He must increase, I must decrease. John 3:30
I love to cook and my kitchen is my happy place. I’m not much of a recipe follower, I tend to use them as suggestions instead of instructions so I can get pretty creative with substitutions. Occasionally, the result of my creative swap teeters on the edge of disaster! A recent such disaster got me to thinking about the swaps that I should consider in my discipleship. Since Christmas is near and I want to give the Baby King the gift of a better me, I decidedI should make a few substitutions in my daily faith life.
*I need to swap the word BUT for the word BECAUSE. All too often I find myself saying things like “It’s ok BUT…” or “I’d like that BUT…” The BUT automatically shifts my focus to what’s wrong or negative. BECAUSE would help me find the positive. “I enjoyed that BECAUSE…” or ‘I’d be happy to do that BECAUSE…”
*I need to swap my words for HIS Word. If I spent more time quietly soaking up His Word instead of flapping my lips or chatting it up on social media, that would be a super power swap for my soul! My words sure aren’t going to make the world better but HIS will!
*I need to swap thinking about doing things with actually doing them! Procrastination can often be disguised as “planning” or “organizing” when in my case, it’s actually just plain ole puttering around and dragging my feet instead of just gettin to the task! I can’t even imagine how many more good discipley things I could do with all those minutes I waste.
*I need to swap reacting for pondering. I can be way too snappy with my actions and reactions. I’m a problem solver and sometimes I just spring into action and try to get all the wrinkles smoothed out whether I’m the best person for the job or not. I need to spend some time prayerfully pondering and giving God a chance to do things his way.
*I need to swap why me for why not me! It’s ok if I work extra sometimes. It’s ok if someone makes more money than me. It’s ok if folks don’t notice all the things I do. It’s ok if someone else gets the attention, reward or surprise. I need to stop thinking about what I think I deserve or have earned and learn to celebrate the joys, successes and good fortune of others. I need to remind myself that all the things I do are for his glory and not mine!
It’s just five little swaps but I have a feeling the final product will be a great improvement! As we wrap up the last few days of Advent and finish getting our hearts ready, I think I’ll focus on swapping out some junk and make some room for him.
A Seed To Plant: Pick one of these swaps or think up some of your own and put them in action these last few days of Advent.
Blessings on your day!
As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15
As I type this post we’re just hours from tip-off of the MSU Texas Tech NCAA Final Four game. I have made some great friends in Lubbock and I’ve rooted for the Red Raiders throughout the whole tournament but tonight there is a dividing line and I’m typing in green! I just have to pick the Spartans tonight because one of my favorite priests always says, “MSU is where Jesus went to school!”
Tonights game is just one of the many places we divide ourselves and take sides. Sometimes the divisions are light hearted and fun; other times they can be completely serious. As humans we fuss and argue and pick sides but as Children of God, we need to come together and find our voice in this crazy world. We need to remember we’re all fighting AGAINST the same thing…evil! If we could remember who are leader is and follow him together the world could be very different.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes us choose the things we do. Sometimes it’s a family thing, sometimes it’s a political thing or a financial thing that influences our choices. Sometimes we’re pressured into making choices and picking sides. I ran across this quote shortly before the NCAA tournament began and it just stuck to my heart. When it comes to the most important “side” or “choice” we can pick there is no pressure, no requirements, no loss whatsoever. The outcome will be perfect and generous and loving and compassionate and amazing. When you pick God, there is only truth and he’s always right there waiting for us to pick him and allow him to transform everything! This little nugget of comfort and hope was written by Fr. Cantalamessa who is the preacher to the papal household. I hope it sticks you your heart too and helps you pick the team that will always finish first…the team that follows Jesus!
He it is, the Only Begotten of the Father, who stands before the human race today and says: Be still, and know that I am God. (Ps 46:11) He does not plead for it, he does not beg for faith and recognition, as so many pseudo-prophets and founders of empty religions do. He does not say. “Believe me, please, be kind enough to listen,” but he says: “Know that I am God!” Whether you believe it or not, I am God!
