but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
I have seen these words several times lately: “You Can’t Pour From An Empty Cup”. I suppose here is truth to that saying and I think the original intent was great. I think it’s important to take care of yourself but the more I think about it, the more I see it differently. Honestly, the more I thought about it, the more I realized it bugged me and I found it completely false. I scratched my head wondering why I was reacting so stubbornly to a line meant for good. After lots of thought and prayer, I realized God was using this line to get under my skin and remind me of some important things I had been forgetting. Since I can’t seem to get this off my mind, I’m guessing this might be a message some of you need to hear too.
The truth is, YES YOU CAN! We do it all the time. As parents, teachers and friends we often give even when we don’t think there is anything left in the tank. If a child comes to me frustrated and hurting I’m sure not going to look at them and say, “sorry child, please come back when I’ve had a little “me” time.” If a co-worker, parent or friend stops in to share their struggles I’m not going to ask them to come back after I’ve taken a nap. Teaching during a Pandemic has stretched me so far I thought I’d snap but as teachers we just keep finding a little more in the cup to pour out. As parents, we do the same again and again and again. We just keep pouring, hoping there are enough drops left to get us through the day.
The world would have us believe that success depends on our effort and energy. The world would have us believe that we deserve to be happy and we have to carve out that happy time ourselves and we deserve to take time for ourselves to re-charge so we can do more stuff. The world would have us believe that if our cups aren’t full we will crumble up in a heap in the corner somewhere. As usual, the world doesn’t get it right! Thank goodness we have something more truthful, hopeful and joyful to turn to…a Father who loves us so enormously we will never be empty.
The Father loving reminded me that he’s in charge of my cup! It is precisely in those moments I feel like I have nothing left to give I’m supposed to turn to him and he will give me EVERYTHING I need…he will give me EVERYTHING he’s asking me to give to one of his children. He will give me more than enough. His love, his grace, his compassion is more than enough!
One last lesson…don’t wait until you feel empty to turn to him. Pray continuously throughout the day as you pour again and again from your cup because sometimes we pour things out in places he hasn’t called us to pour. The final reminder were words spoken in the Gospel when Jesus said “I have not come to be served but to serve.” Those words are our mission on earth too. I’m supposed to serve God and serve others and I suppose the emptier my cup, the more I have done the work the Father put me on this earth to do and that should bring a joy that fills my cup to overflowing. This life really isn’t about me at all and I needed to be reminded of that. Worrying about MY cup and expecting to always “feel good” about life is crazy but trusting the the Father will always make sure I have what I need to pour brings a sense of peace and contentment to these crazy days. I think the saying should be “I Serve A God Who Always Fills My Cup!”
A Seed To Plant: Spend a few extra minutes in prayer these next days and don’t forget to take your cup to the Father for a re-fill.
Blessings on your day!
…I came so that you might have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10
How many times have you scratched your head and wondered what you could do to be a bigger promoter of the culture of life? It seems all too often that the value of human life is being diminished right before our very eyes and it can feel defeating…but, like He often does, God takes over and demonstrates His truths in a profound, simple and beautiful way!
He sweetly whispered this morning…you demonstrate the culture of life when you allow people to witness it and when you celebrate it. That’s just what happened in sixth grade last week! For 24 days 20 middle lovelies carefully turned and tended pheasant eggs inside the incubator three times a day. Every day they checked the chart to see what the babies were developing and we marveled at God’s genius growing inside those shells.
We all got to stand around the incubator and cheer on the little ones who just need one more push to break free. We watched them make their grand entrance into life. They are a gigantic mix of emotion; excitement, happiness, anticipation and pride. It’s been a while since I’ve hatched eggs with a classroom and it was great to rediscover the joy of the whole experience and I got some big lessons and as we all try to respect life I thought I’d share.
Lesson 1…Birthdays are the best day ever so we should sing Happy Birthday no matter what.
Lesson2…Beauty is in the eye of the one who loves hardest. “Mrs. Wohlfert they looked wet and ugly on the picture chart but when I see him for real he’s beautiful because he’s ours.”
Lesson 3…It’s ok to hug the person next to you when someone is born…even if you’re a boy and the person you just excitedly grabbed is a girl. New life is worth an awkward or embarrassing moment.
Lesson 4…Struggles are part of the journey. Watching one of the pheasants struggle for more than twelve hours to hatch was tough but that little birds arrival was met with the greatest cheers of them all.
Lesson 5…Life is magnetic! Those little birds are always being watched and there is laughter constantly around their pen. We are drawn to the miracle that resulted at the end of those many days; we are mesmerized by God’s genius!
Lesson 6…Supporting and respecting life comes in many beautiful ways. Especially when two very talented 12 yr old boys stay up later than they should building a fabulous pen so the birds can stay in 6th grade longer.
Lesson 7…It feels great to love something more than you love yourself and it’s important to put somebody else’s needs ahead of yours…even if it is just a chick.
We are uniquely created to respect and appreciate life, I think we just forget it sometimes and need a sweet fluffy reminder! The middle lovelies may not remember learning about multiplying decimals or independent clauses but they will remember how precious life is and how 24 days during the spring can teach so many important lessons. I suppose God was reminding me today that the best way to promote the culture of life is to dunk somebody right into the middle of it!
A Seed To Plant: Spend some time this week praying that we become a culture with a greater respect for life.
Blessings on your day!
We love because God first loved us. 1 John 4:19
Do the words “he started it”, no, “he started it,” followed with a louder “uh-uh HE started it!” seem familiar to anyone? Growing up, I remember one family car in particular. It was a 1970 something blue Plymouth Fury III. You could compare its size to a modern day pontoon! I remember that car well because that’s the car my brothers and I rode in most. The boys always sat by the windows and I took the middle. Middle child, middle seat my mom would say. Personally, I think I was placed there due to my sweet demure nature so I could be the peacemaker and have a positive effect on my brother’s behavior. (I’m sure my little brother will confirm that story.) If I had a quarter for every time I got stuck in the middle of a “he started it” duel in the back seat of that car, I could probably buy my own Plymouth! We really knew it had gone too far when mom would reach into the glove box and pull out the ruler and as predictable as the rising of the sun, she would say, “I don’t care who started it, I want it stopped right now!” She would then begin waving the ruler fiercely.
At this point in my life, I realize two important things about mom and her ruler; 1) She was 5’12” with very long arms but that car was so big I l don’t think she could have reached us from the front seat and 2) She NEVER intended to…it was simply a diversion tactic. (She was so good!) Looking back, that was a lesson in God’s love. She was a loving parent and she didn’t want to hurt or harm, she wanted to redirect and refocus us.
When we consider the enormous love God has for us and take a look at this verse from John’s first letter we realize without a doubt “He started it!” He wins…He loved first! Now, thanks to human nature, we often think if we didn’t win, then we lost but in this case His winning is our greatest prize! God’s love for us can’t be outdone! It’s too huge, amazing, perfect and astounding! Here is the really good news…it’s not a contest! God is not asking us to love bigger or better than Him, instead He’s asking us to share the love He gives us in tiny little ways with everyone He puts in our path each day. As if that wasn’t enough, here’s the kicker…DESERVING has nothing to do with giving or receiving His love. It’s a free gift; it’s always there, always fits perfectly, never expires, and won’t run out no matter how much of it we give away to others!
