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

 

 

 

What are you resolving to do in 2019???

I’ve always found this week to be interesting.  People have navigated through the Christmas season and a collective “sigh” has been heard from people everywhere.  This week is pivotal, it’s a time where I personally look backward at the past year and reflect upon the ups and downs of the year and the craziness that was endured through the year.  It’s also a time many people look to make New Year’s resolutions to change their life for the better over the next year.  According to U.S. News & World Report, 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February.  Yes, let that sink in!

Why do you think that is?  My personal opinion is that most resolutions are for outward changes, something tangible that other people can see in you.  Changes that we want other people to see in us… losing 10 lbs, or exercising 3 times a week, or even committing to being on time.  What if we focused this next year on the within, what our heart and soul needs, over what we want to look or feel better outwardly?

The mission of The Good Shepherdess is to help lead you to tending your flock well and keeping them safe.  The key to that is to ensure that YOU are tended to and spiritually healthy as well.  God built us to live in community with each other.  Although this verse is commonly used in the terms of marriage, its background is in the form of companionship (sharing with others) when Solomon was lamenting the perils of isolation.

9Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.
10For 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!
11Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone?
12And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (ESV)

This passage references sharing with friends your labor/task gets better return (v. 9), help in time of difficulty (v. 10), comfort in time of need (v. 11), and protection in time of danger (v. 12).  And if two are better than one, then three are even better!  The more confidants that you have as a Shepherdess, the more you have to lean on.  This also means that you have to allow yourself to be leaned on!

24And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,
25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV)

God clearly says that we need to encourage each other to love, and “meet” regularly.  Now I’ve just heard the collectively “Oh no, I don’t have time for this!!!”…  God also gave us tools today that allow us to lean in and be leaned on without having to physically sit across the table with each other at Starbucks over a coffee.  I do not want to discount face to face time.  That is critical, to learn about another person because written words can easily be taken out of context, but it does not need to be the sole source of communication.

So where am I going with this?  Well, it’s another challenge!  Ladies, I challenge you this year to pray about and identify one or two people, who you maybe already have a close relationship with, or maybe not, but you feel God calling you to lean in on, and allow them to minister to you this year.  Maybe do a verse of scripture each day and tell each other how it impacts you.  Find a devotional or book to work through together.  At the very least, pray for and lift up each other on a daily basis, providing verbal or written affirmation for that person.  Talk about life, your feelings, your worries, your faith.  Talk about what God is doing in your life.  Conversation must be honest, real, and no-holds-barred.  Conversely, allow another lady or two to lean in on you.  It may be the same person, maybe not.

12With the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother,
I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying
that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it.
1 Peter 5:12 (NIV)

Good Shepherdess, don’t go this life alone.  Jesus had his disciples and Paul had Silas just to name a couple of examples from the bible where it’s better for two or more to traverse life together.  God will find great joy in seeing his people lean in on and experience His grace with each other.

Cara

Inviting evil into our lives…

Yesterday was a day of frustration.  Instead of an enjoyable day at a shooting competition, after multiple equipment failures, it culminated with a small temper tantrum in which I let anger get the best of me.  We’ve all had those days, right?  We’ve had a negative conversation at work, the kids don’t want to mind, or maybe a small spat with the husband?  Then we have to face the world, who may not see where you’ve been or what your day has been like, yet we unleash a short temper on them.

 One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil,
but a fool is reckless and careless.
A man of quick temper acts foolishly,
and a man of evil devices is hated.
Proverbs 14:16-17 (ESV)

These verses specifically addresses our quick temper and how flying off the handle can cause someone to do or say things that they may regret.  It may not be the event that caused our anger emotion, but because of our hot-headedness, we react poorly to a situation.  Let’s say you had that bad day, and now you are fighting Christmas traffic.  Someone cuts you off.  You lay on the horn…  Or in the store, you grab the essential items like eggs and milk and head to the express line, only to find a person with 21 items starting to check out in front of you, and they need a price check.  You audibly sigh and mumble under your breath while your body language clearly shows your disdain for that person in front of you.

Seems harmless, right?  Unfortunately these “harmless” situations can become a grave danger to you and your flock.  This is exactly how many incidents of violence begin.  One driver having a bad day, reacting to another driver, and the battle ensues into road rage.  As part of our awareness, we must also be aware of our own emotions and keep them in check to keep ourselves out of harms way.  Worse yet, situations like this could also make it seem like we are the instigator in a violent crime.  Witnesses may not see the initial instigating event, in which you are reacting to.  If they don’t see it, it seems that you may be the instigator and the consequences may be grave.

