Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3-4
It’s funny how different messages or thoughts seem to “randomly” pop into my head when I really need to hear them. A couple of years ago I read in several places that we should know our place in the grand order of things. I since have been reminded several times in the past couple of months that my place is 3rd. Sounds weird right! But it’s simple, God first, others second and myself third. I think if I searched the archives I’m sure I’ve actually written about being 3rd before but that message has been whappin me over the head more times than the anvil hammered Wiley Coyote in the Roadrunner cartoon. The reminder came loud and clear back in September when we took the 6th graders to camp. One of the camp counselors that the kids enjoyed the most sat down to visit one night and I noticed a tattoo on his forearm. It said, “I am third”. We had a nice chat about it and I realized he lived those words and that’s why he was such a delight to be around. I didn’t give it much thought after that thinking it was just a little reminder. Have you noticed that when you miss his message the first time he doesn’t hesitate to send it again and again until it clicks? In the last two months I’ve done several new talks and no matter what the topic, this thought of being 3rd just keeps coming up again and again. Sometimes I have to laugh and think; how in the world can I make that connect to this topic and when I ask, he always answers.
He’s lovingly helped me include this concept in almost all of the talks I’ve done this fall but in my heart I thought it was for others to learn. I foolishly thought I had a pretty good handle on the concept and did a fairly decent job of living it, but the last few days he’s been all about showing me in LIVING COLOR how I really wasn’t living it as well as I thought. The first was a sweet happening that whispered, “Sheri, I really am speaking to you, please pay attention.” and the second was a flat out UGLY, “I came unraveled, lost it and went screeching into first place instead of third” kind of event that has me face palming in embarrassment.
My word is joy. It’s in all my stuff, it’s in the name of my Ministry, it’s something I pray for every day, I talk about it, have scripture quotes about it everywhere…it’s my center of balance word. It’s kinda “my word”. After a presentation last Friday a truly lovely lady gave me a postcard. She told me a story about a speaker she had heard. He taught the audience to remember our place is 3rd by using the word JOY. I loved it. The postcard clearly spelled out that the J was for Jesus, the O was for Others and the Y was for you. Perfect sense, lovely visual aid and all delivered with a hug from a lovely lady in Saginaw Michigan. That was my whisper.
The UGLY came Tuesday at school. Looking back it wasn’t a really big deal but my reaction made it awful. It seems lately that my to do list is never under two columns and keeping all the plates spinning takes a lot of skill and balance. I know it’s a season; not permanent and I secretly enjoy watching how God manages and balances everything he asks me to do in amazing fashion but Tuesday I truly lost my way. My days are a bit like a house of cards this fall so if one thing gets shuffled five others fall out of line so when a surprise announcement came first thing Tuesday morning that totally changes the flow of the day and required 4 emails and 2 phone calls to “fix everything” before 8:20 in the morning I abandoned third place at rocket speed. I was anything but joyful and prayerful and I did everything but invite Jesus to meet me in the mess and keep me calmly in 3rd place. I spit and sputtered and focused on all the ways a decision that affected 300 other people inconvenienced me. I’m just gonna tell ya’ll I gave myself a BIG OLE first place medal that morning and as I crawled in bed that night all I wanted to do was give it back! I put myself in first place and felt miserable.
As God always does when we let him in, he gently pointed out that the day had actually turned out perfectly. He also made it clear in my heart that I needed to visit with all those caught in my spitting and sputtering and reclaim my 3rd place spot. The one thing I realized looking back over the event was how beautifully everything just fell into place in spite of the “alternate plan I wasn’t in charge of” and how much better the day would have been if I had just stood on bronze to begin with and shut out the noise and asked him for peace. I also made a note to remind myself that bronze is my favorite color…not gold!
A Seed To Plant: Prayerfully ponder the places you try to be first and ask God to show you how you can strive to be 3rd.
Blessings on your day!
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!
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13
Great news; I can do ALL things! Maybe I’ll begin by leaping a tall building with a single bound or establishing world peace by lunchtime or maybe get the crumbs cleaned out of the silverware tray! Somehow I don’t think that’s what Paul was saying to thePhilippians.
The key words in this verse are not “I can do all things” but rather “through Christ”. We weren’t created by God to be super heroes, or to live each day breaking our neck trying to do a hundred things to please everyone we know. We were created to be His hands and feet here on earth. I don’t recall a single passage in Sacred Scripture that described Jesus multi-tasking, over-booking His schedule or helping only those who could help him back. The beauty of this verse is that he’s not asking us to bear the burdens of the world and do ALL things. He’s inviting us to be open to his plan and let him supply the direction, grace, mercy, love and strength we need. In our acts of loving service, it’s a good idea to take an inventory of ALL the things we’re trying to accomplish and prayerfully sort through them. Maybe we’re trying to do a task that was meant to bring somebody else closer to God! Notice those in your faith community; maybe our greatest task of the day is as simple as stopping to listen carefully to a person who just really needs to be heard.
