Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28
I love rocking chairs and my favorite place to rock is outside on a porch or a deck. When I have the chance to sit and rock, there is a peace and calm that just seem to wash over me. It’s funny how quickly you fall into a gentle rhythm when you rock; something often missing from the chaos of our days. There are a lot of things we do quickly but rocking in a rocking chair isn’t really one of them. Its funny how just a few minutes of gently moving back and forth can cause you to slow your roll and breathe.
In all honesty, I’ve never really thought too much about rocking until this weekend. I was sitting in a rocking chair on a patio looking out at the dry Texas Prairie. I was just taking in all the beauty of the redish brown dirt and dry landscape. I noticed as I rocked that it was so flat I could see for miles. I sat there just soaking it all in watching a couple of rabbits hopping around amongst the rose bushes. It was dry and hot but the wind was blowing a bit so I didn’t really notice the heat. The view was beautiful in its own way. As I rocked, it occurred to me that just last weekend I was rocking in West Virginia and the view was so very different. As I rocked last weekend I looked out on the tree covered mountains. Everything was green and there were flowers of every color within my view. From that rocker I could also see and hear two beautiful fountains. I remember just sitting there soaking it all in until the mosquitoes chased me inside.
As I rocked away in West Texas thinking about rocking in West Virginia I thought about rocking on my own front porch looking out at the corn field as we chatted with the neighbors who stopped by for a visit. This summer I’ve rocked in a lot of different places. I got the chance to rock on the porch with my dad and my brother who live more than 600 miles away. I’ve rocked and prayed. I’ve rocked and laughed. I’ve rocked and sipped hot coffee. And last night I rocked and cried as I prayed for the soul of my good friends dad who lost his battle with cancer. This summer I’ve rocked babies to sleep and listened to the tales of my favorite new nurse. As I type this blog on a late night flight back home to Michigan I realized the Father has used something I love to teach me something important.
As I pondered all my “rocking” it occurred to me that those times stick so vividly in my mind because the all have something in common. I slowed down and opened my eyes to what was around me. In the slow gentle rhythm of the rocker I was able to soak in the beauty of my surroundings. I was able to soak in the presence of those rocking with me. I was able to just be still, shut up and take in all in. When I think about it, I was really seeing God and his goodness in the Texas prairie and the West Virginia mountains and the Clinton County corn and in the sleepy baby Francis and the giggly baby Silas. I felt the love of God as I laughed and prayed with family and friends. In a rocker I am reminded of the slow and gentle ways God is a part of the rhythm of every moment of every day. The trick however is to slow down and recognize it.
I love how fancy God gets sometimes with his lessons. It would have been so easy for him to make something in my life come to a crazy screeching halt to teach me to slow down but instead he let me learn while enjoying some beautiful stuff and people all while rocking in my chair. Is he great or what!
A Seed To Plant: Take a few minutes this week and sit in a rocking chair. Let yourself slow down and allow God grant you some peace.
Blessings on your day!
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased, listen to him.” Matthew 17:5
In the first half of chapter 17 in Matthew’s Gospel we read the magnificent story of the Transfiguration. You would think that after seeing something as indescribably amazing as the Transfiguration, Peter, James and John would never doubt or struggle with trusting the will of God again. I mean really, after seeing what they had just seen how could they ever doubt, question or stray from God again. But in his infinite wisdom I think God knew they would because they were human so as if the events of the day hadn’t been powerful enough, he included a simple and precise verbal statement, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” The key phrase is at the end…listen to him. I don’t know about you but I sure could use that reminder every now and again.
I had a professor in college one time that handed out a test. It was the standard fill in the bubble test that we had seen dozens of times before. As the question and answer sheets circulated around the room he strongly advised waiting until he had finished making announcements and giving directions before beginning. I’m a people pleaser so I sat there listening to him ramble on as I watched everyone around me quickly reading and filling in bubbles. I was just about ready to tune him out and get started when I heard him quietly say, if you’re still listening to my voice, put down your pencil, don’t say a word and in five minutes bring your test forward, you will receive a perfect score on today’s exam. I thought a perfect exam score was awesome but as I read this passage from Matthew, I realized what I could gain from listening to HIM would most certainly blow that right out of the water!
God demonstrates his power and presence in our lives all the time but in our weakness; we often don’t listen to him. Sometimes it’s as if God’s grand workings in our lives make us feel entitled to float along with independent holiness instead of falling to our knees in thanksgiving and submission. I’m famous for taking the “holy glow feeling” that comes from identifying God’s handiwork and using it to plug along on my own instead of truly listening to him. I have to remember to listen and look for Jesus all the time; in times of blessing as well as times of struggle. He knows what’s best, he knows what’s right, and even when I’m in the middle of a hissy fit determined to do it my own way, he just patiently waits for me to listen and do it his way!
A Seed To Plant: When do I find it most difficult to “listen to him?” Father of wisdom, show me where I need to listen and guide me to live my life like I’ve heard your voice.
Blessings on your day!
Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, (love) is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…1 Corinthians 13:4-8
I remember hearing a long time ago that if you were dating a person and you wanted to really understand if they were the “right person” you should read this passage from 1 Corinthians and insert their name. I thought that was excellent thinking but I was already married so I didn’t give it much thought. I have no idea what made it pop into my head the other day but it just sat there. Today I woke up to the news of more shootings and more folks sharing their opinions about gun control evil people and the woes of the world.
As the bad news bubbled in my heart I came across this quote by St. Teresa of Calcutta. "Spread love everywhere you go: first of all in your own house. Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to a next door neighbor... Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting.” I’m not sure we understand how important it is to love one another. It was the basic command of Jesus yet we seem to get it so very twisted up.
As all of this tumbled around in my heart and my head I remembered that I have absolutely no control over anyone else actions but my own and it made me start to think about how I loved others. The teacher in me thought about a scoring rubric or grading scale for judging my “love ability.” Somewhere in the middle of a really long bike ride on a beautiful Sunday afternoon this reading had a purpose and I realized the rubric already existed. I pulled out the New Testament, found 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and began to read it slowly inserting my own name. It sounded like this, “Sheri is patient, Sheri is kind. Sheri is not jealous, Sheri is not pompous…” I’ll be honest, there were parts I really couldn’t say out loud because they weren’t consistently true. I wanted to say “Sheri is not quick-tempered…most of the time or Sheri endures almost all things.” It was not an easy read! It was glaringly obvious where I fall short.
I can’t change the world but I can change me. There will always be awful stuff going on in the world, there always has been and one powerless teacher from Michigan isn’t going to end world violence but God isn’t asking me to. He’s asking me to love others as he loves me. This reading from St. Paul’s letter is a great place to start. The cool thing about it is, if I try harder to get it right, not only will I feel better, but the Father will be pleased and who doesn’t want a new way to please the Father. It might sound so simple but I really believe the world will get better if we all learn to love a little harder.
Blessings on your day!
A Seed To Plant: Spend some quiet minutes reading this passage and inserting your name and see where the Holy Spirit leads your heart.
Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, his love is everlasting. 1Thessalonians 5:18
Todays post is more of a homework assignment than a message. I keep running across a quote which I'm sure is familiar to many of you. It's funny how it just keeps popping up so I'm guessing that's a pretty clear message for me and perhaps for you too. It's actually perfect timing too because I'm on the road and this was just the perfect quick little nugget for an already late Thursday post. My prayer is that the Lord does something beautiful in your heart with this homework assignment.
Here's the quote: "What if you woke up and the only things you had left were the things your thanked God for the day before?"
