Get out there and bring your joy! Pope Francis
How simple is that! When Pope Francis spoke these words he was talking about our work as disciples of Jesus. He went on to say, “If we are full of Christian joy then we should let our faces know it.” I love that image. So many times I muddle my way through the day trying to be a good disciple and I get tangled up in the “work” of it all and miss the “joy” of it all!
Nobody will ever be inspired by a grump! Who would ever want to be a disciple if all they ever hear is how much work it is, how many committees you have to serve on and how much time it’s going to take. If that’s all I knew of Jesus and discipleship I would probably run as fast as I could in the opposite direction. Our job as disciples is to bring people to Christ not scare them away or point out how hard we work to be one. People want to be drawn to Christ not dragged so I suppose it is a good idea every now and again to see if our attitude is one that is drawing, dragging or scaring away. I guess the even bigger question to ask myself is; would I want to follow me and get involved?
Pope Francis is an inspiration to all Christians because he is a living, breathing demonstration of joy, love, kindness and humility found only in the heart of a servant of the Lord. He makes us want to follow! I was reminded of a story I heard about a little girl who got in line and followed the kids who were leaving school to go to Religious Ed. A few weeks later the teacher realized the little girl wasn’t Catholic and asked her why she was going along each week. Her response was awesome. She smiled at the teacher and said, “I just wanted to go where they were going and learn what they were learning because when they come back to school they are so happy!” Out of the mouths of babes! It made me stop and ask myself, when was the last time I came out of church and others could see the joy and the happiness bubblin out of me? Jesus hasn’t changed…he is and was and always will be so that led me to the conclusion that it was me who wasn’t always bringing my joy; not him!
It doesn’t matter what the sermon is like or the music is like or the way the sanctuary is decorated. The joy of Jesus and discipleship lies in the love he has for us, the mercy he shows us and the grace he freely gives us. I just need to act like it! So…pew potatoes unite…let’s get out there and spread the word and bring our joy!
A Seed To Plant: This week in prayer, ask God to reveal three things to you that will bring you joy and then take it out the door when you leave and share it.
Blessings on your day!
…shake the dust from your feet…Luke 9:5
My mom used to have a famous line. She’d pull it out any time I was trying to make a big decision or plan something. Instead of telling me what to do, she would say, “Well, you could do that but then what happens if…” She would let me think and ponder and look at different sides of the issue. She might repeat that statement a dozen times as I worked my way through the possibilities. She taught me to think about the possibilities and the consequences and then she let me see them through. She was such a wise woman! Today it seems that there is no shortage of folks who want to tell each of us exactly what we should believe and do and think and support. I’m beginning to see two really big problems with that. First, they aren’t offering balanced information steeped in truth and mercy and second, too many folks are letting others do their thinking for them, believing anything they hear.
As I’ve prayed and ached a little over the past couple of weeks about things happening in the news, I was searching for some truth and peace. As always, God pointed me to a passage I’d read dozens of times, but he helped me see it with different eyes. The passage is from Luke’s Gospel and it brought peace and clarity to the mess filling up my newsfeed. When Jesus sent out the disciples their job was to bring the message of love, peace and hope. They weren’t asked to beat people with a stick until they believed exactly what they told them to believe. They were speaking truth and planting seeds. All to often today if someone doesn’t believe what we believe things turn twenty shades of ugly!
Jesus told the disciples if they and the peace the brought with them was not accepted or welcomed they were to shake the dust from their feet and move on. Nowhere in this Gospel did Jesus tell them to stay and beat folks silly until they agreed. He didn’t instruct them to shame, belittle or humiliate them, just shake the dust and move along. He also didn’t teach them to move to the next house and bad mouth the place they weren’t welcomed. It was a simple, gentle motion, shake and go. But before they shook and left, they gave the peace of Christ. It made me wonder how many times we get into an argument and desire the other persons holiness or offer them the peace of Christ?
The other thing that struck me was the dust. Dust is dirt right? And things grow in dirt right? So while they gently shook the dust and moved past, what was left in the dust? The disciples left in that dust seeds of peace, seeds of compassion, seeds of gentleness. As they quietly slipped away they demonstrated what Christ taught us; love one another. I wonder how many times the disciples shook the dust from their sandals and those left behind were inspired by their example of gentleness and non-judgement? I wonder how many people pondered on it and changed their attitude or behavior? I wonder how many through the seeds left in the dust actually came to follow Jesus after all?
As I’ve prayed with this Gospel for several days I’m reminded of that famous line from St. Teresa of Calcutta; the thing that needs to change most in this world if it is to be more peaceful and Christ like is ME! I suppose it would be a great idea if we did a little more dust shaking and less tongue wagging and finger pointing. And I know I need to work harder at desiring the holiness of all those people in the news making me crazy. My words for the week…shake, peace and plant seeds of hope in the dust!
A Seed To Plant: Read Luke 9:1-6 and see if the Lord has some direction for you in regards to creating peace on earth.
Blessings on your day!
He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Isaiah 40:29
When my oldest son was in the fourth grade, I volunteered to help him and his friends make a piñata for their class Halloween party. The boys had a great time slapping on the newspaper strips drenched in the gooey flour paste. Each little narrow strip of newspaper was slopped on the outside of a Mylar balloon until the boys thought they’d covered every visible speck of silver balloon. After getting the boys and the table cleaned up, I picked up the piñata to set it in the sun to dry. As I reached down to grab it, I nearly threw out my shoulder the thing was so stinkin’ heavy! Holy cow…how could something made out of such tiny strips of weightless newspaper collect into a creation weighing as much as a toddler? The best laugh of all came the following week at the party when it practically took a sledge hammer to break the thing.
I had the pleasure of taking a class about teaching Scripture to kids. It was an excellent class and the instructor was so dynamic, passionate and enjoyable. One of the underlying themes of the class was that using Scripture and helping kids LOVE IT involves lots of little things. Bringing Scripture to life is not about unveiling the complexities and all the history, it’s about revealing the little ways God uses His word to reach us, draw us in and shower us with His gifts. As I was coming home, I drove past a lawn decorated to the hilt with Halloween decorations and I remembered that silly jack-o-lantern piñata the boys made more than a dozen years ago. That 30 pound piñata took on a whole new meaning as I began to realize that our journey toward heaven is a little like that piñata. The creation of that big, strong piñata, began with something that was tiny, weightless and of little value by itself but yet, it became so much more!
We can get pretty caught up sometimes in the big stuff of life, like money, careers, politics, mortgages, position and on and on. It’s all legitimate and needs our attention for sure, but our journey to heaven is supremely about the little stuff. Jesus worked some breath taking miracles, He did some unbelievable healings and He orchestrated some amazing conversions but His message to His followers always focused on the little things. He took more than 600 Jewish laws and condensed them into TWO commandments for us to follow…talk about simplifying things! He used parables or stories of the common, to teach and reach souls for His Father. He even pulled some children onto His lap to show us exactly who we needed to imitate. Jesus was all about the little things!
Our lives should be like that piñata…a combination of little things, done lovingly for Christ in order to make us strong enough to withstand the blows of disappointment, difficulty and discouragement tossed in our path by the evil one. During the class I was touched right to my core when the instructor was talking about the Parable of the Prodigal Son. The message of that story is simpler than greed and jealousy and betrayal. It’s not a story of good son vs bad son. It’s about a little choice with enormous consequence. I was dawn to tears when the instructor spoke in a voice so peaceful and loving and taught that the prodigal son was saying to his father, I want your “stuff” not a relationship…he was in effect saying; father, you are dead to me. In a quivering voice, the instructor reminded us that the father in the story is indeed our God and Father and many times we act just like the son demanding God’s stuff; His love, mercy and grace without wanting to work at a relationship with Him. What God demands of us is simple and small compared to what He blesses us with yet we still sometimes let days slip by without carving out that chunk of time to sit in quiet, uninterrupted prayer. He isn't asking us to live the life of a Cloistered Monk, He just wants us to invite Him into our day and trust Him.
