When the hour came He took his place at the table with the apostles. Luke 22:14
We have a tradition here at the Wohlfert house. When it’s your birthday, you get to choose the menu for your birthday supper. We had the same tradition in the McClaskey house too. Since I’ll do anything to get meatloaf for supper, I thought it was a tradition that certainly needed to continue with my children. As luck would have it, my daughter also chooses meatloaf on her birthday every year. There is just something comforting about sitting down with family to enjoy your favorite meal together.
Many years ago some friends invited us to go out for supper with them one Saturday night. Being a stay-at-home mom with three little ones under the age of 5 at the time, I think I had my finger on the babysitter’s phone number in the phone book before I had even finished accepting the invitation. Our friends said they had discovered this great place that they thought we’d just love. I WAS IN! The night arrived and as we waved goodbye to the kids and backed out of the driveway I felt so lucky to be going out to eat at an exciting new place where I wasn’t going to have to cut anyone else’s meat or transfer anyone’s drink to a cup with a spout. I was excited! After a 40 minute drive to the middle of nowhere, we pulled up in front of this old house that look like it had about 4 sunrooms added on, each in a different decade. The parking lot was gravel and the paint on the building wasn’t even all one color. I was a wee bit unimpressed to say the least. When we walked in the door it didn’t get much better. The big open space was full of tables that didn’t match and were covered with vinyl tablecloths that were every pattern and color known to man. All three pieces of silverware were a different pattern and even the glasses didn’t match. I really wondered what it was about the place my friend thought we’d love so much. A few seconds later a sweet, cheerful lady appeared at our table with a personality that would rival Santa’s! We placed our order and a few moments later some of the best homemade delicious food I’d ever tasted arrived at our table. We laughed, talked, ate and enjoyed a fabulous evening! It was not at all what I had expected when we got out of the car that night. Isn’t life like that sometimes!
When I read the gospel accounts of the last supper, I often wonder what the apostles thought when they first realized that night was no ordinary supper together. I wonder what they felt more; shock, fear or sorrow. We can be certain the evening didn’t turn out as they expected. Jesus had news they could not have possibly been ready for and the events of the night spilling into the next day were more than anyone could have imagined. It is on this night; Holy Thursday, I am more overwhelmed by my sinfulness than any other night of the year. I know the story, and the Easter morning happy ending but I still feel as dumbfounded each year as the apostles must have felt. Disbelief, sorrow, anguish…I feel it all heavy on my heart. Too many Christians want the Easter without the Holy Thursday and Good Friday. We want to skip to the happy ending and miss the brutality and the guilt but without the cross we aren’t Christians. Without meditating on the burden of our sins Christ bore, we don’t have repentance and without repentance we can’t have forgiveness and salvation. His death brought forth our life and in some small, unexpected, unpleasant way, we have to share it with Jesus.
If you truly want to experience Easter joy, spend some time this holy evening reading the Gospel accounts of the last supper…imagine…think…feel…experience the unexpected like the apostles. Tomorrow, on Good Friday, spend some time with the Gospel accounts of the crucifixion. As you read, ask God to join you with the suffering of His Son in order to come to a greater understanding of His gift of life and love. If you can unite yourself more closely with the cross, you will feel the joy of the Resurrection.
A Seed To Plant: Spend time with the Last Supper and Good Friday Gospel stories.
Blessings on your day!
…She has done a good thing for me. Matthew 26:10
Well, it’s Monday! That means the start of another week and as you read, some of you are tired, some are frustrated, some are happy and some are worried. No matter what you’re feeling as this new week begins I’m going to ask you to put it all on hold and realize this is not just another week. This is HOLY WEEK and more than anything I want this week to be different for you, for me, for everyone who is a christian. This is a week of powerful sacrifice, love, commitment and glory. The point and purpose of this post is to help you make this week set apart from all the others. I’m asking all of us to lay down our worries, our burdens and our “stuff” and choose instead to walk this week with Jesus and remember how great were his actions during this week as he redeemed us.
The Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist in Duluth MN have a spectacular way of living out this week and setting it apart. I’d like to share their Holy Week focus in hopes it will change our focus too. Here’s what they think and pray about each day this week. They actually begin on Saturday. We’re a couple days late but we sure can back up our thinking and catch up. I’ve added a couple of questions to each day in hopes we can think about and act on them as we walk with Jesus through this extraordinary last week of his earthly life.
*Commitment Saturday - Ponder and pray about the commitment Jesus made to his Father’s plan and will. The commitment he made to our salvation. How have I committed to Jesus? What can I commit to do for him today?
*Procession Sunday - Jesus publicly showed his love for the Father. Will I walk with him? What will I do today to publicly stand and walk with Jesus?
*Extravagance Monday - How extravagant was his love for us. Read the story of the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet with perfume in Matthew 26. Her love and her actions showed extravagant love. How has Jesus shown extravagant love for you? Who can you love today?
*Compulsion to Completion Tuesday - Jesus was compelled to move forward to do his Father’s will in spite of doubts, worries, troubles or fear. He was determined to complete the Father’s will. What is God asking you to do for him? Where do you need to add compulsion and completion like Jesus?
*Aloneness Wednesday - Jesus knew the next day he would give everything and he paused to be alone in prayer, in silence in the presence of his Father. Spend at least 30 minutes in silence today. Take time to be alone with your Father and His Son pondering the upcoming few days and all Jesus did for you. Read the Gospel accounts of Holy Thursday and Good Friday so you will be ready to think about them in the upcoming days.
*Body Given Thursday - Jesus gave everything. His body to the guards who arrest him this night and in the Last Supper he gave us the everlasting promise of His Body and Blood which were to be poured out for the salvation of us all. What is Jesus asking you to give? Are there people in your life who need the gifts you can offer them?
*Impotent Friday - Jesus was powerless on this day. He who was Almighty became powerless for our sake and his Father had to observe it all. That happened for you and for me. Where do you need to submit to the Father? Where do you need to relinquish some power to the Father, knowing all the while he will be with you? From the time you wake up until 3 spend 5 to 10 minutes each hour meditating on the events of Good Friday; walking with him through this sorrowful day.
*Saturday - The Day of Night, Jesus spent this day in darkness. It was still, it was waiting, it was quiet. It was a day that with patience, reaped great glorious joy. Where do you need to be more patient? Find a way to practice that today.
*Sunday - The Day of Miracles. After you eat your chocolate bunny, make a list of all the miracles God has worked in your life and be sure to put Jesus a the top of the list.
May you use these thoughts and questions to guide you through the week and may the practice be fruitful for your soul.
A Seed To Plant: Print this one or open it each morning so you remember how to pray your way through each day and say a prayer of thanksgiving for the good Sisters for their Holy Week example.
Blessings on your day!
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 1 John 5:14
Have you ever gotten something that far exceeded your expectation? When I was a little girl I remember asking for a baby doll for Christmas. All I wanted was a doll with brown hair and brown eyes. That Christmas stands out like no other because not only did I get the baby doll I wanted, I also got 3 outfits that my mom made by hand, I got a baby bottle to feed the baby doll and my dad made a baby bed out of an old wooden orange crate from my grandpas store. The doll bed came complete with a hand made mattress, pillow and little baby quilt. I remember squealing with so much excitement because it was SO much more than I had expected!
One of the best parts of traveling around giving talks and retreats is the people I meet and the stories they share about the things God is doing in their lives. I often pack up my little bag and hop on a plane determined to go give something but without fail…instead of doing the giving; I’m always the one who ends up receiving and experiencing so much more than I expected! I’m amazed at all the things the Lord can do when we open our heart; always more than we expected! Recently I’ve had some lovely women share an instance where God has worked in amazing and unexpected ways and with their permission I’d like to share them with you in this post.
*It’s all in the name. A nurse who was very apprehensive and anxious about a new computer system taking over the surgical center where she worked asked God to help her find a way to cope with the unwelcomed changes. She was an experienced nurse but technology wasn’t part of her training or her generation…compounding the stress and anxiety! In the shower the morning of the big “technology take over” she told God she was surrendering the whole crazy deal to him and asked him to calm her stress and be with her as she tried to learn. When she got to work that day, each nurse was assigned an assistant from the technology company. The gentleman assigned to help her was polite, gentle, understanding and extremely helpful and calming. As the nerves and stress began to subside, she thanked him for his helpfulness and asked his name. He told her his name was Emmanuel. Knowing that Emmanuel means “God is with us” she was overwhelmed at the goodness and love of the God she’d invited to be in charge of her day. The name was just a huge loving touch that proved his presence and love beyond her expectation.
