Joyful Words Blog
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.
– Psalm 119:105
– Psalm 119:105
… Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you… Exodus 16:4
I sometimes have this picture in my mind about making it to heaven and having an “orientation seminar” with God and His angels and saints. To amuse myself while driving or doing yucky tasks, I sometimes compose a list of questions I’d like to ask during the Q and A part of that meeting. Some of the questions are biggies and some are completely silly. During a long drive recently, the list of silly questions got pretty long. The list topper that day was, “God, if carrots and cucumbers are supposed to be good for us, why didn’t you make them taste better than things that are bad for us like chips and cheesecake?” I love my fruits and vegetables don’t get me wrong, but seriously, there is a very good reason the summer ice cream shop on the corner doesn’t sell broccoli splits or caramel cabbage sundaes!
This silly question stayed with me for several days and really made me laugh as my morning readings took me to the book of Exodus and the story of the manna. It’s a beautiful story of God and His loving faithfulness. I wondered what it would be like to just see your food appear, morning and night with no effort on your part! Seriously…meals I didn’t have to plan, prepare, serve or clean up…that would be heaven! It didn’t happen once a week; it happened every day. The food was sent in the perfect amounts and nobody had to analyze its protein and carbohydrate ratio, dispute its nutritional density or scrutinize the label. It just came and it was perfect! If you read a little further in the story it isn’t long before the Israelites threw a hissy fit because they wanted meat…it came and then they threw another fit about being thirsty. Each time God answered their whining in a miraculous way. He made it SO easy for them! I have read that story time and time again and I’m always a little stunned that the Israelites could be so whiney and demanding. They lacked appreciation and after all they had witnessed God do for them they still experienced doubt, denial and rebellion. I’m pretty quick to think I would have been a much more faithful dessert traveler. I think I might have even been Moses right hand girl. I wouldn’t have doubted no-sir-re! I would have been awed, amazed and completely obedient. Or would I?
The “or would I” leads me back to my silly question about zucchini verses French fries! Do I have the strength to know the truth and act obediently? Do I know some choices are better for me than others…sure! Do I always make those good for me choices…absolutely not? Do I try to wiggle out of the “hard way or the right way” and settle for the “easy way”…yes I do more often than I’d care to admit probably. So you might be wondering what lettuce, cookies and the Israelites all have to do with one another and here is the connection…strength to trust and follow the will of the Father…especially when there is a choice available that seems easier or tastier or more self-gratifying. I have to be more willing to experience a little self-denial. If I really want to live as a disciple, I have to stop throwing a temper tantrum about silly little stuff that brings me happiness and comfort. I mistakenly think those simple pleasures that bring temporary good feelings matter. The truth is, they can’t even compare to what God has in store for us. It’s kinda like having a bucket of sand and thinking you have a sea shore. It took the Israelites 40 years of wandering…I wonder how much longer I’ll be wandering before I truly master the lesson of living in His will instead of wandering my easy path! The road to the Father is paved one joyfully offered sacrifice and one loving act of obedience at a time. Lord, give me the strength to get to You!
A Seed To Plant: Be consciences of little sacrifices and acts of self-denial you can offer to the Father this week.
Blessings on your day!
…”My Grace is sufficient for you”… 2 Corinthians 12:9
I read a story the other day about a young man who sheepishly approached an older gentleman asking for parts to repair his food truck. He was hesitant to ask because the older gentleman also owned a food truck, and not just any food truck but one of the most popular BBQ food trucks in the area. The older gentleman asked the young man what kind of food truck he had and as he kicked in the dirt a little, he hesitantly answered “BBQ, just like you.” The man laughed, gave the young man the parts he needed and then offered him some advice about how to make his business grow and succeed. Much to the young mans surprise the guy even gave him one of his famous recipes. The young man thanked him sincerely and began to walk away. He made it half way to his car then he turned around and said, “I just have to know why you did it? I’m the competition and you just did so much to help me and I gotta know why?” With a big smile the older man told him that he served a Mighty God who had more than plenty of graces and blessings to go around. He went on to explain that one of the greatest ailments in our world today is greedy competition. We forget our mission on earth is to help each other…help them with their health, their success, their family, their happiness and ultimately to help them get to heaven. With a wink, he said I can’t possibly feed everyone who wants to eat good BBQ myself so I’m helpin you take care of God’s hungry children too. He asked him if he knew his friend Jesus because getting to know him is the best help imaginable. He’s the one who makes sure graces and blessings never run dry and there is never a moments competition for them.
