I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me. John 10:14
I once had a pink sweater. It was the perfect shade of pink and it was soft, comfy and had very cool buttons. It was one of my favorite sweaters of all time! I use the words “once had” sadly! The demise of the famous pink sweater came at the hands of one of those dreadful “Hello My Name Is” stickers. I have never been a fan of them and I’m famous for forgetting to take them off before walking into the grocery store or gas station. I went to a conference a while back and got one of the dreaded labels and proceeded to run several errands after the conference while still wearing it. It was a long day; a rushed day; a careless laundry day and I chucked the pink sweater into the washing machine with the blue sticker still on it. The rest is laundry disaster history…blue ink streaks down the front, sticky wads of goo in a rectangular shape and purple sharpie drizzles where the name seeped through the whole sweater. It was beyond help and I blamed it all on that stupid label! I realized that day, some labels really stick.
I came across this verse in one of the Gospels recently and it made me think about labels. We are labeled as His because we are created in His likeness and image. Sometimes being labeled can be a good thing and sometimes not so much! People have been trying to stick or unstick labels for generations. Sometimes those labels can be destructive like the one on my sweater and sometimes they can bring pride and peace like the label that marks us as His. Of all the labels we have been given, the one most frequently used in Scripture is “beloved”. I like that label don’t you?
What if you were to label yourself; what would your tag say? Would it say faithful, patient, loving, trusting, honest? I guess the bigger question is, does the way you live your life match your label? I’ll be honest; sometimes my actions don’t match the label I might think I’m wearing. I may think I’m patient but am I snippy with others? I may think I’m loving but do I share that love freely with ALL people who cross my path? We are His and He knows us, our best label says we are HIS BELOVED…we should make sure we live like it. People read those “Hello My Name Is” labels and they believe what they read. Maybe I should stick one to my shirt today that says “Beloved Child of God”…that’s something that I’d like to stick! Living up to that label would never ruin anything…even my favorite sweater!
A Seed To Plant: What is the label you would most like to be known by? What is the label you’d most like to peel off and throw away? Lift both ideas up and ask the Good Shepherd who knows YOU to help with your label.
Blessings on your day!
The Cry of the Poor
The Lord hears the cry of the poor. Psalm 34
When I hear the word poor I usually think of no money…anyone else think that? I know financial poverty is not what the Psalmist was referring to so I paused to think about the bigger meaning of these words. I pondered all the areas of my life where I was poor and here’s what I came up with.
There are days when I am very poor in patience. My tongue can be snappy and my judgments quick. One of the great casualties of being poor in patience is not being a good listener. I wondered how many things happened on these days that could make me richer if I wasn’t so busy being impatient. Lord, on these impatient days,help me remember to cry out for your calm and your peace.
Sometimes I am poor in trust. When my pockets seem to be emptied of this treasure I decide to take control and do God’s work for Him. I tend to look to heaven and say “I got this one God!” I can tell ya how that usually works out. When I’m poor in trust I doubt His love for me and the wisdom of His plan…silly me! I forget that I’m looking at one page of the story and He’s holding the whole book! Lord, on the days I lack trust, help me remember to say the words Jesus, I trust in You.
More often than I’d like to admit I’m poor in acceptance. I have to remind myself often that things in my life are organized specifically the way God needs them to be. When money is tight or when success seems to find its way into someone else’s life it’s tough not to get discouraged. One of the things I work on with my middle lovelies is celebrating when good things come to others because they are blessings from God. All too often instead of celebrating with others in their good fortune we evaluate all the reasons it should have happened to us instead. When I’m poor in acceptance; Lord remind me to keep my nose in my own journey.
I think I am the poorest when I fail to live in the present. God has created THIS day for me. Yesterday is already finished and tomorrow isn’t a guarantee. The people, the opportunities, the joys and the challenges of THIS day are His gift to me and it’s my job to soak it all in and ask constantly through the day what the plan for all of it is. When I get this right, I feel His blessings. Recently I had a mountain of a day to climb; jobs, tasks, deadlines, projects and a teacher evaluation scheduled on top of it all. I woke up that morning feeling like limpy lettuce! It wasn’t even 5 in the morning and I wanted to go back to bed and be done with the day. I threw up my hands in morning prayer thinking God, how in the world am I supposed to “rejoice and be glad”when I’ve got a day like this! I then stumbled across the word surrender several times in my readings and prayers that morning. So, that’s what I did…I flat out said, “God, if you plan to be hearing from me during evening prayers tonight, you best be sending re-enforcements because I can’t get this all done and still be joyful.” I gave Him the day and I just sat back and watched Him show off! I was very rich indeed that day. Things fell in place, help I didn’t even request showed up, and the middle lovelies were particularly bright and funny that day. The grand finale to the day was a cancelled meeting and plopping into bed at 11:40 only to realize that I’d smacked the wrong button on my alarm clock that morning and it was really only 10:40. That was just icing on the cake! The Lord hears our cries…especially when we see and ask for help in the places we’re poor. Try Him…cry out and see how He answers
A Seed To Plant: Spend some time in prayer asking God to help you see the areas where you are poor. He’s waiting to hear and answer your cry for riches in these areas.
