Joyful Words Blog
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.
– Psalm 119:105
– Psalm 119:105
“I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.” Proverbs 8:17
The day was so beautiful it caught me by surprise. I was driving to Indianapolis to pick up my girlie and about thirty minutes into the drive I had this overwhelming feeling of peace and gratitude. The weather was perfect. Blue sky, no humidity, bright sun and 75 degrees. The day couldn’t have been more perfect. In the quiet of my drive I realized that I had no impending deadlines, no yucky task that was pressing on my time and nowhere else I’d rather be at the moment. I couldn’t help but smile; one of those really deep smiles that comes from somewhere down around your knee caps! I just started to pray in gratitude for all the things that made it a perfect day.
As I was soaking it all in, my mind wandered to all those I love who are suffering. Families with sick loved ones and families facing tough decisions and folks knee deep in grief and struggle. I prayed for them one by one as they popped into my mind and wished they could be with me, enjoying the perfect day I was right in the middle of. The emotion of their pain and struggle washed over me and I felt it in my heart but after praying for each one, my mind and my heart went back to the perfect day God had laid out for me.
After another hundred miles I said out loud in my car, “Man I wish every day could be like this!” I smiled and drove on for a while and then it hit me. If every day was like this one, I wouldn’t be struck by the peace and I wouldn’t notice the perfection of such an ordinary day. Nothing was spectacular about the day. I hadn’t won anything, I didn’t have more money than I had the day before and the world was still full of pockets of ugly but the day was a gift. As I kept driving I realized that the purpose of days like this was to fill my soul with the grace, love, presence and tenderness of My Father for days that weren’t like this one.
I soaked it all up and in my mind I bottled it up to put away like a treasure in my heart and the next time the day isn’t so lovely or easy or perfect I’ll remember this day and know that more will come. I’ll remember what it felt like and what a gift it was and know it can’t last forever but then again neither can the yucky days. I’m grateful for the day and I’m curious about how many others there have been along the way that I missed. Mostly I just thanked him for the glory of a perfect ordinary day!
A Seed To Plant: Think about a day that was a perfect ordinary day and ask God to help you put that memory like a treasure in your heart to save for a day you need it.
Blessings on your day!
Jesus Christ…became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich. 2 Corinthians 8:19
There certainly are things I enjoy a little extra of! A little extra coffee, a little more time to linger on the porch visiting with friends and family or just a little extra sleep from time to time to list a few. One of the lessons my parents were HUGE on teaching was not to be greedy. Clear as a bell I can hear them say, “Be grateful for what you have because being greedy for more is ungratefulness and that’s ugly.” It was a great thing for them to teach me and it’s one of those things that sticks! I was praying with this scripture from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians and I realized that this important lesson from my parents often creeps into my prayer life.
After some thought, I realized that my prayer view slides a little sideways from time to time. I’m really good at asking God to take care of people and situations and the needs of others. I mean, who doesn’t pray every day for people to get better or get jobs or get back on track. I’m really good at praising him and thanking him but I don’t often ask for his riches and heaping doses of his grace. I guess I feel blessed and thankful and I don’t want to be greedy. Upon careful thought, I realized I was trying to be like an A student to God. I wanted to keep a low profile, do my homework (daily prayer) and try like crazy to keep my nose in my own business and be obedient. I don’t think that’s all God wants for me. That’s actually a little robotic and not very “relationship-ish”.
God sent his son to suffer and die so we could be rich. Not rich in the money sense but rich in his grace, mercy and love. We were made for happiness. We were made to be saints and that’s work we can’t do alone. He’s waiting to give us extra! He spent everything; his blood, sweat, tears and very life to make us rich in him and I was too afraid to ask for personal extras. How crazy is that! It’s not like there is an expiration date on his gifts like a coupon. He will never say, “Sorry Sheri, you should have asked for joy and patience last week, I’m afraid that request is not valid past last Friday.” There are also no limits or strings to our requests either. I’m pretty sure he will never flash a sigh like you see in the grocery store on a great deal that says “limit 5 with additional $5 purchase”. He’s not going to run out of grace or attach strings or conditions to his gifts.
He died so we could be rich so why am I living like I have empty pockets? I’ve decided that something I want extra of is joy and compassion. I’m going to ask for extra forgiveness and a lot of extra peace and kindness. It doesn’t make us greedy, it makes us trusting and it makes us rich. It doesn’t make me ungrateful because it’s not about me…it’s about him and the things he wants to make me because of his gifts. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to ask for lots of extra things starting today…right after I get some extra coffee!
