know the ones that catch you by surprise and tilt you off your balance. I had one of those situations this weekend and I totally blew it…I was frazzled and almost instantly I reacted and it wasn’t a reaction that matched the quote! I wasn’t the Wicked Witch of the West or anything but as I replayed the event I realized my reaction was based on selfishness and pride. A few hours later I was still really heavy hearted about the whole thing so I stopped to pray about it. (I don’t know why I always wait so long to do that!) After just a few seconds of quiet prayer it was very clear that I needed to apologize. I needed to call myself out on the selfishness and pride. I needed to admit that I was thinking of myself first and others second and I had to admit that I hadn’t left anyone better or happier with my snappy reaction. The more I tried to talk myself out of it, the more I realized I needed to do it and do it soon. After a giant gulp of pride with a huge serving of humble pie on the side, I made the apology and shared the story of my failure to live out this quote. The apology was graciously accepted and thankfully my reaction was a much bigger deal in my mind than in actuality!
The funny thing about the whole situation…I was the one who left feeling happier and better. Crazy, I thought that was the gift I was going to give; not the one I was going to get. God is good and lesson learned…for today anyway! Thank goodness God expects progress not perfection!
A Seed To Plant: Make it your goal this week to live this verse. Think about the people it will be easiest and hardest to live it with and then ask God to bless your attempts.
Blessings on your day!
The Selection Sunday show signaled the beginning of March Madness. As Covid has changed most everything we know, it’s good to see some familiar things come back. I’m offering a re-post from a great March of the past. It’s a reminder that this pandemic won’t last forever and that very often, the kids are the ones teaching the adults. Plus, I think all of our hearts can use a dose of happy!
…do good works… Ephesians 2:10
Every now and again life unfolds a fabulous event right before your eyes and you get a front row seat to something completely wonderful. During the past week the people of our community were a part of PW schools basketball history. For the second time in the school’s history, a boys’ team made it to the state finals. The venue for the final two games (The MSU Breslin Center) was the icing on the cake for every young man on the team who grew up wanting to be an MSU Spartan. It was a great run that ended with a State Runner-Up trophy but the events that made this an amazing week honestly have very little to do with the trophy awarded at the end of the final game.
As the Pirates advanced to the Quarterfinals and beyond, a few of the little lovelies asked during Morning Prayer if they could pray for the team to win. I repeated a line from a good friend who always says “I don’t think God really care about sports; He wants us to use all of our gifts and talents in the best way we can.” So instead of praying to win, we prayed that the players would do good works and play to honor God. That’s exactly what they did but they might not even realize all the lessons they taught this week. Many folks will say it’s just a game; life is about many more important things than shooting an orange ball through a hoop. They may be right but this group of young men and their coaches demonstrated so much more both on and off the court. Their attitude, behavior and discipleship is a story that needs to be told. For those readers close to home, it’s a review of all we were taught and for those of you far away, it’s a story to lift your spirit and inspire you to “be Christ” in all things.
Lesson 1 – Bloom where you are planted! Being a small school in a rural area, the players you have are the players you build a team with! There is nobody to recruit or nobody picking us as a school of choice, we field a team with the boys that were born here…period. The boys on this team have been playing together for 6 to 9 years. They learned to build on each other’s strengths, work hard and hold each other accountable for making the most of their talents. They learned the value of supporting each other and accepting each other for exactly who they are.
Lesson 2 – Humility is impressive, inspiring and it never goes out of fashion. No matter what the score or the outcome these young men were gracefully humble. They reminded us that humility is demonstrated because it is expected, not because it is earned or deserved.
