Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him, bless his name! Psalm 100:4
I love everything about Thanksgiving! I love the food, the weather, the decorations the spirit…all of it! There is an anticipation that comes with the last weeks of November and all the things that are just around the corner. As I prepared my list of things I’m thankful for this year, I decided that I needed to show how thankful I was rather than just think about it.
After some prayerful thought, here’s what I came up with.
*I’m thankful for my husband and my children. I will show them how thankful I am by using patient and kind words when I’m stressed or rushed. I will
also make sure I prepare each of them their favorite supper.
*I’m thankful for the freedom and the desire I have to praise God. I’ll show my thankfulness by spending extra time each morning praying for people who need to feel the love, mercy, healing and grace of the Father.
*I’m thankful for the food I have in abundance. I’ll show my thankfulness by sharing my abundance with the local food pantry and by eating a little less each day and offering that sacrifice prayerfully for those who go to bed hungry.
*I’m thankful for my warm cozy home. I will show my thankfulness by contributing to a charity that helps the homeless.
*I’m thankful for my clothes. I’ll show my thankfulness by cleaning out the closets and donating clothes, shoes and coats to organizations who can
use my excess to combat someone else’s need.
*I’m thankful for my arms and legs. I’ll show my thankfulness by doing more to act as Christ’s hands and feet on earth…even when I’m tired or impatient or when it’s not convenient.
*I’m thankful for my job. I’ll show my thankfulness by remembering to pray for those who are unemployed or underemployed.
*I’m thankful for the gifts and talents God has given me. I’ll show my thankfulness by always trying to use those gifts and talents humbly to further God’s kingdom.
I am so thankful for the rich and abundant blessings God has chosen to give me; now I better get to work so I can show Him how grateful I am.
A Seed To Plant: As you make a list of all the things you’re thankful for
this year, make up your own list of ways to demonstrate your gratefulness.
Blessings on your day…and Happy Thanksgiving!
When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought great
joy to my soul. Psalm 94:19
I am an early riser, it’s just how I’m wired I guess but even I have my limits. It had been a crazy week and when my alarm went off at 4:45 on SATURDAY morning I think it’s fair to say my thoughts were not filled with joyful praise to the Lord! It took a few foggy seconds but then I sleepily remembered that the reason my alarm was beeping at me was because I
had a date with a group of lovely ladies in a nearby church basement. It was a wonderful morning. There were so many ladies there, at 8 am on a Saturday morning for one simple reason…to draw a litter closer to the Lord. They were a beautiful crowd and I’m so happy I got the chance to enjoy their company.
As He often does, God had a surprise for me in that crowd. It was a surprise that certainly made it worth getting up that early on a Saturday morning. I saw toward the back of the room, a lovely lady I knew only by face…a face I saw more than twenty years ago and never forgot. The lady I saw works for the church that had invited me to speak Saturday morning and she has devoted decades of her life to the service of the Lord. She touched my life and she never even knew it and I vowed that if our paths ever crossed again I would be sure to thank her. The story began on a May day twenty years ago when our son Jason was born. I had been moved into my room and the nurse told me there was another woman in labor and they would be bringing her in after the baby was born. She didn’t arrive until early the next morning and it didn’t take long to realize all was not well on the other side of the thin curtain that separated us in that tiny hospital room. This beautiful couple, whose name I don’t even know, had been in the labor and delivery room all afternoon and all night delivering pre-mature twin boys. The first son was still born and the other was in very critical condition. I listened to the grieving father speak with the furniture store who was to deliver the double set of nursery furniture that afternoon. I listened to the mother softly cry as the father cancelled half of the order and postponed the delivery. I was engulfed in their pain and grief as I sat on the edge of my bed cradling my happy, healthy beautiful baby boy and I felt like my heart was going to break for this young set of parents. Just when I thought I couldn’t take one more minute of it, in walked a lady named Rose. She came with a spirit of joy and peace and compassion that bathed the whole room and everyone in it. She came to represent the church the couple belonged to but she was truly there as an ambassador of the Christ who would bear them up. Her presence cast an immediate calm on all of us. She wrapped them in her arms as they saw their tiny son’s foot prints and locks of hair. She prayerfully prepared them to meet their other tiny son and when the visit was complete she sat and prayed with this couple until they collapsed on the bed in complete emotional and physical exhaustion. She was absolutely amazing! I have never met anyone like her. She had such a gift and as she left the young couple, she came to my side of the room to peek at my baby as if to re-assure me I still had the right to celebrate and be happy about the new life in my arms despite the loss of the couple next to me. As she left the room that day I thanked God for her and the gift she gave that couple and to me. Saturday, I got to deliver that message to a very humble, tearful beautiful lady named Rose. I asked her how she found the words in situations like that and she assured me she never really had to look for them because when you open yourself completely to the work of the Lord, He supplies everything you need, including His perfect words when we have none of our own. In the course of our conversation, I learned that Rose will retire this week. She smiled and said she thought it was time since she will be 85 at the end of the month. Again, she left me stunned!
