Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
We could debate until we were out of breath about which professions and jobs are most important to the future of our world. There could be equally long debates about the wage and status for those jobs and professions. I have been reminded this month that the debate about status and money and importance doesn’t amount to a hill of beans because the true marker is passion and the peace in your soul that only comes from the satisfaction of knowing you are using your God given gifts to bring him glory in any way he asks. People who choose to work with kids of any age sure don’t do it for the money or the status yet they are some of the most richly blessed and revered people you’ll find. I’ve had a front row seat to amazing kids who have been led by the example of amazing adults.
Our little mid-Michigan community has brought home 3 State Titles this month. One in Competitive Cheer, one in Boys Basketball and one in Girls Basketball. In fact, in the last 10 years this little community has earned 11 State Titles and has advanced to Finals 25 times. Academic success and achievement in the Arts for our students is stellar as well. But how? It’s a school made up of around 400 kids who all live within the boundaries of a rural district. The towns are tiny, there is nothing flashy or fancy but there is something amazing that goes on around here. The success all boils down to a very powerful root.
As my newsfeed jammed full of pictures of the kids who were achieving great things this month I thought of the words of an old Whitney Houston song…I believe that children are our future; teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside. Give them a sense of pride, to make it easier; let the children's laughter remind us how we use to be. It sort of hit the spot! Our kids are great and they are loved and led by parents, teachers, coaches, principals, Priests and dozens of other community members who have great passion. All those people who invest their time, prayer, energy and love into this community see great fruit.
The priority however isn’t trophies or scores or medals, the priority is the rock solid FAITH of this community; that faith is the root! Faith and family are top priority and with those priorities come a strong work ethic, a balanced perspective and a strong sense of pride. When something is working, it’s evident. The biggest return on the investment is when the kids become the ones teaching the lessons. The grand finale of the month happened Saturday night when the girls team got back to town and asked Father Eric to say an unscheduled mass for the team. They had attended mass together regularly all season and it seemed the perfect ending. Saturday night, it was the girls teaching the lesson on priorities. The kids in this community steep everything in prayer. They pray with each other and for each other. They are often seen living out their faith on and off the playing field. Sometimes they are the ones who are inspiring the adults to grow in faith and discipleship.
When faith is your root, what sprouts and grows from there is a beauty to behold. When you set out on a mission to help young people grow in faith and live that faith through whatever gifts God gives, that makes a difference in the world.
A Seed To Plant: If you want to change the world, find a way to use your gifts to support kids. Volunteer, coach, teach, tutor and pray!
Blessings on your day!
Indeed, religion with contentment is a great gain. 1 Timothy 6:6
Have you ever gone out to eat with a person who has to look at every plate that comes out of the kitchen before they can decide what to order? That same person usually stares down each plate at the table, asking five questions about each order, and more often than not, that same person can be heard saying something like, “I wish I would have ordered that instead, I want what they have!” Let’s face it, if we’re being totally honest, we probably make a dozen comparisons each day. We compare tiny things like parking spots and lunch choices and we compare big things like cars, paychecks and homes. Did you ever stop and think about why we do this?
If we took a survey of 100 people and asked the question, “What word best describes you right now?” What percentage of people do you think might reply with the word “Content”? I would be willing to bet very few, if any, would spit out that answer! We are a restless people by nature. We spend a lot of time and energy comparing, evaluating and calculating everything. Is it greed, lust, materialism or is it possible that the restlessness is simply a yearning for God to fill a spot in our lives we may not even realize is vacant?
I love my life! I love everything about it, my husband, my children, my job, my family, my co-workers, my parish, my home…my life is absolutely more blessed than I ever imagined it could be! That being said, you would think I would be perfectly content. That would be correct most of the time, but every now and again that restless ache creeps in and makes me compare what I have with something God blessed someone else with. God has given me WAY more than enough and He certainly has given me WAY more than I deserve but sometimes I want Him to give ME that vacation to a beautiful beach resort or spiffy new fancy thing my neighbor has. He has generously given me gifts and blessings and I try to use them to further His kingdom but sometimes I really wish those gifts could land me a book deal or a speaker booking at a big-name conference where I could rub elbows with the “Big Names” and be a part of all the exciting “hoop-la” that goes with it.
99 days out of 100 I’m grateful and content but I was having that day when I was restless and feeling a little jealous. I needed to get out from under the burden of those feelings so I slipped in the side door of church during lunch and asked Him to take them away. As I sat in the silence, the word “why” just kept popping in my head. I thought and thought about it and kept wondering things like, “why…why did he get that and why did she get to go there and why…” I went through the whole list and then it hit me! The “why” meant something completely different…God was leading me to ask myself “WHY” do you want those things. If you really want to use the gifts I gave you to serve me, why do you care about those things? I sat a bit longer and thought about why I wanted all those things I thought He had forgotten to give me. I told Him I felt like I was being “skipped over”. Then the train hit me...I was wandering away from His truth. He doesn’t allow me to write this blog each week to be recognized, He gave me this gift to spread His love and help others recognize His presence. He didn’t give me my speaking gift to become recognized in a faraway fancy place, He gave it to me to speak to whoever He put in the chairs wherever He sends me. He didn't send me to a beach, he sent me to spread His love to a bunch of "tweenagers" every day. He didn’t forget to give me a fancy car or the income for a beautiful cottage; he gave me exactly what I needed to provide me with the perfect balance of humility and peace. Mostly, He made me realize He has blessed me with the perfect life for ME! I realized that what I need and what everyone else needs are as different as can be, but in the difference lies the perfection that only He can determine.
I left the church that afternoon knowing that the why really meant; why are you restless for things that aren’t yours. I left understanding the why, was the way He uncovered the restlessness in my soul that needed to rest in Him! I think I’ll swap “C” words…I’ll swap compare for celebrate. Each time I’m tempted to say, “I want what they have”, I’ll say instead, “God, thank you for taking such perfect care of them because You know perfectly what we need!” He works in ways both huge and tiny based on things we will never see or know…thank you Father for being in charge…You always get it right!
A Seed To Plant: Practice gratefulness this week and swap “C” words. Ask God each time you are tempted to make a comparison to settle your restless soul!
Blessings on your day!
For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord...Jeremiah 29:11
How many times do we hear the world tell us BE GREAT! Since the beginning of time, greatness has been important. I guess someone has to be in charge and have power but I'm not sure that makes them great. I'm not sure money, stuff or position are the best indicators of how great you are but it seems like we live in a world that uses those very things as the benchmark.