What little things can you begin with? Can you begin with or add a few more minutes of Scripture each day? Maybe it could be a little time helping a neighbor? How about a little time praying for that crabby co-worker instead of complaining about them? If there are a hundred steps between me and God, I know that if I take the first little step toward Him, He will take the rest toward me. He's asking for little things from us so He can build us up and give us strength...and we'll be way stronger than a jack-o-lantern pinata.
A seed to plant: Do 5 little things this week that will strengthen your relationship with your Creator.
Blessings on your day!
…his mercies are not spent; they are new each morning. Lamentations 3:22-23
I am grateful for lots and lots of things and one of them is my ability to fall asleep as fast and hard as a brick being dropped from a high building! On the nights I’m not asleep in the first 3 seconds after crawling between the sheets I try to do a replay of my day and offer thanksgiving for the blessings and pray for forgiveness for my sinfulness. When I get to that part, sometimes I get pretty sad, even embarrassed about things I have done or said during the day. It’s funny that on the nights I don’t fall right to sleep it’s usually because something has happened during that day that I need to pray on, ask forgiveness for or ask God to help me fix the next day. I’m not gonna lie, some nights when I start thinking about silly things that slipped out of my mouth that shouldn’t have, or situations where I didn’t slow down enough to really listen or be compassionately present for someone I’d rather just roll over and go to sleep. Sometimes it’s like someone holding up a mirror and I don’t like what I see.
I was having one of those nights not long ago and I couldn’t go to sleep. I ended up moving to the couch so I wouldn’t disturb Dave because no matter how hard I tried to drift off, something just kept nagging at me so I gave up, opened scripture and asked God to show me what he was putting on my heart. It was a beautiful experience of his mercy that eventually led me to this verse in Lamentations. How great is our God! Even as he was pointing out something I didn’t want to see, he did it with such love. I realized that he was showing me how I could follow him more closely and after a while longer, I fell sound asleep and didn’t even roll over the rest of the night. When I woke up the next morning I felt so peaceful and content because I realized that no matter how much we mess things up, he is there for us and his mercies are new each morning.
Don’t we serve an amazing God! It’s like a “do-over” every day. The morning brings new light, new opportunity and God’s new mercies. If you’re reading this today and your heart is heavy about something you’re lugging around, put it to rest in the forgiving arms of the Father and sleep tonight knowing his mercies will be new in the morning. Admit your faults and failings, ask his forgiveness, offer apology and make peace where you need to and know things will be as fresh and hopeful as a bright new morning.
A Seed To Plant: Ask God to show you where you need to seek forgiveness, offer forgiveness and then rest in the promise of his mercy.
Blessings on your day!
Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God." Mark 10:27
When my heart is troubled I tell myself, “It’s ok, God can do anything he wants!” As I watch the events of the world unfold around me and I look at the number of folks hurting and suffering I find myself repeating that line often. One quick look at the news and it’s easy to see why folks are discouraged. No matter how much I’d like to make things better for everyone, I am not a wise or powerful woman who can change any of it. But I can, and will, pray about it and do my best to share God’s hope and love and joy in an attempt to keep those in my corner of the world grounded in this important truth that with God all things are possible. God is calling each of us to remember in times of trouble that if we look carefully, he gives us signs of His love and encouragement every day.
As long as God is in charge, the news will never be all bad, so powered by the hope in this verse, I set out to see what good things God was doing and I was able to fill my eyes, ears and heart with so much “good stuff”. All around me I noticed God’s signals that assured me it’s gonna be ok because of his infinite possibilities! At mass, I saw the adorable chubby cheeks of a little girl who found her voice. With each happy squeal I was reminded that babies are God’s sign of life. At a restaurant I saw a family with five little ones who screeched, giggled and wiggled and I smiled because their parents chose life. At the Secretary of State office I watched as a very patient, kind hearted 3 year old fed her baby sister dry cereal one piece at a time.
When I stopped for coffee, I noticed a table of men loud with laughter and energy sitting before their open Bibles discussing Gods word. At the market I watched a young man present an elderly lady he didn’t know a bouquet of flowers to make her day. In the airport I saw executives with laptops and spreadsheets begin an important meeting with prayer. As I looked with eyes wide open I saw Gods goodness and possibilities again and again. Sights and sounds that give witness to the“good” in this world. The happy giggles and delightful squeals and those who gathered to pray, visit, laugh and share in each other’s lives…that’s my signal that as long as we remember the words from Marks Gospel…we’ll be ok. We aren’t promised perfection, we are promised hope, mercy and love from the Father who created us. We have to remember that with God, all things won’t be perfect but they are most certainly possible!
A Seed To Plant: Take some time to sit in prayer and make a list off all the things that trouble you. One by one ask God to handle each item and bring your heart hope and peace, knowing he will take care of them.
...then he looked up to heaven and groaned and said to him, “Ephphatha!” that is “Be opened!” Mark 7:34
It’s funny how memories from long ago flood back at random times. As the middle lovelies all came back to school this week and we began to talk about all the things we would do and learn I explained that we had to be open to what the Lord wanted to teach us and speak to us. One of the middle lovelies remember the Gospel reading from Sunday and we began to talk about the word “Ephphatha” which means be open. This particular Gospel is about Jesus healing a deaf man. I was impressed with the memory and connection from something he had heard several days earlier. I realized I needed to bring my A game to school this year! As we were in the middle of a great discussion about being open and being ready I remembered Shannon’s baptism and a piece I had written about being open. In honor of one really smart middle lovely I decided to share it with everyone today.
The day our daughter Shannon was baptized is a day I’ll never forget! The day was memorable for some very obvious reasons like the religious significance and the celebration with family but it had an even greater significance in my life as a Catholic mom. I remember standing at the Baptismal font feeling very uncomfortable in the panty hose and skirt that were too tight on my “just had a baby” body. I was distracted by Shannon’s 2 and 4 year old brothers who were being wiggly and silly sitting on big cousins laps watching. I remember worrying about the meal I would soon be serving to 40 people and then I heard the word, “Ephphatha!”
The word was spoken to my baby girl but it seared my heart! It bolted me to attention and drew me to task with shock. God was inviting and commanding the newest member of his church to be open to his Word and his Will but I felt him speaking those words to me that Sunday morning and suddenly it seemed like the whole world melted away. I didn’t notice my pinched waistband or my noisy boys, all I noticed in that moment was openness and a burning desire to stay opened. Shannon began to squirm in my arms as she lay there wrapped in an abundance of beautiful white slippery fabric and I realized that it was my great task and honor as a Catholic mother to fill her tiny open ears with God’s word and life. I realized that morning it was my responsibility to protect my children’s open ears from harmful words, and ideas. They were open and it was my job to see that they were filled and in his infinite goodness that day he gave me the awareness of his grace so as not to be overwhelmed by the task!
A Seed To Plant: Write the word Ephphatha at the top of a blank page of paper. As you sit and pray with that word, ask God to show you where you should be more open to his Word and his Will.
Blessings on your day!
Every man, whatsoever his condition, desires to be happy. St.
After the Saturday I had, I probably have enough thoughts to write a dozen blogs! I spent the day at the Diocese of Lansing Made for Happiness Assembly and it was an absolutely spectacular day. I sat in the MSU Breslin Center with more than 13,000 Catholics and prayed, sang, laughed and praised! The energy, the speakers, the unity, the communal prayer…it was overwhelming! We gathered as Christ’s people; members of an imperfect church but followers of a Perfect God! There was happiness, grace, healing and glorious HOPE! If I wrote about everything that’s on my heart the blog would be thousands of words long and to quote a phrase that makes me laugh, “Aint nobody got time for that!” It’s impossible for me to pick a favorite part of the day but there is a line from Fr. Mike Schmitz, priest extrodinare, that hit me like a ton of bricks. I’ve come to understand that when something hits me that hard I’m probably supposed to pay attention.
