Then maybe your bright morning light can discover a diamond of hope in this dark heart of mine.

Morning light shine on me…. SHINE!
— From Spitfire Grill

For the past two months I have been working on the musical “Spitfire Grill.” The show was written by Wisconsin musical legends James Valcq and Fred Alley. The show is based in Gilead Wisconsin, a town modeled after Door County. I play the protagonist Percy Talbott, who was just released from prison and moves to Gilead in attempts to start a new life. Although the events in my life and Percy’s do not model each other, I relate to her personal conflicts. Percy has been dealt some terrible cards in life; although she caused none of her obstacles, she blames herself for them. By the second act, Percy attempts to reconnect with God through the dramatic song “Shine.” The song resembles a baptism into self-acceptance; she is now able to forgive herself.

As an actor, having to immerse myself into the life of someone that complex is very challenging. To enhance my portrayal, I have been reviewing difficult chapters in my life and focusing on my inner-struggles. Although this is stressful, it is just as rewarding; I get to experience the same revitalization as my character. This past week when I did the scene, I felt a true sense of renewal with myself and with God. All of my insecurities were given up to Him.

Then I acknowledge my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.’ And you forgave the guilt of my sin.
— Psalm 32:5

This experience has reminded me that of the many things in our life that may change, God is not one of them. He is constantly by our side, advocating for us to be the best versions of ourselves. I encourage you to revisit things you have never forgiven yourself for and give them up to God.

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Questions for Reflection

  • What renews your life?

  • How do you overcome insecurities? Where is God in the midst of those?

  • What life experiences have helped you to see God in a new way?


Amira Elsafy, a rising senior at Dominican High School, lives in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin.  She attended the local public schools until high school where she has become active at Dominican.  She has been the class Student Council President,  a member of the honor roll for the past four years and loves to volunteer.  Outside of the academic world, you will find Amira on the stage, recently winning an award for playing the Witch in “Big Fish”. In the next year, she will share her experiences of failure and success, friendships, family her senior journey through the college process and ultimately how all of this impacts her faith.

Complete Forgiveness

Scripture (MT 18:21-35)

Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
"Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive him?
As many as seven times?"
Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who decided to settle accounts with his servants.
When he began the accounting,
a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.
Since he had no way of paying it back,
his master ordered him to be sold,
along with his wife, his children, and all his property,
in payment of the debt.
At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said,
'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.'
Moved with compassion the master of that servant
let him go and forgave him the loan.
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants
who owed him a much smaller amount.
He seized him and started to choke him, demanding,
'Pay back what you owe.'
Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him,
'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.'
But he refused.
Instead, he had him put in prison
until he paid back the debt.
Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened,
they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master
and reported the whole affair.
His master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant!
I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.
Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,
as I had pity on you?'
Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers
until he should pay back the whole debt.
So will my heavenly Father do to you,
unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart."


Recently I took on a teaching position at Dominican High School.  The students have been great but since they are teenagers there are moments where they act out.  One student has had more issues than others.  This particular person seems unable to get it together.  Some of the offenses have involved copying work from another student, talking back to his teacher and using vulgarity in class.  After the last offense these words came out of my mouth: “I am losing my patience with you.  You need to pull it together.”  Accountability in a high school setting is an important part of discipline and quite frankly this person had earned that reprimand and more but having lost patience with this student stands in contrast to the limitless patience and compassion God has for us.

When Peter asks Jesus, how many times must he forgive he believes he is being quite generous in suggesting seven times.  In the bible, the number seven represents completeness or perfection.  Peter is asking must I forgive those who hurt me perfectly.  He probably was expecting a pat on the back for being so magnanimous.  Yet as Jesus often does, he pushes Peter further.  You are not just to offer forgiveness perfectly, but it is perfection times perfection.  The forgiveness we are to offer is complete, full or total.  There is not to be an ounce of anger, hurt or resentment left over.  It is a forgiveness that has the potential to transform.

It is likely that we will be each character in the story sometime in our lives.  There will be times where we can be the king and set a person free by forgiving them.  Other times we will be the servant who is set free.  It is possible that we will be the servant who refuses to forgive.  And there may be times we will be the servant who is throttled because of our indiscretion.        

Sadly, the parable ends with both servants in prison because of an inability to offer compassion and mercy.  Even though we have been hurt the power we have to forgive and set someone free is based on the fact that we have been forgiven.  Forgiveness is meant to be contagious.  Today you are called to spread mercy and forgiveness!  I will start with my students.


  • When have you received an undeserved gift of forgiveness?
  • What offenses are most difficult for you to forgive?
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
— St. Francis of Assisi
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These Lenten reflections are written by friends of 12plus1, Inc.  Discovery House a service-based gap year experience for participants ages 18-20 will begin August 2018.  Please share this information with an individuals who may want to participate or support this new ministry.


