"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about all the people knee deep in lousy stuff. I have gotten many emails and texts in the past few weeks from people who need prayer to navigate their way through life. There is sickness, distress, family and job difficulties and some of these requests are swirling really close to home. I’m so happy they ask for prayer, and I’ve been praying my little tail off and absolutely; I trust, I believe and my faith is strong as a bolder but every now and again I just wanna say, “Hey, wait a dog-gone minute God, this is all too much!” I’m sure that comment during prayer is followed by a heavenly face-palm!
The big question I’ve been hearing from those folks struggling is, “If God loves us, why does this lousy stuff happen?” I would have to say that’s a completely fair question and I wish like heck I could type an answer to make it all better but here is the truth, A) God doesn’t MAKE bad stuff happen and he loves us even harder when it does and B) Sometimes there isn’t a simple answer to complicated things. With my heart a little heavy, I’ve spent some time prayin, and thinkin and here are some of the things that made me feel better.
There is a big difference in being involved and being in control. God is completely involved in our lives and the more we pray and grow in our relationship with him, the more involved he will be. Because of our free will, God does not control our lives. Some of the distress I’ve been asked to pray for is the result of someone doing something lousy with their free will and leaving others to suffer in the wake of poor choices. God cannot be in control of that but he can absolutely be involved in our lives as we navigate through it if we invite him to meet us there and lead us through. He won’t wave a magic wand and make it all disappear but he will give us the grace and the strength to endure the difficulties if we ask.
Bad stuff isn’t part of God’s plan. He doesn’t give people cancer or trap children in a cave because his “master plan” indicated it’s time for it. That is not how a loving Father operates. If a dad decided to go for a walk with his son, and along the way the son stepped in a gopher hole and hurt his ankle that would be a lousy thing. Lousy as it is, the dad didn’t make it happen. He was absolutely there but he didn’t plan it or want it to happen; he wasn’t in control of it, but you can bet your bottom dollar that he instantly became involved. He felt the hurt, he poured out compassion and comfort and he did everything possible to aid in his sons healing.
If God controlled everything, we might think life would be easier and long gone would be fear, suffering and pain. I suppose in some ways that makes sense but because of our sinful nature (thank you Adam, Eve and Satan) we want what we want and we aren’t always so good at trusting and following the rules, let alone being completely controlled, so this idea has some holes. God doesn’t force his love or his perfect will on us, it’s up to us to choose to love, trust, surrender and follow him. When we’re tempted to think God makes bad things happen it’s good to remember a few truths from scripture. Jesus heals the sick; he doesn’t bring about their illness. Often the healing isn’t physical but it is spiritual and the result of that healing can lead to our salvation. Jesus liberates the oppressed; he doesn’t prolong their oppression. Jesus sets the prisoner free; he doesn’t imprison. Jesus restores a broken creation; he doesn’t further cripple it through disease, suffering, and pain.
When I find myself feeling overwhelmed about the sadness or madness of a lousy situation, I have to reach for the three biggest truth of all. They’re stiff ones and sometimes they go down like vinegar but they are enormous truth spoken in even bigger love. The first; every situation no matter how sad or tragic or difficult, is a situation where God can bring about a greater good. The part that makes that really tough to wrap our heads and hearts around is sometimes we hurt too much to see the good and often the greater good is for someone else. The second; Scripture says, there will be trouble and it is only through suffering we can fully come to Christ. When I realize that, and stop to contemplate the suffering of both the Father and the Son; done for me…it really puts things in perspective. Finally, heaven is the reward, not earth. As humans, we cling to the familiar and fear the unknown. If we could begin to unwrap even a tiny corner of the delight, glory and absolute magnificence of eternal life we would run from this world so fast we’d be nothing but a streak!
The lousy stuff is never what we wish for and it’s never handed out as a punishment but there is love, healing, and even salvation when we truly let the Father get involved and walk with us through the lousy. The lousy stuff is where God shows his power, his compassion and his amazing ability to unite, support and draw people closer to each other and to heaven.
A Seed To Plant: Spend some time asking God to be involved in your struggles or the struggles of someone you love. Trust him and then watch to see the way he works.
Blessings on your day!
The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him I trust and I am helped…Psalm 28:7
A few weeks ago I said that “I don’t know” was probably my most spoken sentence. As the craziness seems to escalate and the unanswered questions keep piling up, I have tried to swap “I don’t know.” for “Jesus show me how.” It brings me peace because I know he will guide us through this whole mess but I asked for more peace, more understanding and more loving calmness for my family, my friends and my school family. As he always does, he gave me exactly what I asked for, and as usual, I didn’t pick up on it right away. Three times in the last week I have come across this prayer and finally got it. I’m a little slow on the uptake sometimes but the third time I “stumbled onto” this prayer I realized it’s exactly the balm my soul and spinning mind needed.
At a time when there have been so many lines drawn in the sand I’m not sure where to step, I needed to re-claim the truth. I needed to remember the way to heaven is paved by my trust in Jesus, not my trust in a human. “I don’t know” what the first day of school will look like but I know “Jesus will show me how” he wants me to reach my students that day. I’m pretty sure “did you wear your facemark” and “did you maintain proper social distance in 2020” won’t be on an entry exam to heaven but I’m sure every uncomfortable thing…every sacrificial thing…every difficult or ridiculous thing I’m asked to do can help me grow in holiness. When my head starts to spin about whose bossing us around and why, I have to come back to, Jesus I trust you…I know I am your beloved daughter and I know everything I do on earth is a part of my path back to you if I trust, surrender, obey and REMEMBER HOW ADORED I AM BY THE ONE WHO CREATED ME! So todays post is the balance and the truth we all need a big ole dose of today.
Litany of Trust
From the belief that I have to earn Your love … Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear that I am unlovable … Deliver me, Jesus.
From the false security that I have what it takes … Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear that trusting You will leave me more destitute … Deliver me, Jesus.
From all suspicion of Your words and promises … Deliver me, Jesus.
From the rebellion against childlike dependency on You … Deliver me, Jesus.
From refusals and reluctances in accepting Your will … Deliver me, Jesus.
From anxiety about the future … Deliver me, Jesus.
From resentment or excessive preoccupation with the past … Deliver me, Jesus.
From restless self-seeking in the present moment … Deliver me, Jesus.
From disbelief in Your love and presence … Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being asked to give more than I have … Deliver me, Jesus.
