A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs
I remember many years ago when my brother Jim and I helped Mom
plan a 50th birthday party for my Dad. Mom left the room as Jim and I were addressing invitations and we began discussing how OLD 50 was, Jim in his unique humor said, “Dad was getting so old he could probably fart dust”. As I get closer to that age myself I’m amazed how fast the years fly by and how YOUNG 50 seems to me now.
We have one more day until we flip the page to a new month and a new year. I’m not sure how we got to the end of the calendar already but 2013, here we come! I think there is something exciting about hanging a new calendar inside the kitchen cupboard door. I like looking at all the empty boxes before they start getting filled up with events and appointments. I’m seriously hoping right about now there are at least a few of you who still keep a paper calendar…or are still a wee bit behind the technology revolution like I am.
I like the last day of the year because it’s the perfect time to look back and look ahead. I like to thumb through the 12 pages of the old calendar and remember events, activities and games and savor the memories of the year that’s ending. I also like to look at the fresh pages of the year that lies ahead and think about the possibilities and excitement of the blessings and trials and triumphs God has in store for me in 2013. It’s kind of like straddling the threshold of what we’re finishing and what we’re beginning.
However you look at it, it’s the perfect time for prayer. We should offer prayers of thanksgiving for the blessings of the past year and prayers to offer God all that will be in the New Year ahead. It’s the perfect time to dedicate 2013 to Him. Ask Him to be in charge of it ALL…right from the start! Promise to go where He leads you and ask Him to use the twelve pages of your new calendar to help you grow closer to Him and live the plan He has for you. Ask Him to guide you and love you and shower you with His grace and mercy each day of this New Year.
Lots of folks will take some time to jot down some resolutions. I think we only need one…to follow Him more closely. The closer we follow Him, the easier it is to be like Him and there is no resolution more important than that! Instead of making a silly little list of 43 things we’re going to change (42 of which we will forget by Valentine’s Day) ask Him to show you which things are getting between Him and you. Ask Him to show you what things in your life are adding stress, worry and pulling you away from Him. Then ask Him to show you how to replace them with His peace. Working on those things will be fruitful work and work that will be blessed. It’s not always easy work, but if it is inspired by Him, it will be important and worthwhile work. I
was reading a book by Matthew Kelly recently and one line smacked me right between the eyes. I’ve been saving it for this very post. The quote very simply said, Just get to the task…nobody can take your bath for you! I have to decide to make the changes, commitments and adjustments…by myself! That’s just all there is to it. I have to decide what I'm putting in God's way and then set about the business of getting it shoved to the side so He can draw me in!
A seed to plant: Before you get ready to celebrate this New Year’s Eve, take some time to pray about what God has planned for you in 2013. Ask Him to show you what stands in the way of you and Him then make a plan to change that!
Blessings on your day!
Merry Christmas everyone! I will be taking the week off to celebrate with family and friends. I hope you have a beautiful Christmas and I'll be back with joyful words next Monday the 31st!
Blessings on your day!
For unto us a child is born...Isaiah 9:6
As we enjoy these next few days leading us to Christmas we should take some time to focus our thoughts and prayers on readying ourselves for God’s gift of perfect love; His Son. Love is, after all the only reason God could possibly have for lavishing such a sinful people with such an extraordinary gift.
I read a little snippet from a story the other day about our world having more conveniences but less time; more degrees but less sense; deeper profits but shallower relationships; more medicine but less healthiness and tall men with short character. I understand how someone could read that little story and think it summed up all the woes of the world. After reading it, I realized that the farther our culture separates from
God and His love, the more out of balance things get. It seems easier to expect the world around us to change rather than put
our priorities in order and ask God for the grace and mercy to make changes in our own life. If each of us had an overwhelming desire to love and serve Him first and ourselves second, the world would change in an instant.
