Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light on my path. Psalm 119:105
I’m not sure I can even describe how happy I was to go back to mass this weekend. It was so good to see students I’ve missed and friends I’ve only seen from a distance. It was a sunny, chilly morning and sitting in my lawn chair with my family made my heart so happy! I don’t think I fully realized how much I missed it, until mass began and so did the tears. As I sat there soaking it all in, I asked the Holy Spirit to give me a direction for the blog because it was so overwhelming I didn’t even know where to begin. There was so much to see and feel and take in I got a little distracted. Father Eric was about mid way through his homily and two words popped out like the were yelled straight into my ear and I just giggled. The Holy Spirit was making extra sure I was paying attention to the direction he was pointing out.
I am very aware of the division, fear, sadness, anger and disruption that seems to be woven into everything these days. A simple scrap of fabric or a distance of seventy-two inches can drive a wedge between us. Common ground is tough to establish right about now and opinions are more plentiful than the spring dandelions that pop up overnight. I wish there was an answer or a cure or a solution but we are smack dab in the middle of a very uncomfortable time. Maybe thats not all bad though. Uncomfortable is what causes us to change; everything from uncomfortable clothes and shoes to uncomfortable attitudes and relationships. I think it’s time to realize change has to begin personally…in each of us. We can’t keep blaming people and groups and organizations. We can’t control a darn one of them…but ourselves…that we can do something about. But how? That’s where Fr. Eric’s two words come into play. If we want to change, to heal, to move from this place of fear and discomfort we need two things. We need leaven and light.
Each week I bake bread so the word leaven was a very powerful image to me. Every week I plop that blob of dough in the bottom of the silver bowl and set it to rest. An hour later I return to see the magic and the mystery of leaven because that same blob is now light, airy and peeking over the rim of the bowl. I don’t know really know how it works but I know that leavening or lifting up is powerful and transformative. I had to pause and ask myself who I was lifting up or leavening these days. As I check my newsfeed or see the latest red ticker news scroll across the TV, are my thoughts of lifting others up or squashing something down. It also occurred to me that God will be the one doing all the heavy lifting, I just need to focus on his children that need a little leaven. If I spent as much time thinking about, writing, texting, calling or mailing a card to someone who needed a little lift as I did complaining, fussing, worrying and pontificating about everyone who is wrong and out of control, not only would I be lifted up but so would others. How many times have I stopped and said, God, this is nuts, I trust you to do something there while I find someone in my own neighborhood or community who needs a visit, a bouquet of lilacs or a plate of fresh cookies? And speaking of lifting or leavening, I had to ask myself about my prayers. I think I’m guilty of leaving my worries, fears and disappointments in the bottom of that bowl to sit. Sometimes I roll them around in my head like I roll that dough on the counter. I have to remind myself that I can’t just sit with them, wallowing in them and letting them sit heavy on my heart. I have to lift them up to the One who has the power to lift, transform and bring new life.
The thing about fear is that it brings darkness. The destruction is happening in our cities in the darkness. The anger and rage is coming from the darkest parts of fear and rebellion. In the darkness you can’t find peace or joy or hope. Those are the things that come in the light and the light of Christ dispels all darkness. The light Christ came to bring was meant for all humanity and it conquers all fear. The thing about light, is that one little lamp can spread and pierce darkness all around. I walked into our new house that is under construction one evening last week and it was getting a little dark outside. Instinctively, the first thing I did as I opened the door was reach to hit the light switch. I giggled at the habit because there are no switches yet. I remembered that while Father Eric was talking about light and wondered what would happen if our response to bad news and crisis was to simply pray “Jesus, shine your light of peace.” as quickly as I reached to hit that light switch. What if we used our smile, our thoughtfulness, our generosity and our prayer to shine the Light of Christ into the darkness we hear about. Again, God does the heavy work, we just have to ask him to turn on the switch. The second prayer for us should be, “Lord, make me a light to shine your love.”
As we try to be the leaven and the light, the Holy Spirit will clearly direct us. If we simply say, “Lord show me where to lift and be light.” He will give you very clear directions. The amazing side blessing to that is we become so tuned in to the direction of the Holy Spirit and the people he’s asking us to share the leaven and the light with, we forget about the mess around us because we’re focused on HIM and on OTHERS. That my friends, is how we begin to bring good out of ugly.
