Joyful Words Blog
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.
– Psalm 119:105
– Psalm 119:105
“Lord you know everything; you know that I love you” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” John 21:17
Of all the things Jesus could have asked Peter to do, he was saddled with the task of feeding the sheep. This line jumped off the page for this part-time farmer's wife. I wondered if I were Peter, would I have questioned what He wanted the sheep to eat, what rations were appropriate, or what feeding schedule should be followed? As my mind got muddied in the practical, I realized it was more about loving, tending, and trusting than schedules and details.
Like Peter, we are called to feed His sheep. My sheep used to park their feet right under my dining room table and even when I was stressed and tired and my feeding efforts were met with curled up noses and mild protest, I was called to offer what they needed…out of love. Sometimes the sheep I’m called to feed are pre-teen students in flocks of thirty who take up a seat in my classroom. Sometimes the sheep fill the audience at a parish mission, event, or retreat the Father calls me to present. Sometimes the sheep are easy to feed and tend, like my husband or my grandson Lewis, the cutest sheep of them all. Each person He puts in my path is like a sheep that needs to be fed, tended, and cared about but I don’t always see it that way.
If I’m being completely honest, some days I don’t really feel like feeding the sheep. Sometimes I’d prefer they just fed themselves and left me alone because sheep aren’t always grateful and they don’t always gobble up what I offer. Today's Gospel reminds me that doesn’t matter at all. What matters is that in feeding the sheep, I am loving Jesus, and that should always be a mission I’m signed up for. If I want to properly adjust my servant’s heart, I suppose I should say; my good shepherd, wrap my sour heart in Your love and give me a heart for service. Help me recognize Your sheep in need and offer them a little of the love and compassion You offer me at every moment of the day.
A Seed To Plant: Who are the sheep in your life that are hard to feed, and how can you change your mindset and heart to do it out of love for Jesus?
Blessings on your day!
…In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world. John 16:33
You learn the funniest things at the park! The middle lovelies had their class field day this week and I spent the afternoon watching, laughing and learning. It was a great afternoon that took a hard left from the afternoon that the teachers envisioned. There were games and activities planned but instead the kids had a simpler plan that revolved around just being together and enjoying buckets of water. As I watched the antics unfold, I learned a lot about how we approach life. I have a whole prayer list of folks right now who are suffering or struggling with something. For some it’s health, others its kids, grandkids, worry, grief or finances. Each of these stories tugs at my heart and watching the kids chasing after each other with their buckets of ice-cold water made me think about those on my list.
Each and every person I know struggling right now has asked for prayers for God to “fix” the situation; to stop the pain or restore things. These are completely logical reasons to ask for prayer but the morning of field day I came across this quote from John’s Gospel and I realized we don’t really listen to these words. We don’t want trouble and when it comes all we want to do is run away from it. Never once has someone asked for me to pray that they will enjoy the trouble or be still and content in the trouble or revel in what God might be doing in the midst of our struggle. We want to run from it, escape it and we can get madder than a wet hen when it we can’t pray our way out of the things that are hard or uncomfortable. The Holy Spirit brough this verse to mind and showed me what it looks as I watched the kids play.
As adults, we overcomplicate things. We make plans and orchestrate schemes when God is saying, just sit here and rest with me. Just be present and trust me to handle the details. Just know I’m working good in this trouble and the good might not even be for you…I might be teaching you something in this trouble that will allow you to help someone else. We don’t always see that when we’re trying to run from the trouble. The kids didn’t care about the details they just wanted to enjoy the simple pleasures of running up the slide and drenching their friend running around the corner. There were a few kids who fought and ran and yelled and threw a fit about not wanting to get wet. The harder they tried to run from the water and the bigger the deal they made of things the more it kept them from truly being a part of the fun around them. Once they finally let their guard down, they tended to be the ones who had the best time because they could join together fully with everyone around them and enjoy the friendship and fun of the day. They began to see it isn’t just about them…it’s about the connections.
