Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour. Matthew 25:13
I love Tuesday’s! That’s the day students file in, find a seat and get ready for “Tuesday Tunes”! The process is very simple and I’m amazed each week at how something so simple can be so fun and powerful. After I play a song we talk about what God might be speaking to us through the lyrics. I’m always amazed at the way some kids react and respond. I’m continually surprised at how the same set of words can mean something so different to each of them; and the way some of them dig half-way to China and grab a deep nugget of wisdom and insight never ceases to amaze me!
The Tuesday before Christmas break I played a song called Born In Me by Francesca Battestelli. If you haven’t heard it make sure you head over to YouTube when you’re done reading to check it out; it’s an incredible song. When the song finished there was just silence in all four classes. They were thinking and studying the image of the Baby Jesus at the end of the song. It was pretty amazing to see a room full of middle lovelies just entranced by a song. There was a line in the song that said “I will hold you in the beginning and you’ll hold me in the end.” Several said that was Mary talking simply saying Mary held Jesus when he was a baby and then Jesus will hold her in his arms when she comes to heaven. One dug really deep and said he thought it was God speaking to us saying “I held you in my hands and made you in my image as I created you and after you have lived your life well on earth, you will return to me and I will hold you again.” May I remind you this child was 12! Amazing!
Another line they found powerful was the line that said “I’ll make my heart your Bethlehem” What a beautiful thought! A few of the middle lovelies were sure that meant that Jesus came to Bethlehem the first Christmas but as he finished his life on earth we simply celebrate his return to our hearts each Christmas. Beautiful…and then another one said; “We have to work really hard to make sure our heart is pure, clean and wide open because if our heart is to be his home, we don’t want him to find there is no room at the inn again!”
The kids picked up on the line that said, “If You’re pleased with me why am I so terrified?” I loved the thoughts on this line. There were the obvious ones like, she was afraid of what her Joseph, her parents and family would say and she was afraid of the unknown. But then it happened…someone went in a direction I’d never considered and said, “I think Mary was terrified because she wanted to make sure she could protect God’s son. I can’t always protect my iPod and my cat; I can’t imagine how scared I would be to be in charge of Jesus! I just think she was afraid to disappoint God because disappointing your parents is really a bad feeling.”
The last line that really struck them said “The only thing my heart can offer is a vacancy.” One class fell silent when a very humble and honest young man said, “I don’t even think I can offer that most of the time. I spend too much time being selfish, playing and doing what I want to that I don’t think there is enough room in my heart for Jesus.” Holy Cow! I think he spoke for all of us and opened the door for amazing discussion on the ways we can make sure our heart can offer a vacancy to the Newborn King.
It was more powerful than you average Tuesday that’s for sure! If you’re looking for a new way to sit in quiet prayer you might try a Tuesday Tune of your own…on any day you like. Just play it and see what lines hit your heart and then spend some prayerful minutes just pondering the words and the message.
A Seed To Plant: Find Born In Me and give it a prayerful listen.
Blessings on your day!
For unto us a child is born...Isaiah 9:6
As we enjoy these days of Christmas we should take some time to focus our thoughts and prayers on 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.
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!
God danced among the common and that night…he did a waltz. Max Lucado
Happy Christmas Eve! So how was your Advent? I hope you were able to make a little room in your heart and get ready for the wee Baby Jesus! What, you didn’t have an hour of uninterrupted silent prayer each day? What do you mean, you felt frazzled and stressed instead of calm and prayerful? Are you kidding, you don’t really feel all that much different than you did the first Sunday of Advent?
Welcome to the club! Believe me, I get it! How many times did your kids get the flu or did auto or home repair bills catch you by surprise? How many Christmas programs did you squeeze in between working late, eating too much sugar and going to 45 school events since Advent began? Isn’t it funny how we begin Advent with such high hopes to be calm and enjoy and wait and prepare but we end up rattled, exhausted, low on money and wishing Advent came AFTER Christmas when we had more time to focus on it! The good news is; we still have a few hours! Think of this post as an Advent Sprint Finish how-to!
First of all, I’d be willing to bet that your Advent had more shining moments that you realize. Take a few minutes of still and quiet today and reflect back on the last three weeks. Did you pray a little more? Were you a little more mindful of the needs of others? Did you do something to take care of the struggling, the hungry or the needy during Advent? Maybe you read or listened to something good for your soul or payed a little more attention to the homily or the Scripture Readings. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you call to mind the little ways you opened your heart to prepare. You may not string it all together but he certainly does.