Fr. Mike was talking about Santa Claus. He spoke about the times as a child he begged his mom to take him to see Santa. He didn’t want to just write a letter, he wanted to SEE Santa. Looking back he realized that he didn’t really care about the man Santa, he only cared about what Santa could do for him. Seeing Santa meant asking in person for presents and then receiving them simply because he asked for them. He had no real regard for Santa himself, only what he could give him. As he was talking I could vividly remember my brothers and I getting ready to go to White Lakes Mall in Topeka, KS to see Santa. I remember what an outing it was and how exciting it was. It was probably the only car trip all year where the boys and I didn’t argue and poke each other and irritate the snot out of our parents. The memory made me smile. But then came the bombshell, he asked how many of us ever saw God that way. Ugh! The reality of my answer was heavy. I’ve been reflecting on this for over 24 hours and it’s definitely become something I realize I need to work on.
I get excited about the idea of God. I spend time in prayer and I try to do things that please him but I have to ask myself why? Am I just trying to win his favor so he will give me what I ask for in prayer. Do I go to him trying to “butter him up” so I can make up for the times I truly don’t pick up my cross? Do I turn to him when things are hard and disappointing and temptation knocks loudly or do I do what I want and then go to him a few days later and act all “buddy buddy in my prayer.” It left me asking myself where my true intentions and commitment were. I truly do want to join him among the Communion of Saints but do I work for it, I mean really work for it or do I expect heaven to be his great gift to me even if I haven’t been a loyal disciple. Do I want him enough to defend him or share his story in public? Do I love him enough to trust him and follow him and be uncomfortable as he works in my life? Do I listen for his voice or drown him out with my own thoughts? Am I willing to surrender everything to him and admit I am perfectly made and adored by my creator? I can’ just be excited about the idea, I have to live the idea. I have to love him above all because of what he HAS given me, not just for what I want him to give me. Sheesh, thank you Fr. Mike for a big heap of stuff to work on…it might not make me FEEL better but it sure will make me BE better. (thanks for that line too!)
A Seed To Plant: If the Santa story touched your heart, please spend the week praying about it and see where he leads you.
Blessings on your day!
What your hands provide you will enjoy; you will be blessed and prosper. Psalm 128:2
Growing up we always had a gigantic garden. The garden was the work of the summer. There was always something to do, planting, weeding, picking or preserving. My mom canned and froze enough produce for the whole year; green beans, carrots, potatoes, corn, tomatoes, peas and beets. It was a complete drag during the middle of the summer when it was 100 degrees and my brothers and I were sitting in the back yard shucking corn for hours but fresh sweet corn in January made it all worth it. I can’t begin to count the times my folks reminded me of that while they handed me another bucket of green beans to snap. It isn’t always easy to see the blessing that comes with the investment at the time. All these years later, I still plant a garden and can tomatoes. True, I can get a can on sale for less than a dollar but it just isn’t the same. The problem is, by the time spring finally comes in Michigan and I get to a point with the end of the school year chaos and I finally get them planted it’s always September before they are ready to pick and can.
This is a particularly busy time of year with speaking and school but I came home Wednesday to a basket of tomatoes staring me down. I knew they had to be canned or they would spoil and even though I had a dozen other things to do, I reminded myself how good they would taste in chili and soup when the snow was flying so I got to it, but not without plenty of eye rolling and muttering under my breath, “really…now…I have to do this now? Why can’t they be ready before school starts, that would be much more convenient! As I stood at the kitchen sink washing jars and peeling tomatoes I asked myself why I even bother at all. But as I sit here typing, drinking a cup of coffee, I hear the canner bubbling and the soft clink of the seals setting on the jars fresh from the canner and I realize how satisfying it is and how connected I feel to my mom when I do what she did. It’s worth it, but it always takes me a while to remember that.
If I’m being honest, canning tomatoes is a little like my faith life. I love the end result, but more often than I should, I grumble about the effort and the time it takes. I want the relationship and the grace but I don’t always want to invest the time necessary. I want to head to the pantry in January and grab what I need but it takes effort to make sure it will be there when I need it. Sometimes my prayer life is like that. I cry out to God with my list of wants and needs and I just expect to grab what I need. I take his mercy and his goodness for granted way too often. It will be a sad day when I go to the pantry and there are no more tomatoes but it would be an unfathomably devastating day if I went to the Lord and he wasn’t there. I very well may run out of tomatoes but I can breathe a sigh of relief to know as long as I run to the Father and truly seek him, his grace and compassion will never run dry. Out of all the things I needed to do besides can tomatoes, I had to make the tomatoes a priority. I wonder how much better my attitude and perspective would be if I remembered to put the Father and his plan as my top priority every day. Timing is important. No matter how hard I wish, I can't make those tomatoes ripe any sooner. Patience is such a key and these tomatoes are a reminder to trust in Gods timing is perfect. As I sit back and admire the jars of warm tomatoes all lined up on my counter I’m pretty sure there are many times the Father lines the events of my days up in perfect order and I don’t even notice it or thank him for it. Funny how much you can learn from putting tomatoes in a jar!
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of three things you can do this week to invest in your relationship with the Father. Say a prayer of thanksgiving for someone who taught you something important.
Blessings on your day!
For we walk by Faith and not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7
Sometimes scripture can reach right up off the page and punch you in the nose! This verse socked me hard just as I was getting ready to throw my own little pity party. I’ve had several “careful what you wish for” moments this week and instead of throwing a fit, I decided to see what my Father had to say about things and this is right where I landed!
We follow a mighty God and he always leads us perfectly but sometimes we freak out a little when we realize we can’t see Him, or the path He has for us. I had to remind myself that my sight and His work were not necessarily a package deal. I have to live like I trust Him and live like I love him. This fall He has asked me to do some pretty crazy stuff and my heart has wound up in a twist several times but through it all I know He leads me.
It’s crazy how we go through warps of time where we are called to question everything we do. There are seasons of life where change seems to come at you like rapid fire from a Nerf gun. They aren’t all painful but they just keep coming. My role as a mother and wife has changed as the kids have all moved out. My role as a teacher has changed as education standards and practices have changed, my speaking ministry has blossomed and provided exciting travel opportunities and another ministry opportunity appeared from nowhere. I’m doing crazy fun things like meeting amazing people, doing radio interviews, not cooking every night because there are actually leftovers and helping 6th grade football and volleyball players learn to lead school prayer services. I’m beginning to realize that I’m not so young anymore. Several times recently I’ve been at meetings or events and found myself the oldest person in the room. My hair is sprouting some gray and my eyes have led me to be the owner of multiple pairs of reading glasses stashed everywhere! I’ve wondered a hundred times lately if I’m smart enough, funny enough, dedicated enough, energetic enough, young enough, old enough, prayerful enough and compassionate enough.
When I read this verse from Corinthians I realized I’m asking too many questions and trying to apply logic to God and that never works. I’m trying to SEE when He’s asking me simply to believe. That is so much easier! I don’t have to have answers to any of those silly questions, I just have to remind myself that I AM HIS and none of the rest of it matters. He will put me where I should be, doing what I should do, the way He wants it done, when it’s time. I just have to remember to walk by faith and find the joy He’s so generously sprinkling along the journey.
A Seed To Plant: Sit a while and pray about those spots you are having trouble navigating by faith and not by sight.
Blessings on your day!
In God we trust
There is a scene from a movie I love and one character says, “nothing really surprises me anymore” and the other character looks at him in shock and says, “that’s too bad because things surprise the heck out of me every day!” From the very first time I saw that movie, I try to make it my mission to be on the lookout for surprises every day. I’ve discovered if I’m not looking for them I become complacent and cynical. Those are two qualities I think the world could use a whole lot LESS of for sure.