*Just ask me. A grandma sat in the audience at a day of prayer and was troubled that her daughter was not making Sunday Mass a priority for her young family. She sent a text inviting her daughter and family to mass with her at the conclusion of the day of prayer but the daughter texted back and declined. The situation sat on the woman’s heart like a brick. When the scripture from 1 John was discussed she closed her eyes and made a conscious decision to ask God to take the situation and handle it “according to his will”. When the session took a break, she checked her phone and read a text from her daughter informing her of their Sunday Mass plans. When she checked the time the text was sent, it was exactly 1 minute after she had turned the situation over to the Fathers will. She was shaking with joy when she came to me to show me the text and tell me the story. The text also indicated that her grandson had just been accepted into the Catholic pre-school they were hoping he could attend. One request, one text, one big blessing that exceeded her expectation as only God can.
I think sometimes we set the bar so low it’s a wonder we don’t trip over it! God is waiting every minute to exceed our expectations. If we ask…if we believe…if we trust…and if it’s according to his will, he will surprise us every time! Go ahead and give it a try; ask with faith and then share the story!
A Seed To Plant: Make a two column list during your prayer time today. In the first column make a list of all the recent prayers God has answered in your life and in the second column make a list of all the things you’d like to lift to the Glory of his plan.
Blessings on your day!
As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15
As I type this post we’re just hours from tip-off of the MSU Texas Tech NCAA Final Four game. I have made some great friends in Lubbock and I’ve rooted for the Red Raiders throughout the whole tournament but tonight there is a dividing line and I’m typing in green! I just have to pick the Spartans tonight because one of my favorite priests always says, “MSU is where Jesus went to school!”
Tonights game is just one of the many places we divide ourselves and take sides. Sometimes the divisions are light hearted and fun; other times they can be completely serious. As humans we fuss and argue and pick sides but as Children of God, we need to come together and find our voice in this crazy world. We need to remember we’re all fighting AGAINST the same thing…evil! If we could remember who are leader is and follow him together the world could be very different.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes us choose the things we do. Sometimes it’s a family thing, sometimes it’s a political thing or a financial thing that influences our choices. Sometimes we’re pressured into making choices and picking sides. I ran across this quote shortly before the NCAA tournament began and it just stuck to my heart. When it comes to the most important “side” or “choice” we can pick there is no pressure, no requirements, no loss whatsoever. The outcome will be perfect and generous and loving and compassionate and amazing. When you pick God, there is only truth and he’s always right there waiting for us to pick him and allow him to transform everything! This little nugget of comfort and hope was written by Fr. Cantalamessa who is the preacher to the papal household. I hope it sticks you your heart too and helps you pick the team that will always finish first…the team that follows Jesus!
He it is, the Only Begotten of the Father, who stands before the human race today and says: Be still, and know that I am God. (Ps 46:11) He does not plead for it, he does not beg for faith and recognition, as so many pseudo-prophets and founders of empty religions do. He does not say. “Believe me, please, be kind enough to listen,” but he says: “Know that I am God!” Whether you believe it or not, I am God!
A Seed To Plant: Think of the “teams” you are a part of and then compare the amount of time you devote to that team to the amount of time you devote to being on Christ’s disciple squad. Make adjustments as needed.
Blessings on your day!
I am an imperfect person loved by a perfect God!
I had a funny realization the other day when I had the middle lovelies and their kindergarten buddies at mass. One of the littles had a runny nose so the big buddy turned and asked me if I had a Kleenex they could give the kindergartener. I immediately began rummaging through my coat pockets pulling out Kleenex after Kleenex. I smiled and thought I must have looked a little like a magician pulling colorful scarves out of a hat. I finally came to one that was wadded but after careful inspection, I could tell it hadn’t been used. It looked a little rumpled but as I did the unfold test I could tell it was a “never been used” one. Feeling a bit successful at the fruitful Kleenex search mission, I handed it up with pride to the middle lovely. The little one looked a bit suspicious and after using it the child looked at their big buddy and said, “My mom buys the kind that come in the little rectangle package and come out folded nicely, I’m not sure I like this kind.” It took everything I had not to laugh out loud!
As I looked down at the pile of crumpled white Kleenexes in my lap and began to tuck them all back in my coat pockets I realized my discipleship journey is a whole lot like that crumped pile of Kleenex! Here’s what I mean…
*When I forget to let God be in charge, things get all wrinkled, wadded and jumbled.
*Even when things get messy in the middle, all I need is a fresh corner to clean up my act.
*Things rarely come neatly packaged and perfectly stacked like the little rectangle Kleenex packages.
*Things don’t always have to look new, neat and tidy to work well, sometimes following Christ is just messy and unpredictable.
*God loves me even when I’m a rumpled mess and all I have left is a little room around the edges.
*God always wants to give a little extra love so I have some left to share.
*Just because I appear to be prepared, well packaged and all put together, it doesn’t mean I’m holy. Holiness focuses on the inside not the outward appearance.
*Just like those tissues in my pocket, God has a very specific purpose in my life and I sometimes have to do a little searching to find it.
*All too often, I have to dig around and try all the wrong things before I get to the good one.
*Finding a good Kleenex right before a sneeze is a great relief but it’s nothing compared to the relief in my life when I let God take control right before I try to do it my own way and goof it up.
Some people say they never really hear God speak to them; perhaps the problem is they just aren’t listening carefully because he can communicate his lessons and his love in the strangest ways; even in a pile of rumpled Kleenexes!
A Seed To Plant: Are you a fresh new package disciple or are you one who’s a little ruffled around the edges? Take some time in prayer this week and think about it…are you waiting until everything is in perfect order to invite him in or are you willing to invite him into your mess?
Blessings on your day!
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. Matthew 4:1
It seems like everybody has that friend who just always has the right thing to say at precisely the right moment. I admire those fast thinking, quick witted folks who just spit out the perfect set of words in a flash and leave everyone else speechless. I especially enjoy hearing that person when they speak words that are kind and truthful. More than once I’ve observed as a person like that has left a group of people just scratching their heads in silence thinking, “humm, good point, why didn’t I think of that!” Let’s be clear…I am NOT that person! I’m more like the one who mulls the conversation over and hours later thinks, man, I should have said___!
Instead of being the person with the right words, I’m beginning to realize being quiet is usually a much better choice for me. The story about the temptation of Jesus appears in three of the Gospels and each contains a huge detail I’d never noticed before. Satan is talking away to Jesus, he’s wheeling and dealing and carrying on but Jesus doesn’t really speak back. There is no conversation, no argument, no points to defend or no rebuttal on Jesus’ part. Jesus doesn’t enter conversation at all. Jesus does speak, but he doesn’t converse. After Satan huffs and puffs, Jesus speaks one line of truth. He doesn’t make something up. He doesn’t embellish or brag or even make Satan feel like the “despicable nothing slug” he really is, he simply quotes one line of scripture. He doesn’t use extra words because he grabs the perfect ones right from the book of “the only great words we ever need” book; the Bible. What a genius idea!
After this was pointed out to me in a sermon by a wonderful priest, he said some words that hit my heart. He said, “Jesus didn’t enter into conversation with Satan and neither should we…ever!” At first I smugly sat in my pew thinking, well of course not, I certainly would never enter into a debate or a battle with Satan. But, as he often does, Jesus showed up in my heart with a gigantic flash light and showed me exactly where I let it happen again and again. Of course it’s never a toe to toe confrontation like the one Jesus and Satan had but the little battles creep in and bring their ugliness along. Through some prayer I came to realize that I do listen to Satan. That voice that says, “you aren’t smart enough” or “go ahead and try to do that; you’ve failed there before and you’ll fail again” or the one that goes “yeah, this whole ministry and blog thing; do you really think you’re qualified to do God’s work”. He starts battles that leave me wondering if I’ve been a good enough wife, mom, teacher or friend. He creeps into my head with thoughts about past mistakes, weaknesses and calls to my mind the dozens of times a day I fall desperately short and I listen. In my head I make excuses or even agree with him for a bit.