A Seed To Plant: Take a minute to pray and ask the Father to show you 3 people today that need a little lift and a little light.
Blessings on your day!
Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:16
Next week was listed on the school calendar as “Spring Break” week. Like most folks, I had a list of things, places and people to fill the week and like everyone else, the schedule looks completely different. Never in a million years would I have listed my number one spring break activity as making protective face masks for my daughter the nurse but you can bet my sewing machine will be humming! As we begin to navigate our way through these different days we have to remember to anchor ourselves in hope and peace.
But how? It sure sounds great but how do we settle our souls in such an uncertain time. I’ve been praying a lot about that and two powerful prayers came to mind. They came in one of those “wake up you knucklehead” kind of moments. They aren't new and one of them is a prayer that has gotten our communities through some tough stuff in the past so I thought I’d dust them off and offer them to all those of us trying to find our faithful balance.
The first prayer for us to grab on to is that powerful 4 line prayer based on the writings of St. Francis DeSales…I Cant, You Can, You Promised, Please Do. Here’s what it looks like right about now…
*I Can’t…I can’t imagine how this will all turn out, I can’t stop thinking about how my family will stay healthy, I can’t figure out how it got so crazy, I can’t get past the fear of getting sick, I can’t imagine how God could let this happen, I can’t get used to everything that’s so different, I can’t process all the disappointments.
*You Can…You can bring peace, you can bring healing, you can strengthen us, you can protect us, you can give us the grace to weather this storm, you can grant eternal life to your faithful, you can do exactly what needs to be done to accomplish the plans only you can know, you can be trusted to love us through this because you’ve already been where we are.
*You Promised…you promised to be with us, to guide us, to bring life, to comfort and shelter us and you promised to lead us to Our Heavenly Father.
*Please Do…please bless us with peace, bring us strength, build up our trust, take care of us. Please do all that we need to grow in our faith and trust in your mercy.
Each time you feel the worry, fear, disappointment or uncertainty hanging over your head like a dark cloud, take these four lines and use them to craft a conversation with the Father filling in all the things on your heart. Tell God what you need, what you want and give him permission to come into your heart right where you are. It’s ok if it’s a little dark or angry or doubtful; he’s seen it all and he wants to be invited in to all of it because he loves us with the most tender, precious love we can imagine.
The second prayer has three parts. We ASK, we OFFER and we ACCEPT. It might go something like this…
*Lord I ask you to come into my fear or doubt or worry. I ask you to be present to me and make me aware of your presence.
*Lord I offer this suffering to you. I offer you my confusion or lack of patience with my children or my sadness in missing my friends and family. Whatever it is, offer it to him. It might seem like we’re offering him a pretty lousy gift but he’s delighted to take what we offer him.
*Lord, I accept this situation. I accept whatever blessings and grace you will grant me or my family or my community.
As we ask, offer and accept we demonstrate faith, surrender, trust and obedience. In those three simple statements we give God permission and we cooperate with his perfect love. We can pray this prayer dozens of times a day. We can pray it when the kids are getting along and there is peace and we can pray it when they’re fussing. We can pray it during those moments when we feel his grace working in our life. You can pray it for the good stuff and for the bad stuff. He wants to be a part of it all. In praying this little prayer we make sure not to waste any suffering and it can be a sign of our gratitude.
Hold fast to these two simple prayers when your heart is troubled and when you notice all the moments of beauty in the midst of the mess. Make no mistake, he’s right there for all of it.
A Seed To Plant: Jot down these two prayers and put them in a couple of places so you remember to lean on them and the peace and hope they will bring.
Blessings on your day!
Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28
I love rocking chairs and my favorite place to rock is outside on a porch or a deck. When I have the chance to sit and rock, there is a peace and calm that just seem to wash over me. It’s funny how quickly you fall into a gentle rhythm when you rock; something often missing from the chaos of our days. There are a lot of things we do quickly but rocking in a rocking chair isn’t really one of them. Its funny how just a few minutes of gently moving back and forth can cause you to slow your roll and breathe.