The assignment: Pray on those words for a while and then make a list of what you would have today. The second part of your assignment is to make a list of the things you want to make sure you wake up with tomorrow. And just so you know..."THANK YOU GOD FOR EVERYTHING" is cheating. Let's really take some time to go through a detailed accounting of all the things we need to say thank you for.
Blessings on your day!
Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5
Every now and again I run across something that just doesn’t seem to belong or have relevance anymore. I was cleaning closets recently and found an old rotary dial phone with a long spiral cord. I also have a potato slicer and French fry cutter that belonged to my Grandma Thelma. She used it in her kitchen when I was little girl. Both of those items have been replaced with more modern, convenient, efficient updated models so the old ones are cast aside as if they are no longer useful. There is a key word in this scripture passage from St. Matthew’s gospel that might seem as irrelevant as those old treasures hiding in my closet. That word is meek.
We strive to be strong and successful. We pray for the grace of patience, perseverance and wisdom. We admire people who are confident, powerful leaders with vision. To tell others our goal is to grow in meekness would be a little like seeing a rotary dial phone in a Verizon store! To be honest, when I came across the word meek the other day I decided to give it a look and some prayer. I think I need to change my opinion about that word. I think it’s a word we might all be able to relate to better than we thought and I’m certain it’s something we could use more of.
Long ago in biblical times the quality of meekness was highly respected and aspired to. We tend to view it as weak, timid or passive but that was not the message Jesus was teaching when he shared the Sermon on the Mount. Meekness in its true meaning is the opposite of those things. Being meek doesn’t mean you are weak and have to take everything like a door mat, it means an active and deliberate acceptance of undesirable circumstances that are part of a bigger picture we can’t see. Being meek doesn’t mean throwing in the towel, it means giving God authority to do what he wills with our life. True meekness can be measured by how closely related we are to the will of the Father. When we make that relationship first, we are content in his love and his control of our life. If we let him be in charge we realize everything happens for a purpose and we trust in his plan. If we are more centered on ourselves and our comforts and our pride we tend to fuss and complain and point out all the things that don’t go our way. If we are low on meekness we tend to see the world through the lens of poor me instead of God’s got it all figured out!
If someone rich in meekness is treated unfairly or wrongly it doesn’t mean that doesn’t sting, but vengeance or revenge isn’t part of their reaction. Their first reaction is to pray for the person who has wronged them and give the rest to God. A meek soul realizes that God is the source of justice and that all situations contain lessons. Sometimes the lesson is for us and sometimes the lesson is for somebody else and taught through us. In order to grow in meekness, we have to admit regularly that we are not equal with God. Through our great dependence on Him we grow and we trust and we think WAY more about him than about ourselves. I suppose meekness is a bit like realizing we truly need to settle into second place and stop trying so hard to be in charge, on top and number one. I don’t know about you but I have a lot of meekness building to do!
A Seed To Plant: What are some of the areas in your life that could use a little more meekness? Spend some prayer time this week with this old word with a great and misunderstood meaning.
Blessings on your day!
“I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.” Proverbs 8:17
The day was so beautiful it caught me by surprise. I was driving to Indianapolis to pick up my girlie and about thirty minutes into the drive I had this overwhelming feeling of peace and gratitude. The weather was perfect. Blue sky, no humidity, bright sun and 75 degrees. The day couldn’t have been more perfect. In the quiet of my drive I realized that I had no impending deadlines, no yucky task that was pressing on my time and nowhere else I’d rather be at the moment. I couldn’t help but smile; one of those really deep smiles that comes from somewhere down around your knee caps! I just started to pray in gratitude for all the things that made it a perfect day.
As I was soaking it all in, my mind wandered to all those I love who are suffering. Families with sick loved ones and families facing tough decisions and folks knee deep in grief and struggle. I prayed for them one by one as they popped into my mind and wished they could be with me, enjoying the perfect day I was right in the middle of. The emotion of their pain and struggle washed over me and I felt it in my heart but after praying for each one, my mind and my heart went back to the perfect day God had laid out for me.
After another hundred miles I said out loud in my car, “Man I wish every day could be like this!” I smiled and drove on for a while and then it hit me. If every day was like this one, I wouldn’t be struck by the peace and I wouldn’t notice the perfection of such an ordinary day. Nothing was spectacular about the day. I hadn’t won anything, I didn’t have more money than I had the day before and the world was still full of pockets of ugly but the day was a gift. As I kept driving I realized that the purpose of days like this was to fill my soul with the grace, love, presence and tenderness of My Father for days that weren’t like this one.
I soaked it all up and in my mind I bottled it up to put away like a treasure in my heart and the next time the day isn’t so lovely or easy or perfect I’ll remember this day and know that more will come. I’ll remember what it felt like and what a gift it was and know it can’t last forever but then again neither can the yucky days. I’m grateful for the day and I’m curious about how many others there have been along the way that I missed. Mostly I just thanked him for the glory of a perfect ordinary day!
A Seed To Plant: Think about a day that was a perfect ordinary day and ask God to help you put that memory like a treasure in your heart to save for a day you need it.
Blessings on your day!
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8
I was walking through the living room with a load of laundry the other night and paused to see a hunting show Dave was watching. A small group of men were following a guide through brush and up inclines and through tall grass in pursuit of some kind of wild game. The guide led the way whacking out a path with a machete. All along the way the guide was pointing out the dangers and beauty of the trip and it really made me stop and think. The men following the guide had no idea where they were or where they were headed. They were unfamiliar with the path and had only a mental vision of the destination. They were fully dependent on the guide to lead them to the bounty or prize of the day.
I couldn’t get that show out of my mind for several days. All I could keep thinking about was how dreadful the whole adventure seemed to me. As the guide pointed out snakes and bee hives the size of Volkswagens and loose gravel near cliff edges I know for certain I would have turned around within the first few hundred yards and gone back to the camp to drink coffee.
On my next pass through the living room I noticed that the guide had indeed led the hunters to a beautiful clearing with a breathtaking view and exactly the game they had been in search of. After an adventurous hike filled with peaks, valleys, danger, delight and blind faith, they got exactly what they were hoping for. I walked out of the living thinking there was probably a lesson.
I have been blessed to share a rough journey with a few friends this summer. Each of these beautiful, strong women has faced fierce battles of different kinds. I’ve laughed, cried and prayed with and for these friends as they picked themselves up and trudged on after each setback. I’ve been inspired by their courage and faith and then it dawned on me; their lives were a little like the hunting show Dave was watching. Isn’t life like that sometimes; tough, dangerous and tricky to maneuver. The wrong turn can lead to more difficulty and forging off in an unknown direction without a guide would certainly not end well.
God is an awful lot like that hunting guide. He’s always ahead clearing a path and offering direction and warning. Even in the thick of it all, the only thing he asks is that we stay close and follow his lead so he can guide and protect us on our way to a destination far more beautiful than we could ever imagine. Just like the guide on the TV show, nobody was forced to follow but it sure made sense to do so. I had to ask myself what kind of follower I am. As I think back on that show, I see so many places in my life where I felt like I was stuck in thick brush and he led me through it every time and led me to a place greater than I had imagined. I suppose the next time I get stuck I’ll remember this image of God as my guide and trust and follow a little more easily.
A Seed To Plant: Are there some adventures going on in your life that you need to invite God to lead you through?
Blessings on your day!
Wait for the Lord, take courage; be stouthearted, wait for the Lord! Psalm 27:14
Wait is not my favorite word! I’m more of a GO kind of girl rather than a WAIT kind of girl! I saw a great quote the other day that said “Our willingness to wait reveals the value we place on the object we’re waiting for.” It made me stop a while and think about my posture and attitude while waiting, needless to say, I didn’t really like what I discovered about myself.