A Seed To Plant: Take out a sheet of paper and across the top write EXTRA-EXTRA-EXTRA and then make a list of all the things you need to ask God for extra of so you can become rich in him!
Blessings on your day!
Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire. St. Catherine of Sienna
It was a big weekend. We made our last 6 hour drive to Franciscan University to see Shannon. After four years that seemed to go by in a blink, we now have a nurse. God had such a powerful hand in it all and I am so thankful. I could write and write about all the little things along the way that just fell in place. More times than I could count I shook my head in surprise, gratitude and awe as one thing after another made it possible for her to get an education at Franciscan. God wrapped it all up with an exclamation point on Saturday.
Franciscan has one of the countries top nursing programs which was appealing to Shannon but the University offers something so powerful for the soul. It’s a place of holiness and deeply rooted faith and Catholic tradition. She wanted to feed her mind, her heart and her soul. She knew as a sophomore in high school that she wanted to go there but academically, financially and geographically there had to be some “figuring out.” About the time she started praying about the possibility of going to school there she was preparing for her Confirmation. She had a couple of saints in mind to choose as her Confirmation Saint but three times in the same week the above quote from Catherine of Sienna appeared in her life. Once in history class, once on a random note that fell from a library book and then on a surprise bracelet she got int he mail from a friend. She asked God for specific guidance, and he certainly didn’t disappoint. It turns out that Catherine of Sienna is also the patron saint of nurses.
As the process continued toward Franciscan, crazy things happened like scholarships that came out of nowhere and details and events that just pointed the way. Again and again there were blessings and surprises that made it so clear that she was exactly where she was supposed to be. Each time we just smiled and said thank you! There were experiences and people and opportunities that just seemed to fall into her lap all along the way and as we sat in Finnigan Field-house for Commencement Saturday morning the Keynote Speaker opened with all the traditional greetings appropriate for the occasion. Then something that melted my heart happened. He looked out at the graduates and paused for a moment and then said, “Graduates, If you will leave this place today and be who God meant you to be, you will set the world on fire. St. Catherine of Sienna wasn’t kidding about that!” I could hardly keep the tears back. It was like a giant explanation point on an amazing college journey. God is so very good!
A Seed To Plant: Are you being who God intended you to be? It’s a question worth asking in prayer this week.
Blessings on your day!
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23
It seems that lately I have found myself in the middle of the same conversation about a dozen times. The conversations happen at functions where my peers and I see our children are walking through the door as grown-ups. I’m seeing the kids that played in my basement and ran through the sprinkler in my front yard and sat in the seats in my classroom getting married, having children and talking about their careers. I’ve been bumping into these grown up young people that are talking about their jobs and their lives. I talked with one young man who fixes cars and it seems like he just learned how to drive last week …and then there was the boy I watched learn to read who was talking to me about the reading scores of his own students and there was the boy who teased girls with a fury that I watched say I do and promised to spend his whole life loving a beautiful girl; something he swore in elementary school would certainly NEVER happen to him. As the moms and dads gather to visit, we always say the same thing; “how did that happen…I guess I blinked.”
Last weekend our school celebrated it’s annual Dinner Raffle which is a huge, amazing event that since it’s inception twenty years ago has raised over one million dollars for our school. I had the privilege and the honor of being a part of those first five years and to see how much has been accomplished over the years was pretty awesome. As I looked up at that 20th Anniversary banner I realized that when it started my college senior was a toddler and her oldest brother was in kindergarten. Again I said, “how did that happen…I guess I blinked.” It’s funny that those words ring with a little twinge of sadness. I miss the 3 little Wohlferts and their friends jumping on the couch cushions and playing baseball in the basement thinking I didn’t know. I miss squealing girls and dance parties and the smell of nail polish wafting up the basement stairs. I miss feeling like Old Mother Hubbard after the friends went home and mostly I miss walking into my house and seeing a big ole heap of shoes that belonged on the feet of the kids gathered in the basement.
Last night at a wonderful wedding, I watched a big group of young grown-ups from all 3 little Wohlferts classes and I realized I’d been looking at it all wrong. Every time I stopped to chat with one of them I felt really old! I felt like I lost something and wanted it back. I felt like I wanted to re-play it all to make sure I hadn’t missed something. As a mom, I sometimes look back on my “less than stellar” mom moment and want those back for a re-do. Those words kept coming into my mind, “I must have blinked!” I realized as I was watching them dance and laugh and enjoy themselves in their fancy clothes, that the blinks weren’t really about me. I keep thinking about my age and how I would like to go back in time and how much I miss those great mom moments but when I took myself out of the equation, I realized those blinks were full of beautiful things.
