Joyful Words Blog
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.
– Psalm 119:105
– Psalm 119:105
"The weeds are the children of the Evil One.” Matthew 13:38
This line in a recent Gospel reading really made me stop and think. Growing up, our family had a gigantic garden. We would can and freeze enough produce to last the whole year with plenty left to give away. I didn’t mind snapping beans or shucking corn or even washing potatoes, but the chore I dreaded was pulling weeds. Some had deep, thick roots; some were vines that tangled their way through several rows, and some were adorned with flowers disguising prickers. They were a destructive nuisance, and they had to be dealt with or they would suck the life out of the vegetables. I never dreamed that even though I moved 800 miles away from that garden, I would still be dealing with weeds in my life.
The weeds I battle these days may not be green and rooted in dirt; instead, they are menacing, distracting, discouraging, and rooted in my heart. The weeds of the evil one I battle these days are called comparison, judgment, dishonesty, greed, and control. When these weeds root too deeply into my heart they choke out the light, life, and truth of the Father’s great plan and His even greater love for me.
The produce from my childhood garden was meant to nourish, sustain, and help us thrive, but it needed to be protected and tended. The same is true of the greatness God wants to provide for me in my daily life now. He will never abandon His children. I just need to hack away the weeds so there is room for only Him in my heart.
A Seed To Plant: What are the weeds that need to be hacked away in the garden of your heart? After you’ve put some things on your list, offer up this short little prayer and then watch God get busy! Good and loving Father, please help me root up all the habits and sins that prevent You from bringing forth beautiful light and life in my days.
Blessings on your day!
We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now; Romans 8:22
Those words were part of the second reading at Mass last weekend and boy did they grab my attention. Anyone who has ever been in a delivery room while a baby makes its way into the world can relate in a very personal way to that line. As I was pondering those words, I scanned the pews in front of me and counted more than a dozen babies and toddlers and marveled at the beauty those labor pains produce and asked God to show me why this verse jumped out and struck me so deeply; a few days later, He did!
Like many of you, I remember vividly and happily the day I got married. I remember Fr. Hasenkamp slowly and clearly saying the vows each of us were to repeat. I remember being so excited and nervous I was afraid I would get lost in my own thoughts and say the wrong thing. I remember promising to love and honor Dave and I remember the part about accepting children lovingly and raising them up in the faith. I thought about that at Mass as I scanned the crowd and looked at all the people there with little ones who had made the same promises I had. You’d think since we all spoke the same promises, we’d be really good at helping each other honor them…but sometimes we’re not.
I get troubled when we turn the wrong things into a competition. We’ve all been the parent of the child who does something that makes us proud and in all honesty, we’ve probably all been the parent of the child who does the opposite. I wish we weren’t so quick to judge other parents when the child falls into group two. Let’s face it, labor was hard but sometimes it doesn’t even compare to how hard raising kids can be. My babies were the size of toddlers when they were born; they all apparently adored me so much they never wanted to exit the womb, and sleeping through the night was definitely not a “thing” with the Three Little Wohlferts. They all walked, talked, whined and had epic diaper disasters at different stages and times and it seemed someone always had advice on what I wasn’t doing right. We need to give ourselves and our kids a break. Our goal is to raise our kids up in the faith and help them get to heaven and quite frankly I think we could all use a little help with that big job now and again. What if we said something kind to the lady in the grocery with the screaming toddler instead of raising our eyebrow and assuming she doesn’t know how to discipline her child. What if we entertained the notion that the fussy baby and the grumpy dad sitting in the same waiting room were sleep deprived, going through a tough time or flat out having a bad day. And just maybe that 9 year old having a melt down at the movie theater has some real struggles and truly didn’t come to ruin your day.
Making assumptions doesn’t help us raise our kids…judging doesn’t help us get our kids to heaven. The labor pains weren’t supposed to be the easiest part! Each family, each child, each parent is on a journey we know nothing about. No one ever said the world needed more competition and comparison! God has an amazing plan for each of us…even the smallest, wiggliest, fussiest, loudest, quietest little person and their frustrated, sleep deprived, proud,loving mammas and daddies. I came across a neat little story that just kind of drove this whole scripture home. It’s a story about a dog and an elephant and the genius of the Loving Father who can do whatever he wants in the time frame he chooses.
The story goes like this. An elephant and a dog became pregnant at same time. Three months down the line the dog gave birth to six puppies. Six months later the dog was pregnant again, and nine months on it gave birth to another dozen puppies. The pattern continued. On the eighteenth month the dog approached the elephant questioning, "Are you sure that you are pregnant? We became pregnant on the same date, I have given birth three times to a dozen puppies and they are now grown to become big dogs, yet you are still pregnant. Whats going on?". The elephant replied, "There is something I want you to understand. What I am carrying is not a puppy but an elephant. I only give birth to one in two years. When my baby hits the ground, the earth feels it. When my baby crosses the road, human beings stop and watch in admiration, what I carry draws attention. So what I'm carrying is mighty and great.". Don't lose faith when you see others receive answers to their prayers. Don't be envious of others testimony. If you haven't received your own blessings, don't despair. Say to yourself "My time is coming, and when it hits the surface of the earth, people shall yield in admiration."
I think it would be a good idea to yield in admiration a little more often!
A Seed To Plant: Do one small thing to support a parent!
Blessings on your day!
The righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father… Matthew 13:43
This Gospel reminds me how much Jesus wants us to “get it!” Not only does he tell the parable but he assembles the followers and explains it again. I can see myself saying, “OK Jesus, lets sit down and you can hit me with it again because I didn’t quite get it the first time.” I am so very thankful that he is patient with my thick headedness and offers us his teaching again and again and sends his Holy Spirit to make it clear in prayer.
