Joyful Words Blog
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.
– Psalm 119:105
– Psalm 119:105
In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Have you ever had one of those days when you just felt like you wanted to throw yourself a big ‘ole pity party? You know the days…something goes wrong with the car, the kids, the job AND someone gets glowing credit for something you did! Those kinds of days happen to us all and they go down with a big sting! We usually crawl in bed on those nights feeling unappreciated, overworked and guilty for feeling so sorry for ourselves. I call it getting in touch with your inner toddler! The bad part of this deal is when you let it drag you down and cloud the way you think and act for days. Today I have just the story that will be the party pooper at your pity party!
There is a woman very dear to me who is one of the most beautiful examples of courage, trust, faith and strength I know! She is in a battle against the monster we know as cancer. She has been fighting for a couple of years and the reports from her army of doctors have been like a roller coaster. She has been through treatment after treatment, gone into remission with a hope filled heart only to have another diagnosis proclaiming the opposite news. She has lost and re-grown hair, she has gone from joy to grief to anxiety to hope again and again. Her diagnosis and treatment have changed like a chameleon but one thing has not changed…HER SPIRIT! Sure she has her bad days and her scared days and her worried days, but you would never really know it because she inspires everyone she knows with her faith, attitude and trust in the Lord. She is larger than life and everyone whose life she touches is richer because of her.
A visit with her is a mix of laughter, hugs, optimism and faith. She has a spark that makes you feel alive, and every time someone walks away from a conversation with her they say the same exact thing, “She is AMAZING!” During our conversation she mentioned that she was always working on trusting the will of God more. I wanted to say, “Hey sister…you trust Him anymore and He’s gonna put you in charge!” Part of what makes her so amazing is that she is so humble that she doesn’t even realize how powerful and inspiring her courage and her strength and her faith are. She’s teaching all of us who know her and my, what a wonderful, beautiful teacher she is!!
Some folks say there are no real miracles anymore. I disagree completely! They are right in front of our eyes if we just look a little. If we can stop living in our “me centered” world long enough to see the discomfort, strife, pain and struggles of another, our hearts and our perspectives will be changed. People like my friend are the antidote to those folks who wake up with a hang-nail and think the world is ending. She’s the antidote to all those who think money and pensions and stuff matter! She is one of the many miracles right before our very eyes that show us exactly what matters…love, faith, trust and life! So before you send out the invitations to your pity party, let me introduce you to my friend! Or better yet, I’ll bet you know someone like her too. Take some time to let them teach you something!
A seed to plant: Make a list of all the things you have to complain about, then reach out to someone who is sick, lonely or suffering and see how much your list matters.
Blessings on your day!
And my God will meet all your needs… Philippians 4:19
We’re about 9 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 teach nearly 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 realize one of our great calls as disciples is to see with his eyes and love with his heart. When we do that we simply can’t fail at human relations! I was searching for some activities to help me do just that and I came across a 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!
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 not so long ago with my 96 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 she made me realize that life isn’t always what you think you signed up for but it’s never more than you can handle. It’s funny, but I didn’t notice gray hair, wrinkles or arm flags. I noticed an amazing woman, who to this day, raises a disabled daughter, 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!
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!
He must increase, I must decrease. John 3:30
One of the many things I miss now that the Wohlfert house is so quiet is practice. For more than a decade and a half there was always some kind of practice going on. It didn’t matter if it was reading, math facts, band, sports or even target practice for hunting season, it seemed like somebody was always practicing something. There is nothing more humbling than a good hard practice at whatever it is you are trying to get better at. The problem was nobody really enjoyed practice except me. I loved seeing my kids work hard, sweat, be frustrated and eventually trade in frustration for sheer determination. Practice is good for you no matter what it’s for but human nature leads us to desire perfection or success without the work.
Stop for a minute and think of something you need to practice. A little tricky wasn’t it! If you had a hard time coming up with something to practice I’ve got just the thing. I was reading in a prayer book the other day and came across a fabulous one liner that was too good to keep to myself. This simple thought is so power packed it’s going to make for a very short post today. Before you read it though, I want you to think for another minute about three things you’ve been frustrated about recently. If my guess is correct at least two of the things that frustrated you involved another person. So much of our negative energy stems from a reaction or comment or behavior from another person that doesn’t line up with our personal expectations or desires. In the spirit of being frustrated with others and tugging along the negative energy that goes with it; here is that great thought I promised. We all need to practice the art of self-forgetfulness! Pope John Paul II.
Holy cow…how’s that for a show stopper! I think maybe we spend so much time worrying and fussing about how other people see, value, appreciate and honor us that we lose track of the only desire we should be motivated by; pleasing God. If I were to forget my own desires and comforts more often I think I would certainly have more time for faithfulness. If I stopped worrying about who saw me do what or who noticed this or that I wouldn’t have anything to be disappointed about when others didn’t register the “wonder and awe” I thought I deserved. I don’t’ know about you, but I think I just found my new thing to practice… thinking about the Father more and myself less The art of self-forgetfulness isn’t something our culture promotes but since when does our culture promote things that will get us to heaven? I think I’m gonna go with JPII on this one and get my “self-forgetfulness” in motion, how about you…are you up for some tough practice?
A Seed To Plant: This week when you feel frustrated, stop and ask yourself if you are practicing the art of self-forgetfulness. Get ready for some good hard practice!
Blessings on your day!
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Sheri's writing can also be found at Faith Catholic Publications and on CatholicMom.com