Joyful Words Blog
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.
– Psalm 119:105
– Psalm 119:105
The mind of the intelligent gains knowledge and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge. Proverbs 18:15
I’m not quite sure what happened to the past 9 weeks, but I find myself staring at the magic date on the calendar that signals the end of a quarter of the school year and that means it’s time for report cards. I LOVE conferences, but report cards, not so much! They are a necessary part of a teacher’s job, but as a teacher, I’ll admit that they certainly are my least favorite task! It is so difficult to take over 3oo hours of time together and mark it on a scale of 1 to 4 and record it neatly in one page of little boxes. I always worry that the marks I make might not paint a clear picture of who that child really is. I want to make sure the marks I make assure every parent that their child is loved, valuable, and an amazingly unique child of God. I hope that that the marks I make will allow each student to feel encouraged, recognized and supported. Most of all, I want to make sure that the marks I make on that paper leave each child wanting to come back for the next 11 years and keep working and improving and succeeding! That’s a lot to put on one little piece of paper. I feel worn out and I have barely begun the task!
As I sit here looking at my report card file, I stopped to wonder what God would mark if He were to give me a report card. That thought made me both laugh and break out in a cold sweat all at the same time! I think of my three kids, two in college and one in high school and how so much depends on their grade point average. That number ranging on a scale that only goes up to 4.0 dictates so much at this point in their life. I wonder what my “heavenly” GPA would be. The bigger question I guess would be…how hard am I trying to achieve a perfect 4.0? It’s kind of a strange way to think about life but it seems to fit with this time on the calendar.
Just like school, some things in life are harder for some than others. Both in school and in life, some folks just seem to be “blessed” and have things come naturally to them. Some on the other hand have to work extra hard and still sometimes come up short. I hope on my report card, God, like any good teacher, takes into consideration things like persistence, determination and effort! I think most days I’d get good marks for “works and plays well with others” but then He hears my silent complaints and judgmental thoughts. I would hope I could get at least a B- in patience and compassion, but then He sees me when I rush through my “to-do list” without stopping completely to listen to my family with the consideration they deserve. I would like to think I could score a C+ on sharing and listening, but then again, He is well aware of all the times I was selfish and ignored His prompting to reach out to one of His children in need. I wonder what the deduction would be for talking too much (about things that weren’t my business) or not following directions (His directions). I’m afraid to see what I’d get when He evaluates the way I use my time or how carefully I am paying attention in prayer time or in church. I really wonder what He’d write in the comment section or what He’d tell my mother at a teacher conference. YIKES!!
But then I remember He is God, He loves, He forgives and He encourages. He is the master teacher so He will make note of my attempts and celebrate my successes before He will downgrade me for my failings. I guess my job, is to be a good student…that means I’ll try harder, I’ll study (His Word) more, I’ll practice my lessons and I’ll give more focus to the teacher! Today begins a new quarter in my classroom…I’m gonna start a new quarter in God’s classroom too. Bring on the homework!!!
A seed to plant: Make a list of the things you think God would give you an “A for effort” in and a list of the things He would invite you to “stay in from recess and work on.” Then offer a prayer of thanks to your Teacher and ask Him for some extra help.
Blessings on your day!
Although I have much to say to you, I do not wish to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and speak to you face to face so that our joy may be complete. 2 John 1:12
If you were asked to come up with five current events happening throughout the world how long would it take you? Given the speed and availability of today’s technology I’m betting you could complete the task within seconds. At the snap of a finger we can check a score, get a recipe, listen to a song or find a prayer and none of it requires personal contact. While somewhat fascinating, it’s also a bit scary!
The little lovelies have been learning the names and good works of Jesus’ Apostles the past few days and many were amazed at what these twelve men were able to do. Some lovingly pointed out how happy they are that their parents didn’t name them Bartholomew or Thaddeus and all of them agree that these guys did some pretty amazing stuff. The little lovelies had a hard time imagining how they could teach and lead thousands and thousands with no internet, airplanes or even cars. As one asked in a puzzled voice, “So, they just had to walk and talk and walk and talk and sometimes get in a boat; that’s it; that’s how they started the whole church?” Simply put, he was exactly right. It was all personal contact, storytelling and testimony. It really gave me cause to stop and think!
