But not the wicked, they are like chaff which the wind drives away. Psalm 1:4
One of the fond memories I have of growing up in Hoyt was the huge garden we planted every spring. My Dad always had (and still has) one of the most beautiful gardens in town. One of the things I enjoyed most from our garden was the popcorn. Dad had an old flywheel corn sheller we used to take the popcorn off the cob. After we finished that job, he would set a window fan on a stool and slowly pour the popcorn from one bucket to another in front of the fan to blow out the chaff. When I came across this Psalm not long ago, I couldn’t help but remember those days on the back patio watching the white chaff blow into the green grass making it look like a December snow.
Everyone in our house loved popcorn so helping with the planting and harvesting was no big chore because we knew how much we’d enjoy the fruits of our labor! When helping dad blow away the chaff, my job was to hold the bottom bucket still so it didn’t spill. As I knelt there on the patio carefully doing my assigned task, I remember asking why we had to blow that stuff out. I wondered why we had to go to all that fuss if the stuff didn’t have any flavor or didn’t cause any harm…seemed like extra work to me! Dad tolerated my chatter and my dozens of questions patiently but when I was persistent about the chaff he had to come up with something to shut me up! I still remember what he said. His reply was simple enough to make sense to a child and practical enough to stick to my mind like glue for decades. He said, “Chaff is useless; it has no purpose and no reason to be in the popcorn. If we don’t blow it away, it clumps up in the popper and prevents the popcorn from popping right. It may seem little and light and harmless but we have to get it out of the popcorn or it ruins everything.”
How many things that distract and discourage us could be considered chaff? How many things do we fuss and worry over that really have no purpose other than to clump up our hearts? I’m guessing we could all use a good driving wind to whip through our life and drive away the chaff. Maybe we have someone we need to forgive; maybe we have an apology that needs to be made or perhaps one or two of us have some people we need to make things right with. Maybe our chaff comes from bad habits that are unhealthy or contrary to God’s plan for us. Our chaff might even come from selfishness that could be standing between us and a great blessing from our Loving Father. I suppose to stretch the wisdom of my dad, chaff is anything that fills our thoughts and hearts that is useless and has no purpose in helping us love the Father who created us. Now that the warmer spring breezes are beginning to blow, maybe we should all go outside and stand in the wind and ask God to drive out our chaff and get rid of the clumps that are ruining our relationship with Him.
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of the “chaff” in your life. It could be behaviors or attitudes or feelings then take the list to the Lord and stand in His driving wind to become pure and clean!
Blessings on your day!
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
2 Corinthians 3:17
Happy Memorial Day! Growing up this holiday was steeped in deep military, and religious significance. I come from a Navy family, dating back to WWII. There were very few months of interrupted service from the late 1930’s into the early 2000’s, so this day was a day to travel to cemeteries and honor those who served and those who raised and prayed for them. It’s a day we heard stories of people we’d never met. Some of those stories were fun to hear and others hurt my heart, but it was a day for remembering.
As I sit here typing, I’m grateful! I honor those who have defended our freedom and I will pray for their souls. I wasn’t going to post today, I was going to take the day off but I woke up early realizing the best way to honor those whose actions are the root of this celebration, was to practice the freedoms they defend for me; freedom of speech and freedom of religion. I think about Christians of long ago and Christians of today who have to share their faith in secret. Writing a blog like this would certainly put them in grave danger. How lucky am I to sit here twice a week and type freely about God and the beautiful ways his Son Jesus works in my life every day. I type without fear and you read without putting yourselves in danger. I don’t often consider what a privilege this work is or what a grace is is to be able to “share Jesus” so freely. Today seems like a good day to give that some thought and thanks.
A Seed To Plant: As I type and as you read, lets promise to hit the pause button and say a prayer for those this day was designed to honor, remember and thank.
Blessings on your day!
I will instruct you and show you the way you should walk, give you counsel and watch over you. Psalm 32:8
Last year the 6th grade middle lovelies started a tradition that we were happy to continue last week. They use their last all school Eucharistic Adoration to leave their younger peers with some lessons. It’s a marvelous opportunity to think back on all they’ve learned about being a Disciple of Jesus and pass on that knowledge. The little kids are great listeners and the prayer time is action packed and powerful. I thought I’d share a few little snippets of their wisdom with all of you today because they were amazing, and as a teacher, I just cried because I am so proud of them and honored to have been a part of their journey.