The quote caused me to stop and figure out what I was waiting for. As I began to make my list, I realized some of the things were pretty silly. When I thought about how much I actually valued some of the things on my list I understood why waiting is hard. Most of the things on my list weren’t important enough to wait for or really even wish for so I crossed all those off the list. When it boiled down to the bottom of the pot here’s what I learned; the only thing on my list really worth waiting patiently, courageously and stoutheartedly for…is meeting Jesus. Most of the stuff on my list, like Godly spouses and happy marriages for my children or fun, peaceful retirement will just come in Gods own time, but Heaven…that’s the one I need to focus on. I suppose if my focus is really truly there every day, everything else will be just as God desires…in his time…for his purpose and in his ultimate perfection. As I came to this conclusion my peace was interrupted by panic when I thought; what if God doesn’t give me what I’m waiting for? Then my heart answered my mind as only God can instruct it to and I heard; if he doesn’t give me what I’m waiting for, that means he’s got something better…just wait and see!
Here’s another thought I have about waiting, it isn’t work. It doesn’t require great effort like scrubbing the porch or organizing the office files or sorting the junk drawer. (All silly things I’ve been waiting for…I told you there was some silly stuff on my list!) If we truly live the words of this verse from Psalm 27 our lives will get instantly calmer, more peaceful and much easier. I’d like to end this post with a passage from Jim Beckman’s book God Help Me, “Think of the image of a sailboat. The boat doesn’t do anything burdensome to respond to the wind in its sails – it simply moves forward propelled by the wind. The sailboat responds by moving forward, but it is the wind that is carrying it.” What are you waiting for? If it is something of great value than be still and know God will provide the wind to move your sailboat! I’m thinking it just might be the perfect time to wish for a sailboat instead of a speedboat!
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of all the things you’re waiting for. (Silly ones too!) Tuck it away for a day or two. When you get it back out, ask God to give you eyes to see his plan and his timing as you evaluate each item on your list and think about its value.
Blessings on your day!
And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. Luke 2:19
I have a suspicion that there are some things in the world that are universal. I suspect we all wish the work week had two days and the weekend had five. I suspect we all enjoy the beauty of the sunrise and sunset and I suspect we all have a junk drawer somewhere in our house! I love having a place to stick all that stuff I might need later or don’t have any idea what to do with. When I shove stuff in there I secretly pray I’ll be able to quickly find that one thing buried in there when I need it. Of course I realize how embarrassed I’d be if anybody actually looked in my junk drawer.
As I read this passage from Luke’s Gospel I thought about the things Mary had in her heart to reflect on; it was big stuff for sure! I love how Luke used the word reflect instead of worry, plan, manage or fix . As I sat down to pray, I asked God to help me ponder and reflect on the things in my own heart. It didn’t take me long to realize my heart was a little like my kitchen junk drawer! It was full of a bunch of clunky stuff I probably didn’t need, wouldn’t really find very helpful and of course a bunch of stuff that didn’t really match anything. In all honesty, my heart was cluttered with of a bunch of junk I just keep there because it’s easier to shove it in than take the time and effort to truly sort it all out.
As I reflected on my heart, I’m afraid to say there was as much gunk and clunk there as I found in my drawer. I discovered some jealousy and some impatience and some judgement. For several days I carried this junky heart thinking around and God showed me so many things that needed to be tossed out. I realized I was hauling around memories and thoughts and silly wishes that were taking up space he wanted to fill with better stuff. I came to realize there was stuff in my heart that had about as much value as the random junk in my drawer. I’m pretty sure that lonely hot wheels tire and broken diaper pin has about as much usefulness as some of the feelings I’m guarding in the secret corners of my heart. I’m absolutely certain those junky things are not the kinds of things he’s encouraging me to ponder.
The thing about reflecting is that it’s a passive activity. Mary realized she could only reflect and trust. She wasn’t forming her action plan or trying to figure out how to get God to change the plan. She was confident that in all of her thoughts and situations he was going to be there. I ponder the fixes and the action instead of reflecting on all the ways God is going to show up and use every situation for good. I realized that my reflection is always “me” centered; what am I going to do, and this simple line from Luke’s Gospel reminded me in a powerful way that I’m completely missing the point. Reflecting on the stuff in my heart pointed me to the fact that I need to do some dumping, sorting and re-organizing. I have to dump it all out and let go of the junk that’s taking up valuable space…space that was designed for things so much more important. In the dumping and purging, the thing I will make room for is him and his mighty works. Just like the “treasures” in my junk drawer that I’m saving in case I need them, chances are, I truly don’t! Dumping out that drawer to sort and clean is going to seem overwhelming and make my kitchen look like a giant mess before it gets better. But I know the result will be fresh, tidy and open…that’s the kind of drawer I’m after and that’s the kind of heart God’s looking for.
A Seed To Plant: Take some time this week to clean out the junk! Take a prayerful look at what’s in your heart and then pick a drawer, closet or spot to sort and organize while you pray. The two tasks added together are a pretty powerful way to do some reflecting!
Blessings on your day!
Let them grow together until the harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, “First collect the weeds and tie them into bundles for burning but gather the wheat into my barn.” Matthew 13:30
The parable of the wheat and the weeds from Matthews Gospel has so many lessons! But my mind is glued right to one part. When my mind gets stuck on one little piece of scripture like that it’s usually a pretty good sign that I’m supposed to work on something! The part that really socked me was how the land owner told the servants to be patient. What?…the enemy just wrecked his whole wheat field by scattering weeds and he said nothing of revenge or justice or retribution. He didn’t ride his donkey into town and tell everybody who would listen about the awful thing someone had done to him. He didn’t go all 007 and try to track down the bad guys, he just said be patient, we’ll sort it all out later. Wow…what a lesson! We are pretty good at recognizing the hand of God in our lives and thanking him for our blessings but how good are we at letting him be in charge of justice? We are a society that likes to “right the wrongs” when they happen to us.
Sr. Mary MacKillop was an Australian nun who was a brilliant teacher. She had an infectiously joyful disposition and those around her thrived because of her love, holiness and honesty. One of my favorite stories is about how she truly imitated the land owner in this parable. Sr. Mary’s classrooms swelled and the students achieved brilliantly because of her enthusiasm and encouragement. There were so many new students that another room was added to the school and a crabby old priest was summoned to teach the other class of students. Orders were given for an achievement test to be administered to all students to determine the worth of the teachers in the diocese. After the tests were collected, Sr. Mary’s students’ scores were amazing. As you might expect the scores from the other class were not. Before the tests were sealed and mailed to the bishop, the old priest switched the teacher’s names receiving full credit for the splendid scores. Poor Sr. Mary was sent off to a dreadful assignment in the outback. The other sisters encouraged Sr. Mary to tell the bishop what had happened but she refused and told them they were not to say anything either. She believed that she had done what God had asked her to do and justice was not hers to serve, that was God’s business. She refused to speak about it stating that she had absolutely no doubts that God would see to things in his way and in his time but in the meantime she would use it as a splendid opportunity to grow in humility.
Go Sr. Mary! I know for a fact I have a long way to go if I ever want to measure up to her standard of trust in God’s judgment. I suppose I should begin with the person who drives like a nut in traffic and cuts me off. Or, I could start with the impatient person who snatches the parking spot I’ve patiently waited for and “claimed” with my blinker. I’m willing to bet that I won’t have to look very hard to find several places in my daily life that I could be more like the land owner and his field. I can think of several folks who could use a little more patience from me. Who knows, if I was a little more patient instead of running around yanking out the weeds of “injustice” I might discover things are a whole lot easier to sort out than I thought. I guess I need to worry less about who put the weeds in my wheat and worry more about being patient and letting someone wiser and more loving than me sort things out.