Just because Advent is a whole season, it’s still just a window of time made up of smaller moments. Loving the Lord and growing in Discipleship isn’t all or nothing! It’s about chunks of times when we take little steps forward. My tall sons can get across a room faster than I can with their long legs but it doesn’t mean their trip is better, it just means they traveled a little differently than me. Don’t let Advent guilt skulk into your heart today…its’ Christmas Eve and a miracle is about to take place. It’s the eve of the night of Wonder and Awe! It’s the night we celebrate the beginning of God’s humanity. It’s the night that we remember how powerfully God showed his love for us. He reached down and put his son in the arms of a teenage girl so we could join him in heaven as saints! There is no room for guilt or worry or feelings of unworthiness today! We’ve got a party to get ready for!
Company comes often and sometimes I’m ready for them. Sometimes I have plenty of time to prepare and put flowers and homemade goodies on my guests bed side table. Those are the times everything is scrubbed and shiny and all the favorite foods are prepared. Other times, I have from the time a guest pulls into the driveway and makes it to the front door to get ready. Either way, I love having guests and the quality of my preparation has very little to do with the beauty of the visit. You may have had a great Advent getting ready or you may be doing “Newborn King Prep” at warped speed today but either way, Jesus is coming and he’s gonna be awesome regardless of what we’ve done. At this point, the most important task is all that remains….OPEN THE DOOR OF YOUR HEART AND LET HIM IN!
Merry Christmas My Friends!
Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
If you were to give yourself a score between 1 and 10; 10 being awesome, how would you score yourself at waiting? Are you patient, still and peaceful as you wait or are you fidgety, anxious and impatient? What would you think if I told you I was going to give you a free trip to sit in a waiting room? I’m not sure how many would find that much of a trip at all but maybe it could be if we took a different look at waiting and the things that can happen to us while we wait.
One December many years ago I remember sitting in waiting rooms at Mayo Clinic with Mom for an entire week. I am reminded of a simple blessing of all that waiting each year when I put up our Nativity set. As we waited and waited, I began to visit with people who were also waiting and there was one particular couple from Wisconsin that made the waiting so much better. Throughout the week he would whittle little pieces of wood and she would card wool from the sheep they raised. On the last day we were at the clinic they told Dad and me they would be praying for us and they handed each of us a set of nativity animals made from the wood he had carved and whittled and the wool she had carded. Each year as I unpack them I pray for that couple and remember the gift of their talent and their friendship and prayers during a time of frustrated waiting. They were our Mayo clinic blessing; a waiting blessing.
I think we’re all waiting for something. What are you waiting for? Maybe you’re waiting for a new job, or a headache to go away. Perhaps your wait is more serious like waiting for a baby, for test results, a lost love to return or for a diagnosis. Perhaps you’re waiting for someone to get car keys so you don’t have so much carpooling to do or for a little one to finally sleep through the night or master the art of potty training. Many are waiting for a blanket of sadness, grief or loneliness to be lifted from their heavy heart. We spend months just waiting for something to start and something to stop so something else can start. The honest truth is, many of us are simply waiting on God to organize our life just the way we’ve been planning it; just waiting for him to do his job the way we’d like it. Since we spend so much time waiting, the kind of waiter we are matters.
The prophet Isaiah promised that those who waited on the Lord would have their strength renewed. I could use a little of that! The fruit of waiting patiently is peace. That peace gives way to humility and docility. What if we invited God into our waiting? What if we offered him the seat right next to us? Through that attitude of humility and docility that comes with peace, we might begin to realize that the job we’ve been waiting for might not be ours at all; maybe it’s the perfect job for someone else. What if that person we’ve been waiting to love us is meant to love somebody else because God has someone chosen that will love us far more than the person we had in mind ever could. What if healing meant making our soul healthier than our body so we could enjoy eternity with Jesus instead of spending more years on earth? What if we became so good at waiting we grew in humility to such a point we rejoiced when others got something and we forgot we were even waiting in the first place? What if we realized all of the waiting we do has a great purpose; one we usually can’t see. Not to worry, God can see it and someday we’ll figure it out and realize when we patiently wait for him to bring everything to complete perfection, we are blessed with something so much better than we even hoped for!
