Joyful Words Blog
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.
– Psalm 119:105
– Psalm 119:105
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…Ecclesiastes 3:1
Did you hear that? It was a gigantic sigh; it was the universal “May is almost over” sigh. Tomorrow marks the end of the year’s busiest month…May! It’s
been one of the greatest May’s ever in the history of May’s but I’m out of
juice! In fact I fondly remember a story that illustrates exactly how I feel right about now.
One Christmas, I got a shiny new slinky. It was the greatest invention ever and I loved playing with that silly thing. I was very careful not to let it get tangled or pinched and it looked good as new for months. I always kept it in the orange box on my dresser when I wasn’t playing with it. I got my slinky the same Christmas my younger brother Joe got a stick horse named “Bucko”. One summer day I was helping my mom with the dishes and when we were finished, I went to my room to get my slinky to play with on the front porch steps. I remember the blood curdling scream I let out when I found my prized possession all bent and tangled and mangled and connected like a spider web. When the story finally boiled down to the bottom of the pot, it seems Joe’s stick horse was about to be trampled by a stampede of wild Texas long horn cattle raging through the back yard near the apple tree and the only way to ensure Bucko’s safety was to tie him securely to the apple tree with my slinky. Apparently it took several wraps around the tree trunk to do the job and needless to say the slinky was never the same. When I think of that bent, twisted, frazzled toy, that’s exactly how I’m feeling as the month comes to a close. Just like that slinky I’ve been tugged and pulled and twisted in a hundred directions and I haven’t quite bounced back yet.
So what’s the answer? The answer is…there isn’t one! May is one month, one action packed, and fun-filled, over-flowing month and to be quite honest, I probably wouldn’t have it any other way! If I were to declare war on the month and put a cease fire to half the “stuff” scheduled in the month I’d have a hard time figuring out which half to erase. Humm…let’s see…as Christians we are called to use the gifts and talents He’s given us for His glory, my kids probably get really tired of hearing me say that! So if I practice what I preach how can I decide which talents and gifts I should put a basket over? Should I squash the concerts and band banquet with the French horn player? Maybe the softball team could have done without a catcher and the girl who hit a couple triples and always made her teammates laugh. What about the Prom, or graduation and the open house that took so much time to plan and organize? What if we had erased baseball season and we would have missed Jason’s three run over the fence homer or the no-hitter he pitched? I sure wouldn’t have had as much laundry to do that’s for sure. But what would we have gained and what would we have lost? Maybe awards night, that took a long time…or maybe I could have skipped the games where my kids took their turn sitting on the bench. But then I would have missed seeing them grow in humility and compassion while they were supporting their teammates from inside the dugout and practiced focusing on others.
God promised there is a purpose for every season. I knew this May was going to be a doozy so I prayed that God would help me soak it all in and enjoy every second of it. My prayerful request was that He remind me to pray for a suffering or lonely soul each time I felt the stress of the schedule start to bear down. (I’m not gonna lie…I prayed for lots of souls the
past 30 days!)
It’s one month…31 crazy days! We don’t need to re-vamp our life because one month gets nutty; we need to enjoy the gifts and talents that we’re
called to share with others during this hectic month. Nothing lasts forever…good OR bad. I’d do well to remind myself of that fact a little more often! I don’t think there is any permanent harm done because the Wohlfert’s didn’t eat 5 servings of fresh fruits and veggies every day in May and like any good mom who forgot to wash the Under Armor in the uniform load, I just rinsed it in the sink with some Downey and didn’t tell anybody and it all turned out ok. Our family has grown to include some new dust bunnies and cob webs this month and yes, I’ll admit it, I shoved some laundry and ironing into a basket and hid it in my closet before my Dad came to visit. (And just because God has a sense of humor it fell off the closet shelf and landed on my head one morning.) Guess what…it’s all ok! We are called to be FAITHFUL not called to be PERFECT.