A Seed To Plant: Take some time this week to read the whole parable from Matthew 13:24-30. Sit still for a few minutes and identify some of the weeds in your wheat. How and where can you demonstrate the patience of the land owner?
Blessings on your day!
She is clothed in strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. Proverbs 31:25
How many readers think this verse from Proverbs is talking about them? This past week I crossed paths with a few folks who seemed to be consumed with fear and worry about the future. I can tell you that they were not laughing at the days to come and I struggled to help them move from worry to peaceful faith. As I thought and prayed about these conversations I found this verse and it made me smile.
Have you ever stopped to think about what makes one person worry and another one not worry at all? Some of us look to the future and smile; others look the same direction and feel a pang of worry, dread and maybe even fear. Some might say worrying is just a part of your hard-wiring but I suppose we all carry a little bit of worry with us most days. I read once that there is a big difference between worry and concern. Being concerned about something inspires us to organize, call on resources and to handle things as best we can and leave the rest to God. Worry is more like doing everything possible and still fretting about God being able to do the rest according to your plan.
When the boys were little they had some plastic toy swords and the movie Peter Pan. They would have sword fights anywhere; the barn, kitchen, and yard you name it they would imagine a scene and play like crazy. Surprisingly, there were no casualties until the night they snuck the swords under the covers. The fight that night was a small disaster leaving two little boys with some red marks, a black eye and a giant scrape to the belly. When the dust settled and we were trying to sort it all out, the problem boiled down to the darkness. In the light, they could see and anticipate what was coming but in the darkness of their bedroom they couldn’t anticipate and react to what they couldn’t see coming. They lost their guide and their protection.
The Proverbs 31 woman who can laugh at days to come is one who doesn’t sit in the darkness of worry. Why? What makes her so immune to the worries and woes of the day? I think the answer to that question comes in the first part of the verse; strength and dignity. The really important part of the puzzle though is the realization that the strength and dignity come from God not from the world or within. When we think of strength, we typically think of muscles and physical power which requires work to attain. When we talk about strength from God the opposite is true. In order to be powered by the strength of God we have to do nothing but rest in him and know he will do all the heavy lifting! Gods strength sees all the obstacles and shifts in the path, he simply asks that we let him love us enough to maneuver us through them. If we can’t rely on God’s strength it’s kind of like having a sword fight in the dark; there is no way to anticipate and react to what we can’t see coming.
Laughing at the future doesn’t mean we see what’s coming; it means we are strong enough to face it because we know God will defend, protect and love us through whatever comes our way. He loves us too much to put us in a situation that is beyond what we need. Yes, sometimes we need struggle and difficulty but he knows how much and for what reason. We need to work on laughing at the days to come because when it all boils down to the bottom of the pot, it’s kind of funny that we should worry about something God has already orchestrated right down to the most teeny tiny detail.
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of the things that worry you. Ask God to bring you strength this week as you pray daily for him to transform your worry to peace.
Blessings on your day!
The Lord is faithful…2 Thessalonians 3:3
God is so fancy! I’m typing from the Boise airport looking out at the gorgeous mountains. They fascinate me; I guess that is to be expected from a Kansas girl! I’m enjoying this amazing backdrop before I hop a flight and head home. This amazing view is like the exclamation point to end a fabulous weekend spent with the Diocese of Boise Deacons and their wives.
This weekend I met some amazing disciples! I was touched right to my soul with their honesty, their dedication and their openness. I heard these beautiful servants tell stories of their passion for the homeless, the sick, the broken and the joyful. I was inspired by their selflessness and their humility. God invited me here this weekend to give, but my eyes are leaking as I reflect back on all I received from these incredible people! The plane will carry my bags, but my heart will carry the truly precious cargo.
As I head home my heart carries HOPE! My heart carries JOY! My heart carries FAITH! All of these things were gifts from the weekend. It’s so easy to hear the bad news, especially about the church and christianity. True disciples live their lives in such opposition to our culture and I spent a few days with a group of people who have made it their mission to carry on the work of Christ despite what the world might think or say! I spent the weekend surrounded by people who scream to the world through their actions, all that is right with the church. Their mission is to love and serve and to lead and they left my heart FULL!
Their joy and faithfulness reminded me that the doubters, the scandals, the disappointments will always swirl around our feet but they always have and Jesus’ instructions still stick. Enter a place in peace, share the truth with love and shake the dust and move along if you encounter opposition. As disciples we are asked to share the Good News, plant seeds and invite. If we do those things in absolute humility we can rest assured that we have done all the Father is asking.
The funny thing about hope is there are times it may seem to run in short supply but if our eyes and hearts are open, there are so many opportunities to have it restored. It can be easy to get stuck in hopelessness but there are people and events everyday that can fill your hope right back up to full if you’re looking. It’s a little like that Mr. Rogers quote; always look for the helpers. I was reminded this weekend that helpers don’t all wear uniforms and arrive with flashing lights. Sometimes it’s a group of deacons and wives who have dedicated their life to serve the Lord because they know he’s done good things in their life and they simply want to share his love and his hope with those who need it…without counting the cost, the time or the energy. I’m so thankful for them!
A Seed To Plant: This is a double! Be on the lookout for a person or event big or small that restores hope. Second, do something for another person this week that restores hope.
Blessings on your day!
Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue was freed and he spoke blessing God. Luke 1:64
This verse made me take a hard look at what has got to be my greatest blessing and my greatest burden all lumped into one…my mouth! As a Catholic Speaker and Catholic School Theology Teacher, I have abundant opportunities to use my mouth to speak great words about our God and our faith. I wish this were the case all the time, but truthfully, when I ponder these words from Zachariah I am reminded of the dozens of times each week I use my mouth for words that don’t build the Kingdom of God on earth at all!
I need to take a big lesson from Zachariah. He was mute for months. If I imagine being struck mute I almost panic; it’s like I’d loose my most used human feature! If I did become mute and suddenly and unexpectedly regained my voice, I wonder what I’d say first. Truthfully, it probably would be something ridiculous like, “Lets go get pizza!” or “What the heck was that all about!” Not our friend Zachariah, the first words he spoke after months of silence; blessing, praise and worship. He focused on what he was grateful for and not what he had suffered or missed.
Zachariah used his silence to grow closer to the Father and unite himself to his perfect plan and his impeccable timing. The fruit of that silence was gratitude and awareness of the greatness of God. This passage from the Gospel of Luke contains a golden nugget for growing in holiness; find some silence and follow it with some time spent blessing and praising God for his mighty works in your life.
A Seed To Plant: Take a few moments to sit in the silence and replay your words from the last day or week follow it with these words: “Loving Father, open my eyes and still my words so I can truly recognize your presence and offer blessing to you for the many wonders you are working in my heart, my family and my world.”
Blessings on your day!
…“A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me.” John 1:30
Have you ever heard the phrase, careful what you wish for? A humble heart is something I pray for constantly and I laugh at the frequency of God’s living color lessons. I had a pretty funny one recently. I was in the lobby of a convention center after I had given a talk and a lady came up to me and gave me a hug and said, “Your message really touched my heart, will you take a selfie with me?. I stood right beside her and as she held up her phone to snap our picture and as soon as she had it in place she said, “Oh wait, you’re not her, I thought you were someone else.” We laughed and went different directions. It gave me a lot to think about! It also made me think a lot about selfies in general. Selfies make up a pretty large and humorous number of overall posts on my Facebook newsfeed. These quickly snapped images capture important moments, achievements or places and they give the viewer a tiny little snapshot of someone else life. I’ll make a confession; I have never posted a selfie because I need more time to pose and make sure I don’t look like I have three chins or a neck the size of a tree trunk. Photo angles matter and by the time I get it all lined up, the moment’s long over! Selfie overload can cause us to think our life isn’t quite as exciting as the folks posting dozens of selfies in fancy, fun places and if we get too tangled up in the likes and shares and comments from our selfie posts it could make keeping our humility in check a little tough.
