…in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:6
I love living in the country. It’s so peaceful and pretty and my front porch looking off into the fields is one of the best places to be. There is, however a drawback to living in the country and that is the gravel road. For some reason this year our road has been giving the county fits. Some spots are just fine and then all the sudden you hit a patch that seems like a remote village mountain trail or a big section of beach sand. The road commission has been working hard but it’s still a mess. I get excited when I hear the grader coming by and the Chloride truck that sprays the compound that keeps down the dust is always a happy sight but then I head off down the road and realize the rough spots are back and I sigh.
One day last week I pulled out of the driveway and took off to the east and the first quarter mile was great and I thought, wow, this is great it’s all in order. Just as soon as I had processed that thought, bam, there was a soft low spot followed by a set of holes that allowed a top speed of about 5mph to maneuver. My shoulders slumped and I thought great, back to this again. The same process repeated itself for the next mile and a half until I reached a paved road. Once I turned onto the pavement there was such a sigh of relief, phew, that’s over I thought. As I picked up speed and headed down the road I realized how much my life resembled that gravel road I live on.
I began to take a good look at the bumps and slowdowns in my own road to Christ and realized I have way more than the road I live on. I might want to complain about them and blame them on someone else but the truth of the matter is they are mine to maneuver. I can’t just stay parked in my driveway waiting on the county to come along and make the path perfect any more than I can sit still waiting for God to swoop in and take away every bump, low spot and pot hole in my life. I gotta get out there and figure out how to find my way toward my destination. The one really good thing about the rough spots in the road is that they cause you to slow down and think about your driving. Sometimes I live at top speed without enough conscious thought about the journey. If I try to blaze down the road too fast it’s easy to lose control, so it is with life too. If I try to blaze through life all on my own without troubling the Father for guidance and support it’s easy to lose control and veer off where the path can be rougher.
The big realization I had is that the whole road isn’t awful, just parts of it. I realized all I was focusing on were the rough parts and not the smooth parts. All my attention was strapped to the parts that were less than expected; I think I look at life like that too. It made me remember that being a disciple is a journey filled with easy and hard but that neither is supposed to last forever. When we’re really happy and life is going along smoothly, we expect it to continue just that way and then when things get rough and choppy (like they always will) we throw up our hands discouraged. Neither is designed to last forever, our life is peaks and valleys. If life were to continue constantly on an even plane without peaks and valleys, the line would always be in the middle…that would be a life of medium and nobody wants that. God loves to meet us and rejoice with us when we hit the peaks and he’s right there with us with his love and mercy when we hit the low spots, who’d want to miss that! It’s all about the journey, not just the current mile. If things in your life are a little out of perspective, take a drive down your nearest gravel road and let God speak to your heart.
A Seed To Plant: Name some of the speed bumps along your journey and pray about the best way to maneuver them.
Blessings on your day!
Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him. John 9:3
We like explanations don’t we. Our world surrounds us with technology, information and knowledge designed to explain and justify everything…until we hit one of those rough patches that we simply can’t make sense of. We aren’t so good at meaning the words, “that’s just the way it is”. We demand proof! We are a society of highly intelligent humans after all, there should be a way to describe, defend and understand everything. If there isn’t, then somebody must have lied or done something wrong because all things should make sense! If things don’t make sense, or if we don’t like the explanation we’ve been given, we set out looking for a spot to lay the blame. I’ve discovered the more out of balance our society’s moral compass becomes; the harder it is to “accept” things we can’t explain. God’s work included.
