Joyful Words Blog
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.
– Psalm 119:105
– Psalm 119:105
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 toaccept 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..please share the results!
Blessings on your day!
He said to them, “it is not for you to know the the times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Sprit has come upon you…Acts 1:7-8
Every now and again my efforts to be prepared, organized and thorough fall apart like a sand castle in a rain storm! When that happens, I can be positive it’s God serving me a slice of humble pie and waiting with a lesson. I was trying to be all fancy and impressive last week and I had this magnificent new recipe all whipped up in the crock pot ready to go when I left the house to do a hundred things. During one of my errands I chatted with a frazzled mom who was in a rush to get home, get dinner, get one child to swim lessons and another to dance and the third to grandma’s to finish a 4-H project for the fair and then pick up her house before anyone saw the disaster. I thought to myself, poor thing, I’m so glad my dinner is bubbling away in the crock pot and my house is tidy. Now, I certainly didn’t say that and I have certainly been in that mammas shoes more times than I can even count, but in that moment, I was feeling prouder than I should have!
A couple of hours later I pulled in the garage feeling all accomplished and took some groceries into the house and was surprised that I wasn’t greeted by the delicious smells coming from my fancy dinner in the crock pot. Upon closer inspection, I realized the knob was on the low setting as directed, so I of course began to fuss about the darn broken crock pot. As I spit and sputtered, I came to the humbling realization that I had never plugged the stupid thing in! Wow…so much for being on top of everything! The leftovers I served that night were much less impressive and I suddenly felt deflated. Oh, and did I mention my clean floor was now a mess of dirt and broken glass as because I set a plant on the window to get some extra sun and the wind blew it off sending it crashing onto the hard wood floor shattering the pot and scattering the mess clear across the dining room floor. As I began sweeping up the mess the sound of the beeping microwave heating the leftovers reminded me to look for the lesson!
My first attempt at finding the lesson was a little sassy on my part. I actually said, “Well fine, I guess I’m not supposed to be organized and think ahead, you’re trying to tell me I’m supposed to fly by the seat of my pants is that it?” I stomped around the kitchen serving up day old spaghetti and sweeping up dirt while pouting. I’m sure you can imagine how productive that was. Before I went to sleep that nigh I remember thinking with a softer heart, ok God, I’m done pouting please show me the lesson because I’m positive I’ve missed it completely!
The next morning I got word that a friend who had been waiting for weeks to hear about a new job got a call and was hired with a huge bonus and great benefits. I heard about a family who has been waiting for months and months to adopt were suddenly on a plane to California to meet their soon to be born son and that a gentleman who had been suffering from a mystery sickness finally got a diagnosis and the treatment was simple and completely effective and he was feeling miraculously better in just a couple of treatments. After responding to all three of those fabulous messages I sat down to pray in thanksgiving for their good news and came across this verse from Acts. I once again was flabbergasted with the Fathers perfect timing and humorously direct response!
The lesson was a big one; I can be as prepared and organized and fancy as I want but only he knows the details and the timing. I have no power and when I try to think I do and I spend too much time being all puffed up about my “skills” I fail to let him have control and I get caught up in my own efforts and think they matter. He was poking me right in my pride and then he swooped in the next day with not one, but three amazing examples of his perfect timing. I can be as ready and prepared as I want, but I’m not in charge and sometimes I just have to wait. I don’t always get things my way and don’t have all the answers. The lady waiting on the job, nearly took a different one with less pay and no benefits because she was discouraged with the wait. The couple waiting for an adoption thinking God had abandoned them is now at home with their perfect son and the man who suffered for months wound up with a much less serious affliction that is treatable with a simple and inexpensive procedure. There was great blessing on their waiting…I think God was trying to remind me that is always the case! And one more detail to the story, in his great humor, a friend saw that fabulous new recipe I had put in my stupid crock pot on my counter, and she told me not to bother with it because she made it and it was awful! He’s so funny!
A Seed To Plant: What are you waiting for? Take that list to the Father in prayer and give him permission to take his time and then pray for the grace of patience!
Blessings on your day!
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Ephesians 6:11
This verse made me remember a plastic suit of armor the boys had when they were little. One of the boys would wear the armor and the other would wear the Detroit Lions shoulder pads and football uniform and pretend to slay all the bad guys in the county. They were invincible in those get ups. They felt strong and brave and confident as they rode their bikes up and down the lane defending the land. It didn’t matter to them that it was just cheap plastic, what they wore convinced them of something.
