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

 

 

 

Sometimes it’s those……

Sometimes it’s those closest to us who pose the greatest threat.  I write this post with frustration and mild anger in my heart.  How can someone who should love us betray us?

Last night I received an email from an individual requesting firearm lessons.  I immediately reached out and that email turned into two phone conversations that weigh heavy on my spirit.

This individual lives alone and has recently had to flee the home due to criminal activity.  The criminals turned out to be friends of the son.  Oddly enough the son was angry with the parent for calling the police until said son discovered how much property had been stolen.

This person never wanted to own a gun, but a sibling has insisted one be purchased.  Thankfully the need for training is recognized and that will begin this weekend.  Darral and I determined it important to change our schedule for the weekend to make this lesson happen and as quickly as we could do so.

Other safety features have been installed at the home (double dead bolts, cameras, outside lighting, etc.) but sadly after the fact.  The property may never be recovered and the feeling of being safe in one’s own home is now gone.

The book of Isaiah gives us insight on how we should feel about our homes.

My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places. Isaiah 32:18 (ESV)

The reality now is that one act of evil has negated this for our student.  The thieves took something precious that may never be restored.

I will never know the reason why this son associated himself with people who would so brazenly take from his parent.  I’m sure the parent struggles to understand as well.

As humans, it is sometimes tough to forgive those who betray us, especially when it is your own flesh and blood.  Not only is this individual dealing with the loss of several thousands of dollars of property, the pain of knowing someone close let the danger in must also be dealt with.  With time I’m sure the forgiveness will happen, and hopefully the trust will return in the parent/child relationship.

Shepherdess do not wait until the wolf or bear strikes your flock to have a plan of protection.  Beware those in sheep’s clothing who would inflict harm.  Start today to create your plan BEFORE danger finds you.

Wishing you safety and peace in a world full of danger.

Jamie

You’d better watch out……..

While listening to a Christmas song early Saturday morning as we drove to number two daughter’s college graduation, this post formed.  As far back as the beginning, music has been a delivery system for messages. (Think the book of Psalms).  This particular morning this song spoke a message to me, but maybe not in the usual way.

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town was written in the early 1930’s during what I think we all will agree was a simpler time.  The song of course promised serious consequences for not ‘watching out’ referring to Santa watching and making notes of our behavior during the year.  I’m sure many parents used the song in an attempt to encourage goodness in their children.  I suspect that encouragement may still be happening almost ninety years later.

As I thought about the simple message contained in the lyrics, it occurred to me that we need to apply the same logic to our daily lives.

We tell our children to watch out for Santa, but do we tell them to watch out for the evils in this world?  I suspect in most cases the answer is no.  We don’t want to scare our kids, make them paranoid, give them a complex, or maybe we struggle to accept that evil walks among us.

At least 64 times in the Bible there is a reference to being watchful.  The act of being watchful is used to describe many types of situations where awareness is warranted and with consequences we may not like.

The single verse that screams at me that we must be careful, aware and alert is this one.

1 Peter 5:8 (ESV)

Be sober-minded; be watchful.  Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

I don’t know about you, but that verse makes me sit up and take notice The powerful imagery of a roaring lion wanting to eat me assures me beyond a shadow of a doubt that evil walks daily with us and that I need to be watchful.

Are you watchful?  Do you teach your children the importance of being watchful? Do you help them become prepared for dangerous situations or emergencies?  A prepared individual is one who can walk in boldness because they have a plan.

Proverbs 22:3 (ESV) gives us some plain instruction and a consequence for ignoring danger.

The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.

Being aware of danger, having a plan to deal with danger, and making sure our flock is prepared is the absolute job of a Shepherdess.  Hopefully you will agree that ‘watching out’ is a good thing, and not just for Santa.

Tend your flock well Shepherdess.

Jamie

It was abrupt and unexpected…..

This time of year it is dark when I am commuting to work.  It is also the time of year when deer seem to feel compelled to cross the road at the most inopportune time.  So there I was this morning, barely exceeding the speed limit, when abruptly and completely unexpected, a deer crossed the road.

Sudden and sharp intake of breath, heart rate elevates drastically, foot flies to the brake pressing hard and fast, and thankfully crisis averted.

Awareness is defined as the quality or state of being aware.  The definition of the word aware is having or showing realization, perception, or knowledge (i.e. be aware of the danger).

