Happy are those who hear the word of the Lord and keep it. Luke 11:28
Happiness is a curious thing! Everybody seems to want it and one quick google search can reveal countless sites about how to get it. I even discovered some “happiness retreats” where folks could go to find happiness. In two days, for a mere $3,000 dollars (plus travel and accommodation expenses) you could be taught how to identify happiness and then seek happiness for yourself. I found some pretty crazy stuff! It all left me thinking…we make things so hard sometimes. This post is all about finding happiness and the good news is…it’s free! Since the Father who created us and loves us is also the creator of happiness that seems like the logical place to start. Each letter of the word is a thought or action you can start right now to seek and feel happiness.
H: Holy is His name! It sounds crazy but if you’re feeling worried or cranky or any other emotion that is soaking up your happy, put the attention where it should be; on Him. Stop for a minute and say Holy is your name God, Jesus I trust you, Father I praise you, Mighty God I thank you. You’ll be shocked at how fast your attention shifts from you to him and you feel a lightness come over you.
A: Attitude is the big thing! There are always two ways to look at things; this hurts me or this helps me. Struggles and suffering make happiness tough to attain if we look at things the first way and it sucks us right in to the “woe is me” thinking that makes happiness impossible. Instead realize that struggle and suffering are necessary for heaven and that God is more present in these times. We also have to remember that tough things come and go, just like easy things; life is meant to be a cycle not a straight line.
P: Pray! (you saw that one comin didn’t you J) Tell God you’re cranky and ask him to bring you through whatever it is that is making you feel unhappy. He made you, he loves you and he truly wants his children to be happy. Talk to him about it and ask him to show you what he’s trying to teach you in this situation. If that seems too simple; give it a try and see for yourself.
P: Pass on some kindness and mercy. I don’t think there is anything that will bring you out of a slump faster than doing something for someone else. When you’re feeling grumpy or frustrated doing a good deed for another, especially the person who made you cranky is the farthest thing from your mind but purposefully thinking about the needs and happiness of another is a powerful thing. The thing about happiness is it’s a bit contagious so start some and you’ll be surprised how quickly it lands back on you.
Y: You are HIS! In the midst of all the things that are sucking away your happiness, remind yourself again and again that you belong to him! Nothing is going to happen that doesn’t have a purpose according to his plan. He will never leave you or forsake you or give you more than you can bear. I mean really, we’re talking about the God who parted the Red Sea, helped Paul escape prison with a dozen guards watching over him and who fed 5,000 people with five loaves and two fish. Surely you don’t think your unhappy situation is more than he can handle. He can do anything, including take care of you, who he made perfectly and wonderfully!
Our happiness is rooted in the God who loves and teaches us constantly. Sometimes his lessons come during tough times but the happiness rooted in him is the best kind! So, pick a letter and go be happy!
A Seed To Plant: Write these thoughts down and put them somewhere you can grab it when you feel like you could use a little more happy in your day; then pick a letter and get started!
Blessings on your day!
There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear. I John 4:18
It’s a birthday post! Joyful Words is 4 years old and as I look back I’m surprised, baffled, proud and stunned; but not at all with myself! It’s all HIS! I’m surprised that he’s still allowing me to do this work, I’m baffled as to why he chose the girl whose top grade in English was a B, proud that I’ve remained obedient to his request to do this work and stunned at what he spits through my fingers onto the page. I did a little looking back and discovered that there have been nearly 400 posts written, and that is such a stunning testimony to the phrase, God can do anything He wants!
This verse from John’s first letter sums up my primary emotion in regards to this blog…FEAR! As I spent a few days praying and thinking about this little project that started four years ago I remember being terrified to publish the first post. It’s gotten better over the years but honestly, there is always a wee bit of fear in my heart each time I hit that publish button on Monday and Thursday mornings. I’m fearful that I will say something that isn’t accurate or that hurts somebody’s feelings or worse yet, I fear that I will make a fool of myself and lead nobody closer to Jesus. Just as John said, perfect love drives out fear so I offer a prayer to all who will read and offer the work of each post as a loving gift to the Father hoping he will find it worthy.
The fear isn’t such a bad thing I think. I’ve come to discover that fear is a human thing and love is a God thing. If I remember to write for him and not for myself and if I beg him for the right words to touch the heart of those who seek him then it’s easier to quiet the fear and hope I’ve been obedient enough to write what he’s called me to write. This project has led me on an amazing journey and for those of you who have been reading all along I hope it has inspired your faith journey as well. At the end of each year I ask him to make it clear when I should stop. If he prompts me to continue I ask him to show me what to say and lead me to the parts of his word that he’d like a little light cast upon. My end of the deal is to write as long as there are people reading and commenting.