Many things have come along over the years that have changed the world. Henry Ford’s Model-T weighed 1,450 pounds and it changed the way the world moved. The first washing machine weighed over 250 pounds and it made cleaning things easier. The first computer weighed nearly one ton and it gave the world access to more knowledge and communication. As valuable, helpful and convenient as these and other modern changes are, they haven’t always changed our life for the better. In fact sometimes changes in our world
just muddy up the water and clutter our focus. Bigger, faster and more convenient isn’t always better. Sometimes all these changes lead us away from the love, peace and joy God sent His Son to this earth to bring us.
The most significant change for the people of God’s earth weighed only seven pounds and arrived in the most humble surrounding imaginable. There was no million dollar marketing scheme to prepare us for His arrival. There was no multi-million dollar Super Bowl commercial to get us all hyped up about His coming. There was simply a seven pound miracle that came to change EVERYTHING! If we would embrace it and all the Christ Child brought us, we could move through our days with hearts overflowing with joy. We would travel through life here on earth more easily than the first passengers in a Model-T. If we opened ourselves to God’s mercy and forgiveness, we would be washed whiter than any garment to pass through even the most efficient washing machine. If we would share the love that little seven pound wonder came to bring us, we would speak and act with more wisdom and knowledge than any computer could generate. Maybe, if we would slow down this Christmas to absorb the absolute Wonder and Awe of the coming of Christ, we would begin to find our balance and see that God sent His Son to earth to change us significantly.
A seed to plant: Take time this Christmas to gaze at the Christ Child in the manger and ask God to help you see what changes are needed to draw closer to Him. It’s ok to start small, after all the biggest change ever only weighed seven pounds.
Blessings on your day!
Praise the Lord, who is good; God’s love endures forever;
On our way back to the classroom after Mass on Friday, one of my little first grade lovelies looked up at me and said, “Mrs. Wohlfert, I know why God made the earth round.” I asked him “Why did God do that?” His reply was wise and priceless. He said,“Because round is a circle and a circle doesn’t have a beginning or an end and neither does God’s love, it just keeps going and going and going and never stops. Wasn’t that a good idea God had.” “One of His best”, I said with a wink and a smile.
We are so lucky aren’t we! We have a God and Father who will love us forever and ever no matter what. He loves us with a love that will never end and never change. Even when we drift away or forget to thank and praise Him for all He does, He’s still there lovin and lovin and lovin! I can’t think of a single thing as dependable as that. But I think we get busy sometimes and forget what an awesome gift that is. Even greater is the fact that it comes to us freely. We don’t have to earn it or deserve it or ask for it…it’s just there waiting for us to acknowledge and share with others.
Friday afternoon I was cleaning up the classroom table where the kids had been busy all afternoon gluing Christmas ornaments made of spiral pasta and popsicle stick. The glue was so thick and clumpy on the table I had to get out the sponge with the scratcher on one side. As I dunked that sponge into the scrub bucket, I realized that no matter how long I held it under water, there was a limited amount of water it had the capacity to hold. Until I squeezed some out and spread it on the table, there was no room for more. It made me think of the little guys words earlier that morning. God’s love does go on forever but if I squeeze out the love he lavishes on me and share it with others, He will be right there to fill me back up…just like I filled that sponge back up every time I dunked it in the bucket. We often wonder how we can evangelize or share the Gospel message. I think it’s like squeezing out the love God gave us all over others in order to make room for more. Every time we go out of our way to share His love, he immediately fills us back up. He simply CAN’T be outdone.
This week I was showered with a giant gush of God’s love. I woke up Thursday with a giant head ache but I didn’t want to miss school. It’s so much fun and so exciting this time of year! During Morning Prayer I made a deal with God. I promised that I would offer the suffering from my pounding head and queasy stomach for the benefit of my oldest son taking finals at MSU that day and for a little boy battling cancer. I told God every time I thought I wanted to complain, I would ask Him to bless them instead. Later that morning, I received a surprise package from a sweet, thoughtful lady in our community. The gift was a beautiful bag designed to carry my Bible. It has a pocket for a notebook and pens and embroidered on the front of the bag in my favorite color, purple, were the words Joyful Words. I was touched by that loving gift right down to the tip of my toes. As I finished admiring the gift and wiping the tears from my eyes as I read her touching note, I realized my headache was gone. I offered the gift of my inconvenience and discomfort out of love for two others and God blasted me back with a love even greater than I could have possibly given. He just can’t be outdone. If you’re not sure about that, give it a try. Give a giant heap of love away and just see how God fills your sponge back up!