A Seed To Plant: Think of the “teams” you are a part of and then compare the amount of time you devote to that team to the amount of time you devote to being on Christ’s disciple squad. Make adjustments as needed.
Blessings on your day!
I am an imperfect person loved by a perfect God!
I had a funny realization the other day when I had the middle lovelies and their kindergarten buddies at mass. One of the littles had a runny nose so the big buddy turned and asked me if I had a Kleenex they could give the kindergartener. I immediately began rummaging through my coat pockets pulling out Kleenex after Kleenex. I smiled and thought I must have looked a little like a magician pulling colorful scarves out of a hat. I finally came to one that was wadded but after careful inspection, I could tell it hadn’t been used. It looked a little rumpled but as I did the unfold test I could tell it was a “never been used” one. Feeling a bit successful at the fruitful Kleenex search mission, I handed it up with pride to the middle lovely. The little one looked a bit suspicious and after using it the child looked at their big buddy and said, “My mom buys the kind that come in the little rectangle package and come out folded nicely, I’m not sure I like this kind.” It took everything I had not to laugh out loud!
As I looked down at the pile of crumpled white Kleenexes in my lap and began to tuck them all back in my coat pockets I realized my discipleship journey is a whole lot like that crumped pile of Kleenex! Here’s what I mean…
*When I forget to let God be in charge, things get all wrinkled, wadded and jumbled.
*Even when things get messy in the middle, all I need is a fresh corner to clean up my act.
*Things rarely come neatly packaged and perfectly stacked like the little rectangle Kleenex packages.
*Things don’t always have to look new, neat and tidy to work well, sometimes following Christ is just messy and unpredictable.
*God loves me even when I’m a rumpled mess and all I have left is a little room around the edges.
*God always wants to give a little extra love so I have some left to share.
*Just because I appear to be prepared, well packaged and all put together, it doesn’t mean I’m holy. Holiness focuses on the inside not the outward appearance.
*Just like those tissues in my pocket, God has a very specific purpose in my life and I sometimes have to do a little searching to find it.
*All too often, I have to dig around and try all the wrong things before I get to the good one.
*Finding a good Kleenex right before a sneeze is a great relief but it’s nothing compared to the relief in my life when I let God take control right before I try to do it my own way and goof it up.
Some people say they never really hear God speak to them; perhaps the problem is they just aren’t listening carefully because he can communicate his lessons and his love in the strangest ways; even in a pile of rumpled Kleenexes!
A Seed To Plant: Are you a fresh new package disciple or are you one who’s a little ruffled around the edges? Take some time in prayer this week and think about it…are you waiting until everything is in perfect order to invite him in or are you willing to invite him into your mess?
Blessings on your day!
…and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.” Matthew 1:23
I don’t know about you, but I love those little “life hack” videos that pop up on my newsfeed. Things like putting hot glue dots on your hangers to keep slippery closes from falling off or 20 ways to organize junk, using random items around the house. Granted, some of them are pretty ridiculous but most of them come from folks who are way smarter and more creative than I am so I find myself watching and saying, “Seriously, that is awesome, why didn’t I think of that!” My mind likes simple, efficient and logical so if someone wants to pass along a little of that I’m gonna soak it up!
What I really love though, is when someone can give me some “life hacks” for my discipleship! Sometimes I can try to do 40 things at once to try to be holier and wind up in a tail spin. That’s usually when I get discouraged and feel like I’ll never be “good” enough to get to heaven. I’m getting better at promptly stopping that kind of thinking and calling it out for what it is…discouragement and we all know who throws that up in our face! That’s when we need to stop and say “Oh No…not today satan! You messed with the wrong disciple!” I know that no matter how crooked my path gets or how twisted around I become, as long as my heart is headed in HIS direction he’s gonna grab my hand and put me on his path if I call out for guidance. It’s like DIVINE GPS. (I’m pretty sure GPS stand for Gods Perfect Strategy) My discipleship and my path to holiness often looks like a fish floppin around on the bank, so anytime I can find a quick “something” to snap me back and return me to water, I’m happy. I found a little something that does just that so I thought I’d share. Like all those great tips and tricks we find on the “inter-webs” this isn’t mine but if it’s helpful, it’s worth sharing so…thanks to no work of my own…here ya go!