Since this Gospel has been a big part of my Lenten Prayer, the Lord has led me to a few things. First, I need to be like Jesus and silence his voice with one well chosen line from God’s truth. Second, like Jesus, I need to recognize whose voice it is and quiet it immediately. I’m not called to argue or defend or refute. My job is to stand on the truth of God and walk away from the conversation. I have this sign with my middle lovelies. I’ll clamp four fingers down onto my thumb like an alligator closing it’s mouth and say “ZZZT”. All talking stops! Lately when I hear that voice that tells me things that aren’t true, I give Satan the ZZZT sign. I’m also making a list of one line truths from Scripture to go along with my ZZZT. A raw and honest look at how it works; when I looked at the gorgeous pictures from Jason and Katie’s perfect wedding day I heard that voice say, “Geeze Sheri, you should have worked harder and lost more weight before the wedding because that dress would have looked so much better in a smaller size.” I quick did my ZZZT and said “You are precious in my eyes and glorious because I love you. Isaiah 43:4” I’ll be completely honest, I had to repeat it a couple (or couple dozen) times before it choked out that ugly voice but it’s my beginning at ending the conversations! Where do you need to begin?
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of those conversations you need to put a stop to and then google a line from Scripture that tells the truth. Stand on that truth and remember Jesus didn’t enter into conversation with Satan and neither should we…ever!
Blessings on your day!
Every good and perfect gift is from God above. James 1:17
Unless you’ve been living under a rock you are undoubtedly aware that there is a lot of yuck filling the news. When all the craziness from candidates to policemen to natural disasters and disrespect for life gets lumped together it can bring out the worst in us. Everyone is entitled to their opinions but folks sometimes forget others might not share the same one yet they insist on loudly sharing those opinions with everyone and proclaiming their thoughts are correct, just, moral and supreme. The result is a muddy mess that leaves me scratching my head wondering; why don’t folks remember everybody’s life matters and how in tarnation did things get so scrambled up.
I surely don’t understand all the messes we hear about in the news but there are a few truths I know. First, God is bigger than ALL of it! Second, I can’t fix it; God would never ask or expect me to and third there are two very powerful things that we can do RIGHT NOW that will matter. These things will matter in my life, my family and with the people I am close to. I can’t fix it but I sure shootin can make it better…and so can you. The greatest part; these two things will tackle the feelings of frustration, dread, anxiety and the overwhelming desire we might have to throw something at the TV or computer screen when we watch the news.
There is a tiny back story to this idea and it came from the Holy Spirit because I would have never thought to do this myself. As I was sitting in prayer sad and frustrated about the current state of affairs of our nation I was prompted to go to something happy so I yanked an Advent book from my shelf. Advent is such a time of joy and happy anticipation so I opened up the book and started soaking in the words and felt excited and happy; it was crazy! After reading several pages two things became very clear and my heart filled with hope and faith. Complaining, dwelling, commiserating and joining in on face book rants about how this country is going to hell in a handbasket isn’t cutting it…that Advent book made that very clear! We have to take part in the plan of God; and make no mistake, even in this mess, he has one…and judging by the magnitude of the mess I’m confident it’s gonna be a GOOD one for those who are faithful!
So, the first of those two things; be GRATEFUL! Yup, you read that right, be GRATEFUL. Think about it, gratefulness should be our response to the grace, mercy and blessings of God and no matter what you just watched on the 6 o’clock news, God has blessed YOU! A grateful heart sees what’s good and appreciates it. People who are grateful are merciful and kind because gratefulness causes us to be connected to the one who gave us the things we’re grateful for. If we are connected to the giver of all good things, he gives more good things. That connection leads to eternal life…that’s what we need to remember to focus on, not this short-term life we’re in the middle of right now. This isn’t the good part…that’s comin and our salvation isn’t based on the behavior of the world; it’s based on our personal behavior. If we’re living gratefully we aren’t complaining, we aren’t worrying we’re busy praising and thanking the Father and that leads to great stuff!
The second of the two things; be LOVING! If we are grateful, we realize all good things flow from love not hate, jealousy, greed or pride. When we’re loving, the atmosphere changes completely and God barges right in and brings those cool gifts of the Spirit…you remember those…joy, peace, kindness, goodness and gentleness! No elected official or community leader is going to deliver those gifts if we cast our vote for them or hold up the right poster at a protest rally. Those gifts come from only one place and there is no spot for those gifts in our life unless we are loving. Too many of us are fumbling around in a fog of bitterness, anger, frustration with our hands thrown up in disbelief…that isn’t the proper disposition or frame of mind to be loving. We need a new disposition; let’s try gratitude and love and see what gets better; I’m guessing everything will!
A Seed To Plant: Write down this quote and pray with it for a while and see how your heart changes. “Gratitude flows from the recognition that all that is good is born of a divine gift of love freely given to us so that we may offer thanks and share it with others.” (Author unknown but they must be a really smart, holy person!)
Blessings on your day!
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
We could debate until we were out of breath about which professions and jobs are most important to the future of our world. There could be equally long debates about the wage and status for those jobs and professions. I have been reminded this month that the debate about status and money and importance doesn’t amount to a hill of beans because the true marker is passion and the peace in your soul that only comes from the satisfaction of knowing you are using your God given gifts to bring him glory in any way he asks. People who choose to work with kids of any age sure don’t do it for the money or the status yet they are some of the most richly blessed and revered people you’ll find. I’ve had a front row seat to amazing kids who have been led by the example of amazing adults.
Our little mid-Michigan community has brought home 3 State Titles this month. One in Competitive Cheer, one in Boys Basketball and one in Girls Basketball. In fact, in the last 10 years this little community has earned 11 State Titles and has advanced to Finals 25 times. Academic success and achievement in the Arts for our students is stellar as well. But how? It’s a school made up of around 400 kids who all live within the boundaries of a rural district. The towns are tiny, there is nothing flashy or fancy but there is something amazing that goes on around here. The success all boils down to a very powerful root.
As my newsfeed jammed full of pictures of the kids who were achieving great things this month I thought of the words of an old Whitney Houston song…I believe that children are our future; teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside. Give them a sense of pride, to make it easier; let the children's laughter remind us how we use to be. It sort of hit the spot! Our kids are great and they are loved and led by parents, teachers, coaches, principals, Priests and dozens of other community members who have great passion. All those people who invest their time, prayer, energy and love into this community see great fruit.
The priority however isn’t trophies or scores or medals, the priority is the rock solid FAITH of this community; that faith is the root! Faith and family are top priority and with those priorities come a strong work ethic, a balanced perspective and a strong sense of pride. When something is working, it’s evident. The biggest return on the investment is when the kids become the ones teaching the lessons. The grand finale of the month happened Saturday night when the girls team got back to town and asked Father Eric to say an unscheduled mass for the team. They had attended mass together regularly all season and it seemed the perfect ending. Saturday night, it was the girls teaching the lesson on priorities. The kids in this community steep everything in prayer. They pray with each other and for each other. They are often seen living out their faith on and off the playing field. Sometimes they are the ones who are inspiring the adults to grow in faith and discipleship.
When faith is your root, what sprouts and grows from there is a beauty to behold. When you set out on a mission to help young people grow in faith and live that faith through whatever gifts God gives, that makes a difference in the world.
A Seed To Plant: If you want to change the world, find a way to use your gifts to support kids. Volunteer, coach, teach, tutor and pray!
Blessings on your day!
Indeed, religion with contentment is a great gain. 1 Timothy 6:6
Have you ever gone out to eat with a person who has to look at every plate that comes out of the kitchen before they can decide what to order? That same person usually stares down each plate at the table, asking five questions about each order, and more often than not, that same person can be heard saying something like, “I wish I would have ordered that instead, I want what they have!” Let’s face it, if we’re being totally honest, we probably make a dozen comparisons each day. We compare tiny things like parking spots and lunch choices and we compare big things like cars, paychecks and homes. Did you ever stop and think about why we do this?
If we took a survey of 100 people and asked the question, “What word best describes you right now?” What percentage of people do you think might reply with the word “Content”? I would be willing to bet very few, if any, would spit out that answer! We are a restless people by nature. We spend a lot of time and energy comparing, evaluating and calculating everything. Is it greed, lust, materialism or is it possible that the restlessness is simply a yearning for God to fill a spot in our lives we may not even realize is vacant?
