Joyful Words Blog
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.
– Psalm 119:105
– Psalm 119:105
and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. Mark 12:30
There are a few things that I’m ok with having just a part of. I don’t mind mowing part of the lawn or washing part of the windows or eating part of the brussle sprouts, but there are some things I want all of! Carrot cake, my favorite movie for the tenth time and baby giggles are just a few of those things I want ALL of! As I read these words from St. Mark not long ago my mind seemed to get stuck on the word “all”. Four times he said it; all, not part or some, but all. After sitting with this verse for a bit I realized there was a lesson!
I think I’m often guilty of “how much will do” thinking. I sometimes want to do things in a hurry with just enough effort to say I’ve finished but I can honestly say I don’t always go that extra mile with the stuff that’s not my favorite. I can wash all the downstairs windows and rationalize skipping the upstairs windows because the boys aren’t living up there anymore so who will notice. I can feel pretty good about sweeping around the garage rugs instead of picking them all up, giving them a good shake and doing the job with full effort. As I’ve been thinking about the word ALL, I’ve had to ask myself how many things do I just stay on the edges of without fully jumping all in.
Many times the past several days the Lord has gently drawn my attention to the things that I just puddle around the edges of. I say I want to grow in my knowledge of Scripture but what have I really done to make that a reality? I say I want to get healthy and loose weight but have I gone all in to make the necessary changes, or do I just want to do a few things and pout because the result isn’t what I’d like. I can say I want to see others with eyes of mercy instead of eyes that judge but am I really prayerfully trying to make those changes? I can say I want more time to read things that fill my soul with goodness but how many minutes a day do I waste scrolling through Twitter and Face Book? I can say I want to do more acts of service and charity but what am I actually doing to serve? If all my thoughts remain just thoughts, I’ll continue to skirt the change and hover on the edge. I don’t think that’s the best plan!
Christ reveals himself to us in several ways and Scripture is one of them. I think in this verse he had a lot to reveal to me. I’ve spent the better part of two weeks thinking and praying about how giving him my ALL connects to the silly things I can’t seem to get right here on earth. Seriously, if I can’t go all in with the fruits and vegetables or with the off button on my computer how can I expect to ever be able to love him with ALL my heart, soul, mind and strength? I got a little rattled just thinking about the consequence of living my faith on the edge instead of all in! It was right at that moment of; “holy cow, I’m in big trouble”, that he made me realize the two are intimately connected. Learning to go all in with things of earth is how we learn to go all in for him. If I were to offer each of those tasks I’m on the edge of to him as an act of love, he will meet me where my strength ends and carry me through the tough parts with his mighty strength. I need to trust that his power is more than enough and his grace is sufficient. I have to ask him to meet me in those situations where I’m on the edge and ask him to walk with me and help me give my all…for HIM not for me! Sounds simple doesn’t it! I’m ready to get off the edge, go all in and make some things happen. How about you?
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of the things you’re on the edge of? Lift those things up the the Father and ask him to help you go all in!
Blessings on your day!
Wait for the Lord, take courage; be stouthearted, wait for the Lord! Psalm 27:14
Wait is not my favorite word! I’m more of a GO kind of girl rather than a WAIT kind of girl! I saw a great quote the other day that said “Our willingness to wait reveals the value we place on the object we’re waiting for.” It made me stop a while and think about my posture and attitude while waiting, needless to say, I didn’t really like what I discovered about myself. After seeing this quote, I “stumbled” across this verse from Psalm 27 that contains the word WAIT twice…out of only twelve words total! Think there is a message there? I’m passing it along to all of you today and I sure hope I’m not the only one who needs it!
After God was done whapping me upside the head, I had to stop and figure out what I was waiting for. As I began to make my list, I realized some of the things were pretty silly. When I thought about how much I actually valued some of the things on my list I understood why waiting is hard. Most of the things on my list weren’t important enough to wait for or really even wish for so I crossed all those off the list. When it boiled down to the bottom of the pot here’s what I learned; the only thing on my list really worth waiting patiently, courageously and stoutheartedly for…is meeting Jesus. Most of the stuff on my list, like Godly spouses for my children or happy retirement will just come in Gods own time, but Heaven…that’s the one I need to focus on. I suppose if my focus is really truly there every day, everything else will be just as God desires…in his time…for his purpose and in his ultimate perfection. As I came to this conclusion my peace was interrupted by panic when I thought, what if God doesn’t give me what I’m waiting for? Then my heart answered my mind as only God can instruct it to and I heard; if he doesn’t give me what I’m waiting for, that means he’s got something better…just wait and see!