Months like May are full of lessons. Lessons in patience, laughter, trust and faithful endurance! How’d you do? One more thought…if you are a mother of young ones, treasure your May’s! Truly BE at each event no matter how the 5th grade band sounds or how many strikes the little batter has because you’re going to wake up one morning and realize two of your children have graduated from high school and the cleats are about to be laced up for one last game. Quiet May’s will come…and they will come more quickly than you can imagine so just take God’s hand and BE PRESENT for life, let it flow by
you. After all, our life on earth is a dress rehearsal for heaven!
A Seed To Plant:
Make a list of the best things that happened in May, then make a list of 5 things that didn’t get done in May…now compare the list and say a prayer of thanksgiving.
Blessings on your day!
I give thanks to God at every remembrance of you Philippians 1:3
Memorial day holds special memories for me. I remember each year gathering at Grandma Thelma's and loading up in cars with aunts, uncles and cousins to begin our journey to different cemeteries. Each of us had a job, the little ones carried flowers, older ones the water jug or the spade but we each had a part to play in honoring the memory of loved ones. I remember listening to the stories and looking with respect at the flags and military markers that signified those who had served our country. I also remember praying together before we left each cemetery to make our way to the next one.
I come from a family with a long and proud record of service in the US Navy. The service began before WWII and ended with my little brothers retirement just a couple of years ago. Someone from my family proudly served our country for over 60 years with only a few months of interrupted service throughout the decades. Today I pause to pray, honor and remember them and the thousands just like them from all over the United States.
My daughter and the other members of the PW Pirate Marching Band will travel to several cemeteries and take part in the honoring of veterans. They will also march in a Memorial Day parade later this afternoon. As I watch them, I realize they don't completely understand why they are giving up a day off school, but someday they will. Last year while traveling with the band I visited with a veteran and told him thank you. He said, "If you really want to thank me then every time you hear the National Anthem played, sing it, don't just stand there, but sing it our of respect for veterans, freedom and these great United States." I'd like to pass on that old veterans request and challenge you to thank him and all the others like him in the same way. In order for our young people to understand the significance of this day, we need to show them.
A Seed To Plant: Stop to say a prayer today for the safety of our active military and a prayer of thanksgiving for those who have graciously served and defended our freedom.
Blessings on your day!
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Matthew 6:25
Have you ever noticed how something really terrific can come from a disaster? Sunday, our second son graduated from high school and we hosted his open house that same day because my dad was here
with us for the weekend. Mexican was his menu choice and I had it planned down to the last detail plus a generous padding of “extra food” because nobody wants to be the party host who runs short on food. Well…it happened…I started to run low on food and my heart sank somewhere down into my shoes.
It would have been a disaster if it hadn’t been for the awesome crew of friends that flocked into my kitchen and saved the day. We cooked some more…we emptied the fridge and a couple of them went home and brought back the contents of their own fridge and pantry. At one point some dads were chopping up watermelon and they chased me out of my own kitchen
telling me to leave and enjoy the guests. They took over and amazed me with their friendship, generosity and helpfulness. What a blessing.
When I first started to realize the food was flying off the serving table so quickly I slipped into the office for a minute to pray. The verse from Matthew's Gospel came to mind and I said, “Jesus I trust you!” I chose not to panic. I chose to believe if He could feed 5,000 He could feed a couple hundred and I chose to believe the words of t and not worry. Within minutes the unsolicited help started filing into the kitchen. God paints the dots on a ladybug and He provided me with friends who knew how to save the day…how lucky am I! No detail is too large or too small for such a loving Father.
I’m still scratching my head at the events of the day, but mostly I’m thanking the Good Lord for the blessing of friends and the grace of generous hearts. I will be the first to admit I am a MARTHA right to my core, so the day was a lesson in humility. I was reminded to be more like MARY and enjoy the “better part”. Sunday the “better part” was friendship and the surprising way God hears and answers when we trust. The other part of the blessing that day was enjoying the wonderful people who came to help us celebrate Jason’s special day. Martha here, would have missed that if it hadn’t been for the friends who chased me out of the kitchen.
