Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8
Things change…it’s just a fact! Sometimes it’s a delightful fact, like when the time changes and I get to sleep an extra hour or when the timer dings and the squishy dough has changed into delicious homemade cinnamon rolls. Other times changes aren’t so whippy, like when the sands of time shift, and the only perky thing left is my smile or when my biceps droop south and become a waving flag every time I raise my arm. I thought not having to shave my legs was awesome until I realized those little hairs were sprouting out my chin instead. Oh, and one more; I thought calling myself the most “mature” teacher in the building instead of the “oldest” was great until three kids in one week called me grandma. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m looking at things all wrong; change is gonna happen and I can either roll with it or let it roll right over me!
I’ve decided to roll with it! After all, the things time does to a person are really kinda funny and sometimes I think it’s God’s great way of making sure I get plenty of humility practice. You might wonder what precipitated this “pondering”. It all started when I was standing on a step-stool in the classroom fixing one of the curtains and a sweet middle lovely walked into the room and with shock, asked if it was really a safe idea for me to be climbing on things. I would have given anything to have had the courage to jump right off the third step and shock his socks off but right before I attempted it, I had a vision of me landing wrong and breaking something or putting out an eye and requiring a call to 911 leaving the poor child scarred for life so I just winked and thanked him for his concern and promptly put him on the steps-stool to be the hero and save the classroom from a drooping curtain disaster. That afternoon as I riffled through the piles on my desk looking for that one piece of paper I put in a safe place, I realized time changes lots of things and along with the things that are different, so many things are made better by change; if we have the courage to see them.
I realize I’m really not THAT old but when I’m surrounded by co-workers half my age, it can feel like it. I had a visit last month with my 92 year old Great Aunt Patricia and realized that change and age are part of life. Aunt Patricia has an absolutely infectious laugh, a keen knowledge of the world around her, a savvy awareness of college sports and the Kansas City Cheifs plus enough spunk for a dozen people. As we chatted in my dads hospital room she made me realize that life isn’t always what you think you sighed up for but it’s never more than you can handle. It’s funny, but as I watched her drive away in her 1988 Pontiac Bonneville I didn’t notice gray hair, wrinkles or arm flags. I noticed an amazing woman, who to this day, raises a disabled child, mows her lawn, cleans her house and goes to Mass often. I don’t see age, I see a wonderful lady who has rolled right along with the changes life has tossed in her lap. If my 90’s can look that funny and spunky and wise; bring it on…I got a true glimpse of my gene pool and I was excited!
Speaking of changes, the Joyful Words website is about to undergo a big re-construction project. Starting Wednesday, the site will be temporary closed so a very talented web designer named Debbie can swoop in and fancy things up. Stay tuned, changes are on the way. While we wait, please know I’m praying for you and thanking the Father for this really cool journey we’re sharing. Thank you for coming back again and again to read what the Holy Spirit sends me.
A Seed To Plant: What changes are you struggling with right now? Take them to prayer and ask for the patience, wisdom and courage to face them and move through them gracefully.
Blessings on your day!
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13
Great news; I can do ALL things! Maybe I’ll begin by leaping a tall building with a single bound or establishing world peace by lunchtime or maybe get the crumbs cleaned out of the silverware tray! Somehow I don’t think that’s what Paul was saying to thePhilippians.
The key words in this verse are not “I can do all things” but rather “through Christ”. We weren’t created by God to be super heroes, or to live each day breaking our neck trying to do a hundred things to please everyone we know. We were created to be His hands and feet here on earth. I don’t recall a single passage in Sacred Scripture that described Jesus multi-tasking, over-booking His schedule or helping only those who could help him back. The beauty of this verse is that he’s not asking us to bear the burdens of the world and do ALL things. He’s inviting us to be open to his plan and let him supply the direction, grace, mercy, love and strength we need. In our acts of loving service, it’s a good idea to take an inventory of ALL the things we’re trying to accomplish and prayerfully sort through them. Maybe we’re trying to do a task that was meant to bring somebody else closer to God! Notice those in your faith community; maybe our greatest task of the day is as simple as stopping to listen carefully to a person who just really needs to be heard.
A Seed To Plant: In your daily prayer take a look at your “to do” list and ask God for the wisdom to know which tasks are really yours. Spend some time studying the way your favorite saint stayed focused on the one thing God was asking of them.
Blessings on your day!
Calling his disciples, he began sending them out two by two…Mark 6:7
This Gospel is a dozen lessons all wrapped into one. It’s about trust, teamwork, awareness, truth and gratefulness. As I reflect on these verses it provides an occasion to look at my relationship with the Lord and see which pieces of my discipleship are in order and which have a few kinks! This Gospel highlights the instructions given to a group of Christians long ago, but the instructions really haven’t changed and they apply to our personal discipleship all these years later.
Last week Dave and I celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary and this was the Gospel of the day. After reading that Gospel story, I was reminded that it was a great day to celebrate the fact that God sent me out in a new way with the other part of my pair! Once we said “I Do” we headed out together to help each other trust and serve. We lead each other and help each other decide when we need to stick with something and when we need to shake the dust from our sandals and move on. When bills are high and things don’t go like we expected, we remind each other that we have enough and God will fill in the gaps. I’m sure just like us, the disciples didn’t always see eye to eye with the other half of their pair but they had to stick to the mission. If the world tries to deceive us or our children we have to guide each other toward the truth. Together we have to discover and share the good news of Jesus with each other and those we love. Thank goodness for pairs and clear instructions!