From the belief that my life has no meaning or worth … Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of what love demands … Deliver me, Jesus.
From discouragement … Deliver me, Jesus.
That You are continually holding me, sustaining me, loving me … Jesus, I trust in you.
That Your love goes deeper than my sins and failings, and transforms me …Jesus, I trust in you.
That not knowing what tomorrow brings is an invitation to lean on You … Jesus, I trust in you.
That You are with me in my suffering … Jesus, I trust in you.
That my suffering, united to Your own, will bear fruit in this life and the next …Jesus, I trust in you.
That You will not leave me orphan, that You are present in Your Church…Jesus, I trust in you.
That Your plan is better than anything else … Jesus, I trust in you.
That You always hear me, and in Your goodness always respond to me …Jesus, I trust in you.
That You give me the grace to accept forgiveness and to forgive others …Jesus, I trust in you.
That You give me all the strength I need for what is asked …Jesus, I trust in you.
That my life is a gift … Jesus, I trust in you.
That You will teach me to trust You … Jesus, I trust in you.
That You are my Lord and my God … Jesus, I trust in you.
That I am Your beloved one … Jesus, I trust in you.
A Seed To Plant: Print or write this prayer and pray it when you feel unsettled, uncertain or anxious about the world around you.
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 could not get a post to come together today...my mind was blank and the Holy Spirit was quiet so I put things away for a couple of hours. The words, "the work is done" popped into my head. I ridiculously kept trying to write and when I tried to post a writing the Lord clearly didn't approve of I ended up on the archive page. When I tried to click out of the archive page, I landed on this post from 2015...I'm smiling through tears at the timing and wisdom of the Lord...seems like 5 years later, we haven't changed as much as we thought.
In my distress I called to the Lord…Psalm 18:6
If our high school would have had a debate team, I would have been absolutely the last person picked to be on it! I’m amazed at the way some people can eloquently deliberate a topic with conviction and finesse. Still others can bark an opinion and slam you with a defense that leaves your head spinning. I simply smell controversy or conflict and nearly trip over my own feet trying to get away from the conversation! We all have our own opinions and we all have the ability to make choices but that doesn’t mean we are obligated to yell them out. As Christians, it’s up to us to make sure our opinions and choices are based on truth and rooted in Scripture and Church teaching. Seems simple enough right?
As a society we don’t like to be told what to do. We aren’t so good with rules and regulations and I wonder if that is because there are so many voices yackin we can’t even hear the truth anymore. I’m not sure what happened to right and wrong; good and bad but we seem to live in a world full of clauses and sub-groups and exceptions. Some days I think gray is the most popular color in America. A very wise man I know always used to say, “Just do the right thing and keep your mouth shut.” Imagine what would happen if everyone was told to follow that advice for a day! What would happen if everyone was told they couldn’t say one thing for a day unless it was based in truth and steeped in Scripture?
A person could get pretty upset and discouraged with the state of affairs we seem to be in right now; but then that’s exactly what Satan wants. He would be delighted to think he’s reduced us all to a society of bickering, selfish, self-centered, slandering, lying, cheating, stealing idiots. He would be delighted to think we’ve forgotten our mission to seek the truth, live the truth and love the God who created us. Well news flash…WE HAVEN’T! I have come to realize a couple important truths of my own in the last couple days that seemed to yank me right out of my disappointment with our current state of affairs. The first; when we get to heaven we won’t present a summary of our best earthly actions nor will we be judged in groups. We are flying SOLO so it is our sole responsibility to make sure the choices we make and the opinions we base our actions on are in line with the will of the Father. One thing that is not gray…following the will of the Father is often very hard! He cares about our character not our comfort. The second; God is bigger than anything going on here on earth! He’s mightier than any ruling, leader, mandate or current event. He’s the one we should be aligning ourselves with, seeking protection from, gaining wisdom from and hanging on every word from. In order to do that well; to really follow His lead; we need to spend time in conversation with him. What would happen if the next time we see a post, or hear a news report that bubbles up our blood we stopped before reacting and spent a moment or two in prayer. Before we spout off our opinion what if we asked the Holy Spirit to inspire our words to be truthful and steeped in Scripture? God is bigger, richer, stronger and mightier than any of us combined but in order to see all of that clearly revealed to this hurting world, we have to live like we love him and become a world that prays first before anything else!
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of three “things”, “people”, or “groups” that seem to bother you most. Your task for the next week is to pray consistently for those three things. In your prayer, ask God to guide your actions and reactions to those three things.
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
I know it’s way past my normal post time but I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve started, deleted and re-started todays blog. I missed my post last Thursday because I was on my way to North Carolina to celebrate the life of my “cool aunt” Ellen. There are a hundred emotions about the early, sudden loss of a beautiful soul and a reunion with a couple dozen people I love with all my heart I want to share but I think those stories (and my are there some good ones!) will need to wait because so many things have seemed to come completely un-hinged in the last couple of days I think we might need a big ‘ole sprinkle of joy and logic in the wake of it all.
There is so much going on right now that this post could be a mile long but if there’s one thing we don’t need today it’s more folks flapping their lips spitting out their opinions about whose fault this mess is and who we should blame. We don’t need any more folks pointing out how we’re all going to hell in a hand basket because this is all pre-meditated and we’re following along like a bunch of mindless lambs. We don’t need any more reports about working too hard or not working at all and for heaven sakes I’m pretty sure I’ve seen enough pictures of toilet paper and homemade hand sanitizer recipes to last a lifetime.
As we plow through all of this stuff it seems like it all boils down to a couple of big things. Dealing with disappointment and being uncomfortable are not our strong suits. I think we have to admit both things and then begin to make our way back to normal. We all handle disappointment differently. The government isn’t controlling us because they cancelled the NCAAA tournament but it’s left a lot of folks disappointed. I’m surrounded by a community of young people who had state titles to defend and achieve who are so very disappointed the show stopped just short of the finish line. We’ve got weddings and parties and celebrations that are in limbo and that’s disappointing because no spring bride saw this coming and that’s disappointing. Those are real emotions and if we really want to act as Christ, there is no shortage of people who need our patience, compassion and understanding. Predictable means comfortable and we are fresh out of predictable right now. Things are uncertain for the next little bit. We do enjoy being in charge of things and we simply aren’t. Uncertainty is ok because it’s a great opportunity to build trust and that trust organically leads to obedience but for some it’s leading us to grab control where we can…like the toilet paper aisle.
