Joyful Words Blog
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.
– Psalm 119:105
– Psalm 119:105
Good morning! Beds are made all over my house, the fridge and freezer are full of food for Kansas company. Fancy clothes are ready to go. My heart is so full of happiness for my son and his bride to be I can hardly stand it. Saturday is the big day and writing a post didn't quite get crossed off the to-do list! In 2 more wake-ups I will become a "mother-in-law" for the first time and I'm so excited I can hardly sleep. Today I simply post a request...I ask for your prayers. I ask for you to pray for safe travels for guests, I ask your prayers for God's blessing on this wedding but mostly I ask for you to pray for an outpouring of grace on this beautiful couple as they stand before God and their family and friends and begin their life together as husband and wife. Thank you and I'll be back next week!
Blessings on your day!
Seek the face of the Lord always. Psalm 105:4
What does God look like? If no one has ever seen his face how are we supposed to seek it and how will we know if we really see it? Those are fair questions when you’re a middle lovely. If we are supposed to seek His face always, I suppose we’d better know where to look! It’s easy to seek the face of God in the obvious, like creation, babies and children. I have no problem seeing and feeling the presence of God when I’m in my classroom! My students fill my days with every emotion possible. I know just what Jesus meant when He said, “Let the little children come to me.” Most mornings when I go into the gym for Morning Prayer and the Pledge I want to say the same thing! It’s a bit more of a challenge however to seek His face in the unpleasant, the unfair, and the unlikable.
Seeking God’s face doesn’t just apply to people…we need to seek his face in situations and experiences. Sure we recognize God in the events that are happy and joyful like weddings and celebrations but we need to know He is present in the sad and difficult and sorrowful ones as well. His love, presence and inviting spirit are there even we can recognize no apparent good in the situation. We are reminded not only to seek Him but to praise and thank Him in all situations. That’s easy to say until we’re smack dab in the middle of ugly and we have to spit out the words, “God I’m seeking you in this mess and I thank you for these circumstances…even though they STINK!” Sometimes uttering those words can taste like vinegar in our mouth but if you repeat them again and again, you can begin to see His face and feel His presence guiding and teaching and blessing.
We like things to be simple and easy and happy and when they aren’t, we tend to think God has left us all alone. Our purpose in seeking God shouldn’t be to make us “feel good”, the purpose is to build us up for the Kingdom and a life spent with Him. Very often the things we need to learn can only be taught when life isn’t all neat and tidy and happy. But make no mistake…God is there…just waiting for us to seek Him so He can take us by the hand and begin the next lesson!
A seed to plant: Write the words, “God I trust you, God I love you, God I will be faithful and seek your face” on a notecard and read it again and again when you’re in a situation where it’s hard to seek His face.
Blessings on your day!
…now he waits until his emery are made his footstool. Hebrews 10:13
As I sat in mass this weekend I heard this verse jump out of the second reading and my mind went zooming back to the living room of my childhood home. I vividly remembered that we had a dark green footstool in our living room and as I recall, it had many functions. My favorite memory of that footstool was the way my little brother used to fasten a bath towel around his neck like a super hero and jump off that footstool thinking it would boost him high enough that he could fly. We did use it to rest feet on, especially when there was a story to be read or a baby to be rocked. It was sturdy and comfortable and important.
I had to stretch a little and read this verse a time or two before it’s meaning really hit my heart. When I read the word enemy, I immediately thought of a person. I don’t have any human enemies so I moved on to a verse I thought had more meaning but something kept calling me back. After I let it percolate in my mind and heart a while, it came to me. The enemy may not be a person at all. The enemy could be anything preventing my pursuit of the Fathers joy. It’s always a great time to do some soul searching about enemies that might creep into our lives and try to distract us.
I was able to stick a label on my enemies rather quickly once I started thinking about it. I would love to sit at God’s right hand like the line before this verse reads, and watch Him slap down a footstool on impatience or on judgmental thinking or on any other of the sinful areas of my life. I was really touched by those those beautiful words in this reading,“at my right hand”. In order to have Him put those enemies at his feet like a footstool, I have to be beside Him. He can’t help me if I’m a mile away, He needs me right there beside Him clinging to Him with childlike dependence. Then and only then will the footstool slamming begin!
Just like my living room as a child, sometimes we had to move some stuff out of the way to get to the footstool, so it is with our need to move the barriers that are keeping us from the right hand of God so we can get near that footstool. What’s in your way?