I found some perfect words to put this in perspective. I'm going to borrow these words from one of my favorite authors, Matthew Kelly. I hope he doesn't mind and I hope they touch your heart and serve as a reminder of the true definition of greatness.
"Do you want to be great? Born in a stable...served all men...was criticized for His attempts to live and proclaim the truth...and He suffered. He was the greatest. If you want to be great, be little."
A Seed To Plant: Ponder Mr. Kelly's words and see if you can find some ways to grow in greatness.
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!
He must become greater, I must become less. John 3:30
Crosses, daisies and faithful Disciples of Jesus! That pretty much sums up the past couple of months for me! In the last few months I have spoken to several hundred folks who were on the same mission…to grow in holiness. As usual, I show up with my computer to do what God has asked me to do, using the words the Holy Spirit gives me and think I’m giving something. In all truthfulness; I always walk away taking more than I gave!
The Lenten message I’ve shared a few times involves the image of crosses and daisies. I saw a meme on Ash Wednesday that said “pick up your cross and not a handful of daisies!” It made me laugh and it made me think. After I pondered it a bit I realized Lent is about recognizing the power of both the crosses and the daisies. The daisies are the beautiful, simple, Christlike things I can do dozens of times each day that help me think of others more and myself less. The daisies are tiny acts of service and compassion that truly do help us grow in holiness. If these things are offered to Jesus with love, they console his heart and they draw our attention to the service of others and not ourselves. If I smile instead of argue; if I offer my spot in line or hold open the door; if I walk away instead of gossiping; if I offer a helping hand to a struggling soul and I do all those things out of love for Jesus…those little daisies allow holiness to blossom. Anything done out of love for, and offered to Jesus, has results that are as pleasing to him as a beautiful daisy is to us.
The crosses are the tough stuff! It’s true that the daisies help us grow in holiness but life can’t be all daisies. The crosses are personal, they may be private and they may be heavy but Jesus is just waiting there beside us ready to help us with the heavy lifting. We have to reach down and pick them up before he will grab on and help with the struggle. Our free will doesn’t allow him to join in until we get started and ask for help. Sometimes I hover over my crosses. I would imagine I must look to Jesus like one of those professional weight lifters on TV. I rub my hands, make some noise, bend down, practice the motions but as I step up to grab the cross I put my hands on it but don’t always stand up with the weight in my hand; I just go through the warm-up again and never get to the heavy lifting. Lent is the perfect time to quit the warm up and get to the lifting. No more studying the crosses; no more dragging the crosses; it’s time for ready set LIFT and CARRY!
As you focus on your crosses and daisies this lent, stop to tell your story and stop to ask others about their story. God doesn’t mean for us to bear our crosses in silence. We are called to support and love each other along the way.
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of the crosses and daisies you will focus on this week.
Blessings on your day!
“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.” Blessed Mother Teresa
Now there is a Lenten challenge! There is just some advice that needs to be followed and this power-packed tidbit from Mother Theresa begs to be heeded. I shared this quote during prayer with the middle lovelies last week and they all agreed it would make the world a whole lot better but then one very honest young man said, “But man Mrs. Wohlfert, that’s just so hard to do.” I told him I agreed completely!
This quote has been heavy on my mind for several days and I’ve discovered it’s much easier to live these words when you’re in control of the situation and interactions are pleasant. I was intentional about this quote for a few days and I was pretty good at living this challenge when I would slow down, look people in the eyes when they spoke and be still until they were finished with the conversation. It seemed a bit awkward at first but after a few days it became more second nature. I was feeling pretty good about it until that situation I hadn’t planned for; you know the ones that catch you by surprise and tilt you off your balance. I had one of those situations this weekend and I totally blew it…I was frazzled and almost instantly I reacted and it wasn’t a reaction that matched the quote! I wasn’t the Wicked Witch of the West or anything but as I replayed the event I realized my reaction was based on selfishness and pride. A few hours later I was still really heavy hearted about the whole thing so I stopped to pray about it. (I don’t know why I always wait so long to do that!) After just a few seconds of quiet prayer it was very clear that I needed to apologize. I needed to call myself out on the selfishness and pride. I needed to admit that I was thinking of myself first and others second and I had to admit that I hadn’t left anyone better or happier with my snappy reaction. The more I tried to talk myself out of apologizing, the more I realized I needed to do it and do it soon. After a giant gulp of pride with a huge serving of humble pie on the side, I made the apology and shared the story of my failure to live out this quote. The apology was graciously accepted and thankfully my reaction was a much bigger deal in my mind than in actuality!
The funny thing about the whole situation…I was the one who left feeling happier and better. Crazy, I thought that was the gift I was going to give; not the one I was going to get. God is good and lesson learned…for today anyway! Thank goodness God expects progress not perfection!
A Seed To Plant: Make it your goal this week to live this verse. Think about the people it will be easiest and hardest to live it with and then ask God to bless your attempts.
Blessings on your day!
…and your Father who sees…Matthew 6:6
Happy (almost) Lent! Welcome to that time of year when we set out with all our hearts to grow in holiness. For me, it’s easy to look at the road to holiness and feel a little overwhelmed because I get so off track. It’s easy for me to look at lent as a time to “bear down” and try to do some really hard stuff. My intentions are good but these words from the Ash Wednesday Gospel hit my heart. Most years I set out to do some crazy long list of stuff in order to “make up” for all my shortcomings the rest of the year. Lent certainly has a penitential feel and purpose but it’s not a time to lock ourselves in a personal dungeon and be crabby and miserable for 6 weeks.
I think I wanted to do hard stuff so Jesus would see me and notice all the sacrifice and love and suffering. The Father sees…he sees ALL THE TIME and he sees us with such love and mercy. It makes me think of a chubby cheeked baby and how I just want to kiss their cheeks when I see one! I believe the Father looks at us that way every…singe…time! He’s always looking, he doesn’t miss a thing so that realization changed the way I think about lent. The point is not to get the Father’s attention; not to get him to look at me and the hard stuff I’m doing. The point is to get ME to look at HIM! What we “give up” this lent should be something we don’t pick back up! We need to give up those things that take our focus off Him so if they are coming between us now, they will probably come between us later so why not ditch ‘em!