There is so much information floating around it makes my head spin. The problem is, for every article you read, there is another to dispute it. For every beautiful thing you see, there are three ugly. Here’s my thought, find a medical source you trust; maybe a nurse or doctor you know and read what they share. Find a faithful person or source your trust and read what they share. Leave the rest unread! Don’t read about the conspiracy theories or the unbalanced disease comparison nonsense filling your newsfeed. If you feel like someone has sucked away your joy, it just might be you spending too much time with the news. There are some nutty things happening right now but there are also some really beautiful things going on right now. Satan isn’t gaining control of the world because churches suspended mass or emptied Holy Water fonts, if God is mighty enough to part a sea and save his people, I’m pretty sure he’s gonna usher us right through this without breaking a sweat.
If you want some joy back in your Monday here are some thoughts…
*Shut off the news.
*Soak up the stillness and quiet this time is creating.
*Pray extra…and then pray some more…and then follow it up with some more prayer.
*Ponder your willingness obey. If we can’t obey a request to stay home and cook our own food, how will we be able to obey the Father?
*Do something good for someone who has it rougher than you right now.
*Try to understand someone elses disappointment and find a way to console or re-assure them.
*Trade judging for loving…what if we assumed everyone is trying to do the best they can…and some folks might just need a little more help and understanding.
*Make a conscience decision to let this situation make us great instead of divided?
*Above all…a dozen times or more a day…repeat: Lord, protect us in this mess and show us how to serve you and show your love! Unless we get that part right, this will remain nothing but a big mess. I really want to look back on this and be able to say, “Wow, look what God did through all of that chaos; isn’t he faithful…and didn’t we handle that beautifully!” but in order to do that, we have to make some choices starting right now!
A Seed To Plant: Pick a couple things from the list and lets be great in the midst of the mess.
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!
Trust in the LORD. Have faith, do not despair. Trust in the LORD. Psalm 27:14
I really enjoy traveling and meeting people in all the cool places the Father invites me to tell his story. August has been a 4 state month and I got to add so many new faces and names to my heart. I’ve been privileged to hear stories of great joy and tremendous struggle. I’ve had the chance to laugh with people, cry with people and pray with people. I’m so grateful for the adventures he sends me on but sometimes the travel can be tricky. I’ve discovered that air travel is a great way to build trust and surrender and as usual; the Father doesn’t disappoint. God has showed up in some pretty fancy ways this month so I just thought I’d tell you my favorite stories.
*The West Virginia story…the retreat finished early Friday afternoon but the only flight I could book didn’t leave until 7:30 Saturday night. I was not thrilled about spending more than 24 hours in a hotel room and airport waiting but I told God I’d look at it as a chance to practice Psalm 46:11 Be still and know I am God. I did however put in a request for a little travel blessing to see if there could be any way he could get me home earlier. As I wrapped up the retreat ,Mary Ann, the lovely woman who invited me to WV told me she was leaving to drive to Michigan and offered to take me along. Instead of getting home at 1am Sunday morning, I actually got home at 8:30 Friday night. Talk about a travel blessing!
*The Texas story…my flight from Lubbock to Dallas kept getting bumped back and my layover in Dallas had been whittled down to 45 minutes and I was a little concerned about hiking through that big airport in such a short time so when Tricia dropped me off I asked her to say a little prayer at 8 pm so I could scoot quickly and catch that last flight from TX to MI. As I got out of her truck I got a text that the flight to Dallas had been bumped another hour and I’d miss my connection completely. As I walked into the terminal I heard an announcement that a flight to Dallas was in the final phase of boarding. I scrambled through security and noticed it was 4:09 and that the flight was departing at 4:23. They saw me coming with my shoes in my hand and quickly changed my reservation and got me on that flight just as they were about to close the door. I really savored my 2 hour layover in Dallas that evening!
*The Iowa story…I was so excited that after a two day training I would be able to finish up Saturday afternoon and get a 7pm flight home. Getting home Saturday night was exciting since Monday is the fist day of school. My excitement faded a few weeks before the trip when the airline cancelled that evening flight and put me on a 6am flight Sunday morning. In an attempt to avoid having the folks from St. Paul the Apostle parish do a 4am pick-up, I decided to be brave and take my first go at an Uber. I loaded the app, scheduled the pick up and set my alarm for 3:30am. I waited in front of the hotel for my Uber and they didn’t come so I headed back in to the hotel and called both of the local cab companies and they had no cabs available. I said a quick prayer, “Lord I came to Iowa for you so please get me home.” As soon as I finished that prayer the man at the front desk re-appeared and introduced me to a member of the maintenance staff at the hotel and said that she would be happy to give me a ride to the airport.
I’m sitting here in the Chicago airport early on a Sunday morning with such a full heart and giant smile because I just can’t believe how faithful he is. I always remind myself that the God who could part the Red Sea could certainly arrange a flight schedule so I could get where I needed to be. He rewards that trust again and again and sometimes he even shows off a little so I can be reminded of how fancy he can be. I’ll be home by noon and that gives me plenty of time to hang out with my husband and finish up a few things to get ready for a whole new batch of middle lovelies on the first day of school tomorrow. God is so good!
A Seed To Plant: Sit for a few minutes and think back over the month of August and make a list of things that have happened that were evidence of God taking care of the details of your life then make sure you thank him!
Blessings on your day!
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8
I was walking through the living room with a load of laundry the other night and paused to see a hunting show Dave was watching. A small group of men were following a guide through brush and up inclines and through tall grass in pursuit of some kind of wild game. The guide led the way whacking out a path with a machete. All along the way the guide was pointing out the dangers and beauty of the trip and it really made me stop and think. The men following the guide had no idea where they were or where they were headed. They were unfamiliar with the path and had only a mental vision of the destination. They were fully dependent on the guide to lead them to the bounty or prize of the day.
I couldn’t get that show out of my mind for several days. All I could keep thinking about was how dreadful the whole adventure seemed to me. As the guide pointed out snakes and bee hives the size of Volkswagens and loose gravel near cliff edges I know for certain I would have turned around within the first few hundred yards and gone back to the camp to drink coffee.
On my next pass through the living room I noticed that the guide had indeed led the hunters to a beautiful clearing with a breathtaking view and exactly the game they had been in search of. After an adventurous hike filled with peaks, valleys, danger, delight and blind faith, they got exactly what they were hoping for. I walked out of the living thinking there was probably a lesson.
