…My grace is sufficient for you…2 Corinthians 12:9
I read an article once about a family that had a special tradition. Each time someone got something new, they had to give something away to make room for it. To tell you the truth, I thought that sounded a little crazy at first. As the days passed, I continued to think about that family, I realized that they understood the concept of “enough”.
We live in a world that has us programmed for bigger, better, faster, easier and over the top. It seems like those concepts apply to everything from the size of our living room TV to the speed of our technology. It’s no wonder we as a society have lost track of the concept of “enough” and have become a restless people. We worry about investments, savings accounts, college funds and retirement plans. The pressure of getting, keeping and managing all of our “stuff” is stressful! I’d like to suggest that we all “back up the truck” and think for a minute about enough.
In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul was trying to explain that God and His loving grace is sufficient, or enough. When we make our list of what we need or what we want, how often do we remember to take inventory of God’s graces and blessings? Do we need 15 pairs of shoes, 20 outfits and a bigger TV, or do we have enough? Could it be that what we really need is to spend more time building a relationship with the Father and trusting in His goodness, compassion and grace? Do you suppose a bigger chunk of our day spent connecting with God will make us more successful and comfortable than money and things?
God loves us and wants us to be happy but He doesn’t want us to lose track of the important things in life. He is the designer of generosity and He wants to bless us with good things, but He encourages us to trust in Him and realize that He is enough…the rest will fall into place as long as we have Him.
A seed to plant: Make a list of the things you have “enough” of, then find ten things you have more than enough of and share them with those who don’t have enough.
Blessings on your day!
Do all things without grumbling or complaining Philippians 2:14
Some things just go together like peanut butter and jelly or salt and pepper and we often see things in pairs that simply make sense. In relationships they say opposites attract and that seems sensible and pretty easy to defend but what about those things that just don’t seem to go together at all but yet sometimes intersect? Last week we had two nights of softball and snow or softball and 30 pounds of clothes and blankets to protect ourselves from the wind and the freezing rain. It was the perfect example of two things that don’t belong together at all but spring in Michigan seems to toss that combination together pretty regularly. As I bundled up for the third such outing in a week I began to wonder how I could make the yucky combination more fun. After just a little thought it came to me and made me smile.
When the weather is nasty and the devoted parents huddle together to stay warm and cheer on their daughters there is a sense of bonding that can only come from laughing at each other for doing such ridiculous things to support our kids. It dawned on me that there were groups of parents watching baseball and track huddled and shivering just like us and it made me giggle. It’s nuts but it made me realize how much we love our kids. I wouldn’t sit on cold aluminum bleachers and shiver for anybody else but my kids and why do we do it? Because we love them and we want to support them whether they are on the field or in the dugout. As I sat there wondering if the kids we support appreciate it I realized that didn’t even really matter.
I’m sure Jesus has done things that were way more uncomfortable for me than sitting out in the cold watching a ball game and I’m not sure I always show him my appreciation. I guess the truth of the matter is Jesus’ love and my behaviors aren’t always a compatible combination. I don’t always respond with enthusiasm or dedication and I certainly don’t give him all the attention and priority he deserves. I suppose supporting those we love even when it’s uncomfortable is an opportunity to serve him and grow in holiness. I hope I will be able to remember that the next time I have a chance to put someone else’s needs and comfort ahead of mine.
I wonder what my life would be like if I made the combination of gratefulness and holiness more important than comfort and convenience? I’m going to work really hard to try out some great new combinations and maybe if I do it right, I will come out of it all walking a little closer to the Jesus I love.
A Seed To Plant: Pick one negative thing this week you can complete without complaint or concern for your personal comfort or convenience…see where it leads your heart.
His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever He tells you.” John 2:5
Would everyone who ever had a mother look into their eyes and say, “Just do it… because I said so!”, please stand up. If you are a reader who follows directions, you’re probably now reading this post standing up! Somewhere early in mamma school the women in my mother’s generation learned how to say that phrase with such authority and strength it was simply a conversation stopper! When my mom launched that phrase from her lips it was a done deal…mamma said do it…case closed! Lucky for me, my mother passed on the talent. As I fast forward lots of years I have said those same words to my own children at the end of a debate I had to come out the winner of. It’s like the motherhood trump card…do it because I said so!
Why is it so powerful…why does it work…why do we say it? I think the first thing that makes it so powerful is that it’s biblical…if Mary, the mother of Jesus could use the line successfully all mother (and fathers) should be encouraged to use it too! I think it works because it’s simple and I think we say it because we love our children and we know what’s best for them. Mary’s words had a deeper meaning; they were an invitation to the servers to be a part of something amazing that was about to happen. Mamma Mary knew great things were about to begin with her son…she knew best that night so she used those powerful words and the servants at that wedding did what they were instructed because Jesus’ mother “said so!”