It begins with reminding ourselves of a simple fact. Since we were created in the image and likeness of God, then he’s always in us and with us. In short, we don’t need to do a lot of hard fancy stuff to get his attention because we never leave his gaze. I can’t hide from him so I can never really be lost. It’s simple but I can’t count the number of times I forget that. Remembering that is step one, step two is remembering the word WIT. This teeny word can lead us to holiness and save us from bad decisions, stupid actions and regrettable words. Here’s how it works. Jesus, live this day (or this moment; or this event; or this situation) WITH me; Live it IN me; Live itTHROUGH me. If you want the quicker version, at that split second when we’re about to gossip or lie or judge or lip off impatiently, or be afraid, what if we stopped long enough to say “Jesus, with me, in me and through me!” I’m pretty darn sure what would happen next would be a much better outcome. I spend a lot of prayer time telling him how sorry I am for all the stupid stuff I do and say and think. If I put the WIT prayer in action I’m pretty sure I’m gonna have a lot more time for saying prayers of gratitude!
A Seed To Plant: Write down the words to the WIT prayer and put it a few places you’ll notice and ask God to help you make it a frequent prayer in your day.
Blessings on your day!
So they asked him, “What are you then?”… John 1:21
I was traveling recently and the hotel stay required a several floor elevator ride. Every time I got in it, I was the only passenger so there was nothing to distract me which would have been nice because all 4 walls of the elevator were mirrors. Each time I glanced up to see which floor I was on all I saw was my reflection. Each time I caught a glimpse of myself, I thought of this question from John’s gospel. The questions asked of John go from WHO are you to WHAT are you. The second one seems a bit strange at first glance don’t you think? But when we take a good look at our discipleship, the second question becomes very important.
If someone asks “who are you” I might be quick to respond with things like; Shannon’s mom, Dave’s wife, Brandt’s teacher or Tina’s friend. I tend to focus on what I do to describe who I am. But if someone asks “what are you” it causes me to look at my vocation. What am I? I am God’s daughter. I am a Saint in the making. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am a living example of God’s love for all his children. In all honesty, my “what” needs some work! There are even times when I think about the person asking and wonder “what do they want me to be?” The problem with that kind of thinking is there is really only one opinion that matters and that isn’t always the one I seek first.
John was very honest and direct. He did not pretend to be someone or something he wasn’t. There is certainly a lesson there for me. This Gospel is the perfect reminder that what I really am, is HIS! I don’t have to pretend to be who or what the world would find impressive. Today is the day to speak the truth like John and realize what I am; God’s Beloved Daughter, and that is absolutely more than enough.
A Seed To Plant: What are you? Take a few minutes to make that list, looking through the Fathers eyes.
Blessings on your day!
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
Saint Augustine had a way of "telling it like it is"! He didn't mince words or beat around the bush he just cut to the chase and taught it like it was. Once he gave a sermon in which he proposed a kind of self-test to see if we truly love God; Suppose God proposed you a deal and said “I will give you anything you want. You can possess the whole world. Nothing will be impossible for you…nothing will be a sin, nothing forbidden. You will never die, never have pain, never have anything you do not want and always have anything you do want….except for one thing; you will never see my face.” St. Augustine closed with a question; did a chill arise in your hearts, when you heard the words, “You will never see my face”? That chill is the most precious thing in you; that is the pure love of God.
Every time I read the wise words of this story I get such a wave of desire…desire to try harder to be holy! I realize after reading St. Augustine’s words I have a renewed sense of purpose…a new strength…a new hope. I think we work so hard at doing the “right thing” maybe we forget just what we’re working for. It’s easy to get into the habit of doing good things so others will think we’re “nice”. In the words of our former parish priest, Fr. James, “nowhere in the bible are we called to be nice!” We are called to be holy, called to be uncomfortable, called to realize sometimes the Gospel’s hit us sideways…and that’s ok! We are called to do the hard work of following Christ…being His hands and feet on earth and that, as we all know, isn’t always easy. There are days, when that offer from God St. Augustine talked about seems like a great idea! Those are the times we need to set out with new energy to do His work and know it isn’t without great blessing and reward.