A Seed To Plant: Take the next few days to prayerfully consider what enemies you would like to see as his footstool and then reach for God’s hand.
Blessings on your day!
Calling his disciples, he began sending them out two by two…Mark 6:7
This story in Mark’s 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 line highlights the instructions given to a group of Christians a couple thousand years ago, but the instructions really haven’t changed and they apply to our personal discipleship all these years later.
One day a while back I opened to this passage and it was right about the time Dave and I celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary. 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 struggles come 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? I heard a priest give a sermon once where he stated that we are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with. So in light of his words and this Gospel it makes me stop and consider who all my pairs are. Growing in holiness is a journey that takes great companions. In your prayers today think about your people and 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!
For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be glory forever, Amen. Romans 11:36
I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as random happenings. You may disagree with me and that’s absolutely fine but I’ve begun to believe that every event, situation and person provides an opportunity to learn and grow in faith.
I shiver when I think of all the times we dismiss the deliberate work of God as random, coincidence, karma or fate. I think our loving Father is much more personal and spectacular than that! I remember the night I met my husband. He was taking my roommate out to dinner and I answered the door and chatted with him while he waited for her to finish getting ready. Several weeks later I sat down in a meeting with a room full of strangers and guess who was seated right across the table from me…yup…that same guy; the man who became my husband. I don’t think that was random. I also remember the cold snowy winter evening I was coming home from the Orthodontist with three kids and a trunk full of groceries and I got a flat tire. The wind chill that evening was more than 10 below zero and after digging the spare tire out from under all the groceries, I couldn’t get the frozen lug nuts off to change the tire. As I knelt in the snow frozen and frustrated, a gentleman stopped and invited me to drive my car to the farm right up the road. It turns out he owned a tire shop and he had all the equipment necessary to change my tire in his heated shop. Random… I think not!
I really think Christ dwells among us and works through us. When I think about my days here on earth, I realize every single thing is meant to draw me closer to Him. The sooner I realize that and lift my heart to Him in thanksgiving for the million ways a week He works in my life, the more exciting it becomes to see His works. When I recognize things I might have once called random, as His handiwork, I feel loved and protected and blessed. Those are great things to feel for sure!
A Seed To Plant: Take some time this week to write down all the things that seem like “random” events. At the end of the week, lift your list to the Lord in prayer and ask Him to show you how He was working purposefully in each of those situations.
Blessings on Your day!
For then you shall delight in the Almighty and you shall lift up your face toward God. Job 22:26
Magnifying glasses are always a hit no matter what grade I teach. There is just something fun about looking at something regular in a new way. Even ordinary things like paper clips and the human tongue can become fascinating when seen with magnified detail. In the spirit of close inspection, I have a thought for you today compliments of Deacon Ralph Poyo. He was a presenter at the conference I attended recently and I could write a dozen posts with all the ideas he shared but today I have one word he explained in a whole new way.
The word is intimacy. Most of us would define the word as extreme closeness and that would be correct but we don’t often think of it in a Godly way. Deacon Ralph made sure everyone listening Wednesday night would think of it as a way to describe our relationship with God the Father. He said intimacy means IN-TO-ME-SEE. Talk about making a word come to life! So, grab your magnifying glass and head down to the next paragraph and let’s see what we discover.
God desires intimacy with each of us so if we stand before God in prayer and accept his invitation to see in to him; what would we see? I think we would see compassion, forgiveness, understanding, mercy, pride, delight and unfathomable love. That’s what he’s made of and that’s what he shows us. When we see him we see truth, justice, and everything right; not judgment, punishment or shame. I think he wants us to see that we are made in his image so we should see the same things in ourselves that we see in him. When was the last time you looked in the mirror and saw those things in your reflection? If we are intimate with him, we will begin to mirror what’s in him. I think the world could use a whole lot more of that image what do you think? He’s inviting us to see into him and loose ourselves in his goodness; he’s desperate for us to grow so close to him that we will move past things like guilt, shame, disappointment and greed. Seeing him closely will make us long for nothing else.
If I imagine seeing the face of God I often imagine myself turning or bowing my head in the presence of his greatness but he loves us so much he’s inviting us to get closer…so close we can experience IN-TO-ME-SEE!
A Seed To Plant: Write today’s word down the Deacon Ralph way and give it a lot of prayerful thought…let it draw you closer to the Father.
Blessings on your day!