Lesson 1 - Be kind…even when God is the only one watching, because he is always watching. The most simple act of kindness is a smile and we can all do that.
Lesson 2 - Make good choices…life or death are the choices we have. Life choices are the ones that lead us to heaven and please God, death choices are the ones that lead us away from Jesus.
Lesson 3 - Love hard…Jesus said so. He’ll never ask us to love each other as hard as he loved us so we have a pretty easy job. Love your friends and love your enemies, thats it! Plus, he will give you the grace to do it when it's hard. When we plant the smallest seed of love God can take that seed and turn it into something huge and amazing.
Lesson 4 - Trust…God is constantly putting people in our path to help us when we stumble and loose our way but we’re usually too busy to notice it for what it is…a loving hand from God.
Lesson 5 - We are His Beloved…we need to act like we know it. We spend too much time wishing we had the gifts and talents He gave other people and we forget we have exactly the ones we need to do what he’s asking us to do.
Lesson 6 -Serve - God asks us to serve each other. Just like Jesus washed the feet of his Apostles at the last supper, we are called to care for and serve others. They chose to highlight the loving service they have seen every day by Sue, our fabulous school secretary. They even prepared a skit about a boy with a bloody nose and Sue swooping in to serve and love and help.
Lesson 7 - Be Thankful…our prayer is like a Christmas list of wishes instead of an offering of thanks and we need to change that. We have to be aware of the people, places and things God puts in our life to bring us happiness, blessings and comfort. The lovelies took this opportunity to call each teacher up by name and give them a gift and highlight one way that teacher had shown them what true discipleship looks like.
Lesson 8 - Life…respect it, protect it and value it. We are on this earth to do his work and if we give our life to him things will be perfect; not always easy, but perfect in his eyes. The only way we can truly live life well is if we keep Christ at the center of our life. In a completely tear rendering moment, all 35 of them silently flooded onto the altar and knelt around the Blessed Sacrament in a circle of prayer as a symbol of what it looks like to keep Jesus in the center of our life.
These kids are 12 and they amazed me. They have a thirst and a knowledge and a desire to draw close and hold tight to the Lord and they shared that with the whole school in a dramatic and powerful way. I just have to say once again, I have the greatest job in the world! I hope their lessons just might hit your heart today too.
A Seed To Plant: Pick one of the 8 lessons to work on as you set out on a mission to grow in holiness.
Blessings on your day!
Return to me and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. Malachi 3:7
Did you ever lose something important? It can be a real pain in the neck to stop everything and look for something we misplace. Maybe for you it’s your phone, keys or shoes, for me it’s my glasses. I’m at that lovely age where I need reading glasses. In an attempt not to waste time looking for them, I’ve purchased 5 or 6 pair from the dollar store and have them strategically placed all over the house, good plan right…not so much! I still spend too many minutes retracing my steps and trying to find a pair when I need them. I was looking for a pair the other day and I remembered the three things my dad used to say when we lost something. Sometimes he would say, “Good grief child, you’d lose your head if it wasn’t screwed on to your shoulders!” If he didn’t say that, then he would offer the following helpful tidbit, “Well, I don’t know where it is but I know you’ll find it in the last place you look!” The last really helpful thing he would say was, “Humm, I can’t imagine what happened to it since you put it right back in the proper place it came from!” I can laugh now, but when I was a little girl I didn’t find much humor in his wisdom.
Lost stuff is one thing, lost souls are quite another. When Jason was little, he was shopping with me and while I was busy looking at a stuffed rack of winter coats, he crawled inside one of the circular clothing racks and hid. I panicked when I couldn’t find him. After a few short seconds of frantically calling his name my racing heart slowed a little when he peeked his little chubby cheeks through the clothes and screamed “I’m right here mom!” I’ll never forget that feeling and the hug that came right before the scolding was the best hug ever! I went through a time this spring where I felt a little lost. I was continuing my daily prayer but I just felt like God wasn’t as close as he usually was. I felt like I was drifting away and I just couldn’t find my way back. I know it’s not uncommon for people to go through periods of dryness in their prayer life but I sure didn’t like it. When things were most difficult the evil one was trying to convince me God had abandoned me I began to pray that God would find me and bring me back and close the gap I felt between us. That was my prayer for several weeks and on the darkest day, I read these words from the Prophet Malachi, return to me, that I may return to you.