I have been blessed to share a rough journey with a few friends this summer. Each of these beautiful, strong women has faced fierce battles of different kinds. I’ve laughed, cried and prayed with and for these friends as they picked themselves up and trudged on after each setback. I’ve been inspired by their courage and faith and then it dawned on me; their lives were a little like the hunting show Dave was watching. Isn’t life like that sometimes; tough, dangerous and tricky to maneuver. The wrong turn can lead to more difficulty and forging off in an unknown direction without a guide would certainly not end well.
God is an awful lot like that hunting guide. He’s always ahead clearing a path and offering direction and warning. Even in the thick of it all, the only thing he asks is that we stay close and follow his lead so he can guide and protect us on our way to a destination far more beautiful than we could ever imagine. Just like the guide on the TV show, nobody was forced to follow but it sure made sense to do so. I had to ask myself what kind of follower I am. As I think back on that show, I see so many places in my life where I felt like I was stuck in thick brush and he led me through it every time and led me to a place greater than I had imagined. I suppose the next time I get stuck I’ll remember this image of God as my guide and trust and follow a little more easily.
A Seed To Plant: Are there some adventures going on in your life that you need to invite God to lead you through?
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!
She is clothed in strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. Proverbs 31:25
How many readers think this verse from Proverbs is talking about them? This past week I crossed paths with a few folks who seemed to be consumed with fear and worry about the future. I can tell you that they were not laughing at the days to come and I struggled to help them move from worry to peaceful faith. As I thought and prayed about these conversations I found this verse and it made me smile.
Have you ever stopped to think about what makes one person worry and another one not worry at all? Some of us look to the future and smile; others look the same direction and feel a pang of worry, dread and maybe even fear. Some might say worrying is just a part of your hard-wiring but I suppose we all carry a little bit of worry with us most days. I read once that there is a big difference between worry and concern. Being concerned about something inspires us to organize, call on resources and to handle things as best we can and leave the rest to God. Worry is more like doing everything possible and still fretting about God being able to do the rest according to your plan.
When the boys were little they had some plastic toy swords and the movie Peter Pan. They would have sword fights anywhere; the barn, kitchen, and yard you name it they would imagine a scene and play like crazy. Surprisingly, there were no casualties until the night they snuck the swords under the covers. The fight that night was a small disaster leaving two little boys with some red marks, a black eye and a giant scrape to the belly. When the dust settled and we were trying to sort it all out, the problem boiled down to the darkness. In the light, they could see and anticipate what was coming but in the darkness of their bedroom they couldn’t anticipate and react to what they couldn’t see coming. They lost their guide and their protection.
The Proverbs 31 woman who can laugh at days to come is one who doesn’t sit in the darkness of worry. Why? What makes her so immune to the worries and woes of the day? I think the answer to that question comes in the first part of the verse; strength and dignity. The really important part of the puzzle though is the realization that the strength and dignity come from God not from the world or within. When we think of strength, we typically think of muscles and physical power which requires work to attain. When we talk about strength from God the opposite is true. In order to be powered by the strength of God we have to do nothing but rest in him and know he will do all the heavy lifting! Gods strength sees all the obstacles and shifts in the path, he simply asks that we let him love us enough to maneuver us through them. If we can’t rely on God’s strength it’s kind of like having a sword fight in the dark; there is no way to anticipate and react to what we can’t see coming.
Laughing at the future doesn’t mean we see what’s coming; it means we are strong enough to face it because we know God will defend, protect and love us through whatever comes our way. He loves us too much to put us in a situation that is beyond what we need. Yes, sometimes we need struggle and difficulty but he knows how much and for what reason. We need to work on laughing at the days to come because when it all boils down to the bottom of the pot, it’s kind of funny that we should worry about something God has already orchestrated right down to the most teeny tiny detail.
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of the things that worry you. Ask God to bring you strength this week as you pray daily for him to transform your worry to peace.
Blessings on your day!
… “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Mathew 14:31
Saturday I had the privilege of participating in a Women’s conference and the theme was based on Matthew’s gospel about getting out of the boat. I love this story, it’s full of little lessons! One thing that always makes me giggle a little is how much I’m like the apostles that stayed in the boat. Poor Peter gets scolded by Jesus for being of “little faith”. Truth is, I’d be one of the 11 still sitting in the boat never having the guts to get out and even try walking on water in the first place! Sometimes my boat is rockin but I’m not brave enough to get out and be faithful!
I’ve been thinking about this reading a lot this week and I remembered the time all three of my children were parasailing in Gulf Shores. I watched them floating in the sky and my glance kept drifting back to that boat rocking back and forth in the ocean waves. My children had the courage to try something I would NEVER do; once again there I was like one of the “chicken” apostles still in the boat! I think sometimes I really need that boat to rock so hard it almost tips over before I muster up the courage to get out.
After some thinking and paying I made a short list of the places it’s hard to get out of the boat and trust. The top three for me are 1)My world my children will raise children in 2)The shrinking moral conscience of our culture and 3)The economy and leadership of our country. Boy can I ever be an apostle glued to the boat seat when I think about these things! I need to leap out of the boat like Peter and take some steps toward Jesus. There are many things that rock our boat and test our faith but the message is the same to us as it was to Peter; trust Me, keep your eyes on Me,have faith in Me and I will guide and protect and love you!
I can’t organize the future any more than I can sweep into the US Senate or House and pray with them and get things all straightened out. (talk about being tossed into a stormy sea…yikes!) I wish I could do great big things that would restore common values like modesty, honesty and respect for life but the truth is, I’m only in charge of my little corner of the world. So what’s a sea-sick scardey cat apostle to do…PRAY! TRUST! GET OUT OF THE BOAT SO JESUS CAN GRAB ON!
If I look back on my own life, the troubles and difficult times are the ones that caused me to learn the most. Having jobs that were hard, yucky and paid pennies were the ones that made me strong and grateful. Wrestling with tough decisions about my future gave me great opportunity to pray and trust God’s will for my life. Why would we want our kids to have an easy go of it and miss those important lessons and opportunities to grow in faith and character? I think I’ll get out of that boat and just ask God to bless them and remind them daily to ask Him for direction and then pray like crazy they listen and follow!