I asked the kids what they thought would have happened if the Apostle’s had decided they were tired of telling the story of Jesus? “What if they had simply decided they wanted to stay at home and keep the good news to themselves?” I asked. After thinking for a minute, one little girl said, “That just wouldn’t happen because Jesus was a good teacher and He taught the Apostles how to share so they had to mind Him and share the story.” Then she said, “It’s a good thing I wasn’t one of the Apostles because sometimes I’m a little bad at sharing!” I giggled but she hit the nail right on the head! I suppose we’re all guilty of being a “little bad at sharing” when it comes to our faith story.
I did an informal survey of some high school/young adult aged folks not long ago and the most popular answer to the question, “What does this world need more of?” was FRIENDLY PEOPLE! Holy Cow Batman…talk about a giant leap backwards…personal contact and not more technology…what…how can that be? I’ve never heard anyone say they always enter a room and look for the crankiest person to sit next to! We are made for human contact and most of us prefer the friendly kind, so instead of just looking for it, why not become the giver of it? Whether you are a Catholic or not, the names John Paul II and Francis more than likely ring a bell. They are two very holy and influential men of our time and if you really boil things down to the bottom of the pot, the reason for the overwhelming popularity of these two Popes is simple; they radiate the kindness and behavior of Christ to everyone. Unless you have been living under a rock for the last year, you have likely seen more than one picture of a very humble Pope Francis embracing someone with great sincerity and genuine love. His simple, humble compassion touches us.
My friends, WE are called to be Christ in the world. We are the disciples of this time and instead of being overwhelmed by the task we need to embrace it! God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called and He’s calling you and He’s calling me to spread His good news. Thank goodness it starts with simple, basic personal conversation just like that mentioned in the passage from John’s letter. So put down your phone, iPad, iPod, laptop or tablet and sit with someone and have a conversation…and include the star of the show…Jesus! If you’re not sure how to bring Him up in conversation, simply introduce others to Him through your actions. Don’t worry about offending someone by mentioning the name of your Savior; worry more about offending your Savior by not mentioning His name!
A Seed To Plant: Bring this scripture to life. Make a list of 3 people you will sit down and have an actual visit with this week. For bonus points, pick at least one person who desperately needs a visit from a friendly face!
Blessings on your day!
…do good works… Ephesians 2:10
Every now and again life unfolds a fabulous event right before your eyes and you get a front row seat to something completely wonderful. During the past week the people of our community were a part of PW schools basketball history. For the second time in the school’s history, a boys’ team made it to the state finals. The venue for the final two games (The MSU Breslin Center) was the icing on the cake for every young man on the team who grew up wanting to be an MSU Spartan. It was a great run that ended with a State Runner-Up trophy but the events that made this an amazing week honestly have very little to do with the trophy awarded at the end of the final game.
As the Pirates advanced to the Quarterfinals and beyond, a few of the little lovelies asked during Morning Prayer if they could pray for the team to win. I repeated a line from a good friend who always says “I don’t think God really care about sports; He wants us to use all of our gifts and talents in the best way we can.” So instead of praying to win, we prayed that the players would do good works and play to honor God. That’s exactly what they did but they might not even realize all the lessons they taught this week. Many folks will say it’s just a game; life is about many more important things than shooting an orange ball through a hoop. They may be right but this group of young men and their coaches demonstrated so much more both on and off the court. Their attitude, behavior and discipleship is a story that needs to be told. For those readers close to home, it’s a review of all we were taught and for those of you far away, it’s a story to lift your spirit and inspire you to “be Christ” in all things.
Lesson 1 – Bloom where you are planted! Being a small school in a rural area, the players you have are the players you build a team with! There is nobody to recruit or nobody picking us as a school of choice, we field a team with the boys that were born here…period. The boys on this team have been playing together for 6 to 9 years. They learned to build on each other’s strengths, work hard and hold each other accountable for making the most of their talents. They learned the value of supporting each other and accepting each other for exactly who they are.
