Joyful Words Blog
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.
– Psalm 119:105
– Psalm 119:105
He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. Psalm 25:9
Everybody loves a great story. The best stories are the ones that have been told many times over and handed down from generation to generation. There is something really special about hearing a story of someone who lived in a time or place I can only imagine. I suppose the Bible is the perfect example of the importance of preserving a story by sharing and passing it down. Today’s post is some great stuff about living ; it has passed from generation to generation, then to a friend, then to some kids who may not really understand it yet, and to a teacher who thought the message was far too wonderful not to share. Get ready though, this story contains some information that is quite contrary to what the world would have us believe so prepare to do some big thinking.
The story I’d like to share comes from a very good and wise man named Gordon Krupp, father of the awesome Fr. Joe Krupp. The story came to the middle lovelies and me via our new principal, Mr. Thelen who worked with Fr. Joe. The story is about the basic rules for living; but before you can put the rules in action, you have to be clear about the purpose of living. The whole reason God put us on this earth was so we could return to him. Our main purpose in life can’t be to get rich, powerful and have the best stuff. The purpose is to get back to HIM. With that thought in mind, let me share the story.
A life worth living is worth living right so here are the 5 basic rules for life.
Rule #1: Life is hard.
Rule #2 You are not important.
Rule #3 Your life is not about you.
Rule#4 You are not in control.
Rule #5 You are going to die. (Mr. Thelen didn’t share this one with a room full of 12 year olds☺)
Two sub notes…God blessed us all differently and God definitely has a sense of humor.
So how’s that for a big dose of set you straight honest truth! As Mr. Thelen was sharing these rules I began to think of the people I admire or I am inspired by and these seem to be the rules they live by. These are the rules for people who are giants of humility and service. These are the rules for people who are joyful and peaceful. These are the rules for people who don’t complain, argue or compare. These are the rules for people who love Jesus with their whole heart. These are the rules for people who make life better for everyone and give us all a little glimpse of heaven here on earth.
When we watch the six 0’clock news and shake our head in discouragement, let’s think about what the news report would sound like if we all followed Mr. Krupp’s rules for life. Let’s think about how spoiled and selfish we can be when we have to wait at a stoplight or check-out line or when we don’t get immediate friendly service. Let’s think about how annoyed and offended we get when someone else gets credit even though they don’t work as hard as we do. Let’s think about how much time we spend trying to create the perfect life filled with all the latest, impressive, most convenient stuff. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s time for me to start thinking more about the story of the five rules and less about myself.
I think I’ll start with rule number 2! I think I’ll take Blessed Mother Theresa as my example as I begin to work on this one. She achieved such greatness but never once entertained the notion that she was important; only that God was and we know that he worked in mighty ways through her humble heart. Lord, help me think more of you and less of me! Thank you Mr. Krupp for wise words that can serve as an excellent compass pointing toward Our Father!
A Seed To Plant: Post the five rules somewhere visible and begin living them today!
Blessings on your day!
Faith in God includes faith in his timing. Habakkuk 2:3
I gave the oldest middle lovelies a task last week and they met the challenge with flying colors. Their work was so great I just had to share! I gave each of the students a paper billboard and asked them to design a colorful and meaningful message that would help others understand the importance of faith. I told them I would hang the best ones in the hall. They were so good we hung them all throughout the entire building. We had been discussing the gift of faith given at Baptism, and the faith of those in Sacred Scripture but the challenge was to make the meaning come to life for their peers in easy to understand language. I hope you find their messages as inspiring as I did and I hope you finish this post with a fresh perspective and some words to ponder.
*Faith doesn’t make things easy; it makes them possible.
*Faith is bigger than fear.
*Faith is like soap: you can never really use too much.
*Faith is not hoping God can, it’s knowing He will.
*Faith is not knowing what the future holds, it’s knowing who holds the future.
*Faith is seeing light with your heart when all your eyes see is darkness.
*Worry ends when faith in God begins.
*Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.
*Faith doesn’t make sense, that’s why it makes miracles.
*Faith can move mountains but don’t be surprised if God hands you a shovel.
And one of my very favorites… Faith is like a disease…it spreads quickly!
A Seed To Plant: Pick one of the thoughts above and pray with it for the week.
Blessings on your day!
Do everything without grumbling and complaining and faultfinding and questioning. Philippians 2:14
I’m pretty sure St. Paul also meant to add the word arguing to that list too. This verse from Philippians just so happens to be the first set of WOW words for the middle lovelies this school year. They are not the words I had chosen and written in my lesson plan book but somehow on Monday morning they were the ones that jumped off the page as I was searching for the verse I had planned. That always means they are perfect for somebody! As we read, wrote, discussed and privately reflected on this verse the reactions were hilarious. I thought I’d share some of my favorites.
*Seriously, that’s like a real rule we’re supposed to follow?
*If I stop saying all that stuff my mom will never hear my voice!
*Does getting into Heaven have anything to do with that verse because if it does I’m in big trouble!
*Is this information just for kids or for everybody?
*I think I’d like to ask my parents to read this verse because if I have to try to live by it I think they should too.
*Seriously, can anybody besides Pope Francis even do that?
*I could probably do better with this if my mom would quit trying to make me eat vegetables every day.
As you might imagine, there has been a lot of great discussion! I would love to read their prayer journals and see how they responded to the question; “What’s your plan to live this verse?” One middle lovely asked me if I picked hard verses on purpose. I seriously have the best job ever!
As I have prayed with this verse myself this week I have been tested as I try to live it. It’s amazing how many times I find myself stumbling over these words. It all reminded me of a quote I heard last year that said; “Complaining is the greatest form of selfishness.” That quote stings because each time I grumbled or complained this week it was because something happened that wasn’t convenient or easy or pleasant for me. This verse shines a light and as the middle lovelies and I have discovered, we don’t always like what we see in the light. One of the middle lovelies asked, “How am I ever gonna stop this?” Before I could reply, in chimed the perfect answer, “If we pray more and think of the stuff people are good at we will have less time to complain and say nasty stuff.” Well put don’t ya think!
A Seed To Plant: Write this verse down and stick it in a few places. When you’ve let it wash over you a few days, keep track of the number of times in a week you are tempted to do exactly what the verse tells us not to. What if we all followed that smart middle lovely’s advice?
Blessings on your day!
…I know the secret of living in abundance and of living in need. Philippians 4:12
Ok that verse isn’t entirely true…except for my tomatoes. We have been trying to grow a great crop of tomatoes for more than a decade and between bad soil, blithe, weather and the year the cattle got out and trampled the garden it just hasn’t happened. Up until last year, I’ve been lucky to have good friends with great gardens offer their surplus so I could always have at least a few tomatoes to can. Those precious jars were used sparingly like they were red gold! Last year though nobody had any to spare because the blithe took out everyone’s tomatoes. Last fall after the Clinton County tomato disaster I decided to call in expert reinforcements. I called on a good friend named Margaret who is a gardener extraordinaire and she taught us a thing or two (or ten) and we put in a big raised bed with new soil and compost from the compost bin she helped us create. When spring came we carefully planted, watered and waited! As the weeks progressed the plants got HUGE! Then the blossoms started popping out and then those long awaited tiny green tomatoes…we were so excited! Then we waited forever for the lovely green to turn to red! They say God has perfect timing and I suppose He does but waiting until the week before school started to can tomatoes was not my definition of perfect timing! But…we are so happy to see the pantry shelves fill up there won’t be any complaining here!
For some reason, the Roma tomatoes aren’t any bigger than my thumb. Tomatoes that size pose a bit of a challenge. They take forever to pick and standing at the sink peeling those tiny little things is chewing up a hunk of time but I’m so happy to have them I decided to alter my perspective! I realized I was going to be canning tomatoes at least every two days for the month of September so I needed to find a good way to use that time and focus on the abundance of tomatoes and blessings; that’s when God stepped in and showed me a thing or two. I thought I’d share my tomato lessons!
