Joyful Words Blog
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.
– Psalm 119:105
– Psalm 119:105
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3
I like to think I’m a strong, smart, independent woman. I’m not afraid to work hard or get dirty and I’m definitely not a girlie girl, but the other day, ALL that came into question when I found myself standing on the safe side of the garage screen door calling the men in my life for help! One of my summer jobs was to clean the garage and sort through the long rack of coats and barn clothes. It was time to throw out the size 5T snow pants with more holes than swiss cheese and the pink fuzzy winter coat from 1999! It was a yuck job but as I pulled in the garage the day after I finished, I felt pretty accomplished and pleased with the way things looked. As I parked in the garage with a load of groceries, I was admiring my work when I noticed a pair of coveralls moving as they hung on the hook. That was not supposed to happen.
I bravely sat behind the wheel of my Traverse and watched those coveralls sway from side to side thinking, this is not ok! Then I came to my senses and logically concluded it was probably one of the new kittens that had wandered up from the barn and playfully crawled up the pants leg. I got out and walked toward the pants expecting to help the cute little kitty out and send it back to the barn, but as I got closer I could see eyes peering out and then the hissing started. Definitely not a kitten and that pointy snout and loud hiss sent me promptly into the house. My next brave move was to throw shoes at the pants until whatever it was fell out and scampered out the door. After throwing a dozen shoes and boots and nearly breaking the service door window with my awful aim, I heard and saw barn boots wobbling around and was convinced there was a small army of invaders just a few feet from my screen door while my ice cream was melting in the car…something drastic had to be done! That’s when I called Dave! He was doing hay in a field much too far away to come to my rescue so I called Jason who was working from home that day. What transpired upon his helpful arrival involved a snow shovel, a trap made out of a bow target, an 8 ft table and a broom. I’ll leave out the parts about all my jumping and screaming at the sight of the critters teeth and hissing and just let you know one very angry woodchuck made it’s way from the coveralls and boots in my garage to the corn field across the road. I wish I could report a brave and triumphant ending on my part but I can’t. I screamed, jumped, and freaked out like it was a fire breathing dragon and completely depended on my handsome son to save me from my despair! He was so sweet and helpful and didn’t even make fun of me; he just came and helped and went on his way.
That silly woodchuck stuck in those coveralls made me realize how we sometimes approach the troubles and trials in our days. Truth be told, it was a pretty young woodchuck, not an angry mamma woodchuck. The whole thing could have been so much worse but I went from baby woodchuck to dragon in 60 seconds! I let something little grow and multiply in my mind while my emotions just went zooming into action leaving reason and reality in the dust. I got a little tangled up in the hissing and teeth bearing and lost sight of the fact that the problem probably weighed less than 10 pounds and his fear was probably much greater than mine. In hindsight I overreacted comically! Every time I’ve pulled in the garage since that day I look at those coveralls and wonder how many times I’ve gone straight to the dragon without stopping to pray and ask for perspective first. I think about all the times I’ve made something so big in my mind when in reality it turned to be so much smaller and manageable than I pictured it.
Our struggles can sometimes leave us feeling overwhelmed if we’re afraid to ask for help. Things can morph in our minds if we try to handle everything ourselves and bear the burdens on our own shoulders. God loves us too much for that. I really believe that’s part of the reason he put more than one person on the earth so we could help each other and support each other and point and lead each other to him. It’s ok to ask for help, it’s ok to get another perspective and it’s ok to talk down the dragons! We weren’t meant to go solo through this life, we need him and we need each other because you just never know what problems might just crawl up the leg of your coveralls!
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of the trials and troubles that have caused you to become worried and anxious lately and ask yourself these questions; Who have I talked to about it? Who can help? Have I prayed for the Fathers perspective?
Blessings on your day!
Children let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth. 1John 3:18
I love watching parents in action. I especially love it when a mom or dad can immediately halt a behavior with just a look. You know; “the look”. No words needed, just “the look”. I find it really amazing when that look comes from a tiny, gentle, sweet little mom. I observed a tiny, mighty, master mom at work in the airport Friday afternoon and I’m tellin you what, as I got caught in the cross hairs of her gaze, I felt a chill and I sat up straight myself! As fierce as that look was, it was done out of love for her squabbling boys and it was so much better than ugly words or threats. I can only imagine what this world could become if we all took a cue from this line in St. Johns letter and focused on our deeds more than our words.
The first few words of this verse give us a mission; LOVE. Love is so much more than sappy, kissey-face, goey stuff. Hollywood gets it wrong, social media gets it wrong, television gets it wrong so it’s no wonder we’re all a little fuzzy when it comes to figuring out what love really looks like! The kind of love St. John was writing about is the real deal kind of love. Love is mercy and mercy means forgiveness and forgiveness means choosing the Father’s way. Love allows us to see people as their Creator sees them and when we look through his lens, love becomes giving and not taking. Love is not a suggestion, it’s necessary to make earthly life meaningful and eternal life possible.