If you’ve ever taken children to the pool, you know how many times they can say “hey watch this” in thirty minutes. That was the way I did Lent; hey Jesus, look at me I’m not eating chocolate or hey Jesus did you see that I went to an extra daily mass today, wasn’t that good of me, doesn’t that count for extra? It was almost like a giant score card and lent was the bonus round! Now, I realize it’s about me watching him. It sure takes a lot of the pressure off! My biggest Lenten task is to do the things that help me fix my gaze on him. If I’m looking to him and I know he’s looking at me, that influences my choices and attitudes; that helps me grow in holiness.
Here are some things you might try this Lent. Make a commitment to read a book about our Catholic faith this lent. It could be a book about the Mass like A Biblical Walk Through The Mass by Edward Sri. It could be about discipleship like A Walk in Her Sandals by Kelly Wahlquist or The Biggest Lie In The History of Christianity by Matthew Kelly. Just pick up a book and draw closer. We are a people made for companionship so why not join your parish family and participate in Lenten Devotions like the Stations of the Cross, The Rosary or Divine Mercy Chaplet or make a commitment to attend an extra mass each week. In the true spirit of lent, invite someone to join you. Almsgiving is about more than money so why not take a look at the “things” that fill your home. Are there things you can offer to those in need? Consider giving up some of the clothes, shoes, toys and things that fill your home. The sacrifice of parting with some of your “extra” could be a great blessing to someone in great need. Consider offering your daily coffee or weekly pizza night money to a shelter or agency that serves those in need.
A Seed To Plant: Take some time to pray about your lenten journey. Ask the Father to show you the things you should “give up” and not “pick back up”; things that will help you look at Jesus the way he looks at you?
Blessings on your day!
He laid his hand on the blind man’s eye a second time…Mark 8:25
The other day I was reading a story in Mark’s Gospel and got things so incredibly wrong. I was so wrong in fact that I had to laugh at my own thick headedness! I wish Jesus would teach me gently but it’s blatantly obvious that what I often need instead is a thump!
When I read the story in Mark Gospel about the healing of the blind man something really struck me. Jesus put his hand on the blind man and put spit on his eyes and then ask if he could see. He replied that he could see people that looked like trees so Jesus once again put his hands on the mans eyes and then he could see. My ridiculous reaction was, “I wonder why Jesus didn’t get it right the first time?” I actually thought about Jesus making a mistake or losing his touch. I wondered if maybe he was exhausted or distracted. I was thinking it was an odd story because I didn’t remember Jesus ever half-healing someone and having to take a do-over. It had me thinking.
I’m afraid to admit it took me longer than it should have to realize it had nothing to do with the ability of Jesus. It was the faith of the man that was the problem. Duh…how could I even think Jesus was “loosing his touch”. I had to laugh at myself for being such a knucklehead! Sheesh…Jesus needing a do-over; what was wrong with me! I couldn’t get it out of my head all day and every time I thought about it I realized the story applied to so many places in my life. I could recall so many times I thought Jesus hadn’t gotten it quite right. He hadn’t heard my requests as clearly as I was articulating them. He hadn’t organized the responses to my prayers in quite the order and fashion I was planning. Let’s not even talk about the times he responded too early or too late.
It’s funny how many examples I could think of in my life where I actually reacted the same way to a situation as I reacted to this Gospel story; what’s up with Jesus? The not so gentle lesson to the story is, it’s not Jesus at all. It’s me being like the man who wasn’t open enough or faithful enough or trusting enough to recognize and accept Jesus and his perfect touch and timing. It’s been several days and I’m still shaking my head. Jesus needing a do-over, what was I thinking!
A Seed To Plant: Pull out your Bible or google this Gospel Mark 8:22-26 and give it a read asking Jesus to show you the times he tried to help or heal and you didn’t have enough faith to understand or accept it.
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!
But let your “Yes” mean “Yes” and your “No” mean “No”…James 5:12
Wow did this one smack be upside the head! I think I would be shamefully astounded if I counted the times I approached things looking for the “easier” way to do them. More than a few times I’ve re-routed plans and projects searching for increased benefit and decreased personal discomfort! The biggest problem with that is what I usually get in return is minimal satisfaction! I also shudder when I think of the things in my life that lack true commitment and consistent effort.
I remember when Jason was an infant. He loved sleeping if it was light outside but not so much during the middle of the night. Kevin was 18 months old and I remember some of those days and nights felt so long. In my exasperation and exhaustion one day I was pouring out my heart and frustration to a wise friend and she said, “You’re looking at this all wrong; your goal is to get him to sleep so you can sleep too but your mission should be to relax, rock, pray and enjoy your precious son.” I thought she was nuts at first but I was desperate enough to try it her way and she was right. It was hard to remember that I had said “Yes” to motherhood and all that came with it. I was feeling deprived and uncomfortable…it was all about what I was missing and giving up and not what I had been given. The next many nights were different. I rocked and held him with a peace I hadn’t had before and said “Yes” to all the parts of motherhood and believed with all my heart that God would give me the strength and patience to chase my 18 month old the next day even if I didn’t get much sleep. That’s exactly what He did! It didn’t take long before Jason got his sleeping straightened out and I never admitted it out loud but I kind of missed that quiet time in the middle of the night with a new baby.
God calls us so many times a day and He leads us so tenderly but so much of it we miss. I’m so busy trying to make things easy on myself I often lack the consistency to follow through on the things I say “Yes” to in my faith life. I am also painfully aware of the times I vow to say “No” to screen time or procrastination only to let it dribble into my hours leaving little or no time for reading, prayer or study. I think St. James was speaking directly to me. I suppose if I spent more time honoring my yes’s and my no’s instead of trying to negotiate an easier path God would have some abundant blessings for me and I would be filled with great satisfaction. I can be a stubborn woman though!
When I finally stopped fussing about my fussing baby and just enjoyed being in the moment God honored my “yes”. He gave me joy, peace and energy because I was more concerned with the minutes I gained with my baby and less worried about the minutes of sleep I lost. As Lent approaches, I plan to make a list of “Yes” and “No” and I will spend this prayerful season consistently honoring both…I’ll be sure to keep you posted!
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of “Yes” and “No” things that you can offer God the Father this Lenten season. Ask Him to show you where you need to say yes and where He’d like you to say no.
Blessings on your 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!
Q: Did Adam and Eve ever have a date? A: No, they had an apple.