*Still is a good thing to be! Peeling tomatoes is not a high action sport so He gently reminds me I can pray and peel at the same time.
*Some time the most beautiful things are hidden a bit and need a little effort. Pearls are protected in a shell; gold is preserved deep in the rock and those little red tomatoes are hidden deep in the center of those giant plants. If something great is worth having, it’s worth a little work.
*The big tomatoes heap over the tops of the buckets and look a little overwhelming but they are peeled, cut and in the jars lightning fast compared to the tiny ones so I guess things aren’t always what they seem at first glance.
*When I’m done picking and walk in to the sink my fingers are stained but as the soap starts to foam up on my hands it turns green and washes down the drain. Sometimes I have to make a second or third attempt before the dirt and stain are washed away. That reminds me of the second chances God gives me and the loving way He hangs with me just waiting to wash me clean in His infinite mercy.
*As I look at the dozens and dozens of jars of tomatoes in my pantry I realize we started with six inch plants and I am amazed. Each time I take another batch of freshly canned jars down to the basement I am reminded that God can do anything he wants!
We serve a mighty God! The tomatoes in my garden are his creation and so am I, but I don’t stop often enough to consider what an amazing thing it is to be his creature.
A Seed To Plant: Spend the week picking out amazing things God has created and just marvel at the work of His hands.
Blessings on your day!
...then he looked up to heaven and groaned and said to him, “Ephphatha!” that is “Be opened!” Mark 7:34
It’s funny how memories from long ago flood back at random times. As the middle lovelies all came back to school this week and we began to talk about all the things we would do and learn I explained that we had to be open to what the Lord wanted to teach us and speak to us. One of the middle lovelies remember the Gospel reading from Sunday and we began to talk about the word “Ephphatha” which means be open. This particular Gospel is about Jesus healing a deaf man. I was impressed with the memory and connection from something he had heard several days earlier. I realized I needed to bring my A game to school this year! As we were in the middle of a great discussion about being open and being ready I remembered Shannon’s baptism and a piece I had written about being open. In honor of one really smart middle lovely I decided to share it with everyone today.
The day our daughter Shannon was baptized is a day I’ll never forget! The day was memorable for some very obvious reasons like the religious significance and the celebration with family but it had an even greater significance in my life as a Catholic mom. I remember standing at the Baptismal font feeling very uncomfortable in the panty hose and skirt that were too tight on my “just had a baby” body. I was distracted by Shannon’s 2 and 4 year old brothers who were being wiggly and silly sitting on big cousins laps watching. I remember worrying about the meal I would soon be serving to 40 people and then I heard the word, “Ephphatha!”
The word was spoken to my baby girl but it seared my heart! It bolted me to attention and drew me to task with shock. God was inviting and commanding the newest member of his church to be open to his Word and his Will but I felt him speaking those words to me that Sunday morning and suddenly it seemed like the whole world melted away. I didn’t notice my pinched waistband or my noisy boys, all I noticed in that moment was openness and a burning desire to stay opened. Shannon began to squirm in my arms as she lay there wrapped in an abundance of beautiful white slippery fabric and I realized that it was my great task and honor as a Catholic mother to fill her tiny open ears with God’s word and life. I realized that morning it was my responsibility to protect my children’s open ears from harmful words, and ideas. They were open and it was my job to see that they were filled and in his infinite goodness that day he gave me the awareness of his grace so as not to be overwhelmed by the task!
Ponder: Write the word Ephphatha at the top of a blank page of paper. As you sit and pray with that word, ask God to show you where you should be more open to his Word and his Will.
Blessings on your day!