Lesson 3 – The best way to thank God for a talent is to share it with compassion! Each year the team goes to play a game with the students at a school for the physically and mentally challenged. Most of the boys on the team will say it’s their favorite game of the season. This year several of those special students were at the semifinal game to support their Pirate buddies. At the end of the game, two of my favorite Pirates climbed up into the stands to find this group of special students who had come to cheer them on. They went to this section first, before finding their parents or their girlfriends or friends in the student section. The parents of one of these players told me nothing their son could do on the court could ever make them prouder than what he did after the game. When a reporter asked why that had been their first stop after the game he replied, "We just had to go up there and show ‘em some love and thank them for comin’ out to support us!” In the wise words of the coach, “It’s about doing something for someone who can’t do anything for you in return.” Thank you Pirates for demonstrating that reminder in living color. It was so very Christ like of you.
Lesson 4 – It has been said that a nation’s goodness can be judged by the way it treats it’s young and it’s old. This teams enthusiasm, talent, sportsmanship and Christianity gave a small town a chance to come together and grow in goodness. Not many small town teams could gather enough support to fill hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of seats in a Big 10 college coliseum. People from our communities and several neighboring towns bought tickets and rallied behind some great young men…that was a fine sight to see. Thanks for giving us a chance to practice treating our young with support and respect.
Lessons 5- Never miss a chance to do something good for kids; someday they will be in charge and they need to see how things should be done. To the anonymous donor who paid for the game ticket for every Pewamo elementary student, thank you just isn’t a big enough word! To the neighboring school to our North, thank you for lending us school busses to get all the kids to the game. True generosity is beautifully touching and it was modeled so clearly nobody could miss it!
Lesson 6 – In life we face challenges but there are also celebrations and times of great happiness; neither is intended to last forever. After the biggest week of his life, another of my favorite Pirates had to get up Sunday morning long before dawn to milk cows and his very wise father reminded him that life is like that…times of great excitement are always followed by a sudden burst of reality. God is eager to meet us in both places!
Lesson 7 – Thankfulness and praising the Giver of all gifts is the most important thing. Not many public school teams have a Catholic priest bless them before games and then sit behind the bench cheering and praying over them during the most important game of their high school career. They realized his role in helping them remember to play for God’s glory and not their own.
It may be just a game with an orange ball and a hoop; but for several hundred people from the middle of Michigan’s mitten…it was much much more! God bless the Pirates and we thank you for your humility, sportsmanship and your excellent example of Christ inspired behavior both on and off the court. Thank you for bringing us together! Many will remember this as the year of the winter that wouldn’t end…but we will also remember it as the year the students became the teachers of some great lessons!
A Seed To Plant: Take a lesson from the coach this week and share or do something with someone who can’t do anything back for you.
Blessings on your day!
A contrite and humble heart, O God, you will not spurn. Psalm 51:98
So here we are just past the half way point of Lent. Remember the passion and commitment burning in your heart on Ash Wednesday? How is it now? For some, the fire is still burning, perhaps for others things haven’t taken quite the same path you planned a few weeks ago. No matter where you are right now, we have a few weeks to finish strong and head into Holy Week with a greater peace, hope and joy. I have come across a few Lenten nuggets of thought as I’ve payed my way through the first half of Lent. Some are an inspiration and some a straight up whacks to the side of the head. I thought I’d share some of them with you so you can ponder and pray on them too.
*Lent is about grace. God knows that we will fall short in our Lenten penances. That’s why Jesus endured his passion and death. If we could do it on our own, Christ died for nothing.
*Jesus in not calling us to perfect outcome when it comes to loving others. But when we stop seeing people as problems and start seeing them as pearls we can be sure that we are beginning to love them.
*God will pardon a repentant sinner more quickly than a mother would snatch her child out of the fire. St. John Vianney
*We must forgive all the time. We must forgive everyone. We must forgive even when we think we cant.
*A quiet presence in the life of someone struggling is better than a lengthy speech.
*Lord, use me to reveal your love to today.
*Lord close my mouth and calm my heart when I lose my patience and arguments begin to bubble up around me.
*Gluttony crowds God’s spirit and envy eats joy.
*Lord help me trade ego for empathy and help me remember humility and humiliation are not the same thing.
