In God we trust
There is a scene from a movie I love and one character says, “nothing really surprises me anymore” and the other character looks at him in shock and says, “that’s too bad because things surprise the heck out of me every day!” From the very first time I saw that movie, I try to make it my mission to be on the lookout for surprises every day. I’ve discovered if I’m not looking for them I become complacent and cynical. Those are two qualities I think the world could use a whole lot LESS of for sure.
Earlier this week the VFW came to visit our 6th graders to teach them how to appreciate and fold our American Flag. It was Patriot Day and they came in uniform. They come every year because hanging and taking down the flag each day is a 6th grade job and they need to do it properly. This year the men from the VFW taught the kids about the folds of the flag and even though I’d heard it before, the correlation between our faith and our flag surprised me. I thought I’d share in hopes of surprising you too. Our faith is such a part of the foundation of our country that it’s pretty hard to separate two things that started out so very connected. The flag is folded thirteen times, each with a powerful symbolism.
The 1st fold of the flag is a symbol of life.
The 2nd fold is a symbol of our belief in eternal life.
The 3rd fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veterans departing our ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout our world.
The 4th fold represents our weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in times of war for his divine guidance.
The 5th fold is a tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, “Our Country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but it is our country, right or wrong.”
The 6th fold is for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that We pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.
The 7th fold is a tribute to our Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that we protect our country and our flag against all her enemies, whether they be found within or beyond the boundaries of our republic.
The 8th fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day.
The 9th fold is a tribute to womanhood, and Mothers. For it has been through their faith, their love, loyalty and devotion that the character of men and women who have made this country great has been molded.
The 10th fold is a tribute to fathers, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since they were first born.
The 11th fold represents the lower portion of the seal of King David, King Solomon and glorifies in the Hebrew eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
The 12th fold represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies in the Christians eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit.
The 13th fold, or when the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost reminding us of our nations motto, “In God We Trust.”
This isn’t new information…it isn’t just made up…it’s as old as the flag itself and within the folds of the flag are the reminders of so many things we believe and are supposed to stand together and celebrate. Motherhood, fatherhood, eternity, Jesus, the Trinity and God the Father of all. I was surprised all over again Monday afternoon as I watched some proud and honorable veterans teach 40 twelve year olds what the Flag of their Country really stands for. I was surprised at how much I forget and take for granted the ways God really does want to bless America.
A Seed To Plant: Share this information with someone who might also be surprised about the way our faith and our flag are connected.
Blessings on your day
"Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20
I’m still trying to adjust to seeing just two toothbrushes in the bathroom toothbrush cup. I remember when there were five and three of them were short and chunky with cartoon characters on the handle. The other morning as I looked a little sadly at the two lonely toothbrushes standing in the cup, it served as a reminder that everything changes and that’s as it should be. As I stood there brushing my teeth, staring at a the toothbrush cup I contemplated getting a smaller container, one that wouldn’t show so much empty space, but then, as he often does, in a completely random place, God began to teach.
I know with absolutely certainty, the three little Wohlferts I love so much were never intended to stay here on Pratt road forever. I know with absolute certainty Dave and I enjoy the young adults they have become and we find great joy watching them discover their own path. Sometimes it’s hard to keep quiet about thing. We’d like to offer advice we hope is steeped in wisdom and experience, but like all parents, we realize that some lessons are best learned by living. Our kids know we are always here if they need advice or help but we try to let them ask first before we just spit it all out. I’m sure the Father is sitting there anxious for us to ask for help too! Like earthly parents, he’s waiting in the wings with wisdom, experience, love and a way to navigate a situation with much less difficulty if we’d only ask.
Those two little toothbrushes screamed a powerful message about my relationship with the Father. Although three toothbrushes are absent from the cup, my kids aren’t absent from my life. I don’t see them, I don’t hear them everyday but I know they are there. I suppose the Father needed to remind me of that, I may not see him or hear him but he reminded me he’s always there. As I thought about each of the kids who now have their own toothbrush holder, I realize I’m not responsible for providing the vessel, thats their job. We were each given a free will and we have the opportunity to make dozens of choices a day. We’ve been given a body or a vessel to get us through this earthly life but the choice to listen to and follow him are our responsibility; he won’t barge into our lives uninvited and take control of the vessel. How we fill it is up to our own choosing. It’s our job to remember he will always fill our vessel with the best stuff imaginable but it needs to be empty enough to make room for him.
I always bought the toothbrushes. As far as the kids were concerned, they were just always there and were probably taken for granted. Let’s face it, unless you are the mom, not much thought goes into toothbrush supply. I stood there brushing, wondering how much money I had spent on toothbrushes over the decades and I couldn’t think of one single time anyone thanked me for providing a toothbrush. Just as I was about to feel a teeny bit unappreciated, I realized how many dozens and dozens of gifts, graces and blessings God provides without my notice or proper acknowledgement.
The last thing that popped into my head before I spit and swished was the fact that I reminded, even hounded my kids to use those toothbrushes at LEAST twice a day and more often when they ate something sticky or gooey. Since those toothbrushes aren’t in my bathroom anymore, I have to trust that they remember what I told them. If they don’t, obviously there will be dental consequences. My mind quickly shifted to prayer. I hope we remember to pray more times than we brush…did I teach them that…will they remember that…will they realize that when things in life get sticky or gooey they need to add a little extra? Will they realize the consequences of a life without him? And of course, will I remember that myself? I’m sure God was reminding me that prayer should be as automatic as tooth brushing and hopefully a lot more frequently. He also made me realize that the time I spend brushing my own teeth would be a perfect opportunity to pray for the kids who have toothbrush holders of their own now. As I wiped my mouth and put my toothbrush in the cup with Dave’s, I thanked him for the lesson and for the gift of all those years with five toothbrushes in the cup.
A Seed To Plant: Think of five people to pray for this week each time you brush your teeth.
Blessings on your day!
Do you want to be well? John 5:6
Who remembers the commercial jingle that said, “Hold the pickle, hold the lettuce. Special orders don’t upset all we ask is that you let us serve it your way. Have it your way at Burger King.” It may have worked with your Whopper but it’s not exactly the motto for growing in holiness. Even though that jingle is 45 years old too many of us expect our relationship with Jesus to be just like ordering the perfect burger. The truth is, most of us aren’t even sure what it is we really think we want.
Someone recently pointed out that we have so many choices it can be really tough to figure out what we want most. We seem to chase thing after thing. We buy stuff and more stuff trying to figure out what that one thing really is. How many times have we eaten four or five snacks before we really even figure out what we’re really hungry for? I read a question not long ago that made me giggle and think. The gentleman asked, “What do cats like most? Mice, right? So if mice is what the cat really wants why is cat food made from chicken, pork, beef, lamb and fish instead of mouse?