As for the boat rockin I feel when I think of state of affairs with our culture and our country, I had a thought. If your inbox or facebook newsfeed is full of jokes, slogans and stories about the woes of our world, what do you think would happen if instead of forwarding or sharing them, we would instead stop and pray? Judging by the number of those types of posts I see each day, that could be a LOT of prayin…I think the seas would calm and more folks would have the courage and the trust to get out of the boat and walk toward Jesus. I think we underestimate the power of prayer, especially with issues we think are beyond us. I sometimes forget to pray for our leaders. I don’t remember often enough to pray for people who have lost their way and make decisions that draw people away from God rather than toward Him. Shame on me…guess I better write that down so I remember! I don’t know about you, but I think I’m ready to get out of the boat and test the water!
A Seed To Plant: What’s rockin your boat? Make a list and then stop today and pray for the courage to walk toward Jesus and hand Him your concerns. While you’re prayin, stop and say a prayer for the President and all those in positions of leadership and power.
Blessings on our day!
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him. Habakkuk 3:19
It has been one strange winter! We have had more snow days than I can ever remember in one school year. I’ve used the time to get caught up and do some of those yucky chores you dread but I’ve also had some time to watch a few movies. I have not one athletic bone in my body, but I love sports movies. I love it when the underdog wins, the hopeless find hope and the least expected turns out to be the most amazing. I have pulled four of my favorite quotes from 3 great movies for today’s post and added a twist as if they were each spoken to us by Jesus Himself.
It’s ok to think about what you want to do until it’s time to do what you’re meant to do. (The Rookie) If Jesus said that to us, I think He’d follow it up with “so put your plans and your dreams at the foot of my cross and I’ll take it from there. Oh, and by the way, I’ll come up with something WAYYYY better for you than you’d ever dream up yourself. Wait for it….Wait for it!”
You’ve taught me to judge a man by the soul of him, rather than the look of him. (Remember the Titans) That’s Jesus talking… but all too often way too many of us still haven’t learned that lesson. It’s easy to see this quote in terms of race but I think it’s much bigger than that. What about seeing the soul of a homeless person or a person lost in alcoholism or someone struggling with anger or mental illness? It’s not always easy to see beyond the first look sometimes but we’re supposed to.
When I told you not to get your hopes up, that didn’t mean I wasn’t going to. (Invincible) One of the things that really hurts my heart is when I visit with someone who has no hope. It hurts my heart even more when I see a person smash someone else’s hope. Hope is a very powerful thing and it can make amazing things happen. Hope is a grace and it’s freely given to each of us but we have to make sure we know that putting our hope in Christ is what we need to do. When we tell someone not to get their hopes up, we seem to be trying to protect them but I suppose Jesus would remind us to say instead, put your hope in Me because I have only the best for you….I will give you far more than you could hope for.
Sometimes bad things happen for no particular reason at all. (Remember the Titans) I see two big lessons of faith in this line. Lesson one, don't try to blame everything on something or someone and don’t try to explain, justify or second guess God’s motives because He sees our whole life, not just one event. Lesson two, no particular reason you can see or understand at this moment, but give Him time, He will reveal the reason and He will bring blessing and goodness because of it. I suppose it’s also helpful to remember that sometimes the lesson and the blessing are meant for someone else and it just comes through us and our circumstance.
There, I feel better now, thank you for allowing my lazy snow day movie watching to be used for a good purpose.
A Seed To Plant: Think of a line from one of your favorite movies that has meaning and enforces a Gospel teaching in your life. If you have time, share it with us in the comment section so we can be inspired as well.
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!
Be anxious about nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
I’m a pretty big fan of the “Gospel according to Sheri”. In other words, I often like to do things my own way, predict the ending I fancy and try to arrange every detail along the way. I can count the number of times that has worked well on one hand; and they were probably just happy accidents. As our house is about to become empty and quiet again I was questioning his plan when I happened upon this verse and it was a beautiful reminder that he has a job and so do I. His job is to manage the universe and each life he created and my job is to let him do his job. Seems pretty simple don’t you think?
Many of us are at a parenting crossroad and social media is about to blow up with posts about taking kids off to college and staring Kindergarten or the last year of high school, this verse just rings in my mind and echoes in my heart. It reminds me that our kids were designed to grow up not live in our basement until they were 30. Our kids were meant to learn, grow, travel and live. They are going to meet people and make friends; some will shape their character and some will test it. They are going to make great decisions steeped in the love and wisdom we’ve slathered them with and they will most likely make some not so great decisions and those will be where the real learning takes place. Independence is a great thing until we watch our kids creep away from us and use it! I’ve always heard people talk about growing pains but I didn't expect parents to be the ones who suffered from them the most!
Our youngest child begins her last year in college and that makes me feel really old! I’m really scratching my head wondering how that happened when I’m still celebrating my 29th birthday! The truth is, time races by whether we want it to or not and as parents, we want our kids to be happy and safe. Sometimes we worry but through the process of trusting, there comes great peace. The other night as I was thinking about my college senior and my soon to be married son it made for a long night and in the middle of that long night, I grabbed a pencil and paper and these thoughts just tumbled out. I’m sure they are from him because I would not be writing in a notebook at 2 in the morning just for my own amusement. I hope they just might come in handy no matter what new crossroad you find yourself at this day.
*Your child is mine…I love them more than you and I will care for them today and every day after.
*I parted a sea, I can make sure your child has someone to play with at recess.
*I put a piece of me inside them, just ask me to help it shine through them.
*Being mine is far more important than being on the team or the homecoming float so help them keep their priorities straight.
*The more time you spend in worry, the less time you spend in trust.
*I always know what’s best…it isn’t always easiest but it’s best because best is getting to heaven and only I know that path for your child.
*My plans for them far exceed yours…let me do my work and just pray for your child to cooperate.
*Tell them you love them but make sure they know I love them even more.
*Truth trumps popularity every single time so demand honesty.
*You can’t pass the test unless you do the lessons…and some lessons are really hard…let them do the work, especially when the lesson is hard.
*Trust me, thank me; when things are easy and when they are hard; don’t worry, I’m a very reliable Father!
*Pray for them and pray with them, speak my name together and often.
*My love isn’t attached to being first, best, beautiful, popular or perfect so please don’t let your love be either.
*It’s not your job to constantly rescue and save your child, one particular Friday my Father watched me suffer through something really awful that turned out pretty awesome! I knew he was there but he didn’t do it for me.
*Everything in life isn't easy...but everything isn't hard either; know that I'm there loving you through it all.