There are a million ways to share His love with others. I recently bought 5 platters on a clearance table and decorated them with the words “pray and pass platter”. The objective is to pray for the person/family who will receive the platter filled with homemade goodies, fruit, fresh produce or whatever you can think of and then they will enjoy the treat and then pass on some prayers and goodies to someone else. As we live on this earth our main objective should be to share the love God started. Unlike the duels in the backseat of the Plymouth, this is something that should never be stopped!
A seed to plant: Make a list of 5 acts of love you can share with people in your life during the next week. Include prayer for the recipients because asking God’s blessing on someone is a great expression of His love! Be sure to share the stories of how reflecting His love touched others!
Blessings on your day!
I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me. John 10:14
I once had a pink sweater. It was the perfect shade of pink and it was soft, comfy and had very cool buttons. It was one of my favorite sweaters of all time! I use the words “once had” sadly! The demise of the famous pink sweater came at the hands of one of those dreadful “Hello My Name Is” stickers. I have never been a fan of them and I’m famous for forgetting to take them off before walking into the grocery store or gas station. I went to a conference a while back and got one of the dreaded labels and proceeded to run several errands after the conference while still wearing it. It was a long day; a rushed day; a careless laundry day and I chucked the pink sweater into the washing machine with the blue sticker still on it. The rest is laundry disaster history…blue ink streaks down the front, sticky wads of goo in a rectangular shape and purple sharpie drizzles where the name seeped through the whole sweater. It was beyond help and I blamed it all on that stupid label! I realized that day, some labels really stick.
I came across this verse in one of the Gospels recently and it made me think about labels. We are labeled as His because we are created in His likeness and image. Sometimes being labeled can be a good thing and sometimes not so much! People have been trying to stick or unstick labels for generations. Sometimes those labels can be destructive like the one on my sweater and sometimes they can bring pride and peace like the label that marks us as His. Of all the labels we have been given, the one most frequently used in Scripture is “beloved”. I like that label don’t you?
What if you were to label yourself; what would your tag say? Would it say faithful, patient, loving, trusting, honest? I guess the bigger question is, does the way you live your life match your label? I’ll be honest; sometimes my actions don’t match the label I might think I’m wearing. I may think I’m patient but am I snippy with others? I may think I’m loving but do I share that love freely with ALL people who cross my path? We are His and He knows us, our best label says we are HIS BELOVED…we should make sure we live like it. People read those “Hello My Name Is” labels and they believe what they read. Maybe I should stick one to my shirt today that says “Beloved Child of God”…that’s something that I’d like to stick! Living up to that label would never ruin anything…even my favorite sweater!
A Seed To Plant: What is the label you would most like to be known by? What is the label you’d most like to peel off and throw away? Lift both ideas up and ask the Good Shepherd who knows YOU to help with your label.
Blessings on your day!
The Lord hears the cry of the poor. Psalm 34
When I hear the word poor I usually think of no money…anyone else think that? I know financial poverty is not what the Psalmist was referring to so I paused to think about the bigger meaning of these words. I pondered all the areas of my life where I was poor and here’s what I came up with.
There are days when I am very poor in patience. My tongue can be snappy and my judgments quick. One of the great casualties of being poor in patience is not being a good listener. I wondered how many things happened on these days that could make me richer if I wasn’t so busy being impatient. Lord, on these impatient days,help me remember to cry out for your calm and your peace.
Sometimes I am poor in trust. When my pockets seem to be emptied of this treasure I decide to take control and do God’s work for Him. I tend to look to heaven and say “I got this one God!” I can tell ya how that usually works out. When I’m poor in trust I doubt His love for me and the wisdom of His plan…silly me! I forget that I’m looking at one page of the story and He’s holding the whole book! Lord, on the days I lack trust, help me remember to say the words Jesus, I trust in You.
More often than I’d like to admit I’m poor in acceptance. I have to remind myself often that things in my life are organized specifically the way God needs them to be. When money is tight or when success seems to find its way into someone else’s life it’s tough not to get discouraged. One of the things I work on with my middle lovelies is celebrating when good things come to others because they are blessings from God. All too often instead of celebrating with others in their good fortune we evaluate all the reasons it should have happened to us instead. When I’m poor in acceptance; Lord remind me to keep my nose in my own journey.
I think I am the poorest when I fail to live in the present. God has created THIS day for me. Yesterday is already finished and tomorrow isn’t a guarantee. The people, the opportunities, the joys and the challenges of THIS day are His gift to me and it’s my job to soak it all in and ask constantly through the day what the plan for all of it is. When I get this right, I feel His blessings. Recently I had a mountain of a day to climb; jobs, tasks, deadlines, projects and a teacher evaluation scheduled on top of it all. I woke up that morning feeling like limpy lettuce! It wasn’t even 5 in the morning and I wanted to go back to bed and be done with the day. I threw up my hands in morning prayer thinking God, how in the world am I supposed to “rejoice and be glad”when I’ve got a day like this! I then stumbled across the word surrender several times in my readings and prayers that morning. So, that’s what I did…I flat out said, “God, if you plan to be hearing from me during evening prayers tonight, you best be sending re-enforcements because I can’t get this all done and still be joyful.” I gave Him the day and I just sat back and watched Him show off! I was very rich indeed that day. Things fell in place, help I didn’t even request showed up, and the middle lovelies were particularly bright and funny that day. The grand finale to the day was a cancelled meeting and plopping into bed at 11:40 only to realize that I’d smacked the wrong button on my alarm clock that morning and it was really only 10:40. That was just icing on the cake! The Lord hears our cries…especially when we see and ask for help in the places we’re poor. Try Him…cry out and see how He answers
A Seed To Plant: Spend some time in prayer asking God to help you see the areas where you are poor. He’s waiting to hear and answer your cry for riches in these areas.
Blessings on your day!
My Lord and my God. John 20:28
The story of Doubting Thomas has long been one that made me shake my head. How could he be so…doubtful? After walking with Jesus for so long and being such a close part of his miracles and healings and teachings; how could he not get it? Even if I could understand his doubt on some level I still think “until I put my hands in his side” was a little over the top!
That used to be my thinking until I realized I was Thomas…often! It wasn’t a realization I wasn't proud of but it was true none the less. My “inner Thomas” looks like this…
*Planning, plotting and worrying about so many things as if I’m in charge of everything myself.
*Sometimes feeling swallowed with frustration wondering when this Pandemic will ever end.
*Overthinking kids, grandkids, finances and retirement.
*Fretting about people who are sick, struggling or that I have no influence with.
*Sadness about people who aren’t treated justly, fairly or compassionately.
My “inner Thomas” can leave me thinking it’s never going to get better and the divisions will just grow and the church will shrink and those struggling will continue to suffer. I stamp my foot and tell Jesus he should do something right now. It’s almost like, “Do this now Jesus and make sure I can see it!” I suppose that’s no different than asking to feel his nail holes. When Thomas realized it was Jesus he said, “My Lord and my God.” I should say the same thing when I see his work in my life. My “inner Thomas” needs to look at the things the Lord is doing all around me instead of the things I think he’s “not” doing. When I see the warm spring days, when I see my perfect Grandson, when I go to a job I love every day, when I realize I’ve been given an amazing family, when I see the excitement of a lovely woman just weeks from her wedding day, when I hear laughter and receive the Eucharist or when I realize we’re all still standing after the craziest year imaginable! When people get well, when people find hope, when a moment of peace sweeps over me or when a kindergartner brings me a card that says I love you. Every single one of those things is Jesus in action but like Thomas, I can be doubtful. My Lord and my God, please help me see you working and be grateful instead of doubtful.
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of all the places you have seen Christ working in your life this month and thank him for the ways he’s trying to dispel your doubt.