The kind of compassion Rose shared that May afternoon, took courage and great faith and trust in the healing power of God. I think that’s what I admired most that day. I think we are great at spreading kindness and finding and sharing God in the celebrations and successes of life but it takes something bigger to reach out when the situation is hard or painful. I have wondered many times what that couple would have done without the loving comfort of the Father delivered by a lovely soul on that dark day. I’m just so very pleased I got to tell Rose what a blessing she was. Seeing her and hugging her neck Saturday morning reminded me of two things; first I need to remember God can work through us in any situation if we just ask Him to and then have the courage to follow in the direction He points us. And second, sometimes life is just hard, messy and sad and those are the times we are needed most to share the love and peace of Christ. Without pain and turmoil, we would never appreciate peace. Getting up early on a
Saturday morning to spend time in the company of those who love the Lord was truly a blessing!
A Seed To Plant: If your life has been touched by the peace and compassion of someone, find a way to let them know how much you appreciated it.
Blessings on your day!
"This is the will of God: that you be saints" 1 Thessalonians 4:3
I'm getting old...and some days I think maybe even a little bit wiser. One of the gifts I pray for constantly is humility. In my search for humility, I realize that there are writers out there who say things in a much better way than I do so today I'd like to share three little jewels from a book called Mustard Seeds by Matthew Kelly. The verse from Thessalonians is quite true and just maybe we can all find some truth, inspiration and motivation in these short ideas to help us on our journey toward sainthood.
*God provides enough for our need, not our greed. Give and share!
*You may want to know more, but you do not want to live what you already know.
*Sin is to step out from the umbrella of God. It is not so much that God will punish you for it, but that you have stepped out from under His loving protection. Separation from God is the worst punishment of all.
Blessings on your day!
For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be glory forever, Amen. Romans 11:36
I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as random happenings. You may disagree with me and that’s absolutely fine but I’ve begun to believe that every event, situation and person provides an opportunity to learn and grow in faith. This weekend there were more than a dozen young women in and out of our home. They were all here to say hello to a lovely teenager who flew in from Maryland named Lexi. Most of the girls met each other at a summer youth conference at Franciscan University in Steubenville Ohio last July. Some stopped by and quickly became new friends. Lexi was my daughter Shannon’s “randomly selected” roommate at the week-long conference. It doesn’t seem very random to me that a group of girls from Michigan gathered to laugh and pray with a friend from Maryland that they met in Ohio. Humm…seems bigger than random to me!
I shiver when I think of all the times we dismiss the deliberate work of God as random, coincidence, karma or fate. I think our loving Father is much more personal and spectacular than that! I remember the night I met
my husband. He was taking my roommate out to dinner and I answered the door and chatted with him while he waited for her to finish getting ready.
Several weeks later I sat down in a meeting with a room full of strangers
and guess who was seated right across the table from me…yup…my husband. I don’t think that was random. I also remember the cold snowy winter evening I was coming home from the Orthodontist with three kids and a trunk full of groceries and I got a flat tire. The wind chill that evening was more than 10 below zero and after digging the spare tire out from under all the groceries, I couldn’t get the frozen lug nuts off to change the tire. As I
knelt in the snow frozen and frustrated, a gentleman stopped and invited me to drive my car to the farm right up the road. It turns out he owned a tire shop and he had all the equipment necessary to change my tire in his heated shop. Random… I think not!