That memory and this verse made me think about what our wardrobe says about us. It seems like a simple thing, get up, get dressed and go on with your day but when you think about it WHAT we put on can send a message. We identify police officers, doctors and nurses by the clothes they wear and we automatically assume they will be helpful because of the way they are dressed. We will approach a total stranger in a store to ask for help based on a simple plastic name tag pinned to their shirt. We have the potential to trust, mistrust; judge and misjudge people every day based on what they wear. Does that seem crazy to anybody else?
I guess the big questions are what does God’s armor look like and how often do I wear it? Then it hit me, it’s not really about fabric at all. The clothes we wear may reflect something about our style, profession or personality but they don’t necessarily tell the whole story. I think the armor of God is something we put on from the inside. It can be pretty easy to look at someone’s clothes and assume a thing or two about them that may or may not be correct but the armor of God is unmistakable. Putting it on is intentional, never just a quick grab and go outfit. The boys always needed my help putting on those get ups they used to wear and so it is with Gods armor; we need him to assist us. If we intentionally ask God to protect us and defend us we have to be willing to let him. Wearing his armor means we are protected and safe, but silly humans that we are, we think it means we are now prepared to charge into the world and defeat all the evils much like two little boys I remember in my back yard. God is the defender and we are the defended; the armor of God doesn’t give us a job it gives us peace.
God’s armor is not heavy or clumsy; it’s powerful and designed to fit perfectly. I realized that if I woke up each morning and asked God to dress me in his armor I would be more confident and peaceful and content. I realized I wouldn’t have to worry about harm or evil because nothing is stronger than God. It doesn’t mean nothing bad will happen, it means God will protect me no matter what the circumstance. If I puddled my way through each day without worry or distraction about all the things that might happen or could happen or shouldn’t happen I would have so much more time for great things! I would have more time to pray, more time to help and WAY more time to love. I think I’ll ask God to help me put on that armor right now and leave the defending to him while I get busy with trusting bigger and loving harder…talk about dress for success!
A Seed To Plant: Stop right now and ask God to suit you in his armor and then give him a list of all the things you’d like to be defended from. All that’s left is to trust and be protected.
Blessings on your day!
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3
I like to think I’m a strong, smart, independent woman. I’m not afraid to work hard or get dirty and I’m definitely not a girlie girl, but the other day, ALL that came into question when I found myself standing on the safe side of the garage screen door calling the men in my life for help! One of my summer jobs was to clean the garage and sort through the long rack of coats and barn clothes. It was time to throw out the size 5T snow pants with more holes than swiss cheese and the pink fuzzy winter coat from 1999! It was a yuck job but as I pulled in the garage the day after I finished, I felt pretty accomplished and pleased with the way things looked. As I parked in the garage with a load of groceries, I was admiring my work when I noticed a pair of coveralls moving as they hung on the hook. That was not supposed to happen.
I bravely sat behind the wheel of my Traverse and watched those coveralls sway from side to side thinking, this is not ok! Then I came to my senses and logically concluded it was probably one of the new kittens that had wandered up from the barn and playfully crawled up the pants leg. I got out and walked toward the pants expecting to help the cute little kitty out and send it back to the barn, but as I got closer I could see eyes peering out and then the hissing started. Definitely not a kitten and that pointy snout and loud hiss sent me promptly into the house. My next brave move was to throw shoes at the pants until whatever it was fell out and scampered out the door. After throwing a dozen shoes and boots and nearly breaking the service door window with my awful aim, I heard and saw barn boots wobbling around and was convinced there was a small army of invaders just a few feet from my screen door while my ice cream was melting in the car…something drastic had to be done! That’s when I called Dave! He was doing hay in a field much too far away to come to my rescue so I called Jason who was working from home that day. What transpired upon his helpful arrival involved a snow shovel, a trap made out of a bow target, an 8 ft table and a broom. I’ll leave out the parts about all my jumping and screaming at the sight of the critters teeth and hissing and just let you know one very angry woodchuck made it’s way from the coveralls and boots in my garage to the corn field across the road. I wish I could report a brave and triumphant ending on my part but I can’t. I screamed, jumped, and freaked out like it was a fire breathing dragon and completely depended on my handsome son to save me from my despair! He was so sweet and helpful and didn’t even make fun of me; he just came and helped and went on his way.
That silly woodchuck stuck in those coveralls made me realize how we sometimes approach the troubles and trials in our days. Truth be told, it was a pretty young woodchuck, not an angry mamma woodchuck. The whole thing could have been so much worse but I went from baby woodchuck to dragon in 60 seconds! I let something little grow and multiply in my mind while my emotions just went zooming into action leaving reason and reality in the dust. I got a little tangled up in the hissing and teeth bearing and lost sight of the fact that the problem probably weighed less than 10 pounds and his fear was probably much greater than mine. In hindsight I overreacted comically! Every time I’ve pulled in the garage since that day I look at those coveralls and wonder how many times I’ve gone straight to the dragon without stopping to pray and ask for perspective first. I think about all the times I’ve made something so big in my mind when in reality it turned to be so much smaller and manageable than I pictured it.