Building his church on earth is our work, but it isn’t work he intended us to do alone, so it’s important to ask yourself; who is the other half of my pair? Who am I traveling and sharing my discipleship with on my journey to heaven? A 26th wedding anniversary was a great day to stop and say, “Dear Father, thank you for loving me enough to send me a helper and show me the way to know you, love you and serve you in this life so I may be happy with you in the next.”
A Seed To Plant: So, who is the other half of your pair and what are you doing together to make this world more Christ-like?
Blessings on your day!
And my God will meet all your needs… Philippians 4:19
We’re about 6 weeks into a new school year and it’s still that “getting to know about you stage”. As a teacher, you come to know their faces and expressions and sounds. You try to figure out how they will deal with disappointment, correction and success. Throughout the course of a day I get to see over 80 students and they each come individually wrapped and packaged; all with their own little secret ingredient! It’s fascinating and frustrating and delightful all at the same time. I often shake my head and marvel at how very different each and every one of my middle lovelies is. I marvel at God’s creativity as it walks, skips, slinks or thunders through my door.
It doesn’t take long to realize some need more time, more patience, more firmness or more love than others. Finding the right equation takes prayer and observation and lots of listening. I will be the very first person to admit I often get it wrong; I often mis-judge a students needs or intent. God has shown me after 100 years of teaching that the words “I was wrong, please forgive me” are powerful to a child…or a grown up…or an elderly person! As I think about my middle lovelies and many of the other lovelies in the building I can’t help but notice they create such a beautiful collection of God’s best work and each one of them is a treasure in his eyes. It’s my eyes that sometimes need an adjustment. I can get overwhelmed when I see how many people are misunderstood, misjudged and misinterpreted. I just want each child to be understood and loved and enjoy being at school!
The Young Disciples group will have the opportunity to participate in a program with some students who have disabilities and unique needs organized by Special Olympics this year. As we listened to a lovely speaker teach us about these young kids and the struggles and challenges they face everyday, it left me feeling a little guilty. Guilty that my life seems so easy, guilty that I take so many blessings for granted. I was looking at pictures of the beautiful children we will be working with and I just wanted to scoop them all up and make their life perfect. It was all churning around in my heart and all of the sudden I came across this quote from a woman I met last spring who has spent her entire life blind, mostly paralyzed and suffering from a host of other ailments. She was speaking about God’s enormous love and genius plan for us. She left us with a quote that came to my heart at the perfect moment. She said this, “I believe there is no such thing as a special needs person. We all have needs; human needs and some of us just need some accommodations in order to have our human needs met.”
I read it a few times until I found my peace. It made me think of things with a different perspective! It also made me realize how true it is for each of us. It is about those most basic needs; to feel loved, to feel accepted, to feel needed, to feel safe. Those are things I can give easily but I wonder how often I don’t recognize someone else's need for them or I’m too busy to offer to meet them. Each of those needs were perfectly designed by God and he’s waiting and willing to provide for them as only he can. When I really think about it, I often need some accommodations in order for him to meet my needs. I need him to be patient with me when I try to do it all myself. I need him to be understanding when I forget to show gratitude. I need him to make accommodations for my narrow thinking and impatient attitude. I suppose we would all do well to focus more on the accommodations than the expectations; putting things in that order might make a big difference. I realize after reading that sweet woman's words, I’m certainly glad the Father looks at me with accommodation and not expectation cause he’d sure be disappointed a lot! Father, thank you for all your accommodations, please help me offer them to others.
A Seed To Plant: Lord, please help me see those who need accommodations today and allow me to see their human needs and their great value as your child.
Blessings on your day!
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news… Isaiah 52:7
I have a lot to thank God for every day! I’m thankful for a really great mom. She taught me more lessons than I can count. Sometimes her lessons were gentle and sweet other lessons were swift and to the point! I could always count on her to tell me what she thought and the important stuff was usually delivered without sugar on top! I was always so proud to be her daughter and I’d like to think I have some of her great “Barb-isms” within me. I loved the bond we shared and when she died, I missed that mother daughter relationship terribly. But, as usual, God showed how smart and loving he truly is and he gave me a daughter. Funny thing, after two sons, I was perfectly content with the thought of having another son, but along came a daughter and I haven’t stopped thanking him for her since the day she arrived. I love my sons, but my life suddenly felt complete again the first time I said, “I have a daughter”.
I love my Shannie B for so many reasons, but her faith, compassion and sweetness top the list. In this blog I often quote famous saints, saintly people or regular people trying their hardest to be saintly. I’m always looking for scripture and teachings to share so we can all examine our discipleship and grow closer to the Father. This week the inspiration came from a Facebook post and it’s the simple wisdom and raw truth of a young woman slugging her way through nursing school. In spite of the stress and struggle that come with trying to follow God’s plan to become a nurse, she invites him in and asks him to guide her path when she’d too overwhelmed to find her way. She sees her clinical work as her vocation, not her assignment. She sees it as a chance to grow in holiness not just a chance to get a grade. I’m so proud of my daughter the nursing student and her words in this simple post are good medicine for all of our souls! Compliments of an overwhelmed but very trusting young woman, I offer you her simple advice…
“Far better to simply "Be your message" Live it! Radiate it! Be an Inspiration! Nursing School has been anything but easy but when I realize that people all around me want goodness, whether that's people in the hospital marking their last days of life or those walking around Franciscan's campus, they don't want it from a cute quote on Instagram or a cliche comment saying it'll all be okay...they seek goodness from me and from YOU, a real live person who actually puts those quotes into action so "Be Your Message" today, you never know whose watching”
A Seed To Plant: What is your message? Ask God what message he wants you to deliver through your words and actions today.
Blessings on your day!
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