I read this story tonight and then I told the room full of teenagers listening, “Our number one task is to get to heaven! Everything we do, say, listen to, watch and everyone we hang out with will either help us get there, or draw us away so pay attention!” The temptation is there to think one little thing here or there won’t matter but it’s still a step away from our task. The most powerful thing I can think of to make those decisions easier is to remember what’s waiting for us in heaven…the face of God. That’s something worth fighting for…that trumps everything! We just have to remember it!
A Seed To Plant: Print the words to St. Augustine’s sermon and read them every day this week. I’m willing to bet if you let them really sink into your heart, living the Gospel message will have a new meaning!
Blessings on your day!
“For behold, I have made you small among the nations…” Jeremiah 49:15
Here’s a little fun fact for you. Each tower of the Golden Gate Bridge contains more than 600,000 rivets. That’s a lot of rivets! Now you may be wondering what on earth that has to do with anything but if you read a little further it may have a lot to do with you! This little tidbit of seemingly unimportant information grabbed my attention when it was followed by the phrase, “and not one of them does something on it’s own.”
Each rivet is absolutely important but not a single one of them demands recognition for the job they do. I’d never look at a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge and say, “Oh my, look at rivet number 432,000…isn’t that an awesome rivet!” Instead, when I look at all those rivets I realize they are an integral part of something amazing but it isn’t completely dependent on any one rivet. They each work together for a greater purpose. I offer this post today both as a reminder and as a comfort.
The reminder is about service, humility and the work we have in our discipleship. I can do all kinds of personal things to grow in holiness but if I’m not using my time, talents and treasures to serve others, I’m not a rivet thats building the Kingdom of God on earth. The Ten Commandments are divided into two groups; Love God and Love Others! We are called to do both. One rivet won’t hold up a bridge any more than one person can singlehandedly build the Kingdom. This little tidbit has given me cause to consider how important a rivet I think I really am. As I type, it’s early Sunday morning and I’m watching the sun come up through a giant airport window. It’s a stunning view and I’m so happy to be on my way to Texas to do the work he’s called me there to do, but I have to be careful not to think that makes my rivet any shinier than the next guys. After all, if they build a bridge with only one rivet who would trust it? As I think of those 6000,000 rivets, I’m reminded that strength for good work comes when the work is done by many, each doing what they are called to do, in the way they’re called to do it, all for the Glory of God not to be noticed as a standout.
The comfort of this little thought is that the weight of the task doesn’t rest completely on one person’s shoulders. We don’t have to carry the weight of the world. We don’t have to be in charge. We don’t have to know everything, understand everything, and battle all the woes of the world on our own. God surrounded us with lots of other rivets to share the journey and the work of our discipleship. We were made to be in communion with others for lots of different reasons; God is so smart! So relax, look around and find the rivets near you and trust in their support. I have the great pleasure to teach in a school made up of a group of really awesome rivets! On any given day we pray, laugh, think and sometimes cry together offering the support, love and assurance needed to build God’s Kingdom through our vocation as teachers. Look around, who are the rivets near you?
Those rivets in the Golden Gate Bridge work together to support more than 112,000 vehicles a day. I’d say that’s a fabulous example of combined effort. The question is, where is God calling me to be a rivet!
A Seed To Plant: Take some time in prayer to consider the kind of rivet God’s calling you to be. Ponder a bit on the ideas of service, humility and comfort from this simple post.
Blessings on your day!
Calling his disciples, he began sending them out two by two…Mark 6:7
This story in Mark’s Gospel is a dozen lessons all wrapped into one. It’s about trust, teamwork, awareness, truth and gratefulness. As I reflect on these verses it provides an occasion to look at my relationship with the Lord and see which pieces of my discipleship are in order and which have a few kinks! This line highlights the instructions given to a group of Christians a couple thousand years ago, but the instructions really haven’t changed and they apply to our personal discipleship all these years later.