A seed to plant: Go out of your way this week to give a loving gift to another. It could be a gift of your time, talent or patience and prayer then sit
back and take note of the blessings that come back around to you.
Blessings on your day!
For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Matthew 18:20
This is not at all the blog I was planning to write for all of you to read today. However, I was met with such a beautiful surprise today I just had to share it with all of you. The story really began last April so I’ll back up a wee bit and catch you all up.
Last April I got a phone call from a delightful lady named Ann. She works for First National Bank of America in East Lansing. I
had done a presentation at her church and she was calling to see if I would be willing to come and “Evangelize the ladies at the bank.” I nearly dropped the phone…evangelize at the bank??? When I questioned that statement she told me that the bank was a wonderful place founded by Christian men based on Christian principals and it was very much a part of the fabric of the bank and its people. I said YES as fast as I could.
I have since had the pleasure of returning to the bank to speak two more times. Today I arrived to give a program called, Lights…Tinsel…Gift Wrap and A Newborn King…Using Advent as a time to prepare for a Savior and not just a Holiday! I was excited as I walked up the steps and headed inside the big, beautiful almost majestic looking bank but what awaited me as I stepped into the lobby was a surprise I wasn’t expecting.
The reception area of the bank is a beautiful collection of deep, rich wood trim, marble floors and burgundy leather sofas and chairs but what stood in the spotlight was an extensive and beautifully painted Nativity Set. Imagine walking into a huge
bank and the main attraction to visitors and patrons is Baby Jesus! It took my breath away! As I made my way to the elevator, the main hallway displayed a large lovely Christmas banner which read; For today in the city of David a Savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. Luke 2:11 I stood a moment in stunned silence. Upon entering the elevator I noticed a framed work containing an excerpt from Queen Elizabeth’s 2011 Christmas address calling everyone to embrace the love of the Christ Child. A national leader embracing Christ...wow! Nearly fifty women joined together to share their lunch and ready their hearts for the Celebration of the arrival of the King!
First National Bank of America in East Lansing Michigan is a
wonderful place. I think we have a tendency to think of big business and corporate America as greedy and godless…not so at First National! It is the complete opposite and the friendship and laughter and faith I see in action there is heartwarming. Two or three or more than a hundred are gathered in His name and it shows!!! We’re quick to point out the things that are wrong with America…I wanted today’s post to point out something that is RIGHT with America! The fine folks at First National seem to understand that God is first and everything else flows from there.
A seed to plant: Find a way to share the true meaning of Christmas in a place others might not be expecting it.
Blessings on your day!
The person who is faithful with small matters is also faithful with great ones. Luke 16:10
Our task for the week: seek the SMALL and the SIMPLE! Seriously…I’m not kidding…our motto for the week should be “Little Is Lovely!” (Let me be clear, hips and thighs don’t count!!!) If I had any power of any kind, I would declare it National 'Little is Lovely Week!'
Christmas Eve is only two short weeks away and this is just about the time many of us go into our “Christmas Freak Out” and completely forget about the coming of a King! We have probably done some of our shopping and now we start to worry about whether the gifts we’ve purchased are good enough or big enough or fancy enough to out-do what we gave last year. That’s where the trouble starts to brew!
Many of Gods greatest gifts are small. Babies, flowers, butterfly’s, puppies and a Son who came to save us from our sinfulness are all small but yet so completely amazing they can make us stop in our tracks and take notice. God works among the small and simple parts of our lives. He shows His magnificence in the little details but yet we live in a culture that praises, rewards and almost requires bigger, better, bolder and over the top. It’s a good time to think about which influence we’d like to be shaped by. God wanted so badly to make things small and simple He even took His Ten
Commandments and broke them down into two very simple ones, Love God and Love others. How could we goof up something so simple!