Those words from John’s Gospel have a strong tie to our lives even today. We are the servers…we are those called to be Christ’s hands and feet on earth. We are called to live and spread the Gospel message so Mary’s words are as relevant to us today as they were to the servers in Cana the night Jesus performed his first miracle. Our mothers told us to “do what they said” because they knew there was more to the situation than we could see. Mary knew that too. Mary knows that still. Whenever we hear the words in this Gospel message, we should be reminded to “do whatever He tells us”. That really is our job…to do whatever He tells us. He has every last detail about our life sealed in His heart why wouldn’t we listen and obey? We are a stubborn people. Lucky for us, Mary reminds us through this verse to do whatever Jesus tells us, and even luckier for us, because of God’s great love and wisdom, we are invited back again and again to try to do it the right way…the way He tells us.
A Seed To Plant: Before you go to bed tonight, recall a situation where you didn’t “Do whatever He said”. Think about the outcome of that situation and prayerfully sleep on it. Tomorrow morning pick one tricky or difficult area in your life and specifically ask God to help “do whatever He tells you”.
Blessings on your day!
Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17
Nearly four years ago Kevin graduated from high school and I remember that day clear as a bell for several different reasons. I remember it being a beautiful spring day complete with a mammas smiles, tears and pride. I also remember that when the party had been cleaned up and the sun was starting to set Dave and I plopped down in the living room and turned on the Tigers but every channel we turned to contained scenes from the tornado that had chewed up Joplin Missouri. We watched in shock as they showed scenes of the destruction nature had unfolded on that south-west Missouri town. It was one of the most destructive natural disasters ever. I remember contacting friends in south-east Kansas the next day to see if it had been as bad at the news made it seem and they assured me it was worse. I remember wondering how a town really ever recovers from something so devastating. I remember praying for weeks for the people in that area but then the thought began to drift away and then it seems I forgot about it completely; until this past weekend that is.
Last Thursday night I flew to Joplin to speak at a conference and it all came flooding back as the plane began to touch down. I wasn’t sure what I would see. I wasn’t sure how a place could recover from something so devastating. To say that I was overwhelmed and amazed with what I saw would be the understatement of the century. Joplin was new; it was beautiful, it was incredible. Everywhere I looked it was new buildings, sidewalks, roads, homes. I went to mass in the most amazing new church I’ve ever seen, complete with a new Catholic School and Parish outreach complex. The hospital that had been destroyed was replaced with a huge, state of the art complex that was up and running and in the business of bringing life, saving life and changing lives. All of that progress in less than four years. Everyone I spoke with in Joplin credits the Mercy and Grace of a loving God for the healing and the progress of their town after that fateful day four May’s ago. They tell about many children being interviewed after the tornado and clearly describing the angels who wrapped them in their wings to protect them as the storm raged around them. Each person who told me about that night spoke about the triumph of faith, love and compassion. Not once did I hear a tale of woe, complaint or bitterness, each story focused on the miraculously happy ending and the after effects of deeper faith, restored spirits and confidence in the complete and trustworthy presence of God and his infinite goodness, grace and mercy.
I spent the weekend with some amazing women of faith gathered in Joplin from towns all across Southern Missouri. It was a weekend of laughter, joy and sharing the amazing gift of discipleship. I was invited to teach, inspire and ignite a fire for Christ but these women and the people of Joplin I spoke with during my stay were the ones who did those things for me. I packed my bags and caught a flight prepared to give; instead, I received. When I told people I wanted to share a tiny slice of their story they told me to invite you to take a trip to Joplin if you were ever interested in witnessing miracles too many to count.
A Seed To Plant: Join me in prayers of thanksgiving for the gift of God’s mercy and grace.
Blessings on your day!
…“You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him while we were asleep.’…Matthew 28:12
During the weeks since Easter I have been spending some time reading the story. As I was reading in the last chapter of Matthew’s gospel I got to verse 11 and wanted to yell, “Liar, Liar pants on fire!” It’s hard to believe the enemies of Jesus even tried to lie about something as astounding and beautiful as the resurrection. As I continued to read all I could think was; Wow…talk about an action packed story! This short Gospel has it all, epic drama, suspense, grief, jubilation, surprise, deceit, bribery and a splendid victorious hero! It’s a story of loyalty, love, dishonesty and the ultimate triumph of truth! Truth is a beautiful thing and we serve the God of truth.
Growing up the thing my dad held in highest regard was telling the truth, he considered truthfulness to be the most accurate mirror of a person’s character. He would often tell my brothers and me that one lie always ties itself to another and before long you could find yourself lying when the truth world fit better. That’s exactly what happened to the chief priests. How could anybody believe a small group of sorrowful and brokenhearted men appeared in the dark, rolled away an enormous stone and snuck off with Jesus’ body all without waking the team of soldiers assigned to guard the tomb? As Christians we know the truth fits better!
Sometimes Christ speaks truth to us and in our hearts we can be a little like the chief priests. Sometimes God’s truth is tough, especially when living it requires difficult change. The laws and truths of our faith are clear and often difficult to follow and we try to wriggle our way around them. Thank goodness we are loved by an Amazing Father who says to us, just as he said to the Mary’s in the garden that morning, “Do not be afraid.” He wants to lead us lovingly to his truth…his whole truth which offers the promise of eternal salvation.