A Seed To Plant: Pick one of the nuggets from the list above and spend a few days praying with it and see where the Holy Spirit leads you.
Blessings on your day!
I keep my eyes always on the Lord. Psalm 16:8
I was doing a presentation not long ago and a woman came up during the lunch break with a question about something she heard. She said she had gotten part of the quote but didn’t catch the end so she wanted me to help her fill in the blanks. When she laid down her notebook I was stunned to discover she had been furiously taking notes all morning in shorthand! I could hardly believe my eyes. She smirked and said it was so much faster and good for her memory; she couldn’t understand why nobody used shorthand anymore. It made me wonder how many other things seemed like the greatest idea at the time but faded away as time passed by; I thought of a few.
L’eggs pantyhose plastic eggs…those things were huge! I tried to use them as Easter eggs one year when the boys were little but it took nearly a pound of M&M’s to fill one up. They were creative and a great marketing idea but considering the fact that a pair of pantyhose only lasts about a day, I wonder where all those eggs are now.
Extra-long telephone cords…you know, the ones that let you walk into the next room to talk in private on your party line.
Tapes…8-Track, Cassette, VHS; each one started its own entertainment revolution but they’ve all become obsolete...even if you’re still hanging on to a BeeGee’s 8-track or a Bruce Springsteen Born in the USA cassette there’s no way to play it.
Self-correcting electric typewriters…wow those were a great invention even if I never could figure out how to change those little orange doodads that held the correction tape.
At the risk of making myself seem ancient I’m going to stop there. Why do I bring all this stuff up for heaven’s sake? Simple, each of those things took the world by surprise and by storm. Each offered a glimpse of something better and more modern. They were really good ideas developed by smart people but their usefulness expired and they were replaced by the next great idea. For some people that’s sad, for others it’s a chance to celebrate and embrace the next best thing. When you get right down to it though, it’s really a lesson in rolling with change and finding our constants. I know it’s easy to get all tangled up in progress and change but things are gonna come and go as fast as an 8-track tape so is it really worth the fuss and wasted energy pouting about the good ole days…back when things were simple? I think the more out of focus and crazy our lives get the easier it is to drift backwards and think those simpler times would solve everything. The truth of the matter is we’re kidding ourselves if we think a ringer washers or a car with a trunk the size of a soccer field is going to fix anything.
It isn’t about the era or the invention, it’s about the focus and our focus can get pretty out of whack. We need to remember it isn’t the changing stuff that creates the problem; it’s about fussin over the stuff instead of hitching our focus firmly around the one thing that will NEVER change and that is our Good, Good Father. He’s so much bigger than changing technology, appliances and fashions. We have to believe faithfulness to him will never go out of style, will always fit and will always be just the perfect thing for the job. We worry a lot about being “in style” but if you think something old, like shorthand makes sense don’t be afraid to use it but remember that the Good Lord has never cared about progress and technology and fashion, he simply cares about our hearts so don’t let the stuff get in the way.
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of things that take your focus from the Lord; lift it up to him and ask him to show you how to see more clearly.
Blessings on your day!
Even now," declares the LORD, "return to me with all your heart…” Joel 2:12
Lent is always a perfect time to do a little extra spiritual reading and this Lent I dived into a great read. The book is Mary’s Mantle Consecration by Christine Watkins. It’s a beautiful daily read about the virtues and Gifts of the Spirit. A few days ago the reading was about meekness and it really touched my heart.
We can easily associate meek with weak or doormat. You might think being meek means just hanging back quietly and letting the world happen around you but I didn’t realize what a key to growing in holiness it truly is. I’d like to share a few meekness nuggets to pray and ponder on.
*To be meek is to be a spiritual rock.
*To be meek is to submit to the Divine Will (not our own)
A Seed To Plant: Read the list again and pray about what relationships or areas of your life do you most need to grow in meekness.
Blessings on your day!
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