Isaiah said that we would not grow weary or faint. How can that be? Worrying and waiting is exhausting, everybody knows that. Well, here’s a news flash, waiting is supposed to be an inactive thing so we shouldn’t be worn out. If we are waiting right we are in peace, letting time pass with contentment knowing God has it all under control. Instead we get worn out because we fight and squirm and wrestle with God’s plan confident he’s forgotten, or misunderstood our needs. When I get like that I hear my mother’s voice say, “Now Sheri Ann, just settle down miss, settle down!” Good advice as always mom! Advent seems to be a great time to practice our waiting! Ready…set…wait!
A Seed To Plant: What are you waiting for? Make a list and ask God to take your worries and “waiting for’s” and exchange them for peace and patience.
Blessings on your day!
“I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.” Psalm 130:5-6
Advent is the season of waiting! I’ve been waiting to get caught up, waiting for a break in the action to Christmas shop, waiting for a couple of hours to bake cookies, waiting to sit still and enjoy the quiet. It’s funny…this weekend as I had no internet access for some funky reason, I got all I was waiting for. I didn’t have any bookings this weekend and all my kids came home to eat a couple of times and I read nearly a whole book.
Since I couldn’t put together a post and get it up and running without internet, I was scrambling before school to get something put together. Somewhere between finishing the prep for morning prayer for the staff and lunch count, I lost what I had started typing so…todays post is nothing more than a reflection on the fruits of my weekend…just God’s goodness. His gift was peace and still and I will be praying you can enjoy the same in these remaining days before Christmas.
Now, to get the internet figured out…and get the Christmas shopping started. I’m all fueled up on peace so here I go!
Blessings on your day!
"And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:3
Have you ever put something aside in a “safe place” only to discover a few weeks or months (or maybe even a few hours) later you can’t remember where that safe place is? Maybe it’s just me but the older I get the more time I spend trying to find safe places. A while back, someone sent me the message in today’s post and I put it in a safe place. Months later, ta-da! I guess I’ll call it Gods excellent timing because I just happened to stumble across it last week while I was preparing for an Advent by Candlelight event I had been invited to speak at and the words were a perfect fit with the message of the evening. As I think about ways to make Advent more meaningful, this was the perfect thing to find. I hope in these words you can find some things to prayerfully ponder and maybe even change in order to put things in the right perspective and get ready for the birth of our Savior.
THE PARADOX OF OUR AGE
We have bigger houses but smaller families;
more conveniences, but less time.
We have more education but less sense;
more knowledge, but less judgment;
more experts, but more problems;
more medicines, but less healthiness.
We've been all the way to the moon and back,
but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor.
We build more computers to hold more information,
to produce more copies than ever,
but have less communication.
We have become long on quantity but short on quality.
These are times of fast foods, but slow digestion;
tall men but short character;
steep profits but shallow relationships.
It's a time when there is much in the window,
but nothing in the room.
I hope somewhere in that story you can find a little nugget or two to work on, I know I see several! A few of the middle lovelies told me last week they were committing to less time “on screen” and more time “in prayer” this Advent. I promised I’d join them because I can’t be in charge of the world and fix all the issues this little story points out, but I can be in charge of my own heart and my own home…and that’s really all God ever asks us to do. He doesn’t ask for perfection, only participation. Please join me this week in pondering these words. The last line really hit me; much in the window but nothing in the room; if the room is my heart I’m petrified at the thought of nothing; but I rejoice at the thought of Jesus taking up all the space in my heart.
A Seed To Plant: Take this story into your prayer time and really ponder what God might be leading you to do or change as you use this Advent Season to prepare for His coming.
Blessings on your day!
He will be great…Luke 1:32
Molly was her name. She was plastic, had fuzzy brown hair and eyelids that opened and closed when I put her down or picked her up. I would rock her, cuddle her and carry her everywhere. Molly the dolly, made me realize how much I wanted to be a mother; it was my biggest prayer. After my first child, my prayer changed. From that point, until this very day, I have prayed daily for the same thing; Lord, whatever it takes for the sanctification of my children, please do it. That can be a scary prayer, but as I pray it, I remember that he loves my kids more than I do and that brings great peace!