One day a while back I opened to this passage and it was right about the time Dave and I celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary. After reading that Gospel story, I was reminded that it was a great day to celebrate the fact that God sent me out in a new way with the other part of my pair! Once we said “I Do” we headed out together to help each other trust and serve. We lead each other and help each other decide when we need to stick with something and when we need to shake the dust from our sandals and move on. When bills are high and struggles come and things don’t go like we expected, we remind each other that we have enough and God will fill in the gaps. I’m sure just like us, the disciples didn’t always see eye to eye with the other half of their pair but they had to stick to the mission. If the world tries to deceive us or our children we have to guide each other toward the truth. Together we have to discover and share the good news of Jesus with each other and those we love. Thank goodness for pairs and clear instructions!
Building his church on earth is our work but it isn’t work he intended us to do alone so it’s important to ask yourself; who is the other half of my pair? Who am I traveling and sharing my discipleship with on my journey to heaven? I heard a priest give a sermon once where he stated that we are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with. So in light of his words and this Gospel it makes me stop and consider who all my pairs are. Growing in holiness is a journey that takes great companions. In your prayers today think about your people and stop and say, “Dear Father, thank you for loving me enough to send me a helper and show me the way to know you, love you and serve you in this life so I may be happy with you in the next.”
A Seed To Plant: So, who is the other half of your pair and what are you doing together to make this world more Christ-like?
Blessings on your day!
Every man, whatsoever his condition, desires to be happy. St.
After the Saturday I had, I probably have enough thoughts to write a dozen blogs! I spent the day at the Diocese of Lansing Made for Happiness Assembly and it was an absolutely spectacular day. I sat in the MSU Breslin Center with more than 13,000 Catholics and prayed, sang, laughed and praised! The energy, the speakers, the unity, the communal prayer…it was overwhelming! We gathered as Christ’s people; members of an imperfect church but followers of a Perfect God! There was happiness, grace, healing and glorious HOPE! If I wrote about everything that’s on my heart the blog would be thousands of words long and to quote a phrase that makes me laugh, “Aint nobody got time for that!” It’s impossible for me to pick a favorite part of the day but there is a line from Fr. Mike Schmitz, priest extrodinare, that hit me like a ton of bricks. I’ve come to understand that when something hits me that hard I’m probably supposed to pay attention.
Fr. Mike was talking about Santa Claus. He spoke about the times as a child he begged his mom to take him to see Santa. He didn’t want to just write a letter, he wanted to SEE Santa. Looking back he realized that he didn’t really care about the man Santa, he only cared about what Santa could do for him. Seeing Santa meant asking in person for presents and then receiving them simply because he asked for them. He had no real regard for Santa himself, only what he could give him. As he was talking I could vividly remember my brothers and I getting ready to go to White Lakes Mall in Topeka, KS to see Santa. I remember what an outing it was and how exciting it was. It was probably the only car trip all year where the boys and I didn’t argue and poke each other and irritate the snot out of our parents. The memory made me smile. But then came the bombshell, he asked how many of us ever saw God that way. Ugh! The reality of my answer was heavy. I’ve been reflecting on this for over 24 hours and it’s definitely become something I realize I need to work on.
I get excited about the idea of God. I spend time in prayer and I try to do things that please him but I have to ask myself why? Am I just trying to win his favor so he will give me what I ask for in prayer. Do I go to him trying to “butter him up” so I can make up for the times I truly don’t pick up my cross? Do I turn to him when things are hard and disappointing and temptation knocks loudly or do I do what I want and then go to him a few days later and act all “buddy buddy in my prayer.” It left me asking myself where my true intentions and commitment were. I truly do want to join him among the Communion of Saints but do I work for it, I mean really work for it or do I expect heaven to be his great gift to me even if I haven’t been a loyal disciple. Do I want him enough to defend him or share his story in public? Do I love him enough to trust him and follow him and be uncomfortable as he works in my life? Do I listen for his voice or drown him out with my own thoughts? Am I willing to surrender everything to him and admit I am perfectly made and adored by my creator? I can’ just be excited about the idea, I have to live the idea. I have to love him above all because of what he HAS given me, not just for what I want him to give me. Sheesh, thank you Fr. Mike for a big heap of stuff to work on…it might not make me FEEL better but it sure will make me BE better. (thanks for that line too!)