Once those words were stuck in my head and my heart I began to realize God hadn’t gone anywhere! He is the fixed object in this relationship…I am the variable. In order for him to come to me, I had to go to him. I had been seeking the good feeling of his presence, I wanted his blessing and his grace but I wasn’t seeking his presence. I wanted a big heap of me and my happy blessed life with a side of God…he wanted it the other way around. I wondered why he wasn’t answering my prayers and bringing me comfort and peace; he was just frantically calling my name trying to bring me back home to his plan. I was uncomfortable because I wasn’t where he was asking me to be. He wanted more of my time, my heart and my trust. He wanted me to return to him so he could return to me. When I was trying to find my way and figure out what I needed to change, scripture tells me that all the while, he was frantically calling my name and searching, much like the day I lost Jason and he rejoiced greatly when I returned. The day I got it figured out was a great day and that is exactly the day I remembered the story of a lost Jason. I have no doubt he popped that story into my head just to prove a point and I’ve never felt so loved! I guess my dad’s wisdom was right. He was the last place I looked, and it’s amazing how easy it is to find things when they are in their proper place…God first not me first!
A Seed To Plant: If you happen to be feeling a little distant from God, ask him to woo you back then have the courage to return with your whole heart.
Blessings on your day!
I wait with longing for the Lord, my soul waits for his word. Psalm 130:5
Doesn’t is seem like we’re always waiting for something? I was thinking about that as I was caught in a traffic slow down the other day. I have a beautiful niece waiting to have a baby, I have a room full of middle lovelies waiting for the end of the school year, I have a daughter waiting to head off on a summer adventure in Kansas to be a counselor at a Catholic Girls Camp. We wait for food, parties, clothes from the dryer and for the end of the week. I suppose it’s all a natural thing but it took over my thoughts that afternoon.
Today was the last day of school for local seniors and my newsfeed was full of photos of lovely young people I’ve know since they were in first grade. I’m old enough to remember when their mammas were pregnant with them and as I looked at a couple of them on FaceBook I can remember how awaited their arrival was and now their moms and dads wonder where the last 18 years went. Funny how that happens isn't it! You blink and your pregnant belly is holding a diploma, a wedding bouquet or a baby of their own. We tend to look at the beginning and swoop to the current day and forget how much waiting there has been in-between. Waiting in the dentist office, the gym, the car pool line and outside the bathroom door. I think we actually spend more time waiting than we spend doing.
I know it’s a random thing to write about today but it has been a brilliant reminder that I should pay attention to my waiting. It caused me to wonder how I spend all those waiting minutes. Do I practice patience or look for a “Father pleasing” thing to do while I wait? If waiting is a given in our society, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to be better at it. I need to look for people to pray for, visit with and serve or show kindness to. As I stood in the check out line at the grocery store at dinner time last night I was noticing that the cashier was not long on speed. I needed to get home and get supper on the table and I was right on the edge of getting impatient when I noticed my beautiful daughter step around me and visit with the shopper behind us. She was in a wheel chair and Shannon went back to visit with her unload all of her groceries onto the conveyor belt. They visited about everything from the ladies granddaughters to the Flaming Hot Cheetos she was purchasing. I think it’s pretty fair to say I got a lesson on the kind of waiter I should be. I also realized that fabulous use of wait time didn’t interfere with me getting supper on the table at all, so stepping outside of my own little waiting bubble to serve someone else turned that wasted time into valuable minutes.
So what are you waiting for and how are you waiting? Those are the big questions for the day. The world will whiz by in a blink whether we spend ten more minutes in line or in traffic. Our babies and grand babies are going to grow so fast we won’t remember colic, potty training,homework, teenage driving or any of the dozen other things that make us feel overwhelmed and frustrated. I suppose when we boil it down to the bottom of the pot, our tiny time on earth is all about waiting for the true life…in heaven, so again I ask myself and I ask you; how are we waiting?
A Seed To Plant: Think of five things you can do the next time you have to wait for something. Try at least one out in the next few days.
Blessings on your day!