Sorry, I just had to begin today’s post with some Valentine humor…and remember I teach elementary school and bad jokes are a job hazard so I thought I’d share a little “joke love” with you! I watched some video clips about love and Valentine’s Day. The experts they interviewed were a group of 4 and 5 year olds and I must admit I was enlightened. In honor of the todays holiday, I thought I’d put you all in the mood for a little love with a giggle on the side. Here’s what I learned…
*Love feels sparkly when it’s real.
*Daddies make the best Valentines because they think you’re perfect.
*If you want someone to be your Valentine you have to share your most special thing with them.
*Kissing doesn’t have anything to do with Valentine’s Day it’s only about being happy.
*Sometimes your mom will make you give a Valentine to everybody even if you don’t want to because it’s good for you to practice love. I don’t get it but she tells me I will understand someday.
*You should never get married until you are at least 21 years and 345 days old; that’s important.
*Love means everything that’s good like Jesus, puppies and chocolate.
*When I get big I will want high heels, fur coats and lots of chocolate for Valentine’s Day but now I just want a cookie and everybody being nice to me.
*I don’t want squishy hugs and kisses; I want people just to play fun games with me and laugh with me.
There you have it! The perfect Valentine’s Day tutorial delivered right to your computer! As I listened to the kids I was struck by the simplicity of it all and the truth of it all. As I look over the list it almost seems like a to-do list from Jesus. It’s just what he’s shown us; His “daddy” is the best Valentine we could ever have, show kindness, show love to all; even when we don’t want to and simple blessings like laughter, compassion and happiness are powerful. We make it so tough sometimes don’t we! I also have a new word to describe that feeling I get when I have truly recognized God working in my life; sparkly real love! I’m hoping to enjoy that sparkly real love feeling as I ask God’s blessing on you and those you love this Valentine’s Day.
A Seed To Plant: Take a tip from the kids list and share God’s love with someone this Valentine’s day. If you are interested in giving someone high heels, fur coats, chocolate OR COFFEE…please let me know I think I can help find just the right person.
Blessings on your day and Happy Valentine’s Day!
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23
It seems that lately I have found myself in the middle of the same conversation about a dozen times. The conversations happen at functions where my peers and I see our children are walking through the door as grown-ups. I’m seeing the kids that played in my basement and ran through the sprinkler in my front yard and sat in the seats in my classroom getting married, having children and talking about their careers. I’ve been bumping into these grown up young people that are talking about their jobs and their lives. I talked with one young man who fixes cars and it seems like he just learned how to drive last week …and then there was the boy I watched learn to read who was talking to me about the reading scores of his own students and there was the boy who teased girls with a fury that I watched say I do and promised to spend his whole life loving a beautiful girl; something he swore in elementary school would certainly NEVER happen to him. As the moms and dads gather to visit, we always say the same thing; “how did that happen…I guess I blinked.”
Last weekend our school celebrated it’s annual Dinner Raffle which is a huge, amazing event that since it’s inception twenty years ago has raised over one million dollars for our school. I had the privilege and the honor of being a part of those first five years and to see how much has been accomplished over the years was pretty awesome. As I looked up at that 20th Anniversary banner I realized that when it started my college senior was a toddler and her oldest brother was in kindergarten. Again I said, “how did that happen…I guess I blinked.” It’s funny that those words ring with a little twinge of sadness. I miss the 3 little Wohlferts and their friends jumping on the couch cushions and playing baseball in the basement thinking I didn’t know. I miss squealing girls and dance parties and the smell of nail polish wafting up the basement stairs. I miss feeling like Old Mother Hubbard after the friends went home and mostly I miss walking into my house and seeing a big ole heap of shoes that belonged on the feet of the kids gathered in the basement.
Last night at a wonderful wedding, I watched a big group of young grown-ups from all 3 little Wohlferts classes and I realized I’d been looking at it all wrong. Every time I stopped to chat with one of them I felt really old! I felt like I lost something and wanted it back. I felt like I wanted to re-play it all to make sure I hadn’t missed something. As a mom, I sometimes look back on my “less than stellar” mom moment and want those back for a re-do. Those words kept coming into my mind, “I must have blinked!” I realized as I was watching them dance and laugh and enjoy themselves in their fancy clothes, that the blinks weren’t really about me. I keep thinking about my age and how I would like to go back in time and how much I miss those great mom moments but when I took myself out of the equation, I realized those blinks were full of beautiful things.
During the blinks all those kids I loved grew into young adults I love. All the playing and laughing and shenanigans forged great friendships, loyalty and a boatload of stories and memories. During those blinks they all matured and found their path. During those blinks they became independent, dedicated and driven. During those blinks I realized they have all become exactly what we wanted them to…great humans! Last night I saw dresses, heels, ties and tuxes but when I blinked I saw those school uniform solid color polos and superman t-shirts and little league jerseys and it made me smile. When I opened my eyes again and saw the grown-up version of all those little people, I realized that I hadn’t missed a thing; I had been there every moment of the journey and I stopped to realize all the amazing things that unfolded right before my eyes. I blinked again and I could still go back to blanket forts, sword fights with wrapping paper tubes, 4-H fairs and the prom. I realized I’d always have the blinks but the great opportunity to talk to a young adult and realize they had become exactly what they wrote about becoming in the 4th grade was worth the wrinkles and gray hairs that are a part of my look.
If we don’t blink nothing happens. If we don’t blink we’ll all be stuck. As I sat in mass this morning I saw one of my very favorite students who lost her mama when she was just a second grader. She has always had a special place in my heart and I realized how beautiful and necessary the blinks really are as I watched her snuggle and sway gently with her gorgeous baby girl in her arms. I blinked and she grew into a beautiful wife and mother and I could almost feel the joy and the happiness come from that little families end of the pew. God flooded my heart with joy and my eyes with tears and reminded me that the blinks are beautiful and with each one; with each stage that passes, we get another chance to see the great things he does in our lives. I made sure to say a prayer for all the beautiful blinks and the blessings that followed.
A Seed To Plant: Time isn’t meant to stand still…God is constantly working, so instead of feeling things have passed you by, look at what he’s done and hope for the beautiful things to come.
Blessings on your day!
“May the Lord repay every man for his righteousness and his faithfulness…” 1 Samuel 26:23
Growing up, we had a neighbor who was one of the dearest, sweetest souls God sent to earth. We loved her so much that my brothers and I called her Grandma Marge. We weren’t related to her, but we sure were connected at the heart. Grandma Marge knew heartache, she knew injustice and she knew sadness. She also knew and loved the Lord with a fire and a passion so what bubbled from her soul was joy and laughter and a wisdom that could see right through you. She lived a wee bit more than a century and that keen wit, sweet heart and wisdom shined like a light right to the end. Grandma Marge was a master at noticing and teaching my brothers and I lessons with very few words.