I recently had a long conversation with a friend who was having a meltdown due to the “state of the world”. I agreed that there is no shortage of really lousy stuff goin on and I totally supported the meltdown because an occasional hissy fit is good for the soul. When we spew out all our frustration, worry and fear it’s like cleaning house. When we shove out the mess, we have an empty space but it’s up to us what we put back into that cleared out space. If we rant and rave and stay stuck in the yuck nothing good happens to our soul, our attitude or our relationship with Jesus. The point of a great meltdown is to get it all out and the next step is prayer…Lord I’ve cleared out the junk that was sitting heavy on my heart now help me fill it with YOU!
So how does that work exactly? There a couple of questions you can ask yourself. As you feel the yuck creeping back and putting wrinkles in your peace the first question is “Are these thoughts of God or of evil? Remember that God is a God of peace not turmoil. Second question, “Will spending time and energy on this bring me closer to Jesus?” If the answer is no then simply say “I send these unhelpful thoughts to the foot of the cross, Jesus please replace them with joy and peace.” Third, fill your ears, heart and mind with something lovely instead of ugly. Listen to a song or a podcast of a YouTube video designed to bring love, truth, joy or laughter into your day. The greatest strategy for managing the behavior of a toddler is distraction…it works on grownups too. Praying a Rosary for your list of worries and people who are really dancing on your last nerve or who have really hurt you is a powerful tool for doing something good with something awful. At the end of that Rosary close with the words, “Ok God, it’s yours…all of it, I’m letting go.”
When I listen to people say we are headed for sure disaster and the world is dark, I think of two things. God’s mercy and Noah. In God’s great mercy, when we face him at the end of our life we won’t be judged based on the actions, opinions or decisions of others. We won’t be judged as a group or need to provide a list of our known associates on earth. It’s just a solo event so isn’t it great that the only thing we will be judged on, is also the only thing we are in control of…ourselves! His mercy is so fancy isn’t it! As for Noah, he won the award for living among the greatest group of knuckleheads and off the rails idiots and what does scripture say about Noah? Very simply, it says “He was a righteous man; Noah walked in faith with God.” That’s it…that’s what it takes to rise about the yuck of the world; walk in faith with God. Trust him, follow him, talk with him and wake up each day saying, “Hold on God, I’m coming…I wanna belong to you today more than I want to worry and stew and fret about what everybody else is doing.” Say that, take a breath and then remember God can do anything and everything!
A Seed To Plant: Go ahead and have a meltdown or throw a hissy fit, God won’t mind. Then ponder one of the questions or actions in this blog that can help you fill that empty spot well. If you need someone to share your meltdown with, I’m happy to help!
Blessings on your day!
…complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. Philippians 2:5
Complete HIS joy…now there’s a cool thought! Just how do we do that? St. Paul helped us with that answer as he spilled out these instructions in his letter to the Philippians. He said, be of the same mind as Jesus and love like Jesus and give him your whole heart so you become one. Our entire journey to sainthood is packed right into these few words but the trick is putting them into action.
The heart and the mind are truly connected and I find in my own life that if I get my mind right my heart will follow. But getting the mind right takes some doing because there are so many voices fighting for a spot in my thoughts. Attempting to have a like mind to Jesus takes some focus for sure. Truly understanding how someone thinks often requires a change in perspective. Managers at Disney properties spend some time each week observing a section of their space from their knees. Since their focus audience is children, they work hard to see what they see and think what they think. What if we applied the same practice? What if we got on our knees in prayer to see things from Jesus’ perspective? What if we made it our mission to think, love and act like him in every interaction, problem, celebration and encounter during our day? When marketers try to sell us a product they try to get into our thoughts and they often use a motto or slogan to get things to stick. Maybe we need to do the same!
If you were to come up with a motto for your journey toward Jesus what would it be? If we each had a motto that summed up our desires to live out our sainthood, we could use it like an anchor to ground us in our mission to have the same mind as Christ. It’s not a new idea but it’s a great one that could be powerful. In order to help me create my own, I studied those of other really holy folks. Maybe by sharing a few you can begin to ask the Holy Spirit to help you create one for yourself.
**Pope John Paul II: Totally Yours (Totus Tuus)
**Pope John XXIII: Obedience and Peace (Obedientia et Pax)
**Jesuit Order: For the Greater Glory of God (Ad maiorem Dei Gloria)
**Franciscan Order: Peace and Good (Pax et bonum)
**Dominican Order: To praise, to preach, to bless (Audare, benedicere, praedicare)
**St. Elizabeth of the Trinity: God in me, I in Him
**St. John Henry Newman: Heart speaks to heart.
**Catholic Author Claire Dwyer: Respect life, Revel truth, Radiate love
**St. Mary 6th grade Class of 2022: Do good work
**St. Mary School: We will come to know God, love God and serve God and his people
What will your motto be? What words or phrase will serve as a great reminder to take on the mind of Christ so we can complete his joy and enjoy heaven in His presence? It doesn’t have to be long or Latin, just something to snap your mind to attention. When the kids were little and they got near the stove all I had to do was say “No, Hot!” and they instantly cut and ran. I need something that helps me cut and run from the ways of the world and the grip of temptation and sin. I need a little something to remind me not to judge, compare, gossip or stick my nose into business that isn’t my own. I need a little something to help me change my perspective when I’m not being of the mind and heart of Jesus.
A Seed To Plant: Pray about your motto. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you start with a list of words and ideas you can pray with and use to create a motto designed to help you think with his mind.
Blessings on your day!
Sheri's writing can also be found at Faith Catholic Publications and on CatholicMom.com