I’d like to thank all of you who so lovingly share your stories and allow me to tell them here. I thank all of you who seek to know, love and understand God and who see this blog as a wee part of that. I’m grateful for your encouragement and sweet words. Your comments, shares and likes are the confirmation the Father gives me to keep at it. You’ve had a front row seat to my mistakes, my sinfulness, my parenting, teaching and my attempts at finding God in the middle of all kinds of things. I know there are a million blogs you could be tuning in to that are more scholarly, more polished, more fancy and certainly more eloquently written but yet you come here and I pray for the words and thoughts to make that trip to this site worth the click.
In all honesty the thing that makes me most fearful of all is that we will become so overwhelmed and discouraged by the state of affairs in this world that we’ll throw up our hands and lose hope. I fear folks will run out of trust and forget God is so much bigger than the things in this world that are evil and unjust. I write with the bottom line in mind…simply spoken from a sometimes fearful heart that always by God’s grace circles back to the PERFECT LOVE that conquers all fear. Being a disciple isn’t for sissies and it isn’t always convenient or easy but if we can laugh and support each other along the way we will be better; closer and more connected along the journey to Christ. Happy Birthday Joyful Words and thank you for reading.
Blessings on your day!
…in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:6
I love living in the country. It’s so peaceful and pretty and my front porch looking off into the fields is one of the best places to be. There is, however a drawback to living in the country and that is the gravel road. For some reason this year our road has been giving the county fits. Some spots are just fine and then all the sudden you hit a patch that seems like a remote village mountain trail or a big section of beach sand. The road commission has been working hard but it’s still a mess. I get excited when I hear the grader coming by and the Chloride truck that sprays the compound that keeps down the dust is always a happy sight but then I head off down the road and realize the rough spots are back and I sigh.
One day last week I pulled out of the driveway and took off to the east and the first quarter mile was great and I thought, wow, this is great it’s all in order. Just as soon as I had processed that thought, bam, there was a soft low spot followed by a set of holes that allowed a top speed of about 5mph to maneuver. My shoulders slumped and I thought great, back to this again. The same process repeated itself for the next mile and a half until I reached a paved road. Once I turned onto the pavement there was such a sigh of relief, phew, that’s over I thought. As I picked up speed and headed down the road I realized how much my life resembled that gravel road I live on.
I began to take a good look at the bumps and slowdowns in my own road to Christ and realized I have way more than the road I live on. I might want to complain about them and blame them on someone else but the truth of the matter is they are mine to maneuver. I can’t just stay parked in my driveway waiting on the county to come along and make the path perfect any more than I can sit still waiting for God to swoop in and take away every bump, low spot and pot hole in my life. I gotta get out there and figure out how to find my way toward my destination. The one really good thing about the rough spots in the road is that they cause you to slow down and think about your driving. Sometimes I live at top speed without enough conscious thought about the journey. If I try to blaze down the road too fast it’s easy to lose control, so it is with life too. If I try to blaze through life all on my own without troubling the Father for guidance and support it’s easy to lose control and veer off where the path can be rougher.
The big realization I had is that the whole road isn’t awful, just parts of it. I realized all I was focusing on were the rough parts and not the smooth parts. All my attention was strapped to the parts that were less than expected; I think I look at life like that too. It made me remember that being a disciple is a journey filled with easy and hard but that neither is supposed to last forever. When we’re really happy and life is going along smoothly, we expect it to continue just that way and then when things get rough and choppy (like they always will) we throw up our hands discouraged. Neither is designed to last forever, our life is peaks and valleys. If life were to continue constantly on an even plane without peaks and valleys, the line would always be in the middle…that would be a life of medium and nobody wants that. God loves to meet us and rejoice with us when we hit the peaks and he’s right there with us with his love and mercy when we hit the low spots, who’d want to miss that! It’s all about the journey, not just the current mile. If things in your life are a little out of perspective, take a drive down your nearest gravel road and let God speak to your heart.
A Seed To Plant: Name some of the speed bumps along your journey and pray about the best way to maneuver them.
Blessings on your day!
