Joyful Words Blog
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.
– Psalm 119:105
– Psalm 119:105
Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap or gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they are? Matthew 6:26
The porch is open…summer may now begin! The flowers, the chairs, the cozy rug; it’s all part of the little piece of heaven on the north facing side of the house. My morning prayer chair will sit empty for the better part of the next 3 months and the kitchen island discussions will change because both of those important activities have been re-routed to the porch. I love the view, the breeze, the peace and the beauty. I love all of it ,but two of my favorite parts of the porch are the wind chimes that were a gift from great friends when Dave’s dad died and the hummingbird feeder that both hang from a Shepherds hook in the flower bed at the end of the porch.
One night last week Dave and I watched some cranes in the corn field across the road. They were huge! I watched in wonder as their giant necks bobbed across the rows and called back and forth to each other. As big as they were I would have expected them to be clumsy but they were quite graceful. Even though the group was separated by a couple of acres every so often they’d call to each other as if to make sure their friends were still nearby. It was quite a lovely show.
The other morning there was quite a wind and I laughed out loud as I watched a determined little bird try to get to a different tree. It was flying against the wind and the little thing was flapping his wings madly trying to go and it was if he was just stuck in the same place, mid-air, flapping and going nowhere. After a few seconds of flapping, he let up just a bit and the wind sent him tumbling beak over tail feather straight back to the tree he was trying to leave. I felt kind of sorry for the little guy but it was pretty hilarious!
Today we sat and watched in awe as the hummingbirds danced and flitted between the feeder at the end of the porch and the maple tree just a few feet away. Hummingbirds are fascinating to me. Some sound so loud and others are quiet as a whisper. We watched as one flew to a bare branch in the tree and as it landed it was so soft and tiny the branch showed absolutely no movement when he landed.
I’m not really a bird watcher but seeing these three groups of feathered friends showed me a lesson or two. My porch is a great place to learn so here’s what hit me as I rocked in my glider.
*Each was a bird, they could fly, they had a beak and feathers but yet I marveled at how different they looked. The size, the color, the shape, the sound….all so very different and with birds you’d never expect it to be any other way so why do we expect it to be that way with people? Why do we try so hard to be like others and fit in when we, like the birds I watched from my porch were specifically created to be different? God didn’t make a mistake when he used such originality and creativity with those bird. I need to remember the same is true for humans. The Hummingbird isn’t better because it’s tiny and the Crane isn’t better because it’s big and graceful. Each is perfect in it’s design!
*That bird wildly flapping against the wind must look just like me when I try to do things my own way and forget to follow the will of the Father. I wonder if he giggles at me too when I wind up right back where I started!
*I laugh when I think what it would look like if the Crane would try to daintily sip from the Hummingbird feeder or if the Hummingbird would try to cry out loudly to the friends in the beans an acre over. I think of the times I try to put myself in places and situations where God hasn’t invited me and it doesn’t look anything like that Hummingbird silently and stealthily landing on the tree branch.
Thank you God for using your beautiful creation to teach me a thing or two this first week on the porch. I’m looking forward to more lessons! Oh, and thank you for the beautiful world that surrounds my porch! The only thing that would make my porch better is company so if you’re on Pratt Road plan to stop for a visit!
A Seed To Plant: What are you gazing at this summer and what is the Father trying to teach you?
Blessings on your day!
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27
Have you ever noticed how many times things don’t go exactly as you think they will? Today is one of those days. In my plan, I was going to get up at 5 and get on a plane at 7 and be home from Houston by 3. Then the texts started coming…delay after re-book after new city. Instead of a quick trip home, I’m sitting in Philadelphia (because Houston to Philly to Grand Rapids makes perfect sense…right!) and should be in my driveway by 10 tonight. Not the plan I had cooked up, but I decided early this morning it was going to be an “eyes wide open” kind of day. I’m glad I made that choice because I saw a lot of cool stuff.
By 6:30 this morning I was already in a customer service line arranging my first re-book and I just watched the people in front of me in line. I watched a young man who had a walker to balance his unsteady body as he tried to walk on his new prosthetic leg. He was managing a huge suitcase and a walker and a wobbly body, just wanting to get home after a long medical stay in Houston. He was quiet and patient as they got him re-situated and I was impressed with his strength and his smile in spite of his physical challenges. He showed me perseverance and gratefulness.
The lady in line next to me at the counter was throwing a huge hissy fit because she was going to have to sit in Miami an extra two hours before she could get to her ten day vacation in Aruba. She was mad at the clerk, she was mad at her husband and when she said she was so mad she thought she was going to have a panic attack, I just touched her elbow and told her I’d say a prayer that her travel panic would calm. She immediately softened and settled…God is so good. I handed her a tissue to wipe her tears and she went on her way more calmly. He showed me how he can soften, strengthen and bring peace when we ask.