After reading this story from John’s Gospel , I guess the game of prove or blame isn’t new. The disciples were busy trying to figure out why the blind man was afflicted. They wanted to lay blame or find fault in order to understand the situation but in a simple yet completely profound way Jesus explained the man’s situation. His affliction was not to punish or to penalize…his situation was meant to magnify the amazing power of God. I’ve read this story a dozen times before, and I always thought of that man who lived on the streets in darkness with pity and sadness. This time I saw him with different eyes. My feelings for this Gospel character turned from pity to something more like envy. God chose the blind man in such a pitiful state to show His glory…what a lucky turn of events for him! This Gospel reminded me of a conversation I had recently with a woman who just bubbles over with God’s love. She was speaking so tenderly about her brother who had recently lost his battle with cancer. She shared her admiration and inspiration as she told his story. The part of the conversation that sunk deep into my heart was his reaction to the doctor’s proclamation of his condition…difficult news to say the least! Upon hearing the news he told his sister how lucky he felt that God wanted him home in heaven at such an early age. As tears stung in my eyes, it was easy to see why he was such an inspiration to her. There was no blame, no need for explanation…it was simply a case of “accepting” a situation as the work of the Father.
The trouble with trying to explain and understand everything is that we can only do it through the lens of human knowledge. God is the one with the wisdom and understanding to see how things are woven together from beginning to end. We are only capable of seeing what’s right in front of us while God sees so much more. He knows the purpose for each situation…He knows what each event will prepare us for…He knows what will follow each disappointment and sadness… He knows the mighty and glorious ending to all of our stories. If we are willing to accept the “happy ending” we so desperately look for, then we need to remember that His job is to prepare us for it. Sickness, death, disappointment and afflictions aren’t meant to punish, they are meant to strengthen and renew and allow Him to show His mighty and powerful love for His children. In our weakness He shows His strength. That is the only explanation or understanding we ever need…simple as that! The glory of His works on the other side of our struggle is more amazing than we can even begin to imagine. I believe this with all my heart because that’s how much He loves us. So the next time you’re in the middle of “yuck”,remind yourself that God is the only justification, understanding and explanation you need. Remind yourself that the glory He will show through your strife will be every bit as magnificent as the way the blind man felt the moment he washed the mud from his eyes and could see for the first time. Remember that God’s ways are not our ways...His are best and they don’t require explanation or understanding, just our trust!
A Seed To Plant: Read John 9:1-41 and make a list of situations you need to stop trying to understand, justify and explain and simply ask God to make you aware of the ways He’s working in them.
Blessings on your day!
***Todays post is a re-post. I ran out of minutes because it's May plus I have a hunch this old post will ring true with more than one reader! I'll be back next week with fresh stuff!
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…Ecclesiastes 3:1
Did you hear that? It was a gigantic sigh; it was the universal “May is almost over” sigh. Tomorrow marks the end of the year’s busiest month…May! It’s been one of the greatest May’s ever in the history of May’s but I’m out of juice! In fact I fondly remember a story that illustrates exactly how I feel right about now.
One Christmas, I got a shiny new slinky. It was the greatest invention ever and I loved playing with that silly thing. I was very careful not to let it get tangled or pinched and it looked good as new for months. I always kept it in the orange box on my dresser when I wasn’t playing with it. I got my slinky the same Christmas my younger brother Joe got a rocking horse named “Bucko”. One summer day I was helping my mom with the dishes and when we were finished, I went to my room to get my slinky to play with on the front porch steps. I remember the blood curdling scream I let out when I found my prized possession all bent and tangled and mangled and connected like a spider web. When the story finally boiled down to the bottom of the pot, it seems Joe’s stick horse was about to be trampled by a stampede of wild Texas long horn cattle raging through the back yard near the apple tree and the only way to ensure Bucko’s safety was to tie him securely to the apple tree with my slinky. Apparently it took several wraps around the tree trunk to do the job and needless to say the slinky was never the same. When I think of that bent, twisted, frazzled toy, that’s exactly how I’m feeling as the month comes to a close. Just like that slinky I’ve been tugged and pulled and twisted in a hundred directions and I haven’t quite bounced back yet.