Know this my dear brothers; everyone should be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger…James 1:19
I’m all about the simple stuff! In general I think we tend to make things way too hard and overcomplicate things. I also think we overlook the power of simple actions. We communicate all the time with lots of people but I’ve discovered lately we might be listening but not really hearing. Now, before you think I’m typing before I’ve had enough coffee to drink, just ponder a thought for a second; listening and hearing don’t always happen at the same time. In the New Testament, St. James reminds us that we should be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. I don’t know about you but I often get that a little mixed up. All too often someone comes into our life and we are so quick to help them and get back to our task that we miss hearing what they really have to say and that often means we miss the true message of the conversation.
There were two gentlemen walking together down a very noisy and congested sidewalk in a big city. One of the men stopped for a second and asked, “did you hear that”, “hear what” came the other man’s reply…”that cricket” he exclaimed. “It’s so noisy here how could you possibly hear a cricket”? The first man explained that as a biologist, he had trained himself to hear the sounds of nature. A few minutes later the biologist purposely dropped a fifty cent piece onto the pavement and people all around stopped, bent over and began to follow the sound of the bouncing coin until it was recovered. The biologist looked at his friend and said, “see what I mean, we hear what we listen for”.
What are you listening for? Are you listening for the end of the sentence or are you trying to hear the whole story? Our faith history is filled with the beautiful example of holy men and women who were masters at the art of hearing others. For instance, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta is an example of someone who didn’t just listen but truly heard. It is said that when having a conversation with her, it was as if the rest of the world simply evaporated around her. She focused on each word all the while running her fingers swiftly over her rosary beads, usually offering prayers for the grace of attentiveness and God’s intercession in the person’s life she was visiting with.
As disciples of Jesus, we are called to be the hands, feet and ears of Christ. Each person that comes to us is a member of his flock. Each person we have contact with is on a journey and we have the privilege of being a part of that journey; hopefully shining the light of Christ into their life even if just for a split second with a warm smile and a friendly hello. If the conversation gives us more time, here are two simple things to help us truly hear God’s people…
First…Hearing requires a connection so when someone speaks to you either in person or on the phone, put your task aside and focus completely on the conversation so you will be able to make that connection. Don’t view it as a distraction or disruption to your work; consider it a chance to give the gift of compassion and as a privilege to share another person’s journey. Hear them as Christ hears you; don’t worry about time, each time we faithfully do what God is asking he multiplies our time.
Second…Before a conversation begins say a quick prayer for the grace of attentiveness so you will be able to employ both your ears and you heart and truly hear. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide the conversation and keep it pleasing to the Father. Ask him to keep your ears open and nudge you with the right words when you need to speak.
One final thought; I’d like to quote the gospel according to Sheri…Go forth and be a hearer!
A Seed To Plant: Make a diligent attempt to hear, consciously use these two ideas for a few days and see what happens.
Blessings on your day!
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27
After the events in Orlando this past weekend, plain and simple, my heart hurts. Why? How? What is it that makes someone act with such a complete absence of Christian love, mercy and compassion? I just don’t’ get it! As I prayed for the souls of those killed and those who loved them I kept getting one word; PEACE. Jesus said, Peace I leave you, my peace I give to you…wow what a gift…His Peace. I have to stop and wonder sometimes why it was so important for Jesus to give us such a beautiful gift. I’m pretty sure the reason he gave it to us is so we would give it away, in his name, to further his kingdom.
Peace, like joy, happiness and kindness are all a choice. We can choose them and share them or we can let this crazy world whisk us away and fall into days of frustration, confusion and grumpiness…on days like that I always have to stop and ask myself which behaviors will allow me to better serve Christ?
I heard a great story about a 92 year old gentleman who had just lost his bride of 70 years and because of his health and nearly complete blindness he was moved to a nursing home. As a young nurse was wheeling him to his tiny new room she was carefully describing it in great detail. Before they even arrived in the doorway the old man exclaimed with all the excitement of an 8 year old with a new puppy I LOVE IT! A bit baffled the nurse said, but sir you haven’t even seen it yet. The old man smiled, patted her hand and said, “Honey I don’t have to see it, I already choose to love it, I choose to be happy wherever I am. It doesn’t matter how the furniture is arranged, what matters is how my mind and my heart are arranged. I make a choice each morning to be happy and share it.”