Our struggles can sometimes leave us feeling overwhelmed if we’re afraid to ask for help. Things can morph in our minds if we try to handle everything ourselves and bear the burdens on our own shoulders. God loves us too much for that. I really believe that’s part of the reason he put more than one person on the earth so we could help each other and support each other and point and lead each other to him. It’s ok to ask for help, it’s ok to get another perspective and it’s ok to talk down the dragons! We weren’t meant to go solo through this life, we need him and we need each other because you just never know what problems might just crawl up the leg of your coveralls!
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of the trials and troubles that have caused you to become worried and anxious lately and ask yourself these questions; Who have I talked to about it? Who can help? Have I prayed for the Fathers perspective?
Blessings on your day!
… 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. I was weeding my big flower bed (completely yucky task!) recently and 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 has stayed with me for several days. Recently at daily Mass, the first reading has been from the Exodus story. Today’s reading was about Manna; bread from heaven. 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!
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about all the people knee deep in lousy stuff. I have gotten many emails and texts in the past few weeks from people who need prayer to navigate their way through life. There is sickness, distress, family and job difficulties and some of these requests are swirling really close to home. I’m so happy they ask for prayer, and I’ve been praying my little tail off and absolutely; I trust, I believe and my faith is strong as a bolder but every now and again I just wanna say, “Hey, wait a dog-gone minute God, this is all too much!” I’m sure that comment during prayer is followed by a heavenly face-palm!
The big question I’ve been hearing from those folks struggling is, “If God loves us, why does this lousy stuff happen?” I would have to say that’s a completely fair question and I wish like heck I could type an answer to make it all better but here is the truth, A) God doesn’t MAKE bad stuff happen and he loves us even harder when it does and B) Sometimes there isn’t a simple answer to complicated things. With my heart a little heavy, I’ve spent some time prayin, and thinkin and here are some of the things that made me feel better.
There is a big difference in being involved and being in control. God is completely involved in our lives and the more we pray and grow in our relationship with him, the more involved he will be. Because of our free will, God does not control our lives. Some of the distress I’ve been asked to pray for is the result of someone doing something lousy with their free will and leaving others to suffer in the wake of poor choices. God cannot be in control of that but he can absolutely be involved in our lives as we navigate through it if we invite him to meet us there and lead us through. He won’t wave a magic wand and make it all disappear but he will give us the grace and the strength to endure the difficulties if we ask.
Bad stuff isn’t part of God’s plan. He doesn’t give people cancer or trap children in a cave because his “master plan” indicated it’s time for it. That is not how a loving Father operates. If a dad decided to go for a walk with his son, and along the way the son stepped in a gopher hole and hurt his ankle that would be a lousy thing. Lousy as it is, the dad didn’t make it happen. He was absolutely there but he didn’t plan it or want it to happen; he wasn’t in control of it, but you can bet your bottom dollar that he instantly became involved. He felt the hurt, he poured out compassion and comfort and he did everything possible to aid in his sons healing.
If God controlled everything, we might think life would be easier and long gone would be fear, suffering and pain. I suppose in some ways that makes sense but because of our sinful nature (thank you Adam, Eve and Satan) we want what we want and we aren’t always so good at trusting and following the rules, let alone being completely controlled, so this idea has some holes. God doesn’t force his love or his perfect will on us, it’s up to us to choose to love, trust, surrender and follow him. When we’re tempted to think God makes bad things happen it’s good to remember a few truths from scripture. Jesus heals the sick; he doesn’t bring about their illness. Often the healing isn’t physical but it is spiritual and the result of that healing can lead to our salvation. Jesus liberates the oppressed; he doesn’t prolong their oppression. Jesus sets the prisoner free; he doesn’t imprison. Jesus restores a broken creation; he doesn’t further cripple it through disease, suffering, and pain.
When I find myself feeling overwhelmed about the sadness or madness of a lousy situation, I have to reach for the three biggest truth of all. They’re stiff ones and sometimes they go down like vinegar but they are enormous truth spoken in even bigger love. The first; every situation no matter how sad or tragic or difficult, is a situation where God can bring about a greater good. The part that makes that really tough to wrap our heads and hearts around is sometimes we hurt too much to see the good and often the greater good is for someone else. The second; Scripture says, there will be trouble and it is only through suffering we can fully come to Christ. When I realize that, and stop to contemplate the suffering of both the Father and the Son; done for me…it really puts things in perspective. Finally, heaven is the reward, not earth. As humans, we cling to the familiar and fear the unknown. If we could begin to unwrap even a tiny corner of the delight, glory and absolute magnificence of eternal life we would run from this world so fast we’d be nothing but a streak!