I’ve given it a lot of thought and I think sometimes I don’t figure out what I really want because its easier to just try several options and complain when they aren’t what I really wanted than it is to really stop, pray and ponder what I want, examining all the consequences and unintended consequences that go with my choices. Jesus’ question to the crippled man in Johns Gospel was a bit strange but it really digs down to a deeper level; a level I think I need to visit more often. The lame man had been there on his mat crippled for decades. Actually being healed would require responsibility and change for the man, after 38 years Jesus asked a very fair question. I’m sure it made the man wonder how much he really wanted the change that meant moving, pain, work and responsibility. Jesus wanted to know if it was really worth it to him.
Blessed Santia Szymkowiak had the perfect answer to the question, “What do you want?” She lived her entire life with one motto, “Jesus make me want whatever you want.” She believed what Jesus wanted most for and from her was holiness. I don’t know about you, but that isn’t my usual thought process, but it sure should be. If I want what he wants then I can’t always have it my way. If I do things his way, it means change and being uncomfortable; two things we don’t readily sign up for! Burger King made a fortune off making customers feel like they could have anything they wanted and there was happiness because of it. I guess that leads me to ask myself the big question; where do I want happiness; on earth so it can last about as long as that delicious burger or do I want the bliss for all of eternal life? My way will be temporary, his way will be eternal. It’s really what I want most but what am I willing to do; what changes am I willing to make in order to want what he wants?
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of all the things you want, and make a list of all the things you’re pouting about because they didn’t go your way. Pray with that list and ask God to show you what he wants for you.
Blessings on your day!
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, Colossians 3:23
Happy Labor day. It’s an early morning as I sit typing on my front porch watching the sun come up and I’m so very thankful! So thankful to be sitting on my porch drinking coffee watching God paint in the sky; thankful for the last summer weekday morning to enjoy my porch and thankful for labor that I love. Dave just pulled out of the driveway on his way to work and it reminded me of the three things I’d like us all to pause a minute and do today.
First, pray in thanksgiving for the work we do. Whether we make a little or a lot, whether we love our jobs or not, today is a good day to be thankful for a chance to use our gifts and make a little money to support those we love.
Second, pray for those who don’t get today off. Some folks, like the farmers who feed us, never get a day off. If you know one, thank one! If I think about all the folks going to work today they are probably going off to a job to serve those of us who don’t have to go to work today. Thank you God for them!
Third, pray for those who are unemployed or underemployed. The stress, the worry, the disappointment they feel can be overwhelming. Let’s pray for the single parents working two or three jobs trying to make ends meet. Let’s pray for those, who for a dozen different reasons we don’t know anything about, make up the ranks of the working poor.
There you have it…your tasks for the day! Happy Labor day!
A Seed To Plant: Do the assignment above!
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
My dad always taught us that if we borrowed something, no matter what it was, we should return it in better condition than it was when we borrowed it. I’m pretty sure that applies to our children too. Before our first baby was born, my Grandma told me that the children I would bear weren’t mine, rather, they were a precious gifts on loan from the Father and it was our primary responsibility as parents, to help them get to heaven. Grandmas thinking may seem a bit countercultural today. The word might have us think our primary task is to get our kids on the most prestigious teams, the most elite dane troops or into the most impressive schools. While we’re aiming for first string, first chair and top score, Jesus is begging us to show our children that nothing is more important than giving him first place in our lives.
Holiness, simply put, is oneness with God so here are a few things we can do as parents to make good on our responsibility to help our kids grow in holiness and give the Lord first place.
*Pray with and for your kids every day. It’s hard for kids to understand the importance of Jesus and His Church if we rarely talk about it.
*Do as I do! Our kids imitate what we model. They need to see us pray, read scripture and trust in the Lord. We are teaching lessons when we’re cut off in traffic, talking about the frustrating co-worker at dinner or putting an envelope in the Sunday collection.
*As you travel to games, concerts, recitals and events, make sure to include some trips to the really important places like Sunday Mass, Eucharistic Adoration or even a quick stop to rest from the noise and chaos in a quiet, peaceful church. As christians, we know Jesus is with us always but a special stop to sit in his Eucharistic Presence is good for the soul. It also shows our children that Jesus is important enough to stop for.
*Say NO to the things that don’t point your kids to heaven. That could be screen activity, movies, music or friendships. Their holiness is more important than your popularity.
*Point them to the Holy Ones. The world sets before our children people who don’t always use their gifts and talents to glorify God. Since moving into a cave to shelter our kids from all of that isn’t very practical, we can shower them with stories of the holy men and women of our faith. Many of the saints lived crazy, amazing, adventurous lives and their stories are interesting and inspiring. Put them before your kids to serve as heroes and role models.
“Holy enough” is not a thing…holiness is a continuous journey toward the Father so as we help our children grow in holiness, we will find ourselves growing too and that is a very good thing!
A Seed To Plant: Pick something from the list and make a plan to put it into action this week.
Blessings on your day!
Humble yourself therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time he may exalt you. 1Peter 5:7
Usually when I think about humility or God humbling me it’s painful or embarrassing. This weekend I was greatly humbled but it was not like that at all. I was humbled in a gentle, sweet, beautiful way. When I was a little girl I remember my Dad stopping one day and sitting me up on the hood of the truck so I could watch a combine gracefully and powerfully take down a field of wheat. It all seemed so huge and amazing to me as a child. I was in awe at how the whole process flowed together to complete a massive task. Dad made sure I was in the perfect spot to see the work and he let me ask as many questions as I wanted and then he just let me watch in silence and take it all in. This weekend was sort of like that except it was with my other Father!
As I set out Friday morning to go to Boise it was one travel hiccup after another but there was a peace in my heart and time after time God just guided me through it all. He put people in my path that were kind, friendly and funny. He walked before me and all the hiccups just resolved as I followed in his wake and felt his mighty hand at every turn. I went to Boise to share, teach and give, but I received much more than I gave. I had the beautiful opportunity to meet women who shared their stories of joy and sorrow and pain and triumph. They opened their hearts to share and pray and I was so very humbled to listen and pray with them. The mountains and the retreat center grounds were so beautiful and peaceful. I went to work, but instead I was humbled as I watched God work.
As I type this, I’m sitting in an airport waiting for the second flight that will take me home. I will get there shortly before midnight and tomorrow is the first day of school. I have a whole new batch of middle lovelies to set off on a new adventure with tomorrow. There are copies to make and plans to finish. There are things to think about and prepare for but he’s just letting me sit in silence with complete confidence and peace, knowing that he will show his mighty power. I’m sure I will wake up at 4:30 in the morning and hit the ground runnin…I’m sure my luggage will make it to Lansing…I’m sure I can catch a turn at the copy machine before school…I’m sure the peace and awe in his ability to organize and orchestrate even the teeniest detail will leave me humbled and in awe.