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. – Proverbs 31:30
It’s been a beautiful Mothers day. I had all three of my kids home today and that was the perfect gift. Motherhood, like most things, changes over time. I remember a few of my early years of motherhood wanting nothing more on Mothers day than a few hours of peace and quiet. I loved being a mom but I just wanted a tiny stretch of time when nobody yelled the word “MOM”. I also remember thinking one year that the perfect gift would be for everyone in the family to wear the same clothes for a week so I wouldn’t have laundry to do. Today, instead of wishing for peace and quiet, I love the sight and sound of tall bodies stretched out in my living room and ten feet parked under my dining room table.
As I looked through my FaceBook newsfeed today, I saw post after post of beautiful mothers with lovely children. I saw tall mothers, short mothers, old mothers and young mothers. I saw moms who looked all put together and moms who looked like they might be ready to unravel as they wrangled up a toddler for the perfect mothers day photo. The thing I loved best about all those photos is that they honestly showed that motherhood is messy! It’s the best hard job a woman can have and somedays everyone stands up straight and smiles but most days there are things that have to be hunted down, squeezed tight and pinched into place…and I’m not just talking about the children!
I’ve never been a charming, beautiful, fashionable, got it all together kind of mom. I’ve never been the coordinating outfits, papers always turned in on time, perfect healthy lunch packing kind of mom. There were plenty of mornings I looked out the front door as the kids ran toward the bus and thought, phew…thank goodness they made it out alive when I wanted to be the mom who blew a kiss and told each of my kids something inspirational. More Sunday’s than I can count as we tromped quickly through the church parking lot I was barking orders about not touching each other or talking during mass instead of helping my kids prepare their hearts to meet Jesus. Most of the time I forgot to tell them to wash their hands, I stole some of the good candy from their Halloween bags, I hid toys that annoyed me, and I taped pages together so I didn’t really have to read ALL the pages of the Go Dog Go book.
Truth be told, I’m probably the most imperfect mom out there but this line from Proverbs 31 brings me hope. I do love the Lord and I have great fear, or wonder and awe for him and his mighty works. I hope he sees that I tried to do my best with the gift of these three kids he gave me. As I watched them harass each other, laugh together and play cards with their 92 year old Grandma today, I’m grateful that they turned out to be delightful young adults. I guess doing chores, getting dirty, eating pretzels and ketchup for lunch and wearing shirts inside out because mom didn’t catch it on the way out the door didn’t hurt them. I may not have been the kind of mom I always wanted to be, but by the Grace of God, I was the kind of mom he made me to be. There are plenty of things I didn't give them but I did give them lots of love, lots of prayer and lots of laughter. Today, I thank God for picking me to be the mamma of three great young people and for giving us everything we need plus extra!
A Seed To Plant: Who are the people who have most influenced your life? How many of the things they did are you sharing with those you love?
Blessings on your day!
My heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee. St. Augustine
When my kids were little they had a toy that both entertained and frustrated them. It was a red plastic ball with openings of different shapes and sizes. The object was to insert the correct shape into the corresponding opening. My toddlers couldn’t always see the difference between a circle and an oval or a square and a rectangle so there were many attempts to jam the wrong shape into the wrong hole. Just like my kids, we too sometimes try to make things fit where they don’t quite belong.
We were created in the image and likeness of the God who loves us. Our hearts were meant to fit perfectly in his but we often forget that and try to pack ourselves into roles where we don’t fit. When the toy pieces didn’t fit together the kids would bang, push, and get frustrated until they slowed down and looked things over carefully and attempted to put the pieces in gently and purposefully. During those times in life when we struggle to make things fit according to our plan, we experience that same chaos and frustration. God has the perfect antidote; rest in him. Only he knows how our life should fit together and he simply asks us to love and serve him while we wait for him to put all the pieces in the perfect spot.
The next time we hit that place of chaos and frustration we need to slow down and ask the Lord to calm us down and rest a bit as he puts the pieces back in the order he desires.
A Seed To Plant: Take some quiet minutes in prayer to ask yourself if their are there pieces in your life that don’t seem to fit together? Are you the person God is asking you to be or are you trying to invent yourself? Rest a while in his presence and ask him.
Blessings on your day!
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Ephesians 6:11
This verse made me remember a plastic suit of armor the boys had when they were little. One of the boys would wear the armor and the other would wear the Detroit Lions shoulder pads and football uniform and pretend to slay all the bad guys in the county. They were invincible in those get ups. They felt strong and brave and confident as they rode their bikes up and down the lane defending the land. It didn’t matter to them that it was just cheap plastic, what they wore convinced them of something.
