“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9
One of the best parts of my job is helping the middle lovelies find direction. We all need people to look up to, to imitate and to follow. Sadly, the choices our culture puts in front of our kids is lacking woefully in the good stuff they need. Several times a week I tell them stories or show them video clips of people doing excellent things. The fine education professors I had at Emporia State University about a hundred years ago told us a bazillion times that if we wanted the lessons to stick, we had to model, model, model and then model some more so I try constantly to show them people who are getting it right. I have to admit though, doing things the right way often takes more energy and thought than doing it the wrong way. I’ve come to the conclusion that sin is pretty easy it’s the resisting that’s tough!
Doing the right thing is always a choice. I visited with a lady several weeks ago after I gave a talk and she told me she had been taught in elementary school by a beautiful nun who always told them “do the right thing for no other reason than because it’s the right thing.” Seems pretty straight forward but after some thought and prayer, it’s deeper than you think. Do the right thing not because you’ll be noticed or get an award or prize. Do the right thing just because it’s right. That was a thought I was peeling around with on my heart and I made a discovery…and not a good one. I realized how many times in a week I thought or even said, “I don’t want to.” Maybe it was because I was tired, or worried or indifferent but there were so many times I just didn’t bother to do the right thing and give a little extra.
This has all been on my heart and I came across a story about a great and holy man that I need to share with you and the middle lovelies. This great man was Pope John the XXIII. He had just kicked off the opening of Vatican II and he was exhausted. He was also battling stomach cancer and feeling it’s painful effects as he retired to his room. One of his aids called his attention to the massive crowd in St. Peter’s Square. He said, “I don’t want to talk, I’ve talked all day.” That was quickly followed as he lifted himself wearily from his chair by a “but I will do it anyway.” He went to the window and delivered his famous “Moonlight Speech.” It was impromptu, heartfelt and beautiful. He did the right thing for the people and more than fifty years later we still remember his words. His message was simple; “give honor to the impressions of this night, which are always our feelings, which now we express before heaven and earth: faith, hope, love, love of God, love of brother, all aided along the way in the Lord's holy peace for the work of the good. And so, let us continue to love each other, to look out for each other along the way: to welcome whoever comes close to us, and set aside whatever difficulty it might bring.”
That night when he had to be running on a completely empty tank, he offered love, peace and a simple message about the right thing to do. It isn’t just the middle lovelies that needed a lesson from Good Pope John…their teacher needed it too!
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of three “right things” you will do today.
Blessings on your day!
Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Proverbs 19:20
It’s easy to find God in church or in prayer but one of the things the middle lovelies and I talk a lot about is finding him, feeling him and seeing his work everywhere. He reveals himself to us in so many ways and I believe music is one of them. Every Tuesday we listen to a song and think about what Christ might be revealing to us through the lyrics. This week we were focusing on really listening instead of talking so much. That topic made the Tuesday Tune very easy to choose. We listened to the song Shut Up and Dance. We talked about the rude nature of the phrase but we came to an understanding that sometimes the phrase shut up could really catch our attention. I admitted there were probably plenty of times God wanted to scream that at me.
One of the kids started with the title and realized that dance was a good thing because in order to dance you needed to be matched up and close to the other person so they saw it as a message to be close with the Father. The kids were quick to point out that dance could be replaced with lots of words. They thought it could be God saying:
*shut up and listen to me
*shut up and pray
*shut up and stop worrying so much
*shut up and be kind to each other
*shut up and remember I made you perfect
*shut up and let me be the boss
*shut up and trust me to take care of the country
*shut up and be nice to everybody
They also thought the song might be about God getting our attention so we would stop doing things that could hurt our soul. When I dug a little deeper this is what they were thinking.
*shut up and stop lying
*shut up and be thankful
*shut up and stop disrespecting everybody
*shut up and quit doubting me
*shut up and stop putting yourself down
There is a line in the song that says “just keep your eyes on me” that was a favorite line because it was great advice. One big thinker said, “If we keep our eyes on the world and everybody else we might head in the wrong direction but if we keep our eyes on him, he will lead us home.” Another line says, “no holding back.” A very insightful fifth grader reminded us “Thats how we’re supposed to love him.”