This weekend as he moved among the beautiful women at the retreat, I was filled with hope and joy and reminded of his mighty power. I thought today would be a good day to remind you of it too. I can’t lean on my own abilities but when I realize all he can do…all he’s waiting to do for us if we ask, I feel like that little girl sitting on the hood of my daddy’s truck just taking it all in!
A Seed To Plant: Take a few minutes today to be still and notice things that have fallen in place and then humbly thank God for the good work. If things aren’t falling in place, ask him to get you out of his way so you can watch him work; the view is always better when you’re behind him!
Blessings on your day!
**When life gets busy...it calls for a re-post! This one goes back to the "little lovely" days. It's old but I still haven't mastered the lesson!
Be quick to listen. James 1:19
In our classroom, there are five student tables and in the center of each table there is a blue cup that contains pencils and erasers. Since seven year olds and electric pencil sharpener go together about as well as whip cream and onions, I am in charge of all pencil sharpening. One day this week I had carefully explained directions for a math page. I had answered all the questions and thoroughly checked for understanding, so I told the class they could begin. A few of them said something but I was busy putting a Band-Aid on a little girl’s hangnail and then the second grade teacher popped his head in my door to ask a quick favor and then I took a second to reply to a note one of the kids had given me from his mom. After dealing with all that, I did a quick scan and noticed none of the kids were working on their math so I said, “What’s up guys? Why aren’t you working?” One of the little lovelies said, “We’ve been trying to tell you that you picked up all our pencils to sharpen them before recess and you didn’t give them back.” I wasn’t sure if I should laugh or cry…instead I told them I needed more coffee! One of the girls told me later not to worry about it because kids are pretty used to grown-ups who don’t listen so good.
When I ran across this verse in my notebook of favorites yesterday, I knew it was meant for me. I love the way God thumps me over the head with His word sometimes. This verse seems a little strange doesn’t it? We are very quick to comment, very quick to evaluate, very quick to eat, and drive and clean and…the list goes on and on. We do almost everything quickly except listen. My mom used to say,“Girl, there is a reason God gave you one mouth and two ears…so you could listen twice as much as you talk.” After the pencil episode this week, I think I could use a little practice with listening.
One of the fascinating things about Mother Teresa was the way she lived this verse from St. James. People of every status and walk of life commented on the consistent and loving way she would listen. She had the amazing ability to listen completely and compassionately as if the person speaking was the only other person in the room. That is a gift! The thing that makes living this verse so tough is that listening requires us to slow down, be present and do only ONE thing…listen. That seems so contrary to the way we spin through our days. Sometimes it’s these Scripture “one liners” that really throw us a challenge. Are you up for a challenge?
A Seed To Plant: Spend the next few days being the second person in the conversation to speak…start with a “hello” and follow it up with a spurt of careful listening.
Blessings on your day!
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12
I’m sure we’ve all heard the line, “if you aren’t part of the solution; you must be part of the problem.” They are wise words but perhaps a bit misunderstood. I think being part of the solution doesn’t necessarily mean solving the problem single handedly but rather making an honest attempt at working toward something better. There are some mighty problems in this world to be solved and I sure shootin didn’t cause them, plus I know for a fact that I am not in the position to solve them. So should I throw in the towel and go cry in the closet? Nope! I was reading an article about an amazing woman named Dorothy Day and she had one little idea that put it all in perspective for me.
Dorothy Day was a saving grace to so many who were left physically, spiritually and emotionally crippled by the devastation of the Great Depression. Her motives and actions were genuine, compassionate and life changing. She provided a beacon of hope during a time when there wasn’t much. She didn’t solve the financial problems of the day but she worked in her own way to be part of the solution one person and one family at a time. She didn’t offer money, but rather provided the most basic needs of the suffering. She offered dignity, shelter, hope and joy…so much joy. She didn’t give a lot ,but what she gave mattered greatly. She said, “We contribute to the misery of the world if we ignore beauty and joy in life. If we seek the will of the One who sent Jesus, we need to open our hearts to joy.”
It’s not hard to find the problems, but we get in a big pickle when we have an even harder time finding the beauty around us. It isn’t often we see a smiling baby or a gorgeous harvest moon on the front page of the paper or newsfeed but when we do see them they give us a lift. Who doesn’t love a good giggling baby video shared on social media? They just let us escape for a few minutes. After reading the article I realized my role in the solution was easier than I thought. It’s my job to connect with beauty and joy. John Ruskin was a famous art critic from England who used to say “We have the duty of delight.” That line made me realize we sometimes see joy and beauty and peaceful things as frivolous and non-productive. We think we have to work and take things to task and ponder serious matters in order to be responsible, informed citizens. Did you hear that, I think God just belly laughed!” We’ve got it so twisted up it isn’t even funny.
God is the maker of joy and beauty not the creator of evil, cynical, corrupt or absurd so why not focus on the things he made and leave the rest of the mess alone? Dorothy Day didn’t solve the problem of the Great Depression, but she sure was a solution to those she was able to bring delight to. Sounds like a much better way to spend my day, what do you think?
A Seed To Plant: Take some time to sit and make a list of things in your world that are beautiful and joyful and then go about the duty of delighting in them instead of stewing over problems you can’t solve. It is perhaps the most important work we can do!
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!
Then I declared my sin to you; my guilt I did not hide. Psalm 32:5
I spent some time in my classroom the other day trying to unpack and get ready to start a new year. After spending three hours there the best way to describe the way it looked as I turned off the light and walked out is “the cupboards threw up!” There were stacks of books, bulletin board fabric and border containers open and bulging out everywhere and piles of “things” on each available flat surface. The chairs are all stacked in a tall pile and the computers are still draped in blue plastic bags with cords coiled into neat spools. It looked so awful I’m not sure I want to go back! It’s amazing how much faster and easier it is to pack it all up in June than it is to unpack it all in August! It reminded me of a cartoon I saw recently that said, “I love vacation; it takes me 4 hours to pack and 4 weeks to unpack!” It was a painful reality when I consider the task every teacher faces when it’s time to get the room ready to go for a new school year.