Lesson 2 – Humility is impressive, inspiring and it never goes out of fashion. No matter what the score or the outcome these young men were gracefully humble. They reminded us that humility is demonstrated because it is expected, not because it is earned or deserved.
Lesson 3 – The best way to thank God for a talent is to share it with compassion! Each year the team goes to play a game with the students at a school for the physically and mentally challenged. Most of the boys on the team will say it’s their favorite game of the season. This year several of those special students were at the semifinal game to support their Pirate buddies. At the end of the game, two of my favorite Pirates climbed up into the stands to find this group of special students who had come to cheer them on. They went to this section first, before finding their parents or their girlfriends or friends in the student section. The parents of one of these players told me nothing their son could do on the court could ever make them prouder than what he did after the game. When a reporter asked why that had been their first stop after the game he replied, "We just had to go up there and show ‘em some love and thank them for comin’ out to support us!” In the wise words of the coach, “It’s about doing something for someone who can’t do anything for you in return.” Thank you Pirates for demonstrating that reminder in living color. It was so very Christ like of you.
Lesson 4 – It has been said that a nation’s goodness can be judged by the way it treats it’s young and it’s old. This teams enthusiasm, talent, sportsmanship and Christianity gave a small town a chance to come together and grow in goodness. Not many small town teams could gather enough support to fill hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of seats in a Big 10 college coliseum. People from our communities and several neighboring towns bought tickets and rallied behind some great young men…that was a fine sight to see. Thanks for giving us a chance to practice treating our young with support and respect.
Lessons 5- Never miss a chance to do something good for kids; someday they will be in charge and they need to see how things should be done. To the anonymous donor who paid for the game ticket for every Pewamo elementary student, thank you just isn’t a big enough word! To the neighboring school to our North, thank you for lending us school busses to get all the kids to the game. True generosity is beautifully touching and it was modeled so clearly nobody could miss it!
Lesson 6 – In life we face challenges but there are also celebrations and times of great happiness; neither is intended to last forever. After the biggest week of his life, another of my favorite Pirates had to get up Sunday morning long before dawn to milk cows and his very wise father reminded him that life is like that…times of great excitement are always followed by a sudden burst of reality. God is eager to meet us in both places!
Lesson 7 – Thankfulness and praising the Giver of all gifts is the most important thing. Not many public school teams have a Catholic priest bless them before games and then sit behind the bench cheering and praying over them during the most important game of their high school career. They realized his role in helping them remember to play for God’s glory and not their own.
It may be just a game with an orange ball and a hoop; but for several hundred people from the middle of Michigan’s mitten…it was much much more! God bless the Pirates and we thank you for your humility, sportsmanship and your excellent example of Christ inspired behavior both on and off the court. Thank you for bringing us together! Many will remember this as the year of the winter that wouldn’t end…but we will also remember it as the year the students became the teachers of some great lessons!
A Seed To Plant: Take a lesson from the coach this week and share or do something with someone who can’t do anything back for you.
Blessings on your day!
“We must love with aggressive tenderness.” Pope Francis
An amazing, dynamic man named Justin Fatica quoted those words to a gymnasium full of high school students the other night and I just can’t get them out of my head. It’s hard to even imagine what that would look like isn’t it! It makes “do unto others” seem a little weak in comparison. As I’ve let these words tumble around in my head I’ve been wondering what aggressive tenderness might be like. He told the crowd that the only way we are going to heal the ills of the world is to love each other with aggressive tenderness.
It all became a little clearer today when I opened the Children’s Bible to the next story and read to the little lovelies. The story I opened to was about Jesus washing the feet of His Apostles. That was aggressive tenderness. When we talked about the kind of shoes they wore and how there were no sidewalks or grass to walk on the little lovelies began to realize it wasn’t simply a foot rinse…that kind of dirty feet must have taken some scrubbing they thought. Aggressive tenderness is digging deep, it's bigger than giving away old clothes and donating a few boxes of cereal to the food pantry. I think becoming a person who loves in this way will take a lot of reflection and change. We are so quick to judge and then apply kindness and tenderness according to our judgment.