Earlier this week the VFW came to visit our 6th graders to teach them how to appreciate and fold our American Flag. It was Patriot Day and they came in uniform. They come every year because hanging and taking down the flag each day is a 6th grade job and they need to do it properly. This year the men from the VFW taught the kids about the folds of the flag and even though I’d heard it before, the correlation between our faith and our flag surprised me. I thought I’d share in hopes of surprising you too. Our faith is such a part of the foundation of our country that it’s pretty hard to separate two things that started out so very connected. The flag is folded thirteen times, each with a powerful symbolism.
The 1st fold of the flag is a symbol of life.
The 2nd fold is a symbol of our belief in eternal life.
The 3rd fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veterans departing our ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout our world.
The 4th fold represents our weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in times of war for his divine guidance.
The 5th fold is a tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, “Our Country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but it is our country, right or wrong.”
The 6th fold is for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that We pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.
The 7th fold is a tribute to our Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that we protect our country and our flag against all her enemies, whether they be found within or beyond the boundaries of our republic.
The 8th fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day.
The 9th fold is a tribute to womanhood, and Mothers. For it has been through their faith, their love, loyalty and devotion that the character of men and women who have made this country great has been molded.
The 10th fold is a tribute to fathers, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since they were first born.
The 11th fold represents the lower portion of the seal of King David, King Solomon and glorifies in the Hebrew eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
The 12th fold represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies in the Christians eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit.
The 13th fold, or when the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost reminding us of our nations motto, “In God We Trust.”
This isn’t new information…it isn’t just made up…it’s as old as the flag itself and within the folds of the flag are the reminders of so many things we believe and are supposed to stand together and celebrate. Motherhood, fatherhood, eternity, Jesus, the Trinity and God the Father of all. I was surprised all over again Monday afternoon as I watched some proud and honorable veterans teach 40 twelve year olds what the Flag of their Country really stands for. I was surprised at how much I forget and take for granted the ways God really does want to bless America.
A Seed To Plant: Share this information with someone who might also be surprised about the way our faith and our flag are connected.
Blessings on your day
"Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20
I’m still trying to adjust to seeing just two toothbrushes in the bathroom toothbrush cup. I remember when there were five and three of them were short and chunky with cartoon characters on the handle. The other morning as I looked a little sadly at the two lonely toothbrushes standing in the cup, it served as a reminder that everything changes and that’s as it should be. As I stood there brushing my teeth, staring at a the toothbrush cup I contemplated getting a smaller container, one that wouldn’t show so much empty space, but then, as he often does, in a completely random place, God began to teach.
I know with absolutely certainty, the three little Wohlferts I love so much were never intended to stay here on Pratt road forever. I know with absolute certainty Dave and I enjoy the young adults they have become and we find great joy watching them discover their own path. Sometimes it’s hard to keep quiet about thing. We’d like to offer advice we hope is steeped in wisdom and experience, but like all parents, we realize that some lessons are best learned by living. Our kids know we are always here if they need advice or help but we try to let them ask first before we just spit it all out. I’m sure the Father is sitting there anxious for us to ask for help too! Like earthly parents, he’s waiting in the wings with wisdom, experience, love and a way to navigate a situation with much less difficulty if we’d only ask.
Those two little toothbrushes screamed a powerful message about my relationship with the Father. Although three toothbrushes are absent from the cup, my kids aren’t absent from my life. I don’t see them, I don’t hear them everyday but I know they are there. I suppose the Father needed to remind me of that, I may not see him or hear him but he reminded me he’s always there. As I thought about each of the kids who now have their own toothbrush holder, I realize I’m not responsible for providing the vessel, thats their job. We were each given a free will and we have the opportunity to make dozens of choices a day. We’ve been given a body or a vessel to get us through this earthly life but the choice to listen to and follow him are our responsibility; he won’t barge into our lives uninvited and take control of the vessel. How we fill it is up to our own choosing. It’s our job to remember he will always fill our vessel with the best stuff imaginable but it needs to be empty enough to make room for him.
I always bought the toothbrushes. As far as the kids were concerned, they were just always there and were probably taken for granted. Let’s face it, unless you are the mom, not much thought goes into toothbrush supply. I stood there brushing, wondering how much money I had spent on toothbrushes over the decades and I couldn’t think of one single time anyone thanked me for providing a toothbrush. Just as I was about to feel a teeny bit unappreciated, I realized how many dozens and dozens of gifts, graces and blessings God provides without my notice or proper acknowledgement.
The last thing that popped into my head before I spit and swished was the fact that I reminded, even hounded my kids to use those toothbrushes at LEAST twice a day and more often when they ate something sticky or gooey. Since those toothbrushes aren’t in my bathroom anymore, I have to trust that they remember what I told them. If they don’t, obviously there will be dental consequences. My mind quickly shifted to prayer. I hope we remember to pray more times than we brush…did I teach them that…will they remember that…will they realize that when things in life get sticky or gooey they need to add a little extra? Will they realize the consequences of a life without him? And of course, will I remember that myself? I’m sure God was reminding me that prayer should be as automatic as tooth brushing and hopefully a lot more frequently. He also made me realize that the time I spend brushing my own teeth would be a perfect opportunity to pray for the kids who have toothbrush holders of their own now. As I wiped my mouth and put my toothbrush in the cup with Dave’s, I thanked him for the lesson and for the gift of all those years with five toothbrushes in the cup.
A Seed To Plant: Think of five people to pray for this week each time you brush your teeth.
Blessings on your day!
Do you want to be well? John 5:6
Who remembers the commercial jingle that said, “Hold the pickle, hold the lettuce. Special orders don’t upset all we ask is that you let us serve it your way. Have it your way at Burger King.” It may have worked with your Whopper but it’s not exactly the motto for growing in holiness. Even though that jingle is 45 years old too many of us expect our relationship with Jesus to be just like ordering the perfect burger. The truth is, most of us aren’t even sure what it is we really think we want.
Someone recently pointed out that we have so many choices it can be really tough to figure out what we want most. We seem to chase thing after thing. We buy stuff and more stuff trying to figure out what that one thing really is. How many times have we eaten four or five snacks before we really even figure out what we’re really hungry for? I read a question not long ago that made me giggle and think. The gentleman asked, “What do cats like most? Mice, right? So if mice is what the cat really wants why is cat food made from chicken, pork, beef, lamb and fish instead of mouse?
I’ve given it a lot of thought and I think sometimes I don’t figure out what I really want because its easier to just try several options and complain when they aren’t what I really wanted than it is to really stop, pray and ponder what I want, examining all the consequences and unintended consequences that go with my choices. Jesus’ question to the crippled man in Johns Gospel was a bit strange but it really digs down to a deeper level; a level I think I need to visit more often. The lame man had been there on his mat crippled for decades. Actually being healed would require responsibility and change for the man, after 38 years Jesus asked a very fair question. I’m sure it made the man wonder how much he really wanted the change that meant moving, pain, work and responsibility. Jesus wanted to know if it was really worth it to him.
Blessed Santia Szymkowiak had the perfect answer to the question, “What do you want?” She lived her entire life with one motto, “Jesus make me want whatever you want.” She believed what Jesus wanted most for and from her was holiness. I don’t know about you, but that isn’t my usual thought process, but it sure should be. If I want what he wants then I can’t always have it my way. If I do things his way, it means change and being uncomfortable; two things we don’t readily sign up for! Burger King made a fortune off making customers feel like they could have anything they wanted and there was happiness because of it. I guess that leads me to ask myself the big question; where do I want happiness; on earth so it can last about as long as that delicious burger or do I want the bliss for all of eternal life? My way will be temporary, his way will be eternal. It’s really what I want most but what am I willing to do; what changes am I willing to make in order to want what he wants?
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of all the things you want, and make a list of all the things you’re pouting about because they didn’t go your way. Pray with that list and ask God to show you what he wants for you.
Blessings on your day!
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, Colossians 3:23
Happy Labor day. It’s an early morning as I sit typing on my front porch watching the sun come up and I’m so very thankful! So thankful to be sitting on my porch drinking coffee watching God paint in the sky; thankful for the last summer weekday morning to enjoy my porch and thankful for labor that I love. Dave just pulled out of the driveway on his way to work and it reminded me of the three things I’d like us all to pause a minute and do today.