The reality of the piles and the mess will make it hard to go back in there on Monday but it just has to be done. There is no magic spell or closet full of helpful elves that will sneak in under cover of darkness and get the job done so I’m just gonna have to buckle down and slug through it all. I have to focus on the first morning I will walk in and see that shiny floor, curtains hung, bulletin boards finished and everything all in its place. Eye on the prize kind of thinking I guess! I suppose it’s all so uncomfortable because it causes us to tackle the undesirable and most of us would like to slink away from that any chance we can. As I tripped over piles all afternoon I got to thinking about my bad habits and sinfulness. I’d much rather avoid those than deal with them! It’s pretty easy to take the bad stuff like my shortness of patience or my quick judgements and tuck them away like books in a closet but they need to be dealt with from time to time. If I didn’t acknowledge the mess in my room and the stuff on the bottom shelf I wouldn’t really be ready for my best school year. I suppose my eternal salvation requires the same attention. I realized as I was dusting, sorting and organizing, it’s about more than supplies; it’s about my soul. Every corner of my life needs some inspection, evaluation and action. There are things I need more of and definitely things I need less of!
When my room is ready I will waltz through the door with a light and cheerful heart but in order to get to that point I have to be willing to do the heavy lifting, the scrubbing and the sorting. As I plopped down next to a pile of text books and school supplies I figured I’d better pay twice as much attention to cleaning up my soul and addressing the things that distance me from the Father. Just like my classroom in June, it’s much easier to tuck it all away that pull it all out and deal with it! I think I’ll take some time this week to treat my soul like I do my classroom in August…unpack it all, sort it and do what’s necessary to put it all in order!
A Seed To Plant: Pick a cupboard or closet this week to unpack and clean…after you finish with it, go through the same process with your soul!
Blessings on your day!
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
I’ve said it a hundred times; “Comparison is the thief of joy!” But that doesn’t stop me from getting a little carried away sometimes. As a parent, I find myself exceptionally quick to compare. One of the really great parts of being a teacher is that I get to see families in action. I am impressed constantly at the parenting I see happening in this community. I’ve seen tough love, gigantic humor, incredible logic, deep faithfulness and inspiring mercy. When I see a parent do something awesome I often say to myself, “Geeze, why didn’t I ever do that!” I see parents who are more creative than I was, more patient than I was, more prayerful than I was and I often feel like I should send my kids a note of apology…especially the first one! Knowing what I know now, there are lots of days I’d like to go back a couple of decades and start over because my kids deserved a mom that was more fun, more carefree, and much less…well…nuts about things like picking up socks and brushing teeth and all the other stuff I thought was a big deal at the time.
When the comparisons get me all flustered, I stop myself and realize I did the best I could and that the kids have a super great dad who balanced me out. It’s about then that I also realize that the one thing I REALLY got right then (and now) is to pray for my kids dozens of times a day. That makes me sigh in relief because despite my shortcomings as a mom, God’s really the one in charge! Sometimes I still look back and hope I got more things right than screwy! I hope I taught them enough lessons about truth, compassion, faith and kindness. I think as parents we sometimes get lost in the fear of “did I do/ or am I doing enough.” We second guess ourselves and we compare. I think sometimes we hold ourselves to the most ridiculous, impossible standards. We let Pinterest be our compass. We think if we’re sitting still we’re wasting time and we forget that they are his, not ours. He made them perfect and no amount of glow in the dark slime, elite ball teams or private lessons in anything will ever top the perfection with which they were created, nor will I ever be able to top the love and protection the creator has for them. Comparisons are not the work of the Father.
As we prepare for the first of the three little Wohlferts to get married, I was feeling sentimental, old and inadequate. I was making this list in my mind of all the things we didn’t do like go to Disney, let the kids play every sport they wanted or take trips that exposed them to culture, art and travel. We went to Grandpas in Kansas, went camping and spent most of every summer raising livestock getting ready for the 4-H fair. I got a little carried away thinking I hadn’t done enough when I came across this letter written by a foster child from Oklahoma. It sort of put everything in perspective. The child was asked to write about the things they wanted in a family. Here is the response…
In my family I want food and water. Don’t hit on me. A house with running water and lights. I want love. Mom and Dad don’t fight. I want no drugs. Don’t kill my pets. Help me with school. Nice clean clothes. No lice or bugs in the house. Clean house and a clean bed with covers. Don’t sell my toys. To be treated fair. Don’t get drunk. TV in the house. Let me keep my games and school stuff. Nice shoes. My own comb. Soap. Nice safe house with a heater. A coat and a toothbrush.
After I finished my big ole ugly cry, I thanked God for my parents, then I prayed for the astonishing number of kids who could have easily written that letter and then I realized that things like trips, fancy stuff and being the Pinterest Mother of the Year meant nothing. Turns out I gave my kids more than I realized…they were prayed for, read to, loved, challenged and held responsible. They had to work and sometimes entertain themselves and figure things out. As I often do, I had let things spin sideways in my mind and left God’s work out of the picture, taking on the weight of it all myself. I suppose once again I got a lesson in trading comparison for gratitude!
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of all the places you compare yourself to others. Pray with that list for a couple of days and then tear it up and ask God to help you replace those comparisons with gratitude. If you’re a parent, stop and say a prayer for each of your children right this minute and then go play; dinner can be late, laundry can pile up and dishes can be washed later…just go play for a few minutes! If you’re not a parent, what can you do to help one and all of us need to stop and pray for families everywhere!
Blessings on your day!
The page has turned to August which means I made my first trip to my classroom. There are still a few weeks of vacation left but the eighth month on the calendar signals something in my heart to begin again. It’s time to rediscover! Rediscover which cupboard I shoved my stuff in, rediscover the excitement of a fresh start and rediscover my love for this work I’m called to do. Todays guest blogger is one of the boys but there is an problem; I don’t know which one. This post is the electronic equivalent of forgetting to put your name on your paper. There are a few in my inbox with no name and since I can’ t hold up the papers to see who belongs to each one, and since it’s electronic and I can’t tell by the handwriting, I’ll just have to say this guest blogger is an amazing, anonymous writer. His points about knowledge and discovery seem to be the perfect fit for the beginning of August.
If you forgive others trespasses your heavenly father will also forgive you. Matthew 6:14
Every time I entered the church while reading the book Rediscover Jesus, by Matthew Kelly, I asked myself, “What does Rediscover Jesus mean?” Since I finished the book I’ve been thinking about all I learned. I realize that just like Matthew Kelly says, knowing about Jesus isn’t the same as truly knowing and loving Jesus. That part seems pretty important.
A great example is going to mass. Sometimes we don’t want to go to mass because we don’t truly know Jesus. Sometimes we don’t want to do the right thing because it’s hard and because we don’t truly know Jesus. I can learn stuff about Jesus but that’s not the same as learning to really know him. Since he changes, depending on how much we need him and what we’re going through, we have to rediscover him again and again
I think the important thing I learned is that if you rediscover Jesus, your life will change for the better. You will grow as a catholic, and a disciple. Since then I’ve thought about the whole book I realized that if you rediscover Jesus, you forgive, you help, and you love others just as Jesus intended. Rediscovering Jesus is like knowing and acting…that’s harder but it sure changes you!
