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.

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