In all honesty, I’ve never really thought too much about rocking until this weekend. I was sitting in a rocking chair on a patio looking out at the dry Texas Prairie. I was just taking in all the beauty of the redish brown dirt and dry landscape. I noticed as I rocked that it was so flat I could see for miles. I sat there just soaking it all in watching a couple of rabbits hopping around amongst the rose bushes. It was dry and hot but the wind was blowing a bit so I didn’t really notice the heat. The view was beautiful in its own way. As I rocked, it occurred to me that just last weekend I was rocking in West Virginia and the view was so very different. As I rocked last weekend I looked out on the tree covered mountains. Everything was green and there were flowers of every color within my view. From that rocker I could also see and hear two beautiful fountains. I remember just sitting there soaking it all in until the mosquitoes chased me inside.
As I rocked away in West Texas thinking about rocking in West Virginia I thought about rocking on my own front porch looking out at the corn field as we chatted with the neighbors who stopped by for a visit. This summer I’ve rocked in a lot of different places. I got the chance to rock on the porch with my dad and my brother who live more than 600 miles away. I’ve rocked and prayed. I’ve rocked and laughed. I’ve rocked and sipped hot coffee. And last night I rocked and cried as I prayed for the soul of my good friends dad who lost his battle with cancer. This summer I’ve rocked babies to sleep and listened to the tales of my favorite new nurse. As I type this blog on a late night flight back home to Michigan I realized the Father has used something I love to teach me something important.
As I pondered all my “rocking” it occurred to me that those times stick so vividly in my mind because the all have something in common. I slowed down and opened my eyes to what was around me. In the slow gentle rhythm of the rocker I was able to soak in the beauty of my surroundings. I was able to soak in the presence of those rocking with me. I was able to just be still, shut up and take in all in. When I think about it, I was really seeing God and his goodness in the Texas prairie and the West Virginia mountains and the Clinton County corn and in the sleepy baby Francis and the giggly baby Silas. I felt the love of God as I laughed and prayed with family and friends. In a rocker I am reminded of the slow and gentle ways God is a part of the rhythm of every moment of every day. The trick however is to slow down and recognize it.
I love how fancy God gets sometimes with his lessons. It would have been so easy for him to make something in my life come to a crazy screeching halt to teach me to slow down but instead he let me learn while enjoying some beautiful stuff and people all while rocking in my chair. Is he great or what!
A Seed To Plant: Take a few minutes this week and sit in a rocking chair. Let yourself slow down and allow God grant you some peace.
Blessings on your day!
“I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.” Proverbs 8:17
The day was so beautiful it caught me by surprise. I was driving to Indianapolis to pick up my girlie and about thirty minutes into the drive I had this overwhelming feeling of peace and gratitude. The weather was perfect. Blue sky, no humidity, bright sun and 75 degrees. The day couldn’t have been more perfect. In the quiet of my drive I realized that I had no impending deadlines, no yucky task that was pressing on my time and nowhere else I’d rather be at the moment. I couldn’t help but smile; one of those really deep smiles that comes from somewhere down around your knee caps! I just started to pray in gratitude for all the things that made it a perfect day.
As I was soaking it all in, my mind wandered to all those I love who are suffering. Families with sick loved ones and families facing tough decisions and folks knee deep in grief and struggle. I prayed for them one by one as they popped into my mind and wished they could be with me, enjoying the perfect day I was right in the middle of. The emotion of their pain and struggle washed over me and I felt it in my heart but after praying for each one, my mind and my heart went back to the perfect day God had laid out for me.
After another hundred miles I said out loud in my car, “Man I wish every day could be like this!” I smiled and drove on for a while and then it hit me. If every day was like this one, I wouldn’t be struck by the peace and I wouldn’t notice the perfection of such an ordinary day. Nothing was spectacular about the day. I hadn’t won anything, I didn’t have more money than I had the day before and the world was still full of pockets of ugly but the day was a gift. As I kept driving I realized that the purpose of days like this was to fill my soul with the grace, love, presence and tenderness of My Father for days that weren’t like this one.