I love my life! I love everything about it, my husband, my children, my job, my family, my co-workers, my parish, my home…my life is absolutely more blessed than I ever imagined it could be! That being said, you would think I would be perfectly content. That would be correct most of the time, but every now and again that restless ache creeps in and makes me compare what I have with something God blessed someone else with. God has given me WAY more than enough and He certainly has given me WAY more than I deserve but sometimes I want Him to give ME that vacation to a beautiful beach resort or spiffy new fancy thing my neighbor has. He has generously given me gifts and blessings and I try to use them to further His kingdom but sometimes I really wish those gifts could land me a book deal or a speaker booking at a big-name conference where I could rub elbows with the “Big Names” and be a part of all the exciting “hoop-la” that goes with it.
99 days out of 100 I’m grateful and content but I was having that day when I was restless and feeling a little jealous. I needed to get out from under the burden of those feelings so I slipped in the side door of church during lunch and asked Him to take them away. As I sat in the silence, the word “why” just kept popping in my head. I thought and thought about it and kept wondering things like, “why…why did he get that and why did she get to go there and why…” I went through the whole list and then it hit me! The “why” meant something completely different…God was leading me to ask myself “WHY” do you want those things. If you really want to use the gifts I gave you to serve me, why do you care about those things? I sat a bit longer and thought about why I wanted all those things I thought He had forgotten to give me. I told Him I felt like I was being “skipped over”. Then the train hit me...I was wandering away from His truth. He doesn’t allow me to write this blog each week to be recognized, He gave me this gift to spread His love and help others recognize His presence. He didn’t give me my speaking gift to become recognized in a faraway fancy place, He gave it to me to speak to whoever He put in the chairs wherever He sends me. He didn't send me to a beach, he sent me to spread His love to a bunch of "tweenagers" every day. He didn’t forget to give me a fancy car or the income for a beautiful cottage; he gave me exactly what I needed to provide me with the perfect balance of humility and peace. Mostly, He made me realize He has blessed me with the perfect life for ME! I realized that what I need and what everyone else needs are as different as can be, but in the difference lies the perfection that only He can determine.
I left the church that afternoon knowing that the why really meant; why are you restless for things that aren’t yours. I left understanding the why, was the way He uncovered the restlessness in my soul that needed to rest in Him! I think I’ll swap “C” words…I’ll swap compare for celebrate. Each time I’m tempted to say, “I want what they have”, I’ll say instead, “God, thank you for taking such perfect care of them because You know perfectly what we need!” He works in ways both huge and tiny based on things we will never see or know…thank you Father for being in charge…You always get it right!
A Seed To Plant: Practice gratefulness this week and swap “C” words. Ask God each time you are tempted to make a comparison to settle your restless soul!
Blessings on your day!
For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord...Jeremiah 29:11
How many times do we hear the world tell us BE GREAT! Since the beginning of time, greatness has been important. I guess someone has to be in charge and have power but I'm not sure that makes them great. I'm not sure money, stuff or position are the best indicators of how great you are but it seems like we live in a world that uses those very things as the benchmark.
I found some perfect words to put this in perspective. I'm going to borrow these words from one of my favorite authors, Matthew Kelly. I hope he doesn't mind and I hope they touch your heart and serve as a reminder of the true definition of greatness.
"Do you want to be great? Born in a stable...served all men...was criticized for His attempts to live and proclaim the truth...and He suffered. He was the greatest. If you want to be great, be little."
A Seed To Plant: Ponder Mr. Kelly's words and see if you can find some ways to grow in greatness.
Blessings on your day!
… “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Mathew 14:31
Saturday I had the privilege of participating in a Women’s conference and the theme was based on Matthew’s gospel about getting out of the boat. I love this story, it’s full of little lessons! One thing that always makes me giggle a little is how much I’m like the apostles that stayed in the boat. Poor Peter gets scolded by Jesus for being of “little faith”. Truth is, I’d be one of the 11 still sitting in the boat never having the guts to get out and even try walking on water in the first place! Sometimes my boat is rockin but I’m not brave enough to get out and be faithful!
I’ve been thinking about this reading a lot this week and I remembered the time all three of my children were parasailing in Gulf Shores. I watched them floating in the sky and my glance kept drifting back to that boat rocking back and forth in the ocean waves. My children had the courage to try something I would NEVER do; once again there I was like one of the “chicken” apostles still in the boat! I think sometimes I really need that boat to rock so hard it almost tips over before I muster up the courage to get out.
After some thinking and paying I made a short list of the places it’s hard to get out of the boat and trust. The top three for me are 1)My world my children will raise children in 2)The shrinking moral conscience of our culture and 3)The economy and leadership of our country. Boy can I ever be an apostle glued to the boat seat when I think about these things! I need to leap out of the boat like Peter and take some steps toward Jesus. There are many things that rock our boat and test our faith but the message is the same to us as it was to Peter; trust Me, keep your eyes on Me,have faith in Me and I will guide and protect and love you!
I can’t organize the future any more than I can sweep into the US Senate or House and pray with them and get things all straightened out. (talk about being tossed into a stormy sea…yikes!) I wish I could do great big things that would restore common values like modesty, honesty and respect for life but the truth is, I’m only in charge of my little corner of the world. So what’s a sea-sick scardey cat apostle to do…PRAY! TRUST! GET OUT OF THE BOAT SO JESUS CAN GRAB ON!
If I look back on my own life, the troubles and difficult times are the ones that caused me to learn the most. Having jobs that were hard, yucky and paid pennies were the ones that made me strong and grateful. Wrestling with tough decisions about my future gave me great opportunity to pray and trust God’s will for my life. Why would we want our kids to have an easy go of it and miss those important lessons and opportunities to grow in faith and character? I think I’ll get out of that boat and just ask God to bless them and remind them daily to ask Him for direction and then pray like crazy they listen and follow!
As for the boat rockin I feel when I think of state of affairs with our culture and our country, I had a thought. If your inbox or facebook newsfeed is full of jokes, slogans and stories about the woes of our world, what do you think would happen if instead of forwarding or sharing them, we would instead stop and pray? Judging by the number of those types of posts I see each day, that could be a LOT of prayin…I think the seas would calm and more folks would have the courage and the trust to get out of the boat and walk toward Jesus. I think we underestimate the power of prayer, especially with issues we think are beyond us. I sometimes forget to pray for our leaders. I don’t remember often enough to pray for people who have lost their way and make decisions that draw people away from God rather than toward Him. Shame on me…guess I better write that down so I remember! I don’t know about you, but I think I’m ready to get out of the boat and test the water!
A Seed To Plant: What’s rockin your boat? Make a list and then stop today and pray for the courage to walk toward Jesus and hand Him your concerns. While you’re prayin, stop and say a prayer for the President and all those in positions of leadership and power.
Blessings on our day!
He must become greater, I must become less. John 3:30
Crosses, daisies and faithful Disciples of Jesus! That pretty much sums up the past couple of months for me! In the last few months I have spoken to several hundred folks who were on the same mission…to grow in holiness. As usual, I show up with my computer to do what God has asked me to do, using the words the Holy Spirit gives me and think I’m giving something. In all truthfulness; I always walk away taking more than I gave!
The Lenten message I’ve shared a few times involves the image of crosses and daisies. I saw a meme on Ash Wednesday that said “pick up your cross and not a handful of daisies!” It made me laugh and it made me think. After I pondered it a bit I realized Lent is about recognizing the power of both the crosses and the daisies. The daisies are the beautiful, simple, Christlike things I can do dozens of times each day that help me think of others more and myself less. The daisies are tiny acts of service and compassion that truly do help us grow in holiness. If these things are offered to Jesus with love, they console his heart and they draw our attention to the service of others and not ourselves. If I smile instead of argue; if I offer my spot in line or hold open the door; if I walk away instead of gossiping; if I offer a helping hand to a struggling soul and I do all those things out of love for Jesus…those little daisies allow holiness to blossom. Anything done out of love for, and offered to Jesus, has results that are as pleasing to him as a beautiful daisy is to us.
The crosses are the tough stuff! It’s true that the daisies help us grow in holiness but life can’t be all daisies. The crosses are personal, they may be private and they may be heavy but Jesus is just waiting there beside us ready to help us with the heavy lifting. We have to reach down and pick them up before he will grab on and help with the struggle. Our free will doesn’t allow him to join in until we get started and ask for help. Sometimes I hover over my crosses. I would imagine I must look to Jesus like one of those professional weight lifters on TV. I rub my hands, make some noise, bend down, practice the motions but as I step up to grab the cross I put my hands on it but don’t always stand up with the weight in my hand; I just go through the warm-up again and never get to the heavy lifting. Lent is the perfect time to quit the warm up and get to the lifting. No more studying the crosses; no more dragging the crosses; it’s time for ready set LIFT and CARRY!