So what’s the answer? The answer is…there isn’t one! May is one month, one action packed, and fun-filled, over-flowing month and to be quite honest, I probably wouldn’t have it any other way! If I were to declare war on the month and put a cease fire to half the “stuff” scheduled in the month I’d have a hard time figuring out which half to erase. Humm…let’s see…as Christians we are called to use the gifts and talents He’s given us for His glory, my kids probably get really tired of hearing me say that! So if I practice what I preach how can I decide which talents and gifts I should put a basket over? Should I squash the concerts and band banquet with the French horn player? Maybe the softball team could have done without a catcher and the girl who hit a couple triples and always made her teammates laugh. What about the Prom, or graduation and the open house that took so much time to plan and organize? What if we had erased baseball season and we would have missed Jason’s three run over the fence homer or the no-hitter he pitched? I sure wouldn’t have had as much laundry to do that’s for sure. But what would we have gained and what would we have lost? Maybe awards night, that took a long time…or maybe I could have skipped the games where my kids took their turn sitting on the bench. But then I would have missed seeing them grow in humility and compassion while they were supporting their teammates from inside the dugout and practiced focusing on others.
God promised there is a purpose for every season. I knew this May was going to be a doozy so I prayed that God would help me soak it all in and enjoy every second of it. My prayerful request was that He remind me to pray for a suffering or lonely soul each time I felt the stress of the schedule start to bear down. (I’m not gonna lie…I prayed for lots of souls the past 30 days!)
It’s one month…31 crazy days! We don’t need to re-vamp our life because one month gets nutty; we need to enjoy the gifts and talents that we’re called to share with others during this hectic month. Nothing lasts forever…good OR bad. I’d do well to remind myself of that fact a little more often! I don’t think there is any permanent harm done because the Wohlfert’s didn’t eat 5 servings of fresh fruits and veggies every day in May and like any good mom who forgot to wash the Under Armor in the uniform load, I just rinsed it in the sink with some Downey and didn’t tell anybody and it all turned out ok. Our family has grown to include some new dust bunnies and cob webs this month and yes, I’ll admit it, I shoved some laundry and ironing into a basket and hid it in my closet before my Dad came to visit. (And just because God has a sense of humor it fell off the closet shelf and landed on my head one morning.) Guess what…it’s all ok! We are called to be FAITHFUL not called to be PERFECT.
Months like May are full of lessons. Lessons in patience, laughter, trust and faithful endurance! How’d you do? One more thought…if you are a mother of young ones, treasure your May’s! Truly BE at each event no matter how the 5th grade band sounds or how many strikes the little batter has because you’re going to wake up one morning and realize two of your children have graduated from high school and the cleats are about to be laced up for one last game. Quiet May’s will come…and they will come more quickly than you can imagine so just take God’s hand and BE PRESENT for life, let it flow by you. After all, our life on earth is a dress rehearsal for heaven!
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of the best things that happened in May, then make a list of 5 things that didn’t get done in May…now compare the list and say a prayer of thanksgiving.
Blessings on your day!
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not swerve from it. Proverbs 22:6
Things aren’t always what they seem. More often than I’d like to admit, I get things all settled in my mind only to realize I’ve seen it completely from the wrong perspective. The world can be pretty clear about what, who and how we should be and it’s pretty easy to slide right into that groove. God really wanted my attention and he got it, as I took a lesson from a mom about my age with a tall son named Kevin. Coincidence; not at all, God doesn’t do coincidence…he does; I love you so shut up and pay attention!
At first glance, her Kevin looked like a regular, tall handsome looking young man in his mid 20’s, just like my Kevin. But after just a few seconds, I realized he wasn’t the same at all. Her Kevin had the cognitive abilities of a seven year old and they were at the airport just watching planes take off because it was his favorite thing to do and it was their weekly Saturday morning date. I remember feeling sad and wondered if they ever felt cheated out of the things most of us take for granted. After hearing her story, I realized I was looking at things through a cloudy lens.
The mom talked about how her son was the greatest teacher of faith and all things good she could have ever imagined. When he was born, she worried about all the things he’d miss. As he got older she realized how lucky he was, and how lucky she was to be his mom. She shared that he was always up at dawn to go to a job at a workplace for people with disabilities and he approached each work day with such contentment and peace. He always finishes what he starts, delights in helping with any task, not because it’s important or hard or prestigious but because it’s helping someone and he feels accomplishment simply because it’s completed.