I really think Christ dwells among us and works through us. When I think about my days here on earth, I realize every single thing is meant to
draw me closer to Him. The sooner I realize that and lift my heart to Him in thanksgiving for the million ways a week He works in my life, the more exciting it becomes to see His works. When I recognize things I might have
once called random, as His handiwork, I feel loved and protected and blessed. Those are great things to feel for sure!
A Seed To Plant: Take some time this week to write down all the things that seem like “random” events. At the end of the week, lift your list to the Lord in prayer and ask Him to show you how He was working purposefully in
each of those situations.
Blessings on Your day!
P.S. I have been writing this blog twice a week for nearly a year and a half and for the first time, a computer glitch caused me to loose the entire post except for the title line. I have no idea how or why but I just had to laugh and realize my first set of words must not have been the way He wanted them so he invited me to try it again! He is so funny and so bossy isn't He!
My Peace I give you, my peace I leave with you. John 14:27
For a couple of years when the kids were little, they stayed two days a week with the fabulous Coffee Cindy. There were lots of fun kids to play with
and a woods to explore and bikes and toys and fun at every turn. One of the many, many fond memories they have of their time with Coffee Cindy was
her story reading. They often took field trips to the library and they would return with a bag full of books. She would line them all up on the
couch and read story after story. One day she read a story called Five
Minutes of Peace. It was a sweet little story about a mother elephant who
just wanted five minutes of peace and quiet to rest and drink her tea. Mother elephant went from room to room only to have her little elephant babies follow her and disturb the peace. After reading the story, Cindy asked if
all the kids gave their mamma five minutes of peace. Kevin spoke up in a loud voice and said, “No way!” Jason responded with a loving, “She likes it when we’re with her all the time.” We still laugh about their concept of mamma’s personal space. I find it strange that later in life I switched from High School to lower elementary education. Spending 7 hours a day with a room full of little lovelies doesn’t provide much peace and quiet. We’ve recently had some indoor recesses and our first snow of the year so the past few days have been anything BUT peaceful and quiet.
About ten this morning I realized I really needed five minutes of peace so during lunch; I snuck off to my favorite spot during a crazy school day…the church. Our church is so beautiful and so peaceful I knew some quiet minutes with the Lord would be the best idea of the week. On the walk next door to the church I remembered the Mother Elephant story and I giggled thinking Mamma Elephant was finally going to get her five minutes of peace. I was already composing this blog in my mind as I pulled open the huge heavy wooden door to my peaceful spot. I slipped into a pew and knelt down to pray and was suddenly jolted right down to my cotton socks by a rather loud and off-key sound coming from the pipe organ up in the choir loft. A few more seconds passed and then I realized that they were tuning the organ so I left not really getting my five minutes of peace. I just had to giggle; God does have a great sense of humor!
There is a little bit of Mother Elephant in all of us! We really do need some
peace and silence each day. It’s good for the soul because the sounds and events of the world don’t always build us up and draw us closer to Christ.
Quite the opposite is often true. We need those minutes of still silence to empty our heart and mind of earthly concerns so God can speak to us about the concerns of heaven. God won’t yell, He speaks to us only in the beauty of silence. It’s the best…we don’t have to worry about what to say or think or do…we need only to be present and still in the silence asking God to come into our hearts and give us a word or a thought to guide us. We simply can’t accomplish that if we don’t put down the ipod, ipad, lap top, tablet, tv and smartphone. No training or equipment is required; just sit down, open up your heart and invite God to meet you in the middle of the
silence. He will reveal more to you than you can imagine.
I suppose when we really stop to think about it, God is like my son’s interpretation of mother elephant…He wants us with Him all the time. Why not make a date…don’t worry about what you wear and certainly don’t worry about what to say…it’s a silent date which is the best kind of all when Christ is your date.
A Seed To Plant: Get out your planner and schedule five minutes of peace each day! The Father will be happy to meet you in the silence.
Blessings on your day!
And God saw all He had created and said, “It is good.”…Genesis 1:31
It was a beautiful day for a Sunday drive …all the way to Iowa! I know it sounds pretty crazy to go all the way from Michigan to Iowa (14 hours)
in one day but it’s just the way the schedule worked out. We needed to pick up Shannon’s show steer and between post-season volleyball, work and all the other things that can fill our days, we were left with only one day to get it done. Crazy…but it was a wonderful Sunday drive!