Two hours later, I got in line again to re-book and standing in line in front of me was a toddler who had just had it. As her daddy set her down to hand his paperwork to the ticket agent, his daughter went into a full out melt down. She cried, rolled on the floor and sobbed. Over and over she kept saying, “Daddy I want you to hold me!” She was hot, hungry, tired and overwhelmed. Once her daddy finished what he was doing, he picked her up and she was instantly calm and peaceful. Although it would be more appropriate for me to pray than roll on the floor screaming for my Father to pick me up, he showed me that he’s what I need and when I call to him and trust that he hears me, he will bring me the same peace and comfort that toddler found in the arms of her daddy.
As I sat in busy airports all day I saw fancy people, frumpy people, happy people, shiny people and cranky people. I saw people excited about going places and people disappointed about their destination. I saw thousands of people, each with a different story but each with a common thread. No two people looked the same or waited the same or interacted the same, yet, each and every one of them were created in the image and likeness of God. Each one was made was fearfully and wonderfully made. Today, he allowed me to sit and marvel at the wonder of his creation. Thank you Father for letting me see how creative and wonderful your work is even when it wasn’t my planned activity for the day!
A Seed to plant: Take some time this week just to watch people and marvel at the creativity of our Creator.
Blessings on your day!
“For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.” 1 Corinthians 10:31
Happy Labor day! I realize this isn’t a holiday everyone gets to celebrate. As I sit here typing in my pajamas with hot coffee inches away from my computer, Dave and Kevin are hard at work with the cattle and Shannon is going to class. That’s all a little against the spirit of the holiday don’t you think? Or is it?
I think sometimes we forget that our labor is a great way to love and serve the Lord. As Paul told the Corinthians, we are God’s fellow workers so that means we’re in this together. It’s easy to want to separate work from play or busy from peace but the truth is, God wants to meet us in both places. He wants all that we do to be an outpouring of his love. If we work, we have a chance to grow in holiness by serving others. Working can be a great way to gain something more valuable than a paycheck. Many of us spend the better part of our week at work so thats a lot of time to work with the Father in his fields and in his buildings don’t ya think? I think I need to shift my perspective.
I’ve decided to re-do some curriculum this weekend and as I stare at the pile of opened books and scattered sticky notes and notebook paper I have all over the dining room table, I realize today is a day to pause and thank God for our jobs and it’s an even better day to pause and pray for those who are underemployed or desperately seeking employment. Re-doing and long range planning may not be my favorite part of the job but I’m right where God put me, doing exactly what he’s asked me to do so I’ll ask him to join me in all the parts of my work, the fun and the not so whippy!
Wherever you are this weekend, at work or at play, know he’s there with you. It’s pretty easy to see him from a lounge chair watching the sunset on the lake but as we all head back to work tomorrow the questions are; can I see him in the cranky person at work and am I honoring him in the way I preform the tasks I’ve been given? Father, come with me to work because I want to answer both of those questions with a big yes!
A Seed To Plant: Take some quiet moments to thank God for work and ask him to show you more clearly how to bring him along.
Blessings on your day!
…as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15
Earlier this summer my good friends from Kansas came for a visit and they brought a beautiful plaque for my mantle with this verse from Joshua on it. I love this verse! Last night as I was peeling through the living room like my hair was on fire, the plaque caught my eye and stopped me in my tracks. Ya see, I was zooming around trying to get supper ready, paperwork for meet the coaches night finished, laundry off the line, the kitchen floor swept and a dozen other odds and ends tied up before we had to leave the house. In all my rushing and cramming…I don’t think I was doing so hot in the “servin the Lord” department. Truth be told, I was muttering under my breath and spittin and sputterin about the amount of dirty socks my family could produce, the proper identification of the petrified food on the inside of the microwave and about how much less sweeping I would have to do if we could just blacktop the lawn! It was probably not a scene endoursed by the Heavenly Father!
In this passage from Joshua, he made a strong declaration about who his people would serve. That statement should be the same one we are willing to make today, but let me tell ya…there’s more to it than plopping a plaque on your mantle. Being a house that serves the Lord is easy when things are calm, everyone is cooperating and things are going according to schedule. Ok, stop laughing…that COULD happen! God tests us with challenges and trials every day, He wants to see how much we’ll talk to Him, trust Him and ask for His guidance. I think we could all agree that the tests and challenges we face are far easier to deal with than wandering in the desert, facing a seven year famine or being plagued by frogs and gnats. If some of God’s early children could survive those hardships and make a declaration about who they would serve, surely my house can do a little better job serving as we fumble through car pools, barn chores, ball games and a small mountain of laundry!
