He must increase, I must decrease. John 3:30
One of the many things I miss now that the Wohlfert house is so quiet is practice. For more than a decade and a half there was always some kind of practice going on. It didn’t matter if it was reading, math facts, band, sports or even target practice for hunting season, it seemed like somebody was always practicing something. There is nothing more humbling than a good hard practice at whatever it is you are trying to get better at. The problem was nobody really enjoyed practice except me. I loved seeing my kids work hard, sweat, be frustrated and eventually trade in frustration for sheer determination. Practice is good for you no matter what it’s for but human nature leads us to desire perfection or success without the work.
Stop for a minute and think of something you need to practice. A little tricky wasn’t it! If you had a hard time coming up with something to practice I’ve got just the thing. I was reading in a prayer book the other day and came across a fabulous one liner that was too good to keep to myself. This simple thought is so power packed it’s going to make for a very short post today. Before you read it though, I want you to think for another minute about three things you’ve been frustrated about recently. If my guess is correct at least two of the things that frustrated you involved another person. So much of our negative energy stems from a reaction or comment or behavior from another person that doesn’t line up with our personal expectations or desires. In the spirit of being frustrated with others and tugging along the negative energy that goes with it; here is that great thought I promised. We all need to practice the art of self-forgetfulness! Pope John Paul II.
Holy cow…how’s that for a show stopper! I think maybe we spend so much time worrying and fussing about how other people see, value, appreciate and honor us that we lose track of the only desire we should be motivated by; pleasing God. If I were to forget my own desires and comforts more often I think I would certainly have more time for faithfulness. If I stopped worrying about who saw me do what or who noticed this or that I wouldn’t have anything to be disappointed about when others didn’t register the “wonder and awe” I thought I deserved. I don’t’ know about you, but I think I just found my new thing to practice… thinking about the Father more and myself less The art of self-forgetfulness isn’t something our culture promotes but since when does our culture promote things that will get us to heaven? I think I’m gonna go with JPII on this one and get my “self-forgetfulness” in motion, how about you…are you up for some tough practice?
A Seed To Plant: This week when you feel frustrated, stop and ask yourself if you are practicing the art of self-forgetfulness. Get ready for some good hard practice!
Blessings on your day!
And he said, “The one who sows the good seed, is the Son of Man Matthew 13:37
With everything swirling around in the world today it’s easy to get overwhelmed. As I think of going back to school next month, I wonder what that will look like. When I talk to parents, I feel the uncertainty and concern bubble up into the conversation. I don’t have any answers but I do know that the Father will bring us out on the other side of all this and we will all be ok! I saw this little story the other day and it reminded me that we are in the middle of making some history. This whole pandemic…this whole weird season of our lives… will be remembered. The how is the important part…how will we remember it and how will history remember the way we lived through it. That made me think.
A man was watching his eighty year old neighbor planting a small peach tree. He inquired of him, “You don’t expect to eat peaches from that tree, do you?” The old man rested on his spade. He replied, “No, at my age I know I won’t. But all my life I have enjoyed peaches - never from a tree I planted myself. I’m just trying to pay the other fellows who planted the trees for me.”
I don’t know how any of this started…I don’t know how any of this will end, but one thing is for sure, our attitude, our actions and our prayers will have an impact on our children, our grandchildren and the folks who remember all of this. So I guess the question is, am I going to plant peach trees or thorn bushes. Both will last and both will be noticed for a long time to come but only one bears a desirable fruit that brings good. History is full of great, simple, faithful people who weathered storms and tragedy and chaos I can’t even begin to imagine. When I hear their stories I am inspired by their faith, their determination, their strength and their perseverance. Those who lived through war and economic disaster and telegrams of lost sons in war bore a burden that hurst my heart to think about but most of them planted peaches and when I read about their lives I’m filled with hope.
“I don’t know” seem to be the most frequently used words in my vocabulary these days and I suppose it’s time I remember what I DO know. I DO know that the Father loves us. I DO know I will teach and children will laugh and learn and succeed and stumble and I will be blessed to watch it all! I DO know gratitude, trust, compassion, mercy and kindness are running shorter than fear, doubt, arguing, blame and dishonesty these days. I suppose we could think of the first five as peaches and the second five as thorns. I think I’ll get busy “planting peach trees” so my students and children and grandchildren will have something good to enjoy beyond all this craziness.
A Seed To Plant: Spend some time in prayer thinking of ways you can trade thorn bushes for peach trees.
Blessings on your day!
…be confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6
Cooking brings me joy! I love to cook and feed people and entertain. My food is pretty simple but something about the act of pulling a bunch of things together to create a table full of food that brings people together and nourishes them gives me so much happiness. I’m the kind of cook that views recipes as a mere suggestion. There are a few things I don’t like the flavor of, like nutmeg, so you can be sure I will leave that out of every recipe that calls for it but every now and again, just to practice discipline I’ll find a new recipe and follow it perfectly. As I’m following the directions I often argue about it. I’m convinced there is too much of something or too little of something else but those are the times I’m usually happily surprised with the end result.
I think I take that attitude with me beyond the kitchen too. I can look at things and think, well that doesn’t go together or doing those things will never work out or look right. Our human eyes are often too quick to see the disaster instead of the grace. Whether I’m in the kitchen or the classroom or out and about in the world, I need to remember that sometimes God puts things into the mix for reasons I don’t see in the beginning. I came across this little farmers prayer story the other day and it really hit my heart. There is a lot of crazy stuff being thrown into the mix these days so this brought me peace. I read it and took a breath to remember the master mixer is in charge!
A pastor asked an older farmer, decked out in bib overalls, to say grace for the morning breakfast. Lord, “I hate buttermilk”, the farmer began. The visiting pastor opened one eye to glance at the farmer and wondered where this was going. The farmer loudly proclaimed, “Lord I hate lard.” Now the pastor was growing concerned. Without missing a beat, the farmer continued. “And Lord you know I don’t care for raw white flour.” The pastor once again opened an eye to glance around the room and saw that he wasn’t the only one to feel uncomfortable. Then the farmer added, “But Lord, when you mix them all together and bake them, I do love fresh biscuits. So Lord when things come up that we don’t like, when life gets hard, when we don’t understand what you’re saying to us, help us to just relax and wait until you are done mixing. It will probably be better than biscuits. Amen”
Today, I think I’ll just enjoy the biscuits!
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of those places you have a hard time seeing God’s good and grace, and ask him to grant you patience and trust while he finishes mixing all the parts together.
Blessings on your day!
I write to you, children, because you know the Father… 1John 2:14
As I continue on my closet cleaning and packing quest this summer, I was getting a little grumpy about the whole process. It isn’t my favorite way to spend summer days but every now and then I run across a treasure hidden in a box or on a top shelf that adds some joy to the job. One day last week I found a bundle of letters and cards all tied together with a ribbon. Some of them were from decades ago and it was fun to look through them and remember.
Looking through that bundle of notes and letters I felt so loved and appreciated. I was touched not so much by the words on the page but by the investment of time, energy and thought that went into that bundle. There was shopping, writing, looking up an address and getting to the post office to buy a stamp and pop it into the mailbox. Today, we do things so differently. I remember my mom and my aunts had a drawer full of cards to choose from and a trip to the post office was a daily event. It isn’t often that I go to the mail box and find something truly exciting that I can’t wait to rip open. Today, we communicate mostly by email or text and the process is certainly more efficient, cheap and speedy. I love my pile of letters but if I think about all the communication I send and receive in a week and having to do it all by hand and mail it would require a whole extra day in the week to keep up…plus another side job to pay the postage and buy the cards! Things change!