A seed to plant: Next time you enter the church, think to yourself “Do I really know Jesus or do I just know of him?”
Blessings on your day!
Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to
the bones. Proverbs 16:24
I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to make things better. Sometimes loving Christians carry the weight of the world on their shoulders and run around with pure hearts trying to save the world. I was speaking with someone not long ago and they were completely exasperated because of all the nasty stuff and unkind people in the world that didn’t act like they knew a thing about Jesus. The whole conversation made my heart heavy and I realized I'm surprised at the things some folks think they have the right to say to others. All too often someone will spout off a rude remark and when called on it, they snip back with a comment about free speech and being entitled to their own opinion I’ve been noticing a growing number of “ugly words” lately so as I sat with that on my heart, God pointed me to this verse from Proverbs.
If you are someone who likes to make things better, this is the verse for you! I realized after reading it a few times, I had the process all wrong! It really isn’t about “fixing” the words and actions of others! I can be upset by it, I can pray about it, I can even take a stand about it…but the truth of the matter is this…I can’t do a darn thing to change it! Change has to come from within…change has to be desired. If I’m busy trying to change someone else, I’m guaranteed only one thing…disappointment! Besides, my Mom would remind me I should keep my nose in my own business anyway. When I read this verse again this morning the solution to the problem became crystal clear…I have to change MY behavior. I can’t change someone else’s snappy rude tongue…but I can be in charge of my own. I can make sure my words are pleasant and sweet like honeycomb. God didn’t put me in charge of the world, the state, the county or even the town…He put me in charge of just this one person and after some prayerful time with this verse, I know exactly where I need to begin. What if we actually realized that every word we speak could be healing? What if each sentence we uttered were crafted with that intent? That would be pretty remarkable don’t you think?
The simple power of this Proverb was illustrated through a story I read not long ago. I had actually forgotten about the story until I was writing this post. The story involved a mom of six kids under 9. She and her husband have a deep commitment to the Lord and promised toaccept lovingly all the children He chose to bless them with. They love their life but the rude remarks from others can sometimes be heartbreaking to this mom. She was telling the story about a disastrous grocery store adventure with her babies that had 5 of the six kids crying by the check-out lane. She was completely frazzled and on the edge of tears herself. Just when she thought things couldn’t get any worse, a woman stopped next to her and she braced herself for an ugly comment or rude remark about her large family but instead the two sentences spoken at that perfect moment changed her day completely. The woman looked directly at the frazzled mom and said, “Bless you for saying yes! These are lucky children because they will have the courage of their mother and lady; you’ve got a lot of that because I’m not even brave enough to bring one of mine shopping with me!” They shared a laugh and the frazzled mom was lifted…two little sentences is all it took! One sweet word, one kind gesture completely absent of judgment or criticism or opinion worked magic. I may not be able to change the world but I can work harder at speaking kindly to everyone I meet and that just might change a thing or two all on its own.
A Seed To Plant: Randomly speak three kind sentences this week..please share the results!
Blessings on your day!
He said to them, “it is not for you to know the the times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Sprit has come upon you…Acts 1:7-8
Every now and again my efforts to be prepared, organized and thorough fall apart like a sand castle in a rain storm! When that happens, I can be positive it’s God serving me a slice of humble pie and waiting with a lesson. I was trying to be all fancy and impressive last week and I had this magnificent new recipe all whipped up in the crock pot ready to go when I left the house to do a hundred things. During one of my errands I chatted with a frazzled mom who was in a rush to get home, get dinner, get one child to swim lessons and another to dance and the third to grandma’s to finish a 4-H project for the fair and then pick up her house before anyone saw the disaster. I thought to myself, poor thing, I’m so glad my dinner is bubbling away in the crock pot and my house is tidy. Now, I certainly didn’t say that and I have certainly been in that mammas shoes more times than I can even count, but in that moment, I was feeling prouder than I should have!
A couple of hours later I pulled in the garage feeling all accomplished and took some groceries into the house and was surprised that I wasn’t greeted by the delicious smells coming from my fancy dinner in the crock pot. Upon closer inspection, I realized the knob was on the low setting as directed, so I of course began to fuss about the darn broken crock pot. As I spit and sputtered, I came to the humbling realization that I had never plugged the stupid thing in! Wow…so much for being on top of everything! The leftovers I served that night were much less impressive and I suddenly felt deflated. Oh, and did I mention my clean floor was now a mess of dirt and broken glass as because I set a plant on the window to get some extra sun and the wind blew it off sending it crashing onto the hard wood floor shattering the pot and scattering the mess clear across the dining room floor. As I began sweeping up the mess the sound of the beeping microwave heating the leftovers reminded me to look for the lesson!
My first attempt at finding the lesson was a little sassy on my part. I actually said, “Well fine, I guess I’m not supposed to be organized and think ahead, you’re trying to tell me I’m supposed to fly by the seat of my pants is that it?” I stomped around the kitchen serving up day old spaghetti and sweeping up dirt while pouting. I’m sure you can imagine how productive that was. Before I went to sleep that nigh I remember thinking with a softer heart, ok God, I’m done pouting please show me the lesson because I’m positive I’ve missed it completely!
The next morning I got word that a friend who had been waiting for weeks to hear about a new job got a call and was hired with a huge bonus and great benefits. I heard about a family who has been waiting for months and months to adopt were suddenly on a plane to California to meet their soon to be born son and that a gentleman who had been suffering from a mystery sickness finally got a diagnosis and the treatment was simple and completely effective and he was feeling miraculously better in just a couple of treatments. After responding to all three of those fabulous messages I sat down to pray in thanksgiving for their good news and came across this verse from Acts. I once again was flabbergasted with the Fathers perfect timing and humorously direct response!
The lesson was a big one; I can be as prepared and organized and fancy as I want but only he knows the details and the timing. I have no power and when I try to think I do and I spend too much time being all puffed up about my “skills” I fail to let him have control and I get caught up in my own efforts and think they matter. He was poking me right in my pride and then he swooped in the next day with not one, but three amazing examples of his perfect timing. I can be as ready and prepared as I want, but I’m not in charge and sometimes I just have to wait. I don’t always get things my way and don’t have all the answers. The lady waiting on the job, nearly took a different one with less pay and no benefits because she was discouraged with the wait. The couple waiting for an adoption thinking God had abandoned them is now at home with their perfect son and the man who suffered for months wound up with a much less serious affliction that is treatable with a simple and inexpensive procedure. There was great blessing on their waiting…I think God was trying to remind me that is always the case! And one more detail to the story, in his great humor, a friend saw that fabulous new recipe I had put in my stupid crock pot on my counter, and she told me not to bother with it because she made it and it was awful! He’s so funny!
