Sheep That Look Like Dogs Or People

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This past weekend I attended His Girls Bootcamp.  It was filled with much information to chew on.  My brain is still on overload.  So much to process, plan and put into action.

This weekend consisted of 3 experts pouring out their knowledge for us attendees to feast from.

These 3 ladies, Susan B Mead, Christa Hutchins and Arabah Joy fed all weekend. So much so, I’m continuing to consume.

As we speak of feeding, I think about love, loyalty and care.

This is our chocolate lab.  Her name is Nestle’.  My neighbor across the street was the owner of Nestle’s dam, a blonde lab.  My neighbor next door was the owner of Nestle’s sire, a black lab. In the fall of 2004, nearly every day for weeks, 1 or all 3 of our girls would trot across the street to give love to this delightful litter of puppies. Often times, they’d return home full of joy and plead, can we pleeeease have one of Mrs Angie’s puppies?  My response was always no.  Not because I never wanted a dog, but because I knew the work involved with feeding, tending and raising a puppy.  Our youngest was 4, and I was happy with finally sleeping through the night and not getting up before daylight.

It was Thanksgiving week of 2004 and these puppies were now 6 weeks old.  Our kids had gone to nanny and poppy’s at the beginning of the week and Richard and I were set to travel there on Wed night after work.  As we were preparing to leave town, Richard said to me something about the kids wanting a dog.  I again said we don’t need a dog.  ? He said, well, I want a dog.  Case closed.  A few hours later, we were the proud owners of a chocolate lab. Well, one of us was a proud owner while the other one was still trying to understand what just happened.

Some may say, I lost this deal. But now, after 12 years, I beg to differ.  You see Nestle has been loyal.  She has been a friend.  A snuggle buddy for us when we were tired, sick or sad.  She grieved with us when Richard passed away.  As our 2 older kids grew up and left the nest, she sat at the door waiting for them to return.  She sleeps in the room with our youngest.  And even when she’s ornery and decides to dart out into the yard as a visitor opens the front door, they may be quick to apologize for letting her out but I’m just as quick to say, Oh it’s okay.  She’ll be back.  She knows where she gets fed. Isn’t that true of us too?  We tend to go where we are fed. We tend to remain loyal to those who help us grow and move us along in our journey.

This weekend was an opportunity to be fed.  You see, I met Susan at the Declare Conference and again at Propel.  I met Christa at a Propel Conference and have had the privilege of sitting under her coaching.  And Arabah, although I have yet to meet in person, I have been reading her content for some time.  It enriches and keeps me going back.

Although I am new to this blogging world, I have been fed much.  So much so that I am trying to utilize Christa’s Mind Mapping tools to work through it.  It’s scary to wander through the paths of cyberspace and wonder if you’re feeding the sheep as you’ve been called.

We read about feeding the sheep in John 21:15-23.  Jesus asks Simon Peter 3 times if he loves Him and Peter responds with “You know that I love You”. Jesus’ replies are for Peter to feed His lambs/sheep.  This is hard for me to swallow at times because when you feel as though you’ve been called to do something, there is a responsibility that comes with it.  A responsibility to show love and loyalty to the One who calls as well as to those you’re feeding.

You see, at this season of my life, I have been called to study God’s word, mediate on it and teach it and how to study it to others.  I’ve been called to feed sheep in this way. I’ve also been entrusted with teaching in the area of personal finance. Richard and I worked through years of struggle in the area. My heart empathizes with those who feel hopeless about managing money.

Sharing my knowledge and story is a way of giving praise to God for the way He’s worked in and through my life.  And those who know me personally, know He still has work to do.  ?  However, my loyalty remains in Him.  My love remains in Him. Therefore, may I be the person who not only eats to fill a void, but eats to be nourished so that I may feed others. Jesus does that! Jesus feeds us so that we may feed others.

I don’t know what your “sheep” look like.  But I want to encourage you to feed yourself so that you may be the shepherd you’ve been created to be. If you don’t know where to begin?  I’ve provided links below to Susan, Christa and Arabah’s sites and/or products.  Please feel free to begin here.