Sometimes it’s the little things we take for granted. We don’t often think of the simple gift of time as something valuable we can wrap and put under the tree but it is. Instead of trying to find the newest toy or hottest appliance or trendiest outfit, give the simple gift of time. Give a now and later gift, a small
treat or gift card for now and a certificate for a lunch or dinner date together
later. A gift from a student one year that really touched my heart was a beautiful cookie, made and wrapped with a bow by the child complete with a card saying that child and her family had prayed for me and my family at supper each night for a week. Give the gift of an event, like bowling or a movie together. How about the gift of a promise? It could be a promise to
spend an hour or an afternoon doing whatever the recipient wants whether it be playing a game, cleaning the cupboards or helping with yard work. You could attach your promise to help with spring gardening to a new shovel or pair of work gloves. Be creative…be simple…be small! As you are trying to figure out how to bless the people you love, first remember to pray for them and ask the Creator who knows them best to help you decide how to bless them with a gift.
While we’re on the subject of little, how about spending a little or a little more time in prayer each morning so we can keep our hearts focused on the true meaning of the season. Be simple but be intentional. God loves Christmas and He’s the first one in line to help us keep focused and not overwhelmed by the way our culture can clutter up Christmas.
A seed to plant: Set your alarm to get up 15 minutes earlier this week and use those minutes in simple prayer, maybe reading the first two chapters of Luke’s Gospel. Second, take a look at your shopping and to-do list and pick 5 things to do smaller or simpler.
Blessings on your day!
…“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
I’m getting old and my brain can’t always remember the three things I needed to run into the store and grab, but as a mom, there are some events that happened years and years ago that I remember like it was yesterday.
One of those events happened on a snowy January afternoon LOTS of years ago. I had successfully gotten all three little Wohlfert’s down for a nap and I plunked into the chair with a cup of coffee to just enjoy a few minutes of peace and quiet before I started to tackle the kitchen, which looked somewhat like the aftermath of a tornado. About 15 minutes and one cup of coffee later, I began to feel guilty for just sitting around and I was mustering up the gumption to get to the kitchen when a loud, slow, steady sound began approaching. I remembered being startled and frozen with fear because I could not identify the sound. I kicked off the blanket, set down my coffee cup and carefully walked toward the sound. As I peered around the corner I realized the noise was being made by my two year old son Jason. There he stood in the middle of the kitchen floor, wearing nothing but a diaper and his daddy’s new cowboy boots. The sound was him trying to walk in those boots which went nearly as high as his diaper. I’m still not sure how he even hiked his pudgy little legs into those boots and managed to walk at all. I also wondered where his clothes were and how he’d managed to get out of bed and sneak downstairs all the way into our bedroom closet and find the boots.
I’ve listened for the sound of my children’s footsteps for nearly twenty years. I listened for footsteps to come into my room in the middle of the night to complain of a sick tummy or sore throat. I’ve listened for the sound of footsteps on Christmas and Easter morning creeping toward the living room to see what goodies might await them. I’ve listened for the sound of footsteps into the kitchen to ask for food or into the office to ask for help with homework. Probably the most prayerful waiting comes at this stage of life as I wait for the sound of footsteps that carry teenagers safely into the house at curfew time. With each sound of footsteps there is emotion. Sometimes it’s excitement or anticipation, sometimes it’s joy and sometimes it’s flat-out sheer relief!
I read this verse in one of my morning prayer books last week and I’ve been pre-occupied with the sound of footsteps since then. I remember my
mother-in-law (who is the mother of 10) talking about the distinct way each of her kids entered the house late at night. She could identify each of them without even being able to see who had just come home. I think our footsteps say a lot about us. Do we have an angry stomp or a lazy shuffle or are we so frazzled and rushed we nearly run everywhere we go? Sometimes we can even tell by the footsteps what a conversation is going to be like as a person approaches us.