Grandma Marge was one of the few people who knew that chocolate and coconut are my favorite flavors ever. I didn’t tell her it was my favorite that but she always had candy when we stopped by for a visit and I guess she noticed that was the one I always picked. I remember one day my mom sent my little brother and I over to her house to borrow some eggs. Of course we sat down for a great visit and the candy bowl was out on the table. I remember that there were circus peanuts and candied orange slices (BLECK!!!) and one of the chocolate coconut candies. I figured I was safe because my brother loved both of those awful orange candies but for some bazaar reason he ate the one I wanted. I did’t say a word and remember politely telling Grandma I wasn’t hungry. I didn’t think any more about it and after our visit she handed us the bag with the container of eggs, and we headed home. Not long after we got home, my mom called me into the kitchen to help fix supper and she told me to look in the bag from Grandma Marge. In the bottom of the bag there was a little brown sack with a note and 3 chocolate coconut candies. The note said, “I’m not the only one who notices when you do a good thing. Love, Grandma Marge”
Her note seems to scream a very relevant thought right about now. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has heard and seen the craziness in our country lately and I’m also sure I’m not the only one who has felt sick to my stomach and cried and prayed sometimes feeling numb with disbelief and dismay. We’ve absolutely been called to fall to our knees and pray but I’ve been feeling like it’s just not enough. I’ve been wondering how to make our nation collectively take a deep breath and begin again honestly, kindly, prayerfully and justly. Late last week I asked God, what in the heck can I do? As I sat quietly waiting for a nudge or a thought my mind went racing back to that note from Grandma Marge.
I can’t control a single person. I have no influence over anyone in power. I am not eloquent and persuasive. All I can do is share God’s truth and slather everything in prayer, but yet I was feeling so inadequate until her note reminded me of the truth. God notices when you do a good thing. God sees his faithful, especially amongst a see of unfaithfulness. Thank goodness we aren’t judged in groups or by city, state or nation. He sees us each as his beautiful child and he will notice our deeds and actions. That note from several decades ago brought me peace in my turmoil. I pondered all of it for a few days and wondered if being faithful myself was enough, and, as usual, God gave me a wink of encouragement last night. I am taking a fabulous class about Scripture and as we were wrapping up our discussion on the book of Judges which is a story of one destructive, bloody, devastating battle after another the teacher reminded us that God recognizes the faithful in all times and circumstances. Grandma Marge was right, she wasn’t the only one who noticed things.
A Seed To Plant: Write the words BE FAITHFUL on some sticky notes or cards and scatter them as a reminder that our job on this earth no matter what the chaos around us is pretty simple!
Blessings on your day!
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not swerve from it. Proverbs 22:6
Things aren’t always what they seem. More often than I’d like to admit, I get things all settled in my mind only to realize I’ve seen it completely from the wrong perspective. The world can be pretty clear about what, who and how we should be and it’s pretty easy to slide right into that groove. God really wanted my attention and he got it, as I took a lesson from a mom about my age with a tall son named Kevin. Coincidence; not at all, God doesn’t do coincidence…he does; I love you so shut up and pay attention!
At first glance, her Kevin looked like a regular, tall handsome looking young man in his mid 20’s, just like my Kevin. But after just a few seconds, I realized he wasn’t the same at all. Her Kevin had the cognitive abilities of a seven year old and they were at the airport just watching planes take off because it was his favorite thing to do and it was their weekly Saturday morning date. I remember feeling sad and wondered if they ever felt cheated out of the things most of us take for granted. After hearing her story, I realized I was looking at things through a cloudy lens.
The mom talked about how her son was the greatest teacher of faith and all things good she could have ever imagined. When he was born, she worried about all the things he’d miss. As he got older she realized how lucky he was, and how lucky she was to be his mom. She shared that he was always up at dawn to go to a job at a workplace for people with disabilities and he approached each work day with such contentment and peace. He always finishes what he starts, delights in helping with any task, not because it’s important or hard or prestigious but because it’s helping someone and he feels accomplishment simply because it’s completed.
Her son has an innate sense of truth and trust. He doesn’t lie; it isn’t in his nature or ability. He trusts and prays with unshakable faith. He finds delight in tasks like doing the laundry and vacuuming the house. He realizes it’s helpful and productive and that brings him joy. He has no concern for fashion or material goods. He enjoys the simplicity of watching birds, planes and anything in nature. When he sees something beautiful or exciting in nature he always says, “Thank you God, I really liked seeing that!” He is capable of only goodness and sees each new day, even though it will be a repeat of the one before it, as a new and exciting gift from God.
Every parent worries about their child. We want them to be happy, to find a good job, to have enough money to enjoy life, to have a good education or training. We want them to be good and kind and mostly, we want them to get to heaven. Kevin’s mom said she sees all those things in her son every single day. She admitted that he takes a different kind of time and love than his siblings but he’s the child she worries about least because he, by nature, is saintly and lives without the temptations and sin that can put a wedge between us and the Father’s plan. That is the ultimate peace for a mothers soul she shared.
That encounter left me with a changed mama heart. I realize how many things I pray for in regard to my children. I pray for passed tests and high cattle prices and job promotions. I pray for their friendships, future spouses and their happiness. If I’m being truthful, I pray so hard and so often for things to be easy and peaceful for them. I will probably still pray for all those things but I realize I haven’t seen the whole picture and I thank Kevin’s mom for teaching me that those aren’t the greatest hopes to have for our children. I will pray a lot more for my children’s contentment, for their joy, for their peacefulness and for their ability to resist the noise of the world and more clearly hear the voice of the Father guiding them on the path he has planned for them.
A Seed To Plant: Spend some time thinking about the ways you pray for your children, godchildren, grandchildren of nieces and nephews. Decide if perhaps your prayers for them need a new perspective.
Blessings on your day!
…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!
Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14
I suppose most of us have a list. Some call it a bucket list, others may call it a list of short and long term goal and for others is may simply be a wish list to keep tucked in the drawer or in the back of your mind. Whatever you call it, I have something we should add. This particular item should not only be added to the long term, someday list but also to the task list we make each day. It’s so important it just can’t wait another day and we have to get into the practice of giving it specific attention. What is it, you might be wondering…
We need to be holy. Holiness isn’t just something for sweet old ladies or monks and nuns who spend their days in silent contemplative prayer. Holiness is something for each of us…today…every day. It’s something to become and it’s something to talk about. I got a gift for Christmas. Actually a few hundred of my good friends got the same gift. It was a book by Matthew Kelly called The Biggest Lie In The History Of Christianity. It’s a great read, and easy read, and an important read. One of the sections that grabbed my attention was the chapter when he spoke about being holy. Somewhere pop culture snuck in and we became afraid to let our desire to be holy show or grow.
I would like to share one simple and powerful strategy he laid out for each of us that can help us embrace and grow our holy. He suggests not re-vamping our entire life and running off to a convent or monastery, but rather to have a “Holy Moment” today. He describes that as a moment when you silently stop and do one thing God is guiding you to do. It might be moment of silent prayer when you’re prompted to be still. It might be a simple action or reaction that is inspired by God and not by our desires. It’s just a moment when we stop, shut up and let God be in charge of us. It might mean not snapping back or acting with mercy instead of judgement. It might mean calmly letting someone cut in front of us without getting into a huff; realizing there may be an important reason that driver is in such a hurry. Mr. Kelly suggests that if we strive for just one holy moment a day, we may soon discover that we have several and when we begin to include them in our days we begin to see God working in our days and before we know it there are dozens of holy moments each day and then change really begins to happen. Just a moment, that’s how it starts. That’s how we begin to grow in holiness and that is exactly what God has planned for us to be.
The book is wonderful so if you got it for Christmas read it. If you read it give your copy to someone who hasn’t and if all else fails, order it for yourself. Being holy should be the number one thing on our to-do list so let today be the day you strive for your first Holy Moment!
A Seed To Plant: Ask God to lead you to a holy moment today. Share it with someone and pass on the holy moment challenge.
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!
So they asked him, “What are you then?”… John 1:21
I was traveling recently and the hotel stay required a several floor elevator ride. Every time I got in it, I was the only passenger so there was nothing to distract me which would have been nice because all 4 walls of the elevator were mirrors. Each time I glanced up to see which floor I was on all I saw was my reflection. Each time I caught a glimpse of myself, I thought of this question from John’s gospel. The questions asked of John go from WHO are you to WHAT are you. The second one seems a bit strange at first glance don’t you think? But when we take a good look at our discipleship, the second question becomes very important.
If someone asks “who are you” I might be quick to respond with things like; Shannon’s mom, Dave’s wife, Brandt’s teacher or Tina’s friend. I tend to focus on what I do to describe who I am. But if someone asks “what are you” it causes me to look at my vocation. What am I? I am God’s daughter. I am a Saint in the making. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am a living example of God’s love for all his children. In all honesty, my “what” needs some work! There are even times when I think about the person asking and wonder “what do they want me to be?” The problem with that kind of thinking is there is really only one opinion that matters and that isn’t always the one I seek first.
John was very honest and direct. He did not pretend to be someone or something he wasn’t. There is certainly a lesson there for me. This Gospel is the perfect reminder that what I really am, is HIS! I don’t have to pretend to be who or what the world would find impressive. Today is the day to speak the truth like John and realize what I am; God’s Beloved Daughter, and that is absolutely more than enough.
A Seed To Plant: What are you? Take a few minutes to make that list, looking through the Fathers eyes.
Blessings on your day!
God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in distress. Psalm 46:1
Have you ever put something away in that “safe place” that you were sure was the perfect, logical spot only to spend a big chunk of time trying to recall just where that perfect spot was? I can’t even count the number of times I’ve muttered while searching high and low for that thing I put in the perfect place that I was sure to remember! It’s frustrating isn’t it! Very often when I do finally find it I think, “What on earth were you thinking…that wasn’t logical or memorable in the least!” I’m really glad I don’t have to search for God that hard, or find the perfect spot to store his love and affection.
So many times when I feel overwhelmed or pulled in too many directions I call out to God like he’s lost or something. “Dear God…where are you…I’m choking here…HELLO!!!” or “Hey God…woman in trouble here; can world peace wait a few minutes, I need you right now please!” I saw a cartoon featuring Mr. Magoo talking to a lamp post like it was a real person and it was so ridiculous it was funny. I wasn’t laughing so hard when I realized sometimes that must be what God feels like when he sees us throwing a hissy fit or calling out to him impatiently as if he’s on a long lunch and not fully aware of each and every one of our needs.
I’m not sure how many more years I need to wander this earth before I fully wrap my head around the fact that our God does not charge in on a white horse nor does he rein down thunder and lightning each time we call out his name for help. He is a God who comes in the quiet, like a still, small whisper. He doesn’t get lost, he doesn’t ignore, and he doesn’t come a minute too soon or a minute too late. The only walls I need him to bust down are the walls of my heart so I can trust, listen, love and hope harder each day. I don’t need to go around muttering to lamp posts or other inanimate objects expecting them to talk back, I just need to speak to Him in the quiet and know he hears me instantly. I don’t have to hide his contact information or keep him in a corner compartment “on hold” for when I might need him, I know where he is, I know that he hears me, I know that God is present even if all I hear is silence. After all, peace doesn’t mean trouble is absent, it means God is present; without even tracking him down. I think I just needed to remember he is ever present and ever so easy to find. Maybe you needed that reminder today too.
A Seed To Plant: For 10 minutes; just be still and listen for the whisper!
Blessings on your day!
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice. Philippians 4:4
This verse is one of those “feel good” verses I like to spit out when I’m happy and things are going well. I’m getting better and better at calling out in thanks for every good thing. It’s been a consciences effort over the past many months to really remind myself to thank him and recognize the million moments when he’s working powerfully in my life. Lately though I’ve been asked to look at this verse through a different lens.
The truth about this verse is that it was written by St. Paul. The hit me over the head truth of this verse is that it was written while he was in prison awaiting his martyrdom. From the darkness, the squalor, the stench, the most unfortunate, uncomfortable and undeserved location, he cried out for us to rejoice as he was at that very moment. He didn’t say it once, but twice; rejoice! Now, I’ve been in some pretty dark, complicated, painful spots but I’ve got nothin to compare to this…not even close. Praying with this verse has brought to mind some things I need to remember about rejoicing, especially when it’s the last thing on my mind.