A Seed To Plant: What are you waiting for? Take that list to the Father in prayer and give him permission to take his time and then pray for the grace of patience!
Blessings on your day!
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Ephesians 6:11
This verse made me remember a plastic suit of armor the boys had when they were little. One of the boys would wear the armor and the other would wear the Detroit Lions shoulder pads and football uniform and pretend to slay all the bad guys in the county. They were invincible in those get ups. They felt strong and brave and confident as they rode their bikes up and down the lane defending the land. It didn’t matter to them that it was just cheap plastic, what they wore convinced them of something.
That memory and this verse made me think about what our wardrobe says about us. It seems like a simple thing, get up, get dressed and go on with your day but when you think about it WHAT we put on can send a message. We identify police officers, doctors and nurses by the clothes they wear and we automatically assume they will be helpful because of the way they are dressed. We will approach a total stranger in a store to ask for help based on a simple plastic name tag pinned to their shirt. We have the potential to trust, mistrust; judge and misjudge people every day based on what they wear. Does that seem crazy to anybody else?
I guess the big questions are what does God’s armor look like and how often do I wear it? Then it hit me, it’s not really about fabric at all. The clothes we wear may reflect something about our style, profession or personality but they don’t necessarily tell the whole story. I think the armor of God is something we put on from the inside. It can be pretty easy to look at someone’s clothes and assume a thing or two about them that may or may not be correct but the armor of God is unmistakable. Putting it on is intentional, never just a quick grab and go outfit. The boys always needed my help putting on those get ups they used to wear and so it is with Gods armor; we need him to assist us. If we intentionally ask God to protect us and defend us we have to be willing to let him. Wearing his armor means we are protected and safe, but silly humans that we are, we think it means we are now prepared to charge into the world and defeat all the evils much like two little boys I remember in my back yard. God is the defender and we are the defended; the armor of God doesn’t give us a job it gives us peace.
God’s armor is not heavy or clumsy; it’s powerful and designed to fit perfectly. I realized that if I woke up each morning and asked God to dress me in his armor I would be more confident and peaceful and content. I realized I wouldn’t have to worry about harm or evil because nothing is stronger than God. It doesn’t mean nothing bad will happen, it means God will protect me no matter what the circumstance. If I puddled my way through each day without worry or distraction about all the things that might happen or could happen or shouldn’t happen I would have so much more time for great things! I would have more time to pray, more time to help and WAY more time to love. I think I’ll ask God to help me put on that armor right now and leave the defending to him while I get busy with trusting bigger and loving harder…talk about dress for success!
A Seed To Plant: Stop right now and ask God to suit you in his armor and then give him a list of all the things you’d like to be defended from. All that’s left is to trust and be protected.
Blessings on your day!
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3
I like to think I’m a strong, smart, independent woman. I’m not afraid to work hard or get dirty and I’m definitely not a girlie girl, but the other day, ALL that came into question when I found myself standing on the safe side of the garage screen door calling the men in my life for help! One of my summer jobs was to clean the garage and sort through the long rack of coats and barn clothes. It was time to throw out the size 5T snow pants with more holes than swiss cheese and the pink fuzzy winter coat from 1999! It was a yuck job but as I pulled in the garage the day after I finished, I felt pretty accomplished and pleased with the way things looked. As I parked in the garage with a load of groceries, I was admiring my work when I noticed a pair of coveralls moving as they hung on the hook. That was not supposed to happen.
I bravely sat behind the wheel of my Traverse and watched those coveralls sway from side to side thinking, this is not ok! Then I came to my senses and logically concluded it was probably one of the new kittens that had wandered up from the barn and playfully crawled up the pants leg. I got out and walked toward the pants expecting to help the cute little kitty out and send it back to the barn, but as I got closer I could see eyes peering out and then the hissing started. Definitely not a kitten and that pointy snout and loud hiss sent me promptly into the house. My next brave move was to throw shoes at the pants until whatever it was fell out and scampered out the door. After throwing a dozen shoes and boots and nearly breaking the service door window with my awful aim, I heard and saw barn boots wobbling around and was convinced there was a small army of invaders just a few feet from my screen door while my ice cream was melting in the car…something drastic had to be done! That’s when I called Dave! He was doing hay in a field much too far away to come to my rescue so I called Jason who was working from home that day. What transpired upon his helpful arrival involved a snow shovel, a trap made out of a bow target, an 8 ft table and a broom. I’ll leave out the parts about all my jumping and screaming at the sight of the critters teeth and hissing and just let you know one very angry woodchuck made it’s way from the coveralls and boots in my garage to the corn field across the road. I wish I could report a brave and triumphant ending on my part but I can’t. I screamed, jumped, and freaked out like it was a fire breathing dragon and completely depended on my handsome son to save me from my despair! He was so sweet and helpful and didn’t even make fun of me; he just came and helped and went on his way.
That silly woodchuck stuck in those coveralls made me realize how we sometimes approach the troubles and trials in our days. Truth be told, it was a pretty young woodchuck, not an angry mamma woodchuck. The whole thing could have been so much worse but I went from baby woodchuck to dragon in 60 seconds! I let something little grow and multiply in my mind while my emotions just went zooming into action leaving reason and reality in the dust. I got a little tangled up in the hissing and teeth bearing and lost sight of the fact that the problem probably weighed less than 10 pounds and his fear was probably much greater than mine. In hindsight I overreacted comically! Every time I’ve pulled in the garage since that day I look at those coveralls and wonder how many times I’ve gone straight to the dragon without stopping to pray and ask for perspective first. I think about all the times I’ve made something so big in my mind when in reality it turned to be so much smaller and manageable than I pictured it.
Our struggles can sometimes leave us feeling overwhelmed if we’re afraid to ask for help. Things can morph in our minds if we try to handle everything ourselves and bear the burdens on our own shoulders. God loves us too much for that. I really believe that’s part of the reason he put more than one person on the earth so we could help each other and support each other and point and lead each other to him. It’s ok to ask for help, it’s ok to get another perspective and it’s ok to talk down the dragons! We weren’t meant to go solo through this life, we need him and we need each other because you just never know what problems might just crawl up the leg of your coveralls!
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of the trials and troubles that have caused you to become worried and anxious lately and ask yourself these questions; Who have I talked to about it? Who can help? Have I prayed for the Fathers perspective?
Blessings on your day!
… Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you… Exodus 16:4
I sometimes have this picture in my mind about making it to heaven and having an “orientation seminar” with God and His angels and saints. To amuse myself while driving or doing yucky tasks, I sometimes compose a list of questions I’d like to ask during the Q and A part of that meeting. Some of the questions are biggies and some are completely silly. I was weeding my big flower bed (completely yucky task!) recently and the list of silly questions got pretty long. The list topper that day was, “God, if carrots and cucumbers are supposed to be good for us, why didn’t you make them taste better than things that are bad for us like chips and cheesecake?” I love my fruits and vegetables don’t get me wrong, but seriously, there is a very good reason the summer ice cream shop on the corner doesn’t sell broccoli splits or caramel cabbage sundaes!
This silly question has stayed with me for several days. Recently at daily Mass, the first reading has been from the Exodus story. Today’s reading was about Manna; bread from heaven. It’s a beautiful story of God and His loving faithfulness. I wondered what it would be like to just see your food appear, morning and night with no effort on your part! Seriously…meals I didn’t have to plan, prepare, serve or clean up…that would be heaven! It didn’t happen once a week; it happened every day. The food was sent in the perfect amounts and nobody had to analyze its protein and carbohydrate ratio, dispute its nutritional density or scrutinize the label. It just came and it was perfect! If you read a little further in the story it isn’t long before the Israelites threw a hissy fit because they wanted meat…it came and then they threw another fit about being thirsty. Each time God answered their whining in a miraculous way. He made it SO easy for them! I have read that story time and time again and I’m always a little stunned that the Israelites could be so whiney and demanding. They lacked appreciation and after all they had witnessed God do for them they still experienced doubt, denial and rebellion. I’m pretty quick to think I would have been a much more faithful dessert traveler. I think I might have even been Moses right hand girl. I wouldn’t have doubted no-sir-re! I would have been awed, amazed and completely obedient. Or would I?
The “or would I” leads me back to my silly question about zucchini verses French fries! Do I have the strength to know the truth and act obediently? Do I know some choices are better for me than others…sure! Do I always make those good for me choices…absolutely not? Do I try to wiggle out of the “hard way or the right way” and settle for the “easy way”…yes I do more often than I’d care to admit probably. So you might be wondering what lettuce, cookies and the Israelites all have to do with one another and here is the connection…strength to trust and follow the will of the Father…especially when there is a choice available that seems easier or tastier or more self-gratifying. I have to be more willing to experience a little self-denial. If I really want to live as a disciple, I have to stop throwing a temper tantrum about silly little stuff that brings me happiness and comfort. I mistakenly think those simple pleasures that bring temporary good feelings matter. The truth is, they can’t even compare to what God has in store for us. It’s kinda like having a bucket of sand and thinking you have a sea shore. It took the Israelites 40 years of wandering…I wonder how much longer I’ll be wandering before I truly master the lesson of living in His will instead of wandering my easy path! The road to the Father is paved one joyfully offered sacrifice and one loving act of obedience at a time. Lord, give me the strength to get to You!
A Seed To Plant: Be consciences of little sacrifices and acts of self-denial you can offer to the Father this week.
Blessings on your day!
"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!
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
“Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. Matthew 10:40
In our fancy world of advertising, marketing and media promotion, we don’t always get what we expect. A young lady I know decided to order her prom dress online. In the pictures, the dress was lovely and the price was certainly appealing but when the gown arrived it was in a 5x7 envelope and she realized she hadn’t received exactly what she expected.
This verse from St. Matthew’s Gospel is all about our hospitality, discipleship and love of Christ. We are called to bring Christ to everyone we meet. Now, I can wear a crucifix or a Miraculous Medal and people might assume I am a Catholic, but when they receive me, do I offer them the real Jesus. When people receive me, they may not receive the Gospel message Jesus is asking me to live. All too often I’m afraid, I march around coming in and out of peoples lives and what they receive is my short temper, my snap judgements and my impatience, instead of the Father’s mercy and compassion.
The words of Jesus in this Gospel are crystal clear, whoever receives YOU, receives ME. This Gospel challenges us to live our lives as an ambassador for the one who sends us. If Jesus sends us out into the word, we need to realize it really is him we represent, so, if we can shift our focus to “less my way; more Gods way” then we’ll have a better chance of reflecting the one we really want others to receive. We don't want to be the prom gown shoved in an envelope that leaves people confused and disappointed. We want those God puts in our path to know the beauty of the Lord so they can receive the amazing mercy, love and grace he offers.
I suppose the way to really live this Gospel is to ask for help and become mindful. My request today will go like this,; Jesus, I ask you to bless me with the grace to be your hands and feet here on earth today. Be with me in every conversation and interaction with your sons and daughters so that they might receive your love and mercy through me.
A Seed to Plant: Just two questions to ask yourself; Are there people throughout your day that don’t truly receive Christ when they interact with you? How will you invite Christ into your heart so those interactions can change?
Blessings on your day!
and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. Mark 12:30
There are a few things that I’m ok with having just a part of. I don’t mind mowing part of the lawn or washing part of the windows or eating part of the brussle sprouts, but there are some things I want all of! Carrot cake, my favorite movie for the tenth time and baby giggles are just a few of those things I want ALL of! As I read these words from St. Mark not long ago my mind seemed to get stuck on the word “all”. Four times he said it; all, not part or some, but all. After sitting with this verse for a bit I realized there was a lesson!
I think I’m often guilty of “how much will do” thinking. I sometimes want to do things in a hurry with just enough effort to say I’ve finished but I can honestly say I don’t always go that extra mile with the stuff that’s not my favorite. I can wash all the downstairs windows and rationalize skipping the upstairs windows because the boys aren’t living up there anymore so who will notice. I can feel pretty good about sweeping around the garage rugs instead of picking them all up, giving them a good shake and doing the job with full effort. As I’ve been thinking about the word ALL, I’ve had to ask myself how many things do I just stay on the edges of without fully jumping all in.
Many times the past several days the Lord has gently drawn my attention to the things that I just puddle around the edges of. I say I want to grow in my knowledge of Scripture but what have I really done to make that a reality? I say I want to get healthy and loose weight but have I gone all in to make the necessary changes, or do I just want to do a few things and pout because the result isn’t what I’d like. I can say I want to see others with eyes of mercy instead of eyes that judge but am I really prayerfully trying to make those changes? I can say I want more time to read things that fill my soul with goodness but how many minutes a day do I waste scrolling through Twitter and Face Book? I can say I want to do more acts of service and charity but what am I actually doing to serve? If all my thoughts remain just thoughts, I’ll continue to skirt the change and hover on the edge. I don’t think that’s the best plan!