Here’s another thought I have about waiting, it isn’t work. It doesn’t require great effort like scrubbing the porch or organizing the office files or losing 40 pounds. (All silly things I’ve been waiting for…I told you there was some silly stuff on my list!) If we truly live the words of this verse from Psalm 27 our lives will get instantly calmer, more peaceful and much easier. I’d like to end this post with a passage from Jim Beckman’s book God Help Me, “Think of the image of a sailboat. The boat doesn’t do anything burdensome to respond to the wind in its sails – it simply moves forward propelled by the wind. The sailboat responds by moving forward, but it is the wind that is carrying it.” What are you waiting for? If it is something of great value than be still and know God will provide the wind to move your sailboat! I’m thinking it just might be the perfect time to wish for a sailboat instead of a speedboat!
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of all the things you’re waiting for. (Silly ones too!) Tuck it away for a day or two. When you get it back out, ask God to give you eyes to see his plan and his timing as you evaluate each item on your list and think about its value.
Blessings on your day!
Good morning! Just a quick little note to let all of you know I've gone camping! I'm unplugged and downloaded for a few days but I'll be back next week with more joyful words!
Blessings on your day!
Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap or gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they are? Matthew 6:26
The porch is open…summer may now begin! The flowers, the chairs, the cozy rug; it’s all part of the little piece of heaven on the north facing side of the house. My morning prayer chair will sit empty for the better part of the next 3 months and the kitchen island discussions will change because both of those important activities have been re-routed to the porch. I love the view, the breeze, the peace and the beauty. I love all of it ,but two of my favorite parts of the porch are the wind chimes that were a gift from great friends when Dave’s dad died and the hummingbird feeder that both hang from a Shepherds hook in the flower bed at the end of the porch.
One night last week Dave and I watched some cranes in the corn field across the road. They were huge! I watched in wonder as their giant necks bobbed across the rows and called back and forth to each other. As big as they were I would have expected them to be clumsy but they were quite graceful. Even though the group was separated by a couple of acres every so often they’d call to each other as if to make sure their friends were still nearby. It was quite a lovely show.
The other morning there was quite a wind and I laughed out loud as I watched a determined little bird try to get to a different tree. It was flying against the wind and the little thing was flapping his wings madly trying to go and it was if he was just stuck in the same place, mid-air, flapping and going nowhere. After a few seconds of flapping, he let up just a bit and the wind sent him tumbling beak over tail feather straight back to the tree he was trying to leave. I felt kind of sorry for the little guy but it was pretty hilarious!
Today we sat and watched in awe as the hummingbirds danced and flitted between the feeder at the end of the porch and the maple tree just a few feet away. Hummingbirds are fascinating to me. Some sound so loud and others are quiet as a whisper. We watched as one flew to a bare branch in the tree and as it landed it was so soft and tiny the branch showed absolutely no movement when he landed.
I’m not really a bird watcher but seeing these three groups of feathered friends showed me a lesson or two. My porch is a great place to learn so here’s what hit me as I rocked in my glider.
*Each was a bird, they could fly, they had a beak and feathers but yet I marveled at how different they looked. The size, the color, the shape, the sound….all so very different and with birds you’d never expect it to be any other way so why do we expect it to be that way with people? Why do we try so hard to be like others and fit in when we, like the birds I watched from my porch were specifically created to be different? God didn’t make a mistake when he used such originality and creativity with those bird. I need to remember the same is true for humans. The Hummingbird isn’t better because it’s tiny and the Crane isn’t better because it’s big and graceful. Each is perfect in it’s design!
*That bird wildly flapping against the wind must look just like me when I try to do things my own way and forget to follow the will of the Father. I wonder if he giggles at me too when I wind up right back where I started!
*I laugh when I think what it would look like if the Crane would try to daintily sip from the Hummingbird feeder or if the Hummingbird would try to cry out loudly to the friends in the beans an acre over. I think of the times I try to put myself in places and situations where God hasn’t invited me and it doesn’t look anything like that Hummingbird silently and stealthily landing on the tree branch.
Thank you God for using your beautiful creation to teach me a thing or two this first week on the porch. I’m looking forward to more lessons! Oh, and thank you for the beautiful world that surrounds my porch! The only thing that would make my porch better is company so if you’re on Pratt Road plan to stop for a visit!
A Seed To Plant: What are you gazing at this summer and what is the Father trying to teach you?
Blessings on your day!
In my distress I called to the Lord…Psalm 18:6
If our high school would have had a debate team, I would have been absolutely the last person picked to be on it! I’m amazed at the way some people can eloquently deliberate a topic with conviction and finesse. Still others can bark an opinion and slam you with a defense that leaves your head spinning. I simply smell controversy or conflict and nearly trip over my own feet trying to get away from the conversation! We all have our own opinions and we all have the ability to make choices but that doesn’t mean we are obligated to yell them out. As Christians, it’s up to us to make sure our opinions and choices are based on truth and rooted in Scripture and Church teaching. Seems simple enough right?