Being a disciple means saying YES to God. When we say yes, it’s usually because we want to grow closer to him and experience his powerful grace. We sign up for the good stuff! How conveniently and quickly we forget about the hard or bad that comes with the good. God shows us how this works in his creation again and again. He put thorns with roses and cobs with sweet corn and mosquitos with summer. We’ve lived it and seen it dozens of times but we are always shocked when the suffering and hardship come. The Apostles said yes to Jesus and talk about a roller-coaster ride that yes was. Every one of them endured trial, hardship, persecution and all but one faced martyrdom. Amazingly, they all listed to Paul and did it all while rejoicing, and for what? For eternal peace, freedom and absolute perfection.
These thoughts served as a sort of “buck up butter-cup” kind of experience in Adoration a couple of weeks ago. I was lamenting about people who were sick and troubles and woes we are facing as a community, a church and as a nation. Wouldn’t you know it, this was exactly the verse he led me to. When I look at all the stuff I was made heavy-hearted by, I realized I have absolutely no control over any of it and the only thing I could do was lift it up to him and rejoice! Rejoice not that these things were happening, but rejoice because I trust he’s working in all of it.
Embracing hardship cheerfully isn’t something we generally put on our daily to-do list but I suppose it really should be. Following St. Paul’s advice in his letter to the Philippians I decided to give it a try. I have a really bum knee and long walks through the airport and standing to deliver an all day training is pretty awful. Last week when I went to Texas, I parked my car at at the airport and said, “Lord, I thank you for this lousy hurting knee. I will praise you and rejoice in the pain and I offer this suffering to you. I rejoice in the pain in the hopes that you will bless someone in great need with the pain I offer you.” And of course because I can be sassy, I added, “And Lord, If I’m gonna stand and do one evening and two full days of training, I need you to take some of the pain away during those hours. If you could part the Red Sea, I know you can manage the pain for a couple days.” It was sort of an experiment but he was so faithful and mighty and lovingly answered my prayer. Through the prompting of the Holy Spirit I rejoiced when it didn’t hurt so much and then again when I got home and it did. His power is overwhelming! Give it a try, rejoice in the middle of something awful or painful that’s going on in your life. He will be waiting to meet you in the middle of it.
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of all the things going on in your life that are hard to rejoice in. Write or say the words; Lord, help me rejoice in_____.
Blessings on your day!
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
Saint Augustine had a way of "telling it like it is"! He didn't mince words or beat around the bush he just cut to the chase and taught it like it was. Once he gave a sermon in which he proposed a kind of self-test to see if we truly love God; Suppose God proposed you a deal and said “I will give you anything you want. You can possess the whole world. Nothing will be impossible for you…nothing will be a sin, nothing forbidden. You will never die, never have pain, never have anything you do not want and always have anything you do want….except for one thing; you will never see my face.” St. Augustine closed with a question; did a chill arise in your hearts, when you heard the words, “You will never see my face”? That chill is the most precious thing in you; that is the pure love of God.
Every time I read the wise words of this story I get such a wave of desire…desire to try harder to be holy! I realize after reading St. Augustine’s words I have a renewed sense of purpose…a new strength…a new hope. I think we work so hard at doing the “right thing” maybe we forget just what we’re working for. It’s easy to get into the habit of doing good things so others will think we’re “nice”. In the words of our former parish priest, Fr. James, “nowhere in the bible are we called to be nice!” We are called to be holy, called to be uncomfortable, called to realize sometimes the Gospel’s hit us sideways…and that’s ok! We are called to do the hard work of following Christ…being His hands and feet on earth and that, as we all know, isn’t always easy. There are days, when that offer from God St. Augustine talked about seems like a great idea! Those are the times we need to set out with new energy to do His work and know it isn’t without great blessing and reward.
I read this story tonight and then I told the room full of teenagers listening, “Our number one task is to get to heaven! Everything we do, say, listen to, watch and everyone we hang out with will either help us get there, or draw us away so pay attention!” The temptation is there to think one little thing here or there won’t matter but it’s still a step away from our task. The most powerful thing I can think of to make those decisions easier is to remember what’s waiting for us in heaven…the face of God. That’s something worth fighting for…that trumps everything! We just have to remember it!
A Seed To Plant: Print the words to St. Augustine’s sermon and read them every day this week. I’m willing to bet if you let them really sink into your heart, living the Gospel message will have a new meaning!
Blessings on your day!
“For behold, I have made you small among the nations…” Jeremiah 49:15
Here’s a little fun fact for you. Each tower of the Golden Gate Bridge contains more than 600,000 rivets. That’s a lot of rivets! Now you may be wondering what on earth that has to do with anything but if you read a little further it may have a lot to do with you! This little tidbit of seemingly unimportant information grabbed my attention when it was followed by the phrase, “and not one of them does something on it’s own.”
Each rivet is absolutely important but not a single one of them demands recognition for the job they do. I’d never look at a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge and say, “Oh my, look at rivet number 432,000…isn’t that an awesome rivet!” Instead, when I look at all those rivets I realize they are an integral part of something amazing but it isn’t completely dependent on any one rivet. They each work together for a greater purpose. I offer this post today both as a reminder and as a comfort.
The reminder is about service, humility and the work we have in our discipleship. I can do all kinds of personal things to grow in holiness but if I’m not using my time, talents and treasures to serve others, I’m not a rivet thats building the Kingdom of God on earth. The Ten Commandments are divided into two groups; Love God and Love Others! We are called to do both. One rivet won’t hold up a bridge any more than one person can singlehandedly build the Kingdom. This little tidbit has given me cause to consider how important a rivet I think I really am. As I type, it’s early Sunday morning and I’m watching the sun come up through a giant airport window. It’s a stunning view and I’m so happy to be on my way to Texas to do the work he’s called me there to do, but I have to be careful not to think that makes my rivet any shinier than the next guys. After all, if they build a bridge with only one rivet who would trust it? As I think of those 6000,000 rivets, I’m reminded that strength for good work comes when the work is done by many, each doing what they are called to do, in the way they’re called to do it, all for the Glory of God not to be noticed as a standout.