A Seed To Plant: What are some truths you are struggling with? The Mary’s in this Gospel were fearful and overjoyed. In prayer today, ask God to guide you through the fear and lead you to the great joy and freedom found only through living completely in his truth.
Blessings on your day!
Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:11
I’m sitting here typing as the last load of laundry finishes and the empty bags are ready to be taken back to the attic. The Wohlfert’s and 21 good friends had a wonderful week sharing a house at the beach in Destin Florida. As I manage to get back into the routine of normal life I can’t help but ponder a few things. Once again the simple things in life continue to amaze and inspire me. I hope you don’t mind if I share a few lessons from the simple parts of our week.
*Green grass is beautiful. The drive south was like a painting that just came to life before my eyes. I didn’t realize how brown Michigan grass is until I watched the road side turn into a green carpet as we continued to drive. I had forgotten how beautiful green is…I’m determined to remember that when I get tired of mowing my own green lawn.
*Warm sand and cold waves are the best combination. As I walked along the warm beach it was always a little shocking to get splashed with the cold waves that would wash in and surprise me. I wondered how many times surprising combinations appeared and I was too busy to notice. I get so used to seeing things in predictable patterns I forget the joy that comes from being surprised.
*Nine girls laughing, dancing and talking all at once is a beautiful sound…at any hour. I was reminded how deafening silence can be when compared to the sound of laughter and fun created by people who truly enjoy each other’s company. The noisy house made me realize how fast time flies and how quickly precious moments pass. I’ll remember that the kind of racket friends make together is far more valuable than sleep or peace…the sound of friendship is a beautiful thing!
*Everything is better when shared with friends including cooking and dishes! Friends are a treasure that counteracts the things in life that aren’t so great! Take time to foster friendships because they truly add sweetness to life!
*Being still is underrated and underdone! I sorted more things out in my head and my heart through quiet prayer this week than I have in a very long time. I think I need to take a serious look at the number of things I jam into my days because that still and quiet prayer stuff was amazing!
*God thinks of everything, he loves to surprise us with His love and mercy and He reveals himself in such amazing ways like beautiful scenery, happy laughter, sweet reminders of those we love, beautiful churches, friendly strangers and sweet GPS voices that get you out of traffic jams. He’s the best!
It was a wonderful week with fabulous people in a beautiful place…thank you God!
A Seed To Plant: Find a way to connect with something simple and perhaps overlooked in your day and spend some quiet time enjoying it and thanking God for it.
Blessings on your day!
For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son. John 3:16
We live in a world where big, loud, fast and complex are often the order of business but if you were in Westphalia Michigan Monday night you witnessed a group of 6th graders flip that philosophy right on its ear! It’s a tradition at St. Mary School for the 6th graders to reenact the Stations of the Cross during Holy Week. This year instead of doing a live action, costumed portrayal of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ in the church, the entire performance was done behind a white curtain on the gym stage completely in shadow. It was simple, profound and prayerful. The drama was tied together with powerful meditations and contemporary Christian music. The middle lovelies did an amazing job! The focus, quiet and humility of the “new way” was a Lenten Sacrifice for the middle lovelies but it was one that brought tremendous blessings to everyone who came.
When the white backlight turned to red and Jesus dropped his head and died, the crowd heard Chris Tomlin sing, “His love ran red” and I recalled some words written by St. Thomas Aquinas. He said that the Crucifixion was the perfect exemplification of the Beatitudes. Fr. Robert Barron offered a beautiful teaching on those words as he stood at the foot of the Isenheim Altarpiece painted by Matthias Grunawald. His teaching contained some amazing points to ponder and after being so moved by what the middle lovelies allowed us to feel it seems like the perfect time to pass on some crucifixion wisdom compliments of Fr. Robert Barron and St. Thomas Aquinas. If you would like to draw closer to Christ this Holy Week we must despise what Christ himself despised on the cross and love what He loved on the cross.
The things Jesus hated on the cross are the things we usually seek to find happiness. We seek wealth; Jesus had nothing. We seek pleasure; Jesus was at the physical and spiritual limit of suffering. We seek power; Jesus had none, he was nailed to the cross with no power to even move his limbs. The fourth thing we seek is honor; Jesus certainly had none as the crowd mocked, jeered and tormented him. He so clearly hated all those things we spend so much time searching for. You might wonder what could there possibly have been for Jesus to love as he hung on the cross. The answer to that question is quite simple; Jesus LOVED doing the will of his Father!
I watched with tear-filled eyes as the 6th grade middle lovelies brought each event of the last hours Jesus spent on earth to life with emotion and prayerfulness. I was amazed at the gift I had been given as a Child of God and a beloved daughter of Jesus and as the teacher of such a beautiful group of kids. I’m overwhelmed and grateful! We make things so complicated so the greatest thing we can do to prepare for the events of Good Friday and the joy of Easter Sunday is to slow down, pause to ponder the amazing gift we’ve been given and mediate on the love of the Savior who so dearly loves us!
A Seed To Plant: Take some time this week to google and gaze at the Isenheim Altarpiece and listen to Chris Tomlin’s At the Cross Love Ran Red or Kari Jobe’s What Love Is This. I guarantee your heart will be changed.
Blessings on your day!
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