As a society we don’t like to be told what to do. We aren’t so good with rules and regulations and I wonder if that is because there are so many voices yackin we can’t even hear the truth anymore. I’m not sure what happened to right and wrong; good and bad but we seem to live in a world full of clauses and sub-groups and exceptions. Some days I think gray is the most popular color in America. A very wise man I know always used to say, “Just do the right thing and keep your mouth shut.” Imagine what would happen if everyone was told to follow that advice for a day! What would happen if everyone was told they couldn’t say one thing for a day unless it was based in truth and steeped in Scripture?
A person could get pretty upset and discouraged with the state of affairs we seem to be in right now; but then that’s exactly what Satan wants. He would be delighted to think he’s reduced us all to a society of bickering, selfish, self-centered, slandering, lying, cheating, stealing idiots. He would be delighted to think we’ve forgotten our mission to seek the truth, live the truth and love the God who created us. Well news flash…WE HAVEN’T! I have come to realize a couple important truths of my own in the last couple days that seemed to yank me right out of my disappointment with our current state of affairs. The first; when we get to heaven we won’t present a summary of our best earthly actions nor will we be judged in groups. We are flying SOLO so it is our sole responsibility to make sure the choices we make and the opinions we base our actions on are in line with the will of the Father. One thing that is not gray…following the will of the Father is often very hard! He cares about our character not our comfort. The second; God is bigger than anything going on here on earth! He’s mightier than any ruling, leader, mandate or current event. He’s the one we should be aligning ourselves with, seeking protection from, gaining wisdom from and hanging on every word from. In order to do that well; to really follow His lead; we need to spend time in conversation with him. What would happen if the next time we see a post, or hear a news report that bubbles up our blood we stopped before reacting and spent a moment or two in prayer. Before we spout off our opinion what if we asked the Holy Spirit to inspire our words to be truthful and steeped in Scripture? God is bigger, richer, stronger and mightier than any of us combined but in order to see all of that clearly revealed to this hurting world, we have to live like we love him and become a world that prays first before anything else!
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of three “things”, “people”, or “groups” that seem to bother you most. Your task for the next week is to pray consistently for those three things. In your prayer, ask God to guide your actions and reactions to those three things.
Blessings on your day!
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27
Have you ever noticed how many times things don’t go exactly as you think they will? Today is one of those days. In my plan, I was going to get up at 5 and get on a plane at 7 and be home from Houston by 3. Then the texts started coming…delay after re-book after new city. Instead of a quick trip home, I’m sitting in Philadelphia (because Houston to Philly to Grand Rapids makes perfect sense…right!) and should be in my driveway by 10 tonight. Not the plan I had cooked up, but I decided early this morning it was going to be an “eyes wide open” kind of day. I’m glad I made that choice because I saw a lot of cool stuff.
By 6:30 this morning I was already in a customer service line arranging my first re-book and I just watched the people in front of me in line. I watched a young man who had a walker to balance his unsteady body as he tried to walk on his new prosthetic leg. He was managing a huge suitcase and a walker and a wobbly body, just wanting to get home after a long medical stay in Houston. He was quiet and patient as they got him re-situated and I was impressed with his strength and his smile in spite of his physical challenges. He showed me perseverance and gratefulness.
The lady in line next to me at the counter was throwing a huge hissy fit because she was going to have to sit in Miami an extra two hours before she could get to her ten day vacation in Aruba. She was mad at the clerk, she was mad at her husband and when she said she was so mad she thought she was going to have a panic attack, I just touched her elbow and told her I’d say a prayer that her travel panic would calm. She immediately softened and settled…God is so good. I handed her a tissue to wipe her tears and she went on her way more calmly. He showed me how he can soften, strengthen and bring peace when we ask.
Two hours later, I got in line again to re-book and standing in line in front of me was a toddler who had just had it. As her daddy set her down to hand his paperwork to the ticket agent, his daughter went into a full out melt down. She cried, rolled on the floor and sobbed. Over and over she kept saying, “Daddy I want you to hold me!” She was hot, hungry, tired and overwhelmed. Once her daddy finished what he was doing, he picked her up and she was instantly calm and peaceful. Although it would be more appropriate for me to pray than roll on the floor screaming for my Father to pick me up, he showed me that he’s what I need and when I call to him and trust that he hears me, he will bring me the same peace and comfort that toddler found in the arms of her daddy.