Her son has an innate sense of truth and trust. He doesn’t lie; it isn’t in his nature or ability. He trusts and prays with unshakable faith. He finds delight in tasks like doing the laundry and vacuuming the house. He realizes it’s helpful and productive and that brings him joy. He has no concern for fashion or material goods. He enjoys the simplicity of watching birds, planes and anything in nature. When he sees something beautiful or exciting in nature he always says, “Thank you God, I really liked seeing that!” He is capable of only goodness and sees each new day, even though it will be a repeat of the one before it, as a new and exciting gift from God.
Every parent worries about their child. We want them to be happy, to find a good job, to have enough money to enjoy life, to have a good education or training. We want them to be good and kind and mostly, we want them to get to heaven. Kevin’s mom said she sees all those things in her son every single day. She admitted that he takes a different kind of time and love than his siblings but he’s the child she worries about least because he, by nature, is saintly and lives without the temptations and sin that can put a wedge between us and the Father’s plan. That is the ultimate peace for a mothers soul she shared.
That encounter left me with a changed mama heart. I realize how many things I pray for in regard to my children. I pray for passed tests and high cattle prices and job promotions. I pray for their friendships, future spouses and their happiness. If I’m being truthful, I pray so hard and so often for things to be easy and peaceful for them. I will probably still pray for all those things but I realize I haven’t seen the whole picture and I thank Kevin’s mom for teaching me that those aren’t the greatest hopes to have for our children. I will pray a lot more for my children’s contentment, for their joy, for their peacefulness and for their ability to resist the noise of the world and more clearly hear the voice of the Father guiding them on the path he has planned for them.
A Seed To Plant: Spend some time thinking about the ways you pray for your children, godchildren, grandchildren of nieces and nephews. Decide if perhaps your prayers for them need a new perspective.
Blessings on your day!
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3
I like to think I’m a strong, smart, independent woman. I’m not afraid to work hard or get dirty and I’m definitely not a girlie girl, but the other day, ALL that came into question when I found myself standing on the safe side of the garage screen door calling the men in my life for help! One of my summer jobs was to clean the garage and sort through the long rack of coats and barn clothes. It was time to throw out the size 5T snow pants with more holes than swiss cheese and the pink fuzzy winter coat from 1999! It was a yuck job but as I pulled in the garage the day after I finished, I felt pretty accomplished and pleased with the way things looked. As I parked in the garage with a load of groceries, I was admiring my work when I noticed a pair of coveralls moving as they hung on the hook. That was not supposed to happen.
I bravely sat behind the wheel of my Traverse and watched those coveralls sway from side to side thinking, this is not ok! Then I came to my senses and logically concluded it was probably one of the new kittens that had wandered up from the barn and playfully crawled up the pants leg. I got out and walked toward the pants expecting to help the cute little kitty out and send it back to the barn, but as I got closer I could see eyes peering out and then the hissing started. Definitely not a kitten and that pointy snout and loud hiss sent me promptly into the house. My next brave move was to throw shoes at the pants until whatever it was fell out and scampered out the door. After throwing a dozen shoes and boots and nearly breaking the service door window with my awful aim, I heard and saw barn boots wobbling around and was convinced there was a small army of invaders just a few feet from my screen door while my ice cream was melting in the car…something drastic had to be done! That’s when I called Dave! He was doing hay in a field much too far away to come to my rescue so I called Jason who was working from home that day. What transpired upon his helpful arrival involved a snow shovel, a trap made out of a bow target, an 8 ft table and a broom. I’ll leave out the parts about all my jumping and screaming at the sight of the critters teeth and hissing and just let you know one very angry woodchuck made it’s way from the coveralls and boots in my garage to the corn field across the road. I wish I could report a brave and triumphant ending on my part but I can’t. I screamed, jumped, and freaked out like it was a fire breathing dragon and completely depended on my handsome son to save me from my despair! He was so sweet and helpful and didn’t even make fun of me; he just came and helped and went on his way.