Humility can be a tricky think to master. Our culture screams “be the best” and we seem to focus constantly on who’s in first place but the first chapter of John’s Gospel teaches a beautiful lesson about the exact opposite. In this competitive world it’s a bit shocking to read the words, “A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me.” It’s one thing to think someone is more important than you but to announce it loud and proud to all who will hear; that just seems crazy by todays standards! The funny thing is, John was completely comfortable with the way the events unfolded. A supporting role was perfect for him. He recognized that he had a completely different purpose than Jesus did fulfilling God’s plan. He didn’t get caught up in the fact that he would be doing the baptizing and he had been chosen to bring God’s grace to the crowds. He simply saw himself as a part of something amazing. He didn’t feel the need to be the star or have folks notice his good works.
John wasn’t the main attraction, he was to prepare the way and take part in the mighty work of the Father and his Son. I’m sure if selfies would have been taken that day, John would have been nowhere to be found. He wanted no notice, no thanks, no acknowledgement. John opened the door, so to speak, so the Father, Son and Holy Spirit could enter and add an amazing chapter to the love story God shares with us. Today is a great day to ask yourself, what are my motives for serving the Lord? Do I do it for him or do I do it so others might notice I’m a part of things?
A Seed To Plant: Take this little prayer with you into your quiet moments with the Lord this week. Loving Father, please help me push past my pride. Give me the grace to love and serve you with a humble heart. Please allow me to see those who need your mercy and your love and show me how to help them make room you so you can be the star in their life. Amen
Blessings on your day!
Jesus Christ…became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich. 2 Corinthians 8:19
There certainly are things I enjoy a little extra of! A little extra coffee, a little more time to linger on the porch visiting with friends and family or just a little extra sleep from time to time to list a few. One of the lessons my parents were HUGE on teaching was not to be greedy. Clear as a bell I can hear them say, “Be grateful for what you have because being greedy for more is ungratefulness and that’s ugly.” It was a great thing for them to teach me and it’s one of those things that sticks! I was praying with this scripture from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians and I realized that this important lesson from my parents often creeps into my prayer life.
After some thought, I realized that my prayer view slides a little sideways from time to time. I’m really good at asking God to take care of people and situations and the needs of others. I mean, who doesn’t pray every day for people to get better or get jobs or get back on track. I’m really good at praising him and thanking him but I don’t often ask for his riches and heaping doses of his grace. I guess I feel blessed and thankful and I don’t want to be greedy. Upon careful thought, I realized I was trying to be like an A student to God. I wanted to keep a low profile, do my homework (daily prayer) and try like crazy to keep my nose in my own business and be obedient. I don’t think that’s all God wants for me. That’s actually a little robotic and not very “relationship-ish”.
God sent his son to suffer and die so we could be rich. Not rich in the money sense but rich in his grace, mercy and love. We were made for happiness. We were made to be saints and that’s work we can’t do alone. He’s waiting to give us extra! He spent everything; his blood, sweat, tears and very life to make us rich in him and I was too afraid to ask for personal extras. How crazy is that! It’s not like there is an expiration date on his gifts like a coupon. He will never say, “Sorry Sheri, you should have asked for joy and patience last week, I’m afraid that request is not valid past last Friday.” There are also no limits or strings to our requests either. I’m pretty sure he will never flash a sigh like you see in the grocery store on a great deal that says “limit 5 with additional $5 purchase”. He’s not going to run out of grace or attach strings or conditions to his gifts.
He died so we could be rich so why am I living like I have empty pockets? I’ve decided that something I want extra of is joy and compassion. I’m going to ask for extra forgiveness and a lot of extra peace and kindness. It doesn’t make us greedy, it makes us trusting and it makes us rich. It doesn’t make me ungrateful because it’s not about me…it’s about him and the things he wants to make me because of his gifts. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to ask for lots of extra things starting today…right after I get some extra coffee!
A Seed To Plant: Take out a sheet of paper and across the top write EXTRA-EXTRA-EXTRA and then make a list of all the things you need to ask God for extra of so you can become rich in him!
Blessings on your day!
He must increase, I must decrease. John 3:30
Every once in a while I get overwhelmed about all the things I’m not getting right. I can get lost in questions like; have I prayed enough, have I served enough, am I gentle, generous and merciful enough. Then come the list of shortfalls; the times I judged when I should have loved or doubted instead of trusted or gossiped when I was called to understand or re-focus. It would be easy to stay stuck in that funk and decide growing in holiness is just too hard but then I realize the evil one is at work in all these thoughts because the Father certainly doesn’t want me stuck in the mess. I think he allows my thoughts to go there so I can acknowledge my shortfalls, ask forgiveness and invite him to come blasting into my humanness and make me better.
After I pray my way through one of these funks I often think I need to charge out into the world and do some mighty good for God to make up for all my knuckle headed thoughts and actions. I’ll often make a giant list of all the things I am going to change and fix and avoid completely. Recently as I was plotting my giant moves toward holiness I came across this quote from St. Francis de Sales; “Great occasions for serving God seldom come, but little ones surround us daily.” Talk about an abrupt hault. I find God’s timing and humor amazing so I threw my giant list away and started a little one.
Growing in holiness means growing in humble service. St. Francis reminded me that I’m not called to a life of contemplative prayer. God isn’t asking me to build an orphanage or hospital or stamp out world hunger before bedtime. He’s asking me to serve in tiny ways again and again and again. So on my list of tiny things for the week I’ve added thing like being patient with slow drivers, pouring someone a second cup of coffee, saying hello first, texting or emailing at least one note of encouragement, letting someone go ahead of me in line and saying a quick prayer of blessing for anyone who irritates or inconveniences me.
Funny thing, as I began to pray with my list of little things, I could already feel the thoughts shifting from me and all my stuff, to others. I suppose that is exactly what we’re supposed to do and I’m quite grateful to St. Francis and the words he wrote more than 400 years ago for putting things in perspective.
A Seed To Plant: Write down these words from St. Francis de Sales and begin to make your own list of little things to do this week.
Blessings on your day!
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. Numbers 6: 24-26
Happy Birthday Joyful Words! This week marks the 7th year of blogs. At first I wasn’t going to mention it because seven seemed like such a random, unimportant number but then I did a little digging and suddenly seven had a whole new meaning. Here are a few cool things I learned about this seemingly silly little number…
A ladybug commonly has seven spots.
Most mammals have seven neck bones.
There are seven basic music notes. (think Sound of Music…do-re-me…you hum the rest)
Phone numbers have seven digits.
There are seven stars in the Big Dipper.
The periodic table has seven rows.
There are seven Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy.
Seven Sacraments were given to us by Jesus.
There are Seven Virtues and Seven Deadly Sins.
And, seven is the most common number rolled with two dice.
Once again, I realized that not everything is just as it seems at first glance. Sometimes if we do just a little thinking and try to see things from a different perspective, we are probably in for a surprise. The fact that this thing is still rollin after seven years is a giant surprise to me. I sure didn’t expect the Holy Spirit to keep me at it for this long. Another surprise is that I started writing to help people, but in truth, I’ve been the one who has been “schooled” along the way.