The comfort of this little thought is that the weight of the task doesn’t rest completely on one person’s shoulders. We don’t have to carry the weight of the world. We don’t have to be in charge. We don’t have to know everything, understand everything, and battle all the woes of the world on our own. God surrounded us with lots of other rivets to share the journey and the work of our discipleship. We were made to be in communion with others for lots of different reasons; God is so smart! So relax, look around and find the rivets near you and trust in their support. I have the great pleasure to teach in a school made up of a group of really awesome rivets! On any given day we pray, laugh, think and sometimes cry together offering the support, love and assurance needed to build God’s Kingdom through our vocation as teachers. Look around, who are the rivets near you?
Those rivets in the Golden Gate Bridge work together to support more than 112,000 vehicles a day. I’d say that’s a fabulous example of combined effort. The question is, where is God calling me to be a rivet!
A Seed To Plant: Take some time in prayer to consider the kind of rivet God’s calling you to be. Ponder a bit on the ideas of service, humility and comfort from this simple post.
Blessings on your day!
"Also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind.” 1 Samuel 15:29
Welcome to 2019! It’s time for the annual word of the year post. I just learned that there is some sort of app that can generate your word for you. The folks I know who have tried it have gotten some pretty fancy words. One lady got the word “dazzle” and another got “fascination” and yet a third got “excitement”. After many weeks of prayer, my word is crystal clear…and once again it’s not very fancy. I say it’s not fancy because it involves work on my part. My word for 2019 is “CONSISTENT”. Wa-hoo! At first I pouted a little thinking this was a word that meant I was going to be tested and asked to actually plow through some stuff he’s been leading me toward for a while. After the word was clear, I spent several days asking him to help me actually like my word!
It’s been cause for a lot of reflection and it’s only the second day of January! In my prayer, I came across this verse from 1Samuel and it shined a giant spotlight on a couple of things that come with my word. I was pointed right to truthfulness and decisiveness. Truth hit my heart because we live in a world that seems to be a little allergic to honesty. It’s hard to know which headline or sound bite to believe. I know I can't do much to change that but I sure can work consistently to seek, defend, and live truth. Changing my mind is usually what happens when I loose steam and don’t finish what I started. It occurred to me that if consistent was a word I lived, I could be a little more Christ-like. I liked the thought of that!
I’m celebrating the last few hours of my birthday as I type and it’s been a great day. I think it’s been a great day because it had the best beginning. I went to church for a Eucharistic Holy Hour at 5:45 this morning and in the still and the quiet the thought that popped into my head (thank you Holy Spirit) was that being consistent didn’t mean being perfect. That was a huge relief. The verse points out that He is not a man and he won’t change his mind but I am human so he sort of expects it I think…phew! That little line took off some of the pressure for sure! As I begin this new year and pray about the way I’d like to live out this next birth year, I made a list of all the places I needed to be more consistent. When I finished, the list wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought it might be. I am the queen of stop and start…green light and red light…hurry up, go crazy and then stall out! I believe the words I need to adopt are finish what you start with consistent progress. I think I can do that!
As I was looking at the list of things that need my new word and making a plan, I realized I probably need to find the root of my inconsistency. I’m usually in perpetual motion and get lots of stuff done but there are those few things that just never turn out quite like I thought they would when I got started. I need to spend some time in prayer thinking about why! Some of them are big things like writing a book and others are small like praying a daily Rosary EVERY day. Some are just yucky like keeping papers graded and my desk free from piles and some are hard like consistently eating right and speaking truthfully and kindly to everyone. My new word seems to fit everywhere but I need to figure out how to use it well. I’ll keep you posted!
A Seed To Plant: What’s your word? Share it if you have one so we can all pray for each other as we figure out how to live our word!
Blessings on your day!
Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour. Matthew 25:13
I love Tuesday’s! That’s the day students file in, find a seat and get ready for “Tuesday Tunes”! The process is very simple and I’m amazed each week at how something so simple can be so fun and powerful. After I play a song we talk about what God might be speaking to us through the lyrics. I’m always amazed at the way some kids react and respond. I’m continually surprised at how the same set of words can mean something so different to each of them; and the way some of them dig half-way to China and grab a deep nugget of wisdom and insight never ceases to amaze me!
The Tuesday before Christmas break I played a song called Born In Me by Francesca Battestelli. If you haven’t heard it make sure you head over to YouTube when you’re done reading to check it out; it’s an incredible song. When the song finished there was just silence in all four classes. They were thinking and studying the image of the Baby Jesus at the end of the song. It was pretty amazing to see a room full of middle lovelies just entranced by a song. There was a line in the song that said “I will hold you in the beginning and you’ll hold me in the end.” Several said that was Mary talking simply saying Mary held Jesus when he was a baby and then Jesus will hold her in his arms when she comes to heaven. One dug really deep and said he thought it was God speaking to us saying “I held you in my hands and made you in my image as I created you and after you have lived your life well on earth, you will return to me and I will hold you again.” May I remind you this child was 12! Amazing!
Another line they found powerful was the line that said “I’ll make my heart your Bethlehem” What a beautiful thought! A few of the middle lovelies were sure that meant that Jesus came to Bethlehem the first Christmas but as he finished his life on earth we simply celebrate his return to our hearts each Christmas. Beautiful…and then another one said; “We have to work really hard to make sure our heart is pure, clean and wide open because if our heart is to be his home, we don’t want him to find there is no room at the inn again!”
The kids picked up on the line that said, “If You’re pleased with me why am I so terrified?” I loved the thoughts on this line. There were the obvious ones like, she was afraid of what her Joseph, her parents and family would say and she was afraid of the unknown. But then it happened…someone went in a direction I’d never considered and said, “I think Mary was terrified because she wanted to make sure she could protect God’s son. I can’t always protect my iPod and my cat; I can’t imagine how scared I would be to be in charge of Jesus! I just think she was afraid to disappoint God because disappointing your parents is really a bad feeling.”
The last line that really struck them said “The only thing my heart can offer is a vacancy.” One class fell silent when a very humble and honest young man said, “I don’t even think I can offer that most of the time. I spend too much time being selfish, playing and doing what I want to that I don’t think there is enough room in my heart for Jesus.” Holy Cow! I think he spoke for all of us and opened the door for amazing discussion on the ways we can make sure our heart can offer a vacancy to the Newborn King.
It was more powerful than you average Tuesday that’s for sure! If you’re looking for a new way to sit in quiet prayer you might try a Tuesday Tune of your own…on any day you like. Just play it and see what lines hit your heart and then spend some prayerful minutes just pondering the words and the message.
A Seed To Plant: Find Born In Me and give it a prayerful listen.
Blessings on your day!
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