"My faith was real but it wasn’t perfect. Because of that, I had built too many walls around my heart and life to even consider the possibility of authentic friendships. Those kinds of friendships would require me to be open, vulnerable, and to be authentically myself. That would also mean that these other Christians who would be my friends, the ones who seemed to have it all together, might realize that I wasn’t very together at all. I was pretty sure I didn’t need those kinds of friendships. I was much better at having acquaintances than having friends anyway." Click the link below to see what changed all of that for me!  I had the privilege of posting this article over at iBelieve.com and I'd love for you to give it a read and see if you can relate. http://www.ibelieve.com/relationships/just-because-you-ve-never-had-friends-doesn-t-mean-there-isn-t-still-time.html Love and blessings, Bobbie
I need to tell you about my sweet friend Katie Reid. I haven't actually met Katie in real life yet, but we are social media besties. She reached out to me a couple of months ago on voxer and we chat All The Time.  She truly is a gift and has been such an awesome encourager, a listening ear, and a sounding board for all of my dreams and plans. Not only is she an amazing friend, she's an inspiring writer, a talented worship leader, and singer, as well as a hard working mama! I had the privilege of guest posting on Katie's blog today.  I was able to share what grace looks like to me and how I'm learning to recognize and even seek out grace in the everyday. I'd love it if you would pop on over to her blog and see how you can see grace in the everyday moments of your life.  While you are there, say hello and browse her blog.  I know she will be an encouragement to you! http://www.katiemreid.com/2017/03/what-grace-bobbie/

Do you feel the tension that seems to permeate the air of this world lately? Things just feel heavy. Hearts are hurting. People are discouraged and dissatisfied. It seems as if this whole world is worn down from the struggles and it would be so very easy to just give in to the pull of weariness and discontent.

In the middle of the strife and struggles, we can start to feel overwhelmed, worn, and just plain weary. When these feelings come, and they linger far past their welcome, what can we do to keep our heads up? How do we remain hopeful when things just seem so difficult?

We might get angry and feel like being loud to drown out the noise of others or fighting back harder to win the war. We might get fearful, worried, and just want to withdraw and hide our heads in the sand to ignore the strife around us. Or maybe we don’t even know how we feel or how to respond, but we do know that we are called to be set apart and to shine as lights in the darkness of a weary and worn world. We are called to be the salt that seasons the bitterness around us and makes it a little more palatable. Because we know these things, we need a plan to stay in the battle when weariness starts to overcome us.

Maybe a good place to start is to look at someone else who was weary in the battle and see how they overcame it. In 2 Chronicles 20, Jehoshaphat is facing a multitude that has come against him. He’s going to have to fight his enemies, however, when he seeks God’s battle plan, he sees that it is a little different than the one he might have been considering. Maybe like Jehoshaphat, God’s plan to overcome our battles looks a little different than ours. When Jehoshaphat took the fear, discontent, worry, and strife that he faced because of his battle to God, the Lord sent a message to him. 2 Chronicles 20:15-17 ESV says, “Do not be afraid or dismayed…for the battle is not yours, but God’s…You will not need to fight this battle…Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf.” Those verses outline a battle plan that ultimately spells victory for the believer.

This is a truth God has been continually pressing into my heart lately. There is so much peace that floods my soul when I realize how much easier God’s battle plan is than the ones that I have been using. His plan is a plan that can breathe hope into our weariness.

5 Steps to Hope for The Battle Weary From 2 Chronicles 20:15-17

1. Don’t be afraid- Fear is such an instinctive response to trials. We allow ourselves to be afraid of what may or may not happen. We allow ourselves to fear how circumstances might turn out. We also allow ourselves to be scared that the battle may never be won. That is not what God calls us to. He tells us not to be afraid.

2. Don’t be dismayed- Discouragement plants deep seeds of bitterness that can grow into anger, depression, hate, or hurt. Discouragement can fool us into thinking that the battle isn’t worth fighting. It can make us want to give up. God wants us to keep hope, to trust in him, and to have faith.