As I sat in busy airports all day I saw fancy people, frumpy people, happy people, shiny people and cranky people. I saw people excited about going places and people disappointed about their destination. I saw thousands of people, each with a different story but each with a common thread. No two people looked the same or waited the same or interacted the same, yet, each and every one of them were created in the image and likeness of God. Each one was made was fearfully and wonderfully made. Today, he allowed me to sit and marvel at the wonder of his creation. Thank you Father for letting me see how creative and wonderful your work is even when it wasn’t my planned activity for the day!
A Seed to plant: Take some time this week just to watch people and marvel at the creativity of our Creator.
Blessings on your day!
Who doesn’t love a great story about a boy and his dog! Today’s post is about that and more. It’s about friendship, faith and disappointments. Those are all a part of life and trusting God in the midst of them is a wise thing to do. Todays guest blogger is wise beyond his years and speaks from the heart. Kyle is an optimistic, strong, faithful young man who has one of those smiles that can light up a room. He is writing about his dog in this post but Kyle knows this lesson on a much deeper level. Kyle lost his mom after a courageous, inspiring, and grace filled battle with cancer when he was in the fourth grade. He has shown us all what it truly looks like to be a faithful disciple who seeks the love and peace of God when trials and disappointments come.
“You are looking for Jesus Of Nazareth… He is risen! He is not here.” MARK 16:6
I use to have two dogs. They were awesome! They would play with each other. They were great hunting dogs. They were a lot of things. People say all things come to an end. I don’t believe that. One of the dogs died and one ran away. Does that mean it was over? It doesn’t, because we got another dog and that one was even more awesome! Instead of having two dogs that were buddies; WE were buddies. Whenever I did something wrong and felt bad I went straight to my dog. My dog never judged me and was always by my side. My dog was always there for me.
What God is saying in this scripture verse is that if you lose something, something good will come. Even better than my dog, God will just always be there no matter what. If you do something wrong God will be there for you, if you feel bad, God will be there for you, if you need the best friend of all, God will be there for you.
My dog and I are close but I have to ask myself, what should I do in your life to grow closer to God. You have to relate his presence to real life situations. You have to always think about what you can do to be a stronger disciple.
A Seed To Plant: Read a Scripture verse each day, just one per day. Then all you have to do is try to relate. See what you can do to grow closer to God. Be the best disciple you can be.
Thank you Kyle, you are amazing!
Blessings on your day!
So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone…1 Samuel 17:50
Hands down David and Goliath is an Old Testament favorite among the students every year. I re-read it to some students for about the tenth time not long ago and the sling shot seemed to stay in my mind. (no pun intended) It’s really a crazy story when you think about it. What are the chances we could really inflict great bodily harm using a sling shot? Since I can’t hit the refrigerator with a rubber band, you can probably breathe easy if I come toward you with a sling shot because odds are good my shot won’t be within 5 feet of my target! It was such an odd weapon of choice for David don’t you think? I wonder what the giant must have thought as this very young soldier stood before him with it…did he find it insulting or funny or insanely ridiculous? I wonder if it made him angry or if he just wanted to bust out laughing.
Lately I seem to be confronting the “giants” in my day with a sling shot! Although David was able to conquer with it, I’m afraid I’m not so successful. I seem to keep missing the target and I wonder what God must think as he watches me wildly fling stones around and not really conquer the things that creep between us. I’m sure on some occasions He must have a good laugh at me; I must look like a nut throwing sand at an approaching army. I do believe I often miss the WHOLE point of the David and Goliath story. It wasn’t about David and his sling shot at all…it was about the power of God working through an open, trusting and expectant heart. David didn’t doubt, he just knew God would conquer. The truth is, David could have faced that enemy with a paper clip or a cotton ball and defeated him because it was the power of God that did the work not the power of man. I’m not so good at living that part of the story. I still think with enough practice, my sling shot and I will get better…NOT! It's not about the size of the battle or the weapon, it's the size of the faith and trust that determine the outcome.
Sometimes I add to the story. I continue reading as if the words are really there and tell the story about how David did a big end zone dance joyfully proclaiming his greatness as a sling shot shooter. Then he goes to King Saul and demands more pay and more fame and tells his story of greatness again and again. I can always count on at least two or three kids to realize I’m making that part up and that leads into a very important lesson in humility. Perhaps in my own quest for greatness I forget who really needs to aim my sling shot and why.
So we’ve reached the part in the story where I need to make a choice. Either I need another weapon to slay the sinful enemies and giants in my life or I need to let someone else aim my sling shot because I am a lousy shot! Let me see...I think I’ll try a little harder to go with the second choice!
A Seed To Plant: Read the story of David and Goliath and then seriously contemplate the things you’re trying to slay with a sling shot and then figure out which ones you need to hand over to God’s precise aim.
Blessings on your day!
Sheri's writing can also be found at Faith Catholic Publications and on CatholicMom.com