*If your child needs someone; I'll always get there first, teach them my call sign...JESUS COME!
A Seed To Plant: Write this verse on a post it and stick it somewhere you’ll see it when you worry then pick a couple things from the list that hit your heart or that might touch someone you know who is worried about a child and ask the Father to help you put it in motion.
Blessings on your day and on your Children’s backpack wherever they may be taking it this fall!
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3
I like to think I’m a strong, smart, independent woman. I’m not afraid to work hard or get dirty and I’m definitely not a girlie girl, but the other day, ALL that came into question when I found myself standing on the safe side of the garage screen door calling the men in my life for help! One of my summer jobs was to clean the garage and sort through the long rack of coats and barn clothes. It was time to throw out the size 5T snow pants with more holes than swiss cheese and the pink fuzzy winter coat from 1999! It was a yuck job but as I pulled in the garage the day after I finished, I felt pretty accomplished and pleased with the way things looked. As I parked in the garage with a load of groceries, I was admiring my work when I noticed a pair of coveralls moving as they hung on the hook. That was not supposed to happen.
I bravely sat behind the wheel of my Traverse and watched those coveralls sway from side to side thinking, this is not ok! Then I came to my senses and logically concluded it was probably one of the new kittens that had wandered up from the barn and playfully crawled up the pants leg. I got out and walked toward the pants expecting to help the cute little kitty out and send it back to the barn, but as I got closer I could see eyes peering out and then the hissing started. Definitely not a kitten and that pointy snout and loud hiss sent me promptly into the house. My next brave move was to throw shoes at the pants until whatever it was fell out and scampered out the door. After throwing a dozen shoes and boots and nearly breaking the service door window with my awful aim, I heard and saw barn boots wobbling around and was convinced there was a small army of invaders just a few feet from my screen door while my ice cream was melting in the car…something drastic had to be done! That’s when I called Dave! He was doing hay in a field much too far away to come to my rescue so I called Jason who was working from home that day. What transpired upon his helpful arrival involved a snow shovel, a trap made out of a bow target, an 8 ft table and a broom. I’ll leave out the parts about all my jumping and screaming at the sight of the critters teeth and hissing and just let you know one very angry woodchuck made it’s way from the coveralls and boots in my garage to the corn field across the road. I wish I could report a brave and triumphant ending on my part but I can’t. I screamed, jumped, and freaked out like it was a fire breathing dragon and completely depended on my handsome son to save me from my despair! He was so sweet and helpful and didn’t even make fun of me; he just came and helped and went on his way.
That silly woodchuck stuck in those coveralls made me realize how we sometimes approach the troubles and trials in our days. Truth be told, it was a pretty young woodchuck, not an angry mamma woodchuck. The whole thing could have been so much worse but I went from baby woodchuck to dragon in 60 seconds! I let something little grow and multiply in my mind while my emotions just went zooming into action leaving reason and reality in the dust. I got a little tangled up in the hissing and teeth bearing and lost sight of the fact that the problem probably weighed less than 10 pounds and his fear was probably much greater than mine. In hindsight I overreacted comically! Every time I’ve pulled in the garage since that day I look at those coveralls and wonder how many times I’ve gone straight to the dragon without stopping to pray and ask for perspective first. I think about all the times I’ve made something so big in my mind when in reality it turned to be so much smaller and manageable than I pictured it.
Our struggles can sometimes leave us feeling overwhelmed if we’re afraid to ask for help. Things can morph in our minds if we try to handle everything ourselves and bear the burdens on our own shoulders. God loves us too much for that. I really believe that’s part of the reason he put more than one person on the earth so we could help each other and support each other and point and lead each other to him. It’s ok to ask for help, it’s ok to get another perspective and it’s ok to talk down the dragons! We weren’t meant to go solo through this life, we need him and we need each other because you just never know what problems might just crawl up the leg of your coveralls!
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of the trials and troubles that have caused you to become worried and anxious lately and ask yourself these questions; Who have I talked to about it? Who can help? Have I prayed for the Fathers perspective?
Blessings on your day!
Good morning! I happened to be having one of those days recently when I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. There seem to be a lot of tests and trials in my road lately and I was delighted to come across this blog written by an especially lovely, middle lovely! Her words just seemed to be the perfect reminder. Tessa is todays guest blogger and I have a feeling her words might bring peace to many. She is a joyful, beautiful gentle young lady. The only thing more guaranteed than her positive attitude is her steadfast faithfulness.
THIS is the day the LORD has made let us rejoice and be glad, in it. Psalm 118:24
Science is not my greatest subject, too many weird names, numbers and, molecules! It was getting to be the end of the quarter, which meant a test was coming up, but not just any test, a test over the galaxy and space! YIKES! I had stayed up late studying and worrying about the test the following day. Now it was time.
My teacher laid the thick packet of questions on my desk while he whispered,” Shh…” to the class. Whoa! This just got real I whispered, while my palms began to sweat. I picked up the pencil and began to write and write. Then I got to the question I had worried about the most of all, my eyes widened as I stared in fear. Then I glanced toward the crucifix above the door and thought, “What! I thought this test was hard, but compared to his sacrifice this is nothing!” I continued and was very proud of my results! What I learned that day was very important, let God steer your life because only HE knows what to steer you to!
Worry is to joy what a vacuum cleaner is to dirt. I have always tried to remind myself God’s got this as long as I put my full trust in his hands. Well… sometimes stubbornness and worry creep up and it steals your peace, joy, and faith that God really does have your back even on those tough days. We stress, we sin, we lose our trust.
Just admit it, we all make mistakes. That is exactly why God gave us his only son to die for our mistakes. Do we ever take the time to thank the LORD and tell him we love and trust him? Do we worry about what tomorrow will bring? What if I fail the test? What if I’m late for the meeting? What if, What if, What if. The LORD who created you, endured the pain of the cross, and set your sins free is already there for you next week, next year, next life waiting for you… so don’t worry.
A Seed to Plant: What do you need to trust God with? Give him your stress and ask for his soothing peace.
Thank you Tessa; you're amazing!