I don’t know about you, but I could seriously pray on this verse for weeks and probably still not get it right. We are told by the world to find our voice and use our words, but it seems like it’s all becoming a giant screaming match with everybody trying to out-talk the next guy. It’s also a little tricky to navigate through all the words and messages and pick out the truth. Words can be twisted and misinterpreted but actions are concrete and powerful. When we think about the loving things we can do for others, it’s important to think small. Most of us will not be called to build a hospital, start an orphanage or open a school to serve forgotten children. We are simply being asked to do simple things with great love.
Yesterday I sat in a huge, old, gorgeous cathedral and I was captivated by the beauty, but I was more deeply touched watching the people and the way I saw this verse come to life. I got to watch the woman in front of me reach over to touch the shoulder of a hurting friend. No words were spoken, just a simple touch and a look that was steeped in compassion. As I was gazing at the stories being told in the stunning stained glass windows, I was distracted by a man who used his neck tie to play peek-a-boo with a restless toddler in front of him whose mom was trying desperately to hold on to his wiggly body. As I listened to the Bishop of the Diocese of Salt Lake City deliver a powerful homily, my gaze shifted to the usher as he welcomed a disheveled and frazzled looking little old woman and took her fail arm and escorted her to a seat. She wore years of worry on her brow but as that usher put out his arm and led her to an empty seat you could see the look of gratefulness and peace on her face as she settled in to listen. As I left the Cathedral, I noticed the little house next door that served sandwiches to the city’s homeless every day. God gave me a line from scripture during mass and then illustrated it for me in living color. I love it when he makes it so easy to see!
Maybe today is a good day to just be quiet and do something. Loving deeds speak louder than words…let’s get busy!
A Seed To Plant: Spend a couple days praying with this verse and ask God to put people in your path who need a little action packed quiet love!
Blessing on your day!
If we acknowledge our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing. 1 John 1:9
Last week my oldest son helped me power wash the front porch...a job the kids don’t usually line up and beg to help with! The combination of dust from our gravel road and lots of flies attracted by the cattle make it a necessary but undesirable task. As I was swirling my scrub brush along the siding and porch rail I figured I should pray for people who were knee-deep in things a whole lot worse than fly specks and road dust! Not long into the scrubbin' and prayin' I started thinking about how small dust and fly specks really are when you isolate just one. The problem is when they glob together…that’s when true scrubbing is required! Our porch is pretty good sized, so I had lots of time to think about how something that started out so tiny could cause such a big mess.
About a third of the way through the project, I looked down at my fingers that were getting shriveled from the scrub water and that’s when it hit me…the mess on my porch was kinda like sin. I realized through this humbling episode of porch scrubbing that I’m nothing but a big ‘ole sinner! Each little sin like impatience or judgmental thinking that plagues my days is like a speck on my porch…one at a time they may not seem like much, but when several glob together, I wind up with a mess that requires scrubbing! We only scrub our front porch once a year, not because it isn’t needed more often, but because it’s the minimum requirement…something we do only when we simply can’t stand it any longer. I began to wonder if there was any correlation between the frequency with which I scrubbed my porch and how often I sought a good “soul scrubbing” from my Heavenly Father.
I sweep the porch often, and I began to realize that was much like my nightly examination of conscience. I quickly ask God for forgiveness before I fall asleep but that’s like a quick sweep…it’s not a true scrubbing. I came to the conclusion that sunny afternoon last week that I needed to make some adjustments in my “soul scrubbing” schedule. We are so lucky to be the children of such a loving and mighty God. He knows keeping us from sin completely is as impossible as keeping the dust and fly specks off my porch, but that’s what keeps us running to His loving arms as we beg forgiveness for the mess that all our tiny little sins make when they glob together. His forgiveness is there for us. All He asks is that we come to Him with a spirit of repentance and a desire to change. If I approach Him with a TRUE repentant heart and work harder at avoiding those small sins maybe He wouldn’t have to scrub so hard when I got there!
My ambition was to have a clean porch; the outcome was a reminder of God’s great love and my ever-growing need for Him. Our God is the God of surprises and the God of the ordinary. I am continually amazed at the ways He sends me His messages when I approach things with prayer…He can even turn scrubbin' the porch into a lesson!
A seed to plant: Sit down with a pencil and a piece of paper. Make a list of all the tiny little sins that plague your day and "glob up" to make a mess on your soul. Lift that list up to the Father with a repentant heart asking for His loving forgiveness. Don’t forget to ask for His guidance on how to “keep your porch clean.”
Blessings on your day!
Sheri's writing can also be found at Faith Catholic Publications and on CatholicMom.com