That silly woodchuck stuck in those coveralls made me realize how we sometimes approach the troubles and trials in our days. Truth be told, it was a pretty young woodchuck, not an angry mamma woodchuck. The whole thing could have been so much worse but I went from baby woodchuck to dragon in 60 seconds! I let something little grow and multiply in my mind while my emotions just went zooming into action leaving reason and reality in the dust. I got a little tangled up in the hissing and teeth bearing and lost sight of the fact that the problem probably weighed less than 10 pounds and his fear was probably much greater than mine. In hindsight I overreacted comically! Every time I’ve pulled in the garage since that day I look at those coveralls and wonder how many times I’ve gone straight to the dragon without stopping to pray and ask for perspective first. I think about all the times I’ve made something so big in my mind when in reality it turned to be so much smaller and manageable than I pictured it.
Our struggles can sometimes leave us feeling overwhelmed if we’re afraid to ask for help. Things can morph in our minds if we try to handle everything ourselves and bear the burdens on our own shoulders. God loves us too much for that. I really believe that’s part of the reason he put more than one person on the earth so we could help each other and support each other and point and lead each other to him. It’s ok to ask for help, it’s ok to get another perspective and it’s ok to talk down the dragons! We weren’t meant to go solo through this life, we need him and we need each other because you just never know what problems might just crawl up the leg of your coveralls!
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of the trials and troubles that have caused you to become worried and anxious lately and ask yourself these questions; Who have I talked to about it? Who can help? Have I prayed for the Fathers perspective?
Blessings on your day!
Do not be afraid…1 Kings 17:13
The other night I was making dinner and I reached in the cupboard to grab the olive oil. I pulled out the dark green bottle and began to pour, only to discover that instead of a stream of oil coming from the bottle all I was seeing was a few drips! I immediately got frustrated at the inconvenience. Instead of quickly finishing up, I had to go dig through the pantry and hopefully retrieve a full bottle. After just a few seconds of looking and re-shuffling the pantry I found a full bottle and returned to my task. As I stood there in my kitchen stirring I was wondering who it was who emptied the old one without replacing it and why couldn’t they have just taken a few more seconds to replace the bottle instead of leaving the work to me. Then like a smack to the head, I remembered the story of the widow and Elijah from the Old Testament.
If you remember the story, Elijah shows up at this widow’s house during a time of famine and asks her for some water to drink and something to eat. She looks at him and lets him know she’d love to help but can’t. She honestly reports that she has only a bit of oil and a tiny bit of flour and she was getting ready to prepare the last of it for a meal for herself and her son…get this…and then they were going to die because there was no more food. Pause there for a minute…replay…I’m going to use the last drops of oil and spoons of flour to make a cake (yum ?) for us and then we will prepare to die. Not, then I will go to the pantry and get more oil. Not, then I will run to the store and buy more oil or go to the neighbor’s house and borrow more. I will use what I have and that is the end of it all. I can’t even imagine!
As I stood in my kitchen embarrassed about my little empty oil bottle tiff and the widows story I began to see things differently. I glanced over at a full pantry. Behind me was a full refrigerator and on the counter was a bowl of fruit all of which could probably feed a village in some places of the world and suddenly the word plenty was the only one I could think of. I have plenty; plenty of food, plenty of money, plenty of clothes, plenty of EVERYTHING but yet I often focus on what I don’t have instead of what I have plenty of. All of the sudden I felt pretty small, pretty foolish and pretty ungrateful.
The widow’s story continues when Elijah tells her to go ahead and make him some food and the Lord will take care of her and her son. In an unbelievable act of faith she uses the rest of her resources to feed Elijah and as promised, her oil jug and her flour jar never ran dry. The story is about so much more than kitchen staples! God offers the same promise to us each and every day. Just trust me, I will take care of you because I love you and I will reward your faithfulness. The widow loved God more than she loved her stuff. The widow was generous and trusting to an extreme; and her generosity and faithfulness were rewarded to an extreme. It’s a story that offered me perspective and reflection. It made me think about my own gratefulness and trust and generosity. I can’t change all the crazy stuff going on in the world right now but I can’t help but think how much different things would be if we focused on a few of the widow’s lessons and figured out how to use them in our own life.
A Seed To Plant: Read the story from 1Kings 17:7-16 and ask God to help you reflect on the story and show you how he wants you to draw closer to him.
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!
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