Blessings on your day
So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone…1 Samuel 17:50
Hands down David and Goliath is an Old Testament favorite among the students every year. I re-read it to some students for about the tenth time not long ago and the sling shot seemed to stay in my mind. (no pun intended) It’s really a crazy story when you think about it. What are the chances we could really inflict great bodily harm using a sling shot? Since I can’t hit the refrigerator with a rubber band, you can probably breathe easy if I come toward you with a sling shot because odds are good my shot won’t be within 5 feet of my target! It was such an odd weapon of choice for David don’t you think? I wonder what the giant must have thought as this very young soldier stood before him with it…did he find it insulting or funny or insanely ridiculous? I wonder if it made him angry or if he just wanted to bust out laughing.
Lately I seem to be confronting the “giants” in my day with a sling shot! Although David was able to conquer with it, I’m afraid I’m not so successful. I seem to keep missing the target and I wonder what God must think as he watches me wildly fling stones around and not really conquer the things that creep between us. I’m sure on some occasions He must have a good laugh at me; I must look like a nut throwing sand at an approaching army. I do believe I often miss the WHOLE point of the David and Goliath story. It wasn’t about David and his sling shot at all…it was about the power of God working through an open, trusting and expectant heart. David didn’t doubt, he just knew God would conquer. The truth is, David could have faced that enemy with a paper clip or a cotton ball and defeated him because it was the power of God that did the work not the power of man. I’m not so good at living that part of the story. I still think with enough practice, my sling shot and I will get better…NOT! It's not about the size of the battle or the weapon, it's the size of the faith and trust that determine the outcome.
Sometimes I add to the story. I continue reading as if the words are really there and tell the story about how David did a big end zone dance joyfully proclaiming his greatness as a sling shot shooter. Then he goes to King Saul and demands more pay and more fame and tells his story of greatness again and again. I can always count on at least two or three kids to realize I’m making that part up and that leads into a very important lesson in humility. Perhaps in my own quest for greatness I forget who really needs to aim my sling shot and why.
So we’ve reached the part in the story where I need to make a choice. Either I need another weapon to slay the sinful enemies and giants in my life or I need to let someone else aim my sling shot because I am a lousy shot! Let me see...I think I’ll try a little harder to go with the second choice!
A Seed To Plant: Read the story of David and Goliath and then seriously contemplate the things you’re trying to slay with a sling shot and then figure out which ones you need to hand over to God’s precise aim.
Blessings on your day!
She left and did as Elijah had said. She was able to eat for a year…1 Kings 17:15
A wise little girl told me one time that what the world needed most is “more giving stuff away.” It made me giggle but something about that simple little idea just clung in my thoughts. I’m still unfolding the story of the Prophet Elijah and the widow that I wrote about last week and that little girl’s idea bounced in my mind. As adults, we know the word is generosity and she’s right, the world needs more of it. The widow in the story matched her loving generosity with a gigantic dose of trust. I think that’s a pretty powerful combination don’t you?
I was watching a little video clip about St. Katherine Drexel last weekend and her life too demonstrated enormous generosity coupled with amazing trust. When Katherine’s wealthy parents died, their estate left Katherine and her sisters with 14 million dollars each. Today that amount would be closer to 400 million. Even though her family was very wealthy, their wealth was outmatched by their generosity. The Drexel family opened their home three afternoons a week to bring in and feed, clothe and pray with the poor and the needy. Guided by her parents example of loving generosity, Katherine became a nun and used her fortune to generously serve societies lost and forgotten. Out of that entire fortune, not one little bit was saved for herself. One of the people I was watching the video with said, “I think I would have set some aside in a special little account just in case.” Like the widow, it was generosity first, trust second and blessings third.
Don’t be puzzled, this is not a post offering financial guidance for managing the millions of dollars you have lying around, I will let you manage your millions yourself! It is however a good day to look at all of the thing that constitute our personal fortune, like our time, health, resources and God-given gifts and talents. It’s a good day to evaluate our generosity and trust, using the example of the heroes of our faith. There are people like Katherine who have so much and then there are people like the widow who have so little yet both acted with such generosity it left a mark! I suppose that eliminates all excuses for the rest of us doesn’t it! We are each called to be generous stewards of our gifts no matter how great or how small they seem. We are also called to give an example of generosity to our friends and family. I wonder what Katherine would have done with her fortune if she hadn’t grown up in a home that flung open its doors to love and care for the poor? I have to ask myself what I have taught my own children about generosity.
I think the biggest thing sitting on my heart as I type this post…what does my loving God have in store for me if I were to act in complete generosity and trust? The widow got a blessing far beyond imagination, Katherine Drexel was blessed immeasurably by those she loved and served in the name of Christ. So what’s waiting for me? I suppose I have to grow in trust, act with greater generosity and see what happens. I’ll keep you posted!
A Seed To Plant: As you sit in prayer this week, ask God to show you how to be more generous and trusting.
Blessings on your day!
"There's a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?” John 6:9
I have a confession to make…sometimes when I’m in mass and the reading is one I’ve heard dozens of times, I can tend to “tune out” thinking; oh yeah, I know this one! Last Friday at school mass the Gospel was the story of the loaves and fishes. I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t offer my complete attention as the Gospel began because I knew how this one ended. Pinching myself for having such a bad attitude, I quickly asked God to show me something new; please give me a new idea about this story. He did!
As I was listening to the Gospel I wondered; what if the boy hadn’t shared his bread? What if he had thought it was too small, or not the right shape or maybe a little over-baked or lumpy looking? What if he figured it was never enough to begin with so why bother? It was at that moment I realized it was a good thing I was not the little boy with the bread because I probably would have thought about all those things and more! I am often the queen of “ALL OR NONE” thinking. Jesus took whatever was offered that day and made it perfect.
As I was puddling this through in my head, Fr. Eric offered a line in his homily that hit my heart and finished the lesson I had asked the Lord to teach me that morning. He talked about the times in life when the best we have to offer the Father are our crumbs. I am often worried about offering only a perfect loaf when all he really needs from me are my crumbs.
I bake 3 loaves of bread every week. One is always a give away loaf, I just take it to school with me and ask the Lord to direct me to the person who might need a little something special that day. Dave is always happy to get the other two loaves but I’m guilty of studying the 3 loaves and most often choosing the nicest one to give away. I will also admit if I have a week when the bread doesn’t turn out pretty, I won’t give one away at all. In all my time of giving away bread, nobody ever commented on it’s color, shape or size. Each person I’ve given bread to takes it with a smile and goes home to make toast. As Fr. Eric talked about giving God our crumbs it all made sense.