Sometimes I hit the publish button and I feel like the words that spill into cyberspace are no more relevant than the number seven seemed. I wonder if there is meaning or substance or if it’s all just a bunch of words. Then I remember who is in charge and I lean on him to give me the words I need or that he knows someone out there needs and I type and hold my breath hoping I don’t sound like a “wing nut”! Over the last seven years I’ve written about things that were funny, simple and sometimes tricky. Sometimes he’s asked me to write about things that were easy to hear and sometimes I’ve been asked to write a dose of truth that might have been hard to swallow for some. And, of course there are the times he's asked me to write about things that are dripping with grief and sadness. My mission is always to help us keep our eyes lifted up to him and I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes that’s just plain tough to do.
It’s been such a joy to have a little window to so many of your lives. My heart is always so touched when you leave comments that let me know the Holy Spirit has used words on this page to reach you. I’m humbled by this work and I’m thrilled that he’s asked me to serve him in this way as opposed to mission work in a jungle which I find the thought of absolutely terrifying! God is good and I’m happy to write about all the ways I see that truth unfold. I thank you for reading, I thank you for the prayers and I’m so grateful for your support. Please know of my daily prayers for all of you who stop by to give the blog a read. May God bless us all!
A Seed To Plant: The mission of the blog is to spread his joy so please take a minute or two today to pray for those you know who are struggling to find and feel the joy of the Lord.
Blessings on your day!
Happy are those who hear the word of the Lord and keep it. Luke 11:28
Happiness is a curious thing! Everybody seems to want it and one quick google search can reveal countless sites about how to get it. I even discovered some “happiness retreats” where folks could go to find happiness. In two days, for a mere $3,000 dollars (plus travel and accommodation expenses) you could be taught how to identify happiness and then seek happiness for yourself. I found some pretty crazy stuff! It all left me thinking…we make things so hard sometimes. This post is all about finding happiness and the good news is…it’s free! Since the Father who created us and loves us is also the creator of happiness that seems like the logical place to start. Each letter of the word is a thought or action you can start right now to seek and feel happiness.
H: Holy is His name! It sounds crazy but if you’re feeling worried or cranky or any other emotion that is soaking up your happy, put the attention where it should be; on Him. Stop for a minute and say Holy is your name God, Jesus I trust you, Father I praise you, Mighty God I thank you. You’ll be shocked at how fast your attention shifts from you to him and you feel a lightness come over you.
A: Attitude is the big thing! There are always two ways to look at things; this hurts me or this helps me. Struggles and suffering make happiness tough to attain if we look at things the first way and it sucks us right in to the “woe is me” thinking that makes happiness impossible. Instead realize that struggle and suffering are necessary for heaven and that God is more present in these times. We also have to remember that tough things come and go, just like easy things; life is meant to be a cycle not a straight line.
P: Pray! (you saw that one comin didn’t you) Tell God you’re cranky and ask him to bring you through whatever it is that is making you feel unhappy. He made you, he loves you and he truly wants his children to be happy. Talk to him about it and ask him to show you what he’s trying to teach you in this situation. If that seems too simple; give it a try and see for yourself.
P: Pass on some kindness and mercy. I don’t think there is anything that will bring you out of a slump faster than doing something for someone else. When you’re feeling grumpy or frustrated doing a good deed for another, especially the person who made you cranky is the farthest thing from your mind but purposefully thinking about the needs and happiness of another is a powerful thing. The thing about happiness is it’s a bit contagious so start some and you’ll be surprised how quickly it lands back on you.
Y: You are HIS! In the midst of all the things that are sucking away your happiness, remind yourself again and again that you belong to him! Nothing is going to happen that doesn’t have a purpose according to his plan. He will never leave you or forsake you or give you more than you can bear. I mean really, we’re talking about the God who parted the Red Sea, helped Paul escape prison with a dozen guards watching over him and who fed 5,000 people with five loaves and two fish. Surely you don’t think your unhappy situation is more than he can handle. He can do anything, including take care of you, who he made perfectly and wonderfully!
Our happiness is rooted in the God who loves and teaches us constantly. Sometimes his lessons come during tough times but the happiness rooted in him is the best kind! So, pick a letter and go be happy!
A Seed To Plant: Write these thoughts down and put them somewhere you can grab it when you feel like you could use a little more happy in your day; then pick a letter and get started!
Blessings on your day!
There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for everything under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1
So I’m a little slow this morning! This is a first; I’m blogging from a bus…full of middle lovelies…on our way to an amusement park for a class trip. As you might imagine, it’s not what I’d call a peaceful writing environment! My head and heart are full so I think the Holy Spirit can move my fingers in spite of the hilarious singing, bad jokes and general middle lovely chaos swirling around me right now!
Every class that passes through my classroom has a different set of gifts and personalities. They each teach me something different and leave something unique on my heart. This years class was no exception. It was the year of surprises! They surprised me with their wit, their humor, their attitude and their faith. They plunged into the beginnings of adolescence with a style all their own. More than any class before, they had a harder time saying good-bye. Their tears and resistance to leaving the building caught me by surprise but it also taught me some things and I’d like to share what they taught me because there is a lesson for us all.
*Most classes can’t wait to bust out of elementary school and head off to bigger, better and more important things. They have visions of things being exciting and fancy and they plan to enjoy so much new found freedom. This year the word was content. These kids were invested in each other and they could find joy in all the regular things that made up their day. They were happy to laugh and dance and be goofy wherever they were. One of them told me that he felt no need to look for something new when he was surrounded with so many things he liked already.
*They realized that the root is people. These kids have spent years developing relationships and these relationships of course have had their ups and downs but they were the foundation. They absolutely had those days when their patience ran thin with each other but they had a sense of family that they aren’t ready to see change. I was surprised at their ability to appreciate and value each other in spite of their differences, quirks and attitudes. Tolerance based on love is a beautiful thing to see.
*Change isn’t always easy. You may not love the idea of change but it happens anyway and you can either fight and fuss about it or ask God to go ahead of you and lead the way through it. So many of them prayed on our last day together for God to help them get used to the changes in their new school. Many prayed for God to protect their friendships and bless the new ones they would make. They realized that they needed a guide in this new adventure and they picked the best one available.
*The more grateful you are, the better things will be. They demonstrated time and again that opportunities don’t always seem exciting but if you can be grateful that someone needs your help or be grateful that you can do yucky jobs surrounded by friends it becomes much less about the task and happy hearts do great things.
*Finally, this class took the saying “Dance like nobody’s watchin!” to a whole new level. They showed me day after day that life is so much less complicated if you just be who you are without worrying so much about what everybody thinks. They weren’t afraid to be who they were and they didn’t feel like they were in competition with each other or the world.
They may only be 12 but they had lots to teach their old teacher. It’s that time of year when I worry and ponder and feel that catch in my breath wondering if I did everything they needed and took them as far as God wanted me to. I hope I planted the seeds that were mine to sow and I hope that the team of us that taught them gave them all they needed but in my pondering, I am reminded that the the Father loves them more than I do and he’s got a beautiful future planned for each of them. So for now, I will save this writing, hope for wi-fi inside the park so I can post it later today and just close my laptop and enjoy the sights and sounds of a bus full of fabulous middle lovelies one last day.
A Seed To Plant: Pick one of their lessons and put it in place.
Blessings on your day!
…remain in my love. John 15:9-11
As we get to the end of another school year and the Graduation Open House celebrations hit full swing I always find myself remembering classes and students who came in and out of my life. Some memories make me laugh, some make me sigh and some make my eyes leak a little. It would be easy to get lost in these thoughts for hours but this time of year is so busy there really isn’t time to sit still and ponder for too long or I’ll be late for something! I’m sure there are more than a few readers who can relate!