I wonder what my footsteps sound like. I wonder what people expected to hear when they noticed my footsteps approaching. Do they expect good news or whining? Do they expect to be lifted up with something positive or drug down with something negative? I realize it’s a pretty silly little prayer but I found myself asking God to help me make sure my feet were the feet
that brought good news! It’s been my challenge this week to make sure that if someone heard me coming they could expect to hear good news; God’s good news of love and compassion and truth.
A seed to plant: Listen to your footsteps. Make it your personal challenge to bring the Good News to three people in the next 24 hours. Ask God
to put beauty in your footsteps each morning before your feet even hit the
Blessings on your day!
Be patient, therefore, until the coming of the Lord … James 5:7
Now that the calendar page is flipped to December the ultimate test of patience has come. I hang out with children each day and I am keenly aware that the first 24 days of December can be torturously long for them. They wait all year for Christmas and the last few weeks can seem like an eternity to them. I realized a few years ago they have something as children that we as adults seem to have lost. I can’t recall a single time when I’ve seen a group of twenty adults reduced to spontaneous laughter, giggling and wide-eyed excitement at the mere mention of a single word, but yet every day of December I can see it happen in my classroom when someone says the word…Christmas. They are instantly filled with joy, excitement and hope. They lose sight of everything else in the world while a Christmas discussion is taking place. Sometimes I say, “let’s count the days” just to hear them laugh and take a deep breath while they fix their eyes on the date December 25th. It’s so innocent and sincere…I have such a great job!
The kids get excited about the songs they will be singing in the school Christmas musical, knowing that their songs will help tell the story of Jesus’birth. They’re excited about being a shepherd or an angel at the children’s Christmas Eve Mass. They’re excited about the simple gifts they will lovingly make for their parents and they can’t wait to talk about all the exciting things they are seeing and doing to prepare. For them, it truly isn’t just about Santa and presents. They see it as more and it’s my awesome responsibility to help them see HOW MUCH more it really is!
They are excited about the things we as adults sometimes dread. We worry about the schedules, concerts, parties, shopping, presents and they see them as a important parts of the celebration and excitement of the season. I think there are two keys to the whole crazy thing. First, we need to stop and realize what we’re supposed to be excited about. Second, we need to be patient and enjoy the waiting and preparing. If the purpose of it all is to get ready for a King and to prepare to celebrate His coming, every last little detail should be done for His glory! The fine folks at BustedHalo.com produced a fabulous 2 minute Advent video and I was struck by the words "if you're tired of Christmas by December 25th, you haven't done Advent right."
The kids don’t worry about whether everything matches, coordinates or reflects the most recent Martha Steward holiday décor trend; that takes too much time and energy for them. When the kids are making their parents Christmas gift there is never a thought about fashion, utility, practicality or impression. They just use two pounds of glue and a half-a-cup of glitter and know that their parents will love it because they made it out of love for them. They don’t understand all there is to know about the Word Incarnate, they are just excited that a baby came and it was the most important baby EVER!
Maybe it’s because I’m getting old, or maybe it’s because my kids are growing up but I’m learning so much about the joy of Christmas through the excited eyes of my first graders. They are teaching me to be patient this Advent. I will ask to grow in patience because I really want my heart to be ready for the miracle of Christmas this year. I want to be ready to open the gift of God’s love on Christmas Eve with an enthusiasm and delight I haven’t felt since I opened my first baby doll. I want to be patient because I want to
use this time of Advent to prepare myself and my little first grade lovelies to understand how amazing the promise of Jesus’ coming really is. Finally I want to be patient because people learn by our example and our actions and not so much by our words. I keep thinking that if we do this right, maybe, just maybe, we will be able to continue the excitement and hope of Jesus’ coming all year.
A seed to plant: Take a look at your December to do list and carefully ask yourself which things you’re doing out of obligation, and which things you’re doing to prepare for the coming of a Savior. Perhaps you’ll be inspired to “re-do” your “to-do”list. Be patient…Jesus is coming!
Blessings on your day!
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