God is…well he’s God; the author of perfection, so why would I doubt for one minute that I had to offer him a perfect loaf when all he needs are my crumbs. He can take the broken, the crumbled, the messy and the small and turn them into absolute perfection. I don’t have to be the perfect christian, I don’t have to be the perfect wife, mom or teacher. He’s asking for the tiny crumbs of my life to be lifted up so he can bring great good. When we give him our crumbs, he can do great things with them and then we just simply stand back and give him the glory. The Gospel doesn’t tell us the little boy’s name; it doesn’t matter. His humble generosity trumped his notoriety. I’m not gonna scream out to the world, “Hey look at my crumbs!” I’m going to give them to the Father and then stand back and say, “Hey look what he did!” Thank you Father for taking my crumbs!
A Seed To Plant: Read this familiar story with new eyes this week and then ask the Lord to help you lift up your crumbs.
Blessings on your day!
Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink or about your body, what you will wear. Matthew 6:25
If I asked you to make a list of the top ten things you worry about, what would it look like? Stop for a second and bring a few of your worries to mind….Why do we spend so much time worrying? What do you suppose brings it all on in the first place? I actually know a few folks who could be professional worriers. I’ve met people who worry if they can’t think of enough things to worry about. It’s a crazy thing but it’s so common.
I happened to meet a worrier extraordinaire on my flight home recently so I knew exactly what God was going to ask me to write about this week! In the span of about 10 minutes this poor woman who was the size of a pixie stick worried that her bag wouldn’t fit under the seat, that her toothpaste would squirt out of the tube due to changing air pressure, that her Diet Coke wouldn’t be served with ice, that the sweater in her bag would get too wrinkled, that her curling iron cord would get tangled and that the seat belt would be too small to fit around her itty bitty waist…that one made me laugh out loud and as I pointed to my already fastened seat belt… we both chuckled at the ridiculousness of that last concern. I asked her if she often felt joyful and she looked at me like I had two heads and replied, “I don’t have time to be joyful, I have too much to worry about for that!”
This passage from Matthews Gospel is one of many that warn against unnecessary worry. Jesus was teaching that too much worry is a clear sign of not enough trust! Yes, we are going to be concerned about things and ponder and pray about our children, our finances, our future and when we will next have dessert, God knows that but he expects us to lift those concerns to him and faithfully ask him to take charge…and he will…in his time…in his wisdom and in his way.
I was glancing at my boarding pass as we landed in Chicago and Mrs. Worry Wart glanced down at it and nearly hyperventilated. She told me there was absolutely no way I could make my connection 3 terminals away in such a huge airport in less than an hour. “Aren’t you worried, it’s late, you’re gonna miss your flight and you’ll never get home tonight, you’ll have to sleep in the airport and someone might steal your things while you doze off sitting in the uncomfortable chairs, what will you do?” I smiled at her and said, “Sister, God invited me to go on this trip and spread a little of his word and he knows my middle lovelies need me tomorrow morning so I am certain that he will help me glide my chubby hind parts three terminals over in time to get on the plane and make it home tonight.” “How can you be so sure about that?” came her reply. I smiled, touched her hand and said, “Because the God who made us and loves us takes care of everything perfectly when we let him. He depends on us to love him and if we’re too busy worrying, we don’t have as much time for that as we should.” I made it to my gate with several minutes to spare so I sat down to tell him thank you!
My friends, worry robs us of peace, it strips us of our joy and it erodes our trust. When we were little, our mom’s told us not to touch the stove because it was harmful and dangerous. In scripture our Father tells us the same thing about worry. We listened to our mom’s but how are we doing with listening to our Father? Jesus told the Women of Jerusalem on his way to Calvary not to worry even while he could see his own cross. I’m sure nothing I could worry about could even compare so I think I’d better pay attention. Charles Spurgeon, a famous preacher used to say, “ Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its trials; it simply empties today of its joy.” Great food for thought as we get ready to begin Holy Week.
A Seed To Plant: Lift your list of worries to the Lord and ask him to help you swap worry for trust!
Blessings on your day!
I have made you, I will carry you, I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46:4
Have you ever made a promise you didn’t keep? When a promise is broken it’s a lousy feeling no matter which end of the promise you’re on. I can remember being in 5th grade and a friend of mine had just received a new cartoon/joke book and I wanted to read it so bad. I promised to give him a dime if he would let me borrow it before everyone else that wanted to look at it got a chance. He let me borrow it and I remember thinking how much more I would have enjoyed the book if I could have actually made good on my promise. I knew good and well that I didn’t have any money to give him and I knew mom and dad wouldn’t have given me the money for such a silly thing. A dime had great value and money was to be used for necessary things only. I couldn’t even finish reading the book that night because I knew I’d have to explain to my friend the next day that I’d broken my promise and I felt too lousy to enjoy the book. I don’t know why that story sticks with me to this day but every now and again it bubbles up in my mind. When I saw this verse the memory of the broken promise sprung up and I realized how my weakness is one of his most amazing strengths.
We are a pretty stubborn and independent people sometimes aren’t we! I forget the truth of this verse from the Prophet Isaiah…often! I’m pretty good at trusting God when things are hard or crazy. I’m pretty good at knowing he will rescue me but while reading this verse and considering what it promises something new occurred to me… probably something he’s been trying to tell me for years! Here’s the revelation…HE MEANS ALL THE TIME! I tend to think I can coast along and tend to the easy stuff saving his service for the tough stuff or for when I’m in over my head. I think I honestly convince myself that when things are smooth I can handle it so he can assist someone who has a bigger need or a heavier cross to carry. It’s almost as if I think I’m doing him a favor by not bugging him so much. The problem with that is when I’m not depending on the truth of his promise I get the false sense that I’m in charge and that never ends well.
Everywhere I go I seem to hear the phrase, “work smarter not harder”. Well duh…I think that’s exactly what this verse is saying. Working smarter means completely living the truth of this verse…everyday…when things are great and when they’re not! If we really believe in these promises from our Loving Father, life just gets better and better. He will never break a promise…ever. If I look at the disappointments in my life I might be tempted to think God wasn’t there for me but the truth is those disappointments that felt like broken promises came at exactly those times when I was trying to take care of things myself and give him a break. So…I think I get it now! This one little verse spoken a few thousand years ago still has enormous truth and promise even today. I think I’ll tape them somewhere important so I can read them again and again. I promise God, I’ll pay more attention to them!
A Seed To Plant: Join me in putting this powerful verse somewhere visible and pray with these words this week.
Blessings on your day!
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