Susan B Mead is the author of Dance with Jesus: From Grief to Grace

Christa Hutchins who coaches at Do A New Thing

Arabah Joy feeds people at ArabahJoy.com.  She has a new program coming out that you don’t want to miss: Bible Study Methods: 7 Ways in 7 Days. This course will begin March 14, 2017 so sign up today!

If you are a fellow blogger/writer, you can purchase the Bootcamp replays at His Girls Bootcamp.  It may just be what you need to move you to the next level.

Thank you Susan, Christa and Arabah for being shepherds in your field of expertise.

 

 

 

*affiliate links included in blog post

Peddling Keeps Us Upright

When I was younger, much younger I learned to ride a bicycle without training wheels.  I remember being frustrated as I tried something new.  I remember my mom or dad with a hand on the back of the seat to guide and keep me upright.  They were a great help.

As I grew up and had kids of my own, they too learned to ride a bicycle without training wheels.  I used the same technique of helping for my kids…. holding onto the back of the seat to guide and keep them upright.  I wanted to be a helper for them just as my parents were for me.

As they learned this new skill of riding along without training wheels, they too encountered some frustration. However, knowing they were capable, we were quick to encourage them not to give up and that we were holding onto the seat.

The interesting thing about holding on to the seat, is the rider has to have faith and trust the one who’s holding.  The rider can’t see that they’re being helped or held. Their eyes should be focused on what lies ahead.

This morning as I spent some time in Psalm 121 I noticed a few things:

  • He lifts his head to view the mountain – the obstacle that he needs help to conquer.  He faces it head on.
  • He acknowledges his help comes from the Lord and then he begins to list attributes of the Lord:
  1. He made heaven and earth
  2. He will not allow your foot to slip
  3. He who keeps you will not slumber
  4. He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep (rest easy – no need for both of us to not sleep ?)
  5. He is your keeper
  6. He is your shade on your right hand
  7. He will protect you from all evil
  8. He will keep your soul
  9. He will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever.

As my daughters encountered a series of failed attempts while overcoming their obstacle of riding a bicycle, they experienced a short win, and then a longer ride and then an extended trip down the street. They realized that if they continued to peddle, the bicycle would remain upright.  There was excitement in the eyes of the helper! But the joy that came from the rider was beyond words! They had succeeded at something that a few moments before, beit minutes, hours or even days had seemed impossible.

Our lives can be like that as well.  Sometimes the obstacles seem as large as mountains. When we come face to face with something we can’t tackle on our own, may we call out to the Lord who created the heaven and earth.  He can move our mountains.  He is our help!

 

When we come face to face with something we can't tackle on our own, may we call out to the Lord who… Click To Tweet

 

When we view God in light of these attributes, our mountains become smaller. It may be difficult in the beginning but as we stay focused on what’s ahead and with Him holding our seat, we’re guaranteed to peddle our way to in an upright position.

 

 

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Awe of the Creator

Christmas can be such a “magical” time of the year.  One that brings hope, joy and something new.

It can also be a time of sorrow in missing those we love.  Those who have passed away from this life as we know it and into an eternal one.  Maybe it’s finances, health or family issues that bring you stress.  I want to encourage you that Jesus is still Prince of Peace and Lord of Lords and He’s bigger than whatever pain you may experience.

Don’t lose your sense of wonder and awe of The Father.

Psalm 139, shows David’s wonder of the Lord.  He recognizes that God has known his heart, He’s intimately acquainted with all of his ways.  He’s everywhere, All knowing, He’s not bound by time and nothing is hidden from Him.  David recognizes the power and he’s in awe of God Almighty!

He then goes on to say he recognizes that He made him fearfully and wonderfully.  Wonderful are the works of the Father.

David is brutally honest about his hate toward his enemies in verses 19-22.  If the Lord already knows your heart, He knows this too.  If you’re struggling, tell it to God.  David says he hates them with the utmost hatred.  That’s a lot of hate.  And yet, he shared it with the creator.

But through all of this, acknowledging God’s greatness and goodness and yes, even hatred, we see David coming back to a place of asking the Lord to continue to search his heart.  Try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.