3. Let God handle the battle- It is in our nature to struggle and fight for victory over the battles that we face or to try to avoid them by running and hiding from them. God calls us to seek Him continually and rest in the fact that He is not only working in our hearts and in our lives, but also our situations.

4. Stand firm and hold your position- We can get a little wobbly when the battles rages. The things going on all around us can seem to pull us in all directions and make us doubt our stance. God calls us to stand firm in His truth and to hold the position that He has called us to.

5. See the salvation of the Lord- God is at work in everything. The victory is His in the end. The fact that in the battles, He draws us closer to Him is proof that he is doing a good thing, even if the overall situation doesn’t look like it. God calls us to believe that, ultimately, He is working all things together for good.

Read the rest of the article and find even more encouragement at iBelieve.com by clicking the link below!

http://www.ibelieve.com/faith/5-steps-to-hope-for-the-battle-weary.html

Love and blessings, Bobbie Schaeperkoetter

Sometimes doing wrong isn’t deliberate. Sometimes it is simply the lack of focus on doing right. At least that is usually the case for me. I don’t know about you, but I don’t often set out to make a slew of bad choices, but occasionally (or often, depending on the week) I find myself in a place where I am standing, dumbstruck, wondering how I ended up in the situation that I am in. Does this just happen to me? I think it is safe to say that it probably doesn’t. I found the explanation for it this morning in my Bible reading in 2 Chronicles and it hit me like a ton of bricks. 2 Chronicles 12:14 ESV says, “And he did evil, for he did not set his heart to seek the Lord.” This verse is talking about Rehoboam, King of Judah, but it might as well have had my name in the text. Maybe yours could have fit there too? I think this is a truth that applies to all of us because we don’t typically end up in a mess because we plan to. We usually end up in our messes because we forgot to seek God in certain situations and followed our own way instead. We didn’t set our heart and our focus on staying on the right track so before we knew it, we were on the wrong one. Man that sounds super familiar! I can tell that I have gotten on the wrong in a few areas in my life lately. It reminds me of what I’m always saying to my boys. When they get a little out of control and are headed toward bad choices, I’m known to say, “Rein it in, boys!” They know that means to check their behavior. I can feel God telling me to “Rein it in, girl!” in a few areas in my life. 1. Being Content Way too often, I just forget to be content with what I have. Everything that I have, everything that I am, and everything that I do is a gift from God. It is evidence of his grace poured out in abundance in my life. In turn, I should be grateful for all he has given me. Instead, I’ve continued to strive for more instead of being content. I add more to my schedule. I add more to my closet. I add more into our budget. I add more into our lives and I often do it without even stopping for a second to consider God at all in those decisions. Here is a very embarrassing example. I felt like I really needed to declutter, simplify, and cut out the excess. The place I decided to start was in my closet. I love to shop. Like, I really love it. It is usually at thrift stores because I love a great bargain, but it has gotten a little out of control. My closet was prime evidence of that. I’m not even going to shame myself by admitting how much has amassed in my closet.      That isn’t good stewardship. It is excessive and wasteful and selfish. I need to reign in my desire for more and learn to be content with all that God has already blessed me with. I’ve really felt convicted this year to focus on the amazing grace that God has lavished on me in every situation and circumstance. If I’m focused on his gift of grace then being content and being thankful comes as a natural result of that. It has really helped me to see that I have all I need. 2. My Words and Attitude Here is another not so flattering truth I’m seeing about myself these days. I am not sweet and loving and kind by nature. I’m just not. I know this about myself. I tend to be a little sarcastic and snarky. I’ve always just kind of chalked that up to my personality. I’m not mean and I am usually pretty funny, so it all balances out, right? I’m not so sure. God’s grace is so evident by the amazing people that he has lovingly put in my life. I’ve been feeling very convicted for my words and attitude to match my gratitude. I want to show just how blessed I feel to have these wonderful people in my world. I’m a work in progress. We all are, but I truly desire to do a better job of building up, encouraging, and loving. I want my words and attitude to reflect a heart overflowing with thanks for these gifts of grace. 