The other day I was reading this Gospel from John and I remembered one class in particular that was good at lots of things but remaining in one place for more than a split second was not their gift. Getting them to sit still and listen for any length of time at all was like trying to put puppies in a basket. I was convinced they were absolutely spring loaded. Several times a day I would witness the tiny window of time they would all be still and then one would get up and pretty soon another would follow and then another would wiggle off the carpet or away from the table and before I knew it nearly all of them had escaped. I laughed and remembered those little lovelies fondly for a few minutes and it made me wonder how many times God looks down at us and makes the same comparison.
In this Gospel Jesus clearly teaches that the Father asks us simply to remain in his love. We don’t have to run around searching for it or trying to do heroic things to earn it. The promise is simple, remain with me and I will bring you joy. The funny thing about this short Gospel is it sums up all we want and all we have to do to get it in 3 short verse. We complicate things so terribly! Stay with me…don’t run around like crazy and be still in my presence. Simple enough you would think but getting our attention and convincing us to rest and trust in his love must be a lot like trying to put puppies in a basket.
Last Friday I had a reminder of how much he wants me to remain in his love instead of in the chaos. I was praying in church and feeling a little overwhelmed about all that needed to be done so I just asked him to take over and give me the wisdom and strength to get things done with joy in my heart. When I got back to the classroom and checked my email, there was a message from a wonderful mom volunteering to do one of the big jobs on my to do list. I didn’t ask for help, she just sent a message and said; “hey, can I help with this?” The puppy in me just sat still as I said thank you Jesus! This week as I approach the thousand things required to end a school year, I’m going to carry the image of puppies in a basket with me. When the to-do list starts to feel overwhelming and I’m flying from task to task like a witch on a broom I will remember to be the one puppy who falls asleep in the basket and just rests in his love and trusts in his providence.
A Seed To Plant: Purposefully set aside 10 minutes each day when things get crazy to sit still and think about God and all he’s doing in your life. Be that puppy that climbs in the basket to be still and remain in the Father’s love.
Blessings on your day!
***Todays post is a re-post. I ran out of minutes because it's May plus I have a hunch this old post will ring true with more than one reader! I'll be back next week with fresh stuff!
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…Ecclesiastes 3:1
Did you hear that? It was a gigantic sigh; it was the universal “May is almost over” sigh. Tomorrow marks the end of the year’s busiest month…May! It’s been one of the greatest May’s ever in the history of May’s but I’m out of juice! In fact I fondly remember a story that illustrates exactly how I feel right about now.
One Christmas, I got a shiny new slinky. It was the greatest invention ever and I loved playing with that silly thing. I was very careful not to let it get tangled or pinched and it looked good as new for months. I always kept it in the orange box on my dresser when I wasn’t playing with it. I got my slinky the same Christmas my younger brother Joe got a rocking horse named “Bucko”. One summer day I was helping my mom with the dishes and when we were finished, I went to my room to get my slinky to play with on the front porch steps. I remember the blood curdling scream I let out when I found my prized possession all bent and tangled and mangled and connected like a spider web. When the story finally boiled down to the bottom of the pot, it seems Joe’s stick horse was about to be trampled by a stampede of wild Texas long horn cattle raging through the back yard near the apple tree and the only way to ensure Bucko’s safety was to tie him securely to the apple tree with my slinky. Apparently it took several wraps around the tree trunk to do the job and needless to say the slinky was never the same. When I think of that bent, twisted, frazzled toy, that’s exactly how I’m feeling as the month comes to a close. Just like that slinky I’ve been tugged and pulled and twisted in a hundred directions and I haven’t quite bounced back yet.
So what’s the answer? The answer is…there isn’t one! May is one month, one action packed, and fun-filled, over-flowing month and to be quite honest, I probably wouldn’t have it any other way! If I were to declare war on the month and put a cease fire to half the “stuff” scheduled in the month I’d have a hard time figuring out which half to erase. Humm…let’s see…as Christians we are called to use the gifts and talents He’s given us for His glory, my kids probably get really tired of hearing me say that! So if I practice what I preach how can I decide which talents and gifts I should put a basket over? Should I squash the concerts and band banquet with the French horn player? Maybe the softball team could have done without a catcher and the girl who hit a couple triples and always made her teammates laugh. What about the Prom, or graduation and the open house that took so much time to plan and organize? What if we had erased baseball season and we would have missed Jason’s three run over the fence homer or the no-hitter he pitched? I sure wouldn’t have had as much laundry to do that’s for sure. But what would we have gained and what would we have lost? Maybe awards night, that took a long time…or maybe I could have skipped the games where my kids took their turn sitting on the bench. But then I would have missed seeing them grow in humility and compassion while they were supporting their teammates from inside the dugout and practiced focusing on others.
God promised there is a purpose for every season. I knew this May was going to be a doozy so I prayed that God would help me soak it all in and enjoy every second of it. My prayerful request was that He remind me to pray for a suffering or lonely soul each time I felt the stress of the schedule start to bear down. (I’m not gonna lie…I prayed for lots of souls the past 30 days!)
It’s one month…31 crazy days! We don’t need to re-vamp our life because one month gets nutty; we need to enjoy the gifts and talents that we’re called to share with others during this hectic month. Nothing lasts forever…good OR bad. I’d do well to remind myself of that fact a little more often! I don’t think there is any permanent harm done because the Wohlfert’s didn’t eat 5 servings of fresh fruits and veggies every day in May and like any good mom who forgot to wash the Under Armor in the uniform load, I just rinsed it in the sink with some Downey and didn’t tell anybody and it all turned out ok. Our family has grown to include some new dust bunnies and cob webs this month and yes, I’ll admit it, I shoved some laundry and ironing into a basket and hid it in my closet before my Dad came to visit. (And just because God has a sense of humor it fell off the closet shelf and landed on my head one morning.) Guess what…it’s all ok! We are called to be FAITHFUL not called to be PERFECT.
Months like May are full of lessons. Lessons in patience, laughter, trust and faithful endurance! How’d you do? One more thought…if you are a mother of young ones, treasure your May’s! Truly BE at each event no matter how the 5th grade band sounds or how many strikes the little batter has because you’re going to wake up one morning and realize two of your children have graduated from high school and the cleats are about to be laced up for one last game. Quiet May’s will come…and they will come more quickly than you can imagine so just take God’s hand and BE PRESENT for life, let it flow by you. After all, our life on earth is a dress rehearsal for heaven!
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of the best things that happened in May, then make a list of 5 things that didn’t get done in May…now compare the list and say a prayer of thanksgiving.
Blessings on your day!
Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24
I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to make things better. Sometimes loving Christians carry the weight of the world on their shoulders and run around with pure hearts trying to save the world. I was speaking with someone not long ago and they were completely exasperated because of all the nasty stuff and unkind people in the world that didn’t act like they knew a thing about Jesus. The whole conversation made my heart heavy and I realized I'm surprised at the things some folks think they have the right to say to others. All too often someone will spout off a rude remark and when called on it, they snip back with a comment about free speech and being entitled to their own opinion I’ve been noticing a growing number of “ugly words” lately so as I sat with that on my heart, God pointed me to this verse from Proverbs.