As I sat with the pile of letters on my desk I found one from my dad. My dad isn’t one for flowering things up or using more words than necessary so when I found one that simply said, “I love you,. Your Mom would be proud.” I realized it didn’t matter how the message was sent, it was all about how the message was received. I moved on to another closet all the while wondering if Jesus would communicate through a long lovely letter or if he was more like an email or text. I began conjuring up in my mind all the messages I thought he’d like me to hear and what they might look like. I suppose sometimes he’d be gentle with a long poetic love letter. I’m sure there are days he would give me a direct loving message of truth like my dad and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit there would be days he’d like to send me a few word text in all caps with some exclamation points at the end.
It was great to look through that stack and be reminded of peoples thoughts but the Father is sending us message all day, every day to direct, love, instruct and encourage us. He communicates through Scripture, through people and through those little whispers and nudges we get when we call his name and invite him to come into our mess. My prayer as I tucked that treasured bundle away in a box was that I’d pay more attention to his communication with me. I pray I’ll be a better listener and live his words not bundle them up and tuck them away forgetting what he really wants me to know. His basic message to all of us is the same…”I love you more than you are capable of loving.” “I will always be right here waiting for you to invite me in.” and “Make me the one thing you love more than anything or anyone and all will be better than you can imagine.”
A Seed To Plant: Write two messages this week. Write one to someone who needs to hear something good. Send it in any way you’d like, just share some love and encouragement. The second letter is to your Heavenly Father. You can tell, ask, wonder and offer your plans, just spill our your heart in writing as if writing to your very best friend.
Blessings on your day!
Why do you notice the splinter in your brothers eye but not notice the wooden plank in your own? Matthew 7:3
I sure have a knack for overcomplicating things sometimes! It’s easy to get tangled up in the stories and happenings in other peoples lives and forget that we aren’t saddled with the job of deciding and judging and sorting it all out. Thank goodness that’s the work of the Father. I’m simply called to love God and to love others. Seems simple but rest assured, I can goof up even that very simple instruction. God always has a way of yanking me back when I’ve wandered too far off. This week he did it with a teeny little story.
A wise, old middle-eastern mystic said this about himself. “I was a revolutionary when I was young and all my prayer to God was: ‘Lord, give me the energy to change the world.’ As I approached middle age and realized that my life was half-gone without my changing a single soul, I changed my prayer to : ‘Lord, give me the grace to change all those who come in to contact with me. Just my family and friends and I shall be satisfied.’ Now that I am an old man and my days are numbered, I have begun to see how foolish I have been. My one prayer now is: ‘Lord, give me the grace to change myself.’ If I had prayed for this right from the start, I would not have wasted my life.
A Seed To Plant: Just read that little story a few times and ask the Lord to let it wash over you and change you. I think the world will look a whole lot different if we get this one little prayer right!
Blessings on your day!
Trust in the lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5
I’m not sure what the best adjective to describe this week would be! I’ve bounced between wanting to hide in a closet and not come out until it’s over and wanting to glue my face to social media so I don’t miss a thing. Of course, both are a really bad idea so in my search for balance I’ve come across some really great stuff. I’ve had some new experiences, a chance to laugh and lots of time to pray. Here are some highlights from week one of whatever we’re going to call this time.
*I went to Mass in my living room for the first time. I love daily mass and now all I have to do is turn on the TV or jump on FaceBook and I’m there. I’m so grateful for the priests who are doing so many creative things to reach out and draw us together in prayer. I’ve been to Mass with three different priests this week and once I even went in my pj’s…that’s a first!
*I found live stream Eucharistic Adoration from more than a dozen different churches and chapels. If I could earn frequent flyer miles for all the churches I’ve traveled to this week I might have enough miles to fly to Kalamazoo.
*I have loved hearing stories about families finding creative ways to connect and survive all their togetherness. I’ve also loved the stories of those who are completely real and admit they’re just trying not to clobber each other. Not all families are peacefully putting together 1000 piece puzzles…be patient, we’ll figure it out!
*Not everyone was cut out to be a teacher so thank you to the dozens of homeschool moms who are helping the newbies find their way. I saw one “never wanted to be a teacher” parent asking for advice on getting a student transferred out of her class and another asking if they could be fired for drinking on the job…again, be patient, we’ll figure it out!
People are sharing food and shopping help and InstantPot recipes like champions and it’s fun to see because we all need to love each other a little more these days. Sitting in the airport last weekend, days before any of this happened, I stumbled across a blog written by a Christian missionary in Wuhan China who was writing about their quarantine. She shared her journey and stated that the first objective was to keep her children from strangling each other. As the weeks went on, she discovered sights and sounds and experiences that only the quiet could bring. She talked about peace and prayer and lessons too many to count. She said it took a while to disconnect before they could find beautiful ways to re-connect. As I look back on that blog I get the chills that what seemed like such a crazy read a week ago, is now our reality.
As we wade our way through this first week and get ready for the ones to come, there are a few things that might help. First, we may just need to mourn the loss of normal. It’s ok to be mad that we’re restricted, it’s ok to be sad and miss things, it’s ok to be angry at the people who think they are bigger than this and aren’t following the rules. All of it needs to be felt and acknowledged so go ahead and stomp, cry, yell and then take it all to the foot of the cross and ask Jesus to bring you peace and contentment. Second, we need to be patient! Lots of folks now have a new career. We’ve become teachers and cooks and entertainment engineers and we’re learning how to do all this while working from home in a noisy house. It’s going to take some time to settle down and give everybody a chance to get used to each other. And the third thing, we have to remember to pray for the grace to use this time well. As nutty as this all is, God will bring great good. We have a chance to slow down, re-set and re-balance even if we didn’t know we needed it. Keep sharing your stories, keep sharing your ideas and mostly lets keep praying for each other and don’t forget to go to Mass in your living room.
A Seed To Plant: Pray about the three things in the last paragraph and pick the one you need to focus most on this week.
Blessings on your day!
Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:11
Does anybody remember the old View Master toy? It was so cool; you just slipped in a circular disc with pictures, looked through the viewing lens and pulled the handle to go from picture to picture. That was some fancy entertainment back in the day! I remember looking through them and pulling the handle as fast as I could to see the pictures go at high speed…it was kind of like watching something in fast forward mode. As I sit here typing, I feel a little like that is what my life has become…pulling the handle so fast everything looks like fast forward. It can be pretty entertaining but I can’t say I always enjoy it.
I don’t think God intended life to be that way however. He has been sending me that message loud and clear the past few days and it hits me right in morning prayer. The harder it is to settle myself in prayer, the more I know I need to slow down and evaluate my “stuff”. I took a few minutes today to do just that and I came across this meditation. It was left by a lovely reader as a comment to one of the posts here at joyful words. I think I’ll share it, because it just seems to fit.
Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I am.
Be still and know.
This week in my prayer chair I will take it line by line and ask God to help me soak it all in and feel Him slow down the speed of the handle on my life’s View Master. In fact, I’ll try to see my life through His lens. I’m betting it will be in slower motion!
A Seed To Plant: Take a week and pray this meditation on Psalm 46:11 with me…let’s see what He shows us about the speed of life.
Blessings on your day!
Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17
The single most powerful thing we can do is pray. Prayer is our hope, it’s our peace, it’s our inroad to God’s grace and comfort. We are called as christians to offer prayers of thanksgiving, prayers of surrender, prayers of forgiveness and prayers of petition. Prayer is our communication with the God who created us, loves us and is waiting to flood our minds, hearts and lives with his presence if we just call on his name. There are dozens and dozens of books on how to pray and why to pray and when to pray. There are dozens of videos on prayer not to mention journals and tools to help us pray better. All of these marvelous resources don’t do us any good if we don’t carve out the time to practice what they teach.
Every now and again I just have to STOP and back up the truck. Things can get busy and complicated and we can get in a prayer rut or forget to pray at all. When I enter one of these seasons I know I need to take a step back and simplify things. These are also the times I usually need a reminder that praying can happen anywhere, anytime and doesn’t require books or journals or routine. Simple, heartfelt spontaneous prayer is such a source of comfort, balance and joy. I find that if I connect prayer to a frequently seen object it helps me remember to pause and pray. In case you could use a simple way to slow down and pray, here is a quick way to pray every time you look at your hand. I didn’t make this up but it sure gets my attention and serves as a gentle reminder that I need to talk often with the one who loves me most.
As you relax you hands to your side, the thumb is closest to your leg so we start there and move toward the pinky. Here’s what you do…
Thumb: since it’s closest to you, you use your thumb to pray for those who are closest to you. Mention them by name and offer God whatever worry or wish you have for them.
Pointer: Say a prayer for all those in your life who point you to Jesus.
Tall Finger: Since this is the tallest finger and “towers” over the others, we use this finger to pray for those above us in authority and power. We pray for leaders of our town, church, state, nation and world. (Praying here a little extra instead of complaining about these leaders is so much more productive)
Ring Finger: Since it is the weakest of all the fingers, this is where we pause to pray for all those who are weak and powerless. The unborn, the homeless, the hungry, the refugees all those who have no strength or voice.
Pinky Finger: The little one we save for last is us. Here we offer our own personal prayers and needs to the Lord.
Each time you gaze at your hand, pause and offer these five prayers. It’s easy to do as you see your hands washing dishes or sorting laundry or resting on the steering wheel at a stop light. I hope we never look at our hands the same way again!
A Seed To Plant: Make a note somewhere about the prayers for each finger and find at least five opportunities this week to pray this way.
Blessings on your day!
…wash me and make me whiter than snow. Psalm 51:9
We know God will always give us exactly what we need, at precisely the time we need it but there still may be times when we feel like he’s not hearing. In times of trial and suffering we can feel like faith, religion and prayer are not helping. If you are struggling with something and doubt and fear might be creeping into your thoughts consider this little story.
A soap maker and pastor were chatting and walking one day and the soap maker pointed out all the pain, suffering, corruption and dishonesty in the world. He asked the pastor how, after years of teaching about the Father’s goodness and kindness and after all his sermons on God’s love, mercy and forgiveness could he still believe that faith, religion and prayer are relevant. The soap maker pointed out that it clearly seemed like nonsense because in the couple thousand years since Jesus died, the world didn’t really get better. Given all the chaos in the world the soap maker figured prayer and faith just didn’t work. The pastor listened and then stopped to point out a group of little boys playing and they were covered in dirt from head to toe. The pastor told the soap maker that clearly soap didn’t work because if it did, those little boys wouldn’t be so dirty. The soap maker of course protested and pointed out that all the soap in the world wouldn’t do any good unless you invested in it and used it regularly. The pastor winked and told him that the same was true of prayer and faith.
I have lots of prayer books, my shelves are stuffed with spiritual reading, I go to mass a couple times a week and I even teach in a Catholic School but do I always apply and appreciate my faith properly? Like the soap maker I wonder if it’s all really working, but then I realize I need to come to the good sense of the pastor and stop and ask if I’M really working. I suppose I think faith and prayer are working when I’m getting what I want. After hearing this little story I pondered how quickly I cry despair when stuff gets messy. I pondered how quickly I think God isn’t listening when I’m stuck in something hard and disappointing. I’m quick to think I’m getting a raw deal and I’m taking more of a hit than anyone around me and think, hmm, is this how much God loves me? After thinking about all this and trying to decide if the soap maker or the pastor had the stronger case, I remembered the directions on the soap: lather, rinse and repeat. All three steps are necessary to clean up those dirty little boys the men saw along their walk and the same is true for our faith and our prayer. The more intensely we scrub with the soap the spiffier the outcome will be. The same is true with faith and prayer; the more intensely and frequently we trust, believe and cry out in supplication and thanksgiving the more we begin to see the results of his work. I think I’m going to put a bar of soap on my prayer table for awhile!
A Seed To Plant: Ponder this story in prayer a few times this week and ask God where you might need a little soap.
Blessings on your day!
For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Romans 10:13
My heart hurts often when I realize how many people struggle with worry, stress and anxiety. I see it sapping peoples energy, their joy and their hope. In an attempt to figure out how I can help and not make things worse, I have been doing some studying. I think unknowingly, we sometimes say things that aren’t at all helpful. If someone is truly trapped in a struggle phrases like, “Just snap out of it.” or “You’re making a really big deal out of this don’t ya think?” are among some of the most unhelpful. If they could just snap out of it, they most certainly would.
In my search for helpful answers I’ve read lots and lots of stuff and I’ve decided to boil it down into 3 things I hope might help. I’ve lumped lots of prayer and reading into the 3 Be’s and I’ve decided to turn the 3 Be’s into a 3 part series! If you struggle with worry I hope you can find some simple truth and hope. If you love someone who struggles with worry, I hope you can find some things to encourage them and bring some hope and peace to their heart.
Let’s start with the first Be…Be Loud! Let me take you back to childhood and explain. When I was a kid, we had a great apple tree in our back yard. It was the perfect climbing tree and my brothers were up in that tree nearly every spring and summer day. I would watch from the ground only wishing I could climb with them. I was grounded for a couple of reasons. First, I was terrified of leaving the ground (pretty big deterrent to tree climbing). Second, I was frightened because I wore leg braces for the first 12 years of my life and I had a completely lousy sense of balance, so tree climbing was not a great idea.
I honestly don’t know what came over me one day but I decided to give tree climbing a try despite my fear. I remember getting a 5 gallon bucket to give myself a boost to help me reach the first branch. I got up to about the third branch and then a limb got wedged between the cable on my leg brace and my leg. I was stuck and as I tried to get free my other foot slipped off the branch and I was left hanging there sideways with my feet touching no part of the tree. I screamed as loud as I could for my dad and in pretty quick fashion I could hear his calm voice. I yelled for him to help me and get me down but he did something I didn’t expect. He told me that he was going to help, but that I was the one who got into the pickle and I was going to have to get out. For what seemed like forever he stood under that tree giving me directions about where to put my hands and feet. He walked me through getting the branch unstuck from the the cable on my braces and he coached me down onto the bucket and to the ground. I remember asking him why he didn’t just climb up the tree and rescue me and he told me it was better to learn how to get myself out of a pickle with a little support and guidance so I would know what to do if it ever happened again.
There are so many lessons from that day. Each of us has a Father who will race to our aid if we call on his name. Whether it’s a father racing to an apple tree, or to the bedroom to scare monsters out of the closet or a Father who races to the heart of a weary child to restore peace and hope they are just a shout away. All we have to do is cry out loudly for the help of our Father and help will come. We sometimes think he forgets to show up when we call his name and things don’t get better immediately. I think sometimes Father God helps a little like my dad did the day I got stuck in the tree. He didn’t rescue me straight down from the tree but he guided and taught and walked me through; I had to cooperate and listen. If I hadn’t, I might still be stuck in that tree or the same thing might have happened the next time I climbed a tree if he hadn’t helped me learn.