There were the kids who would dodge and weave and hide behind things to avoid the flying water but once they allowed themselves to be drawn in they embraced the shock of the cold water and the fun of surprising someone else…it became for them a great example of giving and receiving joyfully. The thing I really noticed were the kids who had the “bring it on” attitude. They were the ones who just stood still and let the water wash over them. They didn’t run, hide or try to escape, they simply let it come and they perhaps had the greatest influence of all because they had a sprit of acceptance and realized the shock of the cold was only temporary but the fun of it all was their focus. They were ultimately the ones who drew in all the others.
What seemed like an epic water fight turned out to be so much more. As we began to head back to school all drippy and tired, the laughter followed. The sense of togetherness and friendship was so fun to see. There was a change that happened because of what they shared together. We aren’t meant to struggle alone and we aren’t meant to run and hide…when trouble comes, invite Him in and allow others to walk with you and help you see the hand of Christ along the way. Jesus shared this thought because he wanted us to remember that our troubles are what help us grow in holiness.
A Seed To Plant: Put this verse in your prayer area and as you pray it, make a list of your troubles and say, “Jesus, help me stop running and trying to escape so I can feel your presence and allow you to use this trouble for your Glory.”
Blessings on your day!
But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31
Hope is a word I misuse all of the time. I say thing like, “I hope it doesn’t rain.” or “I hope there is a parking spot close to the door.” When I really think about it, the things I “hope” for are usually things that would make my life convenient, or pleasant. This past week I have been challenged to look at the way I use the word hope. The first thing I needed to do was compare the worldly definition (the one I most often used) to the virtue of hope. Here’s what I found. “Hope” is commonly used to refer to a wish connected to a person's desire. But “Godly hope”; the virtue of hope, is the confident expectation of what God has promised and its strength is in His faithfulness. I’m pretty sure God doesn’t care about me getting sprinkled on or parking close to the front door at the grocery store so I decided I needed some work.
I love it when God teaches a lesson and uses real people as the teachers! Last week I met a beautiful woman who told me she was a woman of hope. She went on to share that for years she had prayed that her family would grow closer. Her children were grown and moved away and she longed for them to be more connected and involved in each others life. She said she always knew God could do that but it wasn’t until recently that she began to see him work. She said the things God was doing in her family were filling her with such abundant hope. As I listened to her share her story my heart both sunk and swelled as she told me that she was dying of cancer, but she was so filled with hope because God had used this situation to answer her prayer. Fighting the disease had been the thing that drew them together. She told me she was not afraid to die but rather hope filled because God had answered her prayer and brought her family so close that she knew they would support each other and care for her husband and make sure he didn’t get too lonely when she was gone. I was in awe as I hugged this beautiful soul, and took a lesson on the true meaning of the word hope.
So what will I hope for now? I hope I will be able to use the word correctly. I pray that I can seek God working in my life and face my challenges and trials with confident expectation in his faithfulness because that’s what hope really is.
A Seed To Plant: Think about the true definition of hope…make a new list of things you hope for.
Blessings on your day!
Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24
I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to make things better. Sometimes loving Christians carry the weight of the world on their shoulders and run around with pure hearts trying to save the world. I was speaking with someone not long ago and they were completely exasperated because of all the nasty stuff and unkind people in the world that didn’t act like they knew a thing about Jesus. The whole conversation made my heart heavy and I realized I'm surprised at the things some folks think they have the right to say to others. All too often someone will spout off a rude remark and when called on it, they snip back with a comment about free speech and being entitled to their own opinion I’ve been noticing a growing number of “ugly words” lately so as I sat with that on my heart, God pointed me to this verse from Proverbs.
If you are someone who likes to make things better, this is the verse for you! I realized after reading it a few times, I had the process all wrong! It really isn’t about “fixing” the words and actions of others! I can be upset by it, I can pray about it, I can even take a stand about it…but the truth of the matter is this…I can’t do a darn thing to change it! Change has to come from within…change has to be desired. If I’m busy trying to change someone else, I’m guaranteed only one thing…disappointment! Besides, my Mom would remind me I should keep my nose in my own business anyway. When I read this verse again this morning the solution to the problem became crystal clear…I have to change MY behavior. I can’t change someone else’s snappy rude tongue…but I can be in charge of my own. I can make sure my words are pleasant and sweet like honeycomb. God didn’t put me in charge of the world, the state, the county or even the town…He put me in charge of just this one person and after some prayerful time with this verse, I know exactly where I need to begin. What if we actually realized that every word we speak could be healing? What if each sentence we uttered were crafted with that intent? That would be pretty remarkable don’t you think?