Blessings on your day!
My Inner Thomas
My Lord and my God. John 20:28
The story of Doubting Thomas has long been one that made me shake my head. How could he be so…doubtful? After walking with Jesus for so long and being such a close part of his miracles and healings and teachings; how could he not get it? Even if I could understand his doubt on some level I still think “until I put my hands in his side” was a little over the top!
That used to be my thinking until I realized I was Thomas…often! It wasn’t a realization I wasn't proud of but it was true none the less. My “inner Thomas” looks like this…
*Planning, plotting and worrying about so many things as if I’m in charge of everything myself.
*Sometimes feeling swallowed with frustration wondering when this Pandemic will ever end.
*Overthinking kids, grandkids, finances and retirement.
*Fretting about people who are sick, struggling or that I have no influence with.
*Sadness about people who aren’t treated justly, fairly or compassionately.
My “inner Thomas” can leave me thinking it’s never going to get better and the divisions will just grow and the church will shrink and those struggling will continue to suffer. I stamp my foot and tell Jesus he should do something right now. It’s almost like, “Do this now Jesus and make sure I can see it!” I suppose that’s no different than asking to feel his nail holes. When Thomas realized it was Jesus he said, “My Lord and my God.” I should say the same thing when I see his work in my life. My “inner Thomas” needs to look at the things the Lord is doing all around me instead of the things I think he’s “not” doing. When I see the warm spring days, when I see my perfect Grandson, when I go to a job I love every day, when I realize I’ve been given an amazing family, when I see the excitement of a lovely woman just weeks from her wedding day, when I hear laughter and receive the Eucharist or when I realize we’re all still standing after the craziest year imaginable! When people get well, when people find hope, when a moment of peace sweeps over me or when a kindergartner brings me a card that says I love you. Every single one of those things is Jesus in action but like Thomas, I can be doubtful. My Lord and my God, please help me see you working and be grateful instead of doubtful.
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of all the places you have seen Christ working in your life this month and thank him for the ways he’s trying to dispel your doubt.
Blessings on your day!
The Lord remembers his covenant forever. Psalm 105: 8
I have a small set of completely useless talents! One of those useless talents is being able to remember song lyrics from decades ago. I don’t mean to brag, but I can sing songs that are even older than I am. Now, don’t be too impressed because I’m also the same woman who can’t remember 3 things at the grocery store and about the only room I can walk in to and consistently remember why I entered, is the bathroom. I remember random silly things but there are days when I forget ten times more than I remember. I like to console myself and say it’s because I just have so much important stuff to think about I run out of room in my brain!
Thank goodness God has a better memory than me! I’m so grateful for this reminder from Psalm 105 and it makes my heart peaceful to know that even on those crazy days when I forget to ask God for help or peace or assurance, he never forgets me or the covenant he made with his people. He remembers all the important stuff. He doesn’t remember just when it’s convenient or when it serves his purpose; he remembers his promise to love us all the time!
Sometimes we can make our way through lent and come out on Easter Sunday feeling like we didn’t get it right. We sometimes forget our lenten promises and when Good Friday rolls around we start to feel guilty for forgetting how much we wanted to show our love to Jesus though our sacrifices and penances. Now would be a great time to remember that our lenten works have no real bearing on the glory of Easter. Jesus wouldn’t be more “risen” if we had remembered all the things we promised on Ash Wednesday. God isn’t going to put us on the “B list” because we didn’t complete six weeks of perfect sacrificial piousness. His covenant promised his love, compassion, care and correction whether we ate chocolate during lent or not.
The fifty days of the Easter season are the perfect time to hit a “remember re-set”. God isn’t honored just through our sacrifice; he’s honored by our joy and gratitude. Easter is the absolute perfect time to be more joyful and grateful. We are an Easter people which is to say we are a people who were created to celebrate the joy and happiness of the Resurrection and the new beginnings it promises. That too was a part of the covenant God will always remember. I keep thinking about that line about happy christians and it makes me giggle so I’ll repeat it again; “There are way too many christians running around looking like they’ve been baptized in lemon juice!” Are we gonna mope about your lenten weaknesses or realize with enthusiastic happiness and joy that Easter makes all things new! What needs to be new with you? This is the season that begs us to believe the unbelievable and profess the spectacular and revel in the unfathomable! How about turning from the lent guilt and running head first into the magnificent gift of love the Father will never forget to show us. Absolutely, we are not worthy of such a gift but lets remember that he already knows that and it doesn’t matter. The gates of Heaven were flung open not because we deserve it but because the Father promised and because he wants us with him. That is something we need to remember! This Easter Season let your focus be joy, after all, someone died for you and then his Father raised him up!
A Seed To Plant: Find a great image of the Risen Jesus and pray with it each day to remind yourself that it was a gift for you from the Father who will never forget his promises.
Blessings on your day!
Click on the items below to expand the options available to you to explore the Joyful Words blog.