Joyful Words Blog
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.
– Psalm 119:105
– Psalm 119:105
…”My Grace is sufficient for you”… 2 Corinthians 12:9
I read a story the other day about a young man who sheepishly approached an older gentleman asking for parts to repair his food truck. He was hesitant to ask because the older gentleman also owned a food truck, and not just any food truck but one of the most popular BBQ food trucks in the area. The older gentleman asked the young man what kind of food truck he had and as he kicked in the dirt a little, he hesitantly answered “BBQ, just like you.” The man laughed, gave the young man the parts he needed and then offered him some advice about how to make his business grow and succeed. Much to the young mans surprise the guy even gave him one of his famous recipes. The young man thanked him sincerely and began to walk away. He made it half way to his car then he turned around and said, “I just have to know why you did it? I’m the competition and you just did so much to help me and I gotta know why?” With a big smile the older man told him that he served a Mighty God who had more than plenty of graces and blessings to go around. He went on to explain that one of the greatest ailments in our world today is greedy competition. We forget our mission on earth is to help each other…help them with their health, their success, their family, their happiness and ultimately to help them get to heaven. With a wink, he said I can’t possibly feed everyone who wants to eat good BBQ myself so I’m helpin you take care of God’s hungry children too. He asked him if he knew his friend Jesus because getting to know him is the best help imaginable. He’s the one who makes sure graces and blessings never run dry and there is never a moments competition for them.
If we stop and think about all the silly things in a day we make comparisons about and all the minutes we spend evaluating and processing it seems pretty ridiculous. Maybe it’s human nature to wonder how we stack up in the eyes of our kids, our parents, our friends or our neighbors but the older gentleman in the story is right, God has plenty of grace and blessing to go around whether we’re the best or the 32nd best at something. God isn’t gonna love me more and give me more grace if my kids are the best behaved in church or get the top grades in school. Social media likes and shares don’t bestow more grace in my day. God could care less if my hair is cute, my lawn is spiffy, my thighs are slim or my cinnamon rolls are blue ribbon quality and always delivered thoughtfully to a neighbor in need. I think some days he up there slathering us with grace just because we got out of bed, fed the kids and threw up our hair with a bread twisty! We don’t have to be the best anything but we are supposed to help someone work toward their best. We’re supposed to lift each other up not be rivals.
I had a mom tell me once that she always pulled into the morning drop off lane at school with hair, makeup and a great shirt and it seemed to make her one of the “fancy moms”. What the others didn’t know was that most mornings she was wearing sweats, pj pants, running shorts and occasionally just her underwear with her long fancy shirts, blazers and sweaters. She admitted playing the game for months and months until one day her son tripped and fell and smashed his science project. As he lay crying on the sidewalk she instinctively jumped out of her SUV and ran to comfort him wearing her fancy top and a pair of her husbands boxers. She said it was one of the moms who had pj pants and a bread twisty hair tie who ran to her aid and gave her a trench coat and a hand with her sons project. She admitted through tears, that was the day she learned what kind of woman she wanted to be…the kind that helped others rather than competing with them…the kind who wasn’t afraid to look like life was hard some days and just showing up was worthy of blessings and grace.
Discipleship is tough work folks and it’s best done with help. Jesus started with twelve but that was the only time there was a limited number! Let’s help each other do the important work of spreading the word and love of Christ…we’re not fighting for “disciple of the year” and God will give us all the grace we need to grow in holiness but I think he might give extra on the days we help another along on their journey to him rather than trying to shove them out of the way to get his attention.
A Seed To Plant: Where do you struggle with comparison? Take that to prayer and ask God to help you swap that for a spirit of peace and glimpse at yourself through his eyes. Then begin each day asking him to point out anyone who might need your help this day.
Blessings on your day!
…”My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
I love working with people who have a “can do” attitude. They always seem so full of energy and optimism. I’d like to think that most days I’m a “can do” kinda girl but then there are those days when I’m absolutely not! Some seasons are busier than others and they spread out before us to-do’s and events that just don’t let up. It’s hard to maintain a prayer life, a house, a dozen schedules, the laundry and then plan meals that don’t all come from a bag or box. We try hard to squeeze it all in but if our prayer time gets whittled away things can jump the tracks quickly.
God knew there would be seasons like these. He knew we would loose our way and forget to sit at his feet. He also knew that there would be times when we were overwhelmed and drained so he has a solution. The antidote to our worldly craziness is his GRACE. The blog would be a mile long if I made a list of all the times I reached the “I’m about to loose it” stage and then remembered to ask for his grace. There is always an instant turn around when I stop and recognize my “can do” has turned into a “can’t do” and I ask for his grace to guide me through. He always delivers every…single…time! The following blip was written by Bonnie B Thurston. I have no idea who Bonnie is, but when I read these words in class Tuesday night I knew she had written them for me; and perhaps for you too.