What if each person you came in contact with during a day had made the choice to be happy, joyful and peaceful? Wouldn’t life be different! Pope Francis calls us to LOVE WITH RADICAL TENDERNESS…I believe that begins one choice at a time and those choices can certainly make our families and communities welcoming and peaceful. They can create an environment that makes people think “I want what they have!” “If that’s what Christianity is like I want to be a part of it!” God’s peace is welcoming and transforming, we just need to show people what it looks like! How do we do it? Here are two simple things to get us started…
First…Take some time to observe the activity going on around you, is there peace or chaos? Are things done intentionally or in a flurry? Pray about what you noticed and make a conscious effort to choose peace and share Gods peace. We might not be able to change the world but we can change our little corners of it.
Second…Start your day asking God to wrap you in his peace so you’ll have plenty to share with those who cross your path. During those moments when you feel your peacefulness running low reflect on the life of people who accomplished great things peacefully like Mother Teresa and follow their example.
You may be tempted to say I’ve really oversimplified a huge problem and I suppose you may be right, but the only thing we can change is ourselves. If each one of us made a choice to act in peace and mercy I guarantee the whole world would change! So, let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me…now you say it!
A Seed To Plant: Read chapter 14 in John’s Gospel and ask God to wrap you in his peace.
Blessings on your day!
…”Speak Lord for your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:9
When I was growing up, if I would misplace something and say, “I can’t find it!” my dad would always say, “I’m sure it will be in the last place you look.” He was right…it always was but as a kid that line really bugged me! I
think it probably bugged me because what I would have rather heard him say was, “I’ll help you find it.” That simple statement of the obvious and the reality that I was on my own was his very simple way of letting me know I was responsible. If I wanted that missing object badly enough I had to invest the thought, energy and action into finding what I was looking for.
I heard someone say a couple weeks ago, “God just never listens to me!” I’m sure we’ve all felt that way a time or two when things got bumpy but the question that should always follow that statement is , “How well do I listen to God?” As Christians we can be assured of God’s presence in our lives but sometimes we have to do what my dad always pushed me to do and take responsibility for finding His loving presence in our lives. God speaks to us, but it’s not a bold, booming deep voice from the clouds. God speaks to us daily if we’re seeking and listening. There are four ways He makes us aware of his presence, His voice, and His will.
The first place God speaks to us is through Scripture. Once while I was in the middle of a struggle, I tried a dozen things on my own to make it better and finally after no improvement I did what I should have done first and gone to God’s word for strength, comfort and counsel. When I did finally ask God to speak to my heart, I landed in James and these were the words I read; Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. I heard that loud and clear!
The second way God speaks to us is through circumstances. Sometimes we call them coincidences, but God deserves the credit for those things, not fate. God so loves each of us, He arranges and organizes events and circumstances all the time just to show us how much He loves us and cares for us. Keep your eye out for them!
The third way is through people. Sometimes the right person with just the right word comes along at just right time and it seems to change everything. That’s God, speaking through others. A lady shared a story just recently about being in the hospital and as she was being prepped for surgery a nurse walked in to assist and they just “out of nowhere” started talking about trusting God and feeling His peace. She said it completely removed her fear and she rolled down the hall with an amazing sense of calmness and confidence.
The fourth way God speaks to us is through prayer. My husband and I can’t raise our children together if we don’t talk. I can’t teach a room full of middle lovelies if we don’t talk. I think we understand that we would stumble around in such chaos and frustration if we didn’t communicate with each other. Prayer is our communication with God. It’s the most important conversation we have each day but yet it’s the one that sometimes gets pushed to the side when we get busy or frazzled. The biggest mistake we make is to think we don’t have time to pray. That would be like trying to drive somewhere and being too busy to put gas in the car.
If you feel like something’s missing in your life seek the giver of all good things. He will be the last place you look and now you have four choices.
A Seed To Plant: Pick one of the four and start seeking Him. I’m willing to bet the more you seek Him in these four places, the more you’ll find Him.
Blessings on your day!
Continue in what you have learned…2 Timothy 3:14
We’re down to the last few days of the school year and the “to-do” list is big enough to choke a really large mammal. By this time next week the sixth graders will be graduated and my room will be packed away and lifeless. As I scramble to grade the last assignments and exams so I can calculate final grades my mind swims with thoughts of A’s, B’s and C’s. Since minutes are few, I hope you don’t mind if I just offer a quick post about those three letters. Perhaps you could consider this post your quick lesson review for the week!
A: Always be kind, Always put others first and Ask who needs help
B: Be merciful, Be still, and Bite your tongue instead of letting regrettable words slip out
C: Call out to the Lord, Create time for HIM, and Cooperate with His will for your life
A Seed To Plant: Take these ABC’s to prayer and see if God might be prompting you to add some different things to your list of basics.
Blessings on your day!
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