If we stop and think about all the silly things in a day we make comparisons about and all the minutes we spend evaluating and processing it seems pretty ridiculous. Maybe it’s human nature to wonder how we stack up in the eyes of our kids, our parents, our friends or our neighbors but the older gentleman in the story is right, God has plenty of grace and blessing to go around whether we’re the best or the 32nd best at something. God isn’t gonna love me more and give me more grace if my kids are the best behaved in church or get the top grades in school. Social media likes and shares don’t bestow more grace in my day. God could care less if my hair is cute, my lawn is spiffy, my thighs are slim or my cinnamon rolls are blue ribbon quality and always delivered thoughtfully to a neighbor in need. I think some days he up there slathering us with grace just because we got out of bed, fed the kids and threw up our hair with a bread twisty! We don’t have to be the best anything but we are supposed to help someone work toward their best. We’re supposed to lift each other up not be rivals.
I had a mom tell me once that she always pulled into the morning drop off lane at school with hair, makeup and a great shirt and it seemed to make her one of the “fancy moms”. What the others didn’t know was that most mornings she was wearing sweats, pj pants, running shorts and occasionally just her underwear with her long fancy shirts, blazers and sweaters. She admitted playing the game for months and months until one day her son tripped and fell and smashed his science project. As he lay crying on the sidewalk she instinctively jumped out of her SUV and ran to comfort him wearing her fancy top and a pair of her husbands boxers. She said it was one of the moms who had pj pants and a bread twisty hair tie who ran to her aid and gave her a trench coat and a hand with her sons project. She admitted through tears, that was the day she learned what kind of woman she wanted to be…the kind that helped others rather than competing with them…the kind who wasn’t afraid to look like life was hard some days and just showing up was worthy of blessings and grace.
Discipleship is tough work folks and it’s best done with help. Jesus started with twelve but that was the only time there was a limited number! Let’s help each other do the important work of spreading the word and love of Christ…we’re not fighting for “disciple of the year” and God will give us all the grace we need to grow in holiness but I think he might give extra on the days we help another along on their journey to him rather than trying to shove them out of the way to get his attention.
A Seed To Plant: Where do you struggle with comparison? Take that to prayer and ask God to help you swap that for a spirit of peace and glimpse at yourself through his eyes. Then begin each day asking him to point out anyone who might need your help this day.
Blessings on your day!
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. Matthew 22:37
Dave and I spent another great weekend traveling from Graduation party to Graduation party visiting and laughing and celebrating. It’s fun to watch people enter a room and see what they do and how their presence changes the atmosphere of the room. It’s fun to see how people find a seat and navigate the crowd. I did a little people watching this weekend and thought I’d share an observation and a quote today that seemed simple and important.
“God does not germinate in sad souls. He wants a heart that is free and happy.” St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi I noticed this weekend that the sad souls were easy to spot and so were the happy ones. I’ve come to the conclusion that it really has very little to do with life circumstances and personality but a great deal more to do with peace; the kind of peace that comes from contentment in Christ. I’ve spent time talking with lots of folks who were experiencing trials and some who were in the midst of exciting times and there were sad and happy souls in each camp. I believe the happy souls have something bigger than a positive attitude going for them; they have a clear understanding of this verse from Matthew. The truly happy souls love God no matter what and through it all. They are the ones who can talk about the exciting blessings in their life and give God the credit and they are the ones who can talk about the struggles and tragedies in their life and acknowledge God’s presence, wisdom and love in the midst of it all.
The happy souls seemed to think of others first, they ask about you first, they talk about the delicious food and beautiful weather. They take your plate and offer to bring you a fresh drink. They have a servant’s heart and I think there must be a strong tie between a servant’s heart and a happy soul! They are happy and free like the quote suggests because they know they don’t have to be in charge; that is a job reserved for the God who loves them. They are not required to think and plan and organize their lives, they allow God to do that and they are simply left with the task of loving him and loving others. Some of the happy souls were loud and outgoing, some were quiet and reserved but the thing that made them all so beautiful was the way they humbly let the light and compassion of Christ shine on others rather than on themselves. Whether we realize it or not, the happy souls are the ones we gravitate toward because they just make us feel better.
The whole thought of happy souls left me wondering why we make it so hard. The lesson was cemented into my heart last night as I tended our sprouting garden and wondered what kind of soul I was giving God to germinate in. Humm…I’m sure I will be thinking hard about that this week!
A Seed To Plant: Spend some time in prayer this week and evaluate what kind of “soul” you are and ask God to help you be a great soul for him to germinate in.
Blessings on your day!
In the beginning was the Word. John 1:1
Welcome to the first blog from my screen porch! I’ve wanted a screen porch my whole life so I’m feeling pretty grateful this morning. I love entertaining people, but a mosquito is never a welcome guest so I’m pleased to be outside typing with my coffee and no buzzy little friends!
