Strength and Courage

It has been just over one month since my life took quite an unexpected turn, changing what I had envisioned as an amazing bucket list first trip outside of the US and Canada.  5 surgeries, 4 ambulance rides, 3 hospitals, 2 additional surgeries on the horizon, all from one slight loss of balance from the path I was on.  I have experienced a vast array of emotions and have had a lot of introspection during this past month of looking at walls of hospital rooms.

The kindness and concern of people, from the closest of friends, to people I have never met in person is so very overwhelming.  It’s incredibly humbling for someone who loves to help and serve others to be so helpless and to be on the receiving end of blessings when you need them most in your life.

”Be strong, and let your heart take courage all you who wait for the LORD!”
Psalm 31:24 ESV

I’ve had so many people tell me how strong and courageous I have been through this experience.  I would be lying to you if I said that I have faced this without moments of “Why me?”, having some hard conversations with God, and days where I just was so tired of pushing through that I just want to cry and give up.  You truly find out who and what is important to you during times like this to push and encourage you to stay strong and positive.   Sometimes the best thing for a friend is to get in your face and tell it like it is in a loving way so that you cannot choose any other option but to be strong, keep the faith and push through.

Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word.  Let’s see how inventive we can be encouraging each other and helping out not avoiding worshiping together as some do, but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.”  Hebrews 10:23-25 MSG

Comforting and encouraging someone can come in many ways…  Shepherdess, never be afraid to speak truth to your flock when they need it during hard circumstances.

Cara

It’s been a while……

It’s been a while since we visited – about two weeks I think.   Life has reared its ugly head and those demands have taken the forefront for both Cara and I.

As another month ends and a new one is about to begin, let’s talk about some new lessons learned.

A recent international trip and an accident has put Cara out of commission for a bit.  She will be home soon, but until then many lessons are being taught and learned.

I will leave her part of the story to share another time if she deems it important.  I will share my part today.

Receiving news that your dear friend has been injured is never a good call (or text) to receive…………….EVER!  Add to that the fact that I can’t jump on a plane and fly to foreign parts of the world I can assure you it’s been a stressful week.

As life throws me curve balls, I do try to figure out what I might learn from the experience so I am better prepared for future events.

I have learned (or been reminded):

  • I simply am not in control of ‘things’ (I do know this, but need reminding occasionally).
  • You realize how much more a relationship means to you when injury happens (you think you know it until the chance of losing someone has happened and it becomes more intense).
  • You can’t fix everything (I struggle with this one).
  • Peace comes from giving it to God.
  • NEVER take anyone or anything for granted!
  • Always have important things taken care of and ways of communicating that to other people (Cara did a great job of this and it is paying off in spades!).
  • Contingency plans are good things to have.

As I sit here and wait for updates it brings my spirit back to the basics we all need – God, love, family and friends.  Everything else is a minor detail.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Prov. 3:5

Shepherdess, tend your flock well and have a plan for when the storm strikes.

Jamie

 

 

 

 

 

True generosity……

True generosity is quite simply amazing.  The giving of something with absolutely no expectation of getting anything in return.  Quietly and without fanfare just giving something away.

I was at a fundraising event this weekend and witnessed true generosity.  As with all fundraisers, this one was full of auctions for donated items.  One gentleman in particular seemed intent on purchasing every single item that came up for bid.  With several items he purchased a chance to win a bigger prize was afforded him.

After about the fifth purchase my mind began to race.  What on earth was he trying to prove?  He ended up buying 7 of the exact same item.  Who needed that many?  Why would he not let others have a chance?  Was the chance to win the bigger item that important?

Remember I said this was a fundraiser?  Well, he certainly helped by spending close to $6,000 throughout the night.

Then came the moment of true generosity.  Once the auction was over, he walked through the crowd and gave away (yes, gave away) each of the 7 items he had purchased.  The majority of them were given to complete strangers.

Yes, I had to toss out those negative feelings I had felt about this individual and rejoice in someone who gave not once, but twice.  First he supported the fundraiser in a very healthy way.  Second he gave away the items he purchased to those he did not know and quite possibly were individuals who could not have afforded the auction bid.

One gives freely, yet grows all the richer;
    another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.
Whoever brings blessing will be enriched,
    and one who waters will himself be watered. Proverbs 11:24-25

Let’s begin to give freely.  Regardless your financial position you have the ability to give freely of your talent, time and heart. Often those non-monetary gifts cost us more dearly than money.

Shepherdess, tend your flock and find a way to give and know that you will be blessed.

Jamie

 

Packing…

I hate packing…  It does not matter how excited I am for a trip, the thought of packing is daunting and the fear of forgetting something important is the thing of nightmares for me!  I struggle with having to plan out the future of what I would need to have and to wear!  So, how do I deal with packing?  I don’t deal with it well.  So I put it off, in which then I’m scrambling to pack last minute, when I’m absolutely forced to, and the chances of forgetting something exponentiates and robs me of taking in the excitement of even going on the trip.

The hand of the diligent will rule,
while the slothful will be put to forced labor.
Proverbs 12:24 (ESV)

Why do we procrastinate on the hard things, that make it worse when we actually have to face the facts?  We all do it, whether it’s packing, or dealing with a sore tooth to avoid the dreaded dentist, or ignoring a tough conversation we need to have with a friend or loved one…  I think human nature is to avoid painful things, but are we truly avoiding it when we know it needs to be done?  God wants us to be diligent with all actions, big or small and not be slothful, as when we get to the point we need to do it, it becomes forced labor.