Once again, I set out to teach but instead it was me who received all those lessons from a 4 minute song. I think maybe I’ll spend some extra time listening this week.
A Seed To Plant: Go to Youtube and listen to the song and begin thinking about all the things God would like you to be quiet and do.
Blessings on your day.
…you should aspire to live a tranquil life, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your own hands…1 Thessalonians 4:11
Do you remember the WWJD bracelet craze? What would Jesus do became the big question for a while. It was a great idea but I think it might be time for a new question. I don’t know about you but I seem to notice a whole lot of folks who think they know what everybody should be doing and they aren’t afraid to tell you. We seem to be running a little heavy on arm chair quarterbacks! Everywhere we turn these days somebody is evaluating somebody else’s words or actions like they are the expert on everything.
Free speech is awesome but it doesn’t mean you always have to use it or that you can use it with careless regard. Some day’s one sentence can turn into an entire segment on the evening news. Two things my mom always said make a whole lot of sense these days. 1) If you can’t say something nice don’t’ say anything at all and 2) Keep your nose in your own business. We seem to be spending a whole lot of time evaluating the thoughts, words and actions of others so that leads me to wonder if it’s time for a new question. I think the new question and bracelet should be WSID? What should I do?
Mother Teresa once asked a group of very influential people what needed to change most in this world to make it better, and more Christ like. Each person answered profoundly with things like; less greed, an end to world hunger, an end to violence and a variety of other truthful answers but she said the correct answer to that question is…ME. What should I do? The reason I think this is the great new question is because in order to know how I need to change and what I need to do I have to depend on God for the answer. If I’m calling out to and depending on Him, I’m less focused on others. I can’t be in charge of anybody else and heaven knows I’ve done enough stupid stuff myself so maybe if I worried less about what everyone else was doing and saying and more about what I was doing and saying I think that would be a very good thing. What if everyone started to ask WSID?
It probably won’t sell any bracelets but it sure would make the world more pleasant and holy. We won’t be judged in groups and we don’t get to weigh in our opinion on anyone else’s final judgement so perhaps we’d be better off just taking care of our own affairs instead of trying to get involved in someone else’s. It’s just a little question but it could have a marvelous answer.
A Seed To Plant: The next time you feel inclined to jump into a conversation or blurt out your opinion, stop and ask yourself WSID?
Blessings on your day!
…I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, Deuteronomy 30:19
October is the month we are called to “respect life”. We are reminded during this beautiful month to think about life in all it’s ages and stages and realize each of us is a precious child of God. Many of us are very passionate about protecting the unborn and we will fight like mama bears if we find out someone is mistreating the elderly. Those are causes we pray and fight for in many ways but what about respecting the life we are surrounded by every day. How are we at respecting our neighbors and co-workers and those folks who annoy us? October is a call to think about the way we respect ALL life. Last week during Adoration I challenged all the students at school to do four simple things to respect the people around them. The message was for the kids but I suppose a lesson in respecting others is good for everyone.
Each of us was created in the Image and Likeness of God. I used to teach the first graders that meant when God made us, he put a little piece of himself in our heart so he was always a part of us. If we realize God is a part of everyone we meet, and all his children are precious, we realize when we disrespect or hurt someone we are also offending the Creator. Nearly three hundred kids agreed that was a very bad idea! Here are four things we can do to respect each other.
K - Know that each and every person was created and is precious to the Creator. Saying or doing hurtful things to others hurts the Creator.
I - Invite and include others. We love to get invited to parties and weddings and celebrations but inviting others to sit with us, eat with us, pray with us or spend time with us makes them feel noticed and valued.
N - Notice the people around you. Notice if someone is sad or lonely or hurting. We weren’t made to be alone in this world, we were made for community and we all need to know we matter, so be on the lookout for the people who need a little friendship.
D - Decide to show everyone the mercy and love Jesus did. We decide dozens of things every morning why not add this important decision to the list.
When we put all four of these actions in motion, our hearts will change. We were created for life and good. When we hurt or disrespect others we aren’t choosing life. Life is full of enough difficulties and frustrations, we should be about the business of making life a little easier for those we share our days with. The lesson was a simple message for kids but there might be some nuggets of truth for the kid in all of us.
A Seed To Plan: Pick one of the four ideas and put it in motion today.