I think the aggressive part means we have to want to love like this and be willing to work hard and tackle our attitudes and make a change. When I think of the word tenderness I think of the way we treat a newborn. I remember my kids as babies and I would just watch them sleep in amazement and delight. I didn’t love them less if they smelled bad, couldn’t hold an intelligent conversation or do anything to help me; I just loved them…because and no matter what. Is it possible to love others like that? Mother Teresa did it, Pope Francis does it, and maybe we just think we can’t…but what if we tried a little harder?
If we really did love others with aggressive tenderness what would we have to lose? Our reputation; yeah, wouldn’t you just hate to be thought of as a …loving person! Our relationships; what would that conversation sound like, “Gee, I just don’t want to spend so much time with you anymore, you are just too loving and patient and you’re always making others feel valued, I’m just not comfortable with all that.” Our time; are you kidding me, if we traded in all the minutes we spend judging people, talking about people and complaining about stuff people do that bothers us we might have way too much time on our hands and wind up doing something really nuts like praying for all those people instead. Our eternal life; seriously…loving others with aggressive tenderness is exactly the way we can spend our days in the glory of eternal life…who wants that…oh wait... I do…YIKES! Kind of makes the excuses sound pretty lame doesn’t it!
Sometimes the best way to do something hard is to imagine what things would be like if we already did it. If we did it, suicide and substance abuse rates would plummet. If we did it, the world would be filled with people who realized they were amazing because they were “faithfully and wonderfully made” which would lead to contentment, love, joy, peace and more aggressive tenderness. If we did it, we would be surrounded by people who see and value others as God’s children and not as rich, poor, beautiful, ugly, smart, dumb, valuable or worthless. Aggressive tenderness allows us to look through the eyes of Christ. That sounds pretty amazing to me! Aggressive tenderness…who’s with me?
A Seed To Plant: Every journey begins with a small step in the right direction. What is the first thing you’re gonna do to start loving with aggressive tenderness? I’d love to hear your ideas if you’d like to share.
Blessings on your day!
Indeed, religion with contentment is a great gain. 1 Timothy 6:6
Have you ever gone out to eat with a person who has to look at every plate that comes out of the kitchen before they can decide what to order? That same person usually stares down each plate at the table, asking five questions about each order, and more often than not, that same person can be heard saying something like, “I wish I would have ordered that instead, I want what they have!” Let’s face it, if we’re being totally honest, we probably make a dozen comparisons each day. We compare tiny things like parking spots and lunch choices and we compare big things like cars, paychecks and homes. Did you ever stop and think about why we do this?
If we took a survey of 100 people and asked the question, “What word best describes you right now?” What percentage of people do you think might reply with the word “Content”? I would be willing to bet very few, if any, would spit out that answer! We are a restless people by nature. We spend a lot of time and energy comparing, evaluating and calculating everything. Is it greed, lust, materialism or is it possible that the restlessness is simply a yearning for God to fill a spot in our lives we may not even realize is vacant?
I love my life! I love everything about it, my husband, my children, my job, my family, my co-workers, my parish, my home…my life is absolutely more blessed than I ever imagined it could be! That being said, you would think I would be perfectly content. That would be correct most of the time, but every now and again that restless ache creeps in and makes me compare what I have with something God blessed someone else with. God has given me WAY more than enough and He certainly has given me WAY more than I deserve but sometimes I want Him to give ME that vacation to a beautiful beach resort or spiffy new fancy thing my neighbor has. He has generously given me gifts and blessings and I try to use them to further His kingdom but sometimes I really wish those gifts could land me a book deal or a speaker booking at a big-name conference where I could rub elbows with the “Big Names” and be a part of all the exciting “hoop-la” that goes with it.