If we’re struggling and we cry out loudly, God will put someone in our path to help us. I’ve learned that I don’t always know what to do or say when someone is struggling but if I cry out too, the Holy Spirit sends the words and thoughts I need to walk with a struggling friend. There are lessons in every struggle and the learning comes at the hands of a Father who loves us and wants what’s good for us. My dad taught me decades ago that getting to the other side of a tough situation doesn’t always happen the way you think it might. God is the same kind of teacher and guide, he’s going to give us what we need, not necessarily what we want but we must never doubt his mighty love.
The next time you’re struggling or overcome with worry, Be Loud and call out to the Lord to meet you in the middle of your mess…he’ll come a runnin…I promise! Stay tuned Monday for the second Be.
A Seed To Plant: Start a note where you can write the 3 Be’s in case you or someone you love needs them. Look for opportunities this week to Be Loud and invite the Lord into your worry and troubles.
Blessings on your day!
Save me, O God, for the waters have risen to my neck. Psalm 69:2
These past few weeks have been pretty nutty! My to-do list goes to prayer with me each morning and I know God will organize it all for his glory but there are a few times I’ve been a little overwhelmed. As I was working my way through the tasks of the past many days I was encouraged when I remembered back to swimming lessons when I was a little girl. Just for the record, I HATED swimming lessons. I remember the required trip into the deep end and that feeling of complete helplessness when I realized my feet couldn’t touch bottom and I had nothing to grab on to. The instructor would yell, relax, close your mouth and tip your head back so the water won’t go up your nose. I didn’t enjoy anything about that feeling.
That feeling has been a familiar one these past few days but I discovered something I never learned in swimming lessons. When you close your mouth and tip your head back so you can breathe, you are automatically looking up. Quietly looking up is always a good idea and this week it’s a practice that has meant survival and surprisingly, great joy! I’ve crammed way too much into the past two weeks but as the waters rose, I kept asking God to keep me from drowning. Not only did he answer but he blessed me with lots of little surprises along the way. He arranged every detail, every time table and every event. Things may not have been completed as early or fast as I wanted but it all got finished. I had help when I didn’t expect it, laughter when it was most needed and great friends along the way. I even managed to score front row parking a couple of times when I’d peeled into the parking lot at the last minute.
I’ve had to reach out and ask for help and we have had to eat left-overs a few times but it all fell in place. I’m in awe of the way God can swoop in and put things in order if we just close our mouth, tip our head back and look up to the giver of life and the master of all time and tasks. Perhaps I should try that more often!
A Seed To Plant: Tip your head back, close your mouth and look up to the giver of life and enjoy your day!
Blessings on your day!
When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him …Luke 7: 9
I’m pretty good at skipping. I’m a good cook. I always make my bed in the morning and I don’t leave my things laying around. Some folks might think those are nice accomplishments but I don’t think my gifts and talent would amaze anyone, especially Jesus. Can you even imagine Jesus looking at you and telling people that you amazed him?
The person Jesus was talking about in this verse from Luke was the Roman soldier who fully and completely trusted in Jesus. He believed that Jesus didn’t even have to go near his sick servant; he had faith that Jesus could simply say the word and heal his servant because he was that mighty. Think about that for a minute…the soldier didn’t have to do something huge, or dramatic or spectacular to amaze Jesus, he just trusted and believed in the power of Jesus. I don’t know about you but I’d like to amaze Jesus. Imagine the conversation…you get home from work and someone says, “Hey, what did you do today?” and you say, “Oh not much, I just amazed Jesus today!” That would be awesome!
I wonder if Jesus is very amazed with us these days? I was waiting for an appointment the other day and a news channel was on. It only took about 2 minutes for me to move to another part of the room so I couldn’t see or hear it. The division, the arguing, the twisting of the truth and the accusations swirl around like leaves in the November wind and it makes me so very sad.
So what do we do? We remember we’re his, we remember we were ALL created in his image, we remember that love and mercy trump all things all the time. We have to look at history and know people rise up, people come together and if they’re going to go anywhere good, they have to follow Christ to get there. We have a big job to do, we have division to heal and peace to find. We have a great Father who wants good for us. Jesus is waiting for us to amaze him and all we have to do to accomplish that task is to trust him and have faith like the Roman Soldier that he is a mighty healer. He is capable of all things and he can inspire greatness and strength in the most broken and weak. Please take a minute to realize that you are a BELOVED CHILD OF GOD and he expects us to amaze him. So go ahead…trust him, believe in him and amaze him.
A Seed To Plant: Say a prayer for our country, say a prayer for our leaders, say a prayer for each other. Tell Jesus you trust him and go be amazing!
Blessings on your day!
…Joy comes with the dawn. Psalm 30:6
God made a lot of amazingly wonderful things for us to enjoy on this earth but one thing I love (almost as much as Mr. Wohlfert) is COFFEE! I love the taste of it, the smell of it, the way that warm steamy mug of deliciousness feels as I swallow those first sips snuggled in my chair for morning prayers…I love everything about it! I do have some rules though…it CANNOT be instant and it CANNOT have any sweet or creamy stuff added to it. Just plain…straight up good black coffee; plain and simple! I joke with my middle lovelies every time I make a mistake (which is about 100 times a day) I just laugh and say, “Yikes, guess I need more coffee!” They laugh and are diverted and we move along. That first cup in the morning is pure joy! Even if my old bones are a bit weary at 4:45 am when the alarm goes off, I topple out of bed because I look forward to that first cup of coffee! God is so good!
Now you might think I’m nuts for writing about something as random as coffee, but if you think about it for a minute…there’s a connection to our faith. I love the way God reveals little nuggets of his truth in the midst of the silliest things…yes…like a cup of coffee. When I wake up in the morning and putter to the kitchen in the dark to hit the on switch on the coffee maker, it doesn’t matter what yesterday was like, or how I slept or even what’s on the schedule for the day, I know for certain my cup of coffee is going to be delicious and wonderful just like every other morning and I know I won’t be disappointed. Few things in life are that certain. Sounds a little like God’s love if you think about it…no matter the day, the time or the event; God is going to be there with a love that is amazing and certain. We don’t have to earn it or deserve it or even request it, all we have to do is hold up our day and say…fill me with your grace and smother me with your mercy and there it is! And…just like a fresh pot of delicious coffee…it happens the same way day after day after day and he will never disappoint us!
I like my coffee plain and simple! I don’t want sweet, gooey, fluffy distracting stuff in my coffee and I don’t want it weak, lukewarm or artificial! That’s what being a disciple of Jesus is all about. If we follow Him and live by His word we are guaranteed truth; plain, simple and authentic! I love waking up to fresh coffee and I make sure to thank Him for inventing it every morning when I sit down to enjoy IT and HIM! Joy comes to me twice every morning …while I sip and while I pray!
A seed to plant: Make a list of 3 simple things you enjoy…do a little deep thinking and see how those things are like the love of Christ. Get creative and share them if you like so we can all enjoy your thoughts!
Blessings on your day!