3. My Time Oh man. At the risk of sounding like a total slacker, I will share this last area that I want to rein in. I’m turning into a recluse. I could easily stay in my house, in my pajamas, on the couch, with a good book for days. I don’t do that. Much. But I could. Very easily. I really enjoy being at home and homeschooling my boys, but without a real effort on staying involved with people and with the work God has called me to, I could very easily just keep my focus on what is right in front of me in my own home. I know in my heart of hearts that isn’t what God wants for me. I firmly believe He has called me into relationships, into community, and into works that He has chosen specifically for me at this time. My time isn’t mine to hoard and use in whatever way pleases me the most. It is a resource and a tool to do the work God has called me to and I want to be a better steward of the time God has blessed me with. Getting off track in these areas wasn’t deliberate. It was simply a lack of focus on seeking God and doing the right thing. I took my eyes off of God and put them on my own ways for a while and before I knew it, I felt God saying, “Rein it in, girl!” 2 Chronicles 12:14 was like a palm to the forehead. What a call to refocus and put God back at the front and center!  What a gift of grace that He allows us to see our messes for what they are and gives us opportunities to change them! Are there any areas where you feel God asking you to rein it in and put your focus back on him? I’d love to hear from you! Love and blessings, Bobbie
It's become a bit of a tradition to choose a word for the New Year.  This word is supposed to be one specific word to focus on all year.  Honestly, I'm not big on this.  It feels a little like boxing myself in.  My mind goes one hundred miles an hour in a hundred different directions.  How on Earth do I choose just one word to represent all that I want to embody in a whole entire year?  That just seems plain impossible. Unless, of course, God writes that word on your heart countless times over the last several weeks.  It seems every time I turn around one word keeps being presented to me. GRACE Let me get a little wordy nerdy and define it for you.  According to Oxforddictionaries.com, one of the meanings of grace is "(in Christian belief) the free and unmerited favour of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings."  It's synonyms are:  goodwill, generosity, kindness, benefaction, beneficence, and indulgence. That definition, that deep truth behind the meaning of grace, has lodged itself in the forefront of my thoughts for weeks.  It has taken up such real estate in my thoughts that I wake up at night pondering God's unmerited favor and his constant bestowal of blessings in my life. I've been thinking back to trials and struggles in my life and have been sifting through the evidence of God's grace through it all.  His goodwill, generosity, kindness, benefaction, and indulgence is overwhelming.  Just focusing on finding the obvious ways that His grace has been present in every situation has caused a perspective shift in my heart and mind. Looking for grace is simply seeing glimpses of His little gifts, evidence of His love and favor, in everything.  Keeping my eyes open for it makes me humble and grateful.  It keeps me attentive to God's goodness and blessings.  Hunting for grace in each moment allows me to see the hand of God at work when I might otherwise miss it entirely. My blog has always purposed to talk about honoring God in the craziness of our lives.  I truly believe that no matter how messy, how chaotic, how absolutely crazy our lives get; we can choose to honor God by the way that we live it.  That's why my little tag line has always been "Honoring Him in the Craziness of Life". I still firmly believe that, but I'm adding on to that thought in 2017.  I'm narrowing my focus, or maybe broadening my view, depending on your thinking. In 2017, I'm choosing to honor him by looking for evidence of His grace in every moment of this crazy life that I've been given. This verse has been etched in my heart.  I'm making it my focus verse in this new year.  John 1:16 ESV says, "For from his fullness we have all received grace upon grace." GRACE UPON GRACE What a beautiful truth!  I want to be more aware of His grace.  I'm going to search for evidence of His grace upon grace in every situation, in every moment, in all of the craziness of my life in 2017. If you would like to join me, my social media posts and blog will feature the hashtags #honoringhim and #graceupongrace in 2017.  When you see evidences of grace, use these hashtags and share it with me.  I'd love to see how you experience His grace upon grace this year! Love and blessings! Bobbie