As I read this Gospel I am struck by two verses; He will be great & you have found favor with God. As parents, we worry and wonder about our children; have we loved them enough, taught them enough, instilled enough faith; so imagine the stunning relief if you heard a messenger of God, say about your child, “He will be great.” What would that sigh of relief even sound like if we knew for sure that our children would achieve greatness in the eyes of God? And what would we do with all the minutes we spend thinking about their holiness and happiness? At first, the two verses seemed separate, but then the Holy Spirit helped me see that if desiring and praying for our children's holiness is a top priority, then we’re doing exactly what God asked us to do when he placed that little life in our womb.
As we enter the second week of Advent we continue to prepare to celebrate the birth of God’s Son. Our Nativity scenes are up and the focal point is the Baby Jesus. God chose to send the Savior as a baby because he knew he would be loved, accepted and adored. Nobody is afraid of or threatened by a cute little baby. We find babies lovable and perfect. As we get our hearts ready, we would do well to ponder the ways God finds us lovable, perfect and would like to come into our lives and make us great. He wants to bring us his peace in this busy time. He wants to remind us how much he loves us. I think I’ll take a lesson from Molly the Dolly and lay down so my eyes shut and my fuzzy brown hair hits the pillow and just be still while I ponder all the ways God finds favor with his children and tries to help them be great.
A Seed To Plant: How would you like to invite Jesus into your life and make you grow in the greatness the Father has planned for you?
Blessings on your day!
…a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one. Matthew 19:5
Some things just go together. Salt and pepper, peanut butter and jelly, thunder and lightning and now the newest addition to that list; Jason and Katie! On Saturday there was curly hair, fancy clothes, shiny shoes, pretty flowers and hugs galore. The music was lovely, the food was delicious and the laughter was contagious. The flower girl was a delight to watch and the friends and family that gathered to celebrate were a collection of the finest folks you could know. I think I was prepared for all of that but then there were the surprises; the things that took my breath away and left my heart all warm and melty.
I wasn't ready to see the group of groomsmen who played at my house as little boys and sat in my classroom as elementary students, dressed in tuxedos all grown up and completely handsome. I hadn’t thought about what it would be like to look across the dance floor and spot dozens of former students dancing at a function that wasn’t the senior prom. I wasn’t ready for the emotion that came from watching an older brother standing next to the guy he’d wrestled with and harassed and loved for a couple of decades with such a proud smile. I wasn’t quite prepared to listen to him toast his little brother and pull wedding rings out of his pocket so Jason could seal his promise to the lovely girl from the next town to the north. I didn’t know quite how to feel as I sat in pew three looking at my handsome sons on the altar and listening to their little sisters gorgeous voice drift down from the choir loft above. I didn’t count on the explosion of emotion as my three little Wohlferts became four and stood at the altar looking all grown up.
The part I really wasn’t able to prepare for was watching my son make the same promises to his bride that his dad made to me many years ago. I couldn’t cry when I saw the smile that took up his whole face when he saw his gorgeous Katie coming down that aisle. I’ve never seen happy in such living color as I did when he took her arm and walked her to the top step of the altar! I’ve heard wedding vows before but they sounded so different when they came from the voice of my son. I’ve had lots of proud mama moments over the last couple of decades but knowing that someone so lovely, so genuinely good inside and out had chosen my son to spend her whole life with was a pride I’ve never felt. Listening to the things they wrote about each others faith and desire to put Christ at the center of their marriage and help each other follow God’s plan made my heart swell in a way I’m not quite sure I can describe in words.
My grandma told me that you have to find a spouse who could help you get to heaven. When I found that spouse 27 years ago, I started praying that my children would find theirs too. I wasn’t prepared to know how thankful I’d feel that God answered that prayer so perfectly for Jason and Katie. It was a happy day, a beautiful day, a fun day…a perfect day! As I soaked in all the emotion and sat watching the day unfold in joy and gratitude for the grace and blessings we were all neck deep in, I had a thought. As splendidly perfect as the day was, it was just a teeny reflection of the love our Father has for us. Feeling the power of that truth my friends, was something I really wasn’t prepared for; it hit me like a ton of bricks. It was as if he whispered to me, “Sheri, all this happiness, joy, beauty, celebration; it’s just a shadow of what I feel for all of my children every minute of every day.”