If you are someone who likes to make things better, this is the verse for you! I realized after reading it a few times, I had the process all wrong! It really isn’t about “fixing” the words and actions of others! I can be upset by it, I can pray about it, I can even take a stand about it…but the truth of the matter is this…I can’t do a darn thing to change it! Change has to come from within…change has to be desired. If I’m busy trying to change someone else, I’m guaranteed only one thing…disappointment! Besides, my Mom would remind me I should keep my nose in my own business anyway. When I read this verse again this morning the solution to the problem became crystal clear…I have to change MY behavior. I can’t change someone else’s snappy rude tongue…but I can be in charge of my own. I can make sure my words are pleasant and sweet like honeycomb. God didn’t put me in charge of the world, the state, the county or even the town…He put me in charge of just this one person and after some prayerful time with this verse, I know exactly where I need to begin. What if we actually realized that every word we speak could be healing? What if each sentence we uttered were crafted with that intent? That would be pretty remarkable don’t you think?
The simple power of this Proverb was illustrated through a story I read not long ago. I had actually forgotten about the story until I was writing this post. The story involved a mom of six kids under 9. She and her husband have a deep commitment to the Lord and promised to accept lovingly all the children He chose to bless them with. They love their life but the rude remarks from others can sometimes be heartbreaking to this mom. She was telling the story about a disastrous grocery store adventure with her babies that had 5 of the six kids crying by the check-out lane. She was completely frazzled and on the edge of tears herself. Just when she thought things couldn’t get any worse, a woman stopped next to her and she braced herself for an ugly comment or rude remark about her large family but instead the two sentences spoken at that perfect moment changed her day completely. The woman looked directly at the frazzled mom and said, “Bless you for saying yes! These are lucky children because they will have the courage of their mother and lady; you’ve got a lot of that because I’m not even brave enough to bring one of mine shopping with me!” They shared a laugh and the frazzled mom was lifted…two little sentences is all it took! One sweet word, one kind gesture completely absent of judgment or criticism or opinion worked magic. I may not be able to change the world but I can work harder at speaking kindly to everyone I meet and that just might change a thing or two all on its own.
A Seed To Plant: Randomly speak three kind sentences this week!
Blessings on your day!
But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31
Hope is a word I misuse all of the time. I say thing like, “I hope it doesn’t rain.” or “I hope there is a parking spot close to the door.” When I really think about it, the things I “hope” for are usually things that would make my life convenient, or pleasant. This past week I have been challenged to look at the way I use the word hope. The first thing I needed to do was compare the worldly definition (the one I most often used) to the virtue of hope. Here’s what I found. “Hope” is commonly used to refer to a wish connected to a person's desire. But “Godly hope”; the virtue of hope, is the confident expectation of what God has promised and its strength is in His faithfulness. I’m pretty sure God doesn’t care about me getting sprinkled on or parking close to the front door at the grocery store so I decided I needed some work.
I love it when God teaches a lesson and uses real people as the teachers! Last week I met a beautiful woman who told me she was a woman of hope. She went on to share that for years she had prayed that her family would grow closer. Her children were grown and moved away and she longed for them to be more connected and involved in each others life. She said she always knew God could do that but it wasn’t until recently that she began to see him work. She said the things God was doing in her family were filling her with such abundant hope. As I listened to her share her story my heart both sunk and swelled as she told me that she was dying of cancer, but she was so filled with hope because God had used this situation to answer her prayer. Fighting the disease had been the thing that drew them together. She told me she was not afraid to die but rather hope filled because God had answered her prayer and brought her family so close that she knew they would support each other and care for her husband and make sure he didn’t get too lonely when she was gone. I was in awe as I hugged this beautiful soul, and took a lesson on the true meaning of the word hope.
God used another event this week to thump me with the word hope. God demonstrated his faithfulness in a might way in the lives of an incredible newlywed couple. As I took my spot in church for this beautiful wedding my heart was a little on the heavy side. The groom had lost both of his parents in a car crash just about a year ago and as I sat in the pew waiting for mass to begin I wondered how they would feel the same joy as other couples and I wondered what Fr. could say honor the event, the couple and the parents of the groom. Just when my tears were about to get out of control I remembered that God is bigger than our pain and he loved that bride and groom more than they loved each other. When it came time for Fr. Eric’s homily the hope came barging in! He spoke of the new life of Easter and the new life of marriage. He also talked about the beginnings and the scars that bring us to the important event in our lives. I watched this beautiful new couple laugh and smile and I watched their family and closest friends cling to the laughter and joy of the day and realized the only way that all happened was because of hope. Hope that joy will follow pain. Hope that God will never leave us stuck in our scars and our pain. Hope that he has a plan and that he works in every situation, not just the fancy, happy simple ones. Hope is understanding that God has promised good for his children and that good rises from the ashes of awful. I saw hope rise on Saturday and it was so much bigger than the sadness.
So what will I hope for now? I hope I will be able to use the word correctly. I pray that I can seek God working in my life and face my challenges and trials with confident expectation in his faithfulness because thats what hope really is.
A Seed To Plant: Think about the true definition of hope…make a new list of things you hope for.
God is closer to you than water is to a fish. St. Catherine of Sienna
Good morning! It's mid May which means many of us are in the middle of a thousand things. It's easy to get lost in the chaos and the busy and feel like a fish swimming upstream. There are more things to do than minutes to do them in this time of year. I'm stuck there myself and came across this favorite quote and thought it just might be a little dose of what we all need to hear.
As we're busy swimming from thing to thing trying not to sink, it's a great idea to remember God is right there swimming beside us. Make sure you invite him along to the ball games and graduations and weddings and events that fill our May calendars. He's right there so go ahead and let him swim in front and you'll be surprised how calm the waters become.
A Seed To Plant: Sit with St. Catherine's words for a few quiet minutes today and see how they settle the soul.
Blessings on your day!
Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire. St. Catherine of Sienna
It was a big weekend. We made our last 6 hour drive to Franciscan University to see Shannon. After four years that seemed to go by in a blink, we now have a nurse. God had such a powerful hand in it all and I am so thankful. I could write and write about all the little things along the way that just fell in place. More times than I could count I shook my head in surprise, gratitude and awe as one thing after another made it possible for her to get an education at Franciscan. God wrapped it all up with an exclamation point on Saturday.
Franciscan has one of the countries top nursing programs which was appealing to Shannon but the University offers something so powerful for the soul. It’s a place of holiness and deeply rooted faith and Catholic tradition. She wanted to feed her mind, her heart and her soul. She knew as a sophomore in high school that she wanted to go there but academically, financially and geographically there had to be some “figuring out.” About the time she started praying about the possibility of going to school there she was preparing for her Confirmation. She had a couple of saints in mind to choose as her Confirmation Saint but three times in the same week the above quote from Catherine of Sienna appeared in her life. Once in history class, once on a random note that fell from a library book and then on a surprise bracelet she got int he mail from a friend. She asked God for specific guidance, and he certainly didn’t disappoint. It turns out that Catherine of Sienna is also the patron saint of nurses.
As the process continued toward Franciscan, crazy things happened like scholarships that came out of nowhere and details and events that just pointed the way. Again and again there were blessings and surprises that made it so clear that she was exactly where she was supposed to be. Each time we just smiled and said thank you! There were experiences and people and opportunities that just seemed to fall into her lap all along the way and as we sat in Finnigan Field-house for Commencement Saturday morning the Keynote Speaker opened with all the traditional greetings appropriate for the occasion. Then something that melted my heart happened. He looked out at the graduates and paused for a moment and then said, “Graduates, If you will leave this place today and be who God meant you to be, you will set the world on fire. St. Catherine of Sienna wasn’t kidding about that!” I could hardly keep the tears back. It was like a giant explanation point on an amazing college journey. God is so very good!
A Seed To Plant: Are you being who God intended you to be? It’s a question worth asking in prayer this week.
Blessings on your day!
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