Today it doesn’t matter that I would have done exactly the same thing for any one of those friends…what mattered is that they did it for me and I’m grateful and blessed. I’ve re-calculated my food list and I’m still baffled, but I finally wadded up the paper work and threw it in the trash because it doesn’t matter. If everything would have worked out according to “my plan” I would have missed the beauty of “His plan”…and as usual…He’s a much better planner than me! I thank God for those good friends. As one of them said to me years ago, "You know someone is a good friend when they can walk into your kitchen and wash your dishes.” I’m thrilled to report I had LOTS of those kind of good friends on Sunday. May God smile sweetly on each of them!
A Seed To Plant: As you plod through this day, stop and ask God where this verse might fit.
Blessings on your day!
Good morning! The past eight days have been packed full of ballgames, my favorite Kansas guest; Dad, family and everything that goes with having a graduate in the house...including a couple hundred for dinner yesterday. It has been a week of great joy but unfortunately no time for writing. I have stories to tell and things to share so please stay tuned and I'll be back with joy AND words on Thursday!
Blessings on your day!
*Editors note...My son Jason will graduate from High School Sunday and as I was scrubbing the porch getting ready for his open house, I remembered this post...hope you don't mind reading it again.
If we acknowledge our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing. 1 John 1:
Last week my oldest son helped me power wash the front porch...a job the kids don’t usually line up and beg to help with! The combination of dust from our gravel road and lots of fly’s attracted by the cattle make it a necessary but undesirable task. As I was swirling my scrub brush along the siding and porch rail I figured I should pray for people who were knee-deep in things a whole lot worse than fly specks and road dust! Not long into the
scrubbing and praying I started thinking about how small dust and fly specks
really are when you isolate just one. The problem is when they glob together…that’s when true scrubbing is required! Our porch is pretty good sized so I had lots of time to think about how something that started out so tiny could cause such a big mess.
About a third of the way through the project, I looked down at my fingers that were getting shriveled from the scrub water and that’s when it hit me…the mess on my porch was kinda like sin. I realized through this humbling episode of porch scrubbing that I’m nothing but a big ‘ole sinner! Each little sin like impatience or judgmental thinking that plagues my days is like a speck on my porch…one at a time they may not seem like much, but when several glob together, I wind up with a mess that requires scrubbing! We only scrub the porch once a year, not because it isn’t needed more often, but because it’s the minimum requirement…something we do only when we simply can’t stand it any longer. I began to wonder if there was any correlation between the frequency with which I scrubbed my porch and how
often I sought a good “soul scrubbing” from my Heavenly Father.
I sweep the porch often, and I began to realize that was much like my nightly
examination of conscience. I quickly ask God for forgiveness before I fall asleep but that’s like a quick sweep…it’s not a true scrubbing. I came to the conclusion that sunny afternoon last week that I needed to make some
adjustments in my “soul scrubbing” schedule. We are so lucky to be the children of such a loving and mighty God. He knows keeping us from sin completely is as impossible as keeping the dust and fly specks off my porch, but that’s what keeps us running to His loving arms as we beg forgiveness for the mess all our tiny little sins make when they glob together. His forgiveness is there for us. All He asks is that we come to Him with a spirit of repentance and a desire to change. If I approached Him with a TRUE repentant heart and worked harder at avoiding those small sins maybe He wouldn’t have to scrub so hard when I got there!
My ambition was to have a clean porch; the outcome was a reminder of God’s great love and my ever-growing need for Him. Our God is the God of surprises and the God of the ordinary. I am continually amazed at the ways He sends me His messages when I approach things with prayer…He can even turn scrubbing the porch into a lesson!
A seed to plant: Sit down with a pencil and a piece of paper.
