May 26, 2023

God offers a plan for making the most of our lives, readers say

At right, Joan Greiwe holds a painting she created during an outing with six of her sisters. (Submitted photo)

At right, Joan Greiwe holds a painting she created during an outing with six of her sisters. (Submitted photo)

(Editor’s note: The Criterion invited our readers to share a favorite Bible verse or a favorite quote that helps remind them of God’s presence in their lives and/or helps center them in their relationships with other people. Here is part seven of their responses. See part six | See part eight)

By John Shaughnessy

It was a tough time in Joan Greiwe’s life when she attended the retreat for women who were struggling with their plans for the future.

She had just lost her job, which had helped pay the bills for her, her husband and their four children. And since her husband did seasonal work, the loss of her job also meant that her family no longer had health insurance. There was also the challenge that their oldest child had just been accepted to a college in the fall.

Filled with worry, Greiwe was given a Bible quote on a piece of paper as she left the retreat. The verse was from the Book of Jeremiah: “For I have a plan for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not for woe! Plans to give you a future full of hope” (Jer 29:11).

Greiwe tucked the quote into her purse, focusing instead on the meeting that she soon attended with her college-bound son to choose his classes.

“I saw this paper in my purse, and suddenly it occurred to me that I had always wanted to go to college and become a teacher, but in my family only my brothers went to college,” recalls Greiwe, a member of St. Mary Parish in Greensburg. “I checked at the local high school with the counselor to see if it was possible, and he said it certainly was.”

Her dream and her hope now had a plan.

“After attending night classes for the next four years, I graduated and opened my own pre-school,” she says. “The college provided health insurance for my family, and God provide a part-time job for me to help with the bills.

“The best part was God also provided enough children so that my pre-school was very successful for the next 20 years.”

A short note, a powerful reminder

In her short, handwritten note, Judith Mang immediately focused on the one Bible verse that’s most meaningful to her—the part of Matthew 25 in which Christ tells us how our lives will be measured.

“For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me to drink. I was a stranger, and you took me in. Naked and you covered me, sick and you visited me. I was in prison, and you came to me” (Mt 25:35-36).

“… Amen, I say to you, as long as you did it for one of these, the least of my brethren, you did it for me” (Mt 25:40).

A sense of perspective—and humor

Paul Sifuentes has a sense of perspective—and a sense of humor—as he shares his favorite Bible verse.

The verse shapes his approach to his family as a husband and a father of six. It also guides the way he approaches his role as the director of pastoral ministries for the archdiocese.

“I love Acts 2:42. ‘They devoted themselves to the teaching of the Apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to prayers,’ ” Sifuentes says, reciting the passage.

“Right after the Apostles do their thing, Peter comes out and gives the best speech. Three thousand people are baptized after he talks. Not one person has ever gotten baptized after I talked! Just saying!”

he says with a laugh before turning serious again.

“Those four things are the things we need to make sure that our communities are. Even as a nuclear family, how are we continuing to teach our kids about the faith, and how are we growing in our faith? How are we intentionally living life as a community? We live in community, and we need to share that. As a minister, those four things have always rooted me.”

‘I say it often to calm me’

At 80, Sally Yates has known the joys of life. The member of St. Thomas More Parish in Mooresville has also experienced the hard and heartbreaking times of life. Through it all, she has always relied on Psalm 23 to give her peace.

“I still say all of the 23rd Psalm when I need to be with God,” she says. “I say it often to calm me.”

The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.

In green pastures he makes me lie down; to still waters he leads me; he restores my soul.

He guides me along right paths for the sake of his name.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff comfort me.

You set a table before me in front of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Indeed, goodness and mercy will pursue me all the days of my life; I will dwell in the house of the Lord for endless days. (Ps 23:1-6) †

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