Your Story……

One of the sweetest gifts I received for Christmas this year was from my dear friend Toni who lives halfway across the country from me (this great distance in no way daunts the wonderful friendship we have).  The gift was a book titled 100 Hundred Things God Loves About You.  I read something from the book several times a week (I’m making it last……).

Today I re-read some of the pages searching for inspiration and the very first one simply states “God loves your story”.  Wow!

God loves my story?  Has He read all of the pages I have written?  When I review my book as written so far, I certainly see a few pages I would like to remove.  I, the imperfect human, have written some good and some not so good pages.  There has been drama, sorrow, tears, fear and uncertainty.  There are some pages where I questioned my faith, some where I was certain I didn’t have the strength to move forward, but mixed in with those I also find pages of happiness, excitement, and pure joy.   There is a true fascination for me knowing that He knew the beginning, middle, and yes, He knows the end of my book.

All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.  Psalm 139:16

While I have no idea when my story will end, I do know that it’s up to me to make good choices and strive to be the best I can be.  I would like the last chapters in my book to be a joy and hopefully an inspiration to others.

Shepherdess, I hope your story is full of good things and happiness!  Try to tend your story as you tend your flock.

Jamie

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Baby It’s Cold…………….

Yes it is cold here in Arkansas, and I know that many other parts of the country are immobilized by the sub-zero temperatures (and that doesn’t count the wind chill factor).

I do not like cold weather…….I repeat, I do not like cold weather.  Add to that a sunless day and it equals gloom and doom.  Will the winter never end?  We have had virtually no snow, not really any ice, and only short spans of the really cold temps, but I am so ready for Spring that it’s like a small child waiting for Christmas.  Will Spring ever arrive?

As I grumble and complain about being cold, I do feel a prick of conscience that I truly have nothing to complain about.  I do live in a warm home, my vehicle has a great heater, I have warm clothes, etc. so I really should grow up and stop complaining.

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22

So to remind my heart to be joyful regarding cold weather I tried to think of at least one good thing the cold weather does for us.  Here are four things I found – Narcissus, Hyacinth, Tulips and Crocus.  Each of those Spring flowers has a needed time of cold temperatures to become a thing of beauty when they bloom.  A time of dormancy in the cold, damp, dark ground creates shapes, colors, and aromas that we struggle to equate with the environment it is born from.  If a tiny small flower can be born from such a place, then who am I to complain about a little cold weather?

Shepherdess, keep your flock warm this winter and find joy in your heart as we wait for Spring to bring forth its beauty.  Remembering always to be aware and stay safe.

Jamie

 

 

How small is…….

How small is your dream Shepherdess?  I am working through a short devotion written about C.S. Lewis and the call to create.   The devotion explains that the idea for the Chronicles of Narnia began when Lewis was 16 after he visualized a Faun carrying an umbrella and parcels in a snowy wood (Mr. Tumnus in the series).  When he was forty he decided to see if he could make something of the Faun.  The end result was a literary series about Narnia.  When you research information about the series, it mentions that Aslan (paralleling Jesus) is the central character and the only one to appear in all 7 installments.  Wait – Aslan wasn’t what Lewis saw in his mind, the Faun was the picture.  He relates that as he began to write the story, Aslan suddenly came bounding in (figuratively of course) and the rest is literary history.

Back to the question of how small is your dream.  Are you waiting for lighting to strike?  Are you waiting for the heavens to part and to hear a deep voice telling you to go forth and begin?  While it’s important to wait on the right time, to allow ourselves to be guided by God, it is also important that we begin.  We have to start somewhere with ‘the start’ being the most important part.  We may make mistakes, but those can be corrected.  If we do nothing, the dream may die, and we may miss out on blessing another with the outcome of our dream.  Most importantly, do not give up!

For still the vision awaits its appointed time;
    it hastens to the end—it will not lie.
If it seems slow, wait for it;
    it will surely come; it will not delay.  Habakkuk 2:3

Two years ago the idea for The Good Shepherdess Ministry came to me just as the Faun came to C.S. Lewis.  Since my dream came much later in life, waiting 24 years to begin was not an option for me.  During these two years I have worked and prepared to make the start.  Is it happening fast?  Not as fast as I would like.  I would love to present safe living to hundreds of people every single month.  My hope is to educate women and their families about the many ways we can stay safe and protect those we love.  Is it happening in the way I would like?  I’m not sure I have that answer as I don’t have a clear picture of how this is all supposed to happen.

The one thing I do know is to trust, to keep moving forward, to share at every opportunity, and to let the dream grow to be what it should be, a thing that gives glory to the Father and is a blessing to others.  Who knows, Aslan may suddenly come bounding into the picture!