…”My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
I love working with people who have a “can do” attitude. They always seem so full of energy and optimism. I’d like to think that most days I’m a “can do” kinda girl but then there are those days when I’m absolutely not! Some seasons are busier than others and they spread out before us to-do’s and events that just don’t let up. It’s hard to maintain a prayer life, a house, a dozen schedules, the laundry and then plan meals that don’t all come from a bag or box. We try hard to squeeze it all in but if our prayer time gets whittled away things can jump the tracks quickly.
God knew there would be seasons like these. He knew we would loose our way and forget to sit at his feet. He also knew that there would be times when we were overwhelmed and drained so he has a solution. The antidote to our worldly craziness is his GRACE. The blog would be a mile long if I made a list of all the times I reached the “I’m about to loose it” stage and then remembered to ask for his grace. There is always an instant turn around when I stop and recognize my “can do” has turned into a “can’t do” and I ask for his grace to guide me through. He always delivers every…single…time! The following blip was written by Bonnie B Thurston. I have no idea who Bonnie is, but when I read these words in class Tuesday night I knew she had written them for me; and perhaps for you too.
In the accounts of the Garden of Resurrection in the gospels there is a great stone over the mouth of Jesus’ tomb. Who will move it? The women know that they are unable to remove what separates them from the Lord. This is a great metaphor for the spiritual life. We cannot in our own strength, remove what separates us from God and the life God wants us to have in fullness. We cannot bring life from death. But God can and does. The technical word for this is “grace”. Bonnie B. Thurston.
His grace brings life and removes what separates us from him and the life he has planned. All we have to do is ask for it; loads of it, heaps of it, there is no end or limit. We just have to be still and ask him.
A Seed To Plant: Sit still and have a chat with the Father about grace. Ask for it, tell him where you feel weak and worn out and ask him to swoop into your life with giant grace and then enjoy what he does next!
Blessings on your day!
Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
For all of us who have ever spit out the words, “Lord, just tell me what to do and I’ll do it!”, this post is for you. As usual, I was wrestling with this question and overcomplicating the answer. He let me continue to wrestle with it for a few more weeks and then on a random Saturday, I attended a conference I wasn’t really all that excited about going to and right in the middle of it, I got a very simple answer to what I thought was a genius level complicated question.
The man presenting the class said the path to discovering God’s will for our life was found in First Thessalonians. He said it involved three things and then he pointed to the verse you see at the top of this page. I’ve been thinking and praying about it for a few weeks and here’s what I think.
Rejoice always…I’ve discovered rejoicing has very little to do with my personal comfort and satisfaction. I’m reminded of Pope John Paul II’s words, “I’m gonna act like I wished I felt!” When I realize every situation and circumstance is an opportunity to grow in holiness or grow in selfishness, I need to pick the first one. God is with me at every turn; even the wrong ones and he will never abandon me if I call on his help and I can’t think of a greater reason to rejoice. I’m trying to change my “Seriously God!” to “God, not sure what we’re doin here but I’m happy because you’re doin it with me!” Rejoicing is also noticing and praising him for all the great things in a day; giving credit where credit is due. “God it’s so great that you…” is a phrase I think and say a hundred times a day. “God it’s so great that you kept that crazy driver from taking off my front fender. or God it’s so great that you created the pinks of the morning sky, the yellow of my favorite mum and the orange of those pumpkins.” I call it out when things fall in place, when things go the right way and when they don’t. Noticing him and rejoicing for ALL of it puts HIM first in my mind instead of myself.
Pray constantly…all things are prayer when we invite him in. Before our feet hit the floor our first words should be, “Lord thanks for new day, please be the boss of it!” Every situation is an opportunity for prayer. “Lord, be with me as I make this phone call. or Lord please take charge of my work today or Lord, please meet me in the laundry and bless all those who will wear these clothes I’m going to wash and fold.” The more we invite, the more we can turn all of the parts of our day into constant prayer. He will walk through any task with us if we invite him through a simple prayer. He wants to join us in the exciting, the boring, the terrific and the yucky. Truth is, he makes all of it better and if we truly ask him in throughout the day it changes the things we get into. If I invite him in to my evening office time I’m much more likely to be productive rather than get lost on Pinterest or Facebook.
Give thanks in all circumstances…All of them? Yup…all of them! When we give thanks for all things, even the ones we really don’t like, great things can happen. First, if it’s a really lousy situation we’re thanking him for, that gives us a chance to offer that suffering and that is always a powerful thing. Second, it makes us mindful of his power and grace. I have a lot of trouble with my knees and every time I walk and it hurts, I say “Thank you for this pain, please take this teeny suffering and do something good for a soul in need.” I know he will, and it makes things much easier. My mom told me to never waste my suffering and that suffering was the closest path to Jesus’ heart. Giving thanks also allows us to recognize God’s hand in our life. It allows us to see the truth; there is no such thing as luck or coincidence, only God’s providence and the more I notice it and thank him for it, the clearer his Will for my life becomes. Perhaps these three things will help you discover a path to His plan!
A Seed To Plant: Copy down this verse and put it into action this week. See how many times a day you can incorporate these three simple things.
Blessings on your day!
…Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her. Mark 10:42
Do you ever feel like you are at war with yourself? You try to do the right things and live up to the expectations but some days it just feels like you fall short…I hope that’s not just me! I had a lousy day; one of those look under every rock of your life and not really like what you see kind of days. I suppose it’s good to take an honest inventory of your life from time to time but sometimes it’s painful to be honest with yourself. What I came to discover is that I’m probably like everybody else with some good qualities and some not so stellar ones too. As I was thinking about this “battle with self”, I remembered a Gospel story about two sisters who had a battle right in front of Jesus. I could relate so perfectly to this story and the constant struggle to do the right thing for the right reason. As I re-read this Gospel I realized that I can be both sisters; Martha and Mary.
This epic sister conflict reveals the perfect model for our lives as faithful servants! It’s easy to read this Gospel and take sides, but the truth of the matter is we all have an inner Martha and an inner Mary. It’s also easy to read this Gospel and make Martha out to be the “bad guy” sister. Really, can you imagine having the guts to whine to Jesus about cooking and serving! In Martha’s defense, the most important guest of all time was in the living room and there sat the chief helper star struck, completely shirking all sense of responsibility and duty, I’m not gonna lie, I think I would have been a bit irritated myself.
As a Disciple of Christ our vocation includes the Martha stuff like cooking, cleaning and serving. It also includes the Mary stuff like devotion, attentiveness and focus on the better part. This Gospel should inspire us to be a balance of both sisters. We need to realize that when the cooking and serving are done as a prayerful offering to God, it is a powerful form of prayer and devotion. We also need to realize our Mary moments of complete and uninterrupted prayer have to be carved into our daily schedule. I need to read this Gospel several times and balance my Mary and Martha! I need to read this Gospel several times to realize my battle is normal and as long as I keep plugging along trying to do the right thing and keep it all in balance, God will notice, and thank goodness he rewards us for attempts and not just perfection!
A Seed To Plant: How can I make my Martha tasks like cooking and serving more of a prayerful offering instead of complaining about it and feeling unappreciated? How can I be more attentive and focused on Jesus like Mary? How can I find balance and have patience with myself?
Blessings on your day!