Blessings on your day!
The Lord remembers his covenant forever. Psalm 105: 8
I have a small set of completely useless talents! One of those useless talents is being able to remember song lyrics from decades ago. I don’t mean to brag, but I can sing songs that are even older than I am. Now, don’t be too impressed because I’m also the same woman who can’t remember 3 things at the grocery store and about the only room I can walk in to and consistently remember why I entered, is the bathroom. I remember random silly things but there are days when I forget ten times more than I remember. I like to console myself and say it’s because I just have so much important stuff to think about I run out of room in my brain!
Thank goodness God has a better memory than me! I’m so grateful for this reminder from Psalm 105 and it makes my heart peaceful to know that even on those crazy days when I forget to ask God for help or peace or assurance, he never forgets me or the covenant he made with his people. He remembers all the important stuff. He doesn’t remember just when it’s convenient or when it serves his purpose; he remembers his promise to love us all the time!
Sometimes we can make our way through lent and come out on Easter Sunday feeling like we didn’t get it right. We sometimes forget our lenten promises and when Good Friday rolls around we start to feel guilty for forgetting how much we wanted to show our love to Jesus though our sacrifices and penances. Now would be a great time to remember that our lenten works have no real bearing on the glory of Easter. Jesus wouldn’t be more “risen” if we had remembered all the things we promised on Ash Wednesday. God isn’t going to put us on the “B list” because we didn’t complete six weeks of perfect sacrificial piousness. His covenant promised his love, compassion, care and correction whether we ate chocolate during lent or not.
The fifty days of the Easter season are the perfect time to hit a “remember re-set”. God isn’t honored just through our sacrifice; he’s honored by our joy and gratitude. Easter is the absolute perfect time to be more joyful and grateful. We are an Easter people which is to say we are a people who were created to celebrate the joy and happiness of the Resurrection and the new beginnings it promises. That too was a part of the covenant God will always remember. I keep thinking about that line about happy christians and it makes me giggle so I’ll repeat it again; “There are way too many christians running around looking like they’ve been baptized in lemon juice!” Are we gonna mope about your lenten weaknesses or realize with enthusiastic happiness and joy that Easter makes all things new! What needs to be new with you? This is the season that begs us to believe the unbelievable and profess the spectacular and revel in the unfathomable! How about turning from the lent guilt and running head first into the magnificent gift of love the Father will never forget to show us. Absolutely, we are not worthy of such a gift but lets remember that he already knows that and it doesn’t matter. The gates of Heaven were flung open not because we deserve it but because the Father promised and because he wants us with him. That is something we need to remember! This Easter Season let your focus be joy, after all, someone died for you and then his Father raised him up!
A Seed To Plant: Find a great image of the Risen Jesus and pray with it each day to remind yourself that it was a gift for you from the Father who will never forget his promises.
Blessings on your day!
Yet it was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured…Isaiah 53:4
Happy Holy Week. I LOVE this week. It’s holy and sacred, which means “set apart”. But as I type on the first day of the week I have to ask myself, what will I set it apart for? How will it be different? Jesus and his extravagant love already made it holy but how will I honor that? As I’ve been preparing for this week I asked myself those questions and the Father sent some very simple ideas in response. Today I share those with you and invite you to set apart this week, don’t let it slip by and be ordinary, invite Jesus to make it holy in a way only he and you can.
*Switch R’s! This week go from RUSH to REST. Nowhere in Scripture does it say, “Come rush with me!” Jesus didn’t rush…he went about things in a purposeful, deliberate fashion. He noticed things along the way and he often stopped to rest and pray. This week, find some time to rest…with Jesus, not Netflix.
*Join Ignatius! Who? St. Ignatius of Loyola is known for his passion for imaginative prayer and Scripture reading. Fr. Mark Toups of Ascension Presents has a great 10 minute imaginative prayer meditation about putting yourself in the Garden with Jesus. Go to YouTube and look for Fr. Mark Toups, What Makes Holy Week Holy. It’s a gift you want to give yourself!
*Get your Liturgy on! Go to Mass on Holy Thursday…we’ve all got stuff to wash from our feet and our heart so imagine yourself at the last supper being tenderly cleansed and fed by Jesus. Be there on Friday, not to re-live the brutality but to face the truth of of how much you are loved and how great the sacrifice that was made on your behalf. On Easter, celebrate not only Jesus’ resurrection but your own…what are the things he can help you “rise from” in your life…take those and offer them to him and share in his Glory!
*Give the Gifts! This week shower someone with love for no particular reason. Allow the Father to wash away the guilt of sin you carry in your heart. As Jesus fed us at the Last Supper, reach out and feed someone this week; a neighbor, a shelter or a food pantry. Easter brings the promise of new life, share that promise with someone who is struggling, pray for them, take them flowers, send a message…just reach out to offer hope and joy so they might see His light in their darkness.
One final thought this Holy Week comes compliments of a gentleman who shared the most powerful sermon he ever heard. He told me during a Holy Week long ago the priest had the shortest, most heart changing sermon he’d ever heard and it has stuck with him for many, many Holy Week’s since. He said the priest asked them to picture Jesus on the road to Calvary. Imagine him after one of his falls and as he struggles to get up imagine him making eye contact with you. As his eyes lock on yours, imagine him saying, “It’s ok, I’m doing this for you!”
A Seed To Plant: Sit with the short sermon and the suggestions above and ask Jesus to lead you into a week that is truly “set apart”.
Blessings on your day!
I have brushed away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like a mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you. Isaiah 44:22
A couple weeks ago my grandson, Lewis was baptized. It was such a great day and I took lots of pictures. I was on my way to Oklahoma City last week to do a training and as I sat in the airport preparing, I found the perfect picture to teach a tough lesson for us to truly understand.
It’s hard for us to accept the love of our Father in Heaven. We have a tendency to think that when God looks at us, he sees the sum total of all our mistakes and sinfulness. We know he loves us but we can’t quite grasp how much. As I was thinking about how to use this verse from Isaiah and teach the absolute love of the Father, my phone buzzed. I answered the text and decided to look at pictures of Mr. Lewis, which is my new favorite thing to do! I was scrolling through the Baptism pictures and zoomed in on one photo where in the midst of all the commotion, Lewis was looking straight up at his daddy and Jason was looking straight down at Lewis. Their gaze was locked and each of them had a look of complete adoration on their face. Lewis looked up with trust and love and Jason looked down with pride and complete and perfect love. That picture perfectly captured what it’s really like when we turn to our Father and he looks down on his children. I added that picture to the training and it was met with a powerful response because it’s a truth we all needed to see in living color.
I was chatting with some friends about this picture yesterday and one of my friends, a mom of young boys added to the story. She said that one of her sons had lost his temper and hit her on the arm while calling her “mean mom”. Quite a while later he came to her feeling very sad and gave her a hug and apologized for what he’d done. She told us she had already forgotten all about it and gone on with her day but she was so struck by how deeply it bothered him and how quickly she had dismissed it because it was just a “toddler moment” for her son. We laughed as we stood there thinking about how different God’s perspective really is. There are so many times we do things he really doesn't like but they aren’t permanent marks etched in his memory to be dredged up every time he thinks of us.
As we finish out this last week of Lent and head into Holy Week, it seems like the perfect time to ponder what the Father really sees when he looks at us. Imagine his gaze and soak up his love and mercy.
A Seed To Plant: Spend some time in prayer asking the Father to help you see how much he loves you.