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak,
slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

James 1:19-20 (ESV)

That’s right.  Anger fails to bring us to the righteous life that God desires for us.  God wants us to be a patient people with each other.  We need to train ourselves to be slow to speak (or act) and slow to anger to honor God in all we do.  Not only are we honoring Him in doing that, we are respecting our fellow man and not letting evil invade (back to Proverbs 14:16).  When we are short-tempered, we allow Satan a foothold in our actions, which does not bode well for us, and leads us into sinful ways, which is playing right into Satan’s hands.  Maybe that person who cut you off in traffic is late for an important appointment or the person in the checkout line is in a hurry as well to make it home without paying another hour of babysitting.  Keeping your anger under control shows grace for that other person and Satan hates grace.  You win.

A fool gives full vent to his anger,
but a wise man keeps himself under control.
Proverbs 29:11 (NIV)

Do you have to work on your anger or short temper?  Have a friend keep you accountable and allow them to call you out on it when they have noticed you’ve let it get the best of you.  There’s some good Christian based self-help books you can read regarding healthy emotions, or if severe enough, consider seeking counseling for your anger.  The more aware you are of your emotions, the better you can work on keeping them in check.  Keeping your emotions in check brings health to your flock, glorifies God and keeps you and your flock out of harms way.

Cara

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

Compromised, but aware!

As you can tell from previous blog posts that Jamie and I are passionate about situational awareness, or the act of being aware and cognizant of what is going around you, without distraction.  This awareness is almost always noted in terms of observing with your eyes other people or “people watching” to put it bluntly.  More often than not, if you are aware of what is going on around you, you can pick up on something that tells you something isn’t right or something is going to happen, and take action accordingly.

Every once in awhile I like to be pampered, as I’m sure most of you ladies do.  It’s a part of many of our life routines, where we may get massages, facials, or other activities which are meant to relax you, and generally involve covering your eyes to relax.  Jamie and I decided to indulge in an hour long foot massage at a new business not knowing what to expect.  Most places I had been to had not covered my eyes, but this place did.  And thus this relaxing foot massage turned into a very fascinating lesson on how our other senses emerge when one sense is inhibited.  What happens if you don’t have your sight?  Does that put you immediately into a state of non-awareness?

I knew I wanted to stay alert, to be able to react if something bad was going to happen.  Let’s face it, there’s so much evil in the world today, and even places where people go to relax can have horrific violence (note the tragedy not too long ago at a yoga studio in Florida).  We have to be on the alert everywhere today, there is no safe place.  So I had made a conscious decision that I could not allow myself to fully relax, which in my case means falling blissfully asleep.  Instead I started to focus on the only other senses I had, mainly my hearing.  It was amazing how I started to listen, and as I could hear other people breathing, I began to take note of where people were, and general proximity.  I heard every time the main door opened and a new client came in.  I listened to the hushed conversation and could hear it more clearly than I would expect.  It became a game.  When I heard someone move, I peeked out of the blindfold to see if I had correctly determined what had happened.  Even though my sight was gone, I was fully aware of my surroundings and was ready to react if needed.

We live by faith, not by sight.
2 Corinthians 5:7

We have our faith and trust in the Lord, by hearing from others, reading His word and feeling/experiencing His love, even though we have never stood face to face seeing Jesus.  We relied on our other senses to make that important life decision to follow Him.

Obviously this situation during my massage was not ideal, and we all have to make hard choices on whether we put ourselves into situations where we may be compromising our own and our flock’s safety.  I’m not sure if I will put myself in that situation again.  I may ask to not have my eyes covered, or find another establishment that has me in a more aware position, sitting up without an eye covering.  Another tangible example…  Jamie has decided that no movie is worth watching in a movie theater.  Think about how a theater changes what you can do to be aware, and limits your actions.

By wisdom the LORD laid the earth’s foundations,
by understanding he set the heavens in place;
by his knowledge the deeps were divided,

and the clouds let drop the dew.
Proverbs 3:19-20 (NIV)

If God needed wisdom, understanding and knowledge for creation, how much more should we gain from having these same attributes for what we do!  With any activity outside the home you must have knowledge of the activity and what it entails, understanding what that does for your awareness, and wisdom to determine whether doing the activity is worth the risk.  You may find that it’s okay giving up a bit of enjoyment to ensure your flock’s safety.  If you choose to still participate in the activity, work to find ways to stay aware and make a plan, even given compromises the activity may place on you.

Shepherdess – wisdom, understanding and knowledge are key for choosing well for your flock’s safety…

Cara

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

The Best and Worst Time of the Year

Yes, that’s what I said.  The Christmas season, while joyful and bright can also be a very hard time of the year.  I think the best word to describe it is overwhelming.  Whether you are overwhelmed by all of the preparation, shopping, Christmas concerts, or even the thought of having to spend a day or two with some relatives.  It’s just an overwhelming time.