Shepherdess, tend your flock well, and don’t give up on your dream.  C.S. Lewis waited almost 25 years for his Faun and Aslan to come to life in the minds and hearts of children (and a few of us adults).

Jamie

Closed door………

Can a closed door, and I mean one that is irrevocably closed to something that we as humans know to be right, ever be a good thing?  You might not see it, so let’s explore.

I have been reading a devotion titled Chase the Lion which discusses courage to step out, and to trust when you are near the lion.  Today’s reading discussed how a closed door might lead to feelings of failure.  Feeling that you had not done enough to make something happen.

Thinking through the devotion reminded me of a story.  Someone I know had been dealing with a rough marriage for many years.  Family, friends, the world all told her to give it up and move on.  Things were never going to change, that had become obvious, even to the woman.

For years she believed, trusted and expected God to step in and fix the mess.  Claiming the promises made in the scripture, ignoring the advice of others, she soldiered on.  Her faith clinging to scriptures about asking, knocking, trusting, mustard seeds, etc.  Every so often things improved and it appeared the door might be opening to a healed relationship.

During year 29 of the marriage, the roller coaster continued, until she finally looked at the door and realized that it was closed, never to be opened again.

Heartbroken she took stock of the situation.  So many questions surfaced.  Was her faith lacking?  Had she done something to deserve punishment?  Had she not been the right sort of wife?  Had all the tears gone unnoticed by Heaven?  Were the words in the Bible false?

Long sleepless nights haunted her.  Every prayer had been aligned with what the Bible said was God’s will.  A petition for a whole, healthy, spiritual family is what God would wish for us.  But the door remained closed.

A closed door is quite simple for God to open, so why had He not done so?  Why did He allow this door to remain so tightly closed?   The situation was not bigger than the Red Sea, so He had the ability to make it right.  The free will of people comes into play here.  It takes both parties to make a relationship work and if one does not wish to remain or to put forth the effort, then failure is the inevitable outcome.

Mercy is one of the gifts we receive and through mercy and love, another door opened letting the sun shine in on what had been many years of darkness.

God opened another door bringing love to the woman, through the gift of a husband who was the perfect answer to any question that might ever arise.

  ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.’  Rev. 3:7

God had so completely allowed the old door to remain shut it forced her to move to another doorway, find it open and step through to real happiness.

Shepherdess, as you tend your flock and find closed doors, before attempting to break it down and barge through, pause and ask God if He is the one who shut the door.   Is there another door He has opened?

Jamie

P.S. Yes, I know her well.  The woman in this story is me.  Until I read today’s devotion about God so completely closing some doors, I’m not sure that I recognized what a blessing that closed door has turned out to be.

Angel, Shepherd, Warrior……

Angel, Shepherd, Warrior…………….

I was reading a devotion a few days ago about guardian angels.  The author was questioning whether we each have a guardian angel (ultimately his take is that yes we do have a guardian angel).  As I read through the article, he used the words angel, shepherd and warrior in the same paragraph.  Those three words jumped at me and my mind was off to the races.  Comparison of the three terms took some research and thought.

While those words do not immediately seem to go together, upon reflection I think you may find they do.  In fact, they are probably linked much more closely than imagined.

When we think of angels we may see flowing robes, wings, halos, light, etc.  When we think of a shepherd we may see rugged, outdoorsy, a loner with a staff, a flock of animals, etc.  When we think of a warrior we may see armor, strength, weapons, protector, etc.

Where is the link between the three?  My main thought is that all three share the aspect of guarding and the act of protection when required.

Angels watching over us (For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. 12 On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.Psalm 91:11-12)

A shepherd caring for the flock (He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. Isaiah 40:11)

A warrior protecting from ensuing danger (David writes – Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle; Psalm 144:1).

As you tend your flock remember that God is with us as we go about the job of guarding, protecting and yes, possibly even fighting.

But the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior;
    so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail.
They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced;

    their dishonor will never be forgotten.

Jeremiah 20:11

We need to be aware of potential danger (one step ahead), to remove our flock from anything that might threaten it (or us), and if the time comes to fight, we need to be prepared for battle.

This will have different meaning for each of us, but it is vital that we pay attention to this part of our Shepherdess job.  We wish good health and long life for those we love, and do many things daily to create the environment for that to happen.  I urge you to explore the ways you should increase protection for your flock.  There are many classes, books, or instructors who will be more than happy to help you on this journey.

The Good Shepherdess Ministry offers a free seminar to help you learn ways to begin this process.  If your group has an interest please reach out to us.

Tend your flock well, Shepherdess.