For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate. Romans 7:15
We had a snap of cool summer weather a few weeks back so I made an industrial sized batch of chili. After it had cooled I grabbed a glass measuring cup to scoop the chili into containers for the freezer. It wasn’t a new task or one that required any kind of special skill but yet I managed to find myself in the middle of a disaster! As I was getting ready to pour the first scoop into the bowl, my brain must have entered some kind of warped fog because I dumped out the chili before I even reached the counter top where the bowl was waiting. In some bizarre turn of events, I found myself standing in a puddle of splattered chili. It was on my feet, my pants, the floor, the rug the cupboard doors and many other tiny little spaces. I’m still not sure how it happened but it took me thirty minutes to get everything cleaned up! YUCK!
As I was scrubbing up the mess trying to figure out how I had managed to do something so crazy I thought of this verse from Romans. Talk about an experience in not doing what I want and doing what I hate! While I was doing clean up, I decided to think about the positives of the whole situation. One of the tasks on my summer to do list that hadn’t been completed was to scrub all my kitchen cabinets so I got to take that off my list. Another bonus was related to my kitchen rugs. I have a habit of purchasing kitchen rugs with a bright pattern. Make no mistake, that isn’t because I am a master designer with artsy flair, it simply means that kind of rug hides lots of spills and I don’t’ have to wash the rugs as often. It was past time for a good rug washing and thanks to the chili event I had no choice. The third positive thing that came from the disaster was probably the most important of all. As I crawled around my kitchen scrubbing I realized that I was on my knees; a good place to be and I had to slow down and focus on just one thing. I don’t know about you but I’m not as good at either of those things as I should be. I spend a big chunk of time each morning in prayer but I’m nestled into my comfy prayer chair with my coffee and it’s a very cozy way to begin my day. I’m tellin’ ya, being on my knees on that hard tile floor made prayer a different experience. My mind didn’t wander like it does in comfy prayer; I was focused.
I know for a fact that when St. Paul wrote this letter to the Romans he wasn’t thinking about chili spills and scrub buckets but I do believe Scripture has a way of grabbing you right where you are. Splattering chili was not what I had planned but as I crawled around scrubbing I realized I focused on what I wanted, and on doing things with my own power far too much of the time. We like things to go our way and according to our plan. I think that is one of the ways sin sneaks in and takes over. When I realize sin has gotten a hold of my attitude or my behavior I find myself in the middle of something I hate. I’d like to say that only happens once in a while but that wouldn’t be true! It was great food for thought as I crawled around on my knees. When I finished I was determined to spend more time on my knees in focused prayer talking with my Father about all those things I hate doing that I need His help with. I realized the truth of this verse is that unless I surrender everything to Him the cycle is just going to continue again and again. Who knew a chili spill could contain such an important spiritual lesson!
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of things you seem to do that you don’t want to do then hit your knees with that list and ask Sweet Jesus to help you make a change.
Blessings on your day!
And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. Luke 2:19
I have a suspicion that there are some things in the world that are universal. I suspect we all wish the work week had two days and the weekend had five. I suspect we all enjoy the beauty of the sunrise and sunset and I suspect we all have a junk drawer somewhere in our house! I love having a place to stick all that stuff I might need later or don’t have any idea what to do with. When I shove stuff in there I secretly pray I’ll be able to quickly find that one thing buried in there when I need it. Of course I realize how embarrassed I’d be if anybody actually looked in my junk drawer.
As I read this passage from Luke’s Gospel I thought about the things Mary had in her heart to reflect on; it was big stuff for sure! I love how Luke used the word reflect instead of worry, plan, manage or fix . As I sat down to pray, I asked God to help me ponder and reflect on the things in my own heart. It didn’t take me long to realize my heart was a little like my kitchen junk drawer! It was full of a bunch of clunky stuff I probably didn’t need, wouldn’t really find very helpful and of course a bunch of stuff that didn’t really match anything. In all honesty, my heart was cluttered with of a bunch of junk I just keep there because it’s easier to shove it in than take the time and effort to truly sort it all out.
As I reflected on my heart, I’m afraid to say there was as much gunk and clunk there as I found in my drawer. I discovered some jealousy and some impatience and some judgement. For several days I carried this junky heart thinking around and God showed me so many things that needed to be tossed out. I realized I was hauling around memories and thoughts and silly wishes that were taking up space he wanted to fill with better stuff. I came to realize there was stuff in my heart that had about as much value as the random junk in my drawer. I’m pretty sure that lonely hot wheels tire and broken diaper pin has about as much usefulness as some of the feelings I’m guarding in the secret corners of my heart. I’m absolutely certain those junky things are not the kinds of things he’s encouraging me to ponder.
The thing about reflecting is that it’s a passive activity. Mary realized she could only reflect and trust. She wasn’t forming her action plan or trying to figure out how to get God to change the plan. She was confident that in all of her thoughts and situations he was going to be there. I ponder the fixes and the action instead of reflecting on all the ways God is going to show up and use every situation for good. I realized that my reflection is always “me” centered; what am I going to do, and this simple line from Luke’s Gospel reminded me in a powerful way that I’m completely missing the point. Reflecting on the stuff in my heart pointed me to the fact that I need to do some dumping, sorting and re-organizing. I have to dump it all out and let go of the junk that’s taking up valuable space…space that was designed for things so much more important. In the dumping and purging, the thing I will make room for is him and his mighty works. Just like the “treasures” in my junk drawer that I’m saving in case I need them, chances are, I truly don’t! Dumping out that drawer to sort and clean is going to seem overwhelming and make my kitchen look like a giant mess before it gets better. But I know the result will be fresh, tidy and open…that’s the kind of drawer I’m after and that’s the kind of heart God’s looking for.
A Seed To Plant: Take some time this week to clean out the junk! Take a prayerful look at what’s in your heart and then pick a drawer, closet or spot to sort and organize while you pray. The two tasks added together are a pretty powerful way to do some reflecting!
Blessings on your day!
Jesus Christ…became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich. 2 Corinthians 8:19
There certainly are things I enjoy a little extra of! A little extra coffee, a little more time to linger on the porch visiting with friends and family or just a little extra sleep from time to time to list a few. One of the lessons my parents were HUGE on teaching was not to be greedy. Clear as a bell I can hear them say, “Be grateful for what you have because being greedy for more is ungratefulness and that’s ugly.” It was a great thing for them to teach me and it’s one of those things that sticks! I was praying with this scripture from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians and I realized that this important lesson from my parents often creeps into my prayer life.
After some thought, I realized that my prayer view slides a little sideways from time to time. I’m really good at asking God to take care of people and situations and the needs of others. I mean, who doesn’t pray every day for people to get better or get jobs or get back on track. I’m really good at praising him and thanking him but I don’t often ask for his riches and heaping doses of his grace. I guess I feel blessed and thankful and I don’t want to be greedy. Upon careful thought, I realized I was trying to be like an A student to God. I wanted to keep a low profile, do my homework (daily prayer) and try like crazy to keep my nose in my own business and be obedient. I don’t think that’s all God wants for me. That’s actually a little robotic and not very “relationship-ish”.
God sent his son to suffer and die so we could be rich. Not rich in the money sense but rich in his grace, mercy and love. We were made for happiness. We were made to be saints and that’s work we can’t do alone. He’s waiting to give us extra! He spent everything; his blood, sweat, tears and very life to make us rich in him and I was too afraid to ask for personal extras. How crazy is that! It’s not like there is an expiration date on his gifts like a coupon. He will never say, “Sorry Sheri, you should have asked for joy and patience last week, I’m afraid that request is not valid past last Friday.” There are also no limits or strings to our requests either. I’m pretty sure he will never flash a sigh like you see in the grocery store on a great deal that says “limit 5 with additional $5 purchase”. He’s not going to run out of grace or attach strings or conditions to his gifts.