Blessings on your day!
Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world. Justice Antonin Scalia
Ugh…it’s election season and it’s getting so close it’s hard to stay out of the way of the slinging mud! I think this season bothers me so much because the majority of the conversation is about the mistakes, shortfalls and perceived weaknesses of another person. I get it, I really do…it’s about convincing and quite honestly, the bad stuff gets peoples attention. For as much as I hate all the negative, the arguing and the difficulty actually sifting out the truth, there is one good thing about this season; it forces me to ponder and pray about what I really believe.
Our morals and our beliefs absolutely come into play during an election season and it’s often something people twist and attack. Christianity just isn’t “cool” according to some and it is brushed away and trivialized like the stuff fairy tales are made of. I can get a little huffy when faith is dismissed as a part of the leadership equation because it’s hinged to everything. When I read these words from Justice Scalia I realized it was ok to be offended and suffer as so many dismiss Jesus and his teaching. It made me realize I put too much stock in what the world thinks and it’s ok if the world thinks I’m foolish for believing the way I do. I guess being a fool for Christ is the best kind of foolish their is.
It’s so easy to get overwhelmed with that “hell in a hand basket” feeling as the election draws closer and recently I had a some conversations with some folks who were definitely overwhelmed. In his great timing, someone shared this quote and as I passed it along; we all felt some peace and balance. Trump and/or Biden isn’t going to fix or keep America great. People are. Read to your kids. Show them how to find joy in work. Teach them what respect and kindness is. No politician will ever do that. It’s not the government’s job to teach people how to be happy. I wish I could re-write it and add Pray with your kids. Believe in and trust the one who is the author of happiness and the one who is greatness Himself. America will be great when we remember to live the Gospel.
I suppose the other thing that really bugs me about this season is my intense dislike for conflict! Christians are often under attack during this season and accused of being old-fashioned, narrow minded and judgmental. Those words are hard to hear but maybe they’re true. If keeping up with the times means ditching the Gospel than I think I’ll be old-fashioned. I can’t count the times in the last couple of weeks I’ve heard someone say, “You need to be more open-minded.” It was usually in the context of accepting something contrary to Christian beliefs and again, just because God communicates in crazy ways, I saw a quote from G.K. Chesterton that said “Do not be so open-minded that your brains fall out.” It made me laugh because it just put things in perspective.
As God’s children we can use this season for good. We can use it as a chance to ponder what we believe and how our actions back those beliefs. We can use this time to pray for those who are running for office and those who are doing the voting. We can also use this time to realize that God is the winner…the power…the authority…the everything, and make sure we’re hitched to his wagon!
A Seed To Plant: Just for one day, every time your see a campaign sign or hear a political ad, say a prayer for God’s blessing on our country. For extra credit, do it for a week!
Blessings on your day.
Above all else, guard your heart,for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23
All too often we look in a mirror and think things like, I wish my legs were longer or my nose was smaller. Maybe we notice our eyes or shoulders and don’t even get me started on the hips and thighs! We’re pretty quick to point out which body parts we would like to change but when was the last time you looked in a mirror and recited the list of body parts we really do like? A good friend shared a story with me this week that really made me stop and think about the best body part of all.
My friend and her kindergarten son were outside playing catch with a football. She threw a pass that slipped through his little hands and thunked him square in the chest. His reply was priceless. He grabbed his chest, looked at his mom and said, “Mom, you hit me right where Jesus lives.” Not quite comprehending what he said she asked him to say it again and he matter of factly looked her in the eyes and said, “Yeah mom, you hit me in the heart, you know, right where Jesus lives!” Out of the mouths of babes! His comment just melted my heart!
Every time I saw this little guy walking through the halls the rest of the week I just smiled and thought, now there’s a kid who has learned something really important! He also made me realize how important our heart is. It’s far more than a blood pumping, life sustaining organ, it’s the home of Jesus and I should probably give it a little more thought and honor! So, what is my heart like? Is it a suitable home for the Son of God? Is it tender and open or is it cold and guarded? I suppose if I paid a little more attention to the importance of that body part everyone might benefit.
How’s your heart? Does it give Jesus a great place to hang out or could it use a little re-modeling? It stands to reason that if Jesus goes into our heart and dwells there, the feelings, emotions and actions it stimulates should mirror the one who dwells there.