Part of driving defensively is awareness, or being aware of our surroundings and potential threats.  Whether it’s a car or a deer, the sudden arrival of something in your path as you are hurtling down the highway is cause for alarm and sudden action.  The ability to successfully evade the threat while driving is something that comes with time and practice.

Let’s now apply this defensive strategy to another part of our lives.  How much practice have you put into being aware of your surroundings?  How much time have you spent thinking through the possible scenarios that can happen to you in your daily life?  Have you spent time educating yourself about the evils of the world?  Have you refused to acknowledge danger when something felt ‘off’?  Have you put barriers into place that will delay or prevent an illegal and/or violent action toward you and your family?

Complacency is one of our biggest challenges as we go about the daily chore of living.  Being unaware, uneducated about evil, certain that it always happens to the other person are all ingredients for disaster.

This verse really, really spoke to me about paying attention to all things:

The shepherds are senseless and do not inquire of the Lord;
so they do not prosper and all their flock is scattered.  Jeremiah 10:21 (NIV)

I interpret this verse to tell me to use my brain, to use and trust all of the intuitive tools God has equipped me with in order to protect my flock.  By paying attention to what is happening around me, I can take steps to prevent my flock from becoming scattered.

That level of preparedness may well come in handy when that deer decides to cross the road in front of you.

Tend your flock well Shepherdess.

Jamie

 

 

 

Color my face red…………

When you put yourself out there, share what you think, feel, know (or in some cases do not know), there will always be room for error.

Imperfection abounds in my life.  I work on perfection, but it will be elusive until THAT day when all is perfect.  But when an error is made, we are commanded to make it right.

James 4:17 tells us

“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”   (ESV)

My latest claim to fame in the world of imperfection happened in the Temperance Is A Virtue blog from a couple of days ago.

I have edited the original post to make the correction so those who read it in the future will have correct information.  For those of you who have already read it here is my goof.

I incorrectly listed Alex Lanshe’s name as Andrew Lanshe – even though I know it’s Alex, my fingers typed Andrew throughout the post.

“Never ruin an apology with an excuse.” Benjamin Franklin

Alex most graciously pointed this out last night, so this is my public apology to him.

Alex, I…..am…..sorry!  🙂  Thank you for being kind when you pointed out my error.  Confirmation to me that you live the virtues you share with us in the book.

I have included a link to the book at the end of the original post and here as well.

Anatomy Of A Warrior

My friends, when you make an error it is important to make it right, and if you are the person wronged, pointing out the error in a kind and gracious manner is a gift.

Tend your flock well shepherdess.

Jamie

 

 

Temperance is a virtue…….

A book I recently read is Anatomy of a Warrior by Alex Lanshe in which he delves into the virtues a warrior needs to possess to be successful as a protector.  The last virtue he discussed was the virtue of temperance.  Temperance is also known as moderation or self-control.

Warrior?  I can hear you now – really Jamie?   Don’t let the title of the book mislead you or turn you off.  There is much wisdom in this book and Alex’s Christian principles come through in each chapter.

You might think the word doesn’t describe you.  You may protest that you are not at war with anyone or anything.  Let me ask you some questions.  Do you fight inner battles with yourself?  Do you battle strife at work, in your marriage, in friendships, in child-parent relationships?  Do you battle addictions (food, shopping, drugs, alcohol, etc.)?  What else might be taking your time and energy as you try to thwart it?

If you can answer yes to any of those, then you my friend are a warrior.  One of Webster’s definitions of the term warrior is a person engaged in some struggle or conflict.  Whether your opponent is seen or unseen, the battle is real, and battling something, anything, makes you a warrior.

During the battle controlling our emotions is crucial to winning.  Stress during battle can cause us to make poor decisions.  Have you ever yelled at your spouse or your children when angry at someone else?   Have you ever ‘communicated’ when someone cut you off in traffic (you know what I’m talking about)?  Or they took the parking place you had been circling for several minutes to get?  Engaging someone we don’t know at the wrong place and time could lead to a physical battle you may not want – one that threatens your safety or the safety of those you love.  Temperance here would be extremely important.

Lanshe says “….thoughts lead to feelings, which lead to actions….”  Part of being temperate requires us to monitor and control our thoughts.  When you are cut off in traffic instead of thinking you so-and-so, how about thinking that person must really need to get somewhere quickly, maybe a medical emergency or a sick child who needs to be picked up from school?  When that person takes the parking place you have been so patiently waiting for instead of thinking how much you might like to give them a piece of your mind, how about praying for them and asking God to bless them?