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28
Today is the last day of summer for students and teachers here in Michigan. It’s the last day of rest and independent time schedules. For some that is a sad thought but for a teacher who just so happens to love her job, it’s a good day. It’s my last weekday morning of quiet prayer and hot coffee on my front porch until next summer. I realize I’m spoiled! I get to go to a job each day that I truly enjoy. But…today’s post is a teeny one because I have a day full of tasks to finish preparing for my new batch of middle lovelies.
Today as we celebrate Labor Day, I think we should focus not on the physical labor we do but on the labor of carrying all those things on our heart that make our days heavy. This verse from Matthew’s Gospel offers such hope and peace. Today along with resting our body, let’s rest our spirit and set down our burdens so the Father can bring rest to our souls. Take some time today to prayerfully ponder what those burdens are; grief, hurt, un-forgiveness, anger, worry…repeat this verse again and again and let the peace and consolation of the Father’s words wash over you!
A Seed To Plant: Join me in prayer throughout the day as we call to mind and take to God all those we know who labor under heavy burdens of the heart.
Blessings on your day!
For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate. Romans 7:15
We had a snap of cool summer weather a few weeks back so I made an industrial sized batch of chili. After it had cooled I grabbed a glass measuring cup to scoop the chili into containers for the freezer. It wasn’t a new task or one that required any kind of special skill but yet I managed to find myself in the middle of a disaster! As I was getting ready to pour the first scoop into the bowl, my brain must have entered some kind of warped fog because I dumped out the chili before I even reached the counter top where the bowl was waiting. In some bizarre turn of events, I found myself standing in a puddle of splattered chili. It was on my feet, my pants, the floor, the rug the cupboard doors and many other tiny little spaces. I’m still not sure how it happened but it took me thirty minutes to get everything cleaned up! YUCK!
As I was scrubbing up the mess trying to figure out how I had managed to do something so crazy I thought of this verse from Romans. Talk about an experience in not doing what I want and doing what I hate! While I was doing clean up, I decided to think about the positives of the whole situation. One of the tasks on my summer to do list that hadn’t been completed was to scrub all my kitchen cabinets so I got to take that off my list. Another bonus was related to my kitchen rugs. I have a habit of purchasing kitchen rugs with a bright pattern. Make no mistake, that isn’t because I am a master designer with artsy flair, it simply means that kind of rug hides lots of spills and I don’t’ have to wash the rugs as often. It was past time for a good rug washing and thanks to the chili event I had no choice. The third positive thing that came from the disaster was probably the most important of all. As I crawled around my kitchen scrubbing I realized that I was on my knees; a good place to be and I had to slow down and focus on just one thing. I don’t know about you but I’m not as good at either of those things as I should be. I spend a big chunk of time each morning in prayer but I’m nestled into my comfy prayer chair with my coffee and it’s a very cozy way to begin my day. I’m tellin’ ya, being on my knees on that hard tile floor made prayer a different experience. My mind didn’t wander like it does in comfy prayer; I was focused.
I know for a fact that when St. Paul wrote this letter to the Romans he wasn’t thinking about chili spills and scrub buckets but I do believe Scripture has a way of grabbing you right where you are. Splattering chili was not what I had planned but as I crawled around scrubbing I realized I focused on what I wanted, and on doing things with my own power far too much of the time. We like things to go our way and according to our plan. I think that is one of the ways sin sneaks in and takes over. When I realize sin has gotten a hold of my attitude or my behavior I find myself in the middle of something I hate. I’d like to say that only happens once in a while but that wouldn’t be true! It was great food for thought as I crawled around on my knees. When I finished I was determined to spend more time on my knees in focused prayer talking with my Father about all those things I hate doing that I need His help with. I realized the truth of this verse is that unless I surrender everything to Him the cycle is just going to continue again and again. Who knew a chili spill could contain such an important spiritual lesson!
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of things you seem to do that you don’t want to do then hit your knees with that list and ask Sweet Jesus to help you make a change.
Blessings on your day!
Sheri's writing can also be found at Faith Catholic Publications and on CatholicMom.com