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

Setting your focus for Advent…

I’m a sucker for Christmas music.  There are rules in my house that it cannot be played out loud until Thanksgiving Day, but I start listening through earbuds in October.  If I had my way, Christmas would last for 3 months!  “O, Come All Ye Faithful” is one of my favorite carols this time of year.  The other day a post on Facebook caught my eye the other day.  “O, Come Let Us Adore Him” beautifully painted on a wood block like so many other we’ve seen gracing homes during Christmas season, but do we really adore Him?

Webster defines adore is to regard with utmost esteem, love and respect; to pay divine honor to; to worship.  Wow.  That’s amazingly deep meaning, much more so than the common use of “that’s adorable” when talking about a cute outfit or hairdo.  What can we do to show Him divine honor this season?  What are acts of adoration that we can worship our Savior with?  I think on it’s most simplest level, it’s to be quiet, even just for a few minutes each day and reflect on the amazing miracle of Jesus.  An ordinary girl and an unexpected fiancé being thrust into a divine appointment, birthing and parenting the Son of God.  That Son being rejected, beaten, scorned and sentenced to death on a cross, one of the most brutal ways to die, only to negate our wayward ways of sin and allow us to have an intimate relationship with our God and Savior directly.  Doesn’t that warrant adoration on a daily basis, regardless of the season?

You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
Revere him, all you descendants of Israel! Psalm 22:23 (NIV)

Adoration can also come in ways of connecting with God and His word for us.  Prayer is adoration, whether it be prayers of thanksgiving, or prayers of your deepest darkest hurts and needs.  David throughout the Psalms showed great adoration for the LORD, whether it was crying out in praise, or lamenting with his entire soul.

Another great idea gleaned from Facebook (yes, I might spend TOO MUCH time there) is to start reading Luke, one chapter a day starting TODAY the 1st, and by Christmas Eve, you will have read the entire story of Jesus’s birth, death and resurrection.  Many churches and websites also offer Advent devotionals, in which will email or text you daily during advent for reflection.  For some, music is a very personal time praising Jesus.

Advent (meaning “coming” in Latin) is a time of waiting and preparation leading up to the celebration of Jesus’ birth.  What a better way to celebrate what Jesus has done in our lives than to prepare our hearts for Christmas.  I challenge you this Advent season, take up something that will turn your eyes to Jesus during these hectic days leading up to Christmas to give him divine honor and adoration to celebrate His birth.  What will you do to give him divine honor and adoration?  Do you have other ideas?  Please share in the blog or Facebook comments for others to see and encourage you on your journey.

Cara

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

The battle of good vs evil…..

I cannot bring myself to listen to newscasts anymore.  They make me feel depressed, heart-broken, and disgusted at our society.  How did this happen?  When did the world become such an awful place?  I want to imagine life as God created it, in the Garden of Eden.  Oh, what a beautiful, majestic place it must have been!  But wait…  newsflash!!! Dateline Garden of Eden….. Eve eats what God says not to, Adam didn’t stop her, she blames him, and he blames the serpent!  Hmmm, maybe the “apple” hasn’t fallen too far from the tree.  Continue reading “The battle of good vs evil…..”

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

Shopping, shopping, shopping!!!

Today is that day!  Well, I guess I could say it started yesterday.  Black Friday and the holiday rush is on.  Ladies, shopping is probably our most vulnerable time to compromise our safety and the safety of our flock.  We’ve all seen the news articles of crazy rushes for merchandise, and tempers getting out of hand, to the point where people do some horrific things.  We’d like to take some time today to give you three important tips about how to keep yourself safe while shopping, and not just today, but each and every day. Continue reading “Shopping, shopping, shopping!!!”

Happy Thanksgiving!

Vacuum, dust, clean bathrooms, brine the turkey, prep the cranberry sauce, and on, and on…  This is exactly what was on my list leading up to today.  Oh, and today has it’s own lengthy list as well!  Is this what your “Thanksgiving” looks like?  Walking through the packed to the gills grocery section earlier this week I could see it on everyone’s faces.  Are we truly thankful, or are we caught up in the most beautiful and tasty meal?

And as I sit to write this, all I can think about is…  stop it Martha!  And no, I’m NOT referring to Martha Stewart.  I’m the Martha that Jesus talks about in the well known Mary-Martha story in Luke (Ch. 10:38-42).

Many of you know that I love to cook and one of my greatest joys is to cook the Thanksgiving meal and to host people.  I cook the same meal (in the same quantity) if it’s just my husband and myself, or if I’m having 8 people over.  And I like to clean as much as cook, so I’m whisking away and washing dishes as quickly as they are dirtied!  But am I truly thankful?  Do I put the time into counting my blessings as much as I put into making the perfect meal and being the perfect hostess?  Not. Even. Close.  Jesus wants us to “choose the good portion” like Mary did.

What does that mean when I’m still responsible for hosting and cooking?  I believe it means to not fuss over the small details and to be with those you love and truly spend time with them.  The dishes can wait.  The TV can stay off for 30 minutes longer.  Talk about your blessings with each other.  And don’t just say I’m thankful for “you” or for “everything God provides”.  Be intentional this year.  Tell the people in your flock exactly why you are thankful for them.  Tell God exactly what you are thankful for Him providing to you.

An exercise one of our pastors encouraged us to do is to use your fingers and list off 10 blessings that God has provided.  And not just on Thanksgiving day, but everyday.  How would our lives change if we started the day with 10 positive acknowledgements of God’s love in our lives?  I dare to say it would be transformational.  If you have an accountability partner, which I highly encourage you do, talk about that with them.  Have them hold you accountable.

Finally, Jamie and I are truly thankful for our flock of friends, readers, and students that we have made through this ministry.  You all bless us more than you know!

Cara

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

 

Imperfectly perfect…..

I saw an inspirational post yesterday on Facebook that said “You don’t have to be perfect to be amazing!”.  Most people would have just hit the “Like” button and moved on.  But that post was profound to me.  My first reaction was – “Ouch”.  That one hits home in many ways.  Let’s say I’m a Type A personality.  I personally hold myself to a higher standard than anyone around me.  I hate when something is not done to my standard and this has been a detriment for me.  You know it’s bad when your annual evaluation from your supervisor for multiple years specifically stated that I needed to stop being so hard on myself when I didn’t meet my own standard.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t strive to do good, or to produce quality work, but we must understand that perfection can never be attained.  NEVER.  Only One has been and will ever be perfect.  So what is my motivation for perfection?  Deep down, I want others to approve of what I do, to be impressed, to think highly of me, like me…which is a pride issue.  Life is messy, things come up, computers glitch, plans go awry, people disappoint, and we have no control over these things (which control is a whole other post for another time).  What does approval of our fellow humans gain us?  Our focus has turned to our left and to our right, not up.

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man?
If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Galatians 1:10 (ESV)

Dear friends, when we push for perfection, we are actually turning our eyes from the One above who loves us, no matter our imperfections.  He sees us as amazing, no matter if the spell check didn’t catch errors, or grammar is bad, or anything that fell short of our expectations.  All that matters is that we are a servant of His, doing His will and doing it to the best of our ability.  He will never disappoint us!

Cara