A Seed To Plant: Take some time in prayer today to examine your heart. Can people tell who lives there?
Blessings on your day!
We were made for another world. C.S. Lewis
In these days of uncertainty, frustration, division and all around craziness we have a job to do. Our job is to be grateful! Yup…you read that right! Gratitude is a powerful thing and I for one need to give it more of my attention. If you're wondering why the need for gratitude, read the words by C.S. Lewis again. They stopped me in my tracks because I realized all I was focusing on was the craziness of the world and I needed to shift my thinking and be grateful for the blessings and the trials of the day because they are the things that will help me grow in holiness and get ready for the world I was really created for. I quickly came to discover I was going to have to begin with my perspective and this little story helped me do just that.
A blind boy sat on the steps of a building with a hat by his feet. He held up a sign which read, “I am blind, please help.” There were only a few coins in the hat – spare change from folks as they hurried past. A man was walking by. He took a few coins from his pocket and dropped them into the hat. He then took the sign, turned it around, and wrote some words. Then he put the sign back in the boy’s hand so that everyone who walked by would see the new words. Soon the hat began to fill up. A lot more people were giving money to the blind boy. That afternoon, the man who had changed the sign returned to see how things were. The boy recognized his footsteps and asked, “Were you the one who changed my sign this morning? What did you write?” The man said, “I only wrote the truth. I said what you said but in a different way.” I wrote, “Today is a beautiful day, but I cannot see it.” Both signs spoke the truth. But the first sign simply said the boy was blind, while the second sign conveyed to everyone walking by how grateful they should be to see.
In order to grow in gratitude I turned to the Saints and grabbed three pieces of advice to help. Maybe they will help you too.
*St. Ambrose said “No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.” I spend too much time attending to things I think are urgent but these wise words helped me realize I needed to shift my priorities and redefine urgent.
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of things you are grateful for and claim the advice of one of the saints and ask them to intercede for you as you pray for a more grateful heart.
Blessings on your day!
He must increase, I must decrease. John 3:30
One of the many things I miss now that the Wohlfert house is so quiet is practice. For more than a decade and a half there was always some kind of practice going on. It didn’t matter if it was reading, math facts, band, sports or even target practice for hunting season, it seemed like somebody was always practicing something. There is nothing more humbling than a good hard practice at whatever it is you are trying to get better at. The problem was nobody really enjoyed practice except me. I loved seeing my kids work hard, sweat, be frustrated and eventually trade in frustration for sheer determination. Practice is good for you no matter what it’s for but human nature leads us to desire perfection or success without the work.
Stop for a minute and think of something you need to practice. A little tricky wasn’t it! If you had a hard time coming up with something to practice I’ve got just the thing. I was reading in a prayer book the other day and came across a fabulous one liner that was too good to keep to myself. This simple thought is so power packed it’s going to make for a very short post today. Before you read it though, I want you to think for another minute about three things you’ve been frustrated about recently. If my guess is correct at least two of the things that frustrated you involved another person. So much of our negative energy stems from a reaction or comment or behavior from another person that doesn’t line up with our personal expectations or desires. In the spirit of being frustrated with others and tugging along the negative energy that goes with it; here is that great thought I promised. We all need to practice the art of self-forgetfulness! Pope John Paul II.
Holy cow…how’s that for a show stopper! I think maybe we spend so much time worrying and fussing about how other people see, value, appreciate and honor us that we lose track of the only desire we should be motivated by; pleasing God. If I were to forget my own desires and comforts more often I think I would certainly have more time for faithfulness. If I stopped worrying about who saw me do what or who noticed this or that I wouldn’t have anything to be disappointed about when others didn’t register the “wonder and awe” I thought I deserved. I don’t’ know about you, but I think I just found my new thing to practice… thinking about the Father more and myself less The art of self-forgetfulness isn’t something our culture promotes but since when does our culture promote things that will get us to heaven? I think I’m gonna go with JPII on this one and get my “self-forgetfulness” in motion, how about you…are you up for some tough practice?
A Seed To Plant: This week when you feel frustrated, stop and ask yourself if you are practicing the art of self-forgetfulness. Get ready for some good hard practice!
Blessings on your day!
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