In the accounts of the Garden of Resurrection in the gospels there is a great stone over the mouth of Jesus’ tomb. Who will move it? The women know that they are unable to remove what separates them from the Lord. This is a great metaphor for the spiritual life. We cannot in our own strength, remove what separates us from God and the life God wants us to have in fullness. We cannot bring life from death. But God can and does. The technical word for this is “grace”. Bonnie B. Thurston.
His grace brings life and removes what separates us from him and the life he has planned. All we have to do is ask for it; loads of it, heaps of it, there is no end or limit. We just have to be still and ask him.
A Seed To Plant: Sit still and have a chat with the Father about grace. Ask for it, tell him where you feel weak and worn out and ask him to swoop into your life with giant grace and then enjoy what he does next!
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 grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. Philippians 4:23
This week we celebrate the holiday that as a mother, was my least favorite. Halloween called on two gifts I seemed to get in shorter supply than many moms. Halloween with kids requires creativity and strength in the face of chocolate temptation…I am woefully lacking in both departments. One year I remember dressing two little Wohlfert boys in black trash bags with cardboard ears duct taped on a headband; they were bats! Thank goodness their desire for candy was greater than their interest in costumes because they looked pretty ridiculous. All the thinking, creating, hauling, buckling and unbuckling was frazzling. I was often amazed at how many times in a short window of time I could say, “Stop eating candy!” How crazy was that. I dressed them up, took them out with big bags to get candy and then told them not to eat it. Such an odd holiday isn’t it!
Even though I was always happy to turn back into our own driveway at the end of the night, I would sigh as I faced the bowl of candy on the dining room table that wasn’t empty. I love chocolate so the battle with the candy bowl would begin at the very time of day when I was too tired to slay the sugary, chocolate dragon. After they collected the candy the next step was to dump out their bags and begin to sift and sort and trade. After I was finally able to scrape my sugar buzzed little darlings off the ceiling and get them to bed I was faced with the bowl of candy and the three bags to boot. As a responsible parent, I had to hide it so they didn’t gobble it all up by All Souls Day; that was responsible parenting…right! I could put it out of the kids sight, but I knew where it was. The virtue of temperance always seemed to wane around the end of October. Looking back, I’m not sure how hard I prayed to resist that temptation and I’m sure I didn’t pause to think about how I could grow in holiness if I had actually called on God’s grace and conquered the temptation.
The years have passed and now I can think of Halloween in a different way, and as I sit here typing in an airport watching adorable little kids trotting through the airport in their Halloween costumes, I see some similarities between the upcoming holiday and my faith walk. I wake up every morning and spend the first chunk of my day in prayer but in all truthfulness, I realize that sometimes I don’t invest much more creative energy in my prayer time than I did in the kids costumes. Sometimes I just sit there and “get the job done” so I can collect a reward from God; much like the kids and their pursuit of chocolate rewards. The temptation of all that candy doesn’t just come at Halloween and all temptation isn’t chocolate. I can shake my fist and throw a hissy fit or I can bear down and push through it. In temptation, no matter what form it takes we can fight it and draw closer to the Father or we can forget to ask for help and deliverance and be steamrolled by it. Option two always leaves me feeling fuzzy, guilty and a little nauseous like a trick-or-treater (or parent) who ate too much candy.
God often asks us to do a lot and I’m not always a big fan of doing what he asks. I can be little “do my own thing-ish” at times, so I laughed when I remembered the negotiations that took place around the kitchen table as the kids sorted and traded their evening haul. Truth; I do that with God. Well God, if I serve you here and do what you ask here then you should be able to give me this or help me with that. Oh, and how about that candy hiding! I became the master of the goods. I decided when and how to dole the treats out. They were motivation for good behavior, prompt chore doing and extra vegetable eating. I could decide to give extra for things I liked or deny giving it at all if I didn't think they had “earned” it. Heck, on more occasions than I can count, I actually kept some of their stuff for myself. (sorry kids) I can’t even begin to tell you how magnificently grateful I am that God doesn’t hold his grace and blessings hostage the way I held the 3 little Wohlferts candy hostage. He is beyond fair, he is beyond generous and he delights in giving more than we could ever deserve or earn. This year as I admire the creative costumes and hand out chocolate, I’ll be praying that maybe I’ll learn from my Halloween thoughts and maybe you will too.
A Seed To Plant: Take a minute early this week to say a prayer for parents and children. May they laugh, be safe and enjoy each other this Halloween.
Blessings on your day!
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Sheri's writing can also be found at Faith Catholic Publications and on CatholicMom.com