As you focus on your crosses and daisies this lent, stop to tell your story and stop to ask others about their story. God doesn’t mean for us to bear our crosses in silence. We are called to support and love each other along the way.
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of the crosses and daisies you will focus on this week.
Blessings on your day!
“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.” Blessed Mother Teresa
Now there is a Lenten challenge! There is just some advice that needs to be followed and this power-packed tidbit from Mother Theresa begs to be heeded. I shared this quote during prayer with the middle lovelies last week and they all agreed it would make the world a whole lot better but then one very honest young man said, “But man Mrs. Wohlfert, that’s just so hard to do.” I told him I agreed completely!
This quote has been heavy on my mind for several days and I’ve discovered it’s much easier to live these words when you’re in control of the situation and interactions are pleasant. I was intentional about this quote for a few days and I was pretty good at living this challenge when I would slow down, look people in the eyes when they spoke and be still until they were finished with the conversation. It seemed a bit awkward at first but after a few days it became more second nature. I was feeling pretty good about it until that situation I hadn’t planned for; you know the ones that catch you by surprise and tilt you off your balance. I had one of those situations this weekend and I totally blew it…I was frazzled and almost instantly I reacted and it wasn’t a reaction that matched the quote! I wasn’t the Wicked Witch of the West or anything but as I replayed the event I realized my reaction was based on selfishness and pride. A few hours later I was still really heavy hearted about the whole thing so I stopped to pray about it. (I don’t know why I always wait so long to do that!) After just a few seconds of quiet prayer it was very clear that I needed to apologize. I needed to call myself out on the selfishness and pride. I needed to admit that I was thinking of myself first and others second and I had to admit that I hadn’t left anyone better or happier with my snappy reaction. The more I tried to talk myself out of apologizing, the more I realized I needed to do it and do it soon. After a giant gulp of pride with a huge serving of humble pie on the side, I made the apology and shared the story of my failure to live out this quote. The apology was graciously accepted and thankfully my reaction was a much bigger deal in my mind than in actuality!
The funny thing about the whole situation…I was the one who left feeling happier and better. Crazy, I thought that was the gift I was going to give; not the one I was going to get. God is good and lesson learned…for today anyway! Thank goodness God expects progress not perfection!
A Seed To Plant: Make it your goal this week to live this verse. Think about the people it will be easiest and hardest to live it with and then ask God to bless your attempts.
Blessings on your day!
…and your Father who sees…Matthew 6:6
Happy (almost) Lent! Welcome to that time of year when we set out with all our hearts to grow in holiness. For me, it’s easy to look at the road to holiness and feel a little overwhelmed because I get so off track. It’s easy for me to look at lent as a time to “bear down” and try to do some really hard stuff. My intentions are good but these words from the Ash Wednesday Gospel hit my heart. Most years I set out to do some crazy long list of stuff in order to “make up” for all my shortcomings the rest of the year. Lent certainly has a penitential feel and purpose but it’s not a time to lock ourselves in a personal dungeon and be crabby and miserable for 6 weeks.
I think I wanted to do hard stuff so Jesus would see me and notice all the sacrifice and love and suffering. The Father sees…he sees ALL THE TIME and he sees us with such love and mercy. It makes me think of a chubby cheeked baby and how I just want to kiss their cheeks when I see one! I believe the Father looks at us that way every…singe…time! He’s always looking, he doesn’t miss a thing so that realization changed the way I think about lent. The point is not to get the Father’s attention; not to get him to look at me and the hard stuff I’m doing. The point is to get ME to look at HIM! What we “give up” this lent should be something we don’t pick back up! We need to give up those things that take our focus off Him so if they are coming between us now, they will probably come between us later so why not ditch ‘em!
If you’ve ever taken children to the pool, you know how many times they can say “hey watch this” in thirty minutes. That was the way I did Lent; hey Jesus, look at me I’m not eating chocolate or hey Jesus did you see that I went to an extra daily mass today, wasn’t that good of me, doesn’t that count for extra? It was almost like a giant score card and lent was the bonus round! Now, I realize it’s about me watching him. It sure takes a lot of the pressure off! My biggest Lenten task is to do the things that help me fix my gaze on him. If I’m looking to him and I know he’s looking at me, that influences my choices and attitudes; that helps me grow in holiness.
Here are some things you might try this Lent. Make a commitment to read a book about our Catholic faith this lent. It could be a book about the Mass like A Biblical Walk Through The Mass by Edward Sri. It could be about discipleship like A Walk in Her Sandals by Kelly Wahlquist or The Biggest Lie In The History of Christianity by Matthew Kelly. Just pick up a book and draw closer. We are a people made for companionship so why not join your parish family and participate in Lenten Devotions like the Stations of the Cross, The Rosary or Divine Mercy Chaplet or make a commitment to attend an extra mass each week. In the true spirit of lent, invite someone to join you. Almsgiving is about more than money so why not take a look at the “things” that fill your home. Are there things you can offer to those in need? Consider giving up some of the clothes, shoes, toys and things that fill your home. The sacrifice of parting with some of your “extra” could be a great blessing to someone in great need. Consider offering your daily coffee or weekly pizza night money to a shelter or agency that serves those in need.
A Seed To Plant: Take some time to pray about your lenten journey. Ask the Father to show you the things you should “give up” and not “pick back up”; things that will help you look at Jesus the way he looks at you?
Blessings on your day!
He laid his hand on the blind man’s eye a second time…Mark 8:25
The other day I was reading a story in Mark’s Gospel and got things so incredibly wrong. I was so wrong in fact that I had to laugh at my own thick headedness! I wish Jesus would teach me gently but it’s blatantly obvious that what I often need instead is a thump!
When I read the story in Mark Gospel about the healing of the blind man something really struck me. Jesus put his hand on the blind man and put spit on his eyes and then ask if he could see. He replied that he could see people that looked like trees so Jesus once again put his hands on the mans eyes and then he could see. My ridiculous reaction was, “I wonder why Jesus didn’t get it right the first time?” I actually thought about Jesus making a mistake or losing his touch. I wondered if maybe he was exhausted or distracted. I was thinking it was an odd story because I didn’t remember Jesus ever half-healing someone and having to take a do-over. It had me thinking.
I’m afraid to admit it took me longer than it should have to realize it had nothing to do with the ability of Jesus. It was the faith of the man that was the problem. Duh…how could I even think Jesus was “loosing his touch”. I had to laugh at myself for being such a knucklehead! Sheesh…Jesus needing a do-over; what was wrong with me! I couldn’t get it out of my head all day and every time I thought about it I realized the story applied to so many places in my life. I could recall so many times I thought Jesus hadn’t gotten it quite right. He hadn’t heard my requests as clearly as I was articulating them. He hadn’t organized the responses to my prayers in quite the order and fashion I was planning. Let’s not even talk about the times he responded too early or too late.
It’s funny how many examples I could think of in my life where I actually reacted the same way to a situation as I reacted to this Gospel story; what’s up with Jesus? The not so gentle lesson to the story is, it’s not Jesus at all. It’s me being like the man who wasn’t open enough or faithful enough or trusting enough to recognize and accept Jesus and his perfect touch and timing. It’s been several days and I’m still shaking my head. Jesus needing a do-over, what was I thinking!
A Seed To Plant: Pull out your Bible or google this Gospel Mark 8:22-26 and give it a read asking Jesus to show you the times he tried to help or heal and you didn’t have enough faith to understand or accept it.
Blessings on your day!
…”Speak Lord for your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:9
When I was growing up, if I would misplace something and say, “I can’t find it!” my dad would always say, “I’m sure it will be in the last place you look.” He was right…it always was but as a kid that line really bugged me! I
think it probably bugged me because what I would have rather heard him say was, “I’ll help you find it.” That simple statement of the obvious and the reality that I was on my own was his very simple way of letting me know I was responsible. If I wanted that missing object badly enough I had to invest the thought, energy and action into finding what I was looking for.
I heard someone say a couple weeks ago, “God just never listens to me!” I’m sure we’ve all felt that way a time or two when things got bumpy but the question that should always follow that statement is , “How well do I listen to God?” As Christians we can be assured of God’s presence in our lives but sometimes we have to do what my dad always pushed me to do and take responsibility for finding His loving presence in our lives. God speaks to us, but it’s not a bold, booming deep voice from the clouds. God speaks to us daily if we’re seeking and listening. There are four ways He makes us aware of his presence, His voice, and His will.