I soaked it all up and in my mind I bottled it up to put away like a treasure in my heart and the next time the day isn’t so lovely or easy or perfect I’ll remember this day and know that more will come. I’ll remember what it felt like and what a gift it was and know it can’t last forever but then again neither can the yucky days. I’m grateful for the day and I’m curious about how many others there have been along the way that I missed. Mostly I just thanked him for the glory of a perfect ordinary day!
A Seed To Plant: Think about a day that was a perfect ordinary day and ask God to help you put that memory like a treasure in your heart to save for a day you need it.
Blessings on your day!
…shake the dust from your feet…Luke 9:5
My mom used to have a famous line. She’d pull it out any time I was trying to make a big decision or plan something. Instead of telling me what to do, she would say, “Well, you could do that but then what happens if…” She would let me think and ponder and look at different sides of the issue. She might repeat that statement a dozen times as I worked my way through the possibilities. She taught me to think about the possibilities and the consequences and then she let me see them through. She was such a wise woman! Today it seems that there is no shortage of folks who want to tell each of us exactly what we should believe and do and think and support. I’m beginning to see two really big problems with that. First, they aren’t offering balanced information steeped in truth and mercy and second, too many folks are letting others do their thinking for them, believing anything they hear.
As I’ve prayed and ached a little over the past couple of weeks about things happening in the news, I was searching for some truth and peace. As always, God pointed me to a passage I’d read dozens of times, but he helped me see it with different eyes. The passage is from Luke’s Gospel and it brought peace and clarity to the mess filling up my newsfeed. When Jesus sent out the disciples their job was to bring the message of love, peace and hope. They weren’t asked to beat people with a stick until they believed exactly what they told them to believe. They were speaking truth and planting seeds. All to often today if someone doesn’t believe what we believe things turn twenty shades of ugly!
Jesus told the disciples if they and the peace the brought with them was not accepted or welcomed they were to shake the dust from their feet and move on. Nowhere in this Gospel did Jesus tell them to stay and beat folks silly until they agreed. He didn’t instruct them to shame, belittle or humiliate them, just shake the dust and move along. He also didn’t teach them to move to the next house and bad mouth the place they weren’t welcomed. It was a simple, gentle motion, shake and go. But before they shook and left, they gave the peace of Christ. It made me wonder how many times we get into an argument and desire the other persons holiness or offer them the peace of Christ?
The other thing that struck me was the dust. Dust is dirt right? And things grow in dirt right? So while they gently shook the dust and moved past, what was left in the dust? The disciples left in that dust seeds of peace, seeds of compassion, seeds of gentleness. As they quietly slipped away they demonstrated what Christ taught us; love one another. I wonder how many times the disciples shook the dust from their sandals and those left behind were inspired by their example of gentleness and non-judgement? I wonder how many people pondered on it and changed their attitude or behavior? I wonder how many through the seeds left in the dust actually came to follow Jesus after all?
As I’ve prayed with this Gospel for several days I’m reminded of that famous line from St. Teresa of Calcutta; the thing that needs to change most in this world if it is to be more peaceful and Christ like is ME! I suppose it would be a great idea if we did a little more dust shaking and less tongue wagging and finger pointing. And I know I need to work harder at desiring the holiness of all those people in the news making me crazy. My words for the week…shake, peace and plant seeds of hope in the dust!
A Seed To Plant: Read Luke 9:1-6 and see if the Lord has some direction for you in regards to creating peace on earth.
Blessings on your day!
As adults, one of our primary objectives is to take care of our children and keep them safe. As a parent and teacher there have been lots of moments spent pondering the “best way” to break bad news to kids. We don’t want to see them struggle and suffer and we can sometimes look at them as fragile or unable to process hard lessons. We often work to provide a buffer between bad news and the young ones we love. Today I am going to share a post that speaks to the strength and wisdom of one of the young ones. She writes with the wisdom of an old soul with a deep faith.
Todays post is by guest blogger Saige. She is strong, confident, faithful and funny. Saige is a natural born leader who quietly and gracefully leads others in the right direction. She has navigated her way through some difficulties this year but she has allowed those trials to strengthen both her faith and courage.