First, pray in thanksgiving for the work we do. Whether we make a little or a lot, whether we love our jobs or not, today is a good day to be thankful for a chance to use our gifts and make a little money to support those we love.
Second, pray for those who don’t get today off. Some folks, like the farmers who feed us, never get a day off. If you know one, thank one! If I think about all the folks going to work today they are probably going off to a job to serve those of us who don’t have to go to work today. Thank you God for them!
Third, pray for those who are unemployed or underemployed. The stress, the worry, the disappointment they feel can be overwhelming. Let’s pray for the single parents working two or three jobs trying to make ends meet. Let’s pray for those, who for a dozen different reasons we don’t know anything about, make up the ranks of the working poor.
There you have it…your tasks for the day! Happy Labor day!
A Seed To Plant: Do the assignment above!
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
My dad always taught us that if we borrowed something, no matter what it was, we should return it in better condition than it was when we borrowed it. I’m pretty sure that applies to our children too. Before our first baby was born, my Grandma told me that the children I would bear weren’t mine, rather, they were a precious gifts on loan from the Father and it was our primary responsibility as parents, to help them get to heaven. Grandmas thinking may seem a bit countercultural today. The word might have us think our primary task is to get our kids on the most prestigious teams, the most elite dane troops or into the most impressive schools. While we’re aiming for first string, first chair and top score, Jesus is begging us to show our children that nothing is more important than giving him first place in our lives.
Holiness, simply put, is oneness with God so here are a few things we can do as parents to make good on our responsibility to help our kids grow in holiness and give the Lord first place.
*Pray with and for your kids every day. It’s hard for kids to understand the importance of Jesus and His Church if we rarely talk about it.
*Do as I do! Our kids imitate what we model. They need to see us pray, read scripture and trust in the Lord. We are teaching lessons when we’re cut off in traffic, talking about the frustrating co-worker at dinner or putting an envelope in the Sunday collection.
*As you travel to games, concerts, recitals and events, make sure to include some trips to the really important places like Sunday Mass, Eucharistic Adoration or even a quick stop to rest from the noise and chaos in a quiet, peaceful church. As christians, we know Jesus is with us always but a special stop to sit in his Eucharistic Presence is good for the soul. It also shows our children that Jesus is important enough to stop for.
*Say NO to the things that don’t point your kids to heaven. That could be screen activity, movies, music or friendships. Their holiness is more important than your popularity.
*Point them to the Holy Ones. The world sets before our children people who don’t always use their gifts and talents to glorify God. Since moving into a cave to shelter our kids from all of that isn’t very practical, we can shower them with stories of the holy men and women of our faith. Many of the saints lived crazy, amazing, adventurous lives and their stories are interesting and inspiring. Put them before your kids to serve as heroes and role models.
“Holy enough” is not a thing…holiness is a continuous journey toward the Father so as we help our children grow in holiness, we will find ourselves growing too and that is a very good thing!
A Seed To Plant: Pick something from the list and make a plan to put it into action this week.
Blessings on your day!
Humble yourself therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time he may exalt you. 1Peter 5:7
Usually when I think about humility or God humbling me it’s painful or embarrassing. This weekend I was greatly humbled but it was not like that at all. I was humbled in a gentle, sweet, beautiful way. When I was a little girl I remember my Dad stopping one day and sitting me up on the hood of the truck so I could watch a combine gracefully and powerfully take down a field of wheat. It all seemed so huge and amazing to me as a child. I was in awe at how the whole process flowed together to complete a massive task. Dad made sure I was in the perfect spot to see the work and he let me ask as many questions as I wanted and then he just let me watch in silence and take it all in. This weekend was sort of like that except it was with my other Father!
As I set out Friday morning to go to Boise it was one travel hiccup after another but there was a peace in my heart and time after time God just guided me through it all. He put people in my path that were kind, friendly and funny. He walked before me and all the hiccups just resolved as I followed in his wake and felt his mighty hand at every turn. I went to Boise to share, teach and give, but I received much more than I gave. I had the beautiful opportunity to meet women who shared their stories of joy and sorrow and pain and triumph. They opened their hearts to share and pray and I was so very humbled to listen and pray with them. The mountains and the retreat center grounds were so beautiful and peaceful. I went to work, but instead I was humbled as I watched God work.
As I type this, I’m sitting in an airport waiting for the second flight that will take me home. I will get there shortly before midnight and tomorrow is the first day of school. I have a whole new batch of middle lovelies to set off on a new adventure with tomorrow. There are copies to make and plans to finish. There are things to think about and prepare for but he’s just letting me sit in silence with complete confidence and peace, knowing that he will show his mighty power. I’m sure I will wake up at 4:30 in the morning and hit the ground runnin…I’m sure my luggage will make it to Lansing…I’m sure I can catch a turn at the copy machine before school…I’m sure the peace and awe in his ability to organize and orchestrate even the teeniest detail will leave me humbled and in awe.
This weekend as he moved among the beautiful women at the retreat, I was filled with hope and joy and reminded of his mighty power. I thought today would be a good day to remind you of it too. I can’t lean on my own abilities but when I realize all he can do…all he’s waiting to do for us if we ask, I feel like that little girl sitting on the hood of my daddy’s truck just taking it all in!
A Seed To Plant: Take a few minutes today to be still and notice things that have fallen in place and then humbly thank God for the good work. If things aren’t falling in place, ask him to get you out of his way so you can watch him work; the view is always better when you’re behind him!
Blessings on your day!
**When life gets busy...it calls for a re-post! This one goes back to the "little lovely" days. It's old but I still haven't mastered the lesson!
Be quick to listen. James 1:19
In our classroom, there are five student tables and in the center of each table there is a blue cup that contains pencils and erasers. Since seven year olds and electric pencil sharpener go together about as well as whip cream and onions, I am in charge of all pencil sharpening. One day this week I had carefully explained directions for a math page. I had answered all the questions and thoroughly checked for understanding, so I told the class they could begin. A few of them said something but I was busy putting a Band-Aid on a little girl’s hangnail and then the second grade teacher popped his head in my door to ask a quick favor and then I took a second to reply to a note one of the kids had given me from his mom. After dealing with all that, I did a quick scan and noticed none of the kids were working on their math so I said, “What’s up guys? Why aren’t you working?” One of the little lovelies said, “We’ve been trying to tell you that you picked up all our pencils to sharpen them before recess and you didn’t give them back.” I wasn’t sure if I should laugh or cry…instead I told them I needed more coffee! One of the girls told me later not to worry about it because kids are pretty used to grown-ups who don’t listen so good.
When I ran across this verse in my notebook of favorites yesterday, I knew it was meant for me. I love the way God thumps me over the head with His word sometimes. This verse seems a little strange doesn’t it? We are very quick to comment, very quick to evaluate, very quick to eat, and drive and clean and…the list goes on and on. We do almost everything quickly except listen. My mom used to say,“Girl, there is a reason God gave you one mouth and two ears…so you could listen twice as much as you talk.” After the pencil episode this week, I think I could use a little practice with listening.
One of the fascinating things about Mother Teresa was the way she lived this verse from St. James. People of every status and walk of life commented on the consistent and loving way she would listen. She had the amazing ability to listen completely and compassionately as if the person speaking was the only other person in the room. That is a gift! The thing that makes living this verse so tough is that listening requires us to slow down, be present and do only ONE thing…listen. That seems so contrary to the way we spin through our days. Sometimes it’s these Scripture “one liners” that really throw us a challenge. Are you up for a challenge?
A Seed To Plant: Spend the next few days being the second person in the conversation to speak…start with a “hello” and follow it up with a spurt of careful listening.
Blessings on your day!