An everlasting way…  a way that lasts forever, for ever and ever.  As your family celebrates the advent of Jesus’ first coming, may we never forget He is everlasting.  And one day, He’s returning for His church. May we all be ready to reign with the Prince of Peace and Lord of Lords.  May we know Him intimately.  May we be in awe of Him. In Jesus name, amen.
photo credit: Unsplash

Grief is Crazy Like That!

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.  Matthew 5:4

The holidays can be some of toughest times of the year after losing a loved one. Click To Tweet

I remember our first Thanksgiving after Richard passed away.  We drove to Arkansas to be with family and when the time came to join hands for prayer over the meal it was awkward because there was a vacancy, a void in our family and empty chair at the table.

I tried to keep things as normal and as routine for the kids and I as possible.  But the reality was, it was far from normal, we were not the same.  Our loss was huge!

Thanksgiving 2010 marked 5 1/2 months since we had been with Richard. In some regards, 5 1/2 months seemed like such a short time yet at the same time it seemed like an eternity. How does that even make sense? Grief is crazy like that.

Our families were gracious in trying to continue traditions of gathering around the table and enjoying a full spread of ham, turkey and dressing but something, someone was still missing.

How on earth do you get through?  Is it even possible to survive?

I will say, getting through is sometimes just that…  Nothing outlandish just merely surviving.  Sometimes you just need to survive.  You may be saying something like, if I can just get through or survive this year I’ll be good.  Can I encourage you?  “Good” is overrated when you’re grieving. If you don’t feel “good” just know your normal.  If you feel “good” just know your normal.  Grief is crazy like that.

But, it’s the holiday season.  A season of thanksgiving.  A season to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.  We should be cheerful.  Not necessarily.  Maybe another year, but it doesn’t have to be now. I give you permission to grieve.

It’s been 6 1/2 years now since Richard went home to be with the Lord.  Since that time, I’m not sure if there has been a single year the same.  Seasons change. But our loved ones will never be forgotten.

One year, I didn’t even put up a tree or decorate for Christmas. At first, I stressed, oh no, I have to put up a tree.  It won’t be Christmas otherwise. I had to get over myself and give myself permission to be okay with it. Of course, I’m hoping that this isn’t the one year my kids remember (unless it’s one with laughter…)  remember the year you were a “scrooge” and didn’t put up a tree or decorations?  ?  Maybe they will…. Maybe they won’t…. but we survived… we got through.

This year as you celebrate Christmas, remember the good times. Remember when….

You may be spending holidays with family and/or friends who have never grieved and they don’t understand, be gracious.

You may be spending holidays with family and/or friends who have grieved differently than you and they don’t understand, be gracious.

You may be spending holidays with family and/or friends who let you be you, be grateful.

I wish I could give you some magic tip on how to survive the holidays but I really believe it’s unique to each of us. Because we’re uniquely created by a unique God. He, who sent His Son, Jesus so that we have a reason to celebrate Christmas.

As you gather around the table this Christmas, as you look upon the vacant chair where your loved one once sat, be grateful that you experienced love.

In the words of Alfred Lord Tennyson, “‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.”

From our family to yours, I want to wish you a very Merry Christmas!

*Photo Credit: Unsplash Web Agency

Walk in the Light, Don’t Crawl in the Dark

i-am-the-light-of-the-world-he-who-follows-me-will-not-walk-in-the-darkness-but-will-have-the-light-of-life

A couple of years ago I was watching Big Brother, (yes, I confess… It’s sometimes a guilty pleasure) and the contestants were competing in a challenge where they entered a pitch black room to find large wooden puzzle pieces.  One of the things I remember is that almost all of the contestants entered the room standing up, but it didn’t take long to realize that walking around in a dark room could be dangerous and slow.  So they got down on their hands and knees and began to crawl around the room.  These are grown adults, crawling around in order to find their way.  Although they could move faster, it was still difficult to maneuver through a dark room looking for these puzzle pieces.  While in the room they would sometimes hit a wall, become frustrated and maybe even blurt a curse word or two as they knew they were competing with others. Time was of the essence.