This first week of summer break began with a gigantic exhale and the cutest four month old grandson you can imagine. Gramma duty was the best possible shift from crazy school to lovely summer. While I watch this beautiful, happy little person I realize how much I missed or was too busy to really notice when my own kids were this age. I watched Lewis for ten minutes as he tried to pick up a teething toy and get it into his mouth. I’ve watched him increase speed and agility as he tries to grab his toes and pull them to his mouth. There has been no hurry…no rush…no impatience…no agenda and that has felt amazing. He can take as long as he wants to finish his bottle or fall asleep on my shoulder. As I laid him down for a nap, I realized it wasn’t that way with my own kids because there was laundry and cooking and other kids but with Lewis and summer I’m free to soak it completely in. Absolutely nothing else is important or urgent when he’s here. It made me wonder a few things.
The first thing my wondering led me to decide was that God probably looks at us pretty much the same way I look at Lewis. He probably wants to remind us that he is as mesmerized and dedicated to our every move and accomplishment…all the time, not just a few hours a day. I don’t know about you but I need that reminder often.
The second thing I wondered was what kind of Grandma will I be. I’ve only been at it a few months but I want to be a good one. I also wondered what Lewis will call me when he’s old enough to talk and I even wondered what kind of impact I might have on him and what he would tell others about me when he was older. All of that led me to a book I started reading over Christmas break and didn’t finish. I know I’ve only been out of school a week but I already feel the desire to assign homework. The book is called I AM ______. How would you fill in that blank? How would your family fill in that blank, your friends, your co-workers? And the big question, how would your Father in heaven fill in that blank. I think for most of us, the Father’s words might look different than our own and that’s a summer project! The other big thing I’m wondering is, who are we letting fill in our blank? Are we letting the world fill it, are we filling it or are we taking a cue from the Creator? I think this is going to be some important work this summer so we’ll begin with todays Seed To Plant. Speaking of seeds, landscaping around the porch is on the summer list so I’d better post this and grab my shovel.
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of ten ways you would fill in the blank I AM _____. For extra credit, ask three people to fill it in for you. Then take that list to prayer and ask the Father what he sees.
Blessings on your day!
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Luke 12:34
(This is a re-post but as I’ve been chatting with so many families lately that are just so relieved it’s summer and everyone can slow down and catch their breath a little this post just seemed to fit the time.)
Sometimes summer’s greatest gift is a few extra minutes to catch up on everything that got piled a foot deep during the busy spring! This summer brings those extra minutes none too soon! There are a hundred “little something’s” that need my attention. One of the things that seriously needs my attention is proper grocery shopping. Rushing from spring ballgame to event I ran to the store for emergency goods and just enough to get us through the week. The need for a thoroughly organized trip came to light when we ran out of ketchup two weeks ago. We can have the same bottle in the fridg for a month or two so I didn’t think too much about it. I just made a mental note to make sure hamburgers didn’t appear on the menu until I’d made it to the store. Unfortunately I didn’t really realize how often I needed just a little bit here and there until it was gone. One of the kids asked for meatloaf last week and I need ketchup for that. We were out of milk so scrambled eggs became the breakfast of choice and one of the kids likes just a little ketchup…oops! Then there was the night one of the kids grabbed a burger and fries on the run and brought them home. The girl at the drive thru forgot to throw in a packet of ketchup so what would have been no big deal turned out to be a big “OH MY” when again one of us stared into a ketchup-less fridg. After a while it just became funny. If it weren’t for the groans I’d skip buying it for another week just to see how many times someone reaches for it!
Sunday breakfast is a big deal at our house. It’s one of my favorite times of the week because everyone is usually home and I love having everyone’s feet parked under my kitchen table even if it’s just for 20 minutes! After we got settled at the table and prayed, someone asked for ketchup for the hash browns and I just busted out laughing and promised to go to the store early this week. As we continued with breakfast, I realized ketchup and prayer have some similarities. Sometimes we view them as just a tiny little extra to enhance what’s on our plate. Sometimes the comfort and peace that comes from a consistent prayer life are taken for granted like the ketchup; until we’ve got something on our plate that really requires it. We can even manage to seemingly get along just fine without it for a while until…wham…we need it and get frustrated when we can’t reach out and grab it. And honestly, if we fall out of the habit of consistent prayer we may not even realize it right away. Of all the things on my shopping list ketchup is one of the less expensive items so I didn’t go without because I couldn’t afford it or it was in short supply, I just forgot! Kinda like prayer don’t you think…it doesn’t cost anything to pray, it doesn’t require anything more than stillness and time…but sometimes we forget until we get in a tough spot.
As I get organized for my summer and my fist proper grocery shop in a while I’ll first make sure I take some time to re-organize my prayer time. I really don’t want to run out of ketchup again so it’s a priority item on the shopping list but I REALLY don’t want to run out of great conversation opportunities with my Heavenly Father so I’ll make sure that takes the highest priority…way above ketchup!
A Seed To Plant: Take a look at your summer priorities and make sure you give quiet peaceful prayer minutes the top spot!
Blessings on your day!
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Sheri's writing can also be found at Faith Catholic Publications and on CatholicMom.com