When I crawled into bed last night feeling like a big ‘ole heap of wilted lettuce, I thought about my house and what our “serving the Lord” looked like. I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t just about what happened inside our house, but it also included what we took with us when we walked out the
front door. Phew, I was comforted by that thought because I don’t often mutter to people other than my own husband and children about tracking in mud and barn straw or leaving cabinet doors open. The bottom line is, we teach each other how to serve the Lord by the example we set in our own home. Each new day gives us a chance to ask God to help us become better servants. Our constant effort toward this end does two great things. First, it tightens up our relationship with Him and second, it sets an example for those we share our home with. The best way I can think of to create a society that serves the Lord is to start with some houses that do!
I got a picture this week from a college freshman showing her beautifully decorated dorm room. The caption read “My new home”. On the wall I saw a crucifix hanging and I was impressed that in her “new house” she was already preparing to serve the Lord. I smiled and thought of her parents and realized they were definitely a family that lived this verse. I was inspired!
A seed to plant: Find a plaque or make a card with this verse from Joshua to share with three people. Together we can remind each other of this important commitment and flood the neighborhoods with houses that “serve the Lord”.
Blessings on your day!
For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. Galatians 3:27
Earlier this week I made a quick trip to Kansas to present a teacher in-service. As I was sitting in the airport in Chicago, I was enjoying some people watching. One guy walked past in a T-shirt that read, A blood donor saved my life. After he passed by, my mind began to wonder if he had been in an accident or if maybe he had been afflicted with an illness. Lost in thought, the T-shirt made me grateful for the generosity of people, especially those who donate blood so others like this man might be alive and healthy.
A few minutes later, I saw the same guy walking in the opposite direction and I caught a glimpse of the back of his T-shirt and it displayed the words from Matthew 26:28, for this is my blood of the new covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins. I thought that was an amazing T-shirt!
Once again, my thoughts drifted to gratefulness…but this time for the ultimate blood donor, Jesus. I was thinking how cool it was that he wore that T-shirt in the most public place I could imagine. I suddenly got the urge to tell him how cool I thought his T- shirt was and I heard my mom’s voice in my ear saying “If you’ve got something nice to say to someone, you’d better spit it out cause folks need to hear good stuff.” I decided to find him and tell him…but then I realized that by the time I packed up my laptop, grabbed my suitcase and headed out of the boarding area, I would literally have to run through the terminal to find him and the vision of a chubby woman with a cup of coffee trotting through the airport tugging along a floral print suitcase behind her might be more than the good folks gathered at O’Hare airport were ready for on a Sunday morning! So, I stayed put, said a quick prayer for the guy in the cool T-shirt and went about my business.
A few minutes later I was reminded that God has an excellent sense of humor because the empty seat beside me was soon occupied by none other than the guy with the great T-shirt! It was all I could do not to laugh out loud! I told him I loved his shirt and that led to an amazing conversation that inspired and uplifted me! The gentleman told me that he knew he’d be spending the whole day in airports so he chose an outfit with a message. As he tugged on the T-shirt that morning he thought if one person noticed the message then he’d made a good choice for Jesus. (I’m not sure that has ever been the criteria on which I based my outfit choice…but it just might be someday.) As we sat in conversation, I was impressed by this man’s faith, his trust and his optimism. Both he and his wife had recently lost their jobs thanks to our current economy and in addition to raising their 15 yr. old son; they had recently and unexpectedly become guardians of their 11 month old grandson. He spoke about the way he felt God working in his life and about his expectant hope in God’s good plan for him and his family. He had every right to be frustrated, angry, anxious and cranky but he chose to put on a great T-shirt and God’s peace instead. He truly lived these words from Galatians and “put on the clothing of Christ”. He dressed himself in Christ both spiritually and physically! The situation started with a comment about a T-shirt, and ended up being a lesson in God’s love and grace. Who knew???
A seed to plant: This one is a double challenge! First, one day this week, purposefully wear or display something that will specifically draw attention to Jesus. Maybe it’s a T-shirt with a great message, religious jewelry or a sign in the rear window of your car. Second, take my mom’s advice and each time you think of something good to say…be sure you spit it out…let someone hear you say something good!
Blessings on your day!
For we are His handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good
works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.
I have been surrounded this week by a lot of good works! For the 12th summer in a row, our home for one week in July was at the Clinton County 4-H fair. Some of our families’ favorite memories have happened there. For our oldest son, tomorrow will close his final fair. As I look back over the past 12 county fairs, I can’t help but recognize all the places God has gently touched and abruptly thumped not only his life but the hearts and lives of all the kids and families who are a part of the fair. Sometimes, He touches with the sweet happiness of victory and sometimes, He touches with the sting of disappointment. The one thing that is certain though, He uses those kids and animals and projects to send a very precise message…if we look for it!