Make a list of all the tiny little sins that plague your day and glob up
to make a mess on your soul. Lift that list up to the Father with a repentant heart asking for His loving forgiveness. Don’t forget to ask for His guidance on how to “keep your porch clean.”
Blessings on your day!
Let us love one another; for love is of God. 1 John 4:7
My mother was famous for spitting out a one liner to make me stop in my tracks and really think! I’d like to share a few that came to mind as I remembered her on Mother’s day.
“The greatest way to serve God is to serve others!” And yes serving can mean folding your brother’s socks and mopping the floor and picking up SOMEONE ELSE'S mess! It’s all in the intention!
“Pretty is; is pretty does.” The “outside” of someone is just what grabs our attention, once they look your way then it’s your chance to let the love of Christ living inside you shine to everyone who’s looking.
“Pay attention…it doesn’t cost anything to pay attention.” Our loving Father is the inventor of EACH and EVERY detail of our day, including the events we like and the ones we don’t. We are drawn much closer to Him when we pay attention to the things He’s trying to teach us in all of the details and seemingly insignificant parts of our day.
When I would complain about a small affliction or inconvenience, she would look at me with her loving green eyes and sweetly say, “So, tell me, how do you think that compares to being hung on a cross? Hmm…if it doesn’t then you have a great chance to tell Jesus thank you and suffer a tiny bit for a good intention and not think so much about yourself.”
As I think about the words of Barb my earthly mother, I also think of Mary, the mother of us all and some of the powerful words from Scripture that she spoke to us. In Luke’s Gospel we hear Mary say, “May it be done to me according your word.” Not her way, or in her time, but as a loving mother she teaches us all in those words that we are called to do God’s will not our own. In John’s Gospel she tells the servers at the wedding in Cana “Do
whatever He tells you.” I don’t know about you but I need a daily dose of those words from Mother Mary. The days we can “do whatever He tells us” are always good days!
I asked my little lovelies what the “BEST” moms do and they said “they love us, care for us, teach us how to pray, take us to Mass, pray with us and feed us.” One student quickly added “and not just vegetables and healthy stuff but cookies and cake too.” As we honor, thank and remember all mothers we ask God’s blessing on them and pray that the Holy Spirit will fill them with words of wisdom and faith and encouragement. May all Mothers strive to follow the beautiful example of Blessed Mother Mary and love and teach with her strength, courage and gentleness.
A Seed To Plant: Stop this week and say a prayer for all those women who said YES to motherhood. Say a special prayer for those struggling to say that yes; may the spirit of God bring them the courage and peace to say YES to life.
Blessings on your day!
Amen I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God
like a child will not enter it. Mark 10:15
I never feel tall when I stand with my family; everyone in this house is 4 to 13 inches taller than I am! Luckily I teach first grade so I can feel taller than somebody! Children often think “tallness” means “smartness”. I’d love to believe that’s true but my little lovelies show me regularly that they have knowledge far beyond mine! I realize I’m the one getting the paycheck for teaching but it’s often the students that teach the better lessons! This year we are all learning lessons from a little lovely named Bridget.
For the Joyful Words readers who live far away, I should tell you before I go on with the story that in February Bridget was diagnosed with a rare kidney disorder. It’s been quite a journey so far but she and her family have shown amazing strength and trust. Theirs is a story of faith, prayer and love. I refer to her as “Brave Beautiful Bridget.” She has been an inspiration to me and to lots of others who know and love her. Early in the journey when her
parents and family struggled to cope with the Doctors words, Bridget was a
pillar of strength. She doesn’t cry, or complain. She doesn’t even fuss about the strict diet and medical routine she is required to follow. She has taken the whole thing in stride with grace and a great attitude. I asked her if being sick has changed her relationship with Jesus and she smiled and said, “I think it makes me holier because I pray more.” She and her family began to recognize God’s blessings on their journey very early on. The first blessing was powerful to them and to everyone who knows and loves Bridget.
