Joyful Words Blog
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.
– Psalm 119:105
– Psalm 119:105
..he gave them to his disciples to set before the people. Mark 6: 41
I was flipping through the Gospels the other day and I landed on the story of the loaves and fishes. I’ve heard the story dozens of times so I asked God to give me a new perspective on an old story. He didn’t disappoint me…as always! As I sat and pondered the words I began to think about how much I enjoy baking bread. It makes me feel so productive and it brings a wonderful smell to the kitchen and great smiles to the faces of my family. Then I remembered a story. I went through a spell where my bread looked beautiful until about 5 minutes into the baking and then the tops would go flat. The taste was still great but the loaves looks so goofy it frustrated me. Then one day, for no reason I can understand, I pulled out three of the most beautifully shaped loaves that had come from my oven in a long time. Moments later Jason walked in and began to slice himself a piece of warm bread, the problem was, the bread was still too hot to slice and he flattened and mangled the loaf trying to cut a piece. My shoulders sunk when I saw it…all my beautiful hard work…mashed into a mess. It was my job to slice and deliver at the right time. Then I realized how happy he was to be enjoying one of his favorite things, hot homemade bread and melted butter. My thoughts changed and the messy loaf of bread didn’t matter anymore because I realized I had missed the point!
After Jesus had taken, blessed and broken the bread something curious happened. He wasn’t the one who gave to the people gathered there that day. He gave the bread to his apostles to share with the people. Jesus had performed an amazing miracle but when it was time to take credit for the task, he stepped aside and allowed someone else to distribute the blessing. Nobody in the crowd missed out on the eating, but I’m sure many didn’t truly understand the amazing mystery of the multiplication. The greatest part of the story is the love and compassion Jesus felt for the crowd. It was that very love that motivated this great act but he didn’t need to be recognized, the loving was enough.
I lost sight of the point of this Gospel the day Jason mushed my bread. I was more concerned with having my perfect bread noticed than allowing my efforts to demonstrate my love for my family. I forgot it was about the love and not the credit.
A Seed To Plant: In your prayer this week ask God to remind you that he can work miracles in your life simply because he loves you. Ask him to take all your fears, concerns and trials and love you through them. Ask him to remind you that no task is too big for the One who fed 5,000 with only five loaves and 2 fish.
Blessings on your day!
…make straight the way of the Lord…John 1:23
I remember a stage in my early teenage years when my bedroom frequently looked as if there had been an explosion of some sort and it drove my mom nuts! One Saturday morning I “cleaned” my room and she made it crystal clear that it did not meet her standards. I had cleared a straight path from my bed to the door and quoted a version of these very words from Johns Gospel and showed her how I had clearly made “a straight way for the Lord”. She assured me he was going to need a much wider path.
My moms assurance is true today! I realize I don’t always make the path to my heart straight or wide. I need to give God room to come into my heart and do his mighty works of mercy. I have all kinds of things in the way that make His way tricky to maneuver. I make Him wind his way around jealousy and pride and selfishness. The path hooks to the left when I toss in impatience and judgmental thinking. The way really goes sideways when control, bitterness and gossip get tossed into the mix.
Lent begins two weeks from today so it’s time to start thinking, praying and planning our Lenten path. You might be tempted to start with making a list of all the things you’re gonna “give up” and that would be great; sacrifice is a discipline we all need to work on for sure but I have a thought. If we look at our list of “give ups” are they going to help us grow in holiness or are we going to pick them right back up after Easter? What about giving up things that really change our path? The virtue of the week in our classroom is HONESTY so the question was; how hard would it be to give up lying, fibbing or embellishing for Lent; and could that change us? It was a resounding “YES, but that would be harder than giving up candy!”
Making straight the way of the Lord means keeping my eyes on Him. When my eyes are on Him and I’m preparing for Him to work in my life I discover I’m moving in a straight and forward direction. He is the constant, the guide that straightens my way every time I re-adjust my focus on His way and not my own. Perhaps as we prepare for Lent these next two weeks we pray for the Holy Spirit to help us identify the road blocks and detours that are in our path and we let that become our focus this Lent.
A Seed To Plant: What clogs or kinks the path between Jesus and your heart? Spend some time in prayer asking the Lord to straighten and widen the way to His love and mercy. Loving Father, help me prepare a path to my heart that leads me straight to you.
Blessings on your day!
There is a time for every season…Ecclesiastes 3:1
Three recent snow days created a little flash back to days gone by. As I watched the snow pile up I thought our yard would have been the world’s greatest place to play but as I walked from window to window all I saw was deep, fresh, unmarked snow. No sled marks, no snowmobile tracks no snow angels or tunnels, forts or snowmen. As I stood there getting way too sentimental I remembered the wishes I’d made when my kids were in their snow stomping days.