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. When I really thought about it hard I was pretty good at living this challenge; 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 it, 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!
The Selection Sunday show signaled the beginning of March Madness. As Covid has changed most everything we know, it’s good to see some familiar things come back. I’m offering a re-post from a great March of the past. It’s a reminder that this pandemic won’t last forever and that very often, the kids are the ones teaching the adults. Plus, I think all of our hearts can use a dose of happy!
…do good works… Ephesians 2:10
Every now and again life unfolds a fabulous event right before your eyes and you get a front row seat to something completely wonderful. During the past week the people of our community were a part of PW schools basketball history. For the second time in the school’s history, a boys’ team made it to the state finals. The venue for the final two games (The MSU Breslin Center) was the icing on the cake for every young man on the team who grew up wanting to be an MSU Spartan. It was a great run that ended with a State Runner-Up trophy but the events that made this an amazing week honestly have very little to do with the trophy awarded at the end of the final game.
As the Pirates advanced to the Quarterfinals and beyond, a few of the little lovelies asked during Morning Prayer if they could pray for the team to win. I repeated a line from a good friend who always says “I don’t think God really care about sports; He wants us to use all of our gifts and talents in the best way we can.” So instead of praying to win, we prayed that the players would do good works and play to honor God. That’s exactly what they did but they might not even realize all the lessons they taught this week. Many folks will say it’s just a game; life is about many more important things than shooting an orange ball through a hoop. They may be right but this group of young men and their coaches demonstrated so much more both on and off the court. Their attitude, behavior and discipleship is a story that needs to be told. For those readers close to home, it’s a review of all we were taught and for those of you far away, it’s a story to lift your spirit and inspire you to “be Christ” in all things.
Lesson 1 – Bloom where you are planted! Being a small school in a rural area, the players you have are the players you build a team with! There is nobody to recruit or nobody picking us as a school of choice, we field a team with the boys that were born here…period. The boys on this team have been playing together for 6 to 9 years. They learned to build on each other’s strengths, work hard and hold each other accountable for making the most of their talents. They learned the value of supporting each other and accepting each other for exactly who they are.
Lesson 2 – Humility is impressive, inspiring and it never goes out of fashion. No matter what the score or the outcome these young men were gracefully humble. They reminded us that humility is demonstrated because it is expected, not because it is earned or deserved.
Lesson 3 – The best way to thank God for a talent is to share it with compassion! Each year the team goes to play a game with the students at a school for the physically and mentally challenged. Most of the boys on the team will say it’s their favorite game of the season. This year several of those special students were at the semifinal game to support their Pirate buddies. At the end of the game, two of my favorite Pirates climbed up into the stands to find this group of special students who had come to cheer them on. They went to this section first, before finding their parents or their girlfriends or friends in the student section. The parents of one of these players told me nothing their son could do on the court could ever make them prouder than what he did after the game. When a reporter asked why that had been their first stop after the game he replied, "We just had to go up there and show ‘em some love and thank them for comin’ out to support us!” In the wise words of the coach, “It’s about doing something for someone who can’t do anything for you in return.” Thank you Pirates for demonstrating that reminder in living color. It was so very Christ like of you.
Lesson 4 – It has been said that a nation’s goodness can be judged by the way it treats it’s young and it’s old. This teams enthusiasm, talent, sportsmanship and Christianity gave a small town a chance to come together and grow in goodness. Not many small town teams could gather enough support to fill hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of seats in a Big 10 college coliseum. People from our communities and several neighboring towns bought tickets and rallied behind some great young men…that was a fine sight to see. Thanks for giving us a chance to practice treating our young with support and respect.
Lessons 5- Never miss a chance to do something good for kids; someday they will be in charge and they need to see how things should be done. To the anonymous donor who paid for the game ticket for every Pewamo elementary student, thank you just isn’t a big enough word! To the neighboring school to our North, thank you for lending us school busses to get all the kids to the game. True generosity is beautifully touching and it was modeled so clearly nobody could miss it!
Lesson 6 – In life we face challenges but there are also celebrations and times of great happiness; neither is intended to last forever. After the biggest week of his life, another of my favorite Pirates had to get up Sunday morning long before dawn to milk cows and his very wise father reminded him that life is like that…times of great excitement are always followed by a sudden burst of reality. God is eager to meet us in both places!
Lesson 7 – Thankfulness and praising the Giver of all gifts is the most important thing. Not many public school teams have a Catholic priest bless them before games and then sit behind the bench cheering and praying over them during the most important game of their high school career. They realized his role in helping them remember to play for God’s glory and not their own.
It may be just a game with an orange ball and a hoop; but for several hundred people from the middle of Michigan’s mitten…it was much much more! God bless the Pirates and we thank you for your humility, sportsmanship and your excellent example of Christ inspired behavior both on and off the court. Thank you for bringing us together! Many will remember this as the year of the winter that wouldn’t end…but we will also remember it as the year the students became the teachers of some great lessons!
A Seed To Plant: Take a lesson from the coach this week and share or do something with someone who can’t do anything back for you.
Blessings on your day!
A contrite and humble heart, O God, you will not spurn. Psalm 51:98
So here we are just past the half way point of Lent. Remember the passion and commitment burning in your heart on Ash Wednesday? How is it now? For some, the fire is still burning, perhaps for others things haven’t taken quite the same path you planned a few weeks ago. No matter where you are right now, we have a few weeks to finish strong and head into Holy Week with a greater peace, hope and joy. I have come across a few Lenten nuggets of thought as I’ve payed my way through the first half of Lent. Some are an inspiration and some a straight up whacks to the side of the head. I thought I’d share some of them with you so you can ponder and pray on them too.
*Lent is about grace. God knows that we will fall short in our Lenten penances. That’s why Jesus endured his passion and death. If we could do it on our own, Christ died for nothing.
*Jesus in not calling us to perfect outcome when it comes to loving others. But when we stop seeing people as problems and start seeing them as pearls we can be sure that we are beginning to love them.
*God will pardon a repentant sinner more quickly than a mother would snatch her child out of the fire. St. John Vianney
*We must forgive all the time. We must forgive everyone. We must forgive even when we think we cant.
*A quiet presence in the life of someone struggling is better than a lengthy speech.
*Lord, use me to reveal your love to today.
*Lord close my mouth and calm my heart when I lose my patience and arguments begin to bubble up around me.
*Gluttony crowds God’s spirit and envy eats joy.
*Lord help me trade ego for empathy and help me remember humility and humiliation are not the same thing.
A Seed To Plant: Pick one of the nuggets from the list above and spend a few days praying with it and see where the Holy Spirit leads you.
Blessings on your day!
I keep my eyes always on the Lord. Psalm 16:8
I was doing a presentation not long ago and a woman came up during the lunch break with a question about something she heard. She said she had gotten part of the quote but didn’t catch the end so she wanted me to help her fill in the blanks. When she laid down her notebook I was stunned to discover she had been furiously taking notes all morning in shorthand! I could hardly believe my eyes. She smirked and said it was so much faster and good for her memory; she couldn’t understand why nobody used shorthand anymore. It made me wonder how many other things seemed like the greatest idea at the time but faded away as time passed by; I thought of a few.
L’eggs pantyhose plastic eggs…those things were huge! I tried to use them as Easter eggs one year when the boys were little but it took nearly a pound of M&M’s to fill one up. They were creative and a great marketing idea but considering the fact that a pair of pantyhose only lasts about a day, I wonder where all those eggs are now.
Extra-long telephone cords…you know, the ones that let you walk into the next room to talk in private on your party line.