He who observes the wind will not sow,
and he who regards the clouds will not reap.
Ecclesiastes 11:4 (ESV)

This verse in Ecclesiastes refers to sitting around and waiting for the most opportune moment to do what is needed.  But if you wait, that time may very well pass you by, and can be very painful if it does.  Especially when it comes to having those hard conversations or mending relationships by asking for or granting forgiveness.  Packing is a piece of cake compared to those!  But letting those feelings steep because we don’t want to face what God wants us to mend can hurt us and the ones we love worse than the actual action of just doing it and getting it over with.  We may miss that moment altogether, and even if you don’t miss it, how much time have you lost in the waiting???

Shepherdess, I encourage you to get packing!  The most opportune time is right now.  Don’t procrastinate on the things that must be done today, whether it’s a physical job, or relationship mending, especially with those in your flock.  Just get’er done and reap the joy and peace once it is complete!

Cara

Have you ever…………..

Have you ever felt so tired you didn’t want to move? Have you felt your mind become so tired that thinking becomes impossible?   Every once in a while I let myself become over committed to activities.  It is simply in my nature to ‘do’, and it also brings me joy.  However, sometimes there are more balls in the air than I can count (currently I have 7 balls being juggled), and fatigue sets in.  Mental and/or physical, it doesn’t really matter, fatigue is fatigue.

When times like these happen in my world, there is one simple verse that comes to me, brings me comfort and supplies strength for my spirit so I may continue with my responsibilities.

but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint.  Isaiah 40:31

How can you feel tired after reading these words?  I can soar like an Eagle, I can run and not be weary, I can walk and not faint!

Just writing this and reading these words have made my heart lighter, my spirit less weary.  I am smiling and know that I can face anything that comes my way.  I can soar above it, I can run past it, or I can simply walk through it knowing I will not faint.

Shepherdess as you tend your flock, you will find times that weariness sets in.  Remember Isaiah 40:31………………….and get ready to soar!

Stay safe!

Jamie

 

 

 

Crisis mode…

I will be the first to admit.  I am NOT a patient person, especially when it comes to issues that require “solving” or things that may shake my world.  We’ve all gotten that email, phone call or text at some point that throws you into a crisis of some type, be it work, friend or family centered.  My natural inclination is to go into get’er done mode and work to solve or mitigate the crisis as much as possible on my own, shutting out much of the rest of the world while I tend to that crisis.  How do you react to a crisis?

In going through the miracles of Jesus at church, a statement resonated with me that our pastor shared.  It come from the story of the miracle of healing Jairus’ daughter after Jesus had crossed the Sea of Galilee (read Mark 5:21-43 for the full story).  The crisis…  Jairus’ daughter was on her death bed, and knowing that Jesus could heal her, approached Jesus within a large crowd, begging Jesus to go with him to lay hands on her.  If you had the power to heal a young child from impending death, wouldn’t you hurry to do so without stopping, entering “crisis” mode?  That’s where it gets interesting…

Jesus is not hurried or anxious during crisis. 

With a great crowd pressing in around Jesus, He was still aware that something had happened when the woman touched his garment.  Jesus chose to stop and help the woman with a crisis of her own.

And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well;
go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” Mark 5:34 (ESV)

Jesus made the contact personal by calling her “daughter”, and affirmed that her faith had healed her because she believed He would.  He then sent her off, no longer unclean or to be considered an outcast.  And Jesus continued on and healed Jairus’ daughter – in His timing.

There are three points that this story makes me step back and think about…

1.  I think of how I handle crises and if I put off other people at their time of need because of something I deem a crisis (big or small) in my life when something might be as profound as to help another in their need.  What opportunities are we missing in crisis mode to minister to others that may need us more than our crisis needs us?

2.  It also makes me think back to the training a few weeks ago in Dallas and how I jumped to making decisions without slowing down because of the crisis (even for a split second) and thinking things through, especially tools I had just learned that I should have put into action.  Our instructors kept repeating that we need to be thinkers before doers.  It highlights that we should always think before we act (or speak) in anything we do, or we may regret our actions or words.

3.  Finally, we are at our most vulnerable (physically and emotionally) when we are in crisis.  It narrows our focus and attention from full awareness around us.  Some crises require that focus, especially severe ones (death, sickness, etc..), and when that kind of crisis is in your life Shepherdess, you need to surround yourself physically with members of your flock that can watch your back to keep you safe, but also be your arms and feet to hold you up in a time where you may not be able to stand alone.

By yourself you’re unprotected.  With a friend you can face the worst.
Can you round up a third?  A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 (MSG)

Shepherdess, tend your flock well, and in times of crisis, allow them to tend to you!

Cara

You are……

You are enough.  Say this out loud with me, “I am enough!”  It is so important that you understand you are enough for God.  It simply does not matter how broken you may be (or think you may be), you are enough.  The world spends a great deal of time trying to convince us otherwise.  It wants us to believe that we aren’t good daughters, wives, mothers, etc.  If we hear it enough we might begin to believe, but I promise you it isn’t true.  We are special creatures and each is provided with the talent that is important to those around us.

Think of those in your flock.  Are they enough for you?  Do you love each and every one of them regardless their condition?  Of course you do!  You wash their faces, bind up their wounds, protect them at all costs.  You do so freely with no thought of repayment.

We have that same promise and comfort that we are enough.  There are no strings attached to this amazing deal.

 Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:39

Shepherdess, where ever you find yourself at this very minute, stand tall, rest easy and know in your heart of hearts that YOU are enough!

Jamie