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12
I’m sure we’ve all heard the line, “if you aren’t part of the solution; you must be part of the problem.” They are wise words but perhaps a bit misunderstood. I think being part of the solution doesn’t necessarily mean solving the problem single handedly but rather making an honest attempt at working toward something better. There are some mighty problems in this world to be solved and I sure shootin didn’t cause them, plus I know for a fact that I am not in the position to solve them. So should I throw in the towel and go cry in the closet? Nope! I was reading an article about an amazing woman named Dorothy Day and she had one little idea that put it all in perspective for me.
Dorothy Day was a saving grace to so many who were left physically, spiritually and emotionally crippled by the devastation of the Great Depression. Her motives and actions were genuine, compassionate and life changing. She provided a beacon of hope during a time when there wasn’t much. She didn’t solve the financial problems of the day but she worked in her own way to be part of the solution one person and one family at a time. She didn’t offer money, but rather provided the most basic needs of the suffering. She offered dignity, shelter, hope and joy…so much joy. She didn’t give a lot ,but what she gave mattered greatly. She said, “We contribute to the misery of the world if we ignore beauty and joy in life. If we seek the will of the One who sent Jesus, we need to open our hearts to joy.”
It’s not hard to find the problems, but we get in a big pickle when we have an even harder time finding the beauty around us. It isn’t often we see a smiling baby or a gorgeous harvest moon on the front page of the paper or newsfeed but when we do see them they give us a lift. Who doesn’t love a good giggling baby video shared on social media? They just let us escape for a few minutes. After reading the article I realized my role in the solution was easier than I thought. It’s my job to connect with beauty and joy. John Ruskin was a famous art critic from England who used to say “We have the duty of delight.” That line made me realize we sometimes see joy and beauty and peaceful things as frivolous and non-productive. We think we have to work and take things to task and ponder serious matters in order to be responsible, informed citizens. Did you hear that, I think God just belly laughed!” We’ve got it so twisted up it isn’t even funny.
God is the maker of joy and beauty not the creator of evil, cynical, corrupt or absurd so why not focus on the things he made and leave the rest of the mess alone? Dorothy Day didn’t solve the problem of the Great Depression, but she sure was a solution to those she was able to bring delight to. Sounds like a much better way to spend my day, what do you think?
A Seed To Plant: Take some time to sit and make a list of things in your world that are beautiful and joyful and then go about the duty of delighting in them instead of stewing over problems you can’t solve. It is perhaps the most important work we can do!
Blessings on your day!
Be anxious about nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
I’m a pretty big fan of the “Gospel according to Sheri”. In other words, I often like to do things my own way, predict the ending I fancy and try to arrange every detail along the way. I can count the number of times that has worked well on one hand; and they were probably just happy accidents. As our house is about to become empty and quiet again I was questioning his plan when I happened upon this verse and it was a beautiful reminder that he has a job and so do I. His job is to manage the universe and each life he created and my job is to let him do his job. Seems pretty simple don’t you think?
Many of us are at a parenting crossroad and social media is about to blow up with posts about taking kids off to college and staring Kindergarten or the last year of high school, this verse just rings in my mind and echoes in my heart. It reminds me that our kids were designed to grow up not live in our basement until they were 30. Our kids were meant to learn, grow, travel and live. They are going to meet people and make friends; some will shape their character and some will test it. They are going to make great decisions steeped in the love and wisdom we’ve slathered them with and they will most likely make some not so great decisions and those will be where the real learning takes place. Independence is a great thing until we watch our kids creep away from us and use it! I’ve always heard people talk about growing pains but I didn't expect parents to be the ones who suffered from them the most!
Our youngest child begins her last year in college and that makes me feel really old! I’m really scratching my head wondering how that happened when I’m still celebrating my 29th birthday! The truth is, time races by whether we want it to or not and as parents, we want our kids to be happy and safe. Sometimes we worry but through the process of trusting, there comes great peace. The other night as I was thinking about my college senior and my soon to be married son it made for a long night and in the middle of that long night, I grabbed a pencil and paper and these thoughts just tumbled out. I’m sure they are from him because I would not be writing in a notebook at 2 in the morning just for my own amusement. I hope they just might come in handy no matter what new crossroad you find yourself at this day.
*Your child is mine…I love them more than you and I will care for them today and every day after.
*I parted a sea, I can make sure your child has someone to play with at recess.
*I put a piece of me inside them, just ask me to help it shine through them.
*Being mine is far more important than being on the team or the homecoming float so help them keep their priorities straight.
*The more time you spend in worry, the less time you spend in trust.
*I always know what’s best…it isn’t always easiest but it’s best because best is getting to heaven and only I know that path for your child.
*My plans for them far exceed yours…let me do my work and just pray for your child to cooperate.
*Tell them you love them but make sure they know I love them even more.
*Truth trumps popularity every single time so demand honesty.
*You can’t pass the test unless you do the lessons…and some lessons are really hard…let them do the work, especially when the lesson is hard.
*Trust me, thank me; when things are easy and when they are hard; don’t worry, I’m a very reliable Father!
*Pray for them and pray with them, speak my name together and often.
*My love isn’t attached to being first, best, beautiful, popular or perfect so please don’t let your love be either.
*It’s not your job to constantly rescue and save your child, one particular Friday my Father watched me suffer through something really awful that turned out pretty awesome! I knew he was there but he didn’t do it for me.
*Everything in life isn't easy...but everything isn't hard either; know that I'm there loving you through it all.
*If your child needs someone; I'll always get there first, teach them my call sign...JESUS COME!
A Seed To Plant: Write this verse on a post it and stick it somewhere you’ll see it when you worry then pick a couple things from the list that hit your heart or that might touch someone you know who is worried about a child and ask the Father to help you put it in motion.
Blessings on your day and on your Children’s backpack wherever they may be taking it this fall!
Then I declared my sin to you; my guilt I did not hide. Psalm 32:5
I spent some time in my classroom the other day trying to unpack and get ready to start a new year. After spending three hours there the best way to describe the way it looked as I turned off the light and walked out is “the cupboards threw up!” There were stacks of books, bulletin board fabric and border containers open and bulging out everywhere and piles of “things” on each available flat surface. The chairs are all stacked in a tall pile and the computers are still draped in blue plastic bags with cords coiled into neat spools. It looked so awful I’m not sure I want to go back! It’s amazing how much faster and easier it is to pack it all up in June than it is to unpack it all in August! It reminded me of a cartoon I saw recently that said, “I love vacation; it takes me 4 hours to pack and 4 weeks to unpack!” It was a painful reality when I consider the task every teacher faces when it’s time to get the room ready to go for a new school year.
The reality of the piles and the mess will make it hard to go back in there on Monday but it just has to be done. There is no magic spell or closet full of helpful elves that will sneak in under cover of darkness and get the job done so I’m just gonna have to buckle down and slug through it all. I have to focus on the first morning I will walk in and see that shiny floor, curtains hung, bulletin boards finished and everything all in its place. Eye on the prize kind of thinking I guess! I suppose it’s all so uncomfortable because it causes us to tackle the undesirable and most of us would like to slink away from that any chance we can. As I tripped over piles all afternoon I got to thinking about my bad habits and sinfulness. I’d much rather avoid those than deal with them! It’s pretty easy to take the bad stuff like my shortness of patience or my quick judgements and tuck them away like books in a closet but they need to be dealt with from time to time. If I didn’t acknowledge the mess in my room and the stuff on the bottom shelf I wouldn’t really be ready for my best school year. I suppose my eternal salvation requires the same attention. I realized as I was dusting, sorting and organizing, it’s about more than supplies; it’s about my soul. Every corner of my life needs some inspection, evaluation and action. There are things I need more of and definitely things I need less of!
When my room is ready I will waltz through the door with a light and cheerful heart but in order to get to that point I have to be willing to do the heavy lifting, the scrubbing and the sorting. As I plopped down next to a pile of text books and school supplies I figured I’d better pay twice as much attention to cleaning up my soul and addressing the things that distance me from the Father. Just like my classroom in June, it’s much easier to tuck it all away that pull it all out and deal with it! I think I’ll take some time this week to treat my soul like I do my classroom in August…unpack it all, sort it and do what’s necessary to put it all in order!