Tapes…8-Track, Cassette, VHS; each one started its own entertainment revolution but they’ve all become obsolete...even if you’re still hanging on to a BeeGee’s 8-track or a Bruce Springsteen Born in the USA cassette there’s no way to play it.
Self-correcting electric typewriters…wow those were a great invention even if I never could figure out how to change those little orange doodads that held the correction tape.
At the risk of making myself seem ancient I’m going to stop there. Why do I bring all this stuff up for heaven’s sake? Simple, each of those things took the world by surprise and by storm. Each offered a glimpse of something better and more modern. They were really good ideas developed by smart people but their usefulness expired and they were replaced by the next great idea. For some people that’s sad, for others it’s a chance to celebrate and embrace the next best thing. When you get right down to it though, it’s really a lesson in rolling with change and finding our constants. I know it’s easy to get all tangled up in progress and change but things are gonna come and go as fast as an 8-track tape so is it really worth the fuss and wasted energy pouting about the good ole days…back when things were simple? I think the more out of focus and crazy our lives get the easier it is to drift backwards and think those simpler times would solve everything. The truth of the matter is we’re kidding ourselves if we think a ringer washers or a car with a trunk the size of a soccer field is going to fix anything.
It isn’t about the era or the invention, it’s about the focus and our focus can get pretty out of whack. We need to remember it isn’t the changing stuff that creates the problem; it’s about fussin over the stuff instead of hitching our focus firmly around the one thing that will NEVER change and that is our Good, Good Father. He’s so much bigger than changing technology, appliances and fashions. We have to believe faithfulness to him will never go out of style, will always fit and will always be just the perfect thing for the job. We worry a lot about being “in style” but if you think something old, like shorthand makes sense don’t be afraid to use it but remember that the Good Lord has never cared about progress and technology and fashion, he simply cares about our hearts so don’t let the stuff get in the way.
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of things that take your focus from the Lord; lift it up to him and ask him to show you how to see more clearly.
Blessings on your day!
Even now," declares the LORD, "return to me with all your heart…” Joel 2:12
Lent is always a perfect time to do a little extra spiritual reading and this Lent I dived into a great read. The book is Mary’s Mantle Consecration by Christine Watkins. It’s a beautiful daily read about the virtues and Gifts of the Spirit. A few days ago the reading was about meekness and it really touched my heart.
We can easily associate meek with weak or doormat. You might think being meek means just hanging back quietly and letting the world happen around you but I didn’t realize what a key to growing in holiness it truly is. I’d like to share a few meekness nuggets to pray and ponder on.
*To be meek is to be a spiritual rock.
*To be meek is to submit to the Divine Will (not our own)
A Seed To Plant: Read the list again and pray about what relationships or areas of your life do you most need to grow in meekness.
Blessings on your day!
…”Saul Saul why do you persecute me.” Acts 1:4
I learned something new and it’s been bubbling in my heart for a few weeks. Since I’m a little long on tasks and a little short on writing minutes I thought I’d share this little tidbit with all of you and let you ponder on it a little.
The story of Saul to Paul is powerful and packed full of lessons. Saul sought power and fame. He was on a mission to exert his superiority over every Christian he could sniff out. I’m sure his name was known by many and feared by many as well. For the life of me I can’t imagine wanting to be feared, desiring to conquer others and to achieve greatness because of it. Saul was big stuff and I think he liked it that way.
I was searching for videos to use for morning prayer with the staff at school and came across a clip of Jim Caviezel, the actor who played Jesus in Mel Gibson’s movie Passion of the Christ. In this clip he said Saul means; great one and Paul means; little one. One little letter changes and the difference is enormous. Isn’t it funny that after his powerful conversion Saul who sought to be great in the eyes of the world became Paul who wrote, taught, prayed and led us all to learn to be little. The holy are little, the kind are little, the saints were little. I realized everyone I try to be like in my daily life is little in terms of earthly standards.
As I pondered the difference between being great in the eyes of the world and being little in the eyes of the Father, I suddenly felt the weight lift from my shoulders because being little seemed so much more important and doable than trying to please the world; live up to it’s standards and concern myself with position and power. So, my word of the year is STOP and now I am inspired to stop trying to be anything but LITTLE!
A Seed To Plant: Where will you be little this week?
Blessings on your day!
The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. 1 John 2:17
Have you ever wanted something so much it occupied your thoughts completely? Sometimes we want things so badly we pray for it and we think about it and we ask others to pray for it too. It’s almost as if the desire overcomes our thoughts and emotions. I’m sure I’m not the only person to say that “something” I desired didn’t materialize at all. God is so smart he often denies those desires because he has something so much better in store for us but when we’re stuck in the middle of the wanting that concept can be pretty tough to swallow. I suppose we desire all kinds of things, romance, money, health, jobs, a bigger house, a baby, a better car or peace in our family. Whatever the desire, God is hearing and putting a plan in motion. For everyone stuck in the desiring process, I came across this little story told by Fr. Paul Wharton that illustrates exactly what we need to desire first.
A young man sought out the counsel of a wise and holy hermit. He asked the holy man to tell him how to find God. “How great is your desire to know Him”?, asked the saintly old man. “More than anything else in the world,” came the young mans reply. The hermit took the young man to the lake shore and they waded into the water until they were neck deep. The hermit then took the young man and pushed him under the water. The young man struggled terribly but the old man did not release his grip until the young man was about to drown. When they returned to the shore the hermit asked the young man, “Son, when you were under water, what did you want more than anything else?” The young man replied “Air!” “Well then, you will find God when your desire for him is as great as your desire for air was while I was holding you under the water.” spoke the old wise man.
As I’m busy praying for the things I desire, and praying for the things other people desire I realize I’m falling short. I’m falling short because I don’t quite have my desires in order. I need God; I worship, praise and thank God all throughout my day but it’s my desire for him that falls short. After reading that tiny little story, I realize that if I’m being completely honest, I don’t desire him as much as the young man desired air. I suppose if I worked on that desire with fervent prayer and dedication the rest of the desires on my list would probably fall right into place because I would want only Him and in wanting Him, I want less for myself. I would imagine there would be an enormous feeling of contentment if I got my desires in order. The story caused me to think a lot about what it means to desire Him more than air. Maybe this little story is just what you needed today too. So, let’s take a deep breath and organize our desires.
A Seed To Plant: Read the story again and then make a list of your desires. Put the words God/Air at the top and spend the week praying about it all.
Blessings on your day!
…but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13
I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve spoken or written the words, “God loves you more than you can ever imagine!” Such true words but it wasn’t until recently I began to feel the power of those words. Two weeks ago I became a grandma and I don’t think my heart was fully prepared for how fast and how hard I would fall in love with that tiny little boy! I was also surprised by how much I miss him and want to march right over to his house and scoop him up.
I knew I would love being a grandma but it’s a love that’s deeper and sweeter than I had ever imagined. It doesn’t matter if he's fussing or smiling during a dream, I look at his little face and all I see is absolute perfection. I think about him so many times during the day and wonder if he’s sleeping or cuddled tight with mom or dad. I pray often that he will be healthy and happy and know how much he’s loved and how lucky he is that God gave him the parents he got.
As all of this was tumbling through my head the other day I began to get a glimpse of how much the Father loves us. If I can be so captivated and madly in love with a teeny little boy, how much more must the Father love me? I was overwhelmed to realize he thinks of me even more than I think of baby Lewis. I realized that he gazes at me with a bursting heart just like I feel when I open a SnapChat to see our little Prince Charming. He sees within us the same perfection my eyes see when I look at my grandson. It’s even more overwhelming to realize that the love I feel for my grandson pales completely in comparison to the love God has for us.