The sun was shining (that is, once it came up) the whole day and the sights across Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Iowa were so pretty! What other Sunday could you enjoy the crisp sunny fall air across 4 states. We saw a few leftover splashes of fall color, and drove along the scenic Mississippi river. It really was the prettiest Sunday drive ever! The greatest sight of the day was at the Wilson-Kedley Cattle Company barn…my oldest son! I hadn’t seen Kevin since the beginning of August so he was truly a sight for sore eyes. We got a great tour of the place he’s called home the past three months and when we pulled away two hours later, we brought a little piece of his world with us…a 600 pound steer named Miles. The goodbye wasn’t too bad because he will be home in two weeks…I can’t wait to have his feet parked under my supper table again.
I’ll be the first one to admit that the thought of 14 hours on the road pulling a stock trailer didn’t do much for me…but the thought of seeing my son and the excitement on Shannon’s face seeing her new 4-H steer made it all
worth it. Isn’t that just how life is sometimes; we get it in our heads that something is going to be a drag and all of the sudden God turns it into a wonderful experience. I had no idea the Mississippi river drive would be so beautiful. I had no idea I would eat the most delicious hamburger I ever tasted and I had no idea God would make the whole day so enjoyable. What I thought would be an endurance test, was a great blessing. I’m
glad I got to meet the great people Kevin has spent so much time with. I’m glad I got to see the places he’s talked about and I’m glad he drove so fast on those hilly Iowa roads that it made me feel like I was on a roller coaster. My dad used to do that when my brothers and I were little and the lurching stomach and the giggles that followed brought back a long forgotten happy
I began typing this post somewhere in Illinois late this afternoon and the battery on my laptop died after the first two paragraphs so I’m wrapping it up on this late Sunday night. I guess the message today is very simple…don’t box God in. He’s bigger than our best day and He loves to show off with huge blessings when we least expect them. Looking back at the day…I got to see two of my children very happy, I got to sit next to my sweetie for hours and hours, we laughed, prayed and chatted together, I saw beautiful landscape, met some wonderful people and even though it wasn’t a highlight of my day…I got to listen to the Detroit Lions beat the Chicago Bears on the radio! God is good…all the time!
A Seed To Plant: Think of one thing you have to do this week that you aren’t looking forward to. Now ask God to surprise you in that circumstance…I can’t wait to see what happens!
Blessings on your day!
God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7
I have a treasure in my refrigerator! Its roots trace back to Minnesota more than 40 years ago and it has been split and shared again and again. What is it? It’s sour dough bread starter and it makes the most delicious soft, fluffy bread you’ve ever tasted! It’s really pretty simple to take care of, feed it potato flakes, water and sugar every ten days or so and use a cup to bake a batch of delicious bread or rolls! I got my first jar of dough starter from my dear Kansas friend and former teacher Chris. She got it from her mother in Minnesota. When I brought it from Kansas to Michigan I shared it with many people but my great friend Coffee Cindy has been the true and loving keeper of the dough. Both Cindy and Chris have made that bread dough hundreds of times and lovingly shared a loaf of warm bread or a pan of fresh cinnamon rolls with people as a sign of friendship, thanks or comfort. I admire their diligence and their consistency in keeping and sharing that simple pleasure with so many people. I still have my starter but I’ve not been the good steward of the dough starter they have.
That silly jar of stuff in the fridge is like so many things in life that we just take for granted. We worry about picking out the right card or buying the perfect gift and end up spending twice what we intended to in an attempt to convey affection or support or thanks. The busier we get the more often we seem to make mountains out of mole hills! Chris, Cindy and the dough starter remind me that sometimes something as simple as a homemade goodie offered warm and with a smile can be so much more touching than anything we can buy in a store. People don’t want more stuff…they want to know someone cares about them enough to offer a gift of their time and
talent…we were a people created for LOVE…God gave us that one rule…that one duty…that one purpose! Those simple loving acts of kindness bring out the goodness in others. The guy who shoveled the driveway and got a loaf of warm bread came back the next snow to do it again, not because he wanted more bread (well maybe that was part of the motivation) but because that simple act of love inspired him to love in return.