99 days out of 100 I’m grateful and content but I was having that day when I was restless and feeling a little jealous. I needed to get out from under the burden of those feelings so I slipped in the side door of church during lunch and asked Him to take them away. As I sat in the silence, the word “why” just kept popping in my head. I thought and thought about it and kept wondering things like, “why…why did he get that and why did she get to go there and why…” I went through the whole list and then it hit me! The “why” meant something completely different…God was leading me to ask myself “WHY” do you want those things. If you really want to use the gifts I gave you to serve me, why do you care about those things? I sat a bit longer and thought about why I wanted all those things I thought He had forgotten to give me. I told Him I felt like I was being “skipped over”. Then the train hit me...I was wandering away from His truth. He doesn’t allow me to write this blog each week to be recognized, He gave me this gift to spread His love and help others recognize His presence. He didn’t give me my speaking gift to become recognized in a faraway fancy place, He gave it to me to speak to whoever He put in the chairs wherever He sends me. He didn't send me to a beach, he sent me to spread His love to a room full of seven year olds every day. He didn’t forget to give me a fancy car or the income for a beautiful cottage; he gave me exactly what I needed to provide me with the perfect balance of humility and peace. Mostly, He made me realize He has blessed me with the perfect life for ME! I realized that what I need and what everyone else needs are as different as can be, but in the difference lies the perfection that only He can determine.
I left the church that afternoon knowing that the why really meant; why are you restless for things that aren’t yours. I left understanding the why, was the way He uncovered the restlessness in my soul that needed to rest in Him! I think I’ll swap “C” words…I’ll swap compare for celebrate. Each time I’m tempted to say, “I want what they have”, I’ll say instead, “God, thank you for taking such perfect care of them because You know perfectly what we need!” He works in ways both huge and tiny based on things we will never see or know…thank you Father for being in charge…You always get it right!
A Seed To Plant: Practice gratefulness this week and swap “C” words. Ask God each time you are tempted to make a comparison to settle your restless soul!
Blessings on your day!
For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you. 2 Corinthians 1:12
One morning this week during prayer, I had an image of my big brother that was so strong I wondered what on earth God was trying to tell me. I sat a bit longer that morning and I was flooded with memories and realized his short life had a purpose I needed to be reminded of. I thought maybe one or two of you might find this reminder helpful too.
Jim was two years older than me and stood more than a foot taller than me but one look at our dark brown hair, eyes and our noses and there was no mistake we were brother and sister. Jim was tough on the outside but he had a huge heart, and an even bigger sense of humor. He was reserved and humble but my, oh my, did he have a wide streak of stinker runnin right through the middle! His quiet disposition, easy temperament and deceivingly innocent smirk allowed him to get away with more pranks than any human being I have ever known! He made me laugh and he gave our parents gray hair!
When Jim graduated from high school he joined the US Navy where he proudly and honorable served our country. He got to meet amazing people and see more of the world than I ever will. He always looked out for the little guy, the forgotten guy, the underdog. He was honored more than once for saving another man’s life; something we didn’t know until long after the medals had been awarded. Once when he was on a long deployment in the Indian Ocean, he had a younger mechanic under his supervision that was pretty homesick. Jim in his soft-hearted nature arranged for a buddy who worked in the kitchen to bake a birthday cake to make him feel a little less homesick. Then in his typical prank-pulling style, he decorated the frosted cake himself…with red close-up toothpaste. He wanted to be kind and loving but the big burst of cinnamon toothpaste mixed with sugary frosting was his way of making sure he didn’t come across as a big softie.
I think the thing I love and respected most about my big brother was his ability to truly just be who he was. He never pretended to look or act like something he wasn’t…what you saw was what you got. He appreciated the simple things and he never felt the need to talk or dress or act a certain way to fit in or impress anybody. During his service to our country he made several stops in the Philippines and of all the places he traveled that was his favorite. I remember asking him once why he liked it there so much and he said it was the people. He was impressed with how little they had and how happy they were. Each time he left, he took with him a feeling of overwhelming gratitude. More than once he told me that those people changed the way he lived his life. It wasn’t their poverty that struck him; it was their wealth in the things that really matter that changed him.