A Seed To Plant: In your daily prayer take a look at your “to do” list and ask God for the wisdom to know which tasks are really yours. Spend some time studying the way your favorite saint stayed focused on the one thing God was asking of them.
Blessings on your day!
And my God will meet all your needs… Philippians 4:19
We’re about 6 weeks into a new school year and it’s still that “getting to know about you stage”. As a teacher, you come to know their faces and expressions and sounds. You try to figure out how they will deal with disappointment, correction and success. Throughout the course of a day I get to see over 80 students and they each come individually wrapped and packaged; all with their own little secret ingredient! It’s fascinating and frustrating and delightful all at the same time. I often shake my head and marvel at how very different each and every one of my middle lovelies is. I marvel at God’s creativity as it walks, skips, slinks or thunders through my door.
It doesn’t take long to realize some need more time, more patience, more firmness or more love than others. Finding the right equation takes prayer and observation and lots of listening. I will be the very first person to admit I often get it wrong; I often mis-judge a students needs or intent. God has shown me after 100 years of teaching that the words “I was wrong, please forgive me” are powerful to a child…or a grown up…or an elderly person! As I think about my middle lovelies and many of the other lovelies in the building I can’t help but notice they create such a beautiful collection of God’s best work and each one of them is a treasure in his eyes. It’s my eyes that sometimes need an adjustment. I can get overwhelmed when I see how many people are misunderstood, misjudged and misinterpreted. I just want each child to be understood and loved and enjoy being at school!
The Young Disciples group will have the opportunity to participate in a program with some students who have disabilities and unique needs organized by Special Olympics this year. As we listened to a lovely speaker teach us about these young kids and the struggles and challenges they face everyday, it left me feeling a little guilty. Guilty that my life seems so easy, guilty that I take so many blessings for granted. I was looking at pictures of the beautiful children we will be working with and I just wanted to scoop them all up and make their life perfect. It was all churning around in my heart and all of the sudden I came across this quote from a woman I met last spring who has spent her entire life blind, mostly paralyzed and suffering from a host of other ailments. She was speaking about God’s enormous love and genius plan for us. She left us with a quote that came to my heart at the perfect moment. She said this, “I believe there is no such thing as a special needs person. We all have needs; human needs and some of us just need some accommodations in order to have our human needs met.”
I read it a few times until I found my peace. It made me think of things with a different perspective! It also made me realize how true it is for each of us. It is about those most basic needs; to feel loved, to feel accepted, to feel needed, to feel safe. Those are things I can give easily but I wonder how often I don’t recognize someone else's need for them or I’m too busy to offer to meet them. Each of those needs were perfectly designed by God and he’s waiting and willing to provide for them as only he can. When I really think about it, I often need some accommodations in order for him to meet my needs. I need him to be patient with me when I try to do it all myself. I need him to be understanding when I forget to show gratitude. I need him to make accommodations for my narrow thinking and impatient attitude. I suppose we would all do well to focus more on the accommodations than the expectations; putting things in that order might make a big difference. I realize after reading that sweet woman's words, I’m certainly glad the Father looks at me with accommodation and not expectation cause he’d sure be disappointed a lot! Father, thank you for all your accommodations, please help me offer them to others.
A Seed To Plant: Lord, please help me see those who need accommodations today and allow me to see their human needs and their great value as your child.
Blessings on your day!
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13
Wow! Good to know…I can do ALL things! Maybe I’ll begin by leaping a tall building with a single bound or establishing world peace by lunchtime or maybe just getting all the closets organized and the crumbs cleaned out of the silverware tray and out from under the toaster! To tell you the truth though, each task seems as daunting as the one listed before it. So exactly what do you think Paul meant when he spoke these words to the Philippians?
I think the key words in this verse are not “I can do all things” but rather “through Christ”. We weren’t created by God to be super heroes, or to live each day breaking our neck trying to do a hundred things to please everyone we know. We were created to be His hands and feet here on earth. I don’t recall a single passage in Sacred Scripture that described Jesus multi-tasking, over-booking His schedule or speaking only to those people with the most urgent needs.
The beauty of this verse is that it is simply calling us to do the tasks that God puts before us each day. He’s not asking us to bear the burdens of the world and do ALL things. He’s directing us to ask Him what His plan for us is each day and then He will supply us with all the grace, mercy, love and strength we need. I think it’s a good idea to take an inventory of ALL the things we’re trying to accomplish in a day and prayerfully sort through them…maybe we’re trying to do a task that was really meant to bring somebody else closer to God! Maybe our greatest task of the day is as simple as stopping to listen carefully to a person who just really needs to be heard.
A Seed to plant: Take a look at your “to do” list for the next few days and ask God for the wisdom to know which tasks are really yours. Then take a few minutes to ask for the strength to be His hands and feet as you accomplish them.
Blessings on your day!
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