The first place God speaks to us is through Scripture. Once while I was in the middle of a struggle, I tried a dozen things on my own to make it better and finally after no improvement I did what I should have done first and gone to God’s word for strength, comfort and counsel. When I did finally ask God to speak to my heart, I landed in James and these were the words I read; Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. I heard that loud and clear!
The second way God speaks to us is through circumstances. Sometimes we call them coincidences, but God deserves the credit for those things, not fate. God so loves each of us, He arranges and organizes events and circumstances all the time just to show us how much He loves us and cares for us. Keep your eye out for them!
The third way is through people. Sometimes the right person with just the right word comes along at just right time and it seems to change everything. That’s God, speaking through others. A lady shared a story just recently about being in the hospital and as she was being prepped for surgery a nurse walked in to assist and they just “out of nowhere” started talking about trusting God and feeling His peace. She said it completely removed her fear and she rolled down the hall with an amazing sense of calmness and confidence.
The fourth way God speaks to us is through prayer. My husband and I couldn’t have raised our children together if we had never talked. I can’t teach a room full of middle lovelies if we don’t talk. I think we understand that we would stumble around in such chaos and frustration if we didn’t communicate with each other. Prayer is our communication with God. It’s the most important conversation we have each day but yet it’s the one that sometimes gets pushed to the side when we get busy or frazzled. The biggest mistake we make is to think we don’t have time to pray. That would be like trying to drive somewhere and being too busy to put gas in the car.
If you feel like something’s missing in your life seek the giver of all good things. He will be the last place you look and now you have four choices.
A Seed To Plant: Pick one of the four and start seeking Him. I’m willing to bet the more you seek Him in these four places, the more you’ll find Him.
Blessings on your day!
But let your “Yes” mean “Yes” and your “No” mean “No”…James 5:12
Wow did this one smack be upside the head! I think I would be shamefully astounded if I counted the times I approached things looking for the “easier” way to do them. More than a few times I’ve re-routed plans and projects searching for increased benefit and decreased personal discomfort! The biggest problem with that is what I usually get in return is minimal satisfaction! I also shudder when I think of the things in my life that lack true commitment and consistent effort.
I remember when Jason was an infant. He loved sleeping if it was light outside but not so much during the middle of the night. Kevin was 18 months old and I remember some of those days and nights felt so long. In my exasperation and exhaustion one day I was pouring out my heart and frustration to a wise friend and she said, “You’re looking at this all wrong; your goal is to get him to sleep so you can sleep too but your mission should be to relax, rock, pray and enjoy your precious son.” I thought she was nuts at first but I was desperate enough to try it her way and she was right. It was hard to remember that I had said “Yes” to motherhood and all that came with it. I was feeling deprived and uncomfortable…it was all about what I was missing and giving up and not what I had been given. The next many nights were different. I rocked and held him with a peace I hadn’t had before and said “Yes” to all the parts of motherhood and believed with all my heart that God would give me the strength and patience to chase my 18 month old the next day even if I didn’t get much sleep. That’s exactly what He did! It didn’t take long before Jason got his sleeping straightened out and I never admitted it out loud but I kind of missed that quiet time in the middle of the night with a new baby.
God calls us so many times a day and He leads us so tenderly but so much of it we miss. I’m so busy trying to make things easy on myself I often lack the consistency to follow through on the things I say “Yes” to in my faith life. I am also painfully aware of the times I vow to say “No” to screen time or procrastination only to let it dribble into my hours leaving little or no time for reading, prayer or study. I think St. James was speaking directly to me. I suppose if I spent more time honoring my yes’s and my no’s instead of trying to negotiate an easier path God would have some abundant blessings for me and I would be filled with great satisfaction. I can be a stubborn woman though!
When I finally stopped fussing about my fussing baby and just enjoyed being in the moment God honored my “yes”. He gave me joy, peace and energy because I was more concerned with the minutes I gained with my baby and less worried about the minutes of sleep I lost. As Lent approaches, I plan to make a list of “Yes” and “No” and I will spend this prayerful season consistently honoring both…I’ll be sure to keep you posted!
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of “Yes” and “No” things that you can offer God the Father this Lenten season. Ask Him to show you where you need to say yes and where He’d like you to say no.
Blessings on your day!
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him. Habakkuk 3:19
It has been one strange winter! We have had more snow days than I can ever remember in one school year. I’ve used the time to get caught up and do some of those yucky chores you dread but I’ve also had some time to watch a few movies. I have not one athletic bone in my body, but I love sports movies. I love it when the underdog wins, the hopeless find hope and the least expected turns out to be the most amazing. I have pulled four of my favorite quotes from 3 great movies for today’s post and added a twist as if they were each spoken to us by Jesus Himself.
It’s ok to think about what you want to do until it’s time to do what you’re meant to do. (The Rookie) If Jesus said that to us, I think He’d follow it up with “so put your plans and your dreams at the foot of my cross and I’ll take it from there. Oh, and by the way, I’ll come up with something WAYYYY better for you than you’d ever dream up yourself. Wait for it….Wait for it!”
You’ve taught me to judge a man by the soul of him, rather than the look of him. (Remember the Titans) That’s Jesus talking… but all too often way too many of us still haven’t learned that lesson. It’s easy to see this quote in terms of race but I think it’s much bigger than that. What about seeing the soul of a homeless person or a person lost in alcoholism or someone struggling with anger or mental illness? It’s not always easy to see beyond the first look sometimes but we’re supposed to.
When I told you not to get your hopes up, that didn’t mean I wasn’t going to. (Invincible) One of the things that really hurts my heart is when I visit with someone who has no hope. It hurts my heart even more when I see a person smash someone else’s hope. Hope is a very powerful thing and it can make amazing things happen. Hope is a grace and it’s freely given to each of us but we have to make sure we know that putting our hope in Christ is what we need to do. When we tell someone not to get their hopes up, we seem to be trying to protect them but I suppose Jesus would remind us to say instead, put your hope in Me because I have only the best for you….I will give you far more than you could hope for.
Sometimes bad things happen for no particular reason at all. (Remember the Titans) I see two big lessons of faith in this line. Lesson one, don't try to blame everything on something or someone and don’t try to explain, justify or second guess God’s motives because He sees our whole life, not just one event. Lesson two, no particular reason you can see or understand at this moment, but give Him time, He will reveal the reason and He will bring blessing and goodness because of it. I suppose it’s also helpful to remember that sometimes the lesson and the blessing are meant for someone else and it just comes through us and our circumstance.
There, I feel better now, thank you for allowing my lazy snow day movie watching to be used for a good purpose.
A Seed To Plant: Think of a line from one of your favorite movies that has meaning and enforces a Gospel teaching in your life. If you have time, share it with us in the comment section so we can be inspired as well.
Blessings on your day!
Q: Did Adam and Eve ever have a date? A: No, they had an apple.
Sorry, I just had to begin today’s post with some Valentine humor…and remember I teach elementary school and bad jokes are a job hazard so I thought I’d share a little “joke love” with you! I watched some video clips about love and Valentine’s Day. The experts they interviewed were a group of 4 and 5 year olds and I must admit I was enlightened. In honor of the todays holiday, I thought I’d put you all in the mood for a little love with a giggle on the side. Here’s what I learned…
*Love feels sparkly when it’s real.
*Daddies make the best Valentines because they think you’re perfect.
*If you want someone to be your Valentine you have to share your most special thing with them.
*Kissing doesn’t have anything to do with Valentine’s Day it’s only about being happy.
*Sometimes your mom will make you give a Valentine to everybody even if you don’t want to because it’s good for you to practice love. I don’t get it but she tells me I will understand someday.
*You should never get married until you are at least 21 years and 345 days old; that’s important.
*Love means everything that’s good like Jesus, puppies and chocolate.
*When I get big I will want high heels, fur coats and lots of chocolate for Valentine’s Day but now I just want a cookie and everybody being nice to me.
*I don’t want squishy hugs and kisses; I want people just to play fun games with me and laugh with me.