When Jim got out of the Navy, he developed a hobby of traveling to a new tiny Kansas town each week. When he got there, he had a mission; the first thing he would do was find something to buy that would support a kid. It didn’t matter if it was buying lemonade from a front yard or candy bars and raffle tickets to support the basketball team he just wanted to leave a little something behind. The second thing he would do was sit on the tail gate of his pick-up or on a bar stool and find at least three people who would sit and visit. He could have sold igloos to Eskimos so having a conversation with a stranger was never a problem for Jim. I asked him once why he enjoyed these tiny town trips so much and he said “People just want to be treated in a kind and friendly way. I can’t do much about the crazy stuff goin’ on in the world but I can treat people the way we all want to be treated and then maybe they’ll turn around and do the same. It doesn’t take money or a degree or a certain kind of clothes to make a difference.”
Sometimes we get so bogged down with trying to do things “right” that we forget to do things “simple”. Sometimes we get so worried about what the world wants us to be, we forget to be who we were meant to be. Every once in a while we need to replace achievement with gratitude and we need to stop and think about what somebody else needs instead of what we need. The most important things in life aren’t the things we put in the closet or the garage, they are the things we put in our heart. Jim has been gone for almost 30 years but the lessons he taught in such a simple, humble way have impacted my life far more than any achievement, possession or experience. I think if I could sum up his life and the way it touched people it would be “Be who you are instead of somebody you’re not, be grateful and go out of your way to be kind and friendly.” I think Jesus would have agreed with his point of view; in fact I think they would have enjoyed a nice long visit on his tail gate!
A Seed To Plant: This week make it your mission to offer one simple act of kindness to a stranger…who knows where it might lead!
Blessings on your day!
…while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12:2
What do you know about ducks? I have to admit that the sum total of my duck knowledge could fit nicely inside a thimble! Beyond identifying a Mallard and knowing I don’t really like eating them, and that they hatched from an egg, I had nothing. That was until I recently stumbled across a little story about ducks. I have no earthly notion what possessed me to actually read the story but I’m really glad I did.
When a baby duck hatches, it becomes neurologically bonded with the first moving thing it sees. Scientists call it “imprinting”. When this happens, the duck is permanently attached to the object. In the perfect world, that object is a mamma duck and the imprinting allows the baby to follow and imitate the mamma learning all the skills and behaviors necessary to survive. Since we live in an imperfect world, unfortunately, the object is sometimes a human or a rubber ball or a cat. While humans, cats and balls are all great things in and of themselves, they can’t do much to help the duck learn to be what it was created to be…a duck. The story was kind of fascinating and I was once again reminded of a phrase I often use while teaching amazing Science facts to the little lovelies, “Wow…only God could think of that!”
Humans are obviously smarter than ducks in our thinking and behavior…or are we? The story left me thinking about the things in my own life that can “imprint” me. I think like the ducks, we can often imitate what we see and hear. Our behaviors and attitudes can certainly be influenced by the people and stuff we surround ourselves with. Lent is such a great time to snoop around our spirit and our heart to see what’s leaving an imprint. If a baby duck happens to imprint an object other than a mamma duck, the result is practically irreversible. Thank goodness we’re not ducks!
If we are being imprinted with an attachment to the wrong things, we can un-do it. A baby duck at the moment of hatch, knows instinctively to search for a mamma to imitate and follow. Every time we realize we are being imprinted with an attitude or behavior that we shouldn’t follow, we need to set our gaze on our Pappa, God who is waiting to forgive and welcome us back to His loving direction. He’s just waiting to scoop us up and demonstrate the skills, attitudes and behaviors that will lead us to our ultimate survival; with Him in heaven.
A Seed To Plant: Take some time this week to see what things are leaving an imprint on you. Fix your gaze on the one who leaves the only imprint we need and ask Him to guide you away from the imprints that aren’t pleasing to Him.
Blessings on your day!
Then He said, “If anyone wants to follow me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily…” Luke 9:23
I know two women who battled cancer. Upon diagnosis the first woman said, “Why me God, I’ve tried to lead a good life, why would you punish me like this?” The second woman said, “Well God, why not me! I’m sure you could have picked someone holier and stronger but you didn’t so please show me how to use this suffering to bring me and those who love me closer to You.” I know for a fact that the second woman clung to this passage from Luke’s Gospel like a life raft; that woman was my mom!