He died so we could be rich so why am I living like I have empty pockets? I’ve decided that something I want extra of is joy and compassion. I’m going to ask for extra forgiveness and a lot of extra peace and kindness. It doesn’t make us greedy, it makes us trusting and it makes us rich. It doesn’t make me ungrateful because it’s not about me…it’s about him and the things he wants to make me because of his gifts. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to ask for lots of extra things starting today…right after I get some extra coffee!
A Seed To Plant: Take out a sheet of paper and across the top write EXTRA-EXTRA-EXTRA and then make a list of all the things you need to ask God for extra of so you can become rich in him!
Blessings on your day!
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. Isaiah 55:8
I’ve been stuck on this verse for a few weeks and I just keep getting lessons. As I think about the Prophet Isaiah’s words, they have a more truthful application to my life than I’d like to admit! My thoughts ramble off into the back 40 during prayer and the things I’m thinking are definitely not His thoughts and sometimes, my ways are so NOT His ways! Why do we do that…when we know we shouldn’t speak words to others we wouldn’t speak directly to Him and we know His way and His plan trump ours EVERY time? Yet we keep runnin around sayin stuff we shouldn’t say and doin stuff that our stubborn nature tells us is easier! I guess it all leads me back to the truth…I’m just a big ole sinner who needs the love and mercy of a Gracious God because I sure can’t get it right without Him! Maybe that’s the whole point!
I learned a new prayer from a really great priest; here it is, “Thank You God, Your will be done!” Even I can remember that one! Seems simple and easy and makes sense...until you begin to think about when you should say it! It’s going to be easy to say that little prayer when I get a good parking spot, or when something good happens. The tricky part is when the yucky stuff happens. Fr. used the examples, when you loose your keys in the snow, “Thank you God, Your will be done.” Or when you loose your cell phone, “Thank you God, Your will be done…now I have more time to talk to You.” Seven little words that can change everything! I think we can get so busy we forget to have that ongoing dialogue with Our Father, maybe lost keys and slow traffic and broken mower belts really are a tiny nudge inviting us to speak with Him.
Disappointments are a great place to plug in this prayer! When things don’t go the way we plan, we can get pretty down. I remember not getting a teaching job I wanted so badly! I prayed, I researched, I practiced interviewing I did everything to prepare yet despite my best efforts, the interview committee picked someone else! I was so disappointed! I called my mom in tears and she listened to me blubber on and on and when I was finished, she softly said, “It wasn’t your job to get!” I remembered that conversation clear as a bell in church as Fr. was talking about that very simple little prayer and on the drive home, Isaiah’s words chimed in and I was overwhelmed with the power of God’s plan. It hit me that if I had gotten that teaching job, I would not have gone to K-State, I would not have found out about the job opening with the State Department of Education in Michigan, I would not have moved here, met and married Dave, had three wonderful children and my life would NOT be any of the terrific things it is right now! Thank you God, Your will be done! And it was done…with amazing attention to detail I might add! It’s surprising what seven little words can stir up!
God always knows what He’s doing. We have to thank Him especially when things don’t go our way. I don’t know about you but sometimes I forget that part. The harder something is, the bigger our thank you should be! He blesses us through good and happy things and He blesses us BIGGER through the difficult, disappointing and heartbreaking! We tend to see what’s good for us; He sees what’s good for ALL of His children. We have to remember we aren’t the only ones He has to care for. Our disappointment is most likely someone else’s blessing…we can stamp our feet like a spoiled impatient toddler or we can use that time for some of the greatest prayer and fortifying ever. He doesn’t withhold things to make us squirm, He waits for the perfect time and the perfect place and the perfect peace…all He asks is that we thank Him and ask Him to show us His way while we wait on His perfect timing. His ways, His words…yeah, it makes sense since we are His children!
A seed to plant: Write this little prayer down and stick it somewhere so you’ll remember to pray it often. Thank you God, Your will be done!
Blessings on your day!
Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it. A man is powerful on his knees. ~ Corrie Ten Boom
Each year as the middle lovelies come to my classroom I’m on the lookout for the storyteller. They are the one who can make a 20 word story last for 7 minutes. They are usually very animated and I love listening them bring a simple event to life with living color and spectacular detail. Unfortunately we don’t always have time to stay tuned in for the entire story and I have to ask them to skip to the end or give us the “tiny size story”. I hate to do it but sometimes I just have to. One year not so long ago I had 4 storytellers and that was the year I learned a true appreciation for the gift of telling a powerful story in just a few, choice, touching words. I just finished reading a book called God Help Me: How to Grow in Prayer by Jim Beckman and it is fabulous; he is an amazing storyteller!
Sometimes I use too many words like the storytellers in my classroom so today, I’m going to borrow some simple, powerful words from Mr. Beckman…I don’t think he’ll mind; especially if you become inspired and decide to buy the book yourself. I hope they hit your heart as hard as they hit mine.
“I previously approached prayer as a kind of drug. I used it to help me feel close to god, to give me experiences of his presence. But as with a drug, I could choose when to take it and I could sometimes go without it. Prayer now has become more like air. It’s not really an option: I can’t breathe without it; I can’t live without it.”
“There is very little in prayer that depends on me. I can’t make myself have deep spiritual experiences. I can’t create consolation for myself. I can’t make up a word from God or make myself any holier. All of that depends on God. His movements are his and I can’t do anything to make them happen. The only things that I bring to the mix are consistently showing up for prayer and the disposition of my heart when I’m there.”
How’s that for straight to the point! I don’t think there’s any need for more words today…I need to concentrate on these and see where He leads me and my prayer time.
A Seed To Plant: Take these two passages to prayer with you and see what the Holy Spirit speaks to your heart about them.
Blessings on your day!
…”Speak Lord for your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:9
When I was growing up, if I would misplace something and say, “I can’t find it!” my dad would always say, “I’m sure it will be in the last place you look.” He was right…it always was but as a kid that line really bugged me! I
think it probably bugged me because what I would have rather heard him say was, “I’ll help you find it.” That simple statement of the obvious and the reality that I was on my own was his very simple way of letting me know I was responsible. If I wanted that missing object badly enough I had to invest the thought, energy and action into finding what I was looking for.
I heard someone say a couple weeks ago, “God just never listens to me!” I’m sure we’ve all felt that way a time or two when things got bumpy but the question that should always follow that statement is , “How well do I listen to God?” As Christians we can be assured of God’s presence in our lives but sometimes we have to do what my dad always pushed me to do and take responsibility for finding His loving presence in our lives. God speaks to us, but it’s not a bold, booming deep voice from the clouds. God speaks to us daily if we’re seeking and listening. There are four ways He makes us aware of his presence, His voice, and His will.
The first place God speaks to us is through Scripture. Once while I was in the middle of a struggle, I tried a dozen things on my own to make it better and finally after no improvement I did what I should have done first and gone to God’s word for strength, comfort and counsel. When I did finally ask God to speak to my heart, I landed in James and these were the words I read; Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. I heard that loud and clear!
The second way God speaks to us is through circumstances. Sometimes we call them coincidences, but God deserves the credit for those things, not fate. God so loves each of us, He arranges and organizes events and circumstances all the time just to show us how much He loves us and cares for us. Keep your eye out for them!
