Joyful Words Blog
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.
– Psalm 119:105
– Psalm 119:105
…for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks. Luke 6:45
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the way people speak to others. I was noticing in the airport a couple of weeks ago how people just didn’t seem to hold back or temper their words with compassion or perspective. And in His fanciness, the Father began to point me to words and scripture about my own tongue. I had to laugh when I prayerfully began pondering my own word choices, I read this African Proverb: The tongue weighs so little but so few can seem to hold it. When I got done laughing I started reading in Luke’s Gospel and ran across the verse above. Now that’s an entire Holy Hour in ten words! Even though my heart is buried deep within my chest, my mouth is its perfect reflection. Sometimes that’s a great thing and sometimes not so much! As I prayed with this Gospel, so filled with gems and treasures, I just kept coming back to this one line again and again. The sad reality that washed over me was…sometimes my heart and words are judgmental and fickle.
The Holy Spirit painfully allowed me to see that more often than I’d care to admit, my heart and words were different based on what the person I was speaking to would think of me. I realized that sometimes my heart and words are more patient and kinder because I might get something in return. That led me to discover and prayerfully confess that my heart wasn’t always full of his gigantic love for me. If it was, the only thing that would come forth would be HIS love, HIS attitude and HIS words. I am His creation but I don’t always bear good fruit and that stems from the gunk I let settle into my heart.
If my mouth is complaining and judging and arguing and sassing, my heart needs a “Love of Jesus” refill that only comes in prayer. Keeping my heart right so my mouth follows requires desiring the holiness of myself and of others. It also requires that I contemplate the fact that HIS is the only opinion of me that matters. Praying on those truths should get my tree filled up with HIS good fruit.
A Seed To Plant: Spend some time in prayer with this line and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the people and places that don’t always bring out the best of your heart and words. Pray that the Father will give you the strength to hold your tongue.
Blessings on your day!
For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord…Jeremiah 29:11
I turned the page and I’m blazing into the next phase of this great life God is continuously unfolding before me. At the beginning of this month, I became a retired teacher. It was a decision that involved lots and lots of prayer and it was absolutely the most bittersweet thing I’ve ever done but there has been great peace. I think the peace is a direct result of that 30 minutes for 30 days before Jesus last winter. He has blessed me with contentment and is laying out the next leg of my service like a red carpet before me. I have to trust Him with my whole heart because I truly left the best job on the planet, working with the most amazing group of teachers and staff in the most authentically Catholic school you could ever imagine. Teaching at St. Mary is like working at a Catholic Disneyland and my heart aches a as I step away from my friends, the students and the families who have allowed me to be a part of their children’s lives. It absolutely was a spectacular experience and it will leave a hole! To have been a part of something so wonderful, I am truly grateful to God and the community of St. Mary School.
Just as the thought of retirement was beginning to settle in, my ministry took me to Boise Idaho last weekend to lead a weekend retreat for the Deacons and their wives. The Father showed up in such a powerful way there, that as I got on the plane to come home yesterday my heart was so full, I almost needed a second seat. I marvel that of all the people walking on this planet, He chose me to do this work! As I was reveling at the way the Holy Spirit had been at work over the weekend the next series of events just made me laugh. I have a deal with Him when I travel. I give Him permission to do anything He wants to do with my return flight and I will be grateful and not complain one bit as long as He doesn’t mess with the front end of my travel and gets me where I need to be on time. He took me up on it yesterday in a rather comical way. I actually had a chance to fly standby on a 9 am flight instead of my 3pm flight and I was so excited…but then we boarded the early flight and spent 7 hours on and then many hours in the Minneapolis airport it so I got to Grand Rapids about midnight. I just smiled, told him thank you and sat in my seat and watched 3 movies. He truly is a God of surprises.
I’ve spent a lot of time since I decided to retire praying about what my goals during this next phase of life are. I can absolutely say that being a grandma is priority number one! I cherish every minute I get with my family. Ministry and writing are the second thing that will be a big part of my days but I felt like I really needed a clear purpose. As I prayed and read, being open to His plan, it hit me right upside the head! I was reading and these words mapped it out perfectly. The goal of a life rooted in Christ is; Simply spend each day practicing being like Jesus. There ya go! I love that it said “practice” because being good at anything involves lots and lots of practice. The very next day I read these words in another book on my table; “You will be able to enter Jesus to the extent you go outside of yourself.”
I remember wondering one day in the middle of the chaos of May; what will my days be like? What will my routine look like? What do retired people usually do? Just as I was puddling these and other thoughts in my head, I read these words; “God is calling us to be unusual.” If we live the usual way, we do the same things, watch the same shows, cook the same meals, hang out with the same people, repeat the same activities, worry about the same things and think about the things we should do differently. I guess now is the perfect time to make a list of the ways my days will be unusual!
The final snippet He sent me in my prayer about this next adventure came after a few days of trying to be realistic with my plans and new schedule. “Don’t worry about being realistic, NOTHING Jesus did was realistic, don’t be afraid to be, think and dream ridiculous!” So if the goal is to practice being like Jesus I’m plugging forward with a desire to get outside myself and my desires and plans in unusual and ridiculous ways. I think that sounds like an excellent plan! As I was asking him to show me where to go and what to do, I came across these words of St. Catherine of Siena, “To the servant of God, every place is the right place and every time is the right time.”
A Seed To Plant: Pick one of these quotes and jot it down and pray with it to see where the Holy Spirit might be inviting you to go and grow.
Blessings on your day!
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) 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!
Sheri's writing can also be found at Faith Catholic Publications and on CatholicMom.com