…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion…Philippians 1:6
Every so often, something so amazing happens in our classroom that I feel like I should sign my paycheck over to the kids! Last week I had one of those days! It started as a simple job, but it turned into something so inspiring! Ash Wednesday, all my female middle lovelies were singing like angels in the school choir and all the boys were asked by our friend Beth to help unpack and display all the Lenten Prayer Books available for parishioners. When the boys returned to the classroom, a few of them had a copy of Matthew Kelly’s book, Rediscovering Jesus. They were so excited to have a copy. I was pleased that they were interested in the book but didn’t give it a whole lot more thought. At the end of the day, I heard the boys who had grabbed the book having a discussion. Since the book had 40 short chapters, they decided to read one each day of Lent and discuss the questions at the end of each chapter at morning recess. I was stunned! The next morning, right before recess, they cracked open the book and began discussing the questions. At the sight of that, the rest of the boys decided to join them. There was a quick run to church to grab more copies of the book and discuss the plans for their “Boys book study.”
The girls in the room were watching and listening just like I was and one of them ask if they could do a book study too. With all the sweetness and sincerity they could muster, one of them told me that it was the boys idea and they didn’t want to “steal” their book. I promised to go on Amazon that night and pick something for them to start next week. I am ditching part of my lesson plans for the next few weeks so they can put their full effort into a Lenten book designed to help them grow in holiness. When they left the room that day, I flopped down in my chair and I just started to cry. I don’t know if I’ve ever been prouder of a group of students! I am so inspired by them. What they did was absolutely unprompted by an adult, it wasn’t suggested, offered, assigned or instigated by a big person…it was just some 12 year olds who wanted to make Lent a time to grow closer to Christ.
These kids are amazing, they come from fabulous homes and they are surrounded by a community that prays for and supports them and boy does it show! I’m old; I have degrees and I’ve been to seminars and trainings and workshops but I am so often outdone by the faith and spirit of the kids I get to spend my days with! I don’t know if they will process the books the same way an adult will; I don’t know how in-depth their discussions will be; I don’t know if they will find the text difficult and frustrating at times but I believe the words of St. Paul to the Philippians and I know he will complete the good work he started with these amazing kids who fill the seats in room 6-1. I think it’s fair to say…the teacher just got schooled…and for that I am grateful!
A Seed To Plant: Be like these amazing kids…pick up a book and grow in holiness as you take 40 days to work your way through it. There will be grace!
Blessings on your day!
…and your Father who sees…Matthew 6:6
Happy Lent! Welcome to that time of year when we set out with all our hearts to grow in holiness. For me, it’s easy to look at the road to holiness and feel a little overwhelmed because I get so off track. It’s easy for me to look at lent as a time to “bear down” and do some really hard stuff to show Jesus I’m so thankful for all he did. My intentions are good but I read something today that was so very simple and so very powerful that it adjusted my thinking in a beautiful way..
One of the prayer books I was reading mentioned that three times in Ash Wednesday’s Gospel it said “The Father Sees.” Clear back in the book of Genesis he looked around and saw that it was good. How did I miss that? I’ve heard that Gospel on Ash Wednesday dozens of times and never caught that! More years that not, I set out to do some crazy long list of stuff in order to “make up” for all my shortcomings the rest of the year. Lent certainly has a penitential feel and purpose but it’s not a time to lock ourselves in a personal dungeon and be crabby and miserable for 6 weeks.
I think I wanted to do hard stuff so Jesus would see me and notice all the sacrifice and love and suffering. The author of this little article pointed out so clearly, the Father sees…he sees ALL THE TIME and he sees us with such love and mercy. It made me think of a chubby cheeked baby and how I just want to kiss their face off when I see one! I believe the Father looks at us that way every…singe…time! He’s always looking, he doesn’t miss a thing so that realization changed the way I thought about Lent this year. The point is not to get the Father’s attention; not to get him to look at me and the hard stuff I’m doing. The point is to get ME to look at HIM!
One of the things I decided to work on this Lent was speaking patiently. Sometimes people say silly stuff and it can be tough to resist the eye roll or stare or “Way to go Captain Obvious” attitude. Today was one of those days when I had many opportunities to practice this Lenten Promise. It was easier to do today because each time I wanted to react badly, I looked up first and quickly said, “Lord I see you and I will try to be like you.” The wave of patience that washed over me each time I did that was amazing.
If you’ve ever taken children to the pool, you know how many times they can say “hey watch this” in thirty minutes. That was the way I did Lent; hey Jesus, look at me I’m not eating chocolate or hey Jesus did you see that I went to an extra daily mass today, wasn’t that good of me, doesn’t that count for extra? It was almost like a giant score card and Lent was the bonus round! Now, I realize it’s me watching him. It sure takes a lot of the pressure off! My biggest Lenten task is to do the things that help me fix my gaze on him. If I’m looking to him and I know he’s looking at me, that influences my choices and attitudes; that helps me grow in holiness.
A Seed To Plant: Look at your Lenten list, what things are there that will help you look at Jesus the way he looks at you?
Blessings on your day!
…’You are My servant, I have chosen you and not rejected you.’ Isaiah 41:9
I love choices; I don’t need a lot of choices but having more than one option is a very good thing. I love apple pie, but if I had the choice of apple pie or pecan pie I would absolutely choose pecan! Sometimes making the right choice is a no brainer; like pecan over apple but sometimes it’s tricky! Last week I had a God thump that made me think of choices in a new light.
Friday the middle lovelies were sitting at mass with our kindergarten buddies and I was helping the little guy next to me find the right page in the song book. Once we found it, he wanted me to point to the words as we sang. The song was familiar and a school mass favorite. Honestly, if it hadn’t been for the little one next to me, I wouldn’t have even had to pick up the book. God had a plan! My favorite lines from this song are, “my hearts one desire is to be holy, set apart for You Lord, I want to be holy, ready to do your will’ great words right. I’ve belted them out just like that dozens of times but Friday as I pointed to each word with my fingers for my buddy, God thumped me as I read not “I want to be holy” but “I CHOOSE to be holy.” That one word made a huge difference.
The difference between want and choose is action, responsibility and work. I can want to be holier or thinner or more prayerful and patient. I can want all I want and it just remains a wish or a dream. If I choose to be those things, that means I have to do something about it. It reminded me of something my mom used to say when we whined about something being hard or not going our way. She would say, “Well child, why don’t you wish in one hand and spit in the other and see which one gets full faster. Nothing gets done until you get busy.”
Lent is less than a week away and I am asking and praying about my plans. The ultimate goal of the Lenten Season is to help us grow in holiness. The big question I’ve been pondering and praying about is; do I want to grow in holiness or do I choose to grow in holiness? If I just want it, I can guarantee I will sit in church on Good Friday weeping because I’m in the same place I was on Ash Wednesday. If I want things to be different I have to choose to make them different. I have to take action and not just wish for change. That puts a different light on things. It takes away the try and replaces it with a do. I don’t know about you but my Lent can use more DOING and CHOOSING! I’m not quite sure what he’s leading me to on this years Lenten Journey but I do know I will have to make some choices and I’m pretty sure they won’t be as easy as pecan over apple! Lord, help me see and choose!
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of the things that get in the way of your holiness. Now circle a few and pray over them the next few days asking God to help you CHOOSE the ones he wants to help you tackle this Lent.
Blessings on your day!
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