How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news… Isaiah 52:7
I have a lot to thank God for every day! I’m thankful for a really great mom. She taught me more lessons than I can count. Sometimes her lessons were gentle and sweet other lessons were swift and to the point! I could always count on her to tell me what she thought and the important stuff was usually delivered without sugar on top! I was always so proud to be her daughter and I’d like to think I have some of her great “Barb-isms” within me. I loved the bond we shared and when she died, I missed that mother daughter relationship terribly. But, as usual, God showed how smart and loving he truly is and he gave me a daughter. Funny thing, after two sons, I was perfectly content with the thought of having another son, but along came a daughter and I haven’t stopped thanking him for her since the day she arrived. I love my sons, but my life suddenly felt complete again the first time I said, “I have a daughter”.
I love my Shannie B for so many reasons, but her faith, compassion and sweetness top the list. In this blog I often quote famous saints, saintly people or regular people trying their hardest to be saintly. I’m always looking for scripture and teachings to share so we can all examine our discipleship and grow closer to the Father. This week the inspiration came from a Facebook post and it’s the simple wisdom and raw truth of a young woman slugging her way through nursing school. In spite of the stress and struggle that come with trying to follow God’s plan to become a nurse, she invites him in and asks him to guide her path when she’d too overwhelmed to find her way. She sees her clinical work as her vocation, not her assignment. She sees it as a chance to grow in holiness not just a chance to get a grade. I’m so proud of my daughter the nursing student and her words in this simple post are good medicine for all of our souls! Compliments of an overwhelmed but very trusting young woman, I offer you her simple advice…
“Far better to simply "Be your message" Live it! Radiate it! Be an Inspiration! Nursing School has been anything but easy but when I realize that people all around me want goodness, whether that's people in the hospital marking their last days of life or those walking around Franciscan's campus, they don't want it from a cute quote on Instagram or a cliche comment saying it'll all be okay...they seek goodness from me and from YOU, a real live person who actually puts those quotes into action so "Be Your Message" today, you never know whose watching”
A Seed To Plant: What is your message? Ask God what message he wants you to deliver through your words and actions today.
Blessings on your day!
I have called you by your name, giving you a title, though you knew me not. Isaiah 45:4
I had an amazing mom! However, she did sometimes call my brothers and I by the wrong name; which was highly curious since I look nothing like a Jim or a Joe. This little habit was something I said I’d never do as a mom. Unfortunately, I did it too, more times than I could count. Thank goodness we are loved by a Father who created us and calls us by name; the right name.
There is power in our name and we take pride in our titles; they’re a big part of our earthly identity. If I speak to my class and say “hey you” the response is very different than if I call a student by name. The Father doesn’t just know our name, he knows us; every gift, talent, struggle, sin and quirk. The title he has given us declares boldly and mightily his love for us; our title is; HIS beloved child. We don’t have to take a test, write an essay or prove anything to claim the title. We simply have to recognize that we are his beloved and spend each day getting to know him more deeply and love him more adoringly.
Our Father is so amazing we should set aside some time each day to discover something new about the One who created us, inspires us and calls us by name. The Father doesn’t call us by name because we’re famous or popular, he is personally inviting us to go forth and share his good news and demonstrate his love and mercy to others.
A Seed To Plant: Thank the Lord for loving you enough to know you by your name. Lord, help me remember how precious I am to you and grant me the grace to proclaim your name to those around me. For bonus points; say hello to ten people today and use their name.
Blessings on your day!
As one whom his mother comforts so I will comfort you. Isaiah 66:13
As I was driving in the car today pondering the current state of my motherhood, the song “Dear Younger Me” came on the radio and I was immediately a puddle of tears. My baby girl turned 21 on Saturday and it’s always a special day because she shares her birthday with my grandma. Grandma died just a few days short of her 90th birthday so when Shannon arrived on what would have been her Great Grandmas 90th birthday, I felt like God had given me an extra special gift. When my beautiful Irish aunts all told me Shannon was sent to take Grandma’s place, I felt extra grace to help her become as faithful, joyful and kind as the amazing woman she shares her special day with.
Fast forward 21 years and my babies are all grown up now. I blubbered a bit as I looked at their baby pictures, choosing just the right one to post on Facebook, but they weren’t tears of sadness or grief…they were tears of joy, relief and thankfulness. Joy that we have three adult children we are very proud of and that we really enjoy. Relief that we survived drivers training, orthodontics, awkward middle school stuff and discovering the path God picked for each of them. And thankfulness for all the graces, gray hair, lessons in patience and proud mamma moments along the way.
I took all that to Mass with me and watched a sight I’ve seen many many times unfold before my eyes. Mass had just begun when I spotted her…you’ve all seen her…that mom with the little one who at moments has the strength of Hercules. You know the mom I’m talking about…the one who walks in with a load of kids and stuff and looks exhausted before we even stand for the opening hymn. My heart is always touched by the moms who desperately want to look put together but all too often they rush out of their house wearing the only outfit that will fit over their beautiful body that is still shaped a little differently after bringing forth another miracle. I look across the aisle and see the mom who tried to do her hair in the 2.5 minutes she had to get herself ready after wrangling up all her little lovelies only to have it all messed up, pulled down and chewed on by the soggy fisted wee one in her arms. I notice the mom who had an extra 30 seconds and decided to accessorize only to have her beautiful necklace become a chew toy. I see the mom who is wearing her favorite color in the hopes of brightening up her tired complexion only to have it decorated with stripes of spit up down the front and back. I see the moms who are trying every thing they know from pacifiers to board books to cheerios and goldfish to keep their little one quiet in church but they end up frazzled, stared at and sporting the tell tale sweaty lip before mass is even half over.