The simple power of this Proverb was illustrated through a story I read not long ago. I had actually forgotten about the story until I was writing this post. The story involved a mom of six kids under 9. She and her husband have a deep commitment to the Lord and promised to accept lovingly all the children He chose to bless them with. They love their life but the rude remarks from others can sometimes be heartbreaking to this mom. She was telling the story about a disastrous grocery store adventure with her babies that had 5 of the six kids crying by the check-out lane. She was completely frazzled and on the edge of tears herself. Just when she thought things couldn’t get any worse, a woman stopped next to her and she braced herself for an ugly comment or rude remark about her large family but instead the two sentences spoken at that perfect moment changed her day completely. The woman looked directly at the frazzled mom and said, “Bless you for saying yes! These are lucky children because they will have the courage of their mother and lady; you’ve got a lot of that because I’m not even brave enough to bring one of mine shopping with me!” They shared a laugh and the frazzled mom was lifted…two little sentences is all it took! One sweet word, one kind gesture completely absent of judgment or criticism or opinion worked magic. I may not be able to change the world but I can work harder at speaking kindly to everyone I meet and that just might change a thing or two all on its own.
A Seed To Plant: Randomly speak three kind sentences this week!
Blessings on your day!
This is the work of God, that you believe. John 6:29
Have you ever made something a lot harder than it really was? I remember when we were planning our big remodeling and house addition several years ago. The whole process was a bit overwhelming at first but I remember having specific problems with one thing; the clothes line. I grew up hanging out laundry and it’s just kind of a rural thing to do, and I do it a lot. With the remodel plans we were having trouble finding a good spot for the door. I wanted it to be convenient to the laundry room and clothes line but I didn’t want the door in our bedroom so we were baffled. We must have gotten out the house plans four or five times to think the problem through when Kevin, who was about ten, walked through the kitchen, and asked what we were thinking about. We told him we were trying to find a place for the door close to the close line and we were having trouble finding a solution. He studied the blueprints for about 30 seconds and said, “Well, why don’t you just move the clothesline.” He ran out to play and Dave and I just stared at each other thinking; boy did we ever make this hard…leave it to the kid to point out the obvious!
Satan likes to discourage and distract us, making things seem harder than they really are. Getting to heaven should be the goal of us all but sometimes we can get pretty tangled up in the rules and our sinfulness. God knows we’re gonna sin…He gets that; that’s why he is so merciful. We can get ourselves in trouble though, when we give in to satan’s stinkin thinkin and tell ourselves we aren’t worthy of God’s love and mercy. Duhh…we aren’t, but that doesn’t matter one little bit because he doesn’t give us his love and mercy because we deserve it, he gives it to us because he’s God and he wants to. There is no deserving or earning involved. When we get down on ourselves and our sinful nature it’s easy to think getting to heaven is way too hard and we are way too weak and small. When that happens we are forgetting the one thing Jesus said that was designed to bring us into balance…believe! Believe in the goodness and mercy of God. Believe in the almighty power of a loving God who can do anything he wants. Believe in the fact that our faith is a mystery that we aren’t ever going to fully understand; nor do we have to in order to receive the full effect of its benefits.
Our job is to believe that God will patch our leaks, chips and cracks. Our job is to believe that in our weakness he will show his strength. Our job is to believe that his love is mighty enough to part the Red Sea so it can do anything we need. Our job is to believe that God loves us in spite of everything we might point out as weak or unlovable. Our job is to believe that we are created, protected and guided by a God who loves us with his whole heart and wants only one thing; to bring us home into his arms. Our job isn’t really that hard; you might just need to move your clothes line out of the way so you can have room to believe a little more.
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of the things that are getting in the way of believing that God has you completely in the palm of his hand.
Blessings on your day!
Sheri's writing can also be found at Faith Catholic Publications and on CatholicMom.com