“For I the Lord do not change.” Malachi 3:6
How’s your Lent? It’s a great feeling to get to this point in the season and recognize tangible ways our changes and sacrifices have allowed us to detach from our will a little. As we dive deep into the last weeks of Lent it’s a good time to ask ourselves, “WHY did I give that up?” or “WHY did I make that change?” I recently heard a priest point out that often our Lenten plans are very self focused. He challenged his listeners to think beyond themselves and make some changes that had a positive effect on someone else. Then he spoke this powerful line…
“One changed life, always changes another!” If we are going to be the people of service we are called to be, this line is mighty motivation. I have heard the powerful story of three people this Lent who made a change in their life and it changed another. I share their stories to inspire us to do some great things to finish out this Lent.
*Adjusting your schedule to give the gift of time changes things. Lent opens our hearts to receive gifts from the Lord as we free ourselves from habits and distractions that allow us more time to get closer to Him. Tonight I saw one of these gifts. When I made time as a Lenten commitment to visit a very old woman in assisted living, she quickly became my friend. But tonight she kissed me goodbye and said she would pray for me and at that moment I felt my mom in her embrace (my mom died 40 years ago when she and I were both too young to lose each other). God is good and beautiful and works in mysterious ways. I am looking forward to our visits long after Lent has passed!! One changed life always changes another!
* Changing my perspective was a game changer! I’ve been politely angry at God for twenty years for a lousy marriage and entering my sixties divorced and childless. All I could do was count the pains, injustices and shortfalls of my life. This Lent I asked God to change my broken heart and swap my list of pains for a list of joys. I told him I would change my anger if he would put someone in my path who needed my love. It was a tall order but a powerful wave of trust and peace washed over me as Fr. traced the ashen cross on my forehead on Ash Wednesday. The next day a single mother and her two pre-teen daughters moved in next door. Long story short, I have three new friends who needed my love, my support, my help and my skills as a retired teacher. I help with homework, we share dinner together three nights a week and I marvel at how easy it was to change from anger to joy. One changed life always changes another!
* I began last Lent in the middle of a bitter, unhappy marriage. It seemed like every time my husband walked into the room all I could do was think about how much more I gave to the relationship and how unappreciated and taken for granted I felt. I sought counsel from a wise friend who told me the only thing I could control was myself and that “gratitude covered a multitude of sins.” After prayer and googling a lot of Catholic marriage talks I decided to change my attitude. Instead of keeping “score”, I started keeping a gratitude list about my husband. The first few days the list was pretty small but as Lenten days passed, I began to notice and appreciate so many things I had been too bitter to see. I also began to pray for him every day and as the bitterness and selfishness in my heart began to disappear, our love, laughter and faithfulness completely changed. One changed life always changes another!
Lent is a time to change our hearts, attitudes and actions…he’s inviting us to change not just for ourselves but for another of his children and just maybe he’s inviting someone to make a change that will bless us. Don’t fear the change because no matter how much things swirl around us; his love never changes!
A Seed To Plant: Spend some time in prayer this week asking the Father to show you where you can make a change that will change another.
Blessings on your day!
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17
Growing up we always had a gigantic garden. I loved all the fresh vegetables that came from that garden but the potatoes were my favorite! Many things in life have changed but my love for potatoes has not! The first new little ones of the summer were the greatest. If you’ve ever looked at that first batch of new garden potatoes you’ll notice they are pretty bumpy and dimply and funny looking but they taste so good. Something about waiting so many months for a fresh new batch made them so special.
Potatoes are kind of funny when you think about it. They have to be dug out of the dirt. We spend so much time cleaning things and disinfecting things but during potato harvest you stand there looking into a big hole of dirt thinking YUM, these are gonna taste great! Sort of weird when you think of it but it’s really not so different than a lot of things in our life. God is so good at digging down through the muck and mess of our lives and scooping out the good.
I was at the grocery store the other day and saw a whole selection of baby potatoes. They made me think of new potatoes and I finished my shopping thinking about all kinds of things that are new. Some of the new things in my life have been exciting, like that first batch of new potatoes but some of the changes have been lumpy and bumpy. After nearly thirty years on the farm we moved to town. We’ve been here a month and there are so many things I like about this new address. I love the neighborhood full of kids and families. I love the neighbors who have delivered cookies and plants and the kids who have made pictures for my fridge. I love driving on pavement instead of muddy gravel roads and I’m so grateful for a new home (that’s completely clean). But I miss the noise of mooing and hummingbirds and deer I would watch from my front porch.
School is new! I’m happy to be back face to face with the middle lovelies. There are a lot of things that make teaching this year a new experience but it’s so good to be back. Going to mass outside on a beach towel and wearing a mask and eating lunch with my teacher family sprinkled many feet apart across the whole cafeteria is all new. Teaching in four different rooms in order to keep the kids safe and healthy in one spot is a very strange new. Not pulling a chair up next to a sad or struggling student or holding hands to pray together is a strange new too.
I’m getting my second shiny new knee this week and I’m grateful for that but it’s another new thing. Thinking about all this new stuff left me feeling a little old and overwhelmed. Then I remembered those great new potatoes didn’t always look so great so I thought about God looking into my life which at the time felt a little like a big ole dirty potato hole and saw things a little differently. I think I was resisting a little, wanting things to stay the same because it was comfortable but then I saw the beauty in the bumps and dimples. I began see the beauty in the new. I miss the farm but it’s a proud and happy thing to realize that Kevin was determined and successful enough to buy the farm. Yes, I will miss Shannon when she moves to Missouri after the wedding but she will be getting married to a fabulous young man and they will build a wonderful life. Then I began to think of another exciting new. New life, God’s promise that life is meant to move forward and change and in February Jason and Katie are going to have a baby that will bring so much new life and change and joy to our family.