Christ reveals himself to us in several ways and Scripture is one of them. I think in this verse he had a lot to reveal to me. I’ve spent the better part of two weeks thinking and praying about how giving him my ALL connects to the silly things I can’t seem to get right here on earth. Seriously, if I can’t go all in with the fruits and vegetables or with the off button on my computer how can I expect to ever be able to love him with ALL my heart, soul, mind and strength? I got a little rattled just thinking about the consequence of living my faith on the edge instead of all in! It was right at that moment of; “holy cow, I’m in big trouble”, that he made me realize the two are intimately connected. Learning to go all in with things of earth is how we learn to go all in for him. If I were to offer each of those tasks I’m on the edge of to him as an act of love, he will meet me where my strength ends and carry me through the tough parts with his mighty strength. I need to trust that his power is more than enough and his grace is sufficient. I have to ask him to meet me in those situations where I’m on the edge and ask him to walk with me and help me give my all…for HIM not for me! Sounds simple doesn’t it! I’m ready to get off the edge, go all in and make some things happen. How about you?
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of the things you’re on the edge of? Lift those things up the the Father and ask him to help you go all in!
Blessings on your day!
Wait for the Lord, take courage; be stouthearted, wait for the Lord! Psalm 27:14
Wait is not my favorite word! I’m more of a GO kind of girl rather than a WAIT kind of girl! I saw a great quote the other day that said “Our willingness to wait reveals the value we place on the object we’re waiting for.” It made me stop a while and think about my posture and attitude while waiting, needless to say, I didn’t really like what I discovered about myself. After seeing this quote, I “stumbled” across this verse from Psalm 27 that contains the word WAIT twice…out of only twelve words total! Think there is a message there? I’m passing it along to all of you today and I sure hope I’m not the only one who needs it!
After God was done whapping me upside the head, I had to stop and figure out what I was waiting for. As I began to make my list, I realized some of the things were pretty silly. When I thought about how much I actually valued some of the things on my list I understood why waiting is hard. Most of the things on my list weren’t important enough to wait for or really even wish for so I crossed all those off the list. When it boiled down to the bottom of the pot here’s what I learned; the only thing on my list really worth waiting patiently, courageously and stoutheartedly for…is meeting Jesus. Most of the stuff on my list, like Godly spouses for my children or happy retirement will just come in Gods own time, but Heaven…that’s the one I need to focus on. I suppose if my focus is really truly there every day, everything else will be just as God desires…in his time…for his purpose and in his ultimate perfection. As I came to this conclusion my peace was interrupted by panic when I thought, what if God doesn’t give me what I’m waiting for? Then my heart answered my mind as only God can instruct it to and I heard; if he doesn’t give me what I’m waiting for, that means he’s got something better…just wait and see!
Here’s another thought I have about waiting, it isn’t work. It doesn’t require great effort like scrubbing the porch or organizing the office files or losing 40 pounds. (All silly things I’ve been waiting for…I told you there was some silly stuff on my list!) If we truly live the words of this verse from Psalm 27 our lives will get instantly calmer, more peaceful and much easier. I’d like to end this post with a passage from Jim Beckman’s book God Help Me, “Think of the image of a sailboat. The boat doesn’t do anything burdensome to respond to the wind in its sails – it simply moves forward propelled by the wind. The sailboat responds by moving forward, but it is the wind that is carrying it.” What are you waiting for? If it is something of great value than be still and know God will provide the wind to move your sailboat! I’m thinking it just might be the perfect time to wish for a sailboat instead of a speedboat!
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of all the things you’re waiting for. (Silly ones too!) Tuck it away for a day or two. When you get it back out, ask God to give you eyes to see his plan and his timing as you evaluate each item on your list and think about its value.
Blessings on your day!
Good morning! Just a quick little note to let all of you know I've gone camping! I'm unplugged and downloaded for a few days but I'll be back next week with more joyful words!
Blessings on your day!
Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap or gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they are? Matthew 6:26
The porch is open…summer may now begin! The flowers, the chairs, the cozy rug; it’s all part of the little piece of heaven on the north facing side of the house. My morning prayer chair will sit empty for the better part of the next 3 months and the kitchen island discussions will change because both of those important activities have been re-routed to the porch. I love the view, the breeze, the peace and the beauty. I love all of it ,but two of my favorite parts of the porch are the wind chimes that were a gift from great friends when Dave’s dad died and the hummingbird feeder that both hang from a Shepherds hook in the flower bed at the end of the porch.
One night last week Dave and I watched some cranes in the corn field across the road. They were huge! I watched in wonder as their giant necks bobbed across the rows and called back and forth to each other. As big as they were I would have expected them to be clumsy but they were quite graceful. Even though the group was separated by a couple of acres every so often they’d call to each other as if to make sure their friends were still nearby. It was quite a lovely show.
The other morning there was quite a wind and I laughed out loud as I watched a determined little bird try to get to a different tree. It was flying against the wind and the little thing was flapping his wings madly trying to go and it was if he was just stuck in the same place, mid-air, flapping and going nowhere. After a few seconds of flapping, he let up just a bit and the wind sent him tumbling beak over tail feather straight back to the tree he was trying to leave. I felt kind of sorry for the little guy but it was pretty hilarious!
Today we sat and watched in awe as the hummingbirds danced and flitted between the feeder at the end of the porch and the maple tree just a few feet away. Hummingbirds are fascinating to me. Some sound so loud and others are quiet as a whisper. We watched as one flew to a bare branch in the tree and as it landed it was so soft and tiny the branch showed absolutely no movement when he landed.
I’m not really a bird watcher but seeing these three groups of feathered friends showed me a lesson or two. My porch is a great place to learn so here’s what hit me as I rocked in my glider.
*Each was a bird, they could fly, they had a beak and feathers but yet I marveled at how different they looked. The size, the color, the shape, the sound….all so very different and with birds you’d never expect it to be any other way so why do we expect it to be that way with people? Why do we try so hard to be like others and fit in when we, like the birds I watched from my porch were specifically created to be different? God didn’t make a mistake when he used such originality and creativity with those bird. I need to remember the same is true for humans. The Hummingbird isn’t better because it’s tiny and the Crane isn’t better because it’s big and graceful. Each is perfect in it’s design!
*That bird wildly flapping against the wind must look just like me when I try to do things my own way and forget to follow the will of the Father. I wonder if he giggles at me too when I wind up right back where I started!
*I laugh when I think what it would look like if the Crane would try to daintily sip from the Hummingbird feeder or if the Hummingbird would try to cry out loudly to the friends in the beans an acre over. I think of the times I try to put myself in places and situations where God hasn’t invited me and it doesn’t look anything like that Hummingbird silently and stealthily landing on the tree branch.
Thank you God for using your beautiful creation to teach me a thing or two this first week on the porch. I’m looking forward to more lessons! Oh, and thank you for the beautiful world that surrounds my porch! The only thing that would make my porch better is company so if you’re on Pratt Road plan to stop for a visit!
A Seed To Plant: What are you gazing at this summer and what is the Father trying to teach you?
Blessings on your day!
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!
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