When my mom had to be driven to the hospital for radiation treatments she HATED burdening someone else so in order to make her lack of independence more tolerable, she handed the volunteer who drove her, a plate of warm cookies. She did it because it was the most personal thing she could think of and it was a true offering of love. I have a neighbor who sends her kids over every now and again with fresh eggs and it touches my heart! If someone presents us with money or a gift we sometimes feel a sense of obligation but if someone offers a simple gift of their thoughtfulness, time or talent we feel a sense of love…and the only way to respond to that is through gratefulness and love in return. Please don’t think you have to bake
something. My sister in law popped into my classroom a couple weeks ago and set a fresh hot cup of coffee on my desk. I was so surprised and touched by that simple kindness. My little lovelies summed it up best when they said, “Wow she must really love you because coffee is your favorite thing of all!” Even at their young age, they recognized how big a $1.00 cup of coffee could be. As our culture gets more and more “over the top” now seems to be the perfect time to step backwards and choose to trade in the big stuff for some simple acts of love.
A Seed To Plant: Think of three people who could use a simple act of love then make a plan to offer a simple expression of love to them.
Blessings on your day!
For you love all things that are and loathe nothing that you have made; for what you hated you would not have fashioned. Wisdom 11:24
It was my great pleasure to give a talk to about 140 of the high school students in our parish last week. The topic of the night was; Created in the Image and Likeness of God. I had my full size standing mirror placed in the doorway as they entered the room and it was a hoot watching them walk past it in order to get to their seat. It served as a great opener to the class
because we could laugh at our reactions to the reflection. When we look in a mirror we see with human eyes and very often, the human eye zooms in on the physical feature we most dislike about ourselves. We are invited by our loving Father to look through His eyes and that was my message to that room full of amazing young adults!
We are all well aware that in our Christian walk, we are called to see Christ in others. Most of us are very good at seeing the strengths of others and affirming their gifts and talents. Most of us are also really good at overlooking the weaknesses or flaws in others. But when it comes to us; we aren’t as forgiving. We can be so hard on ourselves and deliver such harsh judgments. This verse from Wisdom reminds us why that is such a bad idea! Each and every one of us was created in the Image and Likeness of God. Each one of us is perfectly and wonderfully made. Each one of us was thought into being by God Himself and to doubt that, is to doubt Him. YIKES…not a good idea! The very fact that God lovingly made us should be enough to make us leap for joy, but we get all tangled up in what our human eye sees. We compare ourselves; our looks, our possessions, positions and talents and the benchmark we use comes from a culture with some pretty twisted perspectives. I told the students last week that I used to look in the mirror and think God had messed up because I wasn’t 6 feet tall, thin and gorgeous. I was convinced He had misread the blueprint during my creation. As I got older I realized He had made me perfectly because if I had been those things I had wished for; those things culture said I should be, I might have become a supermodel movie star living in California or New York and then there would be no fabulous marriage to Dave and certainly no Kevin, Jason or Shannon Wohlfert. God made me perfectly for the purpose He has intended…and I don’t know everything about that plan yet but I know He will reveal it to me one day at a time…and whatever it is…it will be joyful…because it’s His work.
Today is the perfect day to look at yourself and see Christ. How is He working in you, what parts of yourself can you see that are perfectly and wonderfully made? He loves you and clear as a bell right from this passage in Wisdom, we can be assured that God cannot loath what He made or hate what He fashioned. This reading is begging us to remember God loves us simply because He made us. If you have ever looked carefully at a lady bug, you’ll notice they are exactly the same on each side…the detail in the pattern of their tiny spots is amazing. It’s also amazing that God would create a butterfly to be able to find its way to Mexico…without a built in
GPS. Now, since humans are the only being created in His Image and Likeness, that makes us way more valuable than an insect so if He took the time to put the perfect dots on a ladybug’s back and to design the flight pattern of the butterfly, don’t you think He put at least a hundred times more thought, love and perfection into the creation of the being made to be most like Him?
I suppose today is a great day to stop worrying about what God didn’t create us to be, and focus on how wonderfully and perfectly He did create us. Today is the perfect day to realize it isn’t always about us. God may have created us to be who we are, where we are because of someone else’s life we are supposed to touch. It’s probably a good idea to begin each day looking in the mirror at ourselves through the eyes of the Creator!
A Seed To Plant: Look in a mirror and make a list of five things God made
about you that are wonderful and perfect in His eyes!
Blessings on your day!
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