Jamie

 

 

 

Wisdom………

Wisdom…….what is wisdom?  If you ask ten people I am sure you will receive ten different answers.  As the old saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so too I think are definitions and meanings.

The internet defines wisdom as the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise.  A second definition is the soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment.

Some synonyms are intelligence, sense, common sense, shrewdness, judgment, and prudence.

What does wisdom mean to you Shepherdess?

For me wisdom is common sense and judgment applied to my situations.  Making wise decisions in my life is integral with keeping my flock safe.  Wise decisions, both spiritual and physical, are vital to staying on the right path and avoiding life’s pitfalls.  There are times my decisions aren’t fun, but my responsibility as a Shepherdess far outweighs what my selfish and dare I say childish human nature desires.

While I do not always have the answer I need, I have the ability to reach out for counsel.  I have an incredibly smart husband, I have wise friends, I have research books, I have the internet, I have life experiences, but first and foremost I have a relationship with God who promises to help me when needed.  I have only to reach out to Him and wisdom is mine for the asking.

James 1:5-8 shares that fact with us promising us GENEROUS wisdom if we ask and have faith.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

 I am by far not perfect, and many times in life my wisdom was lacking resulting in decisions that impacted my life and the life of those around me.  I seriously doubt if any of us can look backward and say, “Yep, I did it all perfectly, wouldn’t change a thing.”

But the good news is we can keep moving forward and can seek the GENEROUS wisdom we need.  And the best news is, it is free for the asking.

Shepherdess, tend your flock wisely and well.

Jamie

 

 

 

 

 

 

Filled with anger…..

This morning I am filled with anger, dismay, frustration…………so many emotions I am having trouble processing.

I have been reading the timeline of events of the Parkland, Florida shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February 2018.  The timeline and facts were put together after a 10 month study of the horrific event, and exposes some glaring failures that allowed terrible loss of life. The report walks through the event minute by minute from the time the shooter enters the campus grounds – seen but unchallenged – through the search for said shooter. Diagrams of the school, video footage and 911 tapes are shared, all of which emphasize the many ways this event could have been contained much more quickly resulting in fewer, and dare I say it NO deaths. Huge failures on the part of many people throughout the timeline meant that 17 people, both teen and adult, no longer live on this earth, another 17 were injured and countless people will never be the same.

If you have an interest in learning about this event, I am sharing the link.  It is full of facts, several I had not taken into consideration, and I study these types of events to stay informed for the classes I teach.  One that jumps out at me is that they were making decisions based on video feed that was 20 minutes delayed rather than live feed.  They did not realize that until much later.  This one thing prevented medical personnel from entering the scene and allowed the shooter to leave the building, the school grounds, and go to the nearby Walmart.

(Caution that the the audio tapes may be distressing, however, you can choose to skip listening to those.)

Parkland, FL Shooting

One of the revelations I had while studying this is that we cannot expect others to ride in on the proverbial white horse and save us.  We are responsible for our own safety.  Time delays, lack of preparation, errors in protocol, not having a good understanding of what could and should be done, and possibly cowardice on the part of those who were meant to act allowed this event to happen with catastrophic results!

Why would I spend my time reading and researching this?  Because I need to know and attempt to understand the evil I am dealing with in this world.  I cannot throw the ostrich card on the table and stick my head in the sand, hoping evil passes me by.  It simply does not work that way.  Rather, I need to educate myself, see where the ‘holes’ in the plan exist and do all in my power to plug those ‘holes’.

Shepherdess, if you have children or grandchildren in the public school system you must help educate them on what to do if this type of evil walks down the hall.  Ask your school administration what they have in place to protect your flock.  Ask your local law enforcement what their policy is on responding to an event like this.  Preparation for disaster is not a new concept.  During my lifetime our schools have performed fire drills and tornado drills, hoping and praying the reality would not come to pass.  Bomb shelters in the event of a nuclear attack were constructed and in the generation before me, gas masks were purchased by citizens in the event of biological warfare.  Why are we not preparing our children for active shooting events?  Why is that so difficult to confront?  Why not work to take the fear out of it by talking about it, and teaching them what they can do in the event of?  Taking it a step further, if you work outside the home, have you given thought to what you would do if the evil visits your workplace?  Are you aware that more shootings occur at the workplace than at our schools?

This is a problem that will not go away.  It is not a problem that should be left to others to sort out.  It is our responsibility to educate ourselves, do what we can to help, and not point fingers when the news report hits the air waves.

There are many scriptures in the Bible that guide us on righteous anger, defending ourselves from evil, and protection.  I encourage you to take some ‘me’ time and explore the scriptures.

Shepherdess tend your flock well.

Jamie