That memory and this verse made me think about what our wardrobe says about us. It seems like a simple thing, get up, get dressed and go on with your day but when you think about it WHAT we put on can send a message. We identify police officers, doctors and nurses by the clothes they wear and we automatically assume they will be helpful because of the way they are dressed. We will approach a total stranger in a store to ask for help based on a simple plastic name tag pinned to their shirt. We have the potential to trust, mistrust; judge and misjudge people every day based on what they wear. Does that seem crazy to anybody else?
I guess the big questions are what does God’s armor look like and how often do I wear it? Then it hit me, it’s not really about fabric at all. The clothes we wear may reflect something about our style, profession or personality but they don’t necessarily tell the whole story. I think the armor of God is something we put on from the inside. It can be pretty easy to look at someone’s clothes and assume a thing or two about them that may or may not be correct but the armor of God is unmistakable. Putting it on is intentional, never just a quick grab and go outfit. The boys always needed my help putting on those get ups they used to wear and so it is with Gods armor; we need him to assist us. If we intentionally ask God to protect us and defend us we have to be willing to let him. Wearing his armor means we are protected and safe, but silly humans that we are, we think it means we are now prepared to charge into the world and defeat all the evils much like two little boys I remember in my back yard. God is the defender and we are the defended; the armor of God doesn’t give us a job it gives us peace.
God’s armor is not heavy or clumsy; it’s powerful and designed to fit perfectly. I realized that if I woke up each morning and asked God to dress me in his armor I would be more confident and peaceful and content. I realized I wouldn’t have to worry about harm or evil because nothing is stronger than God. It doesn’t mean nothing bad will happen, it means God will protect me no matter what the circumstance. If I puddled my way through each day without worry or distraction about all the things that might happen or could happen or shouldn’t happen I would have so much more time for great things! I would have more time to pray, more time to help and WAY more time to love. I think I’ll ask God to help me put on that armor right now and leave the defending to him while I get busy with trusting bigger and loving harder…talk about dress for success!
A Seed To Plant: Stop right now and ask God to suit you in his armor and then give him a list of all the things you’d like to be defended from. All that’s left is to trust and be protected.
Blessings on your day!
So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone…1 Samuel 17:50
Hands down David and Goliath is an Old Testament favorite. As I re-read it not long ago, the sling shot seemed to stay in my mind. (no pun intended) It’s really a crazy story when you think about it. What are the chances we could really inflict great bodily harm using a sling shot? Since I can’t hit the refrigerator with a rubber band, you can probably breathe easy if I come toward you with a sling shot because odds are good my shot won’t be within 5 feet of my target! It was such an odd weapon of choice for David don’t you think? I wonder what the giant must have thought as this very young soldier stood before him with it…did he find it insulting or funny or insanely ridiculous? I wonder if it made him angry or if he just wanted to bust out laughing.
Lately I seem to be confronting the “giants” in my day with a sling shot! Although David was able to conquer with it, I’m afraid I’m not so successful. I seem to keep missing the target and I wonder what God must think as he watches me wildly fling stones around and not really conquer the things that creep between us. I’m sure on some occasions He must have a good laugh at me; I must look like a nut throwing sand at an approaching army. I do believe I often miss the WHOLE point of the David and Goliath story. It wasn’t about David and his sling shot at all…it was about the power of God working through an open, trusting and expectant heart. David didn’t doubt, he just knew God would conquer. The truth is, David could have faced that enemy with a paper clip or a cotton ball and defeated him because it was the power of God that did the work not the power of man. I’m not so good at living that part of the story. I still think with enough practice, my sling shot and I will get better…NOT! It's not about the size of the battle or the weapon, it's the size of the faith and trust that determine the outcome.
After another re-read of the story I realize I need to make a choice. Either I need another weapon to slay the sinful enemies and giants in my life or I need to let someone else aim my sling shot because I am a lousy shot! Let me see...I think I’ll try a little harder to go with the second choice!
A Seed To Plant: Read the story of David and Goliath and then seriously contemplate the things you’re trying to slay with a sling shot and then figure out which ones you need to hand over to God’s precise aim.
Blessings on your day!
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