On All Saints Day last November, we played an all school game of Saintly Musical Chairs. All 237 kids reported to the gym to play. Each chair had a saint name on it. The kids walked around the circles of chairs until the music stopped and then they sat down. If the saint name read by the announcer was the same as the one on their chair, they had to remain seated. Bridget was the last child standing and the name on her chair was the newly canonized St. Kateri. Her last miracle for canonization was the healing of a child. St. Kateri is the first Native American to become a saint. Oddly enough last summer Bridget and her dad built a giant teepee in the back yard for no particular reason at all. In March that teepee became a symbol of Gods wisdom and love.
This beautiful, brave little girl has knowledge and experiences completely uncommon to most children her age. She can speak about blood counts,
kidney function and IV’s the way most kids talk about Barbie’s, iPods or bike
rides. She talks about her faith and her trust in Jesus in a sincere and inspiring way not even realizing how many ways God is using her to reach so many people. Her struggle is accompanied by an innocent giggle and a powerful testimony. She told me being sick has changed her family too, “we pray a lot more and I think that makes Jesus happy.” She is so wise for someone so little!
I asked Bridget’s parents Jon and Amy for permission to tell her story for two reasons. The first reason is because we are often tempted to say “Why me?” when something bad happens and we don’t quite realize the benefit and blessing our suffering can be for others. Bridget’s illness has united a community in prayer and they have been an example of faith and strength. We need those examples, we need to practice reaching out to others in loving service and we need to come together as a people of prayer .The second reason is to ask for an avalanche of prayer. Bridget has been asking our class to pray for a donor and her prayer was answered in an amazing way. Bridget’s mom Amy will be her kidney donor. The transplant is scheduled for June 14th. Please ask God’s blessing on Amy as she gives the ultimate gift of a mothers love and on Bridget so the new kidney will restore her little body and make her well. Please join us in praying Bridget’s prayer.
St. Kateri, who like Jesus loved little children please intercede for our friend Bridget. Heavenly Father we ask you to wrap Bridget in Your healing arms of love and make her well. Please bless her family and her doctors. This favor we ask through the power of Your Holy Name.
A Seed To Plant: Pray for Bridget!
Blessings on your day!
(Head over to CatholicMom.com on Friday afternoon for a story called “A Mother’s Gift of Love” which is a feature about Bridget and her mom Amy)
But not the wicked, they are like chaff which the wind drives
away. Psalm 1:4
One of the fond memories I have of growing up in Hoyt was the huge garden we planted every spring. My Dad always had (and still has) one of the most beautiful gardens in town. One of the things I enjoyed most from our garden was the popcorn. Dad had an old flywheel corn sheller we used to take the popcorn off the cob. After we finished that job, he would set a window fan on a stool and slowly pour the popcorn from one bucket to another in front of the fan to blow out the chaff. When I came across this Psalm not long ago, I couldn’t help but remember those days on the back patio watching the white chaff blow into the green grass making it look like a December snow.
Everyone in our house loved popcorn so helping with the planting and harvesting was no big chore because we knew how much we’d enjoy the fruits of our labor! When helping dad blow away the chaff, my job was to hold the bottom bucket still so it didn’t spill. As I knelt there on the patio carefully doing my assigned task, I remember asking why we had to blow that stuff out. I wondered why we had to go to all that fuss if the stuff didn’t have any flavor or didn’t cause any harm…seemed like extra work to me!
Dad tolerated my chatter and my dozens of questions patiently but when I
was persistent about the chaff he had to come up with something to shut me
up! I still remember what he said. His reply was simple enough to make sense to a child and practical enough to stick to my mind like glue for
decades. He said, “Chaff is useless; it has no purpose and no reason to be in the popcorn. If we don’t blow it away, it clumps up in the popper and prevents the popcorn from popping right. It may seem little and light and harmless but we have to get it out of the popcorn or it ruins everything.”