2 Peter 1:5-8 (ESV) tells us –

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,
and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control,
and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness,
and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

These verses tell us that self-control is important………having temperance is important.  It is a virtue of a warrior (protector).

We are a few weeks from what many of us feel is the biggest holiday in the year.  It is also the holiday that can create the most stress and anxiety we may experience during the year.  Family strife, financial concerns, crowded streets, busy stores, long lines, loneliness all creating thoughts that lead to feelings, which lead to actions.

What are your thoughts going to be warrior?  Create your battle plan now for thoughts of love, peace and understanding.

Tend your flock well shepherdess, remembering you are a protector of those you love, and a warrior when necessary.

Jamie

PS – A big thank you to Alex Lanshe who granted me permission to quote his book in this blog post.  I met Alex at a recent Well Armed Woman conference where he was a guest speaker. I highly recommend you read Anatomy of a Warrior. The Kindle version is available at a great price.   Anatomy of a Warrior

I can do it myself………….

Have you ever heard a young child utter these words?  I’m fairly certain we all have at least once in our life.  “I can do it myself” is verbalizing independence, the ability to do things for and by ourselves.  Learning independence is something we are taught from a young age, something expected, something necessary to becoming a productive adult in society, and at times our definition of the word becomes a yardstick we use to judge others.

In nature becoming successfully independent can mean the difference between life and death.  Animals must learn to survive on their own seeking food and shelter or face the consequences.

What about us?  Don’t we need to strive for the goal of becoming successfully independent – so good at taking care of ourselves that we have no need for others to help?

My answer would be NO (did I say that loud enough?)  We….need…others.  Yep, I just said that we need others.  From the first pages of the Bible, it becomes obvious that we are not meant to face the storms of life alone.  There will be times that we fall, that we hurt, that we cry, that we doubt, that we are overwhelmed, that we simply want to give up (sound familiar?).

For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!”  Ecclesiastes 4:10 (ESV)

I think this verse makes it pretty clear that we can allow others to help us.  You mean ask for help?   That is exactly what I mean.  Am I good at it?   NO (did I say that loud enough?)  I struggle to ask for help because _______________________.  You fill in the blank.  Depending on the situation it can be many answers.  Maybe I’m too prideful and worried that others will think I’m weak and cannot take care of myself .  Maybe I’m too impatient to allow others to get the job done.  Maybe my expectations of others are too high, insisting they must meet my standard (insert judgmental yardstick here).  Maybe I have lost trust that others will do what they say.

The list can go on and on, so back to the reason for this post.  It’s about blessings.  Blessing others by allowing them to bless us.  Consider this – when we do not ask others to help us (whether we actually need it or not) we may be stealing a blessing from them.  Does it make you feel good to help others?  Do you feel you have received a blessing when you do?  Yes, I do too.  When I fail to allow others to help me I am taking away the opportunity for them to have those same feelings.  When I do ask it becomes a two for one deal, one simple act can bless me, bless them and we both win.

Cara and I are very aware that each of us may be “too independent” as we work together in The Good Shepherdess Ministry and are making a conscious effort to allow each the ability and opportunity to help the other.  Since we are both quite capable women, our focus is on giving a blessing, not about a need for help.

As we continue through the holiday season and into 2019, make it a point to GIVE OTHERS the blessing of helping you.  To quote a commercial on TV, “You’ll be glad you did.”

Tend your flock well shepherdess.

Jamie

Cyber Monday….

Cyber Monday is upon us…………..the continuation of the Black Friday experience.  Unlike Black Friday, Cyber Monday allows us to shop in our pj’s, or from our desk at work, or sitting in traffic.  We can also avoid the potential fight that may break out when someone grabs the last great deal off the shelf just as someone else was reaching for it.  Have you seen the YouTube video of the two ladies fighting over school supplies and one actually pulled out a gun?  We as a society have lost our reason and common sense.

But I digress…..online shopping is quite convenient – I avoid the crowds, sometimes I can get free shipping, and I simply sit back and let my UPS driver, FedEx driver or USPS carrier bring the purchases to me.  Honestly I do more and more shopping online.  It has nothing to do with being lazy, it is about management of my time.  I can get my shopping done in almost the amount of time it takes to drive to the store.