If the greatest, purest, holiest most awesome man to ever walk this earth experienced suffering, pain and anguish what in the world makes us think we should be exempt? Time and again I greet inconveniences and small sufferings with distain instead of embracing them and allowing them to help me grow in faith. Little things like a car that won’t start, a checkbook that won’t balance and a pile of dirty laundry that multiplies at the speed of light are my crosses to bear. Some days I’m a lousy cross bearer! I like to wiggle and whine and pout. I like to climb on my soap box and lament the fact that if my family appreciated me and respected me the way I deserved I would get a little more help and cooperation. Truth is, loving and serving my family with my whole heart is part of my vocation as a mother and sometimes it is exactly the cross I am called to bear.
My mother always said,” The greatest way to serve God is to serve others; so go fold the socks and serve God!” It truly takes a servants heart to take up our daily crosses. The burdens and sufferings of our days are meant to help us depend on the love of the Father. The harder we lean on Him as we bear our crosses, the more united we become to Him and the less important our needs, wishes and desires become. My mom understood that completely and lived that understanding beautifully right to the end!
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of the crosses you need to “take up”. Ask God to help you see how to do it gracefully and faithfully. Make a note of someone in your life that bears a heavy cross in an inspiring way and think about what you can learn from their example.
Blessings on your day!
But let your “Yes” mean “Yes” and your “No” mean “No”…James 5:12
Wow did this one smack be upside the head! I think I would be shamefully astounded if I counted the times I approached things looking for the “easier” way to do them. More than a few times I’ve re-routed plans and projects searching for increased benefit and decreased personal discomfort! The biggest problem with that is what I usually get in return is minimal satisfaction! I also shudder when I think of the things in my life that lack true commitment and consistent effort.
I remember when Jason was an infant. He loved sleeping if it was light outside but not so much during the middle of the night. Kevin was 18 months old and I remember some of those days and nights felt so long. In my exasperation and exhaustion one day I was pouring out my heart and frustration to a wise friend and she said, “You’re looking at this all wrong; your goal is to get him to sleep so you can sleep too but your mission should be to relax, rock, pray and enjoy your precious son.” I thought she was nuts at first but I was desperate enough to try it her way and she was right. It was hard to remember that I had said “Yes” to motherhood and all that came with it. I was feeling deprived and uncomfortable…it was all about what I was missing and giving up and not what I had been given. The next many nights were different. I rocked and held him with a peace I hadn’t had before and said “Yes” to all the parts of motherhood and believed with all my heart that God would give me the strength and patience to chase my 18 month old the next day even if I didn’t get much sleep. That’s exactly what He did! It didn’t take long before Jason got his sleeping straightened out and I never admitted it out loud but I kind of missed that quiet time in the middle of the night with a new baby.
God calls us so many times a day and He leads us so tenderly but so much of it we miss. I’m so busy trying to make things easy on myself I often lack the consistency to follow through on the things I say “Yes” to in my faith life. I am also painfully aware of the times I vow to say “No” to screen time or procrastination only to let it dribble into my hours leaving little or no time for reading, prayer or study. I think St. James was speaking directly to me. I suppose if I spent more time honoring my yes’s and my no’s instead of trying to negotiate an easier path God would have some abundant blessings for me and I would be filled with great satisfaction. I can be a stubborn woman though!
When I finally stopped fussing about my fussing baby and just enjoyed being in the moment God honored my “yes”. He gave me joy, peace and energy because I was more concerned with the minutes I gained with my baby and less worried about the minutes of sleep I lost. As Lent approaches, I plan to make a list of “Yes” and “No” and I will spend this prayerful season consistently honoring both…I’ll be sure to keep you posted!
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of “Yes” and “No” things that you can offer God the Father this Lenten season. Ask Him to show you where you need to say yes and where He’d like you to say no.
Blessings on your day!
Sheri's writing can also be found at Faith Catholic Publications and on CatholicMom.com