In order to get a livestock project ready for the fair, the work begins many months before they tie it up or put it in a pen on the fairgrounds. I couldn’t even begin to count the number of hours a 4-H member spends feeding, training, grooming and walking their animals! I’ve watched year after year as kids have walked into the show ring leading an immaculately groomed steer that weighed 5 to 10 times what they did. I’ve watched kids walk animals they were too short to see over to the wash rack and the show ring with a confidence and pride that is impressive and inspiring. I have seen kids who were too shy to talk to their own shoe-strings, learn to become confident and articulate because a judge was going to gently bombard them with questions that would greatly influence their standing in showmanship competition. I’ve watched kids carefully (and usually without much enthusiasm) prepare their financial statements and records, designed to develop an awareness of real world basic economics. On many occasions, I have stood at the end of a barn to look down the center aisle and watch dozens and dozens of hot, sweaty, tired kids laughing as they worked. Countless times, I have seen kids walk up to a judge and present a project. That project is a representation of time, talent, ability and pride and in the end; it becomes subject to the judgment of one set of eyes.
The “good works God has prepared” are evident at the county fair. Not many of the 4-H members at the fair will go on to have a career in production agriculture, but they will take the messages and lessons with them no matter what path God puts them on. God was at the fair teaching patience, trust, confidence and compassion. He was there teaching the value and blessing of caring for another living being. He was there flooding kids with the Holy Spirit when they needed the right words. He was there when they needed the grace of strength and patience. He was there to teach that people don’t always see “justice and judgment” the same way. He was there molding and forming the character of His children, showing them that the value of hard work, dedication and responsibility doesn’t always come with a purple ribbon and a champion title but if it is done in His honor, the prize is so much greater! God was at the county fair, I hope people saw Him and felt His presence!
A seed to plant: For the next week, wherever you go, make it a special assignment to look for God. What is He showing you, teaching you and reminding you?
Blessings on your day!
He has made everything beautiful in its time…Ecclesiastes 3:11
What is the most beautiful thing you can think of? I’m guessing things like sunsets, rainbows, ocean views, mountain tops and of course flowers and babies would be on the list. When we see the beautiful things God created for our enjoyment, it’s easy to recognize His presence in the world. Some of His color, design and absolute genius take our breath away and it’s easy to remember to acknowledge, praise and thank Him when we’re surrounded by some of His beautiful and amazing work. That’s just the way it should be, but what about looking for God in the ordinary stuff of life as well as the majestic and beautiful?
God is the God of the ordinary. He is always waiting to surprise us around every corner, but sometimes we’re so busy looking for Him in the big stuff, we miss Him in the little stuff. God doesn’t always bless us in huge dynamic ways, sometimes His blessings come in quiet, ordinary situations. Last weekend Dave and Kevin were hauling the cattle trailer back from MSU
and the truck just absolutely died; no warning, just completely conked out. YUCK! That was one of those situations that can really test your patience. But, in the middle of that ordinary situation, God was waiting with a blessing, the truck broke down on the way home, with no cattle or show supplies and equipment to worry about and the completely cool part of the situation, the truck conked out about 100 yards from our driveway. The Wohlfert’s were quite thankful for His choice of location!
God doesn’t want us to speak with Him just when we see big, beautiful and amazing stuff. He wants to hear from us as we stand smack dab in the middle of the everyday ordinary stuff that makes up our day to day life. He wants us to realize He’s waiting for us in the middle of the regular! How many people can you pray for when you fold a load of laundry? How many times can you call down God’s blessing upon your family as you pack their lunch or prepare dinner? How many times does your heart ache when you call to mind someone who is sick or suffering? Why not lift them up in prayer by name every time you wash dishes or sweep the garage. That stuff is a huge part of our everyday life, ask God to meet you there!
The next time I see a sunset or feel the cool rain on a hot, dusty day, I’ll be sure to thank God, but I will try equally hard to thank Him and chat with Him when I try to match up whichever socks the dryer hasn’t eaten or scrub petrified syrup off the breakfast table. I hope today is an ordinary day because God can make EVERYTHING beautiful…and I can't wait to see how many places I can find Him in my ordinary!
A seed to plant: Pick three things you see or use often (cell phone, car keys etc.). Make up a short little prayer you can say each time you use that ordinary object. Perhaps you could pray before sending or answering a call or text on your cell phone, “Lord, please make my words pleasing to Your ears.” Or before starting your car you might pray, “Lord, let this trip bring me
closer to You.” The possibilities are endless. Imagine how something as ordinary as making a call could increase the number of times in a day you speak with your Father. Maybe you could post some of your objects and the prayers you created to go with them.
Blessings on your day!
Sheri's writing can also be found at Faith Catholic Publications and on CatholicMom.com