The lousy stuff is never what we wish for and it’s never handed out as a punishment but there is love, healing, and even salvation when we truly let the Father get involved and walk with us through the lousy. The lousy stuff is where God shows his power, his compassion and his amazing ability to unite, support and draw people closer to each other and to heaven.
A Seed To Plant: Spend some time asking God to be involved in your struggles or the struggles of someone you love. Trust him and then watch to see the way he works.
Blessings on your day!
Good morning! I happened to be having one of those days recently when I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. There seem to be a lot of tests and trials in my road lately and I was delighted to come across this blog written by an especially lovely, middle lovely! Her words just seemed to be the perfect reminder. Tessa is todays guest blogger and I have a feeling her words might bring peace to many. She is a joyful, beautiful gentle young lady. The only thing more guaranteed than her positive attitude is her steadfast faithfulness.
THIS is the day the LORD has made let us rejoice and be glad, in it. Psalm 118:24
Science is not my greatest subject, too many weird names, numbers and, molecules! It was getting to be the end of the quarter, which meant a test was coming up, but not just any test, a test over the galaxy and space! YIKES! I had stayed up late studying and worrying about the test the following day. Now it was time.
My teacher laid the thick packet of questions on my desk while he whispered,” Shh…” to the class. Whoa! This just got real I whispered, while my palms began to sweat. I picked up the pencil and began to write and write. Then I got to the question I had worried about the most of all, my eyes widened as I stared in fear. Then I glanced toward the crucifix above the door and thought, “What! I thought this test was hard, but compared to his sacrifice this is nothing!” I continued and was very proud of my results! What I learned that day was very important, let God steer your life because only HE knows what to steer you to!
Worry is to joy what a vacuum cleaner is to dirt. I have always tried to remind myself God’s got this as long as I put my full trust in his hands. Well… sometimes stubbornness and worry creep up and it steals your peace, joy, and faith that God really does have your back even on those tough days. We stress, we sin, we lose our trust.
Just admit it, we all make mistakes. That is exactly why God gave us his only son to die for our mistakes. Do we ever take the time to thank the LORD and tell him we love and trust him? Do we worry about what tomorrow will bring? What if I fail the test? What if I’m late for the meeting? What if, What if, What if. The LORD who created you, endured the pain of the cross, and set your sins free is already there for you next week, next year, next life waiting for you… so don’t worry.
A Seed to Plant: What do you need to trust God with? Give him your stress and ask for his soothing peace.
Thank you Tessa; you're amazing!
Blessings on your day
“Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. Matthew 10:40
In our fancy world of advertising, marketing and media promotion, we don’t always get what we expect. A young lady I know decided to order her prom dress online. In the pictures, the dress was lovely and the price was certainly appealing but when the gown arrived it was in a 5x7 envelope and she realized she hadn’t received exactly what she expected.
This verse from St. Matthew’s Gospel is all about our hospitality, discipleship and love of Christ. We are called to bring Christ to everyone we meet. Now, I can wear a crucifix or a Miraculous Medal and people might assume I am a Catholic, but when they receive me, do I offer them the real Jesus. When people receive me, they may not receive the Gospel message Jesus is asking me to live. All too often I’m afraid, I march around coming in and out of peoples lives and what they receive is my short temper, my snap judgements and my impatience, instead of the Father’s mercy and compassion.
The words of Jesus in this Gospel are crystal clear, whoever receives YOU, receives ME. This Gospel challenges us to live our lives as an ambassador for the one who sends us. If Jesus sends us out into the word, we need to realize it really is him we represent, so, if we can shift our focus to “less my way; more Gods way” then we’ll have a better chance of reflecting the one we really want others to receive. We don't want to be the prom gown shoved in an envelope that leaves people confused and disappointed. We want those God puts in our path to know the beauty of the Lord so they can receive the amazing mercy, love and grace he offers.
I suppose the way to really live this Gospel is to ask for help and become mindful. My request today will go like this,; Jesus, I ask you to bless me with the grace to be your hands and feet here on earth today. Be with me in every conversation and interaction with your sons and daughters so that they might receive your love and mercy through me.
A Seed to Plant: Just two questions to ask yourself; Are there people throughout your day that don’t truly receive Christ when they interact with you? How will you invite Christ into your heart so those interactions can change?
Blessings on your day!
Sheri's writing can also be found at Faith Catholic Publications and on CatholicMom.com