A Seed To Plant: Pick a cupboard or closet this week to unpack and clean…after you finish with it, go through the same process with your soul!
Blessings on your day!
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
I’ve said it a hundred times; “Comparison is the thief of joy!” But that doesn’t stop me from getting a little carried away sometimes. As a parent, I find myself exceptionally quick to compare. One of the really great parts of being a teacher is that I get to see families in action. I am impressed constantly at the parenting I see happening in this community. I’ve seen tough love, gigantic humor, incredible logic, deep faithfulness and inspiring mercy. When I see a parent do something awesome I often say to myself, “Geeze, why didn’t I ever do that!” I see parents who are more creative than I was, more patient than I was, more prayerful than I was and I often feel like I should send my kids a note of apology…especially the first one! Knowing what I know now, there are lots of days I’d like to go back a couple of decades and start over because my kids deserved a mom that was more fun, more carefree, and much less…well…nuts about things like picking up socks and brushing teeth and all the other stuff I thought was a big deal at the time.
When the comparisons get me all flustered, I stop myself and realize I did the best I could and that the kids have a super great dad who balanced me out. It’s about then that I also realize that the one thing I REALLY got right then (and now) is to pray for my kids dozens of times a day. That makes me sigh in relief because despite my shortcomings as a mom, God’s really the one in charge! Sometimes I still look back and hope I got more things right than screwy! I hope I taught them enough lessons about truth, compassion, faith and kindness. I think as parents we sometimes get lost in the fear of “did I do/ or am I doing enough.” We second guess ourselves and we compare. I think sometimes we hold ourselves to the most ridiculous, impossible standards. We let Pinterest be our compass. We think if we’re sitting still we’re wasting time and we forget that they are his, not ours. He made them perfect and no amount of glow in the dark slime, elite ball teams or private lessons in anything will ever top the perfection with which they were created, nor will I ever be able to top the love and protection the creator has for them. Comparisons are not the work of the Father.
As we prepare for the first of the three little Wohlferts to get married, I was feeling sentimental, old and inadequate. I was making this list in my mind of all the things we didn’t do like go to Disney, let the kids play every sport they wanted or take trips that exposed them to culture, art and travel. We went to Grandpas in Kansas, went camping and spent most of every summer raising livestock getting ready for the 4-H fair. I got a little carried away thinking I hadn’t done enough when I came across this letter written by a foster child from Oklahoma. It sort of put everything in perspective. The child was asked to write about the things they wanted in a family. Here is the response…
In my family I want food and water. Don’t hit on me. A house with running water and lights. I want love. Mom and Dad don’t fight. I want no drugs. Don’t kill my pets. Help me with school. Nice clean clothes. No lice or bugs in the house. Clean house and a clean bed with covers. Don’t sell my toys. To be treated fair. Don’t get drunk. TV in the house. Let me keep my games and school stuff. Nice shoes. My own comb. Soap. Nice safe house with a heater. A coat and a toothbrush.
After I finished my big ole ugly cry, I thanked God for my parents, then I prayed for the astonishing number of kids who could have easily written that letter and then I realized that things like trips, fancy stuff and being the Pinterest Mother of the Year meant nothing. Turns out I gave my kids more than I realized…they were prayed for, read to, loved, challenged and held responsible. They had to work and sometimes entertain themselves and figure things out. As I often do, I had let things spin sideways in my mind and left God’s work out of the picture, taking on the weight of it all myself. I suppose once again I got a lesson in trading comparison for gratitude!
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of all the places you compare yourself to others. Pray with that list for a couple of days and then tear it up and ask God to help you replace those comparisons with gratitude. If you’re a parent, stop and say a prayer for each of your children right this minute and then go play; dinner can be late, laundry can pile up and dishes can be washed later…just go play for a few minutes! If you’re not a parent, what can you do to help one and all of us need to stop and pray for families everywhere!
Blessings on your day!
The page has turned to August which means I made my first trip to my classroom. There are still a few weeks of vacation left but the eighth month on the calendar signals something in my heart to begin again. It’s time to rediscover! Rediscover which cupboard I shoved my stuff in, rediscover the excitement of a fresh start and rediscover my love for this work I’m called to do. Todays guest blogger is one of the boys but there is an problem; I don’t know which one. This post is the electronic equivalent of forgetting to put your name on your paper. There are a few in my inbox with no name and since I can’ t hold up the papers to see who belongs to each one, and since it’s electronic and I can’t tell by the handwriting, I’ll just have to say this guest blogger is an amazing, anonymous writer. His points about knowledge and discovery seem to be the perfect fit for the beginning of August.
If you forgive others trespasses your heavenly father will also forgive you. Matthew 6:14
Every time I entered the church while reading the book Rediscover Jesus, by Matthew Kelly, I asked myself, “What does Rediscover Jesus mean?” Since I finished the book I’ve been thinking about all I learned. I realize that just like Matthew Kelly says, knowing about Jesus isn’t the same as truly knowing and loving Jesus. That part seems pretty important.
A great example is going to mass. Sometimes we don’t want to go to mass because we don’t truly know Jesus. Sometimes we don’t want to do the right thing because it’s hard and because we don’t truly know Jesus. I can learn stuff about Jesus but that’s not the same as learning to really know him. Since he changes, depending on how much we need him and what we’re going through, we have to rediscover him again and again
I think the important thing I learned is that if you rediscover Jesus, your life will change for the better. You will grow as a catholic, and a disciple. Since then I’ve thought about the whole book I realized that if you rediscover Jesus, you forgive, you help, and you love others just as Jesus intended. Rediscovering Jesus is like knowing and acting…that’s harder but it sure changes you!
A seed to plant: Next time you enter the church, think to yourself “Do I really know Jesus or do I just know of him?”
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 toaccept 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..please share the results!
Blessings on your day!
He said to them, “it is not for you to know the the times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Sprit has come upon you…Acts 1:7-8
Every now and again my efforts to be prepared, organized and thorough fall apart like a sand castle in a rain storm! When that happens, I can be positive it’s God serving me a slice of humble pie and waiting with a lesson. I was trying to be all fancy and impressive last week and I had this magnificent new recipe all whipped up in the crock pot ready to go when I left the house to do a hundred things. During one of my errands I chatted with a frazzled mom who was in a rush to get home, get dinner, get one child to swim lessons and another to dance and the third to grandma’s to finish a 4-H project for the fair and then pick up her house before anyone saw the disaster. I thought to myself, poor thing, I’m so glad my dinner is bubbling away in the crock pot and my house is tidy. Now, I certainly didn’t say that and I have certainly been in that mammas shoes more times than I can even count, but in that moment, I was feeling prouder than I should have!
A couple of hours later I pulled in the garage feeling all accomplished and took some groceries into the house and was surprised that I wasn’t greeted by the delicious smells coming from my fancy dinner in the crock pot. Upon closer inspection, I realized the knob was on the low setting as directed, so I of course began to fuss about the darn broken crock pot. As I spit and sputtered, I came to the humbling realization that I had never plugged the stupid thing in! Wow…so much for being on top of everything! The leftovers I served that night were much less impressive and I suddenly felt deflated. Oh, and did I mention my clean floor was now a mess of dirt and broken glass as because I set a plant on the window to get some extra sun and the wind blew it off sending it crashing onto the hard wood floor shattering the pot and scattering the mess clear across the dining room floor. As I began sweeping up the mess the sound of the beeping microwave heating the leftovers reminded me to look for the lesson!
My first attempt at finding the lesson was a little sassy on my part. I actually said, “Well fine, I guess I’m not supposed to be organized and think ahead, you’re trying to tell me I’m supposed to fly by the seat of my pants is that it?” I stomped around the kitchen serving up day old spaghetti and sweeping up dirt while pouting. I’m sure you can imagine how productive that was. Before I went to sleep that nigh I remember thinking with a softer heart, ok God, I’m done pouting please show me the lesson because I’m positive I’ve missed it completely!