During the blinks all those kids I loved grew into young adults I love. All the playing and laughing and shenanigans forged great friendships, loyalty and a boatload of stories and memories. During those blinks they all matured and found their path. During those blinks they became independent, dedicated and driven. During those blinks I realized they have all become exactly what we wanted them to…great humans! Last night I saw dresses, heels, ties and tuxes but when I blinked I saw those school uniform solid color polos and superman t-shirts and little league jerseys and it made me smile. When I opened my eyes again and saw the grown-up version of all those little people, I realized that I hadn’t missed a thing; I had been there every moment of the journey and I stopped to realize all the amazing things that unfolded right before my eyes. I blinked again and I could still go back to blanket forts, sword fights with wrapping paper tubes, 4-H fairs and the prom. I realized I’d always have the blinks but the great opportunity to talk to a young adult and realize they had become exactly what they wrote about becoming in the 4th grade was worth the wrinkles and gray hairs that are a part of my look.
If we don’t blink nothing happens. If we don’t blink we’ll all be stuck. As I sat in mass this morning I saw one of my very favorite students who lost her mama when she was just a second grader. She has always had a special place in my heart and I realized how beautiful and necessary the blinks really are as I watched her snuggle and sway gently with her gorgeous baby girl in her arms. I blinked and she grew into a beautiful wife and mother and I could almost feel the joy and the happiness come from that little families end of the pew. God flooded my heart with joy and my eyes with tears and reminded me that the blinks are beautiful and with each one; with each stage that passes, we get another chance to see the great things he does in our lives. I made sure to say a prayer for all the beautiful blinks and the blessings that followed.
A Seed To Plant: Time isn’t meant to stand still…God is constantly working, so instead of feeling things have passed you by, look at what he’s done and hope for the beautiful things to come.
Blessings on your day!
May is busy; so todays post is an old story worth telling again. I was at a wedding last weekend with some of the great friends I mention in this post and we laughed about this day…so here’s to a great story re-told!
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Matthew 6:25
Have you ever noticed how something really terrific can come from a disaster? Sunday, our second son graduated from high school and we hosted his open house that same day because my dad was here with us for the weekend. Mexican was his menu choice and I had it planned down to the last detail plus a generous padding of “extra food” because nobody wants to be the party host who runs short on food. Well…it happened…I started to run low on food and my heart sank somewhere down into my shoes.
It would have been a disaster if it hadn’t been for the awesome crew of friends that flocked into my kitchen and saved the day. We cooked some more…we emptied the fridge and a couple of them went home and brought back the contents of their own fridge and pantry. At one point some dads were chopping up watermelon and they chased me out of my own kitchen telling me to leave and enjoy the guests. They took over and amazed me with their friendship, generosity and helpfulness. What a blessing.
When I first started to realize the food was flying off the serving table so quickly I slipped into the office for a minute to pray. The verse from Matthew's Gospel came to mind and I said, “Jesus I trust you!” I chose not to panic. I chose to believe if He could feed 5,000 He could feed a couple hundred and I chose to believe the words of t and not worry. Within minutes the unsolicited help started filing into the kitchen. God paints the dots on a ladybug and He provided me with friends who knew how to save the day…how lucky am I! No detail is too large or too small for such a loving Father.
I’m still scratching my head at the events of the day, but mostly I’m thanking the Good Lord for the blessing of friends and the grace of generous hearts. I will be the first to admit I am a MARTHA right to my core, so the day was a lesson in humility. I was reminded to be more like MARY and enjoy the “better part”. Sunday the “better part” was friendship and the surprising way God hears and answers when we trust. The other part of the blessing that day was enjoying the wonderful people who came to help us celebrate Jason’s special day. Martha here, would have missed that if it hadn’t been for the friends who chased me out of the kitchen.
Today it doesn’t matter that I would have done exactly the same thing for any one of those friends…what mattered is that they did it for me and I’m grateful and blessed. I’ve re-calculated my food list and I’m still baffled, but I finally wadded up the paper work and threw it in the trash because it doesn’t matter. If everything would have worked out according to “my plan” I would have missed the beauty of “His plan”…and as usual…He’s a much better planner than me! I thank God for those good friends. As one of them said to me years ago, "You know someone is a good friend when they can walk into your kitchen and wash your dishes.” I’m thrilled to report I had LOTS of those kind of good friends on Sunday. May God smile sweetly on each of them!
A Seed To Plant: As you plod through this day, stop and ask God where this verse might fit.
Blessings on your day!
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Sheri's writing can also be found at Faith Catholic Publications and on CatholicMom.com