We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19
I have a lot of one liners that tumble through my head. Sometimes I remember where I heard them and others just roll around and I don’t have any idea where they came from. I’m taking a fabulous class every Tuesday night that dives into scripture in a profound and beautiful way. A couple of weeks ago we were talking about the love of God and one of those famous one liners just kept running through my mind. The line is, “Love is just love!” We discussed something in class that proved that statement to be so incomplete!
We are all called to love God and love others. As simple as that sounds, I think we can all agree some days it’s harder than we think! Love is not just love…it’s commitment, it’s patience, it’s sacrifice, it’s humility and silence and joy. The depths of Gods love for us are massive and nearly incomprehensible. As we study the book of Genesis his abounding and merciful love is amazing. In one of our handouts there was a little three line piece from St. Catherine of Sienna that really touched my heart and made me realize that when it comes to God, love is WAY more than just love. St. Catherine lays out three stages of loving God. I’ll share them with you and perhaps they will stir up your mind and heart and give you great food for thought and prayer.
*The first stage of loving God is Servile fear: We obey God like a servant out of fear.
*The second state is Mercenary love: We love God because of what we will receive.
*The third stage is Love for the sake of love: It’s not about rewards or fear but simply born of a desire for relationship with God.
I’d like to say I’m firmly in stage three but that would not be true. I think I get there sometimes but I can find plenty of times I land squarely in stage one and two. I find my self in the first stage when I am aware of my sinfulness. It’s at those times I have to admit I change my ways more out of fear of punishment and not always because I recognize the deep ways I’ve hurt my Father. I’m often at stage two, looking for the “brownie points” as if they can be stockpiled or recorded in some heavenly score book. The third stage is where we will find peace and joy but there is a lot of humility and re-thinking involved in getting to and staying in stage three.
It all boils down to choices. It’s not about being perfect it’s about surrendering so that we can be perfected but his love. I really want to love him, I really want to be consistently at that third stage of love with the Father. I will choose that today and ask him to help me live that choice. That would be something to give thanks for!
A Seed To Plant: Take a good look at these three stages and ask God to show you where you are and then ask him to help you get where he’d like you to be.
Blessings on your day!
When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him …Luke 7: 9
I’m pretty good at skipping. I’m a good cook. I always make my bed in the morning and I don’t leave my things laying around. Some folks might think those are nice accomplishments but I don’t think my gifts and talent would amaze anyone, especially Jesus. Can you even imagine Jesus looking at you and telling people that you amazed him?
The person Jesus was talking about in this verse from Luke was the Roman soldier who fully and completely trusted in Jesus. He believed that Jesus didn’t even have to go near his sick servant; he had faith that Jesus could simply say the word and heal his servant because he was that mighty. Think about that for a minute…the soldier didn’t have to do something huge, or dramatic or spectacular to amaze Jesus, he just trusted and believed in the power of Jesus. I don’t know about you but I’d like to amaze Jesus. Imagine the conversation…you get home from work and someone says, “Hey, what did you do today?” and you say, “Oh not much, I just amazed Jesus today!” That would be awesome!
I wonder if Jesus is very amazed with us this week? Sometimes I look at my newsfeed and things get all puddled together in a pretty “un-amazing” fashion. Today we celebrate All Saints day and it’s a pretty great day to stop and think about the most amazing people who walked this earth. The really important thing to remember is that we are ALL called to be saints. We are all expected to live like we know that and it often leaves us feeling like we fall a little short of amazing. The great news is this…we aren’t called to be perfect. We are called to follow God so he can perfect us.
The goal is sainthood so what now? We remember we’re his, we remember we were ALL created in his image, we remember that love and mercy trump all things all the time. We have to look at history and know people rise up, people come together and if they’re going to go anywhere good, they have to follow Christ to get there. We have a big job to do, we have division to heal and peace to find. We have a great Father who wants good for us. Jesus is waiting for us to amaze him and all we have to do to accomplish that task is to trust him and have faith like the Roman Soldier that he is a mighty healer. He is capable of all things and he can inspire greatness and strength in the most broken and weak. Take a minute to realize that you are a BELOVED CHILD OF GOD and he expects us to amaze him. So go ahead…take a minute to trust him, believe in him and amaze him.
A Seed To Plant: Tell Jesus you trust him and go be amazing!
Blessings on your day!
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Sheri's writing can also be found at Faith Catholic Publications and on CatholicMom.com