As I thought back to my “young me” I decided she had some things to say. After nearly a quarter century of being a mom, here’s what I’d like the mom with the sweaty lip to know. You are beautiful and the fact that you got out of sweats or yoga pants and made it to mass with your family makes Jesus smile; don’t worry about the cranky person two pews back who doesn’t know that. I want you to know that growing babies leaves evidence; on your hips, belly and thighs and it’s BEAUTIFUL! You are beautiful because you are a walking sacrifice…every day. Women often give up flat bellies, tight buns and perky anything so another human can enter the world and then feel bad because they don’t look like they did when they were 16. Each roll and lump and wiggle tells the story of your YES to life. Just so you know, there are no body size specifications for entering heaven.
I wish the younger me would have know that babies are loud, they smell bad and they are messy…usually in public! They are also cute, funny, amazing and holy in the eyes of the Father who perfectly created them and gave them specifically to you! Our world is pretty crazy and bringing our wee ones to church is the greatest security measure we can offer their soul. They belong there and you belong there! We need you there, and the Father needs you there. You may walk out the door and not be able to recall a word the priest said, but the graces will be granted because you were there with your babies, trying to worship and praise God with your church family. That's what we’re called to do and he certainly doesn’t expect us or the infant and toddler we’re toting along to be perfect but present.
I see you tired and frazzled and wondering if it was all worth it and the older me says “YES IT IS! Please don’t stop coming to church!” I see you sweat, I see the spit up, I see your patience sometimes fade but more than all that I see your faithfulness, your hopefulness and your absolutely stunning beauty. I remember it and I needed you to know some days I’d like it all back. I’d like you to know that it won’t last forever. I’ve never seen a 12 year old ask for goldfish, a sippy cup or a story book during the homily. Someday you will return to outfits that match and accessories and hair do’s that are stylish and lovely, but for now, just revel in the fact that you are doing the greatest job on earth…being a faithful mom whose trying to help her kids get to heaven. So wipe the sweat from your lip, buy a comfortable outfit and sit by people like me who will reach out to take your baby or make faces at your toddler to try and entertain them while you take a breath.
A Seed To Plant: If you aren’t a mom, share this post with someone who is and most of all, be the one who makes that young mom with the sweaty lip feel supported, loved, welcomed! Next time you see that mom in church, instead of scowling or judging, say a little prayer for her and ask the Peace of Christ to come over her and the little one she’s desperately trying to keep from distracting you.
Blessings on your day!
…behold, I am making all things new…Isaiah 21:5
As the calendar ticks away to the end of July, teachers everywhere are beginning to scurry. The back to school mind is beginning to plan and organize and prepare. I suppose most of the non-teacher world, sees summer for us as a multi week vacation. That would be partly true, but not completely. For me, and most of the other teachers I know, it’s a time to reflect and re-work the parts of our curriculum that didn’t quite reach the students the way we’d hoped. It’s a time to read and prepare for changes and fresh ideas, all targeted at engaging students and helping them grow. It’s also a time to catch up on projects. Today was the day I tackled my last big project for the summer; painting and redecorating the bathroom.
When I got started this morning, I was optimistic because the bathroom is the smallest room in the house so I thought I could have it wrapped up by afternoon. Well, one thing led to another and by the time I re-painted the vanity and spray painted the towel holders and light fixtures and then got to the walls, it was dinnertime. I had such high hopes for a quick and uneventful project. Well, the walls are painted, but the drawers are all out of the vanity and the ladder is still in the bathtub. The room looks like an F2 tornado passed through and there are little bits of toilet paper stuck to the floor where i bumped over my paint pan and when I stood up to wipe things up, I knocked down the toilet paper roll and it of course, rolled right through the paint splatters. I finally just turned off the light and called it a day. Instead of feeling relieved and satisfied with a job well done, I realize I get to rise and shine in the morning and give it another go! I’ll have to hold off on my shiny new bathroom until tomorrow.
As I was standing in the kitchen cooking supper I had to snicker a little. I was all huffy because the day didn’t follow my plan and turn out the way I had organized it in my mind. I had a schedule and I wanted that item checked off my list today! I wanted to look at my pretty new towels and shower curtain and clean, freshly painted walls right now…not tomorrow! I think I’ve been down that road before! It wasn’t good enough for me to realize that at some point tomorrow, I will have everything I wished for. The little toddler in me came peeking out because I didn’t get my way. Then, I felt that tender tug at my heart which was the Father trying to help me understand he had a lesson for me today.
God says “behold I make things new”. He does that with his perfectly timed answers to our prayers but we get impatient like I did with the bathroom project. If I would have rushed and re-hung everything, I wouldn’t have given the paint the proper time to dry and cure in this humid weather. I would have ended up ruining something in my haste. I realized how many times I try to rush the Father and jump to the end before I’ve allowed him the time to work things for his purpose. I will be patient and tomorrow, probably before lunchtime, I will behold a new bathroom and I will be happy. As I finish up tomorrow, you can bet I’ll take my time and do careful work knowing that the Father who loves me will be doing exactly the same thing.
A Seed To Plant: Be like Jesus, take some time to go off alone and pray. Offer your list of places you’d like to invite the Father to make you new and then patiently wait for his intercession!
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.
A year ago, I was at a teachers meeting and the speaker said, “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,
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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