I remember all too well how long it took to bundle them all up, find 6 gloves and 3 hats and 6 boots that all fit and matched (ok…so they didn’t always match). By the time they all got zipped and buttoned and tied up I was sweaty and frustrated and relieved that they were out the door! I would wish they would stay out and play for hours so I could have some peace and quiet. I remember all the energy it took to get them out there and it never failed, 5 minutes later someone was yelling from the doorway, “Mom, I have to go to the bathroom!” or “Mom, so and so put snow down my back, I need a towel!” or my very favorite, “Mom, I lost my boot in the snow hill!” For the amount of work it would take to get them out there to track up the snow, it never seemed to last long enough. I wished for them to be independent and creative out there in the snow without my help but before I knew it they would be in and the back room would be a mess of wet, cold puddles and drippy snow pants and boots. It would take twenty minutes to get everything hung and mopped up and then we’d do it all over again. Flashing back to that part of winter made that sparkly uninterrupted snow seem less sentimental.
I wondered as I stood there staring at the snow how many things I had wished away in my life. It seems like we’re often wishing for the day when we won’t be so busy or when things won’t be so hectic or when the kids get more independent and don’t need us so much. But, are we really satisfied when that day arrives? That snow storm made me realize I should do a better job of recognizing the hand of God in every circumstance and stage of life. Life comes in seasons. It won’t always be the same, which is to say if things are hard it doesn’t mean it will always be hard and if something is simple and lovely that won’t always last either. God works through all circumstances and with each season of life there is growth and challenge and joy if we stop and look for it. There is blessing and benefit in every stage and season of life. Each one has a purpose and God has perfectly designed and arranged it to define and mature a certain part of our holiness. Little kids mean puddles in the entryway, big kids mean uninterrupted snow…each is full of blessing and beauty; I have to ask God to help me find that beauty in every season of my life. God help me find you in the NOW of my days and help me stop looking so hard for you in the “then’s” and the “when’s”!
A Seed To Plant: Say a prayer for your “present”. Ask God to help you recognize His work THIS day without comparing it to yesterday or tomorrow.
Blessings on your day!
But let your “Yes” mean “Yes” and your “No” mean “No”…James 5:12
Wow did this one smack be upside the head! I think I would be shamefully astounded if I counted the times I approached things looking for the “easier” way to do them. More than a few times I’ve re-routed plans and projects searching for increased benefit and decreased personal discomfort! The biggest problem with that is what I usually get in return is minimal satisfaction! I also shudder when I think of the things in my life that lack true commitment and consistent effort.
I remember when Jason was an infant. He loved sleeping if it was light outside but not so much during the middle of the night. Kevin was 18 months old and I remember some of those days and nights felt so long. In my exasperation and exhaustion one day I was pouring out my heart and frustration to a wise friend and she said, “You’re looking at this all wrong; your goal is to get him to sleep so you can sleep too but your mission should be to relax, rock, pray and enjoy your precious son.” I thought she was nuts at first but I was desperate enough to try it her way and she was right. It was hard to remember that I had said “Yes” to motherhood and all that came with it. I was feeling deprived and uncomfortable…it was all about what I was missing and giving up and not what I had been given. The next many nights were different. I rocked and held him with a peace I hadn’t had before and said “Yes” to all the parts of motherhood and believed with all my heart that God would give me the strength and patience to chase my 18 month old the next day even if I didn’t get much sleep. That’s exactly what He did! It didn’t take long before Jason got his sleeping straightened out and I never admitted it out loud but I kind of missed that quiet time in the middle of the night with a new baby.
God calls us so many times a day and He leads us so tenderly but so much of it we miss. I’m so busy trying to make things easy on myself I often lack the consistency to follow through on the things I say “Yes” to in my faith life. I am also painfully aware of the times I vow to say “No” to screen time or procrastination only to let it dribble into my hours leaving little or no time for reading, prayer or study. I think St. James was speaking directly to me. I suppose if I spent more time honoring my yes’s and my no’s instead of trying to negotiate an easier path God would have some abundant blessings for me and I would be filled with great satisfaction. I can be a stubborn woman though!
When I finally stopped fussing about my fussing baby and just enjoyed being in the moment God honored my “yes”. He gave me joy, peace and energy because I was more concerned with the minutes I gained with my baby and less worried about the minutes of sleep I lost. In my prayer time, I plan to make a list of “Yes” and “No” and I will pray for the strength to honor both!
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of “Yes” and “No” things that you can offer God the Father. Ask Him to show you where you need to say yes and where He’d like you to say no.
Blessings on your day!
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Sheri's writing can also be found at Faith Catholic Publications and on CatholicMom.com