The next morning I got word that a friend who had been waiting for weeks to hear about a new job got a call and was hired with a huge bonus and great benefits. I heard about a family who has been waiting for months and months to adopt were suddenly on a plane to California to meet their soon to be born son and that a gentleman who had been suffering from a mystery sickness finally got a diagnosis and the treatment was simple and completely effective and he was feeling miraculously better in just a couple of treatments. After responding to all three of those fabulous messages I sat down to pray in thanksgiving for their good news and came across this verse from Acts. I once again was flabbergasted with the Fathers perfect timing and humorously direct response!
The lesson was a big one; I can be as prepared and organized and fancy as I want but only he knows the details and the timing. I have no power and when I try to think I do and I spend too much time being all puffed up about my “skills” I fail to let him have control and I get caught up in my own efforts and think they matter. He was poking me right in my pride and then he swooped in the next day with not one, but three amazing examples of his perfect timing. I can be as ready and prepared as I want, but I’m not in charge and sometimes I just have to wait. I don’t always get things my way and don’t have all the answers. The lady waiting on the job, nearly took a different one with less pay and no benefits because she was discouraged with the wait. The couple waiting for an adoption thinking God had abandoned them is now at home with their perfect son and the man who suffered for months wound up with a much less serious affliction that is treatable with a simple and inexpensive procedure. There was great blessing on their waiting…I think God was trying to remind me that is always the case! And one more detail to the story, in his great humor, a friend saw that fabulous new recipe I had put in my stupid crock pot on my counter, and she told me not to bother with it because she made it and it was awful! He’s so funny!
A Seed To Plant: What are you waiting for? Take that list to the Father in prayer and give him permission to take his time and then pray for the grace of patience!
Blessings on your day!
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Ephesians 6:11
This verse made me remember a plastic suit of armor the boys had when they were little. One of the boys would wear the armor and the other would wear the Detroit Lions shoulder pads and football uniform and pretend to slay all the bad guys in the county. They were invincible in those get ups. They felt strong and brave and confident as they rode their bikes up and down the lane defending the land. It didn’t matter to them that it was just cheap plastic, what they wore convinced them of something.
That memory and this verse made me think about what our wardrobe says about us. It seems like a simple thing, get up, get dressed and go on with your day but when you think about it WHAT we put on can send a message. We identify police officers, doctors and nurses by the clothes they wear and we automatically assume they will be helpful because of the way they are dressed. We will approach a total stranger in a store to ask for help based on a simple plastic name tag pinned to their shirt. We have the potential to trust, mistrust; judge and misjudge people every day based on what they wear. Does that seem crazy to anybody else?
I guess the big questions are what does God’s armor look like and how often do I wear it? Then it hit me, it’s not really about fabric at all. The clothes we wear may reflect something about our style, profession or personality but they don’t necessarily tell the whole story. I think the armor of God is something we put on from the inside. It can be pretty easy to look at someone’s clothes and assume a thing or two about them that may or may not be correct but the armor of God is unmistakable. Putting it on is intentional, never just a quick grab and go outfit. The boys always needed my help putting on those get ups they used to wear and so it is with Gods armor; we need him to assist us. If we intentionally ask God to protect us and defend us we have to be willing to let him. Wearing his armor means we are protected and safe, but silly humans that we are, we think it means we are now prepared to charge into the world and defeat all the evils much like two little boys I remember in my back yard. God is the defender and we are the defended; the armor of God doesn’t give us a job it gives us peace.
God’s armor is not heavy or clumsy; it’s powerful and designed to fit perfectly. I realized that if I woke up each morning and asked God to dress me in his armor I would be more confident and peaceful and content. I realized I wouldn’t have to worry about harm or evil because nothing is stronger than God. It doesn’t mean nothing bad will happen, it means God will protect me no matter what the circumstance. If I puddled my way through each day without worry or distraction about all the things that might happen or could happen or shouldn’t happen I would have so much more time for great things! I would have more time to pray, more time to help and WAY more time to love. I think I’ll ask God to help me put on that armor right now and leave the defending to him while I get busy with trusting bigger and loving harder…talk about dress for success!
A Seed To Plant: Stop right now and ask God to suit you in his armor and then give him a list of all the things you’d like to be defended from. All that’s left is to trust and be protected.
Blessings on your day!
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3
I like to think I’m a strong, smart, independent woman. I’m not afraid to work hard or get dirty and I’m definitely not a girlie girl, but the other day, ALL that came into question when I found myself standing on the safe side of the garage screen door calling the men in my life for help! One of my summer jobs was to clean the garage and sort through the long rack of coats and barn clothes. It was time to throw out the size 5T snow pants with more holes than swiss cheese and the pink fuzzy winter coat from 1999! It was a yuck job but as I pulled in the garage the day after I finished, I felt pretty accomplished and pleased with the way things looked. As I parked in the garage with a load of groceries, I was admiring my work when I noticed a pair of coveralls moving as they hung on the hook. That was not supposed to happen.
I bravely sat behind the wheel of my Traverse and watched those coveralls sway from side to side thinking, this is not ok! Then I came to my senses and logically concluded it was probably one of the new kittens that had wandered up from the barn and playfully crawled up the pants leg. I got out and walked toward the pants expecting to help the cute little kitty out and send it back to the barn, but as I got closer I could see eyes peering out and then the hissing started. Definitely not a kitten and that pointy snout and loud hiss sent me promptly into the house. My next brave move was to throw shoes at the pants until whatever it was fell out and scampered out the door. After throwing a dozen shoes and boots and nearly breaking the service door window with my awful aim, I heard and saw barn boots wobbling around and was convinced there was a small army of invaders just a few feet from my screen door while my ice cream was melting in the car…something drastic had to be done! That’s when I called Dave! He was doing hay in a field much too far away to come to my rescue so I called Jason who was working from home that day. What transpired upon his helpful arrival involved a snow shovel, a trap made out of a bow target, an 8 ft table and a broom. I’ll leave out the parts about all my jumping and screaming at the sight of the critters teeth and hissing and just let you know one very angry woodchuck made it’s way from the coveralls and boots in my garage to the corn field across the road. I wish I could report a brave and triumphant ending on my part but I can’t. I screamed, jumped, and freaked out like it was a fire breathing dragon and completely depended on my handsome son to save me from my despair! He was so sweet and helpful and didn’t even make fun of me; he just came and helped and went on his way.
That silly woodchuck stuck in those coveralls made me realize how we sometimes approach the troubles and trials in our days. Truth be told, it was a pretty young woodchuck, not an angry mamma woodchuck. The whole thing could have been so much worse but I went from baby woodchuck to dragon in 60 seconds! I let something little grow and multiply in my mind while my emotions just went zooming into action leaving reason and reality in the dust. I got a little tangled up in the hissing and teeth bearing and lost sight of the fact that the problem probably weighed less than 10 pounds and his fear was probably much greater than mine. In hindsight I overreacted comically! Every time I’ve pulled in the garage since that day I look at those coveralls and wonder how many times I’ve gone straight to the dragon without stopping to pray and ask for perspective first. I think about all the times I’ve made something so big in my mind when in reality it turned to be so much smaller and manageable than I pictured it.
Our struggles can sometimes leave us feeling overwhelmed if we’re afraid to ask for help. Things can morph in our minds if we try to handle everything ourselves and bear the burdens on our own shoulders. God loves us too much for that. I really believe that’s part of the reason he put more than one person on the earth so we could help each other and support each other and point and lead each other to him. It’s ok to ask for help, it’s ok to get another perspective and it’s ok to talk down the dragons! We weren’t meant to go solo through this life, we need him and we need each other because you just never know what problems might just crawl up the leg of your coveralls!
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of the trials and troubles that have caused you to become worried and anxious lately and ask yourself these questions; Who have I talked to about it? Who can help? Have I prayed for the Fathers perspective?
Blessings on your day!
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