How many things that distract and discourage us could be considered chaff? How many things do we fuss and worry over that really have no purpose other than to clump up our hearts? I’m guessing we could all use a good driving wind to whip through our life and drive away the chaff. Maybe we have someone we need to forgive; maybe we have an apology that needs to be made or perhaps one or two of us have some people we need to make things right with. Maybe our chaff comes from bad habits that are unhealthy or contrary to God’s plan for us. Our chaff might even come from selfishness that could be standing between us and a great blessing from our Loving Father. I suppose to stretch the wisdom of my dad, chaff is anything that fills our thoughts and hearts that is useless and has no purpose in helping us love the Father who created us. Now that the warmer spring breezes are beginning to blow, maybe we should all go outside and stand in the wind and ask God to drive out our chaff and get rid of the clumps that are ruining our relationship with Him.
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of the “chaff” in your life. It could be behaviors or attitudes or feelings then take the list to the Lord and stand in His driving wind to become pure and clean!
Blessings on your day!
Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God's presence. Ephesians 3:12
One night a few years ago I got up to go to the bathroom and as I stumbled back to the bedroom in the dark, I turned to go around the corner and ran right into the wall. I hit the wall corner so hard I fell backwards and ended up with a black eye. I sat there stunned at the fact that I’d made that trip from the bathroom to the bedroom a hundred times and never hit the wall!
What happened that night? After my pride healed and my black eye went away I did have to look back at that event and laugh.
One morning this week I was trying to get supper prepared ahead of time and it was a recipe disaster! I was trying to work quickly and quietly because it was 5:00 in the morning and I didn’t want to wake anyone up. It was one mistake after another as I stumbled around in a dimly lit kitchen. The coffee was still brewing which was probably the biggest part of the problem! I added a tablespoon of salt instead of a teaspoon and then I used baking soda instead of baking powder and to top it all off, I realized the milk I added to the recipe was really sour…after I had added it to the mixing bowl! The whole episode left me short on prayer time so I asked God to send me something in quick form since I didn’t have as much time as usual. I
asked Him to open my mind and my heart to receive exactly the words I needed to strengthen me for the tasks at hand that day. I reached down into the basket of prayer books and snatched one up. I opened it up to the passage for the day and it hit me like that wall from a few years back. This is what I read…"God does not change, but I hope you do."
“Really God…that’s what You want me to know today!” I got a little snippy at that point! I thought, here I am, up at dawn making a nice dinner for my family to grab and go quickly on a busy night and I still make sure I don’t forget to start my day with prayer and “God does not change,but I hope you do” is what you send me! I grumbled silently till noon that day! Early in the
afternoon I was looking through my desk for masking tape and I came across a quote I had scrawled across a note card that had Mother Teresa’s picture on it with a quote that read, “The one thing that needs to change most in this world is me.” I had forgotten that was even in my desk, I felt like I had hit the wall again! What was I supposed to think?
I asked Him for exactly what I needed that day and apparently I needed to change something so I had to be brave and take the next step and ask Him exactly what I needed to change. I got home from school and took a quick minute to grab up that same prayer book again. I had been struggling with a tricky conversation I needed to have with someone. I wondered if that was what He was speaking to me about. I was feeling pretty confident and maybe even a little stubborn about the way I thought this conversation should go. I took a quick second to ask God to change my heart and my mind about this tricky conversation if I needed to. I flipped open the prayer book and this is what I read, “Develop the ability to say everything without saying anything. Action is the loudest voice.” Again…I hit the wall! He couldn’t have made it any clearer. The person didn't need words, I just needed to listen and hug and love this person, I needed to change from being the woman with the right words to the woman with God’s love in action. I needed to get out of the way so God could do His work, I just needed to participate, not be in charge. Thank you God for being so clear and as subtle as hitting a wall…that’s just what I need!
A Seed To Plant: Grab your favorite prayer book or Scripture and ask God to direct you to the words you need right now…then ponder and pray over them and figure out where He’s leading you.
Blessings on your day!
Sheri's writing can also be found at Faith Catholic Publications and on CatholicMom.com