A Seed To Plant: If the Santa story touched your heart, please spend the week praying about it and see where he leads you.
Blessings on your day!
The page has turned to August which means I made my first trip to my classroom. There are still a few weeks of vacation left but the eighth month on the calendar signals something in my heart to begin again. It’s time to rediscover! Rediscover which cupboard I shoved my stuff in, rediscover the excitement of a fresh start and rediscover my love for this work I’m called to do. Todays guest blogger is one of the boys but there is an problem; I don’t know which one. This post is the electronic equivalent of forgetting to put your name on your paper. There are a few in my inbox with no name and since I can’ t hold up the papers to see who belongs to each one, and since it’s electronic and I can’t tell by the handwriting, I’ll just have to say this guest blogger is an amazing, anonymous writer. His points about knowledge and discovery seem to be the perfect fit for the beginning of August.
If you forgive others trespasses your heavenly father will also forgive you. Matthew 6:14
Every time I entered the church while reading the book Rediscover Jesus, by Matthew Kelly, I asked myself, “What does Rediscover Jesus mean?” Since I finished the book I’ve been thinking about all I learned. I realize that just like Matthew Kelly says, knowing about Jesus isn’t the same as truly knowing and loving Jesus. That part seems pretty important.
A great example is going to mass. Sometimes we don’t want to go to mass because we don’t truly know Jesus. Sometimes we don’t want to do the right thing because it’s hard and because we don’t truly know Jesus. I can learn stuff about Jesus but that’s not the same as learning to really know him. Since he changes, depending on how much we need him and what we’re going through, we have to rediscover him again and again
I think the important thing I learned is that if you rediscover Jesus, your life will change for the better. You will grow as a catholic, and a disciple. Since then I’ve thought about the whole book I realized that if you rediscover Jesus, you forgive, you help, and you love others just as Jesus intended. Rediscovering Jesus is like knowing and acting…that’s harder but it sure changes you!
A seed to plant: Next time you enter the church, think to yourself “Do I really know Jesus or do I just know of him?”
Blessings on your day!
Psalm 139 reminds us we are fearfully and wonderfully made. In other words, we are perfect in the eye of our Creator. That seems like a simple enough announcement but yet, we spend so many minute trying to be like, look like or in some way act like someone else. Today seems like the perfect day to take a look at ourselves through the Father’s eyes. Lets take notice of who we’re trying to follow and say thank you for our gifts instead of wanting someone else's. Todays guest blogger has the perfect post to get us started!
Todays post is brought to you by a genuine, huge hearted, young leader named Kash. This impressive young man was instrumental in getting the whole book study started, and his leadership with this project truly made a difference in our classroom!
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus” Philippians 2:5
I really love football. My favorite player is Tom Brady because he is such a great quarterback. When we got this assignment and I was praying about what I was going to write about, I saw this scripture verse, it all clicked together. I realized I shouldn’t strive to be like a great athlete. Being like Tom Brady wan’t important; I thought instead, I should strive to be a great disciple. I am not saying you shouldn’t play sports, I am saying if you play sports you should always praise God and thank him for the gifts he gave you.
We should strive to be like Jesus. One way we can do this is go to mass. Another thing we can do is go to confessions so God can forgive us. After he forgives you praise him and thank him for taking your sins away.
God wants us to use the gifts he gave us. Thank God for all of the gifts you have and praise him.
A Seed To Plant: Some time today make a list of 5 gifts God has given you and be sure to tell him thank you!
Blessings on your day!
Thank you Kash…you’re amazing!
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