There you have it! The perfect Valentine’s Day tutorial delivered right to your computer! As I listened to the kids I was struck by the simplicity of it all and the truth of it all. As I look over the list it almost seems like a to-do list from Jesus. It’s just what he’s shown us; His “daddy” is the best Valentine we could ever have, show kindness, show love to all; even when we don’t want to and simple blessings like laughter, compassion and happiness are powerful. We make it so tough sometimes don’t we! I also have a new word to describe that feeling I get when I have truly recognized God working in my life; sparkly real love! I’m hoping to enjoy that sparkly real love feeling as I ask God’s blessing on you and those you love this Valentine’s Day.
A Seed To Plant: Take a tip from the kids list and share God’s love with someone this Valentine’s day. If you are interested in giving someone high heels, fur coats, chocolate OR COFFEE…please let me know I think I can help find just the right person.
Blessings on your day and Happy Valentine’s Day!
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23
It seems that lately I have found myself in the middle of the same conversation about a dozen times. The conversations happen at functions where my peers and I see our children are walking through the door as grown-ups. I’m seeing the kids that played in my basement and ran through the sprinkler in my front yard and sat in the seats in my classroom getting married, having children and talking about their careers. I’ve been bumping into these grown up young people that are talking about their jobs and their lives. I talked with one young man who fixes cars and it seems like he just learned how to drive last week …and then there was the boy I watched learn to read who was talking to me about the reading scores of his own students and there was the boy who teased girls with a fury that I watched say I do and promised to spend his whole life loving a beautiful girl; something he swore in elementary school would certainly NEVER happen to him. As the moms and dads gather to visit, we always say the same thing; “how did that happen…I guess I blinked.”
Last weekend our school celebrated it’s annual Dinner Raffle which is a huge, amazing event that since it’s inception twenty years ago has raised over one million dollars for our school. I had the privilege and the honor of being a part of those first five years and to see how much has been accomplished over the years was pretty awesome. As I looked up at that 20th Anniversary banner I realized that when it started my college senior was a toddler and her oldest brother was in kindergarten. Again I said, “how did that happen…I guess I blinked.” It’s funny that those words ring with a little twinge of sadness. I miss the 3 little Wohlferts and their friends jumping on the couch cushions and playing baseball in the basement thinking I didn’t know. I miss squealing girls and dance parties and the smell of nail polish wafting up the basement stairs. I miss feeling like Old Mother Hubbard after the friends went home and mostly I miss walking into my house and seeing a big ole heap of shoes that belonged on the feet of the kids gathered in the basement.
Last night at a wonderful wedding, I watched a big group of young grown-ups from all 3 little Wohlferts classes and I realized I’d been looking at it all wrong. Every time I stopped to chat with one of them I felt really old! I felt like I lost something and wanted it back. I felt like I wanted to re-play it all to make sure I hadn’t missed something. As a mom, I sometimes look back on my “less than stellar” mom moment and want those back for a re-do. Those words kept coming into my mind, “I must have blinked!” I realized as I was watching them dance and laugh and enjoy themselves in their fancy clothes, that the blinks weren’t really about me. I keep thinking about my age and how I would like to go back in time and how much I miss those great mom moments but when I took myself out of the equation, I realized those blinks were full of beautiful things.
During the blinks all those kids I loved grew into young adults I love. All the playing and laughing and shenanigans forged great friendships, loyalty and a boatload of stories and memories. During those blinks they all matured and found their path. During those blinks they became independent, dedicated and driven. During those blinks I realized they have all become exactly what we wanted them to…great humans! Last night I saw dresses, heels, ties and tuxes but when I blinked I saw those school uniform solid color polos and superman t-shirts and little league jerseys and it made me smile. When I opened my eyes again and saw the grown-up version of all those little people, I realized that I hadn’t missed a thing; I had been there every moment of the journey and I stopped to realize all the amazing things that unfolded right before my eyes. I blinked again and I could still go back to blanket forts, sword fights with wrapping paper tubes, 4-H fairs and the prom. I realized I’d always have the blinks but the great opportunity to talk to a young adult and realize they had become exactly what they wrote about becoming in the 4th grade was worth the wrinkles and gray hairs that are a part of my look.
If we don’t blink nothing happens. If we don’t blink we’ll all be stuck. As I sat in mass this morning I saw one of my very favorite students who lost her mama when she was just a second grader. She has always had a special place in my heart and I realized how beautiful and necessary the blinks really are as I watched her snuggle and sway gently with her gorgeous baby girl in her arms. I blinked and she grew into a beautiful wife and mother and I could almost feel the joy and the happiness come from that little families end of the pew. God flooded my heart with joy and my eyes with tears and reminded me that the blinks are beautiful and with each one; with each stage that passes, we get another chance to see the great things he does in our lives. I made sure to say a prayer for all the beautiful blinks and the blessings that followed.
A Seed To Plant: Time isn’t meant to stand still…God is constantly working, so instead of feeling things have passed you by, look at what he’s done and hope for the beautiful things to come.
Blessings on your day!
“May the Lord repay every man for his righteousness and his faithfulness…” 1 Samuel 26:23
Growing up, we had a neighbor who was one of the dearest, sweetest souls God sent to earth. We loved her so much that my brothers and I called her Grandma Marge. We weren’t related to her, but we sure were connected at the heart. Grandma Marge knew heartache, she knew injustice and she knew sadness. She also knew and loved the Lord with a fire and a passion so what bubbled from her soul was joy and laughter and a wisdom that could see right through you. She lived a wee bit more than a century and that keen wit, sweet heart and wisdom shined like a light right to the end. Grandma Marge was a master at noticing and teaching my brothers and I lessons with very few words.
Grandma Marge was one of the few people who knew that chocolate and coconut are my favorite flavors ever. I didn’t tell her it was my favorite that but she always had candy when we stopped by for a visit and I guess she noticed that was the one I always picked. I remember one day my mom sent my little brother and I over to her house to borrow some eggs. Of course we sat down for a great visit and the candy bowl was out on the table. I remember that there were circus peanuts and candied orange slices (BLECK!!!) and one of the chocolate coconut candies. I figured I was safe because my brother loved both of those awful orange candies but for some bazaar reason he ate the one I wanted. I did’t say a word and remember politely telling Grandma I wasn’t hungry. I didn’t think any more about it and after our visit she handed us the bag with the container of eggs, and we headed home. Not long after we got home, my mom called me into the kitchen to help fix supper and she told me to look in the bag from Grandma Marge. In the bottom of the bag there was a little brown sack with a note and 3 chocolate coconut candies. The note said, “I’m not the only one who notices when you do a good thing. Love, Grandma Marge”
Her note seems to scream a very relevant thought right about now. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has heard and seen the craziness in our country lately and I’m also sure I’m not the only one who has felt sick to my stomach and cried and prayed sometimes feeling numb with disbelief and dismay. We’ve absolutely been called to fall to our knees and pray but I’ve been feeling like it’s just not enough. I’ve been wondering how to make our nation collectively take a deep breath and begin again honestly, kindly, prayerfully and justly. Late last week I asked God, what in the heck can I do? As I sat quietly waiting for a nudge or a thought my mind went racing back to that note from Grandma Marge.
I can’t control a single person. I have no influence over anyone in power. I am not eloquent and persuasive. All I can do is share God’s truth and slather everything in prayer, but yet I was feeling so inadequate until her note reminded me of the truth. God notices when you do a good thing. God sees his faithful, especially amongst a see of unfaithfulness. Thank goodness we aren’t judged in groups or by city, state or nation. He sees us each as his beautiful child and he will notice our deeds and actions. That note from several decades ago brought me peace in my turmoil. I pondered all of it for a few days and wondered if being faithful myself was enough, and, as usual, God gave me a wink of encouragement last night. I am taking a fabulous class about Scripture and as we were wrapping up our discussion on the book of Judges which is a story of one destructive, bloody, devastating battle after another the teacher reminded us that God recognizes the faithful in all times and circumstances. Grandma Marge was right, she wasn’t the only one who noticed things.
A Seed To Plant: Write the words BE FAITHFUL on some sticky notes or cards and scatter them as a reminder that our job on this earth no matter what the chaos around us is pretty simple!
Blessings on your day!
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not swerve from it. Proverbs 22:6
Things aren’t always what they seem. More often than I’d like to admit, I get things all settled in my mind only to realize I’ve seen it completely from the wrong perspective. The world can be pretty clear about what, who and how we should be and it’s pretty easy to slide right into that groove. God really wanted my attention and he got it, as I took a lesson from a mom about my age with a tall son named Kevin. Coincidence; not at all, God doesn’t do coincidence…he does; I love you so shut up and pay attention!
