What important things is God calling you to plan for this year?
By Sheri Wohlfert
On my quiet little farm I have much to be thankful for. One of the simple things I am quite grateful for is Donna, our rural mail carrier. Doesn’t matter the weather, she shows up in her jeep every day and leaves stuff in the mailbox on the other side of the gravel road.
As much as I appreciate her service, she was NOT my favorite person last week. I was enjoying my THIRD day of summer break when she delivered a stack of mail that included a BACK TO SCHOOL catalog! I wanted to chase her down and give it back. I had just started decompressing from one school year and all once, that little piece of mail had me diving headlong into the new year that will greet me in August. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t get the thoughts of “next year” out of my mind, so I did the only thing I could and took it to prayer.
My prayer time revealed to me that God was inviting me to pray for the new year. I have a feeling he’s got stuff planned for next year’s class that I need to be preparing my heart for. Like any self-respecting teacher, I grabbed a colored notepad and a variety of Flair markers and began making a list of all the thoughts that were rumbling through my mind. Before I knew it, the page was full of tasks and thoughts and ideas. I re-read the list and immediately felt the need for a nap because the list was so hefty! I asked God to take that giant list and show me what he wanted. That’s when his timing and his humor set it all straight.
After I put the list to the side, I began to read and came across this quote from St. Francis de Sales:
Great occasions for serving God seldom come, but little ones surround us daily.
I realized in a snap that he wasn’t calling me to plot and plan GIANT stuff for my class next year, he was simply asking me to make a little list of truly important things. My list focused on the spectacular things I was going to do to amaze, delight, instruct, and dazzle this new group of 88 middle-schoolers. Honestly, most of it won’t turn out the way I think it should anyway. This 400-year-old line from the great prayer saint brought me humility and peace all in one sentence.
I immediately set out to create a new list, one filled with little things. My to-do list shifted to priority tasks, like writing two notes a week to middle lovelies that need a lift and being the first to say hello to my tired teacher friends each morning — especially the moms of young ones. I added saying a “Hail Mary” for the grumpy students and quiet students without judging their behavior.
I also added the words, “Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to help us with this.”, “What can I do for you today?” and “Can you forgive me for being impatient?” to my little list. Smile more, speak less, listen more, and pray before I judge rounded out the list.
I’m pretty sure I’ll be working on my list for the rest of my summer break. Today I’m grateful for Donna the mail carrier and St. Francis de Sales for helping me plan for the next new year in both practical and prayerful ways.
Sheri Wohlfert is a Catholic wife, mom, speaker, and teacher who writes from Michigan. She uses her sense of humor and her deep faith to help others discover the joy of being a child of God. Sheri also writes at JoyfulWords.org.
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