I’ve dreamed about being a grandma for a long time and it’s everything I imagined plus so much more. Isn’t it just like God to take even the highest points of our life and throw in a powerful lesson to make it even better! The next time I feel like I’m not enough or get tangled up in the hundred and fifty silly, unGodly things I do each week I now have a perfect way to remember that his love is so much greater than my weakness and stumbling. Of all the lessons he’s taught, this is my favorite because every time I see that sweet little boy, I get a lesson reminder.
A Seed To Plant: Spend some time this first full week of Lent pondering the Fathers love for you.
Blessings on your day!
Come follow me. Matthew 4:19
Happy Lent! Welcome to the season of “turning”. Yesterday as I walked outside on a sunny Ash Wednesday -14 degree morning I was having thoughts of spring. My mind drifted back to mushroom hunting in the woods with my folks. I used to love tromping through the woods finding stuff. Sometimes I would hear my dad yell, “Don’t get too far ahead” or “hurry up you’re falling too far behind.” He wanted to make sure I didn’t wander off and get lost or travel into a spot that wasn’t safe. He loved having us outdoors with him and he wanted us to be safe; like all good fathers!
I’m in the middle of reading a really great book that has mentioned a similar sentiment a few times. In the book the author talks about all the times we try to manage things ourselves or bear the burdens of the day without calling out to God for help. He also talks about all the times we fail and fall and feel too embarrassed or ashamed to ask God for forgiveness thinking he will be so disappointed in us. The author proposes a beautiful counter thought to the negative stuff we often run through our heads. He uses the example of Jesus the Shepherd. He offers this thought, Jesus says stay with me little lamb, don’t run too far ahead where I’ve not prepared the path for you and don’t lag too far behind where you can’t see where I’m leading you. That just about sums up every low spot or difficulty in my life; all too often I’m the crazy little lamb that isn’t where I’m supposed to be!
If I walked in the woods with my dad today I wouldn’t leave his side. I’d be so interested in talking with him and searching for things together I wouldn’t want to explore on my own. I would want to take in all the love and lessons he had to share with me. I’d ask him questions; I’d soak up his knowledge and his experience and I would rely on him completely to show me the way. In fact, I think I would get so lost in just simply being with him I might not pay any attention at all to where we were, I’d just trust him completely and enjoy being with him knowing without a thought that we’d get safely back to the truck at the edge of the woods. I’d be the little lamb that didn’t get too far ahead or lag too far behind; right at his side is where I’d stay.
As all of this puddled through my mind on a freezing cold morning I realized that if I could trust my earthly father and want so deeply to go on another walk in the woods with him shouldn’t I want that same kind of walk with my Heavenly Father; shouldn’t it be as automatic and instinctive to stay right at his side. Of course it should but I’m really going to have to sit with this in prayer for a few days (or weeks) and figure out why I’m not the same little lamb with Him as I would be with my dad. One thing is for certain…this is not about the shepherd; it’s all about the little lamb! Perhaps this lent the greatest discipline of all would be to focus on being a little lamb that walks closer with Jesus. I don’t suppose my fancy plans and detailed disciplines impress him. I think what he really wants is for us to stay close to him. That will be challenge enough for this little lamb for sure!
A Seed To Plant: What kind of little lamb are you? Spend some time in prayer thinking about all the times you run ahead or lag behind and ask for the Shepherd to draw you to his side.
Blessings on your day!
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own…1 Peter 2:9
I came across a story a couple of weeks ago and it was a good one! It was one of those stories that sticks with you and applies to lots of different things. I found the story in a Lenten reflection book written by F. Joe Kempf and I decided all of you needed to read it too.
When Thomas Edison was working on improving his first light bulb, he handed the finished bulb to a young helper, who nervously and slowly carried it upstairs, but near the top step he dropped and shattered it. After a moment of horrified silence, the whole team set back to work. It took them 24 more hours of hard work to make another bulb. When it was finished they needed someone to take it upstairs again, Edison looked around, found the same boy and handed the new bulb to him to do the job. Edison knew that something more important than the bulb was at stake.
I think one of the reasons I love this story is because it so clearly illustrates trust, mercy, forgiveness and unselfishness. It made me think of all the things I fuss about. It made me think about all the things I take so seriously. It made me think of all the things I think I have to be in charge of myself. It made me think of all the silly things I believe are so valuable. But the biggie…it made me realize how easy it should be to give second chances and how grateful I am that God is so good at giving them again and again.
The invention of the light bulb was a pretty big stinkin deal for heaven sakes but Mr. Edison realized the human spirit was far more valuable! The whole story makes me think about how I treat others and what I truly value. It makes me think of some advice I got as a young teacher; people are ALWAYS more important than paper and stuff. Maybe this Thursday morning short post can be a reminder to us all.
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of your top 5 priorities…do they match the way you balance your time and attitude? Make someone feel important today!
Blessings on your day!
…then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. Proverbs 3:10
It was one of those mornings! The kind where the minutes evaporate and the tasks multiply! I was rushing and trying to do some things two handed in the kitchen. I was pouring coffee with my right hand and rinsing dishes in the sink with my left. I guess I was focusing too hard on my left hand and didn’t notice my coffee pouring right hand was working overtime. Before I realized what had happened I literally had a “hot mess” on my hands which led to some mopping and re-brewing that weren’t in the morning plan. It seems that even when the coffee mug reached it’s maximum capacity, I kept pouring…and pouring…and pouring. The hot deliciousness from my coffee pot silently cascaded over the rim of the mug all over the counter and down the cabinet onto the kitchen floor. Just a word of warning; don’t try to wipe up freshly brewed hot coffee with paper towel until it’s had a wee bit of time to cool off. I’m not sure I remember what had me so distracted that morning but I sure can tell you what happened after the mess was cleaned up.
After brewing more coffee, I took my mug to the prayer chair and just took a few peaceful breaths before I cracked open one of my daily prayer books. I opened to the days page and I was astounded at the story that greeted me. Two things before I share the story; yes, I nearly spit out my sip of fresh delicious coffee as I started to read and yes, I realize you just can’t make this stuff up! Here’s what I read. There was a university professor who went searching for the meaning of life. After several years and several miles, he came to the hut of a particularly holy hermit and asked to be enlightened. The holy man invited the visitor into his humble dwelling and began to serve him tea. He filled the professor’s cup and then kept on pouring so that the tea was soon dripping onto the floor. The professor watched until he could no longer restrain himself. “Stop! It’s full. No more will go in.” “Like this cup”, said the hermit, “you are full of your own opinions, preconceptions, and ideas. How can I teach you unless you first empty your cup?” Thank you Fr. Wharton for peeking into my day and smacking me upside the head!
I’ve spent the last several days pondering what ’s in my cup. I’ve come to the conclusion that my cup is full of good stuff but it’s stuff I put there. I’m really good at filling my cup with things I think God would like but I have to pray and ponder a bit to make sure they really are the things he wants in my cup. I guess the only way to be sure is to dump out the cup and start over. I have to figure out how to empty myself and let him do the filling. It doesn’t really matter how I want to serve him, what matters is that I serve him the way he wants me too. I have never heard the “voice” of God; you know like a Morgan Freeman kind of voice but I sure know he’s sending a message and last week he sent it with the delicious smell of coffee. I know one thing for certain; God went to great lengths to get my attention so I think I’ll give this more thought and prayer and let you know what I come up with.