At first glance, her Kevin looked like a regular, tall handsome looking young man in his mid 20’s, just like my Kevin. But after just a few seconds, I realized he wasn’t the same at all. Her Kevin had the cognitive abilities of a seven year old and they were at the airport just watching planes take off because it was his favorite thing to do and it was their weekly Saturday morning date. I remember feeling sad and wondered if they ever felt cheated out of the things most of us take for granted. After hearing her story, I realized I was looking at things through a cloudy lens.
The mom talked about how her son was the greatest teacher of faith and all things good she could have ever imagined. When he was born, she worried about all the things he’d miss. As he got older she realized how lucky he was, and how lucky she was to be his mom. She shared that he was always up at dawn to go to a job at a workplace for people with disabilities and he approached each work day with such contentment and peace. He always finishes what he starts, delights in helping with any task, not because it’s important or hard or prestigious but because it’s helping someone and he feels accomplishment simply because it’s completed.
Her son has an innate sense of truth and trust. He doesn’t lie; it isn’t in his nature or ability. He trusts and prays with unshakable faith. He finds delight in tasks like doing the laundry and vacuuming the house. He realizes it’s helpful and productive and that brings him joy. He has no concern for fashion or material goods. He enjoys the simplicity of watching birds, planes and anything in nature. When he sees something beautiful or exciting in nature he always says, “Thank you God, I really liked seeing that!” He is capable of only goodness and sees each new day, even though it will be a repeat of the one before it, as a new and exciting gift from God.
Every parent worries about their child. We want them to be happy, to find a good job, to have enough money to enjoy life, to have a good education or training. We want them to be good and kind and mostly, we want them to get to heaven. Kevin’s mom said she sees all those things in her son every single day. She admitted that he takes a different kind of time and love than his siblings but he’s the child she worries about least because he, by nature, is saintly and lives without the temptations and sin that can put a wedge between us and the Father’s plan. That is the ultimate peace for a mothers soul she shared.
That encounter left me with a changed mama heart. I realize how many things I pray for in regard to my children. I pray for passed tests and high cattle prices and job promotions. I pray for their friendships, future spouses and their happiness. If I’m being truthful, I pray so hard and so often for things to be easy and peaceful for them. I will probably still pray for all those things but I realize I haven’t seen the whole picture and I thank Kevin’s mom for teaching me that those aren’t the greatest hopes to have for our children. I will pray a lot more for my children’s contentment, for their joy, for their peacefulness and for their ability to resist the noise of the world and more clearly hear the voice of the Father guiding them on the path he has planned for them.
A Seed To Plant: Spend some time thinking about the ways you pray for your children, godchildren, grandchildren of nieces and nephews. Decide if perhaps your prayers for them need a new perspective.
Blessings on your day!
…and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.” Matthew 1:23
I don’t know about you, but I love those little “life hack” videos that pop up on my newsfeed. Things like putting hot glue dots on your hangers to keep slippery closes from falling off or 20 ways to organize junk, using random items around the house. Granted, some of them are pretty ridiculous but most of them come from folks who are way smarter and more creative than I am so I find myself watching and saying, “Seriously, that is awesome, why didn’t I think of that!” My mind likes simple, efficient and logical so if someone wants to pass along a little of that I’m gonna soak it up!
What I really love though, is when someone can give me some “life hacks” for my discipleship! Sometimes I can try to do 40 things at once to try to be holier and wind up in a tail spin. That’s usually when I get discouraged and feel like I’ll never be “good” enough to get to heaven. I’m getting better at promptly stopping that kind of thinking and calling it out for what it is…discouragement and we all know who throws that up in our face! That’s when we need to stop and say “Oh No…not today satan! You messed with the wrong disciple!” I know that no matter how crooked my path gets or how twisted around I become, as long as my heart is headed in HIS direction he’s gonna grab my hand and put me on his path if I call out for guidance. It’s like DIVINE GPS. (I’m pretty sure GPS stand for Gods Perfect Strategy) My discipleship and my path to holiness often looks like a fish floppin around on the bank, so anytime I can find a quick “something” to snap me back and return me to water, I’m happy. I found a little something that does just that so I thought I’d share. Like all those great tips and tricks we find on the “inter-webs” this isn’t mine but if it’s helpful, it’s worth sharing so…thanks to no work of my own…here ya go!
It begins with reminding ourselves of a simple fact. Since we were created in the image and likeness of God, then he’s always in us and with us. In short, we don’t need to do a lot of hard fancy stuff to get his attention because we never leave his gaze. I can’t hide from him so I can never really be lost. It’s simple but I can’t count the number of times I forget that. Remembering that is step one, step two is remembering the word WIT. This teeny word can lead us to holiness and save us from bad decisions, stupid actions and regrettable words. Here’s how it works. Jesus, live this day (or this moment; or this event; or this situation) WITH me; Live it IN me; Live itTHROUGH me. If you want the quicker version, at that split second when we’re about to gossip or lie or judge or lip off impatiently, or be afraid, what if we stopped long enough to say “Jesus, with me, in me and through me!” I’m pretty darn sure what would happen next would be a much better outcome. I spend a lot of prayer time telling him how sorry I am for all the stupid stuff I do and say and think. If I put the WIT prayer in action I’m pretty sure I’m gonna have a lot more time for saying prayers of gratitude!
A Seed To Plant: Write down the words to the WIT prayer and put it a few places you’ll notice and ask God to help you make it a frequent prayer in your day.
Blessings on your day!
Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14
I suppose most of us have a list. Some call it a bucket list, others may call it a list of short and long term goal and for others is may simply be a wish list to keep tucked in the drawer or in the back of your mind. Whatever you call it, I have something we should add. This particular item should not only be added to the long term, someday list but also to the task list we make each day. It’s so important it just can’t wait another day and we have to get into the practice of giving it specific attention. What is it, you might be wondering…
We need to be holy. Holiness isn’t just something for sweet old ladies or monks and nuns who spend their days in silent contemplative prayer. Holiness is something for each of us…today…every day. It’s something to become and it’s something to talk about. I got a gift for Christmas. Actually a few hundred of my good friends got the same gift. It was a book by Matthew Kelly called The Biggest Lie In The History Of Christianity. It’s a great read, and easy read, and an important read. One of the sections that grabbed my attention was the chapter when he spoke about being holy. Somewhere pop culture snuck in and we became afraid to let our desire to be holy show or grow.
I would like to share one simple and powerful strategy he laid out for each of us that can help us embrace and grow our holy. He suggests not re-vamping our entire life and running off to a convent or monastery, but rather to have a “Holy Moment” today. He describes that as a moment when you silently stop and do one thing God is guiding you to do. It might be moment of silent prayer when you’re prompted to be still. It might be a simple action or reaction that is inspired by God and not by our desires. It’s just a moment when we stop, shut up and let God be in charge of us. It might mean not snapping back or acting with mercy instead of judgement. It might mean calmly letting someone cut in front of us without getting into a huff; realizing there may be an important reason that driver is in such a hurry. Mr. Kelly suggests that if we strive for just one holy moment a day, we may soon discover that we have several and when we begin to include them in our days we begin to see God working in our days and before we know it there are dozens of holy moments each day and then change really begins to happen. Just a moment, that’s how it starts. That’s how we begin to grow in holiness and that is exactly what God has planned for us to be.
The book is wonderful so if you got it for Christmas read it. If you read it give your copy to someone who hasn’t and if all else fails, order it for yourself. Being holy should be the number one thing on our to-do list so let today be the day you strive for your first Holy Moment!
A Seed To Plant: Ask God to lead you to a holy moment today. Share it with someone and pass on the holy moment challenge.
Blessings on your day!
And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. John 8:32
I’m away from home this week and the pace is much slower and more peaceful than a regular week. As a result of that a slower pace, my writing brain seems to be running slower too so I had just a few thoughts I wanted to share today. These thoughts are compliments of the amazing Deacon Ralph Poyo. They are short but mighty statements that hit me right in the heart; perhaps they’ll make you think a bit too!
**The world fills us so full, we're not hungry for God.
**Temptation is an invitation to leave the truth and enter deception.
**We're trusting Him for eternity but not for earth.
A Seed To Plant: As you sit in prayer this week, carefully ponder those three sentences and ask God to show you how they fit in your life.
Blessings on your day!
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