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

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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

 

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

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.