When I see it through his eyes, I don’t see the bumps, dimples and dirt that comes with change and new stuff, he helps me see the growth, the love and my need for him.
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of “new things” happening in your lie and invite God into those new things. For bonus points, enjoy some potatoes this week!
Blessings on your day!
"And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:3
Have you ever put something aside in a “safe place” only to discover a few weeks or months (or maybe even a few hours) later you can’t remember where that safe place is? Maybe it’s just me but the older I get the more time I spend trying to find safe places. A while back, someone sent me the message in today’s post and I put it in a safe place. Months later, ta-da! I guess I’ll call it Gods excellent timing because I just happened to stumble across it last week while I was preparing for an Advent by Candlelight event I had been invited to speak at and the words were a perfect fit with the message of the evening. As I think about ways to make Advent more meaningful, this was the perfect thing to find. I hope in these words you can find some things to prayerfully ponder and maybe even change in order to put things in the right perspective and get ready for the birth of our Savior.
THE PARADOX OF OUR AGE
We have bigger houses but smaller families;
more conveniences, but less time.
We have more education but less sense;
more knowledge, but less judgment;
more experts, but more problems;
more medicines, but less healthiness.
We've been all the way to the moon and back,
but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor.
We build more computers to hold more information,
to produce more copies than ever,
but have less communication.
We have become long on quantity but short on quality.
These are times of fast foods, but slow digestion;
tall men but short character;
steep profits but shallow relationships.
It's a time when there is much in the window,
but nothing in the room.
I hope somewhere in that story you can find a little nugget or two to work on, I know I see several! A few of the middle lovelies told me last week they were committing to less time “on screen” and more time “in prayer” this Advent. I promised I’d join them because I can’t be in charge of the world and fix all the issues this little story points out, but I can be in charge of my own heart and my own home…and that’s really all God ever asks us to do. He doesn’t ask for perfection, only participation. Please join me this week in pondering these words. The last line really hit me; much in the window but nothing in the room; if the room is my heart I’m petrified at the thought of nothing; but I rejoice at the thought of Jesus taking up all the space in my heart.
A Seed To Plant: Take this story into your prayer time and really ponder what God might be leading you to do or change as you use this Advent Season to prepare for His coming.
Blessings on your day!
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8
Things change…it’s just a fact! Sometimes it’s a delightful fact, like when the time changes and I get to sleep an extra hour or when the timer dings and the squishy dough has changed into delicious homemade cinnamon rolls. Other times changes aren’t so whippy, like when the sands of time shift, and the only perky thing left is my smile or when my biceps droop south and become a waving flag every time I raise my arm. I thought not having to shave my legs was awesome until I realized those little hairs were sprouting out my chin instead. Oh, and one more; I thought calling myself the most “mature” teacher in the building instead of the “oldest” was great until three kids in one week called me grandma. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m looking at things all wrong; change is gonna happen and I can either roll with it or let it roll right over me!
I’ve decided to roll with it! After all, the things time does to a person are really kinda funny and sometimes I think it’s God’s great way of making sure I get plenty of humility practice. You might wonder what precipitated this “pondering”. It all started when I was standing on a step-stool in the classroom fixing one of the curtains and a sweet middle lovely walked into the room and with shock, asked if it was really a safe idea for me to be climbing on things. I would have given anything to have had the courage to jump right off the third step and shock his socks off but right before I attempted it, I had a vision of me landing wrong and breaking something or putting out an eye and requiring a call to 911 leaving the poor child scarred for life so I just winked and thanked him for his concern and promptly put him on the steps-stool to be the hero and save the classroom from a drooping curtain disaster. That afternoon as I riffled through the piles on my desk looking for that one piece of paper I put in a safe place, I realized time changes lots of things and along with the things that are different, so many things are made better by change; if we have the courage to see them.
I realize I’m really not THAT old but when I’m surrounded by co-workers half my age, it can feel like it. I had a visit last month with my 92 year old Great Aunt Patricia and realized that change and age are part of life. Aunt Patricia has an absolutely infectious laugh, a keen knowledge of the world around her, a savvy awareness of college sports and the Kansas City Cheifs plus enough spunk for a dozen people. As we chatted in my dads hospital room she made me realize that life isn’t always what you think you sighed up for but it’s never more than you can handle. It’s funny, but as I watched her drive away in her 1988 Pontiac Bonneville I didn’t notice gray hair, wrinkles or arm flags. I noticed an amazing woman, who to this day, raises a disabled child, mows her lawn, cleans her house and goes to Mass often. I don’t see age, I see a wonderful lady who has rolled right along with the changes life has tossed in her lap. If my 90’s can look that funny and spunky and wise; bring it on…I got a true glimpse of my gene pool and I was excited!
Speaking of changes, the Joyful Words website is about to undergo a big re-construction project. Starting Wednesday, the site will be temporary closed so a very talented web designer named Debbie can swoop in and fancy things up. Stay tuned, changes are on the way. While we wait, please know I’m praying for you and thanking the Father for this really cool journey we’re sharing. Thank you for coming back again and again to read what the Holy Spirit sends me.
A Seed To Plant: What changes are you struggling with right now? Take them to prayer and ask for the patience, wisdom and courage to face them and move through them gracefully.
Blessings on your day!
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