The third way is through people. Sometimes the right person with just the right word comes along at just right time and it seems to change everything. That’s God, speaking through others. A lady shared a story just recently about being in the hospital and as she was being prepped for surgery a nurse walked in to assist and they just “out of nowhere” started talking about trusting God and feeling His peace. She said it completely removed her fear and she rolled down the hall with an amazing sense of calmness and confidence.
The fourth way God speaks to us is through prayer. My husband and I couldn’t have raised our children together if we had never talked. I can’t teach a room full of middle lovelies if we don’t talk. I think we understand that we would stumble around in such chaos and frustration if we didn’t communicate with each other. Prayer is our communication with God. It’s the most important conversation we have each day but yet it’s the one that sometimes gets pushed to the side when we get busy or frazzled. The biggest mistake we make is to think we don’t have time to pray. That would be like trying to drive somewhere and being too busy to put gas in the car.
If you feel like something’s missing in your life seek the giver of all good things. He will be the last place you look and now you have four choices.
A Seed To Plant: Pick one of the four and start seeking Him. I’m willing to bet the more you seek Him in these four places, the more you’ll find Him.
Blessings on your day!
…and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.” Matthew 1:23
I don’t know about you, but I love those little “life hack” videos that pop up on my newsfeed. Things like putting hot glue dots on your hangers to keep slippery closes from falling off or 20 ways to organize junk, using random items around the house. Granted, some of them are pretty ridiculous but most of them come from folks who are way smarter and more creative than I am so I find myself watching and saying, “Seriously, that is awesome, why didn’t I think of that!” My mind likes simple, efficient and logical so if someone wants to pass along a little of that I’m gonna soak it up!
What I really love though, is when someone can give me some “life hacks” for my discipleship! Sometimes I can try to do 40 things at once to try to be holier and wind up in a tail spin. That’s usually when I get discouraged and feel like I’ll never be “good” enough to get to heaven. I’m getting better at promptly stopping that kind of thinking and calling it out for what it is…discouragement and we all know who throws that up in our face! That’s when we need to stop and say “Oh No…not today satan! You messed with the wrong disciple!” I know that no matter how crooked my path gets or how twisted around I become, as long as my heart is headed in HIS direction he’s gonna grab my hand and put me on his path if I call out for guidance. It’s like DIVINE GPS. (I’m pretty sure GPS stand for Gods Perfect Strategy) My discipleship and my path to holiness often looks like a fish floppin around on the bank, so anytime I can find a quick “something” to snap me back and return me to water, I’m happy. I found a little something that does just that so I thought I’d share. Like all those great tips and tricks we find on the “inter-webs” this isn’t mine but if it’s helpful, it’s worth sharing so…thanks to no work of my own…here ya go!
It begins with reminding ourselves of a simple fact. Since we were created in the image and likeness of God, then he’s always in us and with us. In short, we don’t need to do a lot of hard fancy stuff to get his attention because we never leave his gaze. I can’t hide from him so I can never really be lost. It’s simple but I can’t count the number of times I forget that. Remembering that is step one, step two is remembering the word WIT. This teeny word can lead us to holiness and save us from bad decisions, stupid actions and regrettable words. Here’s how it works. Jesus, live this day (or this moment; or this event; or this situation) WITH me; Live it IN me; Live itTHROUGH me. If you want the quicker version, at that split second when we’re about to gossip or lie or judge or lip off impatiently, or be afraid, what if we stopped long enough to say “Jesus, with me, in me and through me!” I’m pretty darn sure what would happen next would be a much better outcome. I spend a lot of prayer time telling him how sorry I am for all the stupid stuff I do and say and think. If I put the WIT prayer in action I’m pretty sure I’m gonna have a lot more time for saying prayers of gratitude!
A Seed To Plant: Write down the words to the WIT prayer and put it a few places you’ll notice and ask God to help you make it a frequent prayer in your day.
Blessings on your day!
And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. John 8:32
I’m away from home this week and the pace is much slower and more peaceful than a regular week. As a result of that a slower pace, my writing brain seems to be running slower too so I had just a few thoughts I wanted to share today. These thoughts are compliments of the amazing Deacon Ralph Poyo. They are short but mighty statements that hit me right in the heart; perhaps they’ll make you think a bit too!
**The world fills us so full, we're not hungry for God.
**Temptation is an invitation to leave the truth and enter deception.
**We're trusting Him for eternity but not for earth.
A Seed To Plant: As you sit in prayer this week, carefully ponder those three sentences and ask God to show you how they fit in your life.
Blessings on your day!
What your hands provide you will enjoy; you will be blessed and prosper. Psalm 128:2
Growing up we always had a gigantic garden. The garden was the work of the summer. There was always something to do, planting, weeding, picking or preserving. My mom canned and froze enough produce for the whole year; green beans, carrots, potatoes, corn, tomatoes, peas and beets. It was a complete drag during the middle of the summer when it was 100 degrees and my brothers and I were sitting in the back yard shucking corn for hours but fresh sweet corn in January made it all worth it. I can’t begin to count the times my folks reminded me of that while they handed me another bucket of green beans to snap. It isn’t always easy to see the blessing that comes with the investment at the time. All these years later, I still plant a garden and can tomatoes. True, I can get a can on sale for less than a dollar but it just isn’t the same. The problem is, by the time spring finally comes in Michigan and I get to a point with the end of the school year chaos and I finally get them planted it’s always September before they are ready to pick and can.
This is a particularly busy time of year with speaking and school but I came home Wednesday to a basket of tomatoes staring me down. I knew they had to be canned or they would spoil and even though I had a dozen other things to do, I reminded myself how good they would taste in chili and soup when the snow was flying so I got to it, but not without plenty of eye rolling and muttering under my breath, “really…now…I have to do this now? Why can’t they be ready before school starts, that would be much more convenient! As I stood at the kitchen sink washing jars and peeling tomatoes I asked myself why I even bother at all. But as I sit here typing, drinking a cup of coffee, I hear the canner bubbling and the soft clink of the seals setting on the jars fresh from the canner and I realize how satisfying it is and how connected I feel to my mom when I do what she did. It’s worth it, but it always takes me a while to remember that.
If I’m being honest, canning tomatoes is a little like my faith life. I love the end result, but more often than I should, I grumble about the effort and the time it takes. I want the relationship and the grace but I don’t always want to invest the time necessary. I want to head to the pantry in January and grab what I need but it takes effort to make sure it will be there when I need it. Sometimes my prayer life is like that. I cry out to God with my list of wants and needs and I just expect to grab what I need. I take his mercy and his goodness for granted way too often. It will be a sad day when I go to the pantry and there are no more tomatoes but it would be an unfathomably devastating day if I went to the Lord and he wasn’t there. I very well may run out of tomatoes but I can breathe a sigh of relief to know as long as I run to the Father and truly seek him, his grace and compassion will never run dry. Out of all the things I needed to do besides can tomatoes, I had to make the tomatoes a priority. I wonder how much better my attitude and perspective would be if I remembered to put the Father and his plan as my top priority every day. Timing is important. No matter how hard I wish, I can't make those tomatoes ripe any sooner. Patience is such a key and these tomatoes are a reminder to trust in Gods timing is perfect. As I sit back and admire the jars of warm tomatoes all lined up on my counter I’m pretty sure there are many times the Father lines the events of my days up in perfect order and I don’t even notice it or thank him for it. Funny how much you can learn from putting tomatoes in a jar!
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of three things you can do this week to invest in your relationship with the Father. Say a prayer of thanksgiving for someone who taught you something important.
Blessings on your day!
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