I have to admit, Christmas doesn’t feel like Christmas this year, and it’s my own fault.  I overcommitted to way too many things leading up to Christmas, and I’m plain worn out.  And there’s still a week and a half to go!  I have a feeling I’m not the only one that feels like they are in a sinking boat.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

In this case, Jesus was speaking to us that the weariness comes from enduring our burdens, burdens of sin and its consequences.  Overcommitting a sin?  Well, let’s think about this.  When we commit, seeking to appease or please others (including relatives) or even our own ego, we are overshadowing Him.  Yes, he wants us to help others, but we need to be secure in Him, not proving our worth to others.  Colossians emphasizes that below…

Set your minds on things that are above,
not on things that are on earth. Colossians 3:20 (ESV)

For some, the Christmas season is overwhelming due to loss of a loved one, whether it’s cuts fresh like a knife this year, or an old wound from years ago.  I know there’s a time each Christmas where my soul is overwhelmed for the people that are no longer here by my side and how much my own Christmas traditions have changed over the years and how I would love to have those people back.  My prayer is that you can find hope in the One above and call, or even cry out to Him that you are burdened with loss.

from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, Ps 61:2 (ESV)

In any case where you are overwhelmed, seek Him in prayer, seek a close friend for guidance and wisdom in decisions, and be wary of how the devil may be snaring you into a tailspin.  I found out the last few weeks as I was overwhelmed that so much of the rest of your life is affected.  Your relationship with your spouse, children, co-workers and friends, sleep patterns, and just our overall attitude.  But when we are so overwhelmed, by any of the types explained above, we open ourselves up as prey.

I was posed the question…  “How alert was I when I was overwhelmed?”  Well…  I wasn’t.  My mind was always racing, thinking about and checking the schedule, fussing over everything going on, and not paying attention at all to my surroundings.   We become incredibly vulnerable as women when we are on multi-task overload.  No matter what you are feeling or trying to get done, your safety must come first.

Ladies, never lose sight that you must always be in a mindset to protect you and your flock.  I pray that this season you can give your burdens to God and look to Him for your rest as you celebrate His birth.

Cara

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

 

 

 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

For thieves…  Really?  Can’t we talk about the beautiful lights, trees and holiday decorations?  Let’s step back and think about it.  According to the National Retail Federation, this year Americans will spend nearly $720 billion, yes that’s with a “B”, dollars this year on Christmas.  That figures out to an average of $794 per person spent on gifts.  It’s no secret that many of those gifts are desired electronics and jewelry, which pack an expensive item in a small package.

Are you advertising to thieves?  What, who would really advertise that??!?!  The iconic American picture window typically focuses in on the sparkly Christmas tree and the shiny wrapped gifts below the tree.  Consider keeping the presents out of public view, removing the curb appeal for would be thieves.

And speaking of curbs… With so much online retail now, package theft is becoming one of the fastest growing non-violent crimes.  If you cannot be home for your deliveries, consider buddying up with a neighbor who is, or (if you are allowed) have packages shipped to your workplace.  Another option is to have packages held (whether at USPS, UPS, or FedEx) and pick them up.  Most places will hold packages for a couple of days.

There are other forms of advertising that we do harmlessly that put us at risk!  Traveling at the holidays?  Have a neighbor pick up your mail and newspapers.  Consider timers on your outdoor lights (preferably dusk/dawn timers).  And you could be popular in the neighborhood.  Offer to let neighbors park extra guest vehicles in your driveway while you are gone!  These tips make it look like someone is home, or at least going in and out.

And if that wasn’t enough, we all want to show our travels and gifts to others, but please be aware that airing that picture of your fancy new 75″ TV to all your Facebook friends or sharing pictures of your holiday cruise (while still on your trip) could make your home an easy and desirable target.

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have,
for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.  Hebrews 13:16 (ESV)

This Christmas season, Jamie and I encourage you to give to those less fortunate.  Whether that be of your time, volunteering with organizations to help collect and distribute gifts, delivering and serving food to the hungry, or by donating financially to worthy organizations, but please be careful…

Thieves aren’t just out after your gifts either.  Every year scam artists take advantage of unsuspecting people by soliciting donations for bogus organizations, which in essence is a donation right into the thief’s pocket.  Make sure you are gifting to organizations in which you know and trust are legitimate.  Do your research on lesser known organizations.  Make your donation directly to the organization, not through another organization or person, who may be skimming portions of the donations for themselves.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around
like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  1 Peter 5:8 (ESV)

Shepherdess, be wary of the wolves that lurk behind the rocks and bushes in your pasture for easy opportunity to attack.  Be on the watch and guard your flock.

Cara

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