Is this too good to be true?  The ability to compare prices from many stores? Minimal effort on my part gets me exactly what I want?  Tiny effort bringing vast rewards?

I think the answers to all of these questions would be a resounding yes.  But all is not sweetness, purity and light my friends.  Cybercrime for 2018 is projected to be $1.5 trillion (yes that is trillion with a “T”).  Over 50% of that dollar amount is generated through online markets, as in your online shopping.

Cyber crime is attractive to the criminal element because it is impersonal, takes little to no effort on their part, AND the chances of actually getting caught are zero to none!

So what’s an online shopper to do?

Here is a link to a great article outlining 10 steps to help keep your personal information safe while you shop online.

10 Ways To Stay Safe When Online Shopping

Proverbs 2:12 (NIV) tells us “Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men.”  Verses 13-15 give a great description of those wicked men.  These words written so long ago fit today’s cyber criminals.

As you shop this holiday season, be extra careful and wise – educate yourself about ways you can be taken advantage of while cyber shopping.

Tend your flock well Shepherdess and cyber shop wisely.

Jamie

Happy birthday…….

Today my aunt would have been 73 years old.  I still keep her birthday on my calendar even though I haven’t celebrated with her in eight years.  She now celebrates her birthday in heaven where she happens to be saving me a seat.  We had an agreement that whoever made it first, the other one had to save a seat.

I dedicate November 20th of every year to remembering her more than the other 364.  Her life was full of challenges – poor health for the majority of her life, her father passed away when she was only 13 leaving her to care for my grandmother, not many earthly riches (but always enough to satisfy her), and finding love late in life celebrating only nine anniversaries with him.

Despite the battles she fought there was always one thing I could count on her for – unconditional love.  With the exception of my incredible husband, I have never felt such love here on earth.  Love that was never to be questioned, love that ran deeper than any ocean on the planet, love that saw past every single imperfection, love that knew what I needed before I knew it myself.

Where did she get this gift she gave to me so freely?  I firmly believe it was obedience.

John 15:12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (ESV)

She had the most trusting childlike faith in the Father I have ever witnessed.  I know absolutely her earthly life was no picnic, but her spiritual life and relationship with Him gave her all she needed to demonstrate all encompassing love.

The witness of her life goes before me daily, helping when the rough patches hit, reminding me God is enough.

So happy birthday in heaven, Joyce.  Some day I will hear you say the words “little one” again.  Until then, save my seat!

Tend your flock well shepherdess (hearts, minds and bodies) – as my shepherdess aunt tended me.

Jamie

TV is……..

TV is ………………..   This sentence can be completed in so many ways, but the one that is prodding my heart is TV can make you unsafe.

It can be so easy to allow TV to convince us what reality is.  We have all seen the action dramas where someone gets wounded or beat up, spends a few hours in the hospital and is back to work the next day feeling terrific.  So….not…..true…..  Or maybe you like reality shows where we watch the arguments, frustrations and strife that others feel should be shown to the world.  Do we use that to make us feel better about our own lives?

Let’s climb out of that rabbit hole for now and back to the subject of safety.  What has been poking and prodding me is a commercial I saw a few days ago.  Picture this – a young beautiful girl sitting at the window of a cafe in a large city.  She picks up her noise canceling headphones and puts them on.  Instantly, we watch things disappear from around her.  Suddenly she is completely alone to watch her ipad.  Sounds heavenly doesn’t it?  Nothing to distract us, no one to annoy us, just left alone with our thoughts and dreams.

What an opportunity that creates.  Crimes are generally crimes of opportunity.  That one moment when we let our guard down, and the criminal seizes the chance to take our money, our possessions, or worse yet, our life.  Based on information from people who make a living studying criminal behavior, it takes approximately 7 seconds for a criminal to determine if you are prey.  7 very short seconds and your life may be changed forever.

As I watched the commercial, all I could think about was how vulnerable she had made herself to be in such a public place and be so completely unaware of what was happening around her.  It was frightening to think how many of us walk through our day that unplugged.  We tend to be wrapped up in so many things, oblivious to what is happening near us.

Proverbs 22:3 (ESV) advises us on this subject – “The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.”

Evil lives and walks among us – do not be tempted to cancel all the “noise” for a moment’s peace and quiet.  Be alert, be aware, watch for those who would profit from bringing you harm.

Tend your flock well shepherdess.

Jamie