A Seed To Plant: What’s filling your cup? Is there room for Him?
Blessings on your day!
Above all, love each other deeply because love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8
Every now and again I feel like I’ve “got it all together.” My prayer life seems to be in order, I’m knee deep in loving and helping and serving and I can get a little “inflated”. I should know by now that is the time when he’s gonna grab me with a lesson. The story in this post isn’t mine. I don’t know who wrote it but it fell into my lap and I really believe it was God saying…hey Sheri…what about this? Read this and see what I might be asking you to work on. It’s about relationships not just rules and procedures. Being a disciple is tough work. This story left me examining my heart in a giant way. I think that’s something he likes us to do. Maybe this story will hit you as hard as it did me.
We were the only family with children in the restaurant. I sat Erik in a high chair and noticed everyone was quietly sitting and talking. Suddenly, Erik squealed with glee and said, 'Hi.' He pounded his fat baby hands on the high chair tray. His eyes were crinkled in laughter and his mouth was bared in a toothless grin, as he wriggled and giggled with merriment. I looked around and saw the source of his merriment. It was a man whose pants were baggy with a zipper at half-mast and his toes poked out of would-be shoes. His shirt was dirty and his hair was uncombed and unwashed. His whiskers were too short to be called a beard and his nose was so varicose it looked like a road map. We were too far from him to smell, but I was sure he smelled.. His hands waved and flapped on loose wrists.. 'Hi there, baby; hi there, big boy. I see ya, buster,' the man said to Erik. My husband and I exchanged looks, 'What do we do?’ Erik continued to laugh and answer, ‘Hi.' Everyone in the restaurant noticed and looked at us and then at the man. The old geezer was creating a nuisance with my beautiful baby. Our meal came and the man began shouting from across the room, 'Do ya patty cake? Do you know peek-a-boo? Hey, look, he knows peek- a-boo.’ Nobody thought the old man was cute. He was obviously drunk. My husband and I were embarrassed. We ate in silence; all except for Erik, who was running through his repertoire for the admiring skid-row bum, who in turn, reciprocated with his cute comments.
We finally got through the meal and headed for the door. My husband went to pay the check and told me to meet him in the parking lot. The old man sat poised between me and the door. 'Lord, just let me out of here before he speaks to me or Erik,' I prayed. As I drew closer to the man, I turned my back trying to sidestep him. As I did, Erik leaned over my arm, reaching with both arms in a baby's 'pick-me-up' position. Before I could stop him, Erik had propelled himself from my arms to the man.
Suddenly a very old smelly man and a very young baby consummated their love and kinship. Erik in an act of total trust, love, and submission laid his tiny head upon the man's ragged shoulder. The man's eyes closed, and I saw tears hover beneath his lashes. His aged hands full of grime, pain, and hard labor, cradled my baby's bottom and stroked his back. No two beings have ever loved so deeply for so short a time. I stood awestruck. The old man rocked and cradled Erik in his arms and his eyes opened and set squarely on mine. He said in a firm commanding voice, 'You take care of this baby.’ Somehow I managed, 'I will,' from a throat that contained a stone. He pried Erik from his chest, lovingly and longingly, as though he were in pain. I received my baby, and the man said, 'God bless you, ma'am, you've given me my Christmas gift.’ I said nothing more than a muttered thanks. With Erik in my arms, I ran for the car. My husband was wondering why I was crying and holding Erik so tightly, and why I was saying, 'My God, my God, forgive me.’ I had just witnessed Christ's love shown through the innocence of a tiny child who saw no sin, who made no judgment; a child who saw a soul, and a mother who saw a suit of clothes. I was a Christian who was blind, holding a child who was not.. I felt it was God asking, 'Are you willing to share your son for a moment?' when He shared His for all eternity. How did God feel when he put his baby in our arms 2000 years ago. The ragged old man, unwittingly, had reminded me, 'To enter the Kingdom of God , we must become as little children.’ If this has blessed you, please bless others by sending it on. Sometimes, it takes a child to remind us of what is really important. We must always remember who we are, where we came from and, most importantly, how we feel about others. The clothes on your back or the car that you drive or the house that you live in does not define you at all; it is how you treat your fellow man that identifies who you are.
A Seed to Plant: Read the story more than once…get past the whole stranger holding your baby thing and really feel what the message of the story is.
Blessings on your day!
My son, forget not my teaching, keep in mind my commands; Proverbs 3:1
Today begins the crazy, fun, joyful week known as Catholic Schools Week! Catholic schools across the country will be celebrating the gift and the blessing of Christ centered education. I am so thankful for the chance to teach in a Catholic School. It’s absolutely a gift to be able to incorporate Christ into every conversation and activity that makes up my day. Some worry about the right time, or the right opportunity to mention Jesus or faith and I realize I often take for granted that I can talk about it all day AND get paid for it.
This year is far from normal and not much is familiar or predictable so I think that’s why Catholic Schools Week is so exciting this year…we know how to laugh, we know how to celebrate and who doesn’t love a week full of activities and dress up days! It’s a break in the strange and a return visit to light-hearted and silly. We aren’t playing candy bar bingo in the parish hall tonight with a full house of families eating hot dogs and winning giant Snickers bars but tomorrow we’ll play for smaller candy bars via zoom in our classrooms. We won’t hold the annual Dodge Ball Tournament but we will play different games together. We will have Adoration in the gym instead of the cozy chapel and we’ll have a Bible Themed Carnival one classroom at a time. As I was buying supplies for carnival and the Lost Sheep game which involves getting the lost sheep (mini marshmallows) back in the pen with a straw, a lady approached me in the check out lane laughing wondering what on earth I was doing with 20 bags of marshmallows in my cart. When I explained she laughed and said God Bless all of you and I hope you have the best week ever…the kids have earned it. She was absolutely right about that! As we head into a week of fun, I didn’t want to be the only one enjoying some laughs today so I thought I’d share a few Catholic School Student comments. Some are from my students, some are borrowed from other teachers but all of them demonstrate the joy of the child.
**Hosanna in the highest is correct; Lasagna in the highest is not.
**The Holy Ghost is not a cousin to Caspar even if they are both friendly.
**I understand there was no room at the inn but hotels. com wouldn’t have been a thing 2,000 years ago…no honey, it wasn’t because the wifi wasn’t strong enough.
**No, I wasn’t there the night Jesus was born, that was a few years before my time.
When every day includes faith and kids its’ a winning combination! I want to thank all those who support Catholic Education. There are so many who sacrifice time, energy and money to make the work we do possible so please know that you will be included in our prayers of thanksgiving this week.
A Seed To Plant: Take some time this week to pray for all children in schools everywhere!
Blessings on your day!
“Apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
As I make my way through the first month with my word for the year, there have been plenty of lessons. The biggest red flag I’ve been getting is STOP trying to do it all, fix it all, be a part of it all. In other words, keep your nose in your own business! There have been a couple of times I’ve turned things over or bowed out and then thought…who said that? The blessing of those actions is peace and it’s wonderful. I’m not “cured” but I sure enjoy the feeling and just this week there have been three really big confirmations that this “stop and feel peace” thing is where he’s leading me. He’s letting me know that if I shut up and step away a bit more the world won’t fall apart! I think I had the ridiculous notion that being peaceful meant I was being lazy…he’s working on me for sure! Here’s what he plunked before my eyes this week.