As I was reading Jesus Calling recently, Sarah Young writes, “Men crawl through their lives cursing the darkness, but all the while I am shining brightly.”  Here we see grown men stooping to crawl through life.  It can be difficult to stand tall and walk, as an adult walks, when the space around us is not brightly lit.

In John 8:12 we read, Then Jesus again (this is not the first time) spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness but will have the Light of Life.

Matthew 5:14-16 You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.

As we journey through this life, we don’t need to crawl as He’s already shining brightly to illuminate our path.  May we stand tall, reflect the Light of the World to all who see us. May the countenance of the Lord shine brightly upon you today.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Photo credit: kaitlynbouchillon/freebies

 

I hope you’re preparing for a relaxing/fun time with family and friends as we give thanks for all the Lord has blessed us with.  I also understand the craziness that comes with either entertaining or being entertained by loved ones.  Somewhere along the way actions and words may be painful to watch or hear.  Can I encourage you to throw a pie at them when it happens?  ?
pie-throwing-qcyzqo-clipart

Actually, don’t waste a good pie…  It’s hard, I know but try to keep the reason for celebrating at the forefront of your mind and heart.

Some of my biggest hurts in life have come from those who were close, I spent many years being angry, building walls and even retaliating.  It was exhausting.  Lately, I’ve been walking through trying to figure out why I am/was that way, I’ve learned that they too had grown up in a, not so great environment and therefore, the cycle continued.  There is truth in the statement; “hurt people hurt people”.  I, in turn have also hurt people I loved.  It’s a crazy cycle and we have the power to break it.  Although, not without the power of Christ living within us.  We truly are powerless without Him.

Maybe your pain this year has been the loss of someone you loved. As someone who has lost people close to me, namely my husband a few years ago, I know how celebrating holidays hurt.

If you can imagine yourself a broken pottery…  It’s hard to think about pain in such a way, but if you shine light through a solid, well formed pottery, it’s hard for light to be seen.  But when it’s broken, the light shines bright for others to see.  When we are broken, it’s a great way for Jesus to shine through us.  When we are broken, we realize our need for Him.  Embrace your brokenness, don’t try to hide or cover it.  The Lord will use your pain.  He doesn’t waste it and it won’t be in vain.  There is purpose in pain.

I say all of this to say, embrace the moments as they come with those you love.  Moments are fleeting. And ultimately we want all that we are to glorify God.

 

Matthew 5:16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!  May this year be one full of memories to enjoy for generations to come.

Why the Bible is Important to Me

rtstowellI was asked recently to share why God’s Word is important to me.

Although I could speak for days on how His Word has truly transformed my life, I thought I’d include 4 points and then share the video shown to my church family.

  1. Hide the word of God in our hearts so that I may not sin against Him

Continue reading “Why the Bible is Important to Me”

Fear or Faith

Luke 8:22 Now on one of those days Jesus and His disciples got into a boat, and He said to them, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they launched out. 23 But as they were sailing along He fell asleep; and a fierce gale of wind descended on the lake, and they began to be swamped and to be in danger. 24 They came to Jesus and woke Him up, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And He got up and rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm. 25 And He said to them, “Where is your faith?” They were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?”

 

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One of the biggest things I struggle with is fear. I’m fearful of failure and ironically enough, I’m fearful of success. I’m often hesitant to share my fear of success with people because inevitably I get looks of shock, surprise or that I’m a circus freak of sorts. I mean, why would anyone be afraid of success? Don’t we all want to succeed?

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Father’s Love in a Ford Fiesta 

When I was a teen, I drove the family car until I got my own car.  I couldn’t wait to have a car that I could call my own.  I mean, driving a 197(?) Chevy Impala was a little much.  I felt like I was driving a ship or something.  While still in high school, my parents bought me a 197(?) Red Ford Fiesta!  Now THAT was more my style…  well not really, but it was “mine”.  It was mine, yet my parents did everything to give it to me….  Sounds almost like a toddler..  Mine, mine, mine.
 Ford Fiesta

 This picture makes this car look all sexy and romantic.  Who wouldn’t want to take a drive out to the beach and raise the hatchback and enjoy each others company?  It looks like a dream!

Continue reading “Father’s Love in a Ford Fiesta “