Thanks to all of you for the prayers, they were felt, they were seen and they manifested into an absolutely perfect day!
A Seed To Plant: Tell someone you love them today!
Blessings on your day!
Stay Awake! Matthew 24:42
Holy cow…did December sneak up on anybody else? I used to invisibly roll my eyes in youthful disrespect when “older” people said, “oh just wait; the older you get the faster time goes by!” The older I get, the more truth I discover in those words! Does anyone else ever feel like hitting the pause button long enough to get caught up?
This past weekend we began the season of Advent. I have a new Advent attitude this year. My new attitude comes from some extra prayer and study about the preparation season leading up to the birth of Christ. I discovered some simple truths and beautiful thoughts for all of us as we stand at the edge of advent. I hope they give you a new perspective on this often stressful, hectic, perhaps even chaotic month. Stay awake fits…not because we’re exhausted by all the activity but because we need to be awake and tuned in to the gift of God’s Son or Christmas becomes nothing more than another day.
Popular culture and the wonderful world of retail sales catapulted us into Christmas right after the last bag of Halloween candy left the shelf but those of us who yearn for the true meaning…the deeper meaning…the life changing meaning of Christmas need to be willing to wait a little. As a society, we aren’t very good at waiting! We like everything quickly and conveniently and we sometimes get lost in the “one-up” philosophy that often drives our ambitions and our actions. If you feel even a little part of that thinking seeping into your heart or thoughts, sit still for a minute and think about Advent.
If the season of Advent could be summed up in two words, they would be PATIENTLY WAITING! Yikes…really…but when will the shopping and baking and decorating and celebrating happen if we just sit around waiting? Good question I suppose, but maybe the answer is right in front of us…maybe we don’t have to spend so much time focused on all those things. If those are the things that take away from really “getting” Christmas maybe a prayerful re-vamp of December priorities is in order. I think that’s the point of this post! I have a few big questions for all of us…ready…Is walking into church on Christmas Eve or Christmas Morning the highlight of your December? What consumes more time; shopping for the perfect gifts or preparing to receive the perfect gift of God’s Son? And finally, would you like to spend Christmas wrapped up in the Wonder and Awe lying in the manger or exhausted, sick of the decorations and ready to flip the page and clean up the mess? Jesus is bigger than one day!
God sent the gift of His Son in a tiny, humble, simple beginning…He figured we could relate to that. I think He felt like each of us could accept and believe something so “real”. Each December He gives us the chance to re-live the true meaning of His gift. Each December we have a chance to clean our spiritual house to prepare for Him to dwell in our hearts. That only happens through still, quiet prayer and a desire on our part to seek Him and be blessed beyond measure by the true gift of Christmas. I’m sure some of you are tempted to scream at your screen at me and say…geez Sheri…it’s the busiest month of the year and you are suggesting I take time I already don’t have enough of to sit still and pray for my heart to be ready for the New Born King! ABSOLUTELY!!! Scream away, but that’s exactly what I’m challenging all of us to do this December. I have to let you in on a secret…God can multiply time! If you unselfishly, trustingly, prayerfully give Him some of your day, He will bless you unbelievably. Be honest as you start your prayer, say to Him, “God, I’ve got SO much to do today, please know these 10 or 15 minutes I’m going to sit here in prayer are precious. Please take my busy day and show me how to make You a part of it. Bless my actions and my words and my tasks.” Then my friends…stand back and prepare to be amazed at what He will do! If you aren’t sure what to do with that prayer time, read the story…the Christmas story from the Annunciation all the way through the Magi. Read it little by little again and again asking God to get your heart ready. Ask Him to make this Christmas about His Son…His gift and not so much about all the other stuff. I know it may sound crazy but invite God to go shopping with you…He has made some amazing gifts “appear” when I had no ideas and very little budget. Invite Him into all of it, asking Him to help you keep His Son as the focus.
I figure if I do Advent right, I will go to Mass Christmas Eve with my family and be so filled with joy and gratitude my heart will feel like it just might burst! I want to FEEL the meaning of Christmas! That’s my goal this December.
A Seed To Plant: Take the first step today…sit in quiet prayer and ask God to show you how to “do December” with a spirit of prayerful anticipation of the most amazing gift imaginable; His Son.
Blessings on your day!
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