Peace lesson #1: Peace, it does not mean to be in a place where there is no trouble, noise or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart. Lady Gaga
Peace lesson #2: A Snow day! It was a surprise, it was familiar (not much is this year) and it was so quiet and beautiful. I wasn’t on the farm worrying about animals or living in a house with 30 years of projects and things to dust, polish or sort. It was just peaceful…I didn’t feel the need to race to school and re-do bulletin boards or organize the pile on the corner of my desk or work ahead on lesson plans. It was simply the gift of a found day and a rest for my brain and I saw it and appreciated it for just that!
Peace lesson #3 Shannon is reading a book by Fr. Jacques Philippe about…you guessed it, peace. She had just started reading it and without even knowing about my “personal peace journey” she shared this passage. “Consider the surface of a lake, above which the sun is shining. If the surface of the lake is peaceful and tranquil, the sun will be reflected in this lake; and the more peaceful the lake, the more perfectly will it be reflected. If, on the contrary, the surface of the lake is agitated, rough and unsettled, then the image of the sun can not be reflected.”
Realizing that I can do NOTHING without him, it seems the more I let him do and the less I try to do myself then the greater my peace. I thought that was a gift for me but as I pray on the words from Fr. Jacques I realize it’s not about me at all. Our job as disciples is to be Christ to others so if I’m like that unsettled lake, I’m not living in such a way that others can see his reflection. I think I’m going to have to borrow Shannon’s book so we can learn all about exactly how we achieve this peace of heart.
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of things that wrinkle up your peace and ask the Lord to smooth them out so we can reflect his love.
Blessings on your day!
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble; but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
I’m sure we’ve all had those moments when we really wanted to “tell it like it is” or truly give someone a “piece of our mind” but we didn’t . In all truthfulness, that’s probably a good thing and I firmly believe the Holy Spirit clamps down my tongue often before I spit out something I’d regret later. I’ve discovered the older I get the easier it is to keep my negative thoughts to myself and I have the Holy Spirit and a sweet little nun to thank for that. I had several lovely visits with Sister Margaret a few years ago and sometimes her powerful and loving words pop into my head at the most random times. Perhaps her greatest advice was to “let nothing pass your lips unless it leaves a heart better, happier or more in love with the Lord….and that includes your own.”
There is plenty to spout off about and it seems to be in style these days but it doesn’t seem to be making anything or anyone better. So in trying to figure out what to do instead of being sucked down into the mud; I remembered Sisters advice about picking something better. Our days are full of beautiful things but they aren’t always the things I pick to look at, think about or focus on first. Sisters words rang in my ears all last week and here’s how they worked…
*I can think about how challenging it is to teach during a pandemic; all the extras, the changes, the masks, the protocols or I can pick something else. I can pick the kindergartners who were in the middle of a giggle fest as the tried to help each other put on their snow boots.
*I can think about the days that start 40 minutes earlier than any other year or I can wake up and smile because some fabulous mystery person had a brand new fancy Keurig Coffee Maker shipped to me. It was a complete surprise that still makes me smile every time I think about the day that big box was delivered! I can think a bout how rude people on TV are or I can pick the absolute generous thoughtfulness from a stranger who knows that coffee is something I love!
*I can think about the unrest in our country or I can pick the middle lovelies who make me laugh every day and surprise me and frustrate me and remind me everyday that I have the hardest and best job ever because I have a chance to watch them grow as leaders and disciples and I have hope that someday they’ll take all the the life lessons they’re learning and make great leaders…better leaders…faithful leaders.
*I can think of all the ways I fall short or I’m not enough or I can pick the beautiful life God’s given me. The family, friends, community, students, parents; all of them who God has plunked me right in the middle of and be so grateful.
*I can think about the cold and snow and Michigan gray or I can pick the promise of spring that lies under that snow.
*I can think about all the ministry and travel and people I’m missing our on during this pandemic or I can pick the peace and time I have to read, study and be with my family.
*I can think about getting old; gray hairs, joints that don’t move as fluidly as they once did or I can pick the fact that those things have brought me to the stage in life where I get to meet my first grand baby any day now.
*I can think about my baby girl getting married and moving to Missouri or I can pick the joy in knowing she is about to begin a wonderful life together with a mad who adores her and I get to watch their happily ever after unfold.
I think Sister Margaret would want us to focus on inviting Jesus and his Holy Spirit into our own thought and words and actions so we could pick the things that would make the world better, happier and pleasing to the Lord. We won’t be judged in groups or towns or countries…it’s a solo event. I can’t change anything except myself, so this week…I pick positive and grateful and peaceful!
A Seed To Plant: What will you pick this week?
Blessings on your day!
Yet, oh Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay and you the potter: we are all the work of Your hands. Isaiah 64:7
I can close my eyes and see it sitting there on the top shelf of the cupboard above the plates and cereal bowls. I couldn’t reach it, so it was always someone else’s job to put it away after I had carefully dried it. It was a turquoise blue, glass casserole dish, the only one my mom had, and it was something she treasured. My dad gave it to her for Christmas, and if she pulled it out to use for supper, I knew she was going to be making something special. One day when I was about ten, I came home from school and Mom was on her way to a meeting. She asked me to put the casserole dish in the oven at 5 o’clock. I felt so important! I quickly raced to the kitchen and peeked under the glass lid to see what she had assembled inside the dish…it was beautiful; it looked like something you’d see in a cookbook picture. Well, the appointed time had come, I opened the oven door, and as I lifted the casserole dish up to slide it into the oven, it slipped right out of my hands, crashed to the floor, and shattered into pieces. I didn’t even consider the fact that I had just ruined supper. I just felt awful about breaking her casserole dish.
I managed to clean up the mess before Mom got home, and I even began to prepare a “plan B” supper. However, the hardest task of all was to hand Mom that collection of broken glass. She stared at it in silence for a moment, asked me if I was OK and then said, “Well, now it’s time to get creative. Your dad and brothers will be hungry, and it’s almost time to eat.” That was it…no scolding, no lecture, no disappointed glance, it was just time to get creative and move on. It was one of those events that just stuck with me.
I recently heard a pastor say, “God loves broken vessels!” My mind immediately rushed back to our kitchen in Hoyt, Kansas, when I was ten staring down at that mangled mess of turquoise-colored glass and casserole. My mom’s words echoed in my mind, “It’s time to get creative.”
We are each lovingly and perfectly crafted vessels made precisely by the hands of a compassionate potter. When we sin, it’s as if our vessels become chipped or cracked or leaky. I don’t know about you, but I’ve managed to put some real “dings” in my vessel over the years. If you get a crack or a leak in your favorite mug or dish, it no longer functions the way it was intended to. When we sin, we drift a bit from the Father’s love and, just like that broken vessel, we don’t function quite the way we were intended to either. Luckily, we are more valuable than mugs without a handle or casserole dishes broken into dozens of pieces. The Father is never going to throw us out! Instead, he uses our weakness to demonstrate His strength. If we have a chip or a leak, He invites us to come to Him and give Him a chance to restore us; to make us strong and purposeful again. He is the potter that created us. We are the work of His hands. So, if we need to be restored and have our purpose renewed, all we have to do is ask Him, and He will create us anew…as many times as we need it! God loves broken vessels because they require His strength, and any time we give Him the opportunity to show His strength by admitting our weakness, we are blessed.
A seed to plant: Identify a chip or a leak in your vessel, and ask God to strengthen and restore that imperfection in your life. Pick a different one tomorrow and a new one after that but don’t forget to make a list of the blessings you receive as the potter lovingly restores your vessel.
Blessings on your day!
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