FAST from a desire for revenge. 

PRAY for patience with those who annoy you. 

GIVE yourself forgiveness.




Joe Nettesheim is the founder and director of 12plus1.  He has been involved in Church ministry since 1991.  Besides 12plus1 he also teaches part time for Dominican High School and Cardinal Stritch University.  He is married to Maribeth.  Their blended family consists of 5 children, 2 sons-in-law, 6 grandchildren and TS Eliot, the golden doodle puppy. 

Is That All? There Must Be More to it.

Scripture (2Kings 5:9-14)

Naaman came with his horses and chariots
and stopped at the door of Elisha's house.
The prophet sent him the message:
"Go and wash seven times in the Jordan,
and your flesh will heal, and you will be clean."
But Naaman went away angry, saying,
"I thought that he would surely come out and stand there
to invoke the LORD his God,
and would move his hand over the spot,
and thus cure the leprosy.
Are not the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar,
better than all the waters of Israel? 
Could I not wash in them and be cleansed?"
With this, he turned about in anger and left.

But his servants came up and reasoned with him.
"My father," they said,
"if the prophet had told you to do something extraordinary,
would you not have done it?
All the more now, since he said to you,
'Wash and be clean,' should you do as he said."
So Naaman went down and plunged into the Jordan seven times
at the word of the man of God.
His flesh became again like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.


I awoke one December morning to find my world spinning. I never had vertigo before, and after a half-day in bed battling severe nausea and what seemed like the worst whirling tea-cup amusement park ride I could imagine, I decided to go to the doctor. I was diagnosed with Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV).

BPPV, they say, is the most common cause of vertigo and occurs when calcium carbonate crystals that are normally embedded in gel in the utricle become dislodged and migrate to places they are not supposed to be. In other words, I had loose marbles. This sends mixed signals to the brain causing the symptoms.

I was surprised to learn the recommended treatment involved physical therapy. The good news was medication was not required and the condition was nothing serious. The bad news was that I couldn’t get in for a PT appointment until the following Monday, and it was Thursday. I had been to PT several times before for other injuries and I was mentally preparing myself to rearrange my life to accommodate PT for the next few weeks. At my one - and only - PT session, the therapist employed a maneuver caller the canalith repositioning procedure. The goal is to move the “marbles” back to the utricle where they can re-embed in the gel, dissolve, or move someplace else where they cannot cause symptoms. The procedure took just a couple minutes, was painless, and afterwards the therapist proudly and confidently exclaimed, “That should do it!” This is where I, like Naaman, got a little annoyed. “What do you mean that should do it?” I responded. “Is that all? There must be more to it! When do I have to come back again?” I exclaimed. “You don’t. You’re done!” the therapist replied. I suffered through debilitating vertigo symptoms for four days and I was cured in less than four minutes. I was expecting something different and much more magnificent. Even though, knock on wood, the vertigo left me, the experience felt oddly dissatisfying.

In today’s first reading, Naaman was angry and left expecting more than washing in the Jordan to heal his leprosy. To heal Naaman’s leprosy, and my vertigo, “I thought that he would surely come out and stand there to invoke the LORD his God.” Not only was Naaman healed, he was cleansed. God’s unconditional love flows so freely we can be cleansed of our sin even when we think we don’t deserve it. It is unfortunate we so often expect grandiose acts, mountains moved, and seas parted to feel God’s healing grace. At times, we neglect the presence of God when it seems less than extraordinary. If you are open to believing that God and the Holy Spirit exist in your life, you can be healed and cleansed in the most ordinary of ways.


  • Where has God been present in the little things of your life, where perhaps you missed it because you were expecting something bigger?
  • Have you neglected an opportunity to express love to someone because you thought what you had to give was too ordinary?
  • When do you discount God’s will? Do you ignore Him when he says “wash and be clean?”
Our Lord does not so much look at the greatness of our actions, or even at their difficulty, as at the love with which we do them.
— St. Therese of Lisieux
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These Lenten reflections are written by friends of 12plus1, Inc.  Discovery House a service-based gap year experience for participants ages 18-20 will begin August 2018.  Please share this information with an individuals who may want to participate or support this new ministry.


FAST from judging the worth of love, kindness, and time given to you by others. 

PRAY to recognize the presence of God in ordinary things.

GIVE your time, love, or money even when you think it is inadequate.



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Dan Burnett is an author and masterful facilitator. He holds a degree in education and has nearly 20 years of experience in workplace learning and performance. He has worked at large for-profit and non-profit organizations. Dan has been blessed with the opportunity to conduct workshops on family, faith, leadership, education, and professional development for many local organizations. Dan is married, has two children, and resides in Waukesha County.