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the older things have passed away. -Revelations 21:4
There was one specific part in Make Every Day Count, by Max Lucado, that talked about days of hospitals, sickness, and sorrow. A failing report card. Cemetery dirt still fresh. I read that paragraph and i just felt connected right away. I knew what all of those things felt like. Like the part about the cemetery dirt. A little while before Christmas, my grandma passed away and I was overwhelmed with sadness and grief. But when I was at Christmas Eve Mass, and I was up in the choir loft singing, I felt a wave of calmness come over me and I just felt better. I knew that God was helping me.
About a month or so after my grandma died, my grandpa, the one whose wife had just died, had a stroke. My uncle took him to the hospital right away. When I heard this, I was filled with sadness and worry all over again. He still isn’t his old self, but i know that God will take care of him the rest of the way, and make him the best that my grandpa can be.
Whatever you’re struggling with, you need to remember that God will take care of it, and you don’t need to worry. He will bring you peace when you need it and he will help you feel strong even when you don’t feel that way.
A seed to plant: If you are ever stuck in sadness, try to just go to church or listen to a religious song to help you to know that God is always with you.
Blessings on your day!
Thank you Saige...you're amazing!
The peace of God will guard your minds and hearts. Philippians 4:7
Have you ever had one of those crazy moments when you nearly did something completely ridiculous and then stopped and said, “WHOA, I better step back and take a breath, I’m loosen it”? I had that moment last week. It’s been a little hectic lately but God is good and I was clippin along with everything he was asking me to do and then came the God thump. It came when I was in my kitchen which is the place that centers me in the chaos. In my kitchen, I am happy because I love feeding people; it’s good for my soul! It brings me joy when people enjoy what I serve them and it always gives me a time to pray for my family and those who will eat what I’m whippin up in my kitchen. I love the feeling of serving that bubbles in my heart when I’m busy in the kitchen. When the God thump came, I was making a batch of cinnamon rolls for somebody who needed a little lovin and a little lift. Like usual, it was late and I was trying to cram one more thing into the day. I had the dough all rolled out and it was smeared with warm butter and sprinkled generously with brown sugar and in a quick twist to the cupboard I grabbed and was about to sprinkle a big ole dose of cinnamon on top of the sugar. Thank goodness the thump came and I paused a nano-second to realize that I was about to plaster the buttery, sugary dough with CHILI POWDER instead of cinnamon. After finishing up with the appropriate spice, and putting the rolls in the pan, I decided to close the kitchen and just be still.
As the rolls raised and baked, I had a chance to sit still and I asked God for a dose of peace as thick as the brown sugar I’d just piled on those rolls. He obliged, and I sat there and soaked up the gift of his peace. It gave me a chance to think about how nutty the pace of life can get. It gave me a chance to think and pray about how we use our time. I’m very grateful that I don’t get rattled easily but I began to do some thinking about how we handle stress. Just for fun, I googled stress and one of the first thing I found was a list of the top 100 books on stress. Top 100; I was floored…if there were 100 on top, how many more were under that 100? Next, I found 33 Scripture verses about peace. There was the answer! We were ingenuously created with an amazing immune system. That system works round the clock fighting off germs, and other microscopic stuff to keep us in balance. We have a stress relief system like that too. That system goes into action when we tap into God’s peace. In John’s gospel Jesus tells us his peace surpasses the worlds peace. It is greater, deeper, more conquering than anything we can get from a book. It comes with free, instant delivery; it always fits perfectly and it is precisely customized to fit all your worries, fears and anxieties.
There is a prescription for strengthening your peace system. It’s a three step process; take a dose of scripture reading, follow it with some quiet stillness soaking up the wisdom of those words and repeat! Nowhere in scripture does it tell us to go forth and be crazy. The book of Genesis doesn’t say that on the eighth day God created stress and worry. Those things are not of God and anything that is not from him is something we can ask him to help us avoid and remove. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get all tangled up in it and forget to remind myself that it’s not his, but he will sure take it away if I ask him. It will require sitting still and applying the three steps, but for me, it’s a much better thing to do than making cinnamon rolls with chili powder.
A Seed To Plant: Write yourself a note right this minute scheduling the